a ba'b'ian journal

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  • December 30, 2011
Happy Sixth Day of Christmas!

I've been putting daily Christmas salutations on Facebook. I've been doing any blog type writing I have on Facebook, such as it has been. Pretty weak, I think.

I had a weird dream where I had a job interview or negotiation. And I think it's worth writing about because it was more that I was considering all the things I can do now that might be helpful on this particular job. It was in sound engineering, and I was trying to become something like a software tool engineer for audio engineering. The beginning of the dream were odd enough, as well. I was in a little local music award show, and I got some award for a song or sound production I did, maybe for a video or something. Roy was in it, and got something for a song he wrote. After the award thing, I ended up talking with some audio engineering types, though by some kind of conference call, so I didn't see them, I was just talking to them from some booth or something. Then they had me talk to some kind of demanding boss guy who wanted all kinds of impossible things yesterday. Some kind of radio guy, maybe, or TV producer or something like that. So I ended up talking about the things I could do. I'm not really familiar with all the common software that people use these days, but I consider that irrelevant, because it's fairly easy to pick up any sorts of software. The thing is, I've got development ability, and some of the programming tools, I'm thinking of clojure, but matlab/ octave actually does a similar thing, are set up just so you can fairly quickly put things together, kind of in real time in some cases. I bring up octave/ matlab because Andrew Ng in his machine learning class shows a pretty neat example of audio source separation where he takes two people talking English and Spanish, and separates them, and does it with one line of Octave/Matlab, which he shows. Pretty slick. There are also quite a few different software sound tools available for playing with, and the kind of thing that you would want to do is a sound board, kind of a screen with buttons of sounds that you can hit. I think that's actually what on air DJ's use. Anyway, I was talking about these things in a dream, but I need to actually play with them in real life. I'd really need to have been doing that before talking to someone about a job, instead of talking about it first.

Argh, so I messed up on the AI final. Going into it, I had been in the top 1000, and they sent us who were there an email about looking for work. Then I made a problem of understanding, and missed a couple of questions, to take me to 94% on the final, and then they could only at best say I was in the top 25%. I guess I should have checked my understanding better by looking at the old problems, because it wasn't just a repeat of the old problems, it was altered so that you had to sort of work out the answer again from basic concepts, and while I had memorized the way to do it, I hadn't based the understanding on how it was worked out. So I ended up using addition where I needed to use multiplications. Oh well. Made me feel bad about it. And my score was 96.7%. It's pretty bad to feel bad about a 96, but that was getting down in the percentiles. No longer top 10%, but somewhere in the top 25%. So a strong crowd.

Feeling slightly sick. Got a bit of a cough. I don't know if it's from infection or lung burn from working out too hard.

I was playing catch with Sophia at kung fu. She's six. But I think our catch was pretty sophisticated for such a little kid. We had two balls, so we threw them both at the same time to each other. I was bouncing, and she in the air, so my tosses were easier for her to catch. Towards the end, I was pretty well waiting for her to throw, and she was throwing up pretty high and fiarly fast, so it was getting harder to toss low and reach up high. But I was still generally able to get them. She got the giggles from that, though. I'm not sure if I've even seen a little girl laugh that much. She'd throw and laugh, and throw and laugh. Over and over. She seemed pretty tickled. I'm not sure what it was all about, but she did seem to be having fun, which was nice.

  • December 13, 2011
Gosh, seems like I've taken a long break from blogging. I guess I've been busy with other things, and maybe I just write more on Facebook than coming here. Oh well.

A bit of a migraine. At least the visual aura from it. It seems like it's been happening a few times, lately. I don't know what that's about, but maybe from eating less. I think I've lost a few. And I've been exercising more getting ready for the kung fu tournament. But there was nothing like that going on this morning, so I just don't know. There was a reddit post that talked about headaches with exercise, so I was thinking about it. One guy recommended drinking water and suggested it was a blood pressure thing. So, maybe.

Finally got through the kung fu tournament. Two gold, two silver and nothing in one event. The two gold were by default. The silvers only had two people. I might well have been last in the other one, but it was a very strong field with maybe seven guys, all pretty young. My score in that was 8.14 out of a possible 9, so it was pretty good. The rest were just better. I actually did pretty poorly in the ones I got gold. One was comtemporary wushu staff, and I got 7.46. I did a very enemic job. There weren't even any other adults competing in any comtemporary wushu events, so it was all kids. I really didn't feel motivated to try very hard. Also, I was really hanging out in the internal arts ring, so I was kind of taken by surprise when they called me over there, and I didn't have time to set up my camera and film it. Another kind of surprise was that when I was lined up to get that medal, they were calling me for the kung fu event, and I only heard them for the last call, so I almost missed it. It was traditional kung fu, open hand, intermediate, that I didn't get anything. I think my form was strong, but just not as good as the others. Dave was taking the film, and he missed the beginning, apparently. I haven't checked the camera, yet. The two silvers were second to the other guy from our school, who is much senior to me, so it's only natural that I would be behind him. We did the same bagua form, so they all saw it twice. Dave said my bagua broadsword was the best he seen me do it, and I have to say, I felt I could do a better job with so much more open space. The room in the school really seems a little confined. Dave did straight sword, and that form itself is a little better than the broadsword form, plus he just does a better job. The strangest thing was yang taiji 24. I entered it because I thought a bunch of people would be doing it, and I didn't expect anything, so I never really worked hard at it. I've only been doing it a year, too. And for some reason, I got distracted and lost my place in it, which is bad. I don't think I've even ever messed up like that before. I was focusing purely on my breathing, and maybe I got distracted looking at all the people. It was weird. And then, 3 minutes in, they called time. They had said this wouldn't be timed, but there was no one else, and we hadn't broken for lunch, so they were ready to be done. I did think about it, and I was fine with just wrapping it up, even though I had never practiced doing that before. It was nothing special, and no need to prolong it.

Dave got 4 gold. There was a special thing, an award for interal grand champion you get for winning 4 events, and Dave got that. So that was nice. There were maybe 4 champions like that, and there were other awards that they didn't give out. Actually, I think no one else signed up for four things to be able to get the internal championship award like that, but Dave did actually deserve it with how he did.

I watched the sparring and push hands. I think the push hands was interesting, and maybe I will try it some time. I'm afraid it tended to devolve into just wrestling, but some of it was intersting to see.

There was a little Chinese guy doing a workshop on taiji push hands. Didn't speak any English, so people translated for him. I kind of hung out around them to practice listening to my English, and I guess it's said I never tried to say anything. I had the sentence in my mind, wo xuexi zhong wen. I study Chinese. Actually, I think I needed to say wo zai xuexi zhong wen, I am studying Chinese now. I'm still not good enough to follow a conversation, but I am starting to be able to recognize words here and there.

I started taking the machine learning class last week. I found that you could get 80% credit even if it was late, and that's reasonable. The first homework had extra credit, so I could actually get a little extra to get over 100%. And maybe I was tricked, because the later assignments didn't have that. But anyway, it's good. Lots of programming assignments. It's in octave, which is a clone of Matlab, and I recently heard of a job doing Matlab. After this I'll have confidence that I can do it. I started a couple months behind in the class, but I've almost caught up. I've on lesson 11 out of 16. Unfortunately, the class ends on Friday, so I have 4 days to finish everything up. I also have the other class too I need to do, and it's ending Friday as well. So a busy week for me. I guess I'm procrastinating by writing here.

  • November 16, 2011
I look at the wiki page on the best defense is a good offense. I guess it's interesting that there is even a wiki page on it at all. So, a lot of the value of the good offense is how it forces the opponent to deal with the threats. So it talks about human players in chess and risk. In chess there is a thing called initiative, and go on the offensive seizes that, and you take control. That's all assuming a fairly smart opponent. In fate, I just have dumb opponents, so it's not such a big thing. All I have is defeating them before they have a chance to get me.

  • November 15, 2011
I did manage to get through the thing. But Bakula I think gave me hope. He said the thing that he really liked about the Star Trek classic was the male relationship. It just clicked and it was solid. And he says it's tricky, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. He admitted for his Star Trek show, Enterprise, it didn't work. The thing that gives me hope, though, is that in the new Star Trek, it completely did not. It was clear that that wasn't even something they were considering. I mean, shoot, one of them left one to die on some ice planet. You just don't get over that. So basically, this was a feature that through away, along with the communist parts that I liked. I still don't particularly know why people liked it. But Scott insight shows me that they don't have anything that would keep people with it, so it's just not going anywhere. Thankfully.

They swept clean the New York Occupy Wall Street group. We'll see how that goes for them. I went to the Memphis group last night and this morning. Really not much going on with them.

One thing I learned. I guess I didn't notice it, but Christopher Plummer's Klingon character in Star Trek V did not have forehead knobbles. And no bad wig. Just a round top. Though he did have an eye-patch with nails. Anyway, they explained the forehead knobbles dissappearing in the classic Trek in Enterprise, and him not having them is consistent. The reason they invented was that Klingons used or weret infected with, I forget, a human-created genetic inhancing virus that gave them super abilities, but took away their forhead knobbles. They needed reconstructive surgery to get them back. I guess that guy just didn't get the reconstructive surgery. It was especially a problem because there were actual individual Klingon characters that showed up with Kirk with flat foreheads, but showed up later in Picard's era with knobbles. Maybe you have to be silly to care, but I think it's neat that they took time to explain it.

  • November 14, 2011
Part of love is wanting to communicate closely and personally. There were some things that I kind of wanted to tell Melissa, but then I decided that I didn't really want to. Stuff about how my money is starting to get rough, and maybe I will need to skip next week and more often. I decided not too talk about it because it seems to get her a little concerned, and she won't take my gift, or will just kind of resist, and it makes me feel bad to at all go against what she wants. Is that deceiving? Ouch. Anyway, a kind of funny thing happened because of that. Because I had this block about some things I had on my mind that I was keeping from talking about, I ended up being a lot less open. And I think I actually did feel a little less love, maybe. But it let me step back a little bit. Melissa continued to be just as open and communicative as ever, and I really have a much more clear sense of how much she loves me. So I was kind of thinking I wanted to skip next week, but this morning I realized how hard it was going two weeks without seeing her, and pretty much at the end of the evening I felt like I really probably should go. This is the kind of money that really doesn't need to be saved. It's so important and valuable to me that it should be the last thing to go, not one of the early ones. And really, I should just make more of an effort to find work rather than now cutting back. Of course, some of my love is just confusion.

Man, I heard about some people in so much worse position than me. There was a guy who on his birthday got drunk. Drove too fast, wrecked his car. Flipped it, actually. Busted open his head. Then was belligerent to the cops and then the nurses at the hospital. Was going to smoke in the hospital. Just crazy. The cops were going to be nice, but not after that, so they through everything at him. And he lost his job. So lost his job, lost his car, in jail for several days, and now faces real charges. Just basically messed up, and got into a state where I guess he just kept pushing, and messed it up even worse. I guess you can give up at some point and not care, and that can go very bad. That's going to take years to get past. But hearing about that, my situation seems so easy. No job, and it's going to be hard to find work? That's nothing.

I'm trying to watch a film by William Shatner made this year called _Captains_. It's talking about all the actors that played star ship captains on all the star treks. Two of them, Avery Brooks and Scott Bakula are real trained singers. Shatner is not. But he sings anyway. And it's quite painful to watch. The whole film has been kind of painful, and I've had to stop it a couple of times. I just... Maybe I don't want to see under the covers and I don't really care about actors. Maybe I'm a little over Star Trek. I guess the worst part, the section where I did just walk away yesterday, was talking to the actor that played Kirk in the new movie. I have so much loathing for the new movie. But Shatner called it very entertaining. I just couldn't put the violation of Gene's vision aside. Whatever. This pause now is a scene at a Star Trek convention. And a crowd scene of nerds in their little Star Trek constume. It just kind of makes me sick now.

Fighting evil. Can that even really be a Christian thing? Anyway, the fighting part is just bad. And treating anything as purely evil is also not going to be effective. You need to find the good in people and nourish that, and not push back on the evil as that will exercise it.

Well my equanimity was disturbed. I was going out shopping. I was going to hit three stores to see if they had any meat at a good price that struck me. So the first once I went to, Cooper's, is next to Fred's. Out front of the Fred's was a crowd of, it looked mostly like black school kids. I saw mostly girls, but I heard someone shouting very loudly and angrily and cursing. Seemed like he said something about how they didn't act responsibly, or something, so it might have been an adult yelling at the kids. Then again, I had some kind of feeling it might have been some gang thing. I didn't see who was even yelling, but I was trying to look over there as I was walking into the store. And whoever it was said "what are you looking at and turn around". I was maybe 40 yards away, and like I said I didn't even see who was yelling so I couldn't see who he was yelling at either, but it was plenty loud enough that it could have been me. One thought was to call the cops, because that pretty much was the definition of disturbing the peace, but there wasn't really any need for me to get involved. I wasn't even very close. And they could easily have just disappeared. Another feeling was that it would be good to get my phone out for pictures or a video, but my phone doesn't take video, so that was an opportunity lost. Anyway, I went into the store, I didn't really see anything I wanted. And really it had disturbed my mood so I didn't really feel like getting anything. The prices weren't great, so nothing hit me. If I had been hungrier, I might have bit. So I went back out. I was maybe three minutes in the store. And went I came out, the crowd was gone.

The first store seemed kind of low rent. The second place was just crawling with white people. The last place was Kroger, and it was a little more empty. At the checkout line were two black high school kids. It wasn't too busy, and most of the people were white. So I'm focusing on race right this second. It seems to be a thing for this town. The kids were nice though. The two didn't know it other, it seemed like, and they were connecting right there, asking where each other went. It was kind of nice to see.

Aw man. I ran into Bill at Bardog. Actually, he came in specifically to see me. He'd been hanging out at the Peabody. He talked to the piano player, and some woman struck up a conversation with him. He said she was interest. But then, aw man. He said he wasn't sure if she was attactive enough to date. Auhh. I just had to say that was harsh. And she had already friended him on facebook. So we already had pictures. And I could see for myself. And I had to admit, I guess I could see it. And I could compare her to his exes. And I supposed I have to appreciate his honesty and the self=awareness to be able to admit that. But gosh-darn.

I didn't get a big hunk of meat, but I'm going to give Spam a shot. Actual name-brand classic Spam. We'll see how it goes. One time we got "spiced ham" at the deli counter which they had on sale for $2 a pound, which is really good for something handsliced at the deli. And I keep looking for it, but I haven't seen it. Too shy to ask for it. It looked kind of like chopped ham, which you can see in packages, but that didn't seem to taste the same. Whatever they put into it puts it a lot closer to bologna, which I also like. And all of this is because I remember in Germany some kind of lunch meat ("schinken" is their word) that was like this, that somehow I really liked. Never could remember what it was called, though I know I've heard the name several times. Foreign words just don't stick sometimes. Anyway, so I'm looking for it again. Something about the flavor. Probably really bad for me. Maybe the salt or blood or something.

I'm really losing interesting in the ai class. I need to just go check my homework, and I can't get myself to do it.

I went to the atheist/agnostic caucus at the occupy Memphis camp. I ran into Jeff and Jason from the atheist groups, and mostly Occam's. It's a meeting that's been every Monday at 6:30 or 7 for a while. This group was very small though. Q, the leader person, said last week there were maybe 10. This time there were 5, including us outside atheist folks. I don't know for sure that the others before were occupiers or what. There was also a guy, Tyson, who might have just been a camper who came over. I don't know. I wanted to see who they were, but there was pretty much nobody. Jason was told by a guy, Michael, but he wasn't there. And we were thinking Steve would come by, but he didn't. I's say a bust.

Driving up, and it was going fairly through the middle of the city at what passes for rush hour here, I saw something about the local traffic rules. The rule here in town is that people turning left go through the yellow light and when it's red. I'm pretty sure I remember even being told that in traffic school. And that's OK because if you are in the intersection, you have the right of way to get out. That's just the way it works here. It's cheaper than having left turn signals at all the lights, which they'll do in some places. But there will also be lights that do haev left turn arrows, and I guess it's not surprisingly that the rule is still the same. It's pretty much the city rule. People will go left through the yellow and red lights, but at those intersections, they will now block the people who do legitimately have the left turn arrow and should be going. Oh well.

For some reason, I though about Lt. Commander Data, the android on Star Trek, TNG. He doesn't use contractions. Like "doesn't" or "can't". What the heck is that? It was supposed to be something his maker put into his programming because the people at the colony he lived at didn't like the earlier model Lore, who had emotions and was actually somewhat more humanlike. Lore ended up being basically a sociopath, though because he had emotions, but he did not really care about people. And was otherwise a jerk. So he kind of took out the emotions for data, and some other stuff to set him apart. I guess. They put that kind of explanation in some of the stories. It's really stupid, though. I mean, can't use contractions? Intelligent, but can't pick up simple idioms? Actually, they said that towards the beginning. I don't know if they really kept it. More of a stupid plot device to contrast with Lore. It just somehow stuck me as funny thinking about it, having recently been looking at machine learning.

Oh man, so on Mondays, Melissa works happy hour. And I thought about going down there. Actually, more that I thought about what it would be like if I went down there, not that I was thinking I might do it. Because there was one time I went there, and Melissa left. She just kind of went on home, and I was there. No chance that I might join her for whereever she was going. And it would have been the same. So that would just have been sad, and it was sad to think about.

  • November 13, 2011
Happy Ides of November!

Actually, it seems like most of the images of Buddha are actually a skinny guy. There's the a classic one of a fat guy, but it hasn't been the main one showing up in the places I've been looking, seems like.

So Sam Harris does jiu-jitsu. BJJ and GJJ. Hmm. So, there's this thing. Liz P. said that her next husband was going to be Sam Harris. And I was thinking I was going to have to beat him up, and Liz at best was going to have to have him very bruised. But now I'm thinking it might not go so well for me. But I do have like 50 pounds on him.

Man. The shirt I wore yesterday to kung fu practice was kind of tight, and it really made me look fat. Although maybe I should say my big gut made me look fat. Maybe a bit more stocky than bowling ball like, I guess. But it's getting pretty bad.

So I'm trying to train more solidly this last month before the tournament. Every day. The hardest was Friday, really the first day of doing it every day. Trying to always do it, and just feeling like making an excuse to skip it. I almost did. Yesterday, we got together and had plans to drive down to the school, so a bit of social pressure made it a little easier. Though driving every day doesn't seem so good. My plan was to do it outside today. I have a couple of things that do better with more space. But yesterday, he suggested going in again today. We'll see if I do that. And now I've got all this wood to chop.

Man, the AI class. I'm now pretty solidly in the 80s for the quizzes during the lectures. There's always little tricky bits that I don't get. Seems like I'm doing better on the homeworks, but it has gotten discouraging, and I really don't care so much. And the really bad thing is that I haven't been doing the programming I need to do to really get the most out of it. Since I've fallen behind, I don't even know if I could catch up with them.

  • November 12, 2011
I'm watchning an archaeology show, done by a women. For a little bit in it, too, there was nothing but other women archaoelogists, so on FB I said I saw where all of Indiana Jones' students went. That settled down, though, and it's more of a mix. Big tall cute girl, though. You'd think I could remember her name. It's a series, and I've only just started on the first one. And I guess I haven't seen her anywhere else.

So a thing that they go into, cities exist pretty much because some rich people like controlling other people. For that to work, there have to be other people who can be controlled. And it's in that quirk of human psychology that you can see how religion happens. Some people will believe and do anything if properly indoctrinated as a kid. I say that in the context of other species related to our own. We are just one of a couple dozen related human species. Even not too long ago, maybe 100 to 200 thousand years, there were as many as three species around at the same time. But we ended up at top. And the neanderthals had bigger brains, actually, though that might have just been about them having a little bigger bodies. But still, we had something different. For one, we had abstract sorts of thinking, based on the evidence of art we have. And we made a little fancier tools. But one thing abstract thinking can do is all you to be a little impractical, and end up doing what someone else tells you for some fancy promise or reason. Maybe we were more sociable and would listen to other people than just our mothers and dads.

There was also a very intriguing practical piece about how cities could develop and be maintain. The lady is primarily an egyptologist, but she's going to cultures around the world to explore her main ideas. One of the is that what happens in a city is that people specialize, and the king organizes people and the get protected and can do other things, but then they get stuck and no longer have the knowledge to be a hunter gatherer, which is actually often a much healthier lifestyle because, frankly, cities are freakin' filthy.

One of her examples was some North American Indian hunter gathering tribe. They claim the were never in cities. Uh huh. I guess that is possible that there were some. And they go out and practice their "culture" once in a while. It's my understanding that most American Indians are really post-apocalyptic remnants after their city cultures collapsed, but they like to pretend there is some kind of nobility in their savagery. I think the Road Warrior actually did something like that, as it was sort of narrated as if by the feral kid or something. That's the second one, not the first one, Mad Max.

My brother has brought some wood over. Big pieces like two and a half foot across. That's going to be some work to split. And it's green now. We tried pounding a spike in, and it would just bounce out. Hopefully it will get better soon and at least be possible to split. It's going to be work. That's not so fun. But he got a tool that works a lot better than a regular axe. Maybe it's called a maul? It's just a heavy spike on a stick. I had never used one before. It does work. He got a smaller one. Apparently they make one with a 16 pound head, but they were out. This does seem to work pretty fair, though. I was starting to get a little better with a regular axe. Maybe I should try sharpening it, though. That's supposed to help. No expert.

I broke the bacon out of the freezer so I'm eating bacon now. Mom bought it, so I feel a little bad about eating in the decadent way I normally do when I buy it for myself. She bought it on sale, and I'll get it full price when I feel like doing that.

I recently went to the grocery store, and I kind of felt like I had a little extra money to spend. I had driven out to Midtown yoga, and was thinking of going to a class called "inner journey" but I chickened out. I was a little early, and it looked pretty empty. And my stomach was feeling a little unsettled. It was going to be ten or twenty bucks for an isolated class, and my money is getting a little tight-- extra expenses right now-- so I also felt like not spending on that. They really want people to stay for a while. And those classes can be a little closed. So excuses. Anyway, I decided to get food instead. I got a rotisserie chicken. Mom said some show that talked about saving money said that's one thing worth getting. So I tried that. I needed bread, and I got the expensive lactose-free milk. Some hotdogs.

I also decided to try some corned-beef hash. It's been a while since I had some. Two of my buddies had it at brunch at Celtic last time we were there. At home, I opened it up. It really looked and smelled like dogfood. And I tried it, and it was pretty rough. I only did a few spoons right from the can. But actually, the second and third tasted better than the first. I moved it to a small corningware dish. Pulled out like , it had less of a dogfood air to it. Later, I tried it, and heated it, it was much better. With bacon, it was actually pretty respectable. Starting to get into it again. I guess it's just not good cold.

Somehow, in a couple of places, on Reddit and from one of my FB friends, bachelor chow has come up. I lost the reddit link. Somebody made a disgusting slop by blending a bunch of stuff, like grilled chicken breast and some kind of vegetables and nuts. And it completely failed to be like kibble because it wasn't dry, so he had to freeze it. So it wasn't convenient, easy to do, and yet was also completely unappetizing. So he just ruined a bunch of good food. In the comments to that one was a blog for someone who actually bought a bag of monkey chow that they sell for all the labs that keep monkeys. And that was horrifying. Mostly from what it did to his poop, which seem to make flinging it a reasonable thing. Anyway, so I had in mind bachelor chow. You can google it, and someone has made a page for Purina Bachelor Chow, a link which I shared with an FB friend who for some reason thought she wanted people food from Purina. Silly girl. But anyway, that all had me in mind for corned beef hash, which was also mentioned as a classic bachelor chow. Bachelor chow is also a joke on Futurama.

Kara Cooney at UCLA. And apparently it's another show about how society may well collapse. I've seen several shows about that. Seems like there was one show that took it from the perspective of archaeologists in the future looking back at what happened.

There was a big holiday yesterday. And there were several things about it. It was 11/11/11, so somebody was talking about it being some binary thing. Somebody said it was about that Nigel guy on Spinal Tap. They actually showed a clip from that on the news, I think. I think there was some kind of German holiday for it. And it was Veterans', which used to be Armistice day, from the end of WWI. And it was Doug's birthday. Bunch of stuff going on.

Still playing Fate. At this point I'm trying to see if it's truth that the best defense is a good offense. At this point, it sure doesn't seem like it. It could simply be that my offense is at times getting overwhelmed. So I can choose to have an seriously overwhelming offensive ability. Basically they die before they even have any chance to hurt me. And that seems to work fairly well. Except that several times do it like that, I'll just unexpectedly die myself. And it has been a surprise and I'm not sure what was going on. The monster will do enough damage to kill me with one hit, though they seldom get a chance to do that, but occasionally one will slip in, and I'll die. And it's unnerving because of the randomness of it. Some monsters seem much more mean and vicious, but they cave pretty easily. There are dragons that seem to have glass chins. I'm not even sure which monsters are the ones getting me. I suspect there are certain monsters that are using a thing in the game called "reflection" where part of the damage I'm doing to them is coming back to hit me. Because there is a sneaky bit in here. I am personally able to do in a single hit from 2 to 7 times the damage I can absorb. The minimum I do is twice as much as I can take, and like I said, up to 7 times. So if he is able to get just 20% of mine back at me, I would likely die. The thing is, depending on how I'm set up, I reflect the maximum, 75%, back to the bad guys, so it's quite possible for them to do that to me. At things point, I'm thinking maybe I should have invested more in being able to handle damage. I could do that. There are other defensive things I can do, too. I can set it up to be hit less often. An important way to do this is to use a shield instead of a weapon in my left hand, but that cuts my offense in half. So basically, I'm exploring if that's a better policy. It does seem like it's safer, but playing like that, I still would occasionally just die. I think it happens less often, and there's less risk of it. Maybe it makes it less exciting, too. I think the worst thing that happens is that I get several bad guys coming at once, and I'm not able to just kill them all instantly like when I get them one on one. I can try to be more careful about making sure I just work on them one by one. In tank mode, I seem much better at those situations. Anyway, I think it's real sort of martial principles. Generalship, and such. You really can't neglect defense completely, but a strong offense can make defensive capabilities less important. But if you have a strong offense, then they are quite capable of having one, too.

I was thinking of going to the yoga class. For out of shape and overweight people, they Buddha-body class. Now I'm overweight, and I'm not sure what kind of shape I'm in. I think I could be worse. I'm not great, but I do these king fu classes. Maybe I do get a little too winded. Anyway, so getting ready, I considered the question, was the Buddha really a big fat guy? The founder of bagua, my style of kung fu, apparently was, as he was a eunuch in the imperial court, or at least posing as one, and a lot of the masters were also pretty big. A bad excuse, but I has kind of made being thing not so much of a priority for me. But the Buddha. There are traditional images of the fat Buddha. Unfortunately, that's a symbolic image, and not even intended to be what he actually looked like. And I think the sybology is actually interesting. In Chinese culture, the soul is thought to be in the center of the body (dan tian), unlike I guess typically in the West where people think they are right behind their eyes. So having a big middle means to them having a big soul. Anyway, there you go. Sid was a vegetarian, so he was probably skinny.

On Thursday, I was thinking I might want to see the movie _Immortals_, having seen previews, and it was coming out 11/11. I guess they got me from the previews, and that was what they were going for. I looked for the reviews, and there weren't any ahead of time. And movie people will do that sometimes, they won't have an advance show for critics, and I pretty much have to conclude that they will only do that if they actually know that the critics won't like it. And now, a couple days later, I know they didn't. But they had kind of tempted me. Apparently it looks good. All CGI. I know personally that that doesn't do anything for me in a movie, so it's just as well that I stayed away.

I gained some insight into a problem that the hiring people have that makes it difficult for me. I think I saw it when looking at this post which I found on reddit, but it might have been another one at about the same time. Anyway, the thing is, there are a lot of people who are just no good, and they keep sending in resumes and looking for programming work. Hiring people have a problem of trying to avoid them. And I'm not sure if on my resume you could really tell that I'm not like that. Maybe I really am lazy? Maybe just regular business programming isn't my dream job, and for some people, it really is. The money is enough for them, and it hits just the right spot of being challenging and fulfilling, or whatever. Maybe no one is super satisfied as a drone, but they've got a family or whatever, and it's good for them. So that's all something I have to deal with. Unfortunately, I've let it go a little long, and it's going to be a hard search, and the search, dealing with people is far from my comfort zone.

Finally finished _Hitch-22_, toward the end I really glazed over. He seemed so much about dropping the names of famous people he knew. And using the freakin' fancy vocabulary he got at Oxford or Cambridge or whereever the heck it was. That was a nice thing about it being on the Kindle, because it has a built in dictionary, and I could just click and look stuff up. Plenty of stuff I'll admit to not knowing. A fair amount of British stuff, and some sorts of French inspired, I'm just going to go ahead and say it, snobbery. But he's a hero in atheist circles. He was a big socialist activist, though, apparently. First I've heard. He dropped Chomsky's name a bit. Had arguments, I guess. And a weird thing, he was totally for all the wars against Saddam. He went to Iraq before them many times, so he really knew how bad he was. For him, they weren't wars in Iraq, but wars against Saddam. So I don't know what he thinks about it now. That put him in a strange company. He was in DC, and became a citizen, and maybe Wolfowitz or one of them gave him a special citizenship ceremony. And one of the pictures was his socialist party membership card. Something not so good about the Kindle edition. I got to the end, and there were all the footnotes. There were glyphs at the end of paragraphs, but I don't know if I was supposed to click on them or what, but I didn't see that there were notes until I was way done. Oh well. I don't know, I guess the writing was good. There is a bit where he talks about Gore Vidal and some other friend of theirs picking up guys. Gore taking them from behind, and not satisfying them, but sending them to the other guy to be blown. Whatever. Apparently, Hitch is a little bi, and had a boyfriend at bording school, which was pretty standard.

The church is a gang. I've been watching several documentaries from Terry Jones on ancient cultures. One whole series was about barbarians. He's had stuff on how the common people of Rome lived, among other places. And it was barbarians with respect to Rome, instead of Greece, which is where I think of the term, and I'm pretty sure it was their word first. Anyway one of the shows had both the Huns and the Vandals, which kind of were big at the same time. In fact, the Vandals invade Carthage in Africa at the time the Huns were playing around just north-east of the Roman Empire, and the Hun problem distracted the Romans away from dealing with the Vandals. The Vandals were actually a different Christian sect, and didn't murder people when they did invade Rome, though they did steal. And they sort of peacefully took Carthage, too, or something. The Hun were around Spain, France, and Northern Italy, and moving to Rome, but then they encountered the pope. The church has some fairy story about Apostles appearing in the air and turning them around. Terry thinks they just made him a deal. They were actually going to rescue some woman who was being married off to a western governor or something. This was Attila the Hun. Apparently there was some kind of Hun culture that he got together, but it didn't last long after he was gone. Anyway, Attila went home and died pretty soon after that. Maybe an aneurysm or something. Whatever. But the thing of it, the story showed how the Roman church was basically just inheriting the Roman empire. The Romans were really kind of a big gang, and the church was just an extension of that. They didn't need to even use as much expensive violence, either.

  • November 2, 2011
So I'm watching some PBS thing about the history of nuclear weapons. They talked about the tzar bomb. It was 50 Megaton. It could have been 100 Megaton, but they decided to back off. And they have a multistage idea such that they could if they wanted to, make a thousand Megaton bomb. But, that would be pointless because at 100 Megatons, the fireball is the height of the atmosphere, so any more would just go out into space. And there was the bikini atoll test. It was expected to be 5 Megatons, but it was actually 15 Megatons. That's a pretty big mistake. That was the biggest bomb we ever made. We don't really need any more. And it was done at ground level, so it created a lot more fallout. The tzar bomb they did up in the air, so it wasn't quite so bad, but it did put out so much that the guy who made it (Andre Sakharov) became an opponent of nuclear weapons.

We had a bunch of kids for Hallowen, maybe two dozen. There were a lot of girls. Several groups of just girls. No boy groups like that, just some mixed ones. And quite a few somewhat older girls. One fairly big girl said something about keeping alive the tradition of saying trick or treat. It looked at one point that I was going to run out of candy. I was giving handfuls, and in one group, I think I went through a couple of bags. But I didn't really know how many would be coming. So at some point I cut back to two pieces per kid. Reece's, there aren't all that many in a bad. With the first group after that, which was all cute girls, I felt a little bad about that. But they kept coming. I ended up with half a bag left. So it was pretty close. I think I probably could have managed three per, but I would have run out. I guess that would have been fine. I went through I think it was 5 bags. And before that, I had eaten a couple of bags. I guess I need to be more ready.

I slept through Roy's Halloween party Saturday night. He had a hundred people. I should have made more of an effort. I took a nap starting at six, but I guess I hadn't been sleeping enough, so I decided to stay asleep. And I slept til 8 or 9 the next morning. So I guess I was tired. At about 1, I was awake, and I thought about going, but I felt it was too late. We all had lunch on Sunday, so I heard that they were still going til 5, so it would have been fine. Oh well.

I got 100% on the third homework in the AI class. So 92, 100, and 100. I haven't been doing the programming assignments, so I really haven't been getting the most out of it. I'm finding too many other things I'd rather do. Too much Fate, too. But also I'm trying to read _Hitch-22_ and I'm watching different documentaries from Netflix. I saw something on barbarians from Terry Jones. Celts and Goths. And I'm watching stuff on Shakespeare. I heard that he cheated on his wife. I really don't like when people do that, but Mr. feely love-poetry, I guess I could see that. And there was something about how a lot of the love sonnets were about his son who died. Huh.

  • October 31, 2011
Happy Halloween!

I'm obsessive. I'm not sure why I haven't had that thought before, but on reflection it seems pretty obvious. At least, I often obsess about things. I don't feel that it has been too much of a problem. At least I haven't felt too hurt by it. But doing so many sudoku, that was pretty obsessive. And about people I can get obsessed. In computer stuff, you have to get details exactly right, so great attention to detail is pretty important, and I think being obsessive is fairly good for that.

So the thing that got me to think about that, in Fate, you can spend time doing busy work to accumulate gold to achieve a renown level that lets you use certain fancier magic object. I decided, well, I spend a lot of time anyway, I might as well comit and just finish this out. It means about 12 hours of doing this kind of busy work. But I spent a lot more time than that doing sudoku, so this isn't too bad. And I've spent a lot more than 12 hours already playing. Maybe about 80, so putting in this grunt work to have the best situation I can get is something I feel willing to do. One thing that's been frustrating, is these things come up, and I'd like to have them, but I haven't put the time in yet for it. So might as well go for it.

The class was not so much work the third week. I managed to mess up pretty bad on the first quiz in the week. 77%. I actually thought for a bit it had been worse. Just misunderstood how some things were done, and there were several questions on each one. Oh well. They don't count against you, except to make you feel bad. And I did learn the stuff after that.

One thing that's been nice is that to do the exercises, I program clojure under slime in emacs. Clojure is a kind of lisp related to java. A nice thing about it is that it is very interactive. You write one line and get an answer. So I use it just to do calculations. I do the calculations, and I still have what I did, so I can make sure I typed it in. But using it like that, I can put in simple formulas easily. And the nicest thing was how easily it is to add together things in a list. This section had linear regression, and the formula to do it requires that you take a list of pairs of numbers, x's and y's, and sum the x's, sum the products of x and y, and sum the squares of x's. so I put the data in a list. The way you get the sum of a list called mylist is this: (reduce + mylist). That's pretty easy. So in order to do all these things, I just did "reduce +" on all the lists I needed, taken off my bigger list of pairs of numbers. To get those lists, I used a function called "mapcar" which makes a new list based on some operation on all the elements of some list. To get the x out of a pair (x y), I use "first", so to get the sum of x's I say (reduce + (mapcar first mylist)). "last" gives the y, so the sum of y's is (reduce + (mapcar last mylist)). Getting the sums of product xy and x*x are slightly trickier as I need to write a new function to get that product and send it to mapcar, but not that much trickier. Just to show you, I get sum of x*y from (reduce + (mapcar #(* (first %1) (last %1)) mylist)). There might actually be nicer ways to do this, but this was the simplest thing I thought of. In most languages, it seems like you would have to have a loop, and have some variable hold the accumulator or something. I like this style because it seems a little closer to just writing the formula. It's called functional style.

  • October 23, 2011
Man, the AI class was hard this week. I think I spent 8 hours getting through the first lecture. It had a lot of little probability calculations, and there was one I got stuck on for several hours. I was mostly stuck because it was an example that was going to show a probability going down, and I was getting an answer that was higher than one I was looking at, so I thought it was wrong. Turned out it was supposed to be smaller than a different value that I wasn't looking at. And it was illustrating the explain away phenomenon. The example was that you might be happy if it's sunny or you got a raise. If I just see you happy and I know it's sunny, then it's actually less likely that you got a raise, because being sunny accounts enough for your being happy. What it doesn't do, and what I was thinking, it doesn't make it less likely that you will get a raise, everything else being equal. It makes the chance you got a raise in that case given that you are happy. That is, if I see you happy, there's some chance you got a raise, based on seeing you happy. But the chance is less if it's sunny, because maybe that made you happy. Anyway, I also really had trouble figuring out how to do it. And I was really frustrated, because I found in several places people talking about it, and they'll calculate the odds, but they won't show where they pulled those numbers from. It was frustrating. I also missed a sort of theoretical question about this particular thing. Turns out that being absolutely independent does not imply being conditionally independent. This was an example of that, but before that, they asked the general question. I also missed almost a counting question. There were 16 numbers you had to add, and I left one out. And I was using clojure under emacs to add them, so I wrote the numbers down and counted them. I don't know why I thought it was right. I think I might have actually counted 15 and thought that was right. Oh well. By that time, maybe I was rushing. oh well, 93%. The second lecture was a ton easier. Took maybe two hours. I got all the questions right, but apparently there was some problem, and it only said 96%. They actually said in a message below it, there was a problem, and I checked, and sure enough, it was off. Oh well. At that point, I didn't care. I was just happy it was so much easier. I was getting worried I wouldn't finish, because it's all due tomorrow. So I do the homework, and it took maybe half hour to an hour. You can fly through it if you just know the stuff. I think I got it, but I should look over it this time. One thing I did different this time was that I read the textbook first. I think that helped, but the probability was still hard.

So I got to the Gore Vidal section in _Hitch-22_. Earthy and vivid. So Gore used to pick up guys with a friend of theirs, Tom. Gore was not a pleaser, though Tom was. Gore would take him from behind and send them to Tom, who would suck them dry. OK.

So I was able to imagine Melissa being interested. Mostly it seems silly if I think about it, but I guess under the right circumstances, I can manage to suspend judgement. It's quite nice when I can. Like, hard to breathe nice.

I did a charity walk with the kung fu class. Something about vision, and Jiang Laoshi is trying to do stuff with the blind, so there was a connection. I registered late on the night before, and it looked like my name didn't get on the list for the registration. So when registering, it said somewhere that the suggested donation was $100. That's just what I needed, to spend money suddenly like that, but it turned out that I did actually have enough in the bank to get that and pay the one bill I had outstanding, so I did it. I was struggling to decide, though. I would have felt bad going if I didn't. So I was actually thinking about not going. But I did. It was about a 4 mile walk. My feet were pretty sore. I walked with a guy in my Chinese class. He's a regular walker, so he kept a good pace. One thing about it, though, there was a thing to keep it anonymous, which I thought I had checked. Didn't work, though. We were doing it as part of Jiang Laoshi's group, so it showed up in a list with them, something I really didn't want, but oh well. They gave us all t-shirts. Apparently, you get a t-shirt with a $100 donation. i'm not sure what the deal was with giving them to the whole group. Fine with me, though. Everybody else put theirs on right then. I didn't want an extra shirt while doing a walk, though.

  • October 20, 2011
In a competitive system, the rewards are very nonlinear. By that I mean, you don't get paid back in proportion to the effort you put in. It's more of a winner take all system. Nonlinear is kind of a technical engineering term, which is why I use it, but they have ways of analyzing things, so I think it's useful to think of it that way. Anyway, with winner-take-all, you have to treat fairness in a different way. It seemed to me that it would be most fair if the reward was proportional to the effort you put in. But in a victor gets everything game, fairness is just complying with those rules, so it's fair in that case that the losers get nothing. In order that the economic losers not starve to death, though. Our state capitalist system has been pressure to mix in a little bit of the socialist idea, and have a sort of minimum that the inferior people get. I guess they aren't technically "losers", but generally losers in the competitive sense of not being the people on top. But with that value system, it's fine for them to make less money than they really could even live on, which minimum wage is.

What got me thinking about this was that I was thinking that I'd really like to be able to work just 20 hours a week. I did that for Bruce for a while, and it was nice. That was a special case, and more or less, he was just being nice to me to let me work that way, and it didn't even last forever. But in general, it won't work in a capitalist system, because people only want to employ the best available people--the winners--and if you only put half the time in, your skills won't develop or at least be maintained at the same level as someone who works twice as long. So you can't compete, and you won't be able to keep even that much.

I wanted to pause to consider this thought--I love Melissa very much. I think there was more to the thought, but it was tenuous and I couldn't even hold on to it. Anyway, it's limited. I only go to see her once a week. I could go to see her more, but I think it would get to be too much for both of us, and this is about right. She already has a boyfriend. I'm not sure to what extent it is sour-grapes, but I do kind of feel in my heart of hearts I know that I don't even really want to be her boyfriend. But it's nice just to be friends. And I think it makes it even more precious that it is limited.

Man, I'm going to have to avoid fasting. It really messed me up, I think. A little might have been the hard workout the day before, too, I guess. But my brain was very foggy. Coming, home I had to lie down. And I remember thinking, that I didn't feel like I was completely awake. Something about my brain just wasn't working right. I guess the analogy I was thinking was like in a migraine where I have a fuzzy spot in my vision where I can't see. It felt like there was a fuzzy spot in my brain where I couldn't focus.

The new doctor was OK. She is young and cute. It seemed like maybe she wasn't as experience or something, and she might want to defer some stuff to specialists. But that's probably fair enough.

So there have been some negatives. The first lesson though, is not to fast. I think it messed up my concentration, and I wasn't thinking clearly. For one thing, we forgot one of my mediacations. I may well have forgotten to write it down, which is pretty bad since I had a bag of all of them and was just copying. I didn't think I forgot, and it's possible the nurse didn't put it in the computer. But I'll be charitable and say it was my fault. And I didn't think about it, and look closely at the prescription to see that it wasn't on there. So I could have fixed it in the office, but again, not thinking so clearly. Also, She asked if I got them in 90 days or thirty, and I said sure, 90. I get a couple of them in nineties. One that are cheaper when you do that. But a couple of them aren't cheaper, and I didn't realize she was going to write three months at a time on them, too. Which would have been quite a big jump for me. They are actually moderately expensive, and it would have been rough to get three months worth at a time. But the pharmacy was able to deal with that. A more serious problem was that one of them, colchicine, no longer has a generic form. So instead of being $10, it was going to be $150. He only prescribed it in the first place because it was cheap. I just didn't get that. And that's actually fine for now, because I have some left, and I don't particulaly need them. It's as needed. There was also one where we do something somewhat sneaky. There's one that comes in boxes of 30. The new doctor is a she. So the old doctor, he gave me a prescription at twice the dose, So I would get one box, and it would last two months. So this new one gives me three months, so one box needs to be split in half. I guess. I don't know how long she gave me for. I don't know if it's three months, six, or a year. It looks like six. If it was three, that would just give me three months to look for a new doctor, because I don't want to have to go that often. So I was getting frustrated. They left one out. But I went in to the office with my old bottle, showed it to lady at the desk, and in less than 5 minutes, I had a prescription for it. Now that was service! So that was good. I feel better about them. That was the good thing about that group. They fit me in at last minute even though they were really busy and didn't actually have anything for a couple weeks. And they're close. Now I'm probably OK with sticking with them. But it's still iffy.

Oh shoot! I just looked at the wiki on Colchicine. Apparently, the FDA gave URL Pharma a 7-year exclusivity to colchicine so that they would run 2 studies, and it raised the price from 9 cents a pill to $4.85, and they sued to get rid of the generics. Someone should have his skull split open with an axe. Now, the problem was that there weren't very good scientific studies. It's somewhat toxic, and has been around a long time. It was an old plant extract, and it's cheap to make. I guess it was a medicine before they were into such strenuous scientific studies. People used it for a lot of unapproved uses. I mean, shoot. It looks like it goes back to 1500 BC. I mean, personally, I prefer sword, but this calls for mf'ing axe.

  • October 18, 2011
I installed the new Ubuntu, Oneiric Ocelot, and my wifi device stopped working. But I did get it working by building and installing what was in rt2870, which I had previously downloaded. I had to fix some stuff which was listed somewhere: s/usb_buffer_alloc/usb_alloc_coherent/ and s/usb_buffer_free/usb_free_coherent/. and RT3070STA.dat had to be copied from RT2870STA.dat. Annoying tricky little bits to it.

I got a 92% on the first AI homework. Missed two questions. One I didn't understand right, and one I just miscounted for some reason. I put 9 and it was 10. It's a pretty good grade, but I guess I feel kind of disappointed.

Kroger has Baconnaise. Now I do too.

My doctor retired. And I found out when I really needed to make an appointment, because I was almost out of my prescriptions. So it really could have been pretty bad for me. So the little practice is now understaffed, and they really had no appointments available for two weeks. But they are going to fit me in. I kind of liked this place because they seem like they are ususally able to do that kind of stuff. That's what I had heard about them. They were recommended by someone at Hilton. It's tough if you get something, but you can't get a doctor's appointment for a couple of weeks. So it was fit me in, or I'd have to go somewhere else, and they'd lose my business. I think they don't take those cheap government healthcare things, so they can have a little better service. Maybe, I don't know. Anyway, my feelings are kind of confused about it. It's bad, my doctor is gone. But they seem to have accomodated me so it's actually OK. I've got to deal with a new doctor, though. That's why I was sticking with them so I didn't have to deal with new doctors all the time. They sent out letters to everyone who had been in since February. That didn't get me, unfortunately, though, since it has been just about a year.

One thing I'm seeing about this class is that there is a wide range of how much effort you can put into this class. I'm sure they needed to do that to have an online class with so many people. Apparently 160,000 now. For one, you don't really have to read the textbook. I didn't the first week. So I'm behind. The regular class does a programming assignment every week. I want to do that. But I don't have to, so I didn't put enough effort in, and I kind of gave it up. Maybe I'll get back to it. I really gave it up because I download their parts of it, and they just didn't work. Maybe I have the wrong version of things or something. That was frustrating. But anyway, I spent time on that, so I didn't do the reading. And you didn't really need to do the simple homework they had. So again, I wasn't really pushed to it. But I missed a couple of things on the homework. So I probably really should have done the reading. Now I'm behind and have to catch up just to get to where I should have been already, and the next week's stuff is already there, too. This time, I want to do the reading before listening to the lectures, but I haven't even finished last weeks, yet. Lesson to be learned--don't fall behind. And possibly another lesson, which I think I probably already knew. Stanford classes expect you to be doing a whole lot of work very quickly. It is totally not the way I did things in college or grad school, though I actually was like that in high school and I guess I got out of it.

I was up, so i decided to go see if there were people camping out at Occupy Memphis. sure enough, there were. I saw about three tents. I got there about dawn. Today it turned cold and rainy, though. People went off somewhere for breakfast. And i saw a fairly big group come by at maybe 10. But it started raining. I think they left. Not much was going on. I think there were maybe 5 people when I left.

I did go visit Bardog for breakfast. Brittany Bloom does that. There was one guy there. So two. And she said that was probably going to be it. She knows some people who come in sometimes. But not every day. So they might cut it back out. And she can sleep till nine. Had a nice deluxe cheeze egg and bacon and ham and tomatoes and stuff sandwich and hash brown. So it was good. Dude must have been drinking something. But I guess there just aren't that many hardcore morning drinkers. If you've gone that far, you may be drinking at home alone. But it's a nice idea. I think that happens more in New York where Aldo is from. Maybe on weekends.

So it looks like I need to use the older version of Python for this class. I found someone else with the same problem I have, googling one of my errors, and he's working on the class stuff, too, and he says it's about porting to the newer version. Maybe I'll back with this, but for the sake of time, I need to just try the older version. Man. The Python people said it would be better to use the newer version. I didn't know compatibility was going to be that bad.

  • October 15, 2011
Happy Ides of October!

So, I'm sitting here at the remnants of Occupy Memphis. A guy name Tristan came up and introduced himself. I didn't really engage and he walked away, but at least he made and effort, and that was nice. Some blowhard military punk was ponitificating, and somehow the word property came up. Some chick sure enough did at one point say property is theft. OK. I think she said she was an anarco something or other. communalist? communist, maybe. Whatever. Psuedointellectual.

Wow, another person. Someone who remembered me from blockbuster. Am assistant mamager. Going to school to be a nurse. Asked me if I was going to spend the night. Now, I must say that's a nice question. But I had to say probably not. Oh well.

I saw maybe a couple of people i knew. I didn't say anything. Michele Glasnovich. And i think one of the Britannys. I was hoping to see Liz and maybe Dr. Swiggins. I'm not sure if I would even recognize him, and probably not now that it's dark, but I was him writing something on the occupy memphis website. Too dark really now for me to see anyone.

It was already getting dark when I managed to get out. I didn't manage to fall asleep 'til eleven in the morning. Mom left in the morning, and I stayed up with stuff on the computer. I really should have done more, but installed a bunch of development tools. I drove along Adams which is next to the place they should have been, but I didn't see anything. And I drove by where the gay pride thing was, but they were wrapping up. I parked somewhere on Third. Things were so quiet. But I did find the group. People sitting around and some guy was talking. Didn't seem interesting. I walked down to Beale where the gay pride thing had been. The Memphis freethought group had a booth and Lix posted a picture of her there on FB. Oh well, I messed with.

Man, I walked past a group of four women sitting next to each other. There were a couple guys talking, and they kind of blocked the path, but I squeezed past them a bit, but it meant I had to get closer to the women. And then there was a hole or something in the walk, and I kind of stumbled a bit. And i was kind of a foot away and looked a couple of them right in the eye for a second. Not really a connection, and no joy or anything. I contrast it with another time where I shared a smile with someone.

They've got some thing were they say "mike check" and everyone repeats what they say, so everyone can here. Can't say I'm a big fan of the system. They just announced that there were 50,000 people in time square.

Hey. some cutie has a guitar. Haven't heard her play yet, though. OK, well she's playing very quietly.

Somebody just turned on a camera with a big light. Got a few seconds in of a group. i think somebody said Fox news. I think ther was a light on me for another second.

Got some bongo guys with the guitar girl now.

So I was reading more of Hitch-22. Man. A little bit bi. Had a boyfriend at boarding school, and then mention something about a couple of other, what did he call them, lapses? Something about a future Thatcher cabinet person, maybe. And then some kind of encounter with Bill Clinton, though he doesn't remember him in particular. Didn't inhale because her preferred brownies. But he was some kind of radical or something. Socialist maybe.

I actually went back to my car at one point. But I had managed to catch such a primo parking place. On Adams right at the end. About as close as you can be. I decided not to waste it. I got my computer out, and took it over and wrote for a bit. Now I'm on my way back to the car, but I decided to stop on a bench and get a last little bit in. Lots of light here, and a nice fountain. A trolley came by. A guy on a bike rode by and said howyadoin. Real good. They said channel 3 news would broadcast down there live at 10. Don't think I'll probably stay around. I think I'll put up my computer, at least. I hate having something in my hands.

I did go back for a little bit. Read some Hitchens. Not long. Didn't stick around for the news people.

  • October 12, 2011
I went on Amazon to get a book to read. I finally decided to go ahead and get Hitch-22. I've got a half of dozen things that I've sampled, but nothing really hooked me. They suggested something, _Blame Hitchens: essays of a new atheist_. The wanted 99 cents for it. I was lookin over the reviews and comments. I think dude recommended getting the sample. Somebody was saying some people thought it was worth more than 99 cents, some people thought it was worth that, and some people thought it was worthless. And they said "worthless" not "worth less". They are different things. My inclination really was that for a dollar, I could give anything a try. But I decided to get the sample first anyway. I think it was about 5 pages. From what I saw, 99 cents was about right. It just didn't seem worth the time, even at that price, to read any more. Crappy. I should write my book. I just saw Hitch say everybody has a book in him, and for most people, it should stay that way. There was also a mini-book from Sam Harris, _Lying_. Twenty-six page, two dollars. That's not too bad. Maybe I'll do that.

I've started on the AI class. They have little quizes as you go along. Every few minutes or so. Broken up into topics. The first unit had a bug where it wouldn't take my wrong answers, so I missed a few, but still got to put in the right answer after that, so I got 100%. By the second one, they had that fixed. I only got 85%. Grr. not a good sign. Tricksy hobbitses. Really, a lot of the questions were just meant to trip you up, but I guess it was to see if you understood it. One I missed I just didn't understand the question, so it was fair, I guess. I think there might have been some where I just basically guessed right. I should be reading from the textbook, but i haven't gotten into it yet. So looking for other things to read is really kind of procrastination.

I've slowed down on playing Fate, finally. Getting enough of it, I guess. It was nice to be able to get immersed in something and have time for it. But it's good to be done with it.

  • October 4, 2011
I've been playing Fate. It says I've been playing 58 hours on this game. I've lost a couple of pounds because I don't eat as much. So pretty hooked. But I've gotten through the main part of it. It's got a main quest that goes about to level 50, but you can keep going if you want to. Apparently, it gives you the ability to retire and pass down an item to a successor so you can play again. Huh, I don't know if I want to do that.

