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In loving memory of Kahla R. Graf-Norman (1983-2006).

1 comment has been made.

From Leah


June 09, 2006 at 8:08 PM

It's going to be a VERY tough road, getting use to life without Kahla being in the phsyical. Though I'm so relieved her constant struggle has been lifted. She was such a wonderful person, we felt each other's emotion (good or bad) so intensly. I love you Kahla.
   Sorting through 800+ pictures.  It's been 2 solid days and I'm still not finished.  So far I'm over 150 proofs, which is a save rate of about 18%.  That's pretty good for me as my typical save rate is usually around 10%.  I think part of that is due to the fact I didn't use bracketing for anything except the formal shots.  With bracketing, you automatically discard 2/3rds of the pictures.
   For those who don't take notice, I make a post for every day.  However, I often don't make the post on that day.  It's really difficult to make a post each day, trying to find something to write about and a picture to go with it.  I started getting behind because of traveling for work so much and I found making posts for days past worked pretty good.  So, despite this post being for the 8th, right now it's early AM on the 10th. 
   Pictured is a drink during Erin and Russell's wedding reception.
   I wrote a XHTML/Javascript game.
Click here to play
   This game is a clone of the microscope puzzle in the 7th Guest.  I've been replaying the 7th Guest and when I got to the microscope puzzle, I decided to try something.  The first time I ever played the 7th Guest, I remember a puzzle where you had to get 8 queens on a chess board without any of them being able to bump any of the others.  When I saw the puzzle, I thought to myself "I could write a program to solve this puzzle!".  And I did.  The program used a brute force technique to test every possible combination for 8 queens on a chess board.  The output looked like this:
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 8 |
|   | 2 |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   | 4 |   |   |   |   |
| 1 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |   |   | 7 |   |
|   |   |   |   | 5 |   |   |   |
|   |   | 3 |   |   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |   | 6 |   |   |

             1299851 trys.
   Back in 1995 when I wrote the program, it took several seconds to run.  A total of 1,299,851 attempts are made before a solution is found.  But the solution is correct.
   The microscope game is a clone of a computer game called Ataxx.  Since the game uses AI, the moves the computer makes aren't always the same.  For this reason, there isn't a perfect solution for winning every time.  I got caught up in the idea of making a program that wouldn't necessarily let you win every time, but help you in determining what moves would do the most damage to your opponent.  The first step was recreating the game itself.
   Now that the game is functional, I've thought about expanding it's abilities.  Things I've considered are adding a computer player, 4 player, play across the Internet and different board layouts. 
   This version, which I simply call Squares, is entirely in one file.  It's 100% valid XHTML 1.0 strict and CSS and should run in all modern browsers.  I've tested it with Firefox 1.5.04, Opera 8.5 and Internet Explorer 6.0.2800.
   Pictured is Britney at Erin and Russell's wedding.
Russell and Erin

Russell and Erin

   Today I photographed the wedding of Russell and Erin Tollefsen.  I've taken pictures at weddings before, but this was my first experience as the primary wedding photographer.  Tazz has been preparing to photograph weddings and I had asked him if he would like to come along.  He wanted to but had to work.  But Tami wanted some practice taking pictures using my 20D, which she will be using to assist Tazz when he does wedding shoots.  Since Tami would be using my camera, Tazz let me use his 5D—this put a big grin on my face.  Tazz's Cannon 5D is equipped with an EF 24-105 F4 L IS lens, one Cannon's a top of the line lenses.  This rig is worth about $5,000 and is by far the finest piece of camera equipment I've ever used.
   The formal wedding pictures were to be a little unconventional.  The bride and groom wanted them taken in a cemetery.  I actually felt pretty comfortable with this as I've done similar projects.  During the remained of the event, I tried to capture everything that went on, my emphasis being on the people.  I finished out the day with 811 shots taken.
   My experience with the 5D are mixed.  Tazz's rig with the flash weights at least 3 times as much as my 20D.  Because of the weight, I had to hold the flash bracket with my left hand to keep the camera steady.  Typically, my left hand is free to adjust zoom.  Due to the need to steady the camera before each shot, I wasn't able to respond as quickly.  The 5D is also slower then the 20D, which is noticeable when bracketing.  This wasn't such an issue, because most of the shots I bracketed were formals and everyone was standing still.  Lastly, a 1 GB compact flash simply isn't enough for shooting with this camera.  I rotated compact flash cards several times, coping the pictures to my laptop while shooting with an other CF card.  A 4 GB compact flash would have helped greatly.
   Despite things I had to get use to, Tazz's 5D is a magnificent camera.  The 24-104 mm lens with it's large range was really nice, although there were times I could have used just a little more zoom.  The flash unit worked really well for doing indoor late shutter shots.  Most of the reception was shot using time priority 1/6 second with late shutter.  In all, it was a really good experience.
   Congratulations Russell and Erin Tollefsen!  All the wedding pictures can be viewed at

