Monday, December 19, 2011

The Demons of Cyclic Space Redux


When I started learning how to write programs in C I wrote several as described in the book “The Magic Machine” by A.K. Dewdney.  Chapter twelve is called “The Demons of Cyclic Space” and I’ve been intrigued by the cellular automata it described.  Over the years I’ve re-implemented the simulation on a variety of systems and languages.  Four years ago I posted a video saved from a run and really haven’t touched it since then.

The Demons of Cyclic Space

Last week the video received a comment about the video and a question about my implementation.  So I decided to brush off the code and see about cleaning it up for release.  It was written using MFC in a version of Visual Studio I don’t have anymore.  As it wouldn’t build with Visual Studio 2010 I decided to re-implement it in C++ and ATL.  The screen shot at the start is the first pass which shows the initial world state that is generated.  The next step is to add updating the simulation and display the new state.  Finally I want to update the program to output the simulation run as a video file.

Once the program runs I will publish the repository and some information about the code and what’s happening behind the scenes.  Also in the plan is to implement the rest of the programs described in the book and post videos of the simulation runs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goedemorgen! Ik ben Brendan.

Goedemorgen! Ik ben Brendan.

I have decided to learn Dutch. Normally I spend my time playing with German as I’ve wanted to learn that language for a long time. That’s been the problem with German. I’ve only been playing at it and not really giving it the attention it needs. I have a trip to Amsterdam coming in a few months and another one planned for the 2013 Marillion Weekend. The first trip is only a few months away so I have to focus to meet my goal in time.

Speaking of goals here is mine: I want to be able to talk with the locals in their language. I want to be able to get around the city by reading signs and information on my own. In a concrete term I would like to achieve the B1 level of the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). My goal is to achieve level A2 by the end of 2011 and use the first months of 2012 to work up to B2 before the trip. I don’t have a date for the trip yet so I’m going to set the end of March 2012 for my deadline.

I have purchased a phrase book and book to learn the language. For the rest of September I’m going to create a list of tasks with deadlines breaking down the steps I’ll need to accomplish to meet my goals. Additionally I’ll search for free materials such as word lists, blogs, podcasts and videos to assist with learning the language. Sadly the Foreign Service Institute doesn’t provide Dutch as part of their free language courses.

Starting in October I’ll start by learning basic vocabulary and studying the book and finishing it in the month of October. In November I’ll add watching movies, reading blogs and listening to podcasts in the Dutch. Finally in December I’ll find natives who want to learn English and practice with them via VOIP.

That is enough of a plan for the moment. Tot ziens!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

20110828 Alki Beach 5K Walk & Run

From Hiking & Walking

A few weeks ago a friend asked me to join them in the Alki Beach 5K Run & Walk and I agreed to go. Five kilometers isn't a difficult walk and I knew the route would be flat as it was along the shore of Alki beach.

Due to spending the two previous days at PAX the alarm on Sunday morning went off way too early. Yet I still made it up and over to meet my friends in time. It was a very foggy morning and as you can see from the photo I didn't see the sun or a lot of water during the walk. I finished the walk with an official time of 1:03:37. I am going to work on lowering my time for future 5K walks, but am satisfied with my results.

This was the first walk on a new pair of Brooks Beast running shoes that I had bought the week before. In the end the shoes were great as they didn't cause me any discomfort during the walk. Having high arches I like that the Beast comes in wide versions. I believe these are going to be a great pair of shoes for hiking on sidewalks and lighter trails. I'm considering buying another pair to use in the gym.

Finally, I have to say I look damn good in that picture! I don't feel like I've lost that much weight but looking at pictures like that compared to some a few years ago and I can see a positive difference. I win!

Monday, August 29, 2011


I've kept hiking and walking on a regular basis. The problem is I haven't been good and keeping up on blogging about it. Sorry folks.

This weekend while participating in the Alki Beach 5K I thought about the issues I have with gear while hiking and possibly blogging about how I find solutions and work arounds. For example, where can you buy base layer clothing to fit my larger frame. I figure that information could be useful to other big hikers. So I will start to include that on my posts here along with the rest of my life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

20110811 - Lake To Lake Trail (Partial)

Before I get too far I want to spend a moment to define a couple of words. Those words are "hiking" and "walking," which are similar, but to me mean the following:

Moving on foot with the goal of going from one place to another. Walking mostly involves paved sidewalks and roads. For example, last night I walked from the restaurant to R.E.I. and back.
Moving on foot with the goal of viewing the scenery and enjoying nature. Hiking mostly involves trails whether they are gravel, bark dust or bare earth. For example, tonight I hiked around Mercer Slough.

With that out of the way let's get on to tonight's adventure. I had an appointment in Bellevue tonight after work and instead of driving to Seattle and back I decided to spend the time exploring the Lake to Lake Trail, which is close to my office. So I grabbed my camera, phone and headed out to find the trail. Finding the trailhead wasn't difficult as it is located at the Winters House. The trail wanders through the Mercer Slough. Not far down the trail I found my "dream home," an old joke between me and my first wife, and had to snap a picture.

