Archive for October, 2011

Gimme some CANDY!

Monday, October 31st, 2011


(N has entered the “I need to strike a pose” phase.)

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween from the Schierers!


(Yes, Mom(s) there will be pics of the kids later.)

CNY Auroras

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Not the name of a new hockey team… but this:


Tonight’s show had nothing on the blast from eight years ago (although I keep hoping). Still one of the better shows so far this solar cycle. Certainly the best I’ve been able to see here. The peak may actually have been earlier based on these Spaceweather shots posted in western NY.

Still, there were moments of naked-eye color and the slowly fluctuating glow was diagnostic even without the camera. The long exposures certainly emphasize the color. Bummer about the clouds ((they rolled through with only the faintest gaps when the visible red glow above started), but the contrast between the town lit clouds and the background aurora is sort-of interesting.

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Sunday, October 16th, 2011

“Me!” is the latest in the additions to R’s vocabulary. She and I were looking at the family pictures and the conversation went something like this:
“Who’s that?”
“Who’s that?”
“Who’s that?”
Finally, “Who’s that?”

This just astounds me. Not only does it show that she recognizes herself, but that she’s naturally mastered such an abstract concept as the personal pronoun. It’s not like anybody else calls her “me”; we call her “Rachel”, “Rach-ee” or “Raych”. However, she’s certainly seen other people refer to themselves as “me”, so I assume she’s figured out how to project other people’s self-reference to herself. So: self awareness, self recognition, and the ability to observe others and project their behavior onto herself. What’s most amazing is that this came first… not as a replacement for her name. As far as I’ve noticed she’s yet use her name in any way.[2]

This is the sort of self-organizing behavior that just drives programmers nuts. As far as I know, we have no idea how to make a machine observe and learn behaviors like this… completely on their own. For her, it’s just automatic. Those circuits are just building themselves faster and faster… she’s just about in the word a day realm now. Awesome.

  1. This is actually a fairly recent development also, up until a few days ago N was indicated by a custom sign where R flicked her left pointer finger away from her mouth. We have no idea where this came from, but that’s what she’s used for the last 3-6 months. []
  2. K adds that she is also using “mine”, which is about as abstract AND adds the concept of ownership. []

Fall and Family

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

We took advantage of the break in the rain to get some fall family photos. Enjoy.






The Joy of Fall

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The past week here in CNY has been the epitome of perfect fall weather. In particular the weekend with sunny 70 degree days and crisp clear nights. Morning bike rides through the crunching leaves in the mid to high 50s.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to visit Wolf Oak Acres “Balloons and Bounty” fall festival.[1] As is often the case, entering an event like this one solo with a camera and a couple of lens bags gets you pretty much unlimited access to the activities.[2]


The launch was supposed to be at 4PM, but it was close to 4:30 before they really got started. Over a dozen balloons lifted off, with the last one leaving the ground an hour later. The bright fabric, green grass, bright blue sky and setting sun made for some fun photography. I shot almost 300 pictures in two hours.

I hope you enjoy the results almost as much as I did taking them. As always, more in the gallery.

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  1. We were hoping for a family outing, but R was sick, N was busy playing with a friend, and K was otherwise disinterested. []
  2. I paid my admission to the farm, but I’m relatively certain that civilians were supposed to stay out of the balloon prep area. []


Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

And I remember when these things were not only _useful_ but actually an improvement over the alternatives.