The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the BoatThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is a New York Times bestseller by Daniel James Brown that was published in 2013.

Summary

The Boys in the Boat tells the story of the University of Washington’s 8-man rowing team that shocked the world by winning the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

In an age when Americans enjoy dozens of cable sports channels, when professional athletes often command annual salaries in the tens of millions of dollars, and when the entire nation all but shuts down for a virtual national holiday on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s hard to fully appreciate how important the rising prominence of the University of Washington’s crew was to the people of Seattle in 1935.

They were the poor sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers coming into adulthood during the Great Depression. Rowing was thought of as a prestigious sport for upper class boys on the East Coast. Through exhaustive hard work, determination, and team work, the UW rowing team overcame some impressively tough obstacles to become not just American, but world, champions.

The US Olympic rowing team in 1936
The US Olympic rowing team in 1936

Review

I went into this book as someone who knew nothing about rowing, wasn’t a sports person, and preferred fiction to non-fiction. The fact that I really enjoyed this book should tell you something about how compelling The Boys in the Boat is.

It was maddeningly difficult, as if eight man standing on a floating log that threatened to roll over whenever they moved had to hit eight golf balls at exactly the same moment, with exactly the same amount of force, directing the ball to exactly the same point on a green, and doing so over and over, every two or three seconds.

There is so much detail in this story, coming directly from the rowers, their families, diaries, video footage, and other records. Although the book focuses primarily on one rower, Joe Rantz, it also tells about his dysfunctional family, teammates, coaches, the man who crafted the rowing shells, and the time period (the Great Depression, Hitler, the Dust Bowl, etc.).

Even if you don’t think this is the type of book for you, I encourage you to read it.

You might like this book if you like…

  • Rowing (obviously)
  • Pacific Northwest history (1930’s)
  • Rooting for the underdog
  • The rise of Nazi Germany
  • The Great Depression

Book trailer

Desktop Help Request Client

My Windows desktop application (formerly known as Info Gatherer) is now on GitHub!

Direct link to the GitHub project: Desktop Help Request Client repository

Prior to today, I had only used the version control system Subversion, so Git was completely new to me. The GitHub tutorial made it easy to get started. Learning about git status was helpful, too. 😛 I still have a lot to learn about Git, but it’s fun to learn something new. 🙂

A slightly customized version of Desktop Help Request Client (DHRC) was installed on the University of Washington Information School lab computers this week. I’m pretty geeked that people are going to be using it. :geek:

Info Gatherer

Project Scope

My husband, Nick West, works at the Information School at the University of Washington. Yesterday, Nick told me that the team he works with could use my help. They needed a desktop application that would run on Windows (specifically, Windows 7). The application would gather some basic system information about the computer, along with information from the user, and then post the data (in JSON format) to a given URL.

Info Gatherer
My Info Gatherer application

The information they wanted was:

  • Machine name
  • Username of logged-in user
  • Local IP address
  • List of running processes
  • Timestamp
  • Name (submitted by user)
  • Email (submitted by user)
  • Comments (submitted by user)

The application itself would be a form with name, email, and comment fields and a submit button for submitting the data (the system information would be hidden from the user).

Continue reading Info Gatherer

TIL – Buses, XML, and apples

Inspired by the Today I Learned subreddit on reddit, I have decided to start documenting 3 (hopefully) things I learn on a daily (or, more likely, occasional) basis.

So… what did I learn today?

  1. One Bus Away (a public transit scheduling app developed by a UW student) is going to receive $150k in funding from Puget Sound transit agencies (source)
  2. XML is 15 years old
  3. Honecrisp apples can be refrigerated for six months and still be good (source)

I Moved to Seattle!

Wow! It has been a crazy month and a half!

In the middle of June, Nick was offered a job at the University of Washington Information School as a web developer, which gave us only two weeks to coordinate our move out to Seattle. We somehow managed to do it, though! We’ve been documenting our move on our blog, Wests Go West.

Seattle

Nick and I have been living in our apartment for two weeks now. Nick loves living so close to work. He takes a bus three miles to and from work everyday, which is much better than the 30-mile each way drive we were doing before! The weather has been great. While the rest of the country is suffering from a massive heat wave, temperatures are staying in the 70’s here in Seattle. 🙂 Nick and I have been busy, too! Now that we’re back in Seattle, we’ve been going on adventures and spending a lot of time with friends and family.

I updated my resume earlier this week, so now it’s time for me to start looking for a job!