I found a site about Fate. All kinds of information detail. the big thing I got from it was the suggestion to make money by enchanting items. I just hadn't thought of it. There's a thing in the game where you can spend money to get "fame" which lets you increase abilities. The only way I had seen to get money, just to do that, was fishing, but that can be pretty random. This is pretty steady. The thing of it is, to get more fame, the amount of money you need doubles each time. I had basically gotten stuck at one point and wasn't moving anything. But I did this, and got the next two levels. But that was about it. The last one took several hours of just fairly boring stuff. So I'm probably not going to try it any more. There's maybe three or four levels left. It would take a long time to do them.

You can also spend money buying magic items, so it was a trade off to try to save to raise a fame level or buy fancy new stuff, and just where I was, it got to be too much to try to buy new things. And I say by new things. They have a thing where you gamble on buying stuff. You don't know what it is when you buy it, and maybe it helps you, or maybe it doesn't. The first time I tried it, actually, the thing turn out to be valuable enough that I could sell it back for more than I paid for it. That is quite unusual, though, I found. It may have been put in there like that as a hook, too. For stuff you know, if you try to sell it right back, I think you would only get maybe a tenth or a quarter of what you paid. I haven't really looked closely. And that's probably about the same for these.

One of the big things about the game is juggling the different magic items to get the best character. You have specific types of items. You can have a weapon and a sheild or two weapons. Actually, this is that you have hands in they can hold a weapon and a sheild or two weapons or one two handed weapon. I haven't tried a two-handed weapon or doing two weapons at a time. Two weapons is really my kind of things, and I probably would do it next time. It gives a rating of what kind of damage you do, and it seems like it didn't say that I did any more damage when I had two. You get a penalty for trying that, and you have to balance that out by putting skill into dual-weild, so maybe I just didn't do that. You also have a helmet or hat, a belt, boots, gloves (gauntlets). Each of those can add to armor. But you need more strength to have have some of the higher levels armor. So it's here that you have to decide if you are going to be more of a fighter or a magic-user, because you also have to decide if you want to put points into magic skill. You also have two rings and an amulet. These don't have requirements to wear, so they suggest making those the heirlooms, when you pass stuff down. Each time you heirloom an item, it goes up 25%, so you can end up with pretty powerful stuff, I'd think.

But, OK. That's how much you can use at one time. You can own many different types of each thing. You have a storage area that holds maybe ten times what you can carry. And I ended up just carrying several backup items so I could shuffle around my abilities. I particular, I had some stuff that would increase my magic ability at the expense of not being as good a fighter. So what I would do is keep those with me, and in my down time, shift my configuration over when needed, then shift back. Because the magic I would do is to summon a team of six monsters. If I increased my magic ability, in particular my charm skill, they would be slightly more powerful and last an extra minute. Generally they last maybe 7 minutes, but I think I had it as high as 10 when I was using the items to emphasize the most. This was quite a bit of trouble, but for a while, I thought it was worth it. In fact, I hadn't intended ever to use much magic, but I got an item, a sheild, that added a bunch to my charm skills, and I saw how valuable it was. The abilities I got from that that I didn't know about was that I could identify my own items and create my own return portals. You can buy books to give you the ability to do those things, but it's something you have to keep track of and keep getting more of. It's really nice to be able to do it myself. And there's a thing where you can see the level map instead of having to find it out by going through it all. That is amazingly nice. But you have to have enough charm to do it for the level you're on. I had decided to put everything into sword. So I did that, and then needed charm later, when it got harder to do, with the fame level thing.

But there was one thing that turned me around about the magic stuff. The way I like to play game, and gauntlet was like this, but my D&D characters were like this when I could manage it, was to just wade in and hack and slash. This is never really a particular good idea. It's a way you can get yourself hacked to bits. When fighting, really, the most important thing is to stay safe, though sometimes you do need to go out and act. I guess they do have tanks. And you can try to be a tank here, I'm sure.

But I found out one thing I can do here. There's a spell, charm monster. When a group of monsters come at you, you charm one, and he'll turn and fight the other guys for 20 seconds. And I've got my own team of six monsters, too. So he'll fight, and be weakened. Often what will happen is that there will just be this tornado of fighting, with my monsters and some of them plus the charmed guy, until all the other ones but him are left, and it will just go quite. And we'll just wait until he comes to, and kill him too. Sometimes I'll have to charm more than once if it's a really big bunch.

But I'll just be sitting on the side, just safe and no one bothering me, watching this maelstrom. It gets noisy. I guess that's one thing I like, just the sound and fury of it. When I do it like that, there's no adrenaline or anything, I just sit back. It's quite different from when I go in and hack, because what that there is some risk to my character. And just the cruelty of having a guy turn on his friends like that.

And a weird thing that can happen. Sometimes I'll be able to detect monsters on the other side of a wall. So I'll charm one of them, and then they'll all just fight amongst themselves. So, quite often, I'll be sitting watching a fight, but my monsters will get into it. In this one, none of my people are involved. I've instigated a battle just way over there. It just seems so cruel. But I guess a little funny.

Sometimes in a fighting game, I can make a turn and just see that this fighting is wrong. With the charm ability. I can just charm the monster. And he'll just leave us alone. It would be a way to play and never have to kill anything. That seems like it would be nice. I'm not there yet, but it would be a good place to go. Just make them stop fighting.

But ok, shuffling magic items. It turns out, the more powerful weapons and armor take more strength, and quite often some magic items increase my strength. So what'll I'll do is use a magic item to get me to the level where I can use a sword I want. For me, getting the most damage is generally my target. Some items also just increase damage. What happened to me was that I kind of got tied to particular items, a cap, a glove and a belt, that added strenght. But these items had a low armor value. So I was kind of sacrificing defense to keep up my attack ability. Like I say, it's kind of how I like to play. I ended up with an item, some gloves, that would increase my strength, and lower the requirements needed for things, so I could use a sword I liked. But in order to put on the gloves in the first place, I had to have an even higher strength to start. So I would have to put on some boots that raised strength, a belt that raised strength, and a different sword that raised strength, then put on the gloves, then I could take off the boots and put on boots with better armor, because I didn't need that strength, and a belt with better armor. So it was weird juggling. And I ended up carrying around the boots and strength sword just in case I needed to switch things. It took up space in my pack so I couldn't carry as much. I added more natural strength, so now I don't need the boots, I can just carry the belt. And maybe I don't really need that. It was just in case, but I guess I could always come back to town for my storage box.

My priority has alwasy been to get the sword with the biggest damage. I've ended up with a collection of maybe seven swords. I'm sure I don't need to keep them all, but they have different things they add and different requirements. There is one kind of sword, and elven sword, that adds magic ability, and it was one of the things I used when I switch off to do magic. And while I have it I'm not defenseless. But just now, I found a super-advanced elven sword, that is almost as powerful as my biggest and meanest so far-- which was worth juggling to be able to carry. It was just a little less damage, but incredibly much faster. I had another fast sword, but hadn't played with it to see the difference. This time, I was really impressed. So now I have this fast Ginsu sword. The speed rating on my usual sword is normal. There's a fast, and this one says fastest. Some weapons say slow, I guess. The difference is really phenomenal. But I found this after finishing the main part, and getting to where I might retire. Oh well.

At one point, at around dungeon level 42, and my character was at level 35, I think it just was getting too hard for my character. I manage to slip down to a level by playing pretty optimized play, and then maybe I changed how I was doing things. Suddenly I was in over my head. I just kept dying all the time. And some of it was that I was relying on my team of six monsters, and they started having monsters where the first thing they would do is dispel and get rid of my posse. So I was stuck. And I'd just get confused, and it was all happening real time so I didn't have a chance to recover. And it would happen right the first thing on a level so I couldn't just back up and regroup, which is what I'd normally do. I also wasn't really using charm to divide and conquer. So I died a lot. And it'll let you sacrifice some experience and fame and come back. With that, you come back right in the same spot, so I'd just come back and get another chance, but sometimes I'd just die again since I didn't have a chance to recover. Once, I was backed into a corner, so I couldn't get away. That was frustrating. At one point, my fame went all the way back to zero. That was pretty bad. Luckily, when you pay to raise your fame, it just puts you back to the start of the next one, and it never actually reduces your, I guess it's called, renown level, not fame level. Or experience level.

The resurrection can also be done by losing gold and moving to another "nearby" level. Or you can go up three levels, and your gold stays there. I don't think I would try the third one. But I tried the second one where you just pay some money and go somewhere else. I just ended up going deeper, and dying, and deeper, and dying. That's when I realized I had gotten in over my head. After just clawing my way out, I decided to just go back up 10 levels, where the fighting was more reasonable to my level, and focus on getting stronger before trying to tackle that harder stuff. So I got better after that. Learned about using charm to get others to fight my battles. Much happier after that. Still died. Kind of randomly, it seems like. Often not noticing that I'm being hurt so bad.

I have a thing where I can just push a number and use cure potions. I have slots. Possibly a slot can go empty, Or I'll hit the wrong one. Or I just won't be paying attention. At one point, though, I was in there hacking, and I noticed that my health went down a little, then it went right back up. It took a little while, but I realized what was going on. I've got what in D&D was called vampiric regeneration, which is pretty cool. Actually, it's much more cool in this live action video game than it was in D&D. If in D&D, (technically AD&D, but I'm going to go with D&D) you have a ring of regeneration, the regular kind, and you die, the ring will get you back up or something. So it was super special and rare. Actually, I think all magic was pretty rare in that game, but in this one, you pretty much always get access to everything, it looks like. Which is fine. For vampiric regeneration, you'd actually have to be fighting someone to get hit-points, and surprisingly, it seems like you didn't do that all that much. Oh well. Not like a video game. Anway, combat was pretty cumbersome and slow, so that's just as well. In Fate it's called "life stolen". I didn't really know what that was from that description. Stolen can be just taken away, but in this case, it meant taken from them and added to me. So that completed changed the whole game for me. I had been trying to sit back, let my team go at it, and start using magic spells from a distance. And I think I may ust not have had the item that did that when my game collapsed. Anyway, so what it means is that as long as I'm hurting people, I'm pretty much ok. If I hold back and am not fighting right that second, I can't get into trouble. Unfortunately, the way the mouse controls work, I can get messed up and not be able to find an enemy target to hit. With my swarm of six or seven monsters on my team, that confusion can also make it hard to find somebody.

One of the biggest pains after that was my pet. In addition to my summoned team of six, I have a pet. It will always charge in and fight. It can't die, but it's health can go to zero and it will run away. So I have to often give it cure potions. It's a really nice thing about the game, though, to have a permanent assistant. It can draw fire and let me get away. After learning about stolen life, I said I need to get some for my pet. A pet can wear an amulet and two rings. I gave mine some stuff, but none had any of that. In order to get an item with stolen life, I decided to make my own. You can do this in the game. I talked about it as a way to just make money, but you can make magic items of your own. To keep adding magic to stuff can take a lot of money. I ended up spending a lot on some fancy armor, not paying close attention to how much it was costing. Anyway, so I bought a bunch of nonmagical rings and amulets from the magic vendor. And like on the fourth try, I ended up with an amulet with several things, including stolen life. It was only 2%. My item I was using had 7%, and I just got something else with another 7%. And I do more damage than my pet, anything. Maybe 8 times more. So having him use it, he doesn't seem to go back to maximum, but he sure needs my help less.

One odd thing about my pet is that he has almost twice the health I have, or did for most of my playing. I just have so many other things to put points into that I totally neglected my health power. Oh well. I kind of settled down my character and go back into just putting it in health. Maybe I should have done it sooner before I started dying so much. That could have been the problem.

One kind of fun thing about the pet is that it can be transformed into a monster. Mine started out as a dog, or you can get a cat. But if you feed it a fish, it changes into a monster for a time. Lots of different kinds for lots of different kinds of fish that you can catch. That's a neat thing. But you can use a special level (flawless) of the different kind of fish and the pet will stay that way. So for a while, pet was a spider. But lately he's been a venomous wyvern, kind of like a small flying dragon. My team of six is usually mostly wyverns. They poison bad guys, so I can tell more easily the bad guys because a health bar for them shows up as green instead of red.

I can also summon firedrakes. This has been kind of an issue. Firedrakes breath fire, and seem to have some magical resistance. But they last half as long. So they'll end up just disappearing on me, sometimes suddenly just when I need them in a fight. Also, the spell to create them needs my maximum magic ability. It's here where I'll sometimes have to juggle to just be able to cast the spell. If my items are set wrong, I don't have enough magic to get them, and I think for a bit, I was using some kind of special configuration to get them when I needed. So I'd get some when I left town, shuffle stuff back but after that I wouldn't worry about it. And it was a struggle just to get my magic up to a level where I could even use that spell. Now I have it, I'm not even sure if they're worth it. One of the things is, the firedrakes are only at level 31 and my wyverns are at level 37. The level on the wyverns increase one for every four charm levels, but the firedrakes only one for every 10. So I don't know if it's more powerful, though the spell level is a lot higher. The little web site on Fate has tons of graphs and things about the stats of different summoned monsters for different charm levels. My charm level is really low, it looks like, so it's even a little hard to see. There are a lot of other things I can summon. Cursed sword was the first one. Those were nice. Quiet. These things shriek. Skeletons, rats, vampire bats, timerwolves, shrikes. If I play this again, I'm not going to waste points to get my magic to where I can summon firedrakes.

I have not been using fighting magic. For some reason, I had trouble seeing how the mouse was supposed to work with spells. It says you right click to activate, but you hold the mouse over a little symbol to select, so I kept holding the mouse cursor over the symbol when right clicking. Left click on the menu to select, and then I've have to go to the menu and right click what I selected. Anyway, I got stuck doing the wrong thing. Then I couldn't get charm monster to work. You have to put the mouse over what you wan't to charm and then right click. I guess I wasn't all that interested in seeing how magic worked in the game because I didn't really want to use it. I kept my skill in attack and defense magic low, so the spells were really pretty useless. Then I got an item that gave me a bunch of attack magic. Suddenly I could do two hundred points damage with an attack spells. So now I can see how magic user characters manage. And that's still at a low level. Attack magic at about 20. It can go up to 200. So it could be a powerful way to play.

So that's been Fate. It's what I've been doing. I need to get back to studying computer stuff. I've got _Metaprogramming Ruby_. At least it's kind of knocked me off of playing Sudoku. It seemed addicted in that it's really very visually and audibly stimulating. And there's gambling and puzzles in trying to configure the character. Hopefully I can let it go. I've got the AI class starting next week. They've got 130,000 people taking it now. And I need to get a job.

Yeah. So Doug came back in town for the weekend. He said again that the job market is hot out there now. I think he did well looking for work because he is an experienced Perl person that was recently working. He suggested that I make an android or an iPhone app. That would really look good to people. I bet it would. Seems like the kind of programming I do isn't so good for a stand-alone consumer app. So easier said than done.

  • September 26, 2011
She definitely seemed like the kind of woman you'd want to say 'good morning' to.

I finished the book of 800 Sudoku puzzles. And I didn't immediately sit down and write about it. Shame on me. So it's the next day. I guess the first thing i did was go back to the other Sudoku book I have and compare how hard they were. Man, I had totally forgotten. In the book of 800, I'd often come across ones that I wouldn't need the candidates. And they often weren't too hard. Some were really hard. I hit one that took five hours. I think that was the worst. And The last one was maybe a little har4der, but I had gotten used to what is involved, and it didn't take as long. There are hard ones, I guess I'll call them, that basically take me guessing. If there are strategies that can be used that maybe some of the experts wouldn't call guessing, I don't really understand them, and I can't tell the difference. And then there are really hard ones. I'll describe the difference like this: in a hard one, I'll get stuck and need bascally to guess at some spot to make progress. In a really hard one, that happens several times. I pick that description because it seems roughly to correspond to a description used by Frank Longo who wrote the other book of puzzles that I have. Hard corresponds to level 3 of his nasty series, which is the one I have. Longo also did the puzzles in the book of 800. I think he did a mix of all of them. I wasn't sure if he would put any of his top level in. Maybe he didn't. But it seems like it. Anyway, I'm pretty sure he at least put in level 3, so I think I was getting used to them. Maybe not so many. I studied and learned a bunch of strategies, I thought. It looks like they are just not enough to solve level 3. Augh! So maybe I have more to learn. I guess that's good. I don't want to think it was wasted. The book of 800 I guess had other strategies that I didn't absorb. Maybe I'll have to learn them, now. But they may require other marking techniques that I don't have to keep track. There is some stuff I tried doing in my head. Bouncing around the board, I had trouble with it.

It was so busy when I walked in here to Starbucks. Now dead. So there was a cute older blonde. I watched her from outside. Dude said good morning and corrected himself to good aftenoon. It was about 2. I think we made eye contact and I nodded or something. I can relate. Sitting here in the corner here. Not really the spot I like. The girl in the other seat, the absolutely corner, actually, has her earbuds loud enough for me to here. But it probably takes that to drown out the jazzy contemporary. Big black girl. Sitting directly under the speaker. I noticed that the speaker is right there, and I'm thinking it's actually a little louf for me. Maybe that's why I don't like this spot. It's a cognitive load. That actually I found quite noticeable in the sudoku. Watching TV was enough to interfere with me doing it. There are some sorts of search tasks you can try to do that seem like they take a fair amount of working memory, if you are trying to remember where other number combinations occur. Writing combinations down, which seems necessary to me now for hard ones, makes some things possible to notice, but then I have look around, and I still can use memory. Often there will be constraints like maybe, no 6s in this row. I don't have a way now to write down that kind of constraint, so I have to keep it in memory, which I guess is working memory when I'm using it. I suppose what happens is that I see it in what is written, and put it in working memoery and can use it while it's there.

I talk about working memory because I still have the dual n back game or exercise that exercises that. I need to be doing it. I tell people it's the one game that has been shown to increase IQ. I said one FB that I think it should be required in school for kids. And maybe for Christians.

And there's a woman who seems to look like Sarah Silverman. Maybe she's just Jewish and it's a common look.

OK, I moved to kind of midway between the speakers, and away from the one. Guy got up, But just in time for the Beatles. Any time at all. I see that they sell _1_. I don't think that's on it. Also that boy. Thank you girl. Really obscure. I don't know what this is. Past Masters? My collection has gotten incomplete. I should really fill it out.

Well, a bit in there, I got the fear. The money running out, not having much prospects. I checked again, and the money was a little more than I was thinking.

Melissa told me someone said they liked the music I picked. Sometimes she really makes me feel loved. I don't really know just where her feelings are. And then I saw her outside talking to another guy privately, like she does to me. And she went off to the side where you normally can't see from the inside. Unless you go up to the window. Like I did. *sigh*

So I was thinking I wanted to go down to the Krav class if I got up earlly enough. Monday's not good for that, though. I got to sleep at 5:30. The class is at noon, and I didn't make it. It was a matter of not getting 8 hours of sleep and it just didn't feel worth it. I could have taken a nap after, but it just didn't feel good.

I missed putting out the garbage. Augh! Very late, I heard a truck and I though about it. I got up real quick and went outside. They were already past. And it was the recycling people, anyway. Msn. I didn't do it last week because I was out of town. So now it's going to be three weeks. But I think not doing it last week maybe me get off the schedule, which was why I didn't think of it.

Aw man. There was a girl on OKCupid. Dawn. An atheist. She actually wrote back to me a couple times. That's rare. Actually, I've only had a very small number of people write back at all-- three?-- and no one more than once. I think. On match.com maybe a couple of people, but OKCupid not so much. Maybe it hasn't been so long. Mostly what we were writing about was that I was telling her about the local atheist groups. So information and not really personal. I think there was one little bit which she talked about netflix. And I really wanted to see her. I did the mistake I have always been doing of suggesting getting together in the email. That has never worked, and I knew better, but did anyway. The only thing has worked, and I must conclude can work, is moving from email to telephone. But shoot. I absolutely hate talking on the phone. So maybe I should just decide against the whole thing. Apparently that's a necessary step for women. And my feeling now is just anger. I'd rather just not deal with them if they are so timid and weak they need a phone screening. Grr.

But that's not the only thing that angered me. Dawn took the time to write a kiss off message. She apologized for not having written in a while. She was just getting on OKCupid to close her account. She met someone. At one of the local atheist meetings. I really thought I should see her, but I didn't manage it. And I guess she was ready to meet somebody.

My thoughts now are of the straight sword. Jian in Chinese. It seems more convenient and easy than the broadsword, which is so big. Maybe a little too cumbersome. You're almost lucky to be able to swing it at all. The straight sword just feels more natural. Just right for soft necks. I'm a loo oo oo ser!

So I think I saw a reddit image of scumbag John Mayer. Something about being a great blues player but playing adult contemporary. I guess I was in an angry mood. It annoyed me greatly. Maybe he doesn't feel the blues.

I think that's Mr. Bowman sitting over there. Not sure. I was never that close. And I'm just not good enough with faces to be sure. But the Starbucks next MUS? I guess there would be a good chance he would be here.

And things that have made me annoyed. That game. It's called fate. I'm starting to soften at the whole temporary spamware thing. Some of it is looking at the free stuff. Egoboo is unplayable on Linux, but the framerate is perfectly fine on Windows, even on donut, which is a little atom netbook, so hardly any power. But the game is just not that good. Controls unwieldy. The level I was on, i got to a point where no doors would open. So I was stuck and didn't see what to do. It had a camera angle that would shift, which maybe might be a nice feature, but really turned out to be more of a strange minus. I say that because in reading, I saw that Fate doesn't have that, but really I didn't miss it, and thought it was fine. Anyway, I appreciate Fate more now. So I might spring for it.

I guess I'm more sure it's Mr. Bowman. He looked over and we made eye contact. But I didn't move to go talk to him. My thinking is that I never really related to him, and now I can see that I just never have been visual, and his thing is visual arts. But everybody else in my little circle was into it and liked him. He's joined us for dinner or something once maybe when Cliff was in town for Mike's wedding, I think.

Seems like an artist's life can be quite independent. Make something. Sell it. Don't need an office place. Company to do all the other work for business. Regular hours. Roger Ebert had a post about a movie about some New York guy who takes pictures of clothes. Not fashion so much as every day people. Spartan life. No kitchen. Took it our for file cabinets. Rent control in Carnegie Hall. Arty.

Egypt's revolution has turned into a military coup. Oh well. Maybe. The military is in charge now. Maybe they'll have elections. Got to get the parties together.

OK, he answered his phone. And I knew it was him. And he walked over. I say hi Mr. Bowman, and introduced myself. He said he wouldn't have known me. But looking a little more he could see it. He started to ask about weight. Ouch. Well, I used to be very skinny. Retired three years.

You see them when they're bright and excited, and don't have to when they're blue because they hide.

No Borders. Where am I going to go now?

One thing about Starbucks. They are not all the same. It's not like McDonalds, where you count on them all being the same. Now they are kind of like that in that you can get the some stuff in all of them, pretty much. But they are places to hang out, so you get different people at each one. Pretty distinctive ones. So, location.

He asked me what I'm doing now. Tough question for me. Nothing right now. Programming when I'm working. He talked about all the guys in finance looking for money that isn't there. Just went to a reunion a few days ago.

I went into Dollar General to get some conditioner. I guy went in and asked and looked for bandaids. Then he was talking on the phone where everyone could hear him about someone who died hit by a train. He was talking about they would sue. In my bad mood I was thinking, what? Sue for what? It has to be a wrongful death. And you have some idea how people could possibly do things different. Dude was walking on the railroad tracks. What is a train supposed to do? It was a darn fool and he got himself killed walking on the railroad tracks.

Grr, it's happened. I was in a rush getting my editor on donut up that I forgot to download the latest journal, so I have to merge stuff I wrote here with stuff in the full online one. I haven't lost anything yet. But I have to do something to make it work. And I could lose stuff if I'm not careful.

It's not that I'm recognizing people. I'm seeing people that remind me of other people. They seem familiar. But I'm sure it's more that I can't tell them from other people I've seen.

OK, man that was hard. My ftp invisibly failed to download because i had set it not to overwrite if the file was newer. Confusion. I would have lost the post from the 24th.

  • September 24, 2011
The body confers gnerality. Oooh. This is from an AGI-list troll, Mike Tintner. But it might be correct. I guess I've actually been thinking that, but I never put it quite that succinctly.

  • September 22, 2011
I was able to do two pages in one day. I think that's good. So I've got five pages left. I'd like to do them in the four days 'til Sunday so I can tell Melissa I finished it. Now that's doable.

Egoboo was unplayable under Ubuntu. It was like one frame in a second. Pretty pitiful. I got something else, dungeon crawler. It's just 2-d. Really not the same thing. Much more like a slightly fancier rogue. I guess nethack is like that, too. Not really what I was wanting, though it might be fun.

  • September 21, 2011
I'm getting so close. Seven pages left, about 40 puzzles. I seem not to be able to get more than one page done in a day. I was at the farm with mom, and that was most of what I was doing, though, maybe not quite. One day I helped Edgar some with some farm stuff. And then one day when it rained all day, I watched 6 episodes of Perry Mason. I was trying to do sudoku at the same time, but the distraction really messes me up. And one page now I was on for two days. there was the drive back.

After one particular page, I got a hankering to try a computer game I've played before. It's kind of a diablo-like game. I did some reasearch, and the style is called a dungeon-crawler, an action adventure rpg. I guess it's a descendent of rogue, which I played back from the 80s and nethack, which I'm not sure I played, but it was related. And of course, D&D. The newer ones have fancy graphics. I'm not totally sure that that actually changes the game play all that much. You go around, you collect stuff, you kill stuff. Same basic idea. Honestly, I think it taps into core bits of the male brain. Anyway, I had it somewhere before. It's something that got installed on my netbook donut in a kind of free trial version. I think that's how I saw it before. It must have been on a laptop I got. I remember that I played it for a little, and it ran out. I played this one a bunch. Monday night, I started at about 10 and played 'til 3, so 5 hours. I probably should have been sleeping. Then I drove home, and played it from 4 to 6. Then I had to go to kung fu, but my plan had been that night getting back, I would play it for a long time. Then I get to it, I started it up, but the free trail was gone! Augh! So frustrated. So I looked up stuff. I think there's some free stuff to try. So I'll try it. And I have diablo and never winter nights, somewhere, which are the same game, really. I don't know if I've finished them. Seems like one required the disc in drive or some nonsense. This thing normally has ads. The company that has it, has a whole bunch of games, WildTangent. and you can get a subscription to play stuff. Or you can buy it. It said something about $6.99. That sounded reasonable. So I go, make an account, and try to get it. $19.99. Grr. I go back and look at the thing. On my screen, it's a little too small to read, but staring at it a bit, I could see that it said, "as low as" 6.99. Bums. I'm sure that's with some other deal, too. Screw them. I might otherwise have sprung for it, but not now. Pox on them.

I'm out of Universe episodes. There's like 64 of them, but eventually, you have to run out. I might want to watch some again, sometime, but I guess I have a lot of other stuff to see again, too.

I tried watching something about 2012. I think it said a time for a change. Sure, there are problems, and we could be doing something about it, and I've liked some other documentaries like that. But this guy. A twenty something. I guess that was a strike against him. A sophomore, like they say. He was saying he had a spiritual or existential crisis. In his twenties? I don't think his brain could have been solidified enough for him to have a crisis. So I was thinking, still youthful confusion. And then he said he was looking for some kind of spiritual dimension to the world. That was enough for me. I think I got about 10 minutes into it. He's just did not seem like he could have been to the point where it sould have been anything real. It sounded mush-headed. Maybe I'll go back to it, but I doubt it.

I ate a bunch of food. It was plenty. Some turkey, rice, and peas. And I felt full. But somehow, I also didn't feel satisfied, and was still a little hungry. It was just weird. I had a little jelly bread, too. Maybe it was just that it took a little longer to feel like enough. But I feel fine now. So I saw something. There were black people who really were hoping that Obama could do something for them. And I saw him say that he has to be president for everyone, and he can't just do something special for blacks. But that's just wrong. If not, him, then who? And people expect it. Everybody does. There would be nothing wrong with that. I guess politically, black pepole will always support him, so he doesn't need to do anything extra, and that might hurt him with everyone else. But that's tough. People can stay home if they aren't that into it. And if the economy is bad, people kick out the president. Not much you can do about that. Of course, he's not a king. I'm not sure there's all that much he can do. I don't know. There are some total cultural things that the government does against black people. The war on drugs is much more a war on blacks. He could certainly ease off on that a little bit.

So then there's the question. Is Obama the emperor of black people?

  • September 13, 2011
Happy Ides of September! Happy Programmers' Day!

It's Programmers' day because it is the 256th day of the year.

  • September 12, 2011
Happy Day After!

Maybe I should just post all my facebook posts automatically here. Save some effort. I could copy and paste if I want to put it here, but that's effort.

Borders is closed. I went by there and it was closed. Bummer. And I had it planned. on Saturday, they had a big sign saying three days left. So I was going to come back on the final day and see what there was. No real regrets like on Friday seeing an iphone 3d book and missing the it on Saturday. There wasn't anything I particularly super wanted, but I think there was some stuff that I kinda might have gotten if I had brought more money, and today I had some more. Ran into David Stowell outside. He said we could have a Mensa crying party. No more reading libraries, I think he said. Or one less, something. I didn't really think of it so much as a place to sit and read, but it tried to be that. The old Davis Kidd place is still there. I'm not sure how the Barnes and Nobles are doing. They are all so far away. This was a good spot.

It's a Depression when prices fall. I think clearance sales count as falling prices. I remember Mr. Deaderick in American history class saying thing the GD, you could buy a lot for a nickel, there just weren't a whole lot of nickels.

I went to Schnucks. It says 20% off. Maybe that's most stuff, but I bought some Banquet Fried Chicken and Bryers Lactose Free Vanilla Ice Cream, and they were a lot more than 20% off. The ice cream section said it was all 60%. That might have been that. I don't think I saw anything around the Banquet, but it was sitting on a cooler shelf by itself. It looked like it was the last one. And it wasn't in the front, it was sitting against the back. I supposed it kept it cooler. So I spent $13. Got some chili. There's some chicken spread stuff that I like, but it's pretty expensive. It was actually still pretty expensive, and was certainly only 20%. I've decided, in order to not totally just be wasting money, I need the policy of only buying stuff that I've actually bought in the past. I have bought all that stuff in the past.

The _Most Human Human_ author is not a journalist. He's a non-fiction science and philosophy writer, which I guess is close. He has published cognitive science research articles, so I guess he counts as an actual scientist. I think I've only read about 5 pages so far, so I guess he went straight into the introductions. And it was the Loebner Prize and Turing test. He managed to wangle a spot as one of the human panelists. I don't know, I guess he had real qualifications to pose as a human. But he did something special. They gave him advice to be himself. They don't tell the computers this. The computers do research (actual machine learning and data mining) on previous contests about what reponses worked and didn't. So he freakin' did too.

So one guy talked about people interrupting. I replied "Interrupting coefficient of friction" Somebody replied continuous partial attention. I had to wiki that. I replied thus: "Yeah, that and multitasking. The idea that one can be effective with those is demonstrably false. Luckily young people have gotten into a positive self esteem culture where they don't notice." But I'm not bitter.

Ran into Stephen Burns of the Scruffs at Bardog. He seemed to like Melissa. He gave her a copy of an album from them, which was recorded at Ardent, but mixed at Apple Studios. He looks like John Lennon. Probably not as much as Julian, but it was quite clear. Melissa was saying he was pretending to be him, but I didn't hear any of that. There are wiki pages on him and the Scruffs which we looked up afterward. Melissa was thinking he was completely BSing, but a lot his story sounded like it was really true. I don't know, world traveller. He did go to Julliard and was a serious musician. I guess. reading about it was not that impressive to me. I put Willie Nelson's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on the box. He was trying to get some French wine from Joe. Joe wouldn't know French wine if they had it, and admitted that sorry, he couldn't really help him with that. They have Veuve, which I think is an actual Champagne (so French) but you could only get it by the bottle and that's $100. Didn't go for that. Anyway, whatever two white wines they had were $16. Maybe a Pinot. Who the F cares what a wine snob drinks, anyway. There was some body they looked at that was from Chile, and he said he hated Chile. And he got change back from a twenty. Anyway, so he asks Joe who that was covering, and I said Willie Nelson, but Joe didn't know, so he says joe lost a dollar. And he asks Joe who originally wrote it. Joe didn't didn't know. So he lost another dollar. And Joe said he wasn't expecting anything, since he didn't know anything about the French wines and couldn't help. He clearly managed to make him feel bad. And right after that, Joe left. He had come in for Asa who had to miss, and Ben could take over after finishing in the kitchen. But dang. after that, dude was freakin' invisible to me. I didn't look at him. I didn't listen to a single word he. you do not have to come into a place where a person works and try to humiliate them. Melissa also talked about how he thought she was an idiot. He asked her what level of education she had. He seemed satisfied with her studying biochemistry. Apparently he has a masters degree in trumpet performance. What do you have to do to get that? Play the trumpet for a few years? I told Melissa she needs to just let it go. For me, that kind of guy is not worth it. But she's a bartender. She had to spend a lot of time listening to him whatever. He was like the last guy in the bar. He just hung around talking to her. Of course, I do that too. I guess I should think about what that says about me. Melissa told me and Ben a story about an actual certfied creep one time. I'm not going to talk about that one, though.

OK, explaining a joke is pretty useless. If you didn't get it, explaining it won't help. But let me give it a shot. "Interrupting coefficient of friction" is part of a very obscure joke. It's a knock knock joke:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting coefficient of friction.
Interrupting coef--
So, now that has to be explained. It's kind of meta. you have to know two things in order to get it. First, you have to know that there's a physics symbol, μ (the symbol's name is mu in the Latin alphabet), that refers to the coefficient of friction. I could explain what the coefficient of friction is, but that's not really important. Second, you have to know the original knock knock joke:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow.
OK, so that's the main thing. But honestly, I believe an extra special piece of this joke is that in Zen, there is an answer that quite often occurs--mu! I've heard it described as "unasking the question" maybe in Hoftstadter or some poser American Zen crap. In Japanese, the word means no. So a koan might go, "Does a dog have a Buddha nature or not?" And the more or less traditionally correct response is "Mu!", kind of shouted. And it's really more or less "Nooo!" But it's not "Noo, the dog doesn't have a Buddha nature". It's more, "Nooo! Not that stupid question again!" Unfortunately, in Zen, an intellectual understanding that that's the answer is not what they are trying to do, so it is quite bad to explain it like that. But what can you do? It's not good to explain jokes, either. Of coures, the Zen stuff may just be me. I didn't invent the joke or anything.

  • September 11, 2011
Happy Terror Day!

So the other books I got. I got _Freak Nation_, the one that had "MENSA" members on the cover. I think I wrote about seeing it before the whole borders closing down thing. Mensa is should not be all-caps. The FB group just talked about it. Anyway, also _106 Impossible things before Breakfast_, another kind of brainy book that was next to it. _Programming Groovy_ from pragmatic programmers. It's a publisher that I've had good experiences with. It's not like O'Reilly which makes great references. It focuses on sort of advanced stuff for learning and advancing the craft. I have a clojure thing from them.

Another book from them I got was "Metaprogramming Ruby". Ruby is another kind of trendy language, and metaprogramming is a fancy thing that it must be fairly good at. I opened it up, and one bit says metaprogramming is programs that write programs, and another bit said it was altering language structure. I do have a book somewhere on generative programming, which is a term more accurate for a program that writes programs. I don't know that much Ruby, and I'm not sure how much I care, but metaprogramming seems cool. I say not so interested in Ruby. I got another book, the O'Reilly book, _Rails: Up and Running_. Rails is the main reason for people to use Ruby. It's a system for doing Web server projects. Whatever.

I got four books from Apress, they do computer books. Maybe they aren't as popular as O'Reilly, pragmatic, head first, or even for dummies, since they had so many things left. There are a bunch of computer book publishers, but people have been moving away from computer books generally, since you can get so much online, and books age very quickly. So Apress books. _Building iPhone OS accessories: Use the iPhone Accessories API to Control and Monitor Devices_. That sounds like a great application for iphones, and I should learn how to do it. _Beginning Hibernate_. They asked Hibernate questions on my last phone screening interview. _Foundations of Agile Python Development_. The AI class in the fall is in Python. I don't know much Python, though they're really all starting to look the same so that's not too bad. But Python will have some particular idioms that I think this kind of exposure will help me with.

The book that I saw on Friday that I went back and wanted but was gone was an iphone book--iphone 3d, about doing 3-d graphics on the iphone. Also sounded cool. Oh well. But with that thought in mind, I pretty much grabbed all the iphone books I saw. Like _More iPhone 3 Development: Tackling iPhone SDK 3_, another from Apress. There was another _iPhone SDK 3_ book from a publisher I didn't even recognize. a visual quickstart guide from peachpit press? Whatever. The SDK is actually one small bit of iphone stuff, so these are really pretty obscure books that I can see being leftover. There may even be a newer SDK so they are just out of date. But at least I have something. I really need to do something on the iPhone. Or get an android with a cheaper plan. Android are programmed with Java, so that'd be great for me. There were a bunch of books left for the Blaackberry. Not going there.

One book was a computer book, but not technical. _The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us about What It Means to be Alive_. I'm geussing it's about the Loebner Prize and the Turing test competitions. Must be written by a journalist, but I guess it's about AI stuff. There were contests where computers were chatting with people, and people were also chatting, and you had to guess computer or human. One of the prizes was "most human human". There was also someone, and expert on Shakespeare, who people thought was a computer because she knew way too much about shakespeare, or her answers were kind of strange. Anyway, this all personal knowledge I know about, not something I've gotten looking at the book. But just based on the fact that I already know that, I thought this would be a good book for me.

I'm torturing poor spirit, my linux laptop. I'm running ddrescue again on another damaged DVD from netflix. Sounds horrible. Been running two or three days solid. And I know that must be wearing out the drive. Oh Well. It seems to be making slow progress. Very slow. It got through the easy stuff very quickly, it got about 6.8 GB in a few hours. But it was left with maybe 950 MB of damaged area. in two days it has gotten maybe 10% of that. So it could easily go two more weeks solid, if it doesn't have something that makes it give up. And it's really weak. The last disc had terrible problems, worse than this. But we watched everything pretty fine. It got stuck in two spots, and we just skipped over those with the skip forward button on the player, which goes to the start of the next chapter. I think the chapters are maybe 10 minutes, so we missed 10 minutes at most each time, and it wasn't really critical. It's Perry Mason, so only the end is really important. So with what has already been recovered, I'd be totally fine. Unfortunately, apparently the linux player is finicky about errors. I couldn't even play the last one at all. And I have to compress the thing to get it on a recordable disc, and that compressing program is going to be finicky. If I had a double sided drive, I could write out the raw data, which would have errors, but probably the player would just gag the same as with the damaged disc, and I could just skip it. Anyway, I'm trying to learn how to deal with it. The worst thing is I can't use spirit, so I'm having to use donut, my netbook. And tudor, my fancy laptop, is still broken. I need to try to fix it.

I started cooking rice when I first started writing. It boiled over a little. Bad part about cooking rice. Now it's an hour or two later. My rice is probably cold.

So I write. There was an article about maybe jobs are becoming obsolete. And he's a writer, so he said maybe people will just write and do artsy things, and give it all for free. Only a few people and maybe machines will be needed to make things. I write, but my stuff is pretty useless. Anyway, that whole thing got me looking at several things. Someone had a video about the zeitgeist movement. Total star trek, no money system of global resourxe management. It did lose me an hour into it when it said computers could figure everything out for us. Someobe who clearly doesn't know enough about where computers are right now. He even said the military has computers that could do it. Hah! And there was a more evil post from cracked.com about how stuff that really should not cost anything has it's value artificially inflated so people can make money and have jobs. Really the whole system is in big trouble because there just isn't that much work that needs to be done, not enough for everyone to have real jobs. Really terrible.

  • September 10, 2011
Facebook just ate a post I was writing. I am pissed. I'm just going to stop using it for real writing and write hear first, where my tools won't erase my post if an stray mouse click hits. Donut, my netbook, has a flaky mouse pad device that clicks accidently quite often. One of those killed my post. Grr. And I just posted how I felt FB's small spaces seemed limiting for me, having a real blog.

OK, hopefully it will be easier the second time.

I just spent $60, well $58.30, at Borders. They've got their clearance sale, and it was 83% off. Eight books. Computer books are pretty expensive. Yesterday I got three books for $10, only one of those was a computer book, _Programming Groovy_. It's a neat Java kind of language I heard about recently. Straight Java is actually valid Groovy, but Groovy lets you do a lot of things with much less words, and will do some common things automatically for you.

So I go in there with $60 to spend. I grab a big pile of computer books, and take them to the side and break out the calculator on the iphone--that is freaking nice-- and add up the total-- $345. At 80% off, that's going to put me over my budget, but I decided, with the books I've got, I'll be fine with just using plastic this once. There also might be some extra off. And sure enough, they announce after that they are giving an extra 15% off. They did that yesterday to, so I thought maybe. I wasn't sure if that would get me. My mental calculator is not so good. It did get me, though.

I think with the extra 15% off, they are counting on people's natural innumeracy to not know what that actually means. If it's 80% off, and you take an additional 15%, that gives, what, 95% off? If it starts 90% off (which was most books), and you take an additional 15%, that makes it, what, free? 2%? 5%? I ran the numbers later in my head driving home. 80% + an addition 15% afterwards comes to 83% off. 90% + 15% after that comes to 91.5% off. Very substantial, but saying it like that, you think it's more.

So I was making this roast. I had it in the over for six hours on 200. I let the water go dry. I usually leave some at the bottom, and there's enough so that I don't even have to make a gravy. I can just use it as a sauce. But I let it go dry. And it didn't burn. so there was this beautiful, dark, rich glace at the bottom. I decided I needed to not waste it and make a gravy. But it actually wasn't quite enough to make a substantial gravy. But I have some veal demi-glace sitting around in the refrigerator that I haven't really been using, so I decide to try that. I put a good amount of the stuff in. A couple of spoons. So the gravy is mostly this. It's a little salty, and it tastes fake, like it's made from this stuff instead of being just a plain gravy like I'm used to. i guess I usually don't put so much stuff in it. But quite a bit of flavor.

  • September 7, 2011
Man, I was just really not in the mood. I went to Ockham's. It's a weekly discussion group. The were talking about the right to die. And maybe I have some opinions about it, but I didn't say anything. Seems like they do it as a debate, as Tom wrote something up with references. He handed out a whole speech he read. Just felt like it was not my group.

But there was one woman in there, Molly. Petite, no waist but, um, curvy. I felt kind of shallow that I liked her body, but she's an atheist, apparently. A lot of them, including her, went to the Saucer after, but I didn't go. She's probably involved, but I wasn't really in the mood for people, anyway. I had another out of my league kind of feeling. I got that woo from one of the OKCupid women. Not really a good trend.

Doug called me from the San Jose airport. Didn't get any sleep. And some guy emailed him about wanting a Java/C person. At FedEx, again. Nice that Doug thought of me, but I'm getting less hopeful. And it was actual systems programming instead of applications programming, which is kind of unusual. A communications server, with 3 protocols in both UDP and TCP. I'm not sure who they would be looking for. It actually doesn't sound like anything I've done, but in engineering, you get a whole class on that stuff. Ah, well.

Playing tea party zombies must die. Between levels it has some stuff about the tea baggers. And the evil Koch brothers. The challenge is to get people to act against their own interests.

  • September 6, 2011
Well, I just went over to Roy's with Doug. A few of his final hours before he's off to Sanghanistan. He seems really out of sorts. He has the fear. And Roy's car battery was dead. we juped it before leaving, but didn't let it run long enough, so it was still dead when we tried it again, so I had to jump it a second time. We went to Celtic Crossing, and Doug was upset at spending his last hours waiting for the check. But it seemed casual to me.

I'm at the Union Starbucks. There was no tip jar that I saw. :( Maybe I'm spending too much, anyway. Venti Soy Strawberries and Creme.

Man, what's going on? Seems like I posted a bunch on my FB already. Maybe I'm out of sorts, too.

We have certainly made life convenient.

Argh, so at about 11:15, I have a thought to go look at the Krav Maga school. The class was at 11. Tomorrow it will be at 12. Maybe I can make that.

Hmm, so I FB posted about the cognitive science seminar. This semester they are talking about meaning representation. Which kind of sounds interesting. But I said I'm skeptical that there is such a thing as meaning. Heh. have a friend from Bagua, Louis, who likes to wax philosophical. He took that as nihilism. Which was not my idea. A guy, Ryan, said I must have been trolling. He's out at U of M working with Stan. Andrew Olney I think is doing the seminar. I'm not sure if he works with them or what. I did go on and post what i was thinking. Let me grab it:
Well, I didn't mean nihilism. I had something a little bit more specific in mind. I'd need to dig up the reference, but i ran across something discussing a "theory of meaning" that suggested that really, there aren't meanings in words pointing out there. There would be trouble inductively learning something like that. Instead, we simply learn to pick appropriate words in a context. They don't have an inherent meaning so much as an appropriateness for a context, which is something we can learn. There will always be a situation that caused us to say something, and the communication process is a matter of reverse matching the situation that caused an utterance. But the notion that there is a "meaning" somehow in there is not necessarily apt.

I also went on to say this:
So there is a situation that caused someone to say something. There's also the person's intention for saying what he did. Is the meaning the person's intention? Is it the external situation? Quite often a person will say something, and he means one thing, but we have some other knowledge that we add, and we can get something else out of it entirely. Is there a new meaning for us? The idea of meaning is not necessarily all that good a way to look at things, if you can even decide what you think it is.

i do amateur DJing at Bardogs. There was a girl, Tamara, who was having her 5th 39th birthday. She put in some money for me. she said it was the best music she'd heard in a bar. There was dancing.

  • September 5, 2011
Happy Labor Day!

Ouch, I guess that's good to find out. I missed the simple physics question in the lecture I was listening to. I wasn't paying that close attention, as I was doing sudoku at the same time. But it was bad not to have gotten it right. They were talking about shooting a ball at 30 degrees and then 60 degrees. At those angles, it will land in the same place. The question was will it take the same amount of time, or will the higher one be faster or will it be slower. For some reason, I thought it would be the same amount of time. It was the same distance, and I guess I thought the horizontal speed was the same, so the time would be the same. But of course, the time is longer, and it takes more time when it goes higher. Grr. So it's good that I'm studying this physics, because I don't quite have it. Though I guess I'm not studying it very well.

so one good thing is that I'm studying it at all. I'm using the Wii to watch it on the TV. On youtube. I've been watching the Universe series, and also Enterprise. But the one episode of Enterprise was so bad that I just decided I needed to look for something else. So I figured out how to watch these lectures on the Wii. I started watching them on computer a while back, but that's maybe a little too inconvenient, so I haven't kept it going. This is much nicer. It's a little inconveninet because I haven't figured out how easily to save up the location for it, so I have to do a search and find it. The Wii's opera browser seems not so nice. It seems to treat all youtube favorites the same, so it doesn't let me do another one. Possibly there will be a way to save it in my youtube account or something. Anyway, that opens new stuff up. Maybe eventually, I will just connect a computer to the TV so I can watch everything on it. But I'm not quite ready for that.

Well, Doug's moving out to California. Took the job in San Francisco city. They're giving him a company apartment for a month. Something in a building owned by one of the company owners, apparently. Sounds nice.

Puzzle 701 was really terrible. I was able to put one number down and then I was stuck. And I wrote out the candidates. That was also bad because there were so many since this was still the beginnings of the solution. And really there was nothing. Only a few spots were even narrowed down to two possible values. Maybe three spots. A few days ago, I looked back again at the strategies talked about in the book. This time, looking more carefully, there's one, which he's calling logic chains. It's just guessing. For a while, I thought I might be wrong, and maybe it had some subtlety that I hadn't caught yet so it wasn't really the same as guessing. But looking at it again more carefully, no, it's just guessing. I thought it had to be different, because he has a whole chapter about guessing, and a whole thing about how you should never have to do it. Just lies I guess. He may still in his head believe there is some difference between this "logic chain" guessing and some other kind of guessing maybe which he thinks he was talking about. But, like I said, now I don't think so. Just a little ago, and maybe I wrote about it, I had been using guessing, and I got stuck on a puzzle and used the computer to help, and it didn't actually need guessing, but some strategy I knew that I would not consider guessing. So I kind of concluded that maybe I really haven't been needing guessing, and I won't need it. So now I think I was wrong when I thought I was wrong. I may well have been missing things then, of course. And maybe it got harder now to where I do need guessing. That's what I think now. And I think what's needed is getting a little more random. So now I have to consider whether I should use a computer sometimes when I get stuck in hopes of maybe learning strategies. Back last year when I did that more, sometimes I would find that I missed things I should have got, but other times there would be stuff that I just did not know how to do. And definitely are things now that I know that I did not know last year. Anyway, another transition. But more and more often, I'll think the puzzle I'm working on is just too darn hard.

Man, there was a Universe episode on how to destroy the earth. I think I've wondered about it in the past. And on of the kind of sad things, they didn't even consider nukes. Those are actually pretty feeble. Some of the shows about asteroids pointed out that it doesn't even take that big of one to have an energy a lot more than the entire combined nuclear arsenals of the world. I think they said the big dinosaur one was maybe a million times the total nuclear arsenal. Puny humans. So they just started with asteroids. Then they did planets. And they were blowing up watermelons, I think. Gotta love blowing up watermelons. A Mars sized collision actually would still leave the Earth mostly intact. Venus-sized, not so much. They went some weird places, though. Stopping the earth's rotation. Stopping gravity. A little far-fetched. The gravity one, though, they were talking about how the strong force split from the electro-weak, so maybe gravity could change. Uh huh. And then impacting our universe with another to create another big bang. Well OK. Actually, that may have been what happened in our big bang, so that's not too bad. Difficult, perhaps.

  • September 3, 2011
I guess what I need to do is to drop all the meaningless words like intelligence and understanding and stick to pretty specific and clear descriptions of what goals to have. We need programs that follow spoken instructions. Describe situations and answer questions. Providing instructions or suggestions about how to perform some task. An ability to come up with such statements that describe situations. So it will need an ability to act in some described way. If there are tasks to be done, it will have to be able to come up with the actions needed to be taken. Presumably it will be able to use actions that have been used before, or adapt actions that have been used before in other situations. Just picking the right thing you've done before is challenging enough. You wouldn't expect anyone to completely invent everything, so it has to be able to make use of things other people have done. There will be some occasions where it will have to come up with new things, more or less. You certainly wouldn't expect those areas to be successful very often, so we certainly have to have a lot of room for trial and error. So we're going to need an ability to imagine and try things in its "head" first. But it will need to try stuff out, too. Talking things through is going to need to be part of that.

Ben released his report on the agi conference. Blech. Unimpressive. Slow and steady progress. It seems like. I guess they'll have it when they have it.

  • August 30, 2011
I got totally stuck on puzzle 665. I worked on it for several hours, and I tried some guessing, and I must have messed that up some kind of way, because then it didn't work out right. So I decided to use the computer to get some help. And I was suspecting that this guessing that I've been doing lately has been wrong. I looked over some of these more advanced strategies, and they don't seem quite so close to guessing as I was thinking. The graph coloring stuff, in particular which was what I was thinking was needed and was the thing I thought was close to guess, actually only follows a single number around, not just checking the consequence of some guess. They have some kind of chain thing that follow pairs. That's not really the same sort of thing either. So I was starting to think that I have just been doing this wrong. So, from what the computer found, I had just missed something that I should have been able find out. It was not even a very hard one, kind of easy to medium. That may have been the problem right there because I had kind of given up on the easier things. And it involved the number 5. That just happened to mess me up, because I would start at 1, and maybe get lost, so start at 9 and go down. Maybe I just didn't ever get to looking at 5 so closely. And you have to check everything horizontally and vertically. So somehow, I missed it, and never went back to see it. So then I had that, and even then, I messed something up and it didn't work out. By this time, I had drawn it out on a different sheet of paper. After getting past my stuck spot, I always erase all the possible candidates and start kind of solving it fresh and clean. I guess that messed me up. I took the one with the candidates written out, which makes it a little easier, and just circled them. That went really smooth. This one just did not jive with me. But anyway, even though I hated to use the computer for help-- I haven't had to on any one in this book before-- I think I learned something. I didn't learn a new strategy. I learned that the simple ones are still probably the only ones I still need now, but I'm just missing them. The ones before where I was guessing, I was probably just missing stuff. Almost certainly, actually. The writer of the book said you won't need to guess.

I think I felt sick because I missed my blood pressure medicine. It stuck in the little pill box thing and didn't come out. Oh well.

Man, Doug was going to apply to five jobs out in California, and get the practice for it, and get used to the rejection. But he applied to just two and got two job offers. He was thinking the market is getting pretty strong, but he's also got a lot of experience, and maybe studying at Stanford impresses people. Plus recent experience. And he's in Perl, which is a smaller field, so it might be harder to find people. But he did really well. I don't think I'd have that kind of luck. So he may be moving out there.

On the chalkboard at Bardog they had written up:" A wiser fellow than myself once said: sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar, well, he eats you." There was a guy there that didn't get it. It's from the Stranger in _the Big Lebowski_. He spoke with kind of a cowboy accent. Sam Elliot.

Wow! There's a group with Modern Indo-European language. That sounds like something I'd want to study.

I started reading _Hitch-22_. I got the Kindle sample along with those from several of the other things that have been on my wishlist. I wanted to see some Hitch because he's such a dedicated writer. Just from the little bit so far, I see that he really loved travelling. That and writing were he two big things. And I can see why I didn't go that way. I hate travelling. And talking to strangers? My idea of torture. It makes me think of the high school English class with wild Bill Hatchett. He assigned everyone a small Tennessee to write a report on. I didn't even understand the assignment. Seemed like a nightmare to me, and I'm sure I didn't do very well. But I see now how it was just an exposure to investigative journalism. I guess at the time, I had really never even been exposed to good journalism, much less ever been interested in doing it. I remember he had suggested getting a soil sample. I just grabbed some topsoil and didn't have it analyzed, which was his idea. And I had to get by folks to haul me down there, which was just a pain. I did manage to find somebody there who told me about them having a steam bus. Weird. So maybe I managed to put a story into my report. Man, now I've read Hunter S. Thompson, and of course Hitch, so I now know what that finger was pointing too. Oh well, better late than never.

