2002 News about David Leppik

Monday, October 28

I've been wanting to update this page for months, but haven't found the time. Of course, every day that passes produces more news, which makes updates more daunting. Most important is that my last grandmother, Laura S. White, died in August. The whole family flew out to California for the memorial. Karina and I were already flying in that direction for Opus and ConCentric. Laura was a loving, compassionate, adventuresome person and will be missed.

My 30th birthday was a fun party; about 20 or 30 people showed up. This isn't much for many, but the most Jordan and I have had in our house before then was no more than 10. October 5 was Jordan's birthday. It was also Melony Fender's birthday. Melony is an extreme extrovert, so by her influence we had an even bigger party to celibrate their birthdays. (Jordan and I have often theorized that we have talkative extroverted friends to entertain us and so that we won't have to do the talking.)

October 5 was also the day of a meeting of several UUs to discuss the future of U of MN campus ministry. That night was an overnight for the church high school group for which I am an adult advisor. I skipped that. Sunday morning I spoke at First Unitarian Society, the congregation where I was raised. And that Friday night was a going away party for TM, who will be doing military service in Hawaii. Oh, and Sunday morning was Barabara Kellett's ordination. I've been to a lot of ordinations lately.

Jordan's sister Hilary visited last week. She was here for a week which started with us driving down to Des Moines to celibrate her father's 60th birthday. He was expecting Jordan and me and her brother Chip, but Hilary was a surprise. We visited the future site of the house he's building. He's spend several years designing and daydreaming, so I've seen blueprints and 3D computer models, but I not only got to see the location but also got a tour of its frame.

This past weekend was a service at my church which I and others have been planning for months. I spoke for five minutes of it, giving nearly the identical speech that I gave October 6. Both were fund raising services to support youth, young adult, and campus ministry activities. The U of MN group from the October 5th meeting I mentioned above hopes to use some of these funds. So much of my work has converged. I might hope that my volunteer work will slow down so I have more time to work on my screen saver. Or perhaps even read a book. But long ago I discovered that volunteering never ends; every activity sets you up for another activity. Frequently volunteering in one place presents you with opportunities for which it seems that you are the only one with the passion or experience to do it. There are a few things like that right now with my name on them. So I'll remain busy until next time I update this page.

Wednesday, June 5

Today is my mother's birthday. Happy birthday mom!

This past weekend was Jordan's 5th reunion at Grinnell. Keith has posted some pictures, which prominently display Jordan's newest hobby. She's been swinging poi around for a few months now, though until now they've had nylon flames instead of real ones.

My 30th birthday is coming up on June 20, but I'm having a party on the 15th. Everyone who knows me is invited. I'm usually a mild mannered introvert, and so is Jordan, so this is our first experiment with a big party.

Finally, something I meant to post here before. This is something I posted to an email list on May 12.

My best friend Seebs and I just discovered last night why he has such weird tastes in food. He can't taste sour. We got that theory while we were out leaving Jordan alone to study. He's suspected for a long time that things taste different to him. On the subject of grapefruit juice he mentioned that it tasted almost identical to gin and tonic to him. Since grapefruit juice is so strongly sour, and he described it as having a slightly bitter aftertaste, I went down the list of sour things: lemon juice, vinegar, citrus in general, sour dough bread, sour apple candy, sweet and sour Chinese food, etc. Pineapple tastes like candy to him. He figured sour dough bread described the process, not the taste. Sour apple might be a variety of candy. And he had no strong recollection of vinegar or lemon juice-- he's avoided them, like everyone.

On the way home we stocked up on sour candy, including Atomic Warheads and sour pixie sticks. The first thing we tried was a glass of distilled vinegar. He took a mouthful and described the flavor as subtle and slightly tangy. But he could feel the acid in his stomach. I tried a sip and it made me pucker so hard some of it spat out. Jordan had a similar, though more restrained, reaction. The candies supported these findings. As did biting into a lime.

The next step is to test the hypothesis that he is supersensitive to bitter. He considers green pepper strongly bitter. In this case, we'll have to construct foods which are bitter to him but not to us and see if he can detect them in a double-blind experiment.

