Bob Wall

Bob is the home built climbing wall that we built in Saul's old apartment. Bob is 8 feet by 8 feet, adjustable angle, free standing, and folds up so that it doesn't take up floor space when we aren't climbing. Bob was built by myself, my husband Saul, and his roommates at the time, Daniil and Valerie Magdalin.

We built all of the holds by hand. The best tools for this are a belt sander and a dremel. The wall and all the holds were painted with texturized paint to give it better grip for climbing.

Oh, and since we're complete geeks, we built software for the climbing wall. The conversation that triggered this project went something like:
My roommate:This is cool. You guys should copyright this.
Those of us who took Computer Ethics:You can't copyright this. This gets patented.
Explanation of the difference between copyright, patent, and trade secret.
One of us: Software gets copyright.
Pause as we all realize we are thinking the same thing...
We used our software as our senior project at Cal Poly. It had a graphical interface that allowed the user to drag and drop holds onto the wall, spin them, mark routes, store wall configurations, etc. We also added an artificial intelligence component that would create new routes for us and rate existing routes. The artificial intelligence was within 1 rating of the human average rating 87% of the time (where the human average was the average of our four ratings). Given that Daniil is frequently 2 or 3 ratings off from the average of the other three of us, we declared our software a huge success.

We also kept the copyright to our code since we turned in our requirements document to Cal Poly as our senior project. Thanks to Gene Fisher, our senior project advisor, for helping us avoid Cal Poly's issues with copyright on student work. At some point, we will probably just open source it, but we haven't had much incentive yet.

Sadly, Bob is currently living in my grandmother's barn in California. When we leave Pittsburgh for a more permanent home, we are going to fetch him and put him back together.

Terabyte the Turtle

Terabyte in the travel box
I have a pet Red Eared Slider named Terabyte. She has quite a personality (the vet refers to her as "fiesty") and is very active in her 120 gallon tank;it's addictive to sit and watch her antics.

It's also fun to give her some food that is bigger than her head. She carries it around like a dog carries a bone. Her favorite treats that aren't live meat are strawberries and, surprisingly, radishes and carrots. She also loves snails, minnows, crickets, and crayfish. The tank

Puppy and Bunny

Yes, our cats' names are Puppy and Bunny. No, they do not seem to mind.

Puppy on shoes
We adopted Puppy through some very strange circumstances, but he has settled in well. His favorite pastimes are greeting us, sitting on the windowsills, "hunting the bed mice" (our feet moving under the covers), and chewing on our shoes. Apparently shoes make good chewing only after we've worn them and made them stinky. I swear that's why he greets us at the door; he just wants some freshly smelled up shoes.

As you can see, Puppy has some extra toes. While his back paws are normal, he has 6 toes on the left front paw and 7 on the right front paw. This, of course, means he has opposable thumbs. He does use his "thumbs" to grab things, like shoes. He can also grasp his toys and food and bring them up to his mouth. Thankfully, he's not a very bright cat, so he hasn't figured out how to open cabinets yet. However, he does flip off the lights. It's very annoying to be reading, and then Puppy decides to jump up and hit the lightswitch.

Puppy conked out

shoes again

When we moved to the new house, we got Puppy a friend. We decided to name her Bunny to fit in. We got her from Animal Full Life Rescue, and they were very helpful with finding a cat that would be good with Puppy.

She's a very pretty black cat. Unfortunately, it's hard to take a picture of her, first because her coat reflects the camera and causes her to just be a black blur, and second because she has a lot of energy. This makes her hard to take a picture of because she wants to play with the camera. Most pictures of her look like this

However, she likes going on walks outside, so I can usually get a better picture out there. The lighting is better, and she has more things to distract her. She's actually getting pretty good at walking on the leash. However, if our neighbors are out, she wants to go say hi to them. She also wants to run up and sniff every large dog she sees, which seems like a pretty terrible idea.

Her new favorite activity though is playing in water. Yes, water. She likes it warm, and she prefers if it comes from the tub, though the sink will suffice. She's even learned the word "shower". She now has her own towel in the bathroom because she will join her humans when they shower and then leave little kitty-prints all over the house.