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Epistulae Ciceronis
A Perfectly Squiffy Jag

20.01.10 Wednesday
04:24 am - Welcome.
Photos are public; most everything else is not. Leave a comment to be added.

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06.06.09 Saturday
11:30 am - Katie's 28th Birthday Party
I suspect most of you are on my 1928 party invite list, but for you Facebook haters: we're throwing a birthday party for Katie on Sunday, June 21st, 1959 at 5:00PM. (Yes, that's a subtle hint at a theme). It's a potluck so you should come prepared with sides to share or meats for the grill. Katie also just bought some new patio furniture which we should have in by then; since everyone tends to lounge on the patio during summer parties anyway, we figured we'd at least make it comfortable.

Also, this is a heads up that you should block off the evening of Friday, September 11th, 2009 on your calendar as you're committed to coming to my as-of-yet-unannounced-but-hardly-difficult-to-guess-the-theme-of party, which will last well into Saturday. I don't like to hype my own parties but seriously, this is the event we've all been waiting nearly a decade for.

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30.05.09 Saturday
06:52 pm - Strawberries will never taste so good
"When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God... There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man." - John Steinbeck, from East of Eden.

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15.04.09 Wednesday
11:39 am - Atlanta Zoo

[+24 | Slideshow]

I was kicking myself when we decided to go to the Atlanta Zoo and I realized I'd left my 100mm lens at home. Not that I have any real interest in nature photography but there are some shots that are simply obligatory. Of course, I'm even more disappointed that I didn't even bring my camera to the Atlanta Aquarium, which was really awesome - although it's not like I would have taken any photos that haven't already been taken a thousand times before.

Overall the Atlanta Zoo isn't really that great. I much prefer the Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle if only because the habitats feel much more natural. The big attraction at the Atlanta Zoo is the baby panda which was cute - although Katie and I got more out of the reptile exhibit which included tons of baby turtles.

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14.04.09 Tuesday
08:51 am - Friday Night Social

[+24 | Slideshow]

Photos from the Friday Night Social back in November. Back when I still through threw parties.

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12.04.09 Sunday
09:06 am - Snow Day

Like half the photos on my camera were from that week in December when it snowed and everyone decided it would be better to hang out with friends than go to work. Everyday should be snow day. Unfortunately, most of the photos fall under the "had to of been there" category but I managed to salvage a few.

I think this is the only picture I have of the outside of my house. Everything looks so pretty in the snow!

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11.04.09 Saturday
03:05 pm - Bedroom

I totally forgot that I owned a camera. I have photos going back to like December! These two were taken in January after Katie and I finished hanging my peacock screen. It may not look like much but it took us a couple hours to get it mounted and level, so were were pretty proud. I think it fills out the room nicely. Now we just need to get a new bedspread and rug. (The sheepskin rug was actually intended for this room but we put it in the library until we find a cowskin rug for that room).

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23.03.09 Monday
01:13 pm - Travel Slut.
I'm so eager for adventure that I never really think about where I'm going (or why) until I'm there. If you called me up and told me you had an extra ticket for a trip tomorrow I'd agree to go even before knowing the destination. And its for that exact reason that I now find myself in the middle of Georgia. (Sweet home Georgia not Russia Georgia).

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01.02.09 Sunday
01:32 pm - Dogville
"There's an American TV show in which the president of the US is black. People say, 'Oh look, that's OK, there's a black president on TV.' That's completely humiliating because that's not how it is. There's no black president. Political correctness kills discussion." - Lars von Trier.

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15.01.09 Thursday
10:14 am - Self-Righteousness
Have I mentioned how much I adore Roger Ebert lately? "Art-directed in gloomy House of Tudor colors, "The Other Boleyn Girl" offers high-toned pulp for those who like to imagine themselves superior to ranch-colonial Desperate Housewives, and who don't like to feel so guilty about the pleasure they get from vicarious lust and treachery. Movies like this are designed to let the art-house crowd revel in marginally educative vulgarity without getting their sensibilities dirty."

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17.12.08 Wednesday
01:53 pm - Home Alone 4, part 2.
There's no food in the house, so I'm drinking beer.

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15.11.08 Saturday
02:08 pm - John's Birthday Party

[+230 | Slideshow]

uncelestial had a pretty epic birthday party at his new home last night. The best addition (which I'm totally going to gank for my next theme party) was a greenscreen photobooth with 20+ backgrounds. Of course, the 9/11 background was the most popular - you just can't go wrong with exploding planes.

