Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Personal Logo

Recently, Shira and I were discussing an assignment from a training class where she had to design a personal logo. We brainstormed about it's look, and in the process I realized it would be a fun challenge to build my own. So after a few days thought, here's what I've arrived at:

I'm not sure you can call that a logo, but regardless, I'm pleased with the result. Here's what each of the components mean:

The ice cream represents Joy. As humans, we have the remarkable opportunity to feel joy and we should embrace that. This includes everything from simple pleasures, like a say a bowl of ice cream to the deep and profound satisfaction that comes after much hard work, sweat and sacrifice.

The toilet represents Contribution. When I arrived here there was indoor plumbing. And Novocain. And a Polio Vaccine. And schools were desegregated. And women had the right to vote. And there were countless other improvements that make life better. It's only fair that we do our part to make the world a better place for future generations.

The wrench and hammer represents Effort. No matter your dream or idea, I'm going to encourage you to start pursuing it today. Don't wait for permission or perfection. The effort may seem insignificant and the task may seem insurmountable but moving forward will always beat standing still.

The gray gibberish text along the top and bottom of the icons is my nod to Cleverness and shows my affinity for Problem Solving. The text, which was designed to be ignored, is made up of a series of A, T, C and G's. This is a common notation for describing DNA sequences. In this case, the letters are being used to represent Morse Code (A = dot, T = dash, C & G = pause). The code translates to a favorite quote by Arthur Ashe and speaks to the values noted by the graphics:

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

I've implement my logo as a JavaScript function that generates the output as styled HTML. This has a few interesting side effects: first, the logo makes use of the browser's built in Emoji characters, so it will render differently on different devices. Second, the Morse Code block uses C and G to represent a pause, picking either letter at random to fill out the quote. Therefore, every time the logo is rendered it has a slightly different sequence of characters. Finally, the code serves as a definitive definition of the logo, allowing you to recreate it even if you no longer had a browser capable executing the code.

All this is a very geeky way of saying that this logo is unusual and doesn't follow convention. Just like Me.

What's your personal logo?

Here are some more samples of the logo:

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Great Waves with a Great Nephew

[Composed: 8/29/2021]

Today we liberated G from his parents and hit up Great Waves Waterpark for some fun in the sun. Northern Virginia has a slew of water parks and after spending time at Atlantis, the park adjacent to Bull Run Campground we knew that we wanted to take G there.

Looking at the various drive times to each of the parks, Great Waves won out, and so that's where we spent the day. As the name suggests, this park has a large wave pool, something that Atlantis lacks, which I thought would be a blast.

The park wasn't especially busy and we had plenty of space to explore the little-kids area. The highlight for G was that there are decals of various animals placed in the kiddie pool and he liked to explore them. After a french-fry break, we made our way to the big boy wave pool. We donned life jackets and got comfy on an innertube and waited for the waves to start up. I thoroughly enjoyed it, G wasn't as impressed.

These area water parks are such a terrific resource. I can't wait to visit them all with G.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Western and Southern Open, Day 4

Our final day at the Western and Southern Open was supposed to be a travel day. But we had just enough time before our flight to squeeze in one adventure.

One possibility was to drive through Cincinnati and actually see some of the city the tournament is named after. But ultimately, the cry of nature lured us towards open spaces.

Without much forethought we made our destination a point on the map named Shawnee Lookout. I figured we had time to stop, take in a view and be on our way. As a bonus, we'd be awfully close to the tripoint of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, most likely seeing all three states from one vantage point.

Alas, we never did make it to Shawnee Lookout, though we did make it to the park in the area. We hiked a bit of the Miami Fort Trail and got surprisingly close to Miami Fort Power Station. Its massive cooling tower has strong Simpsons vibes.

It would have been glorious if we could have hiked more in the area and found Shawnee Lookout. But yeah, missing our flight wasn't an option. If we return to the tournament, I'll definitely carve out time to fully explore the area.

While doing research for this post, I found a number of historic maps of the area. It's fascinating to see what has and hasn't changed. The maps also explain the relatively strange name of the area we hiked: Miami Fort, versus say Fort Miami. A fort is noted in an 1856 survey, and the area is noted again as Fort Hill in 1915. So what do you call a fort that's not named? Well, it's clearly near the Miami River, so it seems reasonable to call it Miami Fort.

One mystery I'm still puzzling over is what to make of the annotations like F.R.1 and T.1. They must be significant as all four historic maps make mention of them and do so in large print. Any ideas what these markings mean?

