(no subject)

Yesterday I jumped off a 35 ft bridge.

A bunch of interns went on a kayaking trip around Lake Union.  I'm still sore from that.  At the end of this trip, we came to an unfinished section of highway bridge.  It started a few hundred yards on land, went out over the water, and then abruptly stopped.  At the high point of this bridge, it was 35 feet off the ground, and the water was probably around 20 feet deep.

The intern coordinator (basically, our nanny) was not thrilled about this.  Apparently last year on an intern outing, they'd gone down a "lazy river" that abruptly turned into rapids.  Everybody had been told that they had to get out before the rapids, but apparently some group of interns didn't pay attention, and accidentally went rafting - in an inner tube :).  So, the coordinator probably wanted to avoid losing any more interns.

I watched a few people climb out of their kayaks, walk 1/4 mile to the end of the bridge, walk 1/4 mile back to the apex, and then fly over.  It was a solid 5 seconds of free-fall.  It looked like the most dangerous thing I've ever seen.  No way was I doing that.

Then, I saw Alex, who I feel this constant urge to compete with for some reason, jump.

No way was I going to let him out-macho me.

Still, I hesitated.  That bridge was awfully high, and I could probably let Alex win this round.  I don't have to win all the rounds, right? Just most of them?

So my kayak was parked next to my friend Jessica's kayak.  Jessica had no swimsuit, and didn't seem the slightest bit interested in jumping off the bridge.  So, in a weak effort to regain my machismo, although I'm not sure how I thought this would make me more manly, I joked "Hey Jessica, I'll jump if you do it."  There, at least I'm braver than the chick.


Well, shit.

So, out of the kayak I went, scrambling up to the shore.  Stripped out of my shoes, walked barefoot half a mile through gravel and broken glass to get to the apex.  The whole time I was on that walk I was thinking "You can still bail.  They'll rib you a bit, but no big deal.  You don't need to impress these people or anything."  But despite how afraid I was, I actually really wanted to jump.

I'm afraid, like terrified, of heights.  I had a hard time looking out of the St. Louis arch.  Stuff like the Space Needle doesn't bother me, it's too high for me to realistically feel like I could fall.  But moderate heights... man.  So I figured jumping off this bridge would be a great way to face this fear.

So I make it to the apex.  That bridge is an awesome commitment device, by the way.  If you want to chicken out, it's a half mile walk of shame, barefoot through glass and gravel.

A couple of people are ahead of us waiting to jump.  Jessica glanced over the edge, and didn't even flinch.  I glanced over the edge, and couldn't stop glancing.  I just stared down at the water.  That 35 foot drop looks a whole lot higher when you're looking down it than when you're looking up it.

Jessica was ahead of me.  She nonchalantly hopped over the side.

I waited about thirty seconds, then suddenly found myself in free fall.  I have no idea how I forced myself over that ledge.

I hate to sound cliche, but those 5 seconds of free fall took forever.  About halfway down I thought "Man, I should've hit by now."  Then, I became very afraid, and yelled "OH SHI--," and got cut off by the impact with the water.

Once in the water, I tried to swim upwards as fast as I could.  I hadn't got a good breath of air (thanks to the yelling "OH SHIT" thing), so I was kinda panicky.  But then I broke the surface, and started to swim for shore.

I was thrilled.  That was incredibly awesome.  Best 5 seconds of my life.

Once I hit shore, I pulled myself out, and immediately was incredibly nauseous.  I didn't throw up, but I came pretty close.

And I spent the rest of that day thinking about that jump.  I felt so alive.

(no subject)

Well, some pretty long boring spots in the past few weeks, mostly me flailing about trying to find a new videogame to play.  I'm seriously considering WoW again.  But this weekend was pretty cool.

Yesterday I went sailing for the first time.  We had a 4 person crew of interns plus an instructor on a J/24.  It was a blast, but a lot more physically demanding than I'd expected - I worked the jib most of the time, which meant a *lot* of hauling on sheets.  But it was one of the least intellectually demanding jobs, which was kind of refreshing.  I could get into that kind of thing.

