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Books and ampersand (31 Jan at 21:36)
Happy 2022! December seems to often be a time of hibernation for me, but January has me feeling energetic, despite the deep cold. Possibly it's because I start getting in the mood to "do something quick" for SIGBOVIK instead of fiddling endlessly on one of my many multi-year projects. I do now have a feasibly-scoped thing underway for this year's Bovik, and even some leftover energy for long runs, side projects, and chores (like for example our refrigerator just died after its own long run!).

A few years ago, my Ph.D. advisor Bob Harper became old enough that we threw him a Festschrift (this is fun; please do one for me when I am 2^6 if you deem me worthy), and finally the slow slow wheels of academic publishing resulted in the articles being "printed" (basically this means someone put the PDFs on a website). I wrote a bit for the "On being a PhD student of Robert Harper" reminiscences. My bigger contribution was assembling them all into an unauthorized printed book (as academic publishing no longer "prints" "publications"), including the unbelievably complicated (despite its apparent simplicity) task of concatenating the PDFs with the correct margins and page sizes for print. But also making some nice cover art, which looks like this:
Robert Harper Festschrift Collection
Robert Harper Festschrift Collection


Even though I have printed books before (e.g. these two) I always get a kick out making something on the computer and then having it exist in the real world. This was my first time doing hardcover prints. They come out great, just like "real" books!

Actually two of my other in-progress projects involve computer designs that become real objects. One of those is part of the aforementioned secret "something quick" SIGBOVIK project, but the other is a simple piece of household furniture. Here's an early render of that thing, known as the "Ampersand" stool, on the dry salt bed as traditional:
Ampersand stool on dry salt bed
Ampersand stool on dry salt bed


This one is made from a single tabletop (some engineered wood I don't know the name of; it's like finger- and end-jointed boards of some soft wood which I just spent way too long trying to figure out the species of; maybe beech?) that I found in the sidewalk trash and rolled home for future such projects, cut with the Shaper Origin CNC. It still needs some staining and finishing, but I don't mind sharing before it's complete because (a) the real version will have all sorts of imperfections and won't be on the dry salt bed (b) the point of this project is not to "finish" and "post" but to have a stool that we can step on to reach the high shelves.

Just a few days ago a prominent bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed dramatically. From the crumbled pictures it's hard to get a sense of how high up it was. It was pretty and one of my favorites, and I ran across it several times a week in 2020 as part of a regular route. I never was able to claim the Strava crowns for those segments (especially the short one—I guess my all-out sprint is not that competitive). But it seems my records are now locked in for a long time (2nd place; 7th place) unless the construction crews want to really show off. Ironically I never knew the name of this bridge until it fell; R.I.P Fern Hollow Bridge! 😢
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