24 Hours in Denver

Jeff and Elizabeth were in Washington, DC for the week, but got stuck in made a stop in the wonderful city of Denver on their way back. Jeff asked me:

24 hours in Denver, what should we do?

Here’s my quick and dirty short list of things to do in Denver. I’ve tried order it from north to south, west to east, but this is all mostly from memory.

  • Coors Field, 2001 Blake Street Denver, Colorado, 80205
  • Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th Street, Denver, (303) 297-2700
  • Commons Park, 15th and Little Raven Street, Denver, CO (kitty corner from REI and across the river)
  • REI Denver Flagship, 1416 Platte Street, Denver, CO, 80202-1120, (303) 756-3100
  • Illegal Pete’s, 16th Street, Denver, CO
  • United States Mint, 320 W Colfax Ave, Denver, Colorado, 80204
  • Civic Center Park, West Colfax and Bannock St1
  • Denver Art Museum, 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO, 80204-2788, (720) 865-5000
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO, 80205, (303) 370-6000
  • Colorado School of Mines, 1500 Illinois Street, Golden, CO, (303) 273-3000

Anything else worth adding to this list?


  1. From west to east is the Denver City and County building, Civic Center Park, and Colorado State Capital 

More On Copyright

My cousin Amanda1 wants to know:

I just finished a painting and I wanted to put it on Facebook, but I need to know about copyright stuff, if I put it on Facebook does that give the Facebook people right to it?

Editors note: edited for grammar and such.

The short answer is yes.

Facebook has something called a “Terms of Service”2. It’s a long document, but the part you’re going to be interested in is near the top, section 2 “Sharing Your Content and Information.”

Part 1 reads: “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

I’m not a lawyer, but when you put content you create (such as a picture of your painting) on Facebook, you automatically give them certain rights. However, as soon as you delete the content, the rights you gave them are automatically rescinded unless your content has been shared with others who have not deleted it.

Copyright is a very interesting subject and one that is not very well understood by many people. I’d encourage you to learn more about it. A good place to start would be Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. I may not be able to answer all of them, however I can also ask my roommate who’s in law school.

-30-

I also sent an email to Auntie, just to make sure everyone is on same page and to (hopefully) provide a Teaching Moment™:

Amanda was asking me about copyrights, which I’m more than happy to give my two cents on in my non-lawyer capacity. However, I’m rather passionate about copyright (or more appropriately, the abuse of copyright and the rights of people) and was hoping this could turn into one of those “teaching moments” I so often hear about from my parents. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (sort of like the ACLU for the electronic age) has a website called “Teaching Copyright” (http://www.teachingcopyright.org/) which provides (for free) a curriculum for teachers to “present the laws surrounding digital rights in a balanced way.”

I think there’s lots of confusion about what copyright is and isn’t. The current copyright (and patent and trademark) system is (in my opinion) a mostly vile shell of what the original intention behind the system was. Yes, strong words, but also words I believe to be accurate. Anyway, I’d encourage you take a look. The site is pretty decent and while not comprehensive, at least gets the ball rolling.

You may also be interested in Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/), which “provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors.” An example of this would be my website (https://andrewferguson.net/some-rights-reserved/) and almost all of my photos.

As always, feel free to ask lots and lots of questions.

-30-

I’m curious where copyright and the like is headed. I’ve been fed-up with the current system a little while now, but I’m usually on the early side of the “early adopters”. My hope is, of course, that we are starting to see more uptick in the desire to return to the origins of the copyright, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”3

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. Copyright 2007 Natebailey, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5.

  1. who is, incidentally, the sister of my cousin Nick 

  2. http://www.facebook.com/terms.php?ref=pf 

  3. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution 

The Apartment

As I suspected, we were approved without issue and will be moving in on Monday! As in two days! Both rooms are about the same size. Room A is slight smaller, has less closet space, but has two windows. Room B is slightly bigger, has more closet space, but only one window. Jeff and I flipped for rooms, and I got room A, leaving Room B to Jeff.