I guess I've said it before, but the thought occurs to me now. One reason that women are so much more easily and more often vegetarian is just that they are wired not to have such a strong desire for the flavor umami-- the thing strongly stimulated by MSG and the taste of meat. Men have a much more strong hunger or need for it, and it gets them to go out hunting. That's the real basis. But it comes out in society with these ethical rationalizations, how meat is murder, and feeling sympathy for poor precious animals, or maybe there are health risks from eating meat. That's just B.S. Like I said rationalization, or to use a strong word, confabulation of why they feel that way. They give reasons, when they just don't feel such a strong need to eat meat. The reasons might help persuade other people, like men. Might. Sam Harris talks about how he absolutely believes the ethical arguments from people like Peter Singer against eating meat, and yet he isn't able to follow them. What really gets me is the people who say it physically makes them feel better. When they usually look skinny and malnourished.

Of course, I probably am in trouble because I eat too much and I'm kind of fat. I was just having a thought about how it might be the meds I take to some extent. I do have a whole family thing to put on pounds, too. And I totally don't extercise like I should. Hitch--Christopher Hitchins-- is going on about a picture when he was half his age of sixty when he was skinny. Something in a magazine. And the caption said "the late Christopher Hitchens". Oh, prophecy! And he goes on about all the people who were declared dead ahead of time. Twain said the reports were exaggerated. I don't know, seems like there have been a bunch. And he has a thing. He will not write an obituary for someone still alive. That, or write a sports article. I'm with you, bother! But he's done every other type of writing, or journalism I guess, there is. Good on him. He's got kind of a 5 dollar vocabulary word style. Man, the Kindle is great for that because you click on it and get a definition. I was balking that some of the books, you can get the paperback cheaper than the Kindleback. That's a rip, but now I'm thinking, you know, maybe it really does add some value. You can get it to read it out loud. It's almost like also having an automatic version on tape. Not really. I don't think I've even tried it. But I've never listened to a book on tape, much less forked over the Lincolns. Or is it Jacksons? I don't even know what they go for.

I was looking up linguistics. I was trying to find out what it's called when you use the constuction like, "the bar, he eats you". I think it's called "topicalization" or topic comment. It's the standard way to talk in French--"l'etat, c'est moi". I saw them, John McWhorter, talk about this thing in the teaching company class on linguistics. I was thinking of posting it as a question on reddit/linguistics, but I didn't even see how to ask the question. Very hard to Google, but eventually it occurred to me the word topical.

Man, I've managed to get two copies of Speech and Language processing from Jurafsky and Martin. Searching for _Outliers_ for the book club, I went through my books. I found the old copy. I think the idea was that I wanted the new addition, so I put it on my Amazon wishlist, and I got it for Christmas. I did get the second edition, so hopefully that was worth it. I've got the second edition of the _AI:a modern approach_, and the third edition is on my wishlist. That's a hundred dollar book. The Kindle edition is $95. That's crazy, but I'm thinking about it. You need that for the free Stanford AI class, which I thought I would take. Maybe. Someone wrote Thrun and he said the second edition was fine. Or did he write Norvig?

  • August 28, 2011
Well, that was an interesting dream. It was much more vivid because it was lucid. That is, I knew I was dreaming. And it went on for a bit after that, which doesn't happen that often for my lucid dreams. i guess I can speculate for a bit why that could be. For one, something in a dream has to happen to make you think it's a dream, and if that's fairly random, it's going to have to happen at some random point in the dream, and it gives it a good chance the dream has already been going on for a while, and your brain is just ready to quite dreaming anyway. Also, just the nature of lucid dreaming is that you are a little more conscious than normal in dreaming, so basically you are that much closer to being awake, so it's a tight balance just to stay asleep. There were bits where I seemed to being aware of what my physical body was doing, instead of focusing on my the dream body and world, so I new I had to focus a bit more into the dream. So even in that dream, I can start to forget that it is a dream for a second or two if I'm not always thinking about it. But I largely after first realizing it kept being aware of it, though maybe it was more a matter that I kept having the thought -"oh yeah this is a dream".

The whole dream was kind of about me being at a job, in an office somewhere. And I may have been dreaming about that in different dreams before that one. It can be hard to keep dreams straight since you actually have at least half a dozen a night. At one point, I had taken a nap in my car, and it was 6:30, but I could remember and think if it was at night or in the morning, and I needed to be at work because I had gotten a job now. Just recently. I had even been doing little things at a couple of places, so I couldn't think which one. Anyway, I go in and it's still the weekend, but it was a matter that they had gotten me on for something where they had said they wanted something by the end of this month, August. This actual month that only has about 3 and a half days left now. That wasn't realistic, but we could at least try to get something going, so I was up for that. I'm sure that kind of thought was all about back when I was trying to help Doug work on his compilers thing, which was kind of a crunch thing on the weekend. We were working on it, and I was kind of arranging my desk and trying to get organized. We had been by myself, but I get up to go get something, and then people start coming in for the real work day/week.

That was just the context of the dream as it was happening and at roughly that point, I saw that I was just dreaming. And now I've already forgotten what the exact thing was that made me think of it, but I realized I was just dreaming. It might have been that I came to a bit that seemed to dead end, or close me off with the office furniture desks and cabinets and thing. It was kind of an open office layout. I was right in my way from where I was going, so I kind of scootched over a guy's fairly narrow desk. Which is kind of rude, but I thought I was blocked off. And I looked again and there was space to get around now. And I thought, oh, that only happens in a dream that things will move around like that. Not actually move, but be in a different spot next time you look because you didn't really keep that good track of where they were. And I decided to tell a guy who was standing there that this is just a dream, and kind of that reason why things move, because you weren't remembering them that solidly. That's not really right, but it was what I was thinking at the time.

So I went on with dreamlike sorts of stuff. Right after that was a bit where I was feeling some kind of sensation im maybe my hand or foot or something, and I was thinking it was in my actually real body. Then I went into a real dreamlike kind of play room which had toys and things and I could float around, but I knew it was a dream so I just played a bit. Then I kept on walking down basically the halls of the office looking at people. I followed a couple of people. And it was definitely pretty odd to see how they kind of changed around. Somehow they managed to go from two people to one person. In a regular dream, it might happen, but it just doesn't occur to you that it's strange. It's just a matter that that thought doesn't arise. But now I knew I was dreaming and could watch it happening, knowing it was a strange thing. From two people to one--the other person just wasn't there any more at one point--and from female to male. A nurse came to me at one point. I guess people were concerned. But I knew this was a dream, so it couldn't bother me, thought maybe it might have a little. Her recommendation was some kind of food thing. I think I've seen that somewhere recently. And therapy. I'm not so much into therapy. Some time later I did realize i was hungry for real and tried to get back, but didn't. And there was a cafeteria that made me think of that. That was just about the end of it. Some in there, I followed some women around, and they too kind of changed around as I looked at them. I also did get back to the people I was working on the project with, talking about trying to get it done. And woke up.

But something about talking about doing work got me thinking of what I could or would like to do. One thing that occurs to me is that not only do computers not understand language, the guys who talk about working on AGI don't seem to think of that as really a primary get that done next goal. Their idea seems to be first get the intelligence, and being able to use language is something that will come as a consequence of that, instead of something to work on directly and specifically. And to me, it looks like an attitude of how people work based on their experience. They themselves are people who go off by themselves and work, and aren't generally talking as part of the important work--only incidentally. This seems to make them treat the idea of language as secondary. That is, they are shooting for intelligence, when it would be better to shoot for language ability, and only have intelligence as something needed by language ability.

I've been trying to use ddrescue on a scratched DVD. I let it go for almost 3 days, and numbers were increasing, so maybe it was making progress, but I decided to stop it. And I read the instructions. There was at least one thing I needed to do different, and that's using a logfile, which keeps track of what it has done, so it can pick back up from where it left off. Also, I wanted to try my newer usb drive to see if it had better luck. and there was a recommended option to use direct access that bypasses some operating system stuff. Well, the usb completely didn't work--it would get stuck on one spot and stay with it for, I think it was 4 hours before I gave up on it. The program has a little timer saying how long it has gone without a success. The other drive would often take as much twenty minutes, but this one clearly just got stuck and could get past one. I think that may be just the driver automatically retrying or something. Because I'm trying to old drive with direct this time, and it seems to pretty much always move on in just a few seconds. On the first run, though, with all the long failures, it only got up to maybe a couple thousand errors. On this run, it's to 430 thousand errors. I'm afraid it probably just won't work even if it finishes. But it's a learning experience.

Yay, Melissa came back!

I made a pork roast. I actually ate so much I felt kind of sick, and the feeling lasted most of the night.

More _Universe_. There's a type 1a supernova going on right now saw on reddit. It's special because they noticed it very early, so they can see the beginnings of it. And I know what a type 1a supernova is an its significance because of the series. It happens when a white dwarf is sucking up matter from something, a neighboring star, usually, until it gets to a certain critical size and explodes. It's important because that's a constant size throughout the universe for this type. It also has a particular spectral type-- it has hydrogen or doesn't I forget, but the other types of supernovas are different enough that you can tell them apart. The other supernovas, type 2, happen for stars of wide ranging size so have carying brightness, but this on is always at that one threshold size, so its brightness is constant. The original brightness is constant, but the brightness we see is a function of the distance, so we can use these as a "constant candle" to measure distance throughout the universe. That's a main way they measure distance, and there might be a couple others.

So they had a thing on parallel universes. Man. I am not into parallel universes. There's a guy on the intp list who has this belief that he will live forever because the universe is infinite, and there are necessarily-- because it's inifite--other copies of him that won't die. That has always struck me as just wrong and delusional. But here they talked about this exact thing. And said there are people who think that. So it wasn't just this guy. One of their regular physicist said he doesn't think the universe is infinite, but we haven't been able to detect the curvature. They actually did an experiment with lasers to detect curvature, and it was completely flat as close as they were able to measure-- which is at least evidence that it might be infinite.

They actually named 4 different types of parallel universe. That type was type I, and they were parallel, but really more just connected to our space but extending a long way away. There is also type II, which is the kind of parallel universe I actually think is reasonable. It's kind of a consequence of string or brane theory. Our universe is a bubble in the bulk, and there are other bubbles out there, that are not connected to ours. Our bubble can contain other type I parallel universes, but there are other bubbles, which are type II and might contain their own type I parallel worlds. There's also type III parallel universe, which are part of the splitting world view of quantum mechanics-- which are split off worlds in the same space. I never thought that made any sense. I didn't quite get what type 4 parallel universes were. Not sure I care. I think they might have been things with different laws of physics. I thought that's what type II things were likely to be. Anyway, I don't know. But they say there is a type 4.

So he thinks that being infinite, every possible thing that could happen must happen. I think that's just wrong. It may be that everything possible must happen, but that's not a necessary consequnce of it being infinite. To show that, take 0.1111111.... That's infinite. It doesn't have any twos. And that's just one example. You could have a number that was the decimal expansion of pi, except that all the twos are changed to 0. That's infinite, it doesn't repeat, but it has no twos. There are lots of other ways for not everything to occur inside an infinte system. Like I said, it might be true that everything happens, or it might not. You can't conclude it from being infinite. You can only assume or declare it to be true. Maybe you have some other reason for it, but just being infinite is not enough.

Ouch. Went outside to water the plants. It was full of mosquitoes. I'm bitten all over my feelt ankles and legs. Should have sprayed. I thought it wouldn't be this bad. Man. I did get a few of them, though.

So I got up, and I felt bad. I was tired and a little nauseated--which is just about a constant feeling nowadays. A little congested, too. Seems like I'm getting a bit of allergies. This really contrasted clearly with how I felt when I was dreaming, which I was more aware of this time. i didn't feel any of that stuff, and I really felt a lot better. Funny.

Lately, when going to sleep, I've been sort of meditating on how nice it is not to be hurting and in constant pain, or even just having a headache. You think about the pain when you have it, but you don't so often appreciate it when it's not there, so I've been trying to do that more. I must say it feels nice not to be hurting, and I really appreciate it. i'm not sure I can't deal with pain when it happens. It doesn't seem like it's always that bad, but it's nice to realize how good it is not to be hurting. Some people always have constant pain, and a lot of people have really bad people. I do with the gout sometimes.

  • August 24, 2011
Man, that was rough! Already having doubts about my declining brain function, I forgot to do something even though I had bunches of reminders. We've had some donations sitting by the front door for a couple of months. Like a month ago, they were supposed to come get it, but they didn't call and come get it like we thought. Then a week ago, they call. I say yes we have stuff all ready to go, and they say for next Wednesday (today). And I put it on the calendar for today. Last night they called and reminded me at about 6, just before I go to kung fu. I should have put it out right then, but it was looking like it might rain, so I figure I'd do it later. And then the thought never enters my mind. I'm even staying up late and I washed dishes. I quite often don't do that and leave them, but I'm trying to be better at it. The stuff is sitting there, so it could remind me, but I don't think about it. I guess it's too out of my ordinairy habits. Then I remember in the morning, about 8:15. So I put it out. It's my understaning that they come by early, and my thought is like 7:30. So I think I've probably missed it, but maybe not if I'm lucky. Woah is me! My brain is falling apart. So stewing for a couple of hours. I did get lucky though. They did pick it up. But I guess my ego has gotten too fragile.

I am at about 650 out of 800 in the sudoku book. About 26 pages left. But they are getting really hard. They don't need to be this hard. For a bit in there, they seemed to be requiring some of the strategies that I can't distinguish from just guessing. These are ones like coloring, where there are large numbers of cells that have only two possibilties, so they have to be one or the other kind of linked together, and when you explore that, maybe one cell is forced to be one value even when the others alternate, or maybe one alternative will result in a contradiction. I'm guessing that they think if it's some short chain it's not really like it's just guessing. I don't know. I've had it where I kind of picked pretty inconclusive choices and I just about had the whole thing solved before going back and trying the other possibility and seeing the answer in like four links. So it was like that for a bit, but now it's kind of gotten back to things I understand. I think I had a couple I didn't even have to write out the possible candidates. That's getting much more uncommon, though.

Melissa coming back Thursday! Yay!

  • August 23, 2011
Well, OK. There's a guy, Dr. Ronald Mallett who studied time travel and has a plan for a project to build a time machine. He's got a book, _Time Traveller_ So he thinks it's possible. It appears that the idea for it to make sense, though, is the parallel alternate universe thing. I guess I've seen that explanation before. But in that case, it's misleading and I would say wrong to call it time travel. It's travel to alternate universes. And unfortunately that's not part of the theory, Eintein's theory, that says time travel is possible. So he's basically thrown away reason. They showed a psychology thing about this guy. He lost his dad when he was a kid, and maybe a year later read the time machine and got into his head the desire to get a time machine to see his dad. And his time machine wouldn't let him do it--you can only go back as far as the time machine is around-- so he's kind of accept it as a fantasy, but it's not completely removed as a fantasy. That is it still kind of makes sense to him. That makes me think of the Christians who have managed to mature past the childish ideas of god, but still cling and think the idea makes sense and could be true if you adjust it some kind of way. A quirk.

Man. Now I feel about myself. It's one thing to know there's going to be trouble finding a job after taking time off. It's quite another to find that there's a lot of stuff I really don't know very well, even if I did have to work with it. I guess I didn't learn everything like I should have when I worked with it, not to mention I might have forgotten about it. In my defense, there is a lot of stuff that you really should be able to look up as you need it, and you don't have to hold all of it in your head. I'm thinking about the two phone screenings that I really didn't do well in. But they were really going for stuff that should have stuck with you. Anyway, it's going to be tough. And I'm thinking how I pretty much never finished class projects in graduate school. Never really was good a narrowing them down to doable ones, and didn't spend the time it took to do them, anyway, even if they might have been.

  • August 20, 2011
I'm finding a weird conflict. I'm kind of thinking of Facebook status updates a little more like a blog. But they totally don't work like that so I've had to resist on occasion. For one, there is a limited size to a post you can put. I'm much more used to being able to write as much as I want here, and I can admit that I really have developed a tendency to just go on and on. And I'm a little bit too easy about wanting to write trivial things that maybe nobody is interested in. But on Facebook, I'm surprised that some people like things that I wouldn't have expected. Some people are into gardening posts, for example. I had one post about the astronomy stuff, which I did write about here. It ended up too long for a status update, so it offered to let me make it a "note", which is some kind of different thing. In the past, I managed to trim it to space, but this time I used a note. I don't know, I just don't like whatever this note thing is.

Yesterday, I was at Borders, and I wanted to write something, so I used the iphone Facebook app. There was a book _Freak Nation_, that had a bunch of weird subcultures. The subtitle used the words "weird" and "odd". It had civil war re-enactors, sado-masochists and dumpsters divers in a big list on the cover. And MENSA members. Mensa in all caps, which is wrong. It's just Mensa. It's a latin word for table, among other things, not an acronym. But we're freaks now, I guess. *sigh*

Well, I had been pretty happy about the whole universe series from the history channel. But this last one. And it seems like maybe they've gone to another season or something. They had a thing on space holes. Worm holes, white holes and black holes. White holes apparently haven't been found but are theoretically predicted in Einstein, and the inflation after the Big Bang could have been a white hole. People are really doubtful about them happening. Worm holes also haven't been found, but people are a little more believing that they might happen. There's an Einstein one, but a different kind is a way to describe quantum foam at teeny tiny scales, and people talk about expanding those and using some fanciful negative matter to make them stable, which they usually aren't. But they went into using them for time travel. Time travel always bothers me. And then people talk about the grandfather paradox to show how it might not be possible. And that bothers me because you can use a much simpler example of just going back in time 5 minutes. To a place you just saw and weren't there. What would that mean? The grandfather paradox things make problems with time travel seem like an unusual and rare thing, while normally it might make sense. That is, it gives you the idea that time travel generally might be possible, but maybe sometimes there could possibly be a problem with it. Whereas to me it's more a matter that it never ever even makes any sense what it would mean at all, even a little bit. It doesn't get to the realm of being mostly reasonable with maybe a problem in some situation, not even to the point of even being maybe possible some time. There is no way it could ever make any sense to go back in time at all. Not one second back in time. The thing is though, when considering the time of wormhole that Einstein actually did talk about. He was talking about closed loop sorts of things that would not have any contact with anything else, but nevertheless did in its own frame have stuff from the future going back to the past-- but they couldn't effect anything else. It's much different from the general notion of time travel going from an arbitrary place and time to one in the past. Anyway, so I almost feel like going back to anyone who talks about the grandfather paradox or otherwise entertains the possibility of time travel and suggest that it would be better to use the example of going back five minutes to show that the whole idea makes no sense and they first need to find a way that could even make sense before going to weirder examples of large jumps back in time. Those actually make less sense, but they are so hard for us to think about with our limited brains that we could just be fooled by them. Of course, real physicists know the problems. It's just that pop-sci people who don't know go to them and they don't have a good standard way to explain stuff to them. I'd like this to be the default example, not the grandfather paradox.

So there's the time travel one. I just turned it on, and they are doing another show about the moon. This one is the "mysteries of the moon". That could be OK. But they said it might influence our behavior. I'm guessing the whole full moon thing. Ugh. That's pretty much all a weird combination of superstition and confirmation bias. Not something real. Basically pseudoscience. And yet, it's in the intro, and I'm sure they will say something about it. But I put it on pause. I'm not sure if I will be able to watch it.

Watched a thing on robotic warfare. The U.S. really has become kind of a lawless rogue state. But they got neat robots. It seems like a criminal act to use them to kill people, though. Israel is into them, too. They've been at war for their whole existence. They are kind of illegal, though, too.

I think pretty soon "lable" will become an accepted spelling. I'm seeing it more and more.

  • August 19, 2011
What passes for a nightmare with me. This one at least had a tinge of fear, which I think is the main part of nightmares. And to me it seems to reaffirm my feeling about dreams, that they are a combination of things going on with you, but mostly exploring the feelings. But that could be confirmation bias. Anyway, I was staring to hallucination. Just seeing glimpses of people appear and then disappear. I don't think I've ever hallucinated like that before, so it scared me. I thought I was going crazy. Of course, it didn't occur to me that I was just dreaming. But anyway, at some point, I managed to just accept it, and it was no longer terrifying. I had talked to someone, and he said come see him tomorrow at 10:30 and he would recommend something. Seems like it was going to be just food supplements or something useless. And I was getting up to go, and was just about on time. I think I didn't actually make it there.

That bit was actually about a meeting I was going to have with someone at Robert Half. That was going to be at 10 this morning. Thinking about it last night, though, I decided to cancel it, because it's too hard for these placement people to work with someone with an employment gap. It only occurred to me after thinking about it, so I sent him and email in the evening, though I had had all day. He had called at 8:30 in the morning. he actually knew a lot of people I knew, like Doug and some people at Hilton. He actually has Willow somewhere. I had posted something about phone screening calls with FedEx on Facebook, and Daniel Patrick offered to tell a recruiter he knew. I said sure, but I guess I wasn't that into it. The FedEx thing has moved me to thinking that recruiter often means an internal recruiter with a hired company, instead of a person at a placement company like that.

So the dream went on inn a different direction. Could have been a different dream, really. I encountered this enthusiastic girl who was into martial arts. So we decided to spar a little bit so she could see some bagua. She didn't think it was going to be much. And I started off not so well, not that hard. But the last two kind of clinches I threw her pretty good. The last time I pretty much lifted her off the ground and threw her down. She kind of had to massage her leg a bit because it was hurting, and I gave her a hug. I'd have to say that was about some stuff at bagua class where Louie had me in that kind of a clinch and was demonstrating some stuff. We were talking about Baji, which laoshi said she might teach us.

I had a second FedEx screening call from someone in a different group. I did a little better maybe. At least, they had some of the same questions, and I had been able to find better answers to those. Unfortunately, they found a bunch of new questions that I didn't do well on at all. She was nice though in saying at the beginning she didn't expect you to get all of them. And there might be stuff you didn't know or hadn't worked with. One thing it made me think was that the last people had just given up at some point since I was doing so bad and didn't move on to other questions. In this one, there was some new subject completely. Again, I sent a big detailed letter to Aimee so I could review my notes, so I think I have a record of everything that got asked. In addition to Java questions, they asked about oracle-- which I think I didn't do great on. They also asked about hibernate. I think I at least knew what hibernate was, but they asked a simple question about a detail-- the file extension on some file-- and if you even used it at all, It would be obvious, and I think I've seen it, but I didn't remember. And some other little subjects. There was on thing I didn't even know what it was in general, so the specific questions we skipped. Anyway, it sounded very unlikely, but at least possible it they are desperate. They're looking for 4 people, which is why I think it might be possible. But really, I doubt it. So it's discouraging.

I tried getting a venti captain crunch. I think liz H posted a link to a site agout secret Starbucks orders. The person taking the money hadn't heard about it, but it seems like the barrista had. Stawberries and creme frappuccino with toffee nut. I was thinking hazelnut but i think only because I never heard of toffee nut before and it must not have caught. It's supposed to taste just like cap'n crunch. It really does.

My laptop Tudor died. Ouch. A mosquito flew in front of the screen, and I tried to slap it, and broke the screen. It's all white now. It could either be the connection or the actual screen is bad. I need to take it in and get it fixed. I don't think I personally would be able to do it. I'm just not so good with that stuff. Unfortunately, if I take it in, they aren't likely to just fix the connection if that's all it is. My guess is that they would replace the screen either way, kind of the way automechanics can be. So I've rotated my netbook into it's place as my nightstand computer. I've brought it to Starbucks now.

Louie said blues came from jazz. We didn't think that's right Maybe as a named type of music. It's my think that blues was a traditional music that was before all that. Could be wrong, though.

I finished _Innumeracy_ And then at the end, they had a section of reviews and blurbs and things. One of them said you could read it in a couple of hours. Aw! It's 130 pages. I guess some people could read a 130 page book in 2 hours. Not me, though.

The guy from Robert Half wanted me to try out some online technology tests. Oh well.

And St. Jude wrote me back. I applied to something online. The said they had decided not to fill the position. Aw. I guess the economy is pretty rough.

Louie was talking about how laoshi really used to teach the fighting more. Baji for internal folk and San shou for externals. Sparring kinds of things. She used to have a lot more younger people, and kids. Winning a fight doesn't make you a good person. And the most important thing is to not get hurt. Anyone can get hit by a sucker punch. Kind of made me feel jealous, and a little sad that I missed out. I'd like to learn a little more of the fighting stuff and do a little more of the sparring. I think I'm going to cut back on the taiji. I've even been thinking of trying a krav maga class. Kind of the opposite of what we do. More aliveness, though.

Didn't get to see Melissa last week. Made me sad. And I don't know about this week.

I had a flat tire. Just a leak, I guess, because it held enough to drive around a little more. But I needed a new set, so I decided to go ahead and get one. Firestone had a buy three get a fourth deal, so I went with that. But they had like $100 of charges above the tire cost. Labor and little things. Also the road hazard coverage was $60. But that would have all probably been on anything. Anyway, so I had to spend a bunch of money. Mom paid for the taxes, though I was thinking I was going to. So I thought I should go ahead and get this. But now I don't have the money to fix tudor right away. So I'm holding off on that.

Man, a bunch of boring stuff.

So I've been watching "the Universe" , a series on astronomy from the history channel. I saw something that I guess I hadn't gotten before. A big star, the kind that supernovas, about 10 times the size of the sun, gets an iron core that will be the mass of the sun or a little more. So a suns worth of iron. Maybe 10-20% iron. That's a lot of iron. I have always thought that everything is mostly hydrogen and helium. I think that's what I've heard. And that can still be true. But this is 10% iron. So there's really quite a bit of it. Now, these big stars are very rare, so it's overall a lot less, but it's still quite a bit. The way it goes is that a star will burn it's hydrogen to helium, and that can run out and the sun collapses a little bit which heats it up enough to burn helium. and it can do that for a while, scrunch again and burn heavier and heavier things up to iron. Our sun will be able to burn helium to carbon, but that will be it. A bigger one with be able to go to iron, which is the limit. But still be small enough to explode and release it in a supernova. The supernova will also create heavier elements which it takes energy to create instead of releasing it like iron. And bigger ones have a danger of turning into neutron stars or blackholes where you lose a bunch of mass that gets scrunched down into whatever. And there's an additional fact. These bigger stars don't go as long. Smaller suns like ours last billions of years. The bigger ones last only millions of years, so there has been plenty of time for them to have many many cycles. So we should have lots of heavier elements. And the even smaller stars, which are more common, the red dwarfs, live even longer, so the ones around since the beginning of the universe are really still young. Oh well.

Talking with the manager at FedEx was a different experience. She seemed so enthusiastic about the project she was on. It was fun to talk to her about it, even though towards the end, I got the feeling that I was disappointing and probably not who I wanted. But she liked talking about the technologies they were using and how they had in the past used stuff that was trendy at the time.

Cruel joke. I was thinking of going down to the Krav Maga gym, but apparently they don't do stuff on Friday. Oh well.

  • August 9, 2011
Did three page of sudoku today. So I've got 39 pages left out of 134. It's getting closer to being done, but still only between 2/3 and 3/4 done. Just this big push now. I'm thinking if I did three a day, I would be done in two weeks. Two grueling, 10 hours a days, seven day weeks. But I haven't even been doing three a day for the past few. Really just one a day. So today was odd. But sometimes I do extra, and think maybe I could keep doing it. If I do anything else, I can't do all those. Like reading. But I had to recharge the Kindle, so I did a little more Sudoku, and I got into it. Maybe I won't push all the way to the end, but I'm at almost 570, so just 5 pages to get to 600. That's a pretty good subgoal. I could do that in a couple days, reasonably. Mom is coming in in a couple days, so I can slow down then and do other stuff. Then again, we'll probably be watching a bunch of Perry Mason, which will give me some time to do some. I don't do so well with these harder ones while watching stuff. We'll see.

Another big stock market crash. I think this basically took two months off the time I have left before my money runs out, which is bad. So now I really need to get something, and it doesn't look so good because it's not an easy thing. So I've got like fear going, now. I don't think I even have money to relocate any more to look out of town for something. That's getting pretty bad. I guess that's what you get for not being industrious.

  • August 8, 2011
Study Mandarin. Then watch a movie in Chinese with subtitles. Only to realize it's in Cantonese.

I'm reading Innumeracy. Really my kind of book, I think. About math, but weirdly with an emphasis on real writing. I guess most books are like that. But stories. He even says he doesn't have an index since it's just stories. Something like that. I think no index is good for the Kindle edition.

So he's got a story, and I think I've seen it before. What's the best strategy if you're dating to have the best chance to find the perfect person if you have to pick one at some point and maybe miss some that might come later. It's a little bit cold to look at it that way. I'm not sure if it could actually work. But they come up with something. First you have to know how many possible people you would get to see in a lifetime of, I guess it's meeting people or dating? I guess that parts not that clear. You have some number of possibilities. The example they give is some not very attractive girl who would only have 4. Really? Four? Anyway that's the example. And they considered someone else with 20. I think 4 made it easier to look at the possibilities the way it works. Also, presumably you can reliably rate people. And they introduce a concept of "heartthrob" someone who you like more than everyone you've met before. And once you've given up on someone, there's no second chance. I guess that's probably true. So the best strategy is to just go through the first 37% of your total possibilities, then take the next heartthrob. That gives you the best, I think it's almost even chance that the person will actually be the best of all of them. With 4, it's hard to get 37%, so she goes through one or two. And you can look at the possibilities apparently, and they give you whatever chance it is that you picked the actual number one of the group. The idea is that You sample enough that probably the best is better than the ones you have tried, but not so many that he was in the sample group and you passed him up, (or her that part wasn't so important). And you can look at all the possible orderings of people, giving that they are all ranked numerically, and see exactly how this strategy works, or what odds it gives you. I guess. I don't see how anyone could actually do this, but it's got math in there.

  • August 6, 2011
Wow. So I think I'm just going to stop going to the Saturday morning taiji class. I haven't really learning enough so it's not a good use of my time. I did the 24 form twice and a couple of wushu staff forms, plus some warm up exercises. The forms were about 15 minutes of stuff over 2 hours. I gues the warm ups were pretty good, about a half hour since I do them twice. So it does come to 45 minutes doing stuff. But that's an hour 15 just sitting around. Also, in the advanced class, they kind of try to work stuff in to help fit in what I can do, and I'm not sure they normally would--the wushu staff. I also do push hands after that for 20 minutes, maybe a little more. That's maybe the main thing I come for.

But today they made me feel unwanted. One student was doing the wushu staff form, and he just didn't have one bit. And I could see he wasn't getting it and kept doing it wrong, and it's quite bad to do it wrong, because that sets in, so I wanted to show him how to do it, but one student was totally, no, don't do that. And then, right after that, they showed him So it was ok for them to show it, but not me. OK, you don't want me around, I don't need to come. And they were talking about all going to lunch. So they've got some kind clique going. Just don't need it. They're not the only school in the city.

Yesterday was Melissa's birthday. It sent her a Happy Birthday text. She replied thanks, and she's not working this week either. I still don't know what it is. She didn't work last week. I'm afraid it's not good. I mean it could be good, but it seems like she would have said something if it was good. Seems like if it's bad, she might not say anything.

  • August 3, 2011
I didn't think the phone interview went very well. It was a prescreening. My understanding of the role of that kind of thing is to see if you are lying about what you said, and if you really have the skills they want. There were some questions about specific technologies that they clearly wanted that I just didn't know that much about. Also, a lot of it was kind of high level theory stuff, that didn't seem like the kind of thing you normally think about as a code. What are the aspects of object oriented programming. I don't know if I got what they were looking for. Anyway, just from their reactions, they didn't seem impressed, so I don't think anything will come of it. But I guess it was good experience, and it's encouraging that I got a call just from submitting my resume, it looks like. That's something to be hopeful about.

  • August 2, 2011
Kind of discombibulated at kung fu today. On Friday, Laoshi said she wouldn't be there Tuesday, but would be there Thursday. I was thinking for a while, there wasn't much need to tell the other students in advance, because they should come anyway, but then earlier today I decided to tell them. There is one student who comes to the class before to practice a certain new thing they are doing, double fan, and it would help her to know. She, though was out of town, and wouldn't be able to come all week, so it didn't really matter for her. Another one, though, called that he had some stuff he needed to do for his wife, and I said it was more important to come Thursday. I don't know if it would really have made any difference for him, though. The other person, I told him some things that she had said we needed to work on, so he brought equipment in for that. And it was the beginning of the month, so it would have been time to pay, but since she was coming on Thursday, I didn't get money out. Then it turns out her other plans fell through and she was here today. So I paid with the $100 bill I was saving for Melissa. That means I'm going to have to take money out now from my investments, and the market just crashed to a yearly low. Grr. OK. But at the beginning of class, she was showing one student some basic sword exercises. I've seen her in the past tell him not to have anyone else show him anything about it but her. I don't know if that's been a problem or what. Anyway, he was doing something kind of wrong. He was holding the sword at an obtuse angle, closer to holding it pointing out straight, where it needed to be more at a right angle. It was swinging it in a vertical circle, so since it was at too much of an angle, he had to go a little to the side to miss the floor. I tried to tell him, and I went to get my sword out to show him, but the teacher was really unhappy with that. "I'm here" OK. I guess I'll leave that alone then. Not good to make your teacher mad. Excuse me.

So a guy called me from Fedex to set up a phone interview to do some Java stuff. He called my cell phone, but the number showed up as some kind of fake spoofed number, so I didn't answer it. And I think I broke out in a sweat. I called back a half hour later and didn't get him. Then he called at maybe 8:30. I left my phone in the other room. I had no idea he would call that late. I only saw it when just before 10 I decide to go out an buy some milk, and I looked at my phone. I guess I need to keep my phone around. They were working late. That's not a good sign in IT. And they're looking for someone else. I've seen essays about that. People get behind, and they want to add new people, and instead of helping that just makes it worse because the people have to get into the project and other people have to take time to help them out. It can be a nightmare. Anyway, I called him, and I've got a phone interview tomorrow at 6. Kind of a preliminary screening thing, I guess. Something a little odd about it. He said a recruiter sent him my resume. I wonder who that was. Thanks, I guess.

He said advisor. I guess he means technical advisor. Kind of a job title thing, which I think I sort of know about. It's the step up from Sr. Programmer/Analyst, which was my position there. My recollection is that it means 7 years of experience, though I don't really know if there is really anything different in responsibilities. The technical advisors I worker with truly were at a different level, but they just kind of worked with us about the same.

  • August 1, 2011
Happy Kalends of August!

I did a couple more pages. I have like 46 left, so I'm not too far behind though I have been slacking off.

Saw Aimee today. It's been a while. So just catching up. Gonna be a month or two. Seems like I might go to the book meeting.

Well, the house got something, which was almost everything the Republicans wanted. But the bonds don't really seemed phazed by this all, so maybe it isn't a big deal. A teabagger was saying they are going to lower the rating anyway because we can't pay it all back. Honestly, thinking about it, he sounds like a drooling crazy. And it's set up to not resolve it, but push it into the election year. One neat thing is that if they don't fix something, I forget, they'll automatically cut military funding. Apparently some progressives like this. But I think they should kill this. If not the Senate, the Pres. The News Hour had a progressive talking about how their objection is that it isn't fair. Really sounded like a whiny kid excuse. The rich aren't having to do anything while old people are. Probably not a safe way to go.

Man. I put a post in reddit political discussion suggesting more direct democracy. There are actually some fascists there who think the problem is too much democracy. Wow. I guess I'm used to r/anarchism. I was thinking putting it in r/politics, but it said this was the proper place for it. I think proper only in the sense that they don't want it in politics-- There's no one in political_discussion. So it's file it in the round receptacle by the door. I say no one. There are 600,000 people in r/politics. There are 1000 people in political_discussion. So it's nothing. And totally not my group, anyway. Oh well. I also posted the idea on Facebook. My idae is that we finally have technology to do direct democracy, so we may want to add it to the government.

  • July 30, 2011
Well, I put down the sudoku and went out to see Tom, Dick, and Harry. That's John Roth and Kory's band. I had seen them do an acoustic duo at Doc Watson's, but didn't feel so good about it. I'm thinking now that I wasn't so comfortable at Doc Watson's. Not my crowd. It was much nicer at Mulligans Trinity. Younger bunch. Maybe I'm more used to the place. It wasn't super great for me, but it was better. And the whole band really made a difference. I went kind of late and only go maybe 40 minutes, but it was good.

So I don't know, have I given up on sudoku again? I didn't do a whole page yet, and it is starting to seem like a waste. I'm not sure what else to be doing.

So, Stanford is going to offer their AI class for free. Homework, grading. No charge. I'm still wondering about it. Someone has to pay the TAs. Probably there won't be that many people. It's Thrun and Norvig. I'm guessing Norvig will be selling his book, so that helps him. I took Thrun's computer vision class. The class might well be very stout. There are supposed to be two levels. and this is the harder one. I've signed up to be notified about registration. We'll see if I do it. These classes can be a lot of work. And it's in Python, apparently. Not such a big Python fan.

  • July 30, 2011
Augh! I got past 500 in my sudoku book. And they turned really hard. Really, they just started requiring the new strategies in this book that I had to learn, so I haven't internalized them yet. But that mean I really have to work for these now.

And I didn't get to 500 yesterday (I guess, the day before, now), It was like 4 in the morning, and I just couldn't think any more. I was just two puzzles short, but I was stuck on the second to last. I got up, and I had just missed something maybe not too obvious, but pretty obvious. Some of it might have been I was already looking for more complicated things and not looking at the simple stuff any more. Seems like that can happen. The transition that can make that more likely is writing down the possibles. Once I do that, I don't really look for the things that I can't just see without them, if I focus. Because I left it with all the possibles erased--too many and it makes it hard to read. And then I just found something. I'm not sure what the rule would even be called. Because of one cell in a whole row that got covered, 9 had to be in a particular row in one block, and for the same sort of reason, it had to be in a particular column in a block. So that narrowed it down to one spot. Not really all that simple, but it was sitting there, and I couldn't see it after a long day. I did 26 puzzles in about 12 hours. But ended up in a fog. And there was a bagua class in there that left me on the verge of a migraine, kind of fuzzy. I had kept on, though.

Anyway, so they've gotten harder. Kind of suddenly, really. I was able to just fly through them. But now, just slam. No way I can do twenty something anymore. A page or two would be plenty, if I even try to keep that up. I guess it was exciting when I could do a bunch, but these seem so much more like work. I don't know. And I might have to go back to thinking in terms of counting individual puzzles. I hope I can still do like a page a day. But when you hit ones that can take an hour or two, It's harder to think in terms of bunches. Each one a fight.

So Aimee's dog died. :( Nico. I big great dane. She was a sweet dog. Friendly. But she was having some health problems. Had to put her to sleep. I guess that's how it often goes. She was only six years old. They had her from a puppy. I saw her quite a bit. When I went over there. Every other month or so at Aimee's book meetings. I haven't been going so often, lately, so it's been a few months since I saw her. She liked people, but I guess dogs usually do.

Kind of a rough Chinese class. It was an hour early, and I didn't know about that, so I got a call right as class actually started, though an hour before I though I had to be there, and I had to rush out. I was eating some chicken and potatoes though I was largely done. I had some tomato and cucumber salad this time, so it was like a realy meal, which was unusual.

I go out driving, and the freeway looked like it was going pretty slow with some construction, so, even though I was on the entrance ramp, it's a spot where the exit ramp is right there, so I can just get off again if there's trouble, and I did. I took a very different alternate route than usual, with it being rush hour. I didn't want to There's one going straight that always takes the longest time, but has the least traffic and never a slowdown. It cuts through a park. There's one in the opposite direction that is just about as fast as the freeway, and going past the freeway is a big detour, so I'll go it when I don't even want to try the freeway. I can go through the park if I just drive by the freeway and decide not to get on. But because of the way the freeway ramps work, if I get on and off, I'm going in the opposite direction. Towards the fairly fast alternate route. But instead of going all the way to it, this time, I took a kind of quiet road in the middle that doesn't go all the way through. At a certain point, I have to decide to go the medium fast way away from the freeway, or I could still go through the park. Going toward the park, which I did, actually gives me a second chance to look at the freeway traffic. And somehow it was really clear by that point. I guess it got past whatever was slowing it down. So I got on again. I think it was just about fastest I've gotten there. It probably just would have been faster to stay on the freeway the first time. But it could have come to a complete stop. I just didn't know.

So I was about 15 or 20 minutes late. But they had just started. I managed to forget some words that I used to know solidly. For honeydew melon I said tian hua instead of tian gua. I don't know what that was. There are several melons with gua in the name--that's what gua means. Just a slip being a little flustered.

And then I had trouble going to the page she wanted. I have just been a rebel and not done what she said in organizing them. She kind of required everyone to use a three ring binder and use a hole punch. But I prefer to keep them loose so I can easily just hold one at a time, and just keep the ones we most often need at the top. We skip around quite a bit, but there are usually about 4 or 5 pages we usually use. And now, we have old homeworks, and new homeworks, and I keep notes on separate piece of paper, which apparently no one else does. Blank white pages, not notebook paper with holes. You don't put those in a binder. So today, it was all out of order. She has now add a second book to the confusion. And I was thumbing through them all looking for a piece of blank paper to write today's notes, and I think I was out. So I had to use the back of a page, which I don't like--it makes it hard to find if occasionally on is turned over. So anyway, I had trouble getting to page we were reading from, and I was up first. So she said next week I need to get a binder. I don't know if I will. Binders are also a lot thicker and more cumbersome than loose. Anyway, not such a good class.

But this time, she brought her new computer and I could install microsofts Chinese pinyin extension. It automatically adds the pinyin for chinese characters, which is really helpful for her. And it puts in the tone marks, which she can't or doesn't do herself. All the stuff she had to type that was doesn't have them, so we have to write them in ourselves. So it's really helpful.

So, after class, several old students were around. Robin and Jason--they also take Chinese. Rich and his wife, who is pregnant. And Robin and Jason's little kids, Matt and Ying, who are about 3 or 4. So rich got to see wild little kids. They were just running around. We kind of stayed around for half an hour talking. Laoshi really likes kids, and she's been giving Matt Chinese lessons.

Something about my interaction with them, I guess, got me a little embarassed or upset, maybe. But anyway, the whole combination left me in a really upset sort of mood. Blech. Took a nap, though, and felt better.

There is a lot I can eat if I just go buy some bread. I've held off getting some since I got back, but I finally have. Maybe I was just being lazy. I still have clothes sitting waiting to be folded for maybe four days. I've let it go longer. But also, if it's harder to eat food, I'll eat less, so there's a little bit of that. I ate a hot dog and a hamburger and some chips. Seems like they go together. Yummy.

I'm trying to watch Enterprise. But I don't know. Archer seems pretty hostile and just shot a Klingon. They didn't seem like they needed to. He asked him to drop his weapon, but that was just not knowing anything about Klingons. They might well never have seen any before. I don't know. he had just blown up a silo and killed some folk. Still, the farmers first reaction was hostility. Really? I mean, they are trying to make it about humanity not having quite settled down into friendly utopia, but still. I don't know what the timeline is supposed to be. But dang. I don't even know if that would fly today.

And they've got another thing that's seems passing strange. It's still making me go 'What?' I've got it on pause. So, the Klingon isn't dead. He's on life support. Apparently the Klingon's don't believe in life-support. Fine. Whatever. But they've got the Vulcans. And the Vulcans are saying we should just do what the Klingons want, unplug him, and send them his corpse. So Jonathan--Archer-- is hostile to this. To him, to anyone really, it's just wrong to unplug him for no reason except that it's just their way. Sure. But then the Vulcan says something like, this is no time to bring up your ethical beliefs. That's where I'm all 'What?'. I mean, that's what ethical beliefs are. That's how you decide what to do at all times. It doesn't make any sense. I do not know what they, the Vulcans, or more generally the writers are supposed to be thinking. So it's only like two minutes into the show, and I'm already thinking, darn that's terrible writing. I guess I should just turn it off. I guess I'm a diehard trek fan and I tried to enjoy the series. Lot's of boob. But now. Having seen the perspective of where they eventually went with the last movie. Maybe I just can't do it. It's just not where I am any more.

Then I have to think, are we not friends? Maybe not really, but I don't think there was really any animosity. That certainly happened with Angela. My feeling had been just that she said we _shouldn't_ see each other. I had taken that as it was probably better for me. Because that's the kind of person I've always thought she was. And only a little bit that she really doesn't have a place for me. I did come to see that she also had very negative associations, but that was because of my problems. I don't know if people often admit they don't want to see someone because he makes them uncomfortable. Say anything but that. And they'll even put up with you instead of avoiding you. And that can just dissolve if you do end up spending time together. But it might not ever become their choice to see you. Hmm.

  • July 28, 2011
My brain is a little frizzled from bagua class. We did the 8th section, probably the most complicated one, 8 times, instead of all 8 sections. It has a couple of little twist stance squatting moves, and one time I just when too low or something and just collapsed. Seems like I collapse more than I should. Legs not strong enough yet, I guess.

It struck me how different what a computer does to solve a sudoku puzzle is from what a person does. The big one that struck me is how a computer memorizes or internalized the board and stores it in a form it can deal with, and person keeps the external form, writing down the numbers, and is constantly using vision and perception. Somebody on reddit programming put out an iphone app that uses OCR to read in a sudoku puzzle and solve it. Apparently it takes like 15-20 seconds to read in and recognize the puzzle, and a couple of seconds to solve. That's without writing in each number as it goes. Like I said, will write in a number, and then basically solve a new puzzle. And possibly the hand-written number makes it a bit more of a challenge to look at the puzzle. So almost all of our effort is looking at the numbers and where they are. The computer doesn't have to do any of that. It would be an incredible amount of trouble for it if it had to. That's just not something they are good at. But they can absolutely memorize where all the numbers are and never make a mistake about that. That would be really hard for us, though not impossible. A lot of work at least. It's much easier for us to write the numbers down and look at them. Computers don't even have hands to hold pencils so that hasn't even been an option for them. And possibly they aren't so good at doing that kind of thing because it hasn't been so much of a priority for us to get them to do it. Plus that hasn't been what they've been for. A special purpose computer program can do a great job at solving memorized puzzles. We don't even have general programs that could handle them right now. I'm sure we have things that could be made to. But nothing right off. What would it take for that? They would need an ability for the rules to be explained. Something that could both play checkers or chess or anything. And the chess and checker games are exactly the same way. They don't look at the board. They memorize it, and then play on the mental board. And presumable we more or less use an imaginary internal board for playing chess and checkers. But we do go back the the real board quite a lot. Do we have an internal sudoku grid? I at least think of internal columns and rows. Maybe not the whole thing. Maybe the internal chess board isn't quite so square, but we look at sections. Probably a lot of different internal representations.

I did 22 puzzles yesterday. I thinking I am going to try to do 28 today to get all 50 in two days to make it to 500 done. I don't know if I'm going to make it. I paused on number 18 to write stuff down. And I thought of a different way to look at them. Instead of counting just the individual number of puzzles, I'm starting to look at pages of 6 puzzles. So I want to do 5 pages of puzzles, and after that there are 50 pages left. And that means I've almost finished with 3 pages, and I've got 2 more I want to do. I can't get a page done in two hours if I'm lucky, but sometimes I get stuck. Like I did on this page. But it happens. In a more grim view, I had kind of committed to doing 10 hours worth of this stuff today. I'm guessing after this, I'll be ready for a full time job. It just needs to be at least as interesting as sudoku. Which might not be that easy. And I've only been doing it like this for a few days. We'll see how long I can keep it up. I thinking I might do it this solidly until I finish the book. which at this kind of level would he about 3 weeks. I think after that, anything would seem a reasonable amount of work. And I should put that kind of effort into programming or studying or something. Not as fun, though.

I shouldn't have been trying to talk to her, anyway. Not to mention just not being allowed to be there.

If we have a health care problems it's only because we let doctors charge too much. God's gifts to mankind. Other countries don't let doctors charge this much. Now part of our propaganda is not to let talk like that get out of hand. But if it comes down to that, we certainly can do it. In other countries, if they have problems at all it's that doctors whine about not making enough money. Poor doctors. We should let a few of them die because they can't afford health care. Anyway, part of their system is that they control how many doctors are allowed, so they don't get so many that they have to lower their prices. Nice trick.

So a point I had about how different a computer solving a game problem is to see how much better computers can be at solving the problems their way. It goes along with the idea that if we knew what was really necessary for general intelligence, we could get computers to be a lot better at it than we are. If we wanted to. And quite possibly we don't. Not necessarily for bad reasons so much as it's so much easier for us to do things that are simple for us than to try to get a computer to, which would be real work. Somebody would have to do that work. And there is still a thing that the programmers don't want the other people to have an easy time fixin' their 'puters. Less money for them. And it's more work, and quite a different kind to make them more accessible to more people. Not something the geeks are so into. Especially the Aspies.

You could certainly have a sudoku savant that could do the puzzles in his head. I wonder if there are any of the autistics that are like that.

  • July 26, 2011
I just finished puzzle 450 in my Mensa book of 800 sudoku puzzles. That was 50 in the last three days. If I keep up that pace, I could finish this book in a month. But that's not really a good pace because I have pretty well been doing nothing but sudoku all day. Except for little trips outside with mom. I went to visit her on the farm, and that's pretty much what I spent my time on. 50 in the last three days, but I did a bunch the day before that to get to 400. At least 20, I think. They did just start getting a little harder, maybe. I finally had to write out the possibles on the last one on night, but I think that was mostly from being tired, because it was really just something easy I was missing. Still, since then I've done it a few more times. Spent the morning waiting at the doctor's office. Mom was getting a basal cell carcinoma removed. She's had a few of those. I probably have some myself. I should go to a dermatologist.

Man, sudoku. Just now I'm feeling like it's a waste of time, but still, I've developed a bit of an obsession to try to get the book done. I keep calculating how quickly I can get it done if I keep up 15 a day or 18 or whatever it's been. So getting obsessive. Last year it was a matter of being steady and I got it done over a year. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was only at 300, which was pretty far behind if I wanted to finish in a year. 500 would be halfway, with the other book of 200 something, and it's about the half year mark, so maybe a burst of interest.

It's something that computers can do much better than people, so it really is kind of a waste for me to be doing it. But I'm noticing that computers would have a lot of abilities that I don't have. Negative logic. Figuring out which number is missing if there are 8 out of 9 filled. The best approach I have for doing that task that seems to make use of my abilities is to guess a number and see if it's there. We're better at recognizing if a symbol or something is there than anything else. I can guess a few times and it's still faster than counting from 1 to 9. Counting in Chinese is noticeably faster than English, and I had my own personal count style -tanamaralachakafapa, but my associations with the numbers aren't all that strong, and it's more work. Guessing is also a little less work.

I did the second half of the Lida tutorial. So I've seen a little more of it. It would better for me to be playing with that.

Mom's garden is growing very lush. Thick tomato plants six feet high, more of a two foot wide wall 8 feet long. The squash plants are thigh high. Several watermelon and cantelope growing. There are squash plants that have climbed up the fence, and there were these big pods hanging down. Spaghetti squash. We had never had them before. Mom had a little mixed packet of different kinds of squash. Crooked-neck, acorn, and spaghetti. It was neat how the spaghetti squash flesh really turned into spaghetti. And they were yummy. So I ate well.

On Saturday, my brother Edgar and his son Daniel were there. They went fishing and caught 8 fish, bass, which we had for lunch Sunday. Everything was from the land. The fish, we had spaghetti squash, acorn squash, a salad of cucumber and tomato, and some corn from the neighbor.

Watching more news than usual. That's what they had on in the doctor's office. And my mom seems to watch the news a lot. At least it seemed like more than I usually do. They just kept talking about the same stuff, over and over. The debt ceiling stuff. The Norway bomber/shooter. Some maid calling rape. And I wasn't really interested in any of it. But they just kept pushing them. I guess it's better than just saying it's hot. That was the top story a few times. Way to be informative.

Seems like I'm just sticking to facebook more than blogging. I even posted there from my phone when I was on the farm. I brought my computer and I could have been writing. But I didn't turn on my computer. I would have also had to study Chinese if I had done that. I should have. Seems like I just rather do sudoku. Simple.

So in bagua class today. We finally started learning a new piece of the form after a few weeks. The next bit was a jumping stabbing spinning thing. I just did not catch on. So we left it only at that tiny bit. Oh well. It just seems weird and tough for me. We also spent a lot of time on a sword exercise called gua jian. Perfecting little details of it. Laoshi likes to have people who are interested in perfecting the little details.

  • July 18, 2011
You're always doing stuff all the time. A lot of people have gotten into the habit of doing valuable and useful things quite a bit of a time. I mean, some people have that as a habit, as opposed to slouches like me who when not being forced to do work, just stick to pretty wasteful things to be doing, like watching TV or playing games or something. Some people just like doing valuable things, like maybe gardening or cooking or writing. We have the whole cutural thing of getting people to do jobs. That's a little bit different from just a habit, as there is a reward system, but still it ends up getting people in a habit of doing useful stuff a lot of the time. And then there's the angle of parlaying what you naturally like to do into a job. Which can be nice, but it just can't be for everyone. I guess. Seems like if we had machines that could take up the slack, there would still be stuff people wanted to do.

