Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Advice

for my 200th post, I'd like to offer some advice:

Take your own advice.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Door-to-Door Help

An idea I had is to go door to door offering to "do a kindness" or "help" whoever's inside. We'd refuse to accept any kind of repayment other than hugs and verbal thanks. However, we would have a big list of things people could do to express their gratitude, such as

  • coming with us on a future outing
  • doing a kindness for a certain friend or family member
  • volunteering at [place nearby that is looking for volunteers]
etc!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sad but strange but true numbers - Canada's Voting System woes

Popular vote correlated to seats in the House of Commons:
the Bloc: 1% = 5 seats
Tories: 1% = 4 seats
Liberals: 1% = 3 seats
NDP: 1% = 2 seats
Green: 1% = ...0 seats

hooray for first-past-the-post, not! -_-

www.fairvote.ca

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sport Art!

I was in the common room today, and a hockey game was playing on T.V., as usual (nobody was watching it). I looked at it for a very short while and thought to myself,

"If you used something to track the location of the puck for the whole game and then created an image based on its path, you could make art!"

...and then, just now, while putting this up, I realized that if you did it for soccer or some other sport you could apply some other attribute (colour, opacity, brightness, etc) to the height of the ball, which would make it even more awesome. Something could also probably be done by tracking the locations of the players too, but that starts to get tough, and very crowded.

What kind of art would this be classified as?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Political Reality

At the most basic level, this is what politics is:

Liberals/Democrats play to peoples' hopes:

the people want change


Conservatives/Republicans play to peoples' fears:
the people don't want to change


...but you have to change to get change, so we flop back and forth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jazz

Obama! Woot. Also among useful things to come from America is Jazz music, so here's a quote I thought of awhile ago:

"A jazz solo is essentially sight-reading between the lines"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cross Country

Cross Country provincials were today. It was extremely muddy.... but that's not important. I came 100th out of like 106... but that's not important either..

I met a man who was the cross country provincial winner three times in a row back in his day.
He was standing with a cane and a cup outside the Tim Hortons.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to be Special by Being Alone

I was at a dance last night, with a bunch of youth my age, most of whom I had only known for a day (I was at the D250 conference). At the dance, most people were just doing the youth thing and bobbing their heads and so on, but me and one other fellow did all sorts of fun things, including a dance-off with chairs as props. It was really fun, but what was more interesting was what happened during the first slow dance.

The song came on (I think it was Every Little Thing You Do by Westlife) and I began my now-standard procedure of interpretive dance. As I'm in a long-distance relationship, I no longer have any real desire to bumble around trying to find a girl to dance with, and this is much more fun. People tend to laugh at me, not really in a mean way but simply because they think I look funny (often I agree with them).

I'm moving in my interesting little way and everybody else is either standing around looking lonely or bored or they're coupled up dancing. Then, as sometimes happens, a few people made a kind of ring by putting their arms over each others' shoulders. This ring got larger until it had maybe 15-20 people in it (there were about 80 there). Somebody beckoned me to join the ring, and I did - on the inside! Quickly, it seemed, everybody joined the circle, and there I was, on the inside, while the crowd cheered and swayed. I was special, and I was popular.

...but this isn't about my ego. It's about how difference goes both ways. The friend I was dancing with had gone off to find a girl, and did. Lucky him? I ended up in the spotlight, while he was with everybody else rather shortly. I simply think it's very neat how I started off by myself and ended up (special) supported by everybody, while others went to be (special) with another person yet ended up as an entire mass.

Certainly not what one might expect, and I probably would have been ridiculed if I wasn't at least somewhat a good dancer. To be honest, I believe the hardest part of dancing (maybe not for me anymore, but in general) is doing it. (Most) people aren't as bad as they think they are once they let go and move.... and who knows? You just might end up in the middle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty and Disproportionate Representation

Harper is back, with even more MPs than before. Gah. People are worried about our economic crisis but forget to step back and notice the poverty crisis:

30 000 children die every day from poverty-related causes [www.freethechildren.com]

That's one child every 3 seconds! That means in the time it takes you to read this post, 20-50 children will die, depending on how long it ends up being and how fast you read.

However, this poverty could be prevented! All it would take is 0.7% of the national income of 22 developed nations. This would raise the $195 billion needed to combat poverty effectively.[1] They pledged to do this in 2000, and many nations have already reached this goal. Canada has no plan whatsoever, and is currently only giving 0.28%.

Stephen Harper is doing nothing about this, and yet he gets re-elected - despite the conservative government having only 37% of votes. These extremely disproportionate results highlight the growing problem in Canada of the outdated plurality voting system. The Green Party (which, not incidentally, does have a plan to meet the 0.7% aid) had 900 000 votes nationwide (out of 13 million) and yet got not a single seat, where fewer than that number of voters in the west produced 27 conservative seats. Add to that an all-time low of 59.1% voter turnout,[2] and there is clearly something wrong.

...so we need a change. Forget potential change in governing party – we need a change in government policy at the electoral level. Canada's voting system dates back to the 12th century! It is outdated and does not work in a country that is no longer composed of just two parties. I still don't know exactly what we need, but the solution is out there. Here are some links for your readage:



Monday, September 15, 2008

How To Describe.....

For describing a human, quantitative values work fine, but if you want to describe a person, qualities are much better.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's Life-Altering but there's nothing you can really do about it!

We know that even small decisions and actions shape our lives in great and unforeseeable ways. We don't worry about this, though, because we know we can't foresee them, thus we just act how we think will turn out for the best.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

If you feel like nobody agrees with you...

...walk into a room and say "Oh! So this is where are all the cool people are!"

...works every time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's up to you!

Gee, thanks. Here's everybody's social analysis and piece of advice for the next little while:

I've observed just in the last little while that in a couple, it's actually not nice to tell the other person "It's up to you". Relationships should be partnerships, and this phrase creates an inequality:

  • either you're saying "I'm not worthy to make this decision" and putting your partner above you
  • or you're saying "I don't care enough to want to be responsible for our mutual happiness" and forcing them to try and come up with something that will work for both of you
These are not nice things to say to somebody you love!

Even for a simple decision of which movie to watch or which brand of peanut butter to buy, this phrase should not be used unless the sayer truly means "I want you to pick the choice that you want most, and it doesn't matter to me". For most things, this isn't even possible, because it usually does matter.

Thus, the decision should be made by both of you! If it affects both partners, you should each have a say in the outcome. That's what partnership is about.

Welcome to Egalitaria, and please enjoy your stay.

Happy School Year!

Woot. School has started once again, and thus so has my blog. I won't be posting nearly as often as before, because it was getting crazy and messing with me on a psychological level. Still, I do intend to have some nice high-quality musings, and I thought of a few great things over the summer that I saved for here. First real post incoming!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Life as a Mirror... albeit a broken one?

How strange it is, that despite living with ourselves all the time, we never actually truly see our own faces. We see reflections in mirrors, and still photographs, and low-quality movies, but we will never actually see how our own face looks when first we come across a cute puppy, or when we are reunited with a loved one.

This powerful self-separation is the reason that we judge ourselves as others see us, rather than as we see us – because we don't. It is also true that just as we don't see ourselves, we don't really hear ourselves either. We hear what we are thinking of and what we intend to say, but our minds are often much to cluttered and distracted to actual hear the sounds our mouths are making.

To be honest, humans aren't very good at paying any attention to ourselves at all. It's not like this should really be surprising, though, as we can't seem to pay much attention to others either.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Deskurtain v1.0

Awhile back, I decided that it was imperative I have a curtain covering the back half of my desk. No. Actually, I had some purple fabric laying around and was bored. Our desks have a cavernous area, so I figured I'd cover it up so that I could make my desk appear less cluttered and be less distracting for studying.



The string used is all dental floss (braided together at the end). I poked little holes in the cloth in three vertical rows. I threaded the floss through, back and forth, then tied it around a small dowel. I ran the floss across the top of the desk and through a pulley (the yellow thing) of sorts (just to redirect it) and down to the hook (which is actually a part from the floss container) to keep it up.


