Today Melissa and I went to Yellowstone. I have read that only 3% of Yellowstone's visitors come in the winter, and although it's only a month until Summer, the park was still pretty empty. I figure it's for good reason. The park is still very snowy, and today it was windy, nearly freezing, and often snowing.

The internet at our hotel in Jackson isn't very fast, so here are a just a few photos.

I show how much snow is still in Yellowstone. The Grand Tetons on our drive from Jackson. A mother black bear and her cub. The cub is on the mother's back. It was over half a mile away, making me wish I had a longer telephoto lens with me. Melissa and Stephen at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone A Coyote hunting small animals under the snow. more ...

Boulder Creek in May

James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work

It's really hard to write a review of an album while asleep. Because that's what Dad Loves His Work by James Taylor has done to me. It is a boring, pointless album. I actually like some of his earlier work from the 1970s, but this album is very uninspired.

Furthermore, what kind of musician needs welding glasses and gets his face dirty in the course of his work? The answer is, of course, an awesome one! I have trouble imagining what music that would require active welding might sound like, but chances are it would be more interesting than this easy listening drivel. I have listened to this album twice, and I hear no evidence of welding sounds. The cover is definitely false advertising.

Furthermore, again, I can't figure out what James Taylor's fatherhood has to do with anything on this album. It's hard to tell, like I said, because I'm asleep, but there are no songs about or to his children. The album could equivalently be titled "White Male Loves His Work" or "33 Year-Old Lennoxian Loves His Work". If he's implying by the cover and the title that he loves to weld, I'm just confused, and so his he.

Huzzah! With this review I've caught back up to my review schedule. In fact, the next review isn't due for a week and a half.

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Yahoo! Mail is Run By Idiots

I have heard from a couple people that Yahoo! Mail will not send messages to my new email address. Below is a screen capture demonstrating this (not that I doubted them):

Yahoo Mail is Wrong

My email address is indeed valid, and I have now sent and received hundreds of emails using it. Furthermore, the specifications for email addresses are very simple, and my email address follows them (obviously). Yahoo! clearly needs to hire someone who can read a Wikipedia page and write a simple regular expression validating email addresses. Actually, a quick Google search (natch) proves that this has already been done dozens of times.

Just yet another reason why I'm glad I finally switched away from Yahoo! Mail. Good riddance.

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My Siblings on Ralphie

In April, Adam:


and today, Talitha (plus Melissa):

Talitha + Melissa

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AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Interestingly, although this is the second AC/DC album I've reviewed as part of my 30 Years On project, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in fact originally came out before Back in Black. This album was released in Austrailia in 1976, and only came to the `states in 1981, after the 1980 release of Back in Black.

I suspect that AC/DC was a major inspiration for the 1984 mockumentary (that I think is brilliant) This Is Spinal Tap. In fact, I think a straight line can be drawn from AC/DC's song "Big Balls" to Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom". If you enjoy Spinal Tap, you're likely to enjoy AC/DC and this album.

Most of what I said about Back in Black can also be applied to this album. AC/DC is fun band to listen to if you're in the right mood. However, because the songs on this album don't quite get the same airplay as those on Back in Black, this album is worth checking out at least once.

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Grover Washington Jr. – Winelight

Here's a quick and simple review of Winelight by Grover Washington Jr.:

  • Every time I listened to this album I felt over-dressed. No, I never listened to it wearing a tuxedo or a three-piece suit. I mean that wearing any clothes at all is being over-dressed for this album. It's that kind of album.
  • It has only one song on it you've ever heard, Just the Two of Us, and likely only because you saw it in Austin Powers 2.

In summary, if you're naked, go ahead and listen to the album. Or, you can watch Austin Powers 2 and hear the only song on this album you care about, but see some funny stuff happen at the same time. What's funnier than little people?

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Spring Weather in Boulder

Campus Flatirons

Two days ago it was nearly 30C/85F in Boulder. This morning I woke up to snow falling outside our windows (but it wasn't sticking because it was just above freezing where we live). It's now changed to rain, but as the picture above shows, at just slightly higher elevations the snow is sticking. The forecast says that within a week we'll be back near 30C. Living with four seasons is interesting!

