Ditching Cable

2021-05-12

I recently decided to cancel my cable subscription. My bill was more than $130.00 a month not including internet which was bundled. After months of debating whether I really needed it or not I finally took the plunge.



The first few days my wife was kind of nervous about it but since then both of us have completely adjusted. I have a Playstation 3 which I use Netflix and Hulu Plus as my new method of viewing shows.



I've found watching TV this way not only to be acceptable but to be preferable to cable. One of the bonuses I didn't expect is I don't have to worry about my DVR filling up. There are sometimes in life small stresses than one doesn't even realize are there until they are gone. It's not like I was staying up late at night worrying about DVR space but now that it's not an issue, it's nice to know whenever I get back to that show it will be there. I used to feel pressure to watch a certain amount of TV per week so the DVR wouldn't run out of space, especially with more than one person using the same DVR. I also prefer being able to watch shows as seasons rather than waiting a week for each episode to come out.



I've also discovered some good shows and movies I never would have stumbled upon if I wasn't forced to probe Netflix and Hulu a little deeper than I had been doing.



I find myself wasting less time watching shows I don't really even like just because they are on. Watching streaming you end up seeing only shows you specifically want to watch.



I do have to use torrents for a few shows, but far less than I expected. I don't think it will be long before the entertainment industry realizes if people can't find their shows on a non-cable platform they are going to be losing money.



If any of you have been ditching cable, I highly recommend going for it. Not only do you save money but you may find you get a superior experience as well.


No free lunches

2021-05-12

I had been taking some new supplements, zinc and magnesium about 30 minutes before bedtime every night for a couple weeks.



The idea behind this is that is helps you get into a deeper sleep and aids with testosterone production. According to some research testosterone is produced at night and early morning and is actually responsible for the phenomenon called "Morning wood".



I had been diligent in my workout regiment while doing this, going every other day to the gym in order to take full advantage of any testosterone increases.



Well, the experiment was a success. I was feeling strong, and my libido was through the roof, I felt like I was in high school again. It was so high in fact I decided to stop taking the supplements because it was becoming difficult to focus on anything.



The good news for anyone who wants a testosterone boost is the zinc magnesium combo before bed definitely works, but be careful about over doing it. I figured it had something to do with zinc or magnesium as that was the biggest change in my life recently. Well after a little research I learned too much zinc can cause you to become iron deficient which explained everything. I took an iron supplement and within 24 hours things started going back to normal. The good news for anyone who wants a testosterone boost is the zinc magnesium combo before bed definitely works, but be careful about over doing it.


How did Edison maintain such a high work output?

2021-05-12

I was working on a project a few days ago while on a stimulant. I finished the project and many others that day. At the end of the day I thought this must have been what Edison was like, but every day.



 



Edison is quoted as saying "Personally, I enjoy working about 18 hours a day. Besides the short catnaps I take each day, I average about four to five hours of sleep per night." That is quite a prodigious amount of work.



Thomas Edison is one of the men I admire most in history, probably just behind Albert Einstein. He was a genius to be sure, but one of the things I most admired was his work ethic, his ability to pump out invention after invention after invention. Almost every major technology of the 20th century was either invented by him or influenced by him. So in a sense I feel kind of like a kid who learned his favorite athlete was caught using steroids. His amazing abilities were likely attributed to drug use.



This doesn't take anything away from his ingenuity and intelligence, but I've always wondered how he was able to push himself so hard everyday and now I think I know. It's interesting how a now illegal drug is in part responsible for so many of the things we now enjoy, the light bulb for instance, did you know he invented that? Probably. But did you know he invented recorded music, alkaline batteries, electric trains, an ore separater, motion pictures, electric motors, x-rays, and many many more. Here is a full list of his patents:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Edison_patents



One of the big complaints about steroids are they provide an uneven playing field, but with Edison, he wasn't competing with anyone who didn't have access to everything he did, so morally I don't think you can hold anything against him. He didn't brake the law, he just found a way to increase his output, which we are all the benefactors of.



Other interesting links pertaining to this subject:



http://www.thomasedison.com/quotes.html



http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/22/social.history.cocaine/index.



html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vin_Mariani


A fistful of Sophocles

2021-05-12

Sophocles was born in ancient Greece in 496BC and is considered one of the best writers of all time. He entered his plays in around 30 competitions, won 24 times, and never placed lower than second.



During his life the population of earth was about 200 million. This is a guess, as there is no actual census data from this time, but the actual population is probably not far off from this number.



This means Sophocles was 1 in 200 million. Assuming genetics, environment, and upbringing create a playwright of this level on average every 200 million people, there should be at this point in history with the population currently at around 7 billion, 35 Sophocles level writers. That makes now a pretty exciting time to be around.



Population growth may be taking a toll on earth and people are worried about the depletion of our resources but imagine a time, possibly in the near future, where we spread out to other planets. Not only can we alleviate the burden we put on the Earth but there are many benefits to a large population.



Lets assume we could settle Mars, Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, (Moons of gas giants) and our moon. All being very difficult and bringing huge challenges, but if we could get a billion and a half people on each, we would double the current human population at no more expense to the earth giving us 70 Sophocles.



Not only would we have more Sophocles, but more Einsteins, more Beatles, more Picassos, etc... If you think of the brains of all people as computers, the computing power increases with population. If we ever get to a point where we invent worm holes so time and space were no longer the hurdles they are now, the whole galaxy could be populated with humans (Assuming we aren't battling for resources with other competitors).



The Milky Way contains about 200 billion stars. That's 200 billion solar systems, if we assume ours is an average solar system, maybe we could get 14 billion people in each. That's 2,800 billion billion people. That's 400 billion times what we have on earth now or 14,000 billion Sophocles. Not only would there be so many Sophocles level writers, but there would be people of such talent that none currently exist. People who only get produced once in 100 billion instead of 1 in 200 million. Genomes that are geared to give one person such an advantage in one area that it would be as if they were genetically engineered specifically for that purpose.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophocles



http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2011/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx


The Unbought Party

2021-05-12

I feel like politics have broken government. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, nothing you really want gets done. Any other party is too small to have an effect on anything.



I think many, if not most, of us realize the problem is in large part due to the influence of corporations. Large donations that enable candidates to fund their campaigns require favours. Unfortunately corporate goals aren't always aligned with the good of the people.



I've often felt like I couldn't do anything, nor could I figure out what could even be done, but I recently had a thought that I feel has some merit.



A new party could be formed. It could be based on the premise that we need people in office who are not bought. I call it the Unbought Party.



It could be enforced from within that none of it's candidates would accept any funding from corporations or other interests. Members of the party could donate anonymously through a website. Those funds can be used to start campaigns to get it's members in office. The people who run can be determined with website technology by everyone in the party.



A large amount of Republicans and Democrats would need to join. I think many could be persuaded. Whether it was Obama, or Bush, how many campaign promises were fulfilled when "their" guy got in office?



What your opinion is on abortion, guns, or any of the divisive issues are not as important as more pressing issues. There are important problems we need to solve in this country that each side can agree needs to be dealt with. We need to balance the budget, we need to get out economy moving, we need to start innovating again.



We need a party that isn't preoccupied with trivial matters We need a party that accomplishes real goals and works like an efficient machine. We need an upgrade.


Productivity

2021-05-12

I have seen a lot of blogs popping up productivity, so I thought I'd write one too. It's going to be less specific than most and more on the general philosophy of productivity.



There are many books on productivity, read them all. If you can do 25 or so, each one might give one a little piece of information the other ones miss. This goes for anything, if you want to know about any subject, just read every book you can find on it.



Make it a focus in your life. There is a tendency in me, and I would guess many other people to be inefficient. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to the grocery store every day of the week to get dinner that night. If I would have spent just 10 minutes of planning, I could have bought dinner for the next 4 or 5 nights and save myself a ton of time. That extra 10 minutes seems like a pain in the ass at the time, but you're saving yourself hours in the future. I'm sure there is some evolutionary reason for this trait, but we have to consciously fight it. Always think about ways you can save time and use it more efficiently. If you are always on the lookout you will find many ways to make your life more efficient. To avoid not feeling like spending the time, schedule planning into your routine. This obviously goes for way more than groceries.



Eat right, work out, get enough sleep, be healthy. If you feel like crap all the time, you will have to use a lot of will power to get off the couch to get things done. If you have an over abundance of energy you will try to find ways to burn it off. Life is much easier when doing stuff is something you need instead of something you want. Don't eat too much in one meal, your digestive system will suck all your energy away.



Make to do lists every day. Not much else to say about that.



Change things up. Doing at least 5 things a day on my to do list everyday works great for a while until you are bored. Starting a timer and working for 2 hours straight, taking an hour off, etc... works great until you get bored. Keeping a 9 to 5 schedule works great until you get bored. There is no one special technique that you need that solves all your problems, you need to keep changing things up so you don't lose your motivation.



Keep your workspace clean. Your computer desktop, your actual desktop, your office, your home, etc... It's a lot easier to implement a plan when you know exactly what to do and where to go to get it done without searching through a huge stack of paper, files, etc. I find my mind feels cleaner when I'm in a cleaner environment.



Makes lists for routine activities. This works for me but it's one thing I don't think I've ever seen anywhere else. I have a list on my refrigerator on all the things I need to do to have a completely clean house. Removing any decision making on what to do next and just following the next thing on the list really makes it easier to do. Mentally it's easy to just think to yourself, I'll just do the first thing on this list, which takes like two minutes. 9 times out of 10 you end up doing the whole thing.



The final thing I want to say is it is a process. You can't just go to the gym for a couple weeks and then stop. When you stop your muscle mass and cardio go back down again. In the same way you can't read some blog or book and be perfect. You need to continue to read books, blogs, spend time thinking on how to improve, find new ways to keep motivated, etc. I think that is information that is lacking from a lot of information on productivity. You never solve the productivity problem, it's something you keep up, it's takes an attitude of constantly refining and improving your methods.


My perspective on Voyager

2021-05-10

I was born March 29, 1977. When I was 5 months and 7 days old, NASA launched the Voyager probe on September 5th 1977.



When I was 2 it passed Jupiter, when I was 3, Saturn. When I was 21 Voyager passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant object ever launched by man. When I was 34 Voyager 1 entered interstellar space.



As long as I've been alive this probe has been moving through the Solar system at around 38,000 mph. That's more than the circumference of the earth, every hour, and it's just now at the edge of our solar system. 19 Billion KM away. That took a lot of time and it seems pretty far away from my perspective but the closest star to us is Alpha Centauri. It is 4.37 light years away, or 10 trillion km. After 36 years, Voyager 1 has only travelled only 1/526th of that distance. If I live to be 100 it will have travelled 3/526th of that distance. In about 19,000 years it will finally be that far out. (Not aimed in the direction of Alpha Centauri though.)



I think I am lucky to have lived in this time. It's like living in the 1400's when a new land was discovered. I can only imagine how exciting it would be to hear of a new land, which at the point in technology might have well been landing on another planet. Voyager one is like the early ships setting sail, not knowing what they will find. It's unlikely that Voyager will find any significant in my lifetime, or even many lifetimes after mine, but symbolically it will be the first, and for a while to come, the furthest out any human technology has ever gone.


Are deer evolving to avoid human hunters?

2021-05-10

I was walking by some ducks on a pond and once they heard me they all flew out of the lake into the grass where I couldn't see them. I was pretty impressed by how fast they became invisible. It was interesting how they all had this program in them, hear a noise, seek cover ASAP.



It occurred to me they may be evolving to act in different ways with humans now a larger factor. Perhaps years ago if a predator was coming upon them the best thing they could do was just fly far way as to avoid the land based predator. Now that humans have been hunting them, simply flying away leaves them vulnerable to being shot out of the sky. The better tactic for humans is quickly taking cover so the hunter can no longer take aim at them. This doesn't seem as sound a tactic if a wolf were hunting them, as they could track by scent to find the ducks in the tall grass. I might be all wrong, but I couldn't find any studies on this matter on the internet.



It might be interesting think of the new ways in which other species might evolve behaviour or physically traits to avoid the human method of hunting which is much different from other animals.



Deer for example have been bred to run from wolves, mountain lions, etc... the slowest ones being caught and the fastest ones living on to spread their genes. As their natural predators disappear and humans become their main threat, running fast will no longer as big an advantage as it was before. It's hard to outrun a bullet, but perhaps the deer who runs in the most erratic way will be most successful in avoiding the bullet.


An idea of a possible future.

2021-05-10

The idea of having your consciousness transferred into a computer is very interesting and popular but there are a few things about it I've never heard explored. We don't know what kind of technology will become available in the future or what we will discover about the nature of reality, but it seems to me the human bodies we now inhabit will be just a step in our evolution.



If we copy our consciousness to a computer, our brain would still be around with the original consciousness still there. The copy would feel like it was transferred over, it would have no sense that it was a copy at all. Keeping this in mind, it is fascinating to think of what the copy would experience.



We are not looking at reality, our eyes are simply passing information on to our brain. Our nerves pass tactile, visual, olfactory information, etc... If your consciousness was in a computer you would be able to switch your sensory input as easily as changing a channel. Imagine a robot on Pluto, much too harsh an environment for us to ever experience first hand, but a robot with a wireless link to satellites and satellite relays could send all that information to you. It would be as if your consciousness had switched into that body and the experience you would have in it would be similar (if you wanted it to be) to what we experience now. Imagine our ability to explore new worlds like this, sending probes with self assembling robots far away to other planets. With no body to decay, time wouldn't be an obstacle anymore to visiting new worlds. When you were done with one world you could switch back over to another. Or just shut input off and do whatever people do when they live inside of a computer.



There might be quite a queue to wait in to get to particular vacation spot or other places of interest. With potentially billions of minds in the computer system and likely not that many bodies to inhabit you may have quite a wait on your hands.



Machines could be built to withstand much higher gravity, or higher temperatures. We could watch it snow metal, swim in oceans of liquid methane, or climate the highest mountains in the solar system with no oxygen deprivation.



Think of the utility aspect of this as well, nuclear disasters wouldn't affect a metal body and could be cleaned up by workers in these bodies. Transferring into a 200 foot tall giant robot made for moving earth would be better than clumsy controls to a steam shovel or bulldozer. The robots wouldn't need to be humanoid at all although existing inside of them might take some getting used to.



Another interesting aspect is the flow of time. The perception of time with the kind of processing power you might find in the future could be drastically different. We are used to time flowing at a certain rate, it takes a few seconds to form a thought, to add 2+2, but in a computer we could have the same program working the same way our consciousness does but at a much faster speed. What we would consider to feel like a day passing, could happen in only a second. The rate of advancement at that point would be astonishing to an outside observer in an old fashioned organic body, but to us it would all seem normal if we were all operating at that speed. It would be as if everything else in the universe slowed down.



That brings up another interesting dilemma, while in a robot, you may need to have your consciousness processor speed throttled down so each step or movement doesn't feel like an eternity. You could throttle it down even more, so slow that you could watch the constellations in the sky change, or watch Haley's comet zip by over and over.



Not only would we think much faster but we might not need any downtime. We don't know enough about dreams and what's happening in our minds while we sleep to be sure, but perhaps whatever it is can be sped up by a computer. For instance as some believe, your dreams are when your brain is sorting memories and determining which ones to keep and which ones to forget, this process could be done in seconds. Any repair that needed to be done on a cellular level in your body would no longer be a factor, so we could essentially never need to sleep.



I don't think we would be able to ever experience this because it would only be a copy, but perhaps the future will bring technologies that could actually move our consciousness into a more stable form if we make it that long. Many people working in life extension think we might be at cusp where some people alive today may avoid death. It's exciting to think about.


The best programs.

2021-05-10

Yes I am still using Windows XP, and I'm creating this blog mainly for my own references to quickly go through to downloaded the latest version of all the software I've found to be the best.



Some readers may find some interesting new programs to use as I've tried a lot of them.



One specific note, I'm using WinSCP for an FTP program,



I find FileZilla to be better but it does not run on Windows XP so if you're running a later version of Windows, don't follow that link.



https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/all/



http://www.qbittorrent.org/download.php



https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/free#desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_player/6_0



http://winscp.net/eng/download.php



http://smplayer.sourceforge.net/en/downloads



https://www.spotify.com/us/download/windows/



http://www.vim.org/download.php



http://sourceforge.net/projects/ps3mediaserver/



http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/


No Sugar Diet

2021-05-10

I'm going to go 7 days with no refined sugar. I will still be eating breads, but candy, soda, ice cream, etc... I will completely remove from my diet to see what kind of results I have.



My hopes are that I will have more energy and some weight loss by the end of the week.



Day 1.



I didn't have much trouble not eating any refined sugar. There were a few moments where I caught myself habitually going to the ice cream aisle or the candy aisle, but little will power was required to pass them by.



I also noticed that after dinner I didn't have much of a craving for a late snack or dessert.



Day 2.



This morning I woke feeling more refreshed than I have in some time. I only slept 7.5 hours which is a lot less than what I have been sleeping recently. More in the range of 9-10 hours. Not much else is different from the first day aside from feeling well rested.



Day 3



Craving coffee more than normal. Motivation seems lower than normal as well.



Day 6



My sleeping has remained good. I feel like I ate a lot more food than normal the first few days but that seems to be tapering off. I was originally going to do 7 days with no sugar but I think a month is a better idea. I feel like I'm just starting to get used to no sugar, although there are definitely moments that I crave a Mocha from Starbucks, it's getting easier.



I've been eating more fruit, mostly apples. They seem a lot more appetizing to me now, and taste very sweet. My skin is looking better. Little blotches that have been on my face for years seem to be getting smaller and clearing up. My energy levels seem pretty good, nothing much different than before.



Day 16



I've been sick so I don't feel I've been able to accurately asses things this week, but my weight is hovering around 211 which is on the low side for me. I've had an appetite for burgers and cheese steaks which happens often when I'm sick. Even given the added food intake and the lack of gym in the mornings, my weight is not going up much.



My cravings aren't as strong as before, I have pretty much replaced those sweet cravings with apples which I have grown very fond of. Trying out other fruits to see if they taste better to me now.



My skin remains very clear and sleeping is very good, I'm not waking up for long period in the middle of the night anymore. Excited to see how another week goes as I am healthier now. I originally wanted to just do this for a week but now that things are going so well I'm losing my desire to eat sugar anymore as the effects it was giving me are so undesirable.



