Saturday, April 25, 2009

Passion or Mental Illness?

It is, after all, possible that we've gone too far. I doubt it of course but I'll let the world be the judge:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's a Bike!

19 pounds, zero ounces. Ultegra group.

Monday, April 13, 2009


The ol' netbook started to make some noise, so I took it apart to check/fix its faulty fan. Fun was had, things were fixed, and warranties were abolished.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Things I did today

Watched this in person. I love my job. Plus we had sea turtles (and barracuda, and manatees):

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


So tired all day long
but when it's time to crash out
not a wink of sleep.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Whatcha learnin' about today?

Between bouts of exchanging all parts my car's interior to a different color, the wine chiller arrived today. Did a little research on storing fine wines, and what the issues are; here's what I've learned:

1: There are multiple kinds of catalyzation in the process of aging wines. The trick is to get them all to arrive at their perfect solution at the same time by controlling the temperature. Apparently the best temperature for this is around 56f

2: Temperature stability is very important because the thermal expansion of the wine causes gasses to breath through the cork. Constant cycling of temperature will cause the wine's vapor to be exchanged with oxygen, ruining the wine (or at least lessening the amount in the bottle, depending).

3: If the cork becomes too dry, it will shrink in the bottle and allow more gasses to exchange. For that reason you need to maintain a reasonable humidity level in the storage area. But not so high that mold can develop. This means 50-80%.

4: Blockout light: UV can cause some of the reactions to catalyze faster than others, changing the flavor of the wine.

Somewhere down the road I figure I'll make a proper wine cabinet- maybe oak? I'm also thinking I'll do a frieze of some story CNC'd or carved into wooden panels. Oisen and Niamh maybe? The non-christanized version, of course. Who doesn't love a rediculously old Irish tale?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Time orientation

The brother sent this one on to me, with note that chapter-10 seems to mess with some links so should be skipped over.

First couple chapters are explanation of the idea. Of course I have zillions of questions about study format, are we measuring what we think we're measuring, etc, etc. This is a lecture talk, so they glazed over it all. I'll have to spend some time with the studies and get back on that, but let's make the assumption that all is as stated. It certainly seems to have a fair amount of face validity to it.

I'm automatically prone to applying these ideas to myself and the people around me who I know well, which of course is a terribly mix of anecdote, case study, and personal bias. But here's my thoughts: I grew up in a house of very future-oriented people, namely my father, who faces most decisions with the respect only an actuary would. All contingencies are planned for, any possible problems that could occur are treated as though all go wrong at the same time, and everything goes in a neat spreadsheet package. I have no idea how much of this was learned from risk assessment of space operations, but I suspect he came into the program with these very useful skills because he already possessed a great deal of them. My mother I'd say is compassed around present-present-future, which makes for a pretty good dynamic between the two of them. With occasional difficulty in choosing paint colors. Neither (and I suspect all people) fit cleanly into a particular spot all the time.

The result, myself, is someone who is situationally specific to all these things. Money, education, work, etc, I tend to over plan. I would say most of the time I knew exactly how much homework I had to turn in, how many days I had to show up, and what score I had to get on each exam before the first was done, with a proper margin of error based on statistical past experiences, of most of the classes I took. After which I would make up for my carefully plotted free time with totally unstructured, semi-risky adventures ranging from car racing to delicious treats. On top of that there's little doubt in my mind that I live my relationships excessivly in the past.

I think the link here is that present-future should be treated seperately from past by its common thread: pictureness. Past lacks a scale of big-picture or little picture- in fact I often find myself surpised when I sum up some past experience and it seems like it was a much bigger deal than I know it really was. I'm not sure which was really wrong. Present and future is different than that- some people are oriented strongly to big picture actions, and some to small picture actions.

The example of my student-y-ness is a big picture thing. I failed to view the individual work assignments, or even the tests themselves as relevant. The big picture was a college education, and as I progressed, a life education, until it grew to a life career, financial situation, personal capability, etc, etc. Somewhere down the road it will probably get to be even more abstract. This allowed me to put dotted lines around the required bits, like how much work, how much play, how much money. Often at the loss of little picture items- how often to pick up the phone, go out, finish that one project, etc. Things tend to get done in time, but things without a specific due-date tend to float for a long time. The whole is a steady march, but the individual projects tend to look more like intermitent sprints.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Clover Haiku?

It's Eff Oh You Are
One, zero, one. Zero one
One zero zero.

So....Whatcha Thinking About?

Base what? How do numbers work again?

You're actually already aware of number base systems, even if you think you've never heard of this before. You're used to working in a base-10 (decimal) system, meaning you count zero through nine, then increment the next digit over and repeat.
01, 02....09, 10, 11, 12...

To change the base, you do the same thing (mostly, we'll get into the complicated in a moment). IE Binary is counted as:
001, 010, 011, 100, 101...

I'm intentionally starting with extra zero's at the beginning of these sequences to make sure you recognize those are always there, but dropped in every-day math for clarity. It's importaint to recognize this though, it makes a lot of sense when you get outside of your normal counting system.

Why are alternate number bases important? Well, the real question is why is base-10 so important? The simply answer is that we have 10 fingers (usually), so we arbitrarily emphasize such a thing. Had we been octopi perhaps octals would be all the rage. This is an introspective post, after all. Get your brain working on how you've been conditioned to be special...

