a ba'b'ian journal

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  • December 17, 2012
Yay! Both my laptop-like computers, donut and tudor, are alive again. Both on the same day. For Tudor, I just needed a new power supply thing. Uptech had a universal on off the shelf for like $40. Much faster and probably cheaper than waiting for something online that may or may not work. Donut needed its keyboard replaced. About $110. A lot for a cheap computer, but it saved all the stuff on disk, which is a large accumulation of personal stuff. I got a Seagate 1T drive for backing up stuff. Plugged it in. Donut doesn't recognize it, and it's just sitting there, blinking. I don't know if it's already broken, or what? Driver stuff. And certainly best buy seems to have failed to meet my needs when I bought it. Geek squad, indeed. Stupid geeks, maybe. Or is that redundant?

I wrote a poem. I call it "Love":
Mother of Love,
A first kiss
Angel fish,
Fire in the heart,
Swim in the ocean.

Waves, sleep gently,
Furious green idea.
"K, "K, 'K...


And I wrote and sent Wynne an email. It seemed like about time. Hopefully, that will put an end to it.

Man, I haven't even had the ability to write in this journal for a few days. So I put stuff on Facebook. And I've been in the mood for writing. Maybe I'll just leave Facebook's post on Facebook. It's all in computers somewhere.

I've been trying to reconnect with old friend's I have neglected. My priorities have just completely shifted around. I spent a lot of time with Liz P., one of my favorite people right now. She's married, and I would totally wait for her. Not good from me, though. Still, we just spent a lot of time just the two of us. I had her, her kids, and her jusband out for the Hobbit, on Friday. And then after, we went to se Super Chris at Mulligans Trinity. She drank a few, and smoked some cigarettes. So I was a bad influence. But she's entitled to have more people that just purely love her for herself. I said call me anytime, and it came very quickly. She went out to Newby's, caught up with a friend who was closer to CBC, then got stuck there. So I picked her up around 4. And I stayed with her til morning. No questions. Sometimes you just need a friend. She was a little lost, so I put on Lord of the Rings, which is very comfortable to her.

  • December 13, 2012
Happy Thirteenth of December! I don't know what day of Chanukah or Advent it is, but please celebrate as you like!

A big gap, again. A lot happened. And I'm still posting more often on Facebook, which is more convenient. And some of my devices set up to write out to this journal here have been damaged, so pleaee bear with me as I recover everything.

And try remembering those really solid passwords while constantly being distracted. Not so easy.

Man, I was just trying to get a one Terabyte USN harddrive that I could use on all my computers--Windows (and possibly DOS), Apple, and Linux. I was in Best Buy. and I had two blue shirts helping me. They kept showing me model after model that was going to be incompatible with the different systems in different ways. I initially told them a brand I have tried to use "My Passport", but I am aware of the backwards compatibility issues, and the problems of file system compatibility. The boxes said which operating system, and they would give me something compatible with Windows or Apple, but not both. And they know dick about Linux, of course. Eventually, they were able to steer me toward Seagate. Good old Seagate. I think I've seen their campus, wherever it was, maybe down in the Santa Cruz Mountains? I forget. Anyway, they've been around long enough, and if it comes to that, I can go down there and complain about how they made something that just absolutely will not do what I need. Compatinility with three venerable lines of computer operating systems is not easy, but darn it, it is possible. I'd need to break up partitions, or start with a file system that can address all that space, deal with the stuff that maps around problems on disc... There are a lot of issues, but It better be possible, or what have computers come to. Guarranteed data loss? Backups that can't be permanent because you lose the ability to read them? Anyway, I have work to do.

I guess it's going to be too much to go into right now. I'll leave the writing for later. Christmastime! So much to do!

And lunch with Doug, Mike Tarkington, and Roy at the new Neil's which is just one block away. Man, loserly friends can really drag down a life. It really would be nice... What? To erase mistakes from the past? Yes, that's what regrets are.

Anyway, more, later.

  • November 25, 2012
Nurse Jennifer admits to giving me a huge shot of shat she considered a medicine, something "adavan" or clonprozamin. Something to calm me down. And from what I remember it was under duress with some security guy tony and other muscley beefy guys in various official looking uniforms. So I make this as an opening statement with possible intent to pursue legal redress against a medical, and I would have to say political and legal system that uses chemical weaponry for mind control. I will be contacting my lawyer, Wade Robertson, in this matter shortly.time:6:22am.tagbo+

  • November 24, 2012
How is it possible to know anything? All you have are what you can sense, what you can remember, and what and how you process. But you also have output to the world in your actions. So there will be feedback. There is nothing more than this. If there is a discipline that tries to call itself artificiial intelligence, it can do no more than this

The thought I wanted to focus on, now, though, is how we think we can know anythig. I should go supermetaphysical. Actions are all that exist. There are no things in themselves. We only do. We do thoughts. We think. And it's not even that complicated. There really are no we. There is only the big one. It is. It does. It breaks itself into pieces and these pieces think they are alone. That's it. That's my truth.

So all we have is the sensations we receive, the processing we do, and our memories. and we can do comparison, of different ways. Coputers could do this, but generlly have limited sensory input. Phone would be all over that, so should really be the ultimate intelligent device

Now, I'm thinking I need to take the opportunity to move on to a project for myself. The nsa grind is pretty rough. Nie group, maybe. Marketing and sales support. but 8 to 5 is really taking a toll. Plus I'm sick.

One of the nurses suggested just setting up a business setting up computers. Maybe I should go into that with doug.

Become an actual computer systems engineer.

And it looks like there would be a market for an electric doctor or at least an electric doctor's assistent.

  • November 23, 2012
Tiger, Tiger, burning brightly.

  • November 3, 2012
Magic bullets. In _tales from the campfire_, it was talking about how people want something that would win every fight, stop the guy immediately and not be lethal. The stun gun zapper was one thing, and it could be more abstract, like a fighting technique or system. Different situations are just different, though. That's just one area, too. People want a weight loss pill so they don't have to eat less and exercise. But I was thinking about it. There is also a thing about how we look at and understand causes. The other book I read recently, _this will make you smarter_ talked about this in several places. Generally, there is not just one cause, there is a whole causal web of many things that had to interact. But afterwards, we just focus on some key element, or maybe just the last thing that got put into place. So we think the linchpin holds it together, instead of all the pieces plus the structure. We have kind of a cognitive bias about what makes things happen, and attribute things to some simple final cause. Because that how we generally understand how things happen, we think that there cn be just that one important thing and if we find that, it will fix our problem. So you get these popular oversimplifications. Less government. Tastes great, less filling.

So something I just put in FB:
Half?! You would be dead right now if there was no air in the top of that glass, because that would mean there is no air in the room you are in. People need air more than something to drink. You are darn glad that the glass is completely full, and if you are just too stupid to always be aware of it, at least you are lucky enough that universe is gracious to let you live, despite your foolishness.

  • October 28, 2012
Yesterday, I was feeling bad about humanity. And I watched a Star Trek, Enterprise episode, and I'm not sure what it did, but I felt better. Maybe I could just focus on something else for a bit, and broke a cognitive cycle of dwelling on the stuff. Let the feelings subside, perhaps. Lately, the series has often just seemed really bad to me, and I was lucky that I had a new South Park season to see instead, but I finished up with that, and I went back to Enterprise. I guess it wasn't too bad, like a lot of the ones before it. But then I tried one today. Just in the teaser, this was one where the engineer and language person are on a planet looking at some old writing in some ruins. And a big storm comes up on them quickly, so they are going to have to use the transporter. Which at this point in the series, these two had never tried--only the captain and the tactical guy. So their talking about it, and the little translator girl is being all McCoy, and is talking about how it breaks up your molecules. And then she asks, and this is the chief engineer, do you know how many molecules you're made of? And he says, a few trillion. That's like saying, Ten, maybe twelve. Those numbers are about as close. I could not watch any more after that.

Friday night, I went to the memphis atheist halloween party at Whitney Wood's house. It was Whitney who was the interesting person I saw on OKCupid, and I've been wanting to talk to. I said that again in a message, and then she said the party was at her place, so I was stuck, and kind of had to go. It turned out that she didn't really seem in the frame of mind to be talking much, so I didn't end up messing with it, but we did at least meet. Again, it turned out because we had met at a mensa christmas party a few years ago but I didn't remember. And she said she tried to talk to me, but I didn't seem interested. Ouch.

I was kind of sitting by myself a lot, so she told me to mingle. I guess. I think a couple of women were teachers, but one of them I got was a math teacher, which of course, I thought was interesting. I thought she was very pretty, too. My height or maybe a little taller. Dark hair, but some kind of freckles, which is something I like. 23 She's kind of joined at the hip with a guy Nate, so didn't seem remotely interested in me, but that's how it can go. They both seemed very nice. Nate actually remembered me from some other meeting somewhere, and he's a programmer, as well. C++ and delphi. At some point the wife had mentioned something about video games being a good area for computer programmer when I had been talking about my computer stuff. I'm just going to call her the wife, though I'm not positive they are officially married. I never got her name. Probably are, but are very young, so you never know. They seemed closer than real married people actually are, like they are trying extra hard, which can happen before you get the law in on the thing. I mean, they were dressed as Mario and Luigi. It was kind of precious.

Something more striking, though, was that they were both from Idaho. i got this from Nate. They are in Memphis because of her. I think she was saying something about people to people, some kind of travel help organization. I had to admit, memphis is like a third world country. They were in Memphis as some kind of outreach. Nate was complaining about how bad the racism is here on both sides. Wife talked about how she likes to compare historical stuff with the age of her state. Idaho was not a state at the time of the civil war, so she feels not to be part of the conflict.

I say she ddidn't seem interested. They was a point in the sort of beginning when I was talking to her, when someone else I don't know, care up or something, and I might have been talking abd she just suddenly ignored me and was tlking to the other guy that came uo, so I walked away. I did come back later. I think I had been talking about math stuff. So I asked if she was a math person or more of an education person. She was not a math major at all. Her major was, lets see if I can get this right, there are so many permutations on this thing, molecular chemistry and biotechnology. The school was agricultural, so she was focused on plant genetic engineering. She has a patent on low phytic acid barley, and another one pending or something. It was obcure enough thzt she had to explain to me the point of low phytic acid. Basically, phytic acid captures phosphorous and make it biological unavailable, since we only absorb it as a phosphate. My guess had been about storage, as I thought I remembered acidity is bad for that. It's something they do with tomatoes-reduce acid to increase shelf life. But nowadays, there is not as much call for people to work on geneticlly modified food, which I guessed would not have been a discussion likely to put her in a good mood. She even whinged a bit about how a lot of organic food is genetically modified for pest resistance, or something, but they don't have to say that. So now she teaches high school math. Geometry and trigonometry. I asked her if she did proofs, and she said yes, but she was going to have to cut back, or she was going to have an actual student rebellion on her hands. I remember now, I was asking her if she had read Lockhart's Lament, and she said, actually she had, and seemed like it could have been a nice conversation, but some guy distracter her, and I was completely out of it. Didn't ever come back to it.

I mention that, because on Satuday, even though I had largely thought I was done with people for the weekend. I went to Roy's party for a bit, and Roy did the same thing. I was back and forth going at all. But I figured, I'd go down for an hour. It's better than just watching TV, though I knew it was not going to be very good at all. It was going to be all SCA people. The thing about a party like that is, they are all kind of part of one big group, and I am not part of that group. At the atheist party, there are a lot of people who are kind of new, and don't really feel a part of it, and just as a part of being atheists, there is a more natural feeling of outsider status. And actually, I'm a whole lot more a real member of that group, and I kind of knew some of the people. More acquaintences, perhaps. There was one guy, Matt, who I knew in college. Matt also would go to Roy's party, but he had left before I got there. And Liz, who is kind of the leader of the atheist group. At some point, I got named as her bodyguard--a meetup group can give people titles. Liz calls herself the Empress, and the form of kung fu I study, bagua, was started by someone who worked for the Chinese Imperial guard. Gives me a story to tell people. Liz is dating Matt now. Like I told Matt, with the moth on her, she needs a bodyguard.

So I was asking Roy if Matt had been there, and yes, and I was trying to find out if he came with Liz. It sounded like she had. The thing about it is, Liz is polyamorous. She came with, and left with Dan. Pretty much a solid couple. A couple of people at the party had costumes of being Liz and Dan. But she has been dating Matt, at some point Liz and Matt went off into a room and did it. Anyway, so I started telling Roy about the bodyguard thing, and he asked me what this bodyguard thing entailed. I was still trying to explain it, and there was a story I could have gotten to, but Roy just switched to talking to someone else. hey was host at a very big party, so it's reasonable to for him to get distracted. But I had had enough. i might have almost been an hour there, so I left. we've been friends since high school, so I can't take it too personally. I'll see him some other time. Doug had also been there, and he did talk about how much he likes seeing Doug, though he doesn't get to so much any more. Didn't even know he was back in Memphis, and something about maybe Doug will go work in Stockholm for a bit.

So, bodyguarding Liz. I had not been paying attention, but I suddenly saw Liz fighting with a girl over a leather whip. So I go over and try to break it up. I hadn't been paying attention, so I didn't know what it was about, but Liz was dressed up as a St. Pauli girl, and I was pretty sure it wasn't her whip, so I jumped to the conclusion it belonged the other girl. Liz, has gotten kind of plump, and the was little, in good shape, kind of tough looking and wearing a leather jacket. It seemed like a reasonable call. Liz had a few, and I could see her just trying to take it. So I got the whip, got them apart, little girl was still trying to get it from me, so I didn't work too hard to keep it from her, and she twisted it back. Liz, was getting all mad at me and saying you're fired or something. i say, well it's hers. And Liz says, no it's his. Like I said, I wasn't paying attention. I still don't really understand what his costume was, exactly. He had like a kilt and some kind of tail. I hadn't noticed the whip, but it could have been Another person that Liz has dated, and I've seen him quite a bit before. i wasn't positive I rememered his name. Maybe, Joel? I never said sorry to him. Anyway, so I let the little girl have the whip by mistake. But I could and did say, at least, I can keep her away from you. Guy did get his whip back. And he was using it like he knew what he was doing, so I have to admit, it was his. Something weird kind of happen. Somehow, a guy, Nick, got it. And just out of nowhere, he kits the little girl with it, and she just freaky out and said "No!" really pissed. Really a chilly moment. All mean. You didn't ask permission. Dude totally crumpled and was all I'm sorry. And I was thinking, a SM girl being mean to someone. Imagine that! Anyway, so, we'll go with, Joel, finds a girl, maybe Tamara, who can keep up, and seems into it. And gives her a couple good ones, and she doesn't flinch, which he finds impressive. So she pulls up her skirt, and he gives her a really good one, and it takes a couple of seconds--I'm guessing it just slowed down because of the alcohol, but it was clear that he go through to her.

So Friday's was a serious, wild party. after that, Roy's seemed pretty lame. They weren't any tunes at all. He has his Wii on the page for youtube, and they seemed to have found something, before. I had no luck at all. I spent quite a bit of time trying to get to my youtube songlist thing. I had to log in, and then it just didn't load anything. It's likely that my links were already dead, but I felt very disappointed. And when I started, I was by myself, but when I was getting closer, people came, and were getting pushy, and then they wanted to find theirs first. And I was trying to type it in, and the Wii is pretty clunk for typing, so it wasn't coming along very quickly, so he was constantly saying no, do this. I mistyped the second to the last letter, and he said, no, type an e. it probably wasn't going to work, anyway, so gave it to him, and he could deal with it. I think they did eventually get it a little later. They had to reset, so they logged me out. I probably need to try that stuff out before. And it got stuck on my first song and wouldn't skip past. So I was in a frustrated mood. This all was before I even first talked to Roy, so I wasn't in a good mood for it.

Some stuff from facebook. I found that i can't google stuff from facebook and it made me a little sad because there's a turn of phrase that I really like. I forget was Liz was talking about, but someone said "Cake or Death" and I had to say: Because she could not stop for cake

"Wherefore ask wherefore?"

"Wherefore means why" It happened again. Someone on OKCupid who otherwise seemed interesting, and maybe would be nice to see, said wherefore means where. This one was especially hard. She's pursuing a Ph.D. in some kind of medicinal chemistry. And she says she has various books or stories in different levels of completion. So she does some kind of writing. She does appear to believe she is very smart. And yet she think wherefore means where. It's one thing to not know that. Plenty of people have that wrong. But to aspire to write and get that wrong. And I look for an explanation. If you think you're smart and just figure you are right and never even question yourself. Just arrogance. Because I posted on FB, and there's a guy who clearly has a high opinion of himself, and asking about iq to get into Mensa, and how he was kssing women with igher IQs than himself. I gotta say that no longer seems remotely impressive to me. Then he asks, Romeo, Romeo, why art thou? He didn't even bother to revisit the original quotation--the people who get it wrong think it's, wherefore art thou *comma* Romeo, that the last Romeo is just an appositive, that you are addressing him instead of asking why his name had to be Romeo or the opposing clan. The very next line is "Deny thy father and refuse thy name;" Even from context, you could presumably get it. "I'm in the balcony, it's cheaper"

Ask not wherefore the pumpkin also rises

I guess it must have been molecular biochemistry. Molecular chemistry doesn't make sense. I asked about medical school, saying for me getting a C in organic maybe me feel I wasn't really motivated. She said it's still and option, but she doesn't want to be a doctor. Her dad is doctor. Well, there you go.

