Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Allergies and testing

I am going to get an allergy test this Friday. I hope that they can get me on that beautiful cocktail of cat dander and ragweed pollen by the new year.

I went running today and my time/mi values were where they are if I don't run for a few months. This is from 3 days without allergy medicine (not very long), in the winter(not very much pollen), when its raining (also keeps pollen down).

Can't wait!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Glasses in your pockets

I put my glasses in my shirt pocket last night.

I wore them driving home, then left them on my desk.

In the morning, I woke up, and put them on sometime in the morning.

I am going throughout my day, whistling to myself...

I see a speck on my glasses, and decide that I am going to wipe down the lens really well, so I can just poke at it with my finger. I am doing this absentmindedly as I am typing on the computer. So I remove the smudge on the lens. I think to myself, "hmm, lemme rub the other lens too", so I stick my finger on the other lens.

I poke myself in my eye.

The lens had fallen out in my shirt pocket and I did not notice it all day.

(I have one "bad" eye, and one "good" one)

It turns out the missing lens was for the "bad" one. I had assumed since I did not notice it was becuase it was for the good one, but as I wrote this post I checked, and it was the bad one.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Day after thanksgiving noms

A turkey leg as God intended it


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nuclear zero

Just remember kids, if we go to nuclear zero, then only the terrorists will have nukes!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mosin shoot

I forgot to post the first time I shot the mosin with the scope. 100 yards, not zeroed so its mostly group size. It was the end of the day, and I was rushing alot (excuses I know!)

It has gotten better(maybe not the group was bigger, but I see a bifurcation), as you can see below. The pic is at 100 yards, scope "zeroed" for 200, should be 2.1 inches high at that range. I was aiming for the center of the black square. There was 1 flyer that I did not find because the surrounding box had a few holes in it. (ha or it went in one of the other holes (not likely, but we think Kerr did that earlier that day)). The two shots above the square were not too shabby, but there were two to the left. According to the chart, i am using "too little finger". Could also have been anticipating, it was the end of the day. At any rate, thats what happened. Trigger control work should fix the problem. Next time at the range I'll attempt a paper plate with a black square again.
Update: I forgot to mention, this was shot from a "field position" of me sitting and using the bi-fur-pod as a rest. I'll try and do a bench rest version to see what the mosin is capable of (might need someone(s) to also do that), then a field rest version to see what I am capable of.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random pics I forgot to blog about

Pic 1: I was zeroing the mosin and using its carry case that I made from some old jeans to hold it up (sort of as a bench rest). In my movements, the case was hit with muzzle blast or a bullet. It basically shredded into confetti and made some huge holes.

Pic 2: Finding out the score of a bocce ball game during festivities. That was a great day, we rolled down this big grass hill, had (wine and beer) with (cheese or salmon spread) and crackers)). We met this outgoing kid, Justin, that wanted to play bocce with us. We let him play (well, throw the balls around randomly). I was talking to his dad, and he runs up "what are you drinking".... pause from me, then "Apple juice". Later he says "do you have to drink apple juice when you are playing bocce?" ---- my answer "but of course!" [note: people tell me that it was not apple juice]. [also, those are not my toes!]

Quote of the week

""i send you an email about getting a pig for a pet, and you send me one about cooking bacon. nice baby."" - Sara

It wasn't intentional! i promise! (or was it?!?!? MUAHAHAHAHA)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Soda Can Solar Heater

I made a solar can solar heater. Fairly simple, collect a bunch of cans, drill/cut out the top/bottom, assemble into tubes, assemble tubes into a panel, paint panel, stick in window.

Cans in tubes:

Can tubes made into a panel:

Painted and installed:

The bad thing is that I figured out that in the winter the sun doesn't go directly overhead, it is inclined. We are on the wrong side of the building, so the windows do not get direct sunlight.

In the summer, on the other hand, we do get direct sunlight as it is inclined the other way. Sooooo.. that sucks.

I might donate the panel to my sister or mom.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The core and the gap (cl-users)

Found another core/gap map, common lisp users around the world.

Sara has a point, its just because the core/gap have by definition different computer/internet penetration.

I suppose it could be that common lisp users would appear when real work (tm) does not really have to be done, which would not be the case in the gap. (tongue in cheek)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rediscovering living in a village

I have seen a movement toward more "resilient" communities that ends up with urban people trying to learn how to emulate a village. Well, they actually end up trying to setup a commune, but eh.

Its not that bad of an idea, have stuff that you can fix/produce locally.

The problem is, humans ran into a scaling problem with that plan. A village can not have a space program. Most villages would never have developed aircraft like that ones that we depend on. Etc, etc.

Designing a lower cost/easier to manufacture {insert farm tool here} can be done without the need to move out to a farm and prove that you can survive without outside inputs (or too many of them).

