a ba'b'ian journal

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  • December 31, 2010
Happy New Year's Eve!

I'm doing sudoku again. Working through the book with lessons. I actually had to write out the possible candidates for one. The strategy of sets just can be hard to see without doing that. So a bit disappointing.

I still get the feeling that I haven't been training the bagua hard enough. Maybe not getting low enough. Doing the tai chi low is now starting to feel like real work.

I got a couple of DVDs with Chomsky. "Manufacturing Consent" and "rebel without a pause". I don't know. Somewhere in there was a bit of a debate with some European. The dude was saying Chomsky was a conspiracy theories. Hmm. He is gloomy enough.

I plugged in the netbook with the newer power adapter from radio shack. It seemed fine with it. The old one said 2amps, but who knows. It was such a small one. I just turned it on, I didn't try anything. But I had been a little worried that it was just not going to do anything, so it's a good sign.

  • December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas!

Seems like we managed to cut back this year. There were presents, but they were at a little bit more reasonable level. And mom said she wasn't going to do anything, but then gave out just money. I guess less shopping, but it wasn't quite zero. I got some clothes. More books.

A couple of Sudoku books. I had one on my amazon list, and I got that. I also got one that had really hard puzzles. I don't remember if it was on my Amazon list. It might have been. So I have about a thousand to do. The one I remember from my list is a Mensa one, and it covers a lot of strategies, with practice puzzles for those. So maybe I can learn them. Thumbing through it, I saw the last chapter of lessons was on guessing. And it said, basically, don't. You shouldn't have to. If it's from a good source. He said, if you have to guess, don't. Just don't finish it. Throw it away, and don't do any more made by that person or source. Huh. I'm not entirely persuaded, though. I've gotten better at using guessing, and it honestly seems like less work than writing out candidates. Those have to be erased, anyway, if you do them. As I've said, some of the strategies doesn't seem different to me than guessing. But maybe I will learn better. I don't know if I can commit to getting through the thousand. At the end I was ready to be done. And I should spend time on better things. But this might be something I can learn from. There's the one with strategies, one guy wrote the lessons, and another guy did the puzzles. That book has 800 puzzles. The other book is just puzzles, but they were done by the same guy. I did three of them. Apparently, they all require strategies I don't use yet. So great opportunity to learn. And there's a book of ones harder than that. It does have an intro where it has an example to illustrate the rules of sudoku, but it says, if you're wondering about it because it's the first time you've done a sudoku puzzle, close the book, back away, and don't make any sudden moves. It's not for beginners. And it's not kidding. Like I said, the ones I did, I used guessing, which is almost cheating. These are puzzles that are already past my ability.

So the other books. One was truly hardcore. It wasn't wrapped or labelled, so we had to figure out who it was from, and my mom figured it was from me. Freddie said one like that was for me. It was Rudin's book on mathematical analysis. Safe bet it was for me. Ah yes, great choice. Seems like they picked some pricey books, actually, I think they found it paperback, which is cheaper, and you can get it used, so maybe they found a good deal. Anyway Rudin. I think this is the one where there was a reviewer who said, if you go through this, and do all the work, you will be a methematician. Well, ok. They also got me Knuth's latest. Again, hardcore. Eating mutton with your fists. Of course, I had a serious list. Circle of Iron and Vital Point Strikes. I actually saw that in Borders again when I was shopping. It looked good, so I was pleased to get it. And Einstein's Mistakes. That sounds cool, doesn't it? I think that's the one I want to read first.

So, Nathan got the Amazon priority thing, by mistake. Free shipping, though, which was nice. He has to cancel though, within thirty days, though, or they charge 80 bucks or something annual fee. It might be worth it, though. And Freddie got Grace the fancy kindle 3G. I had said I'd been looking at getting it. He said it was nice, and was talking about the cool features. Linux. Lots of free stuck available. The screen is very slow, so you can't run graphical games. Long battery life. I think I'll go ahead and get one, since the cheap computer was a bust.

It's snowing! It's above freezing, so it isn't sticking and making it white. But Christmas snow! No magical animated snowmen, I guess, but still nice.

I did go see Melissa. I got there at 12:30, just after she sent a text that they were closing early. And their computer crashed. Wouldn't restart, either. Seems like I might have been able to help them, but I don't work there, so I didn't touch it. Got out at 2:30. Melissa couldn't find lemonade at first, so she got root beer. Drank almost all of a two-liter. Then she found some in little bottles. This time, didn't feel quite so close. I didn't bring coffee. And I didn't get any food, which, I don't know, might have made her feel like she didn't really serve me. I just don't know. Didn't talk so much. Didn't give her anything. I figured this was the kind of situation where she wouldn't take anything, though I tried a little bit. Still, two hugs. That's pretty nice.

  • December 20, 2010
I finished the book of 1250 Sudoku puzzles today! Yay for me!

I got the little $99 computer in today. It's an Elovo XD-7A 7" laptop. I'm not having a good experience with it, though. It seems pretty buggy. It doesn't even always get through it's booting process, and it freezes, crashes, locks up, and reboots pretty often. I did get it on the internet, but it doesn't get very far into it. It opens the google main page. I didn't actually try a search. I tried to open my iGoogle page, but it doesn't like the browser version. I didn't get it to open reddit, except maybe on time when I turned of style sheets or something. The ac/dc adapter went bzzt and the led went out, so I think it died. It's 9V, 2A, so maybe I have one lying around that might work. But the thing turned off, and now it won't come back on. I was running it on battery for a while, so I suspect it's just out of juice. I kept trying to check it's battery guage, and it kept saying 100%, but I'm not sure it works, really. So I don't know. I googled the device. On page, talking about distributors, said it costs $55. I could see that. It seems like it would be nice if it worked. Light. Before I started playing with it, I was looking how to put emacs on it. It uses windows ce, and there is one for that. But I guess I'm not to that point.

  • December 17, 2010
Twelve left. I feel like I'm getting faster. And it's more that I spend less time just staring, and I get on with just trying stuff and seeing where it goes. Maybe confidence? There was one in there where I was just trying stuff, but in doing that, I found stuff I might have seen. So the approach seems fairly good.

I watched a show on Temple Grandin. I don't know how well Claire Danes did. I kind of felt it seemed like she wasn't quite so easy and natural with the speaking, like she was kind of struggling to immitate Temple. To me it seemed a little off. Not off the way an autistic person is, but really like a person trying to act like an autistic person. I also listened to the commentary, which had Temple actually talking. I found her annoying. Maybe a little bit of a harsh voice. Just didn't like her. But I'm not very visual. I don't think I would like someone who is so absolutely not abstract. I can be a little too abstract. But she writes a lot. Lots of published articles. Maybe I should shoot for that. She says as a visual person, she doesn't organize so well. I don't know. And I found it a bit grating the way she said they had to compress events and rearrance things that happen. Apologetically. They had to to make a film. I don't know. I might have felt, it wasn't quite right, but good enough, but that wasn't really how she seemed to be taking it. I kind of felt like it was just the antidepressants talking. Like it seemed like it really bothered her, but she was just rationalizing it, not actually accepting it. Seemed off. But I guess autistics can be like that.

  • December 16, 2010
I feel very uneasy today. I thinks it's mostly about the money. Suddenly I need to buy Christmas presents. And maybe that's just dreading shopping. And since a lot of it is to be shipped to California, I need to get it done in the next couple of days. So some anxiety. I did get a little money out, but my supply is dwindling. And I need to start looking for work in this uncertain market. So more anxiety.

The utility bill came. It's over $200 when it's usually more around $100, often less than that. I think last month was $130.

I failed to help out yet again. Last week, it turned out worse that I would have guessed with Jeanie. I should have stayed with her. She ended up in the hospital. Just last night, there was a little girl I was hanging out with, and she was pretty drunk, and she went off to pay, and somebody negotiated to drive her home, and somebody followed them to drive him back. Something I probably should have done, but I didn't. But, to be fair, I think the guy was sitting on the other side of her for a while.

So my mood seems a little unstable.

Twenty-seven left.

  • December 15, 2010
Happy Ides of December!

Man, thirty-one puzzles left. I could finish them this week if I keep it up. But since that's all I'm doing, I have not much to say. In all, I guess it's been kind of a waste of time. Something has sort of struck me. I think I just saw one, where I tried one guess, and it was inconclusive, but guessing the other way got me all the way to the end. So my strategy doesn't really work all that well. I don't really know that there was only one solution. That other branch might have gotten somewhere. So it was a little disappointing. And I'm not trying to learn more strategies, because writing out the possibles would be too much work. So it looks like I've chosen a path where I've pretty well gotten all I'm going to get. So it's just as well that I'm finishing this up.

So we were talking about not doing presents. But Daniel has worked up a Christmas list. So now I don't know what to do. Freddie ask what I wanted, and I directed him to my Amazon wishlist again. We'll see how it goes.

  • December 13, 2010
Yay! My laptop spirit is alive again. I got the usb wifi device and ubuntu recognized it. It didn't do it when I just plugged it in, but it did on boot, which is fine. It's nice.

Forty-eight left. Closing in.

  • December 10, 2010
I have not gone back and used the sudoku web site to get any more help. I've thought about it. Some of these get pretty bad. But I've pretty well moved away from that style of solving, to just guessing, so I wouldn't be getting that much out of it. And I say guessing. Quite a few of the strategies on there use what they are calling "logic chains". I'm sorry, but that's just a fancy name for guessing. Writing out the possibles is also a lot of work. And is messy and can be hard to look through, anyway, so even it doesn't help that much. Seems like my guessing is even getting a little better. I supposed there is a knack you can get to seeing what would be good to try.

I saw an article about choking under pressure. Mostly you get into trouble when you think to much about something. And it had something to do for a test. Before taking it, write down your concerns about it for 10 minutes. That helps you let go of them. Hmm.

Jiang Lao Shi at the kung fu school is opening a message school for the blind. But he says he also will teach it for regular folk. So I can think about doing it again.

  • December 8, 2010
Tudor now has a new hard disk drive. I'm using it now.

I found the recovery disks. They were sort of where they should have been, in case where I have all my cds. But they were stuck in with the music cds, and at the top of the case, not the bottom. I broke down and when through them disk by disk. I started where I keeo most of them, and I had to go through all four sides, and since I was going bottom to top, it was the very last spot that had them. I guess that's why I didn't see them.

It's got the main things. No java or clojure, but I hadn't really used those in a while, anyway. It's important because I use the emacs in the clojure box, and it used to try to run clojure under java when starting up, but that's not working. I copied all the files over after installing the windows OS. I made some partitions to put linux on it. I'll see if I do that. I can imagine having problems. And I have to build up my bookmarks, again. Didn't have that many. The last installation wasn't really all that old.

I went to meetup meeting, foundmyfitness. It was done by Rhonda, a Ph.D. student in something like biomedical science at UT. I'm not exactly sure. This one was on Vitamin D. She likes sciency stuff, but tried to cut back on the technical stuff. And he BF Dan helped her with the presentation. They've both friended me on Facebook. We also went to the half shell after. Also, Shuh, Ryan and David. Young kids, really. The videotaped Rhonda's talk, so it is probably going to be up somewhere. Shuh was arguing with Rhonda over her use of comic sans in her presentation. Rhonda's from San Diego.

On Monday night, I went to the party at Liz G's. She calls herself the Empress of the Memphis Atheist meetup group, so I asked to be her bodyguard. And it's an actually title next to my name for the group, now. I talked a little about Yin Fu being the bodyguard to the Empress, and the little fight with the spikes. Also, I talked about the imperial bodyguard at Shuri Okinawa and his development of karate.

  • December 6, 2010
Dang. Spirit's wired ethernet connection finally quite working. And I hadn't gotten the wireless working. So the computer is now about useless, as it can't connect to the world. It doesn't automatically mount the usb drives, so i can't easily moved stuff over to it. It may just be dead. I'm trying a kind of last-ditch thing. For about 20 bucks I've order a usb wireless thingie that is supposed to work well with linux. But, if it doesn't automatically recognize it, it's not connected so I can't get the drivers for it loaded. So it's a gamble. Hopefully it will work. We'll see.

Jeanie had a bad night. She doesn't do so well when she gets drunk, and she can get mean. And she started feeling sorry for herself. A was trying to be nice. And I was rubbing her back a little bit. And I thought it was OK, but maybe not. At one point she said she doesn't know me. Well, hmm. I guess that's true. I didn't have a good way to respond to that. Like I said, she was feeling bad. And she wanted a shot, but they weren't giving her one. And then, I didn't quite get it. They gave her a couple. It seemed like. But they were water. I've seen Melissa do that before, but I didn't get it this time. And it was only on the second one that she freaked out and got pissed saying she knew the difference between Jameson and water. But they were playing it straight, so I didn't know what was going on. And I thought it might be pretty bad if she really thought it was water when it wasn't. So it didn't work out so well. Melissa did the first and Asa did the second, so maybe there's a bit of a special knack in adding a little for the taste that he didn't quite have. She freaked and went out. And they wnet out and dealt with her. It was cold, and she would have been walking around downtown, which wouldn't have been good. That's what they were trying to avoid. I had to leave at 3:00, but she was sitting with them. I got a message later that it had gotten worse. I gather that they just had to stay with her. Icky. I'm not sure what I could have done. I probably could have just stayed with her. But it's true, she doesn't really know me. So it wasn't really for me, maybe.

Some of what she was talking about she was feeling sorry for herself about was some guy who came in there and would grab her boobs and her butt. That's pretty bad. There was a guy in there. A Canadian. I'm not quite sure what his deal was. Not so much into respecting personal space. A bit huggy. And he was talking to me, and hugged me a bit. I can deal with that. He might have been gay, I don't know. He asked me if I was. And he was kind getting chummy with Jean. I don't have a good word for it. Wasn't really paying much attention. But she kept moving away. It did come out that Melissa really doesn't like people in her space. She's said that kind of thing before.

And then there's Murphy. She was sitting in a corner. She really wanted just to be left alone. There was some people on the other side of the bar in a group, and called for her to come over. She was next to the jukebox so I was right there. And I was just doing my thing, and I heard her talking. I think she might have said she used to dance, and had done modelling, and there were nude portraits of her. She said she had a great body. I hadn't really noticed, but I guess I could see it. She was quite drunk. She danced a little with Jean, which was pretty. Slow dance. They were putting in songs, and she said something about them needing a big cock. OK. I think she has a thing about not being phoney. There are people like that, I guess. Authenticity and realness. I guess that's pretty real. Oh well. I told her to put on her shoes. She took them off so she could sit crosslegged. But she just wanted to be left alone. It wasn't really consistent with going out to a bar though. She asked me to go over there with her, and I was putting in songs, so I hemmed and hawed a bit. I was actually trying to do stuff. And she needed to pee, but would have to go past them. I did go with her. Seems like people do not prioritize peeing high enough for me. And to pretend to be her date. She was just being wild. I think she stayed in there extra long, to avoid people some more. *sigh*

  • December 5, 2010
I went to Senses dance club. Had to be patted down. Dude asked the guys in front of me if they had and knives or guns. Classy. It was almost empty on the main dance floor, a lot of the time there was no one dancing. I stood next to it once when there were two girls dancing. One of them was dressed fancy and must have been the ones who work there. She came over and asked how I was doing. I just smiled. That was nice. High-five. The had a band come in. The Incredible Hook. That was in a little room. Little dance floor. But the had a few people. A dozen or two. I didn't dance, but just stoof up and watched them. Didn't much feel like it. Not inspired. Though they did play some fun stuff. Dude played some serious chick stuff. Apparently they do glam(?) and pop. There was something that was really grooving, and I moved a bit, though not quite to real dancing. The band was really into it. Ring my bell? Now I don't remember. So the girls were cute enough, but nothing too special. But there was this one girl who almost seemed out of place. Tall, thin. Kind of light skinned black. And it wasn't really how she looked so much that really got me. How she moved. Tall and thin didn't hurt, I guess.

  • December 4, 2010
I broke through a sort of mental barrier. I have less than 100 puzzles left in my Sudoku book. It kind of feels like it's within striking distance of the end. But I only have three weeks til Christmas, which was the target I was shooting at. The problem is slacking off at the end. I did about 10 of them in one day a couple of days ago. That gave me confidence that I could do it, even if I get a little more haphazard. I have to average 5 a day, but it was looking a bit like 5 was the maximum I could manage in a day, and it's very rough if you need your average to be your maximum. So I could relax. But then I did relax, and I did none at all the next day. Today I've only done two. It's easy to get out of the habit of doing them every day. Plus it feels like I kind of lose motivation. Do I really want the work involved in this goal? It seems like it's nice outside, but I haven't gone out. The whole work thing has managed to control people like this. That seems tough. People get money for working, and I'm not getting anything for this. But is money really any thing much? It's a social convention for value, and you can get stuff for it. Just yesterday I was thinking, whenever I think about getting a job, I wonder if there is anything I really want money for, and I sure don't come up with much. Society sort of has had to put a kind of minimum monetary cost of living to keep people going. Or maybe that's a necessary thing. It's the kind of thing that might be an implication of physics through chemistry and biology that some work must be done to stay alive as an animal. Plants are not so bad off. Our society elevates that cost, sort of artificially, actually, so the it works to get bigger and better all the time. But there is a pull to slow down and take it easy.

So it's Saturday. My feeling is that it might be good to take a break, because today's a day when people are out and about. There are fewer chances to go see people on other days, so those are the better ones for doing the puzzles.

In Borders, I also saw The Story About Ping. I had read this review. So I figured I'd try it. It was pretty short, so I could read most of it. But there was a tiny little girl right there, so I didn't read it all.

OK, the emacs I had here on spirit was buggy. It looks like I chose a development snapshot as the version. Oops. I've gone with a real one. I'm guessing that will eliminate some problems I was having. And it was a matter of not being very familiar with this version of ubuntu linux.

I felt sick this morning. I went to sleep medium early because I had tai chi in the morning. but I woke up at four and stayed up for a couple hours. I did get back to sleep, but at 7:30 or so when the clock radio went off, I didn't feel very good. A little nauseated, a bit of a headache, and I thought about not going to tai chi. It's possible also that I didn't really want to go, and kind of worked myself up. I went to the bathroom, and I wasn't feeling so good, and when I lay down again I was a little bit dizzy. There wasn't any kind of lung thing or congestion. And for quite a while now, I've felt a little bit off in the morning because I have some kidney issues. It seemed just a little bad this morning, and maybe something else might have been going on, so I decided to stay home. With Jiang Lao Shi, I don't have an easy way to call and say I'm not coming, and people don't do that as much with him as with Li Lao Shi. On Thursday, I was a little late because of a wreck, and she called me. It seems like it fairly often happens that I will feel bad, and not go somewhere, and then feel better, and feel bad about skipping. I really didn't feel much better until much later, after class. I guess I feel better tonight. But I don't feel bad about skipping this time. It just wasn't a good morning for me.

I watched _Zombieland_ listening to the commentary. It went to weird emotional places with Bill Murray being killed and the thing with Buck. That's why I wanted to give it another shot having seen it in the theater. Listening to the commentary, it really seemed like more fake melodrama. Manipulation from hacks. So that was that.

We watched Jim Henson's _Storyteller_ series. Folk tales with muppets. They were good. I've been watching was was a later series about Greek Myths. They're just not so good. And the problem is the stories are not very good as stories. They are just weird, and the endings are all horrible. I really get the feeling that they never really served the kind of function that folk tales serves. Those really are much more about entertainment. Those myths just were not. Or maybe life was just so sad back then, happy endings wouldn't have made any sense. Anyway, it was kind of a misguided idea.

Roy put on his facebook last night that he was making a roast. Something slow for 5 hours. I asked him pork, beef or bird, and he said beef. I decided to do one. Kroger has the English roast cut for $2.47 if you get the family pack of 2. I can do that. It's a pretty terrible cut. I'll even go for a fatty chuck roast over that. It's tough, so you need to make it as a pot roast. I'm still not great at that. The cooking method for that is technically a braise, but as I've said, I end up more like boiling it. And I've got a whole book on braising. I gave it to my mom. She actually doesn't like books on cooking technique and method. Recipes. That's all she wants. I am totally not a recipe person. Man, there's a book I have on my list--The Professional Chef. I should just get that. Seems like Melissa was saying something about how their Chef really doesn't want to cook. We were talking about one guy who cooks great stuff, and they were thinking he should open a restaurant. But there was someone who cooked well but their place didn't make it. I was saying something about how being a chef can be a lot more than just cooking. You have to manage prices and do shopping. And having to do it all the time makes it work and not as fun as someone like this guy who just whips up good stuff sometimes.

Wow, I was reading the article about internal martial arts. It's mostly about xingyi. And just the little bit of Chinese that I know was helpful in reading the Chinese terms that it had scattered about the article. The things I recognized were just the numbers, but it seemed like most of the terms had numbers in them. But if they are going to have numbers, they probably have to have the counting words. I wonder if those are in there. I should write the words down. It looks like I lost the DVD, though. I opened up the package at Starbucks, and I must have left it there.

I actually was still not feeling so good tonight. But I just ate a little bit of the roast. I only really had it in there maybe 2 or 3 hours. It was on 230. But it seems already. It's a little tough. Probably could have been better. But I like it. And it kind of makes me feel better.

  • December 3, 2010
It is very unpleasant writing on an iffy computer. A computer that could crash any second without warning. My laptop tudor has been kind of like that, with its disk problems. It might freeze up and there'd be nothing that could be done. Ultraedit in its newer install did that to me once a while back. So you lose stuff. That used to be more of an 80s thing. Editing software for a long time now makes automatic backups, so you could usually go back a ways. Microsoft word finally started doing that. Emacs has had that forever. And back in the day, you'd be typing on a desktop computer, and the power could go off at any time and you'd lose whatever you have. But people, and me particularly, have been using laptops for a long time, and one thing about those is that they use the battery if the power goes off and they're plugged in. So you only have to worry about crashes. But microsoft crashes. A lot. So there still was that. I think it's gotten better, maybe. And a disk can fail, like I've learned.

I'm just about ready to replace the drive on my laptop, tudor. I've copied files over to my 1T external USB drive. I decided to use the file copy instead of waiting on getting the whole disk backup like ghost working, because it's getting worse. Every other time it starts it does a check disk. And I guess it's good. It didn't make it through an entire file copy of everything. It rebooted half way through. And then I had to go through and figure out what still needed to be copied, and doing what was left over, it found maybe three bad spots and rebooted during those. I really don't know how just reading bad spots would make a computer reboot. That seems pretty bad. It must be something low level in the bios. But that's probably why the linux ghost was failing. Even it would reboot on the bad disk. Linux is almost never that bad. I though it was a Microsoft failure, but I guess it's something in the hardware. Seems pretty weak, though. But if I just copy files, I will have to find my recovery disk from Dell and use that. I must have put it in a "safe" place. It's not in the normal places I have for that stuff. Le sigh.

I just lost a bunch of stuff because my laptop spirit froze when it was trying to save to ftp. That's not nice. So now I'm just in not such a happy mood.

If I've got some stuff to write, I should do that. It's not like I don't write at all though. I do this blogging stuff. And I philosophically like the idea of doing stuff for free. But it's not so practical. The thing is if I should try to go into writing for money, and that's a different thing. There's the long form of books. I think I have something to put in a book. But maybe only one book. I journalism, you go and talk to people, and see places where things are happening. Absolutely not my thing. There's making up stories. Also really not my thing. There is science writing, where you have research or at least read people's research and talk about that. Again, not really my thing. The one thing that sort of is close to my thing is sort of armchair philosophizing, where you think about stuff and write about it. That's a very limited area. There are maybe a handful of writers that can do that. And they are university professors, so they have real jobs, and it's just something they do on the side. So I guess I should face it that I have to have a real job, even if I were to also write a book. So I guess it's good to realize that.

The kind of real job I could do, I guess, would be programming. Now, the philosophical writers I was thinking of had jobs that included thinking about stuff that they could write books about. So it was a positive, contributing relationship with what they really do. I guess I'm not really looking at that. So that makes it harder.

I may have been using the wrong emacs executable. The menu has two, a client and something with a gtk extension. They may work in different ways. The client lost the menus at the top. Hopefully this one will work better.

I've been thinking about getting some other writing device that I can take around places, like Starbucks. With spirits poor battery, it wouldn't be good. Tudor is flaky now. It might be better when I replace the hard drive. But still, it isn't the best. I want something smaller. The ipad was something I was considering, but I'd need a separate keyboard, and it's really too expensive, so I should just concede that it's a bad idea. I've been thinking of getting a kindle, and I still might, but it just won't be good enough for the solid slog of real writing. So, a netbook. And I want something with everywhere access, not just wifi. So that wouldn't be easy. The ipad still might be the right thing. I guess I need to look. And probably, it needs to be something I hold in my hand before I get it, to be sure.

The phone just rang. My mom always answers it, if she hears it. But I always let the machine get it. And these days, most people let the machine get it. And that's a little cold. But so often it's salespeople that you don't want to talk to. Still, why don't computers answer the phone? Still we just use a simple recorder. But we've got computers, and they would be quite capable of doing simple sorts of things. I think most computers don't quite have the hardware to act as an answering machine, that is, to pick up the line and get access to the sound stream. But a while back when I looked at it, it was fairly common for desktops to have a modem device built in that would handle it. I don't know if they still do that. And if it happens in laptops. And there's a reason why that would be. The easiest way to do a modem-- the thing that attaches to the phone line-- is to use something called a "soft-modem". All of the signal processing is done by software, instead of paying the extra few cents to have special chips to handle the modulation, demodulation. And the needed ships might change as the different modem standards change, and for a while, they were all over the place. There still are bunches of them. But if you let the software handle it, you can change it to do anything you want. And they can work as a fax machine or a modem, or whatever you want. It also kind of gives the computer the direct access to the signal on the phone line, so you could make it an answering machine, if you want. They don't have to do that, and there have to be drivers specific to that particular soft-modem, and they might not let you do all that. And the way software works, you have to have a common interface to let all software interact like that. There isn't that. So effectively there isn't a way to utilize that ability on all computers, even though it might be on a lot of them. Also, modems themselves are going the way of all things. Passing away. The main connection to the internet is becoming ethernet. I think you still mostly have modems. But I think it's been years personally since I even used one. And even land lines themselves are fading away among computer people, as tech will more likely just use a cell phone. So the computer answering machine really is an application that will just miss happening, even if it becomes possible. Because I don't mean a computer to record messages. I mean a computer to listen to people talking and give some kind of response depending on who it is. You should be able to tell it to expect certain calls and tell certain people you've gone somewhere. Or try to find you if it's important and it's one of your friends. There are lots of things a fairly simple program agent could do for you. Along with recording the conversation. There is absolutely no reason all phone conversations aren't recorded by computer. It would cost nothing. The hard drive space is sitting there not being used, and phone conversations take very little space. Much less than music mpg becuase the sound quality is so low. And answering machine phones already have fairly big computers in them. It's really almost a criminal waste of technology. And that's not even considering transcriptions. I don't know why we don't have phone transcribers in common use. Maybe the NSA doesn't want to let go of its technical secrets. Actually, all of this is something that would be a lot easier for the phone companies to do themselves--actually they probably already do it themselves, but they don't tell us--but we really don't want them to do it, because of security fears. But we could do it ourselves. And maybe people don't want us to do it ourselves. Hmm.

Grr, so emacs had trouble saving. The ftp process probably died or was disconnected, and it couldn't tell. This time, though, it let me cancel out and try again, and that worked. I was almost about to be upset. And the emacs auto-save recover thing didn't work before. That's kind of a bummer.

OK, I saw a netbook for $100. I'm going to give it a shot.

The person called again and hung up. It's getting disturbing.

The third time, I finally picked it up. It was my mom's sister, Ruth. She never leaves a message. That's one where a more personalable computer program could tell her my mom went back to the farm. Or I could answer the phone, sometimes.

Man, it's been a long time since I blogged at Starbucks. I think you still had to have a card. So now the login page is different. And now I see 7 people with latops of various types. Guy next to me has an ipad. Blech. I think there's one person with nothing. Venti soy mocha chai. or chai with mocha. seems like it confused them.

A big problem with taking a laptop anywhere is that I'd be totally bummed if it got stolen. A netbook can be run such that there is nothing on it at all that is personal, or at least could be lost. It's nice to save bookmarks. I would probably keep a little bit on it, but nothing that I don't have many copies of. Like I said though, it's possible to be completely free, by running everything off a thunb drive. Gotta watch losing the thumb drive, but that might be on your keychain, if your going hardcore. Anyway, a hundred dollar device, I would absolutely not care. And it would probably not be worth anything to steal. I might get a couple, to have a spare. I burn a hundred bucks, easy. I might get a few, and give some for Christmas, if they work well. I'll need to see though. That's pretty bargain basement. It may well be insufficient for most people.

Man, this wifi is overloaded.

I went by Borders. I check out the atheist section. They've now moved it to the bottom shelf by the floor. So I had to sit on the ground to see the books. So they are marginalizing it. But I saw some interesting looking titles that I haven't seen before. Of course, There was Sam Harris's Moral Landscape. I think I've already heard Dawkins mention it. But also Anarchy Evolution. That seems different. The author is a singer in a punk band, _Bad Religion_, but also has a Ph.D. and teaches evolution. Seems like it's too expensive at borders. Maybe I will get a kindle after all and get it for that. Or it would be cheaper just to get it on Amazon. Or I could skip it. But I think it would count as research if I really want to do this book. And if I'm going to do research, I need to plow through The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. Just glanceed through it, but it seems to cover some things I want to cover. I'm sure not the way I would, of course.

Wow, so they've got some books sitting there here in Starbucks. Kind of light reading, I guess. Some Danielle Steele. Some novels. So the guys sitting here are talking in a foreign language. Risky. Sounds maybe Slavic. Should I tape them?

When I was leaving Borders, the music that clicked on the iphone was Harrison, "My Sweet Lord". It was the cover from the tribute. I like it's sort of pan-spiritual, perennial philosophy nature. But I noticed that it also has a kind of hint of doubt, that part of the idea in there may really be no lord. A seeker wishing to find. A satisfied seeker, heh, someone who is spiritually complete, sees the lord with him, or at least knows where to find him. This, I noticed this time, has a deep feeling of doubt, and waiting to see him. So it seems kind of sad to me.

OK, the spies left. Some little kid couple.

Wow! I just noticed that there is a little electric menorah. With two lights on the side and one in the middle. I have no idea if it's right. And I Google it, and it is! I don't know if the candle status means it's the second or third day. And it started on the 1st, so I think it's actually the second day. But I think it may actually be right. Trippy. I didn't even know if it was Hanukkah right now. Or how you really should spell it. I should go for the Hebrew, since I've broken down and gone unicode. OK, חנוכה, copy and pasted from the wikipedia article

So, the couple here is techfree. Dude has a paper book, and chickee is sleeping. Seems like they should have a policy about that. No other luddites. Six laptops.

Stairway. I've been trying to find out what Wayne was trying to say when he said "Zang", which was supposed to be excellent in Cantonese. I don't know any Cantonese. It presumably uses the same characters as Mandarin. But that's not being very helpful in my search. I got a page with translations for excellent. There's a couple of things, 驵 and 駔 which are listed as zang. They mean powerful horse. Fine.

I did buy something at Borders. I got a copy of Kung Fu- Tai Chi Magazine. It was sealed, and had a DVD, so I could check out the aricles whose titles caught my eye. They had something on "4 levels of internal training" and "breath control". Jiang Lao Shi, when I was talking about the internal power in Tai Chi vs. Bagua, he did mention something about breathing. So there's stuff in there that he must know that I have no idea about. I was trying to say that I went out and did the bagua form after doing the Tai Chi form, and it seemed to make a difference. Tai Chi does things relaxed, and I don't have that so much in my Bagua, so I may not be doing it right. He did say though, that Tai Chi is practiced relaxed at first, but it can be done with tension later. And Bagua doesn't have it as relaxed so much. So much for what I thought I knew. Class was neat with Li Lao Shi yesterday. We went through and counted the individual moves in the wushu staff form again, including the stuff we didn't have yet. And she also went through with the Tai Chi moves, though she was maybe a little unsure about those, exactly. I looked them up from the wiki page. She might have gotten off a little bit. We'll do it again, and we are probably going to learn the Chinese names for the moves. That'll be really good.

OK, I think I've taken up the good chair long enough.

I'm still tickled by the idea that the founder of Bagua may have been an assassin who wanted to kill the emperor. The emperor changed, and he wasn't assigned to the right place, anyway. But it's a neat idea. And of course, a great fighter might just decide that working for ther emperor is a nice gig. That might have been it too. An intriguing mystery, I think.

I come home, and there are two cats sitting in the driveway by the house. And I pull into the carport, and they just run into the back yard. I guess they have moved in.

I say maybe it was just a nice gig. The founder, Dong Hai Chuan, did get to teach people. And his longest time student, Yin Fu, became a bodyguard to the Empress Dowager (whatever that is), and had to defend her during the Boxer Rebellion. I guess it's a job.

I'm reading about Yin. Apparently he used these needles. Louie has gotten some needles, though, I can't vouch for their quality. Maybe he can practice with them. So there's a story about a fight Yin got into. Somebody hired a swordsman to deal with him. And he decided a surprise ambush was the best way to deal with him. But he wasn't really up on how good his reflexes were. So this is how the fight went. Guy swings his sword at him. Surprise! But he has his spikes, which are attached by rings on his fingers, already on his hands. So he deflects it, and then stabs and kills him immediately. Oopsie! They say it was a couple of moves, but I'm sure it was more of a blurry, continuous sort of single action.

  • December 1, 2010
I watched the Harry Potter Movie. The first part of the last book. The critics really liked it. But it really didn't seem like a whole movie to me. And it was two and a half hours, so it was pretty long, but it didn't seem long to me, and I really kind of felt that not much happened.

I got _The Corporation_ from NetFlix. And I'm watching the commentaries. There's actually two of them. One of the guys, who also wrote the book, is actually a lawyer. I seem to like what he says the best. He seems the most sensible. One of the people is a chick, and she seems like a total flake. Animal rights vegan. She has some pigs that she rescued. Seems kind of stupid to me, actually. Which really puts the lawyer guy in a different perspective. Law professor, actually. So I'm taking a break listening to this guy. The thing is about how corporations are given the legal status of personhood, and he makes it sound pretty reasonable, because they need some kind of status once you've eliminated the liability from the people with the money when they no longer are managing the stuff. But the corporations are psychopaths, if they are persons, because they don't worry about anything but money. So what is the legal status of psychopaths? They actually have a bunch. And I'm not sure we even limit them, really, legally. The only thing you can do is avoid them, because they will act to harm you. The power we give corporations is a dangerous thing, and really pretty bad. Probably something should be done. Fewer corporations, and more partnerships, maybe. Corporations have charters, and it's possible to revoke charters, and maybe we can limit them. They do say that they don't really revoke charters for breaking laws, only for not paying taxes, which is generally just if the business fails.

  • November 27, 2010
We already have a new TV. We tried Radio Shack, and they had sold out in the morning. We tried Target and didn't see the one I saw for $289, but they had one for $299. They looked kind of small in the store, too. It wasn't discounted enough for Mom's tastes, so we left and tried Best Buy. They had one with a regular price of $279. That was what we they wanted for the one at Radio Shack. And they had recently had it one sale. So they gave us what the sale price had been, which was $259. It seems pretty nice. It doesn't have as many connectors as some of do. So I can't yet connect everything I want to. It has two hdmi connectors and a vga connector though. Just only one of the really old style composite ones. I have the Wii plugged in to that, and the fancy DVD-R in the component. I need to get an HDMI cable for the DVD-R, get the component adapter for the Wii, which will let me get the 480p resolution, and then the composite will be free for the cheap old DVD player.

OK, I got the cables. It seems like the hdmi on the DVR confuses it. It says it's 1080, but the TV isn't supposed to handle that, so it's squashed. or something. We'll see. The Wii is at 480p instead of interlaced. It seems like it might be sharper. Could be my imagination. I didn't watch much before, so maybe it's me. And now I have my other DVD player, so that's good.

  • November 26, 2010
Happy Black Friday!

Everybody left. And the TV decided that today was the day to die. But that's not too bad because there seem to be a lot of sales. WalMart had a nice one for $198, but it was gone in the morning. 32" LCD 720p. RadioShack seems to have one for $280. Maybe they'll still have some tomorrow. And Target seems to have one like that for about $290. The one we have is maybe 4 years old and cost about 280 maybe, and is 27". so those would be nice. We'll see.

  • November 25, 2010
Happy Turkey Day!

We had turkey over at Edgar's house this year. Mom didn't have to make it, which I guess was good. I got a nap in on the couch after it. They were all watching the James Bond marathon on SyFy. Didn't seem like I had much to talk about with them.

I'm going to have to get at least 5 Sudoku a day to finish it off this year. Seems like it's going to be rough. Freddie has done several of them, so I guess that's a little help. Maybe 5 out of the 140 I have left. They are still quite hard, but I think maybe I'm getting a little better at them. I often have to write out the possible numbers in each cell, but it's almost about the same work to just guess and write in one at a time. Seems like that doesn't always even work though, so at least once, I wrote out the possibles anyway. Kind of makes the guessing a little easier. But it got hard to follow getting near the end, so even though I wasn't positive I had it, I erased all the stuff but what I was trying. Erasing cell by cell looks messier. Erasing wide stretches makes it come off a little cleaner. So this is a very ugly looking solution. Another nice thing about guessing instead of writing all the possibles-- less to erase, and it looks a lot cleaner, since I can write the guess pretty lightly.

Full house. Freddie, Grace, and the kids. Leaving tomorrow. It was nice enough, but it'll be nice for it to settle down.

The best strategy is to magically always guess the correct way. No erasing.

  • November 17, 2010
One thing that struck me in all the praying they did was the pastor mentioned "the peace that passeth understanding". I think I know about that. That's something involved in that religious experience stuff that just happens to people. It's not magic, though it's pretty unusual.

My knee hurts. I think it's a bit of the gout. I've cut back on taking the allopurinol from very often twice to mostly just once a day. I persuaded my doctor to only prescribe it for once a day. It's too unpleasant to take more. But I guess there's bound to be a price, in having somewhat more attacks. At least I think that's what this is. Now I have to deal with it with the stuff I have.

So life goes on.

I'd like to hakuna her tata.

OK, so I've been hitting the Colchicine, the medicine for gout. But I did the tai chi form--I've finished it now-- and it seems like that actually helped a little bit. Sometimes a little bit of movement or something helps a bit. I'm sure mostly the medicine, but you never know.

Another thing that seems to bother the religion people, at least I'm seeing it in my mom. She seems to want to find meaning or a reason in everything happening to my dad. Like he was getting worse because he gave up. And she was thinking there had to be a reason. I'm not sure that was all that helpful. Some times things just happen. If you feel there always has to be a reason, it seems like it can cause unease and confusion when some things happen. I'm more able, I think, to accept that some things are more random. A little more accepting, I think. It seems like it feels better to me.

Well, I haven't been able to get the wireless working on spirit, but I have it working with the ethernet cable. The cable connector is not very good, either, and comes unplugged pretty easily. And I got emacs, and I'm writing this on spirit. So that's kind of nice. Apparently the wireless on this type of computer is pretty tricky. We'll see.

I'm seeing little things that I was thinking of doing with Daddy in mind. On this computer, spirit, I was thinking I needed to get windows alive again specifically to get his internet from Verizon working. I don't need that any more.

Mom is here now.

  • November 16, 2010
My dad died yesterday at 4:47 pm. I held his hand and looked into his eyes. It was pretty peaceful.

I drove in to Jackson and got into the hospital about a quarter to one. Mom was in the hall with Mike, but he had to leave so he didn't go up. It was nice that he stopped by, though. We went in, and the nurse, Megan, said he was about the same. But he wasn't making any urine, and his creatinine had gotten to 3 something, so his kidneys had probably shut down. They put him on a medicine that brings stuff to his core to protect his heart and brain. He had his eye cracked upen a little bit, though the other seemed too swollen. She we could stay after they said visiting time was up. We left a little before two.

My mom and I went down to the waiting room, and were waiting a bit, but then they asked us to come up to the front. They said the doctor wanted us to come upstairs. As I was putting my laptop in the locker, the security guards were talking to a guy about whoever he was visiting, and she was in a room or something, and they said this was only for people who had people in critical care. Whatever. So we go up to see the doctor, Dr. Hagar, and she said there's no longer any chance that he will pull through, and he probably won't make it much longer. He would probably go today. There are some things they might be able to do to prolong it if we want to hold on til someone gets there, but probably we don't want that. We went and sat in the family room. I called Edgar, and told him he better get down there, and he talked a bit to Dr. Hagar to get filled in. It would talk almost an hour and a half for him to get there. That was a little before 3.

We went in and wat with him. His blood pressure was getting pretty low, maybe the 50s for the bigger number. They had his oxygen up to 75%. Before they had it at 50%. They gave him some bicarbonate to help with the acidosis. Several times he went into ventral-fibrillation/tachycardia, where his heart rate would shoot up. The hospital chaplain Tim came in and stayed with us for a bit. We called Pastor Luther Hasz, who had been with him that morning. It would be at least 45 minutes before he could make it. At about 4 o'clock, his heart rate got very slow, to around 40, and the nurse gave him one more shot of bicarbonate, which brought it back to normal, about 80. A little after that, Edgar and Pastor Hasz made it in. When Edgar was there, we called Freddie, and he said a few things to Daddy over the speaker. A little before a quarter til, Daddy's heart rate went down to around 40 again. It actually got better for a little bit after a minute, but shortly, went down again. Pastor Hasz was saying all kind of prayers and things during this time. I stood and held his hand and looked into his eyes. For a while he had only had one open, but he did eventually open them both up. After just a few minutes, his heart heart on the machine went to 0. He was moving his head and face around a little bit, even when his heart had stopped. He might have been struggling a little, or it could have just been a neurological response. There was some swallowing and the nurse said that happens. It was not very much. It was mostly pretty peaceful.

I actually felt pretty ready when it happened. The thing took a couple of hours to unfold at the end, so I could see it coming. It had been two months in the hospital to think about it and get ready, also. The class on death from Shelley Kagan at Yale was a help. And recently I saw the Vonnegut quote about lucky mud. So, I didn't feel too bad about it. Edgar and Mom were pretty sad.

I actually got the feeling that the religious people really make death out to be worse than it is. They construct an elaborate fantasy about it, something that is clearly supposed to make them feel a little better about it. But it really seems to make them think that it must be really such a bad thing if they need such a powerful fantasy to protect them. It's the end of a good thing. Yeah, it would be nice to go on, but that doesn't take away what was there.

So, in the time in the waiting room, I started on a second try for notes and an outline for that book. But when I was up there, I realized that I also needed a chapter on death, and how atheism can actually be pretty good at handling it. At least it seems like it to me.

Of course, maybe I just wasn't that attached to Daddy any more. Like I said, I had time already to deal with it over the past few weeks. I thought he really could get better, but he certainly could have something happen, and it did. Although, it did seem like they didn't really know what happened at the end. He had enough infection that could have done stuff. He had kidney and liver failure at the end, though some of that might have been the medicine that pulled stuff to his core. It all kind of left me with the feeling that medicine still could improve quite a bit.

One thing I'm saying is the a lot of people, maybe most of them, say if there is anything they can do, let them know. It must be just a natural reaction. I'm not positive how to respond. I say thanks. I think it would be wrong to say that there isn't anything. But I don't have anything in mind that they might do. The whole praying for us thing seems like a possible answer, but it's not really doing anything. So I don't know.

In the kung fu class, we focused today on the staff form. We counted up the individual movements in Chinese, and Lao Shr once went through, counted, and gave the Chinese names for all the movements. We need to go through them again, but as it had a lot of repetition, it kind of started to sink in. Ma bu 馬步 is horse stance.

  • November 14, 2010
I spent all day trying to get my laptop spirit alive again. The day before I was working on it, and learning about the free tools I had on the recovery disk I made. I didn't realize that I was still kind of lucky that the disk was partially alive, because I was reading bits off of it and then it died completely. Started making icky mechanical popping noises and stopped being recognized at all. It was bad because I finally saw something to make a full and usefull back up, and got one bit off of it, but not quite the one I needed for sure. And I might have been able to back up the main thing with something that ignored errors. But too slow. Didn't know what I was doing in time. Opportunity lost. So I didn't have a piece I needed for a long time. Basically I had files copied, but I needed a particular advanced sort of copy image that would preserve some stuff that would let me boot to the mini DOS operating system on the recovery partition. I just needed to boot to DOS, but I didn't have that capability sitting around, for some reason. Way too old school. I tried getting a FreeDOS CD, but I think my CD drive in the laptop may also be toast. Or the CD just didn't work. I eventually found that my fancy recovery disk had FreeDOS integrated into it, and I had been working with it all along. So for a while, I was running the recover program which I needed. I didn't get the options right, and it kept going through with errors. I did find webpages that were very helpful, describing all about the Dell utility and recovery partitions and software. So I finally get it running right. And then it turns out that the image I had was just bad. That can certainly happen when you're reading from a dying hard disk. A bunch of work. All for naught. Of course, maybe it would have just been the ideal if it had worked, but I will probably be able to get something out of it, even if I do lose the main thing. I'll probably install a Linux. Ubuntu, I'm thinking. And maybe I'll get a copy of Windows 7. Forget about trying a Dell restore. Or maybe I'll even contact Dell and get something from them. This is like my fourth computer I'm using, though it had been really one of the two main ones I was using. Some of it just convenience in having it be the one in the den so I didn't have to carry the other one from room to room. And it got me to break down and get a new drive for Tudor. Its drive is getting worse. It rebooted and had to run a chkdsk. But now I know the proper procedure to back it up and restore with my free tools, using my bootable USB. So I learned something. For a bit in there, I thought I might have to spend money on Norton Ghost. I avoided that by getting the recovery program working. So that's a plus.

I was trying to get through Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. Actually, I was just listening to the directors commentary instead of just watching him do it. I found the main thing unwatchable quite quickly and this seemed at least a little more interesting, since I like commentaries. But even it still seems godawful boring. Mostly because I don't care. You have to care about the person, and I just don't. Global warming, I guess I really don't care about either. Let it get warm. Life developed with all the CO2 in the atmosphere. It might get bad, but it can't become lethal.

  • November 12, 2010
Happy Friday the Twelfth!

Intelligence is part of a control system that adds some features that we are calling intelligent. An important thing here I'm focusing on is that we already have a system, and it has something of a control system already that isn't intelligent, and the intelligence is an addition to that. The stuff that is not intelligence is basically a fully functioning animal. And that's why I think this insight is significant enough to talk about. AGI people are thinking of adding intelligence to a computer, which is not like a fully functioning animal. It's not something that can move around and pick up stuff, or whatever it is that animals do. They neglect that it their peril. Also, There is an idea that the intelligence is the complete control system, so they don't really see that they are going to have to also develop the stuff that isn't intelligent, something they don't care about or won't really want to deal with. Maybe.

But in this way of looking at it, you can also look at what the things are that intelligence adds. One thing is learning. But most animals learn, so there is a question where learning really is in the whole intelligence thing. It might be that a learning control system is just part of the necessary foundation for intelligence, and actually the kind of intelligence we want to look at is an addition upon that. And that addition might be something like an ability to use linguistic abstraction. To form a labelled idea, and the connect those labelled ideas together in different ways. And to be able to reuse those labelled ideas, store them, and communicate them.

Man, so I initiated an action on my laptop that was going to take four and a half hours. Copying stuff over from one usb drive to another. I want to get one of the drives set up to maybe do some recovery on my broken laptop, and I want to back it up first. It seems like making my usb thumb drive bootable required that I format it, so I don't know, maybe I would have to erase the drive. Painful, maybe, but that might be what it takes. But that action meant that My main working computer now would be in use. That's a long time to be without a computer when you want to do stuff. My desktop is kind of ill, so I don't want to mess with that. But I have a mac sitting there, so I decided to try to use that. First, the internet was down. That was problems with the ethernet switch I'm using, actually a wireless router, but seems like the switch on it is iffy. I had trouble with it on my desktop too. Maybe one or two of its plugs is bad or something. Andyway, I got it working. I wanted to do some blogging, but I don't have a real editor. So I decided to get emacs for it. And there appear to be several versions. apple.com suggested carbon emacs, so I've gotten it. But the download was like 15 minutes. That's a pretty horrible wait. And I had to remember the little code form to open stuff with ftp. And the key strokes to do stuff. The windows version had menus that would list the key combinations. This has buttons, but unfortunately, the open file button opens a dialog window to the operating system finder window thingee, and isn't the right place to put in the ftp code thingee. Grr. I've just been walking over to the other room and looking at the stuff on my laptop. Computers.

So Sudoku puzzle 1082. Man. I think it was just beyond my ability. Even the kind of guessing I was doing wasn't working. I'd guess something, but it wouldn't get me anywhere. I was telling Melissa about it. And she said, well if you use pencil... And I was saying even that wasn't working for me. I think it's just one that is beyond me. So I took it as an opportunity to learn more about solving. I went on to the website that has the solver. It will explain all the strategies that it is using, so I find it good for learning. And man. Even it seemed to have trouble. It used pretty obscure strategies to just make tiny bits of progress. It took many steps to get to a place where I'd be able to finish it. And just one or two additional cells were not enough. It probably took maybe half a dozen cells just to get it to where I could solve it myself. So even if you cheated by looking at the solution, you'd still have to get lots of squares down. Man. She was saying, given enough time I could get it. But I don't think so. I think this one was just past me. I saw a reddit post somewhere that was talking about how all the emphasis on self-esteem has made kids think that they can do anything, but that's really just not true, and it can be hard if you have to face reality.

  • November 9, 2010
Wouldja believe I went out to Jackson, and had my computer, but I managed to leave the power adapter behind? And I went out for like four days. Which ended up four very boring days. *sigh*

I had Al Gore's inconvenient truth on my laptop to watch, then didn't have the juice. Anyway, now that I'm back, I have _Who Killed the Electric Car_. So I'm watching it, and they suggest something that I hadn't heard, and it makes sense. I remember hearing about hydrogen fuel cell cars. It's really a stupid idea and will never work. There's technical problems, which I guess I won't go into. And I guess I've kind of fell into kind of watching the stuff and hoping they would figure it out. Mostly that hydrogen is impossible to really keep in a car, and as explosive as it is, you really would never want to. I can concede that now I guess. But their suggestion, and it makes sense to me, was that wasn't what that was really about. It wasn't that they were really trying to get hydrogen fuel cell cars. This was during the Bush times. Bush is an oil family. This was just a misdirection to distract attention away from a solution that would work. Electric cars would work. And it was starting to actually be done. That's just some oil can't have. An actual competitor. So look over there! And they scrapped the electric car system. Now, from what I gather, the movie didn't really quite capture all of the real problems. And I'm still quite aware of big issues. A car that only goes 70 won't work. Especially in California. Two many places you will want to go. The idea of having it as your only car won't work. It costs too much to be a second car. Oh well. The hydrogen car though, maybe just a ruse.

  • November 5, 2010
It wasn't enough for her. I just got that feeling. I was by myself at kung fu, so I worked hard enough that I kind of felt addled. My brain kind of hurt a little bit, like I might get a migraine, or just exhausted, something. So after that, for quite a bit, I didn't feel like I was thinking clearly, and I wore a short-sleeved shirt when it was pretty cold outside. I figured it was ok since I'd be inside mostly. When Melissa and I were outside talking though, it was pretty cold for me, and I'm not sure how much it was about me, but it made me feel like Melissa surely must be too cold, with he little short skirt. She was wrapping a jacket around her legs, too. Anyway, it was too much, so I kind of let it be very short, and I really kind of got the feeling that it was maybe a little too short for her. And otherwise, I just got the sense that talking with me was something that she just liked. Time together between two people who love each other. Just nice. And it being limited makes it more valuable. But it could have been a little more this time. I should keep that in mind.

So I entirely missed out on Halloween this year. But it's maybe good because I would have eaten a couple pounds of candy. I didn't need that.

Still, I am still using the thing with Melissa as a substitute for having a real relationship. Bad habit I've had for a long time. This is a little different in that it's usually women I mostly can't go see. Except that I only see her at work, so it's still very similar. In all, very loserly.

I don't want to be confused about it. I'm not the only person that shares this kind of thing with Melissa. She has a boyfriend she loves that she goes home to. And everyone she works with loves her and she loves them back. I saw he talking like a sister with Jeanie about something or other going on. Just big ball of caring.

So, the thing with my dad, and the question of possibly withdrawing care, since he doesn't want to be on a machine or an invalid or anything like that, made me think of Wynne. Apparently, she studied medical ethics or some such. And I was thinking, I might like to, it might make it easier in some way to think that she doesn't care about me, but that would be wrong. She's a big ball of caring. But as a doctor, she's probably had at least hundreds but more like thousands of people she's cared about and I'm sure I'm pretty far down on the list. And of course, she's a wife and mom. I guess it just seems like kind of a sad thought for me, that I'm really just not very much to her. And it kind of seems like it might even be better if I thought I was nothing at all, but I'm not nothing, just not very much. Why would I be?

  • October 29, 2010
Man, I haven't been writing in a while. That's just weak. I'm thinking, if you can go without writing, then maybe you're not really a writer, are you?

I've been spending more time at the hospital. And I guess I haven't felt like sitting and writing there. This week, I've been only three nights in Memphis. And I don't stay over night in the hospital, like my mom, I drive to the house on the farm. I guess I call it the house in Lexington to the people in Jackson, though it's not really all the way to Lexington. To people in Memphis, I have to say it's in Jackson, because they wouldn't know from Lexington. I've told Melissa how I like the Tropicana Orange-aid and she's been looking for it. She told me she was even late to class because she was looking around in the store for it. It's seems kind of funny exactly how we love each other, the way it's limited to only certain things we do, but still is kind of strong. Anyway, I said the church that brought it in was from Lexington, and she thought Kentucky. Man. I think I may have to actually look around at stores in Lexington. Melissa said she might ask her mom in Florida to look. Give her something to do. And Tropicana's in Florida maybe, so it might be easier to find.

And limited. I still am not telling Melissa that I love her like I'd like. There just don't seem really good times to say it. Yelling it when the bar is noisy is no good. And I think about it when she's pouring lemonade, but then she kind of rushes off again. And so many people around, And I was thinking I would when we were talking outside, but a guy Calvin was really drunk waiting for a cab, such that he needed to lean against the wall. That just seemed like a bad time. And then Chris came out and said Melissa should get on to ringing up the checks. She seemed real irritated to that. Girl can't take a break and smoke a cigarette and talk to her friend? She said after he was gone, why don't you get my beer stocked?

And it only just hit me that the laptop that died was the computer that I use as the home base for all my ipod music. And it seems like now that it's gone, I don't have a way to do any of that stuff. I never saw how you were supposed to move that stuff over to a different computer. It seemed like they really didn't want you copying stuff around like that. At least, you can't do something like take all of the music on an ipod, and then load it on to a computer to use. It would enable too many copyright violations maybe. At least I haven't seen how to do it. Maybe there's a way. But for now, I've got three apple devices that are sort of stranded, and I might lose all of the stuff on them for want of a proper way to handle it.

And my desktop has failed some kind of way. That's two computers down now. The desktop, though, isn't completely dead. But some of the I/O device seem messed up or something. The first thing I saw was the ethernet. It just would say it wasn't plugged in, but I thought pretty sure it was. It could be the plug. And that's really bad because no internet, and I can't go to fix anything. I was just want to use my printer, which was hooked up to that computer. Then I dug out a USB ethernet device. But I needed to get the drivers. And no internet. Grr. So I tried to but it on a USB hard drive. And then those weren't working right. And I tried a USB thumb drive. I managed to get stuff off of it. But then the USB mouse stopped working. So something bad is going on. It could be something in the software and drivers. That's actually seems the most likely. But it could be an electrical problem on the motherboard, which because of the way it kind of seemed to come and go, is what I'm actually thinking. Connections are the kind of thing that come and go. Software, really, not so much. So maybe a problem in the motherboard. In playing with the ethernet connector, there was some little metal tab that was kind of bent into it, which I bent back out. That might have been something bad. Anyway, now my desktop is in a pretty bad way. And the mouse not working right is pretty rough. I should try to find a ps/2 mouse which might be a little better than the usb mouse. But it could be bad. Maybe time to replace the motherboard. Which honestly, shouldn't be all that bad. It might actually be time. But it's work maybe I don't really feel like right now. And a little bit of money. A big thing, though, is that I kind of needed to use the desktop in trying to fix my laptop that is broken, to try to get some stuff off its disk. And my other laptop has had disk problems for at least a year. If it finally goes out, I'll be pretty unhappy. It doesn't seem to be getting worse though, so I've been putting it off. Plus I'm just not set up to deal with copyying laptop drives over. I really need to to make my usb drives bootable, and put ghost on them for doing that. Seriously. Computer recovery is just really not something I want to get into. Computers can be frustrating, and that's the worst problems with them that you can deal with.

Speaking of frustrating, I'm continuing to study Chinese. The teacher is now emphasizing knowing the characters, and today she said we are going to need to be able to recognize the words from the characters. What I was going to try to print out was the Chinese characters. I got my laptop set up to type in Chinese characters, which was nice. Vista has it set up pretty easily. Something in regional and languages. You set it up, and the type in the Pinyin and it lets you select the character. And I downloaded mnemosyne that does flashcards. It keeps track of how well you say you know the stuff. It seems pretty good. I'm not so sure though if I should be trying to learn the characters individually or in phrases. I probably need to know the characters eventually, but we actually haven't been learning the meanings of the words so much by themselves. These idioms are a little strange. The Chinese 'you're welcome' is bu ke qi, 不客气. bu is no, ke is guest, and qi I don't know. But it's more literally don't be a guest. Anyway, I'm working on it.

