Friday, January 27, 2017

State of the Blog, 2017

Another year has come and gone, and now that I have that little graph-generating script I used last year to make a plot of my post activity per month, I thought I'd make use of it again (with a few tweaks, what was I thinking stylistically last year‽).

Nothing too surprising here. I got a little boost at the start of 2016 compared to 2015, then gradually dropped back to my usual 2–3 posts per month. While looking at this graph, it struck me that a histogram showing how often each number came up would be interesting, so I quickly added some code to the script to generate one:

Well, I was right that it turned out rather interesting! Peaks at two, seven, and ten, but five and nine are both relatively unpopular numbers—huh. I doubt I'll be reaching the heady heights of fifteen again, but I do hope to keep that solitary, single one from getting any higher. A hui hou!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Little Game of Carcasonne

Over Christmas, while I was back home, I played a game of Carcasonne with my brothers. (If you're not familiar with Carcasonne, it's a tile-laying game where you lay out fields and roads and cities and staff them with people in order to score points.) Just for fun, I set up my camera and took a picture of each turn, then strung them together into a stop-motion animation. (I learned a few things about my video editor, Kdenlive, in the process, and I'm quite impressed with its capabilities.)

I've wanted to do something like this for years (I remember trying it back in my late teens), but I didn't really have the video editing chops to make it work until recently. Hope you enjoy it! A hui hou!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Observations on the Dietary Habits of the Common Gold Dust Day Gecko

Today I learned, much to my amazement, that gold dust day geckos (a species originally from Madagascar, now established in Hawaii) like pecans.

Let me back up: yesterday I noticed a rather fearless member of the species Phelsuma laticauda hanging around my computer desk: it crawled down the side of my right monitor and decided to hang out in the lower-right-hand corner of the screen. I had a little fun getting it to try to bite my cursor, but unlike last time it didn't seem disposed to leave so after a while I got bored and left it alone, and it wandered off on its own after a few minutes.

Today what I presume to be the same gecko showed up again, as it took up exactly the same position on my screen for a minute or two before crawling all the way across both monitors to the other side of my desk, jumping down, and homing in on a Ziploc bag of caramel-and-pecan turtles from a family friend that I brought back from my Christmas trip. It started nosing at the bag and showing an obvious interest in the contents, so when it moved away after half a minute or so of unsuccessful nosing I took a small piece of pecan out and laid it on a card nearby.

Soon enough, the inquisitive gecko came over and started licking the pecan, which is what I've seen geckos do with food in the past. I started taking a small video as it was quite fun to watch its obvious enjoyment of a treat it almost certainly had never had before, when to my astonishment it grabbed the pecan in its mouth and attempted to break a chunk off.

I then crumbled another piece into smaller, gecko-bite-sized chunks and placed a few down, and it proceeded to eat several over a period of perhaps ten minutes before getting full and wandering off again.

Going for some of the smaller pieces…

Just tell me that isn't a happy lizard.
I'm rather interested in this, as I've never heard of these geckos (or any geckos for that matter) eating nuts. I'm fairly certain that pecans are not native to Madagascar, so I can't imagine this gecko had ever seen one before. Wikipedia lists their diet as “various insects and other invertebrates, other smaller lizards, soft, sweet fruit, pollen, and nectar from flowers.” Which doesn't rule out nuts, of course, but doesn't exactly suggest it either. All very interesting. A hui hou!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Travel Comedy, in One Act

Scene 1
A small house a few days before Christmas. Protagonist, a young man in his twenties, is seen packing for a trip. He picks up a laptop, and, after thoughtfully considering it for a few seconds, purposefully removes the battery and leaves it behind as he packs the laptop into a backpack.

Scene 2
The Hilo airport, later that day. Protagonist is seen passing through the security checkpoint without incident, other than forgetting to empty his water bottle and needing to go through security a second time.

Scene 3
The San Francisco airport, New Year's Eve. Protagonist is seen passing through security entirely without incident this time.

Scene 4
The Honolulu airport, later the same day. Due to an oversight and changing airlines, protagonist is seen picking up his luggage from the baggage claim and re-entering the security line.

This time, the battery-less laptop seems to be causing some perplexity among security staff, several of whom are clustered around the X-ray machine. Protagonist goes through the metal detector, then stands waiting for his effects to come down the conveyor belt. Several long awkward minutes follow, as other prospective passengers begin to line up after him, likewise waiting for the arrested progress of their assorted impedimenta to resume.

After a few minutes one of the agents clustered around the monitor comes over and brusquely asks the protagonist if he often makes a habit of going around removing batteries from laptops. The protagonist's patient explanation that the battery had been dead for years and its removal was purely a matter of carrying less weight on his back does not seem to comfort the gathered agents—now numbering at least five—who after poking, prodding, and opening the lid of the laptop decide to send it back through the X-ray machine for a second run. (Protagonist is seen, meanwhile, surreptitiously inspecting the X-ray image of his laptop visible on a monitor with great interest.)

Finally, after another round through the X-ray machine, the laptop seems to have allayed the agents' suspicions, and is returned to the protagonist by an agent who curtly informs him that he can continue, which he somehow manages to do without betraying a hint of amusement.