Some pictures for those of us who can't bother to watch every single video (although it is only 21 seconds):

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tattoed Commitment


Being someone who is generally good for commitment, it amused me to notice that I don't like the idea of getting a tattoo. It's not about how people would judge me or anything like that. I've realized that the commitment with a tattoo is different than committing to a team or a partner. What I don't like is relinquishing my choice.

With a tattoo, you're committed to having it, forever (forgetting the imperfect removal techniques). Forever is a long time, and it doesn't leave much room for change. Even if I chose the perfect thing to get tattooed on me, theres still a chance that I would change and then no longer want it there. However, I can't get rid of it, at all, thus it is a restriction.

With something like marriage, there is still an implied lifelong dedication (although this is becoming less the case). It is different, though, for the exact reason that there is dedication. Making a marriage work over the years is fulfilling, because it's difficult. The tattoo, conversely, just stays on your body regardless. Also, like I mentioned before, you couldn't get rid of the tattoo even if you wanted to, which leads to a feeling of restriction and lack-of-control. By maintaining the other kind of commitment, the person gets to feel in-control because they have the determination to do it.

Tattoos, therefore, and other life-long commitments are very different. Don't confuse 'em!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Numerical Limerick

Four equals 2 exponent 2
Yet also the sum of 2s too
The square root of four
Isn't just any bore
Tis also two 2s over 2


(that I wrote while/instead of studying for math, which is what I'm going to go do now)
(also, see LimerickDB, where I promptly submitted this limerick after writing it)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Download Firefox 3 to set a record!

Tell all of your friends! Download the amazing Firefox 3 during the 24 hours it comes out and it will earn the Guiness World Record for most software downloads.

Firefox is excellent – read the site to find out more. It also displays the internet properly, so as a web designer I ask you from the bottom of my heart to get it. If you use Internet Explorer, you are contributing to great pain and suffering on my part as I struggle to cope with its lack-of-standard-support.

Thank you and have a nice day. Pledge to download it now, and they will send you an email when it is time. I was a bit irked not to find the exact date on the site, but they don't know it yet. It will come out when it comes out. Be ready!

Download Day

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I was fine until you showed up

I once had somebody (an obnoxiously cheerful morning-person) ask me how I was just as I walked into the door at school. (this is 8am or so. I've been up for less than an hour)

My reply: "'Don't know yet."
Him: "Can't complain?
Me: "Not yet"

While I was kind of annoyed (and considered saying "Not until now") and also rather amused, it took me until now, when I was recounting the anecdote, to realize that there is an underlying principle demonstrated that it is important to remember:

Your day does not begin bad. It only becomes bad when you let it become bad.

The first bit is obvious but still important to remember; your day is innocent until proven guilty. The second part is harder to remind yourself of but is also very true: you are the jury of your own day (to continue the metaphor) and you can choose to determine it innocent. That being said, there are days that are bad and you have to accept that. Nonetheless, you have the power to choose how your day is.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Repetitive Task Reminder Flags

I'm really quite a jack of all trades. I dip into just about every blog topic... all of the popular blogs I read, really. This post is rather Lifehacker-esque, and might be seen in the ZTD section of zenhabits.

I'm very soon (once I can decide on a format) going to set up a system of little reminder flags for repetitive tasks I do so that I know when they need to be done. They will definitely include:

  • charge iPod
  • do laundry
There will be more, but I don't know what yet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why Linux Is Awesome

Way too late the other night, I was sitting at my desk and on my linux (Ubuntu Hardy) and I made an observation that I often make, which is that the SD Card icon is wrong. Well, at least, it's wasn't the same as mine. GNOME does two cool things (well, two that are relevant): the first is to make little icons of storage devices appear on the desktop when they are plugged in... that's not too exciting. However, GNOME also lets you choose the size for icons (it uses png files). Quite awhile ago, I downloaded an iPod Shuffle icon from PngFactory to use for my iPod, but I was always irked by how the generic SD Card icon didn't match mine (it was red and black and 128MB) so I got out The GIMP and (with great difficulty) made an icon to look like my card. Then I took a video! (there's no audio)



(My blog's first video post, just for the record)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Uni-Palette Colours

Palettes are great. That could be a post in itself except it's not original enough and I refuse to put much up here that I didn't think of. Also, the title suggests more. This observation is not one that I alone have made, but it is something I just thought of this evening when I learned (from ColourLovers) about wear palettes: a blog that documents the palettes of all colours used on some fashion site.

The term "Uni-Palette Colours" refers to colours that can be worn with just about anything and still look good. These are typically

  • Black
  • White
  • Denim

Off-white or beige works sometimes as well, as can navy blue, but they don't have the same ubiquity as those three main ones. The question is, why are these so prevalent, and why do they work? One can argue that for black and white it is a matter of being all colours or no colours. Denim, however, is just a vague shade of blue combined with a texture. I believe that it fits this category only because we're so used to it that we don't really ascribe any colour or importance to it anymore.

I'm now wondering about my term "uni-palette". It was derived from the term "unisex"... but I never liked that one anyway. Perhaps to be more accurate I should say "pan-palette" or "poly-palette"? They have better alliteration too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm Not Saying a Single Thing!

I'm just waiting for you stop. I'm waiting patiently... in fact, I'm likely willing you to keep talking for hour, just so I can laugh about it later.

Genties and ladlemen, I have discovered an excellent way to see how self-absorbed or self-obsessed somebody is you see how long they will talk without interjection.

I once clocked somebody at over ten minutes!

I was, at the time, nodding and being very attentive, so it's not like he would have assumed I wasn't listening. However, unless somebody is outlining a detailed idea of theirs or something of the like, it takes a fair amount of self-obsession to talk for that long. This is a rather enjoyable way to see how much somebody actually cares what you think, and how much they're just talking to hear themselves speak.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You Have a Disorder

I've got a disorder. Everybody's got a disorder. A mild form of at least one, anyway. These days, we have so many disorders that we don't know what to do with them all. People almost need to carry around a second business card so that they can fit it all on – Mr. Joe Smith, BSc, Ph.D., ADh.D., etc!

So, I recommend a new method of classifying disorders so that we can weed out the ones that aren't important. It starts with looking at another phrase that means "important"
"life threatening".

The basic idea is this: classify disorders based on what would happen if there was an isolated group where everybody had that disorder. Would they...

  1. kill each other or something similar?
  2. get along as well as normal humans do?
  3. actually cooperate better as a result of their disorder?
All forms of disorders would fit on this scale somewhere. An example of the first could be OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) because the people would drive each other mad with their own idiosyncrasies. People with Paranoia would also be in this category.

It would be harder to figure between the latter two categories. ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder now includes ADHD) and Schizophrenia would be harder to place. Unless the schizophrenics have the voices in their head tell them to murder the others, they would likely get along quite well. The hyper and easily-distracted people would have a really fun time and wouldn't violently kill each other, but if the cases were extreme enough, they wouldn't exactly be self-sufficient. Perhaps another category should be added, for "cooperative and friendly but not at all useful".

Seeing as it would be rather difficult to predict the outcomes of isolated disordered people, we could actually get volunteers to live in such a place. It would be a kind of retreat, which could actually be really neat because everyone else would be like you.

Additionally, this type of classification could actually be extended to general behavior and attitude, with the seriousness toned down to merely examine happiness. In these cases, it would likely just be speculation, but I've found that doing this in my head helps me to rationalize to determine what I want my morals and behaviour to be
– I just consider whether a world of people all acting like that could work and be happy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Instead of Studying

I'm writing a blog post. Well, yes that. This, however, is about a PHP program I wrote last night (and polished up this morning) that helps me to study! Hypothetically, anyway.

You can find the program here. If you want to upload a text file, they use the following format:

TERM|DEFINITION
TERM2|ITSDEFINITION
ETC|ET CETERA
This program basically creates flashcards out of study-material, without wasting paper! Also, it's really easy to let your friends use it at the same time, unlike real flashcards! It's the way of the future! Well, perhaps not, because this isn't as ubiquitous, but I might soon do it up so that there are categories and organization for all of the lists. A whole bunch of user-generated study-material, now available, thanks to the internet!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Knowing

Do you ever wish you could ask somebody a question and they would give you an honest, truthful answer, but then they'd forget you asked?