So there was something that kind of got me. Liz asked who was Liz Finley. That's Liz Purkrabeck. I like Liz P more than anyone who was there. Liz P used to do an atheist group in Mississippi. Somewhere on facebook, she was asking for a ride out to the party. I told Liz H who it was, --For some reason she's using her maiden name. And Liz H said, oh, crazy Liz. I couldn't really dispute it, but ouch. Liz also was talking about someone who was there, saying somebody else shouldn't be with her because she's crazy. Oh well. Not an attitude I find very endearing.

I have not been feeling very well, lately. Stomach stuff, which I'm guessing is from one of my medicines, but it could easily be something else, too. I just went to the doctor, and I just didn't mention it, but it's gotten a little worse. It's made it 'uncomfortable' to stay out, so I gave Melissa that as an excuse and didn't go to see her. An hour at Roy's was about the best I could manage.

So you try to make sense of things. Both Whitney and Liz H are poly and both are kind of plump. That's too small of sample to really do anything with, but it just seems to me that both are reflections of being very self-indulgent. Maybe it's me. It doesn't really seem like my kind of thing, but I'm kind of too heavy, myself. I've got medications that can do that to me, but still. Man, Jiang Laoshi was getting on to us about losing weight. Looks bad for the school. Louie, in class, has been having some issues, but has lost a bunch. He's been doing on od those no-carb things, and the meat and the weight loss really gave him some bad hits of the gout. And it's kind of made it tough for me.

I saw a roach crawl behind stuff in the kitchen some time today. So finally tonight, with nothing on the TV. Actually, I tried just turning it on, but the commericals were just too much, I did some cleaning. I finally did the dishes, which had been piling up for a week. It wasn't actually too many of them, but I should have been keeping up with it. It quite often happens when my mom comes by. She'll make leftovers and the pots will accumulate. By myself, I use and rinse just one microwave corningware quart dish. A big plate, generally just as an underlininer, a small plate, and maybe a bowl. That'll be if for a whole week, so I don't especially need to wash. spoons and forks accumulate. So I got the dishes. Folded clothes. Took out the trash. Which again, I only have to do once a week. Myself, I only make about one bag of garbage a week. So I try to go off, and then I come back to fill my water bottle, and the silly roach is out. And she crawls behind stuff. I wasn't fast enough. I was trying to grab something to smoosh her with, and that was enough. Too much stuff sitting on the counter. And I was looking under stuff, and thought I'd lost her, but she came out again. That's just being arrogant. So I looked under things much more thoroughly, and finally got her. With a Kleenex. I didn't kill her completely. Still moving a little, but pretty mooshed. Flushed her. I think. She might have slipped out on the was, as I didn't actually see her in the water, but maybe she was too wrapped up. And the toilet was kind of dirty, so I cleaned it, too.

  • October 6, 2012
Oh, man that was bad for me. I've been trying to eat less, and more specifically, I've been trying not to binge, and just pig out when I've finally been getting really hungry. I've kind of let the food run low, at least the food i like to eat a lot of. I've been eating cans of corned beef hash. at this point, generally what I would do is go get a thing of 10 or so piees of fired chicken and pig out, like I said. Not all ten at once, but stuff myself, and then have some left over and eat it quick. I really kind of drained out. I think this hunger stuff really messes with my mood, too, because I've been back and forth about going out Saturday night. That's also been a little bit from stress and frustration at work. Some of it must be the hunger, though. Thursday, I thought I wouldn't go. Friday, i felt better, and thought that was silly, but Saturday comes around, and i don't want to go out again, so I leave a text and commit to not going. That's probably right for how I was feeling. I absolutely didn't want to do anything, but I dragged myself to the store to get a roast. So I get a pork roast. And I have to get them now, because apparently, next year there's going to be a shortage, with feed costs getting so high. It was a fat one. I just had a couple of thick slices from the center. I have struggled to finish them off, and just managed the last bite. I think it was 50% pure fat. Like I said, that can't be good for me. Very rich. You can't do that very much. Honestly, you can get a lot of calories that way if you need it. There's an artery clogging cost to it, and it accumulates over time. And artery clogging is really only seriously bad in the actual heart arteries. It's almost sad that we've developed so much ability to deal with these heart problems, because sensible over the course of a lifetime could have dealt with it. And now medical care is just a craxy expensive burden because of the few cases where we make amazingly heroic efforts.

All religions are scams. Buddhism is a little unusual in not requiring so many crazy fantasies, but so as not to give it a pass, I have again point out that Sid abandoned his wife and family. I'm sorry, that just can't be good. Logically, saying something is wrong because the person who said it is bad is a fallacious argument. But seriously, I think it calls for some serious skepticism. Basically, I'm on the other side and I've looked at what he had to say, and frankly, I think it's crap. I'll be a little more specific. The whole beggar monk think--breaking off from society for their personal transformation plan. That's crap. That's a scam. One maybe good thing about it. You can find out that all the material stuff that society tries to say you need to make you happy--that's also wrong. And buddhists can be happier than a lot of other people. Some of the psychological techniques they use are quite good. You don't need a whole scam system for that, though.

So there's this girl on OKCupid. I've been wanting to say lady or something but really, she's just a girl. She's 31. A mom and nurse. But also a mensan, and atheist and a socialist. They gave us a 92% match which is pretty high up there. I tried writing a year ago, but nothing. But I've been thinking about it again. I'm sure I'm too old for her, but I was thinking she'd be interesting to talk to. Then I tried to write again, and they came up with something about how her mailbox is full, but for a dollar, they might let me write. Grr. So then I really wanted to. Her nickname was also used somewhere else, and as a mensan in Memphis, that pretty well narrows it down, so I think her name is Whitney Crider. She's married and says it's an open relationship. What I gather, though is that she's really just a craxy kid. Or at least she says she talks crazy talk but she's seems to be more just extroverted and isn't really serious about anything. I think she mentioned ADD. So, not interesting so much as crazy.

  • September 18, 2012
I guess what I do doesn't really count as philosophy, because I don't try to be rigorous.

Somehow, the question of baseball bats vs. axe handles came up. I think the prevailing wisdom is with axe handles. Anyway, the topic was dancing with the same gender. So, when I first went into electric cowboy, not only was there music other than country music, women were dancing with women. I said to myself, "I celebrate this". I was telling this to Aaron, and he said right off it was probably just straight women dancing with each other, and I had to relate what happened to me next. A couple songs later, there was a slow song, and I walked back around to see. And it was not true. There really was no acceptance. Not even a hint that it might be a good thing for people to just love each other without judgement. It made me sad. That's what I said to Aaron. It made me sad.

So we go to the table where he was with his friends, the one with the birthday and some other guy. A policeman, apparently. Aaron must be an extrovert, becuase he cherishes pretty diverse friends. And goes to church even though he doesn't believe in all that. So he goes off to get us a round. I thought that was nice. It was more than anything else because there was this bartender he liked. I even had to tell that to the waittress who came by. And then she said, thank you for telling me, it makes her look stupid if she doesn't know that and keeps coming by.

Anyway, that was nice of Aaron to go get us a round, so I offered to dance with him. He was getting up right then, but I didn't get up too. Maybe I wasn't really serious. He said "Oh, you're serious?" Maybe I was just being slow. So we didn't dance. I think further consideration was that it might not be such a good idea. Not really that kind of place. I imagine his dancing is not very good, either. I told him about that video and study I found a while back about what really makes good dancing. I promised to share it with him. it took me a while to dig it up. Seriously, no search in a oage in the phone's browser? I still don't have a way to link to a particular paragraph, but I can get to the day. A happy nine eleven two years ago.

I put it on facebook after I got home. Haven't heard anything. I don't know if he even sees my posts. I also friend the birthday girl while I was there, and she accepted it there. Now that's a good setup. It was seeing it on Facebook that got me out there. So I think it's a really valuable site. It's popularity is well deserved. I don't particularly feel like writing here in this journal is even really sharing with anyone. Essentially no chance of hearing from anyone. I don't have comments, sure, and that's an option on most blogs that I never really wanted. But I also basically don't even put any obvious way you could contact me, without out a lot of work if you wanted to. I finally, after a few years, but a home link--I suppose if you got here, you would have already seen the sort of front main page, but maybe not. Google can find me. And an email address on the home page. Not particularly inviting.

I don't know if people even trust email addresses on web pages any more. They almost never work. Any address on the web will usually be so inundated with spam, that no one will ever check it. It certainly won't be a person's main page. I don't even remember ever getting a reply to an email sent to an address on the web. That just doesn't work. You have to know the person, and his real address if he is going to reply to you. So I doubt anyone would even try, even if people sent emails any more. I'm not sure they even do. It's just not a reliable form of conversation, and pretty much doesn't work to make an initial contact.

My particular web page email is very unusual. I have managed to block it from all the web email harvesting spiders. And I think, basically ever. I only recently started getting any spam at all from it, and I'm pretty sure it was because I made the mistake of also making it my Facebook default email. I might have been pretty safe there, too, but I signed up for too many apps, I guess. I guess appwriters need to make a buck, somehow, but selling email addresses is about the sleaziest thing I can think of. I consider porn and drugs legitimate needs. But spam? I need to get me an axe handle.

But, there have been a very small number of times people have contacted me from my journal. Fingers of one hand kind of small. I could enumerate them, but they are of course, documented here. If I had a better search, and a way to address paragraphs, maybe I'd list them. They are all sort of personal. I think maybe people found themselves mentioned when they did a vanity google. *sniff*. Poor things. I don't think it was ever good.

So, I don't know. I'm thinking of contacting and editor or a publisher about writing this book I have in mind. I heard at one writers' talk at a midsouthcon about how publishers like to see some kind of web presence, and some kind of sample of whether you can put sentences together. I would say this counts for that, though I'm not sure how favorable an impression it would make. I think my outline needs work. And maybe you need a manuscript? I was thinking more of a feeler, but I don't know if they even just talk to people, unsolicited. I think I've heard they don't. Too busy. Too many sure things already. And why would I want to go and kill all those innocent trees? Maybe not so innocent, but surely mostly innocent? Would they rather be axe handles?

  • September 16, 2012
I decided to go out a second night. I guess the unusual thing was to go out on Friday, but that was because I wouldn't have been able to go see Melissa on Saturday and I kind of felt like committing to planning ahead for Friday. I could have skipped. I saw on Facebook that Aaron was at Electric Cowboy, which is next to the kung fu school. It was a good excuse to check the place out. It wasn't completely country, though it tried to emphasize it. And I danced a little bit, again. With Michelle. They were there because it was her birthday. I didn't like it. I didn't think she danced very well, and I just was not really into her. But she was a science teacher, which seemed hopefull. I told Aaron about how I had kind of had a rule about not dancing with people if I didn't know their name. And he saw right through how it was just an excuse for me not to try to meet new people. If I wasn't going to just introduce myself to get past it.

I also tried to tell him my feelings about having a gift economy. And I don't try to keep track of change. I really don't need change from a twenty. Why exactly be so precise? It's a way to handle an economy. But it isn't the only way. The Indians were kind of an example of a gift exonomy. It was a broken down society--marginal might be a technical word. Basically everyone was what we would call dirt poor. If you had something, you were pretty much lucky to have it, because someone gave it to you. So maybe you give someone a gift and they might give you something back. Just friendly like. They didn't try to make a science of keeping everything exactly balanced and accounted for. The marginal Indians, of course. Probably the Indian civilizations did that. As much good as it did them when they used up all their resources and collapsed. So all we saw were the ones who were left who weren't into all that.

There was also the thing about how apparently there is little correlation between happiness and income above I think the cutoff was $60k. Aaron was on something about how that is specific to our society. I'm not entirely sure what his point was. He was concluding something about it providing a level of material goods and some leisure. I wasn't willing to concede any interpretation, but that there is merely this fact. It has an implication for me that society appears to allow this to happen because it is good for the people, but it is wrong about this, so one of the assumptions that society is based on is incorrect. Actually, the theoretical basis for capitalism is not that it is good for the rich capitalist, but it is good for society as a whole for him to have concentrated capital. It allows more and bigger and more efficient things to happen. But it clearly seems to be an unspoken assumption. That it goes without saying that the more you have the better off you will be. But what if that is not true? Because it would be possible to concentrate capital without making it a matter of individual ownership of capital.

But here is the thing. What is it about the $60k? Aaron looked at getting a level of material goods and leisure. But it's also above average. I don't know exactly what the average is, but it could be that once you are better than average, that's all it will contribute to your happiness. In that case, it would be wrong of me to think that things would be better if everyone made 60k, or whatever it is. It might still be valid that there is no use in having super rich. And the notion that is being pushed about people not wanting "their" money taken away and given to other people. I gotta tell you, it makes me sad to hear people espouse that idea, but I guess it's possible to find a dark place in people's souls where that makes sense.

Aaron had his eye on this bartender. I asked about how much they make, and I didn't really get a precise answer. It's kind of rude to ask, so I didn't push it. It depends but they do pretty well. My understanding is that they almost always do better than 60k. But then there is the barback. They are the real heroes. They work for hardly anything so everyone else can have stuff much cheaper, and yet some people really make bank.

Yeah, when I walked in, there was a cute blonde bartender, who seemed maybe a little older. All business. I think she wanted 3 bucks. It was just a sprite. She rung it in. I gave her twenty, and she was counting it all out. I just gave it all to her. I just don't need change from a twenty. And there was a waittress. I wasn't really expecting to stay, so I had to break a hundred. Which she personally could not do, but she went and got it somewhere.

And there was another bartender. On the opposite side from the first one. Brunette with glasses. I was walking past, and maybe staring a little too hard, because she met my eyes and said something, I forget. How are you doing? I don't know. I turned away. Cold and foolish to shut someone down who is being friendly. My mistake. I went back later. Got one. Only wanted two dollars. I gave her the twenty. The next time, again she wanted two dollars. So this time, I just gave her two dollars, and I could have given her more, directly, but I put twenty in the jar. Refills, I don't know. The club isn't a charity. I was thinking they probably pool tips.

So, I was thinking, well, I would at least like to dance with someone who can dance well. But really, I hardly saw anyone who I thought quite captured it. There was maybe one very young girl. But I couldn't get myself to speak to her.

  • September 15, 2012
I got to dance a little bit with Amanda. She was dressed up like Columbia from Rocky Horror, so they must have been doing that somewhere. Little girl really wore herself out. It was to "bust a move" which I injected into someone's set of Hall and Oates. Seems like they were into some kind of dance stuff last night.

So it ended up that the lab Melissa missed, they didn't do anything but maybe pass out the syllabus. For a bit she was stressed, but now she's glad she missed it. She would have been pissed to miss work for just that.

She was going to a wedding on Saturday, so I went down Friday night. It was a long day. And she had forgotten to get Britanny some Starbucks, so she asked me to get it. And since I was getting other people's too, I went in a little early and didn't get a nap after Chinese class. She was going to pay me back. They charged me nothing. I've been putting in twenty for them. Still I thought for 3 they would charge something. Melissa said, seems like they are just not ringing it in. But it's on them. She gives them the money. If they don't share it with the corporation, whatever.

I don't know how good my dancing is any more. I think me feet were already hurting. But I wasn't too winded. I think my shape isn't too bad, though it could be a lot better. I am too fat, though. I really need to be working out every day. It does seem to make a difference. I think I'm back up to 210. I ate way too much.

  • September 3, 2012
I asked Melissa how school was going. Her first reaction was to lie to me and say it was going OK. I guess that's what I wanted to hear, so maybe it made sense. But then she admitted that she had missed her first lab because she couldn't get her shift covered. That doesn't sound OK to me. And maybe they didn't meet--lans don't always meet on the first day, or necessarily do anything important. But she didn't know. and she says the teacher doesn't like her. I have a little trouble with that, but considering her priorities, I might be able to see it.

  • September 1, 2012
Happy Kalends of September!

Lizzy Lu put up a cute picture of a panda clinging to a rail with the caption "Fly you fools". It made me want to see that bit of Lord of the Rings again. Turns out that's in Fellowship of the Rings, the first one. I never got the others. They're kind of long, and not that interesting to see again. A big spectacle, but they don't signify much to me. So I went straight to the seen. Just so melodramatic. Maybe it's deeper if you've just spent two hours investing in the character. And it actually doesn't make sense. He could have just climbed back up, or someone could have helped him up. He was yanked over, but after he caught himself, nothing was actually pulled him down. Anyway, I watched to the end. There was still a lot left of that one after that. Then I started it from the beginning. Man. So there's a thing where Frodo is hit with a spear by a cave troll. They make a thing about how his secret mithril vest saved him. But I'm sorry. Even if it didn't go through, a cave troll would have squished his rib cage like a tomato. Whatever.

Anyway, I didn't have the others so I decided to go out and get them. It's ten years old, but maybe they'd have them. I went to Target. Six bucks each. I really needed to be spending money. My cash in bank has gone over 10G. It doesn't do anyone any good just sitting there. People have to spend or the economy collapses. I think they have kind of failed me a bit because they have so little that I want. I found some little gadget called an iRig that says it can let you plug your guitar into your iphone. So I'm giving that a shot. And I got some plastic boxes. I've got books sitting in stacks I need to put away. I went to Best Buy to look at speakers. I think I'm not ready yet for those. They've got Bose. I'm never going to buy Bose. They got Klipsche. My feeling is that they are overpriced. But I guess I don't know.

