Friday, February 26, 2010

Strange Snow

This morning walking the the bus stop was a little difficult because
the the high winds and snow we are having. Some areas or the ground
have almost no snow while others have about 3-4 inches. The cars (or
pretty much anything above ground level) don't have any new snow on
them because it just blows right off. On a good note, I tried to start
my car two days ago that I haven't driven in three weeks and it
started right up. I clear all the snow off the top, but it is still
surrounded by walls of snow.

My Research on Snackbot at CMU made the New York Times!


I just got an email from an old group member of mine (human computer interaction extraordinaire, Richard Ram) who was in my HCI Methods class at Carnegie Mellon.  It looks like a project we were working on for that class was in the New York Times on Tuesday!  The articles and be found here:

The robot that we worked with was called Snackbot and was featured in the first part of the article as well as in the video on the left sidebar.  We spent a lot of time on that robot and learned a lot of valuable information about human-robot interaction.  It's a little disappointing that they did not mention our research group in the article but is still cool that something we worked on was featured in the New York Times.

We got to do a lot of interesting things while doing that research such as work with a robot and researchers from Stanford, work with a lunar robot team at CMU that was competing in a contest to have their robot sent to the moon by Google, and we even got to ride off-road Segways!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Europeanization Progress

I booked my second moving trip to Holland today fro March 2 - 13.  Hopefully I will be able to find an apartment during the trip and get everything all squared away.  I tentatively booked a hotel called Die Port van Cleve in Dam Square in Amsterdam.  It is right in the middle of the city so I should not have to worry about there being nothing to do like at Best Western Uithoorn.  I will be leaving for the trip one week from today, will stay there for a week and a half and will only be here for about 2 weeks before I move for good!  I still have to book the final trip some I'm not sure what day will be my last day in Pittsburgh.  Wow, it's getting close!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Energy Coffee?

I found "fusion" energy coffee at 7-eleven this morning. Isn't coffee
supposed to be an energy drink by defalt?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dutch Shower

I hope all Dutch showers are not like the one in my hotel. Why would
they put the shower head in the middle of the tub instead of on the end?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Haarlem

Yesterday Kris took me to Haarlem to check it out to see if I might like to live there.  I must say that I really did like it there.  It is about a 10 minute train ride to Amsterdam and an 10 minute train ride to the beach in the other direction.  It looks like there is a lot to do there as well.  There were small shops, big stores, restaurants and bar and a lot of old European charm.
Walking around these streets really makes you feel like you are not in America anymore.  I think Haarlem is going to have a good chance at me looking for a place to live, but then again, it was only the first place I really got to look around.


Oh, and one more thing...
I bet it's not fun to try to find your bike when it is parked at the train station!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Getting to the Airport

What an experience it was to get to the airport today!  Here is everything I tried:
  1. Drive as usual.
    1. My car and street is totally covered in two feet of snow.
  2. Take a taxi
    1. I was going to get one early just in case because of all the snow.  I called around 1.  The message said that taxis are delayed five to seven hours!  I stayed on hold for about a 1/2 hour then decided I better just take the bus.
  3. I had to walk down to Forbes with all my bags on sidewalks that for the most part were not shoveled.  I had snow all up my pants and in my shoes.  Luckily there was a 61A when I got there.  I rode it in to Oakland and got off at Craig to catch a 28X.
    1. I waited for about a 1/2 hour and no 28X.  I asked the driver of the 61B if the 28Xs were still coming.  She said they were not in service at all!  I'm so glad that the port authority's website said they were in service today!  WTF?
  4. I took that 61B Downtown to the William Penn.  I figured that there are always taxis lined up at that hotel.
    1. I was in luck!  There was a taxi there that was able to take me to the airport.
I am sitting here waiting to fly to Philly right now.  You would not believe the roads, even roads like Fifth and Forbes were not touched!  The parkway was good for the most part, but there were sections that were still pretty bad.  It didn't get really good until 376 turns into 60.

Let's hope the rest of this trip to Philly them on to Amsterdam works out okay...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Wonder Land!