Sunday, April 28

Things are finally starting to slow down for me. Teaching ended on April Fool's Day when I handed in the grades for the quarter. I'm not teaching anything this quarter, but I might later on. It was fun, but it was a lot of work. I estimate I was working 70 hours a week, plus chairing a search committee in my free time. I woke up at 6:30 every weekday morning, got to work by 8:00, left at 4:00, drove to school and prepared for class, taught from 5:00 until 8:00, and got home by 9:00. Then I'd have dinner, relax for half an hour, and go to bed. Sometimes I even read my email.

Things didn't calm down immediately when classes ended. The next weekend was the PSD Annual Conference and Board Meeting in Ames. There was a lot of work to do, so the Board started on Thursday, worked until Friday, and resumed work at the end of the conference on Sunday.

Meanwhile Jordan is having a busy semester. All of her classes are time consuming, but chief among them is Computer Graphics. This is a class I TAed five times, though at the time it was a quarter rather than a semester. The professor is a bit new at teaching, and he hasn't figured out the difference between easy and difficult for students. Jordan has been doing some immensely difficult programming projects. She's writing a ray tracer right now. The ray tracer I wrote for that class drew a single scene consisting of a few reflective spheres, a few colored spheres, and a checkerboard floor. I took quite a few shortcuts which simplified the problem considerably. Jordan's assignment involves reading in a scene file which can include spheres and polygons scaled and rotated in arbitrary ways. It's probably twice as difficult as what I did, and she has about the same amount of time. Oh, and it's due the day of the final.

So now I'm trying to remember how I spent free time before teaching. A lot more evenings out with friends, I suspect, though that's less of an option with Jordan as busy as she is. The Internet has gotten far less convenient since our base station broke a few weeks ago. Now I have to plug in the laptop in the computer room, which wouldn't be quite so bad if it didn't involve sitting right behind Jordan when she's trying to program.

This past week I finished version 2.0 of my screen saver. It's many times faster than 1.0, and adapts to the speed of the computer it runs on. I've got some cool ideas for the next version, but it's probably best to put those on hold for a while until this version has been out for a while.

April showers now come in a convenient, powdered form! The weather has been all over the map this month. On April 1 we got four inches of snow. Two more came the next day. It all melted by the end of the week. A week later we had the first 70-degree day. On Monday the 15th it got up to 91. That Wednesday and Thursday we had thunderstorms. On Sunday it snowed. This past week it's mostly been in the 40s to 60s, sometimes with rain, sometimes with stiff winds. Then yesterday we had rain turning to snow, which turned to mist by dinner time, which turned to heavy snow and thunderstorms in the evening. That is, there was thunder and lightning along with the heavy, sticky snow. When Jordan and I drove home from Melony's place last night there were shelves of snow forming over the windshield wipers. Only after the shelves formed an overhang of an inch or two into the wipers' paths would they break off and get wiped to the side. Today there are patches of snow on the lawn which will all be gone by tomorrow.

Monday, January 7

I'll have to type quickly, since my free time is going away fast. I got a job. Two jobs, actually. An evening job (Monday through Thursday) teaching at Academy College, a local technical school, started today. The day job is at Vocal Laboratories, which is a start-up just started by my brother.

Lest you think this is a case of nepotism, I must describe how this happened. Ever since the $20 beer can collection incident when I was 12, I have had no interest in working for my brother. Nor was he interested in the issues that come along with hiring a sibling, such as the issues that might come up related to promotions or blame if the company fails. Nevertheless, Peter hired Dan Taylor to be the programmer (which has VP in the title if you're employee #3.) Dan is someone I know through Seebs and from gaming on the weekends. (In my universe, "gaming" often involves a board and isn't a euphemism for gambling.) Dan was given the unenviable job of getting a product ready in a very tight time schedule and on a very tight budget. He doesn't have the time to spend weeks looking for someone. He knew two people who might be qualified. I was one of them. So he called me in. It became clear that they couldn't afford me part time, so they hired me full time.

In other news, Jordan and I spent Christmas in Colorado with many of her relatives. Fun people to hang out with, and it was my first Christmas in a very long time with children old enough to know about Santa, but young enough to believe in him. The last time was when Karina was that age, and that wasn't long after I was. This was also my first experience with downhill skiing since a cold and miserable attempt when I was very young. Jordan was my ski instructor. I discovered that it's like cross-country skiing, except that the skis are designed to be much slower and much more stable. Oh, and the uphills are on a ski lift. So you spend very little of your time skiing. The most important thing that carried over from cross country was knowing my limits. I didn't go very fast, but I only wiped out twice.

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