I was in a quiet mood last night and took quite a few photos, although my camera managed to make the rounds so I'm looking forward to what debauchery found its way onto my memory card. Of course, I still haven't posted photos from my halloween party yet so we'll see if I ever get around to going through them.

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28.10.08 Tuesday
05:08 pm - Pumpkin Carving Party
The other day Katie threw a pumpkin carving and dinner party for her friends (as well as a few of mine) at our house. I wasn't feeling particularly social, which means you actually get photos.

[+29 | Slideshow]

Oh, and this set includes probably my favorite photo ever of meowlet.

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02:02 pm - Hot young co-eds!
Katie and I are hosting a fundraiser for the University of Washington Department of Applied Mathematics on November 15th. We're getting donations of kegs from local microbreweries (TDB; details expected on Friday). All proceeds will be used to fund at least one research position over the summer. We have no idea what the field of study for this student will be, however many applied mathemeticians go on to build weapons for the military; obviously, blowing up people in the name of science is a good cause that we can all get behind.

The cover will be $15 ($10 with student ID); for this price, you get an endless supply of alcohol (the department has done mathemetical modeling of alcohol consumption and feels confident they can honor this commitment). The party will likely start around 7:00pm and will be located at our house (1928 10th Ave. E.). Since this is a fundraiser, we're allowing anyone in who meets the cover charge - although if they're ugly we'll likely quarantine them in the basement (sorry, I have standards to maintain).

I'll be posting an invite to Facebook on Monday, once the details have all been confirmed. For now this is a heads-up.

Note: If you can't attend but would like to support the nuking-of-innocent-civis, you can also fund the Applied Mathematics Half Marathon Team, who will be running (half of) the Seattle Marathon on November 30th. Their goal is to raise $20,000 by then! [Donation Form] (PDF).

ATTN: goldfischegirl: You'll be excited to know that the Applied Math faculty will be showing up - drunk professors, what could go wrong?

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23.10.08 Thursday
12:57 pm - Iris and Cooper

The unholy offspring of getlocalgirl and caseyplusplus.

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12:32 pm - Willow's Costume Party
A few weeks ago, while honoring the Woman Out Of Town (woot) Protocol, goldfischegirl, mrsimul and I crashed my friend Willow's party hell-and-gone somewhere in South Seattle (original post). Anyway, I uploaded the photos a while back but never got a chance to cross-post them here. Many of the pictures from the set were taken by Ashley as we were sharing camera duty that night. It ended up being a pretty wild party and there are some fun photos in the set.

Ashley took this one, although you'd never know. Our styles have seemed to merge over the last few years.

This was my costume for part of the night. I also ended up as an injun at some point, a cowboy at another and a farmer (?) at yet another. These photos were obviously taken by Ashley.

[+28 | Slideshow]

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10:37 am - He said it.
uncelestial: i know i've taken out pumpkin guts.
uncelestial: that's like getting to second base with a pumpkin
uncelestial: i can't remember if i've gone all the way.


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22.10.08 Wednesday
01:57 pm - Political Quiz.
Let's talk about the real issues.

Super-long political pollCollapse )

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19.10.08 Sunday
11:33 am - USO Ball
As has been the trend lately, I was more interested in socializing than taking photographs and so I only have a handful of pictures from the party. Fortunately, popcultureicon was in attendance with his Canon 450D. The lighting was dim so I loaned him my flash and, despite never working with an attached unit, he took an exceptional set that really captures the mood of the party. Every few years it seems the Official Event Photographer role passes to a new person; originally it was goldfischegirl, then the baton was passed on deceitfully taken by me, and now Christopher's assumed responsibility. (This, I fear, means I my camera will get invited to less parties).

meowlet with a World War II era newspaper (she brought a bunch of neat relics from the 40s).

Katie also really likes suxdonut's photo of the cake. Another shot of my costume, also by popcultureicon.

suxdonut and clay88.