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's a Squishy!!

Something I came to realize awhile back is that my generation has an interesting tendency to use adjectives as nouns, such that they refer to an unidentified something that displays that quality prominently. For example...

  • "Mind the gooey on the floor"
  • "Well, that's a happy"
  • "You've got a sticky by your ear"

Often, the adjective is preceded by a pause while the speaker tries to figure out what they're actually talking about... but not always. Sometimes it is only really that quality of the object that is important.

...So Raise the Taxes!

It would appear that many smokers who want to quit... don't – because they can't afford the medication to help with quitting. My take? Raise the cigarette taxes even higher, and use all of the profit to reduce the costs on the medications.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Particle that Wasn't... right?

Today in Chemistry, I noticed an empty spot on a very simple chart that can be made regarding sub-atomic particles. There is the (nearly) weightless negative electron, the heavy neutral neutron and the positive, heavy proton. There is, however, no particle that has neither charge nor weight.
I propose there is. I also propose that we'll virtually never be able to find it, because it is so tiny and isn't attracted to anything. In fact, one would wonder why it would ever stick to anything at all, except neutrons do and they don't have a charge. Still, I bet that out there in the universe somewhere there exists a particle that isn't any good at all.

Having discovered this particle (moreso than anybody else I know of, anyway) I'm going to name it – the naughton! I'll let you all know if I ever actually get a hold of one.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Video-Audio Sync

It'd be great if there was a program that would sync up video or audio. This would be nice for times when you want to record something with video and audio, but you have an audio recorder that far surpasses the capabilities of the audio feature on your video camera. The program would detect events in the video and match them up with spikes in the audio. It wouldn't be too difficult, assuming the clip was a decent length. Another interesting feature this program could employ would be to sync up the high-quality audio to the video based on the low-quality audio that already goes with the video. Oh, that I had time to make all of these.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Cuke Hanging Out

A short while ago, I was in Pete's Frootique (excellent place, I must say) and I saw some curved cucumbers. Mom had her camera out, so I snatched it to take a pic of this rather mellow cuke.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good and Misinformed Intentions

Somebody remarked once about the "Golden Rule" ("Do unto others as you would have them do to you"). The fellow said that if somebody came to his house with the sole intention of doing him good, he should run for his life. This makes an interesting point about how what might be good for one person would not be good for another (otherwise this rule basically justifies things like rape).

However, not only are there certain actions that people do because they'd like them even though the recipient (victim?) does not, there are also all sorts of actions that both parties consent to and both also experience loss. This loss is merely that of a few seconds' time in the following examples, but I'm certain there are other scenarios where greater losses occur.

The first anecdote is something that happened to me today, although I'm sure it has happened before. There was one knife for the peanut butter at the toasters in the cafeteria this morning, and when I went to put some on my toast, another person had just finished. Seeing that I wanted the knife, she went to pass it to me instead of putting it back in the dish. This was a nice thing to do, but it took us a few seconds to coordinate our hands so that I could grab it, whereas I would have been able to snatch it in under a second had she put it back and I taken it right from the bowl.

That's not important at all. I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Well, the next one isn't life-threatening (usually) either, but there is a bit more time wasted, and for the sake of saving time. This has happened to me multiple times, and this is how the situation goes: I'm waiting by the side of the road, not crossing because there is a car within sight. As it comes, I can't be sure whether or not it is slowing down, but it gradually does, stopping so that I may pass. While this is an extremely nice gesture on a busy street, as it stops the flow of traffic, it is completely pointless if there are only one or two cars. If the car retains its original speed, it passes sooner and gets where it is going sooner, and the pedestrian receieves the "safe to cross sooner" because the car passes and then it is fine. In attempting to be nice, the driver has managed to slow down himself and the person walking.

Interesting to note is that both of these occur as an attempt at saving the other person time. The perpetrator knows that s/he will incur a loss of time, but assumes that s/he is doing the "right thing". In the end, qui bono? Nobody!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beautiful Numbers

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What if...?

What if somebody you loved and trusted 100% came up to you and told you that they were not actually who you thought they were, but in fact a perfect (almost) replica. If you knew that the person would never lie to you, then it would have to be true, right? But then, if it was a replacement, how would you know the replacement was telling the truth? Paradox!!!

Or a simpler explaination: your loved one was joking!

(This is part of a new attempt to make my blog not be bogged down with being too serious. Actually, I basically went through the first bit in my head, realized I was getting to obsessed with stupid things like this and.... there you have it.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

You Can Do Anything

"If you've got determination and you can find time, you accomplish just about anything. And, well, if you've got determination, you can find time."

-Me

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Anagrammity

Other

At least 9 different 3-letter words may be made from the letters in the word other:

  • the
  • hot
  • rot
  • her
  • hoe
  • toe
  • ore
  • rho (something to do with interest rates)
  • tre/ert (italian for "three" / estrogen replacement therapy) (yeah, its a stretch)
...but look! every possible 3 letter combination (excluding t,h,r because there is no vowel) may be made into a word of some sort. Neat, eh? Not that useful though...

Art

art is not what you make
it is not how you make it
it is not why you make it
nor when, nor for whom
art is not just anything beautiful
art is everything that you think about
while you make it

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hot and Cold and Juuuuust Right

Allegory Time!

You're filling a bucket. You want the water to be a nice warmth not scalding or freezing. You have a tap that has one faucet and two adjusters amount of hot and amount of cold (like most taps today). You turn the cold tap on a bit, then realize that you need some hot as well, so you turn on the hot tap. It is then too hot. At this stage, you have two options: you can either turn down the hot one a tad, so that the water coming out is just right, or you can crank up the cold tap. If you do the second one, you'll likely soon find that once again, the temperature isn't right and you need to raise the hot. This would hypothetically continue until the water is spraying everywhere!

The moral of the story is that overcompensation is not the best way to balance things. If you have a scale that you're trying to balance, and you keep loading more on each side, eventually the scale will break from all of the weight. To properly balance things, you must take about as much off each side as much as you put on.

Balance is the key to everything, for if it is upset, everything is suddenly gone...

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to Always Win

"If you bet against your own victory, you'll always win."

-Me
(although I'm sure somebody else has thought of this too)


That being said, you'll also always lose as well. The key is to use this sort of strategy to minimize your potential losses. Consider the following scenario:

You have a 50% chance of winning something - say $100. You could now (assuming you can find a gambler) bet against your winning that money - say $50. The result now is that no matter what you will obtain $50.


Of course, assuming you can only find people to bet on good or even odds, and that the payback will always be equal to the likelihood of winning, all this really lets you do is cash in on your average winnings. A second example:

You have a 1/10 chance of winning $10. The odds are 9 to 1, so you make a bet with somebody where you will pay $9 if you win and they will pay $1 if you lose (because you're saying "Betcha I lose!". Whether you win or lose, you get $1 - which is your average winnings anyway - 1/10 of $10.


But forget all of this as it applies to money, because it isn't actually that helpful. What is more important is to apply it to life. I came up with this quote and the concept in English class while discussing Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The main character, Jake Barnes, realizes at one point while he is going to sleep that humans always make what they think is the best choice. There is never a time when we will purposely choose the choice we think is worse, because even if we want to hurt ourselves, then we still want to do it.

An excellent example of this is me and tomatoes. I don't like tomatoes at all. However, being the odd person that I am, I eat them anyway whenever they're presented to me. I don't go out of my way to get them, but if they're on my plate or in my salad, I'll eat them even though they almost make me sick. One might think "Aha! He's doing something he doesn't want to do!" but I do this to remind myself that I don't always get everything I want (and because tomatoes are fairly healthy). Thus, in reality, while I might not get any intrinsic enjoyment out of eating the tomato, I do enjoy the psychological effect it has on me and so I do it anyway. This applies to everything.