Making a better functioning community is a good idea, but we can not forget the advances afforded to humanity from trade.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vrius free another 6 months

Every six months ubuntu comes out with a new version. I download the livecd and boot into it to scan my windows xp box for viruses (I don't run an anti-virus).

----------- SCAN SUMMARY -----------
Known viruses: 649863
Engine version: 0.95.3
Scanned directories: 43392
Scanned files: 516438
Infected files: 0

I think I will keep doing what I am doing. Maybe windows defender is defending me.

My router stops many(most?) virus attacks and I keep everything as updated as I can. I don't open random things and only download things when I was looking for them. I don't use too many software packages that are common vectors. I tend to not download things on the first day/week to give them a bit of time to settle.

For piece of mind I run the antivirus every six months from the livecd, rootkits and all, you know. I once had someone tell me that "You have a virus" (in anger) when I told him I didn't run an antivirus. It doesn't work that way.

Keyword arguments

Are keyword arguments to a function sort of like setters/getters for class?

Friday, October 30, 2009

UAVs vs cruise missiles

I was attending a presentation yesterday and they had a bullet about how using UAVs on a carrier to strike targets would provide cost savings over cruise missiles. My gut said "really?".

So I did some quick analysis about that issue during the presentation.

The assumption is that you wanted 1000lbs of explosive delivered to a target and that you want to maximize the deliveries per dollar spent. Assume you already have a carrier and personnel. Costs are procurement cost for the cruise missile (BGM-109 Tomahawk @ $569,000) or the procurement cost of an F-18E or F-35 ($54,700,000 and $83,000,000 respectively) plus the cost of a bomb (GBU-31 $73100 (MK-84 $3100 + JDAM Tailkit $70,000)) for each use. These costs are from wikipedia and may not be accurate. Feel free to substitute your own numbers. (I for one, do not trust the F-35 data, but I digress) (I used numbers off the top of my head during the presentation, they were fairly close to these numbers)

Assumption: Cost for a carrier UAV will be comparable to a F-18E or F-35. Again, the numbers aren't terribly important, we are just trying to get a feel for how it works

Assumption: ~1000lbs of explosive delivered by a Tomahawk is roughly equivalent to ~1000lbs of explosive delivered by a JDAM. Therefore, we will find the cost for the same # of deliveries.

Assumption: ~80 Aircraft per carrier (could be more or less)

[Cost for Tomahawk option] = [Cost per Tomahawk]*[# of deliveries Tomahawk]
assume: There is enough room for all of the Tomahawks on a carrier (may not be true).

[Cost for UAV option] =
[Cost per aircraft]*[number of aircraft on a carrier] +
[cost per JDAM]*[# of deliveries UAV+JDAM]

Setting the costs equal to each other (so that we can know the "tipping point" where it is better to switch from uav+jdam -> tomahawk or vice vera) and # of deliveries too, we find that that occurs when
[# of deliveries] = [cost per aircraft]*[number of aircraft on carrier]/
([cost per Tomahawk]-[Cost per JDAM])
And [Total Cost] = [#deliveries]*[cost per Tomahawk]

Using the provided numbers,
[# of deliveries low uav cost] = 8825
[# of deliveries high uav cost] = 13390
(note: Original estimate in presentation was 8000-16000 (low-high), so back of the envelope works)

So, going mid-way, about 11,100 deliveries for equal cost. If there are more than 11,100 deliveries wanted per carrier, then we should go with UAV+JDAM. If we envision less than 11,100 deliveries per carrier, then we should go with the Tomahawk. (based on all assumptions, and hand waving away all other things like storage cost, personnel, range, surge sortie rate, etc)

For comparison, if all of the tonnage dropped in Desert Storm was 2000 lb bombs, that would have been 121,248 bombs (not sure I did that right, I considered 1000lb of explosive, but I think it needs to be normalized to tons of TNT?). That would mean about 10.9 carriers of that load.

I don't think that you can fit 11,100 Tomahawks on a carrier, but I think it might be able to handle the weight (not spending time to find out).

Monday, October 26, 2009


In the vein of keeping this blog classy, Mike sent me this image of his captcha that he had when submitting his comment.

Good weekend

I had a good weekend. On Saturday we got some product exploration done (cars) and had some good pizza.

Sunday was reading before lunch, pancakes, groceries, ham & cheese sandwiches.

Then we went running at Cochran Shoals Trail, and hiked a bit in the woods. We saw a lot of wildlife, plenty of chipmunks and squirrels. I found two nuts (walnuts? maybe a type of hickory?), and called a squirrel by rubbing them together. He was pretty excited about it, so I'll have to try that again.

Melted/Poured some lead for a project that I am working on. I also painted the solar heater, we will see how it goes. I figured out why I wasn't figuring out when the sun comes into our windows... its because in the winter, it never does! That might hurt the solar heater's chances...

