Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dead Laptop in NYC

Central Park
Originally uploaded by jongrantham
So, here we are in New York City. Last night I opened up my laptop to find that it wouldn't boot up. Grr. I can probably fix this with a Windows disk, which is at home. So I'm posting this from Christina's work laptop.

Today while she was at her conference, I first went to Central Park to attempt some geocaching. I did not find the cache, but I took the accompanying picture.

Then I went to the Frick Collection to look at some art. They had some nice pieces by Degas, Vermeer, Rembrandt and Whistler. I bought postcards to show Christina what I had seen. Some of you will be receiving those postcards, since at $1/each, I have to get another use out of them! :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Posted by Picasa

A couple of months ago, I got a letter from the Maryland MVA (other states have DMVs -- we here in Maryland like to be just a little bit different) letting me know that my driver's license would be expiring in a couple of months, and -- good news, everyone -- I'd be able to renew it by mail. So I sent in my renewal, and soon got back a letter informing me that their recent database conversion went really well for most people, but oops, my picture was lost in the move. So I'd have to come in and get the license renewed in person.

I was annoyed enough by this to wait until the day my old license expired to do the renewal. I went in and was told I'd have over an hour wait. So I went out, found a geocache, exchanged some geocoins, came back, and found that I was nowhere near being called. In fact, it took another hour and half, not counting geocaching time.

My new picture's OK -- compare and contrast pictures above. I'm glad I have another 5 years to wait to do this again. As an added bonus, I have another 5 years of being able to drive without glasses, since I barely scraped by the eye exam. (Don't worry, I have driven without glasses only once in the last 12 years.)

In geocaching news, I dropped off a new geocoin (see picture). The cache I found had a bunch of coins in it. I feel bad picking up a coin without dropping one, so I prepared some coins to swap in just such a situation. I don't, however, feel bad taking two when I drop off one, so I have a couple more to move around. I gave no particular mission to the coin I dropped off, so it'll be interesting to see where it ends up. (The two that I asked to return to Maryland are currently wandering around Wales and the Czech Republic, so missions may be overrated.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008



Thursday night, I was walking around the house and noticed a disposable camera on a shelf. Rather than walking past it as I had a number of times, I picked it up. It had expired in October 2006, but I wondered if it could still be developed. The answer...sort of. Many of the pictures were ruined due to brown splotches on them. Some of them were OK, to one extent or another. A few were from a trip we took two-and-a-half years ago to Tecate, Mexico. When we were in San Diego for the summer, we drove down to the border one day and walked across.

Tecate had the advantage that it wasn't really very touristy. We had a nice lunch, then looked around for other things to do. Then, not being touristy became a disadvantage. The brewery was closed (we may have gotten there too late), and there weren't any souvenir shops. We went into a couple of stores and bought some random stuff (I got some plastic playing cards) and then went home.

Geocaching Update: FTF

Here's a geocaching update for you. The latest map I have to show you is my US state map. I added Nevada on my mileage run and Arizona while we were visiting my parents over Christmas. Christina and I had a nice walk through the desert to find that one, although we saw a coyote on our way back!

The morning after we got back, I was enjoying my morning tea before heading out to pick up Teddy & Cheetah from the kennel when I got an e-mail alert for a new cache. It was just a quarter mile from our house. Some geocachers delight in being the "First to Find" (FTF) a cache. It doesn't seem like the most interesting part of the hobby to me, but I thought I'd try to have at least one to my name. Given the time and distance, I had no trouble. I see from the logs that someone else drove in from Virginia to try to get an FTF here. No luck for them.

You know, from that map up there, I'd assume the cacher was from California and had visited a few other Western states, along with a trip to Maryland.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I am in line to register for the Joint Math Meetings. The A-F line is out the door, the G-L line is kind of long, and there's nobody in the M-R line. It is tempting to make fun of mathematiciams for not modeling this correctly, but maybe the woman running the M-R line is just really efficient.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Straight Cash, Homey

I found this little widget, which amused me.

My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?

The title of this blog post, by the way, is courtesy of Randy Moss.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Frequent Flying 2007: Still at 1K

Well, I ended 2007 with 101,104 "miles", maintaining my United 1K status. I put the word "miles" in quotation marks, because I actually flew 76,993 "BIS" miles. BIS? "Butt in seat". I got bonus miles (not actually flown) from my Visa card, one trip in business class, carryover from 2006 and United's policy of awarding a minimum of 500 miles for each flight. (I lost miles from one flight where there was a stop that was ignored by United's computations, because there was one flight number.)

I actually flew slightly more than that for two reasons. One, which is kind of pedantic, is that these numbers are based on the minimum distance between airports, and actual flight plans are longer. The second point is that I flew on two trips (Dulles-San Juan and Singapore-Kuching) where I didn't earn miles -- the first because it was a free ticket, the second because there was no way to earn United miles on the trip.

In 2006, it took me 95,642 BIS miles to get to 1K. Maybe in 2008, I can do it with 70,000...