Electronic Time Capsules

I did most of my growing up in the frigid state of Wisconsin. After college I moved out to the not-quite-so-frigid-but-still-pretty-frigid state of Massachusetts. My parents however remained in Wisconsin. A few years ago they decided that Wisconsin winters were a little too cold for there old (err I mean mature) bones so they started wintering in Southern Texas.

This all relates to electronic time capsules because my parents sent me an email from their computer just before they left for Texas last November; however, it didn’t get sent to me until they got back yesterday. It just sat in their send folder for a few months until they got back and logged into their home email. It was a pretty short email, but even so it brought back a flash of memories. This got me wondering if I could do something similar on purpose. I did a little searching on Google and came up with a website called www.FutureMe.org which lets me send an email to me in the future. Pretty cool.


First Bike Ride of the Year

I took a mini test ride a few weeks ago, but this morning was my first real ride of the year. A good 20 miler to get those legs all wobbly. Got to get in shape for the daily biking commute to work which should be starting soon. I usually wait until after the spring time change and then once a few days with 50 degree highs come along I switch to biking to work. I did some photo editing to get that picture to have that washed out effect. Hope you like it.

Off to do some geocaching now!


Colossus Mysteries

In the universe there is the Milky Way
In the Milky Way there is our solar system
In our solar system there is the earth
In the earth there is the United States
In the United States there is Montana
In Montana there is Glacier Park
In Glacier Park there is a bear
In the bear there is a germ
In the germ there is DNA
In the DNA there is a gene
In the gene there is an atom
In the atom there are mysteries that baffle mankind


You Should Give Blood

It's time for my bimonthly pitch to try and get you to donate blood. Just think if you give blood in the next few days you can get on my schedule. Then I'll remind you when the next time you can give blood. Save a life and sign up on the Red Cross web site today!


Geocache 100!

I made some obvious edits to some of the pictures at the request of the cache owner.

As all my regular readers know I do a decent amount of geocaching. It’s a great sport that lets you get outside and explore new places. Since I just found my 100th cache I thought I’d give a more in depth review of this one.

I choose the Heron Hideaway multicache to be my 100th cache. It was about 10 miles from my house in a forest I didn’t even know existed before today. I think the best way to document this is with a photo story. So here we go.

Let’s call this the starting gate.

Here we have a grassy field.

This is starting to look like a desert.

Yup, I’ve somehow found a desert in Massachusetts.

Is that a forest ahead?

This is more like the Massachusetts I know.

That little stream couldn’t possible stop my quest for my 100th cache. A large jump and one we foot latter I continued onward.

Looks like a mountain range up ahead!

Now where could the first part of this multicache be?

There it is! I put these new coordinates in my GPS and continued onward.

Instead of walking across rock scree like I did to get here I used this convenient path someone put out here.

Back to the forest.

Who put a lake out here?

I must have taken a wrong turn since I’m pretty sure I should need to cross any logs to get to the final cache.

Oh well it didn’t look to hard so I crossed.

This one was a lot harder, but I made it.

Is that an (text removed) up ahead?

It looks that way to me.

Victory is mine! Number 100!!!

I avoided all the river crossings on the way out by following this convenient path that someone put here. Doh!

Back to the sandy fields.

This pheasant was not having a very good day.

Back to my car so I can go home and plan for some more geocaches another day.


Applications Research Group

As many of my friends reading this know, I’ve been working at the ATI research division in Marlboro for about 5 years now. If you don’t know who ATI is there is a good chance that their hardware is drawing the picture to the monitor where you are reading this right now. They also make the graphics hardware for various Nintendo consoles, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and lots of cell phones. For these last 5 years, I have been part of the OpenGL driver team. My main responsibility on this team included working on low level computer code that made ATI’s hardware more accessible to video game makers. Since my focus was performance on this software I spent time helping game developers make there games run faster on our hardware.

I’m always one to broaden my horizons and I thought that the Applications Research and Development Group would be an excellent place to do that. This group does research into future 3D algorithms and making tools to help support movements toward a better 3D future. So a few months ago I started the wheels turning and my first day in this new group was yesterday. I’ll need to give myself a few weeks to get a fair view of this new position, but so far it has been awesome.



Profile for Glacial Wanderer

Pretty cool geocaching banner. You should also see this banner towards the bottom of my sidebar on the right side of this page. This banner updates itself at the end of each day so you folks will be able to track my geocaching progress. I'm getting pretty close to that magical 100 mark. I did a few geocaches yesterday and will probably do a few more today. Yesterday got up to 60 degrees which is crazy warm for this time of year, and if there is anything that makes geocaching more fun it's nice weather.

Hope everyone out there is having a great weekend!


Texas Pictures

I recommend reading my previous post about my trip first. After you've read that (or if you're illiterate) you can click here to see a bunch of pictures from my trip.