[+61 | Slideshow] [Additional sets by: Ashley, Ang, and Tatiana]

The 1943 USO Ball has been my favorite party at the new house, if not the best party I've ever thrown. The theme was very successful; I think it was planned long-enough in advance and offered enough quickly-assembled costume ideas that it was easy for people to come in character. Katie also did a great job compiling the background music, which helped maintain the mood. A fairly decent sized crowed showed up (I'd estimate 50 people?); probably less than the last party, but it was a diverse group of friends which kept things interesting without getting out-of-hand. Quite a few people showed up who I haven't seen in a long-time, including meowlet and seennotheard (who made a fantastic Rosie the Riveter); this made me happy. (Of course, others were missed, such as sidspencer, my father and practically all of Katie's friends who are, apparently, terrified of my parties).

Open MicCollapse ).
Partying at 1928Collapse ).
Laural's Death FallCollapse ).
The After PartyCollapse ).
Military ChicCollapse ).

Anyway, thanks to all of the people who showed up and made it such a memorable birthday! I hope everyone else had as good of a time as I did.

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24.09.08 Wednesday
12:30 pm - Katiepalooza
I've been together with sarevilo for over three years now. Historically, I tend to get bored quickly, with most relationships ending before the one-year mark.

I've put together a slideshow of my favorite photos of Katie from this time.

Highlights from 2005-2008Collapse )

[+45 | Slideshow]

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10.09.08 Wednesday
05:02 pm - Matt and Melissa's Wedding

[+116 | Slideshow]

Matt's wedding turned out fantastic. The bathhouse at Golden Gardens was the perfect location for the event, and worked quite well for the photography as well. For Katie and I it was a nice balance between work and fun. It's also the first wedding we've ever shot where some family member didn't get on our case for drinking the alcohol or eating the food (inevitably someone treats us as the hired help, not realizing we're also on the guest list).

Our new equipment is proving its worth; I think the wedding shots turned out nice. I really love my 40D and Katie's 1D has proven useful due to the 1.3x crop and extremely fast 15fps. We rented the 85mm f/1.2 as usual as well as the 15mm fisheye. The latter was nice to have, although we only used a handful of the shots since they look a bit gimmicky in bulk. Still, between the lens optics and the wide angle it was a lot of fun to use. We'll probably buy both lenses eventually, although Katie would rather get the 14mm rectilinear - it's hard to justify buying two $2,000 lenses, though.

I still believe, at some level, that you're only as good as your worst photo - and by that yardstick I have a long, long way to go. But looking at the top 10% of my photos I'm pretty happy with this set.

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30.08.08 Saturday
06:11 pm - Luck.
I never go outside barefoot. But today was different. Today, Katie was replacing light bulbs! This was too exciting to pass up, so I rushed outside, down the stairs, across the driveway, around the car and sat next to wisteria vines for a front-row seat of the action.

"Watch out for the glass", warns Katie.

Looking back over the driveway, I realize I stepped right through a hundred or so shards of broken glass. As well as two nails. And a push pin. Apparently refugees from a box Katie recently tried moving from her car.

On the way back I took the old light bulbs and installed them in the branches of a tree.

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17.08.08 Sunday
10:14 am - Germany

[+145 | Slideshow]

After our plans for Eastern Europe got postponed we were anxious to get home. Due to the airline strike, however, we had an extra week in Europe. We decided to drive north east from Munich in the general direction of Frankfurt, with the intention of cutting back down through eastern France and then back to Munich via Switzerland and up through the Black Forest. That proved ambitious.

In actually, we spent half the time on the so-called "Romantic Road" which hop-scotches through a series of medieval villages. Some are simply towns that date back to the middle ages. Others are tourist attractions that are so polished and popular that they feel like you just stepped into Fantasyland in Anaheim. Still others are now modern cities that happen to have an ancient core. While in Rothenberg, we stopped by the Crime Museum, which included a fascinating history of criminal law including torture devices, shame masks and even a chastity belt.

After that, we headed up past Frankfurt to Koblenz and then south along the German Rhine. This fifty-mile stretch of the river is amongst Germany's most dense in terms of castles. Many are ruined or inaccessible, although still lording over the Rhine and its villages. Others have been restored to mimic their original state. Quite a few were "rediscovered" in the nineteenth century (new by European standards) and remodeled to that periods aesthetic.

This set is chock-full of landscape photos that would probably look good in a larger format, but lose definition at web resolutions. It also contains a handful of ironic photos and signs - including my favorite: a pickup truck on the Autobahn with a Confederate Flag on its tailgate.

Last, there are a handful of photos from Munich, including obligatory shots of river surfers at Englischer Garten.