I went out to U of M today. I looked through the Lida tutorial with Ryan McCall, who is going to present Lida at the AGI conference next month in California. I haven't decided to go, yet. Melissa has totally encouraged me to go. She loves San Francisco. It's been like 3 years since she's been out there. It doesn't seem to me like it could have been that long, but I guess time flies like an apple. Pesky time flies.

Anyway, the Lida tutorial. Man, I went real slow through it. Maybe I was trying to be more detailed. They were wanting it to be quick. And I guess I could have gone through it quicker, if it was just that I was wanting to get through it. First off, I wasn't quite set up for it. I had to get onto the wireless network. And they had a guest network. But then, apparently the ports are restricted, so I couldn't get to my web-based email to look at the message with the link. OK, so I typed in the link. I didn't have anything to read doc files. Which was pitiful. That was an assumption they made. Perfectly reasonable. In most computer install, I have that. Microsoft word is the main thing for that, but I often use OpenOffice. And I had the OpenOffice files on my laptop, but I didn't have it "installed", just the file to run it, and I had to dig it up, but I got it working. And I had eclipse, a thing (IDE--integrated development environment) for developing Java stuff, but they wanted netbeans. Fine. So I downloaded and installed netbeans. OK, fine. I guess those were the main issues I personally started with. Maybe I kind of went through it slowly. And you have to read the instructions? What do they want from me? I don't know. Anyway, it was good. I got exposure to the big configuration files and some of the basic structures for setting stuff up. In a couple of hours, I only got half through. Oh, well, maybe they will go faster. And I can go through it on my own now, I'm sure with no troubles. It looks interesting. It's a general framework for handling attention oriented sensation an reaction events. It's not too easy to summarize, as it's a pretty large and complex model of a conscious mind. Maybe not too large. It's a framework without all the knowledge poured into it. So a little high-level, I guess.

And I also dropped by and saw Bill Baggett's office pod thing. Well, the office for the project, Deep Tutor. I think they've got four students and him, the manager. The project has a bunch of professors, who of course all have their own offices in their departments. I saw an initial GUI for the thing. And Bill was showing me the text for the intitial question they are working on. It's a tutoring system, and the subject it's tutoring on is physics. So it'll ask you a question, maybe with a diagram--ask as in it will print out a question, and you'll type in an answer. I suggested that they really separate out that stuff so it could take an email or a text message or something you might deal with later instead of welding it in to the program they have. Deal with the interface separately. I thought of that after leaving a demostration of a framework, which was totally separable and abstract like that. Anyway, you type in your answer, and it looks at how you might have gotten it wrong, if you did, and sees what kind of wrong thinking you have. Anyway, it seems interesting.

Yeah, I guess I'm looking for work. I don't know how you get into projects like those. I suppose I would need to be a graduate student. I hate to be doing that stuff and spending money. Supposedly, you can get money for being a student and doing that stuff, but I've never been able to crack it. Or it didn't really work out for me.

On Sunday, I went to a brunch at Bosco's hosted by Shuh for the atheist group. I can name everyone that came, in order by how sat, because there was a newish girl I felt like reminding of all the names. Judith, Dan, Emily, Greg, Michele, Ryan, Shuh, me, Sarah, and Kevin, and Jason came after most had gone. Sarah was the new girl. She was sitting by me. Cute redhead. 'Twas nice to see her, for me. But towards the end, when she was almost going to leave, and she came back, we were sitting tight against the wall, and instead of going back to where she had been sitting, she got Kevin to move down. Seems like they had more of a connection. Kino. I don't know what they were talking about. She's a lacto-ovo (maybe pesci) vegetarian, and he used to be. And they're into bikes, maybe? I don't know. I was able to talk to everyone else in the group too, so I couldn't really keep just focusing on her.

We got into a thing about cooking. Kevin doesn't cook. Emily and Sarah love to. I at least can cook. And I said people who cook can't really respect people who don't cook. I'm not positive that's true, but it seems like my experience, because I've have heard cooking people talk about people can only eat cereal. Emily, I think, or it could have been Shuh, was talking about some male relative who wouldn't even make himself a sandwich-- the wife would do it for him. I don't know.

There was a thing. Sarah and I were against the wall, and the other side of the table had a bright window behind them. Sarah had to hold up her hand to sheild her eyes from the light to see them. Emily had the low cut thing on. So Sarah looking down looked like she was looking at her boobs. She she said she had to look at her boobs because of the sun in the windows. Yeah, that was my excuse, too. I _had_ to look at her boobs.

So it came out the Ryan was working with Stan on Lida. That was cool. I said I knew Stan for a long time. And Ryan was going to present a tutorial for it at the AGI conference next month. I still haven't decided. And he asked what I was doing now, and it's nothing, but I had been wanting to go down and see people were doing. So he suggested going down and looking at the tutorial. He was actually introduced as Shuh's boyfriend. Shuh did a little graphic art stuff for the project, some little icons for an artificial life thing. And we arranged a time.

But the deepest thing for me was that Michele was there. This was Michele Glasnovik. I assume I must have written about her ten years ago or whenever it was I used to see her. I don't think I even want to go and look back. I didn't quite know for sure it was her when she showed up. So I didn't acknowledge knowing her. And she didn't acknowledge knowing me. And we just kind of left it that way. She has definitely put on some poundage. But of course, I'm sure I have as well. I don't think as much as her, though. Several times yapped about her bf or whatever Greg. She did not seem particularly at ease.

But for some reason, I was pretty talkative. Maybe, I'm not positive if it moved into the realm of talkative for a normal person. But it was unusual for me. Like being among friends. So it was a good group.

It could have been a mood thing, because it kept on at Bardog. Murphy was there, and I was talking to her. She said I was being talkative. And Bill Baggett was there. He's one person I do talk a lot to. We actually have stuff in common to talk about. So it was an unusual day.

There was a new guy working as a barback instead of Greg. Jeremy, who works at Starbucks. He remembered me from Starbucks. I stayed around with them seems like a little later this time. And seems like this time I had more I was saying to Melissa. I think the week before, she was having to ask me questions to get me to say things, but this time I volunteered more stuff. Communication is an important piece of love.

I guess it's put me in a sociable mood. Driving home from U of M, I was thinking about how I would like to see Melissa when she is not working. But that's not how we are. I get my time. It makes it nice for it to be limited. It just probably wouldn't be good to intrude.

Anyway, a sociable mood. So Liz H. has her Monday thing tonight, and I think I will go. Every other week. I've gone like, what, maybe three times. These events seem to have slightly different crowds. Like I said, Sunday was Shuh's one. I think that's a day Liz works. Dan is Liz's, um, SO? I don't know what to call it. Liz can be serially monogamous, though she actually doesn't necessarily restrict herself like that. They have a house. It looks like Emily and Greg are going tonight. They're a married couple. So now it's like married people getting together for a dinner party. Seems like it wasn't so bad maybe a while back. There was somebody who seemed to kind of be "with" Liz, but it wasn't Dan. I don't know. Whatever. We'll see.

  • July 16, 2011
Life is going to be really hard for people when oil dries up. It's already in decline. It's only a matter of time now. It looks like we do have time to adjust to it, but it still won't be nice. The worst thing is how food production right now is dependent on oil. Looking at that, though, gives me some. It's pretty much agriculture in America that uses the most oil. There are plenty of places with more older traditional systems that won't be nearly as bad off. So really, I mean it will be hard for America, be we aren't everyone.

One fairly bright thing about using all the oil is that the level of carbon dioxide will rise. It makes it warmer, and the weather will certainly get more fierce, but what does that mean? More rain in some places, and unfortunately some places will get droughts. That's no fun. But higher carbon dioxide means plants will grow better, which should help offset losing oil-based agriculture. With any luck, we will technologically solve the problem of producing artificial meat. Meat is really the most wasteful part of agriculture. Of course, meat can make use of grass, which is plant material that nothing could otherwise use. But in our system, we make meat with corn, which is an oil-based system, and will completely go away.

I watched a documentary about Irish emmigration to America. Man. I never thought much of the Irish. I like them less knowing more. I guess the worst is how they kind of stuck together and took advantage of the political systems. Kind of reminded me of what the Jews do, which people don't like. The St. Patricks nationalism thing. Now, the English did oppress them. To me that just makes them seem like losers. Anyway, they were treated as inferiors. I'm not sure that was wrong.

  • July 15, 2011
Happy Ides of July!

Well, not so much looking forward to the new Harry Potter movie. I've moved apart from mainstream movie audiences. I don't like the flash and noise. I think. I guess I could be wrong. It's supposed to be better than the last one. I didn't like the last one.

In Starbucks. No where to sit. I'm sitting by the fake fireplace. It's cool, at least. Stone, so hard, but maybe I'm cushioned.

Man, there's a move in the bagua form that has just gotten away from me. I don't know what that's about. Maybe just from trying to remember it in isolation. And it's a move that is removed in one of the two basic forms. But seriously, after this many years I should have it. I'm trying to think what the application is. I don't think I ever really knew, but it's something like an arm lift or catch or something.

  • July 14, 2011
Well, that was pretty different. I dreamed I was emperor in a society which had a rebellion. So I was thinking about making changes. I had been slacking off a bit. There were some rules that people found too puritanical. But the rebellion fell apart, apparently. I was told, the rebels were "food". The first order of business was to restore the system to producing, especially food. We were assisted because we had advanced technology. And I had some kind of access to all knowledge, plus some ability to do some other things. But what I was thinking, as system with an authoritarian ventral head really requires the head to be enlightened. And he certainly should be responding to the wants of the people.

I got some Gus's Fried Chicken. It was very tasty. It's a little bit spicy, and I'm just not good with spicy food, so I'm hurting a little bit. So I won't do it so much. But it was good.

I went to see John Roth and Kory acoustic at Doc Watson's. I wasn't super in the mood and almost didn't go, but I decided I didn't want to miss it yet again. But I only stayed for two sets. I think they probably do three. It was good, but I guess I really wasn't that much in the mood. Good, but I really was missing the drums and bass. I kept thinking of wanting to do taiji, and getting back to my Netflix. And the TV's were visually distracting. And I didn't know anybody so I felt out of place. Not such a good experience.

The kingdom was underground, and I went up to a little spot outside. It was at the top of a mountain and had a grand overlook of several kind of dry brown valleys with more mountains in the distance.

I went back inside and went into a room with monks, mostly younger, chanting and meditating, and I sat down with them. I had a booming chant that put them back a bit, but I toned it down. I had a little bit of special power in this situation, so I thought I helped them feel a bit more unity. It was just a dream after all. Kind of vivid, though I didn't realize it was just a dream. I did once have a dream where I knew it was a dream and sat with a bunch of meditators. So it was close.

Of course, it wasn't really about anything political, but just a metaphor of how things are going with me.

Aw, I forgot. I was thinking I might try to go down to the yoga class. It's noon on Thursday. I'm watching Joe Campbell talking about kundalini chakras. Kind of a yoga thing.

I've just gotten past puzzle 300 out of 800 in one of my Sudoku books. So I'm not really at a pace to finish this year. Well, as an average. I've really kind of stopped for a few months. I could pick it up and make it. And I have another, much harder book of two hundred something. Right now, these puzzles are still pretty easy, but they are supposed to get harder. This is the book that had a lot of instructions and exercises. I guess it hasn't moved to where I need the more advances strategies yet. I'll probably have to review them if I get there, because I've probably already forgot them since I haven't had to use them.

So, weird. I've told people that you don't have to have your drivers license with you, but having your number would be enough. Jiang laoshi came back in tonight because he had left his license. And I said it, but Reecie, who is a lawyer, said you have to have it with you. And I looked it up, and that's correct. I was wrong about that. I remember somehow seeing what I had been thinking a long time ago. Someone had even told me you could go to court to show you had a license to drive and that was the important thing. But actually, there is also a law requiring you to have the license in your possession when driving. There are two different things though. Driving while not being license is a class B misdemeanor with up to a $500 dollar fine. Not having it on you can get you a fine from $2-$50. But before I could get home to look it up, I was thinking about it. It looks to me that requiring you to present a license is a violation of your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. There is also a law that being forced to have an ID card is illegal, but that's a serparate issue. Anyway, there may actually be a law to require you to have a drivers license with you, but it looks to me that the law itself is a violation of our rights. But I'm not a lawyer, of course.

It looks like the Malco Paradiso really wants people to see the new Harry Potter movie tonight at midnight. They've got 3 screens of 3-D and 9 screens of the flat version. I looked at the reviews. The critics appear to like it. But I'm really kind of annoyed at how they wasted my time with the last movie. I might well not go see it tonight.

  • July 13, 2011
I put up the brackets for some blinds in the kitchen window. I'm just not a do-it-yourselfer kind of person. I had good tools to do it, but I don't do that kind of stuff enough so I don't have confidence. I spent a long time just trying to measure out holes and marking them. Also just trying to get the bits for my tools ready. I used a dremel tool with a drill, but had trouble finding the right cotter, I think it's called. The one I needed was not with the supply of extra ones, put was sitting on top of some bits that had been pulled out. The bits were in a different place from the box of stuff. I guess some of it was learning. At first I simply roughly finger measured the position for the thing. I thought the tough part was going to be getting both of them the right distance apart. Then I realized I could just get the top hole in, screw the bracket on at the top, and drill the hole for the bottom through the hole in the bracket--no mistake that way. So I just needed to get the top one right, so I could be more careful with that. I used a little mark on a paper notepad. It was a little bit tough because the top was so close to the top that clearence of the drill made a difference. So once I finally got to drilling holes and screwing them in--I used an electric screwdriver, it only took a few minutes. Too much futzing before because I was not used to doing that stuff.

Melissa showed up on Facebook. I think she just must have finally gotten on, because there was no picture when she showed up as a recommendation. And that was a little weird. Suddenly Facebook on the right side where it does these things, said you might know Melissa. Well, yes. By the time she approved me, she posted a picture. I think it was from Dan McGuinness, which is a few years ago. But a really nice picture. I'm a little bit concerned, though. I surely don't want Melissa to be wasting her time on Facebook. She's got so many other things to do. Well, I say that. She has taken up some kind of network word game, maybe scrabble or something like that. And there are programs to cheat, apparently, which she doesn't do herself, but she likes to play against people who do, because she can usually beat them using strategy. Yay, Melissa!

OKCupid sent me a message that someone had checked me out. Really? They send messages simply when someone has looked at your profile? Have they been flooding every person I simply browse with emails. Surely they don't do that, but I don't know. Sounds pretty bad.

Somebody on the Memphis subreddit posted how the council is voted to continue free lunches. I guess most people don't have their companies giving them food. I don't know why not. I guess we're lucky we get time to take a break and eat. And that it's something to vote for.

Another of what passes for nightmares for me. I was in a school auditorium--no lecture, just people studying. I went up on row above a lady professor and talked to her for a while. Then when I walked down to the front to leave, some guy starts getting belligerent. Something about not being allow to sit on the row I was on. And I wasn't enrolled, so I felt a little out of place. And he keeps on, and I simply back off meakly. And I say I hope he feels better, trying to at least be a little sympathetic, because it seemed out of propoertion. So he follow me out. And I keep trying to avoid confrontation. And he thumps me on the head. So I say something like, that's all you have. And he seems to come at me, so I kind of roll him down the stairs. Not a big flight, maybe six to eight fairly shallow stairs. But lies unconscious at the bottom. And I wake up. But what would I have done after that? Walk away? See if he's OK? Seems like I'd be in trouble for doing that, even if he was the aggressor. Rolling him down some stairs, where he could have broken his neck, was kind of not proportional either. But he was problably just knocked out and my come to with a lesson learned, or try to do somethng about it. It's kind of a question, because a lot of the fighting in my style is about knocking people to the ground, which can be a very damaging move. It can hurt them, or might not hurt them at all, just get them out of the action so you can get away, which is a good thing. And maybe I could say he fell, but it might come out that I pushed him down the stairs, which would be bad.

  • July 11, 2011
Hmm, so I said on reddit that Sam Harris didn't find "significant substantial" criticism of his stuff in _Moral Landscape_. People may have taken it as a quote, so I said I might have gotten it wrong and linked to the conversation. Turns out I got it substantially wrong. One guy pointed out that all of it was stuff he had pointed out, which doesn't say it's not substantial. But I think what had given me that feeling about what he said was that he was asked directly what was the strongest argument against, and he said nothing. And everything people said was just what he said in his book. He must have dismissed it in his book. I don't know if anyone added anything new. But he didn't say there were things he thought were good arguments but he address them. He said there was nothing. Or something like that. I was given the feeling that he really didn't think much of any of them, since he didn't mention anything when asked directly what was the strongest.

I saw Jody Edmondson at Bardog. Angela's brother and Mrs. Edmondson's kid. He was at MUS for a bit. I didn't quite get what he's doing now. Some kind of analyst. Getting people to do stuff. He said he was in China for a while. And other countries. Maybe some kind of former Soviet place. He said people are very different in how they do things out there. Ian and him were talking about Feynmann and physics. And Angela's bff Julie was there. There was a bit when he was taking Ian back (Julie had taken Angela back) Where I got to talk to her by herself. Wild girl. Likes outdoorsy things. Had spent a year in San Luis Obispo. Was in Florida, but she just came back.

I finally mounted my big partition on spirit as a Linux partition with ext4. I had been holding it out for an ntfs to put windows on it. I think it got corrupted somehow and linux wouldn't mount it as ntfs. The drive is 160GB, and this was 100GB of it, so I wasn't really utilizing my new drive. I just have some little partitions that I was using. Maybe 30G for linux and 20G in a fat. I just couldn't commit to having it just be a linux box. But I guess I finally have. I was tending to fill up the drives with DVD stuff. Now I should be OK. One thing I was seeing was that my DVD software wasn't cleaning up its temporary files, so it really did kind of fill up.

  • July 10, 2011
In a reddit discussion on Sam Harris' _Moral Landscape_, somebody posted a link to a NY Times review of it. I think the biggest thing it said was how his idea that morality is about maximizing well being does not come from science. That's just something he comes up with. Personally, I think "well-being" just includes the question of what is good. The word "well" is a form of the word good. The adverb form. It's like asking, what is the good thing to do and answering, whatever is good for people. To me, it doesn't really get you anywhere. And I think Sam yeah, well, you still have to work that out, but I'm not sure if he gets anywhere from there. Anyway, I tried the kindle sample, and didn't think enough of it to get the book. Nothing since has really pushed me any more toward reading it.

Gus's Fried Chicken is open out East here. About two and a half miles away. Mom is here so I don't need to go out to eat, but I'll probably go there sometimes.

I finally got onto Google+. Kind of their answer to Facebook. One person on the INTP was sending me links to add, Bryan Price, but whenever I click on those, they said they were full and not accepting anything. But Tink sent me something and it worked. OK. I added a few people they recommended. I guess they looked at my gmail history. It didn't automatically add Tink, which seemed strange. It didn't even give me a recommendation for her, which just seems weird since it was her invitation. And then I tried to find Bryan, but there were three people with that name, so I didn't know which one. Oh well. Doesn't really seem like there is anything on it. Facebook at least had games.

I'm still doing a little bit of reddit, I guess. So I haven't kicked that. Maybe not so much, but still. I wanted to be done with it, sort of, but I guess I still want to be infotained.

Ouch. I went outside and did what I have of my straight-sword form. And I come in, and my back hurts a little bit. Yesterday at taiji I did some stuff that made it hurt a little bit. There's an exercise where you stand on one leg and bend forward horizontally with the back leg also out back horizontally, and you hold that. After that, my back twinged a bit, and I could see that it's pretty hard on the back. I can stand on my right leg pretty good, but the left is not so good. And it's not terribly bad like it's out or anything, but it is definitely a little strained. So I need to watch it.

Also in taiji, in the push hands, we used a much lower stance, and I started noticing my foot problems being an issue. My big toe doesn't bend very well, and that's a problem bending in a lower stance. And after a bit I could see my arches starting to complain. So this is going to be a rough thing for me, I guess.

  • July 6, 2011
Well, that was something. I posted something on reddit anarchism. Somebody posted a video of Louis C.K. making jokes about how his bank charged him for not having enough money, and they give money to rich people for having money. I replied to someone who commented that he might start a revolution, and I said, naw, humor dissipates the anger that might get people to act. That was pretty strongly disagreed with. And it got downvoted a bunch, which isn't fun. Two people wrote replies disagreeing as well. Somebody that anarchists can be too humorless, and someelse that humor is effective maybe, I think going on with some babbling about humor associating pleasure with hatin' on the system. So I felt kind of defensive, I guess. But then I had to think, that well, if these people don't think the way I do, then maybe these aren't really people I want to listen to. So I unsubscribed. Maybe reddit in general are just not my people, after all. I looked over my recent comments. There was another negative one, someone in philosophy was posting a documentary about the philosophy of the Matrix, and I said I didn't like the Matrix. Downvotes, and clearly I wasn't saying anything they wanted to hear. Again, they just aren't my people. And nothing I've said lately has been particular interesting to anyone. So maybe this will be an opportunity to quit reddit. I at least purged all the subreddits I'm in. Now just subjects I'm really interested in instead of subjects that maybe sometimes have something I might marginally interested in. And I dropped all the porn subreddits. That's probably just a good thing. I guess they gradually piled on. I even unsubscribed from the main reddit page, where people send stuff by default. So I won't constantly get new stuff. We'll see how it goes.

My mom has been buying me food. I guess that's good because I've gotten pretty bad about not buying it for myself. In particular, I haven't stocked up on frozen chicken pieces. I've actually been having trouble finding them. And I went with her to Kroger a few days ago, and they had some for a fairly good price, but it was with 15% injected solution. I just had to say it wasn't worth it. For one, that's a pound and a half of that solution. It messed with the taste. And it makes it cook differently for me in the microwave. So I avoid getting that. They had a different brand that wasn't injected, but I actually couldn't see the price written down anywhere. Which has to be a bad sign. If they aren't proudly displaying the price, it's probably not very good. So she bought me a whole chicken. I cut it up into sections. That should be pretty good. She also bought me some hamburger meat. I divided that up into patties to be individually frozen. I like having those ready to go. And yet I've been bad about just buying it for myself.

  • July 5, 2011
Would you believe I managed to leave my lights on? I think my thinking has been a little cloudy lately, and that's the kind of thing that can happen. Seems like my car usually beeps or something if I do that. And it was downtown, after being at Bardog. This time, we were there later because of the holiday. It was getting close to 6, and it was already light. I remember talking to Melissa and her saying she kind of liked getting out when it was light, but most people really don't like it. Go in when it's light and it's light again when you get out. Makes you think it's a long time working, which it is.

I've had to park quite a ways away. maybe 5 or 6 blocks, since it was a holiday. I get in my car, turn the key and nothing. The light switch is turned. Grr. That's no fun. And in my other car, I always kept jumper cables. I actually kept a lot of stuff in it. Tools, jumper cables, rope, a lawn chair. A whole bunch of junk. More of a portable closet. It was actually pretty sad. But in this car, I guess I went the other way. I have a bicycle pump. Something in case of needing air in the tires, which does happen often enough. But not cables this time. So I look in the back. This time I tried looking next to the spare. There's a thing to have to lift up. Sure enough, next to the spare tire are a couple of little bins where you would keep that kind of stuff. I don't think I ever even opened that up before. But off course, they didn't just happen to put in some kind of emergency kit with cables. It might have happened. And I could have thought of it in the like five years I've had the car. But I guess I never had a problem with that.

So I felt stuck. And I called Melissa. I think it was reasonable. It was early in the morning on a holiday, and there was going to be a problem with people being up, and it was downtown, so I don't otherwise know anyone who would be downtown then. I had just seen her a few minutes before. I really just wanted to know if she had cables. She had loaned hers out to one of the other bartenders who kept needing them. She didn't have any, but told me to sit tight. She wanted to help me. I probably could have done something else. I was thinking of calling triple-A, or there surely must have been some other ways to get roadside assistance. And some places keep the little auto start things with the battery, which is really the best way to do that. But I waited, and Melissa and Greg finished with closing up the place and came over.

I had never actually called Melissa on the phone before. I text her just about every week, often several times, and she texts back. Long time ago she said she doesn't answer the phone. Or maybe just it was back then. I was thinking bill collectors. And some people just don't. Digging through a purse or not hearing it. I quite often just don't because I don't hear it. And I so seldom get calls. Now it's been maybe 4 years ago. Melissa called me by accident. It was kind of weird. I forget how it went, but she had gone to New York, and there was another person called Andy that she thought she was calling. I didn't get it, and I don't think during the call we figured out what had happened. Maybe she was asking something about where he was, or meeting up with them. Her voice sounded different on the phone. Anyway, I never talked to her on the phone since then. I don't know if I would have wanted to. Maybe I should have. But it has always been something I kept in my back pocket if I had car trouble after leaving Bardog, and it finally came up.

So Melissa and Greg come by and picked me up, and that was the beginning of an Odyssey. I would not have thought it would have been that hard to find jumper cables. We were driving south. And it was early in the morning, so very few cars on the road. That made it easy just to ask every car we saw, "jumper cables?" No. Nothing. And it occurs to me that it's possible that somebody might have had some and not wanted to mess with it. I think we only asked 3 or 4 before giving up on that. The first thing that Melissa had thought of, and where we were driving to going south, was the Westin, a hotel. We went in there, and asked the security guard, and he said he didn't have any, and maybe ask at the desk. No luck.

So we start going east. We went a good ways, thinking of places to ask. We tried a service station, and nothing. The most promising was the 24-hour Walgreens. They actually stocked them, but they were out. Rrrr. The rite-aid was closed. So many places were closed. But the rite-aid was next to a fire station. Melissa tried there.

In all these places, it was either Melissa or Greg talking to people asking. I went with, but I guess it's a little bit sad that it wasn't me doing the asking and work and stuff. Melissa and Greg were so big on doing stuff for me. Maybe I was a little stumped at having the trouble, and not in such a good mood. And they work with people all the time, so they are better talkers. But it did make me feel kind of bad about myself. I had done something stupid in the first place, and couldn't rise up to deal with it myself. I had to be rescued.

it was a shift change at the fire station. So they had two shifts. And no jumper cables. Gah!

What's that about? Nobody keeps jumper cables any more? And I think the police can't help you with that any more. Whatever. I posted it on Facebook, and Roy talked about how he likes the little emergency start kit things that have the battery. You don't need anyone else with those. Yeah, those are nice. Quite a few years ago, I had this problem, and a security guard somewhere, maybe it was a mall, had one of those. I don't know how you find someone with those though, when you need one. I bet I should Google it.

At this point, Melissa is getting hungry, and could use her Starbucks, so she makes her daily run to McDonalds and Starbucks. Well, at least I've seen that. One of the things that struck me throughout this. Melissa and Greg are real pals. I think Melissa always gives him rides home. So they were quite chummy. Greg was joking, and talking about some comedy thing on the net, epic meal time. Something about making a meat loaf with dozens of big macs inside. But me and Melissa. Not so close. Of course, I was in a very quiet mood. But still, nothing. And she was in rescue mode, so we were trying to get this done. I don't what I was thinking. Melissa really makes me happy to be with her. And even though there was trouble, I was still happy to be with her. I still kind of felt I needed to be unhappy with the situation and trouble we were having, But honestly, inside, it was not that big a deal. You just get jumper cables and jump the car off. It might well take a while, but that happens. It's a lot better than a wreck.

The fire guys suggest aome auto parts places on Cleveland which was not too far. We go by, and they open at 8, which would have been an hour. So then Melissa tries Brittney, who is going in to Bardog for breakfast at 7:30. Melissa's phone actually goes through the car--that's kind of neat. Brittney has cables, and she'll bring them in. Yay! So we've got that dealt with.

Somewhere in there, Melissa got gas. Man, I didn't even offer to pay for any of the stuff she was spending on. That was also pretty sad. A take charge person would have done that. So I was pretty weak about that. Not really good for me. But I'm not such a good person.

So we go back to Bardog and wait. And she has the key, so we go in. It seemed a little hard to wait. And maybe they were a little bit late. Chris came in to. Melissa had to talk manager stuff with him. But he had cables. Yay! And we'll bring them back. It's just around the corner, and better not to be without them.

So we go to my car. And looking under Melissa's hood, she just got a new Audi for lease because she was about to have a big repair bill on her 2-year-old one. We had trouble just finding the hood release button. And then we couldn't find the battery. Grr. I don't know how they managed that. The hid it. So we called Chris, who has a jeep. Give me an American car for that. So we connect it up, no problem. We did go and look at Melissa's car again. Chris found the battery. There was some kind of plastic cover, and it was back next to the windshield. I felt pretty silly. Greg was thinking he wasn't going to be able to find it either. And I actually wasn't able to figure out the hood latch on his jeep. It wasn't a push up button on most things I'm used to, it was a latch to pull forward. I probably would have gotten it eventually. But I didn't. Oh well. Anyway, we could give him back his cables directly.

So an an Odyssey. It really wasn't too bad. Took maybe a little longer than it might have. But it didn't cost anything other than Melissa's gas, and that wasn't too bad, I think. In my mind was that we could have gone to my place and picked up my cables. I know I have some. But that would have been 40 minutes driving round trip. Doing that right off might have gotten it done faster than it eventually took, but we didn't know we would have that kind of trouble, and the cost would have been more than it was. Also, there was a 24-hour Autozone on Summer. Everyone was saying that. And if we hadn't gotten Brittney's help, it might have been next. But we didn't end up needing to go that far. And it would have costed the price of the cables. So actually, of all the possible ways to solve this problem, we got did pretty well. At least I don't feel too bad about it. Melissa sent me a text saying sorry it was so much trouble, but I had to response that we had really done pretty well.

One thing though. When I left Bardog, I had taken some leftover barbecue someone had brought. They hadn't wanted it, and Melissa didn't want to take it. After this, it had been sitting in my car another 3 hours. And even then it had been from the night or day before, so it was sitting out at least 12 hours. Melissa could not speak for it. There was some corn and some squash stuff, and some chicken. I hate to throw away food. But I have to admit this is kind of iffy. When I came I tried a piece of the chicken. I definitely tasted like it was getting old. I have eaten old food before. I think I am not so bothered by it. And lets say that with some of the stuff I take, I'm not even sure I would notice the difference if I did have food poisoning. Especially since I've been drinking milk which I think had reduced lactose, but isn't lactose free. At least I had cause to ponder that. I took a nap, and when I got up, I was totally not sure. I think I may have been starting to have psychosomatic things. Maybe I noticed my nose running a little bit, and I normally don't. Nothing particularly bad. I think I will eat the other piece of chicken and pitch the veggies.

And I went to Bruce's party. Lots of ribs. Saw some people I really only see at these. Bruce's and Kate's dads, Benno and Bob, were talking at the end about books. Bob has a Kindle, a gift from them, and we were talking about it. Kind of neat.

Mom should be coming into Memphis today. I think that'll be nice. I think she won't be so happy how I've neglected the plants, but it will at least be good for them.

I do think I'm getting stressed as the money winds down and I need work and I'm starting to look for it and fave some trouble with it.

  • July 3, 2011
Something decided to change my path environmental variable so that windows system was in front of my special bin directory, so the ftp I need for emacs didn't work. Boo.

I haven't gotten any spending money out for a while so I haven't been spending. It also means I haven't been going out and seeing people. On Wednesday, I think, I again missed going to see the John and Kory acoustic show. Maybe in a couple of weeks. And Super 5 was playing on Friday, I think at Doc Watson's. I could have gone. I checked on Saturday during the day, John and Kory were in Southhaven, and last time I saw them do that, that evening they were at the same place, so I didn't check this time. But at about midnight, I saw they were at Dan McGuinness East. I would have gone if I had seen it earlier. Oh well.

So today, doing the Bagua form, it occurred to me how much it is about multiply attackers. Even in the single move, you'll block and hit the guy in one direction, and turn and get a guy in the other direction, and turn again and get a guy in the other direction. I had known about that, but just something about this time had me thinking about just how many different people you're pretending to be going against.

Watching tons of Netflix. Saw the thing on Bill Withers. A thing on water pollution. Several Monks. I've been watching more Joe Campbell--some stuff on Indian stuff. I watched on disc the last of Connections 3. kind of while playing on the computer. Seems like some of the connections are a little tenuous. On the internet, I watched a bit of a thing with Dennett talking about athiest preachers. Kind of sad, they lose their faith but keep going because they want to keep the job. Heh.

For some reason, it also occurred to me that Wynne went to her 20th HS class reunion, which was about 6 years ago, but didn't look me up. Oh well. I guess that says something.

Thinking about the Sam Harris thing, I've spent a little bit of time meditating again. I never got particularly good at maintaining unwavering focus. And I tend to just do it before falling asleep. Yesterday, I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. I had gotten a nap in the evening, but then I didn't fall asleep again til 7am, and I decided not to go to tai chi at 8 because of that. I kind of feel uneasy and bad anout it now. And just generally, I feel like my mind was pretty unquiet. I think the mediation was good, but I did balk a bit.

I looked up and downloaded a couple of neat computer things. I found that there is a LIDA framework for download, from Stan's group, and I got that. I also found something called PRAAT, which is a bunch of tools for doing speech processing and phonetics. I really need to play with that.

I was remembering how nice it was to talk to Lacy Apperson, so I looked up Midtown Yoga where she teaches. And I looked over some of the other teachers there, who I might like to talk to. One of them has something they're calling an "Inner Journey Yoga" that actually sounds intriguing to me, and I might have to go check it out. That stuff can be expensive, though.

  • July 1, 2011
Happy Kalends of July!

I must have been hungry this morning. I was dreaming of eating. And I would keep eating and eating. But when I woke up, I didn't really feel hungry. I think I was just at the point of not being hungry anymore that can happen. And I was starting to get weak, I guess. I think I started to get a headache from not eating enough. I was thinking I was going to go out and buy some food. I had planned to. But then I didn't feel like it. I ate a little, some chicken and a potato. The was good enough for a bit. After Chinese class, I was hungry again. I just ate a burrito. I tried to get by with just a little bit. I think my weight is down a bit, and now is the time to try to hold on and not binge. We'll see how it goes.

I got the money, but then when I got to the Chinese class, I forgot to pay. Now I feel bad. Maybe I got distracted? I was expecting Selena, but it was two little kids, and their Chinese was really amazingly good. And then their mom came, and she was talking to me, and she asked me some stuff in Chinese, but I didn't get it. And then one student was late. Paying just never even occurred to me. Pitiful. I got into my car and remembered. I had been think about it before, too.

And the class didn't go so well. We had gotten new conversational phrases, and I was looking for them, but didn't find them. I thought there was a handout, but there actually wasn't. It was just in my notes. So I wasn't ready. And one was how are your mom and dad. I said they are fine, but the Chinese has an extra word that I forgot. You need to say they are all fine. And it didn't even occur to me until later that I shouldn't be saying that. My mom is fine. My dad died in November. I don't know really what the right thing would be to say.

  • June 30, 2011
I now have no cash at all in my wallet. I spent my last dollar. Well, I have more money in the bank, but I've been trying to hold off on getting it out because that makes it too easy to spend. I tried to change some coins into folding money, but the coin machine at Schnucks was broken. I had already put my money in, so I had to take it out. Boo. So I used some coins, which are a pain to count out in a grocery line. No one was behind me, though. I got a gallon of milk. $3.19. One dollar bill, two dollars of quarters, a dime, a nickel and four pennies. I could have gone with more change, like a dollar of dimes, but like I said, that's a pain. I had the quarters ready to go. I could have gotten a dollar of dimes ready to do. I actually had done that at home, but decided against it. I thought I would get it all changed by the machine. Boo.

Freddie's birthday was yesterday and Roy's and Liz H's is today. I know how to say and write happy birthday in Chinese-- 祝你生日快乐, zhu ni sheng ri kuaile, word for word "wish you birth day happy."

I saw a neat talk by Sam Harris. It was an answer thing (AMA) from reddit. He went on a bit about meditation, and his whole spiritual thing. I kind of feel I'm a bit where he is, where you can see some of the religious experience things in some traditions, and it doesn't help to ignore things that people experience--transcendent love, for one. And expansive oceanic feelings. I posted it up on Liz P's page. Michael C also pointed out that he talked about how people sometimes thing feelings of awe or mystery and maybe gratitude are spiritual experiences, but that's not really anything like the character of the really deep experiences that some people have. Sam's a big Vipassana meditator. He's spent days, weeks, months on silent meditation retreat. And he still practices. He thinks it gives him insight into how the ego is a mental construct or illusion. And he did MDMA, though he doesn't recommend it as there seems to be real proof that it does some neurological damage. But he thinks it gave him some insight. On what exactly? I think he said a little bit on the feeling of expansive love. I don't know. He's a neurological researcher, and he's got books on atheism, and an attempt to have a scientific basis for morality. I don't know about that one. The reddit philosophy seem to say he hasn't really decided or come up with anything at all. He seems to sort of assume what is good instead of finding out. I really don't quite follow it. And the way Sam dismisses those objections, he doesn't seem to either. So I don't even know if there is anything there or not. I got the Kindle sample of that book and didn't feel like going through it. He said he's going to do a book on the meditation and spiritual stuff. I'll be interested in that.

Kung fu class today was frustrating. No teacher, so it was just us practicing. There's some stuff we aren't so great on. And there was one guy who has gotten a little shaky on some of the stuff we have. There was one section that it goes in a diamond. It returns to where it starts, so it's possible to practice it by continuously doing it around and around. And if you do that, it really locks it down. At least it did for me. And I wanted him to do it, because the little exercise I think can go a long way. It's maybe 15 seconds in the form if you do it once. But he also needed to work on some of the stuff leading up to it, so we did that. Then we really kind of used up the time for his turn, and the other folks needed to go practice. And we had gone over time, so we really could end the class. And I wanted him just to practice that, but he said no, and another student said no. Maybe I wasn't too sympathetic. I really should have said he almost had it and needed just a little more. But I did say he didn't have it. And he thought he did. I watched him try to do it. He did not have it. So I don't know, I didn't handle it well. It means something to me because for three weeks now we've been stuck on this spot and I haven't gotten to move forward in the form. It's starting to look like we won't get through it, and we're already talking about what to study next, like we're going to give up on it. It would have been so simple. You go around in the diamond three or four times, and it gets so natural you don't have to think about it any more. Wouldn't do it, though. Been studying a lot longer than me. I just learned it. But for me it's fresh, I guess. There might have been some bits that the teacher kind of changed, though. I don't know.

I'm watching a Netflix show on Shaolin monks in America. Apparently there are quite a few scattered about. A kind of a neat thing, they're talking Chinese, and I'll pick up a word here and there. So it's coming along. Long way to go, but it's nice to actually get something. So Shaolin means little forest.

  • 6.28
Happy Tau Day!

I'm trying to see how long I can go without taking any more money out and going to the grocery store for more food. I've bought milk a couple of times. I've got about a couple dollars left. I do actually have stuff frozen that I can be eating. I've actually gone vegetarian today. That's kind of a neat trick. I ate a tomato, as a salad with vinegar, and a baked potato with cheese. And I had a bean burrito with cheese and onions. And some peanut butter chocalote wafer things. And some chocolate milk, and some tang. Not too bad. I'm hoping to eat a little less. I can pig out when I go shopping. I'm not sure if I managed to actually eat less today, but I went to kung fu, so I got some exercise, too.

I drove by Gus's. They have a sign saying they're now hiring. So they must be getting close.

So there's a story that Pisaro conquered the Incas with just his little band of 170 against an army of 80,000. Complete and utter lies and fabrication. But it's the story that the Spanish wrote down, so it's actually the story that people say and is in the history books. A while ago, though, I saw I think it was a Nova show or _Secrets of the Dead_, I don't know, some kind of PBS show. They found archeological evidence of the battle. They found a couple of skulls with bullet wounds. So it was them. But almost everyone, was killed by the little stone axes they had at the time. Pisaro had gotten an alliance with some locals. They didn't talk about that though. They would have had to pay something or share stuff. So they just didn't say anything about them.

Anyway, that's the main story, but we know otherwise now. But only recently, I guess. Since watching that, I've watched several documentaries now that all go by the "official" story. Including what I'm watching now, _Guns, Germs, and Steel_. Now, it's still true that the Spanish won. But it's not quite the same magical fairy story like they say.

  • June 27, 2011
Watching some Joseph Campbell. He's always fun. It's been sitting in my Netflix instant queue. I tried to watch one and quit. Something had bothered me, I'm not sure. There's some kind of wrap-around narration by Susan Sarandon, maybe that was it. She seems so clueless hippy fangirl. Campbell only pulls it off by wearing a suit. His stuff is so out there. He's one of a kind. And you'll let one person be like that, and that's it. Kind of the way they let Paul McCartney cram together two different songs into one.

I thought I had seen all the Campbell, and assimilated it. But this seems totally new, even though I guess the ideas don't seem odd. Except he said one thing I guess I hadn't gotten. Eastern gurus have little methods, hammers, to break fragile Eastern egos. In their system, people identify with their roles the way we do not, unless we are "stuffed-shirts". So they have very weak egos. Don't pick who they married. Life just happens to them. It's significant for me to miss, because it means enlightenment really is not something that's going to happen to a western person, where it might be possible, if rare, to an Eastern person. It's taken me a long time to realize it's not that big a thing, but now I have something to point to as to why. We wouldn't even like it if it happened.

  • June 26, 2011
It was a good taiji class yesterday. Kind of short. There was no second class. And there were only three people, including me. And I only did the 24 form once. But push hands was good. We started on it while the others were still doing stuff in the first class. Maybe I was a little more fresh for it. I still don't have the more advanced style of push hans with the vertical circle. I'm not quite sure what bits of it I'm still not getting. so I still need to work on it. But I likee how we did the regular simple push hands with the horizontal circle. Laoshi still sometimes does it quite fast. And a couple of times, I didn't deflet properly or fast enough, so he hit me center of mass and pushed me back. I think that was good because it helped me appreciate the trouble I'm still having. You learn from your mistakes. So I think I'm getting better.

Yesterday I went to the reddit meetup. It started about noon at shelby farms. It was at the same place roughly as we do the world taiji demonstration, up by a lake. I hadn't gone down to the lake before, so this time, before going over to the people, I went down to the lake first. There was a little dock with people fishing. I wasn't sure which group out there was them. There was one group in the covered place, but that looked like just a faily, and a big group by a tree. But it was at the particular spot they had originally said. Seems like there was talk of moving in case of rain. I had a reddit t-shirt. There wasn't anything else saying for sure, but I heard people introducing themselves, so it had to be strangers getting together. That can be a problem--knowing you are in the right place.

I didn't talk to anyone at first. I kind of sat in a corner. I really wasn't that into it. But a little kid Steve, 13, came up and started talking to me. Asking if I was into things. Voltron? I think Doctor Who was in there. We did find out that I had a Wii. So he was asking about kid stuff. But really outgoing. So that was something. There was something about how his dad had some kind of video connections and was going to be able to tell when something came out. I guess I shouldn't wait too long to write things.

There were about 35 people who came. At one point, I counted 30, and a few more people came after that. There were 7 women. I could manage an exact count of them. They stand out. I would not have been surprised if there were no women at all. But it was pretty reasonable for there to be some. Of course, there might just not have been anybody showing up at all. But Graham, who goes by covenant, got just a ton off food. Maybe $300 dollars worth. So totally we had stuff for it to be a good party.

The second person I talked to was Steve's dad, Dave Lambert. He was a bit into Doctor Who. I think he said the first doctor he saw was the third doctor. I think mine was the fourth. I guess I'm not that into it. I asked him about whether they were going to end it at 12 regenerations, or whatever it is, and he told me that was a restriction put on by the Galifreyans, so since they were gone, he doesn't need to go by it. And apparently someone asked him one time how many times he could regenerate and he said something like 576 or something rediculous, so people were taking that seriously. Dave is more of a Star Trek person. The original, next gen, and some of DS9. We talked about the trouble after Gene was gone. And I asked him about the latest movie. He said it was a disaster. So we had something to comiserate about.

What else. I was there about 6 hours. There was still people going on. The last table I was sitting at had Angela, Drew, Doug, and Dave (different Dave, best friend of Graham). Graham had mostly been sitting with us, but was at another table when I left. Angela is a singer and music professor at U of M, and the girlfriend of Graham. Graham will actually be taking her class next semester. Outgoing. Had a crazy roomate in Malibu and a crazy ex. So somehow managed to find crazies. Also had a really fancy room on the beach in Malibu, with a little bit of tutoring for some girl who didn't need it. Sings opera. Has a body to match, though she did talk about being skinny before. Drew works as a mosquito sprayer or something. Graham was not happy to see him at first because he looked like someone who had molested his daughter. Graham was an iron-worker in the past. He was talking about how terrifying it was to work on the roof of buildings with no safety lines. Doug had a degree in English, but was having trouble finding work. Trouble meeting anyone, actually. Sounded pretty sad.

I saw Spencer Lucas, who I knew from Hilton. Man, his name just didn't come to me, so he had to tell me. And I've run into him before, too. I guess the name just doesn't stick somehow. And his wife Laura or Lauren (that's pretty bad) and his two sons. They were talking about trouble looking for work. It's tough right now. She's got something somewhere. So she sympathizes with people who are looking, and was trying to think of places for me to look. I think she said several Hilton people had gone to Alsac. So that may have been why they thought of me.

So seven women. Three were wives-- Steve's mom, Spencer's wife, and I think they called her Natalie. Natalie was really cute, a little strawverry blonde. Their kid was there. There was Angela, who was with Graham. One girl introduced herself, but I've forgotten her name. I guess I should have written it down. So there were two I didn't quite keep track of, and she was one of those. One of those was a lesbian, I think she said. Both young, and maybe a little big large. But there was one. Tall skinny brunette. Seemed to be by herself. So thin, I was kind of surprised, but she ate something, a burger. And she sat down and squeezed in at the table with the most people, which had Graham and his group. She didn't stay very long. Maybe half an hour to an hour, I guess I didn't keep that close track. I was standing pretty close by. She definitely seemed out of place.

There were pictures.

So one thing stuck with me. They were talking about classes and required attendance policies. I forget who now, but someone had an 8:30 class where you would get an F if you missed a class, and he didn't but was half hour late twice and he almost did. I think it was an Indian guy, I forget his name, and he talking about a Sanskrit class. Graham then talked about some teacher of U of M. He learned to read Vulgar Latin in a year. Sounds good. I'm jealous. Another thing I wish I would have gotten down.

Man, I have way too many mosquito bites. I think my allergic patches are getting a little better.

  • June 23, 2011
Well that's good. I got a sample of a book I was thinking about reading, Being Happy. And I read the sample, and that was enough. The book is pretty specifically about dealing with perfectionism. Three sort of specific aspects of perfectionism, being way too scared of failing, not accepting negative feelings, and then not accepting success if it happens. OK. I guess interesting ideas and real issues if you need to deal with them. But I don't really relate to them right now. I think I certainly used to have more problems like that, and maybe I still do to some extent, but they aren't things that I'm really concerned about or interested in right now. So I don't need to buy it or read it, I don't think. Money saved.

So I'm allergic to neomycin. I had a mosquito bite that maybe I scratched a little too much, and I also had a little scrape, so I tried some neosporin. The got worse after that. And the mosquito bite, I had heard that putting tape over them makes them feel better. And I tried that, and it totally worked. But, with still using the neosporin, and getting a bit of an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis), the skin got a little bit weakened, and one time I had tape over it, it got kind of rubbed a bit-- it was on my leg at the top of where the sock was, and it rubbed off all the skin in a patch about an inch across. Pretty icky. It wasn't getting better. The little scratch on the other leg was actually getting noticeably worse. I actually thought it seemed inflamed, so I googled if neosporin could cause allergic reactions. Sure enough, neomycin, one of the ingredients, is allergic in as many as 20% of people. Yup, that did it. I had been a bit afraid it was infected, but I realized it was probably just this allergy. It's a really big bad spot. And there's area around it. I don't know that it's not still getting worse, but I think I may have stopped the worst of it. I only had little tiny band-aid, so I went and got some big ones with some antibacterial stuff on them. Man.

I watched a thing on the Matrix. Kind of a philosophy of the Matrix documentary. And I wrote reddit post about it. I didn't like it. The documentary helped me look at some of the things it kind of talked about and see them as just social commentary and metaphor. That at least helps me sympathize a bit. The people as battery things is stupid in itself, but as a kind of commentary about how society tries to make people unquestioning consumers to drive the money-making system, at least it kind of tries to mean something. But all the philosophical thought experiments-- the brain in a vat thing. I've seen those before. I think it's nice that other people are exposed to them so I have an opportunity to talk about that stuff with them. Maybe. But even that is not all that great. The visual stuff just doesn't do anything for me. I didn't like _Avatar_ either for the same reason. Apparently the other movies explored other ideas too. Not particularly interested. Not enough to sit through them, for sure. But I'm probably not really all that interested in the ideas, though I might have been in the past. More I kind of personally gone past them.

And I realized that a big problem I had was the idea in there that enlightenment is somehow like seeing the true nature behind the matrix. No, no, no! A thousand times, no! This is wrong. This is bad to even confuse people like that. Enlightenment for me now isn't especially all that big a deal, but to completely miss the point like that just does damage to everyone, and especially to people who really want to find out the truth about it. Ick. So for me it's worse than just not liking it. I think it has hurt other people to watch it. Which is pretty bad. And it's the same reaction I had to the new _Star Trek_ movie. There was something nice there in the humanism of the old _Star Trek_ that this complete craps on. Maybe that nice thing wasn't all that great, but it was there, and it was the essential good of it. It makes me sad to see it destroyed.

Laoshi took a completely different tack in her Chinese class. She's getting ready to teach the class for fourth grade, and for them she wrote a book of common words. This time, it's all names of things with pictures, so you have a picture of the thing and the word. Before, it was more abstract things like numbers, months, days of the week. Family relationships, like brother mother, big sister. This is just pictures. Kind of like what they do in Rosetta stone. The things are fruits, vegetables, food, drinks, clothes, and body parts. Very physical. That has to be good for little kids, though I'm not sure they quite know the difference between green onions and bulb onions. Still. It's concrete and they are still in the concrete stage. So great for them.

  • June 16, 2011
Happy Picard Day!

I could do a lot of things if I had some money.

So the thing at ALSAC hasn't gone so well. The manager passed it on to a consulting company, and the guy there was very concerned that I haven't done any development in a couple years, so he can't prove that I would be able to work immediately. He talked to the manager, who seemed to have the same trouble. So they are going to looked for other people first. Apparently it's hard to find Java people, so they might get back to me. But it didn't really sound good.

So talking with him, it made me feel that in his mind, I would actually be a lot worse off if I did get a Ph.D., because when I would be done, it would be that much longer since I had done Java development. I might be able to get work doing other stuff, but he didn't sound like he would help me at that point.

That's how it goes though. Sometimes some people will just have some kind of problem with you not having experience, or not quite the right kind, or even in this case, it not being recent enough. This guy's attitude seemed to be a bit, well you must have some kind of problem since you haven't been working. I suppose it makes sense in his experience or from how he thinks about things. But for me, it's pretty discouraging. I just have to find a situation where whatever issues there might be don't stop whoever it is. It seems bad that they are just imagining an issue, but it makes it a question of uncertainty. People hired want to be sure about their choice. An it's maybe a little worse with recruiting firms, because they are trying to get money from the transaction.

J.J. Abrams was on Charlie Rose last night. He's got some kind of movie, _Super 8_ out. Since he made the _Star Trek_ movie, I'm going to avoid anything he ever does. But in the beginning of Charlie Rose, they did a fairly long piece reviewing the stuff he's done. I forget all they showed, but some were Felicity, Fringe, Lost, Cloverfield. I don't know what else. They didn't mention _Star Trek_. But I thought it was kind of funny that I hadn't seen any of them. Apparently a lot of people liked Lost. So I got the feeling it wasn't just Star Trek. I don't like anything about Abrams' view of the world. There's probably something in there that it's dark and mysterious, and people are mean or something. The very opposite of the original sensibility of _Star Trek_. But for a long time they've been trying to move away from that. With a bit of the excuse that it doesn't have dramatic tension or something. Or because the world isn't like that. Now. But that was the point. We make the world how it is. And we can make it dark and evil, or we can make it bright and wonderful, and Star Trek was a vision of us having done that. And people crapped on it. Oh well. I'm not going to watch anything from Abrams.

Doug is going out to California. He's going to take a compilers class at Stanford. A break from work. He had a third three-month contract at Thomas & Betts. Wanted to do something different. They said they would take him back after that.

  • June 15, 2011
I gotta tell ya, don't drop bags of groceries. This one had a gallon of milk in it. Split right in the middle. Lost half of it. Could have lost all of it, so I guess it was good that I could still save half of it. And it was a plastic bag, so it could capture and hold it mostly with just a bit dripping out. A paper bag would have broken at some random place and dumped it all over the floor somewhere. So I guess I was fairly lucky for having made a bad mistake like that. Something about fumbling with the hatch, trying to close it or lock it or somthing while holding everything togther in one hand. Be a little more careful, or something. And the bag also had a box of fried chicken in it. So since the milk was somewhat contained in the bag, it went into the box pretty well. I don't think it was too bad for it. Kind of messy, though. And drops of milk running all over the floor and the counter. Grr.

I also got really upset on Sunday. I was going to cut the lawn. And in pouring the gas out of the plastic gas can, I pulled off the little yellow plastic plug for the air release thing. It has a ring to hold it on if you do it right, but I must not have, because it came completely off. Then I didn't have enough gas, so I needed to go buy some. I brought the can to the carport. But I didn't have the little seal cap thing. I looked all over the spot in the grass where I had put the gas in the mower, but totally didn't find it. And I was getting more and more upset, because it seemed like I really needed it. By that time, I had already taken the can to by my car, and I thought I had looked around there. So I went and got gas, still staying pretty annoyed. I come back, and find it right away sitting on the ground in the carport. It must have fallen off not when pouring, but when I set it down before going to the gas station. So I suddenly felt better, but there was quite a period where I was really mad.