As I was leaving, I took a quick glance at the mailboxes to find where our would be. I recognized one of the names: “Jalbert/Skilling.” As it turns out, one of my friends from high school, Celeste, lives in the apartment right above us. How amazing? Unfortunately, they’ll be moving out at the end of the month, so our co-tenancy will be short lived.

Anyway, I’ll probably start moving in Monday after work. Jeff will start moving in Tuesday morning. I’m sure we’ll have some sort of housewarming party in the near future.

A Place To Live

After all of four days of searching, we found a place to live! I’ll be living with my good friend Jeff, who will be attending law school at the University of Washington in the fall. It’s in a nice section of Greenlake not far from where the work VanPool would pick me up. In fact, I think it’s the perfect location: walking distance to the VanPool and walking distance to Greenlake.

We put down our holding deposit and will get the official word on Wednesday.

In total, we looked at four places: one condo (as a rental), one house, and two apartments.

Dateline: St. Petersburg, Day 2 – The Hermitage

St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
11 June 2009

I ended up going to the Hermitage today. That makes sounds like I was talked into going or something, which I wasn’t. But I wasn’t exactly set on going if no one else was. Evan and Jared were going, so I went with them.

DSC_9718
18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

In general, I’m not what you would call an art museum person. And I generally tend to steer away from them unless the museum is of utmost importance. But my friend Staples said that the Hermitage was pretty cool and worth seeing. And he was right. It also helped that I was able to finagle my way in for free as a student (I actually didn’t have my student ID card, but they accepted my drivers license instead…probably not realizing what it was).

Word of warning about the Hermitage. Do not, under any circumstances, underestimate its size. It’s freaking huge! I did not realize this before going in.

DSC_9724
25.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/7.1 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

Anyway, it way huge. Pretty cool. Definitely worth seeing, even if you have too pay. You name the artist, and they are probably there: Picaso, Rembrandt, Monet and Manet. This list goes on. There’s also a neat collection of Egyptian artifacts that’s worth finding.

I picked up some postcards and wrote a couple notes to people back home1.

DSC_9725
18.0 mm || 1/500 || f/7.1 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

We headed back to the hostel, walking half the way and riding the metro the other half. I made a quick stop at the grocery store for some essentials (eggs, bread, yogurt, beer), then on to an evening of relaxation and making plans for the next few days.


  1. If you want a postcard too, send me an email with your address and I’ll see what I can do 

To The Graduating Class of 2009

Prologue: The following is the graduation speech I wrote and auditioned. I didn’t end up being the graduation speaker, as you’ll know if you attend my graduation tomorrow. As Staples noted, “Their loss, dude. Their loss.” I couldn’t agree more. However, I put a lot of time and effort into this and still think it’s worth sharing. What’s presented below is the speech as I auditioned it, but with a couple dozen comments about my writing process, thoughts, and insides jokes. Special thanks to Corinne Johnson, Audrey Nelson, and especially Jeff Staples for reviewing this and giving me feedback.

The idea for giving the graduation speech started almost a year ago, as I was listening to the 2008 graduation speaker. I distinctly remember two things: the guy gave a pretty crappy speech and I could do significantly better, at least in my estimation.

I started working on ideas over the summer. Writing down themes, quotes, and phrases that came to mind. Eventually, I had a working copy. And finally I had this.

This was probably one of my best kept secrets during senior year: Codename Shakespeare. Initially, only one other person knew about it. However, as the date for tryouts grew closer, I had no choice to but let a few more people in on my little secret, although I still managed to keep the circle small. Before now, no more than a dozen people knew about the speech and even fewer had seen or heard it.

I think what’s most striking about this speech is how it contrasts with my high school graduation speech, especially in terms of target audience, content, and style.

Anyway, thanks for hanging out with me here on Andrew Ferguson dot NET the last five years. It’s been really fun. I look forward to the next 5 years and hope you’ll stick around.