We never make the choice we think is worse. We can't do it. Even if we choose the choice that looks worse, it's because we expect it to turn out better. As such, humans are completely self-serving at the lowest level. Even altruists and philanthropists need to justify to their decision-maker the choices they make. This being said, there are certainly people who are less selfish than others – people who have decided that an important factor in decision-making is other people – and these people are much more pleasant to be around.

I've digressed from my original topic to another that I'm fond of, but I'd now like to get back on track. Basically, what you want to do in life is to make sure that what you sacrifice always pays out favourably. Jake realizes that enjoyment comes from maximizing your personal Return on Investment – to invest time and money in things you enjoy.

Next time you make a big decision, make sure to figure out whether it will actually be good in the long run or if it's just good for a short time. Weigh all of the facts to make sure you make a good profit.

Motion-Activated Camera Timer

After watching some junior girls trying to take pictures of each other jumping, I realized that it would be really excellently convenient for normal cameras to have a feature that would allow it to focus, then take a shot as soon as movement happens (the word 'shot' just now makes me think this could work for guns too... hmm).

It would go like this: you put it on that setting, push the shutter button on the camera and set it down (or it's on a tripod, or somebody holds onto it) then the camera focuses and then waits for movement. As soon as the people jump (or whatever) the camera takes the shot. For additional awesomeness, the camera could wait a certain number of milliseconds after motion detection before shooting.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Odd Science

My brain is so strange that it comes up with ideas like this:

Flip a baby's eyes at birth and see if they would adapt to see right-side up.

Imitation

Is the sincerest form of flattery, so I've heard. Is this still true when the imitatee is being mocked? That's a really tough question, but points out something interesting: we humans place a rather high societal value on being able to imitate somebody – a gesture or facial expression, or how they talk. Why is this?

My theory is that being able to act like others shows both strong self-control and social awareness. The imitator has to pay close attention to the idioms and nuances of the person in question to properly pretend to be that person. The other powerful aspect of mimicking is that (horrible as it may seem) it allies people around the one isolated person of group of people. It has a fellowship effect, making people become closer because of their similarities
– or lack of differences.While this is a good thing in some sense, it can make the lone person feel very separate from everyone else. Some people prefer negative attention to none, so I suppose they would actually like it quite a bit.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Be a Dandelion

The dandelion is the flower that is the epitome of unsolicited happiness. They are bright and yellow and round and would likely be quite respected were they not so numerous and uncontrollable. However, their not being able to be contained is what I think makes them so interesting.

In this world, we hear of happy people but rarely is anybody perpetually happy. Now that I think about it, neither are dandelions they turn grey and lose their seeds but the dandelions still but on a better show of joy than we do. So many people mop around, being completely ungrateful for everything and unwilling to truly live. These people need to be more like dandelions, shining bright and colourfully all the time, for the world is an amazing place, and they shouldn't try so hard to be unhappy.

Correction: I will never advocate for people to be happy 100% of the time, for this would deny human nature and also devalue happiness. I will also never say that people should pretend to be happy when they're not. The key is to know when you are actually unhappy and with a valid reason to be so. Quite often, people will convince themselves and others that they are unhappy because they enjoy when other people comfort them and quite honestly because their bodies have formed a chemical addiction to the feeling of sadness.

If you are only pretending to be sad and are not truly sad (and don't forget that you've likely tricked yourself as well) then there is a great deal to be gained by being like a dandelion. Glowing proudly will help to raise you out of your misery and onto happiness! Shine it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Your Story

A novel, written in second person. Written to you. Written as if you're the main character. Not a choose your own adventure story – a story being told to you about yourself. You've lost all of your memories. The story teller is there to bring them back.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Too Observant For My Own Good

WARNING: if you have something better to do with your life, now would be a good time! The following post is one of those things I notice that would make everybody groan. If you're really curious, read on... but don't say I didn't warn you.

Today, as I rolled up the floor mat after table tennis, I found myself making odd mental calculations when I felt it getting harder to pull as I was pulling more of it – a perfectly natural thing.That is how the mat is rolled. It is essentially folded, but one end must be picked up and walked to the other end. This is done 3 or 4 times until it is not in the way anymore. As I was walking with the mat, I (naturally) noticed it getting heavier because I was pulling more of it.

When I went back to grab the now-doubled mat to fold it again, I realized that while it would start at zero again, it would increment at double the rate. Because the mat was at that time half the length of before, I made a mental calculation and realized that when the puller reaches the very end (and is about to drop) the force needed to pull (discounting for friction) is the same, no matter how many layers there are. I guess what I actually mean is that the amount of material being pulled is the same.

Not a particularly useful observation, and certainly not the simplest way to come to the same conclusion, but there's a bit of insight into my thought processes.

Also, speaking of folding, foldit!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Control

I'm currently reading Lord of the Flies for English class, which is likely why the theme of control is hiding in my subconscious and decided to make a peek out earlier today. I saw an extremely tiny bug, and considered reaching over and squishing it, then I suppressed the urge and wondered what the urge was founded in in the first place.

What part of the human psyche is satisfied by squishing the bug?

Having just done a bunch of questions on Lord of the Flies, I was inclined to think that it is related to feeling in-control of our world. The interesting thing is that by consciously resisting the urge to squish the bug, I felt in control of myself. I'll let you in on a secret – controlling the world without being in control of yourself does not work well at all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Youth Discipline and Male Camaraderie

I recently read a book called Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax. It was an extremely interesting and intriguing book, and I could barely put it down - I finished a few hundred pages in about a day. It discussed a whole bunch of fundamental differences between boys and girls, and how they should be raised differently and taught differently.

One of the most powerful sections, in my opinion, is the one that presented a simple study that had shown that teenage males who spent time with other generations of men had far far greater respect for everything but especially women. This lead me to wonder, today, as I sat waiting to audition for a men's choir (I was successful, for the record) whether it would be a practical idea to somehow put juvenile delinquents in such a situation. What I mean is that instead of just forcing hours of community service on younger offenders, get them into a situation where they will learn respect, rather than learning resent.

Would this change anyone? I'd like to hope so.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Real Art

In the real world, you can't see everything at once – only bits and pieces at a time. However, most paintings illuminate all of their goodness simultaneously. One looks at the art all at once, appraising it and examining the finer details. With real life, one can never seen everything under the same light. I think it would be amazing to make a piece of art that looked one way normally, but completely different when viewed under a blacklight instead of a normal light. It would thus have a special kind of duality to it that other paintings would not, in a kind of "all is not what it seems" sort of way.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Psych!

Fact: people in our society are notoriously bad at figuring out other people's (and their own) feelings and motives

Fact: psychology is one of the most frequently studied* courses in first year university.

The incongruity in these facts says something about the nature of one or more of the following:

  • psychology
  • people
  • our society
  • university (*actually, taken. the course is not necessarily studied much at all)
But... go figure...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Quantum Humans

One of the characteristics of quantum-physics-controlled particles is that they change behaviour when they're observed. I have just now discovered something amazing – so do humans!

Well, of course they do... but somehow I just found it rather similar to the quantum mechanics scenario when I glanced over at a couple who was about to kiss, and they were still about to, but after they noticed me looking they ceased. I merely thought it interesting that I could control their actions with my gaze alone.

What If...?

Christopher Columbus had never reached adulthood. Either he died as a child or was never born at all. What would life be like right now?

The Germans would likely have much stronger influence than they do, because Spain and England might not have gotten such an early toehold on the new world. Society and technological advancements would almost certainly be behind, as the colonies overseas greatly aided economical development in their motherlands.

There are countless other historical figures (and even some people alive today) that would have a massive impact if they didn't do what they did. A few examples...

  • Thomas Edison
  • Bill Gates
  • Linus Torvalds
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Cleopatra
  • Napoleon
  • Mao Zedong
  • Julius Caesar
  • William Shakespeare
Now, it would be quite interesting to write a short paper describing what life would be like had any of these people not been around.What would be even more interesting (and exciting, for that matter) would be to write some sort of narrative or novel occurring in such a world.

This has gotten me wondering... how many people in history could have been snuffed before birth and not affect history enough to prevent my birth?

