New Year’s Eve Hike

Hike

On New Year's Eve, we went on a hike in Arapaho National Forest with our friend Chris and some of his family.

Hike

He brought along his dog Leo (the tan Lab-Pit Bull mix), and his aunt brought hers (Hershel, black Lab-Weimaraner).

Hike

It was pretty windy at spots which made it feel colder than it actually was. I figured that where we turned around, at the top, it was in the low teens Fahrenheit with the wind chill.

Hike

On the way down we were all getting tired and hungry, so to keep the dogs moving at our pace (instead of smelling this, peeing on that, wandering over there), we picked up a big branch and used it as a carrot. Dogs help make things fun!

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Fantastic Clouds

Clouds

Taken just now from our driveway. It looks even better in 3D.

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Flagstaff Hike

Hiking

Almost a year ago, we went on a hike on Christmas Eve up to the Flatirons. Last December it was considerably warmer than it has been this year -- there was no snow and temperatures were mild. As you can see above, things are very different this year. Although the snow mostly melts between storms, we've had on the order of four feet of snow so far this Fall and Winter. A storm that came through two days ago dropped over a foot where we live, and more at higher altitudes.

Hiking

Today we decided to go for a hike up Flagstaff, which, for those familiar to Boulder, is just to the North of the Flatirons. There is a road off of Flagstaff that is closed in the winter, but is somewhat plowed for walkers. We walked up this road to the end, with a few knee-deep excursions off to the sides.

Hiking

On the hike I came to a realization about snow. Most of the time when I go to "natural" places, they need to be respected and impacted as little as possible. Trails are to be followed, and the surroundings left intact. When I look at an untouched snowy field, it's very pretty, and my first thought is to never go into it, lest I damage the pristine snow. But of course, damaging snow isn't really possible, it's all temporary anyway.

Hiking

Clearly, Melissa doesn't have the same problem.

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Boulder Creek in December


Neighborhood Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing

Seen going past our front door twice yesterday, a man cross country skiing pulling two little girls in a sled. Snow and lemonade, I guess.

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Our Grand Amtrak Journey

Amtrak

For our trip to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving, we took the Amtrak California Zephyr from Denver to Emeryville. The train leaves Denver at 8am, and arrives in Emeryville at 4:30pm the next day. It's clearly not the fastest way to travel (nor is it the cheapest with a sleeper cabin, which we purchased), but it is far more scenic than the alternatives.

Amtrak

Real utensils! Lovely and unique railroad views!

Amtrak

The train consisted of (in order) two engines, a baggage car, three coach cars, an observation/lounge/snack bar car, a dining car, and two sleeper cars. Our cabin was in the last car. Included in the price of a sleeper cabin are all meals in the dining car. The food is better than airline food (well, that is, was, when meals were actually a thing that airlines did) because it's actually prepared in the kitchen below the dining room and not simply microwaved. The dining car has tables that seat four, and if your party is less than four people, you will be seated with strangers. We met some interesting (using the full breadth of that word) people while eating our meals.

Amtrak

Our "roomette" was cozy. There are four shared toilets in a sleeper car, and one shared shower. The toilets are pretty much like airplane lavatories, but the shower was surprisingly spacious, fairly clean, and the water pressure and temperature was good.

Amtrak

The Zephyr is considerably quieter than a passenger jet, but because it runs on rails that are used primarily by freight trains, the ride isn't always smooth. It was not such an issue when the train was moving at 30 or 40 MPH through the mountains, but when it was going 80 MPH across Nevada in the middle of the night, it made sleeping difficult.

Amtrak

In summary, we're glad that we took the train. It's a unique experience that goes through the most beautiful parts of America that can't be seen from the interstates. We had the time to do it, and it was worthwhile. That being said, we're not eager to do it again anytime soon. We met many people on the train who seemed to love it - they were even on a first-name basis with the train staff. But the train isn't quite for us. Still, we recommend that other people consider trying it at least once. There are many things worth doing at least once, and this is one of them.

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Boulder Creek in November


Melting Snow Timelapse

On a whim I did this time lapse out our front window yesterday. I didn't plan it out very well and I shot it through the half of the window with a screen, but it turned out ok, I think. Look for the tree branches springing upwards as they lose snow, car tire tracks evaporating, and the shadows and clouds moving as time progresses. The frames are separated by about 1 minute for the most part, but I was adjusting the interval in the beginning so not all frames are separated by the same amount of time. For the best effect, make sure the "HD" option is turned on and the video is viewed in full screen. It's 1m20s long.

