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.