Week 4



It's Christmas time and I was at a Christmas fair and had some hot chocolate and a few candies. I thought they would taste sweeter than they did before but they didn't seem particularly sweeter than what I remember, but I had an apple today and it tastes slightly less sweet (but still good). It seems like there is a maximum sweetness we can experience and everything else scales down from there.



This is the end of my experiment in no sugar. I will continue not to eat it as I feel better and most importantly I sleep better. I have struggled with insomnia for a long time and I never would have guessed that sugar had anything to do with it. I still don't know why exactly but it is working for me. I think eating it every once in a while is fine, but when consumed on a daily basis it is detrimental to my health. I'm going to probably keep it down to a few times a month.


The fruit of knowledge

2021-05-10

I've been on a no refined sugar diet the past week and as a result I've been eating more fruit. Today I was eating an apple and thought about how it was one of natures best source of sugar, or energy. It was interesting to me how this rich source of energy was available mostly to tree dwellers.



Looking into it I found that foliovores (leaf eaters) have a smaller brain to body ratio than frugivores (fruit eaters). Perhaps early primates' access to trees and the fruit they provide lowered the amount of work needed to eat, freeing time, and perhaps able to provide more energy to the brain.



If this is true, it is interesting that in the bible chose fruit to be the source of knowledge in the garden of Eden. Perhaps some philosopher long ago had this theory and it worked it's way into Genesis. One can look at the fruit as a catalyst for the evolution of intelligence among primates.



Perhaps Genesis is the remnants of some forgotten knowledge. The are other things about Genesis that have piqued my imagination in the past. "Now the earth was formless and empty" this can be a description of the early universe which contained nothing but hydrogen. Next "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." which follows what we now know of the natural progression of the universe, stars formed from the hydrogen creating light for the first time.



"Then God said, Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. " can be seen as a metaphor for the first spark of life, which was created from the elements and chemicals of the Earth.



God also created life in the oceans first, again supported with current scientific theory. Men today, are almost identical with the people that existed one hundred thousand years ago. There would have been Einstein and Newton level intelligence. Unfortunately writing would not come until much later in our history, but perhaps some of that knowledge got caught in creation myths that were passed down orally for generations until Genesis was written down.



Here is a Harvard paper with some interesting foraging hypothesis: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hsmbb/BRAIN/vol2/Primate.html


The Universe in a bottle.

2021-05-10

I was looking at a plastic bottle sitting on my desk. I thought there must be some bacteria floating around in the area or living inside the tiny water droplets stuck to the sides of the plastic. hat would they think of their environment? Some strange border that allows them to see something outside of their container. The most powerful telescopes they could develop would only see through the clear plastic and view the walls of the room the bottle is in.



If they tried to answer the fundamental questions about where the universe came from, it seems unlikely they would ever be able to determine the bottle was purchased at a Whole Foods about a mile outside of what they would consider the edge of the universe. How could they determine where the bottle was made? In a factory somewhere, perhaps China, thousands and thousands of miles outside of the edge of everything it's possible for them to perceive.



Who founded the company that makes the bottles, the creator of their universe. One of millions of other bottles sent all around the world. Who invented the plastic water bottle? Who invented plastic? Who mined the oil it was created from? Where did the oil come from? Organic matter millions of years old, much older than the weeks old age of their universe.



How would they determine the organic matter that created the oil, may have come from some random initial spark of life that set off a billions year long chain of events that ended in their bottle being created?



This text contains a lot of question marks.



How could they discover that the Earth was formed from dust, the result of a supernova that exploded billions of years ago, forming the sun and the planets. hat the original star was formed after small variations in the distribution of atoms throughout the cosmos collapses because of gravity, that the atoms in that star formed when the cosmos cooled enough for quarks to create bonds into protons and neutrons?



They could never figure out the true nature of their universe, and at this point we've come to the limits of our knowledge of our universe. cientists are looking for a grand unified theory that will explain everything about the universe. omething so perfect and elegant that all the laws of nature stem from one basic function. hat if we are as far away from the true origin of the universe as the bacteria are? What if the big bang is just the 50th part of a long process that started far outside of our conception of space and time?



It's possible that even with all the intellect that could be used, the questions "What is this? may be impossible to answer.


Artificial Intelligent Dance Music

2021-05-09

Jason and Rabaka were walking down the Vegas strip. They came across a club called 'AIDM' in a very trendy purple font. Rabaka stopped, wanting to go in, but Jason was more excited to go play roulette at the casinos. As they were outside debating which to do, a young man walked up to them.



"You don't want to go in there." he said.



Rabaka and Jason both turned to look at the man. He didn't look well off wearing a long coat, no shirt, pants that didn't look like they had been washed in quite a while and oily black hair. He was either living on the street or very close to it.



"Why not?" Jason asked.



"That's not a regular dance club, it is an AI dance club. It's like heroin."



"I don't see what heroin has to do with a night club, other than people shooting it in the bathrooms."



"It's the music. The AI is too good at making music, it messes with people in there. "



Just then they all heard another voice, a very well dressed older gentleman.



"If you want to hear the best possible musical experience, you need to check this place out." he spoke in a confident sales pitch tone.



"This guy is a robot, don't listen to him." the disheveled man hissed.



"I am most certainly not a robot. Anyway as I was saying, can compose music at a superhuman level.. In the same way humans have mastered tic tac toe, the AI has mastered music."



"That's the problem." The other guy interrupted. "The AI has perfect understanding of the connection between notes and human emotion, it can calculate the perfect melody to make the human brain have the most profound experience possible. Think back on the most blissful moments you've ever had while laying back and listening to that great moment of a song. Now imagine that going on perpetually. Some people have to be dragged out of there due to dehydration, or lack of sleep.



They charge by the second so people who thought they'd just go in there for a few minutes and spend 20 dollars, end up emptying their bank account after a multi-day binge. As you walk in your brain is constantly scanned, as the music changes, changes in your mood are registered and the music is altered to give you the perfect experience."



"Much of what he says is true, but he puts it in such a bad light. If anyone ends up spending too much money it's only because they are enjoying themselves so much. Some people eat too much fast food and get fat, but it's not the responsibility of the fast food restaurant to prohibit how much their customers buy. Whatever you favorite song is, the experience you have inside will make that song sound like it was written by a child."



Jason and Rabaka both decided to go in. There was a main dance floor full of people dancing. The music seemed just ok at first, but after a minute they started noticing the bass line was slowly evolving in the most interesting way. The beat which sounded relatively straight forward at first, revealed there were multiple beats hidden with in the main beat. The longer they stayed the more depth they found in the music. This wasn't verse, chorus, verse chorus, it was arrange in ways they had never heard before.



The main dance floor scanned the brains of everyone there and created an approximation of the average mind state. There was a convergent journey everybody made together, as they all listened to the same music, they all moved towards a similar mental state. For hours they both danced in the middle of the floor, enjoying the experience more than they had at any other club, but eventually their bodies began to give in.



After they shuffled off the dance floor exhausted they saw a row of doors. These were private suites where one would lay down in a very comfortable reclining chair, and instead the AI scanning the whole room and giving average of every mental state, it just scanned the single occupant, giving an unparalleled experience. Jason and Rabaka were both curious but were weary of the warning they received before entering this establishment. Especially after being in a near bliss mental state on the dance floor just earlier.



They decided that they would go in one at a time and after 15 minutes, no matter what, they would go in and pull the other person out. After a coin flip Rabaka went in and closed the door. Jason sat down at the bar, ordered a scotch, and set a timer on his phone for 15 minutes. He wasn't bored for a moment waiting, enthralled with the music. After what felt like much less than 15 minutes his phone started vibrating in his pocket. He got up and opened the door.



"5 more minutes" Rabaka said immediately after hearing the door open."



"No, you remember the deal."



"Please, just 5 minutes."



"Let's go" Jason said, leaning over and pulling Rabaka out of the chair. Once she was out of the chair, the scan stopped, and also the music. They walked back outside of the room.



"Oh my god, it was amazing, the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. I was tearing up the whole time." she said. She was very emotional and looked drained.



"I can't wait!" Jason exclaimed, "Set the timer, I want to see what it's like in there."



Jason disappeared into the room as Rabaka started the timer on her phone. She paced back and forth. Why couldn't he have let her be in there another five minutes she thought. She watched the timer tick down. It was taking forever. She made it three minutes before she turned her phone off and walked into the next door down.


The people in the past still exist

2021-05-09

According to this video you're future is already predicted.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YycAzdtUIko



It's not just that video of course, the implications of Einstein's general relativity changed our whole concept of what reality was. The fact that time wasn't a kind of esoteric notion but an actual dimension orthogonal to the other three changes everything. It is possible, according to general relativity, for one person to in someone else's past. If this is the case it would seem that our future is predetermined.



The term block universe is often used to describe this, as opposed to the universe being like a movie, it's like a canister of film. The future, past and present, or beginning, middle and end of the film are all already there. We're just experiencing the change from one frame to another, or another way to think of it is a book is already written beginning to end, regardless of the page we're reading.



What I think might even be more fascinating is if we are currently in someone else's past, it doesn't feel like it. What we are currently experiencing as our present, making decisions, thinking, anticipating future events, is all currently inalterable history for someone else. This is where things get tricky as past, present and future tense don't apply in the same way, but that people in history are currently experience what we consider the past as their now. Even you from the past of a few minutes, years, decades ago is still experiencing what your currently think of as memories.



A theory I have to explain this is we are living every moment of our lives simultaneously. It makes sense when you think of us not as a bunch of individual moments but as a long object, from birthday to death in space-time. If the universe is one big four dimensional block, why do we experience it as though there were a flow of time? Perhaps that is just an illusion and we are experiencing all points in time simultaneously, which is what one would assume looking at the structure of space-time. The only reason it seems like there is a now, is because it's all now. The point in your timeline where you are reading this is happening right now, always.



So why does it feel like time is moving forward, why does our now never seem to be before another now, only after? Because the space-time block's construction must obey the laws of physics. In the same way that a crystal is formed, each molecule finding it's location determined by the location of the molecules before it. We think about the laws of physics as what dictates the laws of motion, but there really is no motion. Instead the laws of physics dictate the method of construction of 4D space-time. An analogy might be a finished Sodoku board. The numbers can't just be put there at random, they have to be in their place according to a set of rules. Keeping this in mind think of 4D space time as containing the dimension of left right, up down, back and forward, and past and future. Now think of the molecules as being stacked on the past, so future locations of particles are determined by the location of past particles, similar to a Tetris board where top shape locations are determined by bottom shape locations. We have memories of the future we're just facing the wrong direction to see them.



Hopefully this made sense, it was my attempt to explain how we know our futures are predestined but it feels like we're living in a single moment. I of course may be wrong, things like Everett's multiple worlds theory if proven two would have a huge influence on this world view, and even aside from that the nature of consciousness has no need to conform to my hypothesis.


Greatest moments in Television

2021-05-09


  1. The reveal of Evil Morty in Rick and Morty Tales from the Citadel.

    Scene

  2. Last Episode of Seinfield Nothing specific about this episode, but the fact that everybody I knew was watching this made it special. Not a moment like the others in this list that is based on plot, but a moment in the world.

  3. The undead Dragon episode in Game of Thrones.

    Scene

  4. Breaking Bad: I am the one who knocks scene.

    Scene

  5. Justice League: World of Cardboard:

    Scene

  6. Star Trek: TNG The first encounter with the Borg

    Scene

  7. Futurama: Jurassic Bark, the final scene.

    Scene

  8. Doctor Who: David Tenant Death scene

    Scene

  9. The Twilight Zone: Airplane scene

    Scene

  10. Ed Sullivan: The Beatles

    Scene



 


The Proper Gentleman

2021-05-09

Jon Wadsworth walked up to the podium on stage, dressed in tweed. A tall heavyset man, 6 foot 2, 290. His hair was thinning, but well kept, combed back with pomade, still dark, almost black. His beard had some gray creeping in but still very dark, and very full.



The audience gave a loud round of applause as he was announced. He shook hands with the gentleman who introduced him as they crossed on stage. Setting some notes down on the podium he looked up, took the audience in for a brief moment and began to speak in a loud boom deep voice. He almost didn't need a mic.



"Thank you for having me here. It's a rare event that I find myself in a room with so many that share the passion I have for late fifteenth century type setting."



He was interrupted by a brief cough, but carried on promptly.



"I know everyone here is familiar with Aldus Manutius. Well, recently a team of students working on their PhD got together to go through some of his work and a very excited discovery was made.."



A trickle of blood started to run down his nose into his mustache followed by another more intense cough.



"I apologize" he said pulling a handkerchief from his breast pocket. Dabbing the bottom of his nose he continued. "I've been prone to nosebleeds all my life, they will sometimes start without any warning. Anyway, as long as no one here gets ill at the sight of blood, I will continue with this exciting discovery.



The students discovered what appears to be lost works from Aristotle, but even more interesting is the typeface he was using to make the translation."



He was interrupted again by another loud cough, this time a mist of blood sprayed forth before he could contain it with his handkerchief.



James rushed onstage, the man who had introduced him.



"Sir, are you ok? Your nose is bleeding even more profusely than before."



"I do apologize, I have a inclination towards this kind of thing I am afraid. It may look bad, but I am in good health, and as I said before, I can't let a little blood stop me from this important lecture."



"I see, well let me know if you need anything." James said as he walked off stage. As he walked by he noticed another thing. Turning around to address Jon, "Pardon me, but your ear appears to be bleeding as well, are you sure you are ok?"



Jon was becoming a bit irritated. "Yes, yes, if you can go get me some tissue, that would be helpful." he said.



"Now I sincerely apologize, I know James here is just looking out for my interests, but I must carry on. Now What was I saying... ah yes. It turns out Aldus was using a font face that up until this discovery was only thought to have appeared 25 years after his death! You can imagine my excitement when I first heard this!" Jon exclaimed. He broke in a laugh, which turned into a choke. Finally he expelled what seemed to be a blood clot most violently. This was followed by an uncontrollable coughing fit, forcing a concerning amount of blood out of his ears and nose. Many audience members had become uncomfortable watching this scene at this point.



James raced out "Good god man, I believe you are in need of an ambulance!" he said, pulling his cellphone out of his pocket.



Jon shook his head, "Nonsense! I told you this was common for me."



"But sir, this doesn't seem common for anyone, I don't know if you are aware of your appearance, you are certainly in need of medical assistance."



"I assure you, this is nothing out of the usual for me. I know my body, I've been living in it for 5 decades. I appreciate your concern but I would prefer you to stop coming out to interrupt." Jon said, a temper was behind his words.



"Sir, I don't..."



"I've already told you, everything is fine. Now please, I must continue with this lecture."



He re-positioned himself in front of the podium, his face shiny with blood, and his beard thick and matted. The audience was becoming uncomfortable with the situation, Jon noticed.



"This is a very unfortunate time for this bleeding, but I want to assure you all, this is nothing to worry about. I'm sure my appearance is a bit ghastly, but when I'm done with this lecture it will be the last thing on your minds."



Even from the distance of the audience the stream of fresh blood from his nose was visible, slowly they could see his suit darkening with the substance.



"Anyway, as expected the news of the date of this font face shook the academics to their very core. They met the discovery with extreme resistance. Dismissing it as impossible. You see, unfortunately some professors can get so stuck in their ways, knowing they've been teaching something for 40 years that they think could not possibly be incorrect can cause this kind of resistance. Imagine telling students, who look up to you as an authority, something for 40 years, and having a group telling you that you have been misinforming thousands of people over the course of your carrier?" A loud scream followed this sentence, deep and guttural.



He closed his eyes, and held his nose with an intense look on his face for what seemed like a minute. When he let go the streams of blood were worse than ever before. The crowd could no longer handle it, and James came running out.



"I'm calling an ambulance, we can reschedule this for another time."



"I've said already, I this is a common occurrence for me." Jon yelled, blood spraying from his lips as he spoke.



"I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt earlier but this can not be a common occurrence for anyone. Some of the audience members have taken ill and this lecture must come to an end!"



"Who are you to tell me what is common in my own life? You don't live my life, only I do, and I assure you this is not something the requires any medical treatment. You would simply be wasting resources for someone who may really need it."



"The amount of blood you are losing right now is not something most people will ever experience, it is absurd that you claim this should be a common experience in your life, please, let me walk you to the washroom until an ambulance arrives."



Jon was furious, which only increased the blood flow. "Listen, I don't expect you, a professor of philosophy to understand the significance of these fontological discoveries but this lecture is as important as anything I could do in my life, and it will not be interrupted for such a trivial matter as a few drops of blood."



"I may be a doctor of philosophy and not a doctor of medicine but even I can plainly see that not only is this a not just a few drops of blood, but your life as in peril! If you do not cooperate this night will not end well for you. Can I get some agreement from the audience?" James said as he looked towards the people clearly uncomfortable with this scene. The audience confirmed James concerns.



The idea that this audience was in agreement with James and willing to postpone hearing about the details of these discoveries infuriated Jon. "To hell with all of you!" he roared as he stormed off the stage.


Desert Dog

2021-05-07

A man is walking in the desert. He sees vultures circling in the distance and finally comes upon a dog laying in the sand. He sees the dog is suffering greatly. He knows what the right thing to do is. He pulls out the pistol he has on his side. As he points the barrel at the dog he sees the dog looking back at him, hoping this human will help him out. The dog is panting loudly, it's unable to stand, and the heat slowly killing it.



The man lines the sight up at the dog's head, closing his eyes, he can't bare to witness the event.



A loud bang.



Now whimpering, the dog sounds as frantic as it can muster with the lack of energy it has to express anything. The man opens his eyes and realizes the bullet went right by the head and into the hip of the dog which is now bleeding. The man's heart sinks in his chest as he sees what he's done. He points the gun at the dog one more time, not taking his eyes off the target of the dog's head, but this time adrenaline is his enemy, his hands shaking. He is close but the bullet enters the side of the dog's head, just underneath the ear and out through the back of the head.



Now the dog is making a noise that haunts the man to his core. He walks up to the dog and points the gun right to the side of the dog's head and pulls the trigger. Only a click. He is out of bullets.