Pics to follow of the solar heater, I have been saving pictures of the assembly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waterproof and Wireless keyboard/mouse/screen

I pen a great deal of blog posts in the shower, but promptly forget them as I am drying myself.

Since I already thought about the topic, my brain checks it off as "done".

Thats why you guys don't get any blog posts!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dog Scare

I went running with my wife yesterday. As we were cooling down (walking) back to the house, we ran into a mean looking (bit bull + rottweiler mix (just think mean, I don't know the breed) (90lbs?)) dog at a natural choke point [so yes, I got ambushed, smart dog]. To get to our house, we have to go through a 2-car wide section of the road (which was 1 car wide due to a car being parked on the side of the road), which then opens up to a cul-de-sac ish area.

First instinct, pat left hip. No knife. Check pockets. (1) key, (1) music player. A key it is (stab in the eye if attacked?). Dog is acting agressive, all we want to do is get by. I figure that the dog is just scared and does not know what to do next. I ask my wife to back away, putting myself between my wife and the dog. I cautiously try to walk past the dog,

He lunged.

I turn to run, yell "hey hey hey" (very short/loud), and stomped with my right foot(I suppose in preparation for hard core fast running). He stopped, and backed away a bit.

Got my bearings.

A ha! so he was just scared and didn't know what to do with us. I would walk about 2 ft, the dog would get nervous, and be about to growl. I would stomp, yell "hey", and he would back up two feet. We basically repeated that for 30 ft or so until we were past him.

Then, when we were about to get into our house, he runs up and starts barking at a dude trying to get into his car, he dives into his car quickly and makes sure the door is shut.

Anyway, I was fairly mad when I got into the house. First I was like "if I had a P3-AT (Santa, a blued finish would work), I could have used it". Then I thought about that. I don't think I would have wanted to shoot at the dog with the intent to kill it. Next I was like, "well, I could have shot into the berm and scared it". Which I figured was the best option if you were using a gun. Next I thought about well, I could carry a baseball bat/stick (heck, an old lady that runs on our route carries a big axe), but the more I thought about that I realized that I didn't want a dog close enough to me to cause me to be able to use a bat or a stick.

As I was going to sleep, I came upon what I think to be the "best" answer (open to discussion) for that situation. Pepper spray would have been pretty effective, non-lethal, and light. Discharging a firearm like that would not have been very fun to deal with. A stick lets the dog get close, and you better hit it hard. Taser... I have no experience. From the interwebs, some people say pepper spray works, some say it doesn't. I am not going to test it on any dogs I know, so .. hmm. I think it would work on a dog that was just wondering about you but being aggressive. If it was set on biting you, I don't know what you could do to stop it. I had an idea about a good flashlight, but seems that is hit or miss too. The flashlight is something I could test though.

There have been free ranging dogs in the cul-de-sac before, but this was different. There used to be a big white dog, looked like a wolf, but when it came up to you, its tail was wagging. I wouldn't promote random dogs scaring people, but wagging tails is a good thing and can be forgotten. An aggressive dog that blocks free transit in public areas is a problem.

I think I was thinking about this alot because I still don't know what I *would* have done if I had some sort of firearm on me. I also don't know what I *should* have done (they are different).

In retrospect, we should have just gone around the building. Picking a fight with a dog is stupid.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Yesterday I went on a quick hike at the East Palisades with Curtis and Dane. I met some guys that had a good tip about some off-trail ways to go that had some awesome views. I am going to try it next time.

I baked some bread, to test out this ceramic pot thing that we got.

Pretty tasty, I had it with beans last night (I needed the can for parts for my camping stove), and this morning with some eggs.

I started making the columns for the solar heater, I'll post pics in a separate post when I am done assembling the first panel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

other people's blogs

Sometimes I randomly run into someone's blog.

If its good, I tend to go back and try and read like 1-2 years of stuff, which takes forever!

So I know all about this guy, and he knows nothing about me!...

Its like a one way friendship, or stalking or something.


But why do they have babies more often in the winter?

Is the more interesting part of this article.

New Light on the Plight of Winter Babies

(short story, poor folks tend to have more babies in the winter, so the winter babies scores are lower.)

I am betting on the "prom effect", heh!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rocket ideas from a friend

Recently, a friend had an idea for a new (well, old, but actually built?) configuration for a rocket engine.

Its been interesting to think about it, but the best part was the stationary that he used to draw the rocket picture on.

I have removed his drawing/rocket plan so that you can just see the paper.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Its still there!

Over the summer I visited an old workplace.

The "Junction Interface" box is still there!, staying strong.

huge box for a small simple board, but hey, stuff takes time to fab and estimating size is hard when you don't know anything.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reports on computing from 1967-1968

I recently read two papers about the future of computing (for the masses) from late 67 and mid 68.