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Random Description of a November Day

The day was restless; grumpy clouds traversed the sky, anxiously wishing to be elsewhere. The sky was dark but the air was light. Buildings made a sharp silhouette against the blur of the clouds. Their colours took a holiday, yet those of the trees were prouder than ever. Green, orange, and yellow in between; the colours refused to blend together, so they all stood out individually. The wind was intermittent, and the air was strangely warm. It had reached the time of year when the leaves remaining in the trees equaled to their fallen comrades in number. None could say, however, which leaves had more energy, as those on the ground were blown at least as much as those in the trees. The world was patiently awaiting something, but it refused to reveal its intentions. A few raindrops fell casually from the clouds, because they had no reason to stay. Apart from a slight swaying in the trees, nothing changed. The sky had decided that we would have no sunset this evening, merely darkness. Despite how the clouds tried to race away, there was an infinite supply waiting on the horizon. A few birds soared in giant circles, as if trying in vain to create a hurricane...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Don't Touch My Hairy Crotch Thing!

Hairy Crotch Thing = a very accurate yet misleading definition for a sporn.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Story About a Chair

once upon a time
there was a chair
the chair was blue
both in colour, and in nature
see, this chair didn't want to be blue
the chair didn't even want to be a chair
people were constantly sitting on it
and it was tired of it all
the only friend the chair had who was worse off was the toilet
people sat on him too
and he was really tired of dealing with their crap
anyway
one day the blue chair decided he would go on an adventure
he leaned forward on his front legs and began rocking back and forth
"this isn't any good" he thought "I'm not going anywhere"
the chair stopped and stood still for a moment
then, it swung one side of itself forward
then the other
and again
and it was moving!
"I'm off!" he thought with excitement
the chair tottered in this way for nearly half an hour when it suddenly came to a set of stairs
there were stairs going up and stairs going down
"i cant climb stairs" thought the chair
"hmmm"
throwing care into the wind, the chair leapt the other way instead, and tumbled down the other stairs
the light was on in the basement, and the chair looked around
right on the nearest shelf was a big can of paint
but the paint was black
"black isn't a real colour" said the chair
"white isn't either" he said, looking to the next can
he hoped the third can would be a colour
it was! but it was blue
it was a slightly different shade than the chair, but it was still blue
the chair was still sad
"grrr" he muttered, trying to imitate the family dog
he tottered farther into the basement to see if he could find a brighter shade of paint
instead, he came across an old yellow sofa
the sofa was very bitter
"hey blue-bottom! what are you doing down here?"
"I've come to make myself not be blue anymore!" cried the chair
"not blue? are you kidding? blue is such a nice, pure, colour.... my yellow upholstering is faded and dull. i would absolutely love to be blue"
"but I'm sad"
"you're blue"
"I'm sad. the only thing that could possibly make me happy is to not be blue anymore"
"kiddo?" the sofa regarded the chair curiously "if theres one thing i know - and there likely isn't, but regardless - if theres one thing i know, it's not to base your happiness off of only one thing"
the chair was interested, but didn't quite understand. he asked "why not? everything else in my existence is fine, but i cant be happy while I'm blue"
"are you ever happy?" the sofa replied
"well, sometimes. i like it when the evening sun pours golden light through the window and all around...." he relaxed and reveried "sorry, he added as an afterthought. i guess you never see the sun"
"not anymore, kiddo, not anymore"
the sofa paused
"but it's alright.....so, that makes you happy? the beautiful contrast of the golden sun with your deep blue?"
"yes...."
"and you turn slightly greenish, but a good shade?"
"yes....?"
"but if you were purple, say, and always happy, would the golden sun still matter?
the chair thought for a moment
it rocked back and forth
"....purple and yellow don't mix at all...."
he continued thinking
"and... if i was already happy, it wouldn't matter if the sun shone in the window"
"aha" said the sofa
"what do you mean?" asked the chair
"you just said it yourself"
"said what?"
the sofa was slightly amused "you just said that if you were made a new colour, one of your main sources of happiness would be gone"
"but...."
"but you wouldn't have anything to compare your perpetual happiness to. you would never know if you were happy because you'd only be one way"
the chair was beginning to understand
"so, i need to be blue sometimes in order to be happy other times?"
"you got it, kiddo!"
the chair turned toward the grandfather clock that was sitting in the corner
"what time has sunset been lately.... have you seen it from the top of the stairs?"
the clock was covered in dust
it finally spoke
"the sun is going to set when that little hand on my face gets up to the top
which is in only a few minutes"
with his new knowledge, the chair turned back to the sofa
"one more thing?" he asked
"shoot"
"how do i get back up the stairs?"

(The story was written linearly and spontaneously. My friend wanted me to tell her a story over instant messaging, and I typed this out on the spot, line by line. The story took about half an hour, and even ended up with a moral (that I had not decided upon when I started.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

I don't own my parents...

...so why do I call them "my" parents? Words like that are possessive, and yet they actually only denote relation. I think the English language should have another modified form of pronoun that indicates relation, rather than possession. Other languages sort of have this, which I know because I often hear ESL students here saying "the book of Liam" or something like that. Of course, I know that this will never ever happen, because grammar is becoming simpler as time goes on, rather than more complex. There are more words especially bastardized ones but the days of complex endings for words has already passed us by.... y'all.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Parablic

Every now and then, I feel like Jesus. Once it was because I felt sort of like "What thou dost unto others, thou dost also unto me" but normally it is because I describe everything with parables. An excellent example:

Today in chemistry class, Mr. MacInnis was explaining to somebody how when making dot diagrams, the electrons won't go beside each other unless theres so many that they have to. I turned around and remarked to the fellows behind me how this is exactly the same as guys at urinals. Normally, my relating would be done to help the person understand, but it was a girl, so she wouldn't have got the urinal thing anyway. All of you guys out there understand though, I'm sure.

I come up with probably five or more of these a day, on average, although many don't fit quite as perfectly. If I notice any more particularly well-done parables though, I'll put them up here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Wrongs Make a Right

Not normally. Three lefts make a right, but two wrongs do not normally.

They did this morning. This morning, on the way out the door, I asked Alastair if it was a sleep-in (breakfast starts a ½ hour later) and he said "Yes, but I didn't know, which was okay because I was late."

After a few moments of thinking, I realized that his two wrongs had indeed made a right. By themselves, he misses breakfast:

  • he thinks it is later but it is not... but he still arrives late = no breakfast for Alastair
  • he thinks it is at the normal time, but it isn't... but he's on time = he's there too early
...but put the two together and you've got a positive outcome. He was quite amused when I pointed this out to him later in the day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Born Again

The afterlife. Hmm? We don't know if there is an afterlife and if so, what it's like. Thus the following post is merely humorous speculation.

Buddhists say that there is no afterlife, but that we're just born again (correct me if I'm wrong). But, what good is that if we don't remember previous lives? Well, what if we in fact get born again into an alternative universe, where everybody has lived at least once, and probably a few have lived multiple times. That world would be a completely different place from here, because children would start out with knowledge and morals. Or, maybe their old memories gradually return as they grow older, either at the same rate or a faster rate.

Previous lives would be a part of this land's culture, and great effort would almost certainly be spent trying to track down the new bodies of famous old souls. Fathers could reunite with their sons and daughters, while themselves being only the age of their great-grandchildren. People could continue somewhat down the path of their old life or start a new one, as they pleased.

After awhile of being born again in this second world, all of the souls might then travel to a third, and so on. Or not. Perhaps they just stay at this other world. Ours might only be a precursor to the true reality beyond. But like I said, we will never know. Or at least, nobody here will.

For anybody curious, this idea sprung up after I muttered "You only live once" while grabbing a brownie even though I had said I wouldn't have any chocolate until my complexion improved a little.

It would be interesting to write a novel about this idea, perhaps even so epic that it concerns somebody breaking through, back into this world, or somebody who had lived a few times in the other world suddenly being born back here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

HEARING IMPAIRED.... hearing impaired


While out driving today (I drive now hehe) I spotted a sign that said Hearing Impaired. Well, I thought it was a little funny that they'd have a single sign to note where a deaf person lives. I guess they suppose that thats where s/he is most likely to be, and thus it is the most important place to put a sign. I think....