So there was a rough scene. We were waiting to go in to the ICU to see Daddio at the 5 o'clock visting time. And a group of 8-10 people came out, all looking pretty sad to one degree or another. Clearly the person they went to see had died. They were sad and tired in different amounts. It was very grim.

Wow, so I'm going to save this page in emacs, and with the Chinese characters, it complains that the character encoding is not correct. It wants to use an iso chinese encoding, but I'm sure I don't want that. So I've switched from iso-8859-1 to utf-8, which I hope doesn't cause any problems. You never know with weird stuff like that. Anyway, going to unicode. Seems like a big step.

  • October 13, 2010
Happy Wednesday the Thirteenth!

So, I lost my outline. Do I start a new one? Do I concede that I wasn't really going to work on the project any more?

So, they are getting the miners out in Chile. The thing that is standing out for me is how they are saying God saved them. All the people working, and they say it was God saved them. And it strikes me especially because I just watched a National Geographic special on North Korea. In this special, there is a doctor who specializes in a cheap and relatively easy cataract surgery that saves blind people. He does stuff all over the world in underdeveloped countries, trying to bring this technique to the doctors there. Cataracts are a bigger problem for poorer countries. So he goes there and treats a thousand people in ten days. And all of them thanked the leader, Kim Jung Il, for doing it. That seems to be one of the main things about religions. Say the God is responsible for everything. People are able to believe it and rationalize it to convince themselves it's true. I can imagine all manner of the cognitive biases that would support this way of understanding things.

  • October 11, 2010
So it occurs to me that the outline I had for that book was on the hard disk that crashed. I guess I had given up on that, anyway. And I think I've just about given up on that disk. I didn't find the recovery disk. All I wanted to do was to run checkdisk on it. So that's kind of pitiful. I did finally think of trying to put it on another computer. I didn't know if the connector was something standard, but Freddie said it should be. It seem like a lot of work to break my desktop open and do that, so I haven't done it yet. Now I'm back at the hospital in Jackson. So it's going to have to wait again. I could also get a usb enclosure. I really need to get one. I ran the the bios diagnostics, and this time looked up the error code-- 1000-0146. It's bad. Pretty much means it's toast. So it probably just was bad, and not just a data corruption. I might be able to read something off it. Maybe we'll see.

There were some guys sitting the bar. Angela said the were rude to this girl. There was a girl who was having a good time with one of them. She had a long dress and shoulderless, I don't know how you call it, so you could see a big tattoo on her back. They called her a whore apparently and got him away from her. She might have been an actually whore, for all I know. And Angela called them bald men. I told her, they weren't bald, they were skinheads. They actually stayed around til close. They seem pretty friendly with Melissa. Regulars, I'm sure. Seemed like at least one was in Iraq. They told several Polack jokes. Maybe one about something jewish. So I think I might have been right about the skinhead thing, more or less. Of course, skinheads are people too. And Angela has to deal with a lot of racial issues, and was complaining about that. Mostly a matter of black people trying to make it an issue when probably it isn't really.

  • October 5, 2010
Would you believe, I sat down with my laptop on Saturday in the hospital in Jackson, and it crashed? It was kind of locked up and wouldn't respond, so I powered it down. I've always known that was dangerous. Something could be writing out in some kind of way and mess things up pretty bad. I've been doing that a lot more lately, just not having patience with a computer not doing what I am presumably commanding it to do. When I turned it on, it got a blue screen. with the error "unmountable boot volume". That's a really bad one. It just wouldn't start. And it's a little weird because it clearly is loading stuff off the disk-- beginning to load the operating system. I guess the bootloader, it's called, is a different system from how the operating system reads the whole drive when it's getting ready to run normally. I didn't have any stuff to work on fixing it in Jackson, so I waited 'til I got back to Memphis. Still haven't gotten it working. And I'm going back tomorrow with Freddie, who is flying in in the morning.

So my dad is really bad off in the hospital. He had a bypass, and was recovering from that, but a complication, which they said can happen, was that his colon went bad and eventually ruptured. They cut out 18 inches. He's been in icu, but he hasn't been improving much. Lung trouble and kidney trouble and still intestinal trouble. But he's aware, though they are sedating him a lot. On the ventilator. Different staff will show different amounts of hope. Some are gloomy. Some try to be hopeful, but it's tough. It's very uncertain. And my mom is a wreck, especially because it's been up and down. He'll be good in the morning and worse in the evening. And he has a living will. I don't know what that's about. He had a stroke in there, too. They think maybe there was clotting which caused both the stroke and the blockage in the blood in the colon. And I guess, who knows what else. Ick.

  • September 28, 2010
One lit bit of conversation kind of stands out. And we talked about something I hadn't considered before. Lacy asked me if I had pursued Islam. I hadn't, but I said that Islam has a concept of jihad, or struggle. And generally people think of it as an external fight with the non-believers, but they actually, well some of them, think of it as an internal struggle to be a good person. And Lacy said that's just like the Gita. I have to admit, that's a pretty striking parallel, since Islam and Hinduism are such important traditions in India.

John Apperson was sitting there with her, so I gave it shot to try to explain the Bhagavad Gita to him. Arjuna is standing in a field at the beginning of a battle. And he's looking over the two opposing armies getting ready to fight. And on the other side, he sees his cousins, and people he knows, and he starts to think that, no, he doesn't really want to fight and kill them. And lord Krishna-- Lacy points out that he is the charioteer-- proceeds to 'splain it to him. He shows how even in fighting and killing people, even his cousins, he can participate in the divine. It's really quite a tough concept, and it might be kind of hard to see how that might work, but that's kind of how the Gita can be one of the most holy works in Hiduism, and just in general of all religious traditions. And of course, John was very skeptical. Anyone from a Christian tradition should naturally find it difficult to find that violence could ever be in any way a holy thing. That was John's reaction. But in Judaism you can find that, and even in some bits of Christianity you can see it. Like I said, Islam has this idea as one of its core ideas, and now I see that they might well have gotten a bit of it from Hindu influence, which was geographically fairly close.

And as these things often go, it just happens that in a reddit link on relationship advice, someone also talked about the Gita. Apparently something about he got his nickname 'happybadger' from something related to it. I didn't quite get that. Anyway, the reddit conversation was about some boy whining about having trouble with women, and someone saying he needs to "cowboy" up and be a man. Get out there and talk to them. We are descended from men who hunted huge, dangerous animals with spears. And a view of the Gita about being a man.

So, for Lacy, the story of the Gita is metaphorical in some way. I'm thinking that even she would have trouble with fighting as being holy. I guess. So that kind of made the comparison to an internal jihad more apt.

Thinking about it all, it seems like I didn't really show that much interest in what everyone else was doing. I think maybe occasionally I did ask about them, but I ended up just talking about myself and my stuff too much. So I feel that I'm still a little too self-absorbed. Oh well. Gives me something to work on.

And then there were the opionions about Memphis. There had to be an inherent bias in the group. Everyone there was in Memphis, and the ones that stayed around so would go to this must be people that like Memphis. I would say I do--I left and came back twice. The first one that stands out is Salil Parikh. He's a radiologist. I think probably various places, but he's listed at Methodist. I've been trying to find a page for him, but I guess radiologists don't need a web page. He said he really likes Memphis. He Was pretty enthusiastic. I don't remember now if he's tried anywhere else. John Apperson, I think he said he's been other places. He met Lacy maybe in New York? She's been all over. Chicago, L.A., and New York. He was saying it was a bit of a challenge to convince her to be in Memphis, so maybe she's still a little uneasy. She totally seems to be a California girl. When we were sitting up in the brothel, there was some other wife (I forget) who is totally California, and they were talking about it. I can relate. I told them about the redwood in the deck at my brother's in the Santa Cruz mountains. And my dream of living in a hobbit hole in the Palo Alto Hills. Will James, though. He's in Memphis, and he kind of expressed some regret at not having tried anywhere else. I tried to tell him, other places are good for helping you appreciate Memphis, but that's about it. There are a bunch of people in our class who have moved away, and presumably like it wherever they are. I guess it might be nice to hear how they feel about wherever they are. People are different, so maybe they are better for them. I'm not so sure about that, so it might be nice to hear.

  • September 27, 2010
Wow, it's been a while. Hmm. I'm sitting at the Jackson General hospital. I spent last weekend (or I guess weekend before this last) up to Tuesday here, but I didn't bring a computer. And then when I went back I didn't do anything with this. This time, though, I brought a computer. I brought it up here so my dad could have a computer.

So whenever it was, on that Friday, he had chest pain and they checked him in the hospital. We came up, and waited around for tests. They didn't know if it was a clot in the lung or a heart attack. Which seems rather feeble, I would say. It took 'til Monday to get a heart catheterization. And it was the heart issues. So it must have been a heart attack. It sounded like it. He said it felt like someone grabbing him and it radiated to his arms. But that description wasn't enough, and their tests didn't do it for them. Whatever. In a heart cath, they might have been able to put in stent right then, but they didn't. Some kind of problems. And they decided on a bypass, and they did that on Tuesday. Maybe a little fast, I don't know. He looked OK when he came out, but he wasn't awake when I and my brother Edgar left. The doctor when we talked to him right after said it went well, but did talk about an issue. His lungs had flopped over a bit, and he nicked it in some spots. And he said he patched and stapled it as best he could, but that sure didn't sound good. From what I gather, he did pretty well the first few days in ICU. They were trying to get him off the respirator, and that didn't work the first time, but they eventually got him off that, and later took out some other tubes. But then there were problems. More trouble breathing, and a spike in blood pressure and some kind of small stroke and confusion. And it turned out there was a pneumothorax, or air coming out of him lungs into his chest cavity, making it hard to breathe. He got a little better when they got a tube back in. I came up on Sunday.

From what I hear, he was doing fairly well Sunday morning, but he got a little worse through the day. When I saw him in the evening, he looked pretty rough. He hadn't eaten, which is not a good sign because he loves to eat. He was obviously struggling to breathe, and the rate was elevated. He was using a mask with oxygen, and he had his mouth wide open, which gave me the feeling that it was extra hard to breathe. There may be some kind of issue with how the mask fits that just makes it easier to keep your mouth open, and that's how it seemed from that. It was also just labored. And he didn't speak. That did not seem like a good sign. It could have been stroke issues, and it could have been a little bit of the breathing problems. I guess it's hard to talk when it's hard to breathe. But he nodded and shook his held very well. I would call it enthusiastically. So he was very responsive. But it gave you the feeling of being kind of unsure, like it might get worse. And that's when we went home, so it was a rough night. But when we got in this morning, he looked noticeably better. Still struggling to breathe, but slightly more animated. And he ate all of his breakfast, which is a very encouraging sign. And finally I heard him talk a little bit. It was just one word at a time though. So now I'm thinking more it might just be the breathing issues, and not so much a stroke thing. But we'll see how it goes.

And I went to my 25-year high school reunion. There's a lot I can write about it. And I told some of them that I had a blog, so some of them might actually read this. I guess that's little weird for me, but we'll see. Anyway, shout out to my peeps!

Yeah, what to say about the guys. I knew they were all good guys. And I've been thinking about how I would talk about it. I might have said they were nice guys, but that's not so good because it's not nice the way nice guys finish last. Nice guys that finish first? So, I guess good guys.

Man, I was sitting here writing. My mom is sitting next to me. And a relative of one of the other patients came by and talked to my mom, and I got distracted and paused mid-sentence. And I was trying to get back to my train of thought and it seemed like I was going to be able get it back. And then my mom started talking to me, and it faded and was gone. I guess I'm not so much of a muli-tasker. I've found it really hurts my sudoku game, too, when I have other stuff is going on.

So my sentence came back to me. I was going to say that they are all nice to me. Probably nice to everyone, more or less, but they definitely seemed nice to me. Owen Tabot has this story he tells about how I helped him with math at one point when he was getting frustrated. He could remember it like it was yesterday. He was behind, and I was able to explain some stuff enough that maybe he got a little ahead. He told me about that maybe a couple years ago when I talked on the phone, and he kind of went over it a bit again. The party on Friday night after the game was at Owen's house, so I got a chance to sit down and talk to him, and that was nice. A kind of a fun bit. I was talking about how they moved me over from being with them to being with the grade ahead in math. So hanging out with Cliff. Owen said they were glad when I was out of the class. They'd all be getting c's or d's, and she'd say, the test wasn't that hard, Andrew got a 96. So they were ok a bit for a while when I left, but then Wynne came along. Huh. I'm trying to remember if I heard about that at the time. Seems like maybe I did.

Later after I went home it kind of struck me. I do not know what the deal was with all those girls taking classes at M.U.S. Maybe they just wanted to be with boys, but I don't know. And then at the party on Saturday I talked with one of the wives. I feel bad that I can't remember her name or who she is married to. I'm thinking either Don Lake or Bob Coleman. She went to Hutchison, class of '85. Which is nice. Somebody has been with someone for at least 25 years. I asked if she had taken any classes at M.U.S., and she said yes, psychology and that's where she met him. So I asked her what the deal was, I didn't really get it. She said they just wanted to be with boys. They spent all that time just with girls, they were ready. But she said they don't do that any more. They have a son at M.U.S., and no girls.

And I asked her about Wynne, and I did mention that Owen had mentioned her blowed their curve after they had gotten rid of me. She said Wynne came to their 20th reunion. Had a couple of girls. Didn't know her married name. She said she's in Nashville. I think she got that wrong though. She did say she was very sweet. I think she got that right. I didn't say I had run in Wynne a couple times. I guess that's bad of me. Maybe I'll tell Owen about that some time when we speak again. So he says if I hadn't helped him with math, he wouldn't have gotten through medical school. Like I said, nice guy.

The most fun thing for me, I think, of the reunion was talking to Lacy Apperson, John's wife. He was the main organizer, so he kept busy and talked to folks a lot. He said his wife was a yoga teacher, and I told him I had pursued some Indian stuff, advaita vedanta. She wasn't there right then, but he suggested I might talk to her, so I looked out for her. And I was sitting upstairs at the little bar up there. Ernestine and Hazel's. The upstairs used to be a brother and they left it as it was. But it was a quiet place to talk. And when I found it was her, I got her to the bench, and pulled up a chair. It seemed like it took a while for me to get to talking about advaita. Maybe I didn't even really say much. I gather she's a spiritual seeker, and it really kind of made me think of being on the path. I didn't say that, that's just what I'm thinking now. I think I admitted that I am no longer seeking. I found the understanding I was looking for. I told her about I Am That. I said you could download it, but she said she liked to have pages, and maybe she will order it. I think I mentioned it to a couple of people as the book I'd have if stuck on a desert island. She still has a bit of a Christian core, and it seems like she thought she was near the beginning of her journey. I don't know. I told her I found an understanding of enlightenment. She asked me if I would say I was enlightened, and I said no. It's a tricky question to just answer like that, and I thought that was the best one. She's an ENFP. I think she admitted that after I was talking about the myers-briggs and I said I was INTP. She was very noticeably NF. What else. So she reads novels and John reads non-fiction. I guess we talked about books. I bet she suggested stuff and I have forgotten. I suggested for them Bryson's Short History. She recommended that Edgar Sawtelle book.

I talked with Murray Garrott for a bit on Saturday. He's a presbyterian minister. He was around on Friday when I was talking with Bill McKelvey about the problems with the theory of reference that I've been looking at. Bill's an English professor at Washington U at St. Louis. On Saturday, he suggested that meaning comes because we have an omnipotent creator. And I told him about that agape philos thing I found in John in my Greek interlinear. So there. Murray said he looked up my site. Somewhere somebody said I had my valedictory address up there. He read that and said I was surprisingly humble for a teenager.

They had several English teachers over on Saturday. I had actually talked to Mr. Shelton in the morning. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was grading essays and we talked about it. He actually said he remember an essay I had written. Something about a Frost poem, maybe "Fire and Ice". And he said I was a good writer. That actually happened several times. I told people I was doing a blog to improve my writing. Own said that for some reason he actually read an essay I had written. I don't know what that's about. I said English was the hardest subject for me. And John Apperson was talking about one poem I had submitted that they felt they needed to censor, because the innuendo was too much. Something about a jellyroll, maybe? And I was glad to tell them that all those poems are on the site here, somewhere. I had them in a computer somwhere, so it was easy for me to put them up. I guess that's good. Again, nice guys. I don't want to to go to my head. But maybe I should work on that book after all. And my mom recently said I should right a book. I don't know where she got that. So there you go.

  • September 16, 2010
I have a headache. Lately, I've been getting headaches a little more than I seem to remember I used to. And it gives perspective. It sure makes me appreciate not having pain. It's easy to forget. It's nice not to hurt. People talk about emotional pain when they are depressed. That's just not the same as actual physical pain.

We got the last section of the fanzi quan form. I'm pretty sure it's the hardest section. It has a double kick that is just murder on the balance, and all the other pieces are pretty complicated. But now it's done. We've got everything. Now it's just a matter of praactice and refinement. I think it's an interesting style. It's so much a matter of things to think about.

  • September 13, 2010
Happy Monday the Thirteenth! Happy Ides of September!

One of the things linguistics does is separate semantics from pragmatics. So the words used may mean one thing, but the intent of the person is a different thing. You could say that his meaning is different from the literal meaning of the words, say. That kind of separates the things so you can study them independently, or have to separate them independently, I guess. You can do something like make a dicrionary of real meanings of words, which might be helpful. But it's always possible to speak ironically, so in that way it's useful to separate them. Seems like I've heard of some words that are always used ironically, though they maybe used to not be. And we say things some things, we might just be asking someone to do something. I would like a coke, or can I get a coke? There are bunches of ways to do this. It's not about the literal meaning. And then there are just plain idioms. Particular phrases that are used commonly, and we forget about the real meaning. I don't even know it that's supposed to be pragmatics, or what. This way of separating work is kind of needed when you think of words having references to stuff, instead of just being sort of guessed at (predicted) for usefulness or appropriateness. It gives work to linguists, I guess, but it just isn't a complete system for understanding language as you would need to program a computer.

But I think about it, in computers, their language _is_ a matter of reference. Every symbol corresponds to a specific command that tells the compiler an unambiguous thing. So that conception of what language is is completely instantiated. We have an example of it working, and it's very well understood. I would totally not be surprised if that was the major reason that linguistics and any person talking about the theory of language would never even be able to conceive of a different explanation for what language is. There is a lot invested in formal languages, and it works completely well for computers. And maybe some of that is why syntax is such a big deal for linguitics. It's important in that system. Syntax really is very important in language, as it is the big mechanism for compositionality, or the way we combine individual words together to make phrases. I actually used the word 'composition', but seems like I see the -ality when people are technically talking about the process, and without it, it just means general writing, liking in a class called English Composition, which I gather is just a writing class. I got out of it from AP credit. I get the feeling maybe I should have just gone and taken it anyway. I could have used the practice back then, though I guess, my studying drive had really deteriorated.

  • September 12, 2010
I guess here' maybe an example of what this explanation or point of view is trying to get at. Take the phrase "I love you". The conventional idea of reference says that love is trying to point at some particular concept. The obvious problem with that is that love can mean a lot of different things, so presumably, to get its meaning, you have to figure out which particular "sense", it's called, we're using. This other view says something more like, we recognize just that "love" is the right word to use for our situation. Maybe we do have a particular sense in mind, but really not necessarily. Actually, probably several of the possible meanings apply at the same time, and it's just the good word to use. That is, I'm saying that the theory of reference cant deal with ambiguity where multiple senses are actually correct. You can have double meanings. Or maybe they can deal with it in some special way, but it's not really how it sees language as working. So it's more about picking a good word than one that exactly points to the precise thing we are talking about.

More taiji today. He said I was getting better. Maybe. I asked Sarah about learning 24, which is the taiji form everybody knows who knows any taiji at all. The common one. I used to know it, so I just want to relearn it. I asked about going to the 5 o'clock calss, but she said I could just learn in that class. It would be good for Reecy to review it. But, really I don't want to talk up her time. It would talk a while to learn. Beth suggested a video, and I said I had some. I remembered that I have the video from the tournament, even if I don't have another one somewhere. And YouTube must have plenty. So now I'm thinking I will just use a video, and Sarah can fix me up.

  • September 11, 2010
Happy Nine-Eleven!

It was a tough one. I was starting to think maybe I found one that I wasn't going to be able to do. I had been sleeping quite a bit today, but at maybe 10:30 in the evening, maybe I'd had enough, and I got up. But still kind of groggy, I start a freecell game kind of without thinking. Then I remember that this is the computer I'm being serious about. I'm being very casual on the other one, not looking ahead to make sure I'm ok, and it's really a lot worse. I often go only a few games before messing up. And I look at this one, and it really looks hard. I don't see anything I can do that won't mess it up. So I'm awake! I stare at the thing at least twenty minutes. It does occur to me that this is another matter of search. Sudoku has become all about the search. I did finally find a pretty weird approach that goes to the edge, but works out ok. And I kept checking it. I kept having little doubts about whether I was getting it right. And then I do it, and yeah, it works out ok. But I had this feeling, what am I doing? And it's Friday night. I know Super 5 is playing at Doc Watson's. So I decide to go out. It's been a while. I've been kind of holed up. And it was nice enough. I still didn't do any dancing, or talk to anyone new. But I talked to Chris, and Vince and Hank a bit. And I tried talking to Rhi. I asked her how she was. And she said she couldn't complain. Or maybe shouldn't. It would be selfish? I don't think we have ever really connected, but it seemed like there was something going on with her. I didn't really get it this time, though. Later, Chris and Rhi were sitting together, and I was there. Her jeep isn't starting, and Chris was talking about what it might be. At first, he asked what it sounded like when you turn the key and she said nothing. He went over maybe problems with the battery until we finally got that the started had been turning, just no ignition. Which is a different thing. So maybe something in the fuel, like the filter, or maybe the distributor cap. And if the fuel filter is too bad, the whole fuel pump might burn out, which can be bad. She had had someone who was going to help with it, but they had flaked out. Chris offered to help and look at it. Hopefully he will. But you could see that Rhi really was a little bummed. It's no fun to have a car that won't start.

The streak is at 114.

I talked to several of them about the study about dancing. Hank said he'd seen it. They did this study of good dancing. A little more specifically, what women think is attractive. To make it about the movements, they did motion capture on a bunch of guys, and translated them into animations, so it wouldn't be the body of the person. And then had women rate them. The results are striking. At least, the one that's the bad dancing really looks bad, and the good one really does look good. But as for the sort of scientific result. They were thinking that the hand and foot movement would be the important thing. Turns out, no, rhe big thing women look at is core body, head neck and torso. And the important thing is stuff that shows flexibility. Kind of a matter of fitness is the idea. Trippy, though. So at Doc Watson's I watched the people dancing. There was a black guy, and he displayed good dancing exactly like they were saying. And the other guys were total duds. One kind of intriguing thing, though. There was a real ballroom dancer type. Entirely stiff necked and rigid. Very disciplined, and real trained dancing. But completely not what they were talking about. The study was non-professionals, of course. Anyway, it has me thinking that maybe tomorrow, I should finally go out dancing again. It's been so long. It's gotta be ten years.

  • September 9, 2010
Ah, well. Kroger has whole ribeye for $4.99 a pound. I was thinking I might finally try one. Never gotten one before, but I keep seeing the advertised specials popping up, and thinking about it. So I get money out of the bank even, for it, and go down there to look. It was too big. I guess I should have known. It was the entire length of a cow's rib-cage, and I should have known that's what it would be, but maybe I was thinking it might be less. So I would have had to cut it or get it cut and have it in at least a couple of times, and I really just wanted to get one and make it and be done with it. Plus, I was thinking 8 to 10 pounds, and it was fourteen. Just a little bigger than I wanted. And actually it was long, but kind of thin. So just really not quite what I wanted. Maybe just a four bone rib roast, but that's going to be at least 8 a pound, anyway. So I decided against it. They had turkeys for 39 cents a pound, so I could get one for five bucks. That I can do, and I got one. And finally some leg quarters. Plus I got a box of fried chicken. Just had a hankerin'. One thing, though. The kroger I just went to had the lactose free milk at 3 for $5. That's almost half off. This one didn't have that. But that one doesn't seem to sell them as much so they were probably trying to get rid of them. This one actually sells out some times, which was why I had to look at other stores. I should got back. I spent like $50 there. I use mach 3 razors, and they were like $26 for ten blades. That's an outrageous habit I got when I was a little more rich. They work well though. Got some veggie hot dogs. Really don't taste so good, so I don't think I'll do it again. And as expensive as premium hotdogs, so not worth it. They had some with pork and chicken for a dollar a pack. Got a couple of those, too. Evil, but tasty. And I got some nutella. I wanted to try it again. I can barely taste the hazelnut. It's basically chocolate. This time I noticed it also is made with milk. So I mostly have managed to get rid of lactose, and this puts it back in there. Ovaltine also has it. So I probably won't do nutella again. And I'm not spreading it, I'm just eating it with a spoon. That works. And like thirty something for more coconut water. That's going to be it for me though. I wanted to do it for a month, like Grace was saying. Doesn't seem to have done much, but I tried.

  • September 7, 2010
My freecell streak is at 100 games won without a loss. I should just take a break. There was one game today. I had fifteen minutes before I needed to leave for kung fu, so I thought I would try one. I got to a place where I had two free cells at the top, and one in the main section, so I was in good shape, but I couldn't quite see what to do without getting stuck. I thought fifteen minutes was good, but I guess not. So a lot of little waffling and worrying, stuck on a position. So I left it and came back. It really wasn't a problem. There were just some things I was thinking about doing that looked like they might get me stuck. And I get the feeling, some of that is how I'm losing more often on my other computer. There are often some lazy, fairly greedy things you can try to do, which use up freecells to get at some particular ace or something somewhere, and you get stuck, instead of being a little steadier, and holding off on the reward while building a more solid position. So it seems like there is a lot of learnable strategy involved. Or some attitude about it that can be adjusted, like avoiding using up free cells. Being more cautious and conservative while making general progress instead of focusing on particular gains.

I've managed to slip into sleeping days again. Ick. I want to go down to U of M tomorrow afternoon. I don't know how that's going to work out.

  • September 6, 2010
Happy Labor Day!

My freecell streak is now at 83.

The important thing is that recognition and discrimination are different tasks. Recognition is have some pattern you are trying to match to, and discrimination is excluding things that don't fit.

  • September 4, 2010
I finally finished _The Art of Problem Solving_. My head asplode. I just couldn't follow everything. But I was going through it pretty fast to get through it. Maybe I will go back over it, if I feel like it, though there is much else to do in life. It was very interesting, though. The last really big memorable thing was a proof that there are only 5 regular polyhedral solids. That was pretty interesting. The book did things like take fifteen pages to cover number theory. Or graphs. that polyhedron thing was in graphs. There was chapter on diophantine equations. I think I actually heard recently that some people did cover that in high school. That's pretty trippy.

Just saw an article that was almost abusive about Chomsky's linguistic theory. I compared the reasoning with intelligent design. Ouch. The idea is that Chomsky took a fairly weak model of learning, argued that it couldn't account for the learning of grammar, so there must be an innate universal grammar (TM) mechanism. I guess I've always had a problem with that, and I've said so. I don't know so much about where learning theory has come, and maybe I need to look more into it.

Looking just a little more into it, I see they have a paper that seems to talk about the issues that lately I've been concerned with. For one thing, it mentions theories of reference. Haven't read it yet. Forty-nine pages. But sounds like something I should. It talks about learning of word meanings, which is also what I've been worrying about. Apparently one of the claims is that the learning works if you try to predict the label from the object, but not when you try to predict the object from the label. OK.

Well, OK. So I read the paper. They kind of say everybody's wrong. And well, this everybody actually doesn't have a complete answer anyway, so you could see that they were at least a little wrong, but it's more they were completely wrong, trying to buy soap in a shoe store kind of wrong. And I guess I was kind of going along with everyone, so it might take me a bit to adjust and get it all. So the wrong picture is that words refer, or basically point to meanings. So as to the theory of reference, that's a bad question, because you don't really have reference. You just have an attempt to predict labels for things in a situation. So you get a kind of abstract of whatever is going on, and part of the communication process is that the other person has to try to predict what the situation was that lead you to say the things you did. It's not that there are references in the words, and they point to things, and you hand them over, and for the other person they point stuff out. It's that some situation makes you think of appropriate words. You say them, and the other person has the task of figuring out what happened to make you say it. And you do your best to make the other guy's task as easy as you can. It's certainly a different way of looking at it.

Part of the reasoning about it is what it takes to learn something. And the main point roughly is that you can learn to go from a whole lot of different cases and putting them together with a word, but you wouldn't be able to figure it out if you had a word, and then started seeing different possibilities, and you had to come to understanding of what all that word could refer to. Or it's an unrealistic sort of problem.

There is also a somewhat different view of categories or kinds and how they work. The common idea is that you understand some type by finding out what is similar among all of them. That seems to be an assumption. But the idea from these guys is that no, we are really just trying to learn what features or cues we need to look at to distinguish things in the category from things not in. Some things become more relevant, and some less. I'm being a little too abstract in my explanation here, but they go on about a made up example they have which I don't feel like using.

  • September 2, 2010
I had the thought, a couple hundred years ago, a person could know everything there was to know. I hear that once in a while, typically about particular people who did try to learn all there was. But then I realized that it wasn't really right. Most of the cultural knowledge was tied up in different trades, and was about to do things and make things. There was much more to know than really anyone could learn. But, not so much was declarative knowledge, or facts you could write down. And this was much because there just wasn't an emphasis getting declarative facts that were correct. That's much more of a modern scientific bias. People cared about techniques that worked, not what could get called "book learning".

I watched a netflix documentary "Fast Cheap and Out of Control". It had robot guy Rodney Brooks, and I think that was the main point of it, because the title comes from a paper he wrote. But they also had a lion tamer, an topiary gardner, and an expert on naked mole rats. It was maybe a little hard to see the connection. Something about not having centralized control, maybe. It was from '97, so it seemed kind of dated, and at least the tobot approach hasn't done as much as he was apparently saying. But I kept feeling my bias I have thinking that the MIT guys are really out of touch with what people really want. Ivory tower I guess is the cliche.

  • August 31, 2010
Happy Birthday, Edgar and Daniel!

One of the bartenders, Brittney Bloom, was collecting money for getting her head shaved. At the Bardog party, which was trying to raise money for St. Jude in honor of someone they knew. A little girl who must have been involved with the locks of love program actually came over and was telling me I should donate. She said I had enough. And mine is maybe long enough, but I think it's really gotten too thin. And I lost a big bunch just that morning. Always a bunch when it's been a few days since I washed my hair. So it was kind of a sad thing for me.

Some kind of vivid dream, and I woke up and didn't really feel like sleeping. Didn't really get completely enough sleep, but felt like getting up. The dream seemed to involve disappointment.

Well, Angela is supportive. She has been saying they really could use my brain to help out. Hmm. And it's nice that she has that kind of confidence in me, but it's another thing to get people to hire you.

  • August 30, 2010
Melissa asked me what I was doing this week, and I told her I was back to reading my math book, _Art of Problem Solving_. She kind of looked at me like I was crazy. She really seemed kind of stuck on that. I didn't really get to talk to her, much, and I didn't get to hang around after everyone was gone. Shooed me out after that. I had been there since four because of the party, but still. There were a bunch of crew, and James was going to help doing the credit cards. I don't know what it was. And because they were going to have to pool tips, she told me no money. I was pondering that maybe I could get away with stuffing it somewhere, but in the end I didn't. She didn't go outside with me, so we weren't alone. A bunch of rowdy French people that they had real trouble getting out the door were actually still loitering there in the alley. One guy keep wanting hugs, and was all kissy. I can't blame her for wanting to avoid that.

I got my oil changed on Wednesday, and then I noticed some kind of fluid leak. But I wasn't quite sure that it hadn't been there before I went. It seemed brownish, like oil, but I checked the level and it didn't seem to be lower than full. So I was thinking it could be anything. Maybe brakes or something else just decided to go out then. So I take it to Firestone. I thought I saw them take off the wheel cover, so then I was thinking brakes. But they come in-- the drain plug was leaking. They said it might be the gasket, don't know. In order to fix it, they would have to open it up, and then they would lose the oil, so might as well do an oil change. I said I just had it changed, so I would take it back there. I was really bummed that they had messed it up. They had already made one mistake I knew about--they hadn't reset the maintenance light, and I had had to go back for that. They had said maybe I got a guy who was new.

So I'm paying them $20 to look at it. The guy checking me out asks me where I had it done, and it was the dealer. He started badmouthing dealers. He had worked at one, and people would be surprised. You would expect them to all be Toyota certified, but when he was there, maybe one was. The just never took the training. It was free, but they didn't do it. So fine, maybe I'll go to them for the oil change next time. They gave me an estimate and later I looked at it. They also recommended some kind of scheduled maintenance. They were hitting me up for stuff, and it was going to come to $130. So now I don't know about those guys. I had always heard you had to watch them for trying to get you for extra stuff.

Anyway, I got back to the dealer, and I told the guy about the oil change I just got, and now the drain plug leaks. He said sorry for the trouble, and he really seemed sorry about it. And just after that, it hit me that I had been taken this really bad, and really kind of let it get me down. Some of that was it was a while, and I wasn't sure how bad it was going to be. It could have been something really bad and I wouldn't have had the cash on had for it, and that was kind of getting me anxious. And then it was the drain plug, and I was hit with the disappointment of them messing it up, and I went all pessimistic and thinking they might have messed up the interior threads. That would have been quite bad. I think the nova had that problem. Of course, there were a lot of much simpler things it could have been, but with the mood I had drifted to, I focused on the worst possible. Just pitiful, man, pitiful. Didn't get so much sleep this morning. But I realized how bad it was that just a little thing like that could get me all messed up. I'm going to have to do better than that. And having realized that, I did feel better.

And I managed to poke my eye yesterday with some mini scissors. Some eyebrow hair was dangling down, and I tried to get it without bracing right. It really wasn't too bad, but very scary. The pain wasn't all that much, but it just being in the eye. I really don't know how well it heals or how tough it really is. Which is a little sad because I've had my eye cut open. Having had that experience, I was able to think about it a bit better, but still very scary.

So yeah, I am back to reading the math book. I'm still seeing stuff that I didn't not get in high school. I actually to some extent skipped trigonometry when they shifted me from algebra 2 to precalculus in the middle. It was algebra 2 and trigonometry. I had actually read quite a bit about it, though, so I'm not sure I missed much, but I hadn't done problems in it so much, so I didn't absorb all the formulas as well as I might have if I had done homework with them. Never seemed like much of a loss. This book actually derives everything. I'm not sure I could do the proofs myself though on demand. But I've seen them this time. Trippy. The chapter on polynomials did "synthetic division". Seems like a trippy technique. They did some weird stuff with transforming them, that I don't think I had seen. And then the stuff on complex numbers, even raising them to powers. A bunch of stuff you really need calculus to prove. And they had a chapter on limits. I think they are going to stop before actual calculus, but limits, seriously? I guess we did them in precalculus. And this was only a third through the book. I'm sure what all they're going to get into. It does make me feel like I had gaps.

So I'm learning stuff. Not taking classes, though. I probably need to get a job instead. I did look at some bagua videos on line on youtube. The actual had all of the ones from the video that goes along with Park Bok Nam's book. I've got the books. Honestly, I find them a little too tough to just read. But I think I learned something from seeing the videos. There are lots of exercises, and I don't plan to do them all, though maybe I will try out some. The big thing I got was something he is calling the dragon back. It's kind of a vertical whip of the back before throwing out the arm. And it helps me to understand what they mean when they say internal power requires you to be relaxed and flexible. There's a real whipping that you couldn't do stiff. And the other thing I realized is that some of the stuff we do at my school clearly is intended to be this. Park Sifu really does it in an exaggerated way so you can see what it's trying to be. I think I was just about leaving it out because I didn't realize what needed to be going on. So I have to practice things differently now. I also have gone back and dug up my videos from Yin style bague, specifically dragon style. I also have the lion style series. But in the video I looked at, some of the exercises clearly were just about the same as what we do, but in addition, he adds the power from what Park Sifu called the dragon back in a much more obvious way. I had seen that power in these videos before, but I didn't quite get it like now. So I can step up my bagua. Also, Park Sifu demonstrated a few more animal hand positions than we use. It seems like we have one he didn't seem to have but three of ours matched three of what he did. He also talked about three ways of stepping. He has a lion step, a snake step, and a crane step. The lion step is heel-toe, and the snake is toe first. We do something Li Laoshr calls the bagua walk, and it corresponds to the snake step. The dragon form has a heel-toe walk, but Li Loashr calls it a wushu walk. I see now that it is probably just intended to be the lion step, but we normally do the snake step. The Yin style has tons more stuff, but it looks like primarily, basically by default, you'll be doing a lion step.

  • August 27, 2010
Wow. De'angelo came to my door. He had a sad story. Apparently he was in the service, maybe overseas, I guess I didn't quite follow, but his asthma was too bad and he got a medical discharge. But now he's in this program helping out kids, or something. I guess I'm a little fuzzy on the details. He gets points when people buy books and magazines. I didn't really want any of that, and he had a thing where I could just donate something to the boys and girls clubs for $20. That would get him fifty bucks. But actually, I'm betting the boys and girls club probably wouldn't want it either, now that I'm thinking about it. But for a second there, that almost seemed reasonable. I think I'd like to help the guy out. He, or maybe they, had a whole bit going. His thing said "no donations". And he asked me for advice. I guess it was to get me talking, see if I was receptive, and work on what part of his collection of bits to focus on to push the sale. He said he was starting at the bottom and working up. As I think about how the thing went, I'm not sure I could support working like that. He asked me about my first job. I said working in a warehouse. Now I'm a computer programmer. I eventually said I couldn't support selling magazines as a job. Exploitative. Probably he gets less than minimum wage, effectively. But he said no, he knows exploitation, having working in the military. I think he said he's getting room and board. That's pretty hardcore for a job. And they're giving money for college when he's done. That would be sweet. I was going to run the numbers. 50 points for $20. He needs 25000 points. OK, at that rate, he's looking at scoring $10,000 for them. He said he gets %75. I don't know what that is. And surely there is some cost in the things themselves, so they don't get all the money. Some other nunbers, he said he'd been in for three months and had 16,000 points. At the rate I was using, that's $6,400 for them. That's they're gross. His cut is $4,800, so maybe $1,800 a month. I'm sute that's not what he gets, though, just his credited amount. All these magazine things seem like scams to me. Especially if it's stuff you really don't want, which I'm expecting it is, which you do because you thinking you're helping. One of his angles is that when done, he won't have to go door to door. He wants to go to college. I said not everyone needs to go to college. You need experience. Work wherever you can. Wait tables. He said, you know how long it would take to pay for college? I didn't say it, but damn right I know how long it would take. I did say, yes, it would be hard. Just something seems wrong in the situation, and I can't support this job for him. But then he went into supporting the troops. I was saying he should have been getting college money from them. He said it was the GI Bill. That was whay I was thinking of. But he was discharged short, so he wasn't a veteran. Out of luck. Bummer dude. Sounded to me like that scammed him. Seems like they've got all kinds of ways of getting out of that stuff. And then he went into supporting the troops. He had to go there. He didn't need to get me started. He said they were fighting for our freedoms. In my mind, that's just a lie. They are not fighting for our freedoms over there. The only way to support them is to get them out of those countries we invaded. Not a conversation he wanted to have. He did tell me something about me needing to do research. OK. He said he know some stuff he couldn't talk about. La-di-freakin'-da. So, no luck from me. But he walked away really disappointed that I said I didn't support the troops.

I read the introduction to _The Happiness Project_. I was wanting to give it a shot, and was kind of trying to put aside my reaction from before that I didn't like the author. That seems important in reading was is basically a memoire. But then she managed to find several more things that I didn't like about her. She was a lawyer. She likes the to-do lists and itemizing. Her friends actually said that she is too weird as a person, and what she does is not going to be relevant for most people. That's a bad sign. It's also a little general, and it also feeds my doubts about writing my own book on happiness. I think I'm just about out of that idea. Aimee was a little encouraging, saying do I really care about the other people, and isn't it for myself. OK, maybe. The thing that got to me the most, though, was that she said she just wasn't going to change anything about her life. She wants to be happier, but not change anything. That just seems to me very wrong. OK, so she said she's mostly happy, already, so she's going to do little fluffy things to optimize it. Great. I guess she contrasted it with Thoreau, who moved out to Walden Pond. She wasn't going to do anything like that. Sounds like she really isn't all that interested in it. There was also Epicurus, who lived on a farm, more like what we would call a commune. Some I'm putting the thing aside. Maybe I'll get back to it.

Aimee also talked about _Eat, Pray, Love_. Only asked the women about reading it. She said the author seems a little too full of herself, so she didn't recommend it.

Leanne came up with something. She said her boss or somebody was always saying she has arthritis out to here. And you have to picture hands curled up as if gnarled by arthritis. And I had to admit, Melissa has the arthritis.

Something I saw a while back seemed very profound. It was in a speech from Aldous Huxley at Berkeley in '62. About 20% of people can't be hypnotized at all, 20% are super suggestable, will basically pretty easily believe anything, and the rest are in some range in there. Maybe believing anything isn't exactly the right way to put it, but it's pretty close. But it's something like people who can easily become super-fanatical followers. So you have a group of people who will be completely submissive. His concern was that you could get to a place where people will accept really horrible conditions. That sounds about right. I tried going to some sites that talk about and try to give you an idea about your hypnotizability. They've got ones that give you a quiz and try to judge. And they say it's maybe as many as 95% of people can be hypnotized, though possible 80%, and everybody thinks they can't be pretty much, though really, most are just harder. I've tried once with a really hypnotherapist, and maybe some times on my own, and I think maybe I really am not able to be hypnotized. I don't know. So one of the things Hitler did was have meetings at night when people were tired. That helps with the hypnotic power, actually. Anyway, it's some scary stuff. Steve is big into the hypnosis. He gave me what he thought was a test. I had to just drop my arm without resistance, and I didn't do it. Seemed like it would hurt, so I guess I didn't really try it. Don't know if it really said much.

Leanne also mentioned reading Bukowski. A very sad person. A friend had one, and let her borrow it, and it hooked her somehow, so she got a bunch of others. Really sad. She cut out drinking for a bit.

  • August 21, 2010
Grr. So on Thursday, at 3:15, I remembered to order money to be transferred from my investment account to me bank account. It was too late, the daily cutoff is 3:00 local time. Ouch. And it might have been possible for it to get processed and be in there by the end of Friday, but that's not what usually happens, and it didn't this time. I took out most of the cash, and left a little over nine dollars in the account. So I have some cash, but it's really only enough to go see Melissa on Sunday. On Friday, there was some kind of thing going on at Mulligans Trinity with both Super 5 and Mudflap Kings playing, but I couldn't go. Well, I'd have to break a c-note, and I'd mostly rather not go anywhere than do that. And on Saturday, there was a thing downtown, the third anniversary of Memphis atheist meetup. If the money had gone through, I would have gone there and went by to see Melissa after. And maybe it's better not to spend the money. That's kind of why I was dragging my feet, anyway. Keeps me from spending money. And I cooked a pork roast that was in the freezer, so I don't need to eat out.

Anyway, there was a little over nine dollars in my account, and of all things, Netflix decided now was the time to charge my account the monthly fee. I was thinking I might be OK, because I knew it was 9 something, but I was aout fifty cents short. So my Netflix account is on hold. So I can't watch anything on download. Argh. On the plus side, though, at least they didn't go ahead and pay it, and charge me a thirty something dollar overdraft fee for going fifty cents over. That's something.

I finally picked one of the watermelons. It seems like it didn't get all the way ripe, and the seeds are big but haven't turned black--just a little black spot. They seem to have yellow flesh, too. I ate a little section to try it, and put the rest in the refrigerator to chill. The whole thing though, would really only be one portion. There's another big one on there that I'm leaving for now, and another that's pretty small. This one was already cracked, so it's go that I got it.

I'm trying to just get through _What is Meaning_. On about page 85, he manages to finally talk about the part that I'm wondering about. He's calling it the theory of reference, and he says at this point only philosophers are working on it. It's not even to the point where linguists have anything to work with. There are a few ideas, but it's pretty much an open area. It'll be good if someone gets something. And the discussion gives me some places to look. You've gotta know what something is called before you can search for it.

So I think I'm playing Freecell differently on the two laptops. On one, I got to about 25 wins in a streak, and something happened, and I blew it. I'm guessing I'm just playing more sloppy there. It's the one in my bedroom, so maybe I play it when I'm a little more tired. And this one was a tought one, maybe, that I just had trouble with, but I messed up on one just after it as well. On the other laptop, I managed to break my old record streak of 37, and now I'm at 40. One of those last couple was really close. I spent a lot of time staring and working out an approach, and even still I was kind of lucky it worked out. We'll see how it goes. The streak on the other computer, though, is 42. Maybe because it was going to be harder, I gave up hope on it. Supposedly, they've found some kind of statistical thing where people don't play as well when Tiger Woods is in the tournament. Something like three quarters of a stroke difference. Very questionable statistics, but something to think about.

I realized that it's gotten too hard for me to even ask Melissa to get together. I've moved back from sometimes asking, to just saying that I want to. And she's said that definitely we'll do it some time, but there's going to have to be some instance where I do propose a time. She's not a planner, so it seems like it would have to be that day. Schools about to start again, so this week would have been good. But I realized it's gotten too hard for me. For one, she's always said no, so I'm fairly sure that if I had said something, she would have said no, and that's just rough. Too rough. It was a bit tricky, though. We were talking about the book club, and I said it would be this week, or the next. I usually go to see her after that. I found after that it's next week. But as I was leaving, she said see you this week. I figured she meant from the book club. But she might have been suggesting finally getting together. So at least I was considering it. But it was too hard.

I did finish reading _American Gods_ for the book club. A fantasy book. Lots of gods as characters, and magic and stuff like that. Maybe kind of fun, but a little pointless. I seldom relate to other people's fantasies. And maybe he wanted to be metaphorical, but I didn't think it was all that. So, kind of light stuff.

  • August 16, 2010
One thing is just daunting, though. An individual can name thousands, or I'm thinking more like tens of thousands of things. I don't know if it goes upwards of a hundred thoausand, though it might, but it seems like it probably doesn't go up to a million. And we have ways of comppsing descriptions to sort of expand the range of what we're talking about, like blue flowers from Africa, so that affects this discussion, but that's not even what I'm talking about. And different people know about different things, so collectively, we do have billions of names for things. That's something I wouldn't even want to try to estimate. But sticking to just what one person can deal with in a name game, it becomes daunting to try to think about dealing with. They are organized into to heirarchical categories, which makes it somewhat simpler. The Cyc project tried to deal with it in some kind of formal way, And I know Stephen Reed is working on a big ontology--he worked at Cyc--something that the system can ask about and talk about. But I don't think it's got much of an ability to play a name game in the real word. But we have the blocks world program. It seems like it has some ability to handle names in its environment. It may be a different qualitative type of thing, and it didn't learn the names for things. Something to consider. But to have that many things avaiable at once, I can see needing the brains massive parallelism, and actually quite large size. Thinking about the problem really does give me the feeling that so far, our computers really have so far been too small to deal with them. Even now, our really big ones seem like they might really struggle with the real problem that people now handle with what seems like ease. Because we don't just have tens of thousands of names for things, we know a little bit about each of those, and can put them in relation to other things, and can tell them apart. That's like the ten thousand things, with a little bit about each, multiplied by some fraction of that. It gets big.

And I should get a little technical. What I'm talking about is called "the grounding problem" in AI. That sort of corresponds to what I am calling roughly playing the name game in the real world. So it's not like it's a new thing or no one has talked about it. So I guess I need to search the literature for that. But when it's thought of like that, as the "grounding problem", that puts it as if it were sort of a side issue instead of an underlying basis for all work. That is, there is sort of an idea that you can manipulate the symbols--names for things-- and then separately deal with how they are "grounded" or how they relate to the world. So my position is that this, maybe I'll call it an assumption, is just completely wrong. Wrong enough to be why AI has been as limited as it is. AI, though, isn't totally limited, maybe, but it's pretty darn weak tea.

So, I guess I need to consider the power an scope of abstractions. I mean to say, how much can you do manipulating symbols without meaning. The kind of thing I was talking about when I say ungrounded AI has some limited success. Because the big power of computers is that the can manipulate symbols without meaning actually a lot better than we can. But for them to be useful, the symbols have to get back to meaning and into the real world, so that advantage computers have is limited because it has to get back to the real world, and that is limited. The big example I'm thinking of is mathematics, and more specifically numbers. Math actually has more than numbers, and computers aren't all that great with the other bits, like geometric shapes, especially idealized abstract ones. Anyway, numbers are well removed from the real world. If you have ten people, in the real world, they wouldn't be interchangeable, but for some things, it can be useful to just take them as ten something. And in fact, anything you can count is really like that, not completely interchangeable, though with mass production, that's something we shoot for. Ten chairs? They might be all different sizes. Even what we might call ten identical chairs, they still aren't identical in the sense of each being the exactly same chair, because they are in different places. But for some purposes, we can treat them as the "same". I guess then, that it's this very odd notion of sameness that is the real tricky thing. Equality. It's just not so simple a thing. Having some direct correspondence, but maybe having some differences that for this function we are ignoring. Like being in different positions. And that's where we start having semantics, or meaning. In formal semantics, the differences have been through away already when we have the symbol. Everything represented by the same name is already the same, and this part of the naming or grounding problem has been cut out. So I guess maybe it might be in a little bit of a way treated as a separate issue. If you're lucky.

In contrast with abstraction, you have what happens when you deal with words that have connected meaning. It can be a challenge to deal with all the connections and possibilities involved with all the words, and sometimes some new connection will occur to one, and you will have a new idea that is helpful. A very abstract way of putting it, but considering ideas and names for things at this level is inherently an abstract thing. So what does the name "idea" signify, or refer to? It's already gotten pretty separated from things in the world. And an idea is more of a kind of action, saying something or thinking about something, even thinking about ways of thinking. To have names for actions, as if they were things, is already getting pretty out there. How do you deal with that?

Meaning also has value judgements. And the values are part of the relationships between objects in different context. These values are things that can be learned and adjusted, as we adjust the tendency to make the different connections in different contexts. So we have strengthening of connections as things become associated more often. That's how we can have subtle incremental learning, which constrasts quite a bit from the on off, there or not there kind of associations that you will generally see in computer data. And it's because of the value of these graded connections that the probabilistic reasoning systems are valuable. That's the kind of thing it seems that a lot of the general AI systems are into. I'm not sure how well they understand the basis for them, though, how firm a foundation they really are on. Doing probabilistic reasoning loses the reasons for things--it is another abstraction.

I just picked about a dozen tomatoes. A lot of them are really small, so I must finally be getting the "cherry" tomatoes, according to what I thought were a couple of the plant breeds I had. They aren't the size of cherry tomatoes, though. Kind of middling, really. The two plants from seed are not doing well. Nothing from them. The biggest one, which is actually furthest in the shade, is just about dead. Most of the leaves are brown. That one also fell down at one point, though it's been propped up since then. That might have made it sick, maybe, I don't know. Anyway, I've got more tomatoes than I eat now, so it's fine.

I've also got a couple of watermelons. I haven't picked them, yet, because they're really pretty small, but they been on there for weeks. I don't know what's going to make me finally pick them.

  • August 15, 2010
Happy Ides of August!

I guess it comes down to, reference is a pattern matching problem. Reference, or denotation or extension, is connecting some things with a name, or taking a name or word, and coming up with the set of things that might be described by it, in some kind of way. Having a way of dealing with that set becomes an issue. You might deal with it by considering some significant examples, or maybe one good example. That seems to be a major way we do it, thing of a dog or chair. You pick a particular generic example, but maybe you don't flesh out the details. One thing about us is that we can imagine something, but not fill in the details, but we think we have a full picture, even if we don't.

  • August 13, 2010
Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

I finished watching "King Corn", a documentary on Netflix. Some guys wanted to grow an acre of corn and show where it went. They spent maybe $340 to grow it, and got back around $320 when they sold it. But the government subsidies made up some so they got a little bit out of it. That's how that goes. And according to this, there was one politician, I forget his name, who set the system to be that way. And it really seems like he has a point. We've pretty well always had farm subsidy, but till this guy in whatever it was, the 70s or 80s, the government might pay you not to plant, which really does seem kind of stupid. That did mean, though, that price might not be absolutely rock bottom, with way more corn than people need. So he said, no, we aren't going to do that any more, and now corn is so cheap, and we have so much more than we actually can use, that it really push some other stuff. Now all cattle eat corn for quite a while. For maybe 120 at the end of their lives, to fatten them up. At the end of their lives because that diet will kill them much longer than that. Acidosis. And it means they need antibiotics, which are another problem. Also, the high-fructose corn syrup system came along, so sodas are cheap. And it's really surprising that the soft drink makers charge as much as they do. They really only make it slightly cheaper than everything else, and it ends up being almost all profit. Ka-ching! But the net of all of it is that food is very cheap. Internationally, though, that's very evil. We subsidize, and then we require a lot of our colonies to compete with that. The big one we crushed was Mexico. We put all of their farmers out of work, so they have to come here and scrounge for work. It's another way the federal government can strengthen it's power.

Something like 40 billionaires have some deal where they're going to give away half their stuff. My first reaction was that the government should get the money and let the people deal with it. And then they asked a bunch of Germans, and they said, no they won't do it. This charity stuff is a failure of the government, and it's a bad way to go. Too much power with individuals.

  • August 11, 2010
Frustration. So my stuff came in from Amazon today. Got a book on computational semantics. Having read the introduction, though, I can see that I'm not going to be happy with the state of the art. It's got a bunch of predicate calculus and uses prolog. It doesn't appear to even deal with the problem I was concerned with, the problem of naming. How something gets called by some name. It looks like it, with most stuff of this kind, just assumes words magically come out of the air, and go back into it, presumably when people read it. There is some claim, though, about getting a system that can answer some questions. I'm very skeptical, though.

I also got some blank DVD-RW. These are the ones you can use over and over. There's another type, DVD+RW, but they weren't working for me. It seems like at one time they did, but maybe not. This one actually got an error at the end, but it seems to work OK.

  • August 10, 2010
So, I told Ian that I was thinking of writing a book about being happy as an atheist. Finally someone not so encouraging. He's happy as an atheist. It sounded like he didn't think he needed it. It maybe have come across though that I was trying to be persuasive and write on being happy about one's atheism, and that really wasn't what I was about. I said they generally come across as angry, and he was saying sure, it's so Baptist around here.

I've done a little more organizing and outlining. I've got maybe 15 chapter subjects. At this point, I feel a little better about it, that I actually have something to contribute. It seems more like it's just several things that I've thought about, and written about, but they fit fairly well under the pursuing happiness thing. But 15 chapters does seem a little small, I guess, depending on the chapters. And I guess I'm not really feeling all that much like a writer. Honestly, I've been thinking maybe I should go ahead and just start seriously looking for work.

In a real democracy, the people can discuss and come up with solutions. But in what we have, the leaders decide things, and the people just have to take what they do.

  • August 8, 2010
I'm still struck but the problem of naming. How do we even come to know what things are called, or what is meant when the name for something is used. And things can always be named in many different ways. A specific name for this thing, and it's type, and there will be more and less specific types. And then you can say it's a thing. A lot depends on what you need. It can be in relation to use. It seems to me that part of the name game is limitations on human cognition. We are limited in how many names we can remember, but we can know a lot of names. That kind of puts range on how big our groups can be, and how far apart or close they have to be before they start looking like the same kind of thing to us. And there's the whole issue of how, even though we have different visual inputs, so to speak, we still think we are looking at the same object. That's just got to have a lot of brain stuff going on under the covers for it to work like it seems to for us. Just dealing with categories and their heirarchies surely is a big deal, and I think it has to be heavily constrained by human mental organs to work meaningfully and consistently among people. AGI systems that have no limits at all just won't be able to work the same way.

It seems like some of how something is called depends on how big a group we think it's in. Or we might modify it to say something like this chair. But calling it a chair means I'm not distinguishing it from all the other chairs, just all the other kinds of things here. And from parts on the chair, because I might be talking about this spot of wood or something. And I must have a reason for talking. Maybe I want to talk about something I can move around, or a place for someone to sit. Maybe I'm trying to paint a word picture and describing a place I might be.

Super Chris was there for Melissa's birthday. I told him I'd go see them at Dan McGuinness, which was earlier this evening, but I didn't feel like it. My folks are still here. I really would have needed to take a shower during the day, because I feel bad doing it late at night when they are sleeping. Too much noise, and there would be questions. I still prefer to quietly sneak out. But I didn't feel like it. Actually, I think I'm a little bummed at seeing Melissa and Josh snogging again. Seems like they went at it for a while, though I did avert gaze. It was her birthday, after all. Still. I never have been happy in general with lots of kissing in public, though I do very small bits of it, myself.

