Saturday, November 19, 2011


I’ve been pretty busy lately, mostly doing uninteresting schoolwork. I’m taking a free online database class form Stanford University, which is somewhat time consuming but a lot of fun. I am learning how to query databases in SQL, write XML validation files such as DTDs or XML schemas, design databases in Boyce-Codd Normal Form, or use UML to automatically create data base schemas. The class is over in a few weeks and I will have more time to work on some video projects. I am hoping to do some sort of seasons video from video I have been shooting over the past few months. I will have to see if I have time.
A XSLT transformation that finds all countries that have more than 3 languages spoken within then, then outputs into the below table. (Queries this XML file)

Country Population Area # of Languages
Pakistan 129275664 803940 8
Iran 66094264 1648000 7
Georgia 5219810 69700 4
Macedonia 2104035 25333 4
Switzerland 7207060 41290 4

Last weekend I traveled with my DDF team to Wrangell. Since we had to stop in Sitka on the way, it took us about 26 hours on the ferry to get there. We all slept on the ferry, and got in to Wrangell at 1:15 am. The tournament was pretty fun, and I did okay in all of my events. I tied for 2nd place for an oration I wrote on gay slurs in schools. I won half of the debates that I was in as well, which was pretty good, considering that my partner was relatively new and it was the first time I had every been second speaker.
When we got back from the tournament, there was two feet of snow on the ground in Haines. The day after we got back, it snowed another foot and the wind picked up to 30 mph (gusts to 50). The snow was very dry and powdery, meaning that it blew around quite a bit. For example, I went and walked around through the waist deep snow for a bit. When I came back a few hours later, you couldn’t tell I had made a track. Because there was poor visibility and snow constantly drifting across the road, they canceled school (which doesn’t happen very often up here). DSC_1540DSC_1559DSC_1595FortSnowBFDSC_1601
Before                                                   After
I went outside and dug a fort in the snow and just had fun in the snow in general. The snow drifted up two about three feet high against the garage door, so that when you opened it there was a flat, three foot wall of snow. Unfortunately, some of the snow got caught in the door and it didn’t shut all the way. When I noticed it 30 minutes later, so much snow had blown in there there was a 3/4 dusting on everything by the door. I had to spend a half hour cleaning everything off.
My parents are out of town for a few weeks. Michelle, a friend of ours, is watching my sister and I. My parents actually get back tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I’ve been busy with a myriad of projects lately, and haven’t had time to write anything.
It is late fall now, and will probably snow within a few weeks. This is one of my favorite seasons for some reason. I love the mental imagery of a bare, windblown trees and the sound of wind chimes on a dark, windy night. I also love the fall colors, as you can see by my new background.
I am trying to make a movie about fall, but I’ve gotten a bit busy with other work. I am making a short video for Mario Benassi, which he will be showing at a fundraiser for Chilkat Forest Investigators, his afterschool wildlife program. I have only had two weeks to work on it, and it is showing this Saturday, so it has kept me busy.
I also went to the first DDF meet in Juneau about a week ago. I was only in two events, Debate and Excomm, since my partner for the mime I am doing couldn’t come. I got third place in debate (along with my partner), and missed getting into the final debate (between the top two teams) by two speaker points. I also got to judge a spar debate round.
This last weekend I went up to Whitehorse with the venture scouts. Eight kids and two adults came. We camped out at the hot springs there on Saturday. Since I brought my own tent, I got it all to myself, while everyone else had to share. We went swimming in the hotsprings, and then went to see a movie (Real Steel). A few kids went swimming again later that night, but I just took pictures of the steam rising off the pools into the night air. We built a campfire and told ghost/UFO stories that night.DSC_0734_RotatedDSC_0784DSC_0642
When we woke up the next morning, it has snowed about 5 millimeters. We had oatmeal, apples, strawberries, hot chocolate, and Orange Peach Mango juice for breakfast, then packed up and drove into Whitehorse. There we went swimming at the Whitehorse pool, which has a river pool, a waterslide, and sauna, a steam room, a diving board and a rope swing. Afterwards we went shopping, since that is what most Haines people do when they are in a big city.
I have also been doing some physics experiments lately. We have a pneumatic rocket kit, and we are shooting it off and figuring out where it will go based on known quantities. Vmin_Measured_Final
We did a experiment inside were we shot the rocket straight up, next to a scale, and filmed it. Knowing that we had a frame rate of 30 fps, we could find how far the rocket went in that time period and thus find its speed. Unfortunately, the rocket went too fast to show up in the camera except as a blur. So, upon a suggestion from the photography teacher, we shot it in the dark with a long exposure and a flash with a strobe function. We found a speed of 80 miles per hour.
We also shot it off outside a a known angle and measured how far it traveled. Then, using some formulas, we were also able to find a speed, although this would have been somewhat effected by air resistance. We found a similar speed to what we found the first time.