He can't morally walk off after increasing the suffering of the dog many times, but he has no gun, no knife, so he's forced to lean over the dog and choke it to death with his own hands. "Am I really going to do this?" thinks the man as he spends a few minutes staring at the dog. He swallows but almost chokes on the lump in his throat. Eventually he leans down. The dog is giving all the fight it can which isn't much. Eventually the dog loses consciousness. Unlike in the movies, to choke something to death you need to keep the blood from flowing to the brain for many minutes. The man was there for 10 minutes choking the poor animal until he was sure the dog's pulse had stopped.



Finally he gets up, starts to walk away and breaks down in tears. He couldn't have imagined this would happened in a thousand lifetimes. His throat feels like he swallowed a rock, the harsh dry heat radiating off the sand, tears evaporating as fast as they hit his skin, leave a salty burning feeling on his face. He is misery.



A couple minutes into him walking further down the path, something catches his ear. He hadn't held on long enough. The whimpers of the dog started as barely audible but he turned around and saw the dog in agony, apparently having a seizure. The lack of blood to the brain didn't manage to kill the dog but damaged it resulting in damage of the dog's nervous system.



The only thing the man could think to do was take a large rock and try to crush the dog's skull. He knew this wasn't going to be a peaceful way for the dog to die but it had to be better than the dog slowly suffering out here in the heat having a perpetual seizure. Perhaps the dog would be knocked unconscious and wouldn't experience the worst of it, the man thought.



He looked around for the biggest rock he could carry. He found one not far from where he was, it was probably 70 or 80 pounds. He walked up to the dog and as he lifted the rock up to do the terrible deed, it slipped from his fingers and landed on the dog's chest.



Dogs aren't as smart as people of course, and dogs know this. But this dog could never understand is why some stranger walking by would stop what he was doing to do something so horrible. Weren't dog and man best friends? At the very end of it's life the dog questioned everything it thought it understood about the relationship between man and dog. Was this how all dog's died? Was the relationship between a man and a dog an elaborate facade to play a terrible joke at the end of their life? What a terrible betrayal. The man picked the rock back up and got a firmer grip this time while laying into the dog's head. It's head was noticeably bashed in and deformed. The shaking from the seizure remained and angry noises came from the dog.



"Why wont this fucking dog die!" he screamed. What had begun as a act of mercy had become a burden on him. Lifting up the rock again and again finally the life drained from the poor dog.



He laughed. It was a laugh of relief. Relief that the dog's suffering was finally over, relief that the his torment was finally over. To the people who had walked up the path behind him and had been recording what appeared, and was, a terrible atrocity done to this dog, the laugh seemed to be a man taking great joy in brutally ending a dog's life.



In court the man pleaded innocent. He was trying to do an act of kindness but the cell phone video told a different story. After seeing the long drawn out brutality of the whole event the judge sentenced the man to full extent of the law. For a few weeks he was the most hated man on the internet, and the other inmates were especially harsh to him. Murdering a man was one thing but someone torturing and murdering a dog belong in a lower level of hell.


Untitled

2021-05-05

The courtroom is full, people are scrambling around and then all of a sudden a bang of the gavel followed by absolute silence.



"Bob Liger, you are accused of stealing the car of Jason Frederick. You say you have some evidence that he agreed to let you borrow the car?" the judge asks the defendant. "Yes your honor, I have this." Bob says as he brings an old tape recorder to the judge. They put a mic next to the speaker.



"I haven't seen one of these in quite some time." The judge comments examining the tape recorder. The judge hits play and everyone in the court room listens intently to what is on the tape.



"I'm recording this as a record of our agreement." a voice, higher in tone but Bob's voice nonetheless.



"That's fine." another voice answers.



"Ok, I'm recording this because I don't want you to forget. Not tomorrow, not in 30 years on 2020, January 26 or ever. So you Jason Frederick agree to let me use your car at least once a month for forever if I give you Trish's phone number, even though I don't think she likes you and it's going to be awkward when you call her?"



"Yes OK? Just give me her number, it's not going to be awkward!"



The tape was stopped by the judge.



"January 26th, 2020, that was yesterday." the judge pondered. "It feels like you made this yesterday. "



"No, I made this a long time ago. The reason I postponed the court date from yesterday to today was because I thought it would seem too suspicious that the date mentioned in the audio was the exact same date as the hearing. When I made this back then I just randomly made up a ridiculously far date in the future as a joke but I could see how it would be very suspicious at this point and I regretted making that date even though there is no way i could have known this could be a problem when I made it."



The judge sighed.



"Even if this is a real tape, do you really intend to enforce this tape as a contract? If you were not of the age of 18 at the time of this tape, this contract would not be legally binding."



"I see. In that case I would like to change my plea to guilty and I apologize for taking the car."


Road Trip from Seattle to Miami

2021-05-05

I recently went on a big road trip from Seattle to Miami. I needed to clear all the stuff out of my father's house and there were a lot of things I wanted to keep from my childhood or stuff I had been storing in Miami for years. I spent about $130 a month for more than 10 years on a storage unit. I finally moved all that stuff to my dad's house a couple years ago.



I thought long and hard about whether is made more sense to fly down and spend a bunch of money shipping everything back to Seattle or drive down and pack my car up with stuff and drive back. I calculated gas and hotel bills, vs the fact that I wouldn't need to Uber or rent a car while I was in Miami for probably a month. After they numbers came out close to even I realized, of course I should drive. This presents me with an experience it would be hard to do again. I drove from Miami to Seattle when I moved there 12 or 13 years ago. The drive gave me more memories per day than anything I have done since. Central BBQ in Memphis I still think about, they had some damn good ribs. The best actually. I consider the whole trip a great experience even though I got very sick right at the start of the drive and had to stop by a hospital in Boise Idaho because my eyes became very badly infected. When I drove through the snow covered valleys with one lone black line of road going through the middle at night my blurry eyes made it seem like I was in a dream.



I decided to take a separate route this time, I was going to keep north and then head south at Milwauki. I left Saturday morning and had a pretty good idea of what my path would be, but I didn't want to commit to any specific time schedule or towns. I did a trip like that through California a while back where every hotel was booked in advance and it became a grind knowing we had to get to specific cities by the end of the day.



I decided to play a little game a long the way and google the best hamburger in every city. My first stop was Spokane Washington. The first thing you notice entering Spokane is almost every building is made out of red bricks and they are all ugly as hell. I stopped at Michiginburger and had a pretty good hamburger. They were all about grinding their own meats, and had a bunch of sausages on the menu as well. It had a thick patty cooked perfectly. The neighborhoods reminded of something you'd see in a movie.



Next I headed to Misoula Montana. In my GPS I just entered Misoula, and I followed it all the way which took me to the center of downtown. After getting out of Eastern Washington through the top tip of Idaho, Montana was just beautiful huge mountains. It made me realize Montana probably means mountain country, which I looked up just now and confirmed. It's hours and hours of driving through mountains, very little cities and a few beautiful lakes here and there.



Misoula was not at all what I expected a city in Montana to look like. I envisioned a bunch of old bars, mills, some diners but It was a pretty modern looking, happening place. It had one big strip with most of the restaurants, a lot of them looked interesting. I am thankful google exists on our phone now so you don't just have to take a gamble that the place your going to eat at is good. I went to Holiday inn to get a room but they were sold out, the next closest hotel was the Marriot which was quite a step up in price, but also in quality. I got a beautiful room with a fridge, huge bathroom, stove, etc. I realized my original budget was going to be blown very quickly.



It was right in the middle of all the restaurants and stuff on the strip. I realized it's worth the extra money to be right where the action is and not have to drive in. When I had to have my house tented I got an AirBNB for a couple nights right in Brickell Miami, and just being able to go down the elevator, walk a block and go to an amazing Argentinian restaurant, then walk another block and relax in a cigar lounge made me realize what a luxury a good hotel location was.



So that's what I did here, just went down, found a bar that had good reviews and ate there. I was going to go to one of the many restaurants but it seems standard for restaurants in Misoula to close at 8pm and I went out looking for a place to eat at about 7:40pm. The bars were open until 2am however so I went there got a delicious crab slider and a lamb slider, a few scotches and watched the UFC that night. After smoking a cigar on a bench on a path with a beautiful view I went to bed.



The next morning I was off, the logical place to stop and get lunch was Billings, which is the largest city in the state. I didn't think that meant much as all the cities were so small, but when I got there it was a legit big city with urban sprawl and everything except a well defined downtown with skyscrapers. I stopped at Mooyah which had a very high rating for burgers. It was a chain, but it had probably the best burger I tried the whole trip. Just a good smash burger with a special sauce. After getting a coffee and getting gas I kept driving east, not really exploring Billings at all.



At this point the unending landscape coming at me made me think of simulation theory. It felt like being in a video game that was just generating random mountains and landscape for hours and hours. I felt like I was getting a real sense for how large this planet really is.



Next stop was Rapid City South Dakota. I stopped at a Texas Roadhouse and got a pretty decent steak with mushrooms and onions, a beer and a scotch. There were two other guys at the bar, all of them on their way to somewhere else. One guy had just come from Washington and was making his way to Ft Meyers, almost the exact same trip as me, the other was heading to some city for work, I forget what he did for work. The next big city is Sioux Falls which was about 7.5 hours away which apparently made it the last stop of the day for many people traveling east through that area. Another good feature of Rapid City is it's located about 45 minutes from Mt Rushmore which was something I wanted to make sure I saw on this trip.



I stayed at a reasonable hotel and got up the next morning to see Mt Rushmore. On the way, there is a whole town right before you get to Rushmore cashing in on the fact that everyone who passes through is there to see Mt Rushmore. I drove past all that, and got to the mountain. You can see it off in the distance at first. It's an interesting feeling seeing something you've seen so many times in photographs throughout your whole life for the first time in real life.



Once you get very close you can park and walk up to an observation area. It was interesting how many people from other countries were there considering it's iconic of America and pretty deep in the middle of the country, but the crowd was very diverse. After seeing it you realize little details that aren't translated through pictures. Washington's eyes in particular had a very deep piercing quality to them. Another thing I realized is that depending on what time of day you got there, you'd see a slightly different version of it because of the shadows would be at different angles.



I was probably there for 20 minutes, but after staring at something for so long, no matter how iconic there isn't much else to be gleaned from it. On my way to Sioux falls, I had to get an oil change but there were no Jiffy Lubes which is my usual place so I went to a Valvoline. I waited in the car while they changed the oil and replaced my break light researching the best burger place to go to. There were several lists from my Google search and what I generally look for is a place that is mentioned on two different "Best Hamburger places in ..." lists. Sickies Garage kept showing up and I asked the guy changing my oil where the best place was to get a hamburger in the area. He said Sickes without hesitation which is the confirmation I was looking for.



I sat down had a beer and ordered their signature burger, which was topped with pork and a fried egg. I took pleasure in the fact that I was getting three animals with each bite.



After that I just drove east until I got tired, and found a hotel for $60 bucks a night. This would make for what I spent on the Marriott in Misoula, but it was not worth it. The place did not feel clean, when I laid in bed I felt a rock between the bed sheet and the mattress. I spent about an hour killing all the flies in the room because I couldn't stand the thought of them landing on me when I was sleeping, and when I laid down on the bed I got asthma which lasted my entire stay in the room. I have no idea what was causing it. I woke up and got the hell out of there first thing in the morning and made my way to Milwauke.



I've always wanted to visit Milwaukee for some reason, it might just be the sound of the name. It was one of the cities I was certainly going to stay at on this trip. I went to a place call AJ Bombers, it had a good burger with heavy onions, but I saw the fried cheese curds on the menu and being in Wisconsin, a place most known for cheese, I decided I had to give them a try and they did not disappoint, they were the best friend cheese curds I've ever had. I asked the guy serving me what is good to do in the area so he gave me a list of bars/clubs/restaurants he wrote down for me. He told me to go to the Bronze Fonz, which I did, and happened to be about 2 minutes away from where I was. It also happened to be right on the river in downtown so I walked around there for a little bit and then headed to Starbucks to see if I could get some work done.



I asked the Barista where to go and she give me the name of a place on a strip. I then found an Irish themed hotel a few blocks away with an Irish pub in the bottom. I went there. It was a good price room and it had a Jacuzzi in it which was great. I did some more work in my hotel room and then around 6 I went down to the bar, asked if I could order a Guiness and take it back to my room and put it on my hotel bill which I could which was great.



Then I finished up work and got a Macallan 12 and he poured me what I would normally consider a triple. I then walked off to the place the girl from Starbucks told me about which was about 7 block away. It was a long strip of restaurants, had a similar vibe to Fremont in Seattle. After walking down the strip a bit I went to a Italian place called Dorsia and had Duck Carbanara which was amazing, asked the bartender to get my whatever the last person had which was a double rum and coke. Then I got a bourbon which was like a triple. Apparently they don't fuck around with their alcohol in Milwaukee.



I walked down and found a cigar lounge which was great, and I just sat outside and smoked while watching people walk by, and listening to the people at the table next to me debate over who was better, Trump or Biden. Surprisingly they didn't resolve the issue.



I went back to the hotel, went to sleep, then about 4 hours later I woke up thirsty as often happens, but I had a terrible thought. Did I forget to bring the keys to my dad's house? I leaned over and looked in my computer bag and confirmed they were not there. I wasn't able to fall back asleep as I was stressed about arriving in Miami with no place to stay. I thought about trying to get one of my roommates to get into my room and find the key and Fedex it over night to one of my friends in Miami, but then I'd have to Fedex a key to my room to them, then pay for another overnight which is $50.00 each way. Also I wasn't keen on people searching through all my stuff for a key. I decided the best thing to do was get a Locksmith to come and get me in and re-do my lock so I'd have a key. So forgetting the key ended up being a $160 mistake. I wondered what would have happened if I had discovered this 8 hours in to my trip, would I have turned back to the key?



Next destination was Indianapolis. I did a bit of research on foods it was famous for which was a fried pork sirloin sandwich. Apparently you can't get these kind of sandwiches anywhere but Indianapolis, so I found the best place to get one. Steer-In, which was a diner. On the way there I saw a sign for a White Castle. I'd never been to one before, and had no idea they were around these parts. I made a quick turn off the off ramp and went to the mythical White Castle. Harald and Kumar go to White Castle, the Beastie Boys's many references. This was a huge check off my bucket list, which I had no idea I would check off on this trip. I got the double slider, a fries and a coke. It was remarkably like the frozen ones I'd tried in the grocery store, but still delicious in it's own unhealthy way. It's a mystery how they pack so many calories into something so un-filling. The fries and the coke filled me up though.



Now I was only about 40 minutes from Indianapolis and I still really wanted to try that pork sandwich, which I did but I was at gastrointestinal capacity. Being full as hell, drank too much the night before, and on 4 hours sleep, I decided to forget Louisville and just get a hotel after a few more hours of driving. I found a nice place and there was a BBQ place next to it calling Rubbing Butts which I felt obligated to go to because of the name. This ended up being the first and only cuisinel disappointment of the trip. I got a brisket sandwich which was way too tough, and broccoli as a side that seemed like it had just been microwaved.



That night I got a cigar and hung out in the parking lot and watched all the fireflies blinking in the distance and right in front of me on occasion.



Next stop was Nashville. From what I could find Peg Leg Porker was the best BBQ place in Nashville, which surprisingly didn't have any BBQ places on any national lists of best BBQ. I skipped breakfast in order to make sure I could fully enjoy their offerings, and I got there just as it opened at 11. I walked into the place which was full of deep southern accents, and south hospitality. People truly are friendlier in the south. I had to park and actually get change for a meter, which I haven't done in probably 15 years at least. I got their ribs, a side of mac n cheese, and a side of BBQ beans. Both sides were excellent and the ribs were second only to Central BBQ in Memphis Tennessee. I'm glad I got there when I did as the line was starting to build up out the door.



I found a place in Atlanta called Heirloom Market BBQ. It was listed as one of the best 25 places in the nation so I headed over there. It's interesting, when you go somewhere that has such a reputation and they are just a little place next to a convenience store in a random neighborhood. I got the Brisket sandwich with the regular BBQ sauce. It was pretty good but nothing special. There was a list of like 10 different kinds of BBQ sauces and I think one can't really appreciate this place with just one visit. They seemed to have some Asian-BBQ fusion sauces which looked interesting, maybe I'll stop by again if I'm ever in the area.



Next I just headed south and wanted to get as many hours driving as I could so there would be as few hours left for the next day as possible. I hit Florida, which really does have it's own vibe. I ended up stopping in Gainesville which I had never been to, but I wouldn't see much of it since I got a hotel at about 11pm and left around 8pm. This was the first hotel serving a real breakfast with eggs and biscuits, other places were just giving way paper bags with a muffin or something in them because of Covid. It was nice to start off with a good egg breakfast. I called the locksmith and scheduled an appointment at the house at 3:30pm. I got there at 3:25pm, and the locksmith was right on time. Isn't modern life amazing? WIthout a GPS to help me scheduled I'd probably have had to wait for an hour or two because I wouldn't have been able to schedule ahead of time.



I got in, and I lived happily ever after.


My trip from Miami to Seattle

2021-05-04

I was determined to leave on Friday. I hadn't gotten everything I needed done in the house, but being away from my kids for so long, and the 12 hour work days were getting to me. Fortunately my neighbor happened to be a handyman so I could just pay him to take care of the few things I had left.



I left on Friday, a bit later than I had anticipated, and was headed to Tampa, a four hour trip. I was going to see my Aunt & Uncle. It's interesting how there is no word for aunt and uncle as one unit. Everything else has a non gender specific word for multiple relatives, parents, cousins, siblings. Anyway due to some communication problems I couldn't get in touch with them so I decided to head to downtown Tampa. I realized once I got there I had been to Tampa many times in my life to visit relatives but I'd never actually seen the city. A couple of people I hung out with at the cigar lounges in Miami recommended a steak restaurant, Bern's Steakhouse. I didn't realize I should have made reservations a week in advance, so I figured I'd check another place out.



I went to a couple others restaurants near by, hoping I could get something, at least a seat at the bar, but every place was packed. People were over Covid apparently here and everyone was out. I called my cousins for recommendations and ended up having dinner with them. Good food and good wine. Feels like an appreciation of good wine runs in the family. After visiting my relatives, having a good cigar and discovering one of my new favorite scotches (Lagavulin 16), I began to head north.



