Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wicked awesome oars

Long-time readers of this blog, from back before it was hosted on blogger, back before it had an RSS feed, back before google/ig existed, back when it was text-only, will remember back to when I was working on my five-foot model of a crew boat, back two summers ago. After a summer of not working on it whatsoever, I am working on it again.

I had made oars, with beautiful hardwood blades seamlessly bonded to their dowel shafts, and I had painted the shafts black, leaving the handles the natural wood color. The blades, though, needed to be painted -- so sad to cover up their beautiful color and natural grain! -- and so that is what I did last week.

First, I took a whole sheet of newspaper, folded it in half, and wrapped the shaft of the oar in the newspaper with only the blade sticking out, and attached it with masking tape. Then I spray-painted the shaft this bright purple color. You can see it here (click for multiple sizes, including a very large one):

I had never used spray paint before. This was a special nontoxic paint made for painting children's toys -- because who else would want purple paint? -- so it smelled funny, because it was trying to be all special and nontoxic. (That was the only available purple paint in the store.) I prefer the smell of normal, toxic paint. Anyway, I had never used spray paint before, so I had to get used to it, the way it pools and bubbles if you spray too much in one area, and the way the tiny dots of paint get everywhere, on your hands and the newspaper and everything, and the way you have to spray, then set the object down and go somewhere else to breathe, then return to the spray paint as you exhale. I did two coats of that and let it dry. Here is what the oars looked like after that (the first picture cleverly includes our sailboat in the background):

Purists will note that Williams' blades are not actually the bright, normal "Williams purple" that I painted the oars. Williams' blades are actually more of a magenta color. I tried to achieve the magenta color by mixing purple and red, but found that while the red was oil-based, the purple spray paint, which gave no indication whatsoever on the container whether it was water-based or oil-based (no "use mineral spirits to clean up" or "use soap and water"), turned out to be water-based, so they did not mix. And I don't like magenta anyway, and I don't understand why Williams' blades were magenta in the first place, since the boat itself has purple trim, so I made them purple, because that makes more sense, anyway.

The next day, I added the stripes. Williams' blades have yellow stripes with white on each side, so that is what I did. I was originally planning to paint the stripes on, carefully placing the masking tape so as to have perfectly straight lines, but then I realized I could use electrical tape to achieve the same effect. So that is what I did. The edges are not perfect, but the flat parts look pretty nice. Here is a picture of them, because I am just that proud of my handiwork:

I also painted parts of the outriggers gray, so that now the boat itself is almost entirely painted. I just have to go back and touch up a few spots where I got a bit of paint where it wasn't supposed to be. Perhaps sometime I will photograph the whole boat.

It struck me when I was making the oars and painting the boat that I did an excellent job planning this whole thing from the beginning. At the very beginning, I got everything I would need: Every size of dowel under about 1/2", three colors of paint, two bags of different kinds of beads, two rolls of electrical tape, and a lot of planning. Each time I show the boat to interested people, they ask about the seats that go in the boat. I have the seats all made, and they are connected to the foot board things that the rowers push their feet off of, but I can't put those in the boat until I have made the people, because I drilled small holes in the seats to attach the people to the seats, and it will be much easier to attach the people if I leave the seats out of the boat. That kind of advanced planning, drilling tiny holes in the seats years in advance of when I will ever use them, if in fact I decide that I want people in my boat.

Observant people will notice that there are nine oars. "Why," you may ask, "are there nine oars? True, there are nine people in the boat, and an 'eight' is truly a 'nine' in some sense, but you need not take this to extremes." Did I miscount? Am I so coxswain-centric that I feel a ninth oar is necessary? I will let that be a mystery.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Pictures of flowers

Yesterday I took some awesome pictures of the flowers outside the Clark Geosciences building. What is the point of that? I don't know. I can put them as a very nice desktop background. I can put them here. But otherwise I will just kind of have them. I don't have any particular attachment to these flowers; I only took pictures of them because they were nice flowers, and purple and yellow.

Here, for example, is the nicest one, I think. I am using it as my background.

Here are some more that I think are particularly nice.

They are vertical, so I cannot use even them for a background; perhaps I can make them into a greeting card. I am sure my mother or grandmother would appreciate that.

The other day I was procrastinating, and it must have been some pretty serious procrastination, because I went over and looked at Rebecca's father's blog. It has to be pretty serious to look at someone else's father's blog. Anyway, he mentioned this bit about taking pictures even though he's not planning to do anything with them. That's what I do. Except mine are even less important, because they're of flowers, not even of people.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

End of track

Today we had the "Slow Boy Invite," which is when everyone whose season was over -- females included -- could race if they wanted to. There was a 5k, but if you wanted to run a different distance, you just ran that distance and then stopped when you were done. So I ran the mile. I was the only one running the mile, but two people ran the two-mile, so there you go.

I ran the mile in 6:03. I was relatively pleased with that. It's 15 seconds faster than what I ran last summer, if I remember correctly, and I only got five hours of sleep last night and six or so for the past few, so I was not running at full capacity. My pacing was not so good - 91, 91, 95, 86 -- but eh, I guess that's all right.

We had our awards ceremony afterwards and I got the Mystical Reappearance award. Ha, ha. I get it.