  • August 6, 2010
My current favorite song is I Feel Love. I found that Bardog's jukebox, on a disco album, had Donna Summer's original version. The one I'm more familar with is the Blue Man Group cover with Annette Strean and Venus Hum. They had a video of it that I've been trying to find, but I can't any more. It used to be on one of their web sites, but I don't see it any more. Browsing through, I see that the red hot chili peppers did a quick off-the-cuff cover. One verse and they didn't really get them right, but it was surprisingly good. That's just because it really is a great song. One thing I've noticed. In Donna Summer's version, the second, I'm not sure what to call it since there are so many repeats, but I'll call it a line, her second line is "heaven knows". But Annette Strean does it, apparently, as "I'm in love". I like that better. Drop the religion stuff. There really aren't a lot of lines in the thing: It's so good, heaven knows (or I'm in love) I feel love. Falling free, you and me, I feel love. I'll get you, what you do, I feel love.

Like I said, I didn't think a book was very likely. Now I'm feeling like I'm not really happy enough to write about how to be happy. So there's that. But it does seem like if I were to write a book, it's the one that I would want. At least for now. So that's something.

  • August 5, 2010
Happy Birthday, Melissa!

I'll put it in words of one syllable or less: If you have foreign bases, you are an empire. We should end the American empire.

  • August 4, 2010
A guy walks into a bar-- ouch! No wait. A guy walks into a bar. He's an alcoholic and it's destroying his family. Wait. A guy walks into a bar. A good start. Because it's at the bottom of the ocean and he's a lawyer.

  • August 2, 2010
I just have gotten out of the habit of trying to win every game of freecell that I play. So I've been playing sloppy and lazy. Mike said something about how he told someone one time that you can win every game, so I just try to see how many games you win in a row. And I said it's not just me. The game keeps track of how many you win in a row. But, like I said, I got out of the habit of doing that. So it was really like I gave up trying to really play to win. I kind of thing of it as playing for fun, but really it's more like being lazy, because I didn't like the pressure involved in actually playing competitively like you are really supposed to. Is it enjoyable to do something painful? For the longest time now, I've just been of the mind that, no, the pain is a bad thing. But I've kind of been thinking lately that maybe I should adjust that. People like spicy food because it is slightly painful. And you get used to it. If you don't get any of the pain from loss, you don't get any better, and maybe it's a little boring. It seems like so many people are just caught up, and the pain overwhelms their enjoyment, but maybe you can find something in the middle.

So I was playing freecell, and I looked at my streak. And then I was around 11 wins and I choked. Didn't play complete attention, and did something the wrong way and got stuck. Tired, maybe. Something stupid. Really got me irritated. Playing today, I found I am able to get back in the mood of being careful so that I can win consistently, but it's a little more work, and not as comfortable as the kind of play I had gotten into. I don't know if I'll like it more.

One thing that's different is that I've become more of a sudoku person. In sudoku, in the puzzles I've been doing, the frustration and pain is unavoidable. I'll get to a spot and be stuck. I might sit and be stuck for quite a while, especially if I'm doing it with a distraction like watching a video at the same time. So being a little painful is a big part of the experience. Because then what will happen is that the rest seems easy, and by the end, you'll be ready for another one. It has a rhythm that way.

So I didn't help Melissa. She's really gotten a huge amount of things that she needs to take care of, and she was talking about needing an assistant. And she doesn't have so much time off to take care of them. And her birthday is on Thursday. She has really been wanting to go to San Francisco. I actually asked if she would accept it if I offered to take her there, and I guess it didn't sound like a serious offer, because I don't really feel like I got an answer. I think I'd really like seeing how much she enjoys it.

I started working on notes for an outline of a book on how to be happy as an atheist. I think it's a kind of a gap that needs to be filled. Atheists generally seem unpleasant and angry, but it doesn't have to be that way. The people I've mentioned it to have been supportive, but it does seem unlikely that I will actually do it. It's lots of work. What I've been doing has been fairly fun, but I haven't gotten solidly into the grind of it. That seems like something Ph.D. have. They've been able to slog through a seriously long grind to write a book from research. It must get you fairly good at slogging through work. I haven't been through that crucible. This might be a nice approximation to it. But it still seems very unlikely.

  • July 27, 2010
I've gone through this explanation or monologue a couple times now, once talking to Cliff, and then Sunday to Mike, recounting what I was talking about to Cliff. So let me try it again. I forget exactly how the conversation with Cliff got around to religion and Buddhism specifically. But anyway, I was saying that Buddhism was sort of protestant Hinduism. There's a fundamental difference though, because Buddhism says there is no soul, which is an important thing in Hinduism. Hinduism is very inclusive, and almost anything can really just be another part of Hinduism, but saying there is no soul was really enough to make it something separate.

A funny thing, though, there is no way in India you could deny that reincarnation happy. It's not something that they would even think to question, and if you were to even express doubt, they would just not really get what you were trying to say, or think you're brain damaged, or something. Anyway, it's an assumption that wouldn't even get to the point of being examined. So there's a thing of how Buddhism could have reincarnation without there being a soul to reincarnate. So you have to look at the Buddhist understanding of psychology, or how they explain what normally people think of as a self. For them, it's just a bundle of thoughts and memories. So a particular memory of something happening arises in a particular person. Most memories get contained in the body they happened to, but it is possible that these memories and thoughts could float along to some other body after this one dies, and that's what you see with reincarnation. The self, what people think of as a soul, is just a bundle of these mental things, but it's not some permanent kernel, a soul that people might talk about.

It's valuable, I think, to understand that the Buddha was in a cultural situation where there were actually quite a few enlightened people. It happened all the time. It was very rare, but it did happen. Even now in India you can find real enlightened teachers. One sort of cultural difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, though, is that it's more common and popular, or accepted maybe, to have a little cult around an enlightened teacher. In Buddhism monasteries, certainly there have often been enlightened teachers, and they do have direct transmission, but the teacher doesn't become quite so important as it can in some of the Hindu traditions, where the teacher is just about all that holds the little local school together. Buddhist traditions have a wider system that the particular teacher is just a part of, so he's not so pivotal. And on a significantly negative side, in Buddhist school, it could often happen that the teacher would not be a truly enlightened being, and would just be trying to pass the tradition along. But that's neither here nor there.

But the importance for me here that the enlightenment thing was already around, and Buddha was really just one of many, is that enlightement itself is actually the same for both, but it gets explained and understood in very different ways. Ways so different that it's a little challenging to try to wrap your head around how they actually are the same thing. But here goes. Sometimes in Hindu tradition, it's called realization of the true self, or just realization. It is about seeing that this personal, individual self that we think is just private and confined to just me is really just a part of, or really just the same as or a manifestation of the universal self. As I remember seeing it in seventh grade social studies with coach Ray, Atman is Brahman. While it can be put as just a cold fact like that to file somewhere, realization or enlightenment is actually seeing and experiencing that this is true for yourself, which is quite a different thing from just having an intellectual understanding of it. I'll try to go into that a bit later.

Anyway, so in Buddhism, enlightenment would be explained in a very different way. And I would say probably they wouldn't want to just give it an explanation. Actually Hinduism would probably be the same way, so my discussion here is actually hypocryphal. But for Buddhism, enlightenment is seeing that really, when we think we see a self, there's actually nothing there. There is no self particular to us, other than there just being thoughts that arise. And thoughts arise everywhere. In that way, anything that might be mistaken as a person focus of consciousness and thoughts is really not different from the universe having thoughts, or just thoughts arising in the world. We are not separate selves or souls, just part of the greater world, which itself is having thoughts and is conscious.

So that's the stuff I was telling Cliff and Mike. I didn't go into some other stuff that has really pointed me in the direction of this analysis. It's stuff from modern psychology that really gives me insight into basically the "religious experiences" that are the basis for what is called enlightenment. The explanations for enlightenment are actually more like rationalizations, or attempts to explain the experience, or to come to an understanding of how the world works, given what is a very deep and powerful bit of knowledge or experience. It's so deep and profound that you pretty much have to readjust what you think of the world to accomodate it. That's why you have these really weird edge cases, explanations of what the world is like that are very different from what people would normally think. The power of the experiences are enough that these world views can stick around, even if it's quite rare. They are rare, but common enough and repeatable enough that it can be a stable, if isolated, pocket of understanding what the world is like. The experiences are also very compelling and attractive, so it ends up being a worldview that you want to move toward, even if you only have a glimpse of it.

So one of the big things leading me towards this view was a book, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. We read it for Aimee's book club meeting. She was a stroke victim, and the stroke knocked out a portion of her brain that controls the boundary of where you think you end, and the rest of the world begins. So she had that feeling of being one with the universe. And I was looking at that, and it was exactly the same sort of description I had been seeing of what enlightenment or realization was like. So I started thinking that maybe enlightenment really was just this experience of your personal boundaries being dissolved. It happens rarely, but it does happen to people sometimes.

And then I came across the same thing in TiHKAL. I think it was Ann, actually, who had a chapter going over all the mental spaces you might encounter using the psychoactive materials they were talking about. I really should go look them up and be precise about what she called them all. One was the one with the universe thing, some kind of expansiveness. Or maybe there were two that were very similar to that. You also have just ecstasy, and feeling good about things. I'm sure that doesn't hurt. But there's something about dissolving your personal limited ego that is just pleasant, I would say.

And then there's flow. I've only recently started considering a connection between enlightenment and flow, but I think there is something there. They are different things, but I think it's probably reasonable to say that an enlightened life would be one that is more filled up with flow. I don't want to really attempt to explain what flow is, but the shortest explanation I have is that it is being in "the zone", as they say. And the best way I would put it is that an an enlightened person seems to always be in the zone. So they do really seem quite exceptional.

I saw a story one time about a tea master who had gotten a samurai angry one time, and they were going to have a duel. Unfortunately, the tea master didn't know how to fight with a sword, so he went to a sword master to get some help. He tried to show him some stuff, but it was pretty hopeless. So they had some tea. And of course, the tea master showed his mastery mind when performing the ceremony, and the sword master recognized that if he could just be like that when holding the sword, he would have a chance. And that's what happened. He managed to get into his no-mind standing there with his sword up as the samurai came up to him. Ready, or whatever it was. And the samurai recognized his determination or presence, or whatever it was, and didn't see an opening, so he backed off. For a long time, I was understanding this story as that there is an aspect to mastery that is general above the particular domain or skill. But now I have a real term for it, flow. Flow is reflected in any kind of mastery of some task where it kind of comes natural, and you get totally absorbed in it. In enlightenment, you are totally absorbed in all of life.

But still, we don't really quite have a connection between flow and enlightenment. Well, you can think of it this way. Flow is like a little piece of enlightenment. For a little bit, you forget about yourself as you get absorbed in doing what you are doing. Unfortunately, you can't become enlightenment by just having more and more flow in your life. Enlightement tends to be more random, and can only come on its own, with really very little that any effort can do for it. But that's another conversation. Still, experiencing flow gives you a taste for actual enlightenment, so it can help motivate you on a real path towards it.

  • July 24, 2010
So a question is, how can a computer use knowledge that people have discovered. One part of handling this question is to consider how a computer itself contains knowledge, which is certainly going to be different from how people do it. And in there, it has to go from however people store knowledge to how computers store knowledge, however they use it. At this point, most of the knowledge that computers have and use, if they can be said to have knowledge at all, is merely sort of implied by how the programs are written. Kind of implicit in the code. It's more like a computer acts in a certain way, and merely implicit in that is the knowledge. In some sort of expert systems, there is something like a more separated form of knowledge that gets stored explicitly, and presumably that's the kind of thing we will want if we are going to have an intelligent computer. Some kind of intermediate kind of knowledge representation and storage. I guess it's a question of really what kind of knowledge storage people have. Anyway, people also use writing as a form of knowledge storage, and luckily, that's something that computers can just store directly. But people don't just remember knowledge as texts directly--we have some other kind of storage to use is, and certainly a computer, if it is going to use texts, can't just use them directly either, it would need some internal kind of representation that it can use, plus the process and mechanisms for going back and forth between the text or language form and the internal form. People learn bits of that mechanism, but they have some kind of powerful hardware support for that, which constrains language to be how it is.

So there's the question of learning by internalizing knowledge that people have. There is a separate ability to acquire knowledge on your own. I guess they must be related, but they are not the same thing. Most knowledge isn't just acquired de novo. People get a lot of help in different ways. And it's often not just complete transfer, but a combination where you figure some things out by yourself, but you get hints and guidance from what other people have done. So learning is a social experience. And that's very critical. An intelligent agent must be a social agent. And to be a social agent requires a broad variety of emotional abilities, and an ability to understand the motivations and perspectives of others.

I went down to California for the kung fu tournament. I put the videos on youtube. I had fun. We went to the Intel museum and the Monterrey Aquarium and played a little on the beach, though it was cloudy and pretty cold. I got to do some forms on the beach, which was nice. I saw Cliff a couple of times. He seems to be doing well. They went to Italy and Greece and some other places. He described it as a "baby moon", some stuff they wanted to get in before trying more seriously to have kids.

To save myself some effort, I'm going to copy some stuff I wrote about it in an e-mail to Aimee: What I did on Tuesday was to go down and visit the Berkeley campus. Grace's niece graduated from there, which made me think of it. I went to see the offices of two people that I read quite a bit of, George Lakoff and John Searle. Lakoff is a linguist and political writer, and Searle is a philosopher who works in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. Searle also came up with the Chinese room argument against Strong AI. The office they had for Lakoff in their directory was actually just the office for the linguistics department. I noticed that there was also a Robin Lakoff with an office there that I walked by, and she is his ex-wife. The office they had listed for Searle didn't have his name on it, but the bulletin board next to it did have a poster with something from him on it. Both were kind of tucked in the basements of the buildings they were in. I also went to the bookstore. I got a Berkeley t-shirt. And I looked through the textbooks. One in linguistics seemed interesting with the title: _What is Meaning?_. Something about formal semantics. I bought a copy, so more stuff for me to read. But I think it's going to jump to close to the top. Now that I'm back, I need to finish _A Short History of Nearly Everything_.

[also from that email] So, while I was wandering around Berkeley, I decided if there was anything I would want to study, it would be computational linguistics. I've already got several linguistics books on my pile. And I have a programming project that I've been wanting to do that is related to language modelling. Plus there's some other speech recognition stuff I've been wanted to play some more with. I've also gotten a little bit further that if I were to write a book, I'd be interested in doing something about being happy as an atheist. It seems like a bit of a gap that could get filled. Atheists so often come across as being rather unhappy and angry. And I was thinking how religions don't seem so much to focus on being happy as much as they could. With the whole positive psychology area of research, it's possible to really focus on that. So it would make sense for me to get the _Happiness Project_, and I'm going to try to, soon.

Grace got me drinking coconut milk. I learned how to chop open the coconuts properly, with four chops in a square at the top. These coconuts were not the usual kind you see, the dark brown spherical ones-- They were young and still had a light brown colored woody pulp around them, and had been cut into basically a diamond shape, with one side flat and the other in a pointy cone. How it works is that you can sit it on the flat part, and in the cone side, it is fairly thin at the middle of the cone, which makes it easier to chop through it right there. It works pretty well. The first way Grace was doing it, was chopping enough to make a staw whole in the flat part, but doing it the right way, it ends up just being like a cup full of the milk which you can just drink. We tried to take a case on the plane, but they said no coconuts because of the liquid. That's kind of sad, but what can you do. The deal is, there was some remedy that said if you drink the coconut milk for a month, it will cure your gout, and one of Grace's relatives had a gout attack and tried it and it worked for him. I'm very skeptical. A person can have one gout attack and then never again. I'm not sure if the coconut did it. But the stuff is a bit of a laxative. Seems like all the other stuff I take for it is also like that. I don't know what the connection is.

  • July 3, 2010
And then there's something that I've heard Chomsky say several times without explanation. After slavery was sort of abolished, they kind of brought it back by making black life illegal. That really seemed like it needed some further explanation, like what laws they were exactly. And when I looked into it, I found that this was something discussed by Douglas Blackmon in Slavery by Another Name. OK. I think the only law I actually saw mentioned was vagrancy, which was not having a job. And since they didn't have pay stubs, there really wasn't much way to prove you had a job, other than getting someone to say you did. Probably there were other things like that, I guess. What they would do, is scoop them up on a fake charge like that, and put them to work basically like a slave again. It happened quite a bit, up to world war 2. And it was just an excuse, really. They probably weren't any white guys that got arrested for that.

  • July 2, 2010
Chomsky says something interesting. Classical economics says that protectionism is bad. You are better off if you are a country with raw materials and little industry to just import and buy cheaper foreign manufactured goods. But historically this has just been wrong. The U.S. is maybe the best example, because they used protectionism (tariffs) to support the local manufacturing unitl it built up, against the recommendations of economists like Adam Smith at the time. South Korea built up with something like that, too. We still push this idea on underdeveloped countries, but we use different methods of coercion to force it on them, like the INF. And it seems simple why it should be. If you rely on local manufacturing, and protect them from foreign competition, they have an opportunity and natural push to improve and do well, but if they have to compete with established companies, they don't get a chance. But the rich established companies don't want that competition, so we have the whole American imperial system. Maybe that's why we're style using imperial measurements and not the metric system. We're keeping our empire.

Practicing for the kung fu tournament every day seems to be helping my form. My broadsword now swishes quite a bit when I'm doing that form, and everybody now moves to the back of the room instead of sitting on the side. I guess it's not necessarily so good if I don't look safe. And I'm not sure if I have proper bagua taste. It seems like I'm using a little too much external, muscle power to do it. Not cultivating enough internal power. So I don't know if I'm impeding myself By practicing like that. And the Fanzi Quan is getting pretty solid. It seems a bit like I'm doing it anaerobically, like a sprint, and I have to catch my breath at the end. A few times it seems like it's been even maybe a little too hard. I need to get into better shape, maybe.

The reviews for _the Last Airbender_ are tremendously bad. I was thinking I might go see it this morning, but I didn't get up. If I hadn't seen those reviews, I might have been more likely. Seems like they're saying it doesn't make any sense. Oh well. That can happen. And with all the little kids, they probably can't act. I don't know if that contributions to it not making sense, but I would guess that poor acting can make it seems like people are doing things for no important reason.

Man, the market going down again. That's not so nice. And for me, I'm not so bothered, but I told my mom to get into it because it clearly looked like it had some more ways to go up, but it turns out she got in at what has been the yearly peak. Ouch. Not completely in stocks, only half, actually. The rest in bonds, so it's not quite so bad as it might have been. But it makes me feel bad. For me, though, it means that I'm really going to need to finally look for work, which is probably good anyway. What I've been thinking, though, is that it is more important to me to support a company that does something I think is important. So I'm thinking maybe in the medical industry. There is so much room there to improve things with good programs. In fact, I saw a thing recently talking about our deficit and debt problems, and the big issue was rising medical costs. If we could have computer doctors that could lower health care costs, that would actually solve a lot of our looming financial problems. Some of that, though, was just Bush being a pinhead. He increased spending without increasing revenue. If we like what we are spending money on, we should pay for it. But The regressives were using a policy called "starve the beast" They cut revenue, in the belief that that would make us stop spending on the programs they don't like. But that's just another damned lie. It didn't happen like that. We didn't stop spending, and won't. We just borrowed. We need to cut the military and end empire. Of course, that would mean getting rid of jobs.

Ouch, I'm looking at the news. Jobs are looking bad.

  • June 30, 2010
Well, that was trippy. I just watched a little talk on Netflix by Chalmers Johnson. He's got several books talking about American Empire. And looking for stuff, I saw there is a website about an American Empire project. It seems a little bit grim though, because it's not so likely to get your freedoms back once the tyranny of empire has taken over the domestic government. Tough to deal with. But Britain was able to give up empire. Maybe we could, but there are very bad things that would happen. The worst is all the jobs that would be lost in the "military-industrial complex". That alone is enough to keep congress out of action. Obama seemed like maybe he was campaigning to reduce our military involvement, but maybe not so much. Like Chomsky was saying, the way he called Iraq a "strategic blunder" show that he isn't really opposed to the whole imperial system. The Soviets and Nazis said the same sort of thing. But maybe he just got into a situation where it was just unwise to anger the military folk. Maybe he is open to change. But it's a dangerous thing. The people whom he'd be threatening are people who carry guns around.

One of the more interesting things I think that Johnson pointed out is that the CIA is unconstitutional. The constitution requires that people be able to see where their money is spent, which you can't get in the CIA. It also just doesn't work. They couldn't tell that the Soviet Union was about to collapse. They should just get rid of it. And it has become basically the president's private army. That's just incredible that people would let something like that happen. The praetorian guard. But again, it would be dangerous to put out of work basically lawless people who carry guns around. But we could find stuff for them to do, I'm sure.

The whole thing reminded me of what Thomas Jefferson said: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." I'm not so sure violence isn't called for, though I guess I'm getting more admiration for the people who are just trying to talk all this stuff out.

And I saw Bryan Magee talking to a Marxist, Herbert Marcuse. You just don't see that many Marxists. And he was saying, sure there were some problems with it, but he thinks it's still right. I guess the big thing that was wrong, that I've been hearing about forever, is that Capitalism is stronger than they expected. Something about maybe they didn't see how corporations would be able to manipulate and control the people and government. And that's probably not such a good thing about capitalism. So, whatever.

  • 6.28
Happy Tau Day!

Grr. I walked in, and there was no music playing so I go to put stuff in the jukebox, and Melissa said hi and Britney waved, and I said hi to Melissa but I didn't wave back to Britney. That still makes me sad. She was at the other side of the bar, and I was thinking that I was going to go over and say hi in a minute, but still it was sad. And when I did, she was not so happy and said something about it. I think she's cute. She so little. But I had to go and be unfriendly like that.

Melissa had a lot of stuff going on and was really talkative. We didn't hug when I first came in, but maybe a couple of hours into it, I was over there, and told Melissa to come here, and she leaned in and said what, and I gave her a hug. I think she liked that. But I had done something I was sorry about. Jerome brought in some food, which was very yummy, and she was saying how good it tasted, and I said, well she was starving, and it felt kind of mean. And she didn't really react too badly, but it seemed like there was something. At least I felt bad. So I needed to do something. And then it seems like she was a little bit more open and talkative after that. though that might have been anything. The weird stuff that happens with that girl.

So somewhere in there, Bryan Magee interviewed Chomsky. Now that was trippy. His series is about philosophy, and Chomsky is right outside the edge of philosophy. And I think maybe he was saying Chomsky had trained in or studied philosophy, I don't know. But in any case, Chomsky's linguistics has a lot of implications for philosophy, especially since a lot of modern philosophy is concerned with language and meaning. In there, there was some talk that a lot of philosophical claims are actually empirical questions and can be shown to be wrong. The blank slate idea, mainly. So Chomsky is kind of Kantian. The thing that struck me the most, though, was at the end. Magee asks a question that I've seen so many people ask, is there a connection between Chomsky's linguistics works and his politics. But Magee does it in a different way--he proposes an explanation by suggesting that Chomsky, lets see if I can get this right, has rejected authority in the two different areas. Let me look for a direct link. OK something about how liberalism and empiricism arose up together as a rejection of authority. But he rejected empiricism, which has the blank slate idea, and he also says that liberalism now supports authoritarianism. So Chomsky has to go into a pretty complicated explanation of what went on. He has to go back to Humboldt (who influenced JS Mill) and the original basis for the anti-authoritarian political view. The thing then was that there was that it was really pre-capitalist. There was a big difference in power between rulers and most people, but it hadn't yet happened that there were big capitalists that had a lot of power. Now, really, liberalism has come to just support keeping the people subjugated to the rich corporations, which is really opposed to the original idea. It's really a tangent to the discussion and it totally sidesteps any question of the connection between his linguistics and politics. He could have just said there isn't a connection. But the way Magee asked it, that's the kind of thoughtful response we get. He had to answer the question as it was asked.

  • June 26, 2010
I just watch a bunch of conversations on philosophy. They are Bryan Magee talking with various contemporary philosophers about different historical philosophers. Well, I think it's from the early seventies. That was all on a website with documentaries that links them all together, but unfortunately, it actually doesn't seem to get them all, so I've need to look on YouTube for some of the others. I'm looking at the one on Wittgenstein. I had to pause, though. I have the Tractatus somewhere, but I didn't get through it. And listening to him talk about it, it just seems wrong to me. That's probably the reaction I had when I tried to read it, too. I heard Searle's theory of the philosophy of language a long time ago, and next to it, the early Wittgenstein just seems silly. But even Wittgenstein himself thought it was wrong, so there. But something I wanted to think about was that a while back I remember Doug talking about reading the Tractatus and thinking it was all that, with a cherry on top. Whatever. I still don't know what the later Wittgenstein had to say. Maybe that's worth something. And Wittgenstein was a mechanical engineer first. So there's hope.

Life is being kind of easy. I've kind of filled up the refrigerator again with my own comfort food. Lately, I've been eating a lot of tuna fish salad. It's nice because I can just get a piece of bread and scoop a spoonful onto it. And I don't even make another spoon dirty, because I just keep the spoon with it in the refrigerator. Very easy. And I have some canned chili in a pot, and when I feel like, I make a chili-dog. A little cariety, maybe. And I made a pork roast, so I'm nibbling on that. I think I actually really prefer the taste of beef, though it's more expensive, so a while back, I was making pork roast more often than beef roast. I'll have to think about that. And I think maybe pork isn't quite as good cold. Still, more easy food. In making the gravy, I used some veal demi-glace. I think that really didn't work. Doesn't really taste right. Live and learn. I'm trying to just eat when I'm hungry and not eat more than I really want. That's often not how I eat. I'll eat according to a schedule, and as much as there is, which will usually more than I really need to, the way my mom cooks. I've also got a bunch of boiled eggs, and the tomatoes are coming in from the garden.

I was a bit bummed at the kung fu class. It looks like my kung fu shoes were making marks on the carpet, the way I tend to slide when doing the moving exercises. So I have to stop using them. And then everybody was saying they really slid too much, and I didn't do as well when I was using them. Too unstable and I didn't look solid and sure. Oh well, I thought I had the shoe thing handled, but I guess not. I like them as regular shoes, but I guess I'm going to have to find something else, expecially for the tournament.

I told Melissa that she makes me happy. She said aw. It's not the same as saying I love her, and I haven't. I don't think I've felt like it. But I think it says something more. And it seems quite possible that you could love someone and they still might not make you happy. So I thought it was something.

I'm still struck by the biochemistry of love. There's three different hormonal systems, and until recently I only really knew of the one. The "in love" amphetamine-like one. It makes you giddy, and overoptimistic, and you forget about any problems. Manic, perhaps. But after that, you get endorphins. Pain-killers. So the little bad things are not as irritating. And building up, though it's after a while, it's the main thing, is the oxytocin--the bonding. It's just what you want to stay with. I'm not positive about this one, I guess. After a while, the painkillers play out, and the irritating bits become irritating as you lose the stuff mitigating their painfulness, but you still want to be with them because of the bonding. I guess it's a little sad to think of it in a mechanical or chemical sense, but the experiences are something to appreciate as feelings.

  • June 22, 2010
Listening to the Chomsky thing on Netflix again. I found the metaphor that I couldn't remember before. When asked how the government pursuades the media to say what they want, he says it's like asking how does the government pursuade GM to increase profits. Now there's a metaphor.

  • June 21, 2010
Happy First Day of Summer!

Dude goes on to talk about 6 virtues and 24 strengths. Seems like he needs you to go to the website and take the test, the strength survey in particular. I guess.

I watched Chomsky talking about Haiti. Kind of long, maybe. In there somewhere he talked about the Bolivia water revolt as an example of real democracy. OK.

  • June 19, 2010
The chapter on the future was clearly just a shortened version of his bestselling book _Learned Optimism_. Future as in the voluntary factors of happiness concerning the future. And optimism is about how we thinking about good and bad things that happen. If it's a bad thing, the reason for it is local in time and place, bur if it's a good thing, the reason is permanent and pervasive. It doesn't seem like that's logically consistent, but apparently, it's beneficial to think that way, and you can learn to be like that by arguing for reasons like that when you think otherwise. OK. No more, I'm a bad person who will never do well and good things that happen are just lucky. It's the bad things that are the aberrations.

They had a boxing game at Dan McGuinness. I didn't try it, though maybe I should have. I did see some stuff in watching the folks do it. People do really well with hammerfist. Seems like you would break your hand if you put all you had into a knuckle punch. And the really hard hits had this really big windup, like throwing a baseball. Seems like you would see them from a mile away. I would want to do a punch with as little of that windup as possible, but I'm sure I wouldn't have the power that some of them were getting. There was one guy would actually took a running start. He was the first one really doing it, and he got the best score several times, so he got extra shots over and over as he got better. Tall guy. But lots of other people who were going at it were really much better hitters. I think the hardest hitter was kind of tubby. One guy, who looked a little asian, seemed like he must have had some kind of martial art training, because he had pretty good form and hit pretty hard without just looking like he had thrown a baseball. I don't know exactly what kind of action the thing had. It looked like it might have been a little sensitive to not having the force hit straight on. I guess I wimped out in not trying it because I didn't want to embarass myself. I suppose that's a problem for me.

Super Chris said he's been doing chi gung, and it's really helped him with back pain issues he has had. He's got some videos from Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. So another fan. He said he'd actually be interesting in being one of those real, full time martial arts students. OK, Chris.

The one on the present made a distinction between pleasures and gratifications. Pleasures have direct sensory component and emotional responses. Being warm, eating food, that sort of thing. The happiness from them can be increased by spacing them out so you don't get used to them, by savoring and by mindfulness. I guess. Gratifications are things you do that you like. From what he is saying they actually don't have emotional content in themselves. It's all about the flow, which is a whole subject in itself, and he's going to go on and talk about it. He actually spent a couple of days one time talking to Mickey McFlow Csichzentimihalytzdsf, however that's spelled. So he's clearly into it.

  • June 18, 2010
Well, my mind was blown so I had to go out. I went to Karaoke with Super Brad at Mulligans Trinity. Didn't really know anyone, and Brad waved hi when I went in, but I didn't talk to him. Chip was there and Lee was there. Lee did a few songs. And there's the little curly headed girl that I thought I remembered being with Lee, but she was hanging out with Brad. She and Brad did that Meatloaf thing, I think it was "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". One song I was thinking of, Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" A couple guys did it. Mangled it enough that I could not sing along with it and get the tune right. It's a pretty tough one. And somebody attempted "King of Pain". Now I knew that was a tough one, and I kind of had some admiration for him to have given it a shot, and I was hoping he was going to be able to pull it off. But I don't know what he was thinking. It was out of his range. So it sounded pretty sad. But that's Karaoke. I never did Karaoke when I was drinking, and it's not likely that I would start now, but I thought of the song I would want to do. Bill Wither's "Lean on Me" I think I actually don't quite no it, despite now singing along with it almost every week now at Bardog. I need to go out and learn it for real. The music is piano, so I could probably actually do it the whole way. I may have to hunt down the music for it, even. Actually, a bunch of his stuff would be good. There are four songs of his that I play as a set on the jukebox.

My mind was blown by the chapter in _authentic happiness_ of the section on voluntary factors of happiness, dealing with feelings about the past. I had to concede that I'm fairly negative about my past, but it when through some things to try to change that, trying to have more gratitude and being forgiving. And it talked about how we have a cultural belief that we are pretty determined by our past. Including the Freudian belief that things happening in our childhood are very important and need to be worked through. When people studied whether that was really true, it turns out to be false. Also, we believe in venting in this culture. That also turns out to be provably wrong to do.

So, there was this cute, tall, thin blonde girl, maybe six feet. She was hanging out with shorty, kind of a tubby short black guy. And I was hanging around to see if they were going to leave together. And they were together at the bar when the tunes stopped. But some guy came in, and was standing between them. Maybe she was with him, or she just knew him. I don't know. I felt bad for shorty. I left.

  • June 17, 2010
In _authentic happiness_ there is an interesting suggestion. He talks about the correlation between sociable and having a high level of natural happiness. And sort of related to that, there is a correlation to being married and being happy. I had just heard that. But the interesting thing he suggested was that the causality might not go from being social or married to being happy. It may well be that happy people are just more sociable and likely to get married. Or there might be something else in there causing them. But I think that it makes sense that naturally happy people are just more likely to become more sociable. Behavior coming from that would be pretty clearly rewarded. And I'll admit I didn't used to be very happy and that kept me off by myself. Now that's mostly my habit. But I think I've become more happy. I don't know if it means I will become more sociable. I would expect it's a matter of development and habits that get rewarded when you are happy.
  • June 16, 2010
  • I watched _The Karate Kid_ movie. It was fun. I really don't remember the original much. I wasn't that big of a fan. I think I remember he had a broken leg at the end, which was why he did the crane thing on one leg. They did that again. This time the set up for it seemed to make some sense. I don't remember if it did in the first one. Kid can't act, though. I guess that's to be expected. And I guess that's bad because it ends up that you don't really care. But it was light. They didn't say wax on, wax off, but he did wax his car in there, so at least they had something.

    I ate the first tomato from my garden. I didn't let it get completely red, but it was mostly ripe. There was another one that was close to the ground that had been eaten away about 80%, so I was thinking whatever got that might come back for this one, and I decided it was good to get it now. It was good.

    • June 15, 2010
    I went in for jury duty yesterday. Lots of yacking from Clyde Carson, who is in charge of it. He actually said something that some people need to hear, I guess. He was talking about how it was a hardship, or should be, for you to miss work. You wouldn't want to come back after having been gone and they find that they didn't really need you. Seems like I remember a manager at FedEx talking about that. Anyway, he said, if you don't like your job, you should find one that you do like. Uh huh. The kind of problem with that is that there are some things out there that need to be done, that no one will like. But still, it's a fair thing to say.

    I was in the very first jury pool to be selected. Number 27. So I didn't hear all the other things judges an places that were selected for. Mine was division seven criminal court with Judge Lee Coffee. I'm not supposed to talk about the case, so I guess I don't have anything to say about that. We waiting in the lobby for a while. Sixth floor of 201 Poplar. There weren't enough seats for everybody at the first part, which was kind of bad. And the bathrooms on that floor didn't work. We got in to his courtroom at about 11:30, and he let us go to lunch til 1:00 and then stuff would start happening. There were forty-five people in the pool, but coming back in from lunch, they selected a group of twenty to be the main people they looked at. We had filled out some fairly simple forms answering a few questions, checking our eligibility, and had we been involved in stuff or did with think we might have biases. I don't know if I said anything wrong, but I was not one of the twenty. Maybe I had been preselected out, but seems like they might well have been mostly random. He gave a quick fifteen minute lecture about the law. That was pretty interesting. And we got to the voir dire. Which means something like truth-telling. The prosecution when first and combing a bigger speech explaining things with questions for the main twenty to weed them out. And the defense attorney said he would be quick, and he was quick. Talked about other stuff and asked more questions. Then they narrowed people down. They didn't need more than the first twenty. I guess they might have. They agreed to the fourteen they had. Jury selection could have taken a long time, but they got it done on the first day. The judge said to the rest of us that we were done and didn't need to come back the next day.

    The guy in charge had been a little confusing before because he had said maybe the judge would say one thing, and the bailiff might say something else, and we should listen to the bailiff, because they wouldn't interrupt the judge if there was any change. My understanding was that they might still need more, and the judge would sned us back to the pool, but they might get everything done, and that's what news the bailiff might say. But in this case, the bailiff didn't seem to tell us anything different. So it seemed maybe unclear. Also, Mr. Carson gave us what seemed a very clear and simple statistic. Combining people done on Monday, and those that take longer than Friday, is only two percent. I think maybe there were 400 people that day, so it seemed like we could only expect that maybe 8 people would be done on Monday. So I had additional reason to be doubtful. In just our group alone that was thirty people who were done on Monday. So I was maybe a little uncertain, but I had reason to believe that we were done. It seems like quite a few of us in that group were uncertain. The deal I understood was that if they didn't want you in the first group, you would go back to the pool, unless they got all the people they needed. So I went back to the room with the jury pool. It was 4:00, and they had said it closes at 4:30. Nobody there. I think some people asked at the office. Several people told me we were done. I'm reasonable certain we were, but like I said, it seems like there was room for doubt. One thing I did get, though. A judge could cite you for contempt of court for various things, like being late or not showing up or wearing inappropriate clothes. Mr. Carson couldn't though. He had one thing he could do, though. He could make you come the next week. So if there really was a problem, they'll tell me and I'll just have to come again.

    One thing, though. He had this clear assumption that no one wanted to be there. And I thought that unreasonable, or at least inconsistent, because he had given a speech the first time and repeated it again this time about how important and valuable jury service is. A privilege even, that not everyone used to have. There was aa Judge Ward that cam in and gave a speech about that, too, and thanking us. You used to have to been a white man who owned property. OK. So he asked a question, now I forget exactly how it was put, something like if anyone didn't want to hear the judge say you're done and don't have to come back. Being a contrarian, I rasised my hand up a little, though I'm sure it was one of those rhetoric questions that he didn't expect anyone to say yes to. And he actually tried to say something to me about it. I must not have understood the question, so it was a bit of a mental test. I guess that happens to me sometimes. I'll say something unusual, maybe not what the crowd would say, and people will think I'm just stupid. Here's the thing about jury duty, though. They mentioned three ways you are called on to serve. And presumably they mean the government. You can vote. You can serve in the military. And you can serve on a jury. Voting is a scam. I won't go into it here. The military is pretty well worse. They talked about how soldiers take an oath to defend the constitution. I was thinking, if I had to swear an oath to the constitution, and they gave me a gun, there would be a lot of dead elected officials. But then there's the jury. It turns out that people getting together and deciding issues is just about the ideal according to what I'm seeing Anarchist talk about as a way to handle things. And it's really a place where the rubbers hits the road, where an individual can make a difference in a legal society. One of the lawyers in the voir dire was saying the jury does not get to decide whether the law is OK. That's just a lie. You totally can decide that. I found this case to be a real test of what I thought. It was a bad situation. Over lunch, I needed to take a long walk to think about things. I walked down past Bardog, but I didn't go into, because I didn't really have time to get anything. I also went into the big First Tennessee branch, which I only ever see at night. They've got offices, too. Anyway, I didn't get on there, but I would have liked to have been on a jury. They had so many people though, that they clearly wanted to give people a chance to get out early.

    I watched a trailer for _the last airbender_. The movements may be based on bagua, but it's all just some kind of magic. That doesn't give me a warm happy feeling. So I don't know. Actually a bit irritating because the movement have real function, but maybe it would be obscured by here just being some way to cast fancy spells. So I'm not so enthusiastic any more. But it is bagua in real popular culture, and mostly people have never even heard of it, so maybe more people will, which is good. And I know it will give me stuff to talk about. I used don't talk much. I might even watch it more than once, which I haven't done for a movie in years.

    Li Lao Shr talked about watching the Karate Kid movie. She said it was funny. David was asking, probably not real wushu. She said it was just fighting. OK. I need to go see it. I didn't when mom was here. Seems like I just slept on Sunday.

    Mom has gone back. Now I've got bunches of food. She is still buying me a bunch of food, in addition to just making a bunch. I think I've got leftovers for the week, and a second watermelon, and another pint of strawberries. I guess it's a hobby.

    And they said people are dying to defend the constitution. No they aren't. That's just another lie. But it made me wonder, maybe there is something wrong with the constitution the way things are going. I guess it supports a system of power that the corporations have been able to take over. That is an issue when you have a system of elected representatives, because the choices among those can easily be restricted to compliant people. And controlling voters is pretty straightforward.

    • June 13, 2010
    Happy Ides of June!

    • June 12, 2010
    Heather came in, and I said Hi Heather about as friendly as I could. A couple of times, I think. And she was walking back down the bar, she said hi and touch my back as she got behind me, but I didn't turn around. And then she hugged several of the other guys. She brought in a friend, maybe Megan or Meg. And in 15 minutes, they had left with a couple of guys. Didn't say goofbye, which James commented on.

    I think the music I played was especially effective. I played a set of three girl songs, which several seemed to like: "I will survive", "YMCA", and "Dancing Queen". and a little after that, I had "On the road again", and really, a lot of people left in that. It was getting pretty late. So it was a thin but die-hard crowd that was left for me Bill Withers set, "lean on me", "Just the two of us" , "Ain't no sunshine", and "use me".

    So, this time we were talking when I was leaving. I said, I still want to see her some time, and she said, "I know". Getting tired of hearing it. And she has been busy, so maybe just hasn't gotten around to me. But for it to just be something on her list of things to do. Grr.

    I can and do just sit and watch her for hours. That's kind of pitiful, but it's something to do.

    I went out to a meetup meeting of memphis writers. Spring's group. I've always liked Spring. Very friendly. Sweet. Like science and science fiction though she doesn't seem to really have such a big technical background, and that sometimes gives me an opportunity to explain things, which I like, to someone who is interested, which is a bonus. One thing I explained that was unusual. Spring was saying she had trouble spelling. And she said she always had trouble with "their" I think I didn't really even focus on that at first because it so never been a problem for me that I had a little trouble conceiving it as a problem and considering it. So I mentioned the example "weird". It's sort of a shortening of wayward, and "e" was pronouched a little more like "ay", the way we say "eh", so it was more like "way-urd" and that comes out weh-ird or weird. Anyway, so I thought that might help with their, which of course it does. It's just "they" and you change the 'y' to an 'i' and add an 'r' which is the possessive ending back for them. Like it is on your and our. Their. I don't see how people can do "thier". Just seems wrong to me, but I guess if you made it as a mistake a few times, it might get confusing. I hope that helped her.

    There was a woman Katharine who seemed nice. Somehow it came out that she knew about websites. Some she studied in college, apparently. I'm not sure what that would be. And she's a business analyst now. I asked her if she had a personal website I might see, and i think she said a couple, but she wouldn't tell me about them. Oh well. I thought maybe I would be able to google them, but I didn't get her last name. Makes it hard. I was saying I wasn't working and she asked if I was looking, and maybe they were looking for something. I didn't really express much interest.

    And the waittress looked really familiar, but I just couldn't place her. She finally figured it out that I knew her through Angela E., who is a close friend of hers. Julie. I should try to see her some time.

    On thing that Spring was telling me was that tai chi was one of the styles in the last airbender. Water bending. I did get around to and apparently bagua is airbending. Or airbending is based on bagua. Louie had said it was in the movie, but I didn't get that airbending itself was from bagua. Makes me feel a little better about having studied it for three years.

    • June 9, 2010
    I got through the mid-level difficulty Sudoku puzzles, level three of five. And I've done maybe four of the next level. They don't seem too much more difficult. Maybe a little, but I haven't noticed anything in particular different. And most importantly, I still haven't had to write down the possible combinations to solve them, which would really slow things down. Hopefully that means I won't be hurting too bad to finish up this year. There are four hundred at this level. If I can keep up at roughly this pace, getting through that will be good.

    I get really sad when I even consider not going down, so I just should concede and not mess with it.

    • June 7, 2010
    I just looked at my investment account balanace, and now I'm sad.

    I think I was kind of getting angry with Melissa because she hasn't made any time for me. But I didn't feel like being honest and telling her. I said I wouldn't be able to make next Sunday because of jury duty, but I would probably try to come before. Now I'm not so sure. And with my money where it is, I would need to take some more out, and I don't feel like doing that, at least not today. Well, I say honest. I didn't think she would like it. That's generally the way lies are.

    So Cliff came in there. Maybe after 1. And he said he was having some trouble with his wife. He said how long they were together. Then Melissa told the story of her marriage. They had been together since she was seventeen, and got married a few years later, twenty something, I forget. And she had two things she asked for, but he couldn't manage it. And then at some point, it was like fifteen years, she was done. Then he decided to actually change and took real steps, but that was too late for her, she was done. Happy for him and hope it works out, but she had moved on. Done. Yeah.

    • June 6, 2010
    Happy D Day!

    I finished up a couple of documentaries that I started and didn't finish. One was _We Live In Public_, about Josh Harris. Kind of a dotcom baby in New York. Such a narcissist that I had to turn it off. He had a little millenium cult that had cameras everywhere. I didn't get it exactly, but it didn't last too long, a month a year, I don't know. A few dozen people. Had a gun range in the basement. Sex and showering on camera. Then he got a girlfriend and they lived on camera. There was a camera in the toilet pointing up, I think. Stupid stuff. Lost all his money. Got an apple farm. Boradband came along and Myspace and Facebook, and he sold the farm and tried that stuff again with lots of video. He had the idea of a internet tv station that would replace real networks. No one bought it and he went bust. Moved to Ethiopia. Largely to avoid creditors, it seems. He had this need to be in charge of people, so I guess he got a plantation or something. Thoroughly disgusting person.

    And I finished up _end of poverty_. Talks about how now we have sort of extended colonialism. And "neo-liberalism" or free market stuff is about maintaining that colonial-style economic system. National debt in thrid world countries serves both to redistribute wealth from them to us and to keep them poor, which we want so we can continue to exploit them for raw materials. It talks about the idea of communal property, such that people who use property have an obligation to others, at a minimum. The essence of capitalism is that property is owned individually, and there are no obligations on the owners. OK. The solution to poverty, apparently, is communism, though that called it something like communal something or other. Fine. One simple step, too, is to forgive the debts. There was something about how those national debts were illegal, in that a new government was formed, but it still had the debt of the old one. OK.

    I tied up the tomato plants some more. There was one that was started to ripen, but had a big chunk eaten out, so was getting moldy inside. Oh well. There are some others that have been on there a while. I'm not sure what's holding them up. The ones I've had from seed are now really big, just about as big as the others. But I ran out of string. I've found a problem with the weave I'm using. The weave confines them to a plane, and some of them have just leaned over at an angle in that plane. To deal with that, I've just gone and put extra stakes between each plant. Before, there was one every second plant. This seems to hold them in ok, now, I think. I might have just broken down and had a single stake up against each one. I think this will be good. The sticks I'm using are very thin. I'm getting a little afraid that a waind is just going to come and blow over the whole piece, and I will wish I had used some sturdier sticks or poles or somthing. They had suggested rebar. Or maybe just fence posts. Next time I will know. And it looks like I have baby squash coming in. Bonus.

    Dude said his girlfriend was a "pseudo-girlfriend". That's bush. That's bushleague.

    And they recommended moving more toward property taxes and away from income and consumption taxes. Hmm.

    Wow, so I went to the neighborhood Ace Hardware that just moved in to get some string. They've got big cans of toluene, just like I remember you could get. I guess just not in Wal-mart anymore. I had heard they were thinking about restricting it because people huff it. Oh well. They also have sulfuric acid drain cleaner. I guess that's fairly common.

    So something I was writing about on Roxanne's wall. The idea of heaven and hell didn't come from Judaism. My guess is that it came from Greek and Roman culture. Some bozo wanted to point out that the Jews did have a life after death, and that's the important thing. But to me, not, it's very different. The Jews had a story that at the end of the world, all the bodies will rise up. That's just a very different thing from having some spirit that goes somewhere else when you die. The Jews didn't have that. The Greeks did. And of course the Indians, though they were more about reincarnation. The Greeks and Romans had the thing where you go to the underworld when you die. The Christians either had to get the idea of going to heaven or hell from somewhere, or they just made it up. Like I said, the Jews did not have that idea, but the Greeks and Romans did. Most of the early Christians were Greek and Roman. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to connect the dots. I was hoping that seeing that one of their big ideas in Christianity came from the pagans would loosen their brains up a bit. But as I said, bozo wanted to shift it and say that it was a Jewish thing. I got tired of it. He went on about the afterlife thing and not heaven and hell, and when I said no and went back to it, he said "did you read what I wrote". I don't care about him, anyway. I thing Roxi had moved on.

    Also, I was saying that heaven and hell as places you go after you die might have been fine stories back then, but with what we know about the world and space, there's no excuse to buy it. In fact, they pushed the notions to some place outside the universe, I guess. Not some actual place we might be able to see with telescopes or something. But that's just dishonest. If something means something, it means what it means, and you have to go with that. If it turns out that is wrong, you can't just look for something else for it to mean, and maybe that's right. It's dishonest when you imply that's what was meant all along, when it wasn't. And you can look at hell with the brimstone (sulfur) as being under the earth. You can see volcanoes and lava, so the underworld is fiery. Like I said, the underworld was also the Greek and Roman thing. The heaven was just up in the sky. Like I said, it's dishonest to say, no, it really means something else. But religions people don't have so much trouble with dishonesty.

    • June 5, 2010
    Neil deGrasse Tyson had an interesting thing to consider in June 4, 2010">a video. We're about one or two percent different from chimps. What if there was something just that one or two percent away from us, in the direction we are from chimps. So maybe so smart that we seem like chimps to them, and the stuff we do is just primitive. The best chimps can talk sign about as well as a two year, so maybe the best a human could come up with is something like what one of their two years olds might do. So if maybe there were intelligent life out there, why would they even want to talk to us, if they were like that? We don't even talk with animals around us now.

    On thing Chomsky talks about is how our innate tendency restrict what we can know and appreciate. Not all possible languages will work for us. Not all possible systems of music will sound good to us. The restrictions make it possible for us to attain comparable understandings of things. And he again makes the claim I've seen in other places, that there isn't enough information to learn the language the way we do. There has to be more constraining it. I've never really seen how they come up with that, but I've heard it a lot. I guess they have examples that I haven't seen.

    So I reinstalled Firefox, whiping my bookmarks. That hasn't been the problem I thought it might be. I saved the old bookmarks file, which is an html page. I can't import it to actually add them back, but I can just have a bookmark to that page, and I can use them just fine. Also, a lot of the bookmarks were stuff from work, and I won't ever need them again, so I don't really even need to have them. I can also make new bookmarks. And finding stuff with google is probably just as easy, anyway.

    I'm half through the sudoku book now. Five and a half months. I guess I slowed down a bit recently. I've got twenty five more of the medium level difficulty. It's going to get pretty hard.

    • June 4, 2010
    Yeah, it is a google redirection virus. And my antivirus program is just not recognizing it. From what I gather, it's fairly common for there to be things they won't catch. And it's keeping windows update from working. This box was completely overrun a while back, and I didn't wipe it and start over, but just added some clean up stuff. It may well just not have gotten everything, and it finally pickup up something noticeable as a consequence. I may have to break down and start this box over. It's got some stuff I'm not sure where the original disc is, if I even have it. This box has been sort of a place to archive some old stuff maybe I don't use so much. I don't think I'll erase everything, maybe just reinstall windows, but I don't know if I even have rhe disk for that. Oh well.

    The Chomsky is interesting, though I haven't even gotten very far. A couple of things, dissent is really pretty much eliminated here. There are not socialists in media. This was in the 70s, but it's still true. And it reason is pretty simple. The media are corporations, and there is no reason a socialist would be working in a corporation. It's the mirror of the Soviet Union. Also, if you aren't an approved "expert" in the social sciences, no one listens to you. You have to have credentials. His counterexample was when he was once talked about mathematical linguistics to mathematicians. They didn't care that he didn't have any mathematical degrees or training or anything. They just wanted to hear what he had to say, and that would stand on its own. It just doesn't work like that in the social sciences. And one of his big points is that the political stuff does not require a lot of technical expertise or training like some disciplines. It's really accessible to anyone who takes the time. That's an important point I've heard him talk about in different places.

    Got it fixed with combofix I think. PCtools just found more junk. So I don't know how it will go. But it looks like I'm not getting the google redirect. It seems like it might have been from a program I downloaded, imgburn. I might have gotten it from the wrong place. And that might be why the discs didn't burn properly. Or it could be something else. And now emacs isn't working right. That might have been some of the stuff it tried to disable. But with all that went on, it could be anything.

    OK, the emacs problem was just that it wasn't using the right ftp program any more. I don't remember exactly what I had done to fix it before, so I'm not sure what changed. The one I wanted to be used was in perl\bin, but there was one in system32 that was being used instead. I think I may have had the one in system32 deleted before, so it would go next to the one in perl\bin. Maybe it restored it. Or I may have shifted perl\bin in the path and it restored that. This time, I moved perl\bin forward in the path. Whatever it was, it's working now. I knew what to look for because it was a problem before.

    OK, now I have to say I'm leaning towards going down on Sunday.

    Kroger has boneless ribeye roasts for $6 a pound. That's pretty expensive, but less than it usually is. I was there on Tuesday, and I think they had one sitting there for something like 8 something a pound. The whole thing was $47. Maybe they were getting ready and were going to mark it down when the thing kicked in. My mouth is watering. I want one, but I'm not sure if I will be able to break down and do it. Mom is coming into town. I doubt seriously she would get one, but she might cook it if I got one.

    I got the first disc of _The United States of Tara_. She's got "dissociative disorder", more commonly known as multiple personality disorder. I don't know much about it, so I don't know how real it is. The first one is kind of hamfisted with the exposition. And I guess I feel kind of manipulated. I got it on Melissa's recommendation, so I'm prepared not to really like it. It might just seem stupid to me, but I guess I got emotionally involved in the first one. We'll see.

    Got into a chapter on Chomsky's linguistics. He talks about how he considers linguistics a part of psychology. And other types of psychology ought to also do something like that. It's about how language works, but he looks at just the content of language, without looking at, say, brain details, or performance issues. In his view, there would be a visual organ, or something like that, and you could look at what is done in visual understanding, separated from performance issues. But this seems to me a little bit troublesome, because language is pretty special. We have a technology of written language that lets us look a lot more objectively at the output of some supposed language organ. A visual mental organ doesn't really have that kind of thing. Maybe it's wrong to say we can't look at because it is harder, but I'm not sure I buy the premise that he has, that there is a kind of mental organ for that. The picture is that the mind is a bunch of mental organs, and I'm not sure it's fair to separate them out like that. Just from brain connectivity, you can see that there is a lot more interactivity, and a model of separate organs doesn't seem plausible. Now, I do see the sort of opposite assumption, that the brain is homogenous, and all the parts sort of work the same way. It seems very common, and I have to say, I can't buy that either. So maybe it's helpful to hold a position of different organs, but it will be important to have a way to handle the interaction. And the thing with organs, in the digestive system, you have visible pipes from one to the other, and pretty clear boundaries. In the brain, maybe you have some big boundaraies like that, but you also have very fine-grained interaction, where a single cell can touch just about any other possible system you might come up with. Anyway, so I already have some issues with Chomsky. I guess it's odd that I seem less critical with his politics. Maybe I just haven't thought about that stuff as much.

    I don't remember if I mentioned it before, and he hasn't mentioned it here, but somewhere Chomsky did say that a bit of the connection between politics and language is looking how people think. He tries to say there is no connection, and he said that part of it was that he wanted to make the point about politics not needing special background and expertise the way linguistics does. So he's kind of being a little inaccurate in order to make a point.

    Ouch! What the hell was that? The market dropped three and a half percent just today. That hurts.

    Man, I need to get back into speech and language programming.

    OK, doing some googling and wikiing, I see that I've gotten it wrong. It's "dissociative identity disorder". There are several dissociative disorders, including that one and a dissociative amnesia. Seeing a little more about it, I'm still pretty skeptical about the show. Also, part of the premise is that she has gone off her meds. I had not heard of any meds for that condition, and from whay I'm seeing, there isn't any. At best they can have something to deal with anxiety. There are plenty of things for that. I think the idea is that only extreme anxiety situations are causing her to transition. I don't know. It's just making it worse for me. Multiple personalities is kind of a dream challenge for actors, but I can't really accept making up something implausible for entertainment. At least, it's losing me.

    I ran combofix on my other computer. It thought it found something, though not as much as the other. And in both of them, after that was done, my normal virus scanner found stuff. I don't know what that's about.

    So Ben had a post on the AGI that I've been kind of wanting to reply to. But what I wanted to say is starting to fade. He was saying that people haven't looked so much at a basic system of knowledge entities that makes it possible for us to know. Or something. Something like objects and properties. Didn't really sound like he had much that was actually new. And also, he seemed to be very abstract, taking a system of knowledge as something that could be independent of sensation and perception.

    • June 3, 2010
    The barrista recognized the "west coast" accent of the person in front of me something about the way he said "water". I need to learn the real phonetic alphabet so I can transcribe stuff like that properly. I asked her how she said it, and whe said something like "whut-er". OK. I said I lived out there for four years. She had someone the other day from out there, went to the same school as her. She's from Pacifica. She had said San Francisco, but that's more specific, and I doubt you would know it if you hadn't been out there. I said I lived in Santa Cruz, and had to correct myself, because that's how you would tell someone who doesn't know the area, Boulder Creek. That's not even like Bartlett or Germantown. It's more like Atoka. But she seemed uninterested. I'm clearly not a native Californian.

    I did the quick scan and it found some junk. Didn't seem to sonsider them very serious threats, but they were redirecting my web pages. So I decided to run a full scan, including a file scan. Didn't find much else, but it found stuff it considered a "generic downloader". It looked to be part of one of the java developer systems. That doesn't seem right. I don't know if it was a real problem. I think another computer also saw it in stuff I have backup up off that computer. It didn't say it was that big a threat either, and I'm not really sure it was anything.

    A little girl in scrubs. I looked over when she was talking on the phone and smiled. Did she preen? I should pay closer attention.

    I just got an email that my mom is coming into town next week. They were here a couple of weeks ago. My feeling is displeasure at just not being in control of my life. I should think harder about moving out.

    I tried to tell Bianca the real story of Epicurus and food. I'm trying to find it on the web, but I'm not seeing it. I've only seen it in Consolations of Philosophy. The first part of it was to eat with others, and I try to do it more. Eating alone is the life of a wolf or a lion, not a man. Also, contrary to what people think, he wasn't about gluttony or extravagent food. He was into very simple food. But I couldn't remember exactly. I think I said artichoke and cabbage or something. But it was simple stuff they grew themselves. They lived basically on a commune, and they withdrew from society. I need to dig that stuff up again.