Immediately afterwards I went back to the conference room at work that my team had rented out for the ICFP.  Me and one other member worked all night on our lightning round submission, after the other team members took off.  I'm still pretty exhausted; I only took a 4 hour nap today.  The contest is pretty crappy, though; I guess 2006 is going to stand out as a high point in ICFP problems for a long time to come.

Now, a nice relaxing weekend.

(no subject)

Spent the evening eating dinner with Mary's family, and then convinced them to play Pandemic.  We lost really fast the first time, due to some bad draws; but we won the second time, with about a round to spare.  That game is pretty luck-happy, but very fun.  I felt like I was manhandling the other players some of the time, though; I should really chill more.  That's the downside to co-op games; I tend to be more assertive than other players, and wind up running things too much to let others have fun (although I think they enjoyed the game this time).

Our GPS is now multiple personalities, and one of those personalities is Glados.  It's awesome.  I'm making a note here: huge success.  I wonder how hard it is to make your own voice files?

Mid-term evaluations are due for my internship, even though it's more like a 1/3 evaluation for me (I have about a 14 week internship).  My project is kind of end-loaded, so I don't have a lot of accomplishments yet.  Oh well.

(no subject)

Wow - busy weekend.  Mary's mom and brother were in from out-of-town, so Friday I took them out to dinner and hung out at some parks with them.  I stumbled across a rock-climbing wall, but it turned out to be a pretty hard one - I've never rock climbed before, and I was definitely not making it up this one.  Then we found some bike races and watched those for awhile.

Saturday I bailed and left Mary to show her family around; I watched Life on Mars, which turns out to be a really good show, if slightly cliche and melodramatic.  The portrayal of Sam's "coma" state, and how it interacts with the world around him, is really interesting.  They tend to beat you over the head a bit with the themes.  The ending is really awesome, though.

I also tried to practice for the ICFP, but I don't currently have a Linux box around.  I was going to practice by working on the 2007 ICFP in C++; but trying to develop C++ on windows is basically impossible.  Visual Studio is sadly the best IDE for it that I've seen (besides vim), and I don't have a copy up here.  So a friend of mine suggested VMWare, which is what I'm working on installing now.  We'll see how that goes.  I supposed I could always dual-boot...

Today we went to downtown Seattle.  Driving around was a nightmare; there was a gay pride parade going on, so they had a bunch of streets blocked off, and I'd never been there before anyways, and the street closures made my GPS worthless...  wound up paying too much for parking, and then staying over our alloted time anyways (which we didn't get fined for, thankfully).

The Space Needle was pretty cool.  Reminded me a lot of the CN Tower, but shorter.  The view was *way* better though.  The mountains on the horizon, Rainier looming up out of the haze, Puget Sound and downtown Seattle... just awesome.

After that we went to the Science Museum (not the Science fiction museum).  It was like the Omniplex on Oklahoma, only a little bigger.  It was built around the arches.  Typical science museum stuff; I beat Neil (Mary's bro) at huge chess, despite a stupid move costing me my queen.  I need to play that game more.

Now, I'm totally exhausted.

(no subject)

Wow - long work day today.  Spent a lot of time writing code, and screwing around with parallelizing SVD.  Wrote a bunch of code that is now useless.

Joey mentioned I might be able to work with Gaurav and him on large-scale machine learning.  That actually sounds really interesting to me.

Off to bed now.

(no subject)

Wow - long update gap. Sorry about that.

Not much to report. Let's see, my plane still has aileron jitter I can't get rid of. I got a flash cart for my DS. I put together a PocketCiv (solitaire civ-like board game) set. I've watched a lot of television - I watched Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and Man to Man with Dean Learner. Mary and I watched the first season of Lost. I also finally saw There Will Be Blood, which was pretty good. I started on Life on Mars as well, but I'm having a hard time getting into it. Mostly because the main character played The Master on Doctor Who, and I can't get him out of that role. And because the show is really cliche.

Work is going pretty well. My team launched its products last Friday and today, Trends for Websites and Ad Planner (currently invite-only). The first just gives you traffic numbers for websites; the latter gives you demographic information as well. I'm working on improving our traffic numbers.