  • August 19, 2012
I started reading Brockman's This will make you smarter. I wasn't so sure about it, because the amazon rating was like only 4 out of 5 stars. Why bother with something that isn't absolutely great? It's a bunch of essays that were on edge.org. And apparently you could just read them all for free on the website. They are kind of short. A couple pages each, maybe. I've only read a few. Right at the beginning they managed to have essays that say opposite things. We're special in the universe. We're not special. Great. I guess since they are so short, they are easy to ignore. but why read something you're going to ignore? I guess I can just scan some. Seems like the title is often enough to get everything, of value, but since they are essays, they try to make a case for them. In such a short space, I don't know if they even could succeed, much less whether they do. Pretty much you either go into them believe what they say, or not. So not really persuasive learning experience, so much as light infotainment. It really is like blog extracts compiled together. So it doesn't have the potential coherence of one persons blog, but I have to say the quality is good because they are all published professional writers. Better than mine, I'd have to admit.

Seems like the ideas are kind of weak. The guy who put it together, Brockman, asked what he was hoping was an inspiring question. Even that, though, to me seemed so laden with assumptions that I wonder about the project. It is something like "What scientific concepts would improve everyone's cognitive toolkit?" I guess some of the assumptions in the question are fairly readonable. Science had been a reliable source of knowledge, in that it culls mistakes. So several of the essays so far have been about using experiments in life. One guy talked about how we do it naturally when we try thing out, but we aren't usually methodical or rigorous. The whole improve thing depends on a value system, and when you mention science talking about values, the results don't often come out well. I guess I have a lot more to go.

I have been trying to watch just a sample lecture from the teaching company on their class on Mindfulness. The teacher is Mark Muesse, who teaches at Rhodes College here in Memphis. I have met him personally, and done some mindfulness stuff with him involved. Maybe he was at the retreat I went to? Anyway, I've had great trouble, and haven't made it through the little half hour lecture. I think the big problem I'm having is that he seems so judgemental. Most of regular life is mindless. Really? No ox, no mountain. I guess I can applaud the basic idea of trying to understand and watch the mind, but just adding an awareness onto regular thinking, doesn't seem so profound a feat as to call everything else "mindless". The bonus that can come is maybe a little bit of space to hold off on some of the bad thoughts we can have. And even the good thoughts, the way we drown trying to hold onto them can end up pretty bad. But seriously, get over it.

Bardog is having a big 4th anniverseray party today. I just didn't want to go. I wbet down last night. I should do something about this whole Melissa thing.

  • August 12, 2012
It was pretty fun evening at Bardog. People seemed to like the music I was playing on the jukebox. I didn't get stuck like a time or two ago where people had put in junk, which people didn't like, so other people put their junk in, too. People pretty much let me play stuff. And like I said, they seemed to like it.

One girl, who might have been a regular, I don't know. She was with another regular I recognize, but I forget his name, and he came up to be and said this girl wanted to introduce herself to me. She seemed like she didn't want to be put on the spot, but she did come over. She said her name, but I didn't quite catch it. Maybe Mia? And I didn't press to get it right. Oh well. So then he asks me, how long have I been growing out my hair. I said two or three years. She didn't believe that, and honestly, I've lost track. I think she said something about it taking five or six years for her to grow out that long. OK. She was very cute, and it was nice to talk to her. She asked me what I do, and I said I was a programmer out at juiceplus. And she said she takes juiceplus. That was kind of neat.

A couple of Angela's friends were with her. Heather, and another one, a blonde. I said her name several times, but it's gone now. I got that Heather was an auditor. SCC or something, does stuff for Autozone and Bueller, where other chickee works. It took a while before we had enough chairs for all of us. Then I get up to put more music in. And Chris Cloud sits down where I was. And I thought, you know what? I came here to see Melissa, not Angela and her friends. So I went and stood somewhere else. Chris offered to give me the chair back, but really, that was OK. Then I found a chair on the end where Melissa was actually working.

And I had the hanger steak special. I never even heard of hanger steak before. Looking at the wiki, apparently it's a nice cut. It was tasty. Reading about it, how it has a strip of junk in the middle, I think I remember us having it, but I didn't know what it was called.

I was playing with the IR camera. There was a claim that it can see through some fabrics, but I didn't see any evidence of that. Maybe some really thin summery stuff. One thing I noticed was that it generally turned black t-shirts white. Whatever Melissa had, which was kind of a gray patterned thing, and I think the material was kind of thick, seemed to stay the same. It was a little odd. Angela and blondie were wearing black dresses, but the picture showed them in white. It seemed to lose a lot of the patterns on prints, but not completely. I don't know. I let Ian have it for a bit. It can display without taking a picture. He spent a lot of time looking at blondie's bathing suit areas. It does really bad things with eye-makeup. It's black and white. At least, they've made this one black and white, I'm sure because if they did distinguish the colors, they would be garishly wrong. There might be some way to combine a regular image with this one. But this is just a cheap camera. I'm thinking, though, that the hacked cameras do weird things like that. Bogus color. This had something over the lends which you turn, which clearly must remove the IR filter or not Plus some notification to the software. I really don't know how these things do three colors, so maybe they normally use three filters.

  • August 7, 2012
She wrote me back. And it was kind of a long message, which is unusual, so that was nice.

Man, I was really oblivious, though when I walked in. I must have walked right past Angela and Ian, and i think Angela said she waved when I first came in. Didn't see them til later. And Josh came in, but I didn't notice him 'til he had been standing next to me for a bit and said something. And that was especially pitiful, because he like, slapped my on the butt before that, but I didn't even look to see who it was. So Josh was in some kind of mood. I said it was good to see him and asked hi how he was doing, and he said he couldn't. I guess that's good, maybe just understated. He continued to be a little wild. I tried not to look, but seems like he might have been a little frisky with Melissa. And she seemed a little upset with him. She put him in a chair. At some point he started up with me again. It seemed all in fun to me, but she didn't seem so happy. And it seems like eventually, she shooed him out.

It was Melissa's birthday, so I slipped her just a little bit extra. And I could manage it more easily, because since I was leaving early, I left her at the bar instead of her going outside with me, and it was kind of quick. So I sent her a message when I got home thanking her. I always thank her, because it's just just a pleasure to see her. She's always sweet, and maybe a little doting. And this time she gave me some of her pizza that they finally brought her after she had been askind for a month. Aldo has a new pizza place.

Anyway, I also said if she needs a new boyfriend, I'm available. I think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to say. A little playful. Obviously not very serious, though if it's serioues, it's more pitiful than anything. It more expresses concern that I hope things are going well with her relationship, and just expressing my feelings. I guess. As I think about it, one thing it does not say is that I think I could do better, but that's not such a nice thing to put in there.

She thanked me for the extra, though I shouldn't have. And I was sneakin'. She said she was good with boyfriends, and 98% of the time, she can't complain. And that had me thinking, that was the phrase he used, too. So sympatico. But to me view, I was all, Really? You're shooting for not complaining? And I'm like, Josh. Can't complain? I feel lucky just to see Melissa once a week. I think she's the most beautiful woman in the world, and I don't mean that as an exaggeration. I compare her to, granted, just pictures, of all other women. That lists of hottest women. And I just like Melissa better. And she's up there with the sweetest women can be. I'm not that great a judge of that, so I can't say for sure the very top, but the highest level, to where I couldn't tell the difference from among them. So not so happy with the lack of appreciation there.

But people can get used to anything. No matter how good things might be, at some point, it just seems normal and you take it for granted. And you can have too much of a good thing, but even before that, if you have plenty of a good thing, you kind of lose how valuable it is and how lucky you might otherwise feel. And I had to admit to myself, it was getting kind of the same with me. Last weekend, I went on Saturday, and then I was thinking maybe of going again on Sunday, but I had to think again that really, once a week is enough, and maybe twice a week would be too much. So there's that. Every day? I don't know. Sometimes I think life seems kind of meaningless without that. Other times I really appreciate it.

You want a weapon? Grab a kitchen knife. That's what burglars do. And you don't wake up the neighborhood.

I thought I wasn't being that serious, but it still hurts to be rejected like that.

  • August 5, 2012
Happy Birthday, Melissa!

I just finished Sue Blackmore's _Consciousness: a Very Short Introduction_. There's a whole very short introduction series. And she has a longer book, Consciousness, an Introduction_, which I've borrowed from the library, but didn't read cover to cover. A lot of skimming. So this was quite short, and good enough for me. She had kind of an interesting conclusion. She went all Buddhist, and said that consciousness is a delusion we have about our experiences being tied together, and experienced by a mysterious personal self. OK. Part of that idea is that it takes our linguistic ability to have this mistake we call consciousness, and animals don't have it. They have experiences, but not consciousness like us. Computers _could_ be conscious like we are, but that would entail them making the kinds of mistakes we make. She doesn't say this, but we probably wouldn't want them to. That's something I could go along with, though. So why do we make this mistake? I'm not sure she was all that clear about it, but it seems like she was saying something about how it was useful for dealing with others socially. Or maybe that was somebody else's theory. She says this view gets rid of a lot of problems more traditional views have, but she doesn't really admit to the problems that it has. Being the serious Buddhist, though, she does talk about all the experienced Buddhists who claim to be able to get past this delusion. Whatever.

  • August 1, 2012
It was just dream. I think it was about confusion. I'm working on a project at work where I'm having a lot of confusion. In this dream, a was with some folks, and I was remembering how my dad has seemed to come back. It has only been in my dreams, but it caused confusion. Sometimes I do remember that I must be dreaming when he's around, but this times I was only remembering him being here again after we buried him. He came back. And I didn't understand it. Maybe there was some religious thing that might be true. But no, that stuff is all wrong. I just saw in the Memphis Mensa newsletter that Aimee's book club is permanently moving to Tuesday. I just can't make Tuesdays. Thursdays was hard to make, as I have to arrange to give over the key for the kung fu class. But Tuesdays is the night the teacher is there, so I just don't want to miss. This month, they're reading a book and the author will be there. They did that once, and it was very nice.

So at work, I was feeling bad at myself because I wasn't getting my project done. But it was just me, other people were being nice about it. And I thought it was done, but suddenly more problems came up. I'm disturbed at how easily my joy feel apart. Taking it too personally.

So it's getting to where I'm not finding stuff I want to spend money on any more. I was finding stuff for a while. Maybe I had stuff building up because I had run so low. Now, not so much.

I guess the facebook stuff is a little more personable. I get people writing back to me. which is different. I guess it's nice to have people questioning what I think, because left on my own, I guess I can kid myself more that I really know what I think I do.

I read Sam Harris's essay for sale on Amazon on lying. I had what I thought was an intriguing reaction. I already thought lying was bad, which is why I was reading it. But the arguments were so bad, and maybe I just don't like or trust Sam Harris or any of his philosophy, that the opposition reaction. He kind of pushed me the other way. Maybe lying is not so bad. I don't really care so much now. I think his arguments were roughly that it's hard, and can mess up relationships, and you can get in trouble if your kids rat you out. So don't have kid. I'm there. A way to stay away from people? Bonus points. Difficult? Who doesn't love a challenge? Ah. So for while, I was a Carlosian. Don Carlos had a really cool philosophy of the Big Lie. You had to kind of dig to pull it out of his writings, but it was plain as day. And man, did he have a life. So Sam, FU.

I just started the last three paragraphs with "So". Bad habit to fall into, and I've deleted most of them. I really can use some editing sometimes. I really now need to put real effort into real writing. In the newsletter, they also had three essay from the scholarship winners. I guess I feel jealous. I didn't read all of them. One was just some kind of smart guy into Chemistry and science and stuff. The essay wasn't so great, but it impressed you about a person that really could do a lot with himself. Unlike what I've done. But one was from an aspiring writer. I think she's already writing a novel. Published on line. So I'm not sure if that counts, but it's real work. I'm not so much on the story telling, but I guess I like good writing.

  • July 29, 2012
Now there's an intriguing idea. I was just reading some Chomsky. He suggests that part of the reason for American's getting independence from England was that it was pretty clear they were going to outlaw slavery. Huh. Isn't that special?

A family friend passed away. Benno Friedman, RIP. I knew him from when I was a little kid, maybe as young as 9. He was the dad of a friend of my brother's, Bruce Friedman, from when we first moved to Memphis in, I think it was '76. Ny dad worked at the Memphis Racquet club, a tennis club, and Freddie and Bruce played tennis. Freddie worked in his warehouse. I worked there too with Bruce on computer stuff, but I did warehouse stuff, too, sometimes. I remember the pay was not very much. It was just part time, I guess. I was just in college. What did I know? He did seem to love life. He was into wine. One time, I drove a van from Chicago to Memphis to haul some wine, apparently something about avoiding interstate taxes. It gave me a chance to visit a friend, Cliff, who was going to school at U Chicago. I haven't seen him as much later, but occasionally at Bruce's birthday parties, which are usually on the 4th of July. When my aunt was in from Germany, we happened to drive past his house, and we saw that it was sold, so I didn't know his status, or if he was still around. I guess he's been sick, but I don't know the details.

  • July 15, 2012
Happy Ides of July!

I went to the white people Kroger. I was suprisingly pleased that it was full of white people. But they all looked kind of sad. So much stuff, and they have to figure out what to get, I guess. So maybe it seemed like work or something. But for me it was a joy to see all the prosperity and people that can take advantage of it.

It was Kroger, and I went past the meat, and prices all seemed unreasonably high. But something maybe me look at the pork shoulder. These huge hunks of meat. Maybe ten pounds or more. Five dollars. Forty nine cents a pound. I was think I was misreading it, and some of them had a $20 price in addition to the $5. And one of the numbers was 10.something so maybe I was looking at the thing. I think it was that the expiration date was like July 17, so a couple days or they have to pitch it. That was such a great deal, I had to get one. Maybe I should have gotten two. I won't be able to eat a whole one of those, so mom suggested cutting it in half and deboning. I tried cutting out the bone, but I'm just not good enough to do it raw. I real was using too dull a knife, too. I really wasn't feeling like making it and having it right now. But I cut off a good size roast-- I did manage to find a joint to cut through-- and then cooked most of it with the bone. So it does have a very big bone through it. But still, so cheap.

The Teaching Company has a class on nanotechnology. I wrote a pretty negative post about it on Facebook: I'm not so sure about the nanotechnology course. The term "Nanotechnology" is not intended to mean simply a science or technology of things at the nanometer scale. You could use a big device like a scanning-tunneling force microscope to place individual atoms down, or maybe some kind of lithography, which is suggested when the speaker is an expert in electronics. Some people try to muddy the term by including those things and those sorts of projects suck up the research funding that is available. Those are things we can do and understand. But the people who popularized the idea and push for it don't mean that. They mean building machines that themselves are at the nanoscale and which manipulate atoms deterministically at the scale of atoms. Biological molecules are an approximation to that and are considered a promising pathway, but even they are really quite it because they are usually statistical, and not deterministic. So I'm interested in the subject, but from what I see in the description, I'm not convinced the course captures it.

I failed the HSK level 2 Chinese test. It was close. I got 115 but needed 120 to pass. That's a pretty low requirement, but I couldn't get there. Based on that, though, I'm pretty sure the HSK level 1 really would have been too easy. But It's a little early to be looking at level 3. And, I checked the schedule. It will be December before I can take it again. I thought they had them more often. Maybe I would have studied just a little harder if I knew they didn't come along so often.

Boson. A cross between a bozo and a moron?

From reddit: The way we have computers dealing with truth and knowledge is just very different from how people deal with them. I doubt we will easily decide to depend on computers that take a human approach, because we designed them very specifically to use their own system very efficiently. Ours is not efficient, but it's very flexible, and open to systems of social learning that work well for us in groups. In particular, we use epistemic emotions--feelings about what is correct. We don't use logic operators to maintain exact certainty at each step. Even approximations that we might have computers use, like confidence or probability estimates don't particularly capture what using emotions for this job does for us. We seek out truthiness because it feels good. Computers just follow what the instructions and data we give them imply.

i saw a link on reddit about making the big banks and other large corporations public utilities, because they are too big to regulated. I wrote this about it: I like the rationalism here. And saying make them into public utilities instead of socializing them. Unfortunately, people do not make decisions rationally. People will be scared away with the demonizing term socialism.
Still, a lot depends on people accepting that regulation can't work. That not only seems like a tough sell, but almost in itself seems to argue against public ownership. Stated simply, because government doesn't work, we should put it in charge? That was basically Reagan's argument, and, as it so clear and simple, it has managed to push conservatism to ideological dominance over progressivism.
Anyway, no argument starting with the ineffectiveness of government is going to be particularly persuasive about increasing its role. They are going to need to point at some successful public utilities.

I've been feeling sick. I think some of it is stress. I'm a little unsure at work. But that only contributes. I think I also have some kind of infection load. There's always something trying to invade a person. I just think something is getting to me. Plus some kind of stomach thing. It really hasn't been very serious. Just something low-grade. A little bit of sneezing, too, and a runny nose. That could all just be allergies finally getting me. I've been sleeping most of the weekend.

  • July 9, 2012
I was at the express checkout line at kroger. And I wanted the belt to move up my stuff a little so the people behind me would have some more room. The checkout person had a little bundle of maybe some kind of envelopes sitting there keeping it from going forward, but she tells me, no, that has to stay right there. OK. That did annoy me. and I had my money thing out, and maybe some hundreds did show, and some other person behind her told me no hundreds. OK. I don't know. It all bothered me quite a bit, and I figure I'll just go to some of the white people Krogers now more often instead.

And I thought I might have seen Angela Schneider in there. Probably not, as I'm not very good with faces, anyway, and hers seems a little bit more common than average. But she was about her height, and 6' is unusual enough that I think the chance is greater. Skinny, but seems like her build was a little different, and had weird two tone hair and a tattoo. But those are certainly possible changes for an aging hag. A quick google, and it turns out she has several patents.