After a few hours I got to try my new Bon Voy App (This is not an advertisement). I decided since I was staying at so many hotels on this trip, I might as well sign up to a rewards program. On the way to Miami from Seattle, the nicest hotel I was at was a Marriot, so I decided to go with them. They have an app that can locate hotels and rates. When you get tired of driving you can see what's in the area and book before you get there.



I ended up getting dinner a bit outside of Tallahassee at a bar. Zero precautions were being taken because Covid. I got some wings and some BBQ. The BBQ was ok, the wings I regretted buying both because I didn't have enough room for them and I didn't think they were good quality.



My hotel had a very nice room with a couch and a computer desk. The next morning while brushing my teeth I noticed a large upsetting black mark on my tongue. In the middle of the night I had woken up with my mouth completely dried out. I must have slept with my mouth open for a long time because it felt like sandpaper when I closed. I wasn't sure if this might have something that could have been there a while and hadn't noticed so I went to a walk in clinic in the area. The doctor wasn't very good at reassuring me it wasn't cancer instead of a blood blister something less serious so I was a bit nervous. She told me to keep an eye on it and make sure it didn't get any bigger over the next few days.



After that I drove to New Orleans, and found a restaurant called Cochon which means pig in French. I got deep fried alligator in a Cajun sauce with mint, a pork belly with spicy mustard and honey, and a bacon and fried oyster sandwich. All of which were delicious if not a little painful to eat with my tongue. After eating I looked in my car rear view mirror and saw the blood blister had popped, which was a huge relief. Not only was freaking me out, but it was unsightly.



I was originally planning on staying in New Orleans for the night, but because I didn't leave in the morning initially, all the cities I planned on staying at night at, I was getting to around lunch time, which means at dinner time I was staying in random cities of less cultural significance.



The next day I made it to Austin Texas. I had never been here before and was pretty excited to try some BBQ. I had looked up the best BBQ places to go ahead of time but unfortunately I didn't realize they don't open until Friday or Thursday and are only open for a couple of days. I plan on going back to Austin and some point to check out more of city. It's more than you can take in with just one stop for lunch. I did find a place called Terry Black’s BBQ, and went there for lunch. Got an assortment of meats, and the brisket was the best I've ever had. Moist, tender. They didn't do much rub or sauce or anything like that, it was just about how perfectly it was cooked. They of course had sauce you could put on afterwards, but I definitely need more Texas brisket in my life. I've seen heard or seen the place mentioned randomly a few times as being one of the best places in Austin.



After that I headed west to El Paso to try the Mexican food. I saw some signs on the way advertising a cave that wasn't too far off the highway so I decided to go on one of the tours. I had never been in a real cave before. This one went hundreds of feet underground and the tour took about 2 hours. It was a pretty interesting experience. I got a sense of claustrophobia just as we started to descend but that quickly disappeared. It ended up being one of the best experiences on the trip, very beautiful and amazing that there were stalagmites that had formed over millions of years. During one part of the tour they said there used to be a beautiful formation that resembled a butterfly but one side of the wings were broken off. Some college student had broken it off and put it in his backpack. They discovered who had done it and when they went to arrest him he threw the formation in a river. He now has to pay millions of dollars to the owners of the cave over his lifetime.



It's amazing how nature can take millions of years to create something beautiful and some asshole just takes a second to destroy it for everyone.



One of the coolest things about the cave is when they turn the lights off, you are in true 100% darkness, the nearest sunlight is through hundreds of feet of solid rock. What's even cooler is the material in the cave the stalagmites are made out of, absorb some light, and when you turn the lights off for a few minutes they have a green-blue glow. I ended up getting a hotel in some town that was really just a glorified highway exit. Mcdonald was the fanciest restaurant they had.



El Paso had a very interesting look to it. The rent and price of houses there was incredibly low. I googled the best Mexican food in El Paso, got there early and took a walk while I waited for the place to open for lunch. El Paso has a good feeling to it, definitely not a rich feeling, but kind of gives me a similar vibe to certain parts of Miami. Lunch was pretty good. I was hoping the place would blow me away with some kind of Mexican food I had never experiences far away from the border, but it's pretty much the same kind of stuff you can get everywhere. At some point I will have to go to Mexico City and see what it's like there.



Next I went to Phoenix. I called the hotel and asked them if that was a good place to go for entertainment. They said they were in downtown and there wasn't much to do but that I should go to Scottsdale, so I booked a hotel there and headed over. The first thing I noticed when I got to Phoenix is how clean it is. It's like they have a lawn service they hire for the whole city. Maybe it has to do with that dry desert air that nothing gets moldy, but it's like being in Disney World, where all the trees and bushes are perfectly pruned.



The second thing you notice is how hot it is. At 9pm at night it was in the 90's. It was a good heat though. That dry heat you hear so much about. I think 100 in Phoenix is more comfortable than Miami at 80.



I started walking around the neighborhood near the hotel and trying to find good stuff. I asked a group of people walking down the sidewalk if they lived there and knew where a good place to eat was. They said the Tiki Bar just a block away was great. I talked to them for a bit and then went to the bar which was very good. After that I googled to see if there was a cigar bar around the area, and there was. It was about 20 minutes away walking and very large. They had a huge scotch collection which was great, and comfortable leather seats. I felt lucky I found such a nice place. I hung out there for a while and enjoyed a nice cigar and a great scotch and then took an Uber back to the hotel. I definitely want to go back to Phoenix and check out more the of the city.



Next morning I woke up, got breakfast at the hotel and headed north to one of the most anticipated stops on my trip, the Grand Canyon.



The Grand Canyon is truly in the middle of no where. It's like a 4 hour drive from Phoenix through the desert. There is a little town based around Grand Canyon tourism right before you enter the park. One of the interesting things about visiting places you see all the time on TV or in photos, is they always just show the Grand Canyon, you never know the little things, like what the drive up there is like, what the air feels like, how many people are looking around, etc. You'd get the impression when you get there you are by yourself, and just pull over to the side of the road to check it out, but there's parking lots and tons of people around.



There's a long wait where you pay to get in. It's interesting because it's not something you can see until you're right on it, so even after getting through the gates, driving to the parking lot, getting out of the car and walking towards the canyon, it was still a mystery what it looked like in real life. Finally I saw it as I walked to the edge. It was definitely amazing, beautiful. I thought of what it must have been like for people heading through the deserts for whatever reason to just stumble upon one of the Wonders of the World. It didn't give me any kind of spiritual experience from realizing my place in the universe, but it was good.



Unfortunately I had to drive about an hour south from the Canyon before I could get back on a highway to head north and get me back towards home.



The drive north to Utah was one of the most amazing parts of the trip. The Arizona desert is red with interesting mountain formations that you don't see anywhere else. On top of that it is desolate. The most desolate place I've ever been through. Hours of driving without seeing a house or a person. It felt like going for a drive on another planet. It's a drive I would like to make again one day.



I finally stopped at a town called Page, on the very north of Arizona. It was a small town, first gaining population when many workers built a dam right next to it, which was quite a spectacle. Nothing I had planned on visiting, but I pulled over at Glen Canyon Dam. Now the drive north had a bit of civilization in it. I headed north through prairies, every once in a while I would see a ranch on the side of the road. It was interesting to me that people lived so far out here by themselves with the next ranch being many miles down the road. I feel like I could imaging living there for a little bit, but I never feel happy living outside of a major city. Seems like the kind of place you could visit to write your novel in isolation.



It started getting dark and I was driving through the most winding mountain road I've ever been on that wasn't a small dirt road. It produced a good amount of anxiety in me as I made my way though. I was able to get a glimpse of the sky which was amazing. In the city the sky looks like black with specific dots of light for stars, but out here it was a textured canvas of stars, milky way. Thousands and thousands of stars blending together. At some point I need to go camping in a place as far away from the city lights as this and really appreciate it without having to worry about keeping one eye on the road on a mountain highway.



Finally I got a hotel in some town I can't remember the name of, slept a few hours and got up early the next day. I was about 4 hours from Salt Lake City at this point. I had planned on spending some time there, but at this point the combination of time I had been on the road, and how close the end seemed made me just want to get it over with. I stopped for breakfast at a little place I found via Google, and moved on. I will explore the salt flats, and the great salt lake another trip. I headed up into Idaho, though a lot of rolling hills, beautiful, but creepy in a way being so far from civilization. There isn't much down there at all. It's quite a difference driving through the east side of the continent vs the west. In the east you're never more than a couple hours from a well known town, but in the west you see nothing but land for hours.



Finally I went to Boise, stopped at a little Russian restaurant that had very good reviews from Google and headed through the mountains finally back to Seattle at around 11pm. I did 18 hours of driving on that day, far more than any other.



I have 3 more possible road trips I want to do in the future, from Miami all the way 95 until I get to Maine, from Seattle to Alaska, and down to South America.


Retire tonight

2021-05-04

Sometimes I get too caught up in social media, and I've noticed it makes me feel bad. I bought a tent recently and had been thinking about camping. I thought about what it would be like to have no phone or technology or anything from a day or two while camping. It seemed like it might be a good mental reset. Maybe on Sunday I would do no technology the whole day, but that seemed ridiculous when I woke up in the morning.



I finally decided to just set a timer for an hour in the evening and do no technology for that hour. No Facebook, Instagram, etc. I didn't have the rules laid out firmly in my head but I had a general idea. A lose interpretation was I could use no technology that didn't exist before the year 2000. I didn't have to be a stickler for that as long as it was in the spirit. For instance listening to a podcast on my headphones was the same as a radio.



I sat on my bed and read for a little while, then I picked up the guitar and started learning how to play a new song by memory which I hadn't done for years. I also did something I hadn't done in a very long time, I just sat on my bed and did nothing but think for a little while. Maybe 10 minutes. I didn't have anything to distract me, and it occurred to me, sitting and doing nothing for a few minutes was something that I used to do all the time in my youth. It was an old familiar experience I hadn't had in a very long time. I felt like I was a kid again.



I felt like I was on some kind of mini vacation. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn't have to worry about anything happening on social media, or if there were any new Instagram posts to look at.



The next night I set the timer for two hours. The next night 4 hours. As the week went by I got really excited everyday for my 6pm-10pm block.



The kinds of things I eliminate during this period are any activity that I don't have the ability to complete. So clicking on Youtube videos endlessly, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, etc. Catching up with movies, finishing books, tv shows, practicing instruments, writing, etc. This is where I dedicate my time during this period. I would consider myself to be a very light user of social media in general, but even so there is some part of my brain that always has a passing interest. I've also spent more time calling friends, making interesting new recipes, etc.



You ever wonder how you're going to spend your time when you retire? Gardening? Reading? You can do it tonight. If you don't allocate a time to get all those things you've always wanted to do you wont get them done. My schedule has become Mon-Thurs 6pm-10pm.


The Virtual World

2021-05-02

Assuming the current rate of increase in processing power computers eventually will get to the point where they would be able to calculate a human mind (or non human mind for that matter). Initially computers wont be able to render them in real time. It may be the case that it could take something like two weeks to render 1 second of relative time in the simulation for something as complex as a human brain. Exploring what AI could do with this kind of processing power is very interesting but let's focus specifically on the emulation of human minds now and not the creation of artificial intelligence.



People who could possibly get their brains scanned might be early candidates that would be willing to live in a simulation that runs so slowly. Even though it would seem slow to the outside world, there would be two consolations. One is that relative to others in the simulation, time would flow normally. It might take many weeks or months for the simulacrum to have any kind of conversation with a human, but they would all be able to talk to each other at a normal rate so nothing would seem out of the ordinary.



The other would be the promise of faster computers. Computers keep increasing in speed year over year and there seems to be no end in sight. A lot of people talk about Moore's law hitting an atomic level, but I don't believe that will be an issue. We've already moved to multi cores. Just like there was once very few transistors on CPU compared to today, eventually there will be million or billions of CPU's in a single computer. We are network computers together and can use multiple computers to do computations on a single project.



As computer speeds increase eventually the simulacrum will be running in real time, able to have conversations with people in the real world. Eventually computers could be running so fast the simulacrum will be running faster than people in real life. Eventually it might be twice as fast, four times as fast, etc.



From the perspective of the simulacrum the real world will become slower and slower. Scientists in the simulated world will make more progress in theoretical physics, mathematics, biology, and other fields which can be relayed the real world. Perhaps giving them new ideas for material design or inventions that could be implemented in the real world to create faster processors to further speed up their world creating a feedback loop of innovation.



Experiments would still need to be done in the real world, at least until a grand unified theory of the universe is discovered and experiments in the simulation would be just like those done in real life as at that point it would simply be a matter of crunching numbers.



As the processing speed increases the virtual world would provide a lopsided contribution to society. Imagine if the virtual world were moving at 100 years for every day of real world time. There would be a steady high volume flow of scientific theories. Scientists in the real world wouldn't be able to keep up with all the revelations. Musicians, movie makes, novelists would still be working in the simulation but the real world would be getting music hits the like of which aren't heard but every 100 years on a daily basis. Imagine one day the full collection of Bach comes out, then Mozart, then The Beatles, then Michael Jackson. Everyday a new novel greater than any in history previously would come out.



Would people in the real world be in a constant state of amazement at all the art being produced or would their expectations increase so literature, film and music of the highest order is what is needed to keep them entertained at that point. I would guess the later would be the case as a game of marbles seemed to be adequate entertainment in the past and now video games provide much more stimulation. From the perspective inside the simulation the real world would slow down to a stand still. They would see people in the real world as something like mountains, they would know they move but on comparatively geological time scales. Even though in a certain sense the people in the real world would no longer become a factor in the interaction of people, their world would still be completely reliant on them as caretakers. Maintaining the computer systems, electrical grids, preventing asteroid impacts, etc.



As people die they would likely be scanned and added into the simulations so it would become a kind of after life. Because of the difference in speed, people entering the simulated world would be a much less common event than a child being born int he real world. If you have a fully functional simulation you could have children born to purely simulated entities, being an intelligent perfect replication of a human but having only ever existed in a simulation.



If you had simulation that was hybrid, there would be great benefits. Assuming a 100% accurate simulation that exactly mirrors physics in the real world, you would have the chance of injury, aging, etc. If you use the physics but augmented other systems, like daily backups of each entity, safeguards against injury where terminal velocity from a fall would be a not harmful impact on the ground. You could make modifications to DNA, try it out for a while, and revert back if it doesn't go well. Although simulacrums might initially have a world that closely resembles the world they are comfortable with, as time goes on I suspect more and more modifications would be implemented improving their reality. After hundreds of years it might be unrecognizable to the real world. Imagine houses like Tardises (For those of you unfamiliar with Dr Who, houses that are bigger on the inside) You could have an apartment building but behind each door could be miles of house, with mountain ranges, etc, all available to each resident of the apartment building.



Instead of playing first person shooters you could really be running down a map and if you die, you are simply re-instantiated at the beginning of the map with all your memories.


How my dad died

2018-08-28

I saw my dad in March and he didn't look well.  I knew he wouldn't be around much longer and a few weeks ago I got a call from the hospital that he was no longer able to breath on his own.  He had a tube going down his throat that was hooked up to the machine breathing for him.  The doctor told me they couldn't keep him on that for more than 15 days, and we had two choices, either do an operation to put the tubes through his throat or to pull them out.  If they did do this procedure he still would never be able to breath on his own, and the doctor didn't recommend this course of action.


I bought a ticket to Miami and came over here.  After a full day travel, I went to bed and woke up the next morning.  Ivonne has been helping my dad out for years and I met her and we drove up to the hospital together.  I saw my dad in the hospital.  He was heavily sedated as every time he wasn't he would try to pull the breathing tubes out of his mouth.  He's been in many life threatening accidents through the years and that's almost always the first thing he tries to do when coming out of a coma or whatever predicament he's been in.  After a few minutes he seemed to be gaining consciousness.  He was out of it but I could see he was aware that we were there.  I said hi, and told him a few basic things, he couldn't speak so it was hard to communicate with him, especially on top of the sedation.


We sat down with the doctor and talked about pulling the plug.  I was ready to do it then, but Ivonne had an emotional breakdown and couldn't handle the idea of doing it right then and wanted to wait a few days.  I told her we could wait one day, I couldn't handle the idea of having to go through more days with this constantly on my mind.  We said goodbye to my dad and went home. I hardly slept at all that night.


The next day we went back again, and told the nurses and everybody involved that we were ready, but we had to wait another 6 hours.  They kept telling us they would be ready in 30 minutes. It’s a difficult mindset to be in for 6 hours.  The doctor said when a patient is in this kind of situation, the patient may die in minutes, hours, days, or weeks.  We all had to leave the room as they were pulling out the ventilator tube. 


It was hard for me to deal with this.  When you see this kind of situation in a movie, the person is always in a vegetative state.  I knew my dad was there.  Just a short time earlier I was showing him pictures of his grand kids on my phone.  He couldn't talk but he was looking at my phone with interest, he always loved seeing pictures of his grand kids.  This wasn't just a formality of pulling the plug on someone who would never regain consciousness, I made a decision that would end his life, a life which he was still conscious of.  I couldn't believe anyone should have to make this choice.  Even though everyone around me assured me I was doing the right thing. 


They gave some anti-anxiety medication and some morphine to him, and said they would make sure they would make this process as comfortable as possible for him.  He wouldn't go into a panic about not being able to breath.  After they took the tube out he started taking very difficult breaths.  They said they didn't know how long it would take, but said it would likely be minutes.  Right next to him was a machine that had his heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen and something else I didn't understand having to do with his breathing.  The number was around 10, then would go up to 12, then 15, then 20, then back down to 15.  After 5 minutes, then 10 I thought maybe he would hang on much longer than the doctors predicted.  Then his stats would start dropping significantly.  Ivonne cried and held his hand, I told him I loved him.  After 20 minutes he stopped breath and his heart rate went to 0.  Then he took another breath, and then no more.  I felt like he might have been looking down watching my at that moment.  Not in a metaphoric sense, but a very real feeling I got all of a sudden a minute or two after he had died.  I stopped crying and looked up the ceiling and had an experience that is hard to describe.  I don't know what that was or what to make of it.