Monday, September 5, 2011


It is now the end of the second week of school. I have been a bit busy in the first few weeks, so I haven’t found time to write about it till now.

I am now taking three classes at school and four “classes” at home. In school I am taking English III, World History, and Physics. I will give a short description of each, which should be enough for the rest of the school year.

In English, we are reading early American literature, such as Puritan poems and sermons, or the accounts of John Smith and the founding of Jamestown. We are going to be reading The Crucible next, which I gather involves the Salem witch trials.

In World History we have just finished learning about Egyptian society and will learn about Sumerian History next.

In Physics, we are learning about classical physics, specifically 1D motion. We have done some simple problems, such as:


Pretty simple to understand, as long as you know what formulas to use.

I am also doing DDF again this year. I am doing debate, which is about 9/11 security measures, etc. I am also in a funny mime about mankind and weapons. I may also be in a Reader’s Theatre, possibly from Young Frankenstein.

My sister is also going to be in the school band this year. Since my mom didn’t want to listen to my sister playing the trumpet, she bought my sister a electric bass guitar. My uncle picked one out (an Ibanez GSRM20) and mailed it up to us. See pictures below.


My mom went with a friend out to see the bears at the Chilkoot River and got a nice view. It was a bit dark out, so some of the  pictures below are a bit blurring, since I didn’t tell my mom how to adjust the ISO.DSC_9693DSC_9660DSC_9713DSC_9716DSC_9704DSC_9708

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bend, Oregon

On Wednesday night, I got back from a week long trip to Bend, Oregon, where my grandparents on my mom’s side live. It had been more than a year since I had been to see them, and so we decided to go down as a family.
At Seatac
Last Thursday we drove onto the ferry to Juneau. Our car needed some work done on it that we couldn’t do in town (like replacing a cracked windshield) and so we were just going to leave it Juneau until we got back.
We got to Bend at about 11:00 at night where my grandpa picked us up. My grandma has cancer, specifically multiple myeloma, or cancer of plasma cells, and has been undergoing intermittent Chemo treatments for the past year. She is off of Chemo now, but is still recovering and couldn’t visit with us all day long, so we stayed with some friends of our grandparents who had some extra bedrooms.DSC_9532DSC_9547DSC_9540
A butterfly on my grandparents porch, along with their cat, Jacob, drinking out of a bird bath.
The next day, we borrowed one of our grandparents cars and did some shopping, then went to visit my grandma. We had salmon (I had tofu, since I am now a vegetarian) for dinner, then went shopping some more that night.
The next day we did more shopping. I got a suit from my grandpa, and took it to a tailors to make it fit. We also went on a hike to Tumalo Falls, a very spectacular waterfall. Unfortunately, while we were there I got a bloody nose and we had to leave. Usually my bloody noses only last for a few minutes, but this one wouldn’t go away. I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness, so my parents took me to a clinic. By the time I got there my nose had stopped bleeding, but I was still feeling faint. After laying down for a bit I felt better, and the doctor told me how to stop bloody noses in the future.
The next day we went canoeing on Sparks Lake in my grandpa’s canoe. It was a little hard to fit myself, my sister and parents, and my grandpa in one canoe, but we managed. It was very beautiful, and I got to practice steering a canoe (we don’t have a canoe, so I don’t get to practice much).DSC_9506DSC_9477DSC_9485DSC_9489DSC_9498
That night we went with my grandma and grandpa to see The Help at the theaters. It had been a while since I had gone to a movie theater, since the nearest one to Haines is a four-hour drive. The Help was a pretty good movie, although my mom said it wasn’t quite as good as the book.
The next day we did more shopping. We also went to a quilt show, where we saw some quilts my grandma had made. Later that day my dad and I helped her photograph a few of the quilts, as she was making a book of them. We also went to visit my aunt and uncle for a hour later that night.
On the second to last day of our trip, we got Chinese takeout and went down by the river (specifically the Deschutes river) below my grandparent’s house for a picnic. The next day we went into town and went canoeing on the same river. My sister got out and swam for a while, I got more practice steering a canoe.
We also went to a tile store and bought twenty rock tiles to put around our woodstove at home. We packed them all in boxes, then paid $100 to check them all. We caught a taxi to the airport at four in the morning the next day. I got some nice pictures of mountains on the way to Seattle. From Seattle we flew on a 737-400 Combi, which is half cargo and half passenger seats. It was the first time I had flown on one before.
We Juneau we did a lot of shopping for food and supplies that we couldn’t get in Haines, or were simply cheaper in Juneau than in Haines.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sea Kayaking and Ice Climbing

This weekend I went on a three day (two night) Sea Kayaking and Ice Climbing trip. It was a free trip offered for kids by Alaska Mountain Guides, a local guiding company that offers mountaineering, kayaking, and climbing trips. I guess the purpose of the trip was to expose kids to these kinds of activities. I went on a mountaineering trip last year to Flower Mountain and a kayaking trip to Moose Meadows.