  • June 13, 2011
Happy Ides of June! Happy Monday the Thirteenth!

I actually ate a real meal. Usually I don't. Roast beef, rice, gravy, and peas. Quite often I will just eat meat by itself. Or a sandwich. I guess a sandwich is kind of a meal, but not quite the same. I mean a meal the way my mom makes. She always has several vegatables, but it's unusual for me to even have one, so that's what I mean. I had one because my mom gave me some canned vegatables. She had a lot more than she needed. She grows and eats fresh vegetables, so she doesn't need canned stuff. Or she'll buy them fresh in season. Such a better way to do it. But it's just not me.

One about trying to make my own reduced lactose milk is I don't have to go to Kroger, which is just about the only place I'll buy lactose free milk. They have a store brand that is like almost a dollar cheaper than Lactaid brand which you can get in other place. But it makes me stuck to going there. I could go to more than one store, but that's too much trouble. I finally went to Aldi again. I bought a bunch of stuff for $21. Milk, cheese, peanut butter, chocolate. And fried chicken. I'll just eat fried chicken by itself sometimes. Probably not a good thing, but I like it. Getting frozen fired chicken is the cheapest way to go. And theoretical, it would mean I don't have to eat it all at once. But that just doesn't work for me. Too yummy. Man, I need to go see how Gus's is doing.

  • June 9, 2011
Damn, this show is deep. I'm watching _American Ruling Class_. It's semi-fictional, but it also has real people. And it's not conspiracy theory or weird like that. So it's got a couple of Yale people. Starting out privileged. And it's taking them on a path to see if maybe they want to join the ruling class. Or can. First they need to be successful in some kind of way.

So how do you get into it? The first deep thing I think was they said that if you're smart, they will ask you. The ruling class needs smart people to keep things going for them. Huh. So one guy works as an investment banker, figuring to make a bunch of money first. Other dude wants to be a writer. But comes up against the money problem. So I think he sells out or something and goes commercial screenplay. I don't know, I'm not paying that close attention.

Another deep thing was they came across a journalist who is working the low pay jobs for a year, researching how most people live. She says the biggest "philanthropy" is all the people working for low wages, less than they're worth, so the rich people can have everything cheap. Now that's something deep. At some point, people will get tired of it and make sure everyone gets enough to live. Jobs that you can't live on shoulnn't really count, they says.

So where I am now, and I've paused it to get some stuff down, they are now interviewing some really people in government. So actual people in the ruling class. Trippy. Their background is pretty diverse. Generally, they are successful in some kind of business--private sector-- and then they go into public sector, and then they have to build up there. So nothing magical. Is it a class? there certainly are a group of people.

I guess this is in contrast to the other documentary I just saw, _Born Rich_. This is the Johnson & Johnson kid. He had another movie like this. This one specifically was going around to other rich kids. Man, it just kind of made me sick. The money really doesn't seem to do them any good, either. So it seems like society doesn't have to put up with it. They had this one bar they go to in, maybe the Hamptons? They had the concierge. Apparently, they all hang out together and have just a tiny group and never mix with anyone else. Two bottle minimum, and bottles are at least $200. So it'll be $400, but more likely thousands.

Anyway, so I was thinking the ruling class would be a group you were born into, like these guys. Apparently, not really. Some people can be born into a situation where they have a better chance to join, but they still have to make an effort and pursue entry. Eh.

Man. There was this one solitaire game. I kept at it and there wasw finally a solution. I think it was the toughest one I've seen. You had to get everything in the right order, and save stuff to the end. It involved putting stuff on the deck all the way up to the jacks. Some games, I managed to convince myself that they really are impossible. There is some dependency for progress that is prevented by cards that are still down. And sometimes, I'll be in a mood where I'm just too tired to keep working on a particular deal. Usually, I think the funnest thing is to work until I have a solution, or at least some idea of the impossibility. I'm not enough of a mathematician to have a formal system where I can prove a deal is impossible. I do have a theorem that under the condition that there are only two cards hidden, and you get a full pass through the top deck, you can't lose, because of the two ways you can make progress. You can put both black and red cards building up from aces on the foundation, and things down from the king, and two hidden cards can't stop both. Oh well. I had one game recently, where I got all the cards uncovered, but it was too late, and I had gotten too far in the last deal from the stock cards, and I couldn't get back to everything. I tried, but I didn't find anything that finished it up sooner. Sometimes there's a sequence of cards you need from the stock, and it'll be in a bad order, so you have to go through several redeals.

So the reduced lactose milk. I don't know if it worked. It doesn't taste sweeter. It definitely didn't become lactose-free. I don't know if it even worked at all. Maybe it's a little better. I drank half a gallon on the first day. I'd probably have to say it must have been better than full lactose milk, but I'm not positive. Maybe I will keep trying. I may end up just going to the lactose free. Maybe two to three times the cost. I really need to not drink so much of it. Tasty, though.

  • June 8, 2011
I'm watching _Wild China_. They were talking about some plant that can grow three feet in day. That's pretty impressive. They said that with a time lapse of the first sprout from the ground, and then said it grows faster when it's taller. So you kind of get the feeling that it gets to be three feet tall on its first day. Which of course is not right. Still, that's a fast growing plant. It makes me think of the asparagus, which only takes a couple of days to grow a foot. And we used to have some bamboo growing out in the swampy area of the bottom, but I haven't seen it in a while. That stuff doesn't die, so there's probably some still these, I just haven't gone out there.

I spent several days out at the farm with Mom. From Saturday to Tuesday. Mom actually carries water to the garden, in a bucket and milk jug. And takes time to pour it out individually. So none is wasted and the weeds in the adjacent spots don't get anything. It's something to keep busy, I guess. Seems like real work to me. Maybe half an hour to an hour in the evening. Gardening. Totally not me. But I helped carrying water. At least she did that when I was there. Maybe she doesn't do it so much without help. She could just use a sprinkler. The watermelon are still little tiny plants, but they grow noticeably each day when they get water. I think mine here are like that, too. They need more water than they been getting. Mom's garden is only three weeks old, since she started late. So not very far along, but still looking pretty good. The asparagus are from previous years.

One of the main things I did out there was practice with my Chinese flashcards. I'm getting better. Unfortunately, I don't have the English with them. That's generally the easiest. I'm using the flashcards really just to remember the characters and pinyin. In Memphis, I just go online to check the meanings when I don't remember. It generally doesn't take too long. But I started to forget, with no way to look them up since I don't have the internet out there. And since I had most of the HSK after a few days, I started working on the common phrases from Chinese class. But, like I said, I totally didn't have the translations so I don't know what they were for. Mostly. It turns out that it was really kind of odd, because a lot of the HSK words were in the sentences. So I typical could read the sentence, except for maybe one specific one. Or I might know them all. Like how to say, "Can you speak English?", Which is "Ni hui shuo Yingwen ma?" But I guess probably a lot of the phrases would be something like, "how far is the _blank_?", and I just wouldn't have seen whatever it was asking about.

I wasn't completely cut off from the internet. I could do some little things from my iPhone. I posted stuff to Facebook.

So there's a professer at U of M in the EECE department who has paid positions for research assistants. It's in a computational intelligence lab they apparently have. It sounds like it was heavy in neural networks, and I'm not really so happy with neural networks though I've been seen them for a long time. I haven't really spent any actually time using them in programs, though, so I guess that's not too fair. I haven't really seen that much done with them either. But it seems like it might be an interesting thing for me to do. It talks about getting enough money for a "reasonable lifestyle" in Memphis. That could be a lot of things. I'm not sure I actually live reasonably. I can be a little too extravagent. But my expenses aren't too bad. I guess the big thing is living in a house that's paid for, but that still costs quite a bit. Still it's something I should look at. They're expecting the person to pursue a Ph.D. I was in the program, but it's but so long all my stuff is expired. I'm not sure what I would need to do.

I've also heard about maybe some stuff at St.Jude, so I'll have to keep looking at that. At least I'm getting started at looking for work again. It's tough right now, apperently, but there is always need for computer stuff. It's supposed to be a big growing area, though maybe not so much in this economy.

I have now at least tried the thing with the milk and lactase. I put three pills in water to dissolve it. What came out was such a cloudy mess that I decided to filter it. Then it was completely clear. I looked at the other ingredients again and in addition to the silicon dioxide, it said moncrystalline cellulose. Blech. So I'd be glad to take that out. I just hope I got all the lactase. Anyway, it hasn't been twenty four hours yet so I haven't tried it. We'll see how it goes. And it won't be lactose free, anyway, just reduced.

I watched _The Trancendent Man_, a kind of biopic of Ray Kurzweil. He's a big futurist, so a lot of it was just about that futurist stuff. They had people arguing against some of the stuff that Ray said. It was kind of funny for me, because a couple of the people I know. It had Ben Goertzel in there, and Hugo de Garis. I see Hugo at the AGI conferences. He's got some kind of project going on at a Chinese University. So that might be something to look at. They've got tons of engineers, though. And from what I heard, programming is like a blue collar job there.

I say I'm not that into neural networks. I recently watched a great video from Patrick Horn explaining neural networks and support vector machines. I saw it on reddit and commented that it was machine learning for poets. Kind of a fairly high level explanation, with a little bit of math, but trying not to have too much. But it had a kind of neat thing about learning algorithm for neural networks. I guess I don't have it completely, but I think it kind of had to do with how the learning mechanism ends up being much simpler and can use local running totals instead of something more complicated. So it sounded like maybe I might need to look again some more. But support vector machines seemed so much more powerful. They handle a slightly different problem, though, than neural networks can. Neural networks can basically learn any behavior. Support vector machines are only about learning to be able to correctly answer yes or no questions. Now, theoretically, I think yes or no questions, if you have enough, could do anything. But if you're talking about moving around, that's more of a neural network thing. Still, for a long time it has been my feeling that anything a neural network can do, you almost certainly could do a different way. The kind of thing Neural networks do is something like finding a polynomial approximation. Well, you can just find a polynomial approximation. You don't need a neural network for that. So I don't know.

I can't get to the swampy area of the farm with the buggy. There's a washout now in the raod where a culvert was. It's like 8 foot deep and 10 feet across. So we proably will need to completely rebuild that section of the road.

  • June 3, 2011
Man. I was watching a Netflix documentary, _Dirt: The Movie_. I managed to get maybe forty-five minutes into, though I wasn't very happy with it. Then the guy was "broadcasting" some seed, by hand. And then he said he was giving it all the energy of his soul. That was enough for me. It was a big hippy tree hugging festival. Dirt-kissing. I didn't know there was something worse than tree hugging. There was a guy, some kind of wine snob. He would go vist the vines, and actually eat the dirt. One of the guys who says the wine tastes like cranberries and peppers. One of those swiss cheese brain things from drinking too much== Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, that's what I'm thinking of. Now, soil depletion is a real problem. That's why I was watching it. But you don't have to go all mother soil on it.

I've been studying Chinese pretty heavily. I'm just trying to memorize the 150 vocabulary words for the HSK 1 test. That's no way to learn a language. You need to learn words in context and in sentences. That's how I messed up learning Latin, too. Just memorizing vocabulary is not good. But it's something to do. The mnemosyne flashcard program makes it easy enough to do. It's really about the same as playing solitaire or freecell, which I've really been doing too much of. So that's a little better. And maybe it will work for taking a test.

A new girl joined the Chinese class. I don't know about joining a language class six months into it. I'm sure laoshi said it would be fine, and she really could do OK. We've been going pretty slow. I spent a little time with her on the phone trying to explain some of the stuff. And maybe we were going to get together on Tuesday for a little more. But she didn't even go to kung fu on Tuesday. I'm not sure she will keep with the class. I'm afraid that I exposed to her how difficult Chinese is, and she has gotten discouraged. And she has a boyfriend. Keeps mentioning him. And we were going to get together after I called, but then BF said they had to go somewhere. I feel sure that he's just going to object to her spending too much time with it. Not going to work out.

And it looks like a couple more of the people in the Chinese class are going to quit. Reecie has too many things going on, and just added new duties at work. David has been busy. He has missed enough, and just might not come back. And that's pretty sad because it was his idea to get laoshi to start teaching Chinese again.

I've had to cut back. Not going to Starbucks so often. Seems like it's been a week. Never really quite my thing, though it can be somewhat nice. And I've been getting the lactose free milk. That can be almost four times the cost of regular milk, so I'm thinking of reducing my own lactose. I googled it. There are some drop you can get. But then I looked at it on Amazon. Some kid was going to do a science experiment, splitting the lactose, and testing for glucose. It actually didn't work at all. Some people say it works OK, but now I'm wary. So I'm not going to try that. I'm going to try the regular pills. Going by the "lau" lactose units, the pills get lactose at at least a third the cost. They have to add gunk though to make pills, and I don't know what to do about that. I'm considering dissolving it in water and filtering it out. I see one of the ingredients is silicone dioxide. Ick. Milk is full of solids anyway, so it might not really make any difference. OK, so from the recommendation from the drops, you need maybe 16000 units for a gallon. Turns out that one of the pills, and it's a box of 60, has 9000 units. So only two. I guess they go overkill. Also, more works better and faster. Anyway, they have a lot of lactase--the enzyme to break up lactose is called lactase. So theoretically two. I'm going to try three.

So one of the things with the pills, stomach acid will denature and ruin them. And they need to get to the small intestine to work. So they really have to do something to get it to survive past the stomach. So they have to do some kind of buffering or time release sealing. Pill makers have all kinds of ways to do that. Unfortunately, that means getting out the lactase from pills is actually not going to be quite that simple. They've had to be made very deliberately to protect the lactase inside of them. So I'm not positive what is involved. That's why I'm thinking at least extracting in water. I tried finding out lactase solubility, but I couldn't find anything. Wasn't in my Merck index. Lactose, no problem. I don't know anything about the solubility of proteins. I guess I can easily conclude that it's pretty soluble, because they sell drops, but I don't know what they've done. Anyway, again with the protection. There is almost certainly stuff in the pill that just keeps it from dissolving right away. And then maybe ph buffers. I'd be afraid of the buffers getting added to milk, a little bit.

They say give it 24 hours to work. Lactase will break down on it's own. It's not completely stable. That's probably how long it lasts. And the dose they recommended would only reduce the lactose by maybe 70%. So only two thirds. The lactose free stuff says it's 100% free. I'm not positive that's right. Or maybe just any liquid diet is going to be a little rough. I did drink the whole half gallon in one day. I think soy also seems to do the same thing that this does. Neither is totally pleasant. We'll see how this works out with merely reducing the lactose. I drink milk sometimes anyway. I'm really not completely bad off with regular milk, so just a reduction might really be good enough.

Cutting back. I decided to go see mom this weekend. So I'm not going to get to see Melissa Sunday. I was thinking I might go to see her Thursday, but I kind of decided against it. I didn't know how I would feel after kung fu. It ended being a hard one, so it was better I guess, not to go. But I did eventurally recover and I was up late anyway. Meh.

  • May 28, 2011
Harsh. I'm watching a Frontline thing on global warming. There is a thing called carbon sequestration, where you can burn coal and putting the carbon dioxide in the ground. Both of the recent presidential candidates talked about it. Except it probably just won't work. And not work in a really bad way. They haven't even been able to test the system. The problem is liability. Turns out that CO2 can kill you. Suffocation. And it's heavier than air so if it gets out, it will stay near the ground. So if it were to leak into someones basement, it would sit there, and they'd die without knowing it was there. That's only if the sequestration fails, but it might if some kind of earthquake happened. Or it just might if they don't really know everything about it. Anyway, so nobody even lets them try it out. Even if it did work, they would probably need a huge system of pipes to send it wherever. Some place have good spots near, but not everywhere. And the pipes have the same problem. First I'm hearing of this. Pretty weak. One thing about that, though. China totally wouldn't care about liability questions. If they want to, they'll just too it. If people die, too bad for them.

I found a neat little song. Dui Bu Qi, or 對不起我的中文不好, I'm sorry, my Chinese is not very good. It's some English guys in Taiwan. They also have a page with the chords and words. One of the things that happens in it is they say, I want "shui jiao". If you say it wrong it means "I want to sleep", when actually they are trying to say, I want shrimp. So the conversation will go something like, I want shui jiao, so you're tired? No I'm hungry! Anyway, it's catchy. And everyone always thinks they're American, but they always have to say they're English. Mei go ren!

  • May 23, 2011
Still feeling a bit strange.

I had hamburgers today. I guess I think hamburgers just really are good food. I certainly liked the ones I made. I can by with not overcooking which most places do, but even with that, they are general pretty good. So it's like a steak sandwich. The stuff on them, the lettuce, onions, tomatoes, or just ketchup like I use, it's all a pretty well worked out formula. I don't know how much of it is I like it because it's familiar, or it really is just good.

I say even poorly done, it's pretty good. Sometimes I make the hamburger patty by microwaving it. That loses quite a bit of the flavor you get normally, from the Maillard reaction of browning the meat. Today I cooked it in a pan, which made a big difference, but even the other way, it was still a good sandwich.

I did have some more bologna. I usually heat it with cheese. But today, I kind of felt like I was running out of different things to eat. I have a somewhat limited variety of things I make, and it really felt like I'm just about through them. So food is getting a little boring. Part of the weird mood.

My order from Amazon came in today. I've watched all the commentaries from South Part season 14. I also got a thick book of study materials for linguistics. Eh.

I started readin the book _How to Write a Sentence_, yesterday. Haven't gotten into it yet today. It seemed to be hitting it at a pretty basic level. Talking about traditional parts of speech. And it had like a page long sentence that it was talking about analyzing. Gave some kind of weird definition of sentence. Something about a logical organization of things. I don't know. Just about my interest in writing and appreciating writing, I can also see the thing from the perspective of how you would get a computer to write a sentence. I don't think it's clear enough instruction for that, but it's something I can think about while reading this treatment.

I wrote Andrea Falk about what is a palm change in Bagua, and she sent an email back. It was part of a discussion on reddit, so I posted her reply there. Man, there's a job fair tomorrow at the Agricenter. I plan to go down, but I'm not expecting very much. I guess since I probably won't be putting much effort into it, I wouldn't expect much. But it might give me some ideas.

I remember that roast. It was nice, but after a few days, it was noticeably getting older.

Apparently Kenny is some kind of Old One from the Cthulhu mythos. He can't die. And they said he has been remembering all the times he dies and they really hurt.

  • May 22, 2011
I'm feeling strange, so I got something strange. An Orange-mango smoothy. The person in front of me got a chocolate viviano smoothy. The the yakky barista said smoothy-kind has better smoothies. I should try them. OK. I'm not really so into smoothies, I just wanted something caloric, and I don't feel like milk, cow or soy. I don't think I've eaten anything yet today. It's like 4 something. I tried going to the five guys place. Never tried it before. Super Brad mentioned it on Facebook. The line was around the store to the door. And that might not have taken too long. But I didn't feel like it. Might be faster to go to the store, but and cook the meat myself. I think honestly it would have. So pass. And beef isn't so good for me. And cheaper. Of course, Starbucks was no faster. Even with no one in line. And the thing is right next to a McDonalds. Opening a burger place next to a McDonalds. Ballsy.

I needed to go shopping. I picked up another thumb drive at Target. And they looked like they were out of the little black scrunchies I wanted. Bummer. The thumb drive was on sale, though, so I saved six bucks. Hooray.

So the smoothy is from some kind of concentrate mix. Fine. Wonderfully banal.

I wanted to finally go and see the Davis Kidd's bookstore. I didn't know if it was still open or what. It is. But they removed the name on the big sign. Just "booksellers". I don't know what they will call it. I heard chickee saying to some customer that they were there to stay. Something about their club, or store credit or something. But it was a really weird vibe. So white and upper middle class. One of the first things I did was to look how the martial arts section was doing. I saw a boxing section. MA. was kind of tucked away. Very small and on the bottom shelf in a different area. Too plebeian for that place, I think. Had new age sitting there. Saw a couple of really pretty women walking. Like trophies. I don't know. Anyway, I looked over the stuff. The biggest feeling I had was to wonder how I could ever want to add to this steaming pile of mediocrity and meaninglessness. But I did see a couple of books I liked. First, though, I did hold in my hand a copy od the book Aimee has for this month, _Inside of a Dog_. There's a Kindle version, but I just have not been able to get myself to work on it. One thing caught my eye, _How to write a sentence_. Sort of about appreciating good writing. And not too long. I looked it up--yay smartphones!-- and there is a Kindle version. So I might read it. That got me started. So I saw another one. _Being Happy_. Also has a Kindle version. Another one on positive psychology. I think that's a nice area. I think I should read some more about it. It was in the self help section. The thing I want to write is muchly about happiness, so call itI research.

I decided not to go see Melissa. Just been in kind of a depressed mood this weekend. Didn't do push hands at taiji, though I did go. My back was hurting a little bit. I said I'd miss her very much. That's probably true. But really more of a prediction than what I was really feeling. I just don't feel like it. And as an excuse, I tell myself I'm spending money on other stuff right now. Heh. Probably a bad sign. I want to finally get a sword. But I ordered a book on linguistics and the next South Park season. It's like $20. Of course, they have all of them on hulu or something. But the DVDs have the commentary minis. I like those.

What kind of mad scientist's lab came up with this smoothie stuff. I seems like it's got some kind of banana thickening agent. Is it milk? Is it meat? It tastes like soap.

So maybe I need to calm down.

They were saying there was this guy who would buy some kind of coconut frappucino, and then throw it at someone. I didn't quite catch it. And she said he must have some kind of problem. Really?

Neat song about how to order drinks in Chinese.

And I saw a fairlt interesting lecture on math. Apparently math proofs are not a certain as people might think. You can talk about error rates in proofs. And then there are all the philosophical questions. Some people have a sense of mathematical objects really being out there somewhere. :).

So, for food I decided to go to Fresh Market and see what hit me. I drove by the future site of Gus' Chicken to see how it was going. Still a shell. At least a month or two. Anyway, they had some stuff. They had some kind of special hamburger patties, 2 for 5. All their steaks were 10% off. Not really much less considering where they start, but something. And the rotisserie chickens looked good, but I'd go to Schnucks or Kroger, where they are several dollars cheaper. I had to say, though, they seemed to be using bigger chickens, so it might not have been too bad. I decided to just try half a pound of the German bologna. I've been wanting to try it for quite a while. It seems fine. No matter how good it gets, it's still just bologna, so there's a limit to it. I figure German purity laws would limit what kind of stuff they can add, though unfortunately, in order to be bologna it pretty much has to be cured with nitrates--I think that's pretty much the definition-- or even maybe nitrites, I don't really know exactly. And that's the thing that makes it bad for you. But it's what makes bologna last, and you could take a sandwich to work or whatever. Still, I like the stuff.

So I ask for half a pound. And she's cutting it. Then gets to .44. So she cuts a little more. And puts some more on, and it goes over, and she takes some off. And she still has a little more left over even that that she has cut over. So it gets to the right weight, and she prints out the price. But then she just gives me all the extra she had sliced. Now it's true, she can't really keep the sliced up stuff. It would have just been wasted. And I thought I would say I'll pay for the extra, it can be a little over. But I didn't. Argh. And it really doesn't mean that much to them. It would just have been a few cents. They lose a lot more from waste than that. I don't know. I don't want to tell her how to do her job. She was quick, and check with me how I wanted it all done. She asked me how I wanted it sliced, and I said pretty thin. I really wasn't too sure. It's bologna, so it really shouldn't be too thin. So she cut one, and showed it to me, and it was fine.

So life it really pretty easy right now.

It does seem to me that Melissa and I really do love each other quite a bit. But we really are just friends. I guess I don't see that many people who love each other. It's easy to have strong feelings for someone you are sleeping with. But that seems like almost a different thing. Feelings aren't everything.

So my mom always stocks up on stuff. I talked to her on the phone today. She seems to be doing well out on the farm. She's got the garden in. Had to dig it under all herself, but it wasn't too hot so she could manage it. The kale and radishes are already coming up. I said I had made some roasts already. Then she said there was some in there. I just looked, and yes, there was a nice roast sitting in there. I also got out some hamburger meat. So I can make my own some time. I should look in there more often, I guess.

  • May 20, 2011
Melissa was saying something about how no couple is totally compatible. It always takes some work. She had marriage counseling and they told her that. But still, ouch. I don't like to hear about her not being happy. I guess it's probably true. People do manage to be together, though. I haven't personally had much experience with it, but I hear it happens.

Watching a Nova show on Netflix on how the brain works. And Rodney Brooks, the robot guy at MIT, comes on and says artificial intelligence is about trying to get computers to do things that if we did them we would call it intelligent. But there's a problem with that. OK, it might really be what AI is. But it ends up that what the computer is doing is probably not intelligent because all the work involved in figuring out how to do it was done by the people, not the computer, and it was that part of the task that was intelligent. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. And we didn't just figure out how to do it, we figured out the process in enough detail to tell a computer how to follow it. That's a lot of work on the people's part. Sure, the computer is doing something, but I'm not quite so impressed. Anyway, they go on to talk about Watson.

We have a lot of different parts. We have parts that want to do good things, and parts that want to do bad things. The more a part gets to do, the more likely that it will get to do stuff again.

The philosophy show said there was a conflict between activity that makes us feel happy right now and activiry that doesn't make you feel happy at the time, but does when you look back at it, stuff that kind of has a lot of meaning or value. Their example was raising kids. At the time, it's really a lot of pain, but you feel good about it afterwards.

  • May 19, 2011
I'm watching a documentary on Netflix called something like the _Nature of Existence_. Very annoying to watch. Full of flaky religious people. Dude took a little trip through California. He went to Santa Cruz, and interviewed some astrophysicist down near the beach. And Leonard Susskind is in Palo Alto. Seems like he's popping up in several places lately. I saw his TED talk about Feynman linked to on Reddit. And he was in the Elegant Universe thing talking about string theory, Here, he talked a bit how maybe there are a lot of different universes, which might be a consequence of string or brane theory. And he seems like a fun enough guy. Dude also went to Fairfax, some town in Marin, which has a bunch of freaky religious folk. Some kind of really religious cafe. He went to Texas and found a place that does religious wrestling. He interviewed Orson Scott Card, and he's frozen on the screen now. I'm pausing because they are talking about truth.

Truth is such an interesting idea. Some science person was saying objective truth doesn't have to do with feelings, though for a lot of people, truth really is just about being satisfying. I would have to say all of our knowledge is regulated by our feelings. Actually all of our actions are government by feelings, and our thoughts really are just a particular kind of internal action. Something like speaking to ourselves, but we also have kinds of visuo-spatial imaginings along with the sort of verbal kinds of imaginings that we might call talking to ourselves. Along with these kinds of internal imaginings that I would call thinking, we have feelings about them like confidence or uncertainty. These are sometimes further actions, like a disposition whether we might question them and look for different explanations. That is, our being sure means we aren't looking for any other or better explanation. Man, one of the really annoying things was a rabbi saying truth is what the Torah says. Anyway, at some point, we just don't question any more. That's more something about what we do than any real fact about a proposition. But we've come up with a notion that there might be something like truth, that roughly no one could question. That really would have to be tied a little tightly with the idea of meaning, which can get pretty slippery. One of the big examples in truth is math. That's a kind of place where some people think there really is some truth that is objective. For me though, math is so much just a way of talking.

And they got this annoying little 12 year old. She just went out and said there was no heaven or hell, like she was special for having figure it out and telling you. And how would she know? I guess annoying because she doesn't seem to have any empathy or understanding of real people and their feelings about things. And doesn't have to worry about getting popped in the nose for talking like that.

So the Vice people went to Liberia. Man. They had maybe the worse slum in the world. West point, I think. Urban density with open sewer. I guess that used to be more common. Anyway, pretty nasty these days. They did have a beach to use, too. But it was a pretty nasty beach. They came across a warlord, general Butt Naked, who converted to Christianity and became a missionary. They did human sacrifice and cannibalism before fighting. Some ritual cannibalism, but some did it just for eating. He was saying he was saved, but I don't know if anyone can really come back from that. And is he a sociopath? He must have weird stuff in his head.

I guess the nicest thing to hear when you say something would be, that's obvious, if it's something that you came up with.

That was kind of neat. David Wulff, a psych professor, was talking about a Freudian idea for the source of religion. Kids get a feeling of someone coming along and taking care of them, mom, of course, when they cry out or just want something. They kind of retain this feeling. It gets transferred to the idea of god. Hmm.

  • May 18, 2011
Already finishied off the first roast, and now I'm working on cooking the second. I picked it and though, "yeah, that's what I'm talking about". It's a good sized chunk of meat. But despite actually having eaten a little too much, I'm still moving a couple of pounds lower. Maybe. I don't know, maybe that was before I had really eaten today. And the combination of the beef and not eating so much I guess got the gout up a bit in my wrist. Totally worth it, though.

I suddenly found that my most expensive prescription was out. Some kind of blood pressure thing, maybe, I forget exactly. $106. It goes for two months, though. Something has gotten messed up though some kind of way. Apparently from the date it expires on 5/21. I only now just made the end of the world connection thing. But I think it's something about when I submitted it. I thought for sure this was one I put in in October, but it actually had a date in September. So maybe I used one from last year by mistake. And I've got two refills on it, but I don't know if I will have a problem.

At Angela's suggestion, I'm watching _Eureka_. The pilot. But I had to pause. I just recently read an article talking about how badly really smart people are written for on TV. They always have a bunch of different hobbies or interests or talents, each of which takes forever to get, such that it would be really impossible to even happen at all. But it's the kind of image people have. It makes sense to people. So I know this is going to be an explosion of that. And secret science installations. Please. Genius invention on an assembly line. And done by the government? Science fantasy. Not really my thing. But. It does explain for me some of what Angela was rambling about. The sense of justice that being smart is enough to achieve amazing things. Instead of it just being a combination of hard work, and just luck that there are things to be found where you are looking.

  • May 17, 2011
That's twice now that coming back to it, it went much smoother. I finished up making the DVD. There actually were a couple of snags, but it went OK. I ended up just using bombono to author the DVD. I got it set to ntsc this time, so it didn't try to remux my files. And it had a setting where it just sets up the stuff to run, and gives you a script you can run to finish it. I needed that because I had to modify the dvdauthor.xml configuration file to know about the english and chinese language settings. Kind of a minor change. It's got some kind of bug that it isn't able to load back in saved projects, but it's so easy to do the first time, that I had to create the menus over again several times and yet it didn't bother me so much. There was slightly a worse problem, though. It made every little chapter file I had (I had about 14) in its own title, and I thought it was right, but when I played it, it would place that little ten minute piece and go back to the menu. It looked like it had done something to jump to the next one when done, but then it didn't do it. I had buttons to go to the first chapter from each of the two things but nothing else, so I could only play the first bits of each. So I had to pretty drastically rewrite the configuration file. The build after that went pretty fast, so it wasn't really so bad that I had to redo it. A few minutes. It seems like whatever dvdstyler was trying to do was going to take several hours. Anyway, I've gotten quite a bit better at doing this.

One thing, Freddie and Grace sent me some video files. I could just play them on the computer. I'll probably do that for myself. We wanted my mom to see them, though. I still haven't tried hooking a computer up to the TV. I still might try to do that. It has still been easier for me to just burn whatever I want to see to rewriteable discs. Seems like I had some kind of failures one a couple of them the last time I tried, and I ended up have to burn a write once disc for something we'll never want to see again. That's the breaks. Anyway now I know how to go from those video files to a DVD, so I can watch them like that, if I want to.

Made a big beef roast. Ate too much. I did eat some noodles and corn too, though, so not just meat. That is actually a little bit unusual. This time, though, I noticed that the meat never got satisfying. I never felt like I had had enough, even though I was feeling stuffed. I kept wanting more. I just had to put it away at some point. That's not so good. Anyway, maybe just some kind of sugar addiction.

Sixty Minutes did a thing on sovereign citizens. People who think they are above the law. Apparently there are thousands of them. And there are people who give lectures and things about it. The folks who shot up the deputy in West Memphis on the traffic stop recently were some of these. Total nutjobs. But when they were starting off the story, it sounded like there was something you really could do to get some kind of special status like this. And I was thinking people like ambassadors. But no, it was just nutjobs. Well, I googled it and saw a wiki page about them. Trying to call it a "movement". Heh. They need doctors, not lawyers.

  • May 16, 2011
We don't fight using the army we wish we had.

Man, standing waiting for Starbucks to get to my drink, I felt all the thoughts I had to write about slipping slowly away. So we'll see what I have left.

And they have it set up to get the tip when paying ahead of time instead of after they're done. That's good in this case. Though here, I don't tip like I have to at Melissa's starbucks. Just a couple here. I gotta do five there to keep up with her.

So it was interesting. Not the way I thought it would go down. To start, I parked a bit away and it was raining a little bit, so I didn't feel like bringing in donut.

Gosh, it's not so easy to type here on donut. Siting in the chair with it on my lap doesn't put my hands in relly a very good position for typing. My left hand is up on a pretty high arm rest. That seems to throw me off. Oh well. Writing was never meant to be easy. The poor torured soulds who do it just don't have any choice.

I was thinking of Bukowski. Need to try reading some. Apparently a great writer, but a nasty cuss of a human being. So I don't knoe if I could stand it.

Angela and Ian were there. Ian had been drinking all day. Something about the Grizzlies. I think they lost in seven. So he left early. And I was talking to Angela. She drinks red wine. Somewhere in there, Shay got her a shot of washington apple. And Asa was with Shay, so he got them all shots of Fireball. Shots and wine don't mix well. An important part of Melissa's job is to take care of her customers, and not let them drink just way too much. After Angela left, i found that Melissa didn't even know that Angela had also been doing those shots. She had seen that at one point it had hit her. Anyway, she was kind of rough, so Melissa kind of delicately arranged to have Ben and Greg bring her home. They live downtown, and just have to walk a couple blocks or something, I don't really know. Anyway, she was persuaded to go with them, but it was going with a couple of guys she didn't know. She seemed a little funny about it.

So Angela. She does seem to like me. Maybe better to say that she thinks a lot of me. What did she say? Incredibly smart? She was concerned that I wasn't really doing anyway. I'm not sure what she had in mind. But she thinks I could do a lot. So she kind of went on about it. But she seemed to see that I wasn't really emotionally connecting. And I don't talk to people.

I just raised my hand up vertical, elbow sitting on the armrest. And turned it. Man, there's a word for the direction and I've forgotten. My left hand, the thumb coming inside forward. and hand coming fown forward. There is an Aikiddo throw where you get that on the other side of their head and neck, and kind of push them diagonally away. I rememeber I did it one time, and the guy went down easy, with little effort. And I was thinking that's how it was supposed to be. It has been kind of an inspirational memory. But I felt pretty certain at this point that it was an illusion. The guy was just collapsing as a good uke. Grr. But having learned a little more about this move, and seeing it in different places, There really are some subtleties about how you can hit people's weak balancee points to get this right. Of course, I can't remeber the stupid Japanese word for the thing. I've actually also seen it on the Bagua Qinna disc, too.

So I'm not doing anything. But still I could. I really don't know what she had in mind. Getting a little more serious, I said I would probably do some programming again pretty soon. She was not impressed. But it's something people think is valuable. I could write. But I do write. I've got that book. Somewhere I have an outline, though the place I thought I was keeping it was that thumb drive, which has now died. I hope I have it somewhere else, but I actually don't know offhand. I really need to rebuild that thing. I had another one, and Nelson has it.

And then she asked me about having someone else. And she actually had to ask what I preferred. That's a little bit of a rough question, but you have to ask if you don't know. And what was my obsession with Melissa. Now that was a tough one. She's sweet. She's nice to look at. She's nice to talk to. We do talk. I don't know. I really don't have a good explanation for that one. Anyway, Angela seems to have confidence that there is someone for me, and we could do a lot. But I'm too smart for 'us'. She also said that there was some way of talking I have that was just not going to work with whoever. I'm still not sure what she was saying. Maybe something about talking about stuff with no point. Technical dry things, maybe. Don't know.

So, bloggin seems a little like therapy, but bad because there isn't someone listening to have a reaction and tell me I'm crazy. Not that therapists say that. But you know what they mean. You wouldn't be there if you weren't crazy.

A big milk drink is more like food. So I get it with water.

And somebody else was playing tunes. I didn't put a single thing in. They played something things I play. They found some I like but didn't even know about. It was good, and it saved me some money.

i did say I might like some doctor, but I don't have any way of meeting them. And they probably wouldn't be very interested in me, anyway. Doctors aren't necessarily all that smart, but they are hardworking and driven. That really isn't me, and I'm not particularly sure if it would be compatible with me. So now I don't know.

One thing about that list of all possible weapons. I have heard that part of bagua training is that you can learn to use anything as a weapon using bagua principles. There are some basic bagua weapons to train with, but the movements an techniques do generalize to other things. Bagua weapons also tend to be a little bit heavier. Which should get you more used to just picking up something big and swing it around. Blocking with a chair is in principle the same thing as blocking with a broadsword.

Argh, the DVD making hit a bit of a snag. Apparently, creating menus is a lot harder than everything else. It almost totally requires kind of graphical tool. Which is bad if that tool also wants to transcode your video files but isn't able to handle your multiple audio tracks. I think the one I was using was also set to PAL and didn't seem to want to change over to NTSC. Anyway, it didn't work on my first attempts. But I'll keep on it.

And then there are the mental abacus people. And people do it competitively. Fast calculations with abacuses. Some people get to where they just use an abacus in their heads and calculate with that.

She thought my hair was creepy and I should cut it off.

She said I was the smartest person she knew, but I said, put me in a hospital, and she knows more than me. And she admitted that was true. So where does that leave it? I think it's not even all that meaningful to say that I'm smart. I don't know that there's really all that much that I can do. And actually, I tend to have a general knowledge about a lot of things. That really doesn't do all that much good. So I ended up feeling discouraged from that.

i left Starbucks and went ny Kroger's. It was maybe 6:15. I checked my messages, and Mike called a couple of times. I didn't really want to talk to Mike then, so I had ignored the calls. But he and Doug were going to Huey's at 7. I suddenly felt up for it. But I had to choose. I was actually in Kroger listening to the call on earphones. I found some beef roasts that were a bit on sale, but you had to buy a big package. Maybe $16. Not really the best deal, but that's what I was in there to get. If it struck me. And I had only a twenty left. So it was that, or go out. I decided to get it. I can eat for several days on it. I might not spend quite that much going out, but it might be close. And I burned a little going to Starbucks. So I had really spent enough. I really am ready for some meat. And there was the matter of time. I wouldn't be able to make it if I had to bring it home. And maybe I shouldn't be hanging out with those betas, anyway.

I just saw a TED talk by Leonard Susskind about his friend Richard Feynman. One thing about it was that Feyman had a drive to explain things as simply as possible. I said a bit about that to Angela. And she was saying how I try to say things simple at her level. OK.

Some guy was going on about how the internet is being filtered, so people only have little bubbles that they see, based on what they want to see. So it's very isolating. Apparently Facebook and Google do this, along with just everyone who obviously commercially want to give you your preferences, like Amazon and Netflix. One concern was that Facebook and Google do it invisibly, so it's a little pernicious. But also, there was a general concern of the intrinsic isolating nature of seeing only things their program thinks you want to see. He talked about journalistic ethics, and apparently some kind of shake down that the newpapers had to go through in the early 1900s. Sometimes there are things that people just need to see, that they would not otherwise want or choose to. OK. So maybe there needs some kind of ethical consideration in a program that decides what you get exposed to. Maybe a little bit of other viewpoints. One analogy he uses is people's Netflix queues. Quite often people will have things sitting in their that they think they should watch. I think Rashomon was his example. I don't know what that is. Or maybe it was some African thing. Personally. I do like personalization.

It kind of reminded me about seeing all the MUS guys, and I kept going back to that. Some seemed interested in me doind something valuable, and maybe finding some people to do that with. Angela seemed unhappy that I kept on about them, but that's the kind think it made me think of. There is that whole cultural thing with the talents. You've got to do something with what you have.

And thinking about the tutoring thing with Owen. It was more of a Wizard of OZ thing. The ability was there all along, you just needed to have confidence that you could do it.

Oh man, Obama was in town today for the Booker T. Washington high school commencement. I completely forgot about it. I need to go look and see how it went.

  • May 14, 2011
Wow, maybe the nastiest show I've seen. The vice guide to travel. They went to a Pakistani gun market. Illegal, of course. People making all sorts of knock-offs. So You're probably not going to do well against the Taliban. Then to Bulgaria investigating where some journalist bought a dirty-bomb, Russian made. I think they were talking about how maybe Osama or one of those wanted to build a company to have nuclear waste, but the dealer suggested they just buy the complete dirty bomb. OK. And then. They went to Japan. You can just rent a fancy sex doll. Not an air-filled one. A fairly solid one. Man.

I skipped tai chi this morning. Didn't feel so good. A little nervous. Hadn't gotten to sleep so early. I need to go every time, but maybe once in a while I'll skip.

Now I've got two more discs to try to copy. So I definitely need to make sure I've got the procedure down. With two, I have the possibility of putting them both on one DVD. That might be a bit of a tight squeeze, so I might need to compress it a little more. We'll see how it goes. It should only be maybe two hours of video, but I think the transcoding to a new resolution adds a bunch of pixel noise that sort of adds unnecessary data. And the video seems to be outerdoor scenes that just naturally have high information content. So we'll see how it goes.

I guess I stayed up a little late watching the Netflix I got in the mail. A Frontline story on the Tank Man. Spent a long time to come to the conclusion they don't really know who he was. There was one story that gave his name, but it couldn't be verified. Some people went out and grabbed him. Could have been the government, or just some friendly people. They also did a bit about how bad it is for factory workers. They had some on there talking. Seven days a week. But they don't have to work after 9 o'clock. Isn't that a break? Actually, I think they said, sometimes if they're busy, they might have to work all night. OK.

So something changed in China. There is no more free school for kids. Everyone has to pay a fee. One of the factory worker girls--they like young girls because they have enough energy to work like that-- said she sends all of her money to pay the school fees for her family, but it's still not enough. So the point is, not all the farm kids go to school. That's pretty rough. They've got maybe 200 million middle class folks, but they've got many hundreds of millions of farm people, and the kids can't all go to school. Sounds pretty rough.

One of the vice stories was an actual Hajj to Mecca. And that kind of gave me idea. If you really want to fight Islam, you should blow up a dirty bomb in Mecca.

  • May 13, 2011
Happy Fridsy the Thirteenth!

Ten days? I guess I've been busy.

Man, I went to get some money changed. I tried First Tennessee. The fairly big branch at Mendenhall and Poplar. They said I had to go downtown on Madison, and the international department on the ninth floor. And I'd have to tell security what I'm doing. The teller before figuring it out, mentioned going to the airport, and an older lady had to come in and give this suggestion. It was a little after two on Wednesday. I needed to get it handled before 3, because that was the cutoff if I failed so i could start the two day process to get money out of my investment account before Friday. Didn't really feel like going downtown for this, so I went to the airport. I go there, abd she says the rate is eighty six something. My understanding is that it's like 1.40 dollars to the euro, but I can't really do the reciprocal like that easily in my head. It didn't really sound quite right, but I said OK. And there was a 7 dollar fee. OK. I ended up with $240 for 200 Euros. I didn't react right then, but it started to bug me after i thought about it. And I checked that day, and the rate was 1.42. So they got $40 off me. I felt so robbed. And I had been thinking that, sure, they don't work for free. But seriously. I looked over the receipt. It wasn't 86 something. It was .806something, so not quite so bad. The real rate should have been more like .70 .

I spent a lot of time this week trying to copy a VCD. Many hours over several days. Appently, not such an easy thing. Something about the format is very different. For one thing, it's not just a matter of copying over the data files. It seems like they are written onto the disc in some special sort of way. I have some linux stuff that tries to make direct images by reading straight from the disc. That would just fail completely. There is a set of linux tools called vcdimager that is for dealing with vcds. It's got a bunch of little command line programs. I need to write down the ones I had to use. I think it was vcdxrip and something else. It actually created mpeg files, which was not really what was on the disc and maybe some kind of xml descriptor. The something else went from those files to some kind of image. Unfortunately writing to CDs on that computer barely works. I got lucky on the last disc. It was short. I think the errors tend to come when it gets closer to the end of the disc. I started working on it last Friday, as I wanted to have it done Saturday morning so I could give it back in the tai chi. class. Stayed up a little late, but couldn't do it. Several blank CDs were wasted before I gave up. I tried again on Monday. I went and got a new USB burner. That was actually kind of nice. Helpful Best Buy blueshirt. So I got CD burned. And I tried it in my DVD player. Didn't work. And then I tried the original. Apparently DVD players don't play VCDs any more. This one plays audio cds. I don't know what that's about. So it occurs to me that it's not going to be so useful to even make VCDs if players don't play them. They might work on a computer, but that's not so good. So I switch gears and decide to convert it to an actual DVD. That's not too bad to do, really, if you have mpeg files. There was a bit of a hitch, though. It was a bilingual movie, and done in what i thought was a bit of a weird way. It used the left and right stereo channels, with the left in Chinese and the right in English. The VLC player I used was easily able to just play one or the other, so that was fine. But when I made a DVD, it had both of the English and Chinese going at the same time, which was horrible to listen to. And a little bit worse, somehow it managed to mix them together so you couldn't get play one side or the other to separate them. So I had to use another tool, audacity. This ended up being really slick. It had a simple option to separate the two stereo tracks, and then a pretty automatic option to save them out. That was good, because I had to do it for 5 mpeg files. The way DVDs work is that you have separate audio tracks, so that's what I was shooting for. I used avidemux to put the English track into the mpeg file instead of the mashed up audio. And it had a clear and obvious option for second audio. And I used that. It took me a long time though, after I had burned a DVD maybe, before I found out that that option only works for avi files, not for the mpeg+ps file I was using. Anyway, I burned a couple of English only DVDs. Unfortunately, when I tested them, they didn't work on one of my players, but did on the other. So they were shaky. I gave those to a couple of people. They probably would work on a computer, but maybe not all players. I didn't give up there though. That was Tuesday and Thursday class. After that, tried a little more. I downloaded several more DVD tools. At this point, my conclusion is that there are no graphical unix tools which can add a second audio track. That's pretty harsh. So I was giving up on that and looking at other operating systems. There was maybe some stuff for windows, but I'd have to get a trial version, and I kind of would rather stay away from those. And I saw something on Mac. FFMPegX. I looked at the features, and it said explicitly it could add second audio tracks. It was a collection of free tools. It looks like mostly it was a gui wrapper around those. OK. I was almost there. But it's main piece was ffmpeg. I actually had that on linux. So I looked through the man pages. I could only use it on the command line. But it had options to do it, if I could figure the right ones to use. I did figure them out. I need to write the here. I put them in a file on spirit. That creates mpeg files. Those still have to be put into the files needed for a DVD. It seems like the tools that do that want to rewrite the mpeg files again, and they aren't always able to handle the second audio. At least, I was trying to use DVDStyler, which I also had used on windows, and it didn't appear to know anything about second audio tracks. So I tried using a command line program DVDAuthor. I eventually got it to work. It had a problem with not knowing to use the video_format of ntsc. I did google the error message and it explained to put a command export VIDEO_FORMAT=NTSC in the .bashrc. I thought it would be good enough to just do that in the shell before running it, but apparently not. And I had have a proper xml description file. Or I could have figured out all the command line options. And there were many tons of options. What I did was to get a little java program, varshs-varsha.jar. That was kind of nice to have a java program. It actually didn't do the work-- it just called the other programs. But it would set up the configuration file and figure out the command line parameters. So it was really just a gui wrapper for that. Which was good. So I didn't have to figure everything out. I did maybe one version with that, but I still had to work through other issues. I then really just used its xml file as a template, and changed it around to do what I wanted and called dvdauthor directly. This time, I burned the DVDs on my new writer, and now they work on both of my players. Two languages. One a little bit quirky thing. For some reason, ffmpeg decided to put the Chinese track I added as the first audio track. I must have gotten the command line wrong somehow. Anyway, the Chinese track was the first track and the English track was the second. Without the language labels, I think it would have played the first one right off, and you'd have to change to the second. But the player apparently figures something out, and automatically plays the English track right off. And at first, I thought 'ch' was the abbreviation for Chinese. I don't know what ch ended up as. "chagalog"? Something I never heard of. Chinese is 'zh'.

Mom has gone back to the farm for the summer. So I'm by myself again.

I need to get a sword for bagua. Straight sword, called a jian. The bagua ones are supposed to be a little bigger. I've been looking at kungfudirect, where I got my broadsword. Maybe I'll just get the longest one they have. They come in different sizes. I almost got Reecey's. It's a little too heavy for her. I had given her the money. But laoshi said it was too short for me. Grr. They actually also have a two handed one. But it's flippy. I've looked at other places. One place actually has one that says it's specifically a bagua jian. It's heavier, like 2.5 lbs instead of maybe 1.5lbs. And the balance is a little bit forward. Apparently this one is meant for actual aparring. I don't know what that's about. Maybe it's not quite what I'm looking for.

  • May 3, 2011
Man. This afternoon, I decided to go ahead and upgrade spirit to Ubuntu 11.4, Natty Narwhal. But the wireless broke. It's been about 6 hours playing with it. Not very well, I guess. The final thing was on this page. I downloaded the driver package that was available, but it had to be built. And it would get an error. Apparently they changed one of the functions buried deep inside the usb stuff. And it seems like the driver came with it, but it had that bug in it. I had some trouble downloading the driver. The ubuntu forum had it, but I didn't want to create a login I needed to get it. I finally got the newest on from Ralink Maybe I should try to get the native wifi device, since I managed to get this going. It's probably roughly comparable.

One nice thing about donut is that it's quiet. The other laptops don't make a lot of noise like a desktop, but there is a little bit. I'm next to spirit in the den, but I'm using donut. Unfortunately, now the freezer and refrigerator are humming, but for a bit, it was totally silent and peaceful.

I got my Bodygard device. It didn't come with the cable to plug in the phone, so I've needed to get that. So now it looks like one of the other things might have been better to get. And it didn't come with an AC adapter. I probably can find something, though. Still, that makes it a little weak. But I can use the hand crank to get power. It looks like it maybe doesn't charge a phone using the battery, but only if you crank it. That's a little weaker than I would have expected. But at least it's something. And it has a flashlight and a radio. It's good for those. It says three minutes of cranking will run the light for an hour. Those LEDs are pretty low power, I guess.

The kindle actually fits in my pocket. That's kind of nice.

Donut's battery does not last 8 hours on a charge. I think some of thst is just that I keep the brightness so high. I should switch emac's colors to have black background--that might help, maybe.

So Molly took two years to write her book. Six months before going to the publisher, and they gave her 18 months to finish it. Man. i guess that book stuff takes a long time. I didn't really have a good idea about how long it takes.

  • May 2, 2011
They got Bin Laden. I think people are right to be uneasy with our sending in a death squad. But it's nice to have him out of the way, I guess. Invading a foreign country, Pakistan, to do it, also not so nice. It's something, though. It's clearly a criminal act. But maybe not quite so bad as invading Afganistan and Iraq. It looks like four people besides bin Laden were killed. Bad, but that would actually be a minor traffic accident. So they said they might not have killed him if he surrendered. He would eventually have died even then. Maybe it makes them feel better.

I didn't get to go see Melissa. She took off to study for an exam. That's good for her. And maybe actually better for me. But I do feel sad about it.

My aunt didn't get to sleep. She has several times had problems sleeping. Not so nice. Maybe too much excitement.

Not that it's too important on a laptop, since it don't have to worry so much about power issues, but editing my blog locally and then uploading allows the automatic saving to work. It wouldn't do that right over ftp, but it will for files. So that's a bonus to using the separate ftp, although it adds extra steps that I have to worry about. Plus the danger of maybe overwriting and losing stuff. I don't know. My procedure hasn't settled down yet. I may move back to doing all the blogging on one device. I used to do that on my palmtop. That's a nice system. The autosave, though, is slightly irritating because it freezes up the typing every few minutes.

  • May 1, 2011
Happy May Day! Happy Kalends of May!

  • April 29, 2011
I'm using donut a little bit. It's nicer for carrying around the house. Sitting at the kitchen counter. Both tudor and spirit are tied down a little more by their power cords. It's easier just to use them where they are. Did I need a whole new computer? Maybe not. But it's been nice so far. I just tried donut outside, but it really wasn't good enough for that. In the bright light, it seemed a little too blurry for me. And I haven't been keeping it in my car. Msybe I will. But when I'm not using it, seems like I want to plug it in to top off the battery, so I've been bringing it in. I think I need to let the battery drain off, but I don't know. Anyway, I'm happy with it so far, and it's only been four days. Amazon is still sending me emails apologizing for the late shipping. Today I got one saying it has finally shipped. Of course, I click the tracking and it says it was delivered on the 25th. So somehow the computer knows, but the automatic email thing is a little confused. A while back, I was hearing from Amazon about applying to work there. I don't know. It does sound like they could use some help. Apparently reddit has been down a lot because of problems in Amazon's compute cloud. And there was talk of how the people are all cheap. Whatevs.

So, I've been putting more things that would have just been blog entries on Facebook. But they've been stuff about my mom and aunt, so they are more relevant to some of my other relatives who are also on Facebook, so I guess that's fine. One post on there said I was in a bad mood. And a FB friend, Cynthia, asked me to blog about it. I thought I did. I know Cynthia from the INTP mailing list, and she actually talked about reading my blog there. OK.