That if the person sets out walking, they're 100% likely to pass through the street right in front of their house, then from that street there are 6 other streets possible (assuming a perfect grid). At each of these streets, there should be another sign that says the same thing, but is 1/6th of the size of the previous one. This should continue, getting 1/3 smaller each time, until the signs cannot be manufactured that small. That would be an appropriate way to warn of a person who is hearing impaired.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Indifferent, Therefore Different

Most people care quite a lot about what people think about them. I, however, am different, because I don't really care that much. This means I'm indifferent.

I could do a great big rant about that as a social and psychological phenomenon, but I don't really want to just now. I just wanted to point out that I've found another pair of words that appear as if they should be opposites and are not.

Different = doesn't match
Indifferent = doesn't care

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Vehicular Nanoplants

Some work has been done lately in nanotechnology to develop substances that act essentially as extremely efficient plants, harvesting energy from the sun at a rate much greater than photovoltaic solar panels. While I'm sure that the process that ensues is not the same as photosynthesis, I wonder if that would not also be possible.

Imagine this: On the way out of the exhaust of your car, your toxic or "evil" carbon dioxide is intercepted by a bunch of "nanoplants", and converted into oxygen and glucose. Of course, there would have to be an energy source (to replace what is normally sunlight) and a supply of water, as the chemical equation looks like this:

energy + 6CO2 + 6H2O = 6O2 + C6H12O6

Assuming that there would be plenty of waste energy from the engine that could somehow be captured and utilized, the only remaining difficulty is to procure a molecule of water for every one of carbon dioxide trying to pass through. This could be done via a storage tank for the water, or ideally using some system that would remove it from the air for use. If either of those could be efficiently done, the car would produce oxygen and sugar instead of carbon dioxide.

This is likely impossible for some reason, because at first glance it almost seems to defy entropy. On the other hand, is that not what biology often appears to do? The mere fact that respiration and photosynthesis both occur in nature is a bit inspiring, as it seems impossible for two opposite reactions to both have a productive outcome. I simply think that it is neat to imagine cars producing the stuff we breathe and the stuff we eat, instead of a greenhouse gas that heats our planet up. Also, this way the carbon doesn't disappear, because it can be consumed again.

I wonder if theres a way that we can do the same sort of thing to human waste.....

Ubuntu InstaLiveCD

As a result of all of the recent development with Ubuntu (the new version is out) I have thought of something interesting: to allow a liveCD to instantly (+ the time it takes to burn a CD) be created based on the current operating sustem:

When installing for the first time, it would ask whether or not to keep the extra files. If 'yes' then this feature would be enabled. Then, when you inserted a blank CD, one of the options on the right-click menu would be 'make a CD to put this operation system on somebody's else's computer. It's not that useful, but would be very useful for any Linux user who wants to spread it around.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Interesting Article, but it just doesn't make sense.


http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/04/23/mother-diet-boys.html


Apparently, a woman is more likely to conceive a male if she eats a high-calorie diet, yet a female if she eats low-fat this and skim that. It's really neat, and makes sense based on there being more girls born these days, but it's one of those cases where you really shouldn't take it seriously - because it's not her choice!

That is to say, it's not her body that chooses - sperm are made in the man with X or Y chromosomes, and whichever races first to the egg makes the kid. How on earth is a woman's diet supposed to determine that?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

History is History

We constantly study history, and a really common remark is that history repeats itself. We note that we never learn from our mistakes, but we persist in studying these mistakes.

There is a historical precedent of humans paying absolutely no heed to the mistakes made before us, and once again, we do the same thing, persisting in studying history. We have learned from studying history that studying history wont do us any good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Among things that make me question human intelligence...

...or at least that of my peers, is how people behave during Cadets at my school. We have mandatory cadets here, which consists of marching and standing (a lot) and a bit of classroom work for most cadets and some music for the band members. Now, however, the classroom periods have subsided in favour of practising for the annual review that we will have in 10 days or so. Daily, instead of sports, we go outside and do cadets. Everybody hates it.

The thing is (and I don't claim to be the only person nor the first person to realize this) if people tried during the first run-through, they'd get it, and we wouldn't do it again. It's not very difficult. My peers feel a need to protest, though, so they slouch, and look around, and talk, step out of line, and just generally make nuisances of themselves. Thus, we don't perform the drill well and have to do it again. People get more fed up with having to do it again that they slack off even more. Eventually, they realize that by playing along, they can leave sooner (read: at all).

However, if people didn't start out predisposed against cadets and they actually tried in the first place, we'd have to practise the whole thing about 4 or 5 times total, rather than 20+.

On thing I remember is a fellow in front of me who would perpetually complain about the many other productive things he could be doing. He is right, but the very fact that he's saying it proves that he hasn't learned patience. There is actually a small paradox there, in that the only people for whom there is nothing to learn (assuming patience is the only thing and they already have it) are the people who would never speak up about it.

After doing the same thing over and over, I actually got to the stage where I would call out the timing for moves I wasn't even doing, just to make the timing louder so that it gets over quicker. I've got patience, but that doesn't mean I won't try to speed things along.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What You Don't Have

....you lack. Lacking is the true opposite of having, but today we seem to have been brainwashed by the consumption gods into thinking that if you don't have something, you need it. Need and possession are both related, but are not at all the same.

Once again, I'm being like Indexed and making a graph of things. Now, to really be right about things, this graph would need a third dimension: want. Want is the seed of consumerism. It's getting late, and I don't really feel like going into a great big rant about why consuming is bad, but you can check out the Story of Stuff.

All I really wanted to say is that while we often tend to think that need and have are opposites, this is not the case. I also want to say that "or lack thereof" is one of my favorite phrases. Unfortunately, its formality (or, lack thereof) does not render it very useful when I'm writing essays and decide to throw it in there in parentheses.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sometimes the Most Obvious Ideas are the Best

Have a device installed right in a car that can detect tire pressure and re-inflate them automatically using the engine's power. I thought of this this morning in the Driver's Ed classroom (which is all done now, finally) when I heard the teacher saying something about the engine stabilizing pressure. He was referring to the oil chamber or something like that, but I couldn't help but wonder why this couldn't work with tires as well.

Even if this wasn't an automatic system – you'd have to check yourself then get the engine to fill the tires – it would still be really useful. In an age of rising fuel costs, it makes sense to have your car running as efficiently as possible.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let's not and say we did...

Make a pangram, using not just all the letters of the alphabet, but all of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to Walk Nowhere

I'm not sure if this works in the day-time, but either way it definitely helps to have clouds. The process is simple. Go outside to an area where you aren't going to run into something (like a field) then start walking. Now tilt your head back until all you can really see is the sky. Because of perspective and because the sky is so far away, it doesn't appear to move at all. Your brain is now receiving mixed messages, because your body is telling you "yes, you're walking" but your eyes are saying "you're not going anywhere". It's not exactly epic, but it's worth doing at least once.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The UFO Paradox

If you name something, what are you doing to it? You're identifying it, right? Well, in that case, it's impossible to have a UFO.

In order to be called a UFO, the object would have to be identified as a UFO, at which point it could not longer possibly be a UFO, because the U stands for Unidentified. As the object has just been identified, it can no longer be called a UFO. Then, if we don't call it a UFO, it's not identified, and if it is a flying object, would thus be an unidentified flying object.

Hm.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Nasty Habit I have Withese Words...

An annoying and yet very odd habit I have is to stick two words together if they have overlap. This most commonly occurs with the words "With" and "The", where I will be writing and my brain moves so fast that it writes "Withe" instead. Contrary to most 'typos', this one only occurs when I'm writing quickly on paper. I noticed it more consciously the other day when I wrote "Bothe".

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hey Facebook - want to give me a written guarantee of the truth of this?