    Bianca writes an advice column, so I tried to get what her philosophy was, but I didn't seem to get much. I think she said people did come to her advice, which gave her the idea. I guess as a vegan, she tries to be a good person. Whatever. I tried talking about test tube meat. She didn't seem that into it. And she doesn't really like meat, so she wouldn't be into it, anyway. I was trying to say that meat is not as simple as people think when they say something like test tube meat. Meat is not something you could do with just single cells expressing some protein. Meat is a whole system of structure, actually more than one kind of tissue. It includes muscle, which isn't just sinlge muscles cells--they have to at least be in strands to have the right texture and structure. Meat also has blood vessels interwoven with it, and the blood itself contributes to the flavor. There is also fat tissue, which in fact is a completely different tissue from muscle, but it is integrated in meat in different ways depending on the type of meat. Like I said, "test tube meat" not only doesn't capture it, to me, is shows someone isn't even really thinking about the question. But I think I was the one who mentioned the term first in the conversation. Artificially grown meat? Synthetic meat? Synthetic has different oonnotations. If I could just go hardcore, and use replicator technology, I'd probably be good with that. But maybe some weird genetically engineered meat plant, I think that would be interesting to pursue. But people think of something like beans. It would have to be something more on the size of a watermelon. Textured vegetable protein? That's just so far from meat.

    I need to look more into Peter Singer's stuff. I think one guy recommended Practical Ethics. He argues against speciesism and was big with the animal rights people.

    So there's a guy in here with a yarmulke. Grr. The revulsion welled up, and I wanted to say something about not respecting his supertition. But the guy he was with got a phone call, and said he was talking to a rabbi. Great. I guess that's something that might make you wear religious dress in public.

    So, yeah, somewhere in the meeting, Preston said he had to respect the right of people to believe whatever they want. I had to disagree. I don't respect that as a right. I don't think it's a right. So he said, maybe a matter of semantics. And I need to put that position on a firmer basis. I don't think we have a fundamental right to believe whatever we want. As a consequence of deciding that we don't want society to use force or coercion on use according how we believe, people see it as best not to use these methods to change people beliefs. Mostly. But not always. With homicidal beliefs or some insane beliefs, we do see a role for coercion. So clearly holding beliefs is not a fundamental right.

    Looking over the amazon reviews of Singer's book, I saw someone point out some logically invalid reasoning he uses. Sort of an assumption that he makes, though he thinks he is proving it. I don't remember exactly what it was, so maybe I didn't quite follow the counterargument, but it made me sort of less interested. And I don't buy utilitarianism. So I'm not putting that high on the list, but maybe some time.

    I went by Borders. Didn't see and Singer. But I saw a thing on Chomsky and Language, and felt like getting some since I don't think I have anything of his. I've only recently been watching videos of him. I've seen quite a bit of linguistics stuff, and I have generally not thought much of what I've heard of Chomsky's stuff. I guess a lot of that is Pinker. But the impressions I've gotten of Chomsky's generative transformation grammar is that for one thing it's biologically implausible. And that's understating it. There doesn't seem to be anyone who can even imagine a way that it could have evolved biologically. And the second problem I've heard is that it's not really a very stable theory. He just keeps changing it. If there really was something there, you could just say what the point was and that would be that. If it just keeps changing to adapt to new things, it runs the risk that Freud's idea did of not really being scientific, in the sense of being falsifiable. Supposedly he invented an entire field, but I don't know how big a deal that field is. I watched a couple of Teaching Company courses on linguistics. I don't know if this is really going to add anything I haven't seen. But I've generally just been entertained by the thoughtful way Chomsky develops and expresses ideas, so maybe I will like it.

    Dang, my browser is still acting crazy. It looks like something on links from google. Could they be sending me to ads? No, it's something in the browser. OK, upgrading firefox seemed to get it. No, still doing it. Grr,

    • June 2, 2010
    There was a story I was trying to remember. I had thought of it driving, and then a few days ago I was trying to remember. It's a story I want to get better at remembering and telling. Today I remembered it was the story of the Shuri crucible for Okinawan karate, told in Shotokan's Secret. I did try telling it to Steve and Sheila today at the atheist meetup. I need to keep working on it.

    I also talked to and sat across from Bianca Phillips, who writes for the memphis flyer. She's writing a vegan cookbook and has an advice column on their web pages. I'll put up a link when I get my browser working again. This computer has gotten some kind of gunk installed in the browser. Trojans or some such. Here's somethingand here's her food blog

    • June 1, 2010
    Happy Kalends of June!

    Man, that was a long month.

    I do have a bad habit of pulling away from women who love me, so I need to try to not do that.

    Wow, a website that just shows documentaries. That's all I seem to want to watch, so I'm feeling pretty gusto. I'd like to try to make a disctintion between being happy, and having something to consume that I wanted. I think people generally equate satisfaction with happiness. I don't know that they are the same thing, though they might be, but getting enough can't be permanent. It's something that contributes to happiness for sure, but I feel somehow it can't be the same as happiness. I did see something tried to use the Greek term eudaimonia. Maybe the thing on stoicism. Well-spirited, or well-being. Good + spirit. That sort of makes it a little more abstract, because something might be good for you completely apart from just having some kind of feeling. Something a philosopher might consider.

    But I could decide it's not healthy and hold that as a reason for quitting. That makes sense.

    One thing he said in "this emotional life" was that we aren't very good at predicting what we will want. I think I saw this in his book too (Dan Gilbert's _Stumbling on Happiness_). The main thing is that we tend to be very biased towards what we want right now, and have trouble imagining otherwise. I certainly find it true. I don't even know later in the day for sure what I will want to do. And I'll make plans and have to commit to something, though when the time comes I won't feel like it. Whether I do it often depends on the level of commitment. Having to send a message ahead has been a big deal.

    I just tried watching a documentary called "the mystery of love". Just a few minutes into it they had this farmer talking. And they intercut with an opera singer. Trying to tell the story about how they met on an airplane on a trip to Europe and talked the whole time. He said first to his buddy when he heard she was an opera singer that it was going to be a boring flight. I though he was going to say something about fat chicks. I had this deep feeling of revulsion, and I just had to turn it off. Oh the humanity.

    • May 31, 2010
    Happy Memorial Day!

    So somebody on there said you can't be happy if you don't have a job you like and you're not having sex. My reaction was, well I'm sorry. But maybe it got into me. In something later, they went into an explanation of why not working would make you not happy. Something about losing your identity. But by that time, I was starting to feel it. Maybe I'm not so happy.

    Josh was there. There were times when I felt a little bit invisible. And when the last person left, Melissa was walking back from locking the door, and they kiss. Like they had been really waiting. I didn't watch; I looked down at my phone. I just, uh...

    There was a fight. Again, I didn't actually see anything. And I didn't go over there right when it happened. I did got over a minute later when it seemed like not all of them had left. No one seemed to get out their camera, which should have been a first reaction. They did call the cops. Asa went outside to talk and wait for them. And there's this thing that I know how to fight and could beat them all up. But I'm not sure what I could have done. Probably need to just calm down and not touch. Get in between. Melissa yelled in a commanding way to stop that stuff right now. I don't know. Get their attention. Defuse with humor.

    Jessa Lee. Shaved head. A server. Said she doesn't drink. I asked her her story. She said she never wanted to be a server, but it's kind of nice. Aldo saw her in Walgreens, and was wearing a ceebee jeebee t-shirt, which is a big Ney York bar. And he asked her to work there. So cool.

    So Murphy was talking with Ben and Justin. She said she'd like to have a penis, the way guys seem to have so much fun with it. I told her there was such a thing as "penis envy". I didn't go into how I thought for sure it was just a myth, one of those strange things that Freud came up with that really wasn't scientific or real or anything. But darn it if she didn't admit to actually having it. Trippy.

    Freud is an interesting case. If you know anything about the philosophy or science, or maybe have heard of Karl Popper and the idea that science is about falsification and not actually about trying to prove things are true, it's interesting to see Freud's role. One thing Popper wanted to do is to find some basis or way to distinguish things that are scientifc and things that aren't. One case of the things that are not science would be astrology, but a more subtle case is Freud's stuff. Really Freud is the hard case. He wants to say it's not scientific because it's just theories, and they don't really try to see if maybe they are wrong or not. They just use them however they want, and just ignore anything contrary.

    I don't like how I'm just pitiful in the situation, but it's silly to just avoid something that I do like. I don't know.

    Everyone needs a tapcode.

    Well, since it is Memorial Day, I'm reading something on Stoicism in the military, and how it might not be so great.

    • May 30, 2010
    So I'm watching the "this emotional life" second episode on fear. They got something that just made me need to stop and get down. I think it was Joan Rivers. It was another of the glass half full things. I've tried to make a collection of those, so since this was a new one, I felt I need to get it down. Some say the glass is half full, but for her it's not just half empty, but what's there is full of poison. Now that's some pessimism.

    There's a mosquito in here. I'm trying to get it but they are so elusive. I was grabbing at it, and then it got away or I couldn't see it any more. Then maybe half a minute later I saw it on my shoulder on the other side from where I was looking. Grr. Got away before I could get it. And it probably wasn't going to come back if it had eaten. But I guess it didn't get enough because it did come back. Still couldn't get it. It's getting a little cluttered in here, so not enough clear surfaces for slapping. I should clean up.

    There was one girl who had real anger issues. But her anger was just about fighting people. She didn't express any real desire to kill people. For me, just fighting or even only killing a small number just seems so insignificant that I'd rather just not bother. The image I think of for anger is that it's like an ocean. Most people just get angry the way people just get their feet wet walking along a beach. I don't know if I've ever even seen anyone who has more anger than this. This person at least seemed like she occasionally walked out in the water. But she talked about getting in a fight with someone, and eventually something changing and she just started crying. It's like a child wading in the water, and a wave coming and getting in her eye, and it making her cry. Nothing like swimming in the ocean.

    They had a sequence if images of things that are frightening. Maybe a bulldog baring it's teeth. A snake, a big spider, and then they had and stuck on a lion kind of roaring. And I didn't really have fear reactions, but when the sat on the lion, my reaction was yeah, let's do this. With a sword, it might actually be about even. I could see the whole gladiator thing.

    I finally made that disc of Dave's show for Melissa. It was way harder than it should have been. I think it's been a couple years since I tried before to make one. First, the program I tried using that I thought was the one (it was from the same company where I did have some editing stuff) actually wasn't editing software. It had a button for capture and the ui looked similar so it mislead me for a bit. And that was all that was on that computer, so it had to be that if there was anything. But it wasn't. So I had to go to another computer. And I found the actually computer and the program I had used a couple years ago, but then it just would not import the files. Some kind of unhelpful error message. And some googling, I guess it was just not going to work. So I ended up having to download an entire new suite of stuff, which involved doing the search of what's out there and what's good. I decided on avidemux. It's very simple. Good for just cropping out pieces, and all I really wanted to do was cut out the commercials. Perfect for that. But that just gives you an mpg. Then you need something to add menus to make a DVD, so part of a suite that was recommended, I got DVDStyler. And I actually didn't have anything, as far as I knew, that could write out a disc, so I got imgburn. Editing out the commercials was straightforward, but a little tedious because I used the skip forward button that I think must have only gone half a second forward. So it was like I watched all the commercials. Not super fun. There were no instructions, so figuring it all out was not great, but it was pretty simple. And I wanted to duplicate the pan across the audience, and I didn't see how to do that easily, so I ended up just making a whole file by clipping out everything before and after, and saving that out. And I made an even shorter version like that. But I chalk that up to learning, so it wasn't so bad. Making menus with DVDStyle was more painful, because for some reason, it worked very slowly. In one section, I would make a change on a button going to a chapter, and it would take maybe half a minute to do it's processing and then come back. Some of what I was doing was to pick a frame in the movie with an offset of a given number of seconds, so maybe it was having to search for that, but it made the thing painfully slow and cumbersome. And I had eight chapter buttons. But I got it eventually. More trouble to come, though. Writing the discs out. It turns out that my better laptop, tudor, just doesn't seem to be able to write out DVDs anymore. I think I've never been able to get it to work. This time, the imgburn program just gave an error. Blech. So I needed to transfer the files over. It took about an hour over the wireless network to do it. And I just transfered the disc image, not the files for making the disc, so if there was an error in how I set up the disc and I needed to recompile the disc, it was going to be painful. So I transfer it to my other laptop, spirit. Get imgburn on it, too. This laptop took an hour and a half to burn the disc. Ouch. I think I've tried burning on it before and it was slow like that. Terrible. So I finally get a disc. I try it out. My cheap player doesn't recognize it. I try the newer player. It gives a message, "Incompatible disc". Grr. I suspect I've messed up the disc compilation, that thing that I just mentioned would take a long time if I needed to redo. I tried playing on my laptops, and it looks ok to them. Before messing with that, though, I take a guess that maybe the burner on spirit also has a problem, so I'm going to try burning it with my desktop, third. I copy it over, while takes maybe 20minutes, and the burn takes 8 minutes. And it works totally fine. So now I've got two laptops neither of which is able to burn DVDs. That's pitiful. But I've got the discs made. I made two for Melissa, and one for me. Actually when I played it, it looks like there was something a little wrong with them, maybe. Some dropped frames, maybe. Oh well. I may take a while before I delete all the intermediate files off the hard discs. I know it's not going to be that big a deal, too. But it was a learning experience.

    It puts the lotion on its skin, or it gets the hose again. There are some whiners out there.

    So now I'm wondering if one of the reasons they switched to digital was because it was so easy for people to tape and skip the commercials. VCRs got really cheap. I really had a hard time even finding a device to record digitally. I have one thing that's hard disk based, but it doesn't work. I got another one that only can go to a recordable DVD, so it can only hold 8 hours at most. So it's gotten very hard to record and skip commercials again. Because they switched to digital. It had to be a factor.

    Man. They had a little depressed girl. Actually a twin, which was intriguing enough. The other one wasn't depressed, but they had a shot of her being pretty darn whiny, so maybe. They tried a bunch of stuff and they didn't work. Some doctor mentioned something like four "classes" of drugs. Fucking savages. Medicine is so much about trying stuff and maybe it will work. That should tell you that they really don't know very much about what's going on. And yet, the get lots of money, so they don't want you to know about the extent of their clueslessness. I said they were savages. I did eventually see what was coming. They moved on to recommending electroshock therapy. They convinced the poor little girl too that she had a problem that needed to be fixed or else. Why was suicide such a bad option? They seemed to also indulge her whininess. If you act a certain way, and then people go out their way to give you attention, and do stuff for you, wouldn't you just naturally keep doing that? And they switched to using a term that didn't sound as harsh, "ECT" That makes it better. There was a guy in a tie and white coat damaging her brain into unconsciousness. Man. That's what they went to. They didn't just find her a boyfriend or something. They went to drugs, which didn't work, and then nuked her brain. And then it wasn't working, so they said to do it more. OK, they hinted that maybe it worked because it stimulated the growth of new neurons, which was something some drugs did. But that's because they are causing brain damage. Why not just hit her head with a rock. I'm sure it would be the exact same thing. How would I deal with it. Sit with her maybe. They've really pushed it into something that people can't get past on their own. And it can cause permanent change when not dealt with as they learn to stay with the pattern. But I guess I'm not expert.

    • May 27, 2010
    Got my plane ticket. It was an incredibly frustrating experience because my internet went out when I was on the page to give them my credit card info. That page took a lot longer, so I guess it increased the chance, and there was a thunderstorm going on. And it said there were two seats left so I didn't know but maybe they could be gone when I would ever manage to get back to it. So I got about as angry as I ever get, and that's pretty angry. Some maybe I do have some anger issues that I should deal with. Was I getting the feeling that something was out to get me, when it was just an unfortunate coincidence? In a bad mood, I tried a backup, the travelocity app on my iphone, which just became deeply frustrating. Several tries to remember my password, then it had a thirty-five page new license agreement that it wouldn't let me just skim completely, I had to go through all thirty five pages one at a time. Grr. That was just to download the app. Then the frustration increased. The screen was too small so entering dates on their month widget, which started sharing the screen with the keyboard so it couldn't fit so mostly wasn't working at all. But eventually I got everything in again. And I actually found a cheaper flight for an extra day. It had gone down two hundred dollars from the day before, mysteriously. So the frustration receded a bit.

    Saw an interview of Peter Singer on reddit. Very deep and I think it must affect my thinking on moral issues. And it's from Richard Dawkins who kind of fawned over him and treats him as a etter person than him, or at least more moral. A big thing I got from it was the idea that Dawkins suggested maybe, that altruism may be a misfiring of a valuable emotional approach to life. In the tribe, it's good to help people for genetically selfish reasons, because everyone around is related to you. In this situation, we have adopted a valuable system to just cooperate with everyone, and it is an error when it gets applied in the bigger situation of society where we aren't related to everyone, but by that time, it's too late, and we have this rule of thumb we use. Trippy. Altruism a mistake that ends up being very useful. Something mr. evolution would say.

    But the stuff with Peter Singer. He bases his morality, or ethics I forget which, on harm of the organism and very importantly avoids speciesism. People are not inherently special, so animals who can clearly also feel pain, must be considered in making moral decisions. So vegetarianism. Some people use the suffering principle to say abortion becomes bad when the nervous system has developed. Singer is a little fuzzier on it. In this case not seeing people as special plays a bigger role in his thinking, so a fetus really suffers a lot less than most adult mammals like cows, so he's less concerned with them. And naturally, that's makes you consider infanticide. And they got into cannibalism, which except for not wanting to upset the family, and not specifically killing for food, doesn't seem too objectionable to them. Well, I have to say I personally am not that concerned with suffering. Maybe I'm not all that concerned with trying to be good at all. I was already leaning towards favoring infanticide. It happens. It can't be eliminated, though we frown on it and do try to reduce it. It's sad. But maybe I could say that the way food animals are treated is pretty sad. Especially at slaughter. But the cows in the field eating grass have a moderately fair life, though a nasty end. Factory farm cattle are miserable. Caged chickens are quite sad. But I'm not ready to quit this behavior. And I guess, I don't think I can see basing a morality on feelings. That's I guess the problem I have. Feelings don't seem solid enough a thing to base decisions on.

    Saw a video on relationships. Part of a series called "the emotional life" which was from a guy who studies happiness. I'm not positive he made the connection between happiness and relationships other than to say relationships are important to happiness. There were a number of important ideas. And the relationships were family, friends and lovers, so three different but pretty broad categories. With family, we learn basic attachment. And they had a kid who was in an eastern european orphanage who really had a damaged ability to feel attachment. A forget what the friends section added. And lovers, hmm. There was a woman who wanted companionship, but could do without the sex. That seemed a little odd, and she said to her, sex was only about pleasing the guy, so she could do without it. Pretty sad, really. I think it was some other video i saw recently that talked about three different chemicals in romantic love that get released at different times. Passion, something like adrenaline, goes for 1 to three years, then at three years, some kind of endorphins. I don't think I'd heard that one. Each of those drops off. At seven years, you have oxytocin, which is about bonding. Moms get it with breastfeeding. And that builds forever. I'm not sure what the endorphins do. Make you comfortable with someone? I would expect it helps to tolerate them, where you might not so much when it dies down, but the bonding makes it so you like being with them, even if they have started getting irritating. Trippy.

    Also, loneliness is part of an inherited emotional system where it was very important to be with others to get things we need. It's now a bit of a mistake the way altruism is.

    So Melissa satisfies some of my need for love and affection. Maybe not completely, but enough that I haven't worked sufficiently hard to find something more complete.

    She loves me. Maybe not all that much, but some definitely. So I don't want to skip going if she wants me to come down.

    • May 25, 2010
    Watched a video on motivation. It had a lot of stuff. Actually the sound is from a TED talk, but they added some animation so it had text and pictures which I guess sort of improves the presentation. But the ideas... Well, for one, it talked about some experiments showing that higher monetary rewards actually make performance worse in tasks taking higher cognitive abilities. They kind of let that one go, even though it has a major implication that capitalism is a bad thing. He merely glosses over says people think it sounds socialist,so I guess people dismiss the results, even though they are strong and have been often replicated. But he leaves that to talk about his main topic, how to motivate workers, and in this context, it's clear he means IT workers. Great. Trivialize it. Well, there are other things that can motivate you once you give people enough money so it's not an issue. People want autonomy--to pick their own thing-- to be challenged and move toward mastery (to be improving) and to make a contribution. Well, the motivating power of autonomy is one thing that supports capitalism as being a good system, but the negative impact of higher monetary reward is such a huge problem it needs to be address. And how can it even be right? It says that if you are getting more money, you aren't doing so good a job. Is that really what we see? It explains Microsoft. I would guess that's his idea because his big example is free software and linux, where people who have jobs, use their spare time to contribute to the projects for free and give away the products. There's also the challenge, learning thing. I guess that's nice. I have to keep it in mind when I'm looking for stuff. But he talks about making a contribution. You do hear about people want to change the world. I think apple tends to be like that. It seems like that was getting important to me. At FedEx I didn't feel like I was doing anything of value. At Hilton it was a little but. The juice company just seemed right out. And now maybe I'm thinking something in medical stuff. I can see that academia really offers more challenge and development of mastery. Plus autonomy.

    Netflix had a video with Chomsky. Had a bunch of stuff, of course. More fanboys. A lot of old people who seems almost starstruck, and amazed at how much he appears to know. It made them seem to me kind of stupid. He is great, but people do have the ability to read stuff and find things out. It's pretty apparent that they must waste their opportunities on sports or romance novels or something. Oh well. Someone asked him about capitalism. He said it probably would be nice, but it hasn't been tried. Something about how the corporations run the government to protect themselves and avoid competition. Whatever.

    And another one on strippers. Gives them lots of confidence. This was in New York. No touch, mostly. One of them had studied dance for 20 years. So athletic. Did flips and things. One was a bit of an actress, and did some kind of artsy shows. Something with big feathery fans. And did it in a theater situation, and got out of clubs for a bit, but then had to go back to one when the money ran low. The most disturbing thing was that two of the dancers died. One had written a bunch of stuff, including some exposure of the Russian mafia, and just disappeared one day. One had complications getting some stuff done on her face. Something with the anaesthesia, maybe. Bummer.

    Weird. Half an hour ago this place was empty, but now it's about full of guys. It's about 10:30. when I got in there were a lot of women.

    One of the interesting thing Chomsky talked about was how the media ends up saying what the government wants. It's not so much that the goverment tells the media what to say as the government does what the corporations want, and the media does too. There was some cute example, I wish I could remember.

    • May 24, 2010
    You can find insight in all kinds of places, I guess. I was getting low on selections in my instant queue in Netflix, so I went looking for new additions. I went all the way through their list of documentaries and added a bunch. I guess it's something for exploring the world of ideas. I decided to watch one called "gay sex in the 70s" something like that. From Stonewall to the first diagnosed case of AIDS. Honestly, I lived through the period, but it's a scene that I guess I didn't really know that much about, so I found it interesting to see it documented. New York. Such a slime pit. Maybe I wouldn't like it so much. The free love of the sixties drifting into the natural inclinations of gays to not be inhibited. And little fear of disease. That was actually one intriguing point. They had incredible amounts of disease, but with modern medicine, they were able to deal with it, until they couldn't. There was one scene where a guy with his boyfriend were at a party, and it looked like it was going to turn into an orgy, which he'd never experienced, and he was up for it, but the boyfriend pulled him out of there. And he was really mad, but looking back, a few years later, everyone at that party was dead. So good call.

    But the one bit of insight I took from it. Somewhere in there was asserted that what they really wanted to find was a friend. Someone to be able to call some time when you feel lonely. And they had a unique situation where they could get easy anonymous sex first, and then it it works out, then have a friend. A very unique persepective, but to see that friendship was the important thing, and sex really secondary... Deep.

    So a couple were sitting here. And some fat chick took a picture or something, and chickee got mad, I guess, but fat chick asserted that she had a right to take pictures. I guess. Couple left. I need to use that some time.

    I watched another on called "Dancing for Dollars". Strippers in Canada. It really made me annoyed more than anything else. There were some girls with tremendous confidence, giving what they believe is profound life advice, when they are clearly just thick as bricks. One felt it important to stay "classy". Again, though, one of the had a message about the importance of friendship. There was a little stripper that she liked, but she decided that the friendship was more important than having sex with her. I guess that's nice. But it was also kind of annoying. It's not the first time I've heard a woman saying that sex would hurt a friendship. Maybe. I guess I wouldn't know.

    So I'm feeling a little angry at the moment. Not having anyone to call. The folks left. That's always disrupting. Donnie has starty working at Christie's. It really was Melissa sitting where I thought. I said I'd give her a copy.

    Man, there was a guy I was sitting next to. Started smoking a cigar. And was talking to these girls who had been in there chatting with each other for an hour or two. He seemed very full of himself. I wanted to punch him in the head.

    • May 22, 2010
    So long, Martin Gardner!

    I think I saw Melissa and Josh in the audience at Dave's show on Wednesday. I hooked up the DVR and recorded it. I'm not positive as the picture didn't seem completely clear, but I'm pretty sure.

    The folks have come here again. They planted some squash and cucumber and a watermelon plant, so we'll see how those go. I've got like four tomatoes coming in at least, on three different plants, so I've got stuff going. They seem to be doing pretty well.

    Yeah, I think the thing about seeing the return not working at the end of line is when I close a paragraph tag, and the matching function moves the cursor to the beginning of the tag before moving on to the next line. So not such a big deal.

    Went out to lunch with the kung fu people. They wanted to thank me and Zach for painting. Like nine plates of stuff. It seemed like way too much, but we actually pretty much finished it off, so I guess they knew what they were doing. And then after it we went and try to do some more stuff, putting up mirrors, but we couldn't get it all together and we didn't finish it. Maybe tomorrow.

    The Gardner book I'm working on is titled _When You Were a Tadpole and I was a Fish_

    • May 17, 2010
    Melissa is off in the windy apple by now. She has tickets to Letterman on Wednesday, so I need to watch that, and hopefully I will finally set up the DVR. It's very pitiful that I haven't hooked it up yet. Laziness, I guess.

    I had a dreamt where I had slept with Melissa, and she completely changed. Became kind of cold and controlling. Was getting me to do some kind of volunteering stuff. And so I was wishing I could go back and not do it. Now I don't really think it would be like that, but I guess there might be consequences.

    And she remembered that I had warned her about consequences last time when it got to time to pay my bill. So this time she warned me there might be consequences, and she paid it. I guess I should have known that it would come back to me. It was a dangerous play to make.

    Something else not to like about battlestar galactica. They've got an ending where they land on earth a hundred and fifty thousand years ago among old versions of humans, and are somehow genetically compatible, and they get folded into humanity. They have a shot where they talk about an ancestral "Eve", and that is supposed to be the half human, half cylon child Hera. Please. Ron in the commentary also says something about an ancestral Adam. I guess it's really that statement that annoyed me, because it showed that the series was developed and largely written by someone with a pretty poor science understanding. And it largely shows. But the thing about aliens folding in among primitive humans, setting aside the biological absurdity, it kind of disregards the real human story, which is actually more interesting. At that time, actually as late as fifty thousand years ago, there were as many as four different human species around at the same time, from the very old homo erectus to neanderthals and then modern humans. That makes for an interesting world. _Quest for Fire_ tries to get it fairly close. I've got that in my queue and I need to watch it again.

    Leanne said that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the South Park creators, were in Circa last night. She was thinking it was Saturday, so she told them to go to Raifford's, which was stupid for Sunday. I didn't get it exactly, but they must have been in some kind of group. They were in town for the barbecue contest. I was wondering if I would recognize them in person, but I bet I probably wouldn't, out of context. And at maybe 1:30 after Bardog had closed, some guys were knocking on the window. Could it have been them? I don't know. Probably not. But anyway, it would have been nice to see them. Leanne said they were going to the the Kooky Canuck. She said she didn't know them, but someone told her who they were. They were a lot younger than she would have thought.

    For some reason, I was thinking what I might say to them. I'd want to see if they are as stupid as they seem. Holding in farts causing spontaneous human combustion? Did Penn set them straight about religion being just stories? But I can see how they wouldn't want to be an atheist with how obnoxious so many can be. I would want to say how their writing and story telling has just noticeably gotten so expert, and so much better, even though it started pretty good. But it definitely did occur to me, why would I be talking to them, or them to me? It was a silly idea.

    So the three guys that came up. Asa and Melissa were wondering maybe if they were the guys that messed up the next door lady's decorations she had out. Tore out a sign and ripped up some plants she had. And Asa was saying if it was them, he'd go beat them up, and I could help him, since it was three guys. And I said sure. And so I'm wondering how best would you beat some guys up. The kind of fighting your train for tends to be kind of brutal. Killing people or breaking their collar bones or cracking their skull open. You don't really look at teaching-them-a-lesson ass whipping. So, what? I'm thinking stomach hits. Many some hits on muscley parts or the arms and legs, but not enough to break their actual bones. I guess that requires some finesse. Maybe work on a part of a choke out to soften them up. Throwing people on to the ground is one of the main parts of the style, and it can really mess people up, but it also gives them a chance to stay on the ground and give up if they know they've lost, if you haven't broken their arms and legs in the process. If they have any training at all and have learned how to deal with falls, it gives them a possibility of dealing with it. So it has a slight bit of humanity.

    And I say they don't teach ass-whipping, but Master Park Bok Nam tells a story. He used to be rambunctious. He was studying bagua with a mean old master, and he told him not to get into fights outside of school. But of course, he did anyway. One time, he beat this guy up so that he went to the hospital. The doctor at the hospital saw that he had a particular type of internal injury that he didn't know how to deal with, but he did know someone who did, so he sent him over there. And it was the old bagua master. So he figured out what had gone on, and just beat the hell out of student Park. "You wanna know how to fight? I'll show you how to fight." But that's how they taught, I guess.

    Trey does some kind of karate or taekwondo. He's got some kind of back spinning crescent kick that looks nice that he's put in some movies. Master Park tells some kind of story how he had one of those spinning kicks that he would do, and he was warned not to do that or he would get hurt, and the master explained something to the other student who he was sparring with, and after that when he tried it, he would always end up on the ground whenever he tried it. I guess I don't train as hard as they did in his school. But it might have been something to talk about.

    And I say maybe four types of humans at the same time. There is a phrase "missing link". That's extremely misleading. There are maybe twenty different human species, not all of them even in our direct descent path. So there was a whole long process of us developing from wherever we diverged from tree apes. It's actually a bit odd that we're the only ones left. And recently supposedly they found that there are still some neanderthal genes still in people from some sections of the world. I don't know.

    Huh, so neanderthals ate only meat. They didn't forage for berries and stuff at all. Pure hunters. No gathering.

    So I think I found some kind of inductive reasoning that shows that Melissa and I won't get together and meet some time outside of Bardog. Something on the lines of mathematical induction where you show the first case, and then show how one case implies the next, so it works for all cases. It's just to say that each time she puts me off a week, that just makes it easier to put me off another week, and it wasn't a big enough deal one week, so it won't be a priority in the next, or ever. Tomorrow never comes. More just a matter that she never wanted to, but at one point was nice enough to patronize me and say she would. I let it go this time, and I expect I'll just let it go, now that I have some sort of stronger reasoning about it. This is more of a probablistic argument, but I think it is pretty strong in just saying it probably won't happen, or maybe better put, probably shouldn't happen.

    It was a little funny. At about noon I was feeling like a week was too long to have waited, but as it got on to about 7, I was feeling like I wasn't even that interested in going. There's approach/avoidance. I don't quite completely understand the entire emotional dynamic.

    Watching more Chomsky. Some stuff from HARDTalk last year. It talks about Obama, who he doesn't so much care for. Just another corporate lackey. The parties according to him are right of the people, more about serving corporate masters. I also watched the one from '69 with Bill Buckley. That's kind of annoying the way won't let him finish sentences, but Chomsky kind of dances around. I don't know. It was long enough ago not to seem too relevant. My link starts on the fourth of seven because I was on this view and when I clicked on each one, they would end and I would have to go back, but down when I got to four, that was part of some sequence where they automatically continue. That's nice. Somewhere in there he talks about how really, you can't have general principles, like how to use violence. You really have to think about the situation as it is. It's all just too complicated or something.

    Happy fifth birthday, YouTube!

    Also, somewhere in there, Chomsky says what it means to him to be anarchist. I kind of use that term for myself, for instance, on Facebook. He says it's about being sceptical of authority and requiring that it justify itself. He says democracy is an ideal that an anarchist should aspire to. Or something like that.

    I made another chuck roast. Cooked it a little faster and it was a bit tougher. And maybe I didn't cook it as much. This time I made gravy. I used the au jus from the last one, and I also used some of the veal demi-glace. So it's very rich. It tastes pretty good. Gravy isn't all that complicated. It isn't giving me a feeling of the best I've ever had, but it might well be the best I've ever made personally, since I only just started making them.

    • May 15, 2010
    Happy Ides of May!

    I was watching a Nova show on the origin of man. It turns out that that head lice is a different species from gential lice (crabs). They were able to use this information to figure out at what point people lost their hair. It was actually a long time ago, like a couple of million years with homo erectus. And they found that the genital like is related to some kind of bear lice. And they could be different only because there was a hairless section separating them.

    I saw a little tomato coming in. Yay!

    • May 14, 2010
    Happy Friday the Fourteenth!

    Got Michelle sitting next to me. The drink-making barrista ask my name for my frappucino double chocolatey chip, I think that's what they call it. It's in the cre`me section. Some kind of tick over the e. I don't really know what the tick means or how it's supposed to affect the pronunciation. I guess that makes me a philistine. So it was a little hard for me to determine what I needed to call it. And the ordering process seemed like a bit of a clusterfrak. One guy took the order and marked the cup. Another girl rang it up on the machine and passing it along, seemed like I had to try to explain it again. She at first wanted to say it was some kind of latte, but the cremes are things with no coffee, which is a break for me. And then the barrista making the drink had to ask me if I had the, I think she called it a frappucino double chocolately chip. And what was my name? They should have gotten it, and maybe they will next time. OK. But since they try to write names on the cup, I've got Michelle's name that I could see on her cup quite plainly. She spoke to me to ask if the chair was taken, and no, And she sat next to me. Cute blonde, maybe a little older, though not as old as me, I don't think. I'm not good at guessing. And, mysteriously, her name was pretty much exactly facing me.

    It happened again. Little Sophia, who is only 4, was at kung fu, and I got her all wet. There is a water fountain, and she was too short to reach, so I lifter her up, but only after did I realize my arms were covered with sweat. Grr. So she had to wash off. This was a rough night for her. Li lao shr wasn't there, and she was expecting Reecy to show up, but she didn't either. So poor little girl was having to wander around with nothing to do, and she was in a really mischeivous mood. Wouldn't mind, kept taking off her shoes even though she was told several times not to, because we still have screws and things sitting around from construction, and kept going outside. But she's for. And telling someone not to, I have heard is the wrong thing. Don't think of an elephant!

    David asked me what I was going to do at the tournament. I need to figure it out. And register. Part of registering is entering the competitions, so I need to decide first. I really need to ask Li Lao Shr. I'm thinking the Fanzi and some Bagua, but I'm not sure which. Also probably the bagua broadsword, which I think is called dao in the Chinese.

    Busimess guy in the corner, yakking on the phone, at one point started a conversation with "hello gov'nuh" I think he was on the phone with some place in Britain. I believe they hate that. I'm trying to find out what that is from. Ah, Oliver Twist.

    Such gloominess.

    I watched Cool Hand Luke. A bit freaky. And he loses fiath, and then somehow seems to get it back as he is broken. Maybe that's something about what religion is supposed to be. Getting your head right. And the stupid Jesus imagery. I don't know. What we have here is failure to communicate.

    Oh, so I had thought of something. Almost everything from Starbucks, except for just the regular coffee, has milk in it. That, in a subtle way, is actually a bit of pressure against minorities, who are often lactose intolerant. And I was thinking that before I came in, but here, there is a black guy sitting across from me, and a couple of cops just came in, one of whom is black. I think Michelle said sometime to them about buying them coffee, or they should get some. Chai spiced lattes for the boys in black. One guy is Schaeffer, it seems. One guy is in jeans, so I guess plain clothes. I think I seldom see those. Or desk guy. Don't really know this cop stuff.

    Something that seems a bit quirky here in emacs. When I hit return, it doesn't seem to always immediately insert a newline, sometimes it seems, maybe before or in tags, I can be somewhere in the middle and it seems to add a line after the current one, but won't break it at the spot I'm in. Or maybe I'm imaginining it.

    Michelle's man came in. No place to sit. Aww. And he left, Hmm.

    The teaching company sent me stuff again. It's tempting. Ouch. I like math lectures, somehow. I'm not sure if I'd like the really hard stuff, especially at a University that's not so good, like U of M.

    And a couple more black guys in the corner. One with some kind of USA sweats, and some kind of Eagle insignia, so goverment something or other, I didn't see exactly.

    The cup says "DCCF".

    Kind of sublime. the rain song. I wonder how they would do it live?

    And then there's that crazy shining diamond.

    Russell has posted a couple of times about the privacy concerns in Facebook. I placed a comment saying I wasn't so into privacy, and what were his reasons for seeing value you in it. He asked what my definition of privacy was. I thought I had put in a comment explaining a bit about my position, but I didn't see it. I might not have hit the comment button, or I'm afraid the little Starbucks connection might have timed out at the wrong spot and eaten the submission.

    Ouch. My computer blacked out in the middle of a sentence. Probably the battery giving out, but it didn't seem to warn me or anything. Not so nice.

    And further bad luck. I went to the AT&T store to ask a couple of questions. I wanted to know if I got an iPad 3G, if the 3G service for it would be associated to my main account and the charges put on the one bill, or they would have to have a separate bill, which would not be so convenient. And when I went in there, I saw a thing for AT&T U-verse. They have some kind of TV offering, and I was wondering what that was by. It looks like it might be satellite. I can't do satellite because of tree cover on the south side of the house. But the evil part. I went over and stood by the desk. No one ever offered to help. No one even made eye-contact. One fat guy, Tim, was helping some customer, and when he was done, just walked away and went to the center of the room to hang out with some of the other guys. It was just making me angrier and angrier, and I waited a little longer, but I left. So At&T has an unhappy customer, for now. It does reduce my desire to get an iPad, I would say. And staying with this IPhone, I don't know. I think it might be possible to keep the device without the service and use it wifi only. I'll need to look into that. I was in a bad mood. I don't know, maybe I didn't spend all that much time, maybe five minutes. When I left, someone outside made actual eye-contact and started talking to me, but asked if I had a minute. For a survey. I did not speak. She did seem to try to be cheerful. Rough job, I imagine.

    So one of Russell's friend, Perry Metzger, seems to think he has found an inconsistency in my opposition to privacy. His claim is that we need privacy for financial information and that I wouldn't give mine out.

    I had another errand I needed to do. I went by the YMCA to see how their rates depend on income, and what kind of documents you need. They'll take a W-2, and they do have lower rates for lower income. But it seems to go down to $31 a month from $55. I will have to consider it, because that's still a significant amount.

    Huh, one computer had an open emacs edit window into this journal with unsaved edits. I'm rather lucky it didn't overwrite and lose stuff from today. I was able to save to a file and reconcile the differences. But it was careless.

    • May 13, 2010
    Happy Thursday the Thirteenth!

    Listening to the BS commentaries is just makind it worse.

    I'm now leaning to just not getting an ipad, or at least waiting a little longer to where I'm more into getting a job and making money. Joining the whole consumer society, that sort of thing. Actually painting a little bit was kind of good. I don't know if I was any good at that, but it didn't really have this oppessive feeling that I was hating to do it. Seems like the other guy didn't really enjoy it, but he had so much more going on and other things he could have been doing. Time with family, real work, other stuff to do, fun stuff. I may have a little too much fun stuff going on that a little work isn't so bad. Trading time. Possibly the whole 40 hours a week and having to do it or else maybe is a little rough. Or gets old, or something.

    And what about the word "zoologist". I heard someone say it zoo-ologist, and I was thinking, no, you might say zoo-logist, not with an -ologist at the end, or zoe-ologist. But zoo-ologist would need three o's after the z, not the two we have. It's become a standard way to say it, I suppose, but it grates. And it kind of turns on how you pronounce "zo". We;ve got a bunch of examples to compare with it. And there are a couple that actually support saying zo like zoo: to and do. But I think there are a bunch more to say zo like zoe: no, so, bo, jo, lo, ho. I don't know, I feel zoo-ologist seems wrong, but with to and do being perfectly fine words, there is an real possible case for it.

    Wow, dude, Martin Gardner, is 94. He mentioned sitting in his apartment in assisted living just typing on his computer, plus researching there. He was already an established writer, but still I think it's inspiring that he's still putting out books.

    So I needed to go grocery shopping. I had to go to Schnucks because only they have ovaltine chocolate malt. I also needed milk and Kroger has the kind I get, lactose free, for at least a dollar less per half gallon, and I usually get two, so it would have been two dollars difference. Almost worth driving the extra two miles. But I waste so much money, I really shouldn't be worried about a couple of dollars. Plus extra time and effort. I did balk a bit though, and only got one half gallon instead of two. I can hit Kroger some other time.

    I also got some potato chips. I have carrots to eat, but I have found that they taste a lot better with chips. I think carrot and chips are even better than chips by themselves, which are a little excessively greasy and salty. It makes a nice balance. And I don't eat dips, which is kind of a factor for me.

    • May 12, 2010
    Huh. That was just...different. I watched _Cashback_. It was kind of moody. Seemed a bit like an excuse to show naked chicks, but it went for a weird dreamy fantasy thing, and was mostly about a guy who appeared maybe to be going crazy from a breakup. Not sleeping. I guess depression can do that, though for me, depression is about sleeping too much. And he's an artist, a painter, so it's all about the feelings. Maybe a tone poem. And then he gets some kind of obsession over a new girl, and paints her over and over. Gets an exhibition of it, as well. But the funkiest thing is that he freezes time. You see that quite a bit. Seems like the twilight zone must have done it more than once. But like I said, this one goes all moody and artsy. And he brings the new girl into it. I was initially just kind of annoyed that there was just this whiny guy. So I don't know. But there was something. The name cashback has something to do with him getting a night job at a grocery store because he couldn't sleep. That whole thing just seemed lifted from fight club. And there was a stripper in a light blue cowboy hat with a cap gun that I know they stole from Apocalypse Now. Just a bunch of stolen bits. But still something.

    And he mentions the word crush. I'm not sure I ever really knew exactly what it was supposed to me. It implies temporariness. And an adolescent thing. I really only thought it meant foolish. I mean, I say to myself I had a crush on Wynne, but I guess more of a crazy obsession.

    Another beef roast. I think I was getting very hungry, because it tasted really good, like I really needed it. I think I managed to get it more like a proper braise, and it wasn't just full of water. And no onions this time. Maybe the onions were adding to the water. A chuck roast. My mom picked it out. She may well be a lot better at picking than I am. Tender. The store is supposed to have good stuff, and maybe that's it.

    Well, apparently Kim is in another relationship, according to facebook. Good for her. I haven't heard from her, personally.

    Career is about the intersection of what you are good at and what the world wants. It is noteworthy in not involving specifically what you want, except to the extent that there really should be a correlation because what you are good at and want, if only because you have to spend time at doing something in order to become good, and hopefully you aren't foolish enough to keep doing something you don't like for a long time. But not everyone is that smart, I guess.

    So one of the scenes in _Cahsback_ touched on an idea that I am in favor of. When he was a kid, dude had a little Swedish exchange student in the house, and since she was Swedish, modesty wasn't a big deal in walking from her room to the bathroom. Really, you could see it was just a movie device to have a hot young blonde walking naked up the stairs, but I would have to say it's about time society got rid of modesty. Some bits of clothing, like bikinis, seem quite silly. Maybe if we get rid of religion, that would go, too, but I see a bit of that eroding just in reddit gonewild

    Time! has come today.

    Felt like coming out to Starbucks. Had a little to say, maybe, but I got up feeling like I had slept enough, and it was like 7:30, a perfect time to get up in the real world and go out and great the day. So what would I like to do with myself? Writing seems like it would be nice, but putting forth a complete product that people would be interested in paying for is a lot of work. And I really have no management ability for a product like that. Capitalism really rewards management. Get a bunch of other people to do you bidding, and then take most of the rewards for yourself because you took the risk to get everything together. Now, the greatest rewards are in ownership which is a special kind of legally protected management, and there is a salary-slave sort of employed management, but even that is valued above actual production. Seems a little bit odd, maybe. Possibly one of the justifications is that management requires harder skills than line work. The pressure can be higher. But managers are often, it seems, actually much poorer skilled than line, thought they fake it by acting like they know what should be done. And I think traditionally, a manager has to "move through the ranks" in the line to get to management. But that really doesn't imply ability in the line, just political ability and ambition. According to the Peter Principle, you have to move and fail to get to a high position. Failing upward. But something had to get you to move. At FedEx, I moved toward doing more managing kinds of things, and I thought I had been doing line production well, but maybe I was fooling myself. Part of what I was doing was trying to explain stuff to other people, so that might have been more of a failure of mine and a slip that pushed me toward managing. Oops!

    Man, it's nice to have tunes. I forgot to charge up the iPhone, so I have my mini iPod for the tunes to supplement it. Something extra to carry. I keep that clipped on my collar, so it doesn't take pocket space, but it's an extra thing. And probably it's better not to wear out the iPhone battery for tunes. It made me wonder about Jeff, who is a hardcore apple product user. I think he sticks to the phone, and that must run through that battery, but he buys a new device almost every new major release, it seems like. Apple things don't have user changeable batteries, so they are inherently intended to be essentially disposable, which has got to be the epitome of American decadence, Disposable in some sense-- they're program is that through them you can send yours in and get a new one when the battery finally dies, which may well be ten years later. I have a very early disk based ipod from Jeff one time when he upgraded that appears to have just about died. It now will randomly glitch out and I have to restart. I assume the battery is gone. I'm not positive when it was made, but it must be at least 5 years, and maybe closer to 10. That's a good life though, and I have another one to carry around. It's nice just not to mess with it and leave one in the car. I think went it freezes, that's not so good for the mechanical drive, and generally electronics don't like to be frozen, but hey, it serves me, I don't serve it. The onion had a parody of Chomsky. I have become a bit of a Chomsky fan lately. And this is him taking a break from railing against the system. It doesn't quite capture him, I think, though. In one of his latest talks, I think it was the one at Brown in April. he seemed very personable. Of course, I think that was about the hero worship from the crowd. Someone asked him what the best experience in his life was, and he said he doesn't answer personal questions. I really wonder what that's about.

    One other thing in _Cashback_, it seemed to also be making a statement about wage slavery. And dude put it in an odd way, he couldn't sleep so he had extra time, so he traded time. I think for Brits, trade is used a little more where we might say sell or sale. Those quirk Brits. And I'm watching a thing with Richard Attenborough about peguins, and he's constantly saying glassier instead of glacier. Just defining any kind of rules of pronunciation as far as I can tell. Anyway, wage slavery. Dude and chicky talk about their dreams if they can get out of the grocery night shift. She wants to bw an air hostess, the moderately realistic dream, or the super dream of teaching Spanish in South America. Dude wants to be a painter. Really? Such a cliche. It occurs to me that whenever you see an artist in a movie (or play) that's actually a metaphor the writer is using for himself. Kind of a self-referential thing that seems to happen a lot. Since the writer is talking about himself, it works out for dude. The thing is a fantasy, after all. And to through out a weird detail, his cow-orkers make a prank phone call on him, saying they are a gallery owner who want to see him, and he goes there, and guy doesn't know, but he looks at the stuff, and he gets an exhibition anyway. Uh huh. Like an art student isn't going to paint like an art student. But he said he was a bit bored in art college, so maybe he had already developed some skill, and they were only refining it. Hopefully they aren't just propagating the myth of "natural talent". Talent is developed through work and time. Part of the story, though, is that he freezes time, so he has spent a lot of time on all this painting. Delusional hacks do like to write about natural talent. So that might be it. There was enough robbery in this movie for that to be it.

    OK, the little girl had her eyes about four inches from the paper she was writing on. And she was already wearing glasses. I don't know if it helped.

    Wow, someone who knows Chomsky blogged about the onion article. Too busy to read it. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

    I wathced a little series on ancient Greece. It was narrated by Liam Neeson. Qui-Gon Jinn himself. The biggest thing that sticks out is that they said that for the Greeks, peace was an interruption of war, where for us, war is an interruption of peace. I gotta say, that's progress. It largely focused on Athens. They had a democracy for a bit. A real democracy, a direct democracy. People didn't vote in representatives, they themselves voted on what went on. And for me, this look demonstrated how poor an idea democracy is. It kind of worked only for a little bit, and really, it only worked because there was one guy, Pericles, who knew how to manipulate the people and get them to do sensible things. At best, all the democracy did of value was to get lots of people emotionally committed to the things that the government, actually they themselves, did. So now I really don't know what to think politically. Democracy is a crock, and always was. Without Pericles, the mob just did stupid things, including a war with Sparta, where they got their asses kicked.

    One of the episodes seemed a little odd. For a bit, Athens had a big naval empire, with trade all along the Aegean. That didn't work out after losing to Sparta, but they shifted to an "empire of the mind". They had Socrates. Really just a pest more than anything, but he instilled the idea of questioning everything, which is truly the key to science. And from that, they had quite a few other philosophers after that, and an entire tradition of not thinking magically, that what happens is just the capricious will of gods, but that the world can be understood, like a machine, perhaps. It is really the legacy of the time, and why we even care about them now, so it absolutely makes sense that they would have an episode that is kind of an essay on that subject. The other two were really just context for that. And they really helped situate it for me. It also helped me appreciate how just lucky and arbitrary it was. It's no wonder that that mentality was swept away and lay dormant for almost two thousand years until it resurfaced again. OK. There are now seven women and no other men sitting here in Starbucks. I guess it makes sense that only women would be sitting around on a workday. All fairly young and cute. And me wearing my hooters t-shirt. It was a gift.

    I'm trying to psych myself up to go to the apple store and maybe finally buy an iPad. I need to support the consumerism. But I've been feeling like just not spending money and putting off getting back to work. But it's getting about time to be looking for work. That's going to be long and painful. Grr.

    There was a little blonde in scrubs and a white coat. Seems like she must have been a doctor. Or could have just been a nurse. I gave her a smile, and she just smiled back about as bright and friendly as I've ever seen. I doubt I will ever see her again, but it was nice.

    But shoot, they were out of soy milk. So it will have moderately unpleasant consequences for me. Unpleasant and maybe painful.

    And the last Battestar Galactica episode should be coming today. There's also the clip show after that, but it's not supposed to add much. And from what I gather, that was more of an afterthought as they realized that in the beginning of the episodes, they kept saying "they have a plan" and they never ended up explaining any plan, so they had to go back and try to invent something. The series sucks. I'm surprise I've stuck with it, but maybe it was a bit boring. It has a bit of a pull being a drama, and maybe you get into following the characters, but personally that doesn't do so much for me really like it might for some other people. Some people are into people more than others. Most people, actually. I'm more into abstract ideas. There aren't so many of us, but we do add some value to society, though most of society, being really just into people, do not value it particularly so much.

    I don't know if it's good or not, but my kung fu style seems to be remarkably unconcerned about body type. There have been fat masters, and skinny little pipsqueak masters. The founder had the body of a "eunuch". I put that in quotes, because he worked as an imperial guard and had to official be a real castrated eunuch, but more than likely he just disguised himself as one, because without the testosterone, you can't build up much muscle, and he became stronger over time. We was a big fat guy, like you expect from a eunuch. But what this does to me is that I really haven't felt much pressure to become more athletic looking and losing weight. It's a little weird too. There is quite a bit of wrestling stuff, and with that, there is actually some value in being heavier, even without muscle, so I've actually had this weird feeling of wanting to keep the weight on. In typical external martial arts, there is obvious value in just bulking up on the muscle, and you can feel the advantage from doing that, so you have pressure to push your body in that direction. But it seems like baguag isn't doing that. Getting stronger seems to be in there. Especially in the big broadsword form. But it seems to want to work with the body you have. I don't know.

    Spent way too much money. I need to not do that. But I didn't get an iPad. The store saved me from that because they were out of stock. Too bad for them. Getting one might have actually saved me a little bit, after that crazy initial expense, because I could buy online books from amazon for quite a bit cheaper than the dead tree version. If they have ones that I want. And with the plebeian nature of the world, maybe that doesn't happen. Anyway, I went into borders to get _the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks_. I had great trouble finding it. I had to ask. They had it in the section up front for local authors. I thought they would have it in a special section, but I just didn't see that one. The author is like an associate professor at U of M. sales lady said they sold out a couple times already, and she was going to read it. And since I was spending money, and spent so much time looking, I found something by Martin Gardner that looked interesting. He had a math column in Scientific American, and I've read maybe a couple of his books. He had the column before Doug Hofstadter. This one is more a random collection of essays. I should look over at the title, but I'm being too lazy. I felt like just reading general writing from someone like me, an ideas person. And he's a real professional writer, so maybe it will be inspiring. And one of the essays is about Ann Coulter, conservative she(?)-devil.

    Before walking into the Apple Store, I also went into Williams-Sonoma. I looked at espresso machine. It's still sad that Melissa has an espresso machine, plus all the stuff, but still goes to Starbucks. I don't know how good her machine is though. They had a cheap two hundred dollar one, but it required you to put in coffee already ground. The real machines grind them fresh, and then pump through high pressure. The cheap one said it did 15 atmospheres, which I think is right. There is a cheap time which uses steam pressure, and that doesn't get enough to do it properly. But I'm not sure what part of the machine is supposed to be used to heat up the milk. That might actually be something separate from the espresso maker, so I would need to look at that. I was just looking at those, but I really wanted to buy some demi-glace, I didn't remember if that was the store I remembered that had it, but I think it was. I wasn't sure which one to get, though. I was thinking maybe both chicken and beef. Fresh market has little one and a half ounce chicken demi-glace for five bucks. Williams-Sonoma has 10 ounce jars for like $30. They had beef, veal, or chicken. I decided to just try the veal. I think that is about the ultimate in decadence. Even some meaties draw the line at veal. But I also got an egg cup. My folks like to eat boiled eggs out of an egg cup. I think we have a fancy one, but I believe I broke our everyday one when I put it in the dishwasher, and it fell through the cracks. So it makes sense that I should replace it. Still, spending money. Maybe not getting the iPad got me thinking I had a little extra. I'll probably get one still, anyway.

    As for writing for money, that's where I can make a stand as an anarchist. Be the change you want. It's the Star Trek ideal. Getting rid of money, and people just doing what they want without all this greed. So I write and give it away for free. That can work. Capitalism is not set up to deal with it, but in software, there is a real open-source movement, where you write stuff and share it. People do pay other people do get specific work done that they need, but if something useful is made that can be shared, people just share it.

    I don't know about the idea that greed is good. Russell I think affirmed it recently, and apparently he really believes it. But I have yet to see how it's good. It makes you an unpleasant person, at least to me. I think it might be that some women are attracted to greedy men. At least in my understanding of some biological pressure, it seems like it might be true. And you hear the stories about chicks going for douchebags. But I find it irritated. And the very nature of greed is that it can't be satisfied. But then, Ned Flanders talked about how he liked mosquito bites because they were satisfying to scratch, even though that could only be temporary and self-defeating. I don't scratch mosquito bites because I know they will go away if you don't, and will stay around if you do. I difficult thing to come to as it is against your natural inclination, but it works surprisingly well. So I guess I just personally don't have sympathy for the greed thing. I have gotten into the bad habit of buying too many books. That's pretty greedy, I suppose. But I like to support a movement toward a post scarcity period. Economy is about managing limited supply. In information, there aren't the same kind of limits. One thing about the ipad is that it's all abouut comsuming media, but it is trying to be part of a scheme where content a\can still be sold, just without needing to have physical media, like trees or discs. We'll see how it goes. Getting rid of media is a nice move, but apple is just slightly one the edge of capitalism and unfreedom in this.

    The saddest thing about conservatives is that they've let themselves be manipulated into support things that are against their interests by rich people who are controlling the media. Is that not what you would call stupid? Part of it is by manipulating the conversation including stuff that is generally part of their values, and then linking bad things up with stuff that actually would be good for them, but bad for them if they ever became rich. And tying into their greedy dreams of being rich. Oh well. Foolishness, at least, if not actual stupidity. There is a lot of just willful ignorance too, of choosing not to know certain things. That's something I particularly don't like. And related to that is just what appears to be that lies and not looking at the full truth and story is a good thing. No one really needs to know everything. That would actually be a bad thing in their minds. And further along that road is privacy. I personally don't see that privacy is a very valuable thing. With privacy you lose a lot, and I'm not sure if you gain much.

    OK, so there's an article on clojure in the google app cloud. That's something I should learn how to do. I've been trying to study Clojure, and it would be good to learn how to work in google's cloud. Unfortunately, there were only three people in the company that did that. So there may well be no possible jobs doing it. It would be something more if you could do something, you might be able to sell the service, or get some company to hire you to work. There would not be people looking externally for someone to do it. You'd have to go to them.

    Wow. Saw the end of Battlestar Galactica. Just don't care.

    • May 10, 2010
    My bill was $24 without the tax. And tax on that is more than a couple dollars. So I try to pay, and again with the lip. She was going to pay all of it, but I said there might be consequences, so she proposed we split it. A compromise. I can go with a compromise. Sometimes we have to compromise. Should I feel bad that I had to threaten her? What I was thinking, was that if she paid, I would give her twice as much as I usually do after, and I don't think she likes me giving quite so much. I have gotten that quite often from different girls. But I gave her a warning, though it was very unspecific, and we backed off.