The first one was "The Computer in Your Future" by W. H. Ware. He brings up that there is a man-man interface between the customer and the programmer, and a man-computer interface between the programmer and the computer (mostly to say that errors occur at both interfaces). He explains some stuff about computer systems in the beginning so that the second section will be believable. (The intro stuff is things that they knew how to do way back when, similar to the "PILOT: A STEP TOWARDS MAN-COMPUTER SYMBIOSIS" paper I wrote about but they have forgotten now). In the second section he is really careful to say that these things are possible, but not predetermined and not that crazy. He hits on the cloud "computer utilities that would offer services to subscribers" except that he saw it using phone lines instead of the way we connect to the web now (though, we did use phone lines back in the 90's). The family would have a computer that would be used for many tasks, balancing check books, income taxes, price checking, homework, phone books, Christmas card lists, (no games?). Computers in cars! Computer planned/assisted crimes! Computers in business! He thought of something cool that is a bit deal, the reeducation/training required as our society changes and jobs don't last lifetimes. He talks about computers in engineering and is pretty correct. He then talks about computers in medicine/biology and forsees (which seems to be coming) the ability to grow organisms to specifications [like genetically engineered rice or e. coli]. He finishes with computer generated graphics that would be driven by physics based simulation for design and sharing of information.

The second paper was "Some changes in Information Technology Affecting Marketing in the Year 2000" by Paul Baran. Its 2009 so we can see how he did. "widespread large-screen, color, person-to-person TV communications over cables using a switching network similar to the telephone system" - Yep. (webcams). He talks about the cost of writing/publishing going to zero (blogs). He talks about transitioning from push to pull for information. (ha, and they still are! ) He predicts Amazon (buy anything online) but misses a search box and instead has an interface where you choose a category and zoom down to the product that you want. He mentions targeted advertising after you get down to the item that you want, because thats when you most likely would want to know the differences of the products. Google seems to be doing that. He then talks about a recommendation system that basically is Amazon's recommendation system. Last thing he mentions is being able to check the weather on this network, which we do today.

Just was interesting reading about what they thought would come up. I can send you a copy of either if you are interested, just email me.

side note, Ubuntu made my spellchecker en-GB which sucks. So change spellchecker.dictionary to en-US.

So many things to write about

so little time.

Been working on work, school, and home stuff.

I have been helping quite a few people get jobs lately, though I don't attribute it to the recession. One person just graduated, another has been "looking" on and off for 5-6 years, and the third was laid off when the company did not get a major contract (military, so I think it was just that they lost, not that they aren't doing that contract due to the recession).

Just saying hi to the folks out there.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thunderbird attachments and imap

Sometimes my email client (thunderbird) does not download messages properly. They are always the ones with attachments, so I finally (might) have figured out why.

In the config editor, change mail.imap.fetch_by_chunks to false.

Also, when I went to the offending folder's properties and hit "rebuild index" it redownloaded one that it had messed up and it worked out.

Time will tell if that worked, its hard to test. I'll delete this post if the fix is wrong.

I used to have to log into the web based mail for that account, and forward myself the email, which would then download properly, which was weird to me.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rare earth and iphones



anyway, a lot of people saw this coming. welcome to the new OPEC for electric cars, the main found stash of Lithium (for teh batteries) in electric cars is in Bolivia.

I have faith in the market, stuff will work out.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I may have the swine flu.

Its not over, but I think I am past the peak.

Its pretty weak sauce, the flu of Jan 07 was horrible. In 07 I had a delirious fever, hallucinations, and the whole bit. Confined to bed!

This flu, I felt bad, but it was manageable. Fever was never over 100.something.

I wish I knew if I really had it or not, so I could either say "Stop freaking out about the swine flu" or "man, my immune system is so awesome, the swine flu is more like the 10 minute sore throat".

Thursday, September 03, 2009

One way trip to Mars

What I have been saying for years, Sending Astronauts On a One-Way Trip To Mars.

Sign me up!

I guess I should write more op-eds?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

first real attempt at some emacs hackery (related to beamer)

I create my presentations in beamer (uses latex) and use emacs as my editor.

I found myself typing,


And then either going to the title or one space past the item.

I quickly whipped this up, stuck it in my .emacs and was on my way.

;;a function for helping with beamer
(defun make-new-frame ()
(insert "
(search-backward "\\item")
(forward-char 6))

Alt-x make-new-frame [enter] and I start converting thoughts to bits.

Monday, August 31, 2009

forward progress

Just do something every day.

Its working so far...