The night before the trip we had all of our gear checked. They provided the climbing, kayaking, and camping equipment (including food) and we brought our own clothes and sleeping bags, etc.

We left at 7 Friday Morning. We loaded our gear into a truck, then got into a bus to go to Chilkat State Park. From there we loaded up fiberglass triple kayaks with gear. Since we had so much stuff, we only loaded two people in each kayak and loaded the middle cockpit with gear.

From the State Park, we kayaked to Moose Meadows. It was very windy, so it took us an hour or two to get there. It was also low tide, so we had to go through a bunch of rocks without hitting them. We finally made it to Moose Meadows around 11. From there, we planned to go to Glacier Point, where we would camp. The next day we would climb Davidson Glacier.
On the left, Davidson glacier from moose meadows, wide-angle and close-up.
On the right, a random shot at moose meadows and a view of the Davidson Glacier from the air, taken while I was flying to ASRA.

Unfortunately, it was too windy for us to cross to Glacier Point, so we had to stay at Moose Meadows. We had lunch and then set up camp. I setup a few tents, including a big 4 person tent that was five feet tall. After I finished setting it up, everyone else had picked a tent, so I got this huge one all to myself, even though most of the other, smaller tents had three-four people in them.

My huge tent on the left and on the right is the cooking tent, with just two poles and a whole bunch of guy lines.

Later we went out for a short kayak. We tried to go to Kochu Island, but the wind was too strong and we had to turn around. It took us ten minutes to go down near the island, and about a hour to get back. Pretty amazing what the wind can do.

The next day it was calm, but the weather report from a weather radio said the wind was going to pick up that night. Since climbing would take a while, we might get stuck over there without being able to get back by Sunday afternoon, when we were due back. The guides decided not to take the chance. In the end, that was probably best.

So instead, we kayaked out to Twin Coves and had lunch, then turned around. The waves were getting pretty big, probably about two-three foot swells, which is pretty big for a kayak.
Twin coves, as seen from my plane on the way back from ASRA and a Panorama taken from the first cove (the cove with the little point in the middle). As an experiment, I uploaded a hi-res version of the panorama (actually about 50% smaller than the original). Click on the picture to see. Update: Hi-res panorama didn't upload properly, so it the same size as normal. My experiment failed! I will have to try some other time and figure out what happened.

After we got back, one of the other kids informed the guides about a fire they had accidentally started. While we were camped at Moose Meadows, the guides had been telling us to go to the bathroom in the intertidal zone or to dig a hole in the forest. But we were supposed to use a lighter to burn the toilet paper. It you are going in the intertidal zone, that isn’t a big problem. But if you are in the forest, it is sort of hard to burn toilet paper safely. You can’t exactly hold a piece of paper until it is completely burnt.

Anyway, one of the kids had gone to the bathroom and caught some moss on fire. He thought he had put it out, but discovered that he hadn’t after we got back from twin coves. All around a tree the moss was smoldering, making a lot of smoke. Everybody ran with their full water bottles to put it out. While I was running through the forest, I was thinking that we’d never be able to put it out with water bottles. I quickly scanned through our gear in my head and came up with dry bags. So every body filled up dry bags full of water and dumped them on the fire. I must have carried 15-20 half full dry bags to the fire, so somewhere around 40 gallons. Multiply that times 17 (the number of people on the trip), and you get a whole lot of water (about 680 gallons).

Since we were still pretty close to town, we still had cellphone reception, so one of the guides called the fire department and, who showed up an hour later. We had it mostly put out, but they double checked it and tore up the ground around the tree, checking for hot spots. They also gave us a short fire safety talk.
Later that night the sun came out and I took a few pictures.DSC_9325DSC_9384DSC_9338

The next day we kayaked back. Since we had the wind behind us, we made it in just 20 minutes. So in the end we didn’t get to go ice climbing, but we got to put out a forest fire and do some kayaking, so I had fun.

First day
Red line: to Moose Meadows from Chilkat State Park dropoff point.
Yellow line: From Moose Meadows, attempting to reach Kochu Island.

Second Day:
Green Line: From Moose Meadows to Twin Coves.

Dotted Orange Line: To Glacier Point to go Ice Climbing.