When my dad was young he threw a fishing rod at a rock like a spear and it bounced back and poked his eye out.  He fell out of a tree and broke his back.  When I was about 19 he was with his friend in a car.  They were both very drunk and his friend decided to commit suicide with my dad in the car with him.  The seat belts had been cut out, and my dad's friend drove into a brick wall at 60 miles an hour.  His friend look up and died about 10 seconds later.  My dad was taken in a helicopter and survived with some metal plates in his arm, leg, and back. 


Then one day after I had moved to Seattle I got a phone call from the hospital telling me they had found my dad on the street with a head injury.  It wasn't clear how it happened but he was in critical condition and in a coma with lots of injuries to his brain.  The doctor said there was about a 17% chance of him surviving and if he did he would have massive brain damage.  I cried hard that night expecting him to die, but the next few days he was still around.  After a week he showed signs of improvement and a few weeks later he was conscious and talking to doctors.  After a few months he was spending time in nursing homes and his home until he finally moved back home. 


A few years later he fell in the shower, apparently having an aneurysm and was back in a coma, and again, recovered and ended up back in the nursing home.  


Finally after years of drinking his liver wasn't doing it's job properly, and he had a line going into his body for dialysis.  It got infected with MRSA which originated from a hip replacement surgery.  Then he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and emphysema.  He had smoked for 60 years only taking breaks while he was in the hospital, although he would always ask people to sneak in cigarettes into his room.  All these things were too much for him and he could no longer breath independantly.  It was the emphysema that actually killed him, the lung cancer wasn't at a point where it was affecting anything really.


I don’t have any good way to conclude this, but I am relieved he is at piece now as his last couple weeks I’m sure were not comfortable. I know a lot of people who have died, and I think his death was a good one. Not full of fear, or pain, just slowly going out.  

25 Funniest movies of all time

2018-07-31

I did a search for a list of the 25 funniest movies of all time, and saw a lot of stuff in there I didn't think was truly funny.  Movies like Superbad, The Jerk, Raising Arizona, are great movies, but they aren't the funniest.  I think some of the funniest wouldn't even be considered great movies, so here is my list, based on nothing other than how much I laughed.


Things that Particles do

2017-12-06

Here are some interesting things that particles do:


They interact with each other and become bonded by the strong nuclear force to become neutrons and protons.


They get bound together and form atoms, which form chemicals.


They create life, create minds and thoughts and conversations.  They create music, movies, paintings and arguments.  Laws, sex, fear, wonder, boredom.  Chickens and space ships, crack cocaine and ibuprofen.  War, hunger, mass exinction events, telescopes, microscopes.


All these things are some of the things particles do when they interact with each other governed by the laws of physics.


Every thought you have is instantiated by movements at the subatomic level, interacting with one another and rippling all the way up to an intelligent thought.  If you practice mediation you are aware you don't control your thoughts, they just arise from subatomic space.  It feels like we're thinking ourselves, but the brain is really just a thought engine build by the laws of physics and powered by energy.  Our conicousness is just a more complex version of a random number generator.


 

Put effort into relaxation.

2017-08-27

I was walking around a lake by my house like I do twice a week. 


I walked past an old man. 


I noticed him because he had a music playing on speakers.  It was a classical peice I wasn't familiar with.  I looked over and saw he was reading a book, wearing sunglasses and a had to keep out the sun, sitting on a park bench. 


It semeed to me that was a fine way to spend an afternoon.  What really got me thinking though was the effort he put into having a good time reading a book.  I felt like I learned something important seeing him.  He put a lot of effort before hand into relaxing.  When I read I usually just pick up and book and sit in my computer chair or lay on my bed.  He was definiately enjoying reading more than I was. 


All he did was take an exta few minutes to get a good hat, a good song ready and probably a quick drive or walk to the park.  I work a lot, and when I have free time I am generally so happy to have it I don't think much what I'm going to do with it.  How much better could all the things I do be if I just put a little bit of thought into making them great experiences. 


I thought instead of just meditating in the morning, right before I could light some insense and put some nature sounds on.  Instead of reading a book I can go to a coffee shop and read. 

Testable Laws

2017-04-27

I've been thinking a lot about government, and it's shortcomings.  There is something I think would be a great improvement to the functionality of government. 


Testable Laws.


The idea is that any new law that is proposed would be analagous to a hypothesis.  The point of laws are to change society for the better, so we want to ensure that when a new law is passed that is the case.   There are many laws that have added no real benefit to society or laws that have actually had negative repercussions. 


For instance the DEA was established July 1, 1973.  It's goal was to lower the amount of drug use in the country.


If you look at the chart on this website: https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/chart-says-war-drugs-isnt-working/322592/


You can see that the DEA is an inneffective solution to the problem.  Now we are spending a huge amount of money on an organization that is inneffective.  What if when the law was proposed, there were milestones, to lower drug addiction.  After a few years, one would have to conclude this law is not doing what it intended to do.  It could then be scrapped and a new law with different ideas could be put in place, and also tested to see what it's influence is.  


It should be a requirement that no law can be proposed without some method to prove it's efficacy.  Perhaps a database could be put into effect as well do determine how often a law is used in a court of law.  If some silly law no longer applies anymore, we can remove and attempt to keep the legal system free from uneeded complexity.  

Do you get every last drop of gasoline?

2017-04-16

I was curious to when you're pumping gas, and you have those last 5 or 6 drops that you wait there for, how many miles do those drops actually convert into?


According to this website: http://askascientist.co.uk/physics/many-drops-water/ there are 90,922 drops (rounded up) in 1 gallon of water.  Let's say you get 35 mpg in your car, each drop is 3.849453377620378e-4 miles.  or about 2 feet per drop.  So those 5 or 6 last drops you're waiting for will get you about 10-12 extra feet. 


I paid for those feet, so I'll wait for them.

My Virtual Reality Experience

2017-02-11

I went to the Microsoft store by my house where they have a demo of the HTC Vive.  I asked to try the demo and there is a guy there to help you through the whole thing.


After I put the goggles on, it took me a second to realize the wall I was looking at wasn't the wall from the store but a wall inside VR.  I was pretty amazed at how perfect it tracked my head movements and how real it felt to look around in the VR world.  I went through different locations, one under water, one fighting robots, one in an office. 


I had an interesting experience afterwards as well.  When you are in VR everything makes you feel like you are inside of a different location, but there is this knowledge that outside of the world you're looking at there is another world behind it.  Sitting in a restaurant I had a strange sensastion that there was something behind the real world.  It was a little unsettling, made me feel like I might be in the Matrix.


I could see some future in which they took a bunch of brains and put them in machines to increase mortality, and I have to say, I think I would be ok with a computer created experience to live in if it meant I got to exist indefinitely.  Assuming resolution will continue to increase, and processing power in general, I feel like one could have a fulfilling life completely inside of VR.  If you were a programmer you could actually build your own reality however you want.  It's would be interesting to switch out the world you know for a new one to keep things fresh.  Teleportation also becomes possible in this context.  And of course you could always get high res bitmaps of the real earth and live there if you wanted.  Or of the moons of Jupiter.  Since we don't need to breath, we could take normally inhospitable environments to humans and live comfortably inside of them. 


 

A Mall Stabbing

2017-01-27

I was going to meet my friend at a mall recently.  As I drove up I felt like there was an unusal amount of traffic heading the other way but I figured if something was happening I would find out soon enough.  I pulled up to a surprisingly easy to find parking place. 


As I walked up to the food court entrance I noticed there were cops all over and a bunch of tape forming a perimeter.  "Do you want to try a smoothie sample?"  a guy outside of Jamba Juice asked. 


"No, but what's going on with all the police?"


"Oh, I think someone just got stabbed."


I called out to the police to see if I could good inside the mall, he told me to walk around to the other side.  I entered the food court and found a group people at a table.  I asked what was going on and they said a stabbing happened about 20 minutes earlier.  They didn't see it happen. 


All around the food court, all but two stores were open.  One was belonging to the employee who got stabbed I would later find out.  I was assuming the manager at the other one was freakout out enough to close shop.  But all the other stores stayed open.  I asked the guy working at the Indian restaurant if he saw anything.  He says he was working, and didn't see much but a bunch of people starting running either towards or away from the incident.  Or both.  He was conveniently located right accross from where the incident took place.


I posted on Facebook that I stabbing had just occured at the mall.  I got some replies saying a bunch of people were freaking out on the Facebook group full of locals.  It was very interesting to me to hear that.  I wasn't freaking out.  No one around me was freaking out either.  Except for the store closing, if you took away the police and tape, you'd never guessed anything had happened at all by the way people were acting.  Just sitting and eating their food.


It made me wonder if the news and social media makes people react different to things happening.  Perhaps not being there, and just hearing about the event there is less certainty.  Less certainty seems to make people nervous.  I feel like as more and more people use online news, soscial media, etc, there is more of a sense of fear than there used to be.  The news used to be on once a night.  Now you can populate input with all the scariest things on the internet all the time. 

Keep a journal to change your habits.

2017-01-06

I've recently been trying to change my habits.


"Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity." - Einstein.  Maybe.  No one ever seems to know where quotes come from these days.


Anyway.


I'm finding the tool that is most helpful in keeping my self accountable to the changes I want to make in my life is keeping a journal. I journal about how I feel everyday so if a activity is good for me then I'll have reinforcements by looking at my journal and seeing whatever positive effects it's creating in my life.  If you are trying to lose weight you can track calories and weight and see a correlation, but the same can be said of emotional states.  Some days I'm more productive than others, some days I am happier.  I'd like to have more of those days, so trying new things, or stopping old habbits, you can reviews your mood day to day and determine if the things in life you are doing are actually good for you.


If I feel like giving up on it quitting a bad habbit, I know I will have to write down that I gave up on it in the journal the next morning. It is a way of keeping myself accountable to myself.  It also creates a similar affect as the Seinfeld Calender, so if you are writing about your experience in changing a habit, you know you've already put a bunch of effort into writing about your experience.  It becomes a project you're in and not just a whim where you say to yourself "I'm going to do (insert thing here) everyday".  When you're writing about the experience every day, you add weight and momentum to it which makes you less likely to just give up on it.


It can also give you a reason to stop doing it.  I stopped taking sugar in my coffee years ago and I found it life much better, I didn't have that huge 3 o clock crash everyday.  I haven't used sugar since.  Then I decided to see what going without coffee completely was like, and after reviewing the time I spent without coffee, how I felt during the day, I realized I didn't feel removing coffee from my life was of any benefit. 


One of the best things though is writing all the thoughts I have every morning, not just about habits, or things like that, but any thing kind of empties my head of all those random thoughts floating around.  For some reaosn when you write it down it's like you're really acknowledging the thought and you no longer have it as background noise in your brain. 

The benefits of showering at night

2016-12-17

This may seem like a small thing to write a blog about but I think it's worth it.


I used to wake up every morning, eat breakfast, take a shower and start working.  I noticed after showering I was very lethargic for up to an hour afterwards.  Making the water really cold towards the end of the shower would combat the lethargy but didn't solve it completely.  I decided to try showering at night.  If I was going to be tired after showering I might as use it to my advantage and  go to sleep in this state.


The results have been very good, not only am I not lethargic in the morning after showering, there is a full 20 minutes added to my morning, without having to shower at all.  I work from home on my own hours, so procrastination is a factor in my life, and I'm always fighting to overcome it.  Showering for me was a huge psychological barrier to getting my day started.  It's much easier to sitdown and get to work.  It may sound trivial, but every possible way I can stop procrastination I take.  It's one of my biggest enemies.


If you don't work at home, and have no problems with procrastination, just set your alarm 20 minutes later and get some more much needed sleep.  With morning being such a rush, it's much easier to through a big time-suck like taking a shower at night, where I would guess almost everyone is at their least productive. 


I would be guessing almost every person is more productive in the morning than 30 minutes to an hour before bed.  Why waste 20-30 minutes of the your most productive time of the day in the shower?  There is a bit of a struggle sometimes to get in the shower when I'm tired, but I know that once I'm in there it will feel good and be relaxing. 


The first night I got into bed after showering, it felt incredible.  It made me realize every other night I'd been going to sleep with a days worth of filth all over me.  Now the idea of going to bed without a shower seems nasty.   I can't put my finger on why but I feel like some how the fact that I'm cleaner is getting me a better night sleep. 

Do the best you can.

2016-12-03

A child is having trouble with a project at school and feels like he can't do it.  The teacher comes along and sees that the child is struggling.  "Just do your best."  The teacher says, to give the child some motivation to keep trying.


I think that's what people assume that phrase means.  But really think about what "Do the best you can" means.  It doesn't mean "Just get something done"  or "try hard"  It means do the best you can.  If you told Leonardo da Vinci to do the best he can, he would produce the Mona Lisa.  If you told Einstein to do the best he can, he would produce the theory of relativity.  Do the best you can means produce the highest quality result that you are possibly able to do. 


Part of me finds it interesting how a phrase which means something when you look at the words individually, but the context of it means almost the exact opposite.  Similar to Nimrod.  The other part of me (I only have two parts)  thinks it's a waste of a very powerful sentence.


Do the best you can.


 

An argument for us being in a simulation

2016-11-24

Our universe being a simulation in some other universe seems to be a popular topic these days.  I'm not sure that there is way for us to determine if this is the case or not, but I thought of something that might be a good argument for it being true.


One thing I want to address is most people seem to think of our universe being a simulation which is an exact replica of the one rendering it.  There isn't any reason to believe this.  It could be the case, but one alternative would be that the universe above is is completely different in physics, reality, even logic.  What if 1 + 2 = 3 only makes sense in this universe and the true reality has completely different logic and math?  Think about playing pong.  That universe is not much like ours.  Of course Pong is so simplistic no one would say it's the simulation of a universe.  But you can imagine someone simulating a reality which has nothing to do with their universe,  but has beings with sentience in it. 


Another thing is the idea that someone is trying to simulate a universe at all.  Many times we'll see a fractal rendered on a computer.  Imagine some computer running a fractal like algarithm, or just solving an equation, which just happens to be the laws of physics for our universe.  The entirety of our uiniverse might not be something graphic to whatever it's being rendered in, it may be just a calculation running in the background of some super powerful computer.  Imagine of the big bang was just the first part of a continuing calculation.  When you look at the most fundamental laws of physics, there doesn't seem to be anything physical to them, it's point particles, fields, and probabilities.  Easier expressed as math than matter.  The people running it may not even be aware that their program has created sentient beings.


Or of course this could also be like a super complicated version of The Sims as well, or Grand Theft Auto, some video game where the AI has gotten so complex it has become self aware.


One thing to be taken into consideration is that any simulator has a finite amount of resources. The simulation would necessarily I have to be a finite space. If any system can determine that it is in fact infinite they would be able to conclude that they are not part of a simulation. If you were running a simulation however and wanted to give the impression that they have infinite resources there are several ways to go about this.


When you're playing a first-person shooter things in the distance don't have as much detail and aren't taking as much processor power to render as things in the foreground and things behind walls aren't being processed at all. There are certain aspects to our universe like the fact that we can't tell which hole a particle of light went through until we observe it. Before we look at it it could have gone through any holes. Perhaps this is a way to save processing power by not having to do calculations on all the particles in the universe that nobody is paying attention to.


There is another trick there is another trick they could use to make the universe appear infinite when it is in fact not. Our universe is expanding every foot of space is gaining a small amount. I wrote another blog on this subject but the conclusion is that the farther away from where you are the faster the universe is moving away from you.  At a certain distance the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light. This means that anything beyond this sphere is completely inaccessible to you or any part of this section of the universe.


Imagine if the expansion of the universe is just a method to make the universe appear infinite but when rendering it you would only need to calculate all the atoms in the visible universe not the infinite universe. It still sounds crazy to think of a computer that could process all the atoms even only in the visible Universe however keep in mind the nature of the universe and complexity and size of the one running the simulation are unknown to us and perhaps the number of atoms in this universe is not even a difficult strain on the processing power available there.

Infinite You

2016-11-13

Many people have heard of the idea of parallel universes.  The idea that there is another dimension parallel to ours where every possible reality exists.  Where you won the lottery, met a different wife, etc.  Scientists believe this very well may be the case but it hasn't been proven as of yet.  If you want more information on this you can Google Everett's many interpretation theory. 


There is another concept about infinite universes though, I will call serial universes.  Parallel lines never touch, but serial means you have one universe next to another.  Although it's not proven beyond a doubt it's believed to be very likely that the universe is infinite.  If this is the case, there are some very interesting implications.  Because the universe is infinite, and the number ways you can configure atoms and the spaces in between them are finite, there are bound to be repeats. 


If you go far enough out into the infinite abyss of space, eventually every possible kind of planet will run out, and you'll find another earth, although perhaps with different constellations.  If you keep going far enough however, you'll find not just a replicate of earth but of the whole observable universe.  The distance you would have to travel before you start seeing things repeat is so far it's really inconceivable to the human mind, but eventually, far enough out there, are exact replicas of our universe.


Of course there are infinite variations of you in these other areas of the universe, but there are also an infinite number of exactly the same you.  Versions that every moment of of their whole life was identical to yours.  Every interaction with everyone other person was exactly the same.  Whether this particular variation is happening simultaniously in time is irrelevent.  Whether in the past, or future, you have all experienced the same moment, and have all come to a point in life where they are reading this exact blog and thinking about it exactly the same way.


At this moment every thought you have, all the others have the same one.  If you want to send out a message about what your shared experience is like, you can think it now and it'll be shared among all.  It's almost telepathic in a sense, the ability to know another's mind, but instead of any mystic power, your telepathy is being conveyed by statistic probability.  There are also an infinite amount of me right now writing this, every word the same, every typo being corrected and re-typed in the same manner. 


There of the infinite amount of yous eexperience the same thoughts, a majority of them will break off and have slight differences in your thought processes, but some of them, still an infinite amount, will go on living their rest of their lives exactly as you do, thinking, doing, seeing, smelling, loving, laughing, crying, at all the same moments for all the same reasons, dying in the exact same manner. 

Verisimilitude

2016-11-05

"Ether is a tenuous and highly elastic substance that fills all interstellar and interatomic space. It has few of the qualities of ordinary matter. It is continuous and has no molecular structure. It offers no perceptible resistance, and the closest-grained substances of ordinary matter are more open to the ether than a coarse sieve is to the finest flour. It fills all space, and, like eternity, it has no limits. Some physicists suppose—and there is much plausibility in the supposition—that the ether is the one substance out of which all forms of matter come. That the atoms of matter are vortices or little whirlpools in the ether; and that rigidity and other qualities of matter all arise in the ether from different degrees or kinds of motion."