Lets see if I can get this thesis thing over with.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the phone with Social Security

I had to call the social security administration today because my earnings record was incorrect. (updated, I think it was correct, see below)

The IRS and the SSA don't talk too well, so I had to find all of my tax returns and report my income. They had incorrect values for my taxed earnings, I only noticed because I was calculating the income required to qualify for benefits and it was only 43600. Let me repeat that. 43600 over your lifetime of working gets you some sort of social security benefits. WOW.

Anyway. I have been on the phone for 35 minutes already. The lady on the end of the line does not know what she is doing it seems. She keeps putting me on hold. Its kind of sad, but this sort of thing can be done by a computer cheaper and faster. First, the IRS and the SSA should be able to share information, and know that it is wrong. Second, it was four numbers that I needed to tell them, which could be done with a web form. Authentication is the hard part, I guess?

In the end, I think that some of my income did not have to pay social security taxes and did not count toward my benefits. I of course, had to figure that out by finding an old W-2 from one of my employers that doesn't do the social security thing. Now I have to waste some time finding out if the IRS is ok with that or not.

Ok, thanks to Drexel University it turns out that some of my wages were exempt from FICA because I was enrolled at least 1/2 time at a university. (the wikipedia article also mentions it).

I wonder how many people actually read that earnings report and take the time to figure that out. Maybe normal people just read their W-2's or other statements more carefully and already know that they weren't paying social security/medicare taxes.

Now the real question, do I trust Drexel and wikipedia, or do I waste more time checking it out with the IRS?

I am all for open carry but...

I think this is a bit much...

Man carrying gun attends Obama protest
(edited headline to be more accurate).

Not the best place to be promoting open carry rights, me thinks. I understand that he was not in the convention hall, but it still sends the wrong message.

ha, now we have conspiracy theories about people like that dude...

seems I shouldn't have started this post, it just gets weirder and more silly the more you read.
Although, both sides have been planting people at these "town hall" meetings lately, to make the other side look stupid and also people to make their side look good.

Coming soon, a town hall meeting consisting solely of plants from both sides...! ha.

Personally, I would be more afraid of Squeeky Fromme than some of these guys. If you go back and look at some of the stuff that the Mason crew believed, I doubt they are very happy with this President. And she has precedent on attacking a President.

update: Murdoc sort of summarized my feelings, I don't know exactly how I feel, but in general it has the ability to get out of hand.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Things I don't miss about home


My neighbors are not the cleanest. Cockroaches could be coming in from the woods, which can happen, but we only find them near the wall that we share.

Its not an infestation or anything, its more like, one grown cockroach per quarter or so. Still gives me the hibbie jibbies.

I want to shotgun their faces.

Busy week next week

Next week will be busy.

I have quite a few things to blog, but won't be able to get to them for a bit.

Moving is stressful and now I am on someone else's clock that doesn't respect that I like do other things and tells me that something needs to be done about an hour before it is due.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

How the web should look, DPRK style (which happens to be sort of right)

So the Korean Central News Agency has a interesting website. I actually like how they do news. Very webless like. For example, probably best Clinton saves Reporters news of the day.

Arrival of Clinton
Meets with Clinton
Dinner with Clinton
Clinton Leaves
The summary

Just the news, no javascript, no ads.


Ha, and it has more information than I could get from other sources, which just wanted to talk about opinions about what it all meant.

Monday, August 03, 2009

First class functions

First class functions are very useful.

In some code I wrote, the graphs needed to be plotted with linear scaling on both axes and also with the abscissa linear and the ordinate log. Neat thing is, I can pass in the plotting function to use to the code, then have it use that function. I can test which function was passed in and change some settings that are used to generate ideal case lines that look right in each graph.

Anyway, it makes your life easier some times, so give it a try!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Decline of racial profiling

I originally heard about this research at a talk at work. It was sort of cool how they did the analysis, because you can't really setup an experiment to test a hypothesis. You have to create one later from the existing dataset that can stand up to analysis.

So to make it the same time of day, they used a time that was dark part of the year and light during the other part. Daylight savings time helped out alot with that. Assuming that when it is dark you can't tell the difference between people (which you can't), then you can compare when they can tell race and when they can't.

I prefer this sort of data analysis to the anecdotes like in the comments. I am sure that some racial profiling exists, but it is shown to not be a rampant epidemic from the numbers. Some people suggest it is everywhere from a gut feeling which turns out to be false. (Calling you out, Obama!)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Coding styles

So, on the shower time thoughts, I figured out what I was going to blog about today.

I was contemplating on some code that I wrote/am writing for work. I started out doing a good job with creating new functions to do stuff that I do over and over and planning out how it will look. As I got into the phase where I was just implementing it, and not really doing design, I got sloppy and made these huge functions that were a whole heck of spaghetti.

So, I was remembering factor and other concatenative languages. Neat thing is, if you want to take something and make it a function/word, a good editor can let you just highlight it and hit some sort of "make function/word with name ___".