From Facebook (the Friends For Sale! Application):
"last online over 38 years ago"

....really now... you sure about that? I could have sworn that:

  1. The friend in question is only 14 years old.
  2. Facebook itself is only 4 years old.
  3. The Internet is only 25 years old at the most
Seriously. That just doesn't work.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Disposable USB Sticks

An idea that I had just now: USB Sticks that have very little storage (16MB or 32MB probably) that could be given away or used to win prizes on (like CDs in cereal boxes) because the hardware would be worth virtually nothing. There could even be like 1MB or 2MB ones that would be great for printing off documents, or even to hand in to a teacher (although most don't like that). Because of their very small storage size, they could physically be extremely tiny as well.

Now here's a twist: consider having these in addition to having a small device with two USB ports, a 4-way switch, an arrow, a light (or more) and a button.

Above is a simple representation of what I meant, showing one or more of the following

  1. I'm creative
  2. I'm a visual thinker
  3. Diagrams rule (but they're better on napkins)
  4. I have an aversion to sleep
  5. I have an addiction to MSPaint
  6. I do my best creating at night
  7. I figure you people will have no idea what I'm talking about if i don't show a diagram
  8. I'm crazy
I'm not sure which (if any) of those are true, but thats a major digression. What the image is supposed to show is how simple of a device it would be. You might be beginning to realize what it does now... or maybe not. This is what it does:

It copies files from one USB stick to the other. The three options are:
  1. Circle with Arrows: swap the contents of the two sticks. There would potentially be some limitations to this one, but it should work fine assuming that the sticks are of different sizes and one is more than 2x the other. If they are the same size, why bother? Just trade sticks.
  2. Double Arrow: copy everything on each stick to the other stick, leaving the data on each stick. Both sticks now contains the same thing - the combined contents of each.
  3. Single Arrow: copy everything from one stick to the other stick.
  4. X and Arrow: delete everything on one stick and replace it with the contents of the other stick.
In the last two cases, the data moves following the arrow. It would be nice to be able to choose whether duplicate files were overwritten or not.

Basically, what you'd do is plug both USB Sticks into the device. You'd set the switch or whatever to the setting you desired, then push the button. The device whirrs and lights up yellow for a few seconds, then (hopefully) the light turns green. If there were an error or some sort, the light would turn red. There could be flashing combinations of lights to indicate different errors, somewhat like an iPod Shuffle.

This was a very long explaination for a small and indeed rather simple device, but I really think that both of these – the sticks and the copier – would be really useful to have around. Imagine if you could buy those few MB of storage for only a few cents. Given that a 1GB (1000MB) drive costs about $10 these days, that works out rather well. The devices would be a bit more expensive, but on the whole it would allow for great synchronization. Come to think of it, it would be great if we could sync computers with a USB cable. Hmm....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Diamond Riots


A game I made when I was in junior high. It's pretty tough, actually, although not extremely complex. Good luck, and don't try to figure out the spinning spiky fellow in the second-last level — I programmed him to be random!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happiness via Self-Confusion

A good day is when you're living so much in the moment that you accidentally wish somebody "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon. A great day is when you're having such a good day that you say "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon on purpose.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rest... In Pill Form!

These days, it's extremely easy to find stimulants of all sorts caffeine, energy drinks, and the like. However, these things pump you up really quick but then leave your system and you crash. Neither of these is particularly helpful in the long term.

Wouldn't it be great if we could pills that would actually simulate sleep? Rather than giving excited energy, they would just make you feel rested. This kind of thing would sell so unbelievably well at my school. People would just take a few of them and not even sleep anymore.

Naturally, there would be all sorts of other problems, like eyes not having enough time to lubricate, but if we forget about those or assume the pill would solve them as well, then it really could be a miracle drug. Not quite a panacea, but extremely useful.

It could be given to insomniacs, and they wouldn't even have to try to sleep anymore. Somebody recovering from surgery or an injury could take the pill to make their body more rested and able to heal. There are so many applications for something like this that it would be impossible to name them all.

...At the very least, you'd need to stay up so late to possibly list them all that you'd need the drug yourself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Coca-Cola — why a drink?

As I am sure you already know, and as can be seen even clearer here, the popular Soft Drink Coca-Cola has many many useful properties beyond just being a beverage. In fact, it is touted as being the "best" at many things: unsplipperying floors and cleaning old frying pans, curing "the trots" and hiccups, and even removing hair dye and tanning.

So... what about all the competing products? Why aren't they as good? one would think that they would be, seeing as they were actually design for that purpose. I mean, what was the likelihood that somebody would stumble upon a household cleaning chemical while trying to make a drink? Okay, that's fairly likely. How about a self-tanner? Not very likely. Even weirder? What was the likelihood that somebody would discover that, and then proceed to market and sell the product as a drink.

My rant for the day. I just think its extremely odd that one product has so unbelievably many accidental uses, and more importantly that the product consistantly outperforms those that are actually intended for such use. It's surprising that no other companies have stumbled across Coke's formula by accident.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Religion and Nudity (or lack thereof)

The orthodox Jewish religion has a ban on just about any nudity at all. They cover their upper arms, shoulders, legs and hair, in the name of modesty.

Now, I don't know very much about Judaism, but I do know that it shares the Christian Old Testament. Now, I don't know much about Christianity (actually, a fair bit) but I do know that in the very first chapter (Genesis) the first man and woman start out in paradise not wearing any clothes. After they eat from the tree of knowledge/evil, they suddenly realize their own nudity. They put on fig leaves (so the story goes) to hide their naughty bits. God finds them hiding, and kicks them out of paradise.

So what? Well, like the wonderful webcomic Indexed, I will explain this using a graph:

We can see quite clearly from this graph that amount of paradise relates very strongly to how much clothes are worn. Therefore, all that "modest" people are doing is trying to escape paradise. Why they do this, we can never truly know - is it because they are insecure and don't think they deserve paradise (or insecure and think they're ugly)? Is it because they believe that since "they" ate the forbidden fruit, they don't deserve paradise (or since they ate at MacDonald's too much, they don't deserve to be nude in public)?

It could be anything! It's impossible to say.

Beyond the simple paradise versus clothes comparison, one can observe how God "made us in his image" and that therefore we're covering it up! Why would he want that?

I'm not sure exactly what I think. I can't say I'd like the whole world to suddenly turn nudist, but I guess I wish it had been that way when I grew up.

Or maybe I'm just a Naturist...

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Worst Idea I've Ever Had

It probably is. I can't say for sure. The idea is, to (maybe with a whole bunch of other people) take out a huge massive loan from some bank - enough to actually buy so many of the bank's stocks that you then own the bank. Naturally, this would be virtually impossible, as banks have probably millions of stocks out there and they're only going to lend you so much. Still, I thought of this in History class today and thought it could be funny.

I mean, once you owned the bank you'd definitely be making enough profit that you could pay back the debt relatively quickly. And.... then you'd own a bank!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm Sorry Your Subconscious Brain Thought I'd Do That

Have you ever had somebody tell you about a dream in which you did something bad or mean, and then you wanted to apologize but you weren't sure if you should?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Driver Training

This evening, my Dad thought he'd take me for a little drive, because I'm 16 now, and, well, that's what's done. He drove my grandmother's nice Honda Civic Hybrid out some distance and then into a seemingly-deserted parking lot. He stopped, and we chatted for a few moments, but no sooner had we switched seats when a military truck arrived...

...with a yellow sign on the back saying "Driver Training". We immediately cracked up, but then we saw another one. A second truck following, also with a "Driver Training" sign. Although the parking lot wasn't very large, we decided that I would do some driving around - once the trucks had stopped and parked over to the side (the army men got out in combats and were talking about stuff). I drove for a short while before a third truck appeared. (Its sign said "Student Driver" on it rather than Driver Training)

It was hilarious! -a comic relief sort of thing. Anyway, we drove in the parking lot for a bit and then finally noticed they were gone. They must have gone to do their training somewhere else...

Friday, April 4, 2008

200mL.... or more — a juice-pack investigation.

Both of these containers purport to contain 200mL of juice/soy beverage. Please excuse the low quality of the photos, but all I have to work with here is a webcam. Anyway, you should be able to see in this one that the Natura Soy is slightly wider than the Five Alive.
Because they are the same height.......one would expect the Five Alive to be slightly thicker. In fact, the opposite is true:
These containers both contain 200mL of juice, so one must assume either that Five Alive is lying and actually contains less (which is unlikely because food associations are really picky about that sort of thing) or that the Natura one has empty air space, and their package is slightly too large. Okay, we can accept that.