Man, so there was an odd experience. On OKCupid, there was someone who they said expressed some kind of interest in me. So I send a message, and she sends stuff back. A yoga teacher. I looked over the questions we had in common, and I had some reservations because she said she didn't know and didn't care about the little number sequence question, and didn't get what I think is the clear answer on a kind of word scramble thing with numbers. And then pretty quickly she gave me a number to call. OK. Honestly, I googled it as hard data, and maybe I could find if it was a home phone or a landline, which makes a difference, because people aren't always so easy to catch on their landlines. Well, it turns out it's fairly public number for her, and she has it on her website. And her website has a little bio. This was on the fourth. Plenty of free tine. So I give it a call at roughly lunchtime. And we're chatting a bit. She talks about the places she's lived, and I think she mentioned the sword from the picture I have, so I talk about Bagua, and some of my martial arts history. She was in Little Rock for something and was going to drive back. And she had to do something for some people there. Maybe get them some ice? And anyway, she was just wanting to touch base. OK. I figured she would call back later when the time was better for her, and she did ask if I would be around. And I think I gave her my name to maybe look up on facebook. I will save my facebook picture is pretty mountainous. Anyway, nothing. And I certainly could have called. But frankly, she seemed a little concerned about her privacy. I didn't mention about ready her bio on her site, though I would have if we spoke again. She has published several books and has a Ph.D. So she might have been nice to talk to. But people's interest varies. And I tried to sound interested, and just from the basic cussedness of human nature, people can be a little turned off by that.

  • July 1, 2012
Happy Kalends of July!

So I had a funny reaction to the book about problem solving. There were a couple of find the next thing in a sequence problems, and I'm not very good at those. There's such a wide space of possible things they can use. And to make a problem, they always find something tricky. So I don't feel confident, and talking about general strategies, he did say you have to be confident. So I looked at the answers pretty quick. And I was, you know, they were just trying to be tricky. And my reaction was that I just don't care what kind of crazy rules they can invent that make sense to them. Frankly, I have never been that interested in whatever wild thing people make up that makes sense to them. There are things that make sense to me, but I have reasons about them. So basically, my reaction was that I don't really care so much, and maybe some of that was from frustration.

So I made another pork roast. I did that last week, and ate pork sandwiches all week which I thought were very good. But last time, I was lazy and didn't do anything with the glaze, and just left it in the original cooking pot. At the end of the week, I scraped most of it out and had it with rice, but there was a little left, and rinsing it out, I pretty much was throwing out great tasting dishwater. That just felt like such a waste, that this time I felt like making a gravy to use it all. And this time, the glaze turned out so beautiful. Deep dark brown. Just this side of burned, but that just makes it very rich. And I felt like deglazing with wine, but I didn't have any, though I did have some sherry, so I used that. It tastes different. It does remind me of other sauces I have eaten from other places, but it's really not what I'm used to, so maybe I don't like it quite so much. Still good, though.

  • June 30, 2012
I'm starting to read Paul Zeitz's _Art and Craft of Problem Solving_. Another math book. But it really seems my kind of thing. Just in the intro, I found out about the difference between exercises, which just help you practice some specific thing you've maybe just learned about, and real problems, where you don't know what's involved. Not all the problems are really mathematical. One was, there are three switch controlling three light bulbs up in a building. Figure out which goes with which if you can only go up to check once, and they start off all off. I think that's it. I knew the answer because I had seen it before. And the one about a monk climbing up a mountain path, and the next day going back down, and you have to show that there is a time of the day where he's in the same place at the same time from the day before.

But there's one, maybe I hadn't seen the answer to, and I thought about it and got it, and it was fun to get it. So, you're at a spot on the world. You travel a mile due south, then a mile due east, and then a mile due north and you're back the place you started. It immediately occured to me that the north pole would work. But then they asked, find all the places where that could happen. Really, there's more? So I had to think about it. And I thought, well, how about near the south pole? Exactly a mile from the south pole won't work, because at the south pole, there is no east to walk a mile. But then I thought, just a little ways away from the south pole, you could walk around it in a mile or less. So, when the latitude is a mile long, you walk a mile east, and go back to the same spot. So all the points a mile north of that latitude will work. Similarly, there's a latitude that's half a mile, so you walk a mile east, and you go around twice and end up at the same spot. And of course, the starting spots a mile morth of that are possible. So all the integral fractions of the thing will work. Then you just have to calculate where exactly those things are. Since there is curvature of the earth stuff, I'm not positive exactly how to calculate it. I was thinking it was just the radius of the circle or (1/2 pi n), but there's some curvature stuff in there, too, although that's close. I'm guessing like a part in ten thousand close, but since I was looking for an exact formula, it wouldn't quite work. And I'd have to plug in the radius of the earth, and there's be like and arctangent in there. I specified it, but didn't work the exact formula.

So Jose, a student who recently started in the Bagua class, just said he got to level 9 out of 10 in the Canadian royal conservatory system of music in piano playing. He said he played piano for 20 years. At level 10 you would be able to teach. It's all classical, though. I've decided I just don't like classical music. Anyway, you had to sight read, and play back stuff you just heard. It does make me think I really did have a lot more I could have learned. I guess I didn't really get so far along.

  • June 23, 2012
I opened up _Strong on Defense_. So, this is a library book a bought on Amazon. I found that it has something called a 'withdrawal slip' sitting inside. It looks to be a little form marking out why it was taken out of circulation. It has marked three of the blanks. One was "misleading (factually inaccurate)", and next to that oit said old. It was also marked "elsewhere" so they had another copy somewhere, and there was an "other" which said, low circs. So it wasn't being checked out a lot. Some of the other options not checked were "Ugly (worn beyond mending)", "Superceded (newer edn avail)", "Trivial", and "Irrelevant (to needs of library)". Anyway, so I'm just starting to read in the forward, and yeah, there's stuff that's not right. It was written in '96, and it was looking at their projections of rising crime rates, and it was going to get pretty bad. But of course, recently crime has been going down. Still, this is supposed to be like the best book on dealing with violence out there. Maybe it's getting a little crusty. The guy, Sanford Strong, was actually involved in doing survival training for police. I don't know how much of it I will read, but some of it should be worth it.

  • June 16, 2012
In a bad mood. And that's just a mood, and it will probably go away pretty naturally. Maybe if I eat something. But I think it's kind of nad because I'm questioning something things I thought I wanted, and maybe I don't so much. The one in particular is why would I want to talk to Wynne? And I thought, well, you don't really need as reason for things, you just want what you want. But you can sometimes see that what you want is silly and pointless, and there is no reason to pursue it. I had already decided it was silly and pretty pointless, but she is nice and I had been thinking it was really fairly reasonable to at least want to see or tallk to her, even if I don't really ever intend to. It is tempered by knowing that I have caused her real trouble. So I could at least want to express that I'm sorry about it, and how maybe some good came of it. But now I really don't see the point of it, and for a while I've known it's has just been a lame kind of excuse I can give myself for still imagining the possibility. Just living in a dreamland. And I guess you just sometimes get tried of living in a dreamland.

And then there's the other thing. I'm thinking of skipping going down to see Melissa. I usually regret it, and my feelings change as they naturally do, and by next week I'll be desparate to see her again. But just right now... She went to Florida this week, or that was the plan from a week ago, I haven't actually heard. And so I've been thinking about it. I've been kind of concerned that she has trouble paying her bills. And she goes on a vacation to Florida? Must be nice. Now, she is going to see her Mom at least some, and her Dad just dies, so it's a rough time. But still, it's a trip to Florida. It makes me feel like maybe she really isn't being all that responsible with her money. That's with the thing she has about keeping a car note. She got a new car when the payments were done with her old one. And then she didn't seel it, she just let her boyfriend use it.

But then there was the other thing about the trip to Florida. Every experience she shares like that with her boyfriend makes them closer and a more solid couple. I guess there never was a chance that there would be anything between her and me, but thinking about this just makes it that much harder for me to entertain myself by imagining the possibility. So seeing her loses some of its value as a source of dreams. It is what it is. She does make me feel loved, and I feel good seeing her. I think. But sometimes...

I got a bunch of books. I have been trying to clear out my amazon wishlist. I just went and got the stuff that was on it a couple of years. Some of it I left so people would have presents they could buy, but I guess people weren't all that comfortable with stuff so old that I hadn't gotten myself. How much would I really like it, anyway? Now I'm sticking more to Kindle stuff for immediate download, and I can buy them when I'm ready to read them. And I can get a sample which might be enough and I can change my mind about finishing. Real paper books, I have to get a copy, and part of the deciding to read them by necessity has to come after they are in my hand, So I don't read everything I get. I feel pretty good about that system now, but I do have a lot of books sitting around. I haven't gotten everything arranged on shelves so I can just browse when I feel like. It would be nice to do that. And part of how I can feel good about it was the thing from Umberto Eco about the library of books you haven't read. I think I've mentioned it somewhere before.

But as for libraries, the last book I got _Strong on Defense_ is just a library book. it's got the clear plastic cover and Dewey Decimal number thing on the back. I'm a little concered that someone just stole ir from a library and sold it. I guess I forget the price for it. Or maybe the library did sell it. That's perfectly reasonable for a library to sell off books. There are so many libraries and library systems out there, that there could well be excess. Plus with the computer systems, it's easier to find stuff between libraries and they can consolidate much more easily. So I guess I shouldn't feel too worried.

One of the books I've had on the list a long time is Paul Maslak, _What the Masters Know_. It's long out of print, and I used to have a copy, but somehow maybe I lost it. I kind of missed it, because he has another book, _Strategy in Unarmed Combat_, and I guess they make kind of a set. Kind of a little book, but I think it's good. The availability fluctuates, I think. A few months ago, when I was broke, I think I saw copies going for maybe five bucks. But now, what I decided to go for it, the cheapest was 20. Now was the time, and I had the money, so I went for it. I guess it's not too bad. One of the other books I got was fifty something.

More than a month since I wrote here last. Pitiful. I guess I've been keeping on Facebook. And I've been busy at work.

I got an email that was intended for andrew.babaian@gmail.com. I'm not sure how that happened. Would someone type in an address? No copy paste? there were file attachments, and it seemed to have something to do with an interview that looks like it must have already happened by the time I noticed it. There was a pretty long email chain, and the dude was recommending switch to his gmail to get the attachment, which was blocked by razorfish where he works. Easy guy to look up. a Sr. Presentation Layer Architect, whatever that is. Oh, I look closer and he just typed the address in at the end, but it also went to his razorfish, account, too, so he probably noticed it.

I'm trying to look back at my Facebook stuff to see if there is anything worth putting here. Not seeing so much. My aunt Hildegard visited from Germany. I finished reading Haidt's _The Righteous Mind_ and had some stuff from that. The Amazon Kindle lets me post quotes directly to Facebook. So that's a score for FB. OK, now I'm seeing stuff worth transferring, so here goes:

June 12--Since 'tetra' is Greek, shouldn't tetrazzini be called quadrazzini?

June 11--Turkey dinner by candlelight because the power is out.

June 10--Spum bad keming.[my comment] You would have to be very geeky to get this one.

June 3--I have decided to clear out my Amazon wishlist. I've got stuff on there that's been on it more than a year, and I guess people believe I don't really want them because they've been on so long. I was kind of leaving them as options for presents. But now that I have money, I've gone and bought them. I guess I deleted maybe a couple. I'm not sure how much I really need more books, but it really wasn't too many. Now I'm really switching over to kindle books, which are more convenient.

June 3--I went to Coopers supermarket to pick up a roast. My mom told me they had bottom round for 2.29 this week and she just made one that turned out very good. I was thinking I would just that and later go toKrogerfor the lactose free milk which the have for about A dollar and a half cheaper. Then I saw they had the 3 pound wrights bacon for ten bucks. So I got that. And I figured,you know what, I'll spend a little more for the milk to save a trip, and for the sake of customer loyalty,and just because the meat prices are so darn much better than Kroger

June 3--I saw maybe a couple dozen bicycles on Park this afternoon in the space of a mile. Not all going the same way. I don't know what is going on today.

June 3--I have to admit that loyalty is very important to me. It's something Haidt talked about as being one of six "flavors" that make up our moral sense. It tends to be more important to conservatives than liberals. And it.varies in people. To put it mildly.

June 3--At Bardog, two different women played with my hair. It has gotten to kind of a curly squirrel-tail, but the seemed to like. Both of them were pretty drunk. One was Angela, who I've known for a long time. The other was a fairly "random" person. That's the word Ian used. She was wearing a hot red dress. I danced a little bit with Angela I guess I'm not very good, but it didn't quite seem like her motor-skills weren't quite up to it either.

June 2--I'm very negative sometimes. I just can't tolerate some BS. I have had to reject the idea of "open-mindedness" because people only use it to mean they want you to believe their harebrained crap. The thing is, reality has so much amazing sutff in it, but people naturally get adjusted and don't appreciate it, so they have to invent some impossible freakish fantasy crap to feel hope or amazement, or whatever. It really is a failure on their part. Not to have what in Zen is called the beginner's mind, to feel wonder at the amazing world that exists now.

June 2--So I'm watching a DVD on Emei Baguazhang from Yang Jwing-Ming. It's like half in Chinese and half in English, alternating. I really only get a few words of the Chinese here and there. But it has struck me, he has this southern Chinese accent. One thing about it is that they say the 'sh' sound as 's'. One thing I didn't know, but is clear from this, they say, or at least he says, the 'zh' as 'z'. Which was strange to me because instead of baguaZHANG he says baguaZANG. I thought I just didn't quite get the zh sound, but no, he was saying it as z. Maybe it's not that big a thing, but I think it's kind of neat that my Chinese is good enough for me to notice.

June 2--I can't really say I'm a humanist. Humans are not my favorite animal. Maybe I'm a chickenist?

June 2--A really big part of intelligence is to be able to make complicated plans about getting things done, and then just being able to remember the plan and follow it. We do it naturally, so it doesn't sound like much, but it's a surprisingly big deal.

June 1--Happy Kalends of June!

May 31--Mom has gone back to the farm. There is squash and eggplant, but the deer ate the tomato and pepper plants.

May 29--No more R-D friendship. May 29--My aunt Hildegard is leaving today to go back to Germany.

May 29--I regret letting Jennifer Marcus get away. I understand how I let it happen, but it was still foolish. She's probably married with two kids. Seems like everyone stops at two these days.

May 28--I hope this kid finds the kind of support she deserves. I doubt it, though. They way they talked about how she knew the words mitosis and metamorphosis reminds me of Richard Feynman talking about his talks with his dad about the difference between knowing something, and knowing the name for something. So it doesn't sound like they are quite there for her.

May 28--I've been torn by this teaching company class on the meaning of life. It presents the example of Gandhi as one of the highest examples of a meaningful life. The best refutation I can come up with is that Gandhi advocates a life without toilet paper. I'm sorry, I just can't go along with that.

May 28--When I say conservatives don't give a rat's ass about equality, the situation is a little deeper than that. They have deluded themselves into believing that equality can just mean some kind of equality of opportunity, or worse yet, that the government will treat people the same way. That is crap. You can only have equality if everyone treats everyone else the same way. I'm sorry, but richer people will not be treated the same way as poorer people, because they will spend more and get better goods and services. Society does its best to convince you that that is the right way for things to work. I have not been persuaded.

May 28--Haidt suggests that threat sensitivity and novelty seeking are the primary dispositions involved in becoming conservative or liberal.

May 27--Belief is not so important.

May 27--I was driving past MUS on the way to Grand Buffet in Germantown. They had a sign saying they are 2012 state fencing champs. I didn't know there was a league. Good for them.

May 27== Adaptive utility of religion.[comment] Haidt is using an extremely controversial idea--group selection. There was a big fight against the idea that evolution worked at the level of groups. It was basically banished from science thirty years ago. EO Wilson has fought since then to bring it back. [comment] Haidt has an example of artificial group selection. If you just breed chickens individually to lay more eggs, they become aggressive, and when you put them together, they kill each other. But if you just breed groups of chickens that lay more, they become peaceful.

May 26--Apparently, Netflix has quite a few German language movies for stream. But I haven't seen a way to find them. I clicked on one that somewhere else said it were German, and had to get it in my Q, start to play it, and look at the language selection to see that it was German. It had several recommendations after that, and guessing at the ones with umlauts in the names of people involved, I added them, and yes, the are in German, too. But I could only find out after they were in my Q and I tried playing them. That is quite poor, and I'm very angry. My aunt is leaving in a couple days and has been here almost three weeks and I'm just finally finding out. Boo, netflix, boo. [my comment] Well, we watched the first one for twenty minutes, and they had enough. The language was rough, and maybe it was too dirty for them. It was not rated. The next one was also not rated, and with the ominous production mark of X films, from which my mom deduced it was x-rated, and then in like the first minute there was male frontal, so we skipped the second. The third, which is rated PG-13 has the also rough-sounding title "the nasty girl". We're giving it a shot. The fourth is something about nazis, and rated R. So I guess we haven't been missing anything [my second comment] Well, some of the problem with the first one was that they weren't following what was happening. I think that was because modern movies don't always use linear storytelling, so the pieces might not come together til the end. Maybe it wasn't so good,, but I picked it because someone said it was the best German movie of that year. So I'm afraid they just aren't so sophisticated watchers.

May 26--Protect faithfulness, Support marriage equality.

