Northeast Migration Spring 24

It is time for the annual migration back to Minnesota. Close up the house in the desert for the summer, and get in the car for a few days. This spring our itinerary is:

  • Indio to Phoenix and meet friends for dinner.
  • Phoenix to Santa Fe with a stop at the Petrified Forest
  • Santa Fe to Kansas City (borrrrriiiiinnnggg)
  • Kansas City to Decorah IA.

Once in Decorah, I’ll be in board of regents meetings for a couple of days. The meetings this week are highly consequential with the announcement of the impending retirement of our president, Jenifer Ward, we have some real thinking to do about how to set the course for the next several years.

Most of the drive is pretty flat, following the high plains! Not many trees, the desert turns to fields for as far as you can see. But the stop at the Petrified Forest was interesting. The science behind the petrification of the trees, and the views of the mesas and the painted desert were really great.

We arrived in Santa Fe a bit later than planned due to a lot of road construction! But we walked around for a bit, then tried a couple Margaritas at the highly rated bar in the La Fonda hotel. We had a later reservation at Sazon, a James Beard winner in Santa Fe. Dinner started with a sampler platter of Moles and another Margarita. (I am now a huge fan of Mezcal over Tequila) After we had a chance to try the various Moles, our water presented the menu. Lots of different options to go with the various Moles, so it all made sense! Jane ordered the Cholula — a tower of chile poblano / ground lamb, pork and beef / nuts / dried fruits, spices over a cold creamy walnut sauce / pomegranate seeds / balsamic jalapeño reduction! Jane describes it as having the main course and desert at the same time. It was really delicious. I opted for the pork loin with one of the spicier moles on the menu, served with rice it was truly a feast! We even got a chance to chat with the chef, Fernando Olga, who dropped by our table in jeans, chefs coat and cowboy hat.

It was a great evening, but tomorrow is nearly a 12 hour drive to get to Kansas City.

When and talked about Apple’s household robot on (, like a roomba that could do dishes, this was the image that immediately came to mind based on my experience with early Roombas. (Thanks DALL-E)

Roomba dishes.

Google translate is not perfect. Please bring me a helping of imperfect octopus! God help the Monkfish with a tourniquet!

Runestone Academy: SIGCSE 2024

I am Just back from Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) 2024 conference in Portland Oregon. This is my 20th year going to SIGCSE, but only my second as an exhibitor. This link encompasses my thoughts on this year. Please click through and read it.

Wordle 1,000 🎉 3/6*

Happy 1000 wordle, 787 played, best streak 410

So… these are our choices, a good (yes.. aging man) or a fraudster, convicted multiple times. HOW. IS. THIS. EVEN. A. CHOICE? Please, have at me, convince me that I’m not seeing this correctly, because as I see things today, Biden is the only choice.

Greens Keeper’s Revenge day today! Lots of interesting obstacles to play around!

Finally finished Mistborn: Hero of Ages 📘Not sure how I feel about the ending, but at least the series had an ending! And, I liked it enough that I’ll probably continue and read the next series.

After 10 holes of golf today I got a notification that an air tag was following me… Nobody else in my foursome even knew what an air tag was, so I’m thinking it must have been the group right behind us.

Messing around with Advent of Code today. Wrote my first Rust and first Julia programs. After 20 years of Python programming in another language is fun, but maddeningly slow.

Just back from two weeks in the Antarctic. I think these are some of my best photos ever! 📷. See for shots from the whole trip. And a shout out to Atlas Ocean Voyages for creating an amazing experience.

Andvord Bay

Our last zodiac adventure! 😭 But our first chance to put foot on the continent proper. Not an island off the content but the actual Antarctic continent!! 🐧The beautiful sunny weather of the morning had turned misty and cloudy by mid afternoon.

Lots of views of Gentoo penguins, and one lost Chinstrap!

The Gentoos were coming down to the water to take a swim/much needed bath, and then got spooked by our zodiac. As we were sitting offshore we saw four of them swimming toward us. They were underwater but we could see them very clearly. Suddenly they swooped right under us and flew out of the water onto the shore. Nobody had a camera or video going or it would have been the most spectacular shot of the trip.

As we drifted away, I did get a couple great sequences of them diving off the rocks into the water.

Damoy Point

This expedition is just so amazing. Every time you think you have seen “the best” then another day comes along with another bay, or a change in the weather to a beautiful blue sky and you are just standing there once again wondering how can it get any better than this?

We started the day with a landing on Damoy point, home to thousands of Gentoo penguins as well as British and Argentine emergency huts. The British hut was open so we were able to walk inside and have a look.

The penguins were cute as usual, although a bit more pungent than usual if you ask me. The bay was just incredible with mountains on either side soaring skyward. At one point we were hiking and Jane and I both stopped because we heard “thunder” it was an avalanche in the distance somewhere. We didn’t see it, and according to Ignacio by the time we hear it the slide is already over anyway.

World Navigator at Damoy Point

The really incredible part of the morning came after we were back on board and sailing through a big s-shaped area, the sun was out, the sea was dead calm and the reflections were beautiful.

So many reflection pictures, and it was just incredible to stand there in awe of it all. Then along came some penguins swimming and diving in the water. It was amazing we could see them under the water as well as when they came flying out of it. Look closely at this picture there are three penguins!

