Category Archives: Cool stuff

Austin, Here I Come!

I have been so busy during the past couple of weeks. Spending a lot of time out in the rural areas where there’s little cell coverage, much less free wifi. I have so many things that I want to write about but here is the most important thing right now: tomorrow I get on a plane and will arrive in Austin TX for the American Atheist Convention!

Just the fact that I have a Surly Amy Scholarship to go to this event has pretty much forced my out of the closet with a whole bunch of people. I tell them that I’m going to Austin, and they ask why, and I tell them. It’s pretty awesome.

Tonight I was reminded that there are awesome people and cool things happening pretty much everywhere–a neighbor of mine hosted a house party/acoustic concert which was well attended, though I have my complaints about the etiquette of some of the attendees–why go to such an event if you just want to talk over the music at the top of your lungs?–but it’s nice to be reminded that my little upstate wannabe-city isn’t a complete washout in terms of art and culture.

I have made arrangements to rent a bike for the weekend and I intend to take full advantage of that rental. I’ve heard, via colleagues in the transportation planning field, that Austin is a great place to bike (relatively), so I plan on testing that out.

This is going to be, first of all, WARM. Second of all, lots of fun. More updates will follow as events warrant.


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Filed under anti-theism, blogging, Cool stuff, geography, travel

A Shiny Happy Moment

A few months ago, my truck broke down. I was kind of in the middle of a street, albeit a side street in a little housing development, and I was trying to push it off a little further to the side of the road. I was in front of a couple of the apartments. Well, this sweet young couple came out and offered to help me move the truck. I gratefully accepted. Then, they invited me inside so I could have someplace warm and dry to wait for the tow truck. Then, they offered me dinner while I was waiting. The man was a native to the region, more or less, and his wife was an immigrant from Sri Lanka. Her mother also lived with them. They were so kind and helpful. They served me a generic lentil and rice dish, and also kale chips, which were surprisingly tasty (and by “tasty,” I mean “salty”–I love salty stuff). Finally the tow truck came and I bid them goodbye, but first I got their number and promised to get in touch since they were such cool people.

Well, today I was driving by their house and I remembered their kindness and my intention to contact them. I had been thinking about them in the past couple of days, thinking about how hard it is to find friends in new places (it’s been about a year since I moved to the Southern Tier region) and that I should really get in touch with them. So I stopped and knocked on the door, more or less on a whim. They were home! And the giant photographs of their wedding in Sri Lanka were missing from the walls and there were boxes everywhere. They remembered me instantly and invited me in, warning off the hyperactive terrier that was a new addition to the family.

Turns out they’re moving – if I had stopped by the same time next week, I would have found an empty apartment, or someone else moving in.

But the fact that I stopped in sort of cemented our connection, and it turned out that I know a bunch of people in the area they’re moving to–including my sweetheart, whom I visit fairly often. So I promised to ring them soon with phone numbers and names of people I know, and to drop by for dinner the next time I head south to visit.

I have more substantive posts brewing in my brain, but I just wanted to share that little story in the meantime. People can be wonderful. And when you find wonderful people, don’t let them go! Follow up on those connections! I wish I had dropped by earlier so that I could have cooked them dinner in return for the time they nourished me in my moment of distress. But hey, I didn’t miss them entirely, and now I know even MORE people in Maryland!

So. It left me feeling a little “shiny happy” today. I hope you got the warm fuzzies too.

P.S. Is it just me, or do Michael Stipe and Quentin Tarentino look a lot alike? Especially in their earlier incarnations. Weird.


Filed under Cool stuff, MUSIC!, Personal, Warm fuzzies

Photos of Volcanoes–FROM SPACE!

And, now that I’m jotting things down, here’s something cool that I’ve been meaning to share: a collection of photographs of volcanoes, taken from the international space station, over at Wired. I like geology and maps, so satellite photography gives me the chance to enjoy both. I love how you can read the stories in the earth of continents crashing, subducting, orogenies in process. McGee was right, there is something voluptuous about the language of geology. As I was browsing, this image caught my eye:

New Zealand Volcanoes

Image: Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center / Taken October 23, 2010.

I thought how beautiful it was, and then in the next moment wondered if it was New Zealand volcanoes. It was. I have a soft spot for NZ after spending six months there about ten years ago. I can’t claim that it was my familiarity with the NZ landscape that triggered the recognition though – more likely it was the moment in the theater when my Kiwi friend Ellie exclaimed, “But that’s Mount Taranaki! And they were just at the Fjords [ed. note: on the south end of the South Island, whereas Mt. Taranaki is in the middle of the North Island]– you couldn’t make the trip in an afternoon!” And my disbelief in the landscape of The Hobbit was no longer suspended, and the image of Mount Taranaki, which is fairly similar to RuapehuNgauruhoe, and Tongariro (pictured above), stuck in my mind ever since.

The Wired article also introduced me to the Global Volcanism Program, an attempt at a comprehensive listing of volcanoes and their current and historical eruptions. There’s so much cool there – I can hardly wait to check out the dynamic interactive map! So go, check it out, and don’t say I never did anything nice for you.

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Filed under Cool stuff, Geology, Maps, Photography, Science