May 26--[shared a reddit comment] The term 'gay marriage' is discrimatory. Unless you mean happy, which all marriages should be. May 26--Saw this [a list of places to go to in Memphis] on a friend of a friend's post. Fb kind of limits sharing that far out, so I'm posting it here to save it

May 25--I went to meeting called '12 steps to enlightenment'. It was extremely bad.

May 23--I went to Gus's Fried Chicken and picked up a 16 piece. I had a dollar change, so I put it in the jukebox. Donna Summer 'I Feel Love'. I was out of there before it was over. I guess it was the extended disco mix. I also put in Hotel California. I had a lot of trouble finding anything for one credit. A dollar gives you three and the first one took two.

May 22--Lunch in the park

May 20--Congratulations Mark Z and Priscilla!

May 20--I just took the HSK level 2 Chinese test. Laoshi suggested I skip the level 1 test because it would be too easy. And from what I had seen, that was probably true. But I thought this one was quite hard. Now, they generally made it as easy as possible, with matching questions where you can eliminate possibilities and such. But it was hard because it had a second level vocabulary list which they really stuck to, and it's words that are really just not so common, so I didn't get that good with them. There were two proctors and I really sympathized with them having to sit though all this "See Jane run. Run Jane run." stuff. Native Chinese speakers. They were nice, though. I think it's possible I passed, but not so likely. I really needed to get more familiar with it.

May 19--Kung Fu demonstration today [my comment] Ate a slab of ribs at Corky's afterward. I was ok at the time, but I'm still full. And they want to go to Beale Street now.

May 18--I saw this today. And it made me notice that Vivian said like like that in her valedictory address. And she's going to Dartmouth while the Salutatorian is going to MIT. [my comment]I can say that because I was a valedictorian.

May 18--At my nephew Daniel's graduation from Germantown High School. --[my comment] The valedictorian was Vivian Hu. Her dad is a professor at U of M and has a project I was looking at working on.

May 17--So lonely to be sitting there empty.

May 15--Happy Ides of May!

May 13--[There was a photo I shared but I can't seem to find a link independent of FB, it went with the quote] Janeane is looking cute, all tatted up. And I'm all for people not being mean. "We can no longer tolerate anti-intellectualism. We can no longer tolerate liberal-bashing and we can no longer tolerate the politics of the dumb and the mean." ~ Janeane Garofolo

May 12-Somewhere I have a long list of answers, but I just thought of another one. The glass is completely full, some of it is just air.

May-6 the thing with the chicken--[my comment] It's something from _The Righteous Mind_

May 6-I have not gone to see the Avengers yet [still true]. I probably will eventually. But I'm afraid it may well not be for me. I haven't gone to any movies for a while. I have learned that I am so not visual that all that fancy stuff doesn't do more than annoy me. and my morality no longer supports killing bad guys. I like Joss Whedon's sense of humor. That's now about the only thing making me want to go, but I don't know if it will override the rest.

April 28-This video about bagua walking has got me thinking about it. I'm trying to incorporate the main idea of it into my practice, but it seems a little different from how we've been doing it. The idea seems to be that there is a little bit more pull from the front leg in walking. I don't quite have it, anyway. Paul Cavel, senior instructor of "Lineage Master" Bruce Frantzis. I don't know if that's really a thing.

April 26- A bacon morning. I was sitting eating bacon, reading me email on my new iPad. And I saw a message from Ups. It was next to some kind of spam from ups, but it said think geek also, so I click on it. My stuff had come. Yesterday. I didn't see it sitting there. So I go out, and there's a box for me sitting on the chair Fancy pens and a monolith action figure Now I need to finish my bacon.

  • May 4, 2012
Happy Star Wars Day!

At the office where I am working, they have a little park. It's got a couple of ponds with little bridges, and little area with tables. And they have a little fountain next to it. It has a low brick wall next to it reasonable for sitting. I never see anyone out there, but I go out there sometimes now. I saw a couple of bugs, smallish beetles, floating in the water. It seemed like one was moving, so I scooped it out. He was hanging in there. I got the other one out, but it was already dead. The brick wasn't going to be a good place for it, so I pick him up, with a napkin I had, and put him over in the dirt.

  • April 22, 2012
Happy Earth Day!

I've been using a different editor too much. I'm starting to lose my emacs keystrokes. I guess that's not too bad. I don't even remember the name of the editor. Textpad, maybe? Everything is visual display and menu options. I guess it's laid out well and optimized down through the years. I don't get it when I'm shelled into the servers, which seems so often. I think I use vi on the thing. Such crappy ancient technology, but it does its task and is lightweight.

I've been paid a second time. It's like all the money I really should need for several months. But I have managed to pile up obligations, so I could spend it all right away. For one, my investment account wants me to have $2000 with them or pay and annual fee. I dipped below it. I don't know if they've taken it out yet. They made me mad so I am holding off on it. I'd like to send a grand to the high school, which I've done in the past, and they kept hitting me up earlier in the year. I pledge $200 to U of M before I had gotten paid when they got me on the phone. Sounded like a cute girl. Mom answered the phone and gave it to me. That's why I screen calls and don't answer it. Or I could just be mean and tell them to stop. Not there yet.

I've also got a wishlist of things I want to spend on. I was making it in anticipation of having money, so now having it, it looks different. I could prioritize and just go down the list. I kind of tried to keep it in order, but there is some stuff that's a little bit wild that I don't really need. For one, new speakers. I don't even turn my stereo on any more. I think the speakers are just bad, but I don't know, something could have gone wrong with the thing. Speakers can be very expensive. And earbuds are so much cheaper and easier and portable and everything. I've got glasses on there. That might actually need to be higher up, because it causes some problems, maybe.

I thought I had put a new netbook on there. Separate from a new laptop, which I do have there. I've been really thinking of getting another one, because I've really liked donut, my first one. I don't feel like I need a full powered laptop. All I ever want to do is edit in a pure text editor. No freakin' microsoft word crap. But I've been thinking it was around $200. It's a little over $300. You can get a pretty nice serios laptop for that, so now it doesn't seem like such a good thing. It has such great battery life. I'm torn. But I already have one. I also need to fix tudor. That's probably going to run $200, and if I get that back, I may well not need another netbook. Tudor can go back as my bedroom computer, which stays plugged in. So I'll hold off on the netbook. But two or three hundred was low enough for impulse buy, and I was almost going to go and get one at best buy this weekend. The computer repair shops are all closed on Sunday, drat.

But an iPad. It's on the list. It might shuffle around my computer needs so I don't need some of the others. In particular, Instead of $300 on a netbook, I'm now thinking spend a little more, get an ipad, and skip the netbook. They really aren't the same thing though, and the ipad might not be good enough. I may or may not be able to write with it. I know Aimee has a keyboard, but I think she writes with it's little notes editor, not a real editor, and i don't know if you can play with files or anything. I'm seriously afraid the ipad will be a bust, but it's something. Apparently, at work they were talking about an ipad app they have, but they don't have a department ipad, which is pitiful.

So it was again different. There was a cute little girl. Freckles. So I saw her standing around before. And I was sitting in the corner, and there was a seat next to me empty. And she came over and sat next to me and started talking. The music was really too loud. And we couldn't really hear, but she was trying to chat for a bit. I guess we didn't really connect, because she went off again after five or ten minutes. Maybe she just needed to sit down. I was like that several times. And it was so brave of her. But nothing worked out between us. I kind of felt like she was disappointed. Oh well. That's life. I think she said life was good. And she asked what I did and said I was a computer person. I think I said I was here because of Melissa, and in retrospect, that probably sounded pretty bad. Maybe we lost out.

I've gotten onto a Memphis spiritualism meetup. There is a meeting today for some kind of study of "The Law of One". This kind of has some of the trappings of a kind of serious spiritual tradition which I have been interested in, called advaita. But I looked at the wiki. I don't even want to link to it. I hope I never have to see it again, and I hope no one else ever has to either. It is basically the worst new age crap there is. I think they had the person on "what the bleep do we know". That show was bad. But there was this outstandingly bad bit on it where they had this channeler. I think it's the same channeler that does the "Law of One" puke. Garbage is not strong enough. Add some vomit and diapers to a garbage bag, that's about how bad it is. And the thing is, it uses some of the hard to understand words and concepts from a serious spiritual tradition like advaita. So maybe advaita is not so serious. No, I can't go that way. It's not quite like saying maybe there's trouble with quantum mechanics. I've already started discounting advaita as not such a big deal, anyway. But it's not as bad as this crap.

The meeting is at the republic coffee, which is next to One Yoga. They had a big open house celebration thing where they had lots of free sort of classes or whatever they do. They had some kind of qigong and laughter yoga. I'm not sure if the "The Law of One" stuff isn't some kind of laugher yoga. Honestly, the classes didn't really move me to going out. Sounded a little too new age out there. But there's this lady Heather that maybe manages at the place that I've been wanting to go talk to. I think they have a meditation thing on Monday or something that I might go to.

They have some kind of ongoing class, "12 Steps to enlightment" They're going through some kind of workbook. And something about the task of achieving enlightenment. Again, I don't know if it's some kind of laughter yoga. Riding the ox in search of the ox.

OK, so I went out and got an iPad. They had the configuration I wanted in stock, so it was easy. It was much too expensive, and it doesn't do everything maybe I'd like to do. It's its own thing. I haven't set up all my email accounts, but I can do facebook, google (including gmail) and reddit, and those are the main things I do. I don't have a set up to do my blogging yet. One thing I can do is through email. And I probably need a real keyboard anyway for that. I'm surprised though that the screen keyboard is not too bad, but it isn't as good as the netbook keyboard. And no scripting, so I can't do any of that project euler stuff. But apparently you can get an ssh and do vi or something remotely. then I could actually do real programming. but I'll have to find out about that some other time. One thing it might be good for is watching netflix. We'll see about that.

I put in a medium size think geek order. Just over $75. You get free shipping with $75. So actually, I was at $73, and with shipping, it came to $82. So I added a $3 something and the total was $76. That's a pretty silly trick. And the $82 was with cheaper economy shipping. Silliness. All I got was different geek pens. A couple with laser pointer and lights. One was a butterfly knife style pen. One was a vernier caliper pen. That seemed really fancy. German. I think it's meant as a caliper, but it also writes. Also has a tire depth gauge. But I think it would make a cool pen.

  • April 7, 2012
Too much slacking off. I'll write in Facebook before coming here now. It's like a community there, so people will see it and maybe say something, but just like talking in a community, anything you say is quickly swallowed up and forgotten, and probably never meant anything to anyone listening, anyway.

I finally got paid. It's been two and a half weeks working, but generally three years since I had any money coming in, with expectation that there would be more, so I could spend it without worry. So it goes fast. I blew through $360 pretty much immediately. There was a prescription I hadn't filled in a month that was $130. I gave my mom $100 for food, which she had been kind of counting on. $30 in gas. The day before, I had bought $5, using my very last $3 in bills and pulled $2 in quarters, so i could maybe make it to Monday without borrowing money. And then i got paid Friday instead of Monday, yay! I was putting off paying for kung fu, so I was already late, but I had money, so i could pay her $100 for the month. So $360 immediately.

I took out $700 in cash from the bank. I had check earlier in the day and the money was already showing up. But I got to the bank, and their computers were down. Grr! She actually wasn't able to check it. So I was thinking I was going to be out of luck. But then, she said she trusted me because I was in there all the time. Luck! I guess they would have had no way of knowing that my money had run out but I just got paid on a new just. All that shows up for them is money transfers, and they had generally been pretty steady. This time, the first thing I actually did, before I got out of the office so before I got to the bank, and early enough to make the 3:00 oclock cutoff to get it in that day, I ordered my investment account to grab $1000 out of that account. And I checked later and it showed up that day. I guess it was only "pending" because for a bit, it looked like the money was in both places. So an extra $1000 to my total net worth, if you like bad accounting. Anyway, so first Tennessee trusted me. I guess I could have in that instance been writing a bad check somehow. I think one time a long time ago there was some kind of trouble or transitional something and the money wasn't really there when it looked like it was. Whatever. It looks like it was OK.

So I had made a list and I have a bunch of things to spend on. I'll burn through the rest pretty quick. Hopefully it will be easier to hang on to. I was thinking of maybe going to the doctor today. A person who recently started bagua has a clinic that is open Saturdays. He said he works every other Saturday, so I guess I need to call. I've got a couple of bills I need to send in. I have to pay for my web site this year. That was kind of a lucky coincidence. I checked my bank account and the money was in. But there was also a $20 charge taken out for the website that very day. They were lucky there was money. Actually, they might well have tried the day before but there was no money. I really hate automatic deductions. I think I only have netflix now, but I think this was left on there. Something annual. I think I have some kind of antivirus that may try to get me annually. I would really like to keep my account empty so those guys can't get me. Banks really try to pay even when you don't have the money and then charge crazy fees to do that. No. Please don't pay if there's no money. I actually talked to a person about it, and he said, don't you want it to go through. And I was thinking, maybe it's me and I need money one time. So I wavered. But no, I don't want that. They recently changed the law where they had to let you opt out. I'm glad I was able to. Maybe I should look at finally getting some credit again. I probably would never be able to rent anything. That's not so good.

So I had this dream. There was a guy. And maybe he was laughing at me or something. But I had all my kung fu stuff. Somehow I was very angry, so I just beat the hell out of him with my staff. And a little later, he snuck away with my staff and was kind of ripping it up. But I told him, he's not going to like the second choice I'm going to have about things to beat him up with. Because I still had a couple of metal practice swords, and my very evil looking deer horn knives.

I don't know why I was feeling so angry. Maybe I'm just excited to have money again, especially after being seriously flat broke. I mean spending my last dollar flat broke. I don't know if I've ever gotten that bad. That was aa thing about having credit. I don't think I ever really could run out. You could go over your theoretical limit, no problem, they would just charge you a fee. The fee was really excessive, but it was there as an option if you could stomach it. And eventually, of course, I couldn't stomach it, but that's the breaks.

What I really want to do is give Melissa money again. I wrote her a note that I got paid and I would come by, probably Sunday, but then she wrote that she's off Sunday. So I'll have to go Saturday, tonight. That's actually better for me, but on Saturday she splits tips. It's not clear if she feels she has to split mine. So we'll see. And I want to give her extra this time since she has been so patient. But money's going fast.

  • March 25, 2012
I ran into one person who knew me from Hilton. She's working doing technical writing. I said I had gotten an outline, but didn't think I could finish it. She said her first book took five years, and maybe her second was about that long. But it's good to try to do a book. So we talked a bit about writing. It can be tough trying to live as a writer. But she doesn't need so much.

Somewhere on reddit I heard about textbroker. Actually it was in the context of someone not knowing how to make money writing, and cursing about textbroker. You can get 0.7 cents a word for writing there. Which is pitiful. But it was getting where maybe that was sounding like it would be nice to have. Dirt should be that cheap, though. You can get a little more for higher rated stuff.

  • March 24, 2012
It looks like my computer spirit has just about died. It now freezes up every few seconds. And it looks like it is not anything in software because it froze up in the middle of the bios launch, before it ever hit the disk. It will go away and then come back maybe half a minute later, but I guess it has made it useless. When it goes away, it loses the wifi driver, so it won't stay connected to the internet. It's a dell inspiron 6000 laptop which I got 6 years ago. The hard disk already had gone, and I put ubuntu on it instead of windows. It's been a good computer, but I guess I finally have to let it go. I have another laptop, tudor, which needs a new screen before I can use it, and I will probably get it fixed. I've replaced the drive on it already, and I think the software is all glitchy. Seems like I haven't been able to write DVDs out with it. So maybe I should just get a new laptop. My desktop also seems to be broken. Things fall apart. I do have a netbook maybe a year or two old that is doing well.

Yay! So I started a new job at NSA which makes juice plus. I've been there three days. It's 8 to 5, which is a little rough for me, and I'm still needing to get into it. It's contract for hire, so I don't yet have all the fancy benefits they offer. They've got a gym there, and maybe a doctor on site, though I haven't seen that.

Man, it looks like it's been a long time since I blogged anything. I think I'm more and more just putting everything on Facebook, which is not so good, I guess, but family and friends see it more, and I get feedback and things. So not the same, though.

I interviewed at several places. I think the last I talked about was Guardsmark. I also interviewed at First Tennessee. I think they were both .net things though, which wasn't quite my thing. I talked to Tim Lowrimore at coroutine.com. It was nice to talk to someone more serious about programming. Bill had seen him at a birthday party. They have daughters going to the Montessory school. And somehow they mentioned clojure. Tim was more of a Haskell person. They are looking, and they have five people, but didn't quite seem like my thing.

So I watched a video from the guy who wrote clojure, Rich Hickey That has really given me a lot of insight into what the point of it is about, and maybe I have a better idea of how to do things. He uses an idea of "complecting" or mixing things together. State is bad like that, mixing value with time. Here's what I said on FB:
I am watching this video about the value of simplicity over ease, and the difference between the two things. It was suggested last night by Joel Neely who talked at the Java Users Group meeting. I missed most of his talk about functional programming, but I did catch some of the beginning where he was pointing the direction he was going. After it, he did suggest this video. Rich Hickey wrote Clojure, which I've been looking into lately.
[and a comment:]
The closing quote was "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."--Leonardo da Vinci.