2 comments have been made.

From Erin Rose Tollefsen (

Fitchburg, WI

June 08, 2006 at 11:19 PM

Russ and I would like to thank you for attending our wedding and taking all the beautiful pics of us! We cannot thank you enough hun! We are both very eager to see how they turned out! You are a really awesome person, and I hope that we can get to know you better before we move, and somehow repay you for making our wedding day so perfect! I know we just met, but you will always have a place in our hearts! Thank you so much, hun!

From Victoria

Wisconsin, USA

June 09, 2006 at 2:39 AM

Que...ok, i finally got this to work!!!!! and yes...i agree with have made their wedding day that much more memorable and rock so much!!!!! i love you like whoa!!!!!

June 05, 2006

Fighting the heat

   Went out and bought an air-conditioner for the Garage.  I have several air-conditioners, including the 11,000 BTU one I used in my room at Park Place.  However, all the windows at the Garage are too small to fit a normal sized air-conditioner.  They make "portable" units which sit on the floor and have vents that are placed out a window.  So I shopped around and found a 10,000 BTU model.  The literature claims this is enough for over 400 square feet of space.  The Garage is 512 square feet total and the front room is just over 200 square feet.  The front room has vaulted ceilings and 3 computers that run 24/7, so that would require some additional cooling power.  I figured 10,000 BTU should be adequate. 
   The air-conditioner I bought so far has been much less then satisfactory.  In it's first run of about 8 hours, it failed to bring the room temperature much below the outside temperature.  Once the sun began to set, the outside temperature fell below room temperature and was steadily below that until I turned the unit off and just opened windows.  I'm not pleased.  I hate to return anything (no idea why, I just do) and I had to completely destroy the shipping box just to get the unit out.
   The Red-Dragon has been crashing more often, simply locking up with no video and no other indications.  I'm sure it's heat related.  I have to have a cooling system that can keep my computers running.
   Pictured at CJ and Kristy.  This is 0.4 second exposure (i.e. long exposure) where CJ remained still and Kristy moved quickly.
Melissa and Steve

Melissa and Steve

   Yesterday, I fixed the "Add comments" link on the RSS feed.  I refuse to work on my birthday, but I love to code, so that doesn't count. 
   In the evening, I went skating in Watertown with Tyson, Kristy and CJ.  Tyson brought his Canon PowerShot SD500 digital camera, which has video capability.  So, we captured a couple videos of Shane.
File Description
Download Following Shane for a back-flip
Download A roll-around hand stand
Download Not quite successful handspring
Download Summer-salt to an actual head-stand
   I've only done a very small amount of video editing in the past, so I still don't know the best way of doing things.  All of these videos were shot portrait rather then landscape.  The digital camera does not correct this and I had to somehow rotate them.  I found the software Jahshaka, which is a full video editing studio.  I couldn't figure out most of it by playing around (dang, looks like I'll have to read the manual), but I got far enough to rotate and export the video.  I was trying to use Video LAN Client to transcode the video, but most of the formats wouldn't work.  I wanted to generic format most people would be able to play, so DivX seemed the logical choice.  However, I never got a working DivX file.  I did get a ASF and the first video is in that format.  The rest are in whatever format Jahshaka uses.
   The video experiment was fun.  Despite it's size, Tyson's PowerShot did fairly well for videotaping skaters.  It's large view screen made it possible to follow behind the person I was filming and still navigate.  Even though I was moving pretty quick at some points, the video wasn't overly shaky as I had expected.  Definitely something I want to try again.
   Pictured at Melissa and Steve.

June 03, 2006

My birthday today

   Yep, it's my birthday!