President Scoggins, distinguished trustees, faculty, and alumni, proud parents, grandparents, friends, and, of course, members of the Class of 20091: after years of toiling, we’re finally finished. We’ve persevered — and some might even suggest suffered — through the four, five, or even six or more years of university. Along the way, we have been tempered2- by our professors, by our course work, by our friends, and by our school.

It is this process of tempering that I wish to speak to you about.

The act of tempering is generally defined as performing some action “A”, to some object “B”, to bring it to some new state “C”.

This could be, as Oxford defines it, as simple as “mingling one ingredient together with another, in proper proportions.” Such as might happen when students, and professors, from around Colorado, the United States, and the four corners of the World come together at an institution such as Mines.

This mingling process started even before school did, when we moved into the dorms3 our freshman year. Floor events organized by our RA’s forced us to engage with others, rather than staying inside to play video games by ourselves. This process was furthered by the small class sizes, smaller study groups, and even smaller lab groups. These intimate learning opportunities would lay the foundation for everything to come. At Mines, I wasn’t simply being taught, I was being educated4. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Another definition of tempering reads: “to bring into a suitable or desirable frame of mind.” One of the first classes everyone at Mines is required to take is Physics One. When I took physics, four years ago, the class was taught by a pony-tailed hipster named Professor Kelso — who, at the beginning of class, would often ask obscure science fiction questions in exchange for a candy bar5. Between the early morning lectures, late afternoon labs, and all night LON-CAPA homework sessions with fellow students, something interesting started to happen.

My world view — my frame of mind — began to change. I would look around and instead of seeing actors in a play6, I starting seeing forces and relationships: A father applying a 147 Newton force at a 428 degree angle as he pushes his son — who masses roughly 319 kilograms — on a swing that’s suspended two meters below a bar.

Perhaps a more applicable example: the ice that forms on those cold winter mornings in Colorado: What’s the coefficient of static friction on that ice? How fast can I run to my 8am class before I overcome that static friction and starting sliding? Once I do start sliding, how far will I go before I fall on my face? The answers is, predictably, not that fast and not that far; somewhere between two and three meters per a second for a distance of 8610 centimeters .

Of course, being a school with a mining background, it would not be fair to overlook the metallurgical implications of tempering.

The most common definition of tempering occurs when one brings “steel to a suitable degree of hardness and elasticity or resiliency by heating it to the required temperature and immersing it, while hot, in some liquid, usually cold water;”

This past semester, a friend of mine, Islin Moy, wrote a short note entitled, “Engineering Should Come With a Warning Label.”11 It reads, in part12, “In your senior year, second semester, you will experience stress levels not felt since failing your first test, over a prolonged period of time, at the same intensity. This is due to senior design and the random decision of professors to double your workload13. Senioritis and the general decline of your attitude towards school doesn’t help either. The question is, do you really want to graduate? If the answer is YES, then forge ahead, sipping your energy drinks during the day14 and taking your sleeping pills to fall asleep at night, only to wake up 4 hours later. There is no such answer as NO. You got this far.”

The last four years have been about tempering; about becoming hardened and resilient. This was accomplished by subjecting us to homework assignments that took all night long, near impossible projects , and test, after test, after test. We will inevitably grumble about these things, just as the hot steel screeches when submersed in the cold water15. However, one cannot deny that, at the end of the day, we are better for it; having been brought up that “suitable degree of hardness and resiliency.”

It is to this hardness and resiliency that Islin referred to when she wrote, “There is no such answer as NO. You got this far.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean it was easy getting here. As Jenny Holzer, an American conceptual artists, once quipped, “Some days you wake up and immediately start to worry. Nothing in particular is wrong. It’s just the suspicion that forces are aligning quietly and there will be trouble.”

There was definitely trouble. I can’t tell you the number of times I broke down in tears. I think only one of those times I cried over a girl16 — and she was from Boulder17 — but the other times I broke down for any number of reasons ranging from homework that was too hard or not well explained, to a chemistry lab that wasn’t going the way it was supposed to18, or just the general stress from being away from my home in Seattle.

