Dry and warm December

Due to a persistant ridge of high pressure over the western U.S., it has been and will continue to be unseasonably warm and dry in Fort Collins. We have had little precipitation this season and I spent some of Saturday watering our less-established trees and shrubs so they don't croak.

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Suburban singletrack of Fort Collins

I've also been trail running on consecutive days for the first time since the Blue Sky Marathon. For the past 8 weeks I've mostly quit running in favor of biking, yoga, and muscle-building with a trainer. My knees complained a bit about the extra pound per week I've gained from gourmandizing, but overall it felt great to be back running on rock and dirt.

On Jan 7, I'm going to start training for the Quad Rock 25 in Lory State Park on May 12, 2018. I hope I'll be able to get in the right mindset to train when Winter finally arrives.

Poudre Canyon Gateway

My family and I saw some familiar places from a different perspective on Sunday. The Black Powder Trail at the city's Gateway Natural Area climbs 500 feet up from an old filtration plant to a point overlooking the Cache la Poudre River, its canyon, and Colorado State Highway 14, our local route west to Cameron Pass. I've driven beneath this point a hundred times or more in 21 years, but have mostly treated this part of the canyon as drive-through country. I've never been on top before.

The ponderosa pine in the two photos below is a survivor of the 2004 Picnic Rock Fire and the 2012 High Park Fire.

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Thin clouds diffused the light while we hiked up to the top. On the return trip the clouds cleared and the sun shone directly on us. Jackets and gloves came off and it felt like September.

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I'd grabbed our better binoculars before we left the house and was rewarded for carrying them. On the steeper switchbacks going down we were treated to the spectacle of two golden eagles playing in the air rising from the south-facing mountain in front of us. Twice they tucked their wings and dove in spirals around each other before pulling up and shooting upward without a wing beat, purely on acquired kinetic energy. As we headed back to our car, homework, and weekend chores, the eagles spiralled up to their cruising altitude and disappeared in search of supper.

Reading

I'm spending less time running and scrolling through Twitter this season and more time reading. Reading what? Fiction and a memoir.

I've read the copy of "The End of All Things" that John Scalzi signed for Ruth and me at his 2015 reading in Fort Collins. The story about the Conclave leadership was the one I enjoyed the most.

Afterwards I read N. K. Jemisin's "The Fifth Season." It's harrowing and mysterious and subversive and beautifully written. It's also a geography and history book of sorts, complete with an intriguing map. Interestingly, Jemisin has written that she's not a fan of maps in fantasy novels. She had the help of an illustrator named Tim Paul, who has a site full of lovely fantasy world maps.

Now I am simultaneously reading the 33rd edition of "The Year's Best Science Fiction," edited by Gardner Dozois, and "Girl in a Band" by Kim Gordon. I'm 100 pages into that 600-page collection of short stories and novellas. "Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight" (Aliette de Bodard), "Ruins" (Eleanor Arnason), and "Another Word for World" (Ann Leckie) are my favorites so far.

Kim Gordon is a founder of one of my favorite rock bands and a fine writer and storyteller. Her reflections on growing up in L.A. in the late 60s are unique and new, to me. I don't read memoirs, generally speaking. Gordon writes frankly and, I believe, honestly and I find it pretty compelling stuff. Is this book particularly good, or am I discovering that I am a memoir reader after all? I read chapters 25-51 after cleaning my kitchen, while listening to "Goo" and "Daydream Nation," an indulgent and fun start to my Saturday.

November 25, 2016: Nîmes

We made three trips to Nîmes during our séjour. This one on the Saturday after Thanksgiving was our first. We took visiting friends to Nîmes in March and June. The city kept growing on us – Nîmes is both more historic and more accessible than Montpellier, if not as much of an economic engine.

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Ruth took this photo from a Ferris Wheel set up adjacent to the Arènes de Nîmes, a rare perspective on this 1900 year-old site.

Mercantile 1.0.0

Mercantile, the module of web mercator XYZ tile utilities that I started at Mapbox, is complete. Version 1.0.0 is on the Python Package Index today and can be obtained using pip: pip install -U mercantile, no --pre option necessary. The latest and greatest documentation is at http://mercantile.readthedocs.io/en/latest/. I expect to be making improvements to the docs over the next few weeks. Please don't be shy about pointing out what the docs lack.

I'm super grateful for the help from Matthew Perry, Patrick M. Young, Amit Kapadia, Damon Burgett, Stefano Costa, Jacob Wasserman, and Brendan Ward. Sam Matthews doesn't appear in the git log, but helped me with the Sphinx layout.

I'm fortunate to be able to work on open source projects at my job and proud of Mapbox's continuing commitment to open source. Virtual confetti is being tossed in Mapbox's main Slack channel this morning and I'm feeling good.

New cert for the site

Earlier today my old certificate from gandi.net expired while my new one was pending, leaving my blog twisting in the wind. I had such a positive experience two weeks ago with certbot on my local trails web app, that I did the same for my main site this evening. I hope you weren't inconvenienced by a couple hours of security warnings.