I was making good progress thanks to the well maintained trails when I spied a pedestrian bridge ahead of me. Picture time again!

From the bridge I took two pictures of downtown Bellevue. The first was a regular shot. I used the optical zoom on my camera on the second time to give a better idea of the skyline from the bridge.

I was making good time but not knowing exactly how long it would take me I started to focus more on making progress than looking at the bushes around me. It was a nice easy hike because the trails are well maintained in the slough. The only hitch was when I came upon a split in the trail with no sign indicating which way I wanted to go. I chose the sinister trail (Was that a surprise?) and continued along my merry way.

In the end I think both ways would have gotten me to my goal. In the end I made it through and back to the main road. I continued around the edge of the slough and made it back to the Bellefield Office Park with enough time to have some water and rest before my appointment. On the way to my office I came across some painted stones. They could be art or some sort of therapy. Either way I took a picture for you.

I'll have to find a way to track some statistics about my hikes but for now you just get a lot of pictures and my short descriptions. It was a good way to spend 90 minutes and I'll have to hike the slough again because there are many branches and other trails I didn't take.

Finally, I'll leave you with one last picture. Working in a slough has some disadvantages in a rainy area. The parking lots sink into the soft soil and flood often. In fact the parking lot at my office has been underwater most of the year. I noticed today that they've mounted signs warning about the deep water. After the floods have receeded and the aspalt is dry. As a note all the asphalt you see was completely submerged not long ago. I guess the signs will help next spring when the snow melts again.

The next hike I've planned is on the Iron Goat Trail this Saturday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plans at Dinner

Just had a very nice evening with my friends Jenn and Lacy talking about hiking, backpacking, camping and life in general. I'm very excited about our plans for adventure. The plan was for me to talk to them about equipment and preparation for extended backpacking trips. The problem was it has been so long since I went on more than a day hike I'm not sure what is the current state of backpacking equipment. Instead we talked about camping and hiking trips we would like to do.

Part of that is a plan to hike the Iron Goat Trail. I don't know if they will be able to join me but I'm going to hike it this weekend. Maybe twice as my brother also wants to hike the trail but he's booked on Saturday. No matter what else happens I'm going to get out on two hikes this weekend. I can't always get out both days but I'm going to take advantage of them when I can.

I am also going to try some urban hikes in the evenings when I don't have other plans. For example last night I didn't drive. I walked from home to the library, to dinner, to a coffee shop and then back home. I think it was about 4km and a nice stretch of the legs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beer on Bainbridge

My brother has a good write up of our adventure last weekend, so I'll let him tell the tale.

Flatlander In Seattle: Beer on Bainbridge: “Last Saturday my brother and I took the ferry from downtown Seattle over to Bainbridge Island...”

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Last night I walked from my home to Central Cinema and back. Normally I would have driven but parking there has been a challenge in the past and it was a nice night. I had a few twinges during the walk but no major pain and no lasting effect this morning. I wore different shoes than I normally do for walking and I'm going to take that as a sign that the shoes I have been wearing aren't good for my feet. Arch supports and thick soles do not work for me. The closer I can get to no shoe at all the less my ankles hurt.

According to the route I entered in Gmaps Pedometer I walked 3.7649 miles and burned 469 calories. Not a huge workout but it is a start and a step in the right direction. I have learned that keeping track of numbers such as distance traveled and calories burned helps to keep me motivated. Motivated I need to stay because I know I will feel better if I am more active.

Next time I shouldn't have dinner, three pints of beer, dessert and popcorn during my walk but I did go to a double feature of The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1886). :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Full Steam Ahead!

On July 3rd my girlfriend and I drove down to Portland to ride on a train pulled by the Southern Pacific #4449, a 4-8-4 steam locomotive built in 1941.  The trip was a round trip along the Columbia River Gorge out to Wishram Washington and back.  The excursion was wonderfully relaxing and while the day started out cloudy the sun broke through and we were treated to beautiful views if the river as we made our way along.  In Wishram we were served a BBQ lunch and had a chance to take a few pictures before boarding the train for a ride back to Portland.

It was a nice relaxing trip and reminded me again why I enjoy travel by train so much.  Enjoy the pictures I took on the trip:

SP #4449 (July 2011)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Returning From Hiatus

With all of my friends moving away from LiveJournal and other changes in my life I’m going to be resurrecting this blog for my personal thoughts, notes and projects.  As such I’ll post about things like programming, baking, music, movies and books.  I’m probably speaking into the wind here but whatever.  Some people have found past posts of mine helpful and maybe they will again.

I have three blogs used for different purposes.  They are:

  • Leber Hall – This very blog you are reading now.
  • N0BML – Dedicated to my amateur radio, emergency communications and electronics projects.
  • Seattle Whist Club – Dedicated to teaching the game of Whist and organizing players in the Seattle area.

See you around…