As a freshman, I often bounced between elation, such as when I finally understood that one equation, to depression, over scoring low marks on any number of exams, to agony, after realizing I still had four more years left.

Four years later, and I’m still excited when I finally get some concept in class, and I still feel a bit queasy after getting some exams back. However, my overall emotions remain in-check and tempered, “reduce[d] to [a] suitable or desirable middle degree or condition free from excess in either direction.”

I expect that it is this desirable emotional middle ground that we will call upon many times during our careers. When the pressures of deadlines at work see everyone around us crumbling, we will stand strong. When the ethics of a project come into question, we will be brave. When the task at hand is so monumental, it will make going to the moon19 look like driving around the block, we will be triumphant. Through it all, and more, we will persevere20: because we are tempered.

So, where does that leave us? The end result of this tempering processes is a better and stronger product than the original. As such, we leave Mines as learned engineers, knowing more than we did coming in, confident that we have many21 of the tools we need to succeed in our endeavors. As Dr. Spock, the pediatrician, not the Vulcan22, once said, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

To the Graduating Class of 2009: We did it.

Now, go forth and make wonderful things, do good for the human race, live long and prosper23.


  1. This is basically the same introduction that David McCullough used in his 2008 address to Boston College, “The Love of Learning“. I’d also suggest you listen to “Why Telling Stories is Important to Engineers” by Robert Krulwich of Radio Lab. 

  2. I came up with four different topics: tempering, communication, luck versus design, and adventure. This was the theme I ended up going with 

  3. Apparently, “dorms” isn’t politically correct. The correct term is “Residence Halls.” Whatever. 

  4. This bit is a combination of Mark Twain’s quote, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education,” and Winston Churhill’s quote, “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” 

  5. If memory serves correctly, I did win once…it was a Star Trek question. 

  6. A nod to Shakespeare’s As You Like It: All the world’s a stage, // And all the men and women merely players; // They have their exits and their entrances; // And one man in his time plays many parts… 

  7. My soccer number 

  8. The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything 

  9. The day of the month I was born 

  10. The year I was born 

  11. Observant blog readers will remember that I covered this note a couple months ago 

  12. With Islin’s permission, I tweaked her note to fit the speech better 

  13. A section was eliminated here 

  14. This part about energy drinks was added 

  15. This is one of my favorite passages 

  16. This is true, believe it or not 

  17. She was actually from out of state and went to school in Denver, but Boulder sounded better…and was funnier 

  18. Spring of Sophomore year 

  19. A nod to to Kennedy’s Moon speech: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” 

  20. I really wanted to make this “hupomeno.” However, it would have required too much explanation. 

  21. Deliberate choice to include this word, since I strongly believe that we don’t have all the tools…nor should we. 

  22. A Star Trek reference, the first of speech…but not the last 

  23. …the other Star Trek reference 

Plans for Russia and Turkey

My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:

That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)

They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.

After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.

I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.

Russia

  • Moscow
    • The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
      70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
    • Kremlin Armory Museum
      700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
    • Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
    • The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
    • Moscow State University Zoological Museum
    • Underground Moscow

Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/

I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.

  • Turkey
    • Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
      • Grand Bizarre
      • Blue Mosque
  • Antalya
  • Ephesus (1 day)
  • Cappadocia (1-2 days)
  • Ankara
    • Capital
    • Turkish Aerospace Industries2

Erin also says I need to :

  • See a Whirling Dervish dance
  • Eat Gözleme and Kanafeh3
  • Read up on Atatürk
  • “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”

Random thought, do I need a phone?


  1. http://www.cmaf.ru/eng/index_eng.htm 

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW&C#Turkey 

  3. Erin says, “kunefe, my favorite dessert…it rhymes with ‘tunafay'” 

Updated Itinerary

Progess is being made! I’m calling this Itinerary v0.2. It appears that the only country that will need a visa is Russia. Thus, I’m going to going to start my travels there since it will have to be the most planned part of this trip. I talked with Jeff last night, as he had traveled to Russia several years ago, and got some good information on places to go. I’m hoping to have trip start and end dates locked down and reserved by the end of March, along with all the Russian parts locked down and reserved. 