I might as well copy over most everything I put on Facebook:

[today, 3-24] It looks like my computer spirit has just about died. It now freezes up every few seconds. And it looks like it is not anything in software because it froze up in the middle of the bios launch, before it ever hit the disk. It will go away and then come back maybe half a minute later, but I guess it has made it useless. When it goes away, it loses the wifi driver, so it won't stay connected to the internet. It's a dell inspiron 6000 laptop which I got 6 years ago. The hard disk already had gone, and I put ubuntu on it instead of windows. It's been a good computer, but I guess I finally have to let it go. I have another laptop, tudor, which needs a new screen before I can use it, and I will probably get it fixed. I've replaced the drive on it already, and I think the software is all glitchy. Seems like I haven't been able to write DVDs out with it. So maybe I should just get a new laptop. My desktop also seems to be broken. Things fall apart. I do have a netbook maybe a year or two old that is doing well.

[on 3-22] Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

First day of work went OK.[this was wednesday 3-21]

I'm starting my new job tomorrow. Or maybe I should say my new happy-fun-playtime.
[six people "liked" it like they do on Facebook, so I commented at the end of the first day:] Well, thanks everyone! So it's not so clear if you like that I'm starting, or the possible optimism I might have expressed. So let me clarify. I do think a job can be fun. The boss Evan talked about it being kind of a fun place. And I've been doing a bunch of little programming exercises (project Euler) that have reinforced how much I like programming, and now I'm not sure why I stayed out of it so long. Maybe just because I'm not so good talking to people I don't know. I mean really not good. And that's what it takes to get a new job. I only just started, and I haven't gotten to the fun part yet, because not everything is fully set up for me. And everyone is still a stranger. But they do seem nice. Most of the developers immediately gathered and introduced themselves, but we haven't talked much yet. So I'm not quite there, but I do think I will get there.
[and] Another thing, I think I hit them at a particularly stressful spot and they seem a small touch under the gun with too much to do. They work in a system with very rigid schedules, and it's have it done or else on Friday, and the bosses who are committed are a little bit more stressed, though the indians are kind of, what can you do? I meant indians here as not chiefs, but actually turns out they are actually mostly asian indian. it was they that were most friendly at first, and I think they must have formed a tight little group, and maybe the bosses are slightly outside the group. One of the outgoing management types said they were all kind of shy and don't talk much, but there might be something else going on. Anyway, office politics. That always happens. Also, they hired me on, so obviously they felt they needed some help with the work.

I've gotten my 100th project Euler problem done! From project Euler:
Congratulations, the answer you gave to problem 93 is correct.
You are the 3520th person to have solved this problem.
Nice work, ababian, you've just advanced to Level 4. 4744 members (2.2%) have made it this far.

I wrote a Sudoku solver for Euler problem 96. I basically copied Norvig's program in clojure. I did a little bit my own way, and that ended up making it a little harder, I guess. It's pretty fast, as he kind of optimized it. It uses a couple of the simplest obvious strategies, but otherwise does guess and test. It's a little bit smart about the guess and test by picking a square with the least number of possibilities to try. Some other programs don't do that.

For Euler problem 83 I implemented Dijkstra's algorithm. There have been several similar dynamic programming problems (I think 3 using the same data set but slightly different goals), and I have been using something I worked out on my own, but not quite the same. When I did this one, though, I noticed that this was the algorithm Norvig was explaining when he was talking about graph search. I did not use A* because this problem did not have any obvious heuristic function, and it really didn't need any help.

[on 3-17] I am not Irish. I really don't care for the Irish. I don't particularly like the color green, either.

I just finished my book of 242 really hard Sudoku puzzles. This book is level 3. I guess I need to get level 4, the hardest one.

Maybe we will give up on "astronomical winter" that ends towards the end of March. Why not say winter is from the beginning of December to the end of February? I think people were just having spring break, and it's still officially winter. It sounds like a disconnect.

[the comment with the video by rich Hickey was here in order]

I drank so much water, I was starting to get sick. [this was for the drug test. I had gas from drinking milk, so I just couldn't pee easily]

[on 3-15] Happy Ides of March!

NSA (who make Juice+) through Protech has offered me a contract-to-hire position.

[Liz posted about some incident in germany where a cameraman stepped on and killed some special rabbit, and Liz's comment was "fückïng gërmäns!" so i felt I needed to reply:] Andi Babian Rabbits aren't so innocent: bunny rape video

How many k's are in Republican?

Santowho won Mississippi and Alabama. Isn't that special?

[on 3.14]Happy Pi Day!

My weight was at 197# today. That's the lowest in a long time.

So I'm watching a CNBC documentary on Google. Apparently Netflix has recently gotten a license to a bunch of docs from CNBC and they've been showing up on the little lists they have. But they said something that has given me pause. They suggested that you could use Google to find a date. Huh? I guess it never occurred to me, and I really don't know what would be involved with that. I don't know if they plan to explain it or they just through that out there. But I am intrigued.
[comment]Darn, no they didn't explain it.

Now I have an interview at 4:00. Kind of sudden, but why not? [this was for nsa]

Who discovered DNA? So I'm watching _Monk_ and the little girl is interviewing the police chief about DNA analysis. She asks "who discovered DNA?" And he says Watson and Crick. Well, no Watson and Crick did not discover DNA, though they did find that it had a double helical structure, and how that enables it to be replicated. It's two matching halves, which you can split apart and then just fill in the missing matches. People knew about DNA, and that's why they were able to study it, though they didn't know how it worked. So who actually discovered it? I had to look it up. It was Fred Miescher in 1869.

I've being feeling like fried chicken for a few days. I finally broke down and made some myself. Maybe I'm just getting too cheap to spend the money.

There are 18 million or 7 million, depending on how you want to count them, empty houses in America, and 800,000 homeless people. So there is plenty of space for people if we really cared. I guess that tells us something.

I went to the ServiceMaster IT job fair. I didn't see anything on their website for developers, but I decided to go down there anyway. I didn't even bring a resume, and they didn't really seem to appreciate that. They had tables for different things like telicom and network. Yeah, I guess those are IT. And there was a long line for the table for project managers. I would think that if they needed project managers, they would need developers, but not necessarily. Anyway, that line was really too long for me to give it a shot. There was a pretty short line for IT architect. I'm not sure what they mean by that, but I guess it's different from what I think it means. Anyway, I asked the guy if he needed developers and said no. On the site, I did see like 5 positions for middleware administrator, which is to administer iis, weblogic, and jboss. I did have to administer jboss, and I've installed iis at least, but it's another thing I guess I wonder really want to do as a fulltime job, and I probably couldn't convince anyone to let me, anyway. I heard him talking to the guy in front of me saying they didn't see so many people in middleware. I bet. I wished him luck.

This article suggests that it's more natural to sleep at night in two chunks with a break in the middle. It used to be common practice, but some people managed to switch it over and try to get people to sleep all the way through. The middle part was called the watch.

I'm thinking I don't want to go to MidSouthCon this year. I tried to get a table and couldn't. I had the idea of doing a talk on AI, but I was way too late for that. So maybe I feel a little rejected, but really I don't think I'm into it this time.

So, I've had a little thing I've talked about several times now in the past few days since I've been meeting people. Tablets have been around for more than 10 years before the iPad. Everybody that has tried making them has said they really are what everyone is going to want, but the market had been completely dead. No one wanted them. I don't think you could give them away. Apple, since they had gotten such a large body of phone apps that could immediately work on the tablets, made tablets something that people actually wanted. They opened up a market that people knew about and have been working on for a long. If I wore a hat, I'd have to take it off. It really has been an amazing accomplishment to me, having watched the whole thing for a long time. So the iPad is something that people want. But I guess, the other competitors still really don't quite have it. I don't know,

I like my Kindle. I don't have an iPad yet. I look at it on first launch and it just wasn't something I could use. I have to have a keyboard. The screen isn't all that important. Writing is the most important thing I use a computer for, and that's just not what the iPad is shooting for. On my previous smartphone, I used a bluetooth keyboard with it to write stuff. My iphone didn't support that, so I kind of moved to using a netbook, though it's not so portable, so I just ended up not just sitting and writing places like I would have liked. I have a friend who has gotten set up with a keyboard and an iPad, and maybe I will move to that, though now with my netbooks solution, I'm not sure if I'd need to. I don't think I could get emacs on ipad.

Actually, Gandhi was a primitivist. That's starting to make a lot more sense to me now.

One thing about these job interviews, I'm going to feel a lot better about selling my stuff off for money. And Perl doesn't seem so bad any more.

Who knows how the First Tennessee interview went. I guess that's not a good sign. I had to admit I hadn't done any .Net, which had to be bad. I had some concerns about them, too. So probably not, but I guess it was nice talking to them.

It's OK to Be Takei!

  • March 6, 2012
Happy Super Tuesday!

Well, I'm hearing people talk about jobs, and I had an interview yesterday and will have one later today. I didn't get the one yesterday-- they found something they couldn't work with, and that was kind of discouraging. It was something maybe other people are going to have problems with, too, so I couldn't just isolate it the way you do when being optimistic. But they found something that has really bugged me. One guy asked a pretty simple interview type of question, "What would other people say is the worst thing about working with you?" I guess I don't like thinking about negatives, so I was having some trouble coming up with something, and I was working pretty independently at Hilton, so I didn't think there would be much. But it made think of one of the worst things I remember. At FedEx, when they were trying to get me to be technical lead, there was some scheduling types of stuff I was just not getting through. One of the developers came up to me and just wanted some help with something. I had to just tell her, no, I didn't have time. And I felt I had kind of been rude about it, and she kind of seemed surprised. I just felt terrible about it. I mean, really bad. I think it must have contributed to my thinking it must be time to get oout of there, because I left shortly after that. There was other stuff going on. I was 24-hour on call for 3 weeks, and there were late night calls and things. And I remember there was a developer in a nearby group who didn't work out-- something about not quite being able to do the stuff, and I had myself tried to help him with some stuff. They had to let him go, but something about it made me feel bad about how they had treated him, or not dealt with it. She was Chinese, and her English wasn't maybe all that good. I don't remember what it was, and usually I was always available. I kind of helped all the people working on the gui. She was one of the few people that also had to work with the middleware, which got kind of tricky. I don't know. So the question brought that up, and it's been bothering me for a day now. I don't think it even really answered his question, but it managed to discombobulate me.

Sam Harris's book on Free Will is out today. The Kindle price of four dollars is so reasonable that I already got it, though I'm almost out of money. I just noticed I forgot to pay for kung fu on Friday, so I need to get that today. Anyway, already on the second page, I see something. He's talking about how without freewill, punishment would be silly. As opposed to deterrence, rehabilitation or containment. I'm pertty sure I think don't think punishment is ever really a good approach to anything. Deterrence, maybe, but punishment? Is that not just about dealing with the feelings of the victims? It seems out of place with compassion, though apparently compassion in the Buddhist sense is not a feeling but some kind of action. I forget, it was something in that class on the meaning of life, and I need to listen to it again, I guess. I guess it fits with some people's sense of fairness. If you do something bad, it's right that something bad should happen to you. Maybe people have always felt that way, as opposed to how it seems to me recent that killing bad guys has become a good thing instead of a bad, though maybe necessary, thing. To me, it seems like it makes more sense to try to have a view that good things should happen to everyone, not that sometimes you want bad things to happen to some people. That just seems like a dark road to go down.

The guys were interesting to talk to. One was at FedEx just before me and had maybe heard of Compass, which was the project I was on. Another had been at Christian brothers just before me and U of M just before. One guy was a big technical person, and we talked about online education, and he asked me about arduino, which I've been meaning to get into. I've been asking people about the AI class, and nobody seems to have heard about it, yet. Oh well.

  • February 20, 2012
Yesterday was not so good. I guess I would say discouraging. I have a recruiter that's friends on Facebook, Diane. A few days ago, I sent a message to her about jobs I'm hearing about at Servicemaster. I heard it on the news, and Melissa sent me a text because her brother had said something. He worked for them or maybe does now, I don't know. She said they sent some people but they aren't interviewing yet. And I said I could use something, and she said they don't have anything, but I could tried elance and craigslist. I could also check their website.

I checked elance. That was grim. With people competing internationally for jobs, the money is extremely low. There are the guys in India who will work for $10 an hour. I think I saw one for $6. There are some little jobs that will pay under $500. I saw one that seemed interesting. Helping someone build an old program that had dependency issue. He claims it should take less than three days, more like one. And yet he didn't do it himself. So clearly there are problems that he wasn't able to handle, so it's probably a much tougher job. There were maybe a dozen bids, from $350 to $900. I'm sure there's stuff to it that I don't know about, and maybe I couldn't even do it. It at a minimum requires writing a build.xml for eclipse plus working out kinks. Maybe it gave me a little hope that there is some stuff if I get so desperate because I'm completely out of money, and I'm getting there. But the money is quite small. I think other more reasonable job were like $60. Craigslist really didn't seem to have anything.

And then I checked the site for the consulting company she was at. They used to have more, but they had one job that seemed right for me. But they didn't call me about it. It's been there for maybe three weeks. What seems bad is that they didn't call me. There must be some kind of problem they have with me then that they haven't said anything about. I suspect they don't have enough confidence in me for that. So that's discouraging.

On the other hand, the Euler project problems are coming along well. I just got to level 3 (out of 13) which you get for finishing 75 problems (out of about 370 so far). Only 4% made it that far, aboout 8300 people, according to them. They've gotten pretty hard.

One problem about continuing fractions, I had to go to Knuth volume 2 and implement the algorithm there. They had a sample on how to do it, but one of the steps, they just didn't explain, and it there didn't seem to be any reason why they did it how they did. I found that Knuth had the answer from a website that calculated them, and had it as a reference. One thing about going to Knuth, the answer was in one of the exercises. When I was a teenager, I thought I had gone through Knuth, though maybe I did skim a little in bits. I certainly didn't go through all the exercises. Now I see that a lot of the bits to learn were in the exercises. Oh well. I probably didn't go through it very well, anyway. I didn't retain that much, anyway. It's kind of like an encyclopedia.

Another problem, I thought was really hard. I was about solving a Diophantine equation. Those are ones where the solutions have to be integers, and this one was quadratic in two variables. That is, it has and x squared and a y squared. For several hours, I was trying to solve it by brute force. Just trying all the possibilities. I had no idea that the answers could get so big that that couldn't work. And when doing research, I forgot about a minus sign, so at first I didn't notice that it was a special kind of thing called Pell's equation, which has lots of special math with it. I did eventually go back and notice that. After that it was fairly easy, because there are special things you can do. Specifically, I implemented the the Chakravala method. It's fancy, and there were stumbles doing it. But once it was going, it blew through the problem.

The big thing for me, I think, was just implementing something one the web I hadn't seen before. One of my goals in the time I was taking off was to get better at just learning things on my own. I've been a little bad about relying on classes to organize how I learn things, so I am just not so good at learning on my own. Maybe not completely useless, but really not as good as I should be. Plenty of people can learn stuff on their own, and while I play at it, I've never been as good as I'd like. One of the big things when you do that, is that you don't really know what's important like a person actually in the field, so maybe you will pick up stuff, but it will be scattered and incomplete. O really suspect that it's actually true for all autodidacts, that they don't know as much as they think, but some of that may just be personal snobbery. Anyway, with this stuff, I think I'm finally really learning stuff. I'm really learning Clojure, they way reading books has not been doing for me. I'm finally learning how to use emacs properly, though I haven't focused on it as much as I should. One of the suggestions in _Software Craftsmanship_ was to master some editor. Seems to be helpful, and I think emacs is the one for me.

And I'm learning about different kinds of math that I didn't know was out there. There was one problem out there, I didn't know what it was called, so I didn't find out a proper way to do it. I managed to force out an answer with brute force method, sloppily. Then I could look at the discussion for the problem, which is only available after you get it. It turns out that the problem is called a maximal clique problem, and there really isn't any simple way to handle it, after all. That's at least the impression I got. They have a policy about there always being something that can be done in under a minute, but maybe not always, I guess.

So I'm trying to learn how to learn on my own. Universities cost money, and you don't always get exactly what you want, anyway. I have really learned enough that I should be able to learn whatever I need to on my own. But I think that's really a skill in itself that you have to practice, and I really haven't been practicing it properly. Suddenly there are a lot of other learning materials out there. MIT has all its courses online, and Stanford has really gotten into it lately. So now is really becoming a great time to learn online. That still doesn't really count for much with employers, though, I'm afraid.

Servicemaster has a job fair on March 10.

I've also been practicing my writing. I don't know if anything will come to it, but it has been something I've been doing. Learning on my own has actually been a part of that, because it does give me things to write about. The writing may also actually only be incidental to that studying.

I've also gotten just past puzlle 200 of 240 in my tough Sudoku book. I'm getting better, but not perfect. My ability to focus and hold things in mind seems to vary quite a bit. A lot of it depends on what distractions are going on, and what kind of sleep I've had.

I've gotten up early again. So mom is making pancakes. Last time that happened, the next day I forgot to get up early. When she makes pancakes, they have to be for two days. They are yeast risen. So it was kind of wasted.

  • February 20, 2012
Happy President's Day! Happy Fat Monday!

Where does the time go? For the past few days, I've been doing Project Euler problems. It's a website for little mwth programming puzzles. I went to a Java Users' Group meeting on Thursday, and they were having a Programming Dojo. It's a meeting where you do quick programming exercises to learn and share. The first problem they did was the first Euler problem. I'm using Clojure so all the programs are pretty short, often maybe 3 lines. I found a site about Clojure one-line programs. I think the project Euler stuff is fun because it has a lot of math stuff, more than just programming.