Inspired by my success with a really close-up picture of the right side of Brian's face that I took a few days ago, I took a bunch of close-up pictures of people on the track team. You can see them from the flickr link on the left, and a few below. A bunch of them turned out rather well. I was pleased. I stay 10-15 feet away from the person and zoom in, so that they don't know I'm taking the picture and are thereby not posing or feeling awkward. It works rather well, except when people move and go partially out of the camera frame, which can happen when you're zoomed in that far.

I intend to take some excellent photographs this weekend. Prepare yourself.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Caterpillar infestation

Williams currently has a caterpillar infestation. You can see my pictures of the caterpillars disgustingly covering lots of surfaces, caterpillar chalkings, and just one picture alone. They're gross.

Also, Karen's husband has redesigned his web page, JeffWiens.com, to use lots of flash. And he has a new CD out. And he has sold some of his sculptures. And you can read his novel. The new design is very colorful. It even moves. And when you visit it, music starts playing. This is why he is a web page designer, and I am not, because I have a flash-free web site that does not move or sing to you. See?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Psychotherapy paper

I am posting my psychotherapy paper, which is a proposal for a research study.

Here is the paper, and then here are Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4.

The paper is an html document; the figures are pdfs. They are tiny pdfs, so they will take no time flat to load. This is because they are just curves on a blank white background. But they are awesome curves. I made them with Mathematica. And I made them such that I could change one thing, and all four figures would adjust accordingly, and turn into pdfs with the touch of a button. It was awesome. You should really check out those curves.

This study proposes to develop a new therapy for alcoholics, and compares it to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) treatment and existing pharmacotherapy using naltrexone. The new treatment is built around the theory of “rational addiction,” in which the alcoholic is not presumed to be under the alcohol’s control, but is rather presumed to be making a rational choice to drink alcohol. In our experimental condition, we will explain the theory to clients and then help them to make changes so that their rational choice will be to decrease their drinking to a sub-pathological level.
So essentially what that means is that I took something I learned in my Decision Theory class, and made it into a study in my Psychotherapy: Theory and Research class.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I got bounced

Can you believe it? My friend was turning 22, and her friends had her birthday party at the Red Herring, a bar on Spring Street. So I went. I was there for a while, doing just fine, talking to people as one usually does when one is in public. Then my friend ordered a "birthday cake shot." The bartender woman asked to see my ID, because clearly I have to be 21 in order for my friend to have a shot.

"I'm not 21," I said, "and I don't drink. Ever."

In my opinion, the first statement implies the second, but I wanted to make sure she got the point: I was there to talk to people, and there would not be any alcohol anywhere near my lips.

However, it is apparently against some sort of policy for people who are not 21 to stand in places that serve alcohol and not drink. The bartender woman said I could stay for a while, but then I'd have to leave. So I stayed, and then after a few minutes of my -- get this -- sitting at a table with other people -- this guy came and told me, "I think you're the one she pointed me to." As though it is some horrible thing to not drink alcohol in a bar. So I was bounced.

Personally, I think the police have better things to do than to check and see if there are people under the age of 21 in bars who are not drinking. They could, for instance, go after people who are under 21 and use fake IDs and drink even though it is against the law. I feel that would be a better use of Massachusetts taxpayers' money.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Williams women's crew is doing pretty well

I heard a good story the other day. Trinity hadn't lost a race in two years, so they didn't bother bringing their betting shirts to the race last weekend. Then Williams beat them -- by almost six seconds -- and so they didn't have any shirts to give up. Ha.

When I was a coxswain, Marsa made me read all of the rules for the regattas. There was a big packet of all the information that the coaches needed to have, and I read it all and committed it to (short term) memory. And one of the clear regulations was that all teams must bet shirts. I thought it was weird at the time, but clearly if one team does not bet shirts, that's just lame, in addition to being unfair. And if one team is so terribly overconfident that they don't even bother bringing their shirts, that's just funny.

That win bumped Williams up to #1, just ahead of Trinity, in the polls, up from third. Rebecca is tied for 11th. (Because from my perspective, Rebecca is the team. They are the same. William Smith Crew = Rebecca. See?)

Bush at Hands On

A few days ago, President Bush visited the place where I was over spring break. Here are a few pictures from the White House's photo essay on the subject:

Here is President Bush talking to volunteers sitting at the tables where I had breakfast and dinner. For example, I have washed those very tables.

Here is President Bush with one of the long-term volunteers, coming out of the doorway outside of which I disassembled a vacuum cleaner the first day I was there. (It didn't suck up anything when you turned it on, so I took it apart, looked at the inside, and put it back together. Then it worked.) To the left is the big container full of water bottles.

Here is President Bush and a puppy.

Here is President Bush with some woman inside her house. This is what houses look like when Hands On has finished gutting them and scraping off the mold.

Then there was the best one, from this article.

This guy called Niko is from Vermont. Well originally he's from California, where his dad is super-rich and owns a gigantic farm operation, but he wasn't into that at all, so they sent him to the Putney School, which is a private high school in Vermont where you do farm work as a work-study job. He's the one with whom I planted sunflowers and helped with chainsaws on this day. So it's pretty crazy that he met the president and gave him an onion. He was always reminding people to stay out of his garden, and then he gave Bush an onion from it. Cool.

I didn't win

Alas. She existed, for real.