Close up:

Antarctic Circle Crossing

Polar Plunge Day

Today we officially crossed the Antarctic Circle. It’s a unique club to belong to. We were supposed to have a zodiac cruise or a landing, but the bay we were heading to (all the possible bays actually) were so full of brash ice and growlers that we had to slow our speed to only 3 knots. Also it was snowing like mad. So, it was determined that today we would not do that, today would be the day for the Polar plunge. Even more special since we were south of the Polar Circle.

Jane and Ann enjoyed it thoroughly, Jerry and I enjoyed watching our crazy wives. The plunging festivities started around 10AM.

The plunge itself is pretty simple. Strap into a harness, walk to the end of the “plank” count down from three and jump. Get back out of the 32 degree water as quickly as possible!

Enjoy a shot of your favorite adult beverage to celebrate!

The rest of the day was spent cruising back to the North, so our time in the circle was fairly short. But it was nice to have a calm day to enjoy some reading and games and relaxing. Tomorrow we should have our final two excursions before we head back across the Drake to Ushuaia.

Argentine Islands

Antarctica is a continent. It is not “owned” by any nation, but is governed by an international treaty. Countries may maintain research bases in Antarctica but no country can claim a part of the continent as their own territory.

Today we got to cruise by a Ukrainian station. Under other circumstances we would have been allowed to visit the station, but unfortunately they were in the middle of a resupply process and could not accommodate visitors.

Vernadsky Research Institute

Resupply ship Noosfera

So, we cruised around and saw a little colony of Gentoo penguins. Visited an “iceberg graveyard” and saw some seals!

But the new animal for today was the Weddell Seal. Just lounging around on the ice pack.

The highlight of the afternoon will be cruising across the Antarctic circle. We were just commenting at lunch today that it was amazing how much we have seen but we have only seen a tiny tiny fraction of the continent. Everything we have seen and will see is part of the Antarctic peninsula that extends farther North.

Right now I’m watching a lecture on the Cetacians of the Antarctic. We have seen a lot of humpback whales, but there are also Minke whales, Fin whales, Right whales, and even Sperm Whales. Note that Sperm Whales are toothed whales not Baleen. Orcas are also quite common, including the ice pack Orca. This is a group of Orcas that engage in pack hunting. They will actually find a seal on the ice and attack the pack ice from below breaking up the ice and leaving the poor seal floating on a tiny bit of ice. From there they will push the seal off the ice and enjoy their lunch.

Yolaour Island

An easy afternoon to see some Adélie Penguins. So this is the third species of penguin that we have seen: starting with Chinstrap, then Gentoo (yes like the Linux distro) and now the Adélie. The Adélie is the only true Antarctic penguin.

The hike was easy and flat, and we were the first group this season to visit this large colony. We know that because our guides looked for a staircase from a previous ship and could not find one, so they had to dig one for us.

Our first bit of penguin drama came when the Skuas arrived. These are birds that are predators on the penguin eggs. They are very brazen predators as well, landing right next to the penguins laying on the nest! You can see it here with the one penguin looking quite alarmed, and the other just meekly pointing at the Skua as if to say “help?”

This guy however was definitely putting up a braver front! I got more of a “None shall pass” vibe.

But, the Skuas can’t be everywhere so there were plenty of additional Adélie to observe and enjoy their expressions. These three really got me.

Of course all is not just work in penguin land. I can’t imagine two penguins having more fun than these two little guys!

Finally, just a purely lucky shot. Our guide Ignacio has been talking about different techniques for composing shots and has talked about “frame in a frame.” I saw this from the zodiac heading back and thought it was a nice frame in a frame. It wasn’t until I got the photo onto my iPad and did a little cropping that I saw the Adélie in the middle of the frame!

Flanders Bay

What started as an ordinary excursion turned extraordinary when we found ourselves surrounded by humpback whales!

We were just cruising through some brash ice and looking at some birds when we heard the radio call from Jonathan. “I am nine o’clock from the ship and have four humpbacks.” We quickly made our way toward his position, gliding in very quietly the last 100 meters.

Then we heard and saw them a short distance away. Breath going out the blowhole, whoosh. Sometimes they would just glide along the surface like a giant surfboard, sometimes they would arch their backs and slowly sink back under the water, sometimes they would dive and show their tails as they disappeared under the water.

At one point two of them headed straight at our zodiac. One went directly under the bow, the other surfaced on the starboard side so close we could have reached out and touched its barnacle covered skin. We have been whale watching several times, but we have never had an experience like this! So close, and the whales just seemed to be curious about “the intruders” into their beautiful calm bay. At some point I just told myself to put down the camera, put my hands in my pockets, and just enjoy this rare experience. Some memories will just have to live in my mind.

After returning to the ship and sorting through the photos from this morning I favorited more than 50! Gotta be a little more choosy for this post, so here you go.

Tail, ship, mountain, sky

Coming at you!

Enterprise Island

This morning the waves were larger than yesterday and the skies were much grayer. So we had another zodiac experience, but much bumpier and wetter than the previous day. While not as lucky as the day before, the highlight of this trip was to visit a Norwegian shipwreck.

Although called Enterprise island, this island was originally named Nansen island, after the Norwegian explorer and Nobel winner Fridtjof Nansen. (Yes, Luther friends, that one). But the British decided it would be better called Enterprise. The ship itself was here from Norway to help the whalers in the area stick it to the Brit’s. It had a processing system on board that would turn the whale blubber into oil, thus avoiding a particular British tax on whale blubber.

The pictures from this morning are all from Jane. I didn’t take our larger camera because we were warned that we and everything we took was likely to get rather wet. And it was fine, sometimes it is good to just take in the experience and not worry about getting photos every few minutes.