The book meeting was very nice. The author of the book, Molly Crosby, was there. It was the book _Asleep_ on sleeping sickness. She worked at National Geographic and went to Rhodes, majoring in English. I think she got a masters in some kind of writing something or other when she was working at the magazine. So a big nonfiction writer. Her other book was on the Yellow Fever epidemic in the 1870s. Her next book won't be so grim, something about a jewel heist and early detective work in maybe the 1910s. Scotland yard, maybe? And she's very cute. He two girls. The meeting was at Rich's place in midtown, actually pretty close to Rhodes. Lot's of people. Maybe ten.

So, I just noticed that I don't really use the html paragraph tag right. I use it at the end of paragraphs to give me a paragraph space in between. I actually put it at the end of the last line in a paragraph. The tag, though, really means the beginning of a paragraph, so logically it would go at the beginning of the line at the top of a paragraph. I think that would be ugly for me to look at though, since I type in straight to html source. HTML ignores the other new lines in my situation. Actual, to comply with sgml rules, I would need to use a close paragraph tag, too. So, the only place I really notice it is how emacs wants to put the tag. There is a special code to insert a paragraph tag, ctrl-c *return*. What that does, though, is go to a new line, put the paragraph tag at the beginning, and leave the cursor on that line after that tag. So, the way it's supposed to be. But not the way I want to do it. So now, maybe I should just type it the way I want.

  • April 28, 2011
There wasn't any free wifi at the airport. That's pretty weak. The power went out. I had to go pick my mom up, and wasn't sure when the plane was going to make it, it was delayed, so I went down and was going to stay and surf.

I'm in a bad mood with the whole thread with my idea about the interest of cultures to restrict homosexuality. One guy was massively opposed. First said it gave him a headache. Said it was nonsense. I'm not sure what the deal is, but I'm thinking now it could have been some kind of repression thing. I had trouble seen what his problem with it was. Something about it not following, or something. And then he just tried to go personal. There was a separate part about some of the women thinking they want variety just as much as men. Seems like someone else did too. But Liz gave as a part of her case that she was married twice. Really? Forsaking all others twice shows you want variety? It bothers me personally because I asked her out and she said no. And she is one of a bunch in just that group to also say no. All, I've asked, which I think is about 5. I lose track. So right now I've gotten annoyed thinking about it. It's coming across as a deep anger toward women. I've had that before.

  • April 27, 2011
I'm watching a film from Netflix, _How William Shatner Changed the World_. Really about Star Trek. But they've got Seth Shostak from SETI. It's sad because just a few days ago, they had to shut SETI down because they don't have money for operating costs.

Aw, man, just a few more minutes into it. They went to Boulder Creek! The little main street along Highway 9. All stuff I recognize. I haven't even waited for them to say something, I had to write about it. I doubt WS actually went there, he's in LA, but they've got footage. Hmm, well it's some guy with a computer museum. I guess I missed it. They say it's 10 years old, and I think this was made in 2005 or 6 and I left in maybe '97. Oh well, just missed it, I guess. DigiBarn.

  • April 26, 2011
For now, I have opted for a separate ftp client. Actually, that can be nice because it will save my password. I've been annoyed for a while at having to always put in my password for emacs. I was going to look at hardwiring the password in, but I haven't seen how to do that yet. FileZilla for now.

So sitting at Starbucks at 8:30. Quite busy, and yet I got the comfo chair. So many people want tables. something to lean over and talked to folks. The guys next to me are sitting at the edges of their comfy seats. Almost defeats the purpose.

So, I was up kind of early. Kind of woke up at six, and it seemed good enough. Played on the internet. Then it seemed like it'd be nice to go to Starbucks. But it sure took a while to get here. I couldn't even make it before MUS would have opened, which was 8:15. So probably teaching there wouldn't be so good. I say that because it occurs to me that the lack of performance anxiety thing would be nice for teaching. I think at this point, though, I'm not an expert enough at anything really to be a teacher. I guess that's what the Ph.D. thing is all about. It takes 10,000 hours to be an expert. That's just about right for a Ph.D. Maybe. Not sure about that. Something I thought I saw on reddit was saying they are getting them a lot easier these days. And now they can't all even get jobs. It was talking about science, tech, math, and engineering, which was only some fraction. Who knows about all the other areas. Likely a large pile of junk.

Yay, the sun is out. It's been raining for a while. I need to cut the yard today, so it needs to be sunny enough for a while today to dry out.

So I've already restored my bookmarks from another computer. I only recently learned how to do that. It's pretty convenient. And I've got a file with all my email logins, which is nice. So I'm getting better at starting over on computers. Because I've had to. Eh.

Coming to the end of the cruellest month.

It's a little weird, though. I'm used to the emacs save being all I need to do. I so it, and it just goes to a local file. But to the internet, it was able to fail, and actually often did. The ftp process would die, so I'd already learned to work around that. Kill it with ctrl-g and do it again. Oh well, you can get used to anything. I might even just set up that upload trigger to my ftp thing.

The check out guy was surprised by my order. Never heard that one. Venti mocha soy chai. A different one took the order, he was just putting it in to charge me. I said it was rich. He said he liked those orders. Full of sugar, caffeine. The room is all a buzz. The world is all a buzz.

And I try to keep in mind that this is supposed to be a computer that I won't care so much if it gets stolen. I was thinking maybe I shoudn't save passwords on it, if I think it's going to be stolen. But it's just so convenient to save passwords. Oh well.

Do maybe just the really cute women go out to Starbucks? I could see pressure pushing it that way.

I wonder if there are very many full time, professional fighters out there. Specifically in Memphis, but in general. Someone training all the time. I say that, because Li loashi talked about as a wushu student, she use to practice many hours a day. Maybe six. That kind of hardcore real training. so somewhere to go down there. Seems like schools are always in the evening. That's proably plenty for most people. And they have day jobs. Soldiers train a lot. And there was a big fight between marines and mma guys, i think. I should get the link to the video. Marines dominated. I think the rules helped the marines, because they found a situation better for them, as opposed to ring rules, which the mma guys specialize in.

Discussing sexuality in a thread on Liz G's facebook. I claimed that cultures actually have an interest in discouraging homosexuality. If there is any tendency to bisexuality, which looks like it might be the case, homosexual behavior can feedback to dangerous levels of promiscuity with a concommitent disease risk. But some girl is on there denying the gender difference, apparently. Heh. I posted this comic. She actually said my argument sounded like an 8th grader talking to his girlfriend. Heh. The link

  • April 25, 2011
Kim has gotten married again.

When the radio came on this evening, there was a little advice column lady. It was a guy who was with a girl, but she was with someone else. And she said she should leave him, but hadn't yet. And it was killing him or something. The advice was to pull away. And tell her she needs to decide. OK. It just wasn't good for him.

Didn't say anything, though I thought about it. A little dancing. Barry White, can't get enough of your love.

She was so happy. We've been looking for Tropicana orangeaid for months. She got her mom in on it. And her mom and dad came in from Florida, and they brought some orangeaid. And she gave it to me, but it was Minute Maid. And she asked if it was the right kind, and what could I do? I had to say no but it was pretty close. So then she was a little disappointed. I really wish I could have gotten her mood to back where it was. It was so nice to see.

Storms. I think we have a tornado warning.

I just watched the Frontline episode "Facing Death". It's about basically people dying in intensive care. It came out on November 23, 2010, so it was like about a week after my dad died, basically that way. I guess it's been a while for me to get around to watch it, and it's been in my Netflix queue for a few weeks. It all seems like a lot of money. Especially bone marrow transplants, which are like $250k and maybe a 25% chance of it killing you in itself. But it works for some. And you just don't know. I think it's more money than I would want to be spent. it could be used for other things. But at the time you don't know. I probably wouldn't want to be on a respirator. I'd probably draw a line there. And none of those fancy operations. Unless I had the cash up front. That seems somewhat reasonable. Don't get anything you can't afford. That's just life. Insurance is nice and all, but still it should not be an excuse to go wild with other people's money. I may well need a new kidney some time, but I'd rather just wait until they can make them from your own stem cells. They're working on that now. And I'd probably only get it if I could pay for it. Hopefully they'll get the costs down. With a donor one, you have to be on anti-rejection stuff that I just wouldn't want to mess with.

My netbook came! My netbook came! Yay!

Well, that was frustrating. I just spent about three hours trying to get emacs to use ftp on donut, which is what I'm calling my netbook. The problem seems to be a little different from what it has been on the other computers. At least, the solution for the other computers hasn't worked. For them, I could use a special version of the ftp program, which apparently came with EmacsW32. It just didn't work. It looked like the emacs process couldn't communicate with it. So I don't know if it's a Windows 7 thing, or an acer thing, or an intel atom thing. And in there, I found that my thumb drive apparently doesn't work anymore. Bummer. So frustration. There are other ways to deal with this, though. I might just have to set up something else to down and upload the file. In working on this, I installed three different version of emacs. EchoEmacs even said in a web page about it that ftp works. Not for me. I also downloaded cygwin, because I thought it might have a version of ftp that would work. Apparently it doesn't even have its own ftp program. That's pretty weak. It has what it calls an improved client, ncftp, and I tried it, but it didn't seem completely compatible. Maybe there are some adjustments I can make to it. Also, someone somewhere has a fancy perl script that does other stuff, like maybe add some kind of encryption layer or security or something. It sounded tricky to install, so I haven't tried it yet. So there is still some stuff left to do. But I need to take a break. Emacs is just deeply extendible, so there's always more stuff you can add. I haven't become an expert yet, and I haven't really tried fancy stuff. But, theoretically, I could add something like a button to call a script that downloads the thing, and then uploads it again. But there is stuff well before going to that. Then again, I might just use a different program, if it's going to be a pain like this. Anyway, so I am not yet blogging from my netbook. Still on spirit for now.

  • April 24, 2011
Happy Easter!

Jiang laoshi said we should be early for the taiji demonstration, which started at 10. I should have asked how early, though. Apparently he went there a little after 7 to make sure we got the space. He called me at a quarter to 8. My alarm had gone off at 7, but I was in my second snooze period. I was planning to be there by 9, which I thought was going to be early enough. I certainly would have gone there with him then if I'd known he wanted to do that. He did ask if he had woken me up, so didn't seem so sure I would make it by 9. I did make it there a little before then. I got there and it was just Jiang and Li laoshi, but I was happy to wait with them. I think they got Zach to go get more chairs. I guess I was a little behind.

So, I'm still thinking about how I don't get nervous performing any more. I mean I used it. I think I just don't have any shame any more. And there must be something with that in the whole blogging thing. I just don't think people really care so much about the bad things. Some people are really good at "thinking on their feet" and coming up with stuff in public situations. That's still not me, I don't think, though more because I don't really do stuff in those situations. So I guess I do need to look more at doing things to take advantage at this kind of new trait, a lack of fear at public action. Maybe I should give speeches. I'm still not a very good speaker. I did the whole class teaching thing that one time. It seemed fine. But there was one of the taiji students Peggy, who was a teacher, but she absolutely refused to do the demo. Said she was an introvert, and it was always hard on the first day. Anyway, so I need to consider some stuff to do when you don't have any social anxiety any more. But what is it about? Maybe I just don't think other people are all that important? It was nice at the class reunion. They all thought well of me, even though maybe I did well back then and not really anything since then. Anyway, something to think about.

I'd be a nudist, but I don't know of any places around here where nudists go. I'm in the mensa nudist email list. The only people I hear about really are in Maryland. There is a Memphis nudist meetup (memphis bares) but they seem to have had trouble actually getting a place to meet. Ouch, though, apparently it's a misdemeanor in Tennnessee.

But maybe it's not quite true. I don't like talking to strangers. Maybe especially girls. But I don't think I'm scared. I just don't like it. They're just generally boring. Or maybe I am scared. I don't know.

  • April 23, 2011
Happy World Tai Chi Day!

OK, I might have been wrong about yesterday being Earth Day. I guess I forget when all it is. Maybe 4-20? I don't know. They do it all week, and have stuff on the weekends, usually. Whatever.

So we had a big tai chi and wushu demonstration at Shelby Farms park this morning. I thought it went very well. Beautiful, sunny weather. 70s. Nice breeze. There were actually some clouds so the sun wasn't quite constant, which was actually kind of nice. They also had some little kids doing wushu, former students from back when they taught little kids. That made a nice break in between. Seemed like I was in a bunch of stuff. Let me think. Taiji 24, Bagua tournament form, a sword basics drill, Bagua broadsword, Bagua dragon, Fanzi, wushu staff. So, seven forms. There is a tendency to focus on your mistakes. I had to put my foot down a couple of times in some of the one legged stuff in taiji 24. The ground seemed a little uneven. But I was never nervous. I'm not sure what's going on with me, but it seems like I don't get nervous any more. Too many other things more important. This stuff never bothers me. Seems like most everyone else gets nervous, though. I think my broadsword form may have been just about the best I've done. The other folks thought so. It's much nicer outside with more space. And they had some kind of heavy sort of martial sounding music to go with it, which was kind of nice. All the taiji had pretty light and easy music with it. In the dragon form, I was doing it with Reecy. At one point, she lost it and forgot. Jiang laoshi was out there, and told her to just keep going, and she got back into it. I thought it was fine. Before everything, Reecy was saying she wasn't going to do the Fanzi. And that would have been fine. She would do it if Louie did it. And they went back and forth the whole time. It was at the end, and I didn't know til then end how many were going to do it. It ended up with all four. But when we were doing it, I kind of got focused on my own, and didn't pay so much attention to them. Apparently, maybe Louis and Reecy had a little trouble. And it seems like David didn't slow down so much. But I thought it was good. This form has 8 sections, and between each section there's a chance for all of us to resynchronize, so it works pretty well, even if we aren't always so together. I think Jiang laoshi said Reecy actually did a little better than Louis. But I didn't really see anything. A lot of them were really nice because we had such big groups doing it all together.

After the demonstration, Jiang laoshi gave a little 10 minute talk about the difference between warm ups exercises and chi gung, because a few years ago at U of M, they had a thing with what the said was chi gung, but it was really just a mix. Then we had a potluck picnic. I had said I was going to bring some fried chicken, and my plan was to go get some, but there weren't all that many people, and I felt like maybe I should just stay-- it wouldn't last too long. And so many were vegetarian. It was fine. I drank a bunch of sweet tea. I brought home some hummus and a couple of other leftover dips, maybe spinach and carrot? I also brought home some sausage. Yummy. I need to bring back the nice glass dish. This was from laoshi.

I just watched a netflix video on love and cheating. Ick. I don't know where they found these people. I found them annoying. Some of the women seemed to have no idea that men want to cheat. They had a polyamorous couple. That was a little weird. They had Pepper Schwartz for a tiny bit. I should have gone to see her a few weeks ago when she was at U of M. There was a total skunk couple. Dude was a male stripper and maybe a giggolo? Every six months, after they were married, he would just leave for six month. Quite the prize. at some point, she had had enough and went somewhere and did somebody of her own. And that changed him and he became stable. Really? And she thought that was enough and wasn't taking him back, but eventually did. They had kids by that time, maybe. I don't know. I was just thinking of violent things to do to all those people. That could have been the kung fu demo talking, though.

  • April 22, 2011
Happy Earth Day! Happy Good Friday!

Weird dream. But I did realize it was a dream. My dad was in it. So it just seemed wrong. But I felt angry about it, like he shouldn't be there. Oh well. And in a dream earlier than that, somehow I crashed a car, which killed someone, so I was in trouble, and I had to run away. So something going on.

Reddit has been down for at least a day. It's in read-only mode, so not completely down, and for maybe 9 hours, reddit gold people have been able to update. But people weren't able to add new stuff, and you couldn't comment. It was pretty frustrating. Withdrawals. Have to do other stuff.

Anyway, I got up early. My mom and aunt have been getting ready to leave for California. Maybe they're a little nervous. My aunt Ruth thinks they're staying out there too long, but I think it should be fine. I could here my aunt kind of stomping around or something early in the morning. So it might be nice to have a break.

And we've got the kung fu demonstration tomorrow for World Tai Chi Day. So I guess I've got a little nervousness myself.

  • April 21, 2011
It was kind of a weird feeling. For a couple, I had been feeling this very strong feeling of just I guess love for Melissa. Liking thinking about being with her, or just wanting to be with her. Not really feeling bad about not being with her so much as just happy about the time I do get. That's not the weird part, though it isn't great. It was just that this morning, it was gone. Some kind of hormones, I guess. So, I'm pretty sure that the feelings for Melissa were just some kind of sex thing that just came out as love as just how I thought about it. Not that I don't love Melissa still. It was just such a strong feeling, and it's just not quite like that now.

Ordered the netbook.

  • April 19, 2011
So, maybe a few more. I should probably go with songs I've actually bothered to download from itunes, since there have only been so few. John Mayer, why Georgia. That Coke song. I think that'd be good for a bar. Sam Kinison's Wild Thing. Hotel California-- there used to be a copy of that on there. Seven Bridges Road.

Some other thoughts. There should be some Prince. I played Seven at Liz's, but it didn't really go so well. Just a personal thing, I guess. But 1999. Definitely Purple Rain. They used to have that, and people liked it. Maybe Let's go Crazy. It was in the mix at the Midsouthcon dance party. Maybe Little Red Crovette, though that's getting a little old even for me. I'd want some Rock Sugar, so maybe Don't Stop the Sandman. With that, I won't even have to have the Journey. And Axis of Awesome's 4 Chord song. So now I've got more than one album's worth. I'd have to pare it down. I'm adding all this stuff to a playlist on youtube.

A couple more. On the Jimi Hendrix tribute album, Stone Free there was a version of Hey Baby, land of the new rising sun. At that time, I hadn't heard Jimi's original. The tribute is a simpler, and it's has an other-worldly quality and a feeling of going somewhere after he's dead. When I did finally hear the original, after having listened to that one for a long time, and it really for a bit was my favorite song, the original seemed deeply rich, almost a little too much. Really him at a very high level. And something completely different--Primus' Wynona's Big Brown Beaver

  • April 18, 2011
Happy Tax Day! Happy Good Monday!

Got the venti soy Straberries 'n' Cream. And she made it first with whole milk, and then when 'oh' and threw it away. I didn't really get a chance to stop her. I would have taken it. I hate for it to be wasted. Oh well, it happens. She was kind of on several things at once it looked like.

I was leaving Walgreens. And there were a couple of jailtail. And they got into a van. And they went in from the driver's door. The guy had to get out to let them in. The van said "Conway Services". Hmm. I made it a point to go look up what kind of services those actually are. Apparently heating, cooling and plumbing. So probably daddy just giving girlie a lift to the store. But I cerainly was able to imagine more interesting possibilities. And it might have just been a used van they got.

Liz G had a great housewarming party on Saturday Night. It was on meetup, and they said they weren't asking for gifts, but you could bring alcohol. So just about everyone brought alcohol. Maybe 8 bottle of wine and a few bottle of liquor. I brought some Christian Brothers Brandy. Particular meaning for me, since I went to CBC. And it was an atheist party, so I thought someone might think it funny. Didn't see anybody notice that. They just took it as brandy. And Dan--Liz and Dan were moving in together-- Dan said he has said he liked brandy. I'm not sure I noticed it, but they did say they were wine people. so I figured brandy would be good. I went into Yorkshire liquors, and I saw a bunch of stuff that I thought might be good. Liz calls herself an Empress, so I thought of Crown. Fireball sounded like it might be good. It's popular at Bardog. And I considered tequila. At the thing, they mention Patron. And there was fancy stuff like the single malts. And I was thinking maybe just some pga. I actually posted on the board, does it have to be ethyl? The CBB was really cheap, I thought, $20 for what seemed like a kind of big bottle. I don't know how much that stuff runs, though, really.

It did not start off so good. Seems like for the first half hour or hour, just guys were showing up. So there were like 6 guys and Liz. And a few girls trickled in. Of course, several of the guys were gay, so maybe it wasn't too bad. Eventually, it get to pretty much parity, and then it seemed like a real party. Brittany B showed up with two girlfriends-- that was nice. Little college age girls. Apparently, Brittany holds parties, and has a meetup group which I've joined, so I need to go by one of them some time.

And I got to run some tunes. Liz had her computer hooked up with nice speakers. She was running pandora, but that was kind of boring. I found some stuff with youtube-- it's a nice source of tunes. I'm not sure I did such a great job, but it was something. Seemed like a lot of people wanted to take turns putting stuff in. But they always put in stuff they like personally, but general that isn't so great. Part of enjoying music is being familiar with it, so whenever you put in stuff people don't know, they just aren't going to like it as much as you do. A lot of music is presonal. Brittany was into Janis. I forget.

But the tunes were paused for a while because they played guitar hero. Fine. I didn't play. I like singing along, though. I think it's kind of a nice thing. I know Freddie's kids really like it. I'm not so into the stupid rhythm controller game things. It'd been nice if people could just really jam like that. I guess it's a nice approximation. The equipment for the game seems like it takes a rather big investment in space, though. Especially the drums. I think maybe Eddie has that. But he has a huge gameroom and can really afford the space.

I really like the Bardog style of interactive music. A jukebox. You can pick songs to listen to. I certainly try. Someone else put some stuff in, and I had to admit, they were some nice tunes. I forget what all, one was superfreak. But several nice ones, and I should get them in my rotation. I think some of my stuff certainly goes flat. I've been putting in Chicago, Color my world. I've had their greatest hits, and that was just about my least favorite on there, but That's all the Chicago I can find on there, so it will have to do. At Liz's, I was glad to have the Blue Man Group and Venus Hum's Annette Strean's I Feel Love. Favorite song? maybe. Bardog's jukebox had Donna Summer's version. I thought that was great, but that song got messed up on the cd and wouldn't play after just a few times of playing it. Grr. The cd is a disco hits compilation, and I play a bunch of other stuff on it. I'm sad to lose that one. It also has I will survive and that Abba thing. And YMCA. People love the YMCA. How could you not? I played it at Alex's once, though, and the gay guys were not amused. Which was just weak. Everyone else liked it. Maybe too campy. So what else. I'm gonna be-- that 500 miles song. Celebration is great. Probably the ultimate feel good party song. Quite often if the mood is right at the end of an evening with enough drunk people, people will sing along with Lean on Me. But not always. Bill Withers is good. I've got 4 I play. I played some at Liz's. Use me. Two of us. Ain't No Sunshine. People like Piano Man. Some kind of romantic things. Girl, You'll be a woman soon. Son of a Preacher Man. Brown-eyed Girl. Easy like Sunday Morning-- that's somehow more of a guy thing. There's some country stuff I like to put in. Ring of Fire is great. On the Road Again. Willie's got just a tremendous version of Bridge Over Troubled Water on that disk that I usually put in with them, but it's a personally thing that I'm not sure other people appreciate. I think it may well be my favorite thing in the machine. Maybe I'm Amazed. There are only 3 Beatles tunes scared through-out--Rocky Raccoon, Don't Let Me Down, and I'm Looking Through You. Kind of an odd selection, but they've had a disc with a bunch more that's gone, so that's what we have now.

I wonder what all I would put on a disc and add if I could. The BMG "I feel love" certainly. There's no Brickhouse. That just seems like a tragic loss to me. 25 or 6 to 4, though I might have trouble picking which version. Jamming might be on the machine somewhere. I need to look for it. They took the disk with Paradise City off, a whole GnR disc. I think maybe it was getting over-played. There were a lot of things that were on there that people loved that have been taken off. I guess maybe Aldo was getting tired of them. But no Paradise City? Criminal. The had something with Sweet Melissa. I played it every time I went in there. I thought it was nice. Been gone a year or two now. Picking some Beatles would be hard. Something. I'd get tired of Yesterday. Come to think of it, Imagine would be nice. Aldo had a rocking version of Black Betty that he really liked. Unfortunately, a lot of these are just personal things with me. I should be thinking more of the crowd pleasers. Some of the stuff Super 5 plays. I guess I could go look at their playlist. Oh, Little Wing and Angel. But those are personal. Stairway. Freebird. They had a Freebird. I think I remember Aldo actually saying something like playing it was a cliche.

So, a very weird night. Several girls kissing. One kid, I think he said he was 21, was standing right there and pointed them out to me. But I had seen them. Not good to stare. You want them to feel comfortable doing that. Because it's nice.

Kurt was kissing on one girl, too. He came in really drunk, and yet Mel still gave him some more. Afterward, she talked a bit about it. She'd rather he be there where she can look out for him a bit. She talked about how one time she got him to save a twenty, and he talked about later finding it and being able to buy some pizza, so thanks. He was trying to buy other people shots. I think she managed to regulate it, though, so he wasn't wasting all his money.

And I learned the names of two cute redheads--Britney and Whitney. Britney I've been seeing in there quite a bit, with a bunch of other folks. This time, she told Greg she was going out to her car and would come back to pay her tab. And I asked Greg if he thought she was coming back. She said sure, and she works at Flight, anyway, she he could find her, anyway. And she did come back! So I said something. I think she didn't like the implication made. I guess it wasn't so nice. But she was standing next to me at the little service mat spot. So I asked her name. No real interest there, but I really thought she was cute.

That contrasts with Whitney. She was sitting talking to a guy much of the evening, but at the other end. So I had to walk past several times to get the jukebox, and I guess I flirted quite a bit. And finally, I was sitting next to them. And dude went to the bathroom and I smiled at her. And to my surprise, she came up and talked to me. Introduced herself. She works at Saucer. She is about to graduate in psychology and sociology. So I said I went to the cognitive science seminar, and mentioned several psych professors. I knew Danielle McNamara. She got talking about the country time lemonade, and somehow Melissa got in the conversation. They were talking about the difference between cans and bottles. Melissa was saying you have to finish the bottle off, but I can do that pretty easy. But the cans have an aluminum flavor. That was stuff they clearly knew about that I didn't. Anyway, Whitney was wanted me to come see her at the saucer, and Melissa was saying we'd need to get some lemonade, but I said at the saucer, I get the abita root beer. It does something to Whitney, so she gets the Dr. Pepper. I don't know. Anyway, it was a conversation. I didn't make any attempt to go anywhere with it, which was weak, but she did seem like she liked talking to me. She was dressed to please, I would have to say. Low-cut. And she was little, which I like. So thinking about it now, she does seem like someone I'd like to see more of. She said she might come in to Bardog more.

There was some kind of trouble in the kitchen. One person didn't get their stuff for more than an hour and a half. And Ben was very drunk. Don't know what that was about. Dmitriy had been in there and maybe messed up their system. Whatever. Justin was totally pissed and there was yelling or something. Who knows.

One of the girls who was later kissing fell over in her chair. Don't know what that was about.

And there was a fight. One guy came over and just popped a guy in the right eye, and then went into a choke. Guys eyes were bulging out, according to Melissa. I'm not sure if it looked quite that bad to me, but it wasn't good. This time, Asa wasn't there. Seems like I usually see him dealing with it. Greg didn't see it, and didn't hear anything. There really wasn't anything to hear, because he wasn't yelling--he just went over and popped him. So I went over. It was maybe 8 feet, but around a corner for me. When I got there, the other guy was over on the floor. I got the guys left arm, but he then tried kicking the other guy. So much for that. I go in front over to the other side, so I think they got a little more separated. Seemed like I was stepping on someone, though. Dude had a couple of girlfriends, and I pushed him a little toward the door, and the girls also took him out. So I got a little bit involved. But there was no need for any kind of fighting. And I didn't use any kind of hold or anything. I just held his arm a little bit. You don't want someone to feel uncomfortable. I think it was all just some kind of mistake though. Thought he saw something. Later, outside, they were hugging and making up.

I kind of decided to go ahead and order the netbook. I checked my account, anhd I had more than I was thinking. Like an extra month's worth. So I should go ahead and spend the money. But I checked it just a few minutes after the daily cutoff to get the transaction in to take money out. So I'll need to wait another day.

I finally looked, and it seems like I don't need to file taxes. I didn't pay anything in, so I can't get anything back. They have a kind of minimum you need to make to file, like $9000, but I didn't make that. There's something about if you're self employed and make more than $400, you have to file. That's pretty low. But that's a situation where they have no other way of knowing about it. I didn't even make that. I have some dividend income, and I didn't really see anything about a minimum for that so you have to file. My investment people didn't withhold anything, and apparently I wouldn't owe anything on that small amount, anyway. And from investments, I only have losses. They all reported that stuff on their end. It certainly looks to me like neither I nor they have any money at stake. It would waste both my time and theirs. So, better for me just to not.

I'm watching the National Geographic special on stress on Netflix. Had to pause. I am totally living without stress. Maybe a little bit more now that the money is winding down, but still, just about none. So I've been liking it. And dude was talking about people spending money to do stressful things. The rollercoasters, the skydiving. No way. I never do that crap. I guess some people are into that. Maybe those are also the folks who like talking to people. Anyway, no stress now. But I guess I'm going to have to work, and that's going to be stress again. Hopefully being free of it will help. Maybe that stuff just won't seem so important and critical. I know you can just walk away from it. They haven't gotten into it yet, but supposedly a lot of stress is from being helpless. But you're not helpless if you can just walk away. Maybe it's bad if you think you're stuck and don't have a choice.

  • April 15, 2011
I forget who it was that said it, maybe Twain but, the problem isn't the things that we don't know, it's the things we know for sure that aren't so. My mom was sure that her sister Herte was still alive at the Goldene Hochseit. We were there in 2002. Ruth said she died about 13 years ago. And I remember she wasn't there. But my mom was very sure. She said she has a picture. But I don't know.

My aunt Ruth is staying here now. She is getting me to give her with English lessons an hour a day. She wants to pay me, too. It looks like her English is already very good. She has been studying for many years. It's almost all reading, though. So she is not so good at understanding it when hearing it, and speaking it is hard. Those are different skills, though, and they take practice of their own. Listening to English is hard because most people speak a little too fast for her. And her hearing is getting a little weak. Yesterday, we spent the hour with her translating some English passages from the 30-year-old textbook that she has been studying from. She would read the English and say the German. That helped me understand how well she really understood it. Mom was listening and could correct her. Also, she usually translated only one word at a time, and that really didn't make for correct German. She said the English wasn't very good. So it seems like she doesn't quite appreciate how English usage is often quite different. And occasionally she will just get a word wrong, though she does understand the words quite well, mostly. She said she would read the passage in English, and not be able to answer questions about it. So maybe the comprension is not so good? I don't know. Today, we only did a few minutes so far. Apparently, she won't have a lot of people to talk to in English. Just sometimes when traveling. In particular to Egypt. So the situations she would need to speak are in hotels and restaurants, and arranging to play golf. She says she has trouble using some simple words, like 'get'. We'll have to work on that. For just a few weeks, we can't do too much, but hopefully we can get her maybe a little bit better.

It looks like no Chinese class today. The teacher is out of town. I was thinking we might still get together to practice, but no one else seems to have this idea. I've talked to everyone but one couple, Peggy and Harvey. They go to the earlier Tai Chi class. So I guess we're not doing it. Bums.

I said something about me maybe coming to Germany. Ruth said they have space, but right now they don't. Karsten is going to get an apartment with 6 bedrooms, though. I don't know about that. He has two kids, and maybe his girlfriend has a couple. Right now, Karsten and his kids stay with Ruth on the weekends. That has to get kind of crowded. Anyway, I was saying how a couple years ago I went to DC and Baltimore, but I just didn't like travelling all that much. I didn't really go see stuff. I just like staying home. So I don't know. Now still might be good, while I still have some time. But I don't know. I probably will need to go work. She said work is good. Sure.

Well, I was burning a DVD, so my computer was occupied, and I had to open a physical book to have something to do. I dug up my book on historical linguistics, which was a little toward the bottom of my first pile. It's full of bunches of what I think are interesting little bits, though in general, it gets boring in larger doses, so I haven't really trying to get through it. Just something to look at once in a while. The thing I just saw was in the section on analogical change, and in particular levelling, where complicated word changes moved to the standard approach. Like in verbs making the past forms with -ed. Or making the comparative with -er and -est. Anyway, "near" actually used to be the comparative, meaning "nearer". Then it came to just be the standard form. It went nigh/near/next. How about that? nigh and next have stayed around with sort of different, more specific meanings rather than just being the different forms of the one word. And it used to be old/elder/eldest. And we do have elder and eldest, but more generally we have older and oldest.

  • April 13, 2011
Happy Ides of April! Happy Wednesday the Thirteenth!

Man, I still haven't done my taxes. I haven't payed anything in, so I don't know how important it is. And all I really have is a loss. And from my experience last year, it's a lot of trouble listing all the losses, because they came just a little bit at a time, and each transaction is separate. So I've put it off because I'm dreading it, and I'm not even sure if it's necessary, and last time I ended up not doing the free version and having to pay. Something was up, because I thought I selected the free one, and it asked if I wanted to import my old info, and I said sure, and that suddenly switched me to the paid one, and it wouldn't let me go back. Sounds like a rip off to me. But it wasn't all that much I guess. Crime is crime, but at some point you have to let it go. Still, I guess I'm not a little bit reluctant to go back.

So Aimee said she liked the beard. It goes with my personality. And it's not a neat sort of trim thing. The wild, homeless sort of beard. Mom is saying I may need to trim it. I'll shave it all before I put work into it.

It seemed weird. I just felt very satisfied, more than I could remember feeling.

I finished _Asleep_. The end came very unexpectedly. The kindle keeps a kind of progress bar that I guess I trusted. But the book was over when it said 62%. I kept on to see what the deal was. There were end notes. And I would have guessed that maybe the endnotes would be longer in the kindle because in print they usually have a smaller font, but I've made the font bigger. And there was a bibliography. OK. Those as so much easier to just skip in print. And then there was an index. Which was useless. There weren't any page numbers. Just the words that were in the index. So why bother? And I was thinking, well maybe you could click on them or something, but no. I bet a more sophisticated kindle version my have that. There seemed to be some kind of highlighting ability, so I tried that, but it added something to some kind of clippings file. Maybe that would be a nice feature, but that wasn't what I meant to do, and now I don't see how to delete the junk I added. So maybe some kinks. But I've finally finished reading a book on the kindle. Not the best experience, maybe. We'll see.

Roy said paper books were going to be obsolete. I strongly don't think so. I don't know if he even has any books. Seems like I don't remember seeing any. Anyway, there were maybe some nice bits to the ebook, but it seemed like there were bits that weren't so good.

Had some trouble sleeping. Woke up at about 4, and checked Facebook. Liz P was up, so I chatted with her. Must have been an hour. Maybe time got away from us. I mentioned that the book suggested that maybe movie zombies came from how those sleeping sickness patients look.

The Chinese word that is maybe the best way to say yes actually sounds like "sure" in English--是. I think it's rather striking. And I even think maybe saying "sure" in English, or more especially in American, might have been added to a little because of that. Of course, everywhere in the world now, people also say OK, even in China. So even if they were an influence, we got them back.

A guy on the AGI list was saying how nowadays, most AI is based on learning, and cyc was the last time people tried to put knowledge in manually. The last time we made that "mistake". But it has gotten me thinking, what was the mistake? I think the mistake is still there in how he said it. AI "based" on learning. It's like people aren't recognizing that intelligence means a learning ability. I say that because one definition I think I've seen is that intelligence is an ability to solve problems. I think Ben phrases it as sovling complex problems in complex environments. So at this point I can say--No, wrong! I think Minsky was saying it always gets pushed back as thinks computers can do yet, and maybe they don't have X, where X might be creativity or learning. But I don't think it's quite like that. I would have to say that learning really may be the central thing after all, and all the nifty capabilities are the side effect of that, not the other way around. That is, learning isn't the means to acquire intelligence. It's the intelligence itself. The problem with the perspective is that they think that what you get after learning is what the intelligence is, and while it certainly demonstrates intelligence, it really isn't what people are thinking of. And maybe those abilities are the goals of intelligence or its purpose, it shows that they aren't even really understanding the problem, which is always a bad sign.

Oh mighty warrior of great fighting stock

  • April 11, 2011
That is one sad mama-smurfing book. _Asleep_. It's for Aimee's thing. And she did warn me. She even said Mike had read it and sad it was really sad. So sad enough to talk about other people talking about how it is sad. It's about a disease epidemic from the 20s. Called encephalitis lethargica. And they still don't really know what it was or is. It happens once in a while. Maybe there are some stories that are from it, like Sleeping Beauty and Rip van Winkle. The book is largely just a bunch of case studies of particular individuals. They are all fairly grim, but then they come to this one, Rosie, and say it's pretty bad. So it's going to be pretty bad. One thing about the disease is that it takes away impulse control in children. So they'll fight or get mad and destroy things, but they'll do it and know it's wrong, but they can't help myself. So it's actually stranger than fiction. They don't do that in fiction--people will do bad things and they don't care. I think it would violate people sense of reality to have someone do something bad, and they know it's bad and don't really want to, but they do it anyway.

Also, this is the disease they talked about in _Awakenings_. It was a book by Oliver Sacks and they had a movie with Robin Williams. These were these patients 40 years later. They couldn't move on their own, but could, say, catch a ball if you through it to them. And even that was sad, because he gave them l-dopa, and it brought them back for a while, but then they went back to how they were. So it was sad.

But Rosie. They talk about how she pulled out her teeth. And she said she couldn't help herself. I think somebody pulling out their teeth really kind of gets to you. Or at least me. And then they go on to self-mutilation, kind of in general, it seemed like. But there was this one saint, Saint Lucia. Apparently there was this pagan guy who was hitting on her. Letters, maybe. And he said she beautiful eyes. So she plucked them out and sent them to him. Hey, it says pluck your eyes out in the Bible if they cause you problems. Then she said for him to leave her alone. OK. I guess that pretty much was a bad sign about how the story was going to go. So sure enough, she plucked out one of her eyes. And she said it just fell out. I think later maybe she admitted to having done it. I guess the writer tried to make it dramatic. She talked about how the nurse went in and ran out screaming. She was sitting there holding her eye in her hand. Really not all that much blood, really. And she wasn't upset and didn't seem to be in pain. Her eye just popped out. And with one eye, a person can still do pretty well. But of course, she was a crazy bitch. So she plucked out the other one. This one they had to find somewhere in the sheets. Again, she said it had just popped out. Crazy. Little 15 year-old.

Wow ten days without writing. I guess I've been doing other stuff.

Mom said she is going to go off to stay at the farm after Ruth leaves. I knew she was going out there in the summer, but it didn't seem like it was going to be this soon. So I was kind of getting used to it, and it seemed a little sad. Even though I did say I didn't think I could live with her all the time. It's pretty pitiful for me to be living with my mother. And it didn't seem like it was so bad if it wasn't all the time. But it's pretty bad. It's not all that uncommon, though. Moms have to live somewhere. It's probably not so nice for them to live by themselves. And I guess I kind of appreciate nursing homes a bit more. Some place where there's other people. A bit expensive, and not so good if you have to have people take care of you. Mom can take care of herself perfectly fine. And I guess she has people that she can see and people who can come by. At the farm, it was not so good when the dog was around. He kind of scared people. Bit one of my mom's friends, actually. So maybe more people will come over out there. We'll see how it goes.

My mom is still pretty worried about Ruth coming over. She lives a very different way from us. She goes out and does things every day. We just sit around the house. And Ruth can be fussy. So we'll see. Just a couple more days. They're going to California for 5 days. I guess that'll keep her occupied for a little bit. And they're flying over Atlanta. I did that once. I'm never doing that again. I don't care what it costs. I think this was cheaper. And Freddie was paying for it. I don't know how they'll like it. With the two of them, they can just talk the whole time, so it may be fine. And Ruth flies all the time. I think maybe a week ago, they just flew to Dresden. So maybe the flight won't be too bad. But one time, she had trouble on the plane, and fainted or something. So we'll have to see.

I guess I've got to think harder about working again. I skipped Saturday Taiji class a couple times, and in thinking about that, I was considering that maybe I've got so much time that I should do some work. It's not so easy to find work of course, and that's not a good attitude to have about it. And there's always the conflict of feeling kind of greedy and wanting to do something to make a lot of money versus doing something I really want to. If that's possible. I'm not sure I actually know anyone where it works out like that for them. But it's something to shoot for, I guess.

If I start early enough in looking, so that I can be more selective, I think the idea is that I might be able to find something more obscure that I might like better. That's the whole _What Color is your Parachute_ theory. I've never gotten it to work. That's making the job search a real, full time job in itself. And the idea is that it might be a fun job for a person to look for his dream job. But it has always sounded like a nightmare job to me. It's mostly about talking with strangers. Something I simply don't like. Understating it, of course. I have an aversion to talking with strangers.

Plus it's a lot of risk-taking. I'm very risk-averse. Of course, people say just talking to new people isn't really a risk. I'm thinking of the seduction people now. That's a deep pile of crap. The past few times I've been reject have been deeply unpleasant and painful. I feel a lot better about just staying away from the whole relationship thing. The thought of taking some sharp steel and cutting some people up doesn't sound so bad. I think just recently I was hearing about some serial killer killing some prostitutes somewhere. I can totally relate.

I got stuck on a Freecell puzzle. My streak was at about 250. I had three spots open, and I had thought you could could not be stuck with three spots open. But I had only one ace removed, and for some reason, I had decided to focus on making more neat little stacks than getting to the aces. They were all tucked at the top. So I was looking at it for an hour or two, and I just didn't see what I could do. And it was late. I was tired. That might have gotten me there. Five in the morning. And I considered just letting it wait and come back to look at it later. But I didn't feel like it. So I decided to try something that was basically cheating. I shutdown the computer. That erases the game you're on. It can also seriously damage a computer if you're not lucky. And I've had that happen recently, so I know. I wasn't even positive it would work, so I gave it a shot. And it did save me from this defeat. But I guess after this, it doesn't really count any more. Two much time on my hands again, really, anyway. So I should just get a job.

Of course, maybe I should try writing. I could try finding out a way to make money by writing. I guess I'm not too greedy. Maybe a little. It can mess with your head when your pay gets close to six digits. You don't feel like settling for average. And that kind of reminds me of how women who make a lot seem like they feel like they are in a different league. OK. But writing. Writing is one of those weird statistical distributions. Most writers make hardly anything. But a few make gargantuan amounts that unbalance everything else out there. I say a few. Obama makes several million a year because of his books. Or is it only one book? And he was a lawyer. The presidential salary is nothing. I think nowadays, all presidents make bank from books. Anyway, it can be a good racket, but it doesn't work for a lot of folks. And I can't even get myself to get a netbook to have something to keep in the car to write with. I'm sure I'm keeping that as a bit of a lame excuse for not writing so much. But I have to say it is nice to sit at Starbucks and look at the plebes and hack. It's been way too many years since I sat at a bar and wrote. Now the only bar I go to is Melissa's. I should get that darn netbook and sit at Melissa's bar and write. It would be a little less of a waste than it is.

I didn't go see Melissa this weekend. I told her I would be very sad. And I wasn't completely lying. It was kind of weird. I don't think I've broken the spell, but I feel a little more relaxed.

Augh! We got the mail. I got two Netflix. One was a Perry Mason that had to come from out of town. San Jose, it looks. The other was from Memphis. And it was broken! I think this makes about 3 or 4 Perry Mason disks that come in broken. And the fact that the one wasn't available from Memphis says to me that the one from Memphis got broken and they caught it. So something must have been going on with the last person from Memphis who was getting the Perry Mason disks. Maybe something bad about how they were mailing them. Very sad to me, though. I lose a lot of time from these. And now I'm sure that Netflix thinks there is something suspicious about me. And I certainly might have thought there could have been something wrong with the mailing to me. But now I have that one that wasn't available in Memphis, which says maybe it wasn't me. In any case, netflix the company is losing money in this thing, as apparently more than one whole set of DVDs has been damaged. I might be that these disks are also a little bit old and maybe there is a problem with their quality. But that's a pretty ugly problem.

So writing. There's just a ton of written stuff out there. Much junk. Sometimes when I think of writing I just consider all that mountain of garbage and wonder why I would even consider want to add to it. It's bad enough that I write a blog. There's tons of junk like this. I'm not sure I'd even be able to write anything that someone would want to spend money on. But then, considering the junk I spend money on, I don't feel so bad about that.

I do maybe need to look at a little better stuff. I need to read Hitch's autobiography. Apparently, he was a serious writer. I've also got Dawkins book on evolution, _Greatest Show on Earth_. I'm trying to finish _Asleep_. The writing in it, though, is kind of making me feel a little bad about mine. Very visual. Lot's of details about how things looked. I just don't do that. I guess that makes me abstract and boring. Oh well.

I watched a neat video called Human Resources. For a little bit, it talks about modern management, and now I'm reading and article about the management myth, by a guy who says it's better to get a degree in philosophy than an MBA. So, management as a general thing is a little bit conflicted. You don't want people to get too good, or they might realize that problems are caused by the system and not the particular situation at hand. Capitalism devalues people, treats them like unthinking machines as much as it can get away with, and that is just naturally unpleasant. The move is for each worker to specialize down to a small task where they don't have to think. That is pressure to reduce a person's humanity. It is inherently, unavoidably bad. There's no way to avoid it. So any management education is going to have to somehow flood your brain with enough garbage that you can't see it any more. If you can wade through the two years of bullcrap enough to get through the program, then congratulations! You have what it takes to be a corporate gear spring!

There's the management. School is all about dehumanizing children in preparation for a life of wage or salary slavery. One thing I found intriguing was how they make the kids so they can only get personal value from the authority figures. Grades take away any natural desire for learning that there might be. Hmm. After a point in college and throughout graduate school, I just didn't look at grade reports any more. Hopefully that was marginally good for me trying to be self-motivating and not relying on the system for validation and not just me giving up.

Deja vu is just a feeling of familiarity.

  • April 1, 2011
Happy April Fools' Day! Happy Kalends of April!

We're getting some of our windows cleaned. It's more expensive than we were thinking so we are only getting six done. A little over $20 each. They have three people working on it.

In order to get ready for the ones in my room, I had to clean out the corner. Many years of accretion. There were a couple of large tangles of coaxial TV cable. It was quite a mess. I think the TV cable was sitting there because at one point I could hook my desktop to the TV and have it receive and record stuff. But I haven't been able to do that with the new digitial. So it wasn't even connected any more. Just a mess that was left there. I went out and bought 6 fairly large plastic tubs. It seemed like a lot, but then I didn't even get everything. I could use several more even. I filled three with stuff that was sitting around, and three with books. I still have a couple of piles of books, so maybe three more boxes.

This time, I didn't just put the books in boxes. I moved the books from the shelves into the boxes, and put these books on the shelves. There were mostly books that in piles of books I want to read still maybe. Some of them were ones that I just read recently, so those went into boxes. Now they are all convenient, and I can browse when I want. There is now some space in the corner, and I'm hoping I can move a lot of the boxes into the corner. Some of them have been sitting in front of the bookshelves, so I can't even use the lower shelves. If I can get to them, I can move even more into the shelves. I've only traded out three shelves, so I've got a lot more I can do. But I've got a lot more that I'd like to put out. There was actually one box that was my pile of stuff I wanted to read. But that was from years ago. All the books in the newer piles that were sitting out have been bought since then. Ouch. I guess I buy way too many, and it's been a long time.

A bonus from cleaning it up. My punching bag and weights were kind of stuck in the middle of the pile of junk, and I couldn't use them. Now the punching bag is pulled out, and I hit it a little. The weights are out. I haven't lifted it. It feels pretty heavy. I guess I've weakened up quite a bit. But maybe I can work on it now.

They finished up the windows, and I reorganize my room. It's much nicer now. I don't have any boxes in front of the book shelves. I did put my big amplifier in front but it's narrow enough not to be a problem. The boxes were so wide that it was kind of inconvenient to reach out. And a super bonus, the weight bench is sitting in front of the shelves. So I can just sit in front and browse. That seems a lot different. I also have a place to maybe sit and play guitar, which will be good. Plus the weights. It seems to have a lot more space. I could probably do the bagua circle walking in there again. The boxes are in fairly tall stacks in corners now, instead of several little short stacks kind of in the way in front of things. And there was a box right next to the door that made it feel a little crowded walking in, and now there's space. Ten years ago, I used that space to do handstands against the wall. I could do that again, now. If I could do a handstand. I think my wrist couldn't handle it any more, and I'm maybe 30 pounds heavier than then.

My mom actually said something about the bench. Now there's a place where someone can come in and sit. And it's by the window in a nice place to sit and look outside.

My Freecell streak is at 200 now. I've started doing sudoku a little more now. I'm pretty far behind getting them all done this year, though.

  • March 29, 2011
Happy Birthday to me!

My Freecell streak is at 190.

Gosh, I could have gone out to Liz G.'s for Mosa Monday, but I just didn't feel like it. Mom and I were watching Perry Mason, and I just was able to burn DVDs on spirit. Tudor's drive hasn't worked for writing in a long time. And we watched some Monk. I might have gone after that, but I still didn't really feel like it. And it was sad because Allison was saying she would go, and I wanted to see her again. Oh well. Not so good. But I have been going out a bunch lately.

Still no hug went I first went in to Bardog. And Melissa didn't get any lemonade. She was called in early. I guess that's a good excuse. So I don't know. But she was nice. And I said it was my birthday on Tuesday. She got me some cake. She asked me what I was going to do, and all I had was that I was going to eat steak.

I told her about Super Chris' new reason for not coming down, that the smoke really bothers him. She thinks that's pretty lame. And I said we were talking about his type, because there was a cute waittress at Doc Watson's, where he was doing his two person gig. And she said it was high-maintenance, pretentious and vain. Mrowr-ffft! I'm not sure where that came from. She's usually sweet. Some of his gfs, I guess, must have really rubbed her the wrong way. She did come up with some ugly sounding stories. I was going to call it tall blonde, but I haven't seen them all. And I was going to say the Melissa is kind of his type, but not after that.

I was going maybe to go into my type. Or more specifically how Melissa actually wasn't really quite my type, but I wanted first to tell her how I think she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. And I can say that after thinking about it quite a bit, because a while back, I remember seeing lists in a couple of magazines (maybe FHM and Maxim) about the top 100 most beautiful women. And I could go through them all and I thought Melissa looked better than each of them. Of course, maybe I'm a little biased. But still. And then saying goodbye, it kind of went quick, and it was kind of cold outside, so I didn't get to it. Oh well.

Well, that was quick. Allison said she didn't want to get together and talk. It was an email. Emails aren't real good for connecting with people. Other bad things happening today. Got another DVD in the mail that was cracked. And kung fu class was cancelled. They cut off the electricity because they were disputing a bill.

  • March 27, 2011
I'm trying my best "invisible in plain view". I'm sitting in the con suite at MidSouthCon. And to be a little more specific, I'm sitting at a round table and a couple seats to my left are two women I recognize from the dance party this morning. But I haven't made eye-contact. I'm not sure I made eye-contact then, either. I didn't dance, yet again. I just sat by the wall in watched. Kind of jiggiing in my seat a bit, maybe. And, something fairly unusual, I got up and danced a little bit for brick house, but sat back down. A couple of people came up to me and told me I should dance. One was one of the two black guys. They were dancing by themselves, but, as black people, they were very good. Those geeky white guys don't cut it. And the other was a cute little thin white girl. Shame. I told the black guy--man, that's the best description I have for him? weak-- I first pointed to my feet, but it was actually quiet enough to hear, so I said my feet hurt. Kind of true. Just an excuse, perhaps. Not so into dancing by myself anymore. Feels too sad, maybe? I can pretend I'm better than I am. But you don't get good if you don't practice. Part of the pretending is that video of the essence of good dancing, and the article describing it.

What else? I hung out with Roy. I think apart from that, it was fairly sad for me. And the big thing about that was largely that Roy is actual friends with a bunch of people. So there was the good will from that. There was a cute little girl, Brooke. Maybe part Indian. Kind of tall and thin. She and Roy hugged, and he introduced me to her, and she went to shake my hand, and I just gave her a hug. Unfortunately, it went downhill. And I didn't attempt to hug any more of Roy's cute friends. There were even ones I had seen before. Anyway, Brooke. Her son was there. Maybe stepson. Taller than her. She said he was six foot, and only fourteen. So I suggested she could get him to start smoking, and asked if he wanted a cigarette. Got her motherly instincts up, I guess. Then she got into this thing, where she said she could kick me in the head from there. A foot away from me? I found that intriguing. At first, she kind of raised her leg, but it was a little unconvincing. Then she backed up. Really? That's "from here". So I was unconvinced. She didn't feel like arguing about it, apparently. Just kind of tried to avoid me after that. Not too long after that She was with Roy and some others talking in the hall. When I walked up, she left.

Wow, kicked out of the con-suite! They were closing down. A bit of a bummer. But I was already a little bummed. Someone sat next to chickees, so I moved to an empty table. I don't think it was empty when I sat down. I don't know. I'm sitting in the games room. As I was leaving the con-suite, she said it was not a place to sit. Really?

I just talked to one of the organizers. No cost for fan tables, but only 10 slots, so first come, first served. He said he had looked out for us, but didn't hear from Dave, who usually does it. He likes to do a test, and put it on the schedule. We need to do that in advance, too. Maybe next year.

One thing was intriguing. I was in a panel about publishing forms, e-book, self, small press, big house. One lady, who publishes, was talking about stuff she might look for in a writer. She said you need some kind of web presence. I asked her what afterwards. A blog or something. They are not necessarily looking for a story so much as a new voice. I guess that's if you have a finished book. And they can tell after a couple of paragraphs if it's worth it to go on. If the writing is any good. Sounded more optimistic at the time.

I was back and forth about the table. I guess I know now that this last minute thing would have been too late, as they were all booked up. I did see the Star Trek people added a table afterwards. That was kind of sad. On Friday, I was standing outside of OPs thinking about asking them, and didn't. I had stuff. But it's just as well I didn't. I ran out of money. Going out was too expensive. So I wouldn't have been able to spring for supplies. And on Saturday, I was really happy that I could just sleep instead of having to go in. And I hadn't told anybody, so it would hardly have been a real Mensa thing. All month, I thought about it, but again, it turns out that it would almost certainly have been too late.

