Uploading a thesis is rather anti-climactic

Last night I uploaded my completed thesis to ProQuest’s ETD service. It marks the end (hopefully) of my graduate work aside from a few signatures here and there. It was a fairly straightforward process and when I finished, I was left with a somewhat confused and disappointed feeling. I guess I was hoping for a “you’ve won” style pop-up congratulating me. Or a party whistle.

I’d have loved to celebrate by cracking open one of the awesome celebratory beers that Scott and Stephanie sent me, but I was still in the throes of some stomach virus that I got from the girls and beer didn’t sound appealing in the slightest. Hopefully my body will sort that out and I can get on with it.

It’s the layers

Wednesday’s theme was layers. And the significance that comes from the interaction between them. And I suppose the effect that the combination of layers has on people.

First, I defended my master’s thesis. The topic was “The Effects of Multiple Thematic Layers on Web Map Use by Middle School Students.” Kind of boring, yeah, but I’ve grown fond of the topic, and I’d say given the response from my committee, they find now faults in my research. To sum it up in a sentence: “Combining multiple thematic layers on a web map will not negatively impact a middle school student’s ability to accurately answer questions with the map, nor negatively impact the response time in answering.”
Illustrating the combination of layers on a thematic map

Ditto with adding a hillshade layer for terrain portrayal. The defense is over and now I’m left to make some surprisingly minor edits to the document before giving it to the school.

But layers can manifest in many ways. The next way can be summed up in this title: “The effects of multiple layers of awesomeness on my victory sandwich.” Yeah. Sesame bagel, some sort of cream cheese, course mustard, swiss, lettuce, tomato and turkey pastrami. I ate it out in the sun, hardly believing that I’d come to the conclusion of my graduate work. Barley got none.

Lastly, I went to see Battles (the band) at the Doug Fir lounge with my neighbor Eric. I was really happy to take Eric (when Scott bailed (boohoo, i tore the tendons off my finger and don’t want to drive 4 hours on a weeknight. Really though, thanks for the beer)) because he’d allowed me to pilot my thesis fieldwork in his classroom and he loves music. Plus, he’s just a fun dude.

The last manifestation of layers was in the music. In a somewhat awkward to see live way, the musicians recreated the fruits of their studio work for us to enjoy. I freely admit that most people won’t like the music – I’m sure it seems like absurd noise to most. But the show was fantastic, and the music can be described as somewhat accurately by the interaction of multiple layers of sound and timings to quite an excellent end. Plus, John Stainer is awesome. They all were.

It’s been really interesting to watch the appearance and now in many ways generally accepted practice of using samplers with live music. It’s a great tool in building and composing complex layers of sound, but it can often prove to be challenge to the in-person experience if the musician is not sure how to engage the audience and the music comfortably. It’s like being with someone who is constantly checking his phone through your conversation. The upside is that instead of another conversation, you get sweet, sweet music.

Did I mention I successfully defended my thesis? Yeah? Ok.

Beacon Rock is a damn cool trail

Ella, Maddie and I took off after cartoons and breakfast and drove east on SR14 (Washington side of the Columbia) to Beacon Rock State Park. I’d seen some cool pictures of the trail, and frankly, they didn’t do the trail justice. We got to the trailhead a little after 9am and after adding several layers (it was cool and windy), we started upwards. Ella is rather fearless on the trail and I kept having to ask her to slow down, not because I cared, but because I could sense Michelle scowling.

The trail essentially winds up a cliff, zig-zagging up the most approachable route, and occasionally doubling back over itself on a bridge. The trail is surprisingly easy, but it’s still a pretty steep climb up. It was easy enough that most of the people we saw were not “hikers,” but they all seemed to get the same enjoyment from the excellent views of the river, east to the Bonneville Dam, and west towards Washougal and Portland.

We hit the top and had a picnic. It was only 10am, but I couldn’t argue with the girls who thought it was the perfect place for some sandwiches. It was – even for simple PB&J. We played on top for about 30 minutes before winding back down. Madeline finally insisted on walking, and made it about half-way down the mountain before I sensed Michelle’s apprehension about the exposure.

I’d recommend the hike without any hesitation. So would Ella.