1847
1856
1884
1915
Google Maps

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Western and Southern Open, Day 3

[Composed 8/21/2021]

As much as I like to groan about tennis tournaments, even I have to admit that the Western & Southern Open is a winner. It brings together top players in the sport, but because the matches are best of three sets and the tournament lasts a week, it all moves along quickly. I can't believe we're at the semi-final matches.

The grounds and crowds are smaller than at a major and generally the atmosphere is relaxed.

We started the day watching Bardy easily beat Kerber. And then Shira ducked out to watch Steve Johnson play doubles. Ever since we watched him play at the Auckland Open, we've been a fan of this hard-working American player. He's not especially high ranked, but he's managed to make a career out of tennis, and for that I'm impressed.

I stuck around to watch Jil Teichmann take on Karolina Pliskova in the second women's semi-final match. Teichmann came into the tournament ranked 76th and has surpassed all expectations by absolutely crushing it. She beat number 2 Naomi Osaka, and today she beat the the 5th seed, Pliskova. What a treat it is, watching someone have the tournament of their life.

The men's semi-final matchups were far more predictable. The first match was between Rublev and Medvedev. Medvedev had beat Rublev all 4 times they played, so it was nice that Rublev prevailed this time. He even did it by dropping the first set 2-6.

The second match was between the other top two mens players: Zverev and Tsitsipas. After each taking a set, it looked like Tsitsipas was going to pull out the third set. At one point, Zverev briefly ran off court, apparently to upchuck in a garbage can, and then returned to take control of the set and win the match.

Tomorrow's the finals. Will Teichman continue her winning streak and beat Bardy? Or is Bardy just playing too well? Will Rublev get the win over Zvervev, proving that he can hold his own against the big boys? We're going to find out the same way everyone nearly everyone else does: on TV. Tomorrow we head home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Western and Southern Open, Day 2

[Composed 8/20/2021]

We started our second day of the Western and Southern Open by settling a long standing question: where's the best place to sit in a small stadium when watching tennis? Too close and part of the court may have an obstructed view; too far and you've missed out on the opportunity to get close to the action.

The answer: it depends if you're Me or Shira. If you're me, you want to sit as close as possible on either end. Ideally, close enough to hear the players chatter, and perhaps get hit by an errant bead of sweat or two. If you're Shira, you want to be on the upper edge of the stadium. Being higher up, you'll have a nice view of all the action and you typically have plenty of space to spread out and you may just be in the shade.

As a compromise, we started our first match of the day in our preferred spots. This was a doubles match where Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos took on Alex de Minaur and Cameron Norrie. It was fun being in the first row, snapping pics and Shira who was in top row, savored the tiniest bit of shade from the scoreboard. It was a win-win.

The theme of today seems to be: who can surivive the heat? After the first match, I moved up to sit next to Shira who's sliver of shade was now the most sought after location in Grandstand. While I love sitting close to the action, even I appreciated the relief from the sun.

Our second match of the day was between Kerber and Kvitova. While the first set started with some powerful rallies, Kvitova appears to have succumbed to the conditions. At one point, she fled the stadium in a hurry, probably to find a bathroom for who knows what purpose. Ultimately, she retired almost certainly due to the heat.

Moving from Grandstand to the main stadium, up next was Medvedev vs Carreno Busta. Without the shade, we found the heat pretty much soul crushing. Out of desperation, I tried leaning into the sun hoodie I was wearing. I put up the hood on and wore my large sun hat over it. To my surprise, the setup got warm, but was much more bearable than just having the sun beat down on me. I know that's how a sun hoodie is supposed to work, but I guess I didn't actually think it would be as effective as it was.

Do you know who wasn't bothered by the heat? Medvedev. He clobbered Pablo Carreno Busta in less than an hour. It was like a warm-up match for him. You don't have to feel too badly for Carreno Busta, he just beat Medvedev in the Olympics, so it's all good.

Next up we watched Stosur and Zhang take on Melichar and Schuurs. The match was entertaining, with Stosur and Zhang taking it in 3 sets. But that wouldn't be Stosur and Zhang's most impressive accomplishment of the day. That would come later, in a match we'd only catch the last few points of against Anna Blinkova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Blinkova / Sasnovich were ahead 6-4, 5-1 -- ready to serve out the last game, before Stosur and Zhang finally made a move. They came back to win the set and as we watched on our way out of the grounds, the match. Two matches, and one epic comeback in a day. Now that's impressive.

We closed out the evening with a night match between Tsitsipas and Auger-Aliassime. Tsitsipas looked like he was going to cruise to a relatively easy win, when Felix managed to save two match points. The match went three sets, and Tsitsipas was ultimately the victor. If anything, it showed how resiliant Tsitsipas can be.

There's no doubt that Medvedev and Tsitsipas are playing top tier tennis.