I watched Les talk about NASA stuff. He admitted to being in Mensa in his little bio on the program. Represent! Man, I should have had a table. I'm also thinking I should request to do my AI talk. Les said we have no manned space plan. And there's a project that the president cancelled, and something Congress never allocated money for. The president wants it to be done commercial. For now, we just pay the Russians, but they just doubled their price. We cut a manned project that was maybe 3 years from being done. He runs tethering experiments, and they just got one done.

Oh man, a table. I went down there, and there were these super cute booth babes, apparently for some media epo, called gmx. Mrowr. I think seeing them was about the only thing that kept me considering gettting a table at the last minute. Not enough to ask about it, I guess.

At 6:00 on Friday, there was a talk by someone on kata in martial arts. I would have like to see that, but I had Chinese class at 6:30.

I'm now sitting in a panel about -punk, eg steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk. Story writers. Punk--dark side of shiny.

At one point, I thought about getting my sword and carrying it around, and we were talking to Elvis, an SCA guy that does security, and he said to bring it to him and get it peace-bonded. I didn't ask him, but looking into it, it appears to be just putting a tie to keep it in its scabbard. But I don't have one, so I think it just wouldn't work. Oh well. I did get my staff in for a little bit Saturday. Roy had just left, so I didn't get to show him, which is something I wanted to do. It was nice to have something to lean on.

Twice now, I got a parking place right by the door. That is really nice. Saturday just before midnight, and midafternoon on Sunday. So not much going on, and I caught a spot when maybe someone left. I could leave my jacket in the car. Both times I wasn't able to get any water in the con-suite. Saturday it was empty (what's up with that) and today it closed. So I got my empty bottle from the car. Saturday, I actually went in for a bit, and it was after that got my staff. I saw Roy, and went on, and then he must have left.

Didn't like one of the authors in the panel. Somehow rubbed me the wrong way. Not so much into the fiction stuff, maybe.

I've written about in in previous years, but I've been thinking about it again. Some of the mensa people who do the table come there and act like they paid to be in the con. They'll go to panels and get food from the con suite. It really bugs me, as I pay my way. They didn't go to the con this time. They wouldn't pay for it, but they'll take it for free. Thinking about this kind of held me back from actually doing the table. At least with them. So that's kind of why I was thinking of just doing it myself. But then it wasn't going to be really a Mensa thing. Seems like they were a little more into checking badges at the con suite this time. So who knows if it would have been a deal. I didn't hear from them. Maybe it got cleared up and they didn't want to do it. Seems like in the past they had a fee for the table, but this time he said they didn't.

I've been looking through the internal martial arts subreddit. There isn't that much on it, and it's pretty new. But it's got stuff that makes me proud to be studying bagua. There's also the martial arts subreddit. Somewhere, I found a really tremendous video of a guy doing taiji. OK, found it it was in the martial arts bigger subreddit. So the reddit people think it's pretty fake. The MMA and jiu-jitsu people, particularly. They're all about people resisting, fighting back. Sure. I'd kind of be into that.

  • March 24, 2011
I guess it's a new day. I did go to Molly Fontaine's. There was Liz G. and Felix. And Allison and Sashank and Judith and Taj. I was sitting next to Felix and Allison and across from Liz, but kind of further away from the rest. Judith was way over there, so I basically didn't get to talk with her. And then they all left at 9:30. Man, I had other places I could have gone if I knew they were cutting at in two hours. But they are going for quantity, I guess. I think Liz has stuff every week. A Monday thing and this Wednesday thing, which alternate. So there's a bunch. Plenty, maybe. But I'm wondering if there doesn't need to be just an anti-theist group. Allison is an agnostic. She tries to be diplomatic, and maybe sweet. She's a lawyer. Immigration. So maybe helping people. And she's got that logical skepticism thing. I see that. Even agnostic about Santa Claus. Which is retarded. I said I hate agnostics. I think she can't abide the hate. Anyway, I asked and several of them, who admitted to being anti-theists, said they might be up for going door to door. We weren't sure what that should be called. Prosyletizing? Witnessing? Evangelizing? Anyway, I guess I need to ask around. No conciliation. No appeasement. There was some mention of Westboro.

I did also go see Super Chris playing in Radio X with Meredith at Doc Watson. They actually had it on the board as Chris Ballentine. I only caught the very end, maybe a half hour, or a little more. In between I tried the Hi Tone, because something said they might be going there. Didn't see anyone. Some punk junk. wasted some money. It was all quite a bit of wasted money. I spend too much when I go out. I don't go out much, I guess, and my habit for doing it is from when I did have quite a bit. Think rich to be rich.

Woo! I love Aimee! I just had lunch with her.

Hmm. All this going out is getting a little expensive, though. So the bill was twenty-three something. So I had to break a $20. And then she gave me a good five. The middle older one, with the green five, not the purple five on the back. The kind that would work in Bardog's jukebox. So I had to tip her the 10. Then I decided to go to Starbucks. And I had to use the 5 anyway. So I'm down to ones. And the C. It's going quick.

I'm at the busy one here in mid-town. Lots of folks passing through.

Aimee. She's cute. And seems happy to see me. So cheerful. We almost arranged to go see Rango, but it looks like it moved to second run theaters. I don't want to see it in second run. OK, I just checked. Aimee was looking at the regular, not digital. It's still got the digital at the Paradiso.

I wonder what they buy thats half as valuable as what they sell.

Man. Drawing a total blank! Me with nothing to say! I did just write a couple of e-mails. One to Aimee, and one to Allison Wannamaker, someone I saw at the meeting last night. Ihat was to an email address that was on the web. Probably too much spam there. I doubt it gets used. I guess it's possible, I don't know.


  • March 23, 2011
Man. Sitting at Starbucks again. It's been a while. FTP didn't work. I've spent almost a half an hour getting it to work. I had to M-x customize-option ange-ftp-try-passive-mode to t. And it didn't work right away. It worked after I restart, which I did after trying other stuff, too.

Jiang laoshi said he used to grow rice. That's some work. Squatting all day. Squatting is good for tai chi, and I'm getting better at it. I'm now starting to squat instead of bending over. So I'm thinking it's not that people squat to get better at tai chi. Taiji (that's probably a better way to spell it) developed as a fighting style to take advantage of the natives very well developed ability to squat. Some I'm the one that's backwards.

Got Molly Fontaine's tonight. I see that Judith is going. I considered calling her to drive together, since I don't drink. But I had a kind of bad feeling about it. Still a little annoyed that I found out the had a boyfriend. She might well not have had him last time I saw her at Molly's, but maybe she did. And who knows what it means, anyway.

Not so good in Tuesday's kung fu class. Li laoshi was kind of upset. One student, Beth, was saying she might quit. She kind of wanted to join the bagua class. There's a guy in the tai chi class she doesn't like. She isn't the only one with him, either. And then I hadn't practiced the sword stuff correctly. So then we didn't get to any new stuff. Rough class.

  • March 22, 2011
These are the new words we learned Friday in Chinese class: 还是最近但是忙我也是高兴来去一定. I had them written out because I was putting them into my flash card program (Mnemosyne). That's quite a bunch. I didn't separate them, but the dictionary page I linked to breaks them into words pretty well. That is to say, A lot of them are two character words, really. One this I just noticed, was that the dictionary list the HSK level. That's the level of the proficiency test. I'm suppose to take level 1 this year. A lot of these are level 1, but some are level 2 or 3.

  • March 21, 2011
They say there is a whole system of what they are calling epistemic emotions. Emotions that have to do with how we know things. There's the one I talked about, insight, which is kind of like a knowledge orgasm. But a bunch of others. Curiosity would be like lust. That's about as far as that metaphor will go, but I think it does say something. You also have doubt and confusion. I think they would say disbelief is really a feeling, an emotion. So emotions are everywhere, even in what we call rational thought.

One particular example. Confusion is really the basis of the idea of contradiction. Without the feeling of confusion first, we wouldn't actually have an appreciation of contradiction (p and not p) and that it is a problem. OK. That's at least their idea.

Something I found really nifty, they mentioned "AGI" specifically by name on page 86. They say it used to be called strong AI. I think I recently saw someone else say that. I don't think so, really. At least it didn't seem to be seriously used like that as a subject to talk about so much as something to mention in passing to disparage what most AI is like. Searle I think came up with that use. He mentioned several projects. ACT-R, SOAR, OSCAR, and LIDA (which is Stan Franklin's project). They didn't mention Cog or OpenCog, or whatever you would call Ben's project. So I felt like mentioning it on the AGI list, but haven't yet. There are quite a few more, too. His main point is that they don't have emotions, even though they think they are central to thinking. Stan gave a talk about emotions in LIDA like just a week or two before this book came out. But maybe they talked about it before. And it was written a year ago, anyway. So I don't know about the communication back and forth, or whether all of it was address. I think Stan didn't quite say there are all the particular emotions in LIDA that people have. Things like anger and love and jealousy. Emotions that make people act in certain ways to people. Presumbably that might be able to happen.

I guess something else about love--it's to maintain commitments.

Ouch. Half of the tomato plants are gone. I think four disappeared from yesterday. I guess eaten by something. So much for that. I can still put in plants. Call it a learning experience.

  • March 20, 2011
Happy Vernal Equinox! Happy First Day of Spring!

Something that seems important to me, from the humor book. They are talking about the emotion when you figure things out. One person they are referencing (Gopnik) calls it "explanation", but they are calling it "insight" or "discovery". It's kind of a good feeling that acts as a reward so you try to learn more. It's important to kids, so they seek to learn more. And I guess scientists. I suppose the idea is that different people have different levels to which they seek out insight. So maybe less when you are older. And also, it might be that when you are older, other rewards become more important as you have greater access to them. Like seeking sex becomes more important than seeking this feeling of insight. So you get it from learning. I think definitely when I was little, that was a big important thing for me, and it's still a big thing for me. And people I guess get habits for seeking certain types of rewards and feelings. I can see that playing Sudoku is way for me to get this feeling of insight. And I supposed the other games too, like the solitaire and freecell. Figuring things out. And that must be the thing in reading non-fiction. And I suppose my blogging.

So programming must also be like this. I'm afraid that the feeling in programming might not come quite as easily and as often as maybe reading and the games, so I haven't been programming for fun lately. But I need to consider it as a reason to be working as a programmer. Maybe I could look at optimising that reward. Anyway, it is this feeling that makes programming a fun job. And now I can see that since this feeling has different levels of importance to different people, naturally there are only going to be some people who really like programming and would do it for work. I just naturally am one of those. And I can look more closely at doing more programming for fun, but I have to find things that really do provide enough of this feeling. A big problem might not do that, so maybe more little things.

There might be a little of just how different kinds of motivation affect a person. Some people apparently are asexual, and I'm sure there's a range. But I think quite a bit is just how you have developed habits to seek at certain types of rewards and how successful they have been. A bunch is just ability to achieve them. You have to have some kind of knowledge or skill or something to achieve the different kinds of insight.

Two goldfish are in a tank. One says to the other, you drive and I'll man the guns.

We took frozen tomatoes out to make burritoes. It was all watery, so we drained it, and that gave us a bunch of basically squeezed tomato juice. Not the thick, mildly icky stuff that you can get. Very sweet. No comparison. Kind of like the difference between fresh squeezed orange and the other stuff. Apparently, even the boxed stuff that is not from concentrate is still a little bit of frankenjuice, though I don't know the whole story. They do something or other to make it taste better while making it able to survive in a box.

  • March 19, 2011
Ben has a blog post with a few papers on his theories of general intelligence. And my reaction was not good. It has math in it. It doesn't seem to have any appreciation of language or psychology, or really what any of the actually problems are in intelligence. It suggests that you might have part of the system using symbols in some kind of logic language. I guess that's the biggest problem I have with that. I doubt very seriously you could have anything generally intelligent that used something like that as a critical piece. It is something that can't improve with practice or gradually get better. It's just inherently brittle. His system, opencog has probabilistic stuff in it, but he wants to paste something like this in? I don't know. I didn't read it all, just skimmed it. Maybe something like that could be used as a contributing mechanism to assist something that could handle the problem in a more natural way, as a check or something. If you want to build something with lots of contributing pieces that also uses some of computer's natural strengths, but it can't be central.

And I saw him mention the "symbol grounding problem". Very very bad sign. If you have something where that's even an issue, which it would be if you were manipulating symbols like he's talking about, then you really don't get intelligence. I guess I'm thinking this is all about how people want to think there is some separate bit of intelligence that can be abstracted away from all the other animal abilities we have. Man. It's like you could extract just the deliciousness of a fine meal.

One kind of neat thing I saw, though, is that he referred to Bernie Baar's Global Workspace Theory. That's something Stan's stuff is largely based on. It's kind of a way of breaking up the parts of a mind in to specific parts, lie short term memory and long-term memory and working memory. It would be nice if there were a consensus about how things should be done, and if this were there.

The thing is, I don't see anything explaining why things have to be that way. Like I said, I don't see any appreciation of what the problems are, and why particular things are needed to be a certain way to solve them. Something like, there are different situations that have different facts about them, and you need to be able to bring up relevant experience to that situation. But you've got so many, that you need ways to make it all tractable, so you can focus on just the little bits relevant in a situation. All of this is important because people are part of a very broad and diverse society. The biggest thing for us is that there are lots of different plants and animals that we need to be able to keep track of. What we can eat, what are dangerous and different ways of dealing with them. People have also added on making tools of different kinds. And we have to know how to deal with individual people, with whom we might have given and taken stuff from. Many kinds of things. Many slightly different individuals of each kind. Different situations where we've dealt with them. Different intentions among the people. Like I said, Ben stuff doesn't even have any appreciation of what the problems even are, so it seems silly to me he is trying to talk about some general solution for them.

Reddit had a post on J. I didn't read the article, I just went to the comments to see that it was actually J, the child of APL. Kind of a weird functional language. J doesn't use the weird characters of APL, so it's a little more accessible. I didn't spend much time with either. I don't think I ever actually looked at any J, but I did get an interpreter or whatever it would be. Kind of neat to see it actually mentioned somewhere.

It looks like a couple of plants didn't survive the transplant. Oh well. And it looks like it might rain. We'll see how they do with that. Actually, it looks like something was nibbling on them. Not so good.

Another thing, I didn't see any talk of emotion. In the humor book, it talks about how emotion is involved with every bit of thought. It controls and guides everything we think about. That's something Stan talked about, and something I've agreed with for a while. I'm not sure where I got it. It might be exposure to Dennett and that group, actually.

Also, somewhere in on of the linguists talks, I think it was Geoff Nunberg, they talked about how our knowledge is all in narratives. Hmm. That seems significant. Humor dudes are going to go all about the frames, but frames are pretty close to narratives. One thing about narratives is that have morals, or points. That seems like an important part of the thing to look for, because when we are thinking about things, we generally have some goals in mind, and we can try to match up the morals with our goals. Sometimes we look at failures, and sometimes we look at successes. Humor dudes also mentioned GPS, the general purpose solver. It's a program we looked at in Stan's AI class. It kind of connects goals with actions that might satisfy the goals.

I guess I haven't mentioned the humor book. It's Inside Jokes. Dennett is one of the authors. I guess I talked about going to his lecture last year about it. The main author, though is Matthew Hurley. Apparently this was basically his dissertation, and has just been rewritten and expanded to make a pop-sci book. So not as bad as reading a dissertation, but in bits it moves in that direction. So a little boring and wordy in spots. There are tons of comics and writers who would benefit from understanding it. This really doesn't seem like the book for them, though. Penn Jillette has a blurb on the cover. I'd like to see his take. Who knows if he cares or it really helps him. His reaction sounds kind of like, Gee, I'm glad scientists are looking at humor. Which kind of said to me, nice for them, but it didn't really help him out. I wonder if Matt and Trey would be into it. Or David Cohen and Matt Groening. Real comedy writers.

One kind of neat bit. It's suggesting that there might have been some sexual selection pushing humor. Women like to listen to humor and laugh a bit more. Men are bigger at producing humor. So sense of humor in women is laughing a lot, and in men is saying funny things. A noticeable gender difference. Women like funny guys. Some of that is probably involved with how guys use humor to establish dominance over others, and women like the guys at the top, so it is an indicator.

Well, gosh. I have something new about love, from the humor book. There's the actual feeling and emotion of love. And people say it might last years. But it's not that you are feeling the emotional all that time. What you have is a disposition to tendency to have that feeling. Over and over. So that disposition is another thing that is also called love.

  • March 18, 2011
Happy Friday the Eighteenth! That makes two months in a row.

The tomato plants are in the ground. That was a chore. I put it off several days. It's up to them, now. There are eleven spots, with a few that have a couple plants in them. Seems like mostly those second plants are a lot weaker. One plant came out of its clump of dirt, so I'm afraid that shock might be bad for it. All of them are quite young, maybe too yound to go into the ground, but I'm giving them a shot. A couple, though, are doing better than the ones I put in last year. I think that's because my mom has been tending them the past few days. She does a much better job of watering than I do. I put them in a slighty bent (like a V) line. It's at the back of the garden by the fence, which means they get maybe a little less light. I'll still need to stake them up later. I still want to put in a florida weave, but I will need to get some proper posts. I had little sticks last year that just weren't up to it.

I watched a video on the Japan nuclear reactor problems. I had watched another one, which was a bit more reassuring. The problems have gotten worse since that first one, I think. The big thing is the fire in the spent fuel. That kicks up radioactive smoke, which is quite bad. So it's worse than Three-mile Island. In that, you had some venting. This one explains what the venting does. Some radioactive products are gasses, and those get released on venting. They aren't too bad. And some stuff is secondary products from neutron capture. It talks about how bad a disaster Chernobyl was. There was a fire in a running reactor. Japan doesn't have that. Once the reactor is shut down, a lot of bad products quickly go away, in hours and days, and it's been shut down for a few days. So the worst stuff is gone. So it's definitely now so bad as Chernobyl. But burning fuel, even though it's weeks old, release very bad things that wouldn't normally get out. Iodine and strontium in particular which get into the thyroid and bones, respectively, causing cancer if not making you immediately sick. All this in ash. So the people working there are exposed. And there was an evacuation, which was good. They didn't do that at Chernobyl. There was a story of a lady told not to worry, she went back to milking her cow, and that milk caused cancer in many people. Anyway, it won't get as bad as that. But still, it's much worse than Three-mile Island. But the danger is just local. The big thing is that even fuel not being reacted puts out heat. And another thing about Chernobyl, they didn't have water cooling, they had graphite, so basically coal. Which of course, just caused a terrific fire. Deeply bad. The people sent in to fight it were going to die.

My legs are getting stronger. Squatting is getting easier.

  • March 17, 2011
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Reddit is down! Augh! The biggest immediate problem for me is that I kept the links to those videos I was watching in a Reddit comments link, but I can't get to them I had to use the google cache of it. I have no idea how or even if my link to the google cache will work. They have a bunch of videoes, but I don't see any organization. I don't see any way to find anything. Just a simple list would have been nice. The titles don't even seem to always have the full names, so it seems like a mess. I guess if you know what you're looking for, you could search for that, but browsing seems tough. Lots of good stuff, though, so I guess I shouldn't complain that it's hard to find anything. That's the way things go.

Anyway, listening to Pinker again. It seems like the same talk I've heard before, though it seems like a different time or video or something. Now I'm listening to the questions. Anyway, this time the thing on social relationships. He talks about different types of relationships, and indirect language to try to move a relationship to a different place, but lessen the risk or hurting the original relationship. Do you want to see my etchings? I'll bring them down. If you were to be more obvious, it would become public information, mutual knowledge. You can pretend you weren't shot down, and she was just being naive. So I've just been playing in with self-deception. And not letting things get "out there". We love each other, but she just wants to be friends and doesn't want a physical relationship because she already has one. But it isn't "out there". Probably just the way I want it. It lets me pretend that maybe she does and it could happen, maybe some time. But that's not the truth.

Me: "It's my birthday." Her: "Fuck!" Good times.

Prosody can effect emphasis (which thing to focus on), illocution force (question, command) and emotion. Speech recognition systems always lose prosody information in order to just get out the straight word content. I specifically have wanted to use a system that would give you enough access to the sound to see the prosody, and maybe add the information in. Also, getting enough of the sound to look at accent variation. Written language can have that stuff left out.

My freecell streak is at 171.

AI has an issue. There are techniques where you set things up, and the computer learns everything it needs to do some task. I'm think of speech recognition, where the sound models are pretty completely learned, or trained. There is some processing that get set up, though, but mostly the stuff is all in the computer. The thing is, we think we know a lot about it. We know about letters and sounds and things. I think most of that knowledge we have is just not really used. The thing about it is that system that relied just on what we thought we knew, didn't really work, so the machine learning approaches are used instead. And the whole area is kind of like that. It would be nice if that knowledge my be used for hinting at first, but the machine learning was in addition, instead of really being the only thing. I think. I guess I don't know that much about the different areas and what people do.

Kim's in a relationship again. I was hoping to go see her some time. She doesn't stay single very long.

  • March 16, 2011
So there's something. I saw the phrase and it makes sense: healthy relationship. I don't have a healthy relationship. Huh.

The weather is beautiful today. Mom gave a reason not to put the plants in today, the ground is too cold. That makes sense, I guess. I didn't really feel like it, so it didn't take much to persuade me not to do it today.

Liz G. uses something called foursquare. It seems something like twitter, but it sends messages when she goes to certain places, like this last was Memphis Botanic Gardens. Sent the message to Facebook, so I saw it. Not sure how great that is. But I might have liked to go down and see her. Don't know if she went with anyone. And seems like she's gotten all serious with some guy, Dan.

Finished _Here's looking at Euclid_. Interesting characters. Math freaks. Seems like I've forgotten them all already, though.

Got a sample of Sam Harris's _Moral Landscape_. I've already heard the big objection as well as his main point. You could use science to decide about values and morals if you took well-being as being measurable by psychology. It still doesn't say what well-being is, or what we decide is really good. So I don't know. I think he never really answers the question. He says it's like health, which we don't quite define, but he gave it a shot--not having diseases and being able to get around and be active. I'm not sure what he has for well-being. I haven't even finished the sample, but I'm not sure I need to.

So the Kindle has been good for samples. They are almost all I really want to read. I haven't even gone and bought and read a whole book yet. A couple were enough for me to decide I don't want the book. I've got a couple I might want to read, but I haven't decided to right now. Unfortunately, the Kindle edition is really pretty expensive. Mostly like $13. It's hardly cheaper than just getting the book. So that has really put me off. I've recently gone and just bought some dead tree books. Like _Euclid_. And I actually read that one. I have not read through the Chinese textbook or the bagua book, though I have looked through them a bit.

Pepper Schwartz will be talking at U of M tomorrow at 1. I may go by. Something about sex. Not actually such a big topic for me, but it's pretty universal. And maybe it's for women's month. I saw it on Facebook and she sounded familiar because I have one of her books, Love Between Equals I don't think I read it, though. I think it was recommended by Kelly on the intp list. I still would like meet her. I think Holly had that book for a while. I loaned her a bunch of my stuff. Didn't think they would get stranded there. Anyway, a relationship expert. And a talk about sex. Seems like I should make an effort to go. Though of course it might be a little awkward. It's for sociology people, I guess. I don't know how cool they are. The Sociology department, specifically Women's and Gender Studies. Never heard of them.

Reddit had something listing several talks by linguists at Google. I watched the one by Chomsky and one by Lakoff. Both good. I might watch them again, even. I finally saw Chomsky talking about his linguistics, and it was a little odd. Someone asked him about his Universal Grammar, and to me it seems like he's backed off so far from it that there isn't really anything left. He talks about the principles and parameters theory, which I've heard of. His main point is that humans learn language, so there must be something we have that animals don't. He says it's not really controversial. Not really much content there, either. Maybe there is some capacity for recursive reference. I don't know. It really seemed odd to me. Then the Lakoff. I wish I could remember. He talked about the family being the origin of our political ideas. There was something about how being a disciplined is the main fundamental virtue from which all of their theories of morality come.

  • March 15, 2011
Happy Ides of March!

  • 3.14
Happy Pi Day! Or as Vi Hart pointed out on FB, Happy Half Tau Day! Now it's a race to see who will find the Tropicana Orange Ade. Melissa thought she would have had some. Her mom spotted some in Florida, so apparently it's seasonal. I look online, and no place is now listed. Last year, one Kroger was listed, but it's not there this time. I went by that place, and they didn't have any.

Trouble with the farm phone bill. We haven't been getting a bill at all. In November, my mom told them to switch our address for that account to the Memphis address instead of the house there, but it may have been that she did not actually tell them to switch to paper billing. They kept sending it to the email address. I finally called. I thought maybe they just had the wrong address. They said the balance was like $160, and would I like to pay now? She had them put it on hold, and it was supposed to be maybe $13 to hold the number or something. I called, but I didn't have the right id numbers to get real authorization for stuff, I guess, so I let her talk. It was kind of upsetting. She must have talked to at least 4 people. And the bill gradually decreased, it sounded like. It ended up $57.56. I don't know what it should have actually been, or really what was going on. She finally got me on the phone to write down the final amount. Pretty flustered by that time, I guess. And they were switching it back to paper billing. I would have thought that after a few months of no response they would have tried the mail address. I guess not.

I was calling them from my iPhone, which seemed to cause some confusion. Their computers immediately recognized that I was on one of their phones, and several times they seemed to think I would be asking about that account. And maybe I was doing that in part so they would see I'm a loyal customer, paying for a pretty pricey account. I would not be surprised if the falling bill might not have been influenced by that. Also, if they spent more time on the line, it was costing them that additional air time, so they must have had some motivation to finish it up. I guess.

So, I was maybe too shy to ask about it. I think Melissa again went shopping around to look for the orange ade before work. I didn't see that she already had gone to Starbucks, so I don't know if she skipped it again. Maybe it would have been too sweet for me to face. So I didn't ask. That girl.

She also had the wavy hair, which I said something about. When she's running behind, she doesn't blow-dry her hair, and it comes out wavy. I think it looks even better that way, but she likes it straight, which it gets if she dries it.

She had a rough week, though. Didn't get everything done. Said 8 hours with the doctor, and waiting in the emergency room. Somebody messed up his hand. I didn't quite get it. It was Spring break, but she didn't get much sleep, and didn't finish everything she needed. She took her car in, but they didn't finish it and she'll have to take it in again. Oh well.

Erle Montaigue died a little over a month ago. He wrote a book on Dim Mak, or death point striking. I'm not finding a web page for him. I saw it on reddit, which seems to be down right now, and the post listed a message from his son on FB. So I his Dim Mak book. He also did Tai Chi. That was kind of something that moved me toward Bagua. I like the idea of secrets in fighting. But I'm not so sure the Dim Mak stuff was real. I had a video tape from him on this, and I think there was a short form that I had learned, but I've now forgotten. Maybe I should look for it. I'm studying Chinese, so here it is as characters: 点脉 diǎnmài. Voodoo.

I'm watching a documentary I got from Netflix, _Triumph of the Nerds_. It's from, like '96. So it's really an ancient film. And it's subject actually goes back even further. It's talking about the people involved in the rise of the personal computer industry back in the late 70s and 80s. Jobs, Gates, Woz, Balmer. So real ancient history. But since the topic is so far back, it's not really so important that it's that old. I guess. It's just towards the beginning of the dot-com boom. Maybe even before it. And it's Robert Cringely. So a bit of it is an ad for Popular Electronics, or whatever it was that he wrote for. One thing stuck out though, and made me want to pause and say something. He talked a bit about how some of the atmosphere back then was from the 60s and sharing everything. There was the homebrew thing, and that's what apple was into. Gates and Balmer had stuff on the MITS Altair that was also totally hobbyist. But then they get to the killer app. Visicalc on the Apple ][. Some college professors or something. Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston. They didn't get rich. They got maybe a little royalties, but it might have been possible for them to patent the idea of the spreadsheet. So cash for all the ones out there. There are probably billions now. Now that it's a free idea, though some people have made expensive versions and made money off of them. For a long time it was probably the best reason to have a computer. I guess I use mine more for the word processing, and now the internet is a bigger deal, but accountants and business folks could use that stuff for really making money and being useful. So they gave it away. And they didn't make money, but they count themselves as succesful because they made the world a better place. They really did. So thanks to them.

  • March 12, 2011
Happy Saturday the Twelfth!

I did all I'm going to do in moving the dirt out of the compost pile. I've worked on it a couple of days. I didn't get everything I possibly could but it was most of it, I think. Seems like my mom still wants to get some more. There are a lot of roots going through it, so it was getting hard, and I got to a point of dimishing returns. I left stuff around the edges that didn't get decomposed, and there might be been some stuff under it. I figure it will be easier to get the roots out when I move all the stuff from the edges to the middle. And if I do that, it will be better next year. Maybe I can do a better job and get a lot more out of it with the grass and leaves. I think you're supposed to layer it with dirt or something. We'll see, I don't know.

That was all I was going to do because it's supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day. If I left the stuff in the pile it was in, all the soluble minerals would just have washed into that spot, so I needed to have it spread out before that. I say soluble minerals. We put our ashes from the fireplace in this pile. I'm not sure if it wouldn't have already all washed out of it if there was anything, but if there was anything left, It certainly will wash out when spread thin like this.

My mom spread most of it out in at first using a bucket. It seemed like she put it on quite thick, like she was expecting that I would get a lot more out of it, when I was almost ready to give up. I guess it was fine because that part gets more sun, and we will probably have more stuff growing there. I finished up the spreading by tossing shovel-fulls, instead of filling up a buck and dumping it out like she did. Mine was quite a bit less, but I think she didn't reall leave me as much to spread. Anyway, it's done.

So ready to plant. I expect to do it on Tuesday, after the rain. I've now got maybe a dozen and a half tomato seedlings. I'm just going to put them in. We were talking about whether we should put them out in the sun or keep them inside. That reminded me that last year, they actually kind of got burned when I put them out in the sun. And now I'm thinking of putting them right in the ground. So I don't have so much confidence that this is going to work out. But I'll give it a shot. It's not costing me anything. Plants are going to be pretty cheap, anyway, if I have to get some, but for now I have this.

  • March 10, 2011
I finished turning over the garden. I broke up the last section into two which took maybe forty-five minutes each to make it a little easier. Today, though, I worked a little bit in the front flower bed so it wasn't less. Actually a little bit more. But after that, I felt like I might as well finish it up. I'll try spreading out the compost tomorrow, I suppose. My mom bought several azaleas and her friend Liz who likes to do landscaping is coming over tomorrow. So they'll put the stuff in the front bed. I think I'm done with it. There was a big stump left from one of the holly bushes. I had gotten the others out, but I guess I left that one. There were several more roots I got out, but I might have left something. I wasn't quite as thorough as in the garden, but the garden didn't have big bushes to dig up. We've got a bunch of seeds. My mom's a much better gardener, so I'll let her put in all the stuff she wants. Dill, parsley, squash. We've got some watermelon and canteloupe seeds, though I don't know how they'll do. Last year we had one watermelon plant that did really well. And from seed, it looks like I have maybe ten tomato plants. Just seedling. Not even really strong enough to be rained on, it seems like. But I'll give them a shot. I can buy plants later if I need to. Seems likely that I'll do that. Mom's going to use some of the seeds here and have the rest for the farm.

It took a week to occur to me. A couple weeks ago, Melissa said she was running late for work, so she didn't get by Starbucks, but she knew I was coming, so she just waited for me. Back then I said she could have texted me and I would have come earlier. But a week later, I realized that she had gone shopping for lemonade for me, but hadn't made it to Starbucks for herself. So thinking of me first. She's a little bit stubborn about getting the lemonade for me, and not making me get it myself. I keep some in the car. And they have used a mix, though they may be out. And in a pinch a long time ago they just squeezed lemons and made some. Anyway, so a mixture of stubbornness and love. Truly amazingly sweet, though. It took a while for me to realize that's what must have happened, and I asked her, and she admitted it.

I guess it's good that I haven't gotten a netbook. I haven't gone to Starbucks with spirit and its new battery yet. I'm not sure how much I really would go out. That probably has to do with how late I've been sleeping.

Mom bought me some coconut milk. It's from Silk, and is next to the soy milk. She thought it actually was soy milk, which would have been fine. On sale, and she had a coupon. That was nice of her. It seems a little bit bitter. The almond milk also seems to have that a bit. The coconut seems to be mostly in the aftertaste. Still nice, though.

  • March 8, 2011
Happy Fat Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras!

My freecell streak is now at about 145. I think that's higher than it was before.

I got all the books in. I have not gotten far in the Chinese textbook. It starts off describing the sounds, and uses descriptions like unrounded middle front vowel. That's maybe helpful for linguists. It does talk about how some consonants can be followed by certain vowels. That is an important detail I think that we didn't get. It sounds like all the consonants are really unvoiced, but we don't seem to be making that distinction. The important difference between them appears to be the aspiration. That seems like it's going to be tough.

I got the bagua book in, too. I think I was wrong about seeing the finger position in the move on the cover, but it seems to still match up. It's full of applications, and has as much Chinese text as English, which I guess is good for me. I'm trying to match up the names of the moves in this book with the names of the moves in the form I have, and they don't seem to match up very often. I've seen maybe two that match up. There are sixty-four moves listed. So they don't correspond very much. But it's something. One of those, though was even a little strange. The move was something like golden rooster shakes its feathers. And the translation was about the same, but it actually used different Chinese words for the last two. I'm not sure if the moves were quite the same, either.

I've also got the book, _Here's looking at Euclid_. Math stuff. I'm finding it interesting. Mostly history of math stuff, I guess. There is a section on number systems. Apparently there is a guy and a whole organization pushing for a base twelve, or duodecimal or dozenal system. At one point they had a term duodenal, but that's not so good. It makes it easier to divide up evenly by 2, 3, 4, or 6. Decimal makes it easy to divide by 2 and 5. I'm probably going to forget most of the stuff in this, as there are bunches.

I wrote something on Facebook that I felt very proud of, but I have gotten no response at all. I told it to Melissa, and she said, "we were never fish". A mensa person got asked a bunch of questions by her caffeinated daughter, and on of those was, "why is water clear?". My first thought was Feynman and QED, which could explain it, though it might not be particularly helpful to most people. People didn't recognize the acronym QED for quantum electrodynamics, and one guy suggested quod erat demonstrandum. Then I wrote this: OK, I've been thinking about it some more, why water is clear. It certainly is in part an electrical property of water. Water lets some electromagnetic frequencies pass through and really restricts others, and you could probably explain t...hat with QED. Another question, though, is why we notice it for light waves and not for the other frequencies. Well, you can see that that's a matter that our vision originally developed in fish. Vision would only be useful to fish if it worked on a frequency range that lets the EM radiation pass through. Like I said, most frequencies wouldn't work. So an explanation could look at the physics, but it could just as well go to our biological origins and that our vision developed in fish who live in water. Vision had to pick a frequency range that is mostly transparent in water in order to work.

  • March 5, 2011
I'm just feeling really disappointed, and maybe a little angry. Maybe anger and disappointment are close enough that I get them confused. Anyway. There was a writers group meetup. I guess I really wanted to go to it. I haven't been going to these. Seems like it's been quite a while since I went to one. So I didn't really know the people who were going to go. It was a meetup, so I could see the names of the people, and there were pictures for some of them Lana was one. We don't really get along. Which is kind of sad because at one point I thought she was cute, and we seemed to kind of have similar interests. And she has this thing about wanting to learn German and go there. I would have been totally up for that. But the lack of interest on her part was kind of astounding to look at. Steve and Sheila a few years ago at a Christmas party tried to get us to talk. The lack of chemistry to me seemed kind of stunning. I mean some people do like me. OK, anyway, the meetup. There were two other women, too. And that was going to be it. Three women going to see a movie? I was totally there. They might have been involved or married, I don't know. They talked about bringing dates or SOs. Whatever. I was still there. It was actually a thing where we were supposed to read the short story that the movie was about, then go see the movie. And it was Philip K. Dick. Great other. Krazy. Blade Runner was his. He has a bunch, really. The story was called "The Adjustment Team". The movie was _The Adjustment Bureau_. MATT DAMON. The story was actually in the public domain. They didn't renew the copyright. So I got it from the net and read it on my Kindle. Driving up, I forgot to bring my Kindle. And maybe I was a little late. I didn't see them, though probably I would have only recognized Lana. And in the theater, it was too dark. I would have liked to sit with them, but if not, they were thinking of getting together after it, and maybe I might have caught them. But then I watched it. Blech. Just felt angry and disappointed by the movie as well. So compounding it. I guess I looked out for them a little bit, but I didn't see them. And I wasn't that much up for it. So I went home.

Taiji class in the morning was really good. Jiang laoshi really took the push hands up a notch. We practiced stuff that would actually work well in a real fight. Kind of blocking and grabbing the arm to pull the guy off balance. And at pretty high speed, too. Quite nice. He also talked about the applications of some of the movements in the form. There was one that he pointed out to me that it's in Fanzi, the external style we're learning, but of the people there, only I knew, so only I could appreciate it. Kind of a circular block with a punch coming out from underneath. Definitely something they do in Fanzi. Anyway, good class. 课上的很好. I think that's how you say it.

We're watching _Kolchak_. Kind of a funny precursor to the X-Files.

  • March 3, 2011
Well, instead of getting a netbook, I've ordered a new battery for spirit. I still might get a netbook, but it would probably have to be online, and I'm a little hesitant. I looked at target, and they had an hp netbook for $300. The website says in stores one is available for $240, but all the stores individually says they are sold out. There is one for $280, and I have it in my wishlist on amazon, but for now I'm holding off. I don't really want to be spending a lot of money, but the book and the battery got me started. So I ordered two more books from Amazon: Here's looking at Euclid and a chinese textbook. I'm quite concerned that they will get the chinese textbook right. There are maybe half a dozen variations of that book, simplified or traditional and a textbook or workbook, and they physically look very similar. It would be easy for them to get the wrong one, and that's happened to me before. I had trouble just finding the page for the exact one I wanted. It's a book I could get at the U of M bookstore. Maybe I should have just gotten it there. But I've waited until the buying impulse hit me.

I ordered the Bagua book. It's through amazon, but it's actually from a third party, Plus Publications. I've ordered directly from them in the past, and they remembered me and sent me an email. I thought that was was quite nice. They suggested I look at their updated website, and suggested some DVDs related to the book I ordered.

So yeah, i kind of splurged. My thinking was kind of, well I was kind of ready to splurge $300 on a netbook, but I can maybe get away with not doing that by getting a $25 battery, so I ened up spending a little over a hundred on that and some books. I might still get the netbook, though, so that would be kind of a lot. But it's my birthday this month. We'll see.

Midsouthcon is coming up at the end of the month. I expect to do the table for Mensa. I was going to send out an email, but I kind of hesitated. I felt like sended the email, but that impulse has subsided.

There was also a reply on the AGI list that I thought about. Somebody said he was starting to doubt if it was even possible. And something about narrow AI is more promising and might get there on its own. I wanted to talk about how narrow AI often doesn't have so many learning methods, and the procedures that the computer is running have people in the loop figuring out how things should be done. They also don't focus on all the tasks that are involved with intelligence, like object naming. And animal behaviors that in themselves are not so intelligent, like moving around.

  • March 1, 2011
I learned something just by seeing the cover of this book. In bagua, we have this way of holding our hands, and I just didn't know what it was for. And there it is! The way we do it has a little hand twist. You can see plainly that it is wrapping around at the shoulder. I really need to learn the applications, I guess. Maybe I should get this book. OK, I ordered it.

  • March 1, 2011
Happy Kalends of March! I did have a realization. I just don't like going outside. That's not so good if you want to have a garden. So I really wasn't so good at it. You need to go out and do a little bit every day, amd I didn't even like going outside and doing a little bit. But I would kind of enough to at least get a little. It's not that hard. But I wouldn't even go out to pick stuff as much as I needed.

I'm thinking again of getting a netbook. I should concede that the cheap one just won't cut it. It don't trust it enough to go do anything with it. The kindle isn't good enough to do writing on. Actually, maybe it is. I should give it a try. It's not enough for serious, long length writing, but it might be enough for blogging. I'm at home right now. Maybe I'll go to Starbucks.

OK, too much trouble to go out to Starbucks. At least I got out of bed and I'm sitting up. Changed computers to spirit, in the den. Stuff stacking up to write, too.

I started looking back at maybe my best bagua book. It has a lot of Chinese characters, and she puts the Pinyin with it too. And the accent marks--an even nicer thing which folks don't always do. It's a translation by Andrea Falk of Jiang Rongqiao's Baguazhang. It has at least on passage in the original Chinese that she goes through and explains line by line, which is good. One thing I found right off was the word 活 (huó) used. Jiang Lao Shi used this word, and I asked Li Lao Shi and she knew what I said this time and agreed, and we tried to talk about it. Louie said it was agility. Andrea has it as moving, in a phrase moving stance. I'm not sure if a stance can really move, but that's what she says. Jiang Lao Shi had said it meant living or maybe continuous movement. That's what threw me off trying to find the word in the dictionary. It gives a definition of to live, alive, living, work, or workmanship. So the moving, I guess, is something it means in context.

I think this book will be a great resource. It has the names of all the movements. I'm hoping to find a place where I can take the Chinese name for the movement, and see what the application is supposed to be. I just saw that really to study this stuff, you have to always be thinking of the real application. Jiang Lao Shi even said that proper Taiji looks like you have the real action in your mind.

OK, that was one thing. The other thing was something she told us, but I have long forgotten, and haven't been focusing on like I should. And it looks like the thing that I got the feeling I was missing when I was doing tai chi. The Chinese 坐 (zuò) is sit. It's sitting back. In one spot, it's described as crouch like a tiger. Hey, that was in that movie title! It was kind of a summary of the main points. Dragon shape, monkey manner, crouch like a tiger, flip like an eagle. I should take the time to put down the Chinese. 龙形猴相,虎坐鹰翻--lóng xíng hóu xiàng, hǔ zuò yīng fān. Anyway, sitting. The thing in taiji that really seems like a workout is getting down low. Bagua has the same thing. I just need to do it.

Netflix now has Futurama season 5 available for streaming. I've been meaning to buy it. I still probably will, as I want to hear the commentaries. But at least I can watch the episodes. This is the new one, with it just recently renewed after a break. They had started putting out some movies. That got enough interest to bring it back, I guess. Fans.

I went by and had lunch with Liz and Dave. That was fun. It was kind of interesting because Dave used to be a very solid conservative, but Liz has kind of been working on him. She is very passionate, and seems somewhat sympathetic to socialism. Or at least I try to corrupt her. Not quite so solid, I guess. But fun. She cooked. She said she liked cooking, so I was up for it.

At Bardog, I ran into a guy, Lee R. King. He was actually at Christian Brothers College the first year I was there. He went to Briarcrest, but he was best friends with Greg Busby, who was in my class at M.U.S. He left CBC and went to UT Knoxville. Didn't finish. Is now working on finishing up in economics. Is now in Southern California, Orange County. Seemed like he might even be a little out there for California. Hangs out at some kind of Hindu monastery or something. Studied some a kind of kung fu for six years in San Francisco. Something call San Quan Dao, which translates to the way of three fists. I looked it up. Apparently some guy not too long ago glommed together three styles, southern praying manties, white dragon, and white butterfly, whatever those are. It was recognized by the Chinese national kousho federation, or something like that. Whatever. So the guy said he was a kung fu master. Going through some rough stuff right now. Dad died in September and his mom is dying now. He was here to visit her. Anyway, so he knew me back in the day. And he said he thought he would meet me some time. I doubt I siad anything really of value to him. I did tell him about _I Am That_. That might be something along his interests. The hindu place has a website, vedanta.org. Looking at it now. It mentions Ramakrishna. I think he mentioned that. I think he said he'd read the Bhagavad Gita hundreds of times. Fine. I don't know. maybe it's not too far out there for California, but it's pretty far out. I bit of awkwardness. Gave Asa a hug. Asa said he really didn't know the guy, though. Just met him. I remember he talked about the guru touching him, and him just being filled up with his love. Or something. I don't know. He drank a lot of wine. Stayed there maybe a little long.

  • February 27, 2011
It's a little before seven in the morning, and the temperature outside is sixty-six degrees. It's the end of February. How does that happen?

I planted the tomato seeds. I put them in little planter things, I forget what you call them, that have six little square sections. So twelve in all. I look like there ended up being more than just twelve seeds, though. I'm not entirely sure what the deal is with the seeds. They have a pretty thick white coat that comes off when they are soaked. I don't know that those are part of the seed, or something that gets added by the seed supplier. They seem to kind of disintegrate like they are a coating, so I have bits left, and I don't know how many real seeds I have. And of course, I don't know how much will come up. It's something, though.

I'm hearing thunder. So I guess we have another storm. I look outside, and it does look like it has been raining.

So, tasks involved with understanding meaning. A lot of them are sensory. Some of them, like knowing what to do, or being able to do appropriate things, require embodiment. Seems like some people say that embodiment is necessary for intelligence, and I would say that it's just this. Some of the abilities that are part of what we mean by understand are things that use the body.

I'm trying to get away from using the abtract word "intelligence". I seems to me like it hides so many thing that people are getting in trouble with it. The want to have the intelligence, and not worry about the other stuff that is presumably not so smart that people can do. I think I've talked about it before. Stuff that animals can do presumably is not intelligent. But the stuff they do is actually often quite sophisticated and difficult, especially for a computer. Computer don't necessarily have to control movement in an environment. Plus picking things up. Not so easy. Robots have gotten pretty good at that, and they use computers, but most computers don't have to do that. And vision isn't done so commonly. Even robots quite often don't use vision, but more often something else, like sonar or radar or lidar or something. Very occasionally vision.

When they do this kind of stuff, robots these days quite often use machine learning, which I think is a pretty promising thing. One thing that's kind of subtle that I think would be good to point out is that the stuff now call machine learning is not really considered AI. And in some important ways. I don't mean just in the sense that all technologies that work well get their own name and are broken out. I mean that it seems to me that they don't really think of it as intelligent in the way people are intelligent. That they aren't trying to do the kinds of things people do with intelligence. Do people do data mining? Not so much, really. It becomes something that computers do, not something relating to human intelligence so much at all.

But what is a good body for a computer? One obvious choice is some kind of robot body. Sure, that might be nice. But as I have said before, it seems to me that a better choice is just the regular computer desktop. A problem with that is that we couldn't relate to an intelligence whose body is the laptop. That's it's sensory environment and the world that it manipulates. Which includes the ability to go out and touch the web and send and receive from that. And cameras. Plenty of cameras out there.

I think Stan thinks of the embodiment of Lida as being somewhere in the computer. I know Ida interracted with emails. Stan mentioned that Lida's symbols were grounded in some way, I think through something like that.

So computer desktops are a natural body for a computer. I think also phones. Phones are very sensory. Maybe even a little more than desktops. Quite often they have some motion detection, and with GPS, some general location sense. Sound, input and output, of course. That's very natural in phones. Phones now almost always have cameras, so vision input. I'm talking mobile phones, of course. They have screen. That's actually a physical modality that we don't have. Again, something we can't even quite relate to. Something actually a little superior to us already. We have hand gestures that can vaguely convey pictures sometimes. And we can draw if we have to, so that can sometimes potentially be similar to what we can do.

Not being able to pick stuff up and move stuff around. That's a definite lack. I sometimes wonder how intelligent anything really could be if it can't do that. I've more and more been thinking that that really could be part of what we mean by intelligence. People often think as tool use as possible the thing that most shows intelligence.

OKCupid sent me a message with three more people to look at. It makes me think of Seven of Nine, who was able to go through everyone and decide there was no one for her. In that episode, there was a thing where the doctor was kind of helping her, and he was pretty in love with her, but she never even considered him. He was a hologram, and they made it look like she never considered him, but it's quite possible she had and dismissed him. Maybe I should go through Voyager again. There were only, what, maybe a hundred people total to go through, and a lot of them were taken. And everybody would want to be with Seven, it seemed like. How could you not. A little cold, maybe. Gorgeous, smart.

  • February 26, 2011
My Freecell streak on tudor is now at 100 games. I think I may have done fifty just today. Just felt in the mood to do freecell, I guess. And doing them to not make a mistake, which I've said is a little more work. Maybe not that much more. I just have to not get lazy. Several times seemed very close, so I had to pause for a while and figure it out. Never let it get to one blank spot left without being absolutely sure where I'm going.

I've also been playing solitaire on spirit. This version lets you go through the deck only three times, one card at a time. Unlimited ability to redo and it has an undo to go back and retry things. Unlimited undo so you can go back as far as you want. This means you can try all the possibilities until you get it or give up. It has stastistics keeping track of how many times you have won, and the percentage. Seems like at one point, I had something like a 66% win. So the settings are at a sweet spot where you very often win, even though there are only 3 times through the deck. I think the windows solitaire lets you change lots of settings. Actually, kind of seems like too many choices. Anyway, on this linux one, the redoes seem to put gradual pressure to make me act more and more like a perfectionist. Like I need that. That could be why I felt like doing all freecell. just got into a perfectionist mood.

It got cold again for a day. So I made a fire. It's supposed to get warm again. I've soaked the tomato seeds. I need to put them in soil. I forget how long it takes for them to sprout, but I plan to put them straight into the ground. It may be too early, and they might freeze, but that's planting. I've been procrastinating doing the digging in the garden. It's such hard work. I had an excuse today because it's cold and wet. But now I'm going to have to break down.

I had three things I could do Thursday night. There was the book club. A week and a half ago I found out that Li Lao Shi was having her kids do a demostration at the Chinese new years party at U of M. And I could go to kung fu. Last week, I was thinking I would go to the new years party and demo thing. So I didn't read the book for the book club. I hadn't started it yet, anyway. Then on the Tuesday kung fu class, we forgot all about the demo on Thursday, so I didn't make any arrangements to miss the class. I have the key, so I have to give it to someone, or sometimes we'll even just cancel it. Argh. And I would have needed to make arrangements anyway to go to the book club. even as late as Thursday, though, I could have called to remind the students about the demo at U of M. But I kind of fell into going to the kung fu class. And then there was a tornado. Or warnings or something. A big storm and sirens. Turns out the demo was over at 6:20 anyway, so I could have gone to both, but I didn't no that for sure. I ended up drving out there, but nobody else came. So quite a waste. I didn't really practice that much, either. But it was kind of good for me, because the ceiling in the house is a little low to practice the sword we've been doing.

I finished watching _Arrested Development_. I kind of got to watching them in a burst. I didn't realize that the end was episode 13 of the third season, so suddenly, it was over.

Wow, I just watched an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and I didn't think it was funny. Maybe you have to get used to it? It just didn't do anything for me. Netflix gave it a rating prediction of just a fraction below it's maximum. I'm not sure if I've ever seen anything as high. But for me? Nothing. I guess a lot of people like it. Maybe I'm just not in a good mood for it. It's seems kinda weird. But really, I haven't liked any of the British comedy I've seen for quite a while, either. Just not my thing, I guess.

I did some digging in the garden. Turning the soil over with the pickaxe. I think I'm about a quarter through, with maybe five more hours of it. I'm generally not so big on steadily doing a little at a time. It's enough that I can't do it all at once though. Some bursts may be a little bigger than others. We'll see.

It got warm again. I saw it down at 30 degrees this morning, but it was up to the 60s in the afternoon.

There's dirt in my hair.

  • February 25, 2011
So the question is, what is involved for a word to have meaning to us? A way to answer this would be to give a list of things that we can do because we understand meanings. Well, in general, we know when to use a word. So if it's a thing, we can point out the word that describes some particular object. And we can find something in our environment that goes by that name. And I guess those are two different things. And sort of abstractly, we can imagine something refered to by a name. Or, and I guess it's similar though related, we can remember things that go by that name. That's a bunch of stuff already. Something else we do, is that we pull up an entire context and set of associations from a word. Activation. That's a pretty serious and big sort reaction we have. There's a theory of frames, but frames kind of seem like they are a static storage container, when this is more a consequence of how this stuff works, with the activation spreading to different areas. And this is all just nouns. You've also got verbs, so recognizing when they fit and situations when they happen. You also have to know about the feelings we have about the things described, and how they relate to our goals. So it's a complicated system.

I went to the cognitive science seminar on Wednesday. It was Stan Franklin talking. The topic was just him trying to relate to the topic of the semester, which is something like emotion and computation. So he was just talking about LIDA and how emotions and feelings relate to it, or how it implements them, or is supposed to. I think the program isn't quite finished, I don't know. He said for a few months they been within weeks of having something. I really probably should go down there and see how it is.

Stan said that the BICA group, biologically inspired cognitive architectures, they put together a spreadsheet of 26 architectures, and different features they had, in comparison. I think he meant this table. Stan said that there was a row for something like values, which apparantly is something like emotions, but only two of the architectures had anything. Stan mentioned ACT-R and Soar as other big comprehensive cogntive architectures, and tried to relate how emotions worked out in them.

So, something he said. He said only a few architectures have something like feelings and emotions, but he thinks they'll be needed for AGI. I didn't say anything, but my feeling has been that have to have something that does what emotions do, but they might just have a system that is not as flexible and adaptable and open to fluctuation as our system. It might just be a bang bang binary thing.

He did talk about autonomous agents, and had a definition, which I guess I didn't quite get. He said there were things that got in the definition that he probably wouldn't like. A thermostat for one. And organizations. One thing that I wonder about as an example. Phones. Are they autonomous agents? They aren't super-autonomous, but the sense a lot. I think in some sense they have some autonomy. Stan said an important thing was that nobody can tell you what to do. I came up to Stan after and asked him about this. Phones. And I said that people get told what to do all the time. But he said you don't have to do it. So he didn't buy it, and I just felt stupid. Kind of blew my mood. And I guess the autonomous thing isn't all that big a deal, it's just a classification they have. So, I don't know, if a phone didn't always work, it might be more autonomous? But with that, I feel a little discouraged about going out there and seeing about working with them.