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Dangerous Icicles

Icicles

The recent snow is very moist and sticky, and since it's still fall, many trees still had their leaves. This caused lots of broken branches, including some that fell on our roof. We think none did any damage, but this one hanging over our front door presented another danger this morning - it hosted icicles directly over our front steps. You can see that our steps are iced over as well. Since I took the photo I have knocked down the icicles and scraped and salted the ice on the steps.

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More Boulder Creek in October

I received a request for more photos of Boulder Creek in October.

October 19

19 October

October 26

26 October

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Boulder Creek in October

Boulder Creek

More colors.

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Fall Colors

Peak to Peak

The view from the Peak to Peak highway. You can click on the image to find the full-sized version, and I highly recommend you do!

Fall has hit the Front Range, and the Aspen trees are showing it. I took these photos on my bike ride today, and I could have taken dozens more, but I would have never made it back home! I wasn't the only one out there admiring the fall foliage - traffic was about as busy as I've ever seen it, and I saw many people pulled off to the sides of the roads taking pictures of the trees and views.

Since most of you cannot be like all the people I saw today and admire the views in person, here are some of the more spectacular views I felt were worth stopping for and sharing.

Riverside Drive past Raymond. This is one of my favorite roads in this area. It takes 2 hours to get to, and it's over 7500 feet in elevation, but it looks like this the whole way.

Riverside Drive past Raymond. This is one of my favorite roads in this area. It takes 2 hours to get to, and it's over 7500 feet in elevation, but it looks like this the whole way.

A panorama of Riverside Drive between Riverside and Raymond. Happily, even today the road had almost no traffic. Again, you should look at the full-sized version!

A panorama of Riverside Drive between Riverside and Raymond. Happily, even today the road had almost no traffic. Again, you should look at the full-sized version!

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CU Janus Supercomputer

Last night I had the opportunity to tour the supercomputer recently built here at CU named "Janus" that I've been using. It is a 16,000-core Dell cluster using 6-core Intel processors running RedHat Linux. It was built in an interesting way. Instead of building a machine room in a building and then filling it with cooling ducts, pipes, and power connections, the machine room is made up of standard shipping containers that had all those connections in place, similar to a pre-fab house. These were shipped from the factory (in Canada, I think) on trucks, and then dropped next to each other in a parking lot behind a campus building. Unfortunately, because it was nighttime, I don't have a good picture of the outside.

Below are some pictures I took of Janus.

The machine racks. The door encloses the "hot" side of the machines, where the air is sucked to the heat exchangers.

The machine racks. The door encloses the ‘hot' side of the machines, where the air is sucked to the heat exchangers.

The cooling system.

The cooling system.

The blinky and hot end of the machines. Lots of wires!

The blinky and hot end of the machines. Lots of wires!

A close up of the back of a compute node. Notice that they have serial ports, which are based on a 40+ year old standard. At least they have USB ports, too.

A close up of the back of a compute node. Notice that they have serial ports, which are based on a 40+ year old standard. At least they have USB ports, too.

It was using 415 kW of power. I think it can go much higher than that when the machine is under heavy load on a hot day.

It was using 415 kW of power. I think it can go much higher than that when the machine is under heavy load on a hot day.

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Boulder Creek in September


A Couple Pics

I took this photo yesterday looking down above Jamestown. I took it with the HDR mode of my iPhone, and you can clearly see I did not keep the camera steady. Still, I think it's a cool picture, and the ghosting on the ridges is kind of interesting.

Jamestown

I've decided to modify how we back up our lappies at home. Instead of using SuperDuper! to back them up to individual external drives, I'm now backing them up to the Drobo using the sparsebundle backup mode of SuperDuper! over the network. This actually effectively doubles the number of backups for each lappy, but centralizes them for efficiency. As you can see below, I've brought the hard drives to school, where I've turned them into a striped RAID 500GB array. Making them striped (as opposed to concatenated JBOD) increases the IO speed by roughly 30% over the standard case. Copying a 3.5GB file to any of them individually (or together in JBOD mode) takes about 120 seconds, but as a striped RAID it takes 80 seconds. 500GB isn't big by today's standards, a 2TB disk costs less than $100, but I already had these disks, so it's effectively free. So, why not?

RAID

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