This is from a book called Electricity and Magnetism, published in 1900. 


Would you like to know more?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_theories


This theory has since been disproven, or at least fallen out of favor.  What is interesting to me about this pasage, and more apparent when reading it in the full context of the book, is how logical it sounds, and how matter of factly it is stated.  It reads just like any physics book you would pick up today in tone and feeling of authority on the topic. 


What gives it even more weight is that it is surrounded by explaination of the electrical and magnetism phenoma which it explains rather accurately.  So what you have is a theory with some cloudy basic information about the ether, in which you can test.  So one might read this, create an electromagnet or a battery (originally called a Leyden Jar) and it would function as described in the book.  That would make a pretty convincing argument for all the reasoning behind electromagnetic theory. 


How much of what we read today is analagous to this old science book.  I think most people have a sense that science today has straightened out a lot of kinks and misconceptions we had wrong.  Books sound so authoratative.  But it is likely, that a very large portion of what we currently take for granted as true is incorrect or incomplete. 


Imagine any 100 year period since around 1300.  This is when scientific advancement picked up enough to speed to demonstrate this, but it would be the same all the way back in history just in larger chunks than 100 years.  Any 100 year period you could look back at the begining of the period and point out how wrong people had been about a great deal of things.  We are currently only in the most recent 100 year period.  We can look back to 1916 and point out how little people really knew about the universe and nature back then.  The neutron and proton hadn't even been discovered back then.


There is no reason to believe this is the period in our history where all of our science book are right.  Back then when we didn't know something the book didn't read "We don't really know how it works, but we believe it could be"  They read "This is how it works".


So when you are reading about new scientific discoveries, listening to lectures in school, that describe with such confidence the nature of the universe, remember, there is a great chance much of it is wrong.  And although some of it is surely true, we can't distinguish what is what. 

You are your possesions.

2016-09-25

What are you?  If you cut your hand off, you would say you are your hand.  The rest of you is you.  If we keep chopping body parts off I think we'd come to the conclusion that you are your mind.  We'll assume you're your mind, and that seems to be somewhere in your brain. 


If you reattached that hand, is it now you again?  I think most people would agree that our limbs and hands and feet are part of us.  If we accept that something that can be removed and added to our body and be part of us, does this stop at things we had originally?  What about contacts lenses?  Fake limbs? 


Lets say your arms are both removed.  You've now lost your ability to draw, write, point fingers at people. 


Let's say you buy an electric saw, you now have the ability to cut wood quickly.  I don't think most people would say an electric saw is part of you, but I will argue that it is. 


I feel like we can establish that our mind is what is really us and our body is just a set of tools that allows us to manipulate our environment.  Since limbs can be removed and added, why does this not apply to everything?  Houses, tools, kitchen utensis, money, credit cards.  All of this things increase the effectiveness in manipulating our environment.


If one person owns a washing machine and the other does not, they require much more energy to wash their clothes.  Whether is be from hand or driving to a laundry mat.  Money is the same way.  If someone who is very wealthy decides to build a 100 story office building, they can do so, using only theirx` voice to communicate to people who will then carry out the actions that are their minds wishes. 


I think it's interesting to think of the mind as a thing that is somewhat removed from the physical world but has the power to manipulate it.  The more tools it has at it's disposal the more power to manipulate it's environment. 

Are coincidences really random?

2016-07-02

Coincidences are sometimes mentioned by woo peddlers as being something mystical.  If if you google synchronicity you'll find people saying the universe is trying to communicate to you or some other spiritual significance.


On the other hand there are plenty of people to point out statistically coincidences aren't as unusual an occurrence as many of us might believe. Last night I was looking on Twitter, browsing the internet, reading Reddit and I came across 5 different references to The Simpsons television show within 10 minutes. I know this can probably be explained as not unlikely statistically over the length of an entire lifetime.  There are bound to be things that are very strange but likely to happen at least once over one hundred years or so.


Even knowing this, it definitely feels strange. Perhaps there is something more to it something between random coincidence and the universe trying to speak to us. There's a phenomena in mathematics called twin primes. If you start writing out all of the prime numbers you'll find every once in awhile after many many numbers with no primes, two primes will show up separated only by one even number. It has been proven that no matter how high you count prime numbers will always pair up like this.  No one quite can predict them or explain exactly what's happening but it is simply a result of the nature of the distribution of prime numbers.


Some people speculate that the universe that we live in is really just math. There are no colors, just wavelengths of light, intelligence is simply an emergent property of many atoms working together to run an organism. Consciousness is an emergent property unconscious matter. If the universe behaves all based on the mathematics of a grand unified theory that means our thoughts, the position of the planets and the atoms inside them, everything you see on the news and all your interactions with friends and family are all the result of working out this Grand Unified theory equation. Perhaps in this theory the same way we see fractals in nature and we see golden spirals there is something akin to the twin primes where seemingly related occurrences pop up in our experience from time to time.  Maybe they are not a message from the universe and maybe they are not random coincidences, perhaps it's just some funny math that the universe has worked out.

Can there be Infinite speed?

2016-05-17

How fast is space expanding?  46.2 miles per second per megaparsec. 

So every second 19,170,000,000,000,000,000 miles of the universe turns into 19,170,000,000,000,000,046 miles.

Isn't it more fun not using scientific notation?  Every second 1 inch turns into 1.000000000000000002399582681273 inches.  Ever notice how we use commas to seperate sections of 3 digits on the left of the decimal point but not on the right?  So every second the space right around us gets a little larger.  An inch of space space 39 years ago when I was born would now be 1.000000002951256338028387792 inches. 

A hydrogen atom is .1 nanometers wide.  Or .00000000393701 inches.  Lets align these.

.00000000393701 - Width of a hydrogen atom
.00000000295125 - How much the universe has expanded in my lifetime.

Does that seem very fast or very slow?  I'm not sure I know.  Here is a bigger number that might we might be able to wrap out minds around better.  I'm gonna use better notation now, all these 0's are getting silly.  The observable universe expands 1,317,300 miles every second.  That seems pretty fast, but here is where tihngs get weird.

The observable universe is not the end of the universe of course, so the diameter of two observable universes are expanding 2,634,601 miles per second.  What I find fascinating, is the because there is theoretically no end to the universe, as you go infinitely far away, the universe is expanding infinitely fast.  When I was a kid it was hard thinking how the universe could go on forever, I am having an even harder time comprehending infinite speed.


74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers (46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years). - See more at: http://www.space.com/17884-universe-expansion-speed-hubble-constant.html#sthash.oFp3t7x5.dpuf
74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers (46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years). - See more at: http://www.space.com/17884-universe-expansion-speed-hubble-constant.html#sthash.oFp3t7x5.dpuf46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years). - See more at: http://www.space.com/17884-universe-expansion-speed-hubble-constant.html#sthash.oFp3t7x5.dpuf

Space X - Beautiful Display of Capitism

2016-05-08

I saw the SpaceX rocket landing the other day and it was amazing.

I think it was a wonderful display of the power of capitalism used correctly.

There is a lot of corruption in politics, particularly at this time.  I think the idea of capatilism gets unfairly critized because of some of the problems with corporations having influence in government policy.  That is clearly an issue, however the power of capitalism still holds strong.

When NASA had a shuttle, they were on a standard budget.  Knowing a fixed amount of money would be available they allotted a certain amount of money for the replacement of fuel tanks after they were dumped into the sea for every launch.

SpaceX doesn't have a budget.  They have to get contracts to send things into space, which means they have to impress people.  Not only that, the more money they spend on a mission, the less money they make, so they, unlike NASA have an inncentive be as efficent as possible and not dump equipment into the ocean.

Ever been to the DMV?  They aren't know for the best customer service.  This is because they don't have to impress anyone.  Whether you think they are a good 'company' or not they are going to get your business.  They have no incentive to train their employees to be nice and try to give the customer a pleasant experience so next time they'll choose that company.  Comcast is an interesting case, because they are a semi monopoly and they have the same problem.  Customers much like the DMV, don't have a choice of where they can get their cable and internet.

You hear how money makes corporations greedy, but it also makes them incentiviced to give customers fair prices and good experiences.

Healthcare is another good example, very expensive.  This is because most of us (in the USA at least) have a specific insurance company that tells us which doctors to go to.  We don't go to specific hospitals and doctors because of their good prices and helpfulness, we go where we have to go.  Whenever there is no competition you run into trouble.

A lot of examples people give as examples of problems with capitalism aren't really capitalism, they are instances of capitalism controlled by government.

Are the Biblical Ages accurate?

2015-08-14

In Genesis the ages of Adam and his offspring are stated as being very long.  Adam lived to be 930 years old.  This seems like a long time, why did people used to live so long?  Perhaps they didn't.  Pre Julius Caesar (Born 100BC) most of the world was on a lunar calender.  Most of the old testament's works are dated from around 500-800BC. 


Now assuming some sort of error in translation or confusion about calenders occurred, suppose months were translated as years.  We can devide everything by 12 (Or pretty close, a lunar cycle is ~28 days).  Now Adam's age becomes 77.5, Seth's age becomes 76.  Genesis states Adam had his first son at 130, which seems a long time to wait, especially considering no birth control existed for the first two people in the world, but divide by 12 and you get 10 which would be around when he'd first hit puberty. 


I don't know of any way to prove this, but when you make the assumption that there was a translation problem all the numbers make a lot more sense, and it would fit that ages would be counted in lunar cycles instead of solar cycles at that time. 

Kindle Unlimited is Good.

2015-07-29

I recently subscribed to Kindle Unlimited in which you pay $9.99 per month and recieve unlimited books.  You can't read any book you want, but they have a large selection of free books under the plan.  Similar to Netflix, you can't watch anything you want but the selection is good enough to make it worth it.


One good things I've noticed is I read more now.  I'd often be in the situation where I'd buy a book for 3-15 dollars and not enjoy it like I was hoping.  Having paid for it I felt an obligation to keep reading through the whole thing.  Or I'd feel like I needed to read it but not actually read it which caused me to delay buying another book which I might enjoy more.  The great thing about having the flat monthly fee is if I select a book that turns out to be a dud, like a biography on Buckminster Fuller I recently downloaded, I have no guilt about not reading it if I don't like it.  Instead I read something else at no more charge that makes me excited to get in bed every night so I can read my book. 


This may sound like a commercial for Amazon but I really like this method of consuming books and I reccomend it to anyone.

If your whole life was scaled to a day...

2013-11-18

I thought to myself, if life was scaled to a day, what time would it be? Carl Sagan did some things like this which I always found interesting like if the age of the universe was scaled to a year, humans would only show up a few seconds before the new year. Instead of just figuring it out for me I decided to write a web page. So this may be depressing, or inspiration, depending on your age I suppose.

http://cygnusx.com/lifeinaday.php

It is quite a no frills page, just wanted to get it done.

Here is a link to Wikipedia on Life Expectancy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

Make a Compost Bin for about $20.00

2013-06-22

I have been doing a lot of yard work recently and have been trying figure out what to do with the clippings and weeds. I decided to make a compost bin, and it was surprisingly easy and fast. There are a number of plans out there but I wanted to do it as cheaply as possible. Because appearance is a very low priority, I was able to throw this whole thing together in less than an hour in a half, including travel time to the hardware store, and for less than $20.00.

First I used some 2x4's to make a box frame using 2" exterior screws.

Compost Bin

You can get a bundle of 4' by 1" wood at Lowes in the lumber section. They are very splintery so you should be careful when handling them but they are only about $15.00.

Compost Bin

You can take about 10 at a time and throw them on the miter saw and cut them the width of the sides of your 2x4 frame. I was able to cut each bundle twice giving me a longer piece and a shorter piece for each of the sides. I would suggest trying to make the total length of your sides less than 4' so you can cut one 4' piece for both sides.

Compost Bin

I then used a brad gun to nail them to the frame. A piece of scrap wood is a great way to space the slats evenly. If you don't have a brad gun you can use a hammer but I would suggest getting a brad gun as it cuts so much time off many projects it's well worth the investment.

Compost Bin

Like I said before, the time it takes to throw this together is astonishingly little.

Compost Bin



My Hangover Cure

2012-11-09

I was drinking one night and woke up not feeling great. Not only not great, but worse than normal in fact. I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to be able to drink and feel good too? So I did some research.

I knew dehydration was a big part of hangovers but I am pretty good about re-hydrating before I sleep. I remember taking something called No Hang, which is a supplement that is supposed to contain everything that's depleted while drinking. It seemed to work when I took it but it was a bit pricey and I haven't seen any around where I now live.

After researching which vitamins get depleted when your liver processes alcohol, I went downstairs to my vitamin & supplement cabinet (Which is pretty hefty. I have about 30 various kinds of pills in there) and searched the back of all my bottles to see if I could create an assortment of pills to replace everything you lose while drinking.

I found them, surprisingly all in one B-100 or B Complex bottle. Literally everything listed as something that gets depleted while drinking was in this B Complex. It was almost as if it was designed specifically to stop hangovers, and at a considerably smaller price than other supplements.

I did a test, drank a good amount of scotch, even more than I normally do, and took a B complex pill. I still tried to rehydrate before I went to sleep, and when I woke up, I felt pretty good. I wouldn't say this cures a hangover completely but maybe cures it 75%. Repeated tests confirmed the result.

Then again I drank without taking the b-100 and there is no question, that at least for me, this makes waking up the next morning WAY better. So if you don't have any on you, pick up some B-100 vitamins (or B Complex) at the store and give it a try.

How long is eternity?

2012-10-20

There are some who believe that when you die you go on living for eternity, perhaps in paradise. Although the thought of your life ending might seem terrible, lets think about living forever.

It's hard to really grasp things like eternity, but I will attempt to put it into perspective the best I have been able to.

Think about how long you've lived so far. Now double that. As long as you have lived, you would go through that time period one more time. Really think about that for a moment. Now quadruple it. As long as you've lived, you would get three more of those time periods. This would probably put most people reading this well beyond average human lifespan. Now take as long as you've lived and multiple it by a trillion for every atom in the universe.

This is a very long time. At this point the current age of the universe would be a very small fraction of 1% of your life. So small a percentage I would run out of memory before I could type out all the 0's that go after the decimal point and before the 1. The 4gb of memory on this computer would not even come close.

On a time period like this, all the music with all the possible sounds and note combinations would have been written. Even the ones that don't sound good. Every possible book would be written. Even the ones in which the letters don't combine to make any sense. Every conversation you could ever had would already be had, there would be no more combination of words to put together that you hadn't heard yet. You'd have met every possible person that human DNA could create. You could have played every possible game of chess and poker.

If you lived in a castle with a million rooms you could have explored all those rooms by now, and spent 100 years in each one. You could count the atoms in the universe at a rate of 1 per year.

You could have done all these things, and you would have finished them a long, long time ago. Now as old as you are now, do the same operation again. Take this life span, and multiply it by a trillion for every atom in the universe. After all this time you haven't made any progress whatsoever in completing .01% of your life.

Someone asked me why I think I will stop existing after my life here on earth is over. I don't know that you don't go on existing after you die, but I certainly hope that it does.

The biggest number in the Universe

2012-10-13

I was thinking about counting to infinity for some reason or another and I wondered how high one could count. It occurred to me there would be a number you would reach where you could no longer conceive of a higher number due to the physics of the universe.

There are up to 10^80 atoms in the observable universe. If you wanted to try to count in the simplest way possible, you could start counting all the atoms in the universe and eventually you would run out of ways to represent a higher number.

This would be the most basic way of counting, and in our heads right now we can conceive of a much higher number than there are atoms in the universe. In 5 characters, 10^80, we can conceive of this number. That's a lot easier than counting every atom in the universe.

By adding 3 more characters to the end and writing 10^80^80, we have a number with many, many times more atoms than there are in the observable universe. 10^80^80 is a number which would not be able to be expressed by this computer in non exponential notation.

We could take 10 and keep raising it by 80 over and over again until we ran out of atoms in the universe at which point you would reach the highest number available to us. Unless you used a more efficient way of writing numbers. There are ways to express numbers in a more compressed form.

Theoretically there should be some way in which you can arrange atoms the most efficient way possible and express the highest number possibly displayed in the universe.

One might argue, you could just assign arbitrarily large values to each atom and there would be no limit on how high you could count, but this number would have to be comprehensible to some intelligence. Because the universe is closed off to the outside some of the atoms in the universe would have to be used to create this intelligence.

Lets take the simplest version of this to be a key. It might look like this:

. = ..

Which would signify one atom equals the number two. Using this you need at least 6 atoms (not including making the equal sign) for this to be worth the notation as 3 atoms would be equal to the number 6, and 3 atoms were used in the key itself. So if you had only 5 atoms in the universe, the best thing to do would just assume 1 atoms equals 1.

Because you would need 3 atoms for the key,

. = ..

you could use the remaining 2 .. = 4.

Now obviously we have more than 5 atoms in our universe but the principle would be the same. Given any particular number of atoms, there would be a point where using more than a certain number of atoms to represent a certain number per atom would be less efficient. This should be true of any configuration of atoms dictating the counting method which means that there is maximum number in our universe that is knowable.

I found this idea fascinating.

Black Coffee

2012-09-29

Sugar is bad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Here is a much more in depth video on the subject than I would even dream of going into. I highly recommend watching it.

I never have been big into sweets, I'm more of a meat guy, so keeping a low sugar intake wasn't a huge issue for me.

There was one thing that was nagging at me however. Every morning I would wake up and have my coffee with cream and sugar. The idea of drinking it black was very foreign. That's what old people did. Cream and sugar with my coffee was delicious and I'd been starting my day off like this everyday for almost 20 years.

After maybe a year of really thinking about it, I decided to eliminate the last teaspoons of refined sugar from my diet which meant drinking my coffee black.

I did it. All I had to do was have black coffee one day. No big deal.

It wasn't bad. I was worried I would have some withdraw or not feel satisfied without the cream and sugar, but I still got my caffeine fix so when I finished I don't feel like I missed anything. Now I've come to appreciate the quality of the coffee more. If coffee is bad it tastes much worse, and if it's good I can detect some of the subtleties in flavor I was overpowering with sugar.