    It makes me think of that girl who liked to make out with a guy, and then say no and frustrate him until he just takes her without explicit permission. That was a story told by a comic who did stop. She asked about it after. And he was making it a joke about how you can't play with rape. But aggression could be an important survival trait. Is there some tendency for girls to push things? And for it to really be legitimate, they would have to honestly protest. Kind of a scary twist.

    I had a dream where I was talking about food with a Klingon. I don't think I have enough experience talking with Klingons to really have an accurate image of them. He seemed friendly.

    I was kind of in a sad mood. I was thinking it was because of the little stock market crash. It went down 5% in a week. From that I didn't go out except on Sunday, and after that I was better. It was really just a random thing, and now so far today it looks like it has bounced just about completely back. I've also been holding off on getting an iPad. Maybe I will go do it.

    I'm thinking about the remake of _Karate Kid_ that's coming out in a month. And it's Jackie Chan in Beijing and they are learning kung fu. His training is supposedly unconventional, maybe so it's vaguely like the original. I don't know if they had the story, and it was vaguely like the Karate Kid, so maybe they thought, hey, lets call it that and make a lot of money from that, and shifted it a bit to fit. And it's Will Smith's kid Jaden. Trying to make him a big star. Whatever. Kid acting can be quite poor. So it kind of smells. But still, you've got Jackie Chan. He is a real professional, and always puts out a good product. The old one was so cheesy. That stuff probably wouldn't play today, but I'm sorry, it's just not the Karate Kid without wax on, wax off. It's just not. Looking over one story, it looks like they do have wax on, wax off. So yay! And JC says it's in a funny way. Well, the old one was in a funny way. But probably he means he doesn't have the kid wax his car and call it training, it's probably just some line thrown in. They are really calling it kung fu kid, at least in China.

    I spent quite a bit of time thinking of telling Melissa that she looked like she had lost wait. How exactly to put, maybe just to ask if she had. Even before going to see her, because I was a little worried that she was starving herself to get ready for summer. And when I saw, she didn't seem to have taken off as much as I was thinking, but she did look like maybe a little. And then she said she was going to quit smoking, because she was running out of cigarettes. Aparrently, all the manufacturers have changed something in their formulations and now add something that makes her sick, and she has just been buying up what people have left of the old kind. But she's just about out, so she feels she has to quit. She's tried rolling her own, but that's too hard, and she doesn't have time when she's busy. So I started the conversation, She looks like she's lost some weight, but with quitting smoking, it's going to be hard. But she's hoping that with quitting smoking, she'll be able to run again. Now that would be good. I hope it works for her. I think that stuck with her, because maybe an hour later, she said didn't feel like she lost weight. I don't know. I hope she does OK.

    When I left, I said I need to get with her. And she kind of put me off again, and said she was going to arrange all the stuff she has to do that she has been having to put off. But at least this time she said we would do it some time. For what that's worth. I did say that I know she is not good at sitting down, so it's a little tough to figure out. Maybe walking somewhere.

    I finally staked up my tomato plants. I got some little stick for stakes and now getting them out of the package, they seem very flimsy. I use three at one end to try to help with that. And I'm trying to use a Florida weave, which links all of the together, so I think it might make them a little stronger. But they might just all blow over. So we'll see. They main plants all have blossoms, now. The one plant off by the strawberries is not doing so well. It's in a big mulched area, and I think the soil is not as good. The leaves were getting yellow. I should try to find what that means. And I need to give them some fertilizer again. It's raining today, which should be good. The last bunch of seedlings didn't make it, but I have three or so from the original bunch that now are about the size of the plants I might have gotten from the store, so they seem like they will make it. They weren't even tall enough to reach a first string in my weave, though, so I had to hold off with them. I should be getting some tomatoes, though. My parents have not been lucky with their garden this year, though. Something ate the roots of their tomato plants, moles maybe, so they've had to start over. And they got some squash plants, but then the ones from seed came up, so now they have some extra plants, and probably they will bring some for here. I don't really care for squash so much, so I haven't put any in here.

    • May 5, 2010
    Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

    Our washer finally died. It was thirty-seven years old. That's a long life. It leaked water on the floor, which followed along the wall and into the bathroom on the other side of the wall. It reminded us of all the flood victims around this weekend. We didn't have any kind of problem like that, though.

    I got a bunch of strawberries from our strawberry patch. Maybe half a dozen, and more than that I left to get a little more ripe. I'm a little surprised that the birds and squirrels didn't get them first. It did look like a bird might have gotten to one, but otherwise they were fine. And it looks like the way they sit on the ground, they are a little bit protected. So bonus!

    The tomato seedlings seem to be making it. They are still quite small, and I don't know if they will make it to fruit. The other plants are getting good sized, though still not close to full-sized. I haven't even staked them yet, though I better get on it. But a couple of them already have blossoms. The breed is Early Girl, so they aren't kidding. I kind of think the plants are really too small to be producing tomatoes. We'll see. And I think this may be a breed that doesn't keep making fruit forever like you kind of expect for tomato plants.

    To laugh in the midst of suffering. So before going down to Bardog, I tried an ATM and it was down. Then a second one. Ouch, it must have been the network. I had to go back home and pick up another c-note just in case. And driving in to midtown, I remember thinking that I could just use my Starbucks card, and probably Melissa would pick up the tab. I only got chicken tenders. But the atm in midtown was working, so I was fine. But I could see it probably meant bad things for Melissa, and yes, the credit card was up and down all night. So she was really suffering. At one point, she was struggling to handle some checks, to ring them up, and an old guy just started pointing and laughing at her. And while at first a little hurt, she actually started smiling and laughing too, despite having such a hard time. At closing, by herself, she was again sturggling and wasn't going to be happy. Aldo told her she had to stay until she got everything though, so she would probably be there until 6. And she had an exam in the morning, which must not have been good. But in the middle of it, on account of a guy, from Wisconsin, laughing, she was able to laugh and be just about as happy as I've seen her.

    We put the old washer by the curb, and now half an hour later, somebody is picking it up. They wanted to charge ten bucks to haul it off. Now somebody could actually make some money off it, maybe.

    • April 28, 2010
    When the student is ready, the teacher will come. Or maybe it just seems that way. I haven't really been that into the movies I've been watching lately. I just watched _Eraserhead_. I really had no memory of it at all. When I watched it, it seems like I recognized stuff in it. I still don't think I get what it is supposed to be about, so maybe there just wasn't anything to stick. And it just seemed weird for weirdness sake. But then I watched just a little nothing sort of romace called _Strictly Sexual_. It really just seemed like fluffy light stuff, and yet, something about the writing. Maybe it's a little cliched. Fish out of water, little rich kid. Kind of Flat Stanley characters. Something about it got me. You must feel! It's beautiful to feel! It seemed to go kind of meta. One of the characters is a screenwriter. So someone wrote a screenplay where one of the characters writes screenplays. It's that kind of thing that makes me think it's a writer being indulgent. OK, the story is the screenwriter rich chick goes to a hotel bar to pick up a guy whore, and there are these construction workers from Brooklyn running out of cash who just picked up and went to L.A., and rich girl's friend a fashion designer, and the pick them up. Farce ensues. Fashion girl is frigid. She gets sensitive moron pretty boy, and princess gets wild passionate one, and they make them cabana boys. Frigid girl learns the ways of sex, and brat learns to love. But in there, tough passionate guy takes up writing. Doesn't work out with them, but brick models for fish girl, gets offer to work in Milan, but gives that up to be with the girl he realizes he loves. Kind of a smoothie of a movie.

    It reminded me of the line from Corso's poem "Marriage" which I linked to. I'm also reading some little bits about it. Poetry was fun. I used to do sad little adolescent bits of it. I've got that junk sitting around here somewhere. But I never was serious, and I didn't develop or keep up. I probably would have been more of a prose poet, anyway. Did I mention someone once said I reminder her of Jack Kerouac. I think she was on acid at the time. Just some kind of college party. Seems unlikely you'd find anyone who would know the guy now. And I was thinner then. More likely to wear white t-shirts. Poetry of course reminds me of Wynne. It's seems odd that I can find stuff from her now. And Kim got a MFA, so she has studied writing poetry. I could have studied writing this year. Maybe it would have been good. There were several things I could have studied, but I really just kind of decided to be lazy. Maybe that's fine. The cultural story of the talents. The little Jesus story about the three servants, each given a talent, which was just some money, but really anything of value. One hid it under a rock, and the other two invested them and used them and got them to grow. The one that hid it under a rock lost it. It's a story. And it's suppose to express how valuable it is to make use of things. But I'm not so sure. There's pain in work.

    One of the lines in the movie hooked me. Brat's ex-boyfriend came by, and then hung out with the dudes, and told them he stays friends with all of his ex's, it's kind of a Zen Buddhist thing. And that was funny to me, and think few people would get it. It's the exact opposite of a Zen Buddhist thing, which in a Zen Buddhist way, makes it a Zen Buddhist thing. And you get the feeling that he's just L.A. shallow and doesn't know any better, and yet it's true. The mind boggles. It's what I would call writing.

    So, we're going to do a demo for the kung fu school. We practices fanzi quan, which we have been studying. Louie said he was not comfortable with it. He wasn't kidding. He really doesn't quite have it. Reecie was more mellow, but she is quite shakey as well. I was all for it, and I think I'm solid, but I don't know about them. It was David who wanted to learn it, and he won't make it to the demo. He did it, and he's very solid. So I don't know how it's going to go. I don't feel nervous at all. I was thinking recently how I really don't think I get nervous so much any more. Shy maybe. I'm still not so good talking on my feet. But it seems like performance nervousnous does not get me. I don't talk in front of crowds much, but the idea does not scare me, like it seems to most people. That's about embarassment. Maybe I'm not so scared of being embarassed any more. And yet, there are a lot of things I won't say to Melissa, too scared. Hmm. I think it's getting to where I just don't care about what most people think, but a few, maybe. If I can write a public blog where I talk about sad little things about me, I really must not care that much.

    I'm reading a reddit post about a math problem in a radio contest. If three people can sit around a table six ways, how many ways can 8 people sit around a table. The guy said eight factorial, and they didn't think it was right. He got his girlfriend to give the number, 40320, and she said he was right with 8 factorial. Honestly, though, that's not a number, so I don't think it's right. But it gets a little worse. I didn't get the answer right away myself, which makes me feel bad because I'm studying combinatorics right now. Looking at the discussion, I'm not sure the question is properly posed. The thing is, and this has gotten to me in the past, I can think of quite a few other possibilities. The first one, though, we might be able to get rid of. We aren't talking about a round table, because then three people would only have two ways. How many chairs are there? For six to be right, there would have to be only three chairs. Maybe it's circular and there are four chairs. Either way, there is no way for eight people to sit around it. Maybe people are just sitting on the floor, and we aren't worried about how many chairs. You can think about different rules, and get different answers, though at this point, I only have zero or 8 factorial. The rules have to make three map to six. Anyway, I don't know. For some reason, though, I didn't right of recognize six as three factorial. anyway, it's something.

    I watched _Cocaine Cowboys_. It was about some people in the Cocaine business around Miami in the 70s and 80s. The Colombians took over from the Cubans, and it got very violent. So some of the drug war legitimately became about the violence. I guess that makes some kind of sense. America needs its violence. Somewhere in there, there was something on gun control. I could have been the thing on that fat Moore guy or Nader. But they said that gun control works. Most countries don't have a problem with gun violence like the U.S. because they restrict handguns. But Michael more used Canada to say it isn't the gun. They have lots of guns but don't have our gun violence. But he didn't say the important fact that they have long guns, but they restrict handguns. Huh. It couldn't be that, it must be the economic or social conditions.

    Wow! I made this three minutes microwave chocolate mug cake, which I saw on reddit. It was incredibly easy, and didn't mess up any bowls or pots, which added to it just being easy. My mom, who bakes for real, actually seemed impressed. The cake isn't great, but it is adequate, and it's not even klitschy, which how her cakes sometimes turn out. It was actually fluffy, which I completely was not sure about. It must be something that steam or egg does. I have never made a cake before, so it was a nice first try. And I didn't even measure it really, using a regular tablespoon, and not a measuring spoon. I am quite pleased, and now I can have chocolate cake any time I want. Three minutes is the cooking time, but the scooping and mixing made it only about 10 minutes.

    And then there's the Frontline episode on the vaccine war. Mom's who opt out and endanger others. But don't think they do, out of ignorance. Another thing to remind me of Wynne, who is a pediatrician. She's a smart, successful doctor, so I might like to talk to her, but I don't think she would want to talk to me. She's also very sweet. But I kind of scared her, so I should leave it alone.

    • April 27, 2010
    Oh wow, yesterday was boobquake. I completely forgot about it. Darn.

    I'm watching a thing on Philip Glass. I don't really like him. I'm not much for classical music or whatever he does. Big effort music. But he's rich. Does movie music. Now there is a section on his sort of spritiual stuff, like Buddhism, but he doesn't call himself a Buddhist. He says he's interested in taoism. In that sort of diverse interest, including being Jewish, he reminds me of Cliff, who also studied music. He does chi gung and felt it after 5 years. Well, I guess I might have 2 more years. Being rich, he knows all kind of famous people. Ginsberg, the Dalai Llama, Ravi Shankar. All kinds of film makers, of course. They had Scorsese and Woody Allen. So he just said something that kind of illustrates what I don't like. He was talking about some kind of adventure weirdness out in the desert maybe that he did when was 65, and he said most people were retiring to the bahamas and playing golf. No. Most rich people are doing that. I guess other people don't count.

    • April 26, 2010
    I've been feeling a little gloomier or grumpier than usually, I think. Maybe just regular variation. But also, I think I might have something that might be involved. I was anticipating going to the wine race. And Melissa would be with Josh. So I'd be hanging out with them together. When I was doing that, I was much less smiley and happy looking than I think I usually am around them. But it sure seemed like Melissa was exactly the same as she usually is with me. And I thought it was a little odd at Bardog after it. They had gone to Starbucks, but I think they must have also gone to the store to get some lemonade. And they walked in and Josh was carrying it. I think that's a little pitiful to make him do that, but it's Melissa being incredibly sweet again because she made a special trip just to do that for me. Then she had to go so Brooke could finish her shift. And she was just so pleasant to me, and I was being very cold. Even at the wine race, I didn't spend all my time with them. I went around with Asa a bit, and went around and hang out with different folks. Also, it seems like Melissa has been covering my tab, but this time, I got a special that was $25 and she hadn't given me my tab, but I was able to give her the money for it, and I was saying since it was so much, I should pay, and she didn't even put up any resistance this time. Seems like I have trouble too often, and maybe I could do it more. I like for her to be nice like that, but I wish she wouldn't.

    At about twenty 'til 10, I said I was going to go to Starbucks to get her another one. And again with the lip, she was saying I didn't have to, but I said very plainly that I wanted to. I think I had to do it twice, and she did give in. One ominous thing. I looks like she didn't eat anything that day. I asked her if she ate something, which I do fairly often, and this time she was kind of evasive and didn't come up with anything. That girl. But seeing her with Josh. She is just so devoted to him.

    Man, I was with Melissa off and on for about 12 hours. It doesn't get old. She she went off the shoulder today. some kind of tube top at work, and something else during the day. I'm not sure why she needed somethign different for work, exactly, but thinking now. She had a white skirt with some kind of salmony top, but that skirt didn't have pockets she would need at work, so she had to have her little denim skirt, but then maybe the top wouldn't match any more, so she switch to a blue one. Quite yummy. I guess it's hard to separate out how much is just liking how she looks.

    Bardog did really well in the wine race. They were running pretty hard, and didn't spill anything. A lot of people went a little too fast and then lost bottles. But it seemed that was more about the wind gusting. So quite a bit was just being lucky enough not to catch a wind gust. But that's fine. They got third place. This time Melissa didn't have time to help Jeanne with her queen of the vine costume, and she just didn't get it together.

    • April 25, 2010
    I couldn't sleep, so I stayed up a little longer to watch _Enron: the smartest guys in the room_ and finish off a little sudoku. I've gotten to puzzle 500 right at the four month mark. That's a pace to have it done in a total of ten months. I guess that will work. They're going to get much harder, of course. I've got a hundred fifty more at this level, which is only 3 out of 5. And except for maybe a few at the beginning of the section, I've done all of these withour writing out the possibles. So that makes them fairly easy. I imagine it's just going to get grossly painful after this. But as a plus, it seems like I must be getting better. As for Enron, I learned how some big banks were complicit, like Citbank and Chase. I actually burned them myself, so now I don't feel so bad.

    • April 23, 2010
    Happy Friday the Twenty-third!

    I didn't get her name. I little girl walked up to me and talked to me a bit. First I was at the jukebox, but then she came over to me at the other end of the bar. She said I looked happy all the time. And I said thanks. I don't have to work right now. I really wasn't very friendly, especially compared to her. She said she liked me shaved, though she also like me with the beard, too. Most people aren't happy all the time.

    So I'm seeing something different now. The video will pause, but I noticed that the timer keeps counting, and after maybe five or ten seconds, it will come nack after a pause. Maybe it was doing that before, but I wouldn't give it enough time to come back. I don't know. Seems like before I would kill the process, and it wouldn't be able to recover, or maybe I would pause it.

    I started watching a Frontline episode on the digital nation. They have a bunch of MIT kids. I don't like MIT kids. And maybe that's part of the deal. They themselves talk about how great they are at multitasking, but then they have some psychologists testing them, and they are actually very poor at it. Luckily, there is grade inflation to make up for it. What I don't like is how important they think they are, how sure of themselves. Maybe spoiled would be the word. But somewhere, I know I read about how the parents of some kids in some kind of economic group have empowered them to feel entitled, that they should get what they want because they are so special. Annoying is what it is.

    I just read an article against paying for online dating. It's from a free dating site, OKcupid, so they have an interest in making the pay competition look bad, but it does statistical analysis on it. The main sort of fact that they have is that on paid sites, usually more than 95% of the profiles are from people who aren't paying, so they can't answer back. That makes the experience quite poor. Guys will get frustratrated, and then send poorly done messages, and that will annoy girls. I did finally give up my subscription to match.com. I met two people from it. Still, the analysis suggested you might get one reply in 100. I didn't get very many but it wasn't that bad. Also, the profiles list how recently you've had activity. That seems like it would indicate you must be a subscriber, but I guess not. Part of what they go for is to try to persuade people to subscribe so they will reply. I think I just recently lapsed, and somehow I got maybe it was a "wink". Possibly fake, or something. I don't know. They keep sending stuff. But I've given up on them.

    I also saw an online game game where you're a shark

    Yay! My tax money came in. It's actually been in several days and I hadn't checked. And since I got more money back than I put in, "refund" isn't really the right word.

    • April 20, 2010
    I started reading _Lamb_. Angela insisted, and I've had it sitting around so I said I would. But I'm in chapter two, and I don't find it remotely funny, and I don't think I will. The story is of Jesus' childhood friend Biff. But I guess it assumes you believe that a lot of the Jesus story is true. I just think most of it is made up after the fact. Specifically, the story of the special birth. It's not even consistent in the Bible because it says his family didn't believe the stuff he was saying. So the premise of it doesn't make sense to me. They also mention a camel through the eye of the needle. It was a rope through the eye of the needle. That actually makes sense as a metaphor.

    So, I'm kind of bummed out the Kimberly Hill doesn't accept me as a facebook friend. She's a cute little girl I see at shows with Super 5. I think she's cute, so I'd like to see the pictures she has. And she's got hundreds of friends, but doesn't accept me. She may not recognize me. I don't know. I've recenly tried to reduce my facebook friends to people I know personally in some way, though they may just be acquaintances, and some are people from the intp, but I feel fairly close to some of the intpish.

    I got through the third season of battlestar galactica. I think they've gone a little weird. Starbuck is back from the dead, and it looks like it's just fantasy, not science fiction. They did something with "All along the watchtower" but whatever cover they are using doesn't sound to me like the song. And they have the lyrics stuck in there, and it just seems goofy. I should be done in a couple of weeks, maybe.

    I've got a thing to watch Netflix download on the wii. It's kind of more convenient seeing it on the TV than just on the computer, I think. It's easier to have food with it on there. Mostly I've got documentaries. I saw something on Michael Moore, and something on Ralph Nader.

    Donnie and Melissa were talking. Donnie said he doesn't like to spoon or cuddle, it's too hot. And Melissa had to agree with that. She said she would be like, get away. She doesn't like to be too hot when she's sleeping. Boo.

    I decided to shave. Getting too itchy, and I finally found someone, Angela, who didn't like it. I think it was about time.

    Maybe it doesn't sound like much, but we don't have computers or robots that can name things, that is, just tell you what something is called. There's isn't even really an idea of how you would do that, though really, that isn't all that clear a thing to ask. Given any particular something or other, it could be called a large number of things. You might call a person a person, or a man or a woman, or by his name, or maybe a brother or sister, or a cook or a worker. There are so many possibilities, and what you might say would depend on what you are trying to do. Language is really more of a game that we play. But it's a game that computers don't play.

    • April 19, 2010
    I was talking to Angela, and at some point, she asked me if I used drugs, and I said no, but my pupils were huge. And I went and looked in the mirror, and yes, they were really large. I didn't think I found for sure what it was. At this point, I suspect maybe it was because I was just excited because Heather was there. I don't know how that stuff works, because Heather was there, but I was talking to Angela. Maybe I just like Angela too. And this time, we were pretty close to the juke box, and Heather was putting in tunes, and I said, Hey Heather. Angela asked if Heather knew me, and not really, so that was a little creepy. So Angela gets Heather over there, and we all introduce ourselves, which was kind of nice. Heather always has her cleavage very prominant, and as she was talking to some folks, one guy said they were very nice, and she said she paid for them. Still very nice. Heather is very beautiful. Several people were talking about that. And she's very friendly. She's a nurse. I don't know if it came out, though, when we were talking, because Angela is a nurse, too. I need to say something, next time I see them. Heather did say that Angela was very pretty.

    Angela also said that she didn't like the beard so much. She didn't even recognize that it was me until I came up to her. She suggested maybe a goatee, but I think that would be too much work for me, so I may get rid of it soon.

    I surely don't know what it means, but I saw Melissa naked in a dream. She was on the other side of the room, though, with lots of other people around. My thought is that maybe I'm letting go a bit.

    • April 15, 2010
    Happy Tax Day!

    I finally did my taxes maybe a couple of days ago. It was a lot harder than I was expecting. Maybe three hours to do. What I didn't realize is that every time I sold mutual funds had to be listed out individually, with the sale date, the purchase date, and the sort of basis plus the sale price. And this was all using a fairly feeble interface. Also, I tried to use their free version, and I chose it, but at some point they asked if I wanted to import old information, and said sure, but apparently, that requires paying for it. Once I clicked that, it never let me undo it. I went out and went in again, but it stuck with me like herpes. I couldn't get back to a page to start over and go back to a free version. So I was very unhappy with that. So I would say avoid HR Block. And above that, while I was putting in my mutual fund sales, it had a check mark for if the sale was a wash sale, and that would substract out some of the losses, but my investment company actually had the sales only partially as wash sales. So they didn't let me put in the information exactly. It ended up not mattering because I had more than the $3000 minimum allowed losses, but it was something more. But on the plus side, apparently with the Democrats in power, there were some kind of money giveaways, and I got back about 50% more money than I put in. That really doesn't seem right to me. And I tried to uncheck that crap, but it wouldn't take it off. It doesn't seem likely that it will do me much good. I'll probably blow it or something.

    The jury duty meeting I went to on Wednesday was only a preliminary meeting. They only wanted to exlude those obviously ineligible people, like non-citizens or non-residents, and give out an designated week. They had a system where you could stand in line and maybe get a week you wanted, or at least not get one you didn't want. I've got June 14-18. They said 80% make it out by Tuesday. A combined 2% get out Monday or take more than a week. So those aren't so likely. They had maybe 3000 people there, and they got through pretty quick I waited till near the end of the week selection, and got out in two hours.

    Over several days recently I had little tasks I needed to do. Put out the plants, move money around, do taxes, wash dishes, go to jury duty, go shopping. I think I've got everything done, but I've got a lingering feeling of having something I need to do. I might have forgotten something maybe. Or maybe just the feeling is hanging around. I don't know.

    I went to Kroger, and looking through the meat reduced for quick sale, I saw a package of steaks, about 4.3 pounds reduced to $10. They weren't so great cuts, but they looked pretty good. I didn't feel like frying them like steaks, so I tried just slow roasting them. I put them on 200 for maybe three hours. I had put a little water in the bottom, but they really just lost all their liquid, and it ended up almost like a stew. So not the best of cooking, but it was OK. If I had just made them like steaks, I would have just eaten them completely one at a time, but like this, I can just cut off a little bit at a time and nibble. And just solid au jus. I haven't even made gravy the last two times I cooked beef. It goes fine. And I made some rice. I've about run out of potatoes and I don't have any bread. So, except for now having some rice, I'm almost going carb free. For breakfast a few times I've been having just eggs, sausage, cheese, but no bread. It really does seem like I don't get as hungry when I do that. I'm thinking eating four pounds of steak isn't going to be great, though.

    Just saw an article suggesting we can do two things at once, but not more. Maybe. Doing two at once is hard enough, though.

    • April 10, 2010
    I don't know if it was good or not. In one of the BS G episodes, they say they only see seven of the human cylons, and make it some kind of mystery. I don't like mysteries so I googled it to see what the deal was. It will turn out that a smattering of the main characters are actually cylons, but they had some kind of memory wipe or something. It just sounds so contrived. Just a TV show. And they decided just to go weird at some point. Whatever.

    Melissa really seemed to be so tired as to be delirious. Seems like she was trying to tell me I didn't have to tip her so much or something. But she said thank you so sweetly. She is really sweet.

    Gardening today. I put out the tomato plants. And some of the seedlings. A couple of the plants actually had three plants clumped together and I did not separate them. Maybe I should have. And I don't thing the seedlings are going to make it. They really didn't have significant roots. But I can give them a week. Plenty of time to put in other plants. The strawberry plants have a lot of blossoms. Probably the critters will get them. I need to do something about the critters.

    • April 9, 2010
    I just saw an article about a near vegan who eats oysters. It makes sense. Oysters are technically biologically animals, but are so close to plants as to work for someone trying to stay vegetarian. Though I'm not sure I totally get the pure vegan. No eggs. I guess they are pretty cruel to chickens when taking their eggs. And no milk. Again, maybe they're being cruel to the cows? I think the main idea is that the animals feel pain. But oysters probably don't really feel pain like any other animals or us because they don't have brains, or even a central nervous system of any kind. Even lobsters possibly have some kind of pain reaction. And most oysters are just farmed, so we don't destroy the environment to get them. But like the thing says, This is not the case for clams and mussels, which they get by dredging the surface, really messing it up. There's even some plusses to oysters over plants, because there aren't so many tractors (with fuel) and fertilizers and pesticides involved. As filter feeders, they help clean the water. Well, OK!

    Man, I still haven't done my taxes. That's kind of sad. I need to get on it. And I need to put the tomatoes in this weekend. I went to the hardware store to see about getting some more plants. They have them for a dollar each, which seems like it wasn't too bad. The plants in the breed I wanted didn't look so big as the others, though. And they didn't have a convenient flat to hold just 10 like I wanted. The flats were like 16 plants, and just with everything I decided to hold off. And I come home. I've got a dozen seedlings in this second batch. I think I will just Put them in the ground like this. Maybe they live, maybe they die. I was probably going to just give up on them anyway, so I might as well give them a chance. My dad was saying the last bunch got sunburned and I put them out before they were ready for full sun, but he just says a lot of things that he thinks, and acts with complete confidence when in fact not even that often correct. It might have been that. I think possibly I didn't give them enough soil space to develop a large enough root system. Plants are leaves and roots to suck up stuff. They're not all that complicated, really. With not enough roots, they wouldn't be able to suck up enough water. Right now, my big plants haven't even really been growing, and I haven't even really watered them so much, and they haven't really wilted so much. My first batch, I think I may have let wilt a bit too much. And that's going to be an issue with this garden. I have a problem with not always watering plants enough. I'll see how it goes.

    Poor Melissa. It looks like she didn't pass her biochemistry test. And she talked to the guy. He said it was easy and some people got 100%. I didn't quite hear and follow what Melissa was saying about that. It seemed like she was suggesting that maybe there was some cheating. He also said she wasn't getting it. That might just be. It's a touch subject, with a lot to memorize and learn, and you have to have a lot of strong background in the underlying basis, like organic chemistry, to just be able to follow the material in that class to begin with. And Melissa don't sleep so much, so it is must be even harder to absorb the stuff in the first place. She works full time. There's nothing to say that it's even going to be possible for her to learn the material with the effort and time she is able to put in. It could just take more than she is giving. There may be people who are doing well because they have more time to put in, and maybe they are just more interested and better at it learning this particular type of material. And one thing about Melissa, she's got the fear in this class. I've seen it. You start doubting your ability to pick up some material, and you just don't think you get it, and it doesn't sink in. You think there is more to it than you are seeing and it doesn't make sense, when in fact you have simply not taken up a sort of emotional response of accepting how things are. I've seen it in math a bit. It's kind of an attitude of I can't get it. You really want to have the feeling that it's really not bad.

    I did go down to Bardog on Thursday night after kung fu. Asa asked why I went down there in the week, which was unusual for me. I said I wanted to see how Melissa did on her biochem test, which was really probably the main reason. And she might need some comforting or sympathy if she didn't do well, which I thought was likely, and it surely would be nice to help celebrate if she did well. It was really full, though. I had to park down a hill where they quite often have cars broken into, because you can't see it so easily. And I couldn't leave it there. I was actually not so worred about my car being broken into. Since mine is the cheapest car Toyota makes, it just happens to be less likely to be broken into. And I actually still have enough money to buy a couple more if I had to. I have to admit that really, the only thing I care about is how upset Melissa is when I park down there. She worries, and has told me not to do it. So after and hour or so, I just parked in the alley. Asa said he has done that a lot. And he could come tell me if there is a problem. And really, I was thinking about it. I don't worry that much about getting a ticket. Really the only thing I care about is for Melissa not to be mad. And then sometimes a parking place would open up, and I could have moved into it. Asa kind of encouraged me to just be a rebel. And like I said, it wasn't that big a deal to me, so I just left it there.

    And I asked Melissa if she had eaten anything. I do that pretty often. And today she said, no, she hadn't. And I think that kind of makes sense. Some people don't eat when they are stressed, and Melissa was really pretty stressed. So there. She did get something. A pickle and an egg roll. She also has lattes, which have a lot of milk, like 16 oz. each, and she'll have like 4 in a day, so just from that, I don't worry about her all that much. But one thing that gets me. Her boyfriend should be making sure she eats. It seems like a minimal thing. And maybe it would be just too annoying to have someone that does that. And I absolutely don't ever know how her relationship is going. She never ever talks about it, and I don't think I should be asking, but still. And on Sunday, she seemed like she really needed to just be comforted, and that's a BFs job, but I didn't really want to say anything. She's got some issues. I would like to help her out, but it doesn't seem like is into that. And it seems like she kind of proud and wants to always take care of herself and not rely on anyone. Blech!

    So part of the deal was that she was really tired. She really looked like she might not be able to drive home. I told her, though, when I was leaving that I've seen her more tired than this, though she did look very tired. This time, though, it seems like David who was working, probably wasn't going to let her get away with it, and was going to put her in a cab. He was going to get Asa to take her, but he didn't have his car. Possibly however Asa was getting home, they arrange it to go with Melissa. So they are looking after each other, there.

    I just saw a little reddit discussion on compilers. Specifically, it was about a kind of data structure called control flow graphs that is kind of old school. Dude seems to be saying that computer science has found stuff that is better, but they still use them because the main textbook on compilers, called the Dragon Book because it has had dragons on the cover of all the editions, uses them. The book gets updated, but it's not really a start from scratch thing, so it keeps the main stuff, and this is one of the main things. I guess that's how science goes.

    I probably should let it go, but writing about it helps me let go, so here it goes. Listening to Ron Moore in his podcasts about Battlestar Galactica is like hearing a guy jack himself off. And they have them where he gets on with David Eick, and it's like gay porn. Just an hour of slurping noises. Not really my thing. In season three, though, Mrs. Ron is starting to get on them. I didn't like them before, but somehow they managed to make the commentaries worse. She some kind of costume designer. But she doesn't know how to sew. OK, whatever. But she didn't seem to understand that the human-style Cylons reincarnate. So she wasn't following how Caprica six was the same person. Maybe it's just a detail, but it seems like the story couldn't really have been making sense. So how was she watching it? It seems like the kind of thing, where people will laugh along, even though they don't get the joke. The mind boggles, and I really am not happy having to listen to her. She talked on the little newsboards. I don't know. I got three in this week. If I keep up this rate, I'll be through with them all in a month. Now I'm just trying to get past it. That's really just sad.

    And they had this thing where they settled on a planet for a year, and then the cylons took over, and they escaped after a few months. It was like they were completely changing the series, but it was just a four episode arc, and then I guess they're back to where they were. It seems so TV.

    OK, reasoning by analogy. This is not a valid way to find something that is definitely true. But it is a way to find a proposition that might be true, and then we can see if it is. So maybe not quite reasoning. And possibly, in the analogy, there might be mechanisms in both situations being compared to make them true, so it has some kind of chance to make it true. It's a place to look for truth, not a way to find it for sure. And possibly, just psychologically, it might be a way for people to remember things, as they can keep track of which analogies work, and use those more. I think really thats more the benefit for people, because we form emotional responses favoring and adjusting how we apply different types of analogies, and that can be a mechanism for learning in the sense of adjusting tendencies to act and support beliefs in particular ways. We say intelligence. In part it's a creative ability to come up with successful ways of handling slightly new situations, though they have to be similar to other previous situations.

    There's a little shaded section of the backyard that isn't very thick with grass. Sometimes it has standing water. And maybe you would call them mostly weeds. Now it's got a bunch of dandelions, but I've been trying to pull those. It's also got a lot of little purple flowers, and a lot of little yellow flowers. I guess you would have to call them weeds, but they are little flowers. I think they are kind of nice.

    Some people on reddit are very disturbed with some of the terms for iPhone developers. The original programming language has to be one of theirs, like objective-c. It's so you can't take apps starting from adobe. And maybe so you can't develop for droid in java and just translate that to the iphone. I seems like a weird restriction, and I'm not sure how enforceable it could be. But it's a way for apple to stay in control of the software on their device. I haven't really tried doing anything for the phone yet. This really looks like a pretty terrible thing to have done. But the istuff is pretty popular, so maybe they can get away with it. Honestly, I'm not sure how much extra software you really need, but this sure hurts the idea of it been a new platform for software. I think you can use onjective-c, c or javascript. No lisp? Boo. Well, javascript is almost a lisp.

    I saw somewhere that they are looking at mini towers for phones. Some dealie that takes the phone signal and puts it onto the internet. I'm not quite sure of the details. I know the iphone already will grab a wifi for its internet if it can.

    I often watch a bit of the NBC national news if I can. But it's getting to where all I want is their little one minute teaser summary they have in the beginning. It's really enough to give me the daily overview of what's going on. I used to like the PBS summary that the do in the beginning of the show usually, but now they've moved it to somewhere as the second story, but that doesn't put it at a particular predictable time. It's somewhere around twenty minutes in, but I just don't care to watch the first story to see the daily news. So they've blown it for me. And what usually happens on NBC is that it's just a summary of their stories, and not necessarily news. I just looked at it today. I think they mentioned 5 stories. One was just their human interest story. Two were about celebrites. One was about a news story that really happened almost a week ago, but people just happen to still be talking about it, and one is something that just happened, and people are talking about it, but it's really more of a human interest sort of thing about some particular person that really makes no difference to anything. So there really is no news at all. Infotainment. A summary is as much of that as I want. And then from other sources, you can see that there is real news, but generally in other countries, so they don't talk about it. Like on the BBC news. So maybe I should just stick to the internet. But it's not a video, and sometimes there is some stuff you need to see.

    I guess what I would like would be to make her breakfast, and give her massages at night, because you have to do those most nights over a period of months for it to really work with fibromyalgia. Or maybe it really doesn't work. Getting enough sleep is probably important. And just being with her. A real relationship. Not going to happen, but it's possible in some sense, and something to imagine.

    • April 8, 2010
    I at least looked over an article titled the market colonization of intellectuals. It was kind of a little too long for me to get through all of it, and it kind of lost me. So I'm not sure what all he was on about. But it does suggest that conservatives, unhappy with liberals, have attacked the money available to support them in universities. And it's from that that you have the funding of universities getting cut. That's a little deep. Maybe I could see it. And there are for profit universities, which could be along those lines. Of course, I like the word "degenerates" over "conservatives". I did just recently see some folks say how much name-calling turns them off, though. They stop reading when they see that stuff. Oh well.

    I tried Aldi again, and this time they did have strawberries, for 99 cents a pound. I bought three. I ate one of them the first day. They had at least a pallet-- hundreds of pounds. Honestly, they weren't that good. Maybe picked too green. But they were good enough. I just like them.

    • April 7, 2010
    Again, a bit of a migraine after kung fu. Not sure what to do about it. I think the headache after the aura was negligible, so maybe I managed whatever the issue was. Drank some au jus from the roast and some milk. I wonder what it is. And it's a couple of hours after working out fairly hard, so I don't know what the connection is. Maybe something with dyhydration, maybe after I've drunk something. Since the headache isn't too bad, maybe I shouldn't worry.

    Went by the apple store to look at the iPad. It seems nice enough. They had a lot of them sitting around. Probably not as big a deal as they'd like. The on screen keyboard actually seemed big enough to type on reasonably. but without any kind of feel or feedback, it's probably no quite good enough, and I'd need some kind of real keyboard in addition. We'll see.

    Reading _Tihkal_. I had a reaction that while the dude is clearly a genius, the chicky not so much. And she's a mensan and all, but seems like sort of an average person who thinks she's better than she is. And I get the feeling that being married to a real genius, who probably has to constantly reassure her and massage her ego (they actually write about that), she really is confused about it. So at some point, I've decided not to word for word it, and I started skipping around. Dude is a genius, but he too seems to have some limitations as well. There's a chapter on his stamp collecting. Didn't read that. But what is some of the fun stuff? There's a chapter on morning glory seeds. Kind of unimpressive as a drug material. At some point, it was possible to by a big sack of them, though, which was I guess of some significance. I think we had morning glory growing in the garden here. Kind of a weed. I never saw any seeds. But maybe I didn't know what to look for. This gives a better description.

    Wow, I see Doug standing out there talking on the phone. I'm sitting here at Starbucks.

    What else. Chicky became a therapist. Kind of woo-woo. She has a section of all the "places" you can get to on psychedlic drugs. And it's all stuff that is basically already there. And she gives sort of poetical names to them. She's got "the void". It's when you think everything is meaningless. Basically acute depression. Fine. There's "inflation" which is where you think you're special. Know everything, that sort of thing. Actually, she calls it "the goddess" or something stupid, but calls it inflation later. She said she was too embarassed or something to put it in the first book. I'll bet. I'm thinking another word it "delusions of grandeur". A little subsection on euphoria. OK. There's the oceanic experience, where you feel one with or a part of everything. That's the kind of thing that you really hear a lot, that for some people makes the drug a nifty wonderful, gift from god sort of thing. Great. But she actually talks about how good the ego is, and how it would be bad to dissolve the ego, though there are people who say that's nice. As someone who sympathizes with advaita, this was really where I started getting tired of chicky.

    A little bit on time distortion. She mentioned on person for whom time completely stopped, and she spent forever stuck one time. Forever. Ouch. They tell one story one time, where time slowed down, and it looked like they might be able to stop it, but what would happen if they did. Could be very bad, and you might get stuck. So there was someone who got stuck. Would never try that stuff again.

    But there was one thing that stuck me. She did a thing on paranoia. I realized that I've never experienced paranoia. And it she said it was a kind of projection. You feel bad about yourself in some kind of way, or you're out to get other people or something, and you kind of turn it back on yourself. Or you internalize thinking you are no good or something. Some kind of psycho explanation, I guess I don't really get. But I just don't really have the kind of background feelings you need to get paranoia, and it hasn't ever hit me. But chicky has all those kind of issues, so it hits her all the time. Totally can't handle the weed. I'll been to all the other places she talks about, plus a few others, but I've never been paranoid.

    One fairly intriguing thing with these guys. The reserve the word "hallucination" to mean actually perceiving things or scenes or objects that you think are there, but other people wouldn't. Pink elephants, say. Just wavy lines or rippling they would not call hallucinations. Now, most places that talk about these drugs _do_ say that kind of stuff is hallucination, so their talk about the drugs is quite misleading. Because in fact, hallucinations in this sense are actually very rare for most of these drugs. He mentioned a couple, ketamine and something else, that actually do often have them, but the others, not so much.

    And then there are flashbacks. *sigh* They are used by the regressives to scare people. Mostly lies. They want to scare people by saying that if you take something, and any time for the rest of your life, you could start tripping again. That's not the deal. And they come up with a complete bogus associated idea that because there are flashbacks, there must be some kind of lingering amount of whatever drug it is lurking in your body ready to pop out and zap you. More lies. Not biologically possible. They especially say this with the weed. It's fat-soluble, so maybe it sits waiting in some fat deposit somewhere. Some tiny amount. That's probably the key to seeing that it's just bogus. This tiny, miniscule amount of drug has the same effect as the whole thing. When you deal with the raw facts of dosing requirements like dude does, you see that having a tiny amount work like that is silly. Flashbacks are a psychological phenomenon. Kind of like a memory. He gives an example of some experience or something that was unrelated to an substance, and the experience came back to him one time, and it was like he was back there again. And you've got the ptsd people having flashbacks, where suddenly they're back in the jungle again or whatever. Same deal. Nothing to do with the drugs. Just sometimes the brain will go back to some places that it's been. Drug experiences are just weird enough that they'll get stuck in your brain that way sometimes, and come back to you.

    Doug said he's going to Google I/O 2010 in May. He's been having trouble with his phone, and last year they gave out free phones at the conference. They aren't doing that this year. They're sending them out before the conference.

    David at kung fu is going to a wu shu tournament that's out in San Jose in July. I said I'd go too. Li lao shr has a friend or something out there, too, so she might go. I need to look more into it.

    One little girl sitting looks oddly familiar. I'm sure I've just seen her from here, but I think I heard her say something about White Station, and maybe I saw her out there. Her friend talked to me. Asked about laptops. Wanted a recommendation.

    Looking over the stuff from Uncle Fester. He goes on about how to grow ergot. He outlines a plan to put like a couple of acres of rye with ergot. So you get maybe 200 pounds of ergot, enough to make maybe a kilogram of LSD. That's like maybe 10 million doses. It's kind of a crazy amount. Obviously nothing he has done, and probably no one ever did that. I would wonder if even the people who make pharmaceutical ergot product do anything crazy like that. I don't know if there is a synthetic process to get the basic starting blocks for it, so maybe they do start with natural material. And I guess it's sad that I don't know that. If I had even looked over the recipes, I would know that. Just lazy. Anyway, there is a migraine medication, ergotamine, that is in that family, so yes, somebody somewhere is making pharmaceutical variations on the stuff. In fact, probably the main way to cook LSD is to start with ergotamine. Turns out, egotamine dosage is like somewhere in the large numbers of milligrams. LSD has dosage around a tenth of a milligram, so you can get quite a bit doing that. And messing with ergot, a fungus that grows on rye, and cause gangrene. Is someone going to grow two hundred pounds of it? I don't think so. So more than anything else, it's just entertaining to read. Morning glory is a lot more likely. And there's Hawaiian baby wood rose. I don't know what that is, though. Much higher level of stuff than morning glory, though.

    One other thing Uncle Fester talks about. You can make benzaldehyde from toluene. Benzaldehyde is something you can use to make meth. It roughly can do the job that ephedrine does. You need a little more stuff if you are starting from benzaldehyde than if you start from the ephedrine. The cold pill thing. I still haven't quite grokked the procedure from the cold pills, the super simple in your kitchen personal use process. But the thing to make benzaldehyde, wow that's pretty straightforward. And it's a hardcore procedure for industrial level. Like making many pounds of the stuff. And it actually involves some electrochemistry. You have to oxidize the toluene, so you use electrolysis to make manganese oxide. And toluene. I remember you could just go into Walmart and get a can of toluene. They use it for paint thinner. I'm guessing they don't have that any more. Nope. They've got some stuff that has methanol, acetone, and toluene, but I'm sure it's useless for this.

    My dad fixed a lamp we have here where the switch went bad. He likes being out at the farm, but I think he must have appeciated how nice it is being in the city and not having to drive 20 miles to get to the store. He had to make quite a few trips to get parts and things. One time he got the wrong thing.

    So I don't know how bad this thing is with Melissa. It's kind of nice to just have a nice friend like her. I hope she likes having me, just as someone who cares about her and doesn't make any demands of her. At least I think I don't. She keeps doing the stuff with the lemonade, and I hope that doesn't get old for her. It's just so sweet. But sometimes she has been late for work trying to take care of it. I'm not so happy that she has trouble like that. So maybe I am a little bit demanding. But really, I think that's more something she's gotten in her head. I like it, and I hope it makes her at least feel a little bit nice to do something for me. I try to take care of her to the extent I can. I'd do more if she was into it. But for me, what? I don't feel like I need a lot of attention, and this seems really just about right for me. And the plus is that I don't go to titty bars. I really just don't even feel the desire to, which surely must be a plus. But on the other hand, I also haven't actually gone out on any real dates. That also hasn't seemed like I really needed to. But that's a bad thing. I probably should be talking to people. I'm not making an effort. I probably should be. And it's a thing I've had a problem with. Waiting for maybe something to happen with someone that just won't, and using it as an excuse to not take an risks for getting to know someone new. But there's also the thing that I don't think I really like most people. There's that.

    So David at Bardog was really drunk. He was telling me that I should talk to his sister some time. She's really smart, maybe in Mensa or something. I really should do that. I think I have met her some time, but I don't remember right now which one she is. And I don't know her name. But I should definitely try to be friendly.

    Tink on Facebook had a link on something what might make people shy or introverted. Some kind of "sensory perception sensitivity". Doesn't really sound like a real thing, necessarily

    My laptop tudor ran a chkdsk when it rebooted. It looked like there was trouble, and it really would only schedule one of those if it had detected some problem. It doesn't even automatically try one of those anymore when it detects an unnatural restart. It has to be specially flagged to do one. And it can't run chkdsk while the operating system is running, after it's loaded. It has to do it before everything, so it has to set some flag somewhere and run it instead of loading everything. I didn't quite see what problems it found, but it said there were zero bad sectors. I'm guessing it's gotten more sophisticated than back in the day. It used to be that when there was a problem in a spot on the drive, it could just mark it as bad. But that's a very naive approach, because a disk drive that is flaking more than likely has problems that aren't really in a particular spot so much as dust that's getting kicked around such that you just get errors in different spots. At least that's my understanding. And I think this drive and the operating system now is just handling it in a completely different way. It's gotten so it just deals with the errors a bit better. There are ways to deal with correcting errors on reads, so it's just handling stuff mostly now a bit under the covers, and not kicking the errors higher up to the applications. That's my suspicion. Of course, it could just be that the problems I'm having are just different from what I'm thinking. I think I need to get a new drive, though it's always so much work to rebuild everything. It would be good if I could do that, and get a thingamajiggy to connect the old drive with USB. I hear they have that kind of stuff, but there might be an issue getting one that works with this laptop drive. They make those special, some way. Checking, a drive would only be like a hundred bucks. I should just do it and not whine. It is quite a bit of trouble, though.

    • April 5, 2010
    My poor brain! It can't contain the thought. Melissa clearly had gotten some sun, and I asked her about it. She had lain out a bit, bit was having trouble getting it even. So she said she really needed to wear a bikini. That's an image that's little too much for my poor brain to deal with.

    They've called me for jury duty next week. I'm not sure how that's going to go. I hear that now they're going by driver's license. They used to go by voter registration.

    My newer laptop Tudor seems to have some disk errors. When I play some files with VLC the computer freezes up. And I had suspected that it was a disk error before when the whole OS crashed and I needed to reinstall. I haven't been able to get a disk fixit scan to go through. And I've been getting quite a few blue screens. But I tried just making a copy of the file that was freezing, and the copy worked ok. So I'm thinking there are bad patches sitting what was just a little ways into the unused disk area. I think it was crashing when it was trying to use the bad sections for disk swap area. But at a certain point, the bad areas got into some files I created, and then only good sections were left. Because it was doing pretty well for me just recently, while my free space was kind of low. But I just had to delete big chunks because I need the space. So I expect that I'm going to have trouble. And it's a little interesting that it could copy the files over, though there was probably some bad stuff in it. I think probably this particular program just is not robust enough to deal with the read errors. It's freeware.

    • April 4, 2010
    Happy Easter!

    • April 3, 2010
    I just had a reaction that life is just too easy. I was eating on this beef roast that I just made. It was on sale for about $2 per pound so it cost like $8. I went out to temperance and got the prime rib, which was $19 with a salad and mashed potatoes, so that was really probably too much. Better cut of meat, sure, but it wasn't really that much better. It seemed like Kroger had some kind of rib roasts, but they were like $10 a pound. Ouch. I think I'm not that picky. And it seems like it's a lot better cooked rare. Mom usually makes it well done. Anyway, life is easy for me right now. I think somewhere in there, my mood was a little grim and I wasn't seeing much point. Maybe just loneliness. So it fluctuates.

    I've been watching downloaded stuff on Netflix. I saw _Enlighten Up_, which is about yoga. Some little girl, Kate Churchill, was into yoga and making documentaries, so decided to do a documentary on yoga. But she was going to get someone who was not a yoga person to look into it, and see if it changed his life. The guy she found to do it was a journalist, and was quite skeptical. He had some kind of white collar conventional dad, but his mom was a shamanic healer, of all things. So the go to the little crappy American yoga schools and see the little space cadets. Doesn't really do much. And they go see some famous yoga guy in Hawaii. That's not enough for them, so they go to muddy smurfing India. First Hawaii guy's teacher, but they also go so Iyengar. He's like the only yoga person I actually have heard of. I studied yoga for some while, I don't remember how long, but they talked about Iyengar. Lou Hoyt. I miss Lou. Anyway, so they talk to Iyengar. Taskmistress must have been on about how it's all spiritual, because that seems to be what dude thinks he's supposed to be looking for, and he's just not seeing it. So Iyengar sets him straight. He started studying as a kid because he was really sick. He just wanted to be able to stand up and walk. He didn't get into the spiritual stuff until later. So, just what you want to get out of it. Then they kind of travel around. They learn about bakti yoga, which is the bigger thing in India. Devotion. Probably the Hare Krishna's would be the best example. You might try to do stuff through your own power, but bakti yoga is not like that. And they talk to some other kind of big guru, but I forget what all he talked about. I don't know. I wonder if Cliff ever made it out to India. That might be something to try.

    What else. I saw some mythbusters. Meh. There was also something on philosophy, _examined life_. Philosophers can be some flaky folks. It seemed like they tried to be kind of artsy by talking to them as they walked around and stuff. One huy was rowing in a boat. Another was just driving around it looked like New York. Some guy was talking about ecology walking around a garbage dump. Trippy.

    • March 31, 2010
    Well, I sure feel pretty happy right now. I must believe that a good bit is the freedom, but it seems like I was doing pretty well when working too. Just having a more flexible sleep schedule though seems like it must be a lot better than when I was working. It might be possible to be more independent about doing stuff and still have incoming. Writing can be like that, if you can get paid for it, but programming could be like that too. My only real programming work experience, though, has been conventional 9 to 5 sorts of corporate programming, so I haven't actually seen it happen personally. Now though, or at least some time this year, I should start looking at finding some kind of work again. Maybe this time I can do a better search, especially if I don't wait till all the money is gone and it starts being a matter of desperation. There are lots of people out of work though, so it's a rough market, it seems like. They've all been holding on with unemployment though, and I haven't been doing that. So it's still rather different for me.

    This time, I was wanting to give Melissa my usual amount, but I was thinking that probably she was going to be resistant. My birthday and all. She was trying to do something for me, and it would have totally messed it up as a gift if I had given her money. But I gave it at least a shot. And I'm not sure but maybe just doing that little might have hurt her feelings a little bit. I was also contemplating just stuffing it in her pocket or somewhere. Jeanne actually stuff money in her pocket one time when they were hugging. She might have suspected that too, because after a little hug, she kind of flitted off and moved to a safe distance. Said "no money". I said OK. In the past, I think I usually convey that I'm a little disappointed that she does this, but hopefully this time it came across that I think she's being sweet. She _is_ pretty sweet. And this kind of thing gives me an opportunity to come an extra time the next week, so maybe I'll go in tomorrow.

    The parents left yesterday. Kind of sleeping all day today. The black forest cake is already almost gone. Only one piece left, though we did freeze a few pieces. The leftovers are dwindling. Should get back to the usual routine by myself. I'm not sure I would call it "normal" since it seems like they are here just so much. I just have two modes of living, by myself and with them around. The transitions are a little rough, maybe.

    • March 29, 2010
    Happy Birthday to me!

    I got some stuff done yesterday. It was kind of cold, so they made a fire. Since it's Spring, I figure that should be the last one, and it spurred me to clean out my papers from the 90s and burn them. Since I was getting busy, I felt like connecting my ipod to my amplifier. I had the cable sitting connected, and it was more a matter of just trying it out. But actually, it didn't quite work. I'm not sure what the problem was, but there was some kind of noise or attenuation in the signal. I think it's an actually problem in the electrical stuff in the amp. Maybe something from being dusty. Or it could be a problem with the speakers. I could use new speakers. But I guess I should try it with headphones to check. Anyway, it kind of came and went, so I don't know how it is.

    Melissa got me a big porterhouse steak for me birthday. And LeAnne got me a chocolate chambord cake. So I had a good birthday celebration there. And then my parents also got me a steak, with a ceasar salad and shrimp cocktail. And I got a black forest cake. It was just a completely different cake from the one I got at the bakery. Lighter, maybe, or at least, it didn't give me the kind of "ate too much" slightly sick feeling I got from the other. Real whipping cream makes a difference. It won't last long.

    Another year older. Doesn't really seem much different.

    Two separate news stories of religious violence today. Muslims in Moscow and Christians in the U.S.

    With all that beef, my knee is hurting a bit. Hopefully the colchicine will get it.

    • March 28, 2010
    Hmm. So I've finished watching the actual episodes in the South Park thirteenth season. And I'm looking at some of the commentaries again. The show on pee was just disgusting. I get the feeling that maybe some people really are a little bit less easily grossed out. Some people are OK with peeing in pools. That adds an extra layer of disgustingness, maybe. But in that one, there was Cartman whining about minorities. That just didn't seem funny to me. Supposedly Cartman is just the nasty part of Matt and Trey, but in some way, it is something that they actual feel. J just didn't like it. I think their storytelling has become expert, but they themselves as people still come off as pretty ignorant. I'm not sure how to put it. I hate to say immature as if there is some natural growth process where your thinking and attitudes will inevitably move in some direction. But they seem to retain a lot of anger and hate that it seems like naturally should soften up in people as the get older and settle a bit. But then, people get conservative often, too as they get old. I don't know how to characterize it. An example about them, though from a long time ago. They had an idea that maybe holding in your farts might cause spontaneous human combustion. Kind of ignorant in the sense of not having read a lot, and been exposed to a lot of different knowledge. Not really having an examined life. And I've come back to the f word. There premise is that people have moved past gay bashing. Maybe among the people they travel among. Rich people in entertainment in L.A. The rest of the country isn't there yet. Even California voted against gay marriage. So it seems like they are now maybe out of touch. That happens when you get rich and successful. And I guess I hesitate with the word "ignorant" because that's what they put into the mouth of Michael Jackson when he is responding to people he disagrees with. Kind of a mild liberal pejorative. And more than just pejorative, and out-grouping pejorative. A way to say, someone different and therefore bad. That very notion is something that could be considered undesirable. I like the way I've seen Buddhist put it--unskillful. Calling it bad kind of perpetuates the notion. Riding the ox in search of the ox.

    Are we created equal? Is that right? I think the idea in whatever founding document that's from, maybe the U.S. Constitution, I think the idea is that people are basically the same in how the government should treat them. Some are richer than others, even simply at birth, so in that sense, it's not true. And something the founders didn't know about, there are genetic differences in people. They will have different abilities. It's possible that they believed in the _tabula rasa_, the blank slate, I think from Locke. That's also an idea that is probably believed to be wrong in science. I think it's dangerous to have a government based on a principle that people don't believe in, so it's important to see if this is right. And I think at best it can be salvaged with the idea of right as in, it's best if things are done this way. And the idea to take here is it's best to treat people equally under the law, to not give some people special privileges for whatever reason. Like what was done for the nobility in the previous historical system. That's how that was a step up. Part of an issue, though, is that with money, it is possible to buy privilege, so the idea of eveyone being equal is just not true. That leave a question of what to do with it. The privileged will naturally want to keep it that way, so it's likely that they will be the loudest thing you will hear. And legitimately, that will think it unfair to have anything of theirs taken away. Of course, they want it to be ignored who they took their stuff from. And then there is the way how the national debt, because rich people hold the most bonds, is a way to transfer money from the poor and middle classes to the rich.

