alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Tom Brown, Jr. has said various things about what you can get out of tracking ranging in flavor from that "to track an animal is to know that animal" to "to track an animal is to be that animal". I haven't put in the necessary "dirt time" to reach anywhere near that level of awareness, but every now and then I catch a glimpse. Tracks are very easy to see in the snow, which makes winter a good reminder of the amount of information that is continually being stored on the earth.

Today and yesterday I had some fun with tracks I'd previously left outside my building at Tufts. Campus is nearly vacant over break, which means that individual tracks stick around longer. Each day I exit the building by the fire escape outside my office. I'm evidently the only one using that route this week, because my tracks at the bottom of the escape are undamaged. Usually I turn left, heading either toward my home or toward the bicycle racks. Yesterday I bore right, heading down toward Boston Avenue for a late lunch. But as I was stepping off of the fire escape yesterday I noticed, mid-stride, my track from the previous day, neatly placed a bit to the left of where I'd just put my foot as I stepped off of the stair. The tread of my "Fluevogg" brand boot is very recognizable. I mentally noted the difference in placement, correlated with the difference in direction, then went on my way, forgetting about the observation.

Today, as I approached the bottom of the fire escape, I again noticed the difference in foot placement between yesterday and the day before. The track on the left pointed more forward than I would have expected, which surprised me a bit. I also noticed a second track from yesterday, the completion of my stride. My stride seemed longer than I would have expected, but I'm out of the habit of noticing. Possibly an indication that I was moving quickly? I also noticed that the second print was almost directly in front of the first, which may indicate a well-centered, efficient gait, but I've previously noticed also seems (unsurprisingly) to correlate with stride-length. For a moment I thought that there was no disturbance to the snow around this second track, but then I noticed a long, shallow streak in the snow, leading up to the track. Certainly the path of my foot descending to the ground. The streak wasn't perfectly straight, either: it wobbled just a little changing trajectory toward a more centered position before moving straight ahead for the last few inches before the placement of my heel. Is this something I always do, something about the direction I was heading, or the result of having been distracted mid-stride by my own track from the day before?

It's hard to know, though when I looked I think I noticed a similar pattern for the track to the left. Perhaps my efforts at developing a well-centered gait have introduced an artificial wobble into my stride? Wondering about this made me feel a bit self-conscious. What would today's track look like? And then, suddenly, the whole thing seemed terribly terribly "meta". There was no way I was going to manage anything like a natural stride as I stepped off of the fire-escape this time. I stood there for a moment, observing the absurdity. Then, in a moment of decisiveness (similar to the moment of decision just before you plunge into very cold water wondering what on earth you're actually doing it), I took off -- perhaps more quickly than necessary -- on a deliberate path to the left.
alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Is anybody interested in going to see Avatar 3D tonight with Tim and me? We're thinking of going to Harvard Square AMC, where it is evidently showing at 7PM.
alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Safe, sound, and exhausted.

It only feels ever so slightly absurd when I look at my flight itinerary for tomorrow and realize that I'll be flying through Baltimore.

Ah, well. At least my flight isn't until noon.
alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Herein I use Tim's photos to further document my adventures.

All packed up but no place to go (not that I know that yet):


View of our destination. Taken from Tim's parents' house. The distant building on the right is a few blocks from the Amtrak station:


As we started in on digging out the car:


More images of digging out. )

Looking back from the entrance (exit?) to the parking lot, before going back to recover the car (it's the white SUV that is partially obscured by the vehicle in the foreground). You can see part of the trails we made behind the car:


Tim's father and yours truly working on the driveway:


(Bonus!) Funky night photograph Tim took of the house yesterday evening, through falling snow:
alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Got up this morning at 7AM, got suited up, gathered my bags, and Tim and I walked the 3.8 miles to the Charlottesville Amtrak station to get on my way back to Boston.

Not a bad walk, and we stopped for ice cream at "Chaps", a nice little establishment in the historic downtown area. Chatted with the owner about the weather, shoveling strategies, and how different folks have been dealing with the situation. Then it was on to Amtrak...

...where the gentleman shoveling outside the station called out to us "The trains are cancelled."

Well, then.

We'd been pretty sure that Amtrak would be the only service that actually was reliably running in this weather, but no such luck. We had also checked the website before we headed out, but there was no information about delays at that point. Evidently the snow and ice can get into and cause problems with the switch mechanisms at track junctions.

So, we went *back* to "Chaps" passed along the news to the proprietor (in case he had opportunity to warn others), and grabbed lunch there while I made various phone calls and eventually got through to the Amtrak 800 number (it was busy the first 4 times I called and when I did get through to the recording I was notified that I could expect to speak to an agent in 23 minutes), and booked a ride on the 8:40AM train to Boston tomorrow.

Then Tim and I hiked back up to the parking lot where we'd left the car on Friday evening. Tim's father met us there -- about a mile from the house -- with shovels and brushes and after cleaning the snow off of the car, we decided to go ahead and dig our way out of the lot. Someone had evidently been through with a plow partway through the storm, but there were still about 8-12 inches to move on what Tim's dad estimates was a 200 foot path. We shoveled a pair of tracks for the tires, and lowered the snow between the tracks a bit to improve clearance. Fortunately, for the latter portion of the path we were able to join forces with another group who were digging out from the other side of the parking lot. Photos later.

Got the car clear, and drove back to the house, so I'll be able to get a ride to the train station tomorrow morning (keeping fingers crossed that everything's running well tomorrow). After getting back to the house we spent a good chunk of time clearing out a space for the car at the base of the driveway. The sun is shining and snow is melting, which is doing quite a bit to actually dry the pavement we've exposed.

Now I'm indoors and dry but rather hungry. It's a good feeling, though, as previously noted, not how I was expecting to spend my weekend.

Tim: "...stay tuned for the next episode of _The Prisoner_."
Me: "Hmm?"
Tim: "We didn't make it out this time."
alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Am down in Charlottesville with boyfriend Tim and his dad for Friday and Saturday nights. Sadly I don't get to see Tim's mother because she's up in Chicago visiting with her own mother.

I also wasn't really expected to come down here and to be shoveling through about 2 feet of snow.



And yet here I am. The snow is kind of exciting, but I'm disappointed that it seems unlikely I'll get to see my friend at Twin Oaks. Also, at some point today we are going to have to go out to where we left the car last night (about a mile from the house) to shovel it out.

Here's hoping that I'm able to catch my train back to Boston tomorrow morning...
alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
My NSF DDIG proposal was just submitted. It's been a massive pile of stress pulling this thing together, but I have to admit that I can tell it's been a good educational experience.

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alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
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