Thank you all for the nice present!


Oh, you didn’t know you got me a present? You did! I’m in the Amazon Affiliate program, you see, and occasionally I include a link to that evil empire in my blog entries, and you click on it, and maybe you buy something, and then I get a tiny cut of what you spent. Once a month I get a little gift certificate from Amazon. I’ve been saving them up for about 8 months so I could splurge on a toy, and last week the total finally reached what I needed to cover all of the costs, so you got me an early Christmas present. It’s very nice.

I got myself a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter Drone, because every mad scientist needs devious surveillance equipment. Also, when I was a kid I used to lust for RC airplanes that I could never afford, and now I can get something even better.

It’s slick and easy to fly, and the software is reasonably sophisticated. I did have a bit of concern when I first set it up and it told me I needed to update the firmware…and the stupid installation procedure failed utterly. I thought for a while I was doomed to have a plastic brick that could sit on the table and buzz, because DJI has a notoriously terrible reputation for customer service, but fortunately they released a brand new software update the day after I got it that worked perfectly.

So that’s how I spent Thanksgiving morning: I took it up for a couple of flights and went spying out the local neighborhood.

Here’s an ugly example. I just went across the street to the UMM parking lot and zoomed it up to a 100 meters and fumbled about with the controls. It was fun! It’s hard to get smooth movies that show what I want — partly because there were a few times I was wiggling the wrong joystick, and because when it was high and drifted away on this blustery day, I sometimes lost track of the orientation and had to scan around to figure out where I was and what way I was pointing. Don’t feel obligated to watch it — it’s just me noodling about in the sky.

Practice makes perfect, though, unless on one of these practice flights I crash it and then have to save up gift certificates for another 8 months to get a new one.

Now I just have to figure out how to mount lasers or a missile launcher on it, and I’ll have everything a boy could want, a real stress-reliever.

A vegan Thanksgiving

Surprise! My daughter Skatje decided to join us for Thanksgiving on the spur of the moment, so she’s in town with plans for dinner tomorrow, which makes this cartoon particularly appropriate.

Except, unlike Lio’s dad, I’m not at all glum about this — vegetarian food is really good, and she mentioned a few of the things she’s planning to fix, so I’m looking forward to it.

She also promised to conjure up Ol’ Scratch, Satan, himself. Or was it that she was going to show us how to make saitan, from scratch? Either way, it works.



First day of classes. Students seem nice. They asked lots of questions, always a good sign. Got through first lecture OK. Gotta work on my voice, though — it takes a bit of warm-up to restore Teacher’s Voice, especially when you’re not loud to begin with.

Evil pet thread


I’m looking for some commiseration here, people! Who else has an evil pet?

We’ve got this cat we adopted from the local humane society, who apparently had an extremely rough kittenhood. She was wild and suspicious when we got her, and only gradually calmed down…and now she’s very dependent on me and Mary. Especially now — we abandoned (not really, but she’s acting that way) her for a week while we went on vacation, and since we got back she’s constantly looking for affirmation that we won’t leave her ever again.

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I have returned to civilization


And now I want to go back. It was a deeper journey into the wilderness than I expected — we left my brother’s house in Hoquiam and headed north, and after leaving wifi behind, we were a little surprised to learn we were also abandoning all of our cell phone carriers as well. We’ve been almost completely out of touch with the rest of the universe most of this week. We’d occasionally find a small trading post with slow, flakey wireless, and we’d fire off short Shackletonian missives to friends and family letting them know we still existed.

We also had slightly peculiar weather. It was lovely — fog and mist rolling in and softening the view everywhere.


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A day in a time machine


I attended my 40 year high school reunion last night. It was interesting and strange. When I was a kid, we moved around a lot…but always within the Kent school district, which meant I attended most of the feeder elementary and junior high schools that funneled students into my high school, so I’d known some of these people since kindergarten. It’s not that I was particularly noticeable, since on top of being transient I was also the shy bookish type who didn’t speak up much, so I suspect most of them haven’t thought of me in decades. Then there was this giant gap when I left this area after graduation and didn’t come back, while many of my high school buddies stayed right here and kept in touch with each other.

I felt a bit space-alienish, wafting in from out of nowhere and encountering these strange old people, and after a moment of peering at each other’s faces (and our name tags), suddenly saying, “I remember you! We played tag at recess in 3rd grade!” Or the inevitable memorial slide show, and you learn about everybody who has died in the last 40 years, and you are ransacking your memory trying to place that person’s face, and there’s that warm glow when you remember that good day or that birthday party or that time in the bleachers when…and suddenly it sinks in that they’re dead. You just hoisted up that nice memory and now it’s never going to be anything more, and you’re not going to clink glasses with that old friend and reminisce about it, because they’re gone.

So it was all a little weird.

But mostly pleasant. I know many people have horrible memories of their school years, and all too often public schools are nightmarish mills of cliques and bullying and ugly social oppression, but I was lucky. I was the wimpy nerd, I would have been the easy target for bullying, but it didn’t really happen, and I had friends among all the little petty in-groups — the jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, the AV weirdos, everyone — and they were always pretty porous and accepting. Dang it, I don’t have any good horror stories to tell from those years! I went through high school without getting beat up (which, I know, is a low bar to set, but still…)

I think the thing is my high school class was generally just a decent group of people. I was lucky that way.

Now today Mary and I pile into the rental car and cruise west until we collide with OCEAN. We’ve got undisclosed locations stacked up along the coast of the Olympic Peninsula, and will be relaxing in splendid isolation.