    A little disturbed by the idea you can get from Kuhn. You can't change people's minds. At all. They won't change. The only way for a general opinion in society to change is for the old people to die while the younger ones adopt a new idea. He was talking about scientific revolutions, but it is probably true for atheism.

    • March 26, 2010
    Wow, so the reddit guys didn't get notified correctly when it went down. Been there. I had to comment mentioning that.

    Some examples of how some newer scientific theories dropped stuff. Newton's theory of gravitation didn't have any sort of reason why gravity work. With nothing touching, there wasn't a mechanical reason. It just kind of described it. The idea of the earth going around the sun had several problems. If the earth is moving, and you drop a ball off a tower, shouldn't the ball move away from the tower because of the motion of the earth? There's also a fairly obsucre thing, but let me try to explain it. If the earth is moving and the sun is stationary (relatively), then when the earth goes from say one side of an orbit to another, there should be some change in the position of the stars, called a parallax, but you don't see that. Now, it wasn't till hundreds of years later that people could solve that problem. There's no parallax because the other stars are so far away. But at Galileo's time, there was no way to know that or find it out.

    Listening to the South Park Season thirteen commentaries. They've got one, the f word. They have an intention to do something like taking the word back, fags. Somewhere, they saw that it didn't originally mean homosexual, but was maybe toward women. So maybe it could shift to someone else, in this case, harley riders. Or generally big loud people. I think that's kind of a neat idea. I generally now is used to mean bad. As a pejorative to be technical. And maybe at some point it was fag as in sissy. But people really have mostly moved past thinking homosexuals are bad. So maybe we could take up fag just as a general pejorative. There is some argument with the glad people. We could see. I guess I should talk to some folk.

    I did get a little more of the bagua applications. Louie is surely into them. We did some of the sparring exercises. There's one that involves a bump that aims to knock over, or at least unbalance. And some stuff that goes right into a choke. Actually the rear-choke release as an exercise also involves practicing going into the choke. Which is a little trippy.

    Dang. They did a commentary on an episode that wasn't even finished. So they weren't watching it, even, just talking about it. There must be money in it. I haven't gone through and even watched all the episodes, and since I don't have cable I haven't seen them. Matt and Trey kind of hate the commentaries, but they do them to add some value, I guess. I think they're good. This time, it seems a little mellower. They are apologetic sometimes, but they also seem a lot more relaxed. They're successful and don't have anything to prove. And I really think they're doing a good job. Maybe they're getting a little happier or more satisfied. Hopefully they aren't going to let it slide, but with all they've done, they've really become expert craftsmen. Good writers. They try to do immature stuff, but they do it very well. They got an Emmy for "Margaritaville", though they kind of joked that the next one, "Eat, Pray, Queef" was really their best. Maybe so, M&T. Maybe so.

    My dad thinks that my tomato seedlings got too much sun so were burned. That may be it. They seemed kind of happy the first day I had them out in the sun, and actually are worse now than they were, though back then, they only had the two rounded fake leaves and now they have the kind of real tomato leaves, but really smaller or of less area than those original. I don't know. I know I also didn't seem to keep them watered right. And I still suspect that the little containers are too small for them to have a sufficient root system. So I really had given up on them, but there were actually about seven plants left when my parents came here a week ago, and they are holding on. My biggest mistake and loss, now I see, was keeping them outside when I went out of town for the weekend. Possibly keeping them outside in general wasn't so good, but that really ended it for them. Since home depot didn't have plants, I got some more seeds, and I'm trying a new batch. I think it's really a little too late to do this, unless I have a lot of luck with these new ones. It could be that I planted those others too early or it really is a matter of the container. This time I'm leaving them in the original wide common tray, which I'm hoping will give the roots more room. They were doing so well initially. Also, the little things I'm using have holes in the bottom so the water runs out. Maybe that leaves it a little more dry than they'd like. I sure don't know. But I get you learn from experience. Seedlings to plants was something I completely didn't read anything about, and I guess I thought it was easy enough, but there are obviously things I missed.

    I have some kind of soft spot for farm girls. We've had a sort of hobby farm for a long time now. Not quite a real farm. My dad was really more of a city boy who kind of romanticized about farming. And I think he went off to a farm in the war for a little bit as a boy, but they were really city people in Berlin. My mom, though, was on some kind of real farm for quite a bit. It was out in the east, and they actually road to western germany in wagons fleeing the Russians. She seems to have a lot better sense about tending the farm stuff than my dad, really. And I'm in no way a farm kid, but I guess I appreciate it somewhat. Wynne and Holly are farm girls, more or less. I think it must be less and less common. One thing it seems to do is make you work hard, kind of to have an expectation that you should be doing something all the time. Completely different from my attitude.

    OK, some wild speculation. But it would be entirely possible to have a gender difference about food preference. And I mean specifically, that men would have a stronger desire to eat meat than women. There is a particular taste receptor, called "savory", which goes along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. All you would need to do is to connect up whatever controls what you want with that receptor. I haven't actually heard of anyone investigating if that really happens in people, but at least anecdotally, it seems like I see guys wanting meat more than women. I'm sure there's variation. Personally, I don't think that much of sweets. That also might be a little stronger in women. I'm not saying here that it's necessarily like that, only that it does look pretty clear that with the taste receptors like that, we can see bits of a possible mechanism.

    • March 24, 2010
    Augh! Reddit withdrawals! It's down. That's always painful. I want it, and then click and it's not there, and then I just keep clicking, hoping it will be back.

    I just commented to a little girl on reddit gonewild who has some kind of stalker. She posts naked pictures of herself, and somebody gets creepy and sends her email, and she gets freaked out, and pulls all her stuff. I said people can be crazy, but she shouldn't worry too much because usually they are harmless. Not fun, though.

    So there is some ISPE stuff on ning.com. Kind of a little closed community. Generally not much activity, but it can be at a pretty nice level.

    I got up late yesterday. I think when my parents are here, I naturally shift into that so I'm not with them all the time, and I have time to myself at night. Anyway, it was after eleven, and the first thing I get is where's the sledgehammer? They want to split wood. I have left it in my car when I brought them the nice wedge I have. I think it's called a wood grenade. Something about the design makes it work extremetly well. Anyway, so I get up, and immediately I get pulled into chopping wood. My dad really did most of it, spltting these logs in half, but I used the axe to chop them into fourths. And there was this one log that just would not split. It was a fork, so pretty much one big knot, which can be impossible. We definitely worked on it well past being tired out, and then just gave up and knock the wedge back out. So now my back hurts today. And I went to kung fu. I did the broadsword form, but I was tired enough that I really did it pretty poorly. And I haven't been practicin it as much. Lao Shr did tell Louis, the oldest student, to help me with the sparring practices. He's been wanting to get into that more for a long time. There is one particular exercise that I have never gotten, and just then, I found how it is a counter to a rear choke. It makes much more sense now. I bet I'll get a lot more stuff from this.

    My mom is going to make me a black forest cake for my birthday on Monday. I wouldn't have asked her, because now I'm thinking it's too much work, but she wanted to, so it's fine. And she has the kirschwasser already, which is the most expensive thing. But still, even with that, the ingredients are $10, so it's an expensive cake. And I have said it takes two days to make. That's once you have the ingredients. She's having to do all manner of preparation and shopping beforehand. Somehow, the whipping cream she bought didn't make it home. So she had to call, and she's going to have to go back for that. I should stick with cheesecake.

    Woo, that was playing it pretty close. My bank balance went down to $7.75. Everything seemed to post yesterday. I wasn't really keeping super track, and I took out a bit of cash, too, so I was lucky I didn't bounce anything. But these transactions are supposed to be looking at what is available, so I don't know what kind of risks I'm running.

    Argh, so with my parents here, they answer the phone. So all the people calling asking me for money are getting through. Not so fun. One was from U of Memphis. And it's reasonable. I've given them stuff two years in a row. But I told her I'm not working now. And she actually offered to give me the number of the employment office. Helpful, but no thanks.

    Listening to the lectures on Philosophy of Science. I'm in the sections talking about how weak induction is. You really don't know the sun will rise tomorrow based on experience. Saying you do is really more of a way of talking. It's really more what we mean by being reasonable that we think we know the sun will rise tomorrow. More convention than anything else. But if you look at the thing in statistics with the law of large nummbers, if you can take a random sample that's big enough, you can get an idea of some property of the whole population. But usually you have some sort of bias, so you are only looking at the population that falls under your bias. Not really a super valid thing.

    Argh. Another mistake. So I got up a little earlier. Actually, I've been up since 3, but I went in to the kitchen where my parents were earlier than usual. Since I was up, mom asked if I had washed my sheets recently, and I said no. So she is washing them. It's sunny today and is going to rain tomorrow, so to be able to hang them out, it needs to be done today. But part of my being able to get up early was that I was planning to take a nap pretty early. Now I can't do that because all my sheets are in the wash. Grr.

    So the girl standing behind me in line at Stabucks had a vanity plate that says "nirvana" on her little sports cars style mini BMW. She was parked next to me and I got in first. I was thinking what to say. I was thinking "I'm guessing you're a Buddhist." But I looked at her. And it was a matter of totally avoiding eye contact. So I didn't say anything. Maybe just a Cobain fan. I didn't see what she got. I felt repulsed.

    Man, I went to Home Depot to pick up an extra diamond wedge for my folks at the farm. They don't have any tomato plants. Boo! maybe they're out, I don't know. I picked up some more seeds. Maybe I'll try again.

    The thing about what is math and this thing about induction both being about the language game seems very significant to me from the perspective of AI. Our ways of thinking is quite specific to us and our linguistic bias. How a computer might deal with things would be quite different. But there is still the question of how to get a computer to play our language games.

    OK, something trippy. The notion that science is progressing, according to Kuhn, really is more about the fact that after a scientific revolution, or paradign-shift, the successful system writes the history to make themselves look triumphant. It ignores the things lost in the new paradigm.

    • March 22, 2010
    Well it looks like the health care bill is going to pass. I think that's a good thing. I kind of needed to detach a bit and not watch, because it was getting a little stressful with all the resistance in the end. And I think the conservative opposition was largely about racism, as I think I've said before. Anyway, it looks like it's going to make it. And I think I spy a cute kind of little trick in there. In the Senate, they put in some little annoying gimme clauses to get 60 votes to get past a possible filibuster. Silly special grants and things for certain states. But then, the House passed a version that I believe took those out, and the Senate is going to use some kind of special procedure for reconsiliation to let that go through avoiding a filibuster, so they don't need those extra votes. Sounds a bit sneaky, but I can kind of appreciate it as something needed to get it done. I guess what I really like is that they were able to screw the people who were trying to screw them. So it seems a lot more fair than just being a matter of trickery. I think it's so much better that they taken responsibility to try to get everyone to have health care coverage. If the only thing had been just stopping the health insurance swine from denying people, that would have been fine. It still is a bit doubtful, though. Without single payer, there is enough gaming in the system that there might be problems. But at least we'll be committed to fixing it on the side of having too much to pay for, instead of just letting poor people die.

    And I call the opposition racist because part of the opposition is that they want minorities to get sick and die, or at least don't care if they do. Maybe that's a little too harsh a way to put it. It's maybe closer to say that they feel like they are going to be ripped off by money going to help the minorities they don't like. But if you watched the news, there was actual racist actions by the crowd. They went after black congressmen.

    So, it turns out Melissa was fine. That's nice.

    I was thinking of taking the online classes in computation molecular biology, but looking at it more, I decided against it. The money was a little more than I wanted to spend, and I looked a little closer at the descriptions of the classes, and I didn't see that they had really added that much to the stuff I got in the class I already took. Plus, it was just going to be for getting access to the lectures, and I really should just be able to do the reading and get stuff out of it. They have reading lists, and I should just go through those.

    One thing I don't like is how republicans say everyone is against it. They just stand up and lie bald-faced. It's kind of their thing. I haven't really been able to follow what they say their reasons are. Something about socialism maybe. That sounds really like just some kind of fear-mongering, or an emotional attack to mask the real thing.

    OK, I like Vanna White. My folks are here, and we're watching the wheel. Her job is just to look pretty. I think that's nice.

    • March 21, 2010
    Well, interesting. I'm on a chapter in _Pihkal_ where wifey goes crazy for a week. She takes a dose of something that dude is ramping up, taking greater and greater doses to see what level makes it active. To save him a step, he gives her the next higher dose, but it's just slightly above a level that had no effect, so they weren't expecting anything. But she has a really deep effect. A two on this scale they have that basically goes to three which is tripping balls. But it turns out it really wasn't the stuff, it was just time for her to have a Spritual crisis., which she does. They say you could call it a "psychotic break" somewhere in there. And I think it's a bit fun that they don't really have a good way of distinguishing of going nuts with being stoned, but fine. One of the trippy parts of it, is these guys have a bunch of friends who are head shrinkers, psychologists and psychiatrists. Dude actually did go to medical school and lectures in some kind of brain science voodoo or something. Bitch is going crazy, so she calls some head-shrinker friend of theirs, retired sort-of, but still open to helping out. He kind of talks her down a bit. Says it's a process, will be over in a week, so just be cool, babies. When she feels like driving she would come over. This all starts on Sunday. On Wednesday, she feels better for a day, but on Thursday she's back, but she decides to drive like a space-monkey from whereever in the hills around the Bay Area where they live into Berzerkeley where the guy lives. Actually, it's not hard to figure where they live. The road is Sulgin Road after the dude's family's name. So she visits the dude. She asks what you would call it, and he doesn't call it psychosis. But to give it a name, call it "spiritual crisis". It's something he went through for a couple of years. He was doing analysis with someone who didn't have any idea. You'd have to be there, or something. So he hangs around and tries to help people going through it. At the time, he tried to go to the hospital, but they wouldn't take him, or something. I don't know. I haven't finished the wiki link I put before, but it looks like something I might want to look into more. I would bet that one of the guys in it is this dude, but they change all the names in the book.

    So, poor Melissa. I went down there Friday night. As usual, after that, I sent a message saying thanks, and after that she sent me a long text, still late. It actually split into three. I heard it, but I had been sleeping and didn't look at it then, and then it was late afternoon before I noticed it again. She was saying she was falling asleep driving, and was really having a rough time because she had a test she needed to take that was going to take three hours. Wish I would have gotten up and done something. Since I didn't see it till really too late, I didn't send anything, and I will wait until I see her on Sunday to see how it worked out.

    Watching more BattleStar Galactica. It's not too bad on it's own without the commentary. For a few, I had just watched it with the commentary, just getting the idea of the plot offhand. And then, I was watching the commentary, and then going back to the episode. I really not only don't mind having things spoiled, I prefer knowing what is supposed to be going on before it happens, so I can focus on the other stuff. The big surprise stuff really doesn't do much for me. More than anything else, it usually annoys me because it doesn't make sense to me, though clearly it must have to the writers to some extent. To the extent that writers have any sense at all, which I'm starting to doubt. This time I watched the episode first, and then listened to the commentaries. I found that the commentaries make this stuff much worse for me. I think just watching it, I can leave alone why stuff is supposed to be happening. But when I hear Wrong Moore's explanation, it always sounds stupid. On a few of them, he stopped saying they were "great" all the time, though he did get back to it. I guess it was probably a bad sign when he stopped saying they were great, but at least it was a relief.

    So, at one point, he made a big that the little fighter ships worked like rockets. They were quite capable of just coming to a dead stop, and flipping around. But then, they have this big plot point (or hole, if you will) that there's this pilot, tripped out on "stems" can control her fighter in this super fast incoming landing they have to do. It's supposed to be like landing a plane on an aircraft carrier. But aircraft have limitations that they have to keep up their speed. I don't know why I'm sticking with this series. I'm on the second season, so two and a half more seasons to go. Seems like a lot of geeks liked it, and it had some kind of philosophical things to say about AIs and identity, maybe. I think it's just not quite so deep to me.

    The Teaching Company sent another message about a one day sale. They do those on the weekends. And there was this one class I was waiting for, philosophy of science. I was thinking, if they have it, I'll get it. And I was worrying, because it's getting to the end of the month, and I've let the cash dwindle. I didn't see it in the e-mail, but I went to the site, and sure enough, it was on sale. The DVD was $100, but I could get the dowload for $50. I remember that worked really well the last time. Bunch of stuff on the ipod. So I got it.

    Spending a bit extra lately, maybe. I just order some stuff from Amazon. Some Ragnar Benson, Survival Poaching. Good old Ragnar. I wanted to get a copy for my nephew, Daniel, for Christmas because he asked for books on hunting. I didn't fell like I had time for an amazon order, so I just got him something that looked good from Borders. I plan to give this to him, though maybe I'll look at it first, and I'm not sure about gifts from nowhere. Seems like it would be nice if that were an easy thing. I don't think he would really want to do any of this poaching stuff, but I think it would be fun for him to read about. And he's a kid and probably has crazy friends who would do that kind of stuff. I also got some stuff from Uncle Fester. I used to get his stuff from Loompanics. I think they published it, but he does his own stuff now. I just noticed he's got new editions, so it wouldn't hurt me to get an update. And he's going through Amazon, which is totally cool. I assume Loom's sales weren't particularly protected, but it was probably harder for the thugs to find out about them. I know for sure that if you get something from Amazon, it's practically public information. But what can you do? Knowledge wants to be free.

    Dang. I got a package from Stanford about their online classes, and I just opened it up and glanced at it. I see that they have two classes on computational molecular biology. I've been interested in it for a while, and just recently I've come back to being interested again. It's something I'd like to go into, and clearly is the kind of thing the bioinformatics class I took was supposed to be about, but really failed at. So it would be nice to take a good class about it. But I'm totally not in the mode to be studying and doing work for a class. Plus, this appears to be the same kind of grunt genome sequence pattern matching that I saw in my class. The state of the art to me did not seem very impressive, though I do not really know the subject very well. It might be good for me to audit these classes. That's some scratch though, and it's a little last minute. They're only two months. I shouldn't be a baby about it. And in two months, I just don't think you can do so much. The deadline is Wednesday. And to pay for it, I would have to get the money extraction stuff started on Monday.

    Finished _Pihkal_. Well, the readable part. The rest is just a catalog of the different chemicals in this family he has synthesized. Don't feel like wading through it. Mostly chemical procedures with a little commentary. The last chapter was a rant on freedom and the drug war. Kind of old stuff at this point.

    • March 16, 2010
    The secret of happiness. There's an interesting question that I saw recently. Asking what it is kind of begs the question that there is one. But it seems kind of like there is a secret, at least in the sense that some people seem to be happy and others don't, and they don't know why. Happiness is pretty complicated, though. I remember the little girl at Bardog asking me how to be happy, and I didn't really have an answer, other than what's stopping you. Probably the biggest place to start is that people believe there are things you can do or get that will make you happy, and maybe they can make you a little happier for a little bit, but that effect can only be for a short time. People just naturally have a particular level of happiness for them, and whatever happens to them, they naturally revert back to that in at most a few months. Even, like winning the lottery, or going to jail or getting cancer or something. Not much really has the kind of effect that people expect, at least over the long term. And in there, I get the feeling that the thing in Buddhism that life is suffering is really wrong because it is part of this misunderstanding about the long term stability of personal happiness.

    OK, well not much that happens to a person or that he gets really changes a person's happiness, at least not how he expects. But there it does seem like there are a few things that a person can do to affect what that natural level of happiness. To me maybe. Seems like I've been less happy in the past. Maybe it's just the freedom from work talking. There legitimately are going to be things that you don't like. Some conflict with others. Shame, embarassment. Appearing subervient or less well off than other people. Being lower down in a social hierarchy has developed emotionally to be unpleasant to push people along. And that kind of points to some of what happiness appears to be about. It's kind of part of an award system to push people to doing things that are good for the species. Acquiring safety and food and family and such. And in this role, happiness isn't so much about trying to get to some place as something to be continually going after. More about the journeying than the destination. And it's kind of a mistake to reify it--to thing happiness is a thing to get instead of stuff to do and experience. Whatever. I guess I should have more to say on the subject so maybe I'll come back to it.

    I saw another interesting question on reddit. What is math? Kind of a deep philosophical question. Back from Plato, he was thinking that there is the world of ideas independent of the physical world. But I kind of like the theory that he got that from tripping balls one time. It's the kind of thing space cowboys get into. And I think it's marginally popular. In some circles, say. If you want to say there is just the material world, you do have to deal with what mathematic truth which certainly seems to be independent of the people thinking about it and dealing with it. I guess I found the discussion interesting. The insight that I think got to me the most was the idea that mathematics is more than anything else a language and a way of saying certain things in a way that we like. In particular, number itself is not something in the world. If there are two apples, in the world, there is just this apple and that apple, and it is only we who consider that they are two of the same thing, or if you have more of something, it is us deciding that they are somehow the "same" or interchangeable in a way we can count. I guess it's kind of an outcome of having stuff that we might trade with other people, so we want to keep an accounting.

    Along these lines, I remember the story of the so called primitive people who didn't have number words for more than. So they would talk about there been one of something, a pair of things, or a bunch of them. And usually you only here that bit of the story, and only sometimes will people go on to the further story. Some people like this have herd of animals. And they don't keep track of them by numbers. They are so close to their animals that the know each one individual, so let's say each on has a name. They don't treat then individually and count them, they run a roll call by name. Counting actually implies a loss of information, and treating things that actually have distinct identities as if they are interchangeable. It's a way of dealing with the world, and sure, it can work in some sense. But the way it works kind of is about reducing the cognitive load, so we don't keep track of as much. Simplifying things.

    So, in math, we talk about the world in a simplified way. And as a consequence, there are certain implications and tautologies that follow. 1+1=2 isn't so much a truth that exists in some way as a consequence of this way of talking. There are huge amounts of consequences like this, and not all of them are so obvious. Some of that is because this was of talking is a little bit unnatural.

    A little bit unnatural, but it does turn out that there is some actual inherited math ability, to some extent. We don't really know much about brain development, and how gene expression can come up with mental ability. I think that's kind of sad, but it's a tough problem that people haven't tackled yet. Still, it's clear we have some inborn abilities. We can get that because apes also have some of these abilities. Counting. Estimating quantities. Telling when one group of things is more than the other. Similarly, telling amounts and when one thing is bigger than another. That's a bit geometrical, but that actually counts as math. And it's very important in a survival sense to know when something is bigger than you, and in related situations, when other this are bigger than others. Generally bigger creatures can stomp on smaller ones. From what I see, though, for animals, bigger generally means taller, so it was really weird for people to stand up vertically--to most animals, we suddenly became bigger than them, even if maybe they actually weigh more. So we became quite scary. A lot of predators have to deal with that, and will atack bigger things. And truthfully, people can be pretty nasty.

    Sitting at Starbucks again. Just felt like getting out, and writing somewhere else than home. Not that big a thing, I guess. Quite a few laptoppers. One cute little girl had a mini-Toshiba something. Another cutie had a Dell with a pink cover. Where do you get a laptop with a pink cover? And I guess more importantly, why? Last night, at about 9, I wanted to go out, but everything was closing. So I have to wait and go out when things are open. Seems so limiting. Life is limited. It wouldn't be like that in New York, maybe, but seems like even in Silicon Valley, not much went on at night. I don't know about San Francisco. Maybe there might have been stuff. I guess if I want to go among people, I would need to keep to their schedules. But maybe it's pitiful that I would want to. And there is a fat chick sitting in the corner, knitting. Sad. Loneliness is such a...drag.

    I wanted to go out somewhat. I also felt like just going to sleep at 9. I didn't do that. Maybe I should have. I went shopping. Got some milk and bacon. Yummy bacon. The smell of bacon pervading a house is so friendly. I think I didn't end up falling asleep til maybe 3. So less time in the day, if I were to sleep a lot. But balancing out 12 hours sleep, probably getting 6 hours would be good. Weird, perhaps.

    Went by Borders. I don't really need more books. It's just something that I think makes me happy. I saw an "autobiography" of William Shatner. With someone else. Now, an autobiography is supposed to be written by the person. If it's with someone else, probably that other person really did most of the writing. So I'm not really sure of "autobiography" is the right word. I wanted it. I'm not sure I really want to start a new book right now, though. So I didn't get it. I'm not all that into Shatner. Well, for a hardcore Star Trek fan. Make I should concede that I really want it. I can go back and get it some time. It was in the discount section for like 6 bucks. I really have no excuse.

    One of the reasons I went in there, other than comforting, was to see about a book _Stumbling on Happiness_. I remember wanting to read it, but I couldn't remember if I had. If I had, I didn't really quite remember what it said, and I'd like to, since I'm pondering the question of happiness again. I read it from the library, so I don't have my own copy. Maybe that's one I should have gotten so I could look back at it. It was chock full of diverse little things that maybe I didn't get all of of. And probably I wrote about stuff here. But I really need to cut back on getting books since I don't have proper space for them. And I have some shelves that I'm just not using properly. The books on them have been there more than 15 years. I need to rotate them to boxes, and put the books I have on my to-read stack up on the shelves. But that sounds like work. I also need to get rid of all my papers from the 90s. Don't need those. I've got a stack of stuff on my dresser that goes a few years back, and a box with really old stuff that could be cleared out so I could put this stuff away. Laziness. Sitting hear writing about it is so much easier than doing anything.

    • March 15, 2010
    Happy Ides of March!

    I listened to the commentary for the last episode of the first season of _Battlestar Galactica_. It was done by Ron Moore, the main writer and one of the producers. He used the word 'great' at least half a dozen times. That just annoys me. Clearly he likes it. It makes sense to him. But it just doesn't do it for me. It doesn't really quite make sense to me like it must for him, and I really just don't like it. I guess I'm sticking with it, for lack of much else going on. Inertia, maybe. Listening to some of the extra commetary stuff, they say it's a drama in space. I guess I'm really not into dramas.

    I was tired. Didn't get a nap in. Went to sleep at 9 and slept for 12 hours. Didn't go down to Bardog. Did send a message that I wasn't going to make it, though I had earlier sent one that I was planning to go. Kind of feel bad that I missed out. Oh well. Maybe another time.

    We watched _Bones_ last night. Actually two episodes back to back. But it seemed very odd to me because the Bones character was extremely different in the two different shoes. In the first one, she seemed to have Asperger's. Almost no emotional sympathy or anything. But in the first one, she seemed maybe a little naive, but still kind of sympathetic and slightly emotional. I don't know what was supposed to be going on. It was very jarring. I don't think I ever watched an episode before.

    Pain is no fun. My wrist hurts again. I'm watching _Big Bang Theory_. It's the one with Wil Wheaton. I had heard about it. Coolness. And the Asperger dude Sheldon has some type of feud with him. He's been quoting Khan and just said the Klingon for 'revenge is a dish best served cold.' Wil is a redditor, so we see him post on occasion. I don't know if I've ever been in a thread with him. He also blogs. I don't really read it. I think his blog bounces around, since googling seemed to point to different places.

    • 3.14
    Happy Pi Day!

    I got to Sudoku puzzle 400 in my book. So that puts me about a third through in just about 3 months, but it's kind of slowed down since I've got into this section so I don't know how I'm doing, really. And it was mostly a burst in the past week.

    Just came back from the farm. I looked back in the woods in the back part. I didn't realize that there are little roads going all through it, so it won't be a problem to walk through when it grows up a bit. Right now it's actually pretty clear down on the ground, and I think it's not going to be too bad.

    There are no roads in the kitchen.

    • March 9, 2010
    It was very busy at Bardog. And the roads were very busy as I was driving up to it. I mean, it looked like maybe some game was getting out downtown. I mean not just busy, but bumper to bumper from the direction coming from downtown. So I get in there and it's gullo, and I asked Melissa what was going on, and she said it was spring break. Melissa likes it to be busy, so that was nice. And Sunday is the night she bartends by herself, so she doesn't have to share it all. On Friday and Saturday, it can get so full, you can't even walk from one end to another, which actually makes it hard to do business, I guess, but they must do well.

    Spring break. I had been thinking that maybe on spring break, Melissa would have some time to get together, so I asked her if she was doing anything. On Monday she would be sleeping and on Wednesday she was going to see her brother, and she had lots of errands. So she said her week was booked. Maybe so. She could have been able to tell what I was moving toward, so I got the feeling that she wanted to keep me from asking to get together. I have done it often enough. So I didn't ask this night. The intention to keep me from asking in the first place, that something that I thought I saw this time. And I could see that. Not wanting to have to say no again. I stopped counting the no's at 5. But from her perspective they are probably tiresome and kind of unpleasant.

    A recent similar experience. I went with Andrea and William to Texas de Brazil. The way the place works is they have guys walking around with different cuts of meat that you can try and they will ask you if you want any. They have a thing where you have little markers with green on one side and red on the other. If they are green, that's supposed to say you are wanting to try more, and red is you want them to stop. At some point, all of use were ready for a break, and we put them all red, but the guys would still come up and ask us, and we would have to say no. I felt just slight bad at having to say no to each on. I just didn't like that. Especially since they had this system where I shouldn't have had to. They were just ignoring the little red market. It wasn't really too bad, but it was just slightly off. When you go to strip club, a lot of dancers will ask you for a dance, and there doesn't seem to be a nice way to tell them, no thank you, I don't want a dance. The best I can come up with is that there are particular dancers I'm looking or waiting for.

    So I can relate to not wanting to say no. But she theoretically could be open to saying yes. I think she just isn't really. Sometimes it seems like she might want to get together, but it's all the things she has going on that keep her from having any time to. I don't have any way of telling the difference though from just not having time and not really wanting to, and that just being an excuse. In fact, I have to say that if you really wanted to do something, you wouldn't really be worried about other stuff going on. Except also, doing anything new that's out of your routine is always going to be a little uncomfortable. So what? Feeling a little angry? Disappointed? Frustrated? Certainly sympathetic. But I also don't really know what the situation is. I don't really think I feel confused, just uncertain.

    Just read something I found interesting. One of the characters in _Pihkal_ is described as an 'anima' woman. It's a girlfriend of the main dude, and it's one of his psychologist friends that says she is one to the female lead in the story. But the notion of an anima woman, it's a woman who isn't really complete in herself, but finds needy guys, and feels out just what they want and becomes that for them. And it reminded me of the Star Trek:Next Gen episode "The Perfect Mate" with this creature they called a "metamorph" which was empathic and adapted to whoever it was. It sounds like this concept was the thing behind this story.

    So, two girls at Bardog said they liked my beard, Ruby and Britney. They said it was "manly". Seems like I need to take a picture before I get rid of it.

    • March 8, 2010
    Man, I'm just not very observant. Apparently, when I was standing right next to them, just a foot away, some guy pushed Britney. I didn't see that, but after that, everybody working was standing around there. And later she said that's what happened. It was her birthday, too.

    I recently saw a video with Chris Hitchens that seems to stick with me. Anyway, he first asks if it's more believable that the reports of miracles are just wrong. But then, say you grant that maybe they happened. Parthenogenesis maybe might happen. And raising from the dead supposedly happened a bunch of times right then. Even if they did happen, it wouldn't prove that Jesus was divine or that his teachings were true. So you really aren't left with anything.

    I'm listening to the class on Paul. I guess I didn't know this, but quite a few times, he is just begging for donations. That is just sad. I know people do that now, I just didn't know it was there from the beginning. It's just about the money.

    Did a little digging in the garden. The ipod sure makes it nicer to do work.

    And as for being easy to do work. I'm reading _Pihkal_. It's about a couple who work with amphetamine analogs. The book is over 900 pages. It makes sense that they would write a lot. For some reason, though, when I was thinking of the guy, I was thinking of someone sort of portly. I guess maybe it's a default for older people. It just completely did not occur to me that a hardcore amphetamine user would be skinny, which in fact he was. Silly of me.

    Some anti-religious comedy

    I'm listening to the guy talk about Paul, almost through. His name is Luke Timothy Johnson. He admits that most people don't believe what is saying. I mean he is really out there. I guess hearing it from him maybe it sounds somewhat plausible. OK, the situation is that using textual and literary criticism, most people now think that several of the books of the new testament say they are by Paul, but really are not. And he thought that way, but on further study, he's come up with a different idea. Part of the common notion is that Paul is writing how he feels and we see sort of the real Paul. This guy's position is that Paul is writing using traditional Greek rhetoric where you write adopting a particular persona for the kind of writing you are trying to do. In addition, the letters were dictated, so they never really were done exactly by Paul, anyway. Maybe that saves them from being the kind of forgery that most people now think of some of them. But it throws away the other important notion that it was the work of someone with some real insight or, in the kind of superstitious phrase, the "divine inspiration". At this point I real have a lot of just disgust for the religion and I don't really care anymore.

    Looking for that other Hitchens video, I found him talking to Dinesh D'Souza. It has some sort of deep stuff about how actually bad the Christian message is. The idea of "vicarious redemption" is bad. The thought that someone could do something to remove your responsibility for bad things you have done. Part of the conversation is how some people, like Thomas Jefferson, might think that you could throw out the god stuff, and Jesus would be a good moral teacher. But with this being a substitute sacrifice thing, he would just be a crazy or stupid person. And even if there really were the god stuff, it would still be a bad idea, because you're still saying it's OK to harm people as long as you have whatever it is, this relationship with this third bunch. God stuff being true or false, Christianity is not good, and it's probably false, anyway. So "anti-theist" is a good word for him.

    • March 7, 2010
    Somewhere in there I saw a message from the Teaching Company that they were having another one day sale. I looked over it, and there were some things that looked interesting, and they seemed pretty cheap as things go for this place. And things for download were cheaper and I could get them immediately. No shipping cost and no waiting. One course I was interesting in was only $15. That's pretty reasonable. So I got three of them. One is a history of medicine through biographies of famous doctors. Another was about Paul, and the third was the one about the historical Jesus by Bart Ehrman. I've actually seen him speak here in Memphis. Kind of a big opponent of Christianity. Listening to the medical biographies one first.

    • March 6, 2010
    I decided to take a break from the math reading to get into _Pihkal_ (Phenethylamines I have known and loved). I guess it was sitting around. And it's kind of autobiographical about people, so it's kind of the opposite of math reading. A change. And one thing caught me. The last section of the first part took place in Memphis in maybe 1977. So I was in the same city at the time. The first section is in the voice of the guy. The second section is in the voice of the girl. It's actually a love story. There's a whole second book, which is just solid chemistry, and I looked through it a bit, but I probably will not be reading it. Anyway, the thing in the second part, the girl quite often talks about doing things in San Francisco Mensa. I think that's interesting because I was in SF Mensa when I was out in California and I went to quite a few of the meetings. I was there ten years and maybe fifteen to twenty years after the time I'm reading about now. Plus this is in the city, and I didn't really gey into the city very much. But it wasn't really that big of a group, I think. There's a reasonable possibility that I've seen some of the people in it. So I guess it makes it a little more real.

    I tried putting the tomato plants outside yesterday to get more sun. I think it made a noticeable difference just that one day. They are still so small because they haven't been getting enough light. The temperature was up in the fifties. Right now, I'm looking at the temperature on the TV, and it's been holding at 34 for the past hour, which I think is just a little too cold, so I've been holding off putting them out. Only two dozen tomato plants have made it, about two thirds. That's a pretty grim attrition, but I'm still not so great of a gardener. Two squash plants. Two more are sitting wilted, and I keep thinking they might come back, but sometimes plants collapse so bad that they can't recover. I think these are gone.

    Somehow, I have rotated into a much more normal sleep schedule. I think I went to sleep at 8 or 9 and slept solidly 'til 5:30 and got up. Something similar the night before. Although, then, Thursday, I came home from kung fu, started doing a Sudoku, then started getting spots in my vision. Right in the center so it was hard to do it. The beginning of a migraine. In the past, I think I've been able to eat or drink whatever I was lacking and got better, but I'm not sure what it needed to be. So I went to bed. I think I didn't wake up for maybe 5 hours, but I had a bit of a headache then. Not a really bad one, but I did feel a little sickly. I'm glad I must have been asleep for most of it. And I was able to go back to sleep for a pretty normal night. That must have gotten me to a better pattern.

    Decided to roast a duck. It had an orange packet, which I like because it's easy to take out while still frozen, but they put in the neck and giblets too, which were not so easy. I left some of them in, and we'll see how it goes like that.

    And I did put the plants out pretty quick. They really seem to like the sun.

    Listening to some commentaries on Battlestar Gallactica. They are just full of them saying how great they are. But I don't agree.

    • March 2, 2010
    Now I'm watching one of the commentaries for _Moon_. They say they made a stylistic choice not to have one sixth gravity on the interior shots of the moon base. Presumably there was some device that added normal gravity. Some of their decision was cost, though I'm guessing there might have been an "artistic" reason that it would be distracting. So they thought about it. The device thing is too lame for me. They made their choice and they lost me. Oh well.

    They seem so proud of how they managed to shoot duplicates with the one actor. So fine, maybe he's a good actor, but they couldn't just use twins? It just doesn't impress me that they did something difficult when there was an obvious easier way.

    I tried the roast again. I've been thinking that how tough it is really shouldn't bother me. How it tastes should be the main thing. And now trying it it really doesn't seem very tough. If I slice it thin, it's perfectly fine. It being fatty is quite different when it's cold. I think pork fat must be softer cold. I really like the taste of rare meat. I guess that's something I don't really get enough, so now I'm much happier with it. It must just be something I've been missing. I get it at Bardog, I just haven't done it as much myself because I usually roast pork or chicken. So I'll definitely keep that more in mind. I haven't made the jump to less done pork. I know now that I can do it, but I haven't been brave enough, yet. This one, I didn't even do it especially rare. To about 150 degrees, which is medium rare to medium. But I don't quite have the taste right. Not really browned enough for a really rich flavor. I think the gravy was pretty poorly done. Practice.

    Almost through with the first volume of _the Art of Problem Solving_. There was a chapter on counting, which is some combinatorics. I'm also watching the Teaching Company class on discrete math, and just watched one of the lectures on combinatorics. It's interesting to see the contrast. The lecture covered more cases that I think weren't considered in the book. But, it seems like in the section on probability, it kind of touched on some of the cases, but not as generally. There is a particular combinatorics problem called integer partition. It's the problem of how to get a particular number by adding together some given number of numbers. Like how many ways you can get 5 by adding three numbers. Well, they consider what the probability of getting a particular roll from two six sided dice. You have to know how many possible ways to get a value. That seems like a similar problem. I guess it's not the same because a a one and then a four is different from a four and then a one. But here you have to just about list out the possibilities. The partition problem actually doesn't have a simple way to figure it out, but there is a recursive function you can use, which actually can be weird to calculate. I remember when I first was going over this class, I was studying clojure. Clojure lets you do recursive functions pretty easily, and I could try this there.

    So I just ate pretty decadently. Just some sliced of beef and potato chips. Seems pretty hardcore. Didn't quite get enough, though. Actually after that, I felt like something a little lighter. So I had turkey and cheese on toast.

    • March 1, 2010
    Happy Kalends of March!

    Well, I thought Melissa must have been doing well on her money, but in fact not. Her debt must be really crushing because she said she can't even pay them all each month. She only pays maybe 75% each month. So they call her all the time and she doesn't answer her phone. Poor thing. Her ex-husband racked it all up. Boo. It's not fun when someone you care about has problems. And I can relate to it.

    And there was a cute little girl with black hair and a really big tattoo. I'm not sure I even really wish I had talked to her, but I didn't in any case. She did like the Beatles song I played, though. That was kind of nice.

    I'm watching the Discrete Math class again from the teaching company. Combinatorics.

    I've been trying a bit to avoid buying groceries. I eat more when I have lots of food available, so it seems like it would help a bit to put it off. But I'm about to run out of bread, and that's a probably because I have hotdogs and lunch meat sitting around that will go bad if I can't eat it because I don't have any bread. I've been building a list of things I want to buy, and it's getting pretty long. I don't think there can be anything more boring than a person's grocery list, but here is mine: a roast, milk, sausage, bacon, refried beans, eggs, bread. Maybe I should consider vegetables or fruit. I don't know what's in season though in the beginning of March. I just recently got some potatoes.

    And speaking of vegetables, at Bardog, I had the filet, which came with garlic mashed potatoes, but also some squash and zucchini that I think was the best I've ever had. I asked the cook, and he said he used some garlic salt, butter, but also some white wine. I think it was the wine that really added something new. I may need to try it some time. I've got squash plants. We'll see how it goes.

    I've been thinking of getting a duck. But I don't want an old duck, I want a duckling. But I don't see ducklings any more, they all say duck now. I don't know what that is. It could be that these are all old ducks, but that really doesn't seem likely. It costs a lot of money to keep ducks alive long enough to get old. Chickens when you buy them are usually only a couple of months old. They don't say "chicks". They probably just decided to do that with ducks. But it might not be like that. I know a long time ago, I bought something that said "duck" instead of "duckling" and it was pretty bad. Really tough. So I don't know. It's been years, I think, since I've made a duck. Seems about time.

    Gah, I had some kind of trojan on this computer. That's not nice. I guess too many risky sites.

    I got the stuff on my shopping list. Right at $50. Three pounds of bacon and three pounds of sausage. Those were pretty expensive. I also got some snacky stuff. Some burritoes and some nuts. The roast was pretty cheap. Chuck roast. Very fatty. I've already made it. Kind of tough. Didn't do a great job. But I think it's good for a first shot. I might need to go for something a little better. But my wrist is actually getting a twinge, so I might stay away from beef again.

    I watched _Moon_. Kind of an obscure indie science fiction movie. I think it tries to be hard science fiction. I had a lot of trouble with just the sort of attempt at science bits. Mining helium-3 on the moon for fusion? That just seems stupid to me. And there are these fully grown clones kept in cryonic suspension. That also seems stupid. Plus they have some kind of memory implants, and are being used as slave labor. It all seems so useless and implausible. A couple of visual things really bothered me. They used the conventional thing were they move slowly. They aren't going to do that. With one sixth gravity, they will fall a lot slower. I think in some of the exterior shots they attempted to make it look like lower gravity, but nothing in the interior. Maybe there was no way to shoot that, but to me it seemed very noticeably wrong. I think you shouldn't attempt to shoot a movie that's supposed to be on the moon if you aren't physically able to make it look that way. I think as I sat with it, though, maybe the acting or the drama was good enough for me to suspend my disbelief. If I'm needing to suspend disbelief though, it has failed to be hard science fiction, but whatever. Did I end up caring what happened to them? I don't know. Maybe a little. I was very lukewarm. I ended up not really disliking it. Not very positive, I guess. As opposed to how much I just didn't like _No Country for Old Men_ which so many people really liked. I'm just not into the movies lately, I would guess. Maybe I should hold off on the Netflix until I get more into it. Or switch away from dramas. Something.

    I just read about child prodigy Kim Ung-yong. Talking at 1. Ph.D. in physics at 16 and was working at NASA. Then he wanted to be more normal, and went to a "mediocre" school and studied civil engineering. Got a Ph.D. and has published a lot. People called him a loser, but that may be some kind of Korean thing. For me though, it kind of speaks as to the limits of what kind of achievements are possible for a really smart person. There are limits as to what is available to be done. What if we have a computer program that is really intelligent. Say it's smarter than everyone else, like this guy. What is it even going to be able to do that's going to really helo everyone? Are there really big hard problems that need solving? Is life not just ordinary and mundane?

    In the reddit discussion they mentioned another guy, William James Sidis. He was into languages and math. He seemed to have things a little rough, though.

    I just read an article about insomnia. It could make insomnia worse just by reading it, though. The idea is that thinking about or worrying about falling asleep makes it harder to fall asleep because if you have a goal to fall asleep, you have to think about whether you have fallen asleep, which can wake you up. There's some reddit discussion, too.

    • February 28, 2010
    Starbucks on a Sunday morning. It's like full of people. Trippy. I've switched to just plain soy hot chocolate. Cut back on the flavor a bit from the mocha chai, but still getting a chocolate fix.

    So I think I got up around 2. But I went to sleep at around 4 thinking I would get up and do something, but then didn't really feel like anything. It's not even 9. I could go to church somewhere, maybe. Good for a chuckle. Also there is the little sitting thing at Eastern Sun, but it's so many years since I joined them that it would probably just be weird. I am looking quite mountainous.

    I have a few times now felt the total frustration that I've seen with people doing math. You just get stuck and don't do anything. Freezing up. This geometry stuff I guess I'm a little weak on. But I try a few things and it falls into place. I guess that's what the fun of math is about. And Suduko does the same thing. You'll go along, and you'll get stuck. And you'll look around or stare at it. Then the blocking point will give way, and you'll power through to the end. Still, in this book, it's giving problems that are reasonable doable, though they have tricky bits. Probably in the wild world of math, there's no telling if you will get through any particular problem.

    I certainly remember people blocking on math. Terrible feeling. Terrible look. I think I tutored people a couple of times way back when. Always the same thing.

    Well, mind a bit blown. While sitting here, I read the chapter on analytic geometry. Just Cartesian coordinates and lines and circles. Stuff I've seen so no big deal. But the next chapter was the power of a point. Maybe I've seen that. I think possibly, but I don't think I was run through applications and the proof. I think I remember problems that must have used those and not getting them. Trippy. The concept isn't that hard. if you take a point, a circle, and lines through that point hitting the circle, the product of the two lengths of segments from the point to the circle is always the same. If it's a tangent, count it twice, so the square. It seems kind of weird that it should be the same, but you can show it with similar triangles. And probably you would need a picture to know what I'm talking about. Still, seemed cool to me.

    I think on the AGI list, there is someone who is working on getting and AGI based on recognizing objects in a screen capture on a computer. Or at least, it looked like at first he was shooting to deal with recognizing objects in a screen capture. Sounds like something I would support, or maybe I talked about something like that. Also, now I'm thinking of the phone as really an obvious AI platform, so I would want to have the phone be able to recognize things from its camera. Seems like I just heard a mention of something that would convert a page to text from a digital picture. That seems like an important step. The thing I'm thinking of is these geometry problems. Just inputting them seems tough. You'd need a picture. Hopefully with whatever optics you get, straight lines would still be straight. That could be an issue. Pages in a book don't always show up flat. Something else to think about. There's still that thing with solving the link puzzles. Phones also have microphones. I think someone has an app to recognize that stuff, but it just captures the sound and does it all on the server. I swear there is room for some processing to be done locally, and a much smaller chunk handled on the server. It would even be reasonable for the server to download bits of model or algorithm as its recognition improves. Maybe I'll talk to them. Then again, servers are so cheap. Bandwidth, too.

    • February 27, 2010
    I did go out shopping. I got some hammer handles for the two hammer heads that were sitting with my mom's tools. One had something of a handle that just didn't fit. It was originally too big, but had been cut down or something so it ended up too small, and so was loose. Made a pretty useless hammer. The handle I got fit OK, but I didn't realize that it was too long to fit in my mom's toolbox. Oops! I guess it will just have to sit in that general area. There was a much smaller hammer head, and the handle I got was slightly too big to fit, but only maybe a tenth of an inch. I figured I could shave it off. Didn't seem like that technology would elude me. I found I really wasn't set up to do that kind of thing. I don't think I really had the right tool sitting around. I thought I had a grinding wheel that would fit on a drill, but I didn't find it. Seems like my dremel stuff would have been really to small. I decided that just a knife and whittling would have been OK, though I've never whittled significantly before. I don't think I have the patience for it. It seemed to move it along, but it was some really hard wood or something. I did finally find an actual plane sitting in a drawer. That seemed like the right thing. It didn't really work all that well, but I finally got it to fit. Both of the handles were pretty snug on their own, so I didn't use the little wedged that came with them. Maybe I'll need to later. It all took a little more time that I was aiming to, and I was missing my nap. I might have gone out to temperance, but I felt like sleeping.

    I also picked up some kung fu shoes from Dach imports. About $8. Not quite as cheap as they might have been, but could have been worse. These have a little plastic sole instead of a cloth one. That makes them a little noisier, but they can actually handle wet ground, which the others just couldn't, which is i think a better thing. The back yard is so muddy. I think these shoes seemed to be quite a bit nicer for doing the form out there. So I'm happy with the purchase so far. They don't seem so durable, though. They've got some kind of attempt at sharp grip, but I think walking outside just a little bit has softened them up. I think it's probably something better for gripping carpet or a mat.

    I went by Charlie's meat market. They didn't seem to have any better cuts sitting out than any of the regular stores. The meat may well have been better, but the cuts seemed the same. You could buy whole boxes of steaks, which I guess was odd. And maybe if I'd asked at the counter I could have gotten something special. I bet that's what I would have needed to do. They're prices were I guess a little higher than a regular store, which I would expect. I just didn't see anything that I really felt like. Now I'm thinking of just trying a chuck roast from Kroger. Generally those need to be braised, cooked with water, and that's really not what I think I want to do. I will try a really slow roast, maybe. Give it a shot.

    When the president was talking to I think it was the Republicans about healthcare (it might have been more of Congress) one of them said we have the best healthcare system in the world. Obama's reply was that he wanted us to be able to do what all other advanced nations do, cover everyone. And I kind of get the feeling that the degenerate (I think that's a better word than regressive) was playing a gambit trying to get Obama to say something bad about the U.S. system, which would not be popular. But if you think about the degenerate statement, if you think we have the best system, then you don't want to change it. So it is clear that they are only trying to stop change and should all just be ignored. I think it might be a little unfair to say that they are happy to have poor people die, but I'm not sure that it isn't very far from the truth. I know the lawmakers aren't like that, but they are reacting to their consituency and I think it's those degenerate scum opposing healtcare reform that actually do feel that way. I saw something recently that they have a lower average IQ.

    'Lord' mean dictator. People used to think that could be a good thing, but we don't any more.

    • February 26, 2010
    I watched _No Country for Old Men_. I just didn't like it. I didn't care about anybody in it. And I didn't really follow what was going on very well. I was playing freecell while watching it, and I really found the freecell more entertaining. Now I'm watching the Simpson's episode "Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-d'oh". One of the characters is basically the bad guy from that movie. When I saw the movie, I thought he looked familiar. He says 'friend-oh', he flips a coin, and he carries around that tank with the air-hammer. He uses the hammer to validate Homer's parking ticket. He is a pretty comical character, I guess.

    Gained back a couple of pounds. I had a box of chicken and I've been eating a lot of bacon. Oh well. Disappointing.

    I lost a bunch of the tomato plants. Took too long to water them. And they aren't growing so fast. I'm not sure how it will work out.

    • February 24, 2010
    I should have gone to the cogntive science seminar at U of M today. This semester, it's just assorted external speakers, so it doesn't look like there is really a main topic at all, but they must be shelling out cash to bring people in, and it seems like I could support that. But I was sleeping. I think I've shifted around to sleeping a lot during the day, and not so much at night, but I still sleep a lot at night. Makes it hard to get with the rest of the world. It's like 9:30pm, and I kind of feel like going out to Starbucks, but they close at 10. That's the breaks, I guess. Maybe I could go to New York, which never sleeps. I don't know if there are other places like that. Seems like Silicon valley was pretty closed at night, though I was up in the hills so maybe I didn't get out as much at night.

    Well, David, one of the other bartenders at Bardog, said what he made last year. It seemed like quite a bit. More than I've made some years that I was working, but less than I ended up with at Hilton. Of course, with so many years that I don't work, and nothing last year, that's a lot more. And Melissa was saying how she makes as much as David but he has a third as many bills as she does. But that says roughly how much she made, which was quite a bit. So that gets me a bit. She now has made about as much as me, and with me not even working, it's a lot more. So it is now quite silly for me to give her the money I do. Plus, my contribution isn't really even all that much any more, with how much she is making. Now, I think at her other jobs she might not have been doing as well, and it might have been more significant. Now not so much. I don't really want to stop, but it is getting kind of pointless. For me stopping can only mean not going.

    Existence is futile.

    OK, a solar system simulator. It's kind of fun.

    I finally open up _Zen and the art of making a living_. It's seems really too long to get through, like 500 pages. I have a long way to go even to get to page one. But one of the prefaces has a quote from Aristotle-- where your talent and the needs of the world cross, there lies your career. I guess that's helpful. I have to focus on what I can do that other people want. So far it's pretty much been computer programming. That's all fine. But that notion has some deeper negative implications. Your career does not involve your wants or needs, just your talents. That's a little sinister. Presumably, if you want something and from that you work to develop a talent involved with that area, it would become a factor, but only indirectly. Softening that perhaps is that in general, your wants might be shared and from that be part of what the world needs, but that doesn't necessarily follow, and there is an important large class of exceptions. If you want something only for yourself, that's not something that the world needs in this sense. The world needs for it to have food, not for you to have food. So if you are a farmer, and have something extra for every one else, that could be part of a career. Similarly, anything you make for yourself that you can also give to someone else because you make more than you need, again, possible career. How it relates to me. I used to write programs for myself, because I liked them, so for fun mainly. Occasionally for different math things that came up just in classes. It gave me some talent for writing programs. I think no program directly I wrote for myself was useful to anyone else. Not sure if I'd even be able to come up with anything like that. I've only done contributions on the projects of other people. So I'm pretty limited. This book is along the lines of the follow your bliss thing in _What Color is your Parachute_. Fine. Maybe I'll make it to page one eventually. Maybe it'll be too imposing. If he asks what is the sound of one hand clapping, I'll probably be out.

    Hmm, so I got some thick-cut bacon from Aldi's, and it has some kind of maple flavor. So I have a lingering smell of maple syrup, and now I have a hankering for french toast, or do I mean, freedom toast?

    • February 23, 2010
    Yay! On the net on the laptop at Starbucks! Just got a card. It's the morning at 8, and there was no one in line when I got started on my order, but there were 8 people behind me when I was done. I had to put money on the card and figure out that I wanted a venti soy mocha chai. Hard to remember when I almost always just get Melissa's venti vanilla nonfat latte. And then I hard to put in the numbers onto the web site. They seem very small. And there's a PIN you have to scratch off to see, and maybe I didn't scratch it all the way, because it was black letters on grey. I must not have typed it in right the first time because it said it's invalid. But it's done. We'll see how it works ous.

    So, the light on my insrument gauge didn't come on when I turned the headlights on. And I just went to the dealer. It was the dimmer turned all the way down. There's a dimmer? First I'd heard. And looked at the glyph on it, I guess it might be interpreted as a gauge with one of those triangle dimmer icons. Guy said he likes easy ones. If it was a real problem, I didn't know what it could be. I would have expected it was solid state, so no bulb to go out. I guess so. Seems like it could have been expensive. But it was nothing. So I guess a bonus.

    I got through the chapter on triangles, which was most of geometry. It was very long for this book, maybe twenty or thirty pages. Not only most of geometry, but it was a large chunk of trigonometry as well. Thing moves fast.

    I did ask Melissa about her mini computer. She said it's with her brother, and hearing that I let it go. He's a computer person, so he would probably use it as well as me. But I'm not sure she didn't just leave it with him to work on because she had trouble. So maybe I should follow up. Because I was thinking I might have this wandering damage with my car, I was feeling a little shy about money. I just saw it on the drive down there, so I was a bit in shock.

    I also asked about my shoes. I asked LeAnne first. She said she's not so much of a shopper, but she was excited to have the Internet on her phone so she did a tenacious search. The hard part is to find what they are called. I wore them so I would have them to show. Asa said they were doves, or something like that. But Melissa recognized them as kung fu shoes and said Chow Imports. She has some, maybe $5. Well, OK! I guess I need to go there.

    I am so happy not working. Seems like that's going to have to become an issue if I need to actually eventually get a job. But then, I was pretty happy when I was working. Happiness can be quite independent of everything external. It can come from inside. I seem to remember that at some point in this past year, I was starting to not feel quite so happy with not working. I'm not sure what that was about. Maybe just a mood. They come and go.

    A whiff of perfume. A girl in a soft pink suit. Maybe laid it on a little heavy. Has some kind of red matching organizer thing and a laptop. Independent business-woman for coffee and a little net? I looked, smiled, I don't know if she acknowledged me, but she did preen. She had put her stuff at the table opposite, but thought better, and moved to the corner. Isn't that special.

    The old guy next to me has a mini cup. Is that espresso? What do I know about the weird stuff done by starbuckeroos?

    So, I was early enough to go by MUS before school, and I considered it. But I'm at my most grizzly. So far from that world. But they are friendly. I don't know how many years it's been. Time sure flies.

    I got around to going to sleep at maybe 3. And at 6, I was golden. It's weird when that works out, and I'm never really quite sure. Generally, lately, I'll sleep too much, and then when I finally get up, I'll just be tired. Maybe that seems wrong, but it's definitely life. I do have some sleep issues, though that it's practically the human condition. If you sleep too much, it will be hard to fall asleep when you need to, and if you try to have a schedule, you'll be really messed up, and then maybe you won't get enough, and then you'll be tired from not getting enough. Sometimes I'll sleep seven hours and wake up, and not be able to go back to sleep, but it doesn't feel like enough so I wish I could, and I'll try and it won't work. One thing I've found is that light makes the most difference in being able to sleep. I'm not positive even that it's just light on the retina thing. I do remember hearing at some point that the pineal gland in the skull gets a bit of light through the eye-socket, and it regulates melatonin, and that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. An unconscious mechanism makes it hard to be aware off. Since I started using a black cloth over my eyes quite a while back, I've been much better at sleeping. Taking naps whenever, and being able to sleep in the morning if I feel I need to. But being free to sleep only really works when you're not at a regular job. So it's been good this past year. But I need to find a compatible way to make money. I wonder what the lady in pink does. And darn these aging eyes. I can't see what the icon on her grey laptop says. Boo.