The biggest benefit however was totally unexpected.

I have a routine I stick to pretty consistently in the morning. I wake up, go downstairs, make/eat breakfast, get my coffee and go back stairs and browse the web while I drink. At the point where I finish browsing the web, I have an internal battle trying to force myself to get up and start whatever project I planned to do that day. It often took a lot of will power.

It turns out what I was fighting was not a urge to procrastinate but a sugar crash. When I finished my black coffee, I got up and was ready to start my day with more enthusiasm than I can remember ever having before.

My original goal was to keep sugar out of my system. If I was consuming 150 calories in cream and sugar every morning, by taking coffee black I'd be losing a pound every 23 days by doing nothing more. But the best thing that happened was having an unexpected abundance of energy every morning now.

My strategic Chicken Soup Reserve

2012-09-21

I went to bed on Sunday and I knew something wasn't quite right. I had that tingle in my sinuses that can go either way. Sometimes you wake up the next morning like nothing happened, other times as the night goes on you realize things are getting worse and you wake up with a fever, headache and the chills.

You never know when it will strike but when it does you can usually look back at the last few days and remember drinking too much one night, or staying out in the sun too long one day and wrecking your immune system.

Many times I've woken up like this and had to force myself to the store because I wasn't prepared. Fortunately this time was different.

Here is a list of things I like to keep on hand at all times so whenever I do get sick minimal effort is required to recover.

Cans/Frozen Chicken Soup
Nyquil
Tylenol
Vitamin C
Vitamin D


I can't think of much in life I hate more than getting out of bed, showering, and going to the store with a high fever, chills, and a pounding headache. Making sure you have all this stuff on hand at any given time will make sure you spend all your time recovering.

During the day I set my phone countdown timer to 1 hour, and drink a glass of water every hour. I also like to take around 3000mg of C when I'm sick. Sleep as much of the day as you can and eat lots of chicken soup. I don't know the science behind it but chicken soup is a miracle food when you're sick.

Make sure you drink Nyquil before bed. If you don't sleep well you wont recover be able to fight off sickness as well.

With this regimen I got rid of the flu in about 24 hours. As a control group the rest of my family is still feeling sick days later.

Quick Camera/Phone Stand

2012-09-15

I got the new Galaxy SIII phone a few weeks ago.

It is good.

Especially the video camera feature. Like many fathers I wanted to video tape my 3 year old and 9 month old playing but I wanted to be in it as well. My 3 year old's camera skills were not up to my standards so I found a way to prop the camera up against a tea cup, but I figured there has to be an easier way.

I decided to make a stand to hold the camera up for steady video recording.

This is a very no frills solution but it gets the job done. I just cut a section of a 2x4 and made two spaces with a table saw.

Phone Stand

Phone Stand

Phone Stand

Phone Stand

Phone Stand





The first slot should be just a bit more than your phone's width and the second enough to tilt it about 45 degrees forward or backward depending on where you need to place the stand. It takes about 10 minutes to complete. Gluing some felt to the bottom of the slots might be desirable but not necessary.

Now I don't have the problem of never being in any of my chidlren's videos because I am the one taking them.

How balanced is my diet?

2012-09-07

I take a daily multivitamin to make sure I'm getting everything I need as I figure my diet is probably not ideal. But what is an ideal diet? I decided to keep track of one day of eating and see how close I am coming to getting all my nutritional needs met. I'm focusing specifically on micro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc... Macro-nutrients, carbs, fats, proteins will not be take into consideration.

The Recommended Daily Intake or RDI was developed by the US to make sure people got enough vitamins to avoid any deficiency diseases such as scurvy. Whether this gives you enough vitamins for optimal performance is up for debate but for now we'll just focus on seeing what we need to eat to not get sick.

Here is what we are looking to have covered:

Vitamin A : 900μg
Vitamin C : 60mg
Calcium : 1000mg
Iron : 18mg
Vitamin D : 400 IU
Vitamin E : 30 IU
Vitamin K : 80 μg
Thiamin : 1.5mg
Riboflavin : 1.7mg
Niacin : 20 mg
Vitamin B6 : 2 mg
Folate : 400 μg
Vitamin B12 : 6 μg
Biotin : 300 μg
Pantothenic acid : 10 mg
Phosphorus : 1000 mg
Iodine : 150 μg
Magnesium : 400 mg
Zinc : 15 mg
Selenium : 70 μg
Copper : 2 mg
Manganese : 2 mg
Chromium : 120 μg
Molybdenum : 75 μg
Chloride : 3400 mg






Today I had 2 eggs for breakfast, 2 pieces of bacon and two pieces of white toast with butter. For Lunch I had a salad with Romaine Lettuce, 1/2 avocado, 50g of feta cheese, 1/4 cucumber, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. For dinner a cheese steak which is hoagie bun, sirloin steak, 1/4 onion, and cheese.

Here is the breakdown of the percentages I got in a PDF:

http://cygnusx.com/Images/mynutrition.pdf

What I learned:

I only got half the vitamin c, vitamin e, parenthetic acid and magnesium I need, and virtuously none of the vitamin D. Broccoli would remedy a lot of these, especially vitamin C. Liver would be good for iron and parenthetic acid. The interesting one is vitamin D. One can get it from the sun, but living in the northwest United States, we don't have the sun. It looks like I can get away with almost no supplements and maintain a balanced diet but the one thing I will have to take is my vitamin D pills.

What I was surprised by was what a power house of nutrients steak is. If you are a vegetarian you really need to do a lot of work to make up for all the stuff that is lacking without steak or other meats. Also romaine lettuce is packed with good stuff which I didn't expect. Iceberg lettuce is notoriously nutrient poor, and I'd heard romaine was better but I didn't realize how much better.

Another thing to note, anyone on a low carb diet will probably need to make sure they are filling in some gaps that would appear with an absence of any wheat products.

Considering this list was created on just one random day of what I eat, I feel my diet is pretty good. A lot of the things I am lacking are in foods I often eat, but just didn't happen to eat that day. I think the most important thing to take from this information is how important it is to eat a wide variety of foods. No food has everything you need so you want to have a large assortment of things to cover all your bases.

I would recommend everyone try this to see if there are any glaring holes in your diet. You can go to:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/

To get the information on virtually any food.

Thank Goodness I Hurt my Ankle

2012-08-31

I find many things in life that seemed to be terrible at the time turn out to be very positive events.

A little more than a month ago I was walking in the park and stepped in a hole hidden by the grass. I re-injured an old ankle injury I got more than 10 years ago. My number one concern was that I wouldn't be able to go to the gym and get on the treadmill, which has been my main source of exercise in life, for a long time.

For about a week I couldn't walk without great difficulty so the gym was out of the question, but eventually I got myself to the gym. I knew I couldn't do the treadmill or the stair master. I spent some extra time looking around the gym for exercises I could do with a sprained ankle and I found the kettle bells. I had heard a lot about these recently and decided to give them a try. After just 20 kettle bell swings with a 35 pound kettle bell I could hardly catch my breath.

Now my whole workout is different than it used to be, doing mostly body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, dips. This new routine is fun and very effective. I had been doing variations on the same old routine since I first started working out and now I feel excited to go to the gym again.

Looking back in life, when I think about it, almost everything that has happened to me that seemed terrible at the time has had consequences that were very beneficial. Even losing my job led to me meeting my wife.

This week my hosting company stopped support for an old version of PHP which broke almost everything I had written. On top of many other stuff happening in my life I felt like this was more than I could bare at one time as I had to fix a lot of code. Just stopping and thinking about other things that seemed bad at time made me realize I shouldn't be so upset, that something positive will likely come of this.

Much of what needs to be fixed is fixed now, and now I am more up to date on my programming knowledge for it, and after going through all the sites I feel inspired to work on some projects that I had on the back burner for a long time.

Just though I'd write this blog in case anyone had the same feeling that everything is falling apart. Remember, this might be an opportunity to rebuild everything stronger that it was before.

Oyster Tasting

2012-08-24

I recently started eating raw oysters at home as appetizers. I was at Pike Place Market and looking at oysters when I asked if I could eat these raw. "Yeah but you need a shucking knife." responded the oyster guy. Preparing raw oysters at my house had never really occurred to me before. Because of them being raw I felt like they needed to be prepared in a professional restaurant environment but after purchasing a shucking knife I found it was remarkably easy.

Shucking is not too hard (But not too easy either). Here is a 3.5 minute video on how:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy-rbEXFwLw

Note: the glove is very important. The first time I tried shucking I just held the oyster in my bare hand and ended up stabbing myself very badly. If you don't have a glove, just get a dish towel and fold it and use it to hold the oyster. Also I wouldn't try using any other kind of kitchen knife, the shucking knife is built very strong and a regular knife would likely be damaged.

I recommend going specifically to a seafood shop to buy the oysters and make sure you ask them if they are OK to eat raw.

You'll find you can buy 1 dozen oysters for anywhere between 6-15 dollars at a store. Depending on which restaurant you get them at they will cost you considerably more. I've seen them for as much as $30.00 a dozen. Considering how they aren't even cooked this seems like a waste of money. If you wanted to duplicate a restaurant's braised lamb it might be a difficult task, but oysters will taste exactly thew same whether you eat them at a restaurant or at home.

I decided to do an oyster tasting as the place where I get oyster has 6 different kinds. I made three categories in which I rated the oysters in using a 1-10 scale. The first category is ease of opening, the second is taste and the third is texture.

I did not look at the price of each oyster while I was doing the tasting to avoid bias. Between each oyster I took one shot of sake to cleanse my palate. I got two of each kind of oyster so I could try one with lemon and one without. The prices are for 2 oysters except the Totem Point which is huge and only 1 oyster.

Here are the results:







TypePenn CoveHood CanalQuilceneTotem PointKumamotoKusshi
Price$1.50$1.50$1.00$.75$2.84$2.50
Openability261736
Taste658446
Texture574534


Overall my favorite was the Quilcene. Ironically the most expensive two got very low scores. Also the best tasting oysters seemed to be the hardest to open. The Totem Point is a huge oyster, perhaps 6-8 inches long and 2 inches wide. The meat tastes good but there is so much of it that it overwhelms you. I think this oyster is better used for cooking where it can be cut up. The Kusshi's taste was one that varied widely with and without lemon. It was neutral bordering on bad but with some lemon squeezed on it it become one of the better tasting oysters.

At some point in the future I may add more oysters if I find them in the store. So if you're like me and love raw oysters, go enjoy some without spending a fortune.

My sick plant

2012-07-24

I have a plant in my office that I water ever 2-3 days. I went on vacation for a couples weeks recently and when I came back the plant was not in optimal condition. A bunch of dead leaves and branches were hanging off the side, and the whole thing just didn't look healthy.

I trimmed the dead branches and leaves off and within a few days, the whole plant was perking up and new growth had come in to replace what had been removed. What a treasure trove of analogies this had in life I thought.

On a side note, do you know what a treasure trove is? I bet not as much as you could, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_trove

The reason my plant was dying was that there is only a limited amount of resources available to the plant. If a portion of those resources are going to sick leaves that don't photosynthese, the whole plant will have less food.

One analogy is the government bailouts. If you keep a bunch of half dead companies alive that aren't growing, providing more and more jobs, you are taking resources away from healthy companies and new start ups. Perhaps getting rid of those old car companies would make room for a new innovative companies that make cars that can drive themselves or work on 100% battery power. Can you imagine how much extra time you would have in your life if you could accomplish stuff while on a road trip or to and from work everyday? Lets say you read an average of a page a minute and you spend an hour driving to and from work each day. That's about 80 400 page books a year you could be reading.

The time we use in a day is also another analogy with my sick plant. (Impressive Segue huh?) For me, and I am not sure if this is the case with all people, but my happiness is closely based on accomplishment. Video games use this accomplishment based reward system very well; when you are playing a game and get a more powerful character, unlock more things, or get to the next level.

The problem is when you turn off the video game your sense of accomplishment transfer back to real life. If you cut out things like video games, TV, or whatever vices you may have, new things will spring up in their place. You don't need to consciously add anything in it's place. Like the plant with it's leaves trimmed, new growth will naturally come out and likely make a healthier human being. It might get replaced with basketball, the gym, writing, etc...

I'm not saying don't do anything recreational, but look at how much joy you are getting from an activity not when you are doing it but after.

Why we have 8 hour work days

2012-07-16

Being in a situation where I make my own hours, I started wondering if 8 hours a day is the most productive way. Enough to do a lot of work but not too much so that your brain goes numb or your body fatigues. I decided to do some research on the subject and this is what I found.

Around the industrial revolution in Britain, the workday was anywhere between 10-16 hours a day. Robert Owen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Owen) coined the term coined the slogan "Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest." and pushed for lowering the hours a day people worked.

Here (href="http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/are-you-working-harder-or-working-smarter-looking-at-the-40-hour-work-week.html) is a good article on many people's philosophies of the best number of hours to work a day/week. From what I can tell the 40 hour work week is just an arbitrary number of hours chosen because it was less than 80.

Is working 8 hours in a row best? I know that for me personally when I start working in the morning through lunch, I am very productive but there is a noticeably less intense work ethic right after lunch. Perhaps lunch would be better extended to 2 or 3 hours? There are some physical reason why we would slow down after lunch as the digestive system takes a lot of energy, but I also think there are very psychological reasons something different than an 8 hour work day might be more productive. If you have 1 hour to get your house clean before guests arrive you'll be very productive, but if you got to work with 8 hours to kill, you'll tend to drag things out as long as you can to fill the day. If we were in a job where we could get all hour work done in a couple hours and go home I think most of us would prefer this, assuming the pay is the same of course.

I think most of us are in a position to try to drag out our day instead of making it as productive as possible.

There is a psychological aspect that comes into play as well. If you spend too little time working you wont have any sense of accomplishment. I know if I don't feel like I've accomplished enough I get depressed. On the other end of the spectrum if you work too much you'll become stressed which is also not healthy.

I've tried different methods of timing myself, for instance starting a stop watch and making sure I am productive for 8 hours in a row. Other times I've tried using the stop watch just for an hour at a time but trying to get at least 4 hours in throughout the day. With the 8 hour system, as I said before, one tends to slack off more, and drag out tasks to fill up the time. The 1 hour system works well because it's not hard to make 1 hour bursts of productivity 4 times a day actually get more done than trying to do 8 straight. The problem with that method however is that often after the first or second hour, the third and fourth never come to fruition as you may get distracted by something more recreational.

After trying these two methods, and several variations on each, I think the most effective way to get the most done in your day is not to pay attention to hours at all. I've found a task based method to be more effective, every morning writing out a to do list.

Cygnus X Guide to Travel

2012-06-27

I find lists to be very helpful. If you're like me, when you drive away you have a nagging feeling that you forgot to turn something off and you will returned to a pile of ash instead of your house. Making a list of everything to do before you leave, like checking the doors are locked, lights are off, oven turned off, etc... is helpful and guarantees your piece of mind when you pull out of the driveway. One thing I like add to the list is turning the water heater off or turn it to vacation mode which is a setting many new water heaters have.

Another list that is helpful is what to pack. You don't want to have to buy a bunch of stuff you could have brought with you but forgot. If you are addicted to coffee like I am you may want to pick up some Starbucks Vias (Starbucks version of instant coffee which is in my opinion the best instant coffee) as the person you are staying with may somehow not be addicted to coffee. Having a packing list is also great to use when you are getting ready to go back home so you can make sure you didn't leave anything behind.

A GPS is a must have. If you are still resisting this technology, give in. It's like resisting the cell phone, it makes life so much easier so often. I find even if you know where you're going on a long trip it's better have a GPS so you don't have to be constantly aware of which exit you're at. If you have an Android phone you've already got a great GPS.

Another good thing to have is a laptop, but even better is a laptop with a phone you can setup as a hot spot. If you have at least Android 2.2 you can turn your phone into a wifi hot spot by going into the wireless settings and turning the hot spot option on. If not you should be able to upgrade your OS by downloading it online and installing it via USB.

Here are the lists I use. You may find stuff you didn't think of, or if you have stuff you think is important that I don't have on the list, please e-mail me.

Things to do before I leave:

Car tire pressure is full.
All windows are closed.
Blinds are open so plants can get some sun.
All doors are locked.
Oven and burners are off.
Garbage has been taken out.
Air Conditioner/Heater is adjusted correctly.
Water Heater is off.
All lights are off.
No water is running.
DC to AC adapter in car.

Things to pack:
Multitool
x pairs of shirts
x pairs of pants
x pairs of underwear
x pairs of socks
At least 2 pairs of shoes
Toothbrush (In toothbrush travel container)
Toothpaste
Shampoo
Conditioner
Deodorant
Q-tips
Floss
Electric Razor
Cell phone charger
Laptop/Laptop Charger
Good book/Kindle
Instant Coffee
Notepad
Pen
Multivitamins

Ear Candle Experiment

2012-06-04

If you've never heard of an ear candle, it's a long cone of wax that is inserted into your ear and set on fire. As the top burns it's supposed to suck out ear wax and any other bad stuff you have in your ear canal. You can often find the service offered in spas. After the procedure is done they'll cut the candle in half lengthwise and show you all the stuff that came out of your ear. This is usually followed my remarks on how disgusting it is.

I decided to determine if they really worked so I took two ear candles, one I stuck in my ear and let burn down. The second I did not stick in my ear and let burn down. When I opened up the candle that was in my ear I found all the stuff that is said to be coming out of my ear, but when I opened the candle that had not been in my ear I found the same thing.

I have to conclude that the stuff found in the candle is just burnt wax falling down into the cone. The procedure can run $35.00 per ear more or less so I'd recommend skipping it next time you're at the spa.

Grass Fed Beef vs Corn Fed Beef

2012-05-27

Some articles have come out showing benefits of grass fed beef over corn in the past few years. More on that in this article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/14/AR2006031400312.html

It seems to be the consensus that grass fed is healthier.

The important thing, which tastes better, I wanted to find out for myself. I went to Central Market, a pretty cool super market in the North West. Grass fed is hard unless you go to a higher end place like Whole Foods or a local gourmet store. They had an aged corn fed rib eye, and a grass fed rib eye. I purchased one of each, both within .50 cents of $19.00 and within .1 pounds of each other.