I also talked with Quinn and Charlie, both of whom have indicated they would at least be interested in doing some traveling with me as well. I have calls in to Katelyn and Erin, both of whom have been and are currently in Turkey, respecitvely.

Below is a list of places that I think I would like to visit, in roughtly the order that I would visit them. I’ve also added notes (mostly to myself) about things I’d like to do there. I think this seems like a more managable list than previously. I’m also trying to setup a framework of things to do, however still allow the trip to progress organically.

  • Day 1: 
    Seattle, Washington 
    Dulles, Washington, DC
  • Airplane/10 hrs/UA964
  • Day 2: Moscow, Russia12
    • Red Square
    • The Kremlin
    • GUM
  • Airplane/1.25 hrs/$60 USD/Rossiya – Russian Airlines3
  • Day 6: St. Petersburg, Russia45
  • Bus/6 hrs/€30 ($40 USD)/EuroLines
  • Day 10: Tallin, Estonia6
  • France:
    • Paris, France (Paris Air Show – 15 to 21 June 2009)
    • Toulouse, France7
    • La Barre, France8
    • Vélizy, France9
    • Bidos, France ((787 Production Stop: Messier-Dowty))
  • Italy:
    • Rome, Italy
    • Venice, Italy
    • Grottaglie, Italy10
    • Agnone, Italy11
  • Switzerland
    • Arbon, Switzerland
    • Interlaken, Switzerland12
  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Poland
  • Ukraine
    • I’ve heard you can visit Chernobyl…could be cool.
  • Hungary
  • Turkey
  • Germany -> Seattle (UA8718)

Alternates:

  • Sweden13
  • Denmark->Seattle (UA9394)
  • Romania
  • Macedonia

  1. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/east/moscow.htm 

  2. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/russia/moscow/sights 

  3. http://www.anywayanyday.ru/en/ 

  4. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/east/petersbu.htm 

  5. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/russia/st-petersburg/sights 

  6. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/scan/tallinn.htm 

  7. 787 Production Stop: Groupe Latécoère 

  8. Birthplace of Jean-Luc Picard 

  9. 787 Production Stop: Messier-Dowty 

  10. 787 Production Stop: http://www.seattlepi.com/business/275606_italy28.html 

  11. We visited Agnone a couple of years, it’s where my maternal great-grandfather was born, and  I’ve wanted to return here to just spend a few days hanging out 

  12. I’ve heard this is a must 

  13. 787 Production Stop: Saab 

Quotes of 2008

As I do every year about this time, I’m clearing out the “Favorite Quotations” section from my Facebook profile to make way for the new quotes I will undoubtedly amass in 2009. I think there are some really great quotes in here, so enjoy:

“The question isn’t: who’s going to let me, it’s: who’s going to stop me.” -Ayn Rand

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock

“Vi veri veniversum vivus vici” – a German gentleman named Dr. John Faust

“When you have a difference of philosophy with your boss, he owns the philosophy and you own the difference.” – Former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne on being fired

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” – General George Patton

“…discernment is about the intersection of three things. Discover what brings you joy. Discover what you’re good at. Discover what the world needs. The intersection of those three things at any given moment is your calling.” – Jeff Staples paraphrasing his professor

“I see you’ve got a vibrator there… that reminds me of a story of something that happened in church the other week!” – Jeff Staples

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.” -Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

“Remember when math used to have numbers?” – Trevor, commenting on the lack of numbers (none actually) on one of the examples on the board in Feedback Control Systems

“Some days you wake up and immediately start to worry. Nothing in particular is wrong it’s just the suspicion that forces are aligning quietly and there will be trouble.” – Jenny Holzer

“Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.” – Walter Chrysler

“The Love of God is not a mere theory or an abstract thought. The Love of God is an event…it’s not a theory, it’s an event. Love Happens.”
-Earl Palmer

“…in a free country, people are supposed to make their own decisions. You can’t legislate virtue.” -Dr. Ron Paul