So I had to cut back what I gave Melissa. From what has been normal for me, a C, to a mere 20. My thinking has been that something is better than nothing, but I know that emotionally, a loss like that really seems very bad. There an experiment I'm thinking of. There's a chunk of money, say $10. One person can offer you a split of it, and if you don't accept it, neither gets anything. And the cutoff is supposed to be something like 3. If he only offers you 3 and will keep 7, people don't take it. It's supposed to show how people are not rational, because even if he only offered you 1 and took 9, you personally would still be better off with 1 than nothing, but people want take it because they feel ripped off, and it isn't worth it. I'm afraid I went below the emotional cutoff, and she can only feel bad about it, but rationally in my mind, I know it's better than nothing. It's a little more complicated with other feelings. She does extra work, and maybe it feels too cheap. Randy was in there, and he was talking with some girl that works with him or something, and he asked them, is it work 400 more dollars to show your boobs? Melissa's answer was no. OK. Sometime I need to ask her what it is worth to her. I've off and on been wondering about ways to give her a bunch of money for something she would be comfortable with. Anyway, thinking about it before, at least, I knew it would be bad, and thinking about it know, I understand that it is bad. But I also actually did it, and I could see her reaction. It was only brief, of course. She had suggested something like that, though I'm not sure she was ready for it to be so drastic a drop. So she said, good, you do what you gotta do. But that in itself shows how bad it really was for her. I don't know. She covered my dinner again, and I didn't let her know what was coming. I figure she could still managed one. At Starbucks, I've had to cut back on their tips, and last time I stiffed them. For a while they've even given me free ones because I would tip more than the value. But the guy that does that didn't do it this time. So it has sunk in. Anyway, so Melissa wasn't so happy, and I wasn't very happy, so it kind of fed back in a negative way. So there's that.

  • February 6, 2012
In one of the what is love discussions on reddit, I thought of what seems to me to be a pretty big question. In greek, they use several different words for different kind of love. And it seems to me very clear that there are several very clearly distinct phenomenon that are mixed together in different things we call love. The deep question I thought of, is why English uses only one word 'love' for all these things. Actually, English isn't alone. It looks like in Chinese, the word love isn't necessarily so precise either, but I'm not fluent enough to tell. Also, it seems like we all kind of inherit from Latin, which just has "amare". OK, so it's not an English thing. But why blur it all together? One thought I had about it is something on the lines of what Steven Pinker talked about as indirect speech. Would you like to come up and see my etchings? Well, by making the word love so flexible, we can use it in different ways, and people can read different things into it. You can say "I love you" and still want to just be friends. Throw that sex stuff in there, and it can just be confusing.

Melissa is being kind of pitiful. She's committed to doing too much, with school and she is working 5 nights a week. So she doesn't have time to sleep. Part of love is wanting to help, so by being in so much trouble, she has managed to increase that part of my feelings, so I kind of feel like I love her more. A bit weird. I think Reecie talked about some kind of emotional vampires, which such the life out of you, maybe by being needy, I forget. Damsel in distress. I don't think Melissa is really quite doing that, but I can see how it might be something to fall into-- get into trouble, and that is rewarded by people at least showing a greater desire to help--kind of a bit of love I'd call it. A trap, perhaps. Really, the best thing I could do would be to get a job, and I could help her with money. Actually, I need to do that, anyway.

So in the meaning of life class, he talks about Gandhi. He had a lot of stuff going, and is put up as an example of a great person, and his ideas of what make a meaningful are sort of put out as a great ideal. His methods of nonviolent resistance did get England out. I guess. We credit them, but I'm not sure that it wasn't inevitable, is was just nice to do it with such a kindly method. We like to have clear and simple causes and give a lot of credit to things. It might have just been time for Indian independence. Gandhi was a primitivist. He really rejected capitalism, and wanted local production and really not so much of it. His possessions were a couple of homespun loincloths, and his glasses. He really was pretty ascetic. And he kept to chastity mostly. I don't know why anyone thinks that's a good thing, but there it is. So the primitivism is about how the whole system with super rich and poor is really bad for the poor. I guess. And all the work is dehumanizing. Maybe. Pretty much no one goes for the primitivism, though. And I really don't think I could see it. Also, the nonviolent resistance stuff did get people killed. He was lucky. He was following the Jain idea of ahimsa, or no harm, but since people were harmed, I'm not sure it really worked out. I guess it's better than violence. But with the split off of Pakistan and all the violence from that, Gandhi himself thought he had failed, in part. I'm not sure I should argue.

He also talked about the Dalai Lama. His Holiness. I didn't realize that the government in exile changed from a dictatorship to a parliament. That really impressed me, as it took me a while to be unhappy with the dictatorship, so I couldn't really support its return. And then I find that they didn't want the dictatorship to return, anyway. And that was about knowing Chinese people. They have had it ingrained how bad the Dalai Lama and his system was. So all you get from Chinese people is a kind of visceral loathing of him. It's really quite something. They get them as little kids, and it sure sticks. If you throw in the slightest sympathy for primitivism, like Gandhi talked about, you might see that the dictatorship wasn't all that bad, but anyway, the Dalai Lama has moved on. He loves the science. Should I call him Tenzin Gayotso? Maybe if I knew how to spell it right.

  • February 4, 2012
I've been listening to this Teaching Company class on the meaning of life. I've been having little problems with it. He talked about honor culture in Indian in the Gita, and I hate honor culture. He said Aristotle talked about "anima", but that's Latin. His Chinese pronunciation isn't quite right. And then he went with "the sound of one hand clapping". Ouch. That's one that always bothers me. So the stuff isn't sinking in so much, or I've been kind of shutting it out because of these little negative reactions I've been having.

I've gotten to a sort of summary and synthesis of all the classical stuff he's been talking about. One thing he said was how there is almost always an emphasis on being spontaneous. And maybe I can see that. But in the Kahneman, basically there was a big warning that the intuitive mind, which they are advocating relying on, makes many fundamental and unavoidable mistakes. So it may really not be good to rely on it. Also, being intuitive is easier and thinking deliberately takes work and is hard. I'm afraid that whatever reasons they give are more rationalizations about doing things the easy way, and they neglect the importance of deliberations to fix problems there are in intuitive thinking. Some of the things do also seem to show some awareness of the difference between experiencing happiness and remembering happiness.

One interesting idea I saw in there. Kind of from the Buddhists. What is real is not permanent. Somehow we've gotten the idea of real things being the lasting permanent things. I guess, sort of a holdover from Plato. We have a notion of a chair, say, persisting in time, but that's just an illusory idea we put onto the world, and that's not really real.

  • February 2, 2012
Happy Groundhog Day!

I think about what it would take for a computer to understand a single word. I lay aside the idea that understanding is the conscious feelings and epistemic feelings we have when we understand something. Maybe I shouldn't--I'll come back to that. But is there a simple thing to understanding a word? Would it not have to be a part of a system of playing language games with people, and not just language games, but being able to obey instructions--like sitting and eating at the right time. Keeping quiet, all the things you have to tell a child to do. And having desires and things that you normally want to do and need to talk about to get them done. So much of language is interacting with your mom at first. And while you can't understand a word in isolation especially much, it seems like maybe something does happen each time. Or maybe there is nothing in common with understanding all the different words, and each has its own action involved with its own understanding.

So let's come back to the feeling of understanding. That's one thing that Stan's Lida model really speaks to, the fairly big process that's involved in coming to a satisfying conclusion about anything. A thing they talk about is simulated annealing, and all this is from the copycat stuff. You try a bunch of different things to fit whatever you are trying to look at, and maybe you construct a model, but it's not so good, so you put together more pieces and get a better one. And the thing that's happening is that different modules are getting activated--primed-- and those are the ones that work and get used in the process. It really is a big jumble of activity, though you aren't aware of much of it, except the final action or whatever you imagine happening.

Yay! So the teaching company has already put the class on the meaning of life on sale and I've gotten it. I didn't really need to be spending $50 bucks right now or to get involved in something. I really need to be looking for a job. But this is an important thing for me, and I can personally see dropping everything to go through it. Maybe I will be a different person, and it will help me figure things out, or at least appreciate what I'm doing. On of the early lectures is on duty from the Gita, so it will at least help me appreciate working for a job.

The professor also sound interesting. Jay Garfield. He's a philsophy professor, but he also teaches on Tibetan studies and Buddhist studies. He also teaches logic and philosophy of mind, and some kind of cognitive psychology. He's working on some kind of developmental psycholinguitics, whatever that is.

Ahh! So something falls on your toe and you go "Ahh!" Does that point to something? The first lecture is about the meaning of the meaning of life, so he talks about different senses of the word "meaning". They all sort of point to things. I don't particularly like the idea that meanings point to things, but that's the conventional view. I think it's better to say that things point to word choices or speech acts. Something made you go "Ahh!", but it's problematic to say "Ahh!" points to something. Because then it's not definite if "Ahh!" points to the pain or the thing falling on your toe, or just the toe. All those things were involved. In this way, I think the idea of meaning itself is just not coherent. Apparently Wittgenstein also tried to say roughly that, or maybe it was something else, too. Searle was talking about this. There was a rabbit example. A rabbit walks along and a tribesman says "gavigai" and you don't know it means rabbit, or rabbit parts, or ribbiting or whatever. The conclusion is supposed to be there is no meaning. Searle's argument, though, is that it doesn't work at all, because you wouldn't be able to understand what "rabbit parts" means, then, just that we don't yet know for sure what gavigai refers to. Again, I think the idea of reference has problems, but we can come to understand what makes people pick words they say. With practice.

All this contrasts with computer languages, where particular machine actions are the direct result of instructions given. It works in a very specific way, but it was influenced by some ideas about how we thing language might work. Bad ideas, I would say.

  • February 1, 2012
Happy Kalends of February!

It's nice to get some distance between us and 2011.

Seems like I'm relying more on Facebook for blogging. What did I talk about. There was a video on a belt sword. Now there's a trippy idea. It's flippy spring steel, so it can bend around your waist. And I said on reddit martial_arts that the Chinese swords are like that, but somebody said that's not right. I don't know. I also talked about how I did apply for another job online at St.Jude. This job is asking for a masters. I'm not sure what it will do for them. I would think it would narrow things down, and I would have a better chance, but they have that thing about gaps in employment. We'll see what's really important to them.

I'm finally playing more with clojure. I'm looking through _Joy of Clojure_, and they've got some stuff at the repl to play with. The repl is the read-eval-print-loop. Other languages would call it the interpreter. That's the lisp term for it. But it's more important to how lisps work that you sit around at the repl and figure stuff out as you go. It also integrates well with emacs, which I also use to blog. emacs itself is written in lisp, and should have its own repl somewhere, but I haven't gotten into that that I can remember. I've just been keeping my emacs open, and a nice thing about that is that it then remembers my blog password. That's convenient for me. I've been wanting a way to do that.

  • January 30, 2012
The guy, Frank Longo, who writes the sudoku puzzles that I've been doing has written, I think, that you should not have to write out too many marks to solve the puzzles. It was from the last book I had which he helped with, so I think it was him. Generally I have to write the candidates in the cells, and it sure seems like most of the strategies, at least the descriptions of them, kind of assume you have the candidates available, so it seems like you would have to write them out. But potentially, you could just keep them in mind without writing them down. It becomes fairly automatic to look at a square and see the immediate candidates than only depend on the things in the showin row column and cell. The trickier thing is to be able to keep track of all the fancier things that let you eliminate other numbers. Generally, all you need to look at are cells that can be narrowed down to two candidates. The trouble is you kind of seem to need to keep the larger sets and narrow them down. But in the past few puzzles, I've been getting the feeling that I really would just be able to do them without writing anything down. It would be a lot to keep and my head, and I had the sort of feeling that it was just a little past my ability, but it was just about coming into reach. I guess the question is just beyond what of my abilities? Really, just my ability to remember and keep the important stuff in working memory. I watched searching for Bobby Fischer recently, and one of the things in it was being able to play chess in your head without looking at the board. That's a big deal in chess, but you just know it's a big deal in any skill, all skills. And I think you have to get to a certain level for that, but I would assume that some brains are just in generally better at keeping stuff in mind than others. And some people are better at that for some things. There are lots of other aspects to learning. Taking the time. Interest. Motivation. Following a learning path that keeps you at that narrow edge of always working on new things just outside your reach, but not too hard where you don't have any chance to get it. Clearly teqching has tricky bits to it. I have been impressed thinking about how my kung fu and Chinese teacher has an ability to guide a student to be a little better all the time of the course of many years. She does this in the kung fu class, but she is doing it for hundreds of kids taking them from kindergarten to fourth grade. That's quite a lot of effort. I talked about the visual stuff. I think personally I was always a little better at what is basically auditory-- statments in words. But I guess I am doing some visual stuff. Really math can be visual, and I really didn't get into real math. I guess I was lucky that algebra generally is done essentially verbally. Geometry was my worst math.

One reason I didn't go see Melissa was to get my sleeping more regular. I got up reasonably this morning, and now my mom can make us pancakes, which she did. I did miss her quite terribly, though.

  • January 29, 2012
I'm starting to see my mom jump to too optimistic conclusions. There was a guy calling on the phone about some real estate property we've abandoned in Texas. The guy said he was from a company that builds custom houses. My mom was thinking he wanted to buy the property, when it seems clear to me he just wanted to offer to build us a house on it. And there was an ad in the paper a few days ago saying "Free TV". She got me to read it. It was about buying a box or something that would allow you to receive the free broadcast television channels, instead of having to pay for satellite or cable. Not a free television set like any reasonable person would think, I'm sure. So this time they were being a little tricky. And she bought some fish where the picture on the box had a lot more fish than it really turned out--too much breading. I guess that really also was kind of misleading, but that's advertising. Am I just getting cynical that this stuff doesn't seem to get me as much?

I'm not going to see Melissa this week. Kind of have a cold, and I'd really like to get a proper schedule of getting up in the morning. I didn't look for a job, which I needed to do, so I'd probably be better off skipping this time. But it means so much to me, that it's kind of bad for me not to go. I just watched a TED talk by Kahneman and he said that the thing that makes people the happiest is their relationships. So now I have a scientific reason to go. And yet I'm skipping it.

Oh shoot, I just remembered something I could have gone to today. Some atheist talk about Baptist creating the separation of church and state. I'm not so into the lecture, but I need to get with that group more often. Got up too late, I guess, and I forgot. We actually had dinner about that time, so really I was doing something, but still.

We read _Thinking Fast and Slow_ by Danny Kahneman for the book club. He's a big psychologist who does things on biases. Won a Nobel in economics. Anyway, I've been reading about his stuff for a long time. Kind of around it, other people will talk about it. Finally got something straight from him. And that was kind of funny because he talked about a bunch of other people I have read from. Nassim Taleb, Martin Seligman, Mihaly Czichsenthoweveryouspellit, and some others, I forget. He had three different ways of breaking up how our mind works. He split it in System 1 and System 2, kind of a intuitive versus deliberative thinking. He talked about Econs versus Humans, the rational model economists use compared to how people really decide.

And he talked about the experiencing versus remembering mind. The big examples he had for this one is two guys having a colonoscopy. One guy had a much shorter one, but because it was worse at the end he thought it was much worse than a guy whose beginning was just as bad, but only had a little bit of discomfort at the end-- they remembered them differently. The TED talk talks about this stuff more. One guy heard a twenty minute music piece, and some noise at the end ruined the whole experience, he said, but really, it only ruined the memory--the first twenty minutes of the experience was good. So there is a big difference between what's happening at the time and remembering it. I've forgotten the book I read that was all about this, oh well. I think it might have been one from the library. But any, so I have been reading stuff about happiness. Danny was saying the idea of happiness includes too many things and different ways of handling it that it may no longer be a good word to use. Lots of implications, too. Do we keep something bad going longer and have the pain taper off so people don't have so bad a memory? One experiment he did, he had people keep their hand in some painfully cold water for 60 seconds. Then he did that again but added thrity more seconds of slightly less painful water. And then he asked them to choose which to do again. And they always chose the longer one. If you do the sort of integral sum, that one had clearly more pain--it had all the original pain plus a little bit less added to the end. But from the point of view of the remembering self, it seemed like less. He talks about vacation. A two week vacation where the second week is pretty much the same as the first doesn't seem twice as good. It's really only about the same, maybe a little better. If it gets boring at the end--that really messes it all up. People are totally not good at predicting what they will like. And he talks about California--people think the weather must make everyone there happy, but it does not. It's just what you most think of as the difference. I don't know, the weather was pretty nice. But I'm in doors so much, I guess.

I've almost finshed all the books I got for Christmas. I guess this year I was lucky because I got smaller ones, and not as many, I didn't finish the ones from last year, but they were a pretty tough pile.

I started working on _The Joy of Clojure_. Had a little trouble getting clojure to work on my Ubuntu box--clojure box for windows is much easier to get working. Anyway, the book seems to have some trouble figuring out who it's for. It assumes you already know a lot of computer stuff, but you might be a lisp person, or you might be a java person who has never seen lisp. Maybe you have never seen functional programming, or maybe you know it well but want to see clojure's style of it. It seems to want to assume you already know some clojure, and yet it's going to do a quick summary of it in case you don't. Despite being "the joy of", it states that it definitely is not a cookbook. The point of it appears to be to talk about the special way of solving problems that programming clojure in its own special way is good at. So it seems to have a lot of just "yay clojure" cheerleading. It has this timeline of pivotal programming languages--ones that opened up new ways of doing things, like fortran, cobol, lisp (of course) smalltalk, c, prolog, c++, erlang (really?), perl, java, and he wants to say clojure, but adds a question mark. It's only three years old, anyway. I don't know. I'm kind of wavering and thinking of skipping to my last book _Lives of a cell_ which is shorter. And I'm taking a break to blog, which isn't a good sign.