    Of course, writing is one off those things you can do on any schedule. But making money with it, now that's a different thing. Lana has just been writing about stuff she has been seeing lately on getting published. Some resources, or descriptions of resources. Somebody mentioned a local writers' guild, and they meet to talk about stuff, but I still haven't joined them. Lana claims to be a story teller. More of a drama queen. I remember people concluding that she had borderline personality disorder, which is just sort of like being an extreme drama queen. Maybe it helps with the writing. Didn't Hemmingway supposedly have some sort of mental illness? I forget.

    I would have thought that the chai would enhance my wakefulness, but I'm starting to fade. I guess it was only a matter of a short time. I really didn't sleep enough, but I was feeling just right immediately getting up and for a bit. Possibly the caffeine caused everything else to catch up, and it could be some kind of sugar crash as I haven't eaten sufficiently.

    Ouch. Starbucks. Neighbor seems to have said something like Bill Gates and Einstein has Asperger's. something about getting her kid to be more social. Had mentioned communicating on Facebook. Freaking extroverts trying to make everyone like them. I just bought a pickaxe for the garden. Maybe I should have left it in the car.

    OK, this girl looks like Jennifer Schwalbach Smith. Now, I'm not so good with faces. Maybe the tiredness and caffeine is making me deslusional.

    Well that was interesting. I went by the Germantown Fire Station Headquarters and visited my brother Edgar. He's running for county commission. He suggested I run for city school board. It would give me something to do, and that stuff is pretty fun. You talk to the people doing stuff in government. It sounds like something maybe I'll look into.

    I went by Chou Imports looking for kung fu shoes. They aren't at their old place on Summer, but they have a place on Germantown Road and Dexter. They are discontinuing the shoes, though, and didn't have any more in the bigger sizes, so I didn't find anything. It was next to Ace hardware. I found that they do have hammer handles, but I don't know the size I need, so I need to go back and bring the hammer heads I have. I did pick up so stakes for the tomatoes and some twine. And with twine, maybe I can practice some knots.

    Wow! I just saw a video of how to do a general equation solver in clojure. In high school, I did an equation solver, though I forget what language it was and how broad it's equation solving was. I think it was probably polynomials, but it might have been somewhat more general. And of course, I don't remember what method it used. It might well have used newton's method, which this thing does. One thing about this thing, is that it uses a numerical approximation for the derivative. If you just use polynomials, you can take the symbolic derivative. I think that is a neat kind of thing, and it seems like the kind of thing I would want to do. If necessary, and you can't get the symbolic derivation, then maybe fall back to a numeric derivative. But derivatives are actual quite easy, and it seems fair to at least try to do that first. It's not really newton's method if you are approximating the derivative, though I don't know what that would actually be called. Maybe secant something or other.

    Clojure has a nifty something that makes this kind of stuff easier-- lazy sequences. In all other programming, when you do something over and over, in advance you have to figure out how long you are going to go, and when you are going to stop looping. That's work you have to figure out up front, and it makes things harder. With a lazy sequence, doing stuff to decide when to stop is a complete separate thing. You can put it off till later, and easily change things around and try other stuff once you get the basic pattern working. And the part the fits especially well with math is that you can use a function iterate, where you just write something that takes a the current value, and calculates the next one. so if you want to have a list of number going up by tens each time, you write a quick function that says add by ten, give it a starting number, and say iterate. That's it. Then once you have that, you can say take 5 to get the first five, or do something that checks till it gets to whatever end you want. Newton's method says take the last guess, and subtract the function at that guess divided by the derivative at the guess to give the next value. That's just the kind of thing you want with iterate. What he does then is have some other special something that takes any old converging series like that, and keeps going until the difference between the two gets to a small enough size picked out before. But since they are broken apart, *decoupled" as it's called, you can pick a convergence routine separately from your bag. It sounds like a nice setup for this numerical stuff. I did take a class on that stuff in college. Well, I thought it was interesting. And he uses numerical integration. I remember doing that. Good times. Integration symbolically is significantly harder than getting derivatives, but it is still quite doable. Something I'd want to try. But with computers, the numerical stuff is so easy that it's almost a waste of effort to mess with the symbolic stuff. The thing is, derivatives are almost always doable, but sometimes, it's not even possible to find a closed integral form, so you have to do it numerically anyway, so you can try the pain of searching for the closed form, or go straight to something that's really easy on the computer.

    Looking over this math stuff again, I naturally wonder how it would be to get a computer to do this math stuff. And I'm thinking, surprisingly hard. First, you have to be able to read to get the problems in. Computers don't read, you have to type stuff in. Typing things in isn't trivial, either. How do you do exponents? And what about the geometry? You can't type in a diagram. So it's a serious problem. But I think it would be a worthy one. This thing is all about the concepts, and getting concepts in a computer isn't the easy thing, either. One of the things about it, though. There are different levels of understanding. If you can do something, that's one thing. If you can explain it to another person, that's another. But if you can explain it to a computer, and get a computer to handle it, that is an incredibly deep understanding that you have to have. It doesn't have any room for sliding.

    • February 22, 2010
    It's not like Melissa to ever complain about anything, but somehow she got started, and just kept going. Maybe it was a little pity party. There was something fairly unpleasant with work. And at the end she was complaining that on Sundays, which is supposed to be her only early night, she doesn't get to leave early because people keep hanging around. Oh well, hopefully we can do something about it. But in there, she talked about a sad story from her childhood. She used to wear leg braces. Just after she got them off, she was going to school at Bethel Baptist. But she walked a little bit funny after that, and they said that's not the right way to walk, and they spanked her when she did. She kept getting spanked for that. That sounds pretty wrong. And it sounds like one of those formative experiences that has made her the kind of sensitive and sweet person that she is. But she did learn to walk better, and she did gymnastics and track, and eventually walked the catwalk as a model. So now she knows how to walk.

    After transplanting the tomato seedlings to newer trays, I tried putting them outside to get a little more sun. It was kind of overcast, so I took them back in. Actually, it's been clowdy for a few days now. Anyway, one of the plants broke off in the wind. But it had a little bit of stem connected to the two leaves, so I buried that bit of stem and I'll see how it goes. Supposedly, these plants are able to grow roots quite a bit off the stem. The thing that said that said you should bury them quite a bit deeper because of that when transplanting. There's even a thing where you prune off the lower leaves, which can give you even more stem for that. Anyway, so there's this plant that was broken. I'm not sure how I'm going to tell if it's dead. There are already a few that were kind of wilted when I tried to move them, and now I think they are just dead, but this one still kind of looks the same. It's got a couple of nice leaves that look solid. But it might just not grow. So I guess I'll have to wait and see. I always like the hardcore survivors, so I hope it makes it.

    • February 20, 2010
    I transplanted all the little seedlings I had into individual little tubs so they wouldn't be crowded. We'll see how many survive the transition. There were four squash plants and thirty five tomato plants. The little tubs are really too small for the squash plants so I don't know if they will manage. And now I have to keep them watered, which might be a little harder since they are separated out. Already seems like work. And now I'm getting scared that I will put them out in the middle of March and it will freeze. That would be typical. I guess I can plant half of them, and then wait on the other half a couple of weeks. That would be reasonable. I have thirty five plants. That's really more than I can even plant. But not all of them will make it a month. I kind of wish they had had bigger little containers, but I didn't see any in bulk like that. I know they use them for their own plants, but I didn't see those for sale.

    I watched _Kill Bill 1_. I really don't like Tarantino that much. It looks flashy, but it is so vacuous.

    I was thinking I would go out. Super 5 was playing at Dan McGuinness. And I was thinking maybe I would go see my girls at the Pony after more than a year. But I just did not feel like it. I slept for a bit, and I got up early enough still to go out, but still did not feel like it. I guess I saved some money. Seems like there might have been something I'd like to get. Maybe Wii Fit. Probably wouldn't use it, though.

    I have not kept count, but there have been a whole bunch of people who have died going after Caine. Supposedly, he is supposed to care a lot about life, but he just keeps killing people. He should have given himself up a long time ago just to stop the slaughter. There was one when he was in China. For some reason, in the third season, several episodes were completely in China, with nothing in the U.S. Anyway, there was one guy in China. It was an Imperial soldier acting as a ferryman sitting in a boat. Caine knocks him out, and dumps him in the water. Knocking him out I can see. Fine. But putting him in the water when he's knocked out means he will die. That was just totally unnecessary. He was by the shore. He could have dragged him six feet and he would have lived. He went too far. in this episode now, another guy was chasing him, and fell off his horse and died. He had the wanted poster. He finally gave a look that maybe he was tired of all the death. And he saved his head. I guess that changed his look maybe so maybe he'll be harder to find. I don't know.

    • February 19, 2010
    I've started reading _the Art of Problem Solving_. So far, it's a bit like a review of high school math. That actually seems to be ok, because from how I'm doing on the problems, I've gotten pretty rusty. Simple mistakes. But this is going very quickly. The first chapter was exponents and logarithms. That seems fairly advanced for starting off, but it's treated sort of as an extension to arithmetic. Explonentiation is a shorthand for repeated multiplication the way multiplication is repeated addition. OK. I have a bit of an issue with that, though. That's one basis for them, but it was just as start, and they found other extension and meanings that really expanded the concept. All this was handled in about 12 pages. And the problems they found got really rough. In standard math books, they have endless simple exercises, but apparently these guys not to burn people out, or give them a "superficial" understanding. Trying to make it about concepts.

    They say you won't learn if you don't do the problems. I'm lazy, and I don't want to do all the problems. So I don't know how it's going to work out. That became an issue in college where I got lazy and didn't do the work so much. But in this one, they don't have endless busy work. There are relatively few problems, and they are often quite challenging. And they say that some of the important results that you need to learn are in the problems, which seems a little unfair. That is, there is stuff you need to know that they don't explain in the main text, but you can only get by working them out yourself in the problem. Seems a little bogus. And to keep those results, I would imagine that you need to write them in the book. And example is that in one of the problems, you work out the general form for doing complex division. They don't write it out and give it to you like probably most books would. If you want it, you have to do it yourself.

    And yes, chapter two is complex numbers. That's pretty hardcore for a chapter two. But it's kind of another extension to arithmetic. I guess it makes sense. And it's only 5 pages. It naturally comes after exponents, because part of exponents is roots, which are fractional exponents. That stuff makes sense if you've seen it before. I kind of have to wonder if this would really work for a little kid to learn it the first time. The authors are actual teachers, so I assume they've used it. They say they are trying to show everything all together. OK.

    Chapter three is linear equations. Twelve pages. Linear equations. And not just one at a time, but also systems, and they stuck in line graphs. Maybe there isn't that much to it. Seems like normally they take weeks or months dealing with it. Maybe not. In that twelve pages, they included word problems. Most word problems are just linear equations, and the hard part is figuring out the equation. These included the problems like Joe painting a fencing in 6 hours and Pete coming in and shaving it to four hours.

    I guess I'm kind of wondering where all they are going to go after covering what seem to be the main topics. They say they are going to do more geometry. Americans are very weak in geometry. That's probably fair. One class and then that's it. I remember that the problems on that impossible math test that I really couoldn't do were weird geometry problems. Doing some of the problems, I think I was remembering that maybe there were some hard problems that I actually would have been able to do.

    So Chapter 4 is a bit of a puzzler, and that's where I left off. It's about proportions. I guess that's like fractions. But also equations where you might have a lot of variables and you might be dividing or multiplying. I've only looked at a couple of pages. It just seems like a weird step, after complex numbers and linear equations. I don't know what they are going to talk about. Peeking ahead, chapter 5 is about 'using the integers'. Who knows what that is. Chapter 6 is quadratic equations. OK, that I can see. It seems like a real math subject. But then what? They give quadratic equations 15 pages.

    Maybe I should just list the chapters:

    1. Exponents and Logarithms
    2. Complex Numbers
    3. Linear Equations
    4. Proportions
    5. Using the integers
    6. Quadratic Equations
    7. Special Factorizations and Manipulations
    8. What Numbers Really Are
    9. Triangles, a.k.a Geometry
    10. Quadrilaterals
    11. Polygons
    12. Angle Chasing
    13. Area
    14. Coordinates
    15. Power of a Point
    16. Three Dimensional Geometry
    17. Shifts, turns, flips, stretches, and squeezes
    18. More geometry
    19. Functions
    20. Inequalities
    21. Operations and relations
    22. Sequences and series
    23. Learning to count
    24. Statistics and probability
    25. Sets
    26. Proofs
    27. More stuff

    And there's a volume 2 after that. Supposedly volume 1 is just grade 7-10. Well, OK. I glanced over it. Some trig, more geometry, a bit of number theory. Actual has limits. Seems pretty much like precalculus. I may just go back to the group theory instead.

    • February 18, 2010
    That seems to happen to me. I had some more cake. And it tasted much better that time. I was over the dissappointment of it not being exactly what I was expecting, or exactly like the really good version that I remember, and I could appreciate it for what it was. And I think in addition, there must be something to just getting used to it, and it changing what I expect and want. And by the good version, I mean the way momma used to make. I've had this experience with spaghetti and meat sauce.

    More group theory. I got a ways into the other rubik's article. It seems to be making more sense, and the diagrams work. It wants you to use a rubik's program to simulate stuff, but so far it hasn't been such a problem not to have done it. One problem with it is that it's a rough draft, and there are noticeable mistakes. Not too bad I guess. The knot book is going a bit slower. It is more dense, and seems to assume a bit more familiarity with group theory as it's bringing up even more advanced sorts of stuff. But I'm not so worried about absolutely getting everything at first, because I get the feeling you're really supposed to take several passes with it. I'm finding it interesting stuff, and I'm a little unhappy that i didn't get more into it when I was young. I remember in like 9th grade, Mr. Dwiggins gave me some stuff on abstract algebra, but I didn't get very far along with it. I don't remember exactly what the problem was, but it seems like it didn't have enough context or examples, so I had trouble seeing what the point was. In both of these explanations, there is a lot of that, and I'm finding it to be much more accessible than what I remember. I guess proper teaching makes a difference.

    One other thing I'm wondering about is category theory. From what I'm seeing, category theory is an abstraction even further away from group theory, which is already getting very abstract. Supposedly category theory can have something to do with computer science, so it relates to programming, but I'm totally not sure what the connection is. Reddit has had articles on category theory for programming, but I don't think I've ever slogged through any, and I don't have a link to a particular one that stands out. It tends to come up in relation to functional programming, where I think the correspondence is more significant. I may have been thinking of the article category theory for the java programmer. That would have stood out for me.

    A really weird kung fu episode. David Carradine directed it. In one of the commentaries, he talked about how he wanted to get into directing, and they didn't know what to do with this episode, so they let him do it. Part of it is old Caine hallucinating while dying of poison in a cave. In the other part, a rich kid has little Caine for tea and poisons him. He wants to find out what death is like. The rich kid says he will give him the antidote, but somehow little Caine doesn't think it really is the antidote. I guess it makes sense not to trust someone who has tried to poison you. Old Caine was poisoned by a scorpion, so I guess all the stories of scorpions talk about how you can't trust them. Even so, old Caine is very nice to the scorpions he sees, and protects them from falling rocks in the cave where he is trapped. So little Caine convinces the brat that he switched the half empty tea which he has gotten him to drink. At first, the brat doesn't believe, but then he buys it, and totally believes it was poision. And then he's falls for it and thinks he's poisoned. And sure enough, it wasn't the antidote. Oops! OK, so they go to the chemist who sold the original poison, and get the actual antidote, and it comes out that little Caine drank it too, so they go back and save him. It puzzles them that Caine would poison him, which would just be wrong. But no, he didn't. I don't know. I guess it holds up. In old Caine's story, someone comes and tells him to worship "Otto" but he refuses. Apparently, young Caine had that same hallucination, and told the brat about it, but the brat wanted to know the name of the god to worship, but Caine won't tell him. OK. And there is a girl who offers herself to old Caine. I was thinking it was going to be girlfriend number four, and he kisses her, but holds off on anything else. Oh well. Overall a weird one.

    I'm not sure about how accurate the Shaolin temple is in it, though. It's a Buddhist monastery, but they keep a supply of food. It may well be like that there, but it is my understanding that A Buddhist monk is suppose to not keep anything but his bowl and robes, and can't keep food from one day to the next, so he has to beg every day. That seems kind of nice to me, as it gives them a connection to the community. I could well see different systems giving that up as impractical.

    • February 17, 2010
    Happy Ash Wednesday!

    The thought that not keeps coming to me is "leave that girl alone".

    I got the black forest cake from la Baguette. I would have to say that it's pretty good, but it somewhat misses for me being a real schwartwalder kirsch torte. It somehow doesn't seem like it's made from real whipping cream. And it doesn't have the subtle fragrance of kirschwasser. It's not sweet, but the sort of frosting stuff they have instead of the whipping cream is somewhat unsettling. It's not covered with chocolate sprinkles, but only has some lightly done around the outside. But I think I was kind of expecting that it would be disappointing, so that's probably coloring my judgement. I gave it a shot.

    And I've been thinking of doing a beef roast, or maybe a bucket of chicken, but I lost maybe a couple more pounds, and now I just feel more like staying on track than gorging like that. Eating a cake probably won't help me, but maybe that will be enough for me.

    The knot theory is continuing to be interesting. At this point, it's mostly just group theory. I also had started reading something on group theory for Rubik's cubes, but the images didn't get put into it, so it was too hard to deal with. There's another one, so maybe I'll go through that one.

    I chopped a little more wood. This time was unusual because I didn't use the wedge at all, just the axe. One piece took a bunch of tries though, but did eventual break up.

    I ate two big piece of cake. In all a quarter of it. I guess it was too much.

    I told Leanne that I probably with shave this week or next, but after hearing about Epic Beard Man, I may have to hold onto it.

    • February 16, 2010
    Happy Mardi Gras!

    It's two days later, and I'm just remembering something I wanted to ask Melissa. I should write this stuff down, maybe, or get an email address. I see her so often, it shouldn't be an issue. And I kept thinking I had something, and it never came to me. Seems like that happens a lot. I could send a text, but those are so short it's hard to say it all. I'm looking at getting a netbook, and I think she has one that didn't quite work out, so maybe I could buy it. She never seems open to that kind of thing, though.

    A weird kind of experience at Bardog. Asa and Ben actually got to fighting a bit while I was standing next to them. Asa had Ben in a choke, and I guess Ben was pushing back on him. They were roughly squatting on the ground, so there wasn't that much he could do-- a typical counter is to drop down. The ended up pushing up on me, and I kind of supported them for a couple seconds, but I let them go a bit, and unfortunately, there was a box of fancy gold-rimmed glasses from Stella sitting there. I think Stella is gone, so there won't be any more. You could hear them crunch. Three of them did make, though. But Melissa came over and was all, "get off the ground!" I almost never see her angry, but she definitely had reason to be. That was really childish. Just little boys. And I hate for Melissa to be unhappy. Anwyay, after they broke it up they were saying that I could have beaten both of them up. I don't know. I wish. I probably do have fifty pounds on each of them. Asa had a really good hold going.

    Early, I was talking to Asa about Bruce Lee's one inch punch. I was trying to explain my understanding of it. You are moving your whole body before your hand even moves. You drop your weight, and start twisting, so there's actually kind of a wind-up or whip before it gets to your arm. I just tried mine on my bag here, and it's been so long, I've really let mine go. Plus my wrist has gotten so bad that I'm just too shy to really put any good power into a punch any more. Pitiful.

    So that's two separate occasions that people have said I look like a "mountain man". A guy from kung fu and the folks at Bardog. The look is getting pretty archetypal. I need to get a picture. The stupid webcam on this laptop is not being recognized by the operating system, but reddit roulette was able to grab it. Crappy operating system. I think there are probably drivers on the install disk that I must have not put on here when I fuckgraded to Vista. I still haven't gotten into using my phone. I finally let my dad have my camera since I'm not using it. But the webcam would really be just right for this pic. Grr.

    Finished up the other fake book. Interesting little gems. The little Indiana Jones theme. The Pretty Woman riff. There were several things that were just too long for me to get into right off--Pachelbel's canon , Classical Gas, Walking in Memphis. And this book has everything printed unusually small, so it's hard for me to see it, especially these bigger ones.

    • February 15, 2010
    I went to the wild foods market, but they didn't have any better cuts. Well, the had some kind of tenderloin, which I guess was better, but that actually wasn't really a cut I was looking for. I found a page with descriptions of beef cuts. I tried a pork tenderloin one time and did a horrible job with it. Overcooked it and dried it out. It's just solid muscle, and not marbled and fatty like I'm looking for. You could get a bunch of filets out of it, but like I said, not what I'm looking for. As I think about that meat at Bardog, I'm thinking that what it really tasted like was strips of prime rib, but I saw it, and it wasn't a rib roast. Must have been similar, though. At this point, I'm thinking I need to shoot for a rib roast. One thing from the chart, though, the "English" roast isn't really the name of a cut, so I don't know what it refers to. Ah, I googled it, and it appears to be a chuck roast, which has a lot of grisle, so it needs to be braised--the boiling I was talking about. I actually have a book on braising, so maybe I will try it out sometime. At Bardog, they say they get their stuff from Charlie' meat market. I need to try them next.

    I felt like spending money so I bought a valentine's day heart-shaped Godiva chocolate box half off, which was still way too much, but I thought it needed a home. I was expecting that eat it all at once, and I was really pretty hungry, so I didn't think it would be an issue, but after half of it, it was enough. And I had some chicken with BBQ sauce waiting. I think I just like meat better than sweets.

    • February 14, 2010
    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Wow, so it looks like I have a couple dozen tomato plant seedlings. I think I'm going to have to move them into bigger temporary cup things. In another month they could be getting pretty big sized. And then I will have to look at actually putting them in the garden. That's going to be a challenge in itself. I'll probably have to put up some kind of posts with strings, as it may be too many to try to stake individually. I guess they call that a trellis. We have three cages, and they work very well, but with this many, I guess I'm past that. I'm googling stuff and I'm seeing bunches of stuff. Pruning? I guess I'm not that hardcore.

    Did play piano for another three hours. And I watched a bunch of movies streamed from netflix. So a lazy weekend. I had been thinking of going to a mensa regional gathering in St. Louis this weekend, but I saw that it's three hundred miles so about five hours, and that just seemed too long to me.

    I still remember that barbecue from Bardog whenever it was. Possibly it was combined with me being really hungry, but I think it was the best food I can remember. Or maybe just me liking it more than anything else I can remember. And I just ate meat. Some kind of beef, but I don't know what cut it was. And it was sliced up into little chunks on toothpicks. Very tender, a little hint of fat. Moist, not at all dried. Not overcooked, yet warm enough. Maybe being cold wouldn't have hurt. Could be that I usually only get roasts that are cheaper, just because my mom doesn't like to spend too much, except for very rare special occasions. But I've had prime rib, and I don't remember it being that good, maybe close. They have a good butcher that they use. Plus Chef Demitrie is pretty good. I'm not positive what all did it. I've eaten at prime steak houses, but it wasn't the same. Maybe I'm ordering the wrong thing.

    Finally went out shopping. Along the way, I think I witness a sign of the breakdown of society, and I managed to use my dictaphone on my iphone to take notes. But I'm not writing based on those notes, but from memory, so I'm not quite there yet. Anyway, I was driving, and I kind of tucked in through some middle class sorts of neighborhoods, and I saw three security guard cars from three different companies. But no actual city police cars. Surely that indicates some kind of breakdown if private citizens are having to supplement what is a police and government job. Middle class not getting its fair share? I don't know. Because I moved into some must lower rent areas, and bang bang, actual city police. That included passing by the university, but they essential have their own city cops patrolling. Its a government school, so it makes sense. And the city having to patrol the lower rent stuff? I guess it falls to them. But possibly an even more profound observation since I was thinking about it today. I drove through the highest class neighborhood. Just this side of germantown (which is in some sense a ritzy suburb). This was down shady grove. Fred Smith's neighborhood. Whatever millionaires we have. I saw two city patrol cars driving together. I guess they need protection, and pay enough to get it.

    So I went to La Baguette. I ordered a black forest cake. It's a French bakery, and that's a German cake, so I'm not sure what they are going to do with it, but I'm giving it a shot. I think the lady at checkout was Vietnamese. They were a French colony, weren't they? She said they have good stuff. But it was really way too expensive. I think in Germany, they actually have enough bakeries that there is competition, plus enough people who actually know what they're doing so it doesn't really cost as much to get good, I don't know what you call them, baked goods, I guess. Patisserie. I don't know the German. And I got a baguette. It's about what it is at the grocery chains. And probably about the same thing, too. Bread is not very complicated.

    And went to the main library which is in the same parking lot as la Baguette. Actually, supposedly the French teacher at MUS, Dr. Dahl, started la Baguette. I don't know if that's right. Anyway, at the main library I tried to find that fancy math book I saw on line. Didn't see it. Browsed the math section. They've got a lot of stuff. Seems like I only ever looked at my local branch as a kid. Make I could have become a real math person if I'd had this stuff. But even it had some gaps, I guess, not having these fancy math books.

    Going back east, I tried the AT&T store. The chick at the door asked me, why the hell was I in there. The way she was asking didn't even seem like a can I help, it was really more, what do you want. Definitely thrown off guard, and she asked if I needed to talk to a salesperson. But I wanted to look. Maybe they have neat phone stuff, and I wanted to see if they had netbooks. I certainly didn't want her attitude. So I look around. They had stuff on DSL. I used to have DSL from them, but I've got cable now. It's more expensive though, so maybe I should go back. I did finally see their section on internet stuff, and yes, they do have netbooks with integrated at&t connections, like the stuff on the iphone. Want. The things are $200 with 2 year commitment, but it's "starting" at $35 or $40 per month. Gah! I didn't feel like asking what the cost actual is. That's the kind of question they just don't answer. And they didn't engender good feeling. They have separate plug in dongle thingies that can work with a laptop. But I'm trying to get away from toting a laptop. too big. They keyboards are slightly reduced size, but I found them acceptable. I think one was an hp mini 110, there was an acer something and a samsung something. Seemed like non-intel chips, which can be very weird, but they had windows 7, I think, which is something. I think I'd probably almost like linux. I will think about it. I should also look at getting some income before commiting to spending scratch like that. But the money is actually about in the range of what I'm spending now. And getting out among people to write is something I'd really like to shoot for. I'm certainly not meeting people sitting at home.

    Then I went to the bookstore. The hard part about the books I'm looking for is that I don't know the author. The title is something like, the art of problem solving, which is a little vague to narrow down. But borders didn't seem to have it either, according to their search. Actually, the search found more than have a dozen books that kind of seemed to match, and they didn't have any of them, so whichever was the one I think I'm looking for, they didn't have it. I did browse the math section. I found a book on knot theory. That's something I think I've even said I'm interested in. I've got Ashley's book of knots, but it's closer to an encyclopedia of knots, or maybe a dictionary. It's hard to learn stuff from a dictionary. You could learn everything there is to know from one, conceivably, but getting a solid understanding, it just isn't organized to do something like that. If I were to try out all the knots, that's the kind of thing that would give you an understanding, but you would have to figure some of it out, yourself. We'll see what this book does. Some of what it is talking about is algebraic topology. There is some group theory in there. And that's the kind of thing I'd like to know more about.

    I also saw something on shaolin something or other. Principles, maybe. The writer is supposed to be a grandmaster, with like a tenth degree black belt. That made me suspicious, as I don't think they really do belts in Chinese kung fu. That's a Japanese and American thing. And I tried thumbing through it a bit, and it seemed like there was a lot of vacuous fluff. But I looked at it, and maybe I will consider it again sometime if I have time and I'm in the mood. I think it's good I didn't just pick it up for later, which I've done way too often. So much to read. I've got stuff sitting, now.

    Then I went to Kroger. Got some lactose free milk. My mom had gotten me some soymilk. I use to do that, but I'm not sure it really improved that much, because while it doesn't have lactose, which I have trouble digesting, it seems to be that soy on its own naturally has other things that no one can digest. So a bit of a wash. Also got some grape juice.

    But one of the main things I went in there for was to look at the beef roasts. They had rump roast, which I'm thinking is just not quite what I want. It can be a little too solid with not the kind of marbling I'm looking for, so it can get tough. Of course they had english roast. And it helps me understand why people say the English have such bad food. That's a vile cut off meat. I looked at one, and you could just see the huge line of grisle right through it. It can make a pot roast, if you like boiling meat. Maybe I'll try it if I'm feeling poor and desperate. I think they had a chuck, but it's also not really quite what I want. They had sirloin tip. I don't know enough about that one, and I might give it a try, but based on the other stuff they have, I'm thinking it must not be a great choice. I'm really curious now what Bardog used. And I need to go to a store with a better selection of meat. I think I need to try the whole foods place.

    Triggered spark gap. Mentioned on a sixty minutes thing on Iran trying to smuggle stuff. It can be used in a lithotriptor. But as the name seems to indicate, it's an electrical detonator. Maybe I should get some.

    "Joy is but the shadow pain casts"-- member of the Swedish curling team which took the lead over team USA as Marge injured her shoulder sweeping too hard to make up for Homer's bad throw. OK, I like the Simpson's. I googled the quote. It has already been tweeted and google has picked it up. Only twenty minutes old. It was a great Valentine's day episode.

    • February 12, 2010
    So, I'll try to state the problem again. In human intelligence, almost all behavior is based on learning. In computers. all behavior is based on programming. It's a little hard to get any behavior based on learning. In general, what happens is that the learning is done by people, and the work into making that into a program is done by a person, however exactly people are able to write programs, and then maybe at that point, a computer will have some behavior that is intelligent. That's the kind of thing AI has been doing. And as long as most of the work going from learning to program is done by people, a computer won't be generally intelligent.

    There are some computer system domains where the computer does quite a bit of learning, and some of the behaviors are based on that learning. In speech recognition, for example, there is a lot of automatic sound modeling done that helps the computer go from different aspects of the sound to particular kinds of data that move it towards being recognized as text. And at different stages, learned data is used to make more accurate sequences of text.

    There is an entire area of application called machine learning where the data is just so big that people don't try to stand in the middle, and they just get the computer to go from the stream of data to the range of desired values they want to get to. One fairly interesting example is the thing where they control a helicopter. I believe it's some sensory information about how the helicopter position and speed responds to different changes in its mechanical operation. And I think the idea is that you also have a person who is trying to control the helicopter, with help from the program. One result was that they could get the helicopter to fly upside down, which a person couldn't do on his own trying to control it, but only with help of the program. Those cars driving themselves are another big area with lots of machine learning, but people were in the loop there to a great extent, setting up what to be connected to what.

    Part of situation in human intelligence is that behavior is guided and controlled by emotional behavior and reactions. This is very far from how computers operate. Computers just behave as precisely determined by the sequence of instructions and data sitting in their very numerical memories. I'm not sure we even really understand and appreciate the significance of our mental emotional behavior, but perhaps more important, it's actually something that we don't want the computer to have. We kind of think that somehow we can have the intelligence without the emotional system, because out ermotional systems apparently get us to do things that we don't think are all that intelligent. We hope to distill out real logical consequences of learned information, instead of just basing behavior on emotional likes and dislikes. But this is a big flaw in the project. All of a persons behaviors come from these emotional considerations. Some mechanism has to be in the computer there somewhere. But since for now, people are always in the loop, we can pretty well conclude that the work people are doing is doing this job. And from the way people are picking goals even for the machine learning systems, one can see that this is the case.

    So people at this point aren't even really wanting to let the computer go and do things on its own, which is part of what it is to be intelligent. The project doesn't move forward in part because it's not really what people want. People really want and expect a computer just to do what they say, not what it wants to and thinks is best. We don't even want a computer to have wants. We want to supply the wants. And I guess without its own wants that it can explore, a computer on its own is not doing the complete process involved in acting intelligently.

    Some of this reflection for me comes from what Lockhard was saying about how mathematicians really work. Mathematicians find solutions to problems because they like finding elegant solutions, not so much because they have a problem and it is the need involved with the problem that motivates them. Other people who have the actual problems can use the results of the mathematicians, but that's a different thing. It is vaguely similar to how computers use the results of their programmers. They work for very different kinds of motivations.

    Finally, in the third season, Kwai Chang Caine has girlfriend number three. Actually in one episode in there, there was a flashback after he had left the temple but before he got into his legal trouble where he runs into a chinese vixen, and they seemed to sort of fall in love, but don't quite get to do so much about it, and it doesn't work out. Anyway, right after that, we have girlfriend three. They don't actually do so much with it, as it's really just part of a side plot, and I guess it adds some tension as in the main plot, he apparently gets a pardon and has to decide if he wants to go back to China. Pretty harsh to have a girlfriend just to have more tension in the plot. Not quite as irritating as inventing science just for the plot, I guess. Anyway, this episode was extra special because William Shatner was one of the actors. And he gets to use some of his special fighting skills against our kung fu master. But he gets beat up, of course. I guess he lost a fair share on Star Trek, too. Also, one of the other actors from Star Trek was on there. Instantly recognizable, too. The girl that played Elaan of Troyius. Looking at the wiki for her, I see that she had worked with Shatner before Star Trek, even, so they must have been buds.

    Kung fu has been getting a little into woo-woo stuff. Psychics and magical stuff. Blech.

    Learning is complicated though. Possibly different kinds of things. People have an ability to use language to convey stuff, and that kind of learning seems significantly different from trying things abd being rewarded and thus increasing that behavior. Plus there is knowing how to move in different ways. Seems like that kind of learning is different.

    Some while back, maybe a few years ago, I bought another big fake book. It got to the bottom of the pile so I hadn't played from it yet. And the binding is more of a book binding instead of a spiral binding like the other, so it doesn't sit open as easily, which may have contributed to my not wanting to try it out. But I decided to give it a shot. It has got a lot of different stuff from the other one, so not too much overlap, which is good. I played for maybe three hours and got to about 'G'. That's not playing all of them. Not too many of them, really. There are a lot of ones I've never heard of. Same as the other one. And I get more aware of the limitations of my ability. Oh well. Hopefully playing helps me get better. But it's really not so good to do it in bursts. It really needs to be everyday. And if I ever get to playing on my midi keyboard and record the stuff, that'll be nice. So I can hear myself, and have something to listen to. I wonder how much space three hours of midi takes up? Doesn't seem like it should be all that much. I'm playing on the piano now. That's something I'm supposed to be playing every day, just to work the moisture out of it. It didn't seem too bad.

    OK, I'm reading in my book on historical linguistics. It says that there is a French word "vasistas" that apparently comes from the German phrase "was is das" which means "what is that?". That doesn't seem like it could be right. And the word means roughly a ventilator or fanlight, a little window above a door you can crack open. I don't know how it got to mean that. That's just weird.

    • February 8, 2010
    Snow! Again. This time it was a little more. Maybe four inches, a little more or a little less, depending. And the same thing happened. A bunch of snow, and then it rained and washed away most of the snow off the pavements. It was above freezing for most of the day, and it still is, a little into the evening. But I'm sure the same thing will happen, it will freeze overnight. The snow will be a crust of ice. I think less snow has made it on the pavement, so maybe it won't be so bad on the roads than before. Which is good.

    All the women at Bardog. Angela was there, plus Ian of course. And she was hanging out with her friend, Julie, who I think I would like. And I finally got the name of Murphy, who hangs out there a lot. And a bunch of people from __Jersey Boys_. There was a really cute little redhead, but I never came close to her. But one nice little girl, Jenelle, flirted quite a bit. That was nice. Lots of kissing in that group. A couple of guys seemed to start it off, then Jenelle, kissed on of them, and then one of the other girls. That was pretty. And they were taking pictures. Jenelle even got some hugs from Melissa. And when I was going outside, she came back from wherever she was, looking for a guy we thought might come back. I didn't offer to walk back with her. Oh well.

    • February 7, 2010
    Chris said I should fix the amp. He had one go bad, and he opened it up, and there was a black spot, and he soldered it back and it was OK. It probably is just a solder joint. But that's easy for him to say. He builds guitars, and part of doing that is soldering in the electronics. So he does a lot of it. Still I should give it a shot. Also, he said he doesn't even use an amp at home, and recommended some kind of computer card for $100 with tons of effects, and just using headphones. He said a lot of people do that. I said, well, I was also thinking of an amp for my keyboard, but he said a guitar through a keyboard amp won't sound good. And you only need an amp for a gig. Anyway, I guess I'll hold off.

    Super 5 was playing at Stella Marris. It looks like a strip club. It probably will be one. Does a restaurant ever have a DJ booth? I guess they have to do some political stuff to get it there. And it was totally full. The parking lot was full when I got there.

    Apparently Chris was talking about this. It's a thing that grabs the guitar for input through USB, plus they have software for processing it. It runs for about $100, so I think that's what it was. It's the kind of functionality I can get from my fancy stomp box, though using that isn't so easy. So maybe I should simplify and go for something like that. They have a more expensive model that had more inputs, and I might go for that.

    Grady Booch of all things, recommended Gaping Void. He's a long time blogger. Old school. I think for Booch it was something about creativity. Maybe he does artwork for business cards or something. Booch also recommended a book, _Beautiful Code_, which I think I have somewhere so I should dig it up. And it reminds me that I think I have another book with interviews of programmers. It's a genre that I seem to like. _Secrets of Rock Star Programmers_, I think. I should dig it up.

    Parents here. Food cooking. Broiled chicken and french fries. Yummy!

    Melissa sent me a message that she couldn't find any lemonade. I guess wintertime makes it tougher. So I should bring something. She tried several places but she was late. It makes me unhappy when she's late for work because of me, but it is kind of sweet. I'm sure she's not happy about it either. So I'm not really sure what to say about it.

    • February 6, 2010
    On areddit comment on a post with some pictures of a couple made up in different ways, the guy gives a link to a test on face recognition. I took it, and got 78%, which is slightly less than what they are calling the average. According to the responses, a lot of people get it nearly perfect, but there are quite a few who just range all over the place. And some people really are just face blind, and can't tell faces apart. I'm not so good, but I'm not blind.

    I've been kind of worried that I might have been a little emotionally scarring to Wynne. Now seeing that she's still into poetry, and having seen how gloomy some of it is, I have to think that yes, maybe I was. She was always kind of emotional. So maybe mine was not such a big impact. And for a while, I've thought that maybe I'd like to say sorry or something, or try to say how she was always nice, and had a good impact on me, to try to maybe mitigate whatever impact I might have had. But now I have just a feeling of, oh well, damage done, water over the dam. No real interest in going back to it, now.

    I didn't go out to the weekly Mensa meeting last night. I'm thinking of going to the St. Louis regional gathering next weekend, and I thought it might be good to go and see some of the locals to see if any were going, and maybe some advice or something. It looks like kind of a small one, but St. Louis is close enough, and I've never gone to one before. I had thought about going to the national one last year, but I balked at the money. I think it was Pittsburgh. Which is just around a reasonable driving distance. This year is Detroit. Also doable. Actually, in Detroit, you could probably squat in an empty building. So I guess I need to see.

    It's a convention though. I'm not so good with groups of people. And I'm not so positive about what that is. I'm just about OK one on one, but with more than two, I have trouble even joining in on a conversation. I don't really feel like taking up people's time or something. I saw something recently that suggested that some geeky types have trouble with the conventions of turn-taking in conversations. So there will be awkward pauses and interruptions. That sounds likely to be an issue for me. And having a group of people, the whole turn-taking thing may well just be too frustrating. I do remember that I often find that people don't let me finish what I'm trying to say. And I've had people try to finish my sentences, and invariably, they won't say exactly what I'm trying to say, so I'll just get frustrated. So my experience in talking in groups is generally frustrating. Also, when talking, you have to find areas of common interest and agreement to have stuff to talk about. I think I have fairly unusual values and understandings about how things are, so I don't usually find that much in common with other people. It's the kind of thing that makes me usually not like dramatic movies, so going to movies is a problem. But in the situation of trying to talk to a group of people, I expect that I won't have anything that is common to all of them. I would guess that me talking is mostly me trying to explain my point of view, instead of a kind of mutual sharing and agreement that I think is a more usual kind of conversation. How about that airplane food?

    Well there you go. I can see why I haven't played much guitar. My amplifier has a loose connection. It's the amplifier. I wasn't sure what it was. It could have been my old guitar, or my homemade cables. But with a new guitar and cable, it still has the problem, so it must be the amplifier. And the connection is loose. So once in a while, for a few seconds, it will work. Darn. I bought that amplifier used. Maybe it was shaky when I got it. I guess I need to write it off and throw it away. I charged it, and all that credit is gone, anyway. So I guess I need to get a new one. The few seconds it would play it would be fairly nice. Pretty loud. I guess that's all I could want. It's too much of a headache, though. And it always had a buzz, even when it there was no other signal, so I just generally haven't liked it. One question is if I should try to sell it off, again. But if it's really trash, I should just dump it. Since then, I've thrown away a lot more money than this. I think it was about $400. Man, I didn't really need to be spending money on this stuff right now.

    So I'm shopping for amplifiers. The Fender Passport 150 looks good to me. It's a PA combination. Really, it's for plugging in microphones to amplify people's voices in a meeting or something. Maybe could be for a guy and his acoustic electric guitar. That's actually the kind of thing I want, because I have a keyboard and and acoustic electric guitar, and a microphone and nothing to hook them up with. It's like $400. I also saw the Peavey KB5. It is more specifically a keyboard amplifier, but it's close to a PA, and it probably would work fine with a guitar. It's like $550, though, and that's just a little more than I'd like. Both of those are 150 watts. I'd like more, but it looks like that's really all you can ask from these combination amps. But if I were to just be honest with myself, I'd have to admit that what I want is a Marshall stack. Speaker cabinets separate from the amplifier, or head. In their amp buying guide, Sweetwater says that Jimi always had the dual 4x12". Maybe I should concede and do that. But they point to a cabinet that costs $800, but they have one that costs $400. I don't what the difference is. That's just the speaker. I haven't looked at the amplifier head. There's probably a lot you can do. And in amplifiers, they always want sell you built in effects. I have an extremely fancy effects box, so I just want a straight amplifier, which is why I was looking at just PAs. We'll see what I find.

    • February 4, 2010
    Just read Lockhart's Lament. I guess it was inevitable that I would run into it after I joined the math subreddit. And I resisted it or avoided it or something for a long time. The thing is, I am no mathematician. And apparently, I have no mathematical talent at all. So I guess it's good I didn't become a math teacher. But I was fairly interested in learning the mathematical procedures that they get kids to memorize. That stuff isn't really doing math though. According to this guy, math is really finding new math ideas. And that's really a bit of a problem. That's what mathematiciams do, and maybe it's fun and all. But it's really not as significant and important as he thinks. Just learning the math ideas is moderately useful for some people. But certainly not for everyone, the way they've made it mandatory. And high school geometry is pretty bad. It has a hint of really being math, except that it gets mangled. And that's the math class that I liked the least. So I'm really no mathematician. Some of these Teaching Company classes have given me a better appreciation of the stuff. But it's maybe a bit too little, too late.

    Of course, I was one of the few kids in my high school who even took the American Math Competition tests. Maybe we had half a dozen in my grade, I forget. Those had really hard math, at least for me. Stuff I hadn't seen, and seems like they would sometimes actually give me a headache.

    • February 3, 2010
    I finished the two easy sections in the big sudoku book. That's 250 puzzles. But now I see that the harder sections are a lot bigger. The 3 star has 400, the 4 star has 400 and the five star has 200. So I guess I thought I was moving along, but really, I've just barely started. Numerically, I'm one fifth through after a month and a week or two, but since the difficulty is going to increase, the amount of work is a lot more than just four times what I've done. Now I'm guessing it's more like 10 times. So I would have to increase my effort a lot to keep on the numerical pace. And just staying the same, it would more likely take a year if I'm lucky. The calculation is that I would have to average four a day. Just hitting the three star ones, they are just a huge amount harder than the ones I was just doing. I've only done a couple, but one I had to write down the possibles, which is real work. On the other, I didn't, so it's maybe not going to be unimaginably bad. And maybe I'll get better.

    I chopped wood again. That's the last of the stuff that was sitting to be chopped. It looks like it's good for maybe two weeks of burning steady, and it's February and getting warmer, so maybe I'll be fine. When it's gone, it's gone. I needed to chop it before the weather gets bad again, since it was sunny. We were down to having only maybe two or three days worth, if we kept it up, and it seems like we were just taking it a little easy so we wouldn't run out. You're more careful when you can see you're about to run out. But the stuff now is all wet from standing on the ground, so it won't burn so well.

    Finished learning the movements for the Bagua dragon form. Now I can just work on perfecting it. We've only got three out of eight of the sections in the Fanzi Quan form. We would've gotten section four, but there weren't enough people that showed up. When that happens, I get to learn more of the dragon form. So that's it. I don't know if there's anything else for me to do by myself. The teacher is really trying to have everyone learn the same thing. It's a lot easier like that. So, what to study next. Reecy wanted to learn Xingyi, and that would be good. I think Louie is going to explode if I don't study the sparring form. But they've kind of cut back on that because people were getting hurt. There was one wild guy who messed it up. And another kind of snag is that it isn't something I can do by myself when no one shows up. So it's not really the greatest thing. I'd like either one. For now, I need to spend time on the dragon form. And I think there is a variation when you do it in pairs.

    My parents are in town for a couple of days. My dad had to go to the dentist here in town. And they're coming back on Monday. My mom is making a pork roast. And I ate a bunch of spaghetti yesterday. So a break from my attempts to eat less.

    And I'm holding off on picking up the guitar from Chris while they're here. The money's in the bank. I'll just do it tomorrow. I said a week, and tomorrow will be a week. Probably better anyway to have an empty house when trying out a new guitar.

    • February 2, 2010
    Happy rodent day! Happy rodent day! Happy rodent day!

    I did go on a bit yesterday. I guess that happens. Not sleeping so much and Starbucks. Plus I have been somewhat reflective lately. So, bit of a manic Monday. And we had not only just a full moon, but a wolf moon as it's called. A perigee moon that was extra close so extra big and bright. Hopefully I'm not a werewolf.

    So, Oracle bought Sun. They might have sort of kept it alive in some way, but it looks like they are just obliterating any traces of it and moving on. There are Sun boxes out there, so I don't know what all's going to happen to them. And Sun kind of had some kind of possession of Java, but they did something to release it as open source, so I don't know what exactly Oracle has in relation to it. I'm thinking that in some way, Java is not dead, but with Sun gone, there's not really going to be much work on it. Microsoft has been trying to kill it from the beginning. One other piece is mySQL, which Sun bought. Sun was keeping it alive, but I would guess that Oracle really wanted to grab it and do something with it. Get rid of it, maybe. It's almost a competitor, though it kind of works in a slightly different market area--open source as compared to Oracle which is a big closed sort of system for big commercial stuff. Kind of a tough time in computers.

    And overnight the money has shown up in my bank account. So that's a plus. Apparently that means it takes two business days to get access to my invested money. That seems just about as liquid as you could want. It takes maybe that long for a check to clear.

    • February 1, 2010
    Happy Kalends of February!

    OK, so I've got my laptop at Starbucks. I don't have the wifi going to it yet. I'm not sure what hoops they want me to jump through. Apparently, they want me to get one of their cards. I hard heard about that. But now when I see it, it has to be an active card, bought or used or refilled in the last months. That's not the same thing as just a card. I'm not sure if I want to be active enough to mess with it each month. Now, I buy from Starbucks every week, but I prefer to use cash instead of doing any kind of card thing. Maybe I can change. I'm not sure I want to. We'll see. For now, I'm writing offline. That's totally not the same. Can't do links or any of that stuff.

    Now the thing is, the wifi is done by AT&T so my iphone is allowed to use it. A while back when I was in here, I had to do some kind of hoop to get access. The splash screen when the phone browser tries to access it would come up with some kind of log in, requiring the phone number, and it was send a text to the phone with a log in link, and then it would connect. It seems to do that handshaking automatically now. So AT&T is giving me access to my phone. Now this works very well for them, because it doesn't clog the phone wireless network. The iphone is becoming an incredible hog to them. So much that it's been worth it to them to set up these wifi points. But for the phone, not so much for just everyone. I don't know if being one of their customers is enough. I need some kind of account with them. I may well have one with them somewhere that I can use, but I don't know yet. Maybe we'll see.

    Lunch with Aimee. At the Market Cafe on I think it's Madison. Wish the internet was up, or I'd give the link. The try to use farmer's market vegetables. The owner took our order, but passing over to the server, my soup turned into a salad. That's fine. Probably just as well. Hamp and Jenny were there. I think Aimee never found Jenny, so that was nice. Tucked in a different building somewhere. Maybe we can do lunch.

    Fun writing in Starbucks, though. Got the tunes on the iphone. Weird Al's song, "Pancreas". He says his pancreas attracts all other pancreases in the universe with a force that's proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them, but to be more accurate, the forces is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Maybe that wouldn't fit so well in the song, but I hate for him to be misleading to people. It's like the place in the Wizard of Oz where the guy, I think it must be the scarecrow, says the area of the square of the hypoteneuse of an isosceles triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Maybe it's a little more clear in print. This was also quoted in a Simpson's episode by Homer. And like the commenter there said, "it's a right triangle, you idiot!"

    Somehow, I got to talking to Aimee about seduction. And I mentioned R. Don Steele's _How to Date Young Women for Men over 35_. I loaned her his book _Office Politics, I'm guessing it was maybe 10 years ago now. She really hated it. Anyway, I was trying to get to how, if you just want to easily, you should just get a wedding band. But R. Don has a whole program of self improvement. Exercising, learning about things that interest young women. Getting out to a gym. Actually, what seems like a fairly nice program. And dating young women is maybe an incentive, or goal, or possibly a reward. I guess I don't have a great way to describe it. Doesn't seem like there is going to be a good way to sell it to Aimee. Because she asked the natural question of what young women have to offer that maybe an older woman like herself might have. But she said, other than the obvious physical stuff. Umm. Seems like that's a little hard to just drop. But I tried to add what R. Don added. Young women have a bit of a fresher outlook. They can be more vibrant. The world hasn't worn them down as much, and they won't be as bitter as older women can be. Again, I don't think that's going to be a case I'd be able to make with Aimee, easily. And R. Don has stages of women. An older single woman will have different things going on. A young woman is probably not looking for a husband the way an older woman almost certainly is. She could still just be looking to have fun for now. I guess.

    So, going back to the shuttle to take us back to her office, we just missed it driving away. Instead of waiting for the next one, we decided to walk. And immediately, we saw that it was a mistake for Aimee. The sidewalks were covered with ice. I can walk on ice fine, but Aimee had heels. Ouch. And this wasn't slush or snow, or rough mix of snow and ice or even just snow with a bit of a crust. This was an early layer of snow, which had been rained on and that has frozen to a perfectly smooth, solid layer of smooth ice. Even ice can be rough enough to get some grip. In one spot there was just this nice slope, so I couldn't stand, I just lightly slide down, my legs spreading out. But I said I could keep her from falling. I'm actually very sure footed. In fact, my style of kung fu emphasizes walking with sure footing. And it gave me a chance to tell me a story of the founder of Bagua. He worked for the Emperor, at one of the imperial palaces. As a waiter, actually. Part of what he did in developing this style of kung fu was to work on improving and practice a style of weaving and dodging footwork. So when he was serving food in at the crowded banquet, he weaved around between people carrying the trays, never touching anyone or spilling anything. And the emperor, ro somebody like that, who happened to be interested in kung fu, said, hey, this guy probably has some pretty good kung fu, based on how he can move around so quickly, steadily, while dodging and avoiding people. So he got to do a demonstration of his kung fu, which, yes, was very impressive, and he ended up getting a job with the guards, and did end up teaching and training them.

    OK, so telling the story will we were walking on such terribly slippery ice maybe help distract Aimee from all the danger. We were walking holding hands and I was definitely trying to help steady her. I think they like the whole protecting thing, too. Plus, from what I here, if you can get them really scared, and their heart is beating, they will kind of confuse that a little bit, and have stronger feelings for you. Anyway, something to think about. And then, after walking on ice for a couple of blocks, we noticed that we were walking on the shaded south side of the street, whereas the sidewalk on the north side didn't have any ice. D'oh! So we crossed the street and then we were fine. But we survived, and then got past it.

    At lunch, we also talked about computer languages, since I'm reading about computer languages designers. What swung it in that direction was that she talked about her regular meeting on Wednesday. I told her that the C# guys have regular meetings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from one to three. Every week. For the past 10 years. Now that's meetings. But they do a lot of stuff. It's no wonder C# keeps adding features. I tried to survey the C family of languages and how object oriented programming affected that family. C was simple, but to handle big projects, they've made several attempts to add object orientations. C++ has been a bit of a disaster. It's gotten too big. Still has pointers. Java is a little better. C# is kind of a reaction to Java, though since it added back pointers, one might see it as a step backwards. Objective C is like a fork before C++. Aimee has done some COBOL and I forget what the other thing was.

    So I've been playing the money pretty close. I need $80 tomorrow to pay for kung fu for the month. I have $62 in the bank, after what I've been taking out over the weekend. And went out to dinner saturday and sunday. Got a lot at Bardog. Soup and Mussels. Melissa kindly paid for the soup. She often picks up my check, so I didn't know what to expect. So I only had to pay for the mussels. She actually expected me to get the fillet, but that was $25, and I think she would not have covered that. Which was good. And any other time. I would have done it, but I'm real close. And the after it all, I was having lunch with Aimee. Normally, I would pay, and I would run over her objections in a manly way. And I had prepared an argument. She can pay when she asks me out. And she tried to act like she kind of had. Because when I sent the email, she said she had been thinking of sending me something, already, what a coincidence! And she picked the place. So I simply did not fight back very hard. Plus, I paid the last two recent times. A few weeks before, a few months before that. And not so recent, I think it was maybe 7 years before that. So if we are taking turns, it was her turn. And maybe she might be a little more comfortable taking turns, but who wants to be comfortable? The owner guy as we were paying used the word "manly". Somehow letting her pay might be manly in some way that I was not familiar with. Something to do with being gracious, I think? OK. So I let her pay. Leaving me with the $32 I still had. OK. Yay! So I theoretically have the money, without needing any extraordinary effort.

    But I said I was playing it close. Actually, I have a hundred dollar bill that my mom left to help with the utility bill. I think it's gotten really sad that my mom feels like giving me money. When I was working, I usually gave my mom money every time she came to town, to buy groceries. And over Christmas last year, every couple of weeks. And usually a hundred. She really appreciated that, because her money was tight. And you know, when I stopped working, I still had enough money to keep doing that, and probably I should have, but I try to keep my finances to myself, and there would have been questions, and I don't think she would have gotten that yes, I am managing my money, and I can still do this. When I was working, from the very beginning there was the understanding that the job was temporary, so it was all about saving money, because when it was gone, it was going to be quite a while til I found another one. And then it lasted more than two years longer than I was expecting, so I saved enough to go for a really long time. Even spending money at the rate that I was thinking, I could go for two years, with everything working to plan. I did tell her about the two year thing. Maybe a year and a half. It's been a year now. And this is all without cutting back, which maybe would be a good idea. So I guess she decided for me to cut back on the money going to her. That includes one of the two tax bills for the house. I paid the city, but she paid the county. I caved in to that. And then I didn't throw money into food over the holidays like I should have. Ouch. I just went down that road, I guess. So she goes back to the farm after the holidays, and then leaves me with money to help with the utilities. Now, to be fair, normally they run around $100, but in the winter, maybe last time, it was over $300, so it could have been pretty steep. But it was only $230. So really no big deal. Whatever.

    So Aimee asked me, what my dream job is. It's a very good question. I didn't finish answering her, and the discussion veered off. I talked about the book _the Passionate Programmer_. The guy is a saxophone phone player, so he has analogies to being a musician and programmer, like trying to be the worst one in the room, so you can get better, and it's more fun. And he's got a lot more stuff. I have to look more into it. One thing I've found is that I'm not manager. I don't have good time management, and certainly no people management. And I'm not a self-starter, so I can't do the academic sorts of big projects on my own. Though that may just be that I haven't worked on becoming like that, and developing habits to do projects like that on my own. I certainly can do work on my own, but so far, I've needed management for figuring out goals and plans and schedules and that sort of thing.

    There was the passionate programmer one, and there was another about finding a good IT job. I forget where it was, but somewhere it suggested that you should try to focus on an industry that you are interested in. IT isn't all the same. There are different areas. Along those lines, I've been thinking of going into medical IT.

    In general, too I've found that it's more important to me what the company does. In particular, I just did not believe that it ever absolutely positively had to be there overnight. I guess that's where the conversation with Aimee derailed. I kind of did get stuck with that. And she found it ironic that a person with admitted problems with time management couldn't understand someone who had procrastinated to where something needed to be there overnight. Because I think people who believe it has to be there overnight are just mistaken. They've made a mistake somewhere, and now they are propagating this mistake thinking someone else can fix their mistake for them. I have heard people say they believe it absolutely positively has to be their overnight for something, but I've never heard any convincing explanation that that is the case. Of course, I haven't heard that so often. I think financial documents was one thing. But all documents can be transferred electronically instantly. Somehow, there is something about physical legal documents with signatures, but as far as I can tell, that's just garbage. Bruce's business is all about documents like that. Honestly, the cost of FedEx is cheap compared to the money involved in properly preparing the documents, and the work that he does involving them. So fine. And losing stuff in the mail? That would suck. So I've been right there. Still not convinced.

    My ultimate dream is AI. But I'm not sure that it is something I could be doing work on. Which is, I guess sad. It's something maybe that I want to be able to do, but I can't now. Should I focus on becoming able to doing something in that area? Do I need to be looking at what I most want to do that I am able to do? Maybe I should. Am I able to do research?