State of Emergency!!!


Today Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and much of the region and east cost have been declared states of emergencies.  It snowed like crazy last night into early this afternoon.  It just stopped here in Squirrel Hill not too long ago.  They said on the news that it only snows this much once every 15 years.  My flight to Amsterdam of course got cancelled today and rescheduled for tomorrow.  When I woke up this morning, I could not resist the temptation to go out and document all of this craziness.  The picture above is my street.  Here is an album of all the pictures I took:

Winter Storm '10

When I first walked out my door, I was a little overwhelmed I could not even tell where the steps were.  The snow was almost up to my knees!  Here is a video:



The snow is up past the tires on my car.  When I looked at my driveway which has a pretty steep slope down to the garage, it looked like it was almost level with the ground.  It took me a little while to make it out of my street, but when I got to Wightman, it was a little better.  Everyone was walking down the middle of the streets because there were no cars and you could not even see the sidewalks.  I decided to go try to get some breakfast and see what all was open.  I ended up eating at Dozen while talking to the person who worked there.  Everyone out today was really friendly.  Everyone was saying good morning to each other and talking.  When I was done with breakfast I starting walking back and saw a cross-country sking, skiing down Murray!  It was a pretty strange sight.  On my way back, there was this crazy woman trying to drive down Hobart.  She was sliding all over the place and slamming on her horn at the people walking on the street.  It is people like her who are the ones that cause accidents in her big ol' SUV.  One guy punched her window as she drove past.  She deserved it though, she was being a real bitch.

Instead of going home. I decided to check out Schenley Park...it was beautiful.  Here is a video:


After walking through the park, I decided it was time to come home.  I was getting pretty cold.

Let me know what you think of the pictures.  Did anyone else get a lot of snow?  If so please share your pictures.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

5644 Hempstead


5644 Hempstead Street was my first "real" apartment that I had after graduating from college.  I can't believe I've lived here for three and a half years!  When I first moved in to this place, everything was brand new.  I was pealing plastic off of all of the appliances and the whole place smelled like new carpet.  I was so excited to finally have a place of my own.  The cool thing about moving into this place was that Walnut Capital just renovated the entire building and when I moved on on August 1 2006, so did everyone else in the building.  We were all pretty much young professionals and although we were not best friends, we hung out from time-to-time.  It was nice to be living in a building with people that were all my age.

The apartment is in a great location, a very short walk to Schenley Park and a short walk of about the same distance to Murray Avenue.  This location was great because you have the best of both worlds, the vast open spaces and many outdoor amenities of the park and the city feel with shops restaurants and bars in the other direction.  The 67H bus is also right here to take me to work while the 61's were not far off if I wanted to go to Oakland or stay Downtown later.

Although for the most part I really liked living here, there were a few things that really started to bother me as time went on.  I hated not having my own washer and dryer and having to either wait for other people to take their laundry out of the machines, or realize at the last minute that I did not have any quarters.  The shower water is crazy!  It gets either totally hot or totally cold with no warning.  It is not common to burn and freeze yourself in the shower multiple times per day.  Finally, parking is terrible around here.  My entire street is 12 unit apartments on each side of the street with similar apartment buildings on the neighbouring streets.  To make things worse, you are only allowed to park on one side of my street.  This is not good when you want to have people over or when you drive home later at night.  Parking is just terrible.  Other than that and the tiny kitchen I think Hempstead did me well over the past few years and I have no regrets living here.

I will really miss this place and the neighbourhood.  Squirrel Hill is a really cool place, it's great to walk down the street and almost always see a familiar friendly face (at lease when it's not winter!) and be able to walk to almost anything you could need.

My time left in this place is short.  It is going to be hard to leave a city that I've come to love so much over the past seven and a half years of living here.  I'm made a lot of really good friends, had some really fun times, and learned a lot.  It is going to be a bitter sweat ending for me leaving Pittsburgh, I will miss my friends and family a lot, but at the same time I am really looking forward to a new adventure in a new city (continent!) and starting the next chapter of my life.