Shuttle Tilting

January 08, 2010 By: erik Category: Geeky, Photos, Photoshop, Science, USA 74 views

Endeavor Tilt-Shift (crop)I’ve always been fond of photographs of the space shuttle. There’s something truly magnificent about a space-bound rocket sitting on the launch pad. It saddens me that the shuttle era will come to and end this year. I just hope its successor doesn’t take too long to get off the ground, so to speak. When I saw some photos of the roll-out of STS-130 yesterday, I selected a couple as good tilt-shifting candidates. Below I present to you the results.
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Optimizing Picture To Border Ratio With Phi

January 07, 2010 By: erik Category: Art, Geeky, Math 10,078 views

Frame Geometry DiagramThe other day I was looking at a framed photo in my house and wondering how the area of the border around the picture (called a mat board in the framing industry) compared to the area of the picture itself. Immediately I remembered the master of all aesthetic ratios, the golden ratio, Phi! 1.61803398874989… I thought, “I bet if the ratio of the area of the picture to the border was Phi, it would look good!” So I set off on an algebraic quest to find the answer…
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Polishing Shoes

January 06, 2010 By: erik Category: Family, Photos, Spain 244 views

Shoes out for Wise Men to fill with giftsAccording to Spanish tradition, on the night before January 6th, the same three wise men who visited Jesus when he was born fly around Spain on their three camels, land on the roofs of houses, rappel down to each balcony, break in, and leave gifts for the little girls and boys who have been good all year long. They especially make sure to fill the shoes that the little children have left out for that purpose. Does this sound at all familiar to my American audience?

I learned a lot of this last night as it was being explained to my daughter why her shoes needed to be polished. Apparently first impressions are important in this arena. So we each set out our shoes last night for the Wise Men to find and fill with goodies.
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New Sounds

January 05, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos 36 views

thumbIt’s curious to watch Nora, who is now nine months old, learn to make new sounds with her mouth. She regularly says “Papapapapa”, “Mamamama”, and “Dadadada”, although I remain unconvinced that she assigns any significance to these utterances. Just before Christmas she learned to “blow a raspberry“, a skill she uses with higher frequency when moving in her stroller or in the car. I like to think that she’s imitating a motor, but so far she hasn’t learned to switch gears. On one particular walk over the Christmas holidays, I had to wipe her chin about every fifteen meters because it was soaked with saliva expelled during said sonic production; that is when I shot the video you see below. Her vocal creativity is positively correlated with boredom, so if you talk to her or give her attention in any way (like pointing a video camera at her), she immediately stops. It’s only in moments of inattention that she feels the need to entertain herself.
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It's all speculative

January 04, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Media, Musings, Stuff I Found 68 views

Today I stumbled on this awesome speech written and given by Michael Crichton back in 2002 about speculation, and how the media – which he defines as movies, television, internet, books, newspapers, and magazines – is, to a large extent, a gurgling blob of useless drivel. It’s a shame that he probably didn’t get to watch much of the farcical climax of vacuous speculation that was the 2008 US presidential election, as he died on the day Obama got elected. My favorite part of the article is how he talks about the fallacy that we all commit (a recent favorite topic of mine) when we read the newspaper, or receive information from any news source for that matter.
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Europe, home of Leonardo and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin art

January 04, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Marketing, Politics, Weird 423 views

Europe, home of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin artYesterday, as I was digging through my coins to pay for a cool European lager, I happened to glance at the artwork on the heads (Or tails? Who can tell anymore?) side of the coin. At first I thought it was some kind of joke currency or bizarre token that someone had slipped me in mistake or trickery. So I saved it, pretty sure it couldn’t be real. But lo and behold, it’s a special 2009 commemorative 2€ coin. To quote the Official Journal of the European Union (PDF):
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A Basque Chrismas with Olentzero

December 30, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Mondragon, Offspring, Partying, Photos 335 views

Opening presents is the best!On Christmas Eve night in the Basque Country, the homes of little children are visited by an enormous, soot-stained, Basque gentleman in a beret who drops off presents. His name is Olentzero. The history of this tradition and its variations is quite fascinating. In fact, when people give gifts on Christmas, there is much less emphasis (than in my culture) on who the gift is from. It’s just, “Here’s your Olentzero”, where the name also is slang for the gift itself. Surprising no one, Nora was the biggest recipient of gifts from the big burly Basque this year.
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Abandonment Issues

December 28, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Offspring, Parenting, Photos, Spain 120 views

Cutie BasqueFor pretty much all of December my wife’s family has been pressuring us to leave Nora with them for Santo Tomás (December 22), a huge festival in their town of Mondragon involving special seasonal foods, getting dressed up in traditional Basque clothing, traditional Basque music and dancing, and a crafts and livestock market. The main reason they wanted her was to dress her up in some traditional Basque clothes. Some part of our human brain finds it incredibly adorable to dress up a small child (or chimpanzee) in clothes we associate more with adult humans.
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Visiting Colindres in December

December 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Colindres, Family, Partying, Photos, Spain, Travel 472 views

The following is a document written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his recent trip to visit us in December 2009.

Nora with American GrandparentsBetsy and I had been looking forward to meeting our granddaughter in August. We would visit southern Spain, where Erik\’s Spanish family vacations every summer, and meet our granddaughter then. As her birth approached, however, it seemed like too much would be missed if we didn’t see Nora before then, so in May we traveled to Colindres and stayed a week with Erik, Marga, and Nora. We had a great time, and another great time when we visited in August. In September, however, I felt uncomfortable not knowing when we would visit them again, so we made plans for a visit in May of 2010. In November, May seemed too far away, so we bought tickets for a trip to Colindres in December, returning to Morganton a week before Christmas. This time we flew from Charlotte to Atlanta to Paris, and from Paris to Bilbao. A week after arriving we would return through Paris, flying to Detroit and then Charlotte. Erik said that most if not all of his winter coats would fit me, and I might consider saving space by not bringing a coat, and that is what I did. We packed just two suit cases, one full of presents, and the other with clothes.
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Christmas Came Early This Year

December 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Partying, Photos, USA 258 views

Big box for NoraAt our house this year, we had Christmas morning on the evening of December 16th. This was mainly because it was the last night my parents were visiting and giving gifts is much better when you can see the look on the recipient’s face as they open their presents. Plus, the more the merrier. To begin the ceremony, my father announced the system our family has used for as long as I can remember to inform the three first-time participants, Marga, Belén, and Nora.

The youngest family member able to do so shall pull gifts from the tree one by one, announcing who each one is from and to, and deliver it to its recipient. The recipient shall thereby open the gift while everyone watches and thank the giver. Repeat until there are no more presents under the tree, whilst trying to alternate recipients as much as possible.

This year, the youngest able present distributor was Belén. It just so happened that we had a perfect hat for her to wear throughout the ceremony.
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