    One of the things I was just thinking of looking at doing was something in biochemical informatics. In chemistry, reactions work in particular ways depending on the geometry of the things involved. The shape of the molecules, plus actually a lot more information about how the pieces can move and bend, and how charge distributions and electrical forces are arranged Geometrically. And there is a huge map of chemical reactions in biological systems that are well mapped, along with different proteins that are involved. One important problem is seeing how the shape of a protein interacts with different chemicals, because of their shapes. And it is an incompletely handled problem simply to go from a protein sequence, which you can get from the gene sequence, to its shape. So there is a lot involved. This is bioinformatics research at the postdoc level. A lot of work. I honestly do not have the full background to do it, but it is something I would like to get into. That seems something worthy of pursuing. It also might involve AI sorts of things a dealing with computer knowledge of complex spatial objects. The computer vision stuff might apply to that, as some partial analyses add information that is similar to how vision takes incomplete information to give you a solid understanding of an object. When people talk of computer models of drugs, I'm assuming they use something at this level. When you get a molecule of a particular shape, you can check it against all the biological molecules you know about, and see it there are some strong reactions that will end up causing the freaky and unpredictable "side effects" that happen in medicines all the time.

    Argh! There was a Trojan on my other laptop. And loader programs. Ick. I don't know where I got them. Not nice.

    So one question I would have is, how much organic chemistry do computers understand? Is there a way I can get computers to understand more organic chemistry? Part of the question is also how much I understand. I was never that great, and I've forgotten a lot. There is a lot to know. There's fundamentals, but there's also a lot of just mass detailed facts. And then biochemistry adds a lot further into that.

    OK, so I said I was playing very tight with my money. There is an additional bit. On Friday, I put in an order to sell stock. A big chunk. It takes time for the money to propagate. This time, I;ve handled it a little different. My account seems to have diffent bins. There's a bin for mutual fund shares of a certain type that I have. I have a bin that's labelled cash. And in one view of my portfolie, it will say the amount in the cash bin, the amount in the mutual fund bin, and it will have a weird line that says credit or debit from unsettled activity. Fine. So far, I've treated the unsettled stuff as money I simply don't have access to. But today, I found that there is another view, it has a line that is cash plus unsettled amounts, and then it has a completely different line labelled, money available for withdrawal. Huh. And when I look at it, the unsettled money is available for withdrawal. OK. Now, one difference in the pages seems to be that this one seems to talk more about it being an instantaneous snapshot, because with a trade account,stock sales and orders and purchases have particular times at which they are places and occur. The time of day makes a difference in these kinds of things, so that kind of stuff can make a difference. I am only trading mutual funds, which are settled at the end of the day, so the times aren't that big a deal. I am not positive that the fund people aren't jigging me with the fluctuations during the day, but that's more of an issue with the manager. You gotta trust somebody. I only get a settlement date, not a settlement time. This fund, though, in very day I sold, had a 1% swing. That means they could have juggled it and lost or gained whatever it was. But like I said, I don't know. Whatever. Anyway, this time, I went and places a transfer order for money that in one place said it was available, but had not made it to the cash bin And it took the order. I don't know what it's going to do, though. My transfer order was places before their closing time, 4pmET, where they say it can get executed that same day. In the optimistic scenario, I might have cut out a day in the time it takes to get money out. Or maybe it won't make any difference. Or, of course, there's the pessimistic possibility. They may believe I have overdrawn my account. And it could fail and I will have to pay a penalty for that. Wouldn't that be special? I tried looking over their help pages, and I just didn't see anything to indicate they could do something like that, but some places are just all about having gotchas like that.

    They sent me an email saying they transfered the money. The money has been taken out of the unsettled "bin". These bins I'm describing are on a pages called "positions" the other one is called "balances". I guess there is a difference. And the market went up, like 1.4%. Actually, the day-trading amount I was thinking of really wasn't that much. But the 6% over the week kind of hurt. If I had done it a week before, or I bet waited a week. But I waited til the last, and possible a little too long. In the morning on Friday, it was going up, but then it went down. *sigh*

    And the money is gone from my investment account, but it has not showed up in the display from my bank account. I'm not sure what to make of that. I apparently do not have a situation where I can account for all the money that I have. I have some sort of record of the transfer, but until it gets to the destination, I don't have a listing of the money being anywhere. Maybe it's sitting in a transaction house, somewhere. Bacause in the pessimistic case, it's not sitting there, and the handling system might catch up and starting chomping.

    So, one thing Aimee came up with. Does R. Don have something for cougars? And my thought was, that'd be like having a book on how to shoot fish in a barrel. But you know, maybe there's a need for that, too.

    • January 31, 2010
    Ah, some additional insight. Avatar looked good, but as I have said, how things look isn't that important to me. So that didn't really make the movie appealing to me.

    • January 30, 2010
    I'm maybe half through the second season of _Kung Fu_ and I'm waiting on girlfriend number three. It looks like they've gone for a different angle. Several girls have thrown themselves at him, and he's shooting them down. I think that actually makes him look more attractive. He's got that Spock thing going. People want what they can't have, especially if other people want it, too. I'm sure that's something they're going for. Kind of a romantic figure.

    I just watched some videos of Pat Churchland, kind of a neuropsychological philosopher of mind. One thing she talked about in there was how significant it is to unconsciously mimic other people, or mirror them. This was something I read about a while back in that book about getting people to like you, and I tried it out a bit. And I wrote about it somewhere. OK, dude called it "synching". So they did an experiment, and they told the person to avoid imitating completely, and the other people would end up saying he seemed creepy. OK. And she (Pat) was trying to explain maybe what the significance might be. How do we know if a stranger is dangerous? That's one of the signs. If they can pick up social cues. It's actually a little beyond just being different and trying to be like the group. Also, if you look at babies, they try to copy people, smile when they smile, point when they point. It's important for them to learn, and it also adds to their charm. Plus, here was the coldly scientific eerie part that she said, if babies can't do that, that's gonna be one of the few ways that mom knows if there is something wrong with the baby. Ooh. She talked about infanticide in there somewhere, too. That's actually a subject I go too, sometimes. So she seems like my kind of lady. Canadian, though. Occasionally, she'll say something in a way that just reminds me of all my cousins up there. Okay, eh?

    One thing about Julie, though, that's still sticking with me. At some point, they say her husband suggested putting one of those paypal links, for donations. Grr. Those things bother me, but I can see the idea of donations. At least making it possible. Seems like Russell did that, but I don't see it now. It just seems like begging people is just such a painful thing to do. When it doesn't work out, ouch. So I guess I won't worry about it. And Julie's character didn't improve, but it moved to sort of a happy ending, despite it. Or maybe her realization was the thing. And to realize that everyone is a bitch too. That would be an extremely sad and annoying moral. That may an additional reason I didn't like it. The happy ending was that she got her book published and made into a movie, and her husband came back. I mean he left her for a bit. That's just sad. I guess marriages have troubles. Especially when the wife is that annoying. OK, I told Netflix three stars. Julia Child part was nice. The Julie part did not completely ruin it for me, I think. Two and a half seems like it would have been right.

    Man, I didn't go see Super 5. And it bums me out because I said I would. I took a nap, and woke up around 10, but I just couldn't get myself to get up and go. I really didn't want to go out, but I didn't want to not do what I said I would. Inertia won out. Maybe I didn't know about the snow when I said I would. Maybe I still try to say what i thinking people would like to hear when I'm with them, but it isn't quite the same when I'm by myself, and I don't think of all the stuff pushing me around then. Conflict. And how to be reliable about what you're going to do. Lately, not so much.

    I guess that's another thing about the star trek movie. In this new reality, Uhura is his girlfriend. They tried to play off the weird geeky attractiveness that he has, but completely deflate it by making him attainable. Fork that movie! Fork it up its evil crap-hole!

    And I saw something talking about how _Avatar_ could be conceived of as racist. I'm not sure I really had that reaction. Maybe that was in there, somewhere. Primitives cain't do nothin' til one of massa's people joins up wit' 'em. It's just about at the level of jar-jar, now that I think about it.

    OK, so a lot of people pronounce SQL as "sequel". I have settled on pronouncing it "squall", because it's kind of stormy to use. The book talks with one of the guys who developed it. It originally was called SEQUEL, but they had to change the name to not violate somebody's tradmark, so I would say that all the people who say it "sequel" are violating that trademark, so they need to stop. :P

    And Gosling on Java. He's happy with it. He might actually use Scala instead, though. But for him the big thing is the JVM, and that's solid. On C#, he said they took most of Java, but left out the security by still having pointers. He said it was "grotesquely stupid". But he had to admit that because of that, you can't have C or C++ on the JVM. I guess you wouldn't want to. But then you here from the C# guy. Their big deal is that on their VM, whatever it is, I think they call it CLR, you can use any language you want. And more harshness. He says the Java people aren't trying for backward compatibility so much as never improving at all. You could add new things and the old stuff will still work. But I think that's typical microsoft deception. If you constant upgrade, the new stuff will be able to use the old stuff. It's the microsoft attitude that you always need new stuff. It's part of the deal when you make stuff as crappy as that. It will fall apart if you don't replace it pretty often. Great if you have money invested in landfills. Or maybe sewage treatment. They had an objective-C guy. He uses Java now. Apple took over that language, and they didn't talk to them.

    I put a log in the fireplace, actually the longest one, that was the entire width of the thing. I had to put it in diagonally, and it was maybe eight inches thick, so it was fairly big, too. Not super big. We've got a bunch that are more than a foot across, but they are short enough to fit in straight. This one was wider than the opening at the front, and seemed like it might have been wider than the inside, but maybe it burned off a little on the outside, because it eventually settled in parallel. When I first put it in, it was kind of wedged, sitting up off the bottom, though I guess resting on some coals. It burned down about half through, and was sitting up against the back, and I tried to roll it forward a bit, but it just disintegrated into a pile of coals. A thick layer of burning coals covering the whole bottom of the fireplace. And when wood is just heated, baked, it turns into charcoal. So this was basically a mass of charcoal, but all the surfaces were red and burning. And now it isn't even just yellow flames, It's about half blue flame. Really hot for a bit, but it won't last too long. So I put in one of those thick one foot logs. So it'll get a chance to roast. This one, though, wasn't lying down, it was standing, with the flat cut part on the cement. I pick it up, and there are beetles living under it. I don't know enough about bugs. I don't know what kind they were. They kind of look like small roaches, but like I said, I don't know bugs, so I don't know. And there was sawdust. I think we had termites in there, too. It'll be good to get rid of this stuff.

    So I wanted to check on the log and see how it was doing. When it gets too hot, the doors expand and you can't open then. So I've got me a fire going.

    OK, the C# guy did turbo pascal, which was quite nice.

    I felt like trying some French food, so I Googled it at Starbucks, and there was a place River Oaks, that was only a couple of blocks from there. I didn't feel like driving downtown or to midtown. And it supposedly has Chef Jose Guttierrez. The best food I've had, I think, was from him at Chez Philippe a few years back. This menu, though, seemed pretty heavily American. I had the soup, a chicken and peas cream, and the pork tenderloin. It was good, but nothing memorable. Little bartender Courtney. I'm not sure what she made of me. I am quite shaggy lately. I put the money in the little book thingie, but she didn't actually take it. I wanted to keep the receipt, but since I left it, I felt I needed to keep it with it so to be sure she could connect it up, if she was going to save it to the end. I actually had exact change, but tipped a twenty. I don't eat out very often, so I wasn't all that comfortable with it. Oh well. And I didn't say much at all. I listened to my iPhone, and read stuff on it, so I was entertained well enough. I'm not sure what I might have expected. At one point a song from Weird Al came up-- "Genius in France"-- which seemed fitting.

    • January 29, 2010
    I'm watching _Julie/Julia_. I don't like Julie Powell. Apparently, Julia Child didn't like her blog. So whiny and unpleasant. Dropping food? Julia Child is great though. Or it could be Meryl Streep. But that Julie, Ugh. A bureaucratic drone who thinks she has a heart of gold. Maybe I'm just jealous that she's a more popular blogger than me. She never ate an egg. Because she was a wilfull child. I hate people like that. So full of herself. It could be that. She had comments on her blog, which is different from me. Trying to foster a community, or get people to like her. Whatever.

    Wow. I just got to the point where Julie just comes out and says "I am a bitch". I was trying not to say it like that, but there it is. That pretty much expresses my feelings. So now I'm guessing there's going to be some kind of character development where she becomes a better person, but I'm sorry, it's too late for that for me.

    I'm thinking I might get an iPad when it comes out. A lot of the reddit geeks are whining about it. It doesn't work like one would expect a computer to. You expect to be able to program a computer. But this one you can't. One guy said he wouldn't have become a programmer if they had iPads. Fine, great. But most people don't want to program. We'll see if there is a market for this. It looks like just a fancy kindle. But a kindle is on my list, so there. Sounds expensive, too. And then another $30 a month to get the 3G connection. Argh.

    And the market went down. Ouch. So I just lost a bunch of value. It looks much more like I'm going to need to get some work soon. I guess I still have a while. Oh well.

    I saw Super Chris at Bardog. I said I would buy one of his guitars. He makes custom guitars. His buyer for it backed out, and he's just wanting to unload this one. He is going to work on getting more sales, and he could certainly sell them for more. Selling is always a challenge. Getting rid of this one will help him get some cash for materials for another one.

    But French cooking. Honestly, it seems like too much work. And really, that appears to be part of the style. Hopefully, after all the work, the food is really good. I guess that's the idea. Rich.

    Snow here. Went out to bring the DVD to the post office. It's been rainy a lot today, so it washed the snow off the streets, so there's just some slush. But it's going to fresh and be really nasty. A good weekend to just stay in. But Super 5 is playing at Dan McGuinness tonight, and I'm intending to go down. Could be icky.

    • January 25, 2010
    I just looked up Lee House again. He was an executive at Ditech, but I haven't seen yet if he's still there. The little bio says to me he's been working hard, so he was worth quite a bit. Since it's a publicly traded company, at some point they had to list his salary, which was pretty big. It puts in perspective how bad it is for me that I haven't worked so much or so hard. I really am not worth so much to people because of that. Oh well. That's life.

    Watched _Avatar_. Knew it was a bad idea. I guess it was good to have seen it in the sense of sharing the experience. So many have seen it. But everyone goes to the bathroom, too. Somehow, it reminds me of that.

    So I turned on House. Maybe fifteen minutes into it. At about 25 minutes there was a commercial break, and I considered going to the store quick. I might have been able to make it back to see the end, which I think was mostly what I was interested in, I guess. But I stuck with it for a little more. Some kind of psychopath as the patient, which intrigues House for some reason. But at maybe 35 minutes into it, there's another commercial break, and I've had it with the commercials. Maybe if I'd seen it from the beginning, I would have been more invested and the breaks wouldn't have bothered me as much. Or maybe I've just lost my tolerance. I mostly only watch DVDs now, with no commercials. I don't know.

    So I go to Kroger's. I was going to get two half gallons of milk this time, instead of just one. The last one lasted four days, so this should get me a week. I'm not so happy that I had to go back to the store so soon. 'Cause I really hate shopping. And maybe pick up some fried chicken. Last time, I got the banquet's, plus the milk, and it came to $10 even which seemed odd. And I get really expensive milk, it's lactose free, but the store brand is like $2.99 instead of 4 something for the Lactaid brand, so I really save a significant amount going to Kroger where they have it. And I check out the chicken at the deli. It's $6 for 8 pieces. Might as well get the banquet for that, and I think the quality is better. But they have some marked down to $2.50. Getting old, maybe, but that sounds like a deal. Hopefully it's not too risky. So the total is around $9.20. I've gotten a little more food for less money. So bonus. If I bought a whole chicken and fried it myself it would cost more. But I get it home. Very dried out. Sitting under the heat lamp too long. So it isn't so good. But theirs isn't all that good, anyway. So I've live with it.

    Even with the later departure, I still made it back to see a little of the end of the _House_ episode. Missed all the dialog, so I don't know how it really ended with the patient. Just some weird mood stuff with him going up to a house in the snow. Fine. Some kind of character development or something, I guess. Isn't it special that he's growing as a person? Life is but a something something. Googled it. Walking shadow. Fine.

    Makes me wonder. Why would I even bother with mundanities? Writing about watching TV and going to the grocery store. That has got to be really sad. But it's writing. It's kind of fun for me. I wouldn't expect anyone to be interested. But it's something. There's all that text out there. Trees died for some of it. But no trees died here. That's got to count for something.

    And it's a little bit about my alternate. Right now, paused on the DVD player is _Cathouse_, and HBO something or other about some Nevada brothel. Ugh. I'm not sure I want to know. Some kind of guy on screen who just entered and is being introduced with a grin on his face. I guess it's humanity. Man.

    Ugh. Or maybe, moo. I ate too much chicken.

    • January 24, 2010
    So I have gotten past 200 sudoku puzzles in my big book. After right at a month. So I'm on pace to finish it after six months, though I'll probably slow down as they get harder. Also, I haven't been very steady. I did maybe 20 or thirty in the last couple of days or so, so I had slacked off somewhere in there. Not really sure what I want to do. Doing bursts of them seems more fun than trying to get just four a day on a schedule. So I'll have to see.

    And I did get through _Doctor Who_ season four. It was OK. Really not as memorable I think as it might be. Maybe got a little too melodramatic for me.

    • January 23, 2010
    They have all three of the AWK people interviewed. They went into much greater detail about how the first guy's compiler class works. A team will have to have people in several specific roles: a project manager, a systems architect, a systems integrator, a verification person, and a language guru. The have to have a reference manual and test suite. No team ever failed to have a working compiler. Dude-- this is Al Aho-- sounds like a serious ueber-manager. And the class, though it's about compilers, is also supposed to be a serious experience with a real programming project. Sounds like work, though.

    One implication of having most computer science students write a compiler is that there's going to be a lot of computer languages out there. I think that may be what has happened. Because there really are a huge number of computer languages, and more all the time. But having a lot to choose from could mean that the ones that get popular are pretty good. But it doesn't really seem that way. Computer programming is just hard. People might flail around trying to get a better system, but it hasn't especially been working very well. One attempt with computer languages is to make it so it's easier to find problems, but to have that, you have to have redundancy, which means a program will need to be longer. That's the kind of thing that a lot of people don't like. So there's push back against that. I forget which it was, it might have been AWK, but they were saying that just about anything you type would be a valid program, but if you have that, you don't know if anything is wrong. One specific thing, in AWK, you don't have to declare a variable. If you use it, it magically appears. So if you have a typo and have misspelled something from before, that won't be an error that the compiler or interpreter will catch. It will just make a new variable, and it just won't work the way you probably want. Guy suggested you might have something to warn you. But because of this kind of thing, it's not so good to have a long program. And AWK programs are supposed to be short, maybe a line or two.

    Netflix has season four of _Doctor Who_ available to stream, so I'm watching that.

    • January 22, 2010
    The thing with the guy from Forth was different. It's a language, or I think he wanted to say a toolkit, where you don't even need an operating system. The actual target is mostly very small devices where you don't have an operating system. And his way to develop things is bottom up. Maybe start with some signal directly on the port and build up from that. So you'd build your own drivers. And he creates his own hardware. It's stack based, so you could certainly build your own custom processor, or use whatever you have. And it makes me think about why you need an operating system. It gives you more abstract and standard ways of dealing with I/O and disks and such, which I guess in a Forth system, you would just deal with on your own. It seems kind of different. But programming an HP calculator back in the day was supposedly something like that. there was a guy in college who was one of us HP people, and he was into Forth, too.

    And then there's a chapter on AWK. Which seems a little odd. AWK doesn't seem like a real major language. It's a pattern matching scripting tool under Unix, but not quite a full language. But then you see what the real deal is. The guy they're talking to is Al Aho. He's the 'A' in 'AWK'. There's also Weinberger and Kernighan. But Aho is one of the authors, along with Ullman, of the dragon books, pretty much the definitive textbook on compilers. Maybe i wouldn't have even noticed it, but he mentioned that the pattern matching algorithm used in AWK is documented in the red dragon book. OK.

    So I tried googling Wynne to see how she's doing. Somewhere it said that one of her interests is poetry. And they're not kidding. You can google her and poetry and find quite a bit. She won some kind of poetry contest from the AMA. Apparently when she got a masters in bioethics from U Penn, her thesis was a series of poems. That seems a little weird, but whatever. I guess she likes writing poetry.

    Watched Homer do the tomorrow soliloquy.

    • January 21, 2010
    What a coincidence! I turn on the BBC news, just the last five minutes, and they are doing a story on the _mammoni_, the momma's boys in Italy, the grown children, say thirty-somethings, living with their moms. Maybe a bit more cultural stuff there, I don't know. They were considering a law that the kids have to move out. OK. But I was just thinking about it today.

    Some drama with the job thing today. I haven't felt like talking to the headhunters, and I think they called yesterday but that was it. But somehow today Doug decided to contact me. So he called and I didn't answer.

    And let me back up. Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that the Mark guy just came into the house here. Didn't knock, just came on in. And he brought some girl or something. And Doug came on in too. I think that was about it. So I think I'm just feeling a little intruded upon.

    Conversely, though, I had another dream where I was staying at a hotel. I had enough to pay for it in my account, but then I spent a little too much on something or other, and then I ended up being a little short, and I had to worry about that. So maybe I'm a little worried about having enough money, so maybe I really should try to get some work.

    Anyway, Doug called and I didn't answer, but then he came by. I didn't want to see him or talk to him. Even before that, I was thinking that with this situation, I wasn't entirely happy with him, and I just have less of an interest in seeing him in general. So I just ignore him and don't answer the door. I was trying to take a nap, anyway, so I really did not want to be interrupted.

    Some time later, though I get a call from my parents at the farm. Doug has called them. Great. So now I'm not happy. I called Doug and told him I'm not happy. I thought not calling because I'm not interested would be enough, but Doug called my folks. So I told him to leave it alone. Fine. Great. But now it may be time for me to really look for something. And now I don't have as much interest in staying here in Memphis. There was some stuff I needed to look at first, including one book on IT interviews, a couple on IT job searching more generally. And I have a more general thing on careers--something with "Zen" in the title. I do want to look at iPhone programming a little bit, and there's the clojure thing I wanted to do, but maybe that's so likely anymore. Not if I suddenly need to do something.

    One thing about not staying is that I gained extra weight over christmas. That's a minus. But I've lost a couple of it. Still, it's going to be hard now.

    And with all the problems in Haiti, my situation is nothing to complain about.

    And the job is not too bad. One of the headhunters seemed to get that my last experience actually fits fairly well with this job. But I'm just not really excited about the company, and life is too short to do something you don't care much about.

    • January 20, 2010
    Now I'm reading _Masterminds of Programming_, the one with interviews of computer programming language designers. The first one was Stroustrup, who did C++. They mentioned Java a little more than I might have expected. And there was stuff he talked about wanting to add, but he seemed fairly happy with it. The next was Guido from Python. And he talked something about how maybe phones could become the main platform, as they are getting almost as powerful as laptop-- really just a few years behind them. And he talks about how message passing is probably going to be important in dealing with concurrency, handling parallel stuff. That's the stuff that I wanted to get down. He also said the with the cost of cache misses, main memory is really hardly shared any more, so processes really need to be isolated.

    I was giving this possible java work a couple days to see if I might become interested, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I'm not answering my phone. And I don't really like when it happens to me, but it happens enough that I'm sure they must get it, though I have commented on how hard it is to get a message when all you have is someone not responding.

    So it's a couple of days, and I still don't really feel like I'm going to want to go downtown this weekend. There was actually a little bit in there where the old feeling of just wanting to go down there came back, but it passed. No telling what it'll be like come Sunday. I have usually decided to go. But even last Sunday evening, I didn't really feel like going, but because earlier that day I said I would, I went. And I guess it was nice, but maybe it was getting to be enough. I went in Friday night for a couple of minutes just to say hi and ask Melissa about school, because I was out downtown with friends, and then said I would try to bring them by. I was there Saturday from about 9 til 3. And then I went Sunday. So that was quite a bit.

    Finished the first of four Simpson's season 20 DVDs. The episodes are pretty good, I think. I miss the commentaries. The last one was one with Lisa and Crossword puzzles. Homer makes her mad by betting against her in a tournament (which was a good bet), and then gets the New York Times crossword puzzle to have a secret message to her. And the main guy is Will Shortz. My mom has a book of Sudoku puzzles from him. I wish I would have saved at least the cover from that last book I did, but now I'm thinking it was not one of Shortz's.

    Browsing Amazon for Sudoku books, (and I think my last book was Wayne Gould's Fiendish one), I came across a comment on on book that talks about a technique the author is calling "trailing". It's where you pick one of two possibilities and see where it goes. I have to do that sometimes. And he wants to say it's logical and not just trial and error, but is not very convincing. I don't know. He marks some puzzles where you have to do that. Seems a little iffy. Plus, there were some puzzles that had two different solutions. That violates a sort of agreement that people have, so those are in some sense failed puzzles. One of the comments refers to the mensa guide to solving sudoku puzzles so I've added that to my Amazon wishlist. Maybe if I finish my book of 1250 I might try it. I've slowed down, though. Too much other stuff.

    • January 18, 2010
    Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

    I have a strong feeling of not wanting to go back. That never lasts til the end of the week, but there it is. I was saying I would give Asa a ride back to easy Memphis, but there must be some deal where I'm not allowed to be in the place when they are doing something at the close, maybe putting the money in the safe. I don't know. But they had to put me out. And Asa said thanks but he's OK. There was a cabbie who came in and would pick him up, though he had a fare to go to, but probably after that. Whatever. It just gave me pause that they really don't know me that well. I hung out for an hour when they were closing down, but it's still really just provisional.

    And there was a thing where Melissa needed to go to the bathroom, but she couldn't because she had gotten Asa to stand by the door and make sure it was locked when people left. So I went over and did that instead. Priorities.

    And I found a song that Melissa seems to really like. "I Will Survive". I asked her about it, and she said it reminds her of the last time she saw her favorite aunt Ginny happy. She was 95 and it was at a party. It was before several of her relatives died and she got bad sick with the shingles. It came on and she was dancing and having a good time. So when Melissa hears it, she remembers and feels good. And what I noticed is that she dances to it herself. And that's just very pretty. I didn't tell Melissa that, though. Oh well. But I played the song twice.

    Actually, the first time I played it, in a sequence of a bunch of things, the music was turned fairly low, and when it came on, she turned the volume way up. And that was a little bad for me. The very next song I had was Queen's "fat-bottomed girls". Melissa hates queen. She tells me not to play queen (that or meatloaf, but I hate meatloaf too, so I don't play it). And because the sound was low, I thought it wouldn't be so bad. But like I said, she turned the sound up right then. Maybe her good mood held on a second, and she got right busy right then. Often she'll turn the sound down when Queen plays, but she didn't. I tried to have a bunch of good stuff after it. And I played it one more time so we could have the whole thing at full volume.

    There's one song that works really well. "Lean on me". People will sing along with that one. It's a friendly bar.

    So UPS delivered today. I got my Simpson's 20th Season DVDs. No Commentaries. Talk about disappointing. That's really the main thing I do with them, listen to the commentaries. I'm sure that's just me, but it's important to me. Oh well.

    I also got a book, _Masterminds of Programming_. Interviews with the designers of quite a few popular programming languages. I will probably find it fun. Again, just me personally. I read _Coders at Work_, which was famous programmers, not so much language designers, and really liked that.

    I got together with Doug and one of his friends, Mark Dinstuhl, for lunch yesterday. Mark needs to get out of a programming contract, and in order not to injure his relationship with the people involve, he wanted to have an alternative candidate for the job. So I have contacted the recruiter. We'll see how it goes. I haven't had that much luck with recruiters. They tend to get a list of particular technologies from their clients, and really can only go by that list. And from what I've seen, they don't have such a great understanding of the craft of programming. The programming isn't really their area, in some sense. Their task is dealing with people. I already have a list of minuses for this situation. In general, it would be good for me to pursue, though. We'll see how it goes.

    Lately, I've been thinking what features I like in women. For me, she needs to be smart, and probably has to be atheist, though maybe in the broader sense of just not being so caught up with the silliness. But then physically. I think the most important thing is petite. I like freckles and fair skin, too. That seems a little rare, though. So I was looking at all the women in Bardog. There are always a lot of women there. Melissa has even remarked how there's a lot more there than most places. Anyway, there was this on woman that really seemed pretty to me. Fairly short, curvy, dark hair. Maybe I stared a little long. At closing, though, I was sitting by the door making sure it was locked behind people. And she was coming to leave, I forget what she said, maybe nice to see you, and shook my hand. Then she kissed my hand. It was so sweet. I of course, didn't have any real way of handling it--that's just not me-- but there it was.

    • January 16, 2010
    Went to the Apple Store. Big girl, Courtney, checked me out. Before, she offered to help when I was at the software, but I didn't really need any there. There I was browsing, and the stuff I came in for was on the other side of the store. They moved stuff around, and there wasn't an obvious checkout place at the front, so I tried waiting at the tech squad thing whatever at the back, but they said anyone could check me out. I asked if they could take cash, and he said sure. So I'm walking to the front, and Courtney gets me in sort of a wide open space. And that's fine. No surfaces to put things on, but who needs that? I have some earphones and a car adapter. I didn't ask if it was going to deal with the line noise I get plugging into my audio while plugged into the power. Maybe I should have, but seems like they don't know about that kind of stuff. And it ended up not working any better. But my old adapter didn't work with my phone, so honestly I did need a new one, even if it still didn't work quite right. So Courtney is checking me out. Big girl, tats and piercings. I give her a C. So she has to take me to her register. It's kind of stuck into the side of one of the little display tables. Trippy, I hadn't seen those before. But it doesn't work for her. Yet another wonderful apple glitch. I said it was fancy, and she, when it works. Seemed a little unhappy. I asked her how she likes working at Apple. She enthusiastically said she loved it. I told her I had a friend working at apple in, I forget exactly what I said. Maybe California, but i could have said Cupertino or headquarters. No reaction. I would have gone on to say that I had lunch out there with him on campus one time, but I don't think I've ever seen a person less interested. Anyway, she asks if I want a printed receipt or email. And actually, I prefer email, so she has to ask my address. I say me at ababian.com. Doesn't seem to really help her. But that's usually just the spelling. me at alpha bravo alpha bravo, and I get a little lost. Oops. ian, india alpha november. I think it's good to go phonetic because the i-a can be harder to get. Seems odd I messed it up this time. I own the domain, so it's 'me'. I don't know why I had so much trouble. I guess I need to get some cards. That actually probably wouldn't hurt. Maybe if I finish studying the iphone and register with apple as a developer.

    Went to Borders. The had a book that was on my amazon wish list, so I picked it up. Pearlman's _The Book of Marial Power_. It seemed nice because the sections were brief. Not too many pictures. I never get anything from pictures of techniques. I just can't follow them. And it seemed like he wasn't too fluffy, but a little concrete. Maybe someone who actually might understand physics. That can really be a problem, in my experience. I saw something else that looked good-- _The little black book of violence: what every young man needs to know about fighting_. I think it's along the lines of that other one, I think it was _Meditations on Violence_, which was really good. But it was really too long for me right now. Maybe some other time.

    I also got the Scientific American Mind. It has a section trying to deal scientifically with falling in love. Sounds good to me. Also has a thing on suicide, and it had a picture of someone who cut herself. Both of those subjects remind me of someone I know. It also has a thing on social networks, "what they do to you". Seems like something may I should try to know more about, but then, knowing these guys, it's probably just obvious stuff. Seems like they said something about people do best if they use them to enhance their real relationships. Gee, really?

    • January 15, 2010
    Happy Ides of January!

    Alone again. At last. Played some piano. Seems like I prefer to do that by myself. My mom asks me to play a lot, and the piano tuner guy says it needs to be played a lot. But I resist that. Maybe I don't like to be nagged. And my mom shows sort of a mawkish kind of appreciation that isn't so pleasant. And maybe playing is a little personal for me. But one thing I'm noticing is that I'm pretty heavy on the sustain pedal. A lot of what I like is how the harmonies play when you can get all the notes holding on for a long time, with some of them fading. It can be a very rich sound. Like a mocha chai. But the midi keyboard, is not going to have a sustain like that. Probably. There is a plug for a sustain pedal, and it might try to handle an effect like that, but it probably won't be the same. I'll need to check it out. And I'm not sure how bad I feel about losing my doodlings. I play something and it's gone. This time, I tried some more improvising. My improvising has actually gotten pretty rusty. At least I remember being better than this. Maybe the faking of songs got me out of the spirit of loosely playing. We'll see.

    Where did the last 5 pounds come from? I had been sitting at 205 for a while. It has been a bit since I was checking it all the time. Maybe a couple weeks. Some of it must have been the KFC. And there's the pork roast. And I've been drinking up the OJ. Seems like OJ often gets me. It's kind of sneaky, because it goes so fast. And since it's so cold, I haven't been doing the kung fu as much as I need to. So maybe a combination of things.

    They had a guy Mungo Park. For quite a while I thought it was park, but it is the guy's name. The story kind of inspired _Heart of Darkness_ which inspired _Apocalype Now_. Plus _Aguirre: the Wrath of God_. A guy going up a river and his party just being eaten away by natives. And he had gone to Africa before and been captured, but got lucky and escaped. So what does he do? He goes back, marries a girl he seems to have fallen for when she was 8 years old. Friends with her big brother. They have some kids. Then he takes the brother and goes back. In the first one, he did it cheap, with hardly any folk. This time he gets backing. And they send along 40 army guys. Made him sort of a captain. Like Willard, I guess. And the brother. Burned them all away. At the end there were maybe 3 of the army guys. A lot of it was just malaria, but some of it was because at some point he decided not to pay the bribes to the locals. Some kind of river toll, I guess. So they got constantly attacked. But the end is cool. They were being attacked and he picked up a guy and jumped in the river (the Niger, I think). They got the story from one of the slaves with them that got captured, and somebody tracked him down. Never got the body, so they don't know if he was captured, or maybe he went native, and set himself up as a little chief or something.

    So you got this dumbass. And his son decides he wants to go look for him years later. Romantic fantasies, I guess. He got killed, too.

    • January 14, 2010
    So then there's the question of how I deal with my own brain not working right. I was playing Sudoku, wondering if maybe I was doing it too much and maybe I should be doing other things. But it gives me a chance to think about things. I guess. So maybe I wandered a bit too much, because I put a number six down which was just way wrong. There was already a six in that square block of nine, and in that row. Maybe there was no six in the column yet. But it was an incredibly wrong thing to do. OK. So the six that was in the square of nine was an original printed one. It's in a solid bold font, and it visually looks different from the handwriten numerals that I've put it. I make that kind of mistake sometimes, still. It's easy to do a quick visual match, but since those bold print ones look different, I can slip up slightly more easily.

    A mistake, mistake! I have this sort of feeling that the mistakes that people make are actually very important to "intelligence". We don't always do the same thing. Sometimes we do something a little different by accident, but it just happens to be a better way of doing something. Or is useful in a different way. So over all, people in general are exploring the space of ideas, trying things, and as a group we progress. It's tricky though to have a machine try to be part of that game. Because we just don't want machines that just try things, and get them wrong. We just want them to do what we say. That's just a very different thing that people don't seem to consider. At least it doesn't seem like they consider that.

    But there is another problem with keeping the fire burning. The fan that we have on the fire place makes a huge amount of noise. It's like about 5 refrigerators worth. My mom is getting a little hard of hearing so I don't think it bothers her so much. And she's a little more visual than me, anyway. So for me personally, it just not a pleasant thing. I took a nap for a couple of hours, and it was almost out. It maybe be more work than I was thinking, too.

    OK, so he keeps thinking there are people on the moon. And then he decides that maybe the sun has a cool interior, and there are people living in there. Great. But then he goes on to try something. He takes a prism and cuts up sunlight into colors. And he puts a thermometer in the dark part past the colors you see. And it gets hotter. So he discovers infrared radiation. Possibly a bigger deal than discovering Uranus, which he did. What a freakish goof.

    One cute factoid. Dude had a telescope magnifying maybe 6000 times. At that magnification, a star will move out of frame in a couple of seconds. So it's not so practical, unless you're just good. I guess these days, they have little mechanical things that can compensate for that. But I didn't realize what the numbers involved were.

    Wow. Two hundred and ten pounds. A new maximum for me. I guess I need to do something.

    Not every moment rules

    • January 13, 2010
    Happy Wednesday the Thirteenth!

    OK, so the guy found Uranus. But he sounded like a crank. And he got crazy upset when they said he got just found it by chance and was lucky. He was being methodical. He was looking at everything in the sky. And yet he didn't find Neptune. So there's that. Part of the deal was that his telescope was extra strong, so it was strong enough to tell that it was a planet and not a fixed star. But I don't know what was going on with the forest on the moon.

    So, it turns out that I have to transfer the money over before 3:00. The message was pretty plain when I did it correctly. It says 4:00 E.T. In my head I was thinking 4, by I was thinking local. We'll see how it works out.

    I chopped some more wood. Didn't finish it all off though. Mom is leaving tomorrow, and I don't know if I will even keep making fires. It's work, just to do something the central air can do by itself. I guess it makes the den warmer than the rest of the house. But it's some work, and you have to keep going outside. I don't like going outside if I can avoid it, and I can if I don't keep a fire going.

    • January 12, 2010
    Melissa ask when I'd see her. My brain jumped to thinking it was about my wanting to see her, but I think about it, and a different possibility makes more sense. I said my mom was leaving wednesday or thursday. So it's reasonable that I might come by after that. Oh well.

    I'm reading _Age of Wonder_ now for Aimee's meeting. It's about scientists in the Romantic period. I think he's claiming it's some kind of second scientific revolution, but I don't think I've ever heard that. Aimee said she liked the writing, but I'm not quite so into it. It seems like it's just biographies of scientists. What does that have to do with anything. Aimee is a people person, and I'm sure there are more people who are more interested in people than actual science. I guess that's the idea. But it isn't doing that much for me. The first guy had gout, though, so I guess I can relate to that. The second guy kind of seems like a bit of a crank. He thought he saw forests on the moon, and was pretty sure there was life there. this was in 1780. But they could see that there wasn't any atmosphere, the way the stars at the edge of the moon aren't hazy. So there's that.

    • January 11, 2010
    So I said I had gotten a tenth through my big book, so a hundred twenty something Sudoku, and she said she did three mediums in half an hour, which is good. Those are too easy now, and she needs to do the hard ones. But then there came a twist. Leanne called her, and it sounded like she woke her up so she was saying she was sorry. But that wasn't it. She was doing sudoku, and she wouldn't wake her up. But she talked quiet because Josh was sleeping. OK. I guess I had gotten the idea that she was curled up by herself doing them. She did mention one time looking forward to going home and curling up doing some. OK.

    So I'm at the door about to leave, and she says she'll see me again...? Asking me when it will be. Like she remembers i wanted to see her, and was now open to suggestions. But I just said next Sunday. OK. That's a strong guess. I don't really feel like it now, but probably in a week. I was especially quiet.

    It's finally above freezing after several days. The outdoor TV antenna got frozen stuck pointint in a direction that has a problem picking up the CBS station. That's a channel that my mom has her soap operas on. I hope I can move it now.

    And some of the significane to me is that there are some people with whom she'll talk on the phone any time. For a long I've considered that a real friend is someone you'll talk with on the phone. That's just not me.

    I desire...macaroni pictures.

    Well, what do I really want? I want the emotional connection. The feeling that someone wants to be with me and cares about me, as well as my wanting to be with them. But I guess I just didn't feel it as much. But wants ebb and flow.

    In the fifth kung fu episode, kwai chang caine sleeps with another woman. That's twice so far. What a slut.

    So, it could all be showing how much my feelings are just about romantic interests, despite how I might want to think of it.

    • January 10, 2010
    It speaks to how you think the world works. If you think about it at all. The religious worldview is that there is a dictator that decides things out there, that you don't have control of. And hopefully he cares about you and is nice to you, but maybe not. And you need to try to do things he likes. So maybe you might feel you have some control by being his friend. But there is also a worldview that it's all just a mechanism, with not a person in charge, but an uncaring machine. The religious people don't like the idea, because in it. we don't seem to have any real responsibility and there aren't any consequences to being bad the way they understand it. A mechanical view is pretty limited, because people are here, and we do shape how our world is. And our actions and character have definite consequences.

    A had a dream where I had this thing I thought of and wanted to write about, and I was trying to blog about it, and I was facing some kind of challenges about how to put it in. And there were some special sorts of links I wanted to add, and trying to make changes was hampered by having dynamically generated page, and I had somehow started editing the generated page but needed to get the changes back in the original. Oh well.

    On thinking about it now, the thing was not so great. They say their god is the god of everything. But if it's every "thing" then they are thinking of the world as just things. Which is a restricted view about what the world is. But they are pretty limited thinkers, in general. Well, what else is there? Did this god make 2+2=4? By decree, which is suppose to be how the world works in this view, as far as I can tell?

    How the world works is a different question from what the world consists in, what the world is made of. Is the world just things? Does it include these ideas, and if they can be said to actually exist somehow, then where are they? It's an old question. I forget how people deal with it in the fashionable current philosophies.

    But I just saw a little three minute video on the philosophy of Hume. I had seen bundle theory in Susan Blackmore's book on consciousness. That is, I saw the term used there. I was seeing the idea that there is no self in studying Buddhism, which I did a bit more when I was looking at advaita. Advaita and Buddhism have some similarities. Advaita though, is nominally a Hindu tradition and in Hinduism, there is a very important assumption that there is an immortal soul. Reincarnation and all that. The immortal soul is also kind of related to idea and belief that there really are such things as identities, that it means something to be a particular thing, above just having different properties. In advaita, you would eventually come to an understanding similar to in Buddhism about the self, when your conceptualization of a separated self dissolves, and you in some sense realize that your self is not different from the whole world, other than it just being a habit of how you think about yourself. So Blackmore is also into Buddhism, and I had come to her from that direction, but Hume was talking about that stuff as a Western philosopher. And an atheist, though that was illegal at the time.

    My brother and sister-in-law try to switch up cooking. Alternating one and the other. And they used to do the thing where if one cooked, the other would clean up. Except that ended up very unfair. My brother has inherited my mom's style of cooking, which ends up using a lot of different pots and pans and dishes and things. But she does a style where it can often just be one pot. Stir-fry, maybe. Sometimes more than one thing, but it minimizes the number of dishes. That style of cooking takes that into account, so now if they cook, they have to clean it up.

    Personally, I try to consider clean up part of any task, not something separate that can be pushed off. I got that attitude from doing back stage stuff. I like ripping stuff apart--I had my own crow-bar, but I understand that hauling it away has to be part of ripping it up. And building in the first place is just a part of ripping it up.

    My mom still cooks with a lot of dishes. She seems to always be cleaning dishes. For her, it seems more a matter that she doesn't like how the mess looks. Personally, when I'm by myself, I hardly clean. I will rinse, leave it sitting, and just reuse the same plates, small and large, a bowl, a small class for sugary drinks, and a large water glass. I do tend to take new spoons and forks, and they collect. And I have a square corning cooking pan that I eat from that just sits that same way. Fits the chicken quarter. The most dishes I end up are from leftovers my mom leaves. And occasionally when I roast something. So I keep in mind the clean up as part of eating, and I eat so to minimize that. Goes to eating habits. Some people just eat out. Or don't eat, and live off Starbucks. I'm sure cleaning is a factor.

    I'm again thinking of classes. It's something to be around people. But I'm realizing that U of M people just aren't intellectually my kind of people. So the right school is important after all, and I didn't go to the right one for me. But I should consider doing it.

    But today my mom is trying a stir-fry. Wild duck-breast. I actually don't care for my sister-in-law's chinese cooking. Maybe it's just not what I'm used to. The flavor doesn't seem very good to me. Too many vegetables, maybe.

    Huh. I finally tried dictating something. But I didn't get the controls right, because when I looked at the phone next, it said it had kept on recording. I thought I paused it, but I don't know what the glyphs are supposed to mean. Does the pause button mean it's paused, or is it waiting for you to push it, and then it's paused? I get that the red dot is the record button. So it's got seven minutes. At this point, it's easier to just remember what I wanted to say. and it didn't come out so clear. After I was done, there was stuff I would have added, but I was driving, and it wasn't a good time to try to figure out the buttons.

    Anyway, so I didn't go to shadowcon in part because I didn't want to spend the money. really didn't think it would be worth it. But I feel bad that I'm making decisions like that based on money. I could have spared it. It wouldn't have been a big deal. But my latest withdrawal has winded down, and I probably need to take out some more this week. I'm not sure what's going to keep me from spending, though. And I was kind of moaning about that, and then I go to Borders. I wanted to pick up the book for Aimee's meeting. And I think I had been warned. Not in paperback,yet. But I went to their website, and it said cover price $40, but they would sell it for $24. And I get in there. $40. Kind of made me a bit upset. I'm sure amazon would be the same deal. That's $24 but you have to get it delivers, so shipping, plus you wait. If you want it now, that'll cost you. And I'm thinking, their happy to give you coupons for discounts. If you want to print it out. And you get to hold the book in your hand. This book (_Age of Wonder_) was in the science section. There were a couple of little girls sitting on the floor in front of general science just reading. If you want, you can just sit in the store and read them. Can't do that in the web store. So if I want to be sensible, I could save $10. Have to wait a few days. Plan. Habe I ever really been that sensible? Probably not. There's a lot of things I could do to not spend as much. And if I want money so bad, I could get a job. So there are options. Part of the whole money thing is having a family. That's expensive. But it works out for some people. Not really my thing.

    So there was a web page somewhere I read that talked about why you might want to study compilers. I gave several problems that you might be able to deal with if you knew about writing them. And I told Aimee about it. But I sure can't find it now. I looked through my reddit saves, and it isn't there. I'm sure that's where I saw it. I'm not sure what to google to find it, but the efforts I made didn't work. And reddit search is a little too crappy to help with it.

    Ah it was Steve Yegge post. I found it by doing a reddit search in the programming subreddit, until I got to a post that simply mentions yegge in it's title. Then I thought, it seems like it could have been a yegge post. Then I googled yegge and compilers, and there it was. I don't think the reddit search would find it, though. I don't see it there. Who knows if the title mentioned compilers, or if it was even submitted.

    And I was expecting that I would use up all my twenties, but it turned out I had $5 in borders bucks, so I only had to use 2.

    • January 9, 2010
    Didn't go to Shadowcon. Might have, but I hadn't showered, and seems like I don't like making a big commotion at night when my mom is still here. It just doesn't seem the same as when I'm alone. And then there'd be questions. I don't like the questions.

    But I plugged in the midi keyboard worked fine. That's something that apple is pretty good at. But I didn't get any sound out right away, so I got a little frustrated for a bit. And i had to turn the computer on at the switch was seemed odd. Usually, it sits there asleep. and I just have to hit a key or click the mouse to wake it up, but not this time. So I turn it on, and I hear some kind of startup chord or noise or something, so I think the sound is working. And then I go into garageband and plink and nothing. I go to record, and it even puts markings down that seem to indicate the stuff i played and nothing. But I had been deceived. The sound was from the computers internal speaker, and I had turned off the amplified speaker connected to the audio output. Oh well. so it didn't start off great. But one important thing, I didn't hear any delay from hitting a key and getting sound. I'm not sure why I got that before when I was trying out some midi on whatever it was. I think I saw somewhere that it depends on the sound card. And i had been plugged in to several things to get into the computer. This has a much simpler connection. It did seem a little strange at how far away the sound was from the keyboard. And I had the volume pretty low. I didn't record any plinking. Maybe I'll build up to it. And I'll have to see what's involved. I'm not quite sure how to do the link. I'll probably just have something to click.

    • January 8, 2010
    They've got Shadowcon tonight. I don't know if I want to go. I wouldn't meet anybody new. Same old folks. There's a girl I like. I think her name is alexis, but seems like she's always involved with someone, and never seemed to notice me, anyway. I don't know if those little redheads are going to make it down. There isn't really too much for me. I usually watch the dance but don't dance myself. It's been fairly popular the past few times. I go to the belly dancing with drumming, but that's tomorrow. There's people to see, but I guess it isn't so great for me.

    It's been a little bit rougher getting over my disappointment than I might have liked. But I guess I'm getting better.

    I still haven't opened up my usb midi keyboard. But it came and it's sitting there in the box.

    I burned a Netflix rental on Dr. Horrible's Sing-along blog. I think you can watch the main bit online somewhere. But I think the disc is worth a Netflix. Probably wouldn't spend actually money on it. Now I'm listening to "Commentary! the Musical" Inspired, I think.

    • January 7, 2010
    I'm not sure why I was thinking I need to average 5 per day to finish this book. 1250 over a year is only 4 per day. I guess I was adding one to give a margin for needing to slow down at the end. But to be precise I should be thinking average of four a day. And I'm a fair bit ahead. I've been going maybe twice that fast. Actually, some days have been quite a bit more, but the pace is looking at six months. So I'm going to try to just do four today and let that be it. But doing four in a row and stopping is also a lot different from doing four spread out through the day. So we'll see how it goes. Also, doing big spurts like this may also be bad, as I'm not really learning to be steady. So it's something to look at.

    Yesterday, Doug told me about a job prospect. A friend of his actually had a couple of people who wanted him, but he accepted from one fairly quick, so there was this other place that still needed one. Just a possibility, but a place that needs someone. I said I wasn't really ready to be looking right now. I guess. Doug didn't know what the company does. Seems important. At this point, it seems like the purpose of the company matters to me.

    And it did snow. Maybe an inch. The roads are clear. But it did snow, so they got it right.

    • January 6, 2010
    Happy Epiphany!

    My dad asked, I think it was Colin, what twelve times twelve was. And he was talking about how hard it was to just figure it out when you want. He went through twelve time ten is one twenty plus twelve is 132 plus twelve is one forty four. But I said there is a easier way. Tweleve times twelve is fourteen times ten plus two times two or, ten times fourteen, one forty, plus two times two, four, or one forty four. this kind of thing works for all squares thriteen times thirteen is ten times sixteen (one sixty) plus three times three, nine, or one sixty nine. fourteen times fourteen is ten times eighteen, one eighty, plus four time four, sixteen, so one ninety six. Eighteen times eighteen is twenty times sixteen ( three twenty) plus two times two (four), so three twenty-four. twenty three squared is twenty times twenty-six (five twenty) plus three times three, so five twenty-nine. And it's based on (x+y)(x-y)=x*x - y*y, so x*x =(x+y)(x-y) + y*y, which works well for itty bitty values for y, like up to four or five. The five ones are paricularly easy. Say thrity-five time thirty five. That's thirty time forty (twelve hundred) plus five time five, twenty five, or twelve twenty five. The quares of things with five always end in twenty five, and that big product is always in the hundreds, because you are multiplying two multiples of ten. When you here about this system, the suggestion is to try to do all the squares up to a hundred in your head for practice. It's not too hard.

    I took the outside Christmas lights down today. I saw on wikipedia I think that people somewhat recently started thinking it was bad luck to leave decorations up after twelfth night. OK.

    They seem sure that it's going to snow tonight. Usually they aren't that good. And I'm not sure that they aren't colluding with grocers. But I just saw the radar, and you can see snow moving this way.

    I've finished the first hundred Sudoku puzzles in my big book of twelve hundred. That's all of the very easiest ones. And they went pretty fast because they were pretty easy. The next batch is somewhat harder. A hundred fifty of those. We'll see how it goes. I did finish of one of the four out of five star ones that my brother started and was kind of stuck on. And I did the one after that. Those are fairly hard, but I don't have to guess yet on those. It seems like they require noticing pairs of possibles, which is harder to do without writing down possibles. I guess I'll see when I get there, though it will be quite a few months.

    OK, so I kept going and I'm now at 106.

    • January 5, 2010
    Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas!

    In the replacement for Ann Landers, I think it's "Ask Henrietta", maybe, there was a section on someone who wanted to connect with a friend. It was a couple of woman who saw each other maybe once a year. They had fun together, and said they wanted to connect more, but hadn't yet. She said they should just do it, but it can be hard to integrate new people into your life. That's true.

    In the book on historical linguistics, I'm in the section on sound changes. One of the common changes is the dropping of a vowel between consonants. And I was kind of surprised that they gave a couple of current examples: 'family' is often pronounced 'famly' and 'memory' is often pronounced 'memry'. Ouch. They got me. My language is turning into mush. And they have a Greek word for this particular change--'syncope'. Huh.

    • January 4, 2010
    Happy Eleventh Day of Christmas!

    There are ways of asking questions which indicate what answer you expect. "Isn't this a nice day?" And in some ways the grammar may support it. I forget exactly what it was, but Latin had some sort of construction for yes or no questions that indicate whether you expect a yes or no. English has something like that. But sometimes it has to be inferred a little bit more. "Do you really want eat that chocolate?" Or something like that. Similarly you might say something in a way that comes across that you don't really mean it. And people soften commands in different ways to sound less demanding and maybe seem more polite. Dr. McWhorter really hates the construction "Can I get a hamburger?" But it's along those lines. And it can be just a matter of inflection and how you say something. So confidence can make a difference.

    We had said goodbye and see was backing back into the place, and I said I wanted to get for a couple of hours. But she just before I had been asking about her week, and she said she was working everyday but Monday. So when? And school was starting back in a week or a week and a half. Oh well. I guess I didn't come off as very serious about it. But I was asking. I was only saying what I wanted. I doubt I came across as thinking it might happen.

    Melissa was in a country music video. Only for just a tiny few seconds. But she stands out. She hadn't actually seen it, but somebody recommended googling it, and sure enough it was on youtube. Highest paid per unit time she's ever gotten. Mostly because it was only a half an hour, but it was a good amount. Like twelve hundred. She has gotten that kind of money for other jobs, but they might be there eight to twelve hours. And she always adds the story of how they wanted her for a Bob Dylan video, but they wanted her naked (behind a screen), and the money was a lot less, like maybe $300. So she said no. And they had an article in the paper about how they made the girl that did it look bad, or something. Anyway.

    I'm up to Sudoku puzzle 70.

    • January 3, 2010
    Happy Tenth day of Christmas!

    Finished Sudoku puzzle 60. Seems like maybe these easy ones are rotting my brain. I tried a harder one in the paper, and there was stuff that I didn't look for. I was too used to really easy stuff. I think I may have to take breaks I'm not sure if I really want to finish this in a year. At least at the extremely steady pace of 5 per day. Maybe off and on will work.

    So Melissa did one of the 16 by 16 sudoku puzzles. She sent me a message that she had finished it at maybe 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I'm hoping that that's just when she got up and sent me a message. I had sent her one saying I had forgotten to tell her she looked good in her new boots. I hope it wasn't that she had been awake all that time. She has trouble sleeping sometimes. So much to worry about with that girl.

    It's the tenth day of Christmas, and my mom took down the tree. Julie did hers several days ago. Savages.

    • January 2, 2010
    Happy Ninth Day of Christmas!

    Played quite a bit of piano for the family. Maybe two or three hours. I mentioned that at Bardog, and Gary said something about it. I said I was wanting to maybe study a little more and he said he taught piano. I said I was just faking it, from a fake book, but he said you have to know something about it to fake it.

    Melissa got off work early. Which meant I was actually there when she drove away. I don't think that's ever happened yet since she's been working at Bardog. She asked me what I was doing. And she said she was just going to curl up with her sudoku and something or other. I didn't really get any sense that she wanted me to ask if she wanted to do something together. That hasn't ever worked out in the past. But I suppose it's something I could have done. But then, she said pretty clearly, and it might have been several times, that she was tired. So I guess it mightly have only been subtle hinting, but it seemed very clear to me.

    She bought some boots like those ogg boots. For 19 bucks. As opposed to like $200 for the real thing. She just was not going to pay something like that for shoes. Even though she had a give card that would have covered it. But good for her. I balk like that, sometimes. It was her Christmas gift for herself. So she asked me what my gift was for myself. Seems like I've already bought something. But maybe not. I seem to remember there was something at Brooksone for about $200 that I really wanted. But I don't remember what it was. Couldn't be that important. And I think I'll finally buy that keyboard that's been on my list for a while. Something to catch midi. And I can maybe finally put stuff on here. I think it's compact enough for that.

    The thing at Brookstone that I wanted was the iwear video glasses for ipod. They didn't have any. But I think I can't skip it for now. Priorities.

    • January 1, 2010
    Happy New Years! Happy Eighth Day of Christmas! Happy Kalends of January! Happy Twenty-Teens!

    I ended up staying home and not going out like I really wanted. I was thinking my people would prefer that, but I didn't feel so happy about it. And they all wimped out around 1, but I felt it was a little late to go out. And I wouldn't have a Starbucks, anyway, so might as well not go.

    I chopped some wood. Nice sunny day to start the year. Almost 50. Pretty warm for chopping wood.

    It's my nephew Aaron's birthday. We're having a wild goose and a pork loin. And my mom made a Schwartzwilder Kirch-Torte. However it's spelled. Black forest cherry cake. Lots of work. Yummy, though. I say lots of work. A chocolate sponge cake has to be made the day before for a couple of layers. Whip cream. Kirchwasser. Seems like at least four or five hours. I don't even ask for them, anymore, but Freddie asked for it for Aaron. Most people don't like it so much. Not as sweet as American cakes. But he says they're used to things not so sweet. We'll see. If they waste any, I won't be happy. Unless I get it.