I just notice that there is a teaching company class on the meaning of life. I really want it now. Unfortunately, when not on sale, it's like $200. On sale it will probably be something like $50. And I really only want if for download, and they put those down as low a $30, depending. Anyway, so I guess I'll have to wait. Looking at the description, it's ancient historical stuff. Honestly, my thinking seems like it's been informed by a lot more recent stuff, but it will be nice to hear this. And they actually have a couple other similar classes. There is a _philsophy, religion and the meaning of life_, but apparently that's not as good. And there is an existentilism and the meaning of life, but that's just about existentialism, I'm sure. There's that lady I was going to talk about the meaning of life with, maybe, I should try to connect with her.

  • January 10, 2012
Well, I should try to summarize what I've been doing for the three years I haven't been working. I guess I could say I've been looking for what I want to do next. I did run through a compilers textbook fairly early to see what was involved with that, and I got an idea of the general concepts of those. That was really pretty enlightening as a programmer, and I have a much deep understanding of programming in general. One of my sor of life goals or interests has been artificial intelligence, which has been a really hard problem, and I don't mean for me, I mean for everybody. So I have been taking some time to think about it, and I've been watching things that are being done. Shortly after I was laid off, I went to one of the annual conferences on AGI, on of the first ones was in Memphis while I was at Hilton. There is a guy in town, Stan Franklin, who works on one of the big AGI systems. AGI, an acronym Ben Goertzel came up meaning artificial general intelligence, was really what AI was intended to be at first, but AI as a computer science discipline has made a lot of progress in some sense by looking at programming techniques for particular parts of intelligence, so we can use computers to do some of the parts of intelligence that we know how to make more mechanical. And actually, it seems kind of like we've managed to find what some people might considered fairly dumb ways of handling information that can be a substitute for things that take a lot of brains in people. I went to that one conference, and I read in on an email list Ben has on AGI. Someone put out a list, and there are actually about a couple of dozen big AGI architecture projects. Stan an API for theirs, which you can download, though I have done much with it.

I've also had a bit of an interest in linguistics, so another thing I looked at was computational semantics. I looked through a textbook on that I found on that in the Berkeley bookstore. One very intriguing thing I found out looking through that is that there is really a big central problem in the whole thing that people haven't figured out. In computational semantics, most of what they work with is how meanings combine together to make sentences. But they really don't have a solid theory of how a single word has a meaning. I think it's called the theory of meaning in philosophy, and I say it's a problem in philosophy because we have such a poor grasp of it, that it hasn't really gotten to science. It's kind of a thing where we don't have a clue. Sort of like heat in the phlogiston days, or more aptly, like the theory of life before cell theory and biochemistry when people could seriously talk about elan vital. Basically about where we are with talk about consciousness. Though, I guess Searle seems to think he has figured out them both. Anyway, I'm listening to Searle lectures right now, though I've gone through them before where he seemed to have some explanation. Searle has a big argument about how computers can't do thinking as a computer program, though I'm starting to think he put some limitations on computer programs thst aren't quite right. Anyway, as a consequence of seeing this, I've become interested in the problem of what it would take for a computer to understand a single word. Shortly after looking at that, I saw a article from some Stanford linguists talking about language learning that had a concept related to the theory of meaning that kind of reversed the idea. It was roughly that words don't really point to particular meanings. The problem of inducing a complete meaning for words is really too difficult, and we just learn appropriate places to use words. And I don't think this idea was from them, but it gave me the view that the problem of language understand is more like a problem of figuring out what happened that caused a person to say what he said, not that there are words that point to things and we just have to go there. Computer language semantics is very clear and precise, and I think people really kind of use that of an idea how language works, but I think it's not particularly right. Language does refer in the sense that there is always something that made the person say the sentence, but the words pointing to the thing precisely is more a matter of being something the speaker or writer is trying to do rather than something the words do magically in themselves.

I guess, unfortunately I don't see any money in those kinds of things, so they really only stay at the level of interests. Or at least I haven't seen a way to get money out of them.

One intriguing thing happened in there. I went to my 25th high school class reunion. That was kind of encouraging, because there were people who remembered me from having been smart in high school. There I was talking about the thing about understanding a single word. There was one guy who was nice. He tells a story about how my tutoring in math helped him when he was struggling to go from behind to being a little ahead. I think I remember it being more of a frustration thing, and a lot of times you might not really see where you're going on a problem when you start out, and you panic or something. So maybe he was having a mental block and I helped him through. I think I saw that several times in different people. Anyway, he asked me what was my worst subject and I said English. But somehow he had gotten an essay from me, and thought it was impressive. I have been thinking I was not a very good writer for a long time. I even got evidence of that when I scored in the bottom 25% on the MCAT writing section. But I've been blogging for a long time now, and I finally have started thinking about writing a book. I've worked a little on an outline, but it looks like the money has been winding down to where it would run out before i finished, maybe, so I really kind of felt like I need get some work first. Maybe I haven't been looking too hard yet, because it hasn't run out, but now it's getting there.

A computer reading in a sensor that shows if a light is shining or not has semantics about the world, and this is not something a computer program on a turing test can do. So the Chinese Room, in arguing about pure syntactic programs is not talking about the really computer machines we have in the world. They already have at least some kind of semantics that turing machines do not. Maybe they can understand. Transducers. I'm not sure what he had to say about them. He doesn't say what he means by understanding, but I wouldn't be surprised if it meant some consequence of some kind of sensory or motor transduction. It may be that the only way a Chinese room could work is by giving you an English/Chinese dictionary plus some other instructions, so you will understand word of Chinese inside it. For a computer, of course, I would mean that it has the equivalent to a dictionary to whatever the computer actually understands, and it has to have some other kind of understanding in a programs of its own. This does bring up an issue of a "language of thought". I saw a claim somewhere that knowledge can't be encoded in language, and I think that's actually correct, though it's a very deep idea.

Listening to Searle lecture 12 some more. He goes through the whole mood, emotion, affective character thing that I've seen in other places. Actually, I think I saw Stan talking about this relative to his Lida system. But one thing has stood out I wanted to comment on. He said you could have moods, like you're happy or anxious but they don't have any intentionality, which means they aren't about anything specific. but psychoanalysts once heard this and told him their job was to take undirected feelings and find out what they are really directed about. And it occurs to me, from something Minsky talked about in _Emotion Machine_ that you can have thoughts that you repress or censor and don't think about, but they color your emotional life, and that kind of thing is just what they are talking about here. And a little more generally, the thing about emotions is that can persist a little bit longer than just the awareness of the immediate situation that caused them. This is a valuable feature for learning as it's how emotions get tied and associated with now things--we couldn't learn at all if emotions just died off immediately after the end of the thought that first caused it.

So, consciousness is sort of a perceptual, almost sensory experience. For Searle, undesrstanding is a conscious experience, so a computer, if since doesn't have that experience, doesn't have understanding and isn't intelligent. I think that's the point of the Chinese room argument. i guess I think it's a kind of chauvinism about intelligence.

  • January 9, 2012
Argh. There's a bar puzzle at Bardog, calle something liie freedom rings, that I have just not been able to get. It's been two times now I've been down there and spent most of the evening just messing with it, but nothing. There's a video on how to solve it, and Melissa has watched it and solved it. I watched it maybe a week ago, and I thought it looked pretty straightforward, but I got in there, and just messed it up somehow. I say it looked straightforward. The puzzle involves a chain, and I did not actually visually follow how the chain gets kind of knotted then is freed. I just kind of saw what the general idea was. But playing with it, it looks like there are a lot of ways this chain can be tied into knots. Melissa says they say this is their hardest puzzle. I can believe it. But the worst thing is that Melissa has clearly lost respect for me because I haven't been able to solve it. And she gave me advice about it. Something about how you hold the thing attached to the chain and have to keep tension on it. And I just don't see what that is supposed to do, and I guess I don't really do it, but it doesn't help me. And she must think that's totally the secret, so she thinks even worse of me because I'm not listening to her and can't get it. Grr. So I'm a little frustrated by the puzzle, but I'm more frustrated by how Melissa seems to be reacting to me. And she did for a little bit try to discount it and say it was the hardest one they had. But now I think she just thinks I'm not as smart as she thought. I've been able to get all the other ones, with not too much trouble. Maybe not as easy as some people. Some people are quite a bit more visual and mechanical than me so they can actually do better. But I am at least pretty sharp, even if this spatial stuff isn't really my strongest area. There are some puzzles, ones with rigid pieces most especially, where I can see the solution in my head. It's not all that easy to manipulate these little wire mesh things in 3-d in your head, but sometimes it's possible. Things with chains, though. That's a little too touch for me, and I have to go with more of a general sense of what kind of manipulations to use. Over this, throught that. There is a knot theory book that I was hoping would give me some tools for dealing with this kind of thing, but I haven't gotten through it yet, and I'm not sure if it would really give me tools to do it.

Mom took out some deer meat, which she thought was ground, so we could make some tacos. Then she saw it was fillets, kind of at the last minute. So she switched right over to making something fancy. She sauteed some mushrooms and onions, and used some onion dip that we didn't eat to make a creamy mushroom sauce, and we had it with potatoes, peas and a salad. Whipped up in a jiffy. It was quite tasty.

My back is still hurting. I think it must be something with the mattress, though just generally lying down must not be so good. Seems like the mattress has a good section on the edge and it doesn't hurt to lie there, maybe. I need to do something.

  • January 8, 2012
I'm listening to lecture 12 now in Searle's class. He's talking about mysterianism, an idea most strongly put ofr by Colin McGinn, that there is something mysterious about consciousness and we will never understand it. And Searle talks about how there used to be a theory of vitalism, that there was some mysterious something that caused life, and elan vital. And there was a big dispute, but the vitalists lost. Or at leaast, we don't think like that any more. We understand life as chemical processes. It occurs to me, though, that understanding biology was much easier to do because we had animals and plants and things to do research on, and we could cut them up, and look at them while they were alive. Unfortunately, we don't have that easy availability of working examples that we can experiment on for consciousness. Maybe we have it a little bit with difficulty, with things like fMRI, but not so super easy with biology. So it's only natural that it has been a much tougher thing to find out about.

There's also the thing that the mental stuff is so much about having the experience, and not so much about looking at what is happening in the brain of the person having the experience, so that makes it harder to look at. The thing that is making consciousness really tough to study is the subjectivity, or stuff that is only available to the person having the mental experience. They call it the "hard problem of consciousness". I'm thinking it's hard largely because it's hard to have good procedures about how you would even study that kind of thing. There's not any data that would transfer from person to person.

I don't know. I'm listening to them, and starting to have reactions like I don't really care about this idea of understanding that he seems to have. And I'm not so interested in the questions they seem to be arguing about. Maybe I'm not following them that well. I'm playing freecell while listening, so I'm not giving it my complete attention, but it doesn't seem interesting enough to hold my attention. So maybe I just wouldn't be a good philosopher.

Having a reaction to the little futurama show where they tell the story of how Hermese saved bender when he was a baby. And there's a song they play, "little bird, little bird, fly through my window, x3, find molasses candy". I think I saw it much earlier this year too and it got me. It seems like it must be about other feelings. Maybe some stuff from my dad. But could also be other stuff from things with people.

I went to shadowcon today. I was thinking I would see Trena, but didn't. I think that was the main reason I even went at all, but I didn't make much effort to see it happen. I saw Roy, but we really didn't say much. the first time I went down in the afternoon, I was tired because I hadn't really slept enough, but honestly, maybe it was boring, or maybe everyone else was tired to from their night before, it just made me feel really tired, and I went home and slept for like four hours. I went back, and there just wasn't much going on, so I left after maybe a couple and a half hours. Didn't stay for the dance. Didn't watch their little costume party contest thing. For the dance, they had a band, but from what I heard in their practicing, it was some kind of metal something that I just didn't want to hear much more of.

It must have been important for humanity that we not be very monogamous. And we are not. Even having one mate at a time, which at least does happen now, isn't real monogamy. It is biologically possible to have a creature that "pair bonds for life" I think is how they would call it. That is not us. And one little psychological aspect of it that I'm thinking of. If you wanted to have that in a species--really solid monogamy-- you'd have a positive feedback loop, where if someone found you attrative, you would find them more attractive back. But from my experience, that's not what happens to people. If someone shows interest in you, shoot if you don't feel a little bit less interested in them. When I was little, I managed to really get this from the wrong side. And I guess I also have to admit, there was someone else that I unfortunately on the mean side. Yeah, this is a lose, lose situation where on one nad side you lose something you want, and there's a mean side where you don't want something, and you end up being mean to someone who could be good to you. Anyway, it's a fairly cussed part of human nature. I can think of a couple advantages to where it can be biologically helpful. It probably necessary for people to be selective. If you just got tied in because someone liked you, you'd get stuck with pretty well the first person to come along, forever, whether that was the best choice or not. And you wouldn't be able to change later, so you would lose some mating diversity. So maybe. It is a fiarly nasty part about life, though. It's not that super strong a tendency, and people do get together. But I don't think I even hear about people any more who have only been with one person.

It was a big deal when religions made it a policy to encourage. One thing about monogamy--one mate for life, not one mate at a time which is the compromise we have let that concept drift to-- is that it will kind of push you to getting together young and having a lot of kids. That's something a religion would like, if it got you to do it, because it would spread that concept around to new generations. Birth control really messed that up for them. Recently, the Catholic church started putting ads in. Theu haven't been mentioning the birth control thing, though. Protestants, apparently, dropped opposing birth control, but of course they still have the monogamy stuff. I guess that's good. And one at a time does seem at less to give more guys a fair chance. Since men are the ones that would collect and restrict access to women, it's been reasonable to have the cartel thing. But I guess it's also true that women shop around.

  • January 7, 2012
I've been listening to John Searle's class on philosophy of mind. This is a very recent one of it, from the last couple years or so. And one of his big things, the thing that his Chinese room argument disproves according to him, is a theory that the mind is a computer program run by the brain. OK. So he says he shows it isn't. I just guess by now, I'm not sure if anyone really thought that, or if anyone still does. Maybe they did. I guess it was a possibility. Doesn't really seem so convincing. Actually, it seems like fairly often, I don't buy things that Searle says. How do we know Searle understands English but not Chinese? Does that mean something to say? Maybe he doesn't understand what it means to manipulate symbols. maybe a chinese room has to work by having a chinese dictionary, in which case he will understand some chinese. Of course, my feeling about it now is as someone who has been pondering the question, how would you get a computer to understand a single word, and since I've been starting to think of some ways that might really be done, it looks like a different situation.

So, we have a conventional idea that words and sentences have meanings. That there is something that they point to out in the world. Does "hello" point to something out in the world? I would say that quite often though, particular things call up particular words, and because there was an instance that invoked a word, it did mean specifically that in this case, and we learn names for things. Maybe it works more or less. But it's really much more the other way. People just trying to find the right thing to say. So it gets tied in with what people want to do.

  • January 3, 2012
Happy Tenth Day of Christmas!

Back getting better, cold getting worse.

  • January 2, 2012
Happy Ninth Day of Christmas! Happy New Year!

I guess I'm getting to this a little late. Seems like I've been switching the year over on this blog on the first, but this time it's the second. Just in a thing where I'm not going to the blog as much. Too much Facebook.

The kids managed to break two glasses yesterday. Each broke one. One actually fell on carpet, and maybe hit the chair leg. Colin was saying their glasses are stronger and wouldn't break so easily. I guess it's not a good sign that he would know that. But it gave me the feeling that they just aren't that careful. And then Aaron broke one later that day. I'll admit, we have pretty cheap glass. And we have a stone floor that will easily break anything it gets. And you expect kids to be more clumsy. And I wouldn't want them to get neurotic. But seriously, knocking over glasses is pretty pitiful. Do we need to get some sippy cups?

Yeah, too much Facebook. I got on another lame Facebook game. Sims Social. There's a person, Trena, who is on there, and I got on because of her. Like all those things, they are always pushing you to get other people involved. And there are some "romantic" things you have to do to make progress. It'd be nice to have someone to at least be able to pretend to do them with. Or I might just give it up. Probably will give it up.

So I did post about the dream thing. DaveDaveDave was encouraging on Facebook. I really should get moving on it. But not so likely.

Hurt my back again. Chopping and moving wood. And the bigger thing is that my mattress is not so good, so if there is a problem, it makes it bad. During the day, moving around it gets better. Actually, several chairs are also bad for it. I need to figure something out. And it's especially bad because I have some kind of cough, and it hurts to cough or sneeze.

Trena. She's in some kind of committed relationship, and yet she was on OKCupid looking for friends. Whatever. Kind of nerdy, seemed like, but she does or teaches some kind of martial arts, Taekwondo or something, and seemed like we have some common interests, so I'm going to try reaching out. Still haven't officially met in person, but I'm sure I've seen her around at cons. Seems to be on the edge of the SCA crowd, which I also hang around. We had two people in common on Facebook already. And Shadowcon is this weekend, so I'll probably see her there. One thing was that I was hoping we could inspire each other to get out to a Krav Maga class. And she goes to Bardog. I don't know when. But apparently her SO works nights and weekends so she's free to do things then. But just friends? I don't know how much I'm especially up for that.

Grace is talking about jobs in the valley. They all know people all over. She was talking about people at Google, and said something about Java stuff at IBM. I guess I need to look into stuff like that.