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11.08.08 Monday
08:24 am - Italy's Amalfi Coast


Since we were driving to Pompeii anyway, we decided to brave the nearby Almalfi coast - despite the heat, hoards of European vacationers and, of course, the prices that go with that. All said, I'm glad we did it because it was certainly beautiful - although I'm sure there are plenty of similar places in the world that aren't as widely publicized and, therefore, a lot less crowded. We ended up paying more for our room here than in overpriced Rome - and while the place was, admittedly, overlooking the ocean, it was also not nearly as nice. One consolation to this was that the food was surprisingly cheaper and notably better.

I don't usually post vertically oriented photographs, but this is one area that's especially hard to capture in a landscape format and so I'm breaking with tradition.

We had been told (by our tour book) that while it's worth driving in Italy, only an idiot drives the Almalfi Coast. This scared Katie since we heard no such warnings about the dirt logging road we took across a mountain range in Guatemala which, while beautiful, was truly hair-raising. By contrast, though, this road was a dream: paved, guard rails, two lanes, painted lines, no boulders or sink holes, etc. The only piece remotely similar to Guatemala was when two busses tried to pass on a tight corner. That said, both Italy and Guatemala roads did have 500 foot cliffs that the roads wound around which offered amazing views - and, between the two, this is one case where Italy wins: combine the heights, oceans and cliff-side villages and you end up with something quite spectacular.

Nonetheless, it's worth noting that due to Amalfi's popularity, many Europeans are starting to take their summer holiday in Latin America since it offers surprisingly similar landscapes at 1/10th the crowds and costs. And, for Americans looking to travel to Italy, I strongly recommend considering Central America instead - and particularly Guatemala. That remains my best travel experience to date in terms of adventure, beauty, culture, history, and even food (surprisingly). More and more people are going to Central America, though, and I think there's a small window before treasures like Guatemala become no different than any of the Caribbean Islands or even Costa Rica.

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10.08.08 Sunday
02:39 pm - "A perfectly squiffy jag"
Someone asked me where the subtitle for my blog came from, so I decided to dig up the reference, straight from "Art of Kissing" (1936), as the overall context is more interesting than the specific reference:
    Some few years ago, a very peculiar kissing custom arose which deserves mention here because, from it, we can learn how to adapt the method to our modem devices. At that time, when young people got together, they held, what was then known as, "electric kissing parties." Young people are ever on the outlook for novel ways of entertaining themselves. In fact, when ether was first developed as an anesthetic, the young bloods of the town used to form "ether-sniffing" parties in which they got a perfectly squiffy ether "jag." But to return to the "electric kisses." An excerpt from a contemporary writer will, perhaps, give us some idea of what happened.

    'The ladies and gentlemen range themselves about the room. In leap year the ladies select a partner, and together they shuffle about on the carpet until they are charged with electricity, the lights in the room having been first turned low. Then they kiss in the dark; and make the sparks fly for the amusement of the onlookers.' [More]
Clearly, I need to throw an electric kissing party.


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11:05 am - Pompeii, Italy

Katie took this photo of me mocking the dead.


Katie's had an obsession with Pompeii since childhood, so after Rome we rented a car and headed down the coast toward Napoli en route to Pompeii. It was much, much larger than expected and, like the Vatican, while it didn't transfer to film very well it was an impressive stop. I was surprised by how many intact frescoes and mosaics had survived; when you're able to see 2,000 year old ruins with not only plaster but also paint and tile in good condition it gives you a totally different perspective on how modern these civilizations were. (Although Pompeii isn't really a good example of how the everyman lived since it was, essentially, a luxury resort town).

We spent at least four hours at Pompeii and could easily have spent two days there had we not already been exhausted and overwelmed by Rome. One of the interesting things about Pompeii was, like many archeological digs across the world, how many thousands upon thousands of pottery shards could be found in the dirt walking around. This only surprised me because of how popular of a tourist destination Pompeii has remained over the decades; I'd have expected most of these remnants to have been taken or crushed by constant foot traffic, as you see in most larger ruins (such as Lamanai in Belize).

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09.08.08 Saturday
09:58 am - Vatican City.


Photos from Vatican City. Nothing terribly impressive as far as photographs go, but I must say that the Vatican proved to be far more awe inspiring than I expected it to be. I've seen a lot of photos of St. Peter's Basilica but none of them (including those I've taken) convey just how large it is. In photos it looks like every other Renaissance cathedral - in person it's no different, only you feel as though you've been shrunk to 1/3rd your height.

