Monday, February 06, 2017

Houston, mostly

I'm stuck in Bush Intercontinental Airport at the very end of a long work trip. I went to DC to teach version control for research reproducibility at the World Bank on Wednesday. Thursday, after stopping by Dianne and Kamala's offices to advocate for unified NO votes on the cabinet, I flew to Boston, where I got to see MHD briefly. I presented at the National Bureau of Economic Research at a conference for research on SNAP (food stamps) on Friday, and then flew to Houston to run my first race of the year: Rocky Raccoon 100.

Rocky Raccoon is a flat course run on five 20-mile loops in Huntsville State Park. Ian Sharman ran the fastest trail 100-miler on US soil here a few years ago, meaning if I were in shape it would be an opportunity for me to set a PR or at least go under 24 hours. However, I'm not in shape, so it just turned into a not-at-all scenic suckfest from mile 40 to mile 98 or so. Whatever. At least I stuck with it and got to catch up on a bunch of podcasts. I also met a couple nice liberals from red states and had decent gripe sessions. I wasn't really too concerned about the race anyway, it was more just an excuse to visit W&V, since they live nearby, and was a good training run. I'm in desperate need of training since I haven't done a run longer than 20 miles since October. The visiting W&V part was great, and I presented on research transparency in the department this morning.

The guy at the airport is loudly claiming that the Mayans "had help" building their pyramids. He would know because his dad's an engineer. I am going to put headphones in. My flights delayed because, suprise! it's raining in San Francisco.

Enjoy some Houston street art.
Not cool to put George and Charlie next to Andrew Jackson

Two out of Three

Houston, please explain yourself

I'm a zoning nerd

Houston, with its lack of zoning, has a lot of single family homes right next to townhomes. This is fine, and not in the dog sitting in the room on fire fine, it's actually fine. For this zoning nerd, aside from the obvious fact that the city isn't walkeable/bikeable on a large scale, it's also not walkable on small scale either--sidewalks are completely non-function since everyone, myself included, parks across them.

Lone scenery photo from Rocky Raccoon


Well, regardless of what happens to my home university/state/country/planet thanks to our new president, I got to see Hawaii before it all went up in flames. One of the funders of my data science home (the Moore Foundation) set up a conference in Hawaii for their postdoc and early career researchers. (If anybody wants to set up a research transparency and reproducibility-related conference in Alaska, that's still on my list.)

I flew to Kona a few days early, rented a car, and went to Volcanoes National Park. If I'd had more time to do research I would have hiked in the Waimanu valley instead, but VNP was pretty cool. I backpacked in to a pair of secluded beaches where I had small beaches and coves, with camping and snorkeling all to myself. The hiking to get to the beach was pretty underwhelming, as it was mostly lava and grass with no shade, but obviously the point was the beach, not the hiking.

After the beaches, I drove back to Kona around the island in the other direction, and it was far prettier. The rainy side of the island had huge lush gullies with steep cliffs and rivers running into the ocean. The conference itself was at a Marriott in what is likely a pretty standard resort on the leeward side. The snorkeling was pretty lame as visibility was very low, but I did see my first couple sea turtles.  

Great trip. Looking forward to going back someday and checking out the windward side of one of the islands.