He did use a fun example. Soembody, I think it might have been one of the BICA people, said that cognitive architectures are like toothbrushes. Everyone has one, and no one wants to use anybody else's. 'Strue.

One thing kind of struck me about the talk. Like none of the psychologists were there. I assume they've all heard Stan talk about Lida enough that they didn't really need it again. Seems like they might have had something to say. I think Stan mentioned some open questions. I don't know. That was a little disappointing.

  • February 21, 2011
I laughed. I was watching the Simpsons that had been sitting on the DVR for a while. I think I was on maybe the fifth episode. Several of them were ones I'd seen before. They might have been repeats, or maybe I watched them out of order, or something. I just wasn't finding them funny. I wasn't laughing. And I was in I guess just a gloomy mood. Which was probably why I was watching the Simpsons. But I guess I turned a corner. And it seemed funny. I remember in high school, I had been pretty depressed I guess, and wasn't talking. But one of my group, now I forget who it was, maybe Alex or Roy, asked how you get a nun pregnant, and it hit me, and I laughed. Maybe it was funny enough, or maybe I was just ready to laugh again. And the scene was gloomy. Smithers got rejected from entering a gay club. And he goes into Moe's and asks for, does he say can I get? John McWherter in my linguistics tapes says he really hates when people say can I get a. Well, Smithers asks for a Scotch and water. And Moe says his Scotch _is_ a Scotch and water. And I laughed. I just don't know why that got me. It was just time, I guess. Dennett has a book explaining humor coming out next month. Maybe we'll see then.

I told Melissa about it being hard to tell the guy that I decided not to take the jiu-jitsu class. And it was kind of a tough one. There were several things that contributed to not wanting to. It was a good class, and I was somewhat interested. But I was trying to just practice a little more with the throws, which is part of the style that I've been studying and want to stick with. The class was so much about ground fighting. And it was far to drive, and a little expensive. I had texted Melissa on Monday that the workout was a little hard for me. It had given me a cough. So she asked me if the running was too much. She's running again. And maybe she relates to that. I can take it bad that maybe she doesn't respect people so much if they can't run. She's maybe a little too sweet for that, but she really used to be very athletic, so maybe she does have a bit of a jock mentality. But I also said that I had thought that if I have all this time for this class, I should just get a job. That really seemed to hit her. I have always felt that, though she's too sweet to say anything, she really kind of thinks it's pretty bad that I'm not working. I think finding work must be easy for her. She works as a bartender, and has waited tables, which I think are pretty easy jobs to find. Especially for gorgeous women like her. I think my kind of work is harder to find, but then I'm pretty bad at looking, too. So I'm not sure how serious I will be about looking for work now. But it sure seemed to be a significant deal for Melissa. And she was very encouraging. She's sweet that way.

So it does talk a bit for me to recover from seeing Melissa. The feeling of being in love with her. A few days at the being of each week. Maybe it just takes a bit for my mood to drop. Which I think it just did. Moods rise and fall. It feel, but I think it's back a little.

The people of Egypt got rid of their dictator without violence on their part. The government used violence, and killed people, but it didn't work to stop that. But the army took control, so we'll see how it works out. That is, the army is going to try to keep order til they have elections and rebuild a government. It still might not work out great, but it was something. Stuff all over the place. Tunisia was the first place, and it hasn't had much luck yet. Bahrain is working on stuff. They are pretty well occupied by the U.S. We'll see how that goes. Libya is working on getting rid of Gaddafi. Seems like he's really started to be our vassal, though I never really followed it. Brutal dictator and friend. And of all things, Wisconsin is trying to deal with a union-busting criminal government.

Republicans are such thugs. I just recently had a thought on the INTP list. They were talking about Lakoff and the stuff he says about Conservatives and Liberals. They focused on how that comes out in domestic policy. His view of the political ideas is about how they are views of how a family should work, and in this case the family presumably is the country. Conservatives are essentially authoritarian, with the dad giving the orders. Liberals are about guiding with communication and helping instead of just giving orders. It was striking enough that left out foreign policy, actually mostly just CJ who was pointing it out, that Jordan mentioned it. And it hit me. To keep up an empire, you have to be a conservative. An empire is authoritarian. I get the feeling that the liberals don't even recognize that we are maintaining an empire. It's not important to them, and there's enough cognitive dissonance that they pretend that we aren't. So we fall back into conservatism kind of unconsciously. People do also, to some extent, have to be manipulated back into being conservative, that is, dominating. Not too hard. It's pretty natural. The God the father thing is the biggest cultural example. For some, we have a sky dictator, and that is the natural order of things.

I think about it some more. So now you've got the tea party group. I'm not entirely sure what the point is, but it roughly is conservatism wanting less government programs, in my view. So a cheaper imperial government. I get the feeling that maybe they too aren't quite aware that we have an empire to maintain. Because you need a big government to handle the foreign territories, but they want a smaller government involved in the lives of the local population. It's contradictory, and it can't work out. And it's a pretty small movement, and it already seems to be fizzling. But it was kind of a weird side move, and it confuses the issues. The empire is getting expensive. Oh noes! Too bad. It's totally not going to work to save the empire but making it less pleasant to live here at home.

So how is liberalism incompatible with empire? A liberal wants to empathize with people and help them do what they want to do, as opposed to a conservative who wants to tell people what to do. You can't do that with the occupied foreign territories. Liberals can only deal with it by ignoring the situation, and leaving that part to the coservatives. A liberal would have to be helping the foreigners. That's just not feasible. And they don't really need our help, anyway. Or do they?

  • February 21, 2011
Happy Presidents' Day!

Melissa was doing so much better this week. It seemed like she has gotten more sleep, and she said maybe yes to that, and she wasn't as tired. And she has been running again. Apparently she goes running with Greg, who is a little better at it. And he was saying it motivates him to go with her. So win-win. She still doesn't get that much sleep, but it just seemed better to me. And I think she may be adjusting, the way anyone can to any situation. Just a little stressed at first. Last week she had a sociology test, but she missed it, and there's a make-up she can take. I was concerned about that test, but it ended up not being such a big deal, I guess.

  • February 20, 2011
Wow! I'm watching the Simpson's, and the Itchy and Scratchy is in Chinese! And it's real Chinese, or close enough to me, I don't know if they've got the tones right. I'm not that good. And I really didn't understand most of it. It might have had subtitles. But I understood words like you and I. I thought it exciting.

  • February 18, 2011
Happy Friday the Eighteenth! (An eight kind of looks like a three) So a thought occurs to me. For quite a while now, the. U.S. government has been working to make the richest people absurdly much more rich. And you would naturally think that it's the rich people pushing on government to be like that. But that's not necessarily so. Maybe they have some influence, but it could just be that people in government are just acting in their own interests. If there are super-rich, they will give more of their money away, helping out the politicians. I doubt the super-rich care all that much on their own. They have way more than they could ever possibly spend or want. But the politicians benefit by having all the money pushed into bigger piles, the way rats and mice benefit from granaries and silos.

  • February 17, 2011
Found the book on _Chin Na in Ground Fighting_. It's got Chinese characters on the front. I'm seeing that on several of my kung fu books now. Five characters. I have found that 擒拿 is qín ná, which mean capture and seize. I can figure that out because my book, luckily titled, _Chin Na Fa_ has the characters 擒拿法, so that was kind of easy. The character for fǎ was slightly messed up, with a little extra brush mark so it took a bit for me to figure out. So the ground fighting book has five characters. The third and fourth are qin and na. Now, surprisingly, I recognized the first character right off. It's 地 or dì which I learn as earth, but also ground. I haven't found the other two, yet. Not knowing what they are, I can't input them.

OK, using google, which I see can search for Chinese characters, I found a page that talks about the author and this book, and has the title roughly in Chinese. The second character is 趟 or tàng, among several pronunciations, and the dictionary I have gives the meaning as time, occasion or take journey. So I don't know what that's supposed to be. The last character is 術, though the page I saw had the simplified modern version of 术 or shù, as in wǔshù, the term we actually use for kung fu. Yay! That actually clears up a mystery I have. Our shirts for the kung fu school have the characters 武術 or wǔshù. They also have a couple lines of maybe 10 characters total which I'll eventually figure out.

But ok, in summary, the book's Chinese title is 地趟擒拿術, or in pinyin dì tāng qín ná shù. This time when I looked it up, it gave what seems like it might be a better definition of tang, to trample or turn the soil, which fits better with earth. So that lets me google it. It comes up with two pages, the one I had before, and this one, which is a bookseller and has that book on it. One interesting thing I find is that google has no problem substituting the simplified character for the traditional variant. That's pretty slick.

So I go in on Tuesday, and Li Lao Shi immediately thanked me. A lot. I fixed her computer so it would spit out the pinyin. She really seems to like that feature, so she doesn't have to type it twice. I was glad to help.

Another minus, the jiujitsu place is pretty far away, it's even a little further away than the kung fu school. It took me a little more than half an hour to get there, though I took a slower route since the freeway was looking bad. The kung fu school is fifteen to twenty minutes.

The wiki page on chin na actually mentions it being similar to brazilian jiu jitsu. I've got several books on chin na, and have been interested in a long time. But it's one thing where you absolutely need to practice with another person. With the kicks and punches, you might be able to just practice those on their own, but this isn't like that. So that's something in favor of me taking it. We'll see.

So I made a roast. Had a big meal of nothing but meat. It's nice to do that sometimes. And probably a little too much. There's the meat diet. And I did find myself craving a bit of carbs. So I had a little juice. We'll see how it goes. Beef is a bit bad for my gout, and I did feel my knee starting to hurt a bit, though I never know if it's a brain trick. I took the allopurinol, and it seems to be a little better. It also had gotten cold, and being under the electric blanket for a bit might have helped.

On the intp list, cj posted some stuff Chomsky was talking about. A bit of it was arguing against the assumption in some economic thoery that people will only work for reward, and that without being paid, people would vegetate. I do vegetate a little, but maybe I do some stuff. My mom certainly keeps busy all the time. And I was thinking, I have been writing, which could almost be like work, maybe.

OK, it's much later in the day now. I've gone to the submission wrestling class at the Memphis Judo & Jiujitsu school. I thought it was a pretty good class, but I decided not to sign up. I just wasn't quite that interested. That class was all ground wrestling. The other class which they call by a slightly different name, more like jiu-jitsu, requires a gi and has a little bit of throws mixed in. But the throws are largely yanking on the jacket, and honestly, I'm not all that interested in that. It also will have some foot sweeps, which I kind of would like to practice, and there were guys practicing wrestling takedowns, which I would like to practice. But which it has those a little bit, still, in general even that class is mostly ground stuff. That makes it nice if you like competition. I'm not really that into that. And it's serious exercise. I guess I have to admit that I'm not all that much into that. I felt like I was kind of disappointing the teacher, Tyler, and he asked what I didn't like about it. He suggested maybe the filipino stuff, and kali. I said I would keep it in mind. A thought occurred to me driving away that maybe I would be more interested in just a seminar, instead of extended training. So I could look for that.

  • February 16, 2011
Yet again, Firefox crashed loading an image. I think both were jpegs from imgur. Both of them didn't finish loading or something, though I don't know if it was in the internet connection, or an interruption in the browser or rendering. And it had been up for a while, so it could have been memory. The hard disk was flashing on occasion, and the wifi device. And it might have been something else in the OS happening, but twice now, it looks pretty clearly like it was from the image. When I come back it is fine, so some glitch hit it. And it locks the whole OS. That's pretty odd for linux, in my experience. Seems like windows doesn't even get that so much any more, except I got that when my hard disk was failing. So it might be a hardware issue. Locked the OS mostly, but the mouse would still move the cursor, so not quite completely. Probably pegged the processor, because this time I heard the fan come on. And I had to power off the computer. A little odd, too, because the power off button could send the os a shutdown request, but it wouldn't respond to it. At least, I didn't give it that much time. I don't feel like being patient with a flaky computer. They are still just property. I think it's a testimony to people's tolerance that more computers don't get tossed through windows. It's dangerous to shutdown computers like that. And it didn't come back the first time I restarted. That's not a good sign. I had to restart again after that. And that first time, the fsck--file system check-- found some errors. I'm hoping that the newer file system format, with journaling, is a little more tolerant to these shutdowns. That's why I gave it a shot when I rebuilt recently. Frustrating enough to break out the blog.

I'm still on the fence about taking the jiujitsu class. I have a range of feelings that's fluctuating, so in more optimistic moments I feel like doing it, and in worse I don't. Kind of on the edge. Aikido was kind of like that. I felt good enough about it in the beginning, when I had to dign a contract. But a contract didn't make me feel like sticking with it, and with money problems I avoided going a bit. After the year, I owed all of it, and that wasn't such a good thing. That's why they do contracts, though. Seems a little bit shady. But standard practice. The thing is, I'm pretty sure I don't want to take it for a year. I'm not even positive I'm good for 6 months. The price for a year is $90/month, which is already a little high. That's not too much if you're hardcore, because you can go every day, but if you're casual, and I have to say I'm just casual, it's already a bunch. Well, that was high, but if you're in for 6 months, it's $110 a month. That's getting to be quite a bit. Now that's a bit silly of me to think like that, because I spend quite a bit more than that in a way I really don't have to, and is probably actually not so good for me, though I like it. I have time now though.

And it's a little different from aikido in that I'm not hurting for money right now. Just yet. It does strike me sometimes now that I shouldn't do this--if I have so much time, I should get a job instead of wasting time and money on something I'm not good at.

Not good at, and not all that interested in it. They have quite a bit that is just exercise. Which is totally fair--it's a sport where you really should be in better shape than I am. I guess I'm a little spoiled in the kung fu class because I am not pushed like that. So that's a minus, maybe. It probably would be good to get into better shape, but it personally wasn't one of my goals. Their form had a check-list of what our goals were. I guess I should take that as a warning that my goals aren't quite matching their program. So fitness not so much. I wanted practice with jujitsu techniques, and more for just a little bit of learning and exposure than real training or mastery.

Another issue is just my being fat. All the people are pretty much young, skinny kids, or at least in pretty good shape. I hadn't consider it, but it was kind of an issue, because since it's basically wrestling, they group you together by weight, and I just was against big guys. Fat guys. There was one who was big and strong. And I thought he had some pounds on me, but actually, I may have an inaccurate body image. I think I'm fatter than I realized. He was strong, too. He was new, but he gave experienced guys a good run.

I remember I got tired of being sore all the time. I'm a little sore today. That can take a couple days, so it seems like they want to get you before it sets in. And that's just the immediate thing. It's a different thing when it goes on for a few weeks. That get old, and you surely won't know about that until they've got you in a contract. So you don't know. I remember Cliff got married the first time in part because that would tie them together a little tighter when they were going to be apart a bit. Contracts are not so good for that. At least for some. So when you have use the law to tie something together, there probably is already something pulling it apart, and it might well not be strong enough, if the other binders aren't as big as you think. And it seems like that might even weaken the natural connection, if you're naturally contrary.

So there are some minuses. Some pluses, I noticed, I think I have a real interest in BJJ. I've got several books on it. The Kano Jiujitsu, which I've had since I was little. I noticed that the guy, Tim Cartmell, who Louie really likes, is a BJJ person. I have his book on _Effortless Throws_ and the video from that, and I just noticed he translated the book I have on _Chin Na Fa_. That's all reading, and I don't get much from that, so it would be good to actually practice. Somewhere I have a book on Chin Na in ground fighting. I need to dig that out. So even the ground stuff, I really do have some interest in. Anyway, I'm on the fence.

Man, reddit went down last night. I was pretty upset. So I'm moderately addicted, I guess. The "sorry we're down" page had a video. Quite apt.

Mom has gone to the farm for a couple weeks. So I have to adjust to being by myself again for a bit. It can be a little discomforting. And I have to started making some food. This time is actually unusual in that there are no leftovers at all in the refrigerator. We already cleaned them out. So I have to start making my own food immediately. And I'll probably have to go to the store, maybe today even. Disruption! Stress! Smog!

One other thing. There were maybe thirty guys in the class on Monday night. So it was pretty big. I'm thinking I'm going to try Thursday at lunch, which will probably not be so big. And that might be a problem finding someone in my weight group. But there were like three or four girls in the class. Of course, they ended up just wrestling each other. And, that, I must say, was pretty hot. They actually did even wrestle, or roll, with guys very occasionally, to learn some moves or something. Didn't seem too bad. One of them had some kind of ribcage crush that was supposed to be pretty good, so one guy told some other guy to be a victim. I guess I would put that down as a plus.

Congratulations to the IBM Watson team on their victory on Jeopardy!

  • February 14, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day!

Adobe reader now doesn't work on Tudor. That's pretty weak. No PDF files. Something about its core dll not loading. And it looks like a rough problem. Reinstalling didn't work. Some people who have this problem are getting it from an interaction with their antivirus. I had to got to spirit to read something. A linguistics paper by Elman on words as dinosaur bones.

Stayed with Asa and Melissa til 3:30. Some guys came in late and wouldn't leave, so it took much longer to close up. And it was a bad night for it. Melissa had a test the next day, and lots of online stuff she hadn't gotten a chance to look at. Something about her cable being out. Ouch. It seems like now Melissa only talks to me about problems, so she's always kind of unhappy talking to me. That's not so fun. I'd rather see her smiling. She was quite happy quite often with people that evening and seemed to have fun. Not so much with me. Oh well. Josh came in, too.

I went to the Jiujitsu class. I'm not convinced, so I'm trying again on Thursday, during the day instead of at night. It looks like it's pretty much all ground fighting. I'm not all that interested in ground fighting, but I have a moderate interest in it. I'm a little bit more interested in throws, and they will do some of that, but it's much more about being on the ground. They have a thing they call "rolling" where it's just fairly free wrestling starting from kneeling. I only did it with a couple of guys, and then say out. Unfortunately for me, I was in the maximum weight group. One guy had maybe 20 or 30 pounds on me. At one point he was on top of me, with most of his weight on my chest. I was kind of squashed. Just that alone was enough for me to submit. The other guy I rolled with was a guest master. Actual Japanese, I think. Kind of big. He was nice enough to let me have something. But then he went for a choke. Really? A choke? Man, it was pretty rough for a first day. My throat still feels a little sore.

In the beginning of it, though, they had some cardio exercises. A little running. Some side skipping, running backward. I held people up. Just not in shape and I wasn't expecting it. And I burned my lungs a little bit. I had a cough after that, which really kind of messed up my class, and I still have a bit of a cough. I'm not really sure what you would call it, so I haven't really been about to google it. Hopefully it won't last too long. And water maybe helped a little, and they kept suggesting it, but not completely, because it's not really my throat, it got to my actual lungs, so water won't clear that up, except to get the stuff I manage to cough up. I'm not sure how they were irritated, except I'm guessing it dried them a bit. And there are always bacteria in your lungs waiting for problems. Also, as I think about it, I get exposed to smoking in the bar. That doesn't seem all that bad though. I really don't quite get what the problem is. It's not too terrible. Just annoying. And pitiful.

  • February 13, 2011
Happy Ides of Febraury!

I download the HSK vocabulary list for levels one and two. The HSK, which stands for Hàn​yǔ​ Shuǐ​píng​ Kǎo​shì​, is the Chinese proficiency test given by the Chinese government. The first level apparently requires a 150-word vocabulary and the second, 300. That seems a lot less than I was thinking. I've loaded them into my flashcard program, though only the characters and pinyin, not the English, yet. I probably should put the English somewhere where I can look at it, but the English isn't on the test. Just using the words. I should actually look at the sample tests, too, I guess. Li Lao Shi also gave me the study book, and I need to copy the cd that came with it. So I've got study materials.

It snowed on Wednesday, and now the temperature is in the 60s. Crazy weather.

I dug a little bit in the flower bed that used to have the holly bushes. There are still some roots in it, and there was monkey grass I tried to get up. Probably I still need to do a little more, but I felt like doing just a little bit.

Edgar brought a load of wood from the farm. A lot of it was little pieces, and only a few things that need to be chopped. There was so much little stuff that I feel like I can save the chopping for a few days. It's supposed to be nice all week. One station said it might get into the 70s late in the week, but it was a little far out for them to predict that accurately. We'll see.

  • February 11, 2011
Happy Friday the Eleventh!

Egypt has gotten rid of its dictator. One down, lots to go.

Wolfie, our dog at the farm, has died. Mike checked him on Monday and things were fine, but on Thursday, he saw him in his doghouse, not moving. He was kind of sad and slow-moving last time we saw him a couple weeks ago. Getting a lot of sympathy notes on Facebook.

It snowed again on Wednesday. It had snowed a little bit on Monday, too. On Wednesday night, I had an appointment at Memphis Judo & Jiujitsu. Dave Ferguson, the owner, called around lunchtime to say they were closed and to ask when I wanted to reschedule it for. I got it for Monday. Busy til then. I thought that was very nice that he took the time to call. So I feel better about the place. I was getting a litle nervous. New people and all.

I watched the Nova episode on Watson, the computer systm that's going to compete on Jeopardy. Kind of a big text matching system. It doesn't really seem to understand, but it can munge a lot of data. And it seems to do pretty well. It's got actual encyclopedias that it uses to find stuff. And it does well in factual stuff, but sometimes it seems to have trouble understanding the categories and questions, and not so good with the wordplay. One thing it had trouble with, it doesn't listen to the answers, so it might give the same wrong answer as what someone just gave. They added a thing where it could get the right answer, so it might be able to figure out what the category was after that. It seems maybe a little weak, given how much data it has. Problem of not really understanding, but using the google style text munging. But even with that, it works pretty well. I say google style. It's kind of like when you do a google search. The things might be pretty good, or it will just not be what you're looking for, but some of the words will match. The actual matches will be next week. An AI in Si valley is going to get together to watch it. It's a big machine learning system. It has a collection of questions and answers, and it has systems of looking through its database, and weighting what are the important things to look at. It doesn't use any speech recognition, though, apparently. It uses the text of the questions. And maybe it's typed in for it. That would be weak. It may read it from the screen though. That seems pretty minimal to be fair to the rules.

  • February 4, 2011
Ack. I'm reading a sample in _Number Sense_. It points out that the brain area we use to recognize words was used in animals to recognize objects. It occurred to me that that might help to explain how I might be less visual. If I use more brain space for words and things, I have less to use for visual things. Also, of course, I spend more time with words than visual objects. So there.

  • February 3, 2011
新年快乐! Happy Chinese New Year!

I went by Memphis Judo & Jiu-jitsu. I had gone to lunch with Mike and it was on the way so he showed me where it was. Talked to David. I don't remember if it was Dave. And he wanted me to commit to coming in for a try-out some time. So I said Wednesday at 7. He said he's been doing MA for 15 years. Jiu-jitsu, and some MMA. And he asked about me. I've got the 4 years at the school. Some Aikido. Karate at U of M. Never heard of our kung fu school. Maybe heard of Gary Chase, I think that's who was at the aikido place. And he wanted to know what I wanted there. I think I remember Chase Sensei asking that too. And I didn't have a good answer. I said I was happy with my kung fu class and I'm going to stick with that, but we don't train the fighting so much or spar. And I need to brush up on my falling. I said I was a bit of a reader and only really decided that I where I wanted to study the 4 years ago. I said I was interested in the jiu-jitsu. I had the kano jiu-jitsu a long time ago, I think I said maybe the early 80s, but thinking about it later, it had to be the 70s. So I'd been interested for a while. I think I just never even knew about a school that taught it until finding about this place. I'm no longer into Japanese stuff, but I guess that's still there. So we'll see.

The war is illegal. All the soldiers are criminals.

The cognitive science seminar was about early language development. And I saw the title, and I was wondering if it was going to be early as in 5 million years ago or early as in childhood. Then he did it about both. He talked about primate vocalizations, and how they have sound signals that are tightly couple to whatever they are about. They have warning sounds and threat sounds and friendship sounds. One of the first things that had to happen was to have sounds decoupled to meaning, so they could be attached to anything. And they ran an experiment on infants. They classified the sounds and compared them with facial emotions. Some of the sounds were laughs and cries, but also some things that were proto-language. They had a term "vocant" for something almost like a vowel. The cries and laughs were overwhelming associated with the appropriate emotional response, but the pre-language sorts of things were mostly neutral, but sometimes negative or positive. So they could vary.

One thing he talked about was that even before there were these fixed signals, there must have been sounds that just happened to indicate something. A sneeze or cough might indicate that you're sick. It is a "perlocutionary act" because of that. Even when it is not intended. Lots of communicative acts have perlocutionary content by intention, but they can have it without you meaning them to. There's also illocutionary and locutionary content.

Went I was at Mike's he said all his coats are camoflage. And I asked him if he wore those to work. I started talking about the lecture about linguistics, and I forgot where I was going with it. Later I remembered what I was trying to get back to. Wearing camoflage is a perlocutionary act. It sends a message. It has a hint of gun nut. Personally, it wouldn't be something I would want to say. Of course, I wear a black leather jacket, so maybe I shouldn't talk.

The idea was that once you have some kind of sound that indicates something, then it can be acted on by selection. Maybe a critter squeaks when it's scared. Maybe it starts out as a gasp, than gets louder. that could turn into a warning call. And grunts. Loud breathing into growling, which I think is what he meant by a threat call.

In humans, the sounds because decoupled and arbitrary. As usual, I didn't say anything, but I was thinking that the whole enterprise of looking at the evolutionary origins is pretty hopeless. Our primate cousins are pretty far off. There's a whole bush of critters leading up to us. What is it, maybe half a dozen species? I don't know the number. I think it's like 20 humanoid species, with a lot of dead ends. That development is just lost. He did think that the aquatic ape theory sounds important, because we have conscious breath control that apparently other primates don't have so much. That's a big deal. He had a big chart of maybe a couple of dozen logical features needed for language. He tried to just think it through, and he does look at childhood development a bit. Maybe he's got it somewhere. It was kind of a neat chart.

  • February 2, 2011
Happy Groundhog Day!

So, a bit of excitement with my Chinese today. There was a reddit post about China getting some technology development plan or something. In the comments, someone said you better start learning Chinese, and added the characters, 你好 . The font I had was too small or something for me, so I had to copy it to a place where it was bigger, but then I was able to read it. Yay!

Also, I dug out a book about bagua. It pretends to use Chinese, though it seems like the guy admits he is not very good in Chinese. But at this point, I know enough to appreciate it. He uses traditional characters, which I think is a bad sign. So it kind of looks wrong to me. Why do something, if you're going to do it wrong? But I guess it's better than nothing. On the cover it has some characters, and then I saw that I don't really know how to find out what a character means. If I know the word how it's pronounced or the English, I can find the character. But just to see a random character? Then what? I believe there is some kind of system to handle that. There's something called "four corners" which seems like it must start with the shapes. And there are primitive pieces for characters that must help. But lucky for me, I recognized two of the five characters. The first was 九, the number 9. The third character was 八 the number 8 but also the word ba, as in bagua. The English title is _Combat Baguazhang, Nine Dragon System_. It's pitiful that I don't yet know the characters for baguazhang, but it was time to learn. So, yes, the last characters were just saying baguazhang, and the second character was long, for dragon. In all, it's 九龍八卦掌. Actually, I didn't see the second character (lóng) come up when I tried to input it. I may only get the simplified, and not all of the traditional characters. Too complicated, anyway.

I've been glancing over books, to see what I want to get into. One of those was _Secrets of Rock Star Programmers_. It had something from James Gosling that I wanted to write down. I got lazy and skipped it. And I looked over the rest of what I wanted. Lots of programmers I never heard of. No longer really care. It was something about what it takes to be a good programmer. He said it takes patience and sticking with it, because it sometimes quite a bit to just keep hammering at something til it works. Some people just give up. I've seen that. I think I have that. You have to just stick with it, even when you just don't see anything and just feel frustrated. I think my home page says something about patience. So I should have quoted it. But I kind of finished with it, and I put it at the very bottom of one of my stacks. Too hard to dig out now.

Apparently, match.com has bought OKCupid. Oh well. I wasn't having luck with that, either.

  • February 1, 2011
Happy Kalends of February!

That was a little different I try starting to read the _Atheist Book of Sprituality_. Somebody wrote it in French an it's translated. Maybe that made me uneasy. Because they go on about how religion is good for you. Blech. It's kind of exasperating to me, so I had to put it down very quickly. Also, I'm a bit nervous to be reading it because my mom often asks me what I'm reading, and I don't want to say about this. It's a reason I've been putting it off a bit lately. So when actually reading it also was irritating, it was kind of too much. But now, I've got several books that I've gotten started, that don't have me hooked and I don't quite want to slog through. The Knuth is such a mountain. I looked at the Rudin again, and it did start getting just hard to follow for not really much payoff. I felt happy to stipulate to the theorem without following it. It was some small step about there is a rational number between every real number. Do I need to follow the proof for every last thing? I think apparently according to the review post that got me to get it, the answer is yes. It was a problem I had with the online machine learning class. It wanted me to follow the proof of everything. The class was all proofs. Just not that interested. And really, I think I remember the speech recognition class being mostly like that. Kind of had the feeling that the Ph.D. would have been the same exact deal. Proving all the math behind everything. le sigh.

I did finally find out how to add tone marks on Windows. A bit of an Odyssey. I saw this page, which had a download for a keyboard layout. The installer didn't work for me, because it was for older operating systems, but it had the source. And the tool from Microsoft to create it is available, so I got the newest version, and recompiled it from source. Not super hard, but probably past the average user. Hmm. It works in other applications, but emacs isn't taking it. I can paste it in from another app--āăáà. And it will take the ones with the accent and grave. Oh well. A little more to work out.

It did get me to stay up a little later Friday night, so Saturday morning, I decided not to go to Tai Chi class. That probably wasn't a great move. Maybe Tai Chi is going a little fast for me, anyway. I don't really want to be a Tai Chi master. I really wanted to learn Bagua. It is giving me the feeling that I'm probably not doing so well with Bagua. And there are only so many hours.

I had told Li Lao Shi that I didn't see how to type in tone marks. She said, she new someone who would type in a bunch and it would automatically convert all of it. So I looked for that. I found that it's a feature of Microsoft Word. Now maybe if I had Microsoft Word. She probably does, working for a school. I used to when I was working. And before I had to reinstall my OS. I bet it's a nice feature. There is also apperently a macro somewhere that will take pinyin written with the tone number after the word and convert it to tone marks To me, that's not much better than just leaving the numbers. The tone marks are so small, I have trouble reading them, anyway.

Revolution in Egypt. That's something.

  • January 25, 2011
I'm trying to see how to add tone marks to Chinese pinyin. It doesn't seem easy, or at least there isn't just one obvious simple way to do it. Two are easy, the rising tone type 2 like í and falling tone type 4 like ì. Those are pretty standard accents in european languages, and there is a lot of support for them. I think the marks are called acute and grave. The other two are just tough. The high tone, tone 1, uses a bar and can be done with something called a macron. The third tone, falling and rising, uses a mark called a caron. The Czech language has it. But it doesn't seem very obvious how to get to it. Apparently Unicode has some codes for diacritical marks that combine. And I know the precombined characters are actually already in Unicode, it's just not clear how to get to them. Each operating system has its own way. Apple seems to make it pretty easy. Microsoft, you can add symbols, and it looks like they have some language input scheme to make it simple. A pinyin input. I'm on spirit now with Ubuntu Linux so I haven't looked into it. Emacs must have some way to do it, but I haven't found it.

I started on Rudin's mathematical analysis book. It doesn't look too bad so far. And I started on the Knuth. It's all combinatorial algorithm. He says it's his favorite kind. There is a thing called combinatorial explosion. A program might need to run for millions of times the age of the universe. That sort of thing. That's these programs. But if you do something fancy, you might make the program actually possible to run. So this stuff can be very neat. Knuth seems very enthusiastic, and it really makes a differece.

Yay! I figured it out. Apparently, Linux has a compose key setup in the keyboard. I have mine set up to the windows key, which I think I don't have any other use for. So I can type ī and ǐ now pretty easily.

  • January 23, 2011
One mistake was kind of funny. Apparently Einstein did not correctly prove that E=mc². He didn't come up with it either. I forget who it was, but someone else had it, but he didn't prove it either. Einstein had a proof, but it was for a special case and it didn't follow that it was true for all cases. It was true, though, he just didn't completely prove it. And he had other proofs, but they were also wrong in roughly the same way. Another person later came up with a real, complete proof, using some fancier math.

Bad Tai Chi class. He said I had gotten worse, after a while of improving. And he asked me first how I thought I was doing, and I said about the same, maybe a little worse. So I didn't actually see how bad I was doing. I was wearing shoes this time, which was a little different, and I hadn't practices as much during the week. Disappointing.

In the context of E=mc², there was something I found interesting. They were talking about atomic fission and the energy released. The two parts that come out when you split the uranium nucleus have less total mass than the original nucleus, by I think it was about a third the weight of a proton. This difference comes out in the energy at which the two pieces are thrown apart. So most people think of it as the mass getting converted to energy. But this is actually a little bit backwards. The deal is that there is a lot more energy in the nucleus because all the positively charged protons are jammed together tightly in the nucleus. So they are buzzing around really fast. It is this stored energy that makes the nucleus have the little bit more mass.

  • January 22, 2011
Huh. So I reinstalled Ubuntu. I lost quite a bit of configuration stuff, and my bookmarks-- that really hurt the most. I'm thinking now that maybe I will next time, or if I figure out how to do it, make a separate home partition. I saw someone who suggested that. That'll let you put a lot of personal stuff on a seperate partition, and if you need to blow away the operating system, or upgrade, it lets you keep just personal stuff and chuck the rest. Not entirely sure what it gets you and what gets kept in the home, but I should look into to.

One thing about the reinstall is that there seem to be several things that weren't working and work now, so that's a plus. It now automounts my pen drive. That was getting very irritating. It was actually the problem that messed up my operating system before, it looks like. I was trying to get the pendrive to work, and it was having trouble, so I tried rebooting, and it went into the operating system that's on the pen drive-- it's bootable. And maybe I pulled it out or looked at it funny or something. It locked up somewhere in there, and I had to hard power down. That can really mess up a disk, apparently. This time, I went to a newer, fancier journaling file system. I had been using ext2 because I was more used to it. This time I went with ext4. It had quite a few options. I don't know if it really suppers xfs for the OS, but that was on there. I've got an ntfs partition, but that doesn't seem to mount properly, and I have a fat32, but it doesn't seem to accept that for any of its special things. I would have like to put /home on one of those, but no luck. And other stuff broken, my little toolbar thing had gotten messed up in some kind of way. I never really saw how to fix it. So I guess I'll see how well this install last, if I have to redo it some time. That would suck. Not entirely happy with linux and ubuntu. Maybe a little better than it's been. Should I be saying gnu/linux? The gnu stuff seems good. The big issues seem always to be with drivers, and unfortunately, that's stuff mostly in the kernel.

Religions all use brainwashing. That seems like maybe more of a common factor than deities, because Buddhism doesn't really use them so much. It's a little striking though, but it just goes for straight hypnosis. Meditation, it really seems, is pretty much just hypnosis. The question is what do they try to insert in your brain with this hypnosis. Well, maybe they really do try to make you a happier, more satisfied person. And a few people will find enlightenment, which is another issue. But along the way, you get super sheep. OK, I don't want to pick on Buddhism. Prayer, which sometimes gets compared to meditation and is even called that sometimes, is also quite often just hypnosis. Not done quite as effectively. It'll work best when you're tired just before you go to sleep. That's just one. Any time you starve people or fast, or just limit how much they can eat-- that's brainwashing 101. So lent, and ramadan. Chanting, of course. Ritual. Repetitive stuff. Get people up in the morning. Just gathering people in groups is often enough to wear down their egos. And of course, the indoctrination, but that largely goes without saying. I'm sure there is other stuff, too. I haven't look that much into it, it just seems pretty obvious off the top of my head.

Religions also have ways of checking if people are compliant, or have responded to the treatment. They have stuff that is ludicrously unbelievable. That's actually very important. It is a test of whether the brainwashing stuck. If it didn't stick, the you are dangerous to that community. You could actually be damaged in some way, but at a minimum you can't be relied on to go with the group. In general, any outsider is going to be unwanted or some kind of threat to a religious group, but it is especially bad for them if there is someone who has been subjected to the treatments, but it didn't catch. Those are types that can't be trusted. They might well even be evil. At least they aren't responding to the behavior control, which at least can serve to make people behave properly.

  • January 21, 2011
The stuff in _Einstein's Mistakes_ is already fading away. If I want to remember it, I'd need to look over it again. Hmm. There was kind of a summary at the end, though, and he tried to see if you could get some lessons from them. Learning from mistakes. Let's see. He didn't like how Einstein apparently dealt with synchonizing clocks so that the speed of light is constant by saying we just set the clocks so that happens. More generally, he said time slows down and rulers contract because they have to. Some other folks actually went out and showed what happens to make clocks slow down and rulers contract. There's a big thing about the "principle of equivalence" that led him to general relativity. It's the idea that being in an accelerating frame (like being in an elevator speeding up) can't be distinguished from being in a gravity field. Unfortunately, while it may have inspired him to find general relativity, it is simply false. And since calling it relativity was based on that kind of thing, it's probably not really the right thing to call it. It's more of a theory of gravitation. I think there were other little things. In some transverse formula, I think it was for acceleration, he had force and momentum in different frames. Max Planck corrected it. And his search for a unified theory was just a mess. For one, he was using classical physics without quantum stuff, so it was going to be a waste, anyway. But lessons? Well, other people had actually been working on relativity, what is called special relativity. Einstein apperently did get the best explanation of it. It turns out that maybe 20 years later, working on relativistic quantum mechanics, they came across the same formula as Einstein's general relativity. So they would have found it eventually, but Einstein got it 20 years earlier, though he got it by playing with the equivalence principle which turned out not to actually be correct. Basically all of his stuff would have been found eventually, but he got it 10 or 20 years ahead of time. So he was creative and maybe a bit more playful at finding stuff. Or maybe he was a time traveller or psychic or something.

I was kind of working on the book for Aimee's group, _Cutting for Stone_. I got it for Kindle, which was pretty cheap. But as I was going along with it, it didn't hook me. At about chapter three, I went and looked at the Amazon comments. There are hundreds. A positive one was saying how it really pulls you along and makes you want to keep going. Me, not so much. And I got to see sort of a plot outline. That would kind of spoil it, if you were reading it as a nail-biter, but I have never really cared about reading stuff like that. If it isn't worth reading more than once, to me, I wouldn't want to bother. So like, in chapter three, I think, there's a character in a plane, and it starts going down, and it looks like it might crash. And the next chapter, they switch back to the other scene, so it's holding tension or something. But frankly, I felt like it was an author trying to manipulate me. A hack. An I just felt annoyed by it. At that point, I pretty much decided that I didn't want to read it. Also, the book is very long. I've only gotten about 10% through. Maybe I could finish it, but it would be a lot of work, and at this point, more than just not caring, I just don't want to. Also, it's mostly about doctors. I guess I really have a bit of antipathy towards doctors. So I've decide to pass. And I didn't get to talk to Aimee. Maybe she could have nudged me to wanting to read it, and I have still most of a week, but right now, it's out.

So I've gone back to trying to get through _A World Without Time_. It's about Einstein and Gödel. I started it before _Einstein's Mistakes_. Actually it was on my dad's shelf and I was working on it when I was out there. So I guess it's going slow. Put it down for other things. It's not so long though, less than 200 pages. So it seems reasonable to try to get back to it. I think I may have had enough of Einstein, but now I really feel I have a better understand about his stuff and context for it, so this perspective might be good. And the stuff with Gödel. Seems like it might be interesting. I already know something about it, so it's not so unfamiliar, and I can make connections and get a different perspective.

I've been thinking how I can never finish projects. In my graduate classes, I don't think I ever really finished a project. That's pretty bad. I think some of it is that I'm not good at picking something that can be done in a short period. Too optimistic or ambitious. But I also haven't really put in the work. So also lazy. Or not that interested. But it's a pretty bad thing. Not a finisher. So I need management. I don't know if I should try to developed more managing ability. Maybe that's a lost cause, and I should focus on what I can do.

Something I wanted to say. I'm not sure if Einstein hit it in his search for a unified field theory, but it's more of an issue with string theory. There is a kind of search to see if you can figure out physics from mathetmatical first priciples. In string theory, they have a kind of geometrical version, but when they look for solutions, it turns out that there are thousands of possibilities. And I kind of got the feeling that Einstein did get something like that. You couldn't really narrow it down. But that may just mean that there need not be only one type of universe. There might be different possible universes, depending on which solution applies in a particular "place".

Spirit crashed again. I reinstalled ubuntu. It seems back, but I think I'm still getting disk errors sometimes. We'll see. Recovering was rough. It looks like the initial install does not recognize the usb wifi device. But the wired internet worked and after I got the updates, it looks like the wifi device is working. So a bit scary.

  • January 20, 2011
Not a good week for me seeing people. I didn't go down to see Melissa. I knew it would be rough for me, but it was a holiday on Monday, and it's always busy before that, so it was a good opportunity to take a break. But then Bill Baggett sent a message, and Sidney D'Mello apparently was down there, too. I'd been wanting to see him last semester, but I didn't really get around to it. So yesterday, I tried to go to the cognitive science seminar at U of M. This semester it was on emotion and cognition. It might actually be run by Sidney this time. It didn't look like it was meeting. At least it didn't in the main room. There was a sign up about going to a room back in the offices, but that must have just been someone's office for whoever wanted to talk about the semester, and not a real meeting. I had never been back in those offices. It's down a hall with a lockable door in front, so I didn't feel comfortable going down. I waited out in the main hall, where there are some chairs, and didn't really see anybody going in at the regular time for the open seminar to start. And a professor Max walked by, and was talking to a manager or secretary or something down the hall and I heard him say to her there was no meeting today. Oh well. I think Bill works in that building, so I sent him a text, but he said he wasn't there. I also tried to email Aimee about lunch this week, and I got an "out of the office" reply. Oh well. I was on campus, and I thought about sending Melissa a text, but it has never worked before, and I haven't been having much luck this week anyway, and not going on Sunday seems to always messing things up, so I didn't.

Getting tired of not being alone. I was awake at 8, but I stayed in my room til 10:30, playing on the computer. And I'm sleeping late in order to not have to come out. Not so good. I can see Holly's point.

  • January 15, 2011
Happy Ides of January!

What is it about Tai Chi? It doesn't seem like a whole lot of exercise, but I end up feeling like my brain hurts afterwards. This time, my knees are kind of weak. And really, my heart rate does go up quite a bit when doing it, even slowly. This time, Jiang Lao Shi had to make a lot of corrections. I was getting pretty sloppy, and actually sort of grimacing instead of relaxing. I had skipped last weak. So I was a little pitiful. And he had to give a speech about how even if is talking about problems, there still might be good things, and he doesn't have what has come to be an American style of teaching where you always say everything is good, no matter what. Aww. Oh well. But the advanced class bums didn't even come this week. The bums. Then again, I may just be out of shape.

I was vaguely considering going to the judo jujitsu school, and looking at the the muay thai, when that little girl talked about it. Haven't yet. Lots of work. They've got some actually straight up boxing. Seems like I could use a little of just that. And they have mats. I really need to practice some falling. I just powered through my book on _Street Stoppers_. It was mostly just pictures. I really don't get much from pictures. But probably, I don't get much martial arts from books, anyway. That's really stuff you have to do. But I like reading. Maybe it's pointless.

I say my knees are weak. In push hands, my knees buckled once. Part of the deal is that you kind of squat back on one leg as part of the movement. And here at home, when I was looking in the refrigerator or something, I needed to squat down a little or something, my knees also buckled. But I did catch myself a bit. I'm thinking now that maybe, I haven't really been getting as low as I need to in these one legged squat things you have to do. I need to practice up and get stronger so I can really do them low. I really don't go very low on them now. Lots of room to get better.

Lao Shi was often doing the push kind of quickly, and I would have to turn and spin kind of fast as a reaction. I think I was doing it relaxed. I was also having a problem overextending and going to far when I push, instead of just following him. Maybe I got a little better at that, but it was something to work on.

  • January 10, 2011
Yay, snow! Maybe three or four inches!

I burned my big book of 1250 sudoku puzzles up in the fire today. It's been sitting around, and it takes up space, so I've been planning to do it. And we could use the fuel. I saved the cover so I know which book it was. And I saw that I had some notes for things on a few pages. I think it was the jury duty, and maybe some of the doctors in the hospital. So I saved those. But the rest of it is gone. The current book has gotten pretty hard. Or maybe I've lost my touch a bit. Harder to keep track of stuff? Had to write out the possible candidates for most of the last few. Tricky ones. This is still the learning and practice sections, and it isn't even the harder methods. They seemed like they were trying to get me to be methodical, but I've kind of let that slip a bit. Just whatever I manage to notice.

Saw Angela and Ian. It's been a few months. Told her about my dad. She's a nurse, so she sees that stuff all the time, but it's not the same.

Another crazy killing person? Seems like that happens all the time. Got to give people something to worry about. But don't make them worry about that same stuff being done all over the world by the imperial powers and their servants.

I did finally shout "I love you Melissa" over the bar, as she was giving me some lemonade. It was just kind of in a silly way though, kind of the way most people do it. Didn't look her in the eyes. One of those things. Melissa passed her class that she had to have. Has gotten in trouble with the loan people apparently, and since she had to drop classes, she went below the minimum, and isn't in good standing or whatever and now they say she has to start paying it back, $650/month for 30 years. And she's got a year left, still. Probably stuff she can clear up. Aldo did the thing where he pours liquor straight into people's mouths, and he gave me some too, this time, which is odd. Bu it wasn't very much. I had sent a message to Melissa about getting together when she goes to Starbucks. She said first thing was not good, because she doesn't get out of her car, and is just in a robe and slippers. But maybe this week when she's doing stuff for school.

Angela has a tattoo of a Chinese character on her back. It's actually the character for love. I was kind of wondering if it was really right and she showed it to me. I am not an expert, but it looked like this character: 愛 (ai). Well, actually I went here and looked at all the Chinese characters with love in their definitions, and it did seem to be the second one. I didn't take that much time to look at it, and it's not the same as me knowing what I'm doing and recognizing the character. The thing about the word for love is that's actually one of the one's I'm supposed to know, but I haven't quite learned the character for. Also, the character we use, I think, is 爱, which is a simpler version of the one she had, but they actually are supposed to be the same word. But looking at that one, I see yet another weird complexity in the Chinese character system. You can have the same pronunciation, but different tone. That happens a lot, and those will be different words with different characters. Sometimes you'll have the same pronunciation, same tone, and still have different words with different characters. Sometimes the same word will have different meanings in different contexts. Apparently, the tone of a word can change depending on the words around it. And there are different characters sometimes for the same word. There are traditional forms and simplified forms. So it can get pretty weird. But English does that stuff, too.

The place was full. I was thinking it would be quiet, but I guess people weren't going to need to be going in to whatever because of the snow. Fair enough. And so Aldo came in. They even got Jimmy to shovel some snow and gave him some money. He had some kind of ski suit. And they went sledding after on the bluff.

I saw Paul in there. I guess people were out. Looks like Paul tried to keep people informed of what was open in the snow. Such public service!

  • January 8, 2011
Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Our teacher is shooting for us to pass the level one Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK), maybe after a year. Looking at the site, it's looking for a vocabulary of 400-3000. That's pretty stout. Seems like we're moving toward it. I should look through my list of words. I haven't been practicing as much as I should, but there are quite a few. Checking my list, I've got about 50 words. And that doesn't quite capture it, because the months and the days of the week are said by using the numbers, so they come along pretty easily, too. That's 50 Chinese words, but it makes maybe a little more English words. Unfortunately, of course, that means their figure of 400-3000 Chinese words is low compared to how many English words are involved. And just one example, 是 (shì) means yes, or any form of be, like is, am, are, were, or was. One thing about using is, though, and I'd heard it before, you don't need to use it. Actually, I had heard that Chinese doesn't have a word like 'is', but I guess that was just wrong. It's just not necessary. So we were thinking we finally had the word for yes, but it's not really used that much. Almost always you agree in a different way. One thing we were focusing on was little bits of conversation that would be common-- hello, how are you, that sort of thing. We got to one, 喝茶 (he cha) which means roughly, 'have some tea' You can also ask, 喝茶吗 (he cha ma)? Which makes it more like, "would you like some tea?" Then you should just say thanks, 谢谢 (xie xie), and maybe I'll have some tea, or I don't want tea. But if you say 是 (shì), it would be like standing at attention, and saying, "Yes, Sir!" It was kind of funny the way she did it. Anyway, she said after class that she liked this class. It's nice to have people who really seem interested.

Like the evil Spock said in Mirror, Mirror, "Terror must be maintained, or the Empire is doomed"

I had a dream where for some reason I was drinking from a couple of cups of dirty water. One was brown, and I was thinking it was some sort of tree soak water, like you might have in a Christmas tree stand. The other was clearer, but I don't remember what it was. Anyway, at some point, it kind of made me feel sick, maybe it was the smell, and I went to pour them out in the sink, and I started to throw up. I don't think I remember throwing up in a dream before. Kind of weird. I do not throw up very often. The brown liquid I think might have been because Tink mentioned non-juice recently, and I had had some and I had thought about it. It's brownish. That stuff kind of makes me feel sick.

  • January 7, 2011
There is a weird scene in a movie I watched a little while ago, _God Grew Tired of Us_. So the thing is about 3 Sudanese orphans who were chosen to lieve in the United States. They already spoke English, and I think they mostly needed to get through high school. It was at a big camp of them. They had never seen electricity before they got on the play. And they are shooting them on the plane. And it's not clear what has happened, but about something they ate, one of them says, "it tastes like soap." "Is it meat? Is it milk?" I thought maybe it was the airplane food. But listening to the commentary, it was the butter. Yeah, maybe. If you just ate the butter by itself, it might taste like soap.

  • January 5, 2011
Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas!

Kung fu classes are always the hardest when I'm by myself. The teacher was there, too, and she actually made it a little easier because she made sure I took sufficient breaks, which I don't necessarily do when it's just me. And she cuts it a little shorter while I generally go the whole hour. But I did just about all my forms, which was quite a bit. Didn't do the wushu staff, which was probably good, as that's about the most aerobically challenging. Maybe. The Fanzi Quan is quite stout, and the broadsword is if I use the big one. She got me to use the smaller one, so that was a break. She asked if it was different, and usually it is quite a bit different, but this time, not quite as much as before. Maybe the big one is getting to be less effort. Maybe I'm getting more into the technique. It seemed a little odd. Now I just feel really tired. A bit of a headache. I don't want to move.

Watched _Milk_. Meh.

So lots of medicine commercials come on, seems like. I guess it's during the news. And they've got one for dulcolax, a stool softener. My dad, after his first surgery was doing pretty well. He was talking and got into his room. But he was having trouble having a bowel movement. And they gave him a stool softener. I think it might well have been that one. But it didn't get it. And they really didn't seem to do much about it. Seems like they should have. Because part of his large intestine had gotten its blood supply cut off, and was dead. I think he had somach pain, too. It had to burst before they did anything. And he had emergency surgery. He said goodbyes before that. He knew it was bad. He did make it through the surgery. But that probably did it. He never spoke again. He went on for maybe a month and a half. Didn't get out of intensive care. They didn't quite figure out what it was, but his lung filled up with fluid, and there was congestive heart failure. There was infection the whole time, though, and that seems like it could have been the problem. But they tried the stool softener for his bowel problem though it was much worse than that. The commercial makes me think of that.

  • January 3, 2011
Happy Tenth Day of Christmas!

I got my kindle in. It seems nice. I don't have anything to read on it yet. There's some kind of deal where you can email stuff to the device, but if it has to be converted to being usable, they will charge you. I don't know what that's about, and I want to avoid it happening. We'll see.

I finished reading a book. I don't remember actually finishing a book for months now. The _Anarchy Evolution_ book by the singer from Bad Religion. Kind of forgetable, really. Seemed kind of a mushy person. It's important to be nice to people, or something. Whatever.

My wifi on spirit here is now going in and out. I don't know what that's about. Maybe the connection on the weird plug setup I have. I have a short, maybe 3 inch adapter and a usb thing. More annoyance. It could be something in the internet connection, though, because netflix seems to have trouble connecting sometimes.

And Judith has a boyfriend. I saw her at Liz's party. She was talking about him playing some kind of drums. Not much connection this time. She wasn't drunk.

And it seems like the power adapter that plugs into the lighter in the car for my ipod is going out. It goes on and off. So I had to listen to the radio.

I watched _Night of the Living Dead_ finally. Actually, I've just about cleared out my instant queue. I deleted a few that I really wasn't going to watch, and watched the stuff that was pretty stale. I've got a thing on the Medici that I might finish, and the rest is stuff in there recently. TV shows that we are watching. Some movies that had they gave good recommendations. Right now I'm watching _Blade Runner_, the theatrical cut. That's be just about the last of stuff that's been sitting around. I removed the Chomsky stuff. I may watch them again sometimes. Probably will. I've already watched them twice. So I felt like leaving them in. But I've changed my feeling about it, and I'm trying to simplify it. The version with the narration. Supposedly he did it bad so they wouldn't use it. I think it's better with it. Otherwise there's these gaps. Moody, but boring. Visual. I'm just not visual.

  • January 1, 2011
Happy New Years! Happy Eighth Day of Christmas! Happy Kalends of January!

Another quiet new years eve. Didn't go anywhere. Watched some netflix.

So I found a redditor on r/gonewild who does muay thai in memphis. Seems like someone I need to find. Trains with some pro MMA guys. And it's gonewild, so she shows pictures of her girly bits.