Seeing St. Peter's Basilica is free, but you pay 5 Euro extra for the privilege of hiking to the top. We did. A few hundred steps later we found ourselves on a thin ledge inside Michelangelo's dome - a couple hundred feet above the floor of the cathedral. Since I'm afraid of heights, though, and Katie's claustrophobic, we decided to keep climbing to the very top of the cathedral. The route takes you through tunnels inside the dome - meaning that as you climb, the walls start to bend. Once you reach the top, however, you get a fantastic view of Rome. The photo of me is from this vantage point - if I look uncomfortable, it's because I am.

We also visited the Vatican Museums, which require something like four miles of walking to take in. They're overwhelming, especially after a week in Rome. We didn't take many photos, although Katie and I were most impressed with the painting gallery as well as the early Christian art - although I found the organization confusing as it was grouped by religious significance as opposed to artistic movement. Go figure.

This set also includes photos of Bernini's Ectasy of St. Teresa, tucked away in a corner of Santa Maria della Vittora and almost missed due to its omission from most of our tour books (one contained a footnote to it in a foreword). This church also contained my favorite Holy Relic as well as my favorite piece of Religious Kitsch.

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25.07.08 Friday
10:05 am - Stereotypes: European, Italian, American Tourists...
Since I've now spent a week in Rome it's unsurprising that I am now an expert on all things Italian. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'm an expert in all things European. It's one of the benefits of having a supreme intellect: in less than seven days of embedding myself amongst tourists, I can confirm and refute the collective consciousness of millions and millions of people before me: travelers, citizens, politicians, philosophers, academics - what would they know?

To participate, simply reply with stereotypes regarding Europe, Italy and American Tourists. These don't have to be stereotypes you hold true, they just need to be popular opinions. In response, I will (once and for all, with absolute certainty) confirm or refute these ideas into the bastions of Myth or Fact with my shocking clarity of mind and insight into culture.

Ready? Go.

location: Rome, Italy

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23.07.08 Wednesday
06:15 am - Rome.

Piazza del Popolo, built in 1818 by Giuseppe Valadier.

Arco di Settimio Severo from the third century.

I crashed a wedding at the basilica of Santa Maria del Miracoli.

So many statues, so many churches - not sure which one this was in.


Considering that we did zero planning, Rome is treating us exceptionally well. While Katie's been at her conference, I've walked pretty much everywhere in central Rome at least twice (I've put an easy 125 miles on my shoes). At this point, I feel like I've gotten a very solid feel for the city.

AccommodationsCollapse ).
AcclimatingCollapse ).
TourismCollapse ).
Food and cultureCollapse ).
The night lifeCollapse ).
MoneyCollapse ).

This set includes everything you'd expect: ancient Roman ruins, gothic cathedrals, Renaissance palaces, a variety of statues covering two-thousand years of history, Etruscan art, fountains, piazzas, ceiling frescos, etc, etc. The only notable item it doesn't include (yet) is Saint Peter's basilica and other sights from the Vatican City - that'll happen in the next couple days.

location: Rome, Italy

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17.07.08 Thursday
05:22 pm - Munich+

[+16 | Slideshow]

I haven't taken many photos in the last year. I thought it might be because I had bumped up against the technical limitations of my equipment, so I went out and bought a Canon 40D. I really like it; much more professional and better built than the Rebel line; certainly worth the extra weight and size. I've realized, though, that the problem wasn't my equipment so much as I've come to prefer being engaged in the moment; hiding behind a camera creates a buffer with the world that I used to appreciate, but which also interferes with the now. Anyway, regardless, it'll probably take me a few days to get back into the habit of taking photographs - especially while learning a new language as I go.

I flew into Munich a few days ago to visit my friend Heather. Now we're in Rome; Katie is giving a presenation on "Stability of Periodic Solutions to Euler's Equations for Surface Gravity Waves" at a mathematics conference. While she's doing that I'm going to brave the pickpockets, humidity, price-gouging and, most notably, the legions of tourists by wandering around the historical district. If anyone wants a souvenir let me know. I plan on taking some bricks from the Colloseum to use as patio pavers, and I promised Ashley I would grab her Pauline Bonaparte's marble nipple while I'm at Galleria Borghese.

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