5 comments have been made.

From Nathan

Kansas City

June 03, 2006 at 2:38 PM

happy birthday man. good to see you in kc the other day. i'm just hanging out w/ lu xi and my free wifi at the coffee house we went to. good day for biking, but no activity for me and my gimpy knee. later dude

From Aunt Heather

Watertown, WI

June 04, 2006 at 7:34 PM

hey Q! i doubt you went but i was going go to skating saturday to see if u were there and wish you a happy birthday. I REMEMBERED SOMETHING! and it just happened to be your birthday. so i hope you had a happy one. i think im going start cutting back on saturdays so make sure you go on girls skate free and come see us out here in Watertown. i got a graduation party which lands on this months girls skate free so im not sure when i'll see u next. talk to u later Q.

From Amanda

Kansas City

June 05, 2006 at 12:11 AM

Happy Birthday!

From Pluvius (

Caledonia, IL

June 05, 2006 at 11:22 PM

Woo hoo! Commenting, to comment... Happy Birthday a few days late. I got you on the day that matters ;)

From dencker

the garage

June 06, 2006 at 12:56 PM

Happy Birthday Que! I know I'm late, but would you expect any less of me?
   My rear bike rack arrived today, so I installed it and the panniers.  It seems all fit pretty well, with the exception of my original bag.  It's hard to attach it to the rack with the panniers installed; and if the panniers are off, it's hard to install the panniers with the bag installed.  I'm thinking I might not use this bag anyway, since the that area of the rear rack would be good for holding the sleeping bag and tent.
   I wanted to get in a ride today, but I wasn't sure where.  I decided I'd bike down to Tyson's house in Caledonia, Illinois.  The route I plotted was just under 30 miles.  When I set out, the sun was already low in the sky, but I wasn't worried because I have a headlight.  However, the headlight started to die about 15 miles into the trip-- about the time the sun had completely set.  So, I decided to abort the trip and come back though Beloit where the street lights would assist my return.  I ended up putting in 28 miles, but didn't reach my destination.
   I averaged 13.57 MPH, which is slightly lower then my average of 14 MPH.  I think I started off too soon after eating.  I started cramping about 5 miles into the trip.  After about 10 miles, I decided to slow down and not push so hard.  That took away the stomach cramps.  After that, I was back to my typical riding speed and torque.
   The headlight on my bike has a rechargeable battery which is suppose to be good for over two hours of use.  It didn't make it an hour, which leads me to believe it didn't charge after my last trip.  I checked the cords, which all seem fine, so I'm not sure what happened.  I'll allow the battery time to charge again and give it an other try latter on.
   Despite not making my destination, the trip was worthwhile.  I got a feel for riding with a even heavier bike (I loaded the panniers with clothing and toiletries for staying the night at Tyson's).  It's now hard to lift the bike because of the weight, most of which is in the back.  I also learned to give myself more then an hour after eating to digest my dinner before setting off on a long bike ride.  And, I managed to bring the bike home despite having no headlight to navigate with.
   Cleaned the CPU heat-sinks on the Red Dragon today.  There is a noticeable temperature improvement when the heat-sinks are clean.  I use a shop-vac to vacuum and blow out the case from time to time.   Dust cakes itself on the heat-sink fins and the despite the high airflow of a shop-vac, it isn't enough to remove this buildup.  So, I've found removing the heat-sinks, running them under water and scrubbing them with a toothbrush does the trick.  I can seen a 5 degree F improvement doing this.
   Pictured is the evening's sunset.
   Slept the morning away after arriving back home around 5:00am from the return trip to Kansas City.  Met up with Tazz, who was showing off his new Canon 5D.  It is a beautiful device.  Two things that caught my attention right away were the larger preview screen, which was really nice for checking shots.  The other thing I noticed was the sound, noticeably different then the 20D. And equipped with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens (Canon's "L" series lens are top of the line for those of you who don't speak camera jargon), Tazz's 5D is really a fine piece of equipment.
   Our shots for the day were not too exciting.  We went to Midway Village & Museum Center in Rockford, Illinois, only to arrive as the caretaker was closing the gate for the day.  I snapped off a few shots of the mill house that we still get next to, but nothing I really liked.
   Pictured is a building at Midway Village & Museum Center.