Seems like something I could have used. No good plotting library that I could find quickly though, so factor will have to wait. Going to give Common Lisp a fair shake first. (though now I am seeing why some people like LISP-1 (ala Scheme with the unified namespace), keeping track of types for something, even if that something is a function isn't completely necessary). I don't know about plotting for it either, I might just start using gnuplot and have my code create outputs that I pipe to gnuplot.

Anyway, the main thought was that its easy to get sloppy as you go along developing code. My computations are pretty clean (or so I think), but the graphing part is a bunch of ugly. Some of that is because I am learning the nuances of the matplotlib api, but eh. I ended up embedding calculation/transformation code in with the plotting, which is sometimes hard to keep straight. Not going to really fix it, I don't have time, but I'll try and keep it in mind next time. Keep stuff separate if you can!

I realize this post makes no sense and doesn't have any real content.

sorry about slacking

I keep coming up with interesting things to put in the blog, but I am normally in the shower.

By the time I get out, I have changed topics in my head and forget it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

surfing big waves

I tried surfing some big waves last friday. I was not qualified. I could barely get out past the break. Huge rip current, so that sucked too.

I did manage to actually "surf" though, cuz the wave had so much energy I couldn't really screw it up. Once I hit someone (sort of, I ended up pushing their board away), because the wave took me with it, even though I wasn't trying to catch it.

Earlier in the week was awesome, we saw dolphins out in the water surfing with us. That was really cool, I spent some time just watching them, instead of trying to surf.


so, I learned today that disdain is spelled with a d, and not a "st" as I normally pronounce it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Interesting comment in SICP

In the endnotes for 1.2:

Numbers that fool the Fermat test are called Carmichael Numbers, and little is known about them other than that they are extremely rare. There are 255 Carmichael Numbers below 100,000,000. The smallest few are 561, 1005, 1729, 2465, 2821, and 6601. In testing primality of very large numbers chosen at random, the chance of stumbling upon a value that fools the Fermat Test is less than the chance that cosmic radiation will cause the computer to make an error in carrying out a "correct" algorithm. Considering an algorithm to be inadequate for the first reason but not for the second illustrates the difference between mathematics and engineering

Interestingly, PGP uses the Fermat Primality Test in some of its algorithms, which according to wikipedia gives it less than a 1 in 1050 chance of hitting a Carmichael Number. Seems good enough for me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Interesting point on healthcare

I used to be fairly alarmed about the rising cost of healthcare.

But if you look at it under a different lens, maybe it isn't so bad.

Americans now have enough disposable income to spend on healthcare. If you have a weird mole, you can spend $1000 getting it checked out (that is, if you have a job..).

Just as other industries grew rapidly when they started becoming more accessible, so should healthcare.

We all seem to have enough money for food (not too many people die of starvation in the US), everyone* can afford a big screen tv, big car, etc. Now we are using healthcare as the next thing to spend money on.

Not sure if I completely buy that argument, but its interesting to think about.

* update: I meant "everyone" as a hand wavy kind of everyone. Like, 70-90% of the US or so?

Worker Terrorism

How is "US Firm Averts French Explosion" different than terrorism?

A US construction equipment firm has agreed to pay extra compensation to French workers who had threatened to explode gas canisters at their plant.

This is the third time that they have threatened violence.

Elsewhere, French workers have taken managers hostage in "boss-nappings".

so, if I want a raise, I kidnap my boss?


come on Frenchies, you can get your act together...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Swine flu kills fatties


another reason to eat less and exercise.

Basically though, the result is that if you are fat then you have a weaker body. You have more problems with fighting diseases and they tend to gang up on your body once it is weakened.

As a side note, then you cost more to take care of (healthcare wise), which does not bode well for the nationalized healthcare system that we seem to want without paying for it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sovereign Nations

"Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else," he told ABC television.

"Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that ... We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they're existentially threatened."

Interesting, I had to go to Aljazeera to get the whole quote.

The reason I point it out, is that you have to be careful about statements like that. For example, North Korea believes that it is being existentially threatened by the United States. I don't think Biden thinks that they are entitled to doing what they want.

Its a tough game, because you will eventually sound like a hypocrite unless you say "well, my friends, they be cool, they do what they want, and those other guys?.. nah" Which is how nations/people act, but don't say it out loud too much.

I'm not really sure how you answer this dilemma, because you don't want to say "do what you want" to everyone, but you also can't say "do what I tell you" to everyone.

On a side note, Biden has been speaking out of turn a lot lately, Obama is doing cleanup a few times a week.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

the belt stays in america

Chestnut wins again!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flash and being fed up

So since the Iranian election, more of the sites I go to have embedded youtube videos all over the place. It got to the point that when loading my dailies my computer would basically lock up.