So we pulled ten "things" as a core to our general math understanding/teaching for, basically, no good reason. We could have chosen any number of "things" to base this on. There's a problem though, we're still putting emphasis on our most basic- how many apples, how many fingers, how many integer items. Rather than choosing an arbitrary "unit," why not choose something less specific, but equally well defined? These are called "non-integer" bases, and I'll give you an example of my favorite: Phinary.

Phinary, or base-Phi, is centered around "the golden ratio." The golden ratio is a relationship that occurs in a lot of simple shapes like pentagons and dodecahedron, plus a lot in nature. The number, in base 10, is arrived at by solving g=1/(1+g). It's about 1.618 to 1. Try writing out the obvious repeating nature of the g=1/(1+g) on a sheet of paper, each time substituting g on the right for g on the left. You'll get an idea of what we're talking about.

So how do you represent a ratio as a system of counting? First is to realize that "numbers" are a representation of a real thing- I think binary shows this pretty well in its "on" or "off" nature. Base-10 is like this too, but slightly more complicated (think switches with positions, or something). Math in this light seems very logical and, well, rational.

Phi-base works around a non-rational number ratio, and as such it needs to be represented in a pretty strange way. As a ratio all "digits" need to be separated to address a standard form (only one representation for a single number, similar to base-10), and counting is a little less obviously linear. To do this in a semi-logical way, you create a couple rules for the problems you'll inevitably face, for example let's try some simple incrementing:

001.00 Seems pretty simple so far. Add them together.
002.00, except that 2 itself is wrong, and to translate it becomes:
010.01. It's a ratio, see? Maybe? Let's try the next one, add those two together to get:
001.00 + 010.01 = 011.01, except now you've lost your ratio representation by putting two 1's next to each other; 011 translates to 100; therefore 3 = 100.01. You've pretty much hit all the rules you run into now, so....

Can you do 4 and 5?
4 is easy, 001.00 + 100.01 = 101.01. 5 is a little harder, but same rules: 102.01, translate 2 to become 110.02, again to become 1000.1001. If you can make it to 7 or more you're doing pretty good. You'll also find you can multiply in the same fashion and use the same limited rules.

It's pretty, it's strange, but mostly it's helpful for you to get out of your assumptions about how we measure things. Give it some introspection. Imagine that this approach was the way your brain naturally worked, as apposed to having to fight yourself to translate everything from base-10.

Also imagine this is why it's not a good idea to prod Spiv when he's in seemingly deep thought, expecting to get an honest, easy answer.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Autism Issues

Woah, I really need to drag up that whitepaper I did about 5 years ago. Here's the basic premise of it, until I can find it again: Autism is a pretty rough communication disorder, or so it's approached. It seems to have a pretty strong genetic component, and perhaps some minor environmental components. Much research needs to be done on both, I suspect it's a kind of genetic predisposition plus stress model thing like so many other disorders- or at least stress in just how bad it can get. Plus once it starts the stressors elevate, so you have a sort of exponential possibility on damage. This is all marshmallow-y stuff though. Stresses can come in many forms, noted by this study is fever: increased rate of chemical process catalyzation in parts of the brain. I did not propose such a thing, but it certainly is interesting.

What's more interesting, to me, is the location of the brain studied, and how that links back to my original proposition. The locus coeruleus is thought to be part of the system we have for sorting out sensory information, and this is where the trains collide: Take a moment to look around while driving down the street (safely, of course). You're very good at picking out which information to register; which cars are near you, what color the traffic light is,  what your speedometer says. It's really amazing how we sort data so quickly, down to a handful of items worthy of direct attention. This is millions of years of evolution at work to help you decide that the tiger is much more importaint than the leaves in the trees.

Suppose for a moment you lost this ability- no way to tell which is more important. The texture of the asphalt, the sway of the grass, it's all just the same as the brake lights of the vehicle directly in front of you. There's really no way a person could drive like this. I suspect this is a large component in autism. Just as a tone deaf person has trouble picking a single voice out of a noisy room, observations made it seem quite likely that a severely autistic child has great difficulty grasping a single word out of the slurry of information that is overwhelming their brains at any time. Makes it pretty hard to learn language properly, or make friendships. In time a person would simply start to regard most of the sensory data as the common white noise, like the ringing in my ears, and internalize all else.

Result? Depends on the person. Some will find certain moments to try and press their sensory intake to. Physical textures, wiggling objects, etc. Others will try and bring external things into their world in unique ways, like synaesthetes (recently, famously, Daniel Tennet). All of these things are very common to autistic persons.

Mehler's study seems to point to this exactly, but with the right amount of caution- it's a hint at what could be structures of autism. And it's fortunately in places that can be dealt with. Unfortunately, as per Lenangred, Chompsky, etc, children who did not learn language early enough in life may never quite get there anyway. Developmental damages are a tough nut.

The hope is that a neurobiological theory can result in some help for those already suffering, and help prevent suffering altogether for those to come.

Thursday Crunchies

Since I neglected to post yesterday's haiku- here's two, vaguely waved at roomies:

Many Octopi
Unbelievably Diverse
Not for eating...Drew.


A Haiku T-shirt?
Oh, you witty bastard, you!

I'm feeling funky, after driving my April Fool's joke to the car club yesterday. I now owe one haiku  to Heyzoos, perhaps I'll exchange it for the pictures he took of said joke.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today's Foolery

It's April 1st, and thus far I think Google has the best pranks.

Here, Here, and Here for the examples.

Haiku pending...