Harlingen Texas Trip

My trip to the southern tip of Texas was awesome. Even the flight started out good. I used Continental for this trip and they let me print my tickets at home and reserve seats. I think all airlines let you do this, but last time I checked I could never reserve an exit isle. With Continental I reserved an exit isle for both flights on my trip. It turned out the exit isle on my plane had a ton of leg room. This is because there are two seats that are removed (one on each side) for the style of plane I was on. So if you get one of the seats behind the missing seat you get the leg room of two seats plus the room normally taken by a seat. By my rough estimates this is about 6-7 feet of leg room. Leg room heaven, baby.

The first full day in Texas I spent going to South Padre Island which is in the Gulf of Mexico just on the Texas side of the US/Mexican boarder. I spent most of the morning swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf. The strip of water between South Padre and the mainland is called Laguna Madre Bay. Laguna Madre Bay is 7 miles wide but only averages 7 feet deep! This makes for some very warm shallow water on this side of the island. I walked out a few hundred yards and it was still only waist deep. Because of these shallow waters that beaches on this side aren't that great. The other side of the island it's more normal and the beaches were great and the water wasn’t much cooler!

In the afternoon we went on a dolphin watching tour. I saw a bunch of different pods of bottle nose dolphins which I incessantly referred to as Flipper. This was pretty cool, but it got even better. Then dolphin tour boat dropped a small shrimping net to the bottom and dragged it for a few hundred feet. When they pulled it up it was filled with some crazy fish.
There was a small sting ray in the net, some puffer fish, a few crabs, a few more normal small fish, and this giant snail that was almost the size of my head. I termed it a blood snail because the actual snail was bright red color which reminded me of bleeding. The guide said he never saw anything like this snail before.

The next day we headed south of the boarder to a small boarder town in Mexico named Progreso. This town is a hotspot crossing for Americans to go and get cheap prescription drugs and dentistry work done. I separated from my folks for a few hours and walked off the path traveled by most American tourists. I found it very interesting seeing how the Mexican culture lived even if it was through my tainted American eyes. While I was out on my own I was offered the services of a prostitute. At least that's what I gather she was offering since I had to go solely on body motion since her English was about as good as my Spanish. The most interesting thing I saw was a school recess for some 3rd to 4th graders. These kids were having a blast playing kickball. They were having just as much fun as American grade school kids would have during recess even though their school building would have been condemned if it was 5 miles to the north. It's amazing how people and especially kids adapt. And I'm not just referring to people adapting to poverty, but how people can adapt to just about any circumstances. Take the opposite of poverty for example. People in the US certainly become adapted to a certain level of wealth and when that’s not there they become uncomfortable. I know a lot of people would have been very nervous in some of the neighborhoods I was in because they looked like run down slums and they associate that with crime. Truthfully I was a little apprehensive myself. However this is just how these people live and to classify these people as some lower class is nothing short of bigotry.

While in Mexico there was a huge plum of black smoke rising from across the Rio Grande. One the Mexicans jokingly said that that there was now no more United States to go back to. I found out from my parents that this smoke is part of the process of harvesting sugarcane. When sugarcane is fully grown it is a tangled mess and combine farming equipment can't harvest it so they burn the whole field. This burns all the tangled leaves and brush away leaving only the thick sugarcane stalks which can be easily harvested with machines. This got me wondering why I didn't see any farm lands on the Mexican side of the boarder. I found out that Texas has an elaborate pump and irrigation system that takes all the excess waters out of the Rio Grande before the Mexican's can get any of the water. That is why the Mexican’s can't raise crops like Texas’s do.

During my last full day of vacation I explored some of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Most of the places I visited had geocaches at them which is what usually led me there. Geocaching is a great side quest when your primary quest is exploring an area. The first place we visited was called Anzalduas Park. This was a park built around a huge dam that was constructed back in the 50's. After this we went to La Lomita Missionary. This was a very old chapel that cowboys used to stop by while they were driving cattle through the area. It is now a historical monument.

The last big thing I did while in Texas was to visit Bentsen State Park. This is a bird watcher’s paradise. There were many blinds setup so you would sit and watch the birds. I even saw this animal that looked like a wild boar, but then I asked the guide she said it wasn't part of the pig family. I'd swear it was, but I guess she knows more than I about this so let's just call it the not-pig pig. Anyways you can look at the pictures here and you'll see why I originally thought this not-pig pig was a boar.

One last commentary I have about the people in Texas. They sure like their state. Instead of super size they have "Texas size" on all their billboards. I also ran into "Texas deals", "Texas times", "Texas taste", and "Texas good". I even made up the phrase “Texas cups”. In all these cases Texas means either big or good, which are pretty much similes in Texas. If there is one place that likes everything big that place is Texas.

Overall my trip to Texas was a blast and I'm pretty sure I'll be back to Texas sometime in the future. Hope you all had a Texas time reading this.


Texas Bound

I’m heading to Southern Texas for the next few days to visit with the folks. Ever since my Dad retired a few years ago they’ve been spending the winters down there where it’s warm. Mmmm warm. I can wait to go swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course I’ll share the pictures with you guys when I get back. Hope you all have a great weekend!