A quick install of flashblock, and the web is usable again. I can selectively turn the flash on when I want to see the videos. Nice side effect of blocking stupid flash ads. Also, everything is much quicker to load.

I might look into some selective javascript disabling too, that is also starting to get annoying. I am very interested in this html5 idea.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Programming as a second language

I am starting to think that we need to add or replace 1-2 classes in high school with some sort of programming language elective. Just as people take Spanish or French as a second language, we should encourage people to take programming as a second language. Not getting into the debate about which language, programming is starting to become essential for most workers. I am not talking about developing some huge software product, but even little things like adding some scripting to making a grocery list or some other common task.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Things not to say outloud and surfing

For the record, if you say you are "hacking the good hack" when someone asks you what you are doing on Saturday, they won't know what you mean.

I went surfing for the first time today. My first wave was the best but I never stood up. Caught about 4-5 waves, so not really that many.

I am going to try surfing tomorrow, my roommate's husband stores his board in the garage and says I can use it anytime (and he lives out of town, so I might go during the week).

Pretty tired, I need to start biking to the beach, running, then swimming. To be in shape for random things like surfing. I've only been running and doing pushups.

I gota figure out how many times I am going surfing, if its over ten over the summer, a wet suit might be a good investment. Then I can also swim in freaking cold lakes or go down the Chattahoochee without freezing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

San Francisco Photo Dump and Trip log

I went to San Francisco last weekend and had a pretty good time. Sara came into SF because she had a conference this week in Carmel by the Sea. Worked out well with the public transportation to get to and from the airport. Once we got to the hotel we pretty much walked everywhere.

Walked around Fisherman's Wharf. Most of the pictures come from Friday. We met up with Josh and Jenn and walked around some more. We saw the sea lions and then were off to a Italian restuarant for dinner (I think Italian Neighborhoods? Its at 270 Columbus at any rate (I think!)). The place was awesome (food wise) though some group of people got seated before us for some reason. Next stop, (Josh and Jenn)'s apartment for cake and catching up.

We rode bikes from Fisherman's Wharf to the Gold Gate Bridge. We stopped on the other side and took pictures of the city, although I don't know if I have any. It was about 3 hours or so. Then some more walking around, some ice cream at Ghiradelli's. The chocolate was good, but I need some more taste testing before I call it awesome. It was smooth, but I have had other smooth chocolates before. Sometimes I like the gritty nature of chocolate, so I suppose it depends. Then we got ready for dinner and ate at this tapas place, Bocadillos. Then a quick trip to Rogue Ales Public House for a beer and talking.

Cable car to Union Square and then we walked through Chinatown to a place near Josh's with philly cheesesteaks. We walked back to the Lombard St switchbacks and climbed the hill with the 27 degree slope (indeedy, it sucks). Neat place, although I don't really get the draw of a poor design. Next, a quick bay tour from the Wharf to out and under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. That was about it, then I was off to the airport.

I am sure I forgot stuff so, sorry to any involved.


Landscape from the Golden Gate Bridge

Landscape from the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

From the Golden Gate Bridge

From the Golden Gate Bridge

A container ship



Saturday, June 06, 2009

ProjectTime Teaser

Completely code generated for 2009 (works for every _future_ year [Andy, don't ask about 1582, cuz that one doesn't work]). Looks sort of like a compact calendar(very much so) , I think that making the month names horizontal looks better so I think I am going to chance that. Emma's original also included horizontal months, I dunno why I thought vertical would work.

My code is horrendous. I am going to refactor it, I hope. Its available on the svn, if you want to access it just ask me. I'd wait for the refactor if I was you.

It seemed to antialias it, I don't know why, I'll turn that off. Also, the month names go outside of their rectangles.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pilot: A Step toward Man-Computer Symbiosis

So I have begun to read this thesis by Warren Teitelman entitled "Pilot: A Step toward Man-Computer Symbiosis".

I am just starting it, but this paragraph about synergetic systems was begging for a blog quote. (pay attention to the last sentence)

The most important point about the systems described above, a point which also applies to PILOT, is not so much that they are symbiotic, i.e., cooperative, as that they are synergetic. Synergism is the cooperative action of discrete agencies such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the two effects taken independently. An example of this is the action of penicillin and streptomycin when taken together. The extreme potentcy of the combination of tranquilizers and alcohol presents another, more familiar example.

emphasis in the original.

ha! re-read that last sentence again!

MIT must have been a fun/interesting place in the 60's!

Its not a familiar combination to me, is it to any of my readers?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Alarm clocks and not using them

So, since I have been here, I have not used my alarm clock to wake up in the morning.

I wake up naturally before the alarm goes off and disable it after I decide that 9 more minutes of sleeping won't do me any good.

A few times I have woken up, freaked out, thinking I am late, then realized that I had an hour to sleep. Then I woke up like 10 minutes before.