But, why? Both containers come from Tetra Pak® and Natura is an organic company. Tetra Paks are among the most vile containers as far as decomposing goes — they are made up metal, plastic, and paper. Why would an organic company purposely pay more for a larger container, when that container is going to contain the same amount as another container that Tetra makes?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm Fine - Really!

When I was younger, my parents and relatives would always tell me that when asked how I am, I'm to answer "I'm fine" rather than "Good". I suppose this makes sense, because good sounds like it's describing the person, not how they are feeling. Still, I always thought it was kinda dumb.

Many years later, I still think the same thing. Idly asking how somebody is (just because you're expected to) is so nasty. The reply does not matter - it is as if by asking at all, one shows that one cares. Well whoop de doo! How much effort does it take to mutter "How are you?" or "How's it going?" — not much. I believe an exchange of how-are-you i'm-good-and-you-fine-thanks is absolutely 100% pointless — unless you lead it into something else, and actually make a conversation.

Basically, what I really don't like is when I'm walking somewhere and I pass somebody and when I say "Hi" to be friendly, they have an auto-response of "Hi how are you?" The problem is, we've already passed each other. I now have to look like either deaf or mean (by not answering them) or I have to give a very sudden and rushed "I'm fine" while trying to turn around so they remain in earshot. This is foolish! Don't ask me a question if you don't have time for the answer! Also, don't make me feel selfish because I don't have time to pretend I care about how you are.

People need to break free from what we feel are social obligations. The next time you ask how somebody is, listen. If they say a simple one word answer (and they're somebody you're close with) ask for more. Say "How are you, really?" You never know — something interesting might actually be happening in their life. This whole rant kindof goes back to this post.

Also annoying is when girls pull the "I'm fine" or "Nothing's wrong" thing even when theres clearly something wrong — but that's another story.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

an anagram by me explaining why people run away these days

Why nomads? = Hw & Mondays

(for non-students - Hw is homework)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shower Phone

= A waterproof phone that just sticks to the wall in the shower and is always on speakerphone (no handheld receiver)

Then, you could just stand there in the shower and talk to people...
or if the phone rang, you could answer it without getting out!

It would need some sort of sound cancellation thing so you didnt hear the running water though...

Tomorrow, Today!...?

Google Australia has just come up with a new Google feature - gDay with MATE. This amazing tool will allow us to see the search results we want before they even exist. I was wondering about the following situation...

Suppose somebody sees that some stock they have tons of is going to fall the next day, and thus decides that they should sell theirs all beforehand. The selling of their stock could actually cause the stock to fall. This is weird though, because it was the falling stock in the first place that caused them to sell.

Is it possible for two things to cause each other?

If something like this would produce a black hole or something, it would be best if Google just pretended it was all an April Fools' joke and hid the evil away forever.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Mirror to the Soul?

Judging someone is like looking into a mirror, because all you really see is a reflection of yourself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dryly Distracted

I just took a spontaneous break from my physics lab to take apart the dryer door and screw it on the other way, just because I thought it was facing the wrong way. Our dryer is located to the left of the washer, but the hinges of the door are on the right. This means that when you open it up, the door is kind of in between the washer and the opening of the dryer.

After a quick examination, it was apparent that the dryer door (like most) was intended to be reversible. Fortunately, I had a handy-dandy phillips screwdriver in my room that was the perfect size. I went and got it and had the thing fixed in 15 minutes.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Nose Knows



I made a T-shirt design today: http://www.cafepress.com/thisnos

Chances are, you get it, but don't find it particularly funny. Oh well, I still think it was cool just because it shows just how quickly one can create and sell merchandise these days. The joke itself is something a friend of mine used to say all the time, but the humor dies somewhat when written out.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Usually

Usually and Unusually are not perfect opposites, despite appearing so based on their root and prefix. Indeed, usual and unusual are mostly the same, but somehow making this adjective into an adverb changed that.

Just think about it:

  • Usually means "on a regular basis", "often" or "most of the time"
  • Unusually means "strangely enough" or "abnormally"
...and theres how they're used. One would never said "I unusually go there for breakfast" or "She was usually tall". Those sentences don't make sense - unless she used very weird growth hormones.


Then there's flammable and inflammable, which have the same meaning - but that's another story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Distraction

I've come to realize that the more distracted you get, the easier it is to get even more sidetracked. It would appear that distractions are, in fact, less engaging and thus easier to be drawn away from. The farther you get from your initial purpose, the less external idea or activity it takes to get you farther. I thought this was interesting - not particularly groundbreaking, but kind of a "Hmm... Yeah"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Logical Proof that Nothing Exists

If there is any of something, it can be said that that thing exists, right? Well, a phrase heard now and then is "There's nothing in there". This would mean that there's definitely some nothing. Does that mean that nothing exists?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gmail Forwarding Loop of DOOM

At some point, I intend to set up two gmail accounts just temporarily. These accounts will each be set to forward to each other. Then, as soon as one of the accounts gets a single email, the email will be sent back and forth until there are thousands of copies in each inbox! Eventually, something will happen to stop this, but until it does, it'll look pretty cool. The process could be escalated by turning on not only normal forwarding, but filter-based forwarding and POP-3/IMAP, as well as sending multiple messages.

I'll post the results here when I do it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Thursday...

I was on a bunch of drugs - so much that I barely remember it. I lay reclined in a chair in a wash of light with sunglasses on. I had two ladies attending to me.

And now... I look like The Godfather.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

True Blue

We've all asked the question "Why is the sky blue?"
I want to know... Is it blue on every planet with an atmosphere?

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Demand a Good Answer

Why must waffles be kept in the freezer but not bread? Why?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Right.

"...what's the difference between the two?"

"there isnt.
except one way, you're right
and the other way
i'm right"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Snow! No!

I think it would be really really awesomely nicely super clever if somebody created a car or device that would allow for the car doors to be opened (in snowy weather or post-snowfall) without snow falling all over the seat. Hmph.

Orientation

I've been really super busy with web design type stuff lately, so haven't managed to post. Shame on me. Anyway, heres something I have laying around that I wrote and it's kinda neat.


and as we near, we near even more. exposed to things, we become like them. we take on their traits. we believe them. spending time around things makes us tied stronger to them, and it influences our thoughts, so that we are oriented towards them. everything we think is thought with relevance to what we are oriented by. even when we think of something that has nothing to do with our current orientation, we suddenly come up with a reason why it does. if we are not in the prescence of the thing or person of our focus, we will then switch to a new orientation, based on what we are now surrounded by.

this also holds extremely true with love, on both ends:

if we are around someone for a long period of time, we grow closer to him/her, and likewise, if out of his/her presence for a long period of time, we will find ourselves first becoming lonely, and then eventually caring less. The loneliness is caused by the confusion of being oriented toward someone, and then having him/her not be there anymore. after awhile, we are used to not being near this person, and the loneliness (usually) decreases.

on the other end (going along with the second section of the first paragraph) people whom we love influence our decisions. the stronger the love, the stronger the influence. this can be extremely confusing, especially when we realize that we are being influenced and wonder if that person really matters to this decision.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Door

If a door is sealed shut so that it really has no ability to open, is it still a door?

I had a big debate about this with my friends at supper one night. Some argued that it remained a door, still. Another idea was that it was a "post-door" as in it used to be a door. Naturally, that means it is a door no longer.

Despite posing the question in a neutral manner, I know that I took the side of it being no longer a door. The key to answering a philosophical question like this is having a perfect definition of everything. A door could be defined as something that opens to let people (or other things) through. This would mean that it is no longer a door. However, if the definition was modified only slightly, to something that was designed to open and let people through then it would still have a chance - unless you count the sealing as redesign with the intention of no longer letting people through.

Eventually you reach the conclusion that because a door is only a vague idea in the human conscious, the question cannot really be answered.