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The Who – Face Dances

Face Dances was the first album put out by The Who after the death of Keith Moon. I'm not familiar enough with The Who to know if that had an effect on this album. I'm guessing it probably did. The best I can say about this album is that the songs are all very "poppy" and the lyrics and melodies stick in your head very easily. But overall, it's a fairly unremarkable album and probably got on the top-10 due only to the strength of their previous albums. The fact that the band disbanded two years after this album came out is a good sign that they were already on the decline as a creative unit.

According to the Wikipedia page, the cover artwork was commissioned from various famous artists. Judging from the top and bottom rows, it looks like the artists were handed the same photos. The bottom row is the most disappointing - three of the frames are basically identical, and I'm guessing they filled in the fourth with random icons to break the monotony.

Edit: Anyone want to proffer a guess what the middle-row, left-column icon is?

My recommendation is that this album is not worth checking out.

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South Boulder Creek from Walker Ranch Loop

Walker Ranch

Taken today on the bridge in the middle of this Google Map view.

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Eric Clapton – Another Ticket

The album Another Ticket by Eric Clapton is mostly a blues album with only a few rockish songs. That's pretty typical for Clapton. Curiously, the first 3 (of 5) minutes of the title track is instrumental, which is unusual for album title tracks in my opinion. The only hit single off this record is "I Can't Stand It". According to Wikipedia, this song sometimes gets played during interludes on Bill O'Reilly's radio show. I cannot confirm this, for obvious reasons, but I imagine that Bill does not use it for its original meaning of an ahem troublesome woman. He must want to share something in common with one of his heroes.

I generally like Clapton, and this is a decent album. The only legitimate knock on the album is its bright red cover.

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Boulder Creek in April

Steve Winwood – Arc of a Diver

Springtime in Boulder is a tumultuous time. Most evenings the clouds get blown down off the mountains and it rains, and a few times it's turned into snow overnight. The days are blustery and mild, but not what I would call warm just quite yet. The album Arc of a Diver by Steve Winwood does not fit well into my seasonal or geographical mood. If I were in Florida sipping a fruity drink on the beach, I think it would be more appropriate. It would help if I was older and fatter, too. I'm trying to say that if you are in the right place and frame of mind, this album could be quite pleasant. And sometimes pleasant is all you need.

I'm going to try to catch up completely this week.

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Blob Identification

I have access to some of the fastest computers in the world. I can summon thousands of processors, petabytes of disk storage, and terabytes of memory with a few keystrokes. You'd think with that kind of power, analysis could be automated and done in massive pipelines. But that's not always true. Sometimes things are so subtle that the most efficient method is still to use the human eye.

Today I was pretty ill, with a sore throat and congestion. It was the kind of day for lying on the couch and watching movies. Luckily, I was able to accomplish some work that didn't require too much concentration. First, some context.

One of my current projects is looking at the centers of simulated galaxy clusters, and it is actually surprisingly difficult to find the centers of the clusters. Clusters are complicated places, with clumps of matter falling in, sloshing stuff around, making the core not exactly clear. In order to semi-automate the process, I wrote a script that makes pictures of the clusters (which have been previously identified in a automated fashion), that have density contours superimposed. The density contours are analogous to the lines on a topographical map.

Choose Core

The picture above is an example of the output of the script. The colors indicate gas density, blue to red is low to high. If you look at the full-sized image, you can see that there are two dense clumps numbered 0 and 1. I can't just pick the most dense cluster because that might be a tiny blob of matter falling into the larger cluster; more care is needed. So I need to make the decision with my adaptable brain. The script spits out the image, and then I have to input which clump I think is the most central clump, and a record is made which I'll use for the next step in my chain of analysis. I spent most of today looking at these pictures and entering numbers. Yay for tax payers!

This is very similar to the Galaxy Zoo project that aimed to identify the morphology of actual galaxies, but my effort is on a much smaller and simpler scale.

So - which clump do you think is the most central above?

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Rush – Moving Pictures

Luckily for me, I will not draw the ire of any Canadians with this review. In fact, I already had the album Moving Pictures by Rush before this review because I like it. The songs are well made, a couple are catchy, and it's not too long. Go ahead and check out the album yourself!

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