Should I just not turn the alarm clock on? If I do that, I bet I over sleep.

My sleeping brain has some alarm clock fear...
OR, its the damn crows scaring off the cat that wakes at 6:21...

Fire shaving

Seriously considering it...

I had the idea on the long trip across the country, and knew that someone else must have documented their trials online before I had to attempt it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorial Day weekend 2009 (Hike to Mount Lowe Tavern near Echo Mountain)

Last Sunday I went hiking with a dude from work, his friend, his friend's friend, and his friend's friend's dog.

We hiked in the Angeles National Forest to where the Mount Lowe Tavern used to be near/on Echo Mountain. The Mount Lowe Railway went up that way, so we saw the end of that line. We actually used some of the "echophones" mentioned (and pictured) in the wikipedia article.

I don't know how long the hike was, but we definitely did not bring enough water. Luckily, I don't need very much water, but my camelbak would have been welcome. I was the only one that didn't finish my water by halfway up, and actually had some at the end. I got a healthy fear of running out of water in me.

Pics to follow:

Looking at the pictures toward LA, I think you can see the smog layer. More trees than I thought in the Altadena/Pasadena area. Seems we picked a good hike, from wikipedia again about the Sam Merrill Trail, which was in the list of "10 Great North American Hikes" in USA Today. 2.55 mi? maybe.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

First day in town

On the first day in town we decided to bike ride to the beach and see where that took us. We rode down to the beach and took this really steep incline. Parked the bikes and went and touched the ocean. Both of our jeans got soaked by an errant wave and I found some little small sand crabs. Maybe they get bigger by the end of the summer. We biked to the pier and went off on foot. It was really nice, just walking around at a tourist-y thing but not really feeling like you had to be a tourist. I randomly bought a churro and we went off eating it [from separate ends.. one bite at a time :-) ]. There was a trapeze school that we watched for a bit, then the little kids doing bumper cars. I was surprised that you could get your head sculpted in clay for like $10 or something. We watched some people fishing off the end of the pier and some random dude from PA came up to us saying hi and excited about being on the beach.

Next we got the bikes and swung by work, so I could see the building. We stopped at the Third Street Promenade and had fun walking its length, watching street performers (there was this dude that did amazing things with bubbles) and stopping in stores (this puzzle shop was cool). Had a good dinner overlooking the street and then we biked home.

Very nice day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

washing hands at work

So, at work, you hit the faucet and it starts going for a while.


Like, I have one last 0.5 second rinse required...
it finishes. I have to use two uses. And it doesn't matter if I am going fast or slow.

I even tried today to beat it, going really quick.

Oops, I forgot a spot of soap... I needed two uses.

I'll beat this faucet!

2nd amendment and cyberattack

So this came up on the DC trip, does the 2nd amendment apply to cyberattacks?

Do you have the ability/charge to defend yourself in an active manner instead of solely passive defence?


Cross country trip 2009 Out Leg III: Grand Canyon

Another place that we stopped at was the Grand Canyon. We hiked down the rim a bit, which was awesome. I actually saw a California Condor flying in the air (I think, it was huge, right shape, red head, etc).

The hike down the rim was nice, but its fairly steep. We brought plenty of water and cheez-its.

and a flowering plant:

Along the way, we met a squirrel, Mr. BlindEye. BlindEye was missing an eye, and had a scratch on his back that was an open wound. He was extremely friendly, I took these pictures with a cell phone camera, so they were very very close. We met him on the way down, but on the way back up, he followed us to this rock where people stop to drink/rest. He wanted the cheez-its, like hardcore, he was a very brave squirrel. He almost went into our backpack and probably would have run up my leg if I wasn't paying attention. When we first met him, he just ate flowers and didnt care about us. I thought he might be deaf, I clapped in his ear, nothing! Most squirrels I know, you can't even see them, because they are already on the other side of a tree.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cross country trip 2009 Out Leg II: Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

Alright, some real trip stories... It was fairly uneventful, we had two fun things of note, the painted desert/petrified forest and the grand canyon.

In El Reno, OK, we almost got hit by a tornado (well, sort of). We saw mammatus clouds, which are really cool. When Sara was looking at them in a field, her hair stood straight up. I quickly ushered us back into shelter...

I took a bunch of photos in the painted desert, mostly landscape type photos. My cell camera is not very good, but we have some really good photos from a SLR that might get posted in the future. We also saw a pronghorn.

I am also including some pictures of petrified wood. One of the coolest ones was the "petrified log bridge" where there was softer rock underneath a stone log and it made a bridge. Silly humans then made sure that it would not fall by adding concrete.

They also had these huge ravens, which were... huge.

Last interesting thing in the painted desert is pictographs, and I have better pictures from the SLR, but I don't have access to them.