30 April 2015


Time sure flies when you have fun!  A few weeks ago Newton Running started accepting entries for its route art / GPS art contest, http://www.newtonrunning.com/feel-newton/run-feel-spell-challenge.  I did not win anything until the third week, then again the fourth week, and one more during the fifth week.  Unfortunately, it was "Always the bridesmaid, not the bride".  The semi-final weekly prize package, consisting of visor, water bottle, and socks is nice but of course the combo of a Timex GPS watch and a pair of running shoes is way better.  Infinitely better would be the Grand Prize of Newton Shoes For Life!

The weekly contest ended at end-of-day on Tuesdays and I got notified on Thursdays via Twitter.  (In the beginning, I posted to Instagram but I started to hate its square requirement.  My route art usually spreads out horizontally, in order for the whole thing to be seen in Instagram I would have to shrink it to fit into the square frame, very annoying.)  The three winning entries are "relaxed", "reflective" (or rather the mirror image of that), and "tough", shown below.

I made "complete" this past Monday, plenty of time to make the Tuesday EOD deadline.  Supposedly between Wednesday the 29th of April and Friday the first of May the public gets to vote on the Grand Prize winner.  However, I haven't seen any announcement in Twitter yet.  (Don't ask me about searching for info on Instagram from a desk computer!  I can't stand Instagram!)  No winners announced this week, no link for the public to vote on the three Finalists.  I suppose the contest judges have day jobs to attend to.  It cannot hurt to have a little hope that maybe judging is not done yet, for Week #6, and that my "complete" art will finally be selected as a Weekly Finalist.  Maybe the public voting phase is already extended and that I will be selected among the three Finalists.  There's nothing to do but wait and see.

I opened the floodgate on creativity for this word, virtually trespassing private properties with my nifty pause-unpause technique to make letters like X.  I could have made "a" differently but I chose to flex my creative muscle.

Despite the narrow "f", I still like this route the most.  Mirror image, how about that?!  The first time I tried to write this I only had time to spell "lective".  I also cut corners and made some letters shorter so the whole word didn't look nice.  I tried again the next day and the result is much better.

I made good use of the locale's physical features, the "h" sticking above the other letters into what was once the mainland, from Coney Island's perspective.  My tweet said that "running makes me feel tough".  Coincidentally, the neighborhood I ran in was tough-looking, with metal bars on windows in most of the houses.

Running does make me feel complete.  I would feel even more complete if I win shoes for life.  BTW, I find that when it comes to legible GPS art, serifs are your friends.

20 April 2015


It all started with a birdhouse my brother-in-law made for my son.  I believe it was made from broken boards saved from tae-kwon-do practice.  It was so many years ago.

At one time, my home-office had a window A/C unit.  It was a pain to install so to be safe a cage was added.  When the window A/C was replaced by a wall unit, the cage became disused so one day I put the birdhouse there in hope some small birds would move in.  Instead, a pair of turtle doves started building a nest next to it.  The next few weeks I learned a lot more about turtle doves.

Both male and female turtle doves share hatching duty so it was not easy to tell which one is which.

Most of the time a bird would be atop the nest but one time I happened to be near the window and witnessed the changing of the hatching guard.

Close-up of a parent dove hatching the eggs.

One of the rare moments I witnessed a parent bird arriving to relieve the other.

About fifteen days after the first egg was laid, a chick came out.  I saw a parent bird open its beak for the new bird to poke inside to eat the regurgitated food.

A final happy moment of my bird-watching adventure.  This winter does not want to go away and one cold windy evening none of the parent birds were around.  Although my son told me he saw two chicks a day or two earlier, I saw only one and it was not sitting upright like when I first saw it.  Next day, the weather was even worse and the parent birds were absent again, a baby bird laid dead to the right of the birdhouse.  Such is life.  I took nothing but photos and did not try to interfere.  From what I was told, the birds will try to raise a family a few more times during the upcoming warm months.

13 April 2015


I recently came across the list of 30 Common Money Wasters at http://www.dealsplus.com/topic/2991/30-common-money-wasters-and-how-to-avoid-them .  Being frugal, I already practice most of them and agree with the article.  One item that I don't totally agree is the lottery one.  It's a waste of money, the article says, you are better off putting your money elsewhere.  But if you are not in it, you have zero chance of winning.  Such is the case with my participation in the ongoing Newton Running Spell Challenge.  It was near the end of Week 3 and not having won anything the first two weeks I was a bit discouraged.  But if you don't enter the contest you have zero chance of winning the Timex GPS watch and pair of Newton shoes.  So I ran the relaxed route below and pulled out all the plugs for creativity, such as the two e's, the a, and the x.  It was good enough to win me some semi-final weekly prize, not the shoes or the watch, but it's a start.  Three more weeks to keep trying!