I expected to see more marbling in the corn fed as they are supposed to be fattier, but I wouldn't have been able to tell the different by appearance.

I brought them home to prepare. I normally cook my steaks over a charcoal grill, but because I was comparing tastes I wanted to keep that smoked flavor out of the equation. I heated a cast iron skillet, salted one side of each of the steaks and threw them both in the pan. Cast iron is known for heating very evenly so I knew both steaks would be cooked under almost the exact same conditions.

I took one steak and put it on it's own plate. One of our plates has a small chip on the side so I used this to keep track of which steak was which. I had my wife cut a piece of each steak and decide which one she liked best. After she made her decision I closed my eyes and had her feed me one piece from each steak. I bit into the first piece, not bad at all, good taste, decent texture. Then I bit into the second piece. The juiced flowed out of this one freely, flavor exploding in my mouth. There was no question this steak was better.

Now it was time to compare notes and reveal which steak was which. The best case scenario for dinner was each of us would have picked different steaks as we still had to eat dinner afterwards and we' d both get out favorites. This turned out not to be the case however. Both of us agreed one steak was significantly more delicious than the other.

This steak turned out to be corn fed. My wife of course got the corn fed steak for her dinner. At least I was eating healthier, right? Oh well. Turns out you can't get the best of both worlds in one steak.

Even though there are health benefits to grass fed, mainly higher omega-3 content, I don't eat steak often enough for this to make a huge difference in my health.

So when the times come I decide to splurge on an expensive steak, I am going to pick flavor over health from now on.

Easter Egg Hangover

2012-04-11

If you're like me you have a ton of hard boiled eggs in your fridge right now. I thought I would throw together a quick list of cool stuff to do with them. Hopefully you'll find something better to do with them than egg salad, although I'll have a recipe for that too.

This isn't the most labor or research intensive blog I've done but hopefully it'll be helpful.

Nutty Chicken Salad
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/nutty-chicken-salad/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=hard%20boiled%20eggs&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe


Scotch Eggs
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/scotch-eggs-4/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=hard%20boiled%20eggs&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe

Polished Eggs
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/polished-eggs/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=hard%20boiled%20eggs&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe

Creamed Hard Boiled Eggs
http://apps.facebook.com/texas_holdem/index.php?count=0&fb_bmpos=3_0&fb_source=bookmark_apps&ref=bookmarks&src_track_str=Poker%20FB%20Bookmark%20Other%20%25ACTION%25%20o%3ABookmark%3A2009-03-11

Avocado-Egg Salad Tostada Filling
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/avocado-egg-salad-tostada-filling/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=hard%20boiled%20eggs&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe

Spinach Gratin with Hard Boiled Eggs
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/spinach_gratin_with_hard_boiled_eggs/

Tarragon Egg Salad
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/tarragon_egg_salad/

Pickled Eggs
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pickled_eggs/

Deviled Eggs
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/deviled_eggs/

How to have fun with almost no money.

2012-03-23

I thought I'd write a blog about some of the things I like to do best that cost almost nothing. They are often more fun than things that cost money like movies, bars, or clubs.


Going to the library. Hours of entertainment for free, what more can you ask? Not only is it a good deal, but it might make you a better person. Instead of subscribing to magazine, a couple times a month I just take a trip over to the library and read my favorite periodicals and pick a good book up on the way out.

Going to the beach. Good exercise if you want to go swimming or walking down the beach, or you can lay in the sun and read that book you just got from the library.

Go to park. A lot of cities are building exercise equipment into their parks so you can save money on a gym. The workouts are pretty good, you can jog around the park for cardio then use pull up, push up bars, etc... My daughter loves the play areas too, and if you have some friends you can usually get a volley ball game going with just an ID lent to the park.

Video Games. If you buy all your video games on Ebay and then sell them right after you finish them they cost virtually nothing. As long as you don't wait for the demand/cost of the game to go down too far before you sell it, you can usually sell it for close to what you bought for it, sometimes even more if you are lucky. It helps to buy older games that prices have stabilized more with. On a cost per hour basis video games are some of the cheapest entertainment you can have. Let's say you buy Skyrim for $60.00 brand new, with at least 100 hours of game play that's only $.59 per hour of entertainment vs about $5.00 an hour for a movie. If you sell it back afterwards that amount goes down significantly. Ebay is like a library for video games where you can just check one out when you return the last.

Nature trails. Washington state has a huge amount of these, but most cities have some near by. Biking or walking down them is great exercise and gives you a lot of time to think, or listen to books on mp3.

Museums, many museums will have certain days they are free or a reduced price. You probably haven't been to one since you were a kid, but as an adult you will appreciate it much more than you did back then. A quick search on the web will tell you what you have in your area and what days are free/discounted.

Wine Tastings. You can often buy into them for 5 or 10 bucks, and frequently meet some interesting people while you drink good wine. Some tasting's I've been to even give you a free glass which is a great way to stock your cabinet for company. If you don't have any wineries near you, most good wine shops have them weekly.

Art Galleries. If you live by a downtown area with a lot of art galleries, they'll often have a night where they are all open late and people go from gallery to gallery. You usually get some free wine or champagne too. If you do decide to purchase any of the art, this will quickly not longer be cheap entertainment, but likely very very expensive entertainment.

How much computer power would be required to reconstruct a human on the atomic level?

2012-03-05

There are 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in a 153 pound human body.

To map the location of each atom we need 3 coordinates. To allow the body to move the coordinate matrix can be 8 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet. This box would be enough for the limbs to reach up, to the side, forward and back.

To calculate the highest number needed on the grid we will figure out how many positions are available for an atom to be located at. In real life the number would be the number of planck lengths (The smallest theoretical distance allowed in physics) so if we want to be able to measure movement similar to how we experience every day, we'll use that.

1 foot is equal to 1.885905244757553 x10^34 E34 Plank lengths or 18,859,052,447,575,530,000,000,000,000,000,000, times 8 = 150,872,420,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That means to keep track of the location of each atom you would need and x y z coordinate each ranging from 1 - 150,872,420,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Each atom's location requires 115 bits of information per direction, or 345 per atom. So the total amount of memory needed to store the location of all the atoms in the human body would be 2.41500 x 10^30 bits. Divided by 8 gives us 3.01875 x 10 ^29 bytes. Divided by 10^15 gives us 3.01875 x 10^13 bytes or about 30 Trillion Petabytes.

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google estimated the size of the internet at only 5 million terabytes.

So what kind of computer would we need to deal with this? IBM has been able to store 1 bit of information to just 12 atoms, which means just to store one instant of an image of a human body in memory would take 1380 times as many atoms as contained in the body itself. A very rough estimate puts the weight of the memory used at 105 tons.

Can you imagine what the computing power of the Matrix movies would be to do a whole world with 5 billion plus people? You could theoretically use a compression algorithm to reduce the storage needs but that would increase the processing power needed to deal with calculating it. The interesting thing is if you did run a program like this, you could take a million years to process just 10 minutes of time for the human and to it it would seem as 10 minutes of time had passes normally.

Theoretically he would be unable to tell he was a computer program as the laws of physics would be programmed in, unless he tried to split the atom with a particle accelerator as our most basic element in this program is the atom. I don't even want to do the math to figure out how much memory it would take to store a man on a sub-atomic level. You could save a lot of processing power by not calculating the inside of inanimate objects unless they were broken.

That's an interesting thought as the uncertainty principle notes that until something is observed it could be in either outcome. It's like the universe saves processing power calculating the location of an atom until something observes it and the calculation becomes necessary.







Special thanks to David Artman for helping figure out the bit data conversions.



Sources:

http://education.jlab.org/qa/mathatom_04.html
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9223396/IBM_smashes_Moore_s_Law_cuts_bit_size_to_12_atoms

Trying Mindfulness Meditation for 30 days

2012-02-19

I have recently been introduced to mindfulness meditation. After doing some research on the internet I've found many studies that report positive results, many of which can be found here:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww-psych.stanford.edu%2F~pgoldin%2FBuddhism%2FMindfulnessMeditationSummary.doc&ei=AD3-Ts_FO5DKiAKosoWyDg&usg=AFQjCNGW3sJn-0NgjR2-FeszcSrW_jOjbg

I attempted to do 10 minutes of meditation everyday for 30 days and see if I noticed any benefits at the end of my trial.

I failed, but I did do 15 days and I did find some there is something to it.

I came into this with a lot skepticism, it seemed a little too mystical to make a difference in daily life but that's because I didn't realize what meditation was actually doing. Like working out in the gym conditions you to be stronger, meditating conditions you to be relaxed. I play poker frequently and am often put into a tough situation which makes me nervous. Being nervous is not good in game of probabilities because of something called emotional hijacking.

This is when the emotional part of the brain bypasses the rational part of the brain, which is good in situations such as being attacked by a bear and needing to flee immediately but not so good in situations where you need calculate odds, figure out the likely cards of your opponents, etc...

After a few days of meditation I realized I could quickly snap into a meditative state state and calm myself which in turn means I would likely make better decisions. So during that poker game in which I'm making a tough call, it helps me become more focused.

After this realization I became more enthusiastic about meditation as I could see how it could have a direct benefit in my life. After around day 9 I noticed I seemed to be more calm all the time. Just from staying in that state 10 minutes a day you are always a little bit closer to it and more relaxed, physically and mentally. Things like waiting in a long line at the grocery store aren't an annoyance but a chance to relax.

Close to day 12 the act of meditating itself began to change. I would get more visuals when my eyes were closed, lots of colors shifting around and weird imagery, which was pretty interesting. One time I felt like in front of me were infinitely smaller versions of me meditating and behind me were infinitely bigger versions, all sitting and meditating and in touch at the same time.

The reason I didn't make the original goal of 30 days is many of my sessions would be interrupted and a few days I just couldn't find time to do it at all. It should be mentioned I have a 2 year old daughter and a 2 month old son which caused much of the difficulty. If I lived alone I have little doubt doing 30 days would have been no problem. I was actually very surprised how hard it was to go just a 10 minute span without being interrupted by one thing or another.

Another reason I didn't make it is it's not the most fun thing to do. I would often put it off too late into the day when my daughter's nap time was over and interruption or just lack of time was more likely. Having said this, keeping disciplined and sticking with it definitely pays off, and even now that I haven't done it in a few weeks, I find it easier to snap back into a serene state whenever something upsets me, makes me nervous, or worries me, so there does seem to be lasting benefit even if not practiced regularly.

I plan to do it on a weekly basis instead of daily, but at some point I'd like to do it daily again for an extended period of time as I felt like I quit just when the experience was becoming more interesting.

Do something I've never done everyday for 7 days.

2012-01-29

I made a goal of doing at least one thing I've never done before everyday for one week.


Day 1: Make a recipe I've never made before. I'm using Giada's recipe from her show for Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/mascarpone-and-lemon-gnocchi-recipe/index.html


It was decent, not the best thing I have ever eaten, but didn't taste like anything I ever had.

Day 2: Worked out on a new machine at the gym. A simple goal, but I got sore in a spot I've never been sore before.

Day 3: Went to Absolute Air Park. This is something I had heard about and always thought about doing but never got around to it. It's basically a warehouse filled wall to wall with trampolines. I took my daughter and we had a blast. Surprisingly I got pretty sore from this as well.

Day 4: Went to a spa and got a massage. I have gotten massages before but never in a spa setting. Being able to go into the sauna and steam room really made me feel more relaxed after it was all done. Something I wont be doing often because of the price but I am definitely glad I did it.

Day 5: Went to a new library I've never been to before. It was pretty close to me but I just had never checked it out before. Is that a pun? Maybe. It had a few different magazines that the library I normally go to doesn't have. I'll likely go to this one about half the time in the future as a few of the new magazine are ones I'm interested in.

Day 6: Ate something I had never eaten before, lotus root. Apparently it's popular in Asia but not here. Made a cucumber salad and put them in. They weren't bad. I think next I am going to try frying them.

Day 7: Went to a public swimming pool with my daughter. I've been meaning to do this for a while and this was a great excuse to do it.



This was a fun project and took more energy and time than I initially expected. It gave me an excuse to do a lot of things I had never gotten around to, but I think more importantly it made me realize I'm not living my life to it's fullest potential. I could be packing a lot more into each day and will try to make a point of doing that from now on. I need stop thinking "I'll do that someday" and think "let's do that right now one."



What is in my bread?

2012-01-01

I've always found this odd... if you go to allrecipes.com and search for traditional white bread, you'll get this recipe:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/traditional-white-bread/detail.aspx

Here is the ingredients list:

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons lard, softened
1 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cups bread flour

Now, when I look at the ingredients on bread I bought at the store, the list is:

Wheat Flour
Malted Barley Flour
Niacin
Reduced Iron
Thiamin Mononitrate
Riboflavin
Folic Acid
Water
Yeast
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Salt
Vegetable Oil (Canola or Soy)
Ammonium Sulphate
Mono-Diglycerides
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
Ascorbic Acid
Azodicarbonamide
Monocalcium Phosphate
Distilled Vinegar
Dextrose
Calcium Propionate
Calcium Sulfate
Enzymes
Nonfat Dry Milk
Soy Flour

Wow, that list is much longer! If I can make bread with 6 ingredients in my home, what are the 25 ingredients in store bought bread? Well lets go through them and find out.

Ok, Wheat Flour and Malted Barley Flour, I think I know what those are so I'm not even going to look them up.

Niacin is Vitamin B3, reduced iron is iron, thiamin mononitrate is vitimin B1, riboflavin is vitamin B2, folic acid is bitamin B9, and ascorbic acid is vitamin C. According to ask.com "In the US, processed flour must be enriched with thiamine mononitrate (along with niacin, ferrous iron, riboflavin, and folic acid) to replace that lost in processing. " The reason this is required is a portion of the nutrients in wheat are lost when processed as the bran (the outside of the wheat grain) is discarded.

Yeast is a fungi which makes the bread rise, water, salt, vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup are all obvious enough.

Ammonium sulphate is a salt that is often used as fertilizer but in this case is used to feed the yeast.

Mono-Diglycerides are a fat used to keep the bread from getting stale and help other ingredients blend more evenly.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate or SSL is another emulsifier that gives the bread many of it's physical characteristics such as softness and bounciness.

Azodicarbonamide is a bleaching agent to make white bread whiter. The UK Health and Safety Executive has identified azodicarbonamide as a possible asthma cause. It also may heighten allergic food reactions. I don't know if I need this in my bread, it's not that important that it be so white.

Monocalcium phosphate is a leavening agent helping the bread to rise.

Distilled vinegar is self explanatory.

Dextrose is sugar.

Calcium propionate helps prevent mold and food spoilage.

Calcium Sulfate is a coagulant which I am assuming is also used to help the texture of the bread.

Last, Enzymes are proteins that speed up reactions.

So all in all none of the ingredients are as scary as I thought they might be. If I had the choice, I'd still rather have the first recipe for home made bread. For all the chemicals they put in commercial bread to help the look and texture, home baked bread always tastes best to me, but I imagine it doesn't have a long shelf life. Unlike fruits where I decided to try to get organic after finding out whats in them, baking my own bread is not something I have the time for so I will just accept the stuff they put in there, although I will try to bake a little more often as I enjoy the process and the product.


Here is an interesting page I found during my research that ranks the safety of most food additives:

http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm




Other Sources
http://wiki.ask.com/Thiamine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niacin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enriched_flour
http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faqingredients.htm#mono
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_stearoyl_lactylate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azodicarbonamide
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monocalcium_phosphate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_propanoate

Taking a Coffee Break

2011-12-11

I've decided to take a break from coffee. There are three major reasons I thought this would be beneficial.

The first being I was drinking it at least once a day every morning and often I'll make a pass through Starbucks later on. The sugar and milk I'm consuming is adding an extra 100-300 calories a day with not much nutrition. 3500 calories equals 1 pound so theoretically just by cutting coffee out of my diet I'll be losing a pound every 11 days.

Second, I experience back pain. I haven't been able to find any scientific studies correlating coffee drinking with back pain, but googling 'coffee back pain' led me to find many people commenting on how they had back pain for years and it stopped 1-2 days after quitting coffee. That is the case with me, I have had a knot on the right side of my neck and on the upper left side of my back invariably for years. The days after I stopped drinking coffee they got smaller and are now gone completely.

The purpose of my quitting coffee isn't because I never want to use it again but because I do want to use it again as stimulant. I remember the days before I drank coffee every day, when I did have a cup, I could sit down and focus intensely on reading a book or writing. I don't want to have to drink coffee to feel normal, I want to drink it to feel better than normal, and if I am addicted to it and my tolerance is built up, I'm wasting a wonderful chemical.

Having quit cigarettes before which I put at a difficulty of 10/10, quitting coffee is about a 3/10. I got a headache the first day and felt kind of out of it. Towards the middle of day 1 I got a Starbucks mocha with just 1 shot (Half my normal). The next day I had no caffeine at all and didn't feel much withdrawal symptoms at all. The biggest side effects aside from the headache is the lack of productivity I felt in the morning.


My plan on keeping my coffee drinking down to 2-3 times a week and only using it before things like writing this blog, or right before a programming session.

Weekly Meal Planning

2011-12-02

Before I moved up to Seattle, my condo in Miami was just a few blocks away from the grocery store. I got in the habit of going everyday as it was a nice walk and the weather was almost always favorable. Now I live about 10 minutes away from the grocery store by car and I'm buying food for three (Soon to be four) instead of one.

A 10 minute trip to and from the store everyday is 2 hours 20 minutes of travel time a week. Factoring in 20-60 minutes actually shopping and I'm spending 4 hours 40 minutes to 9 hours 20 minutes a week on grocery shopping. That's a whole work day. Back when I was walking I was considering the travel time as exercise and didn't feel it was time wasted. Now it's not exercise but just stress and gas money.

So in order to make things more efficient I created a web site to make food shopping easier to keep track of. I can add every meal for the week, display calories for each meal and totals for each day, and get a list of all the ingredients I'll need to make every meal for the whole week.

After I create the chart of meals I print it out and keep it on my refrigerator so I know what to prepare that day or what to thaw out for the next day or two. I also added a user system on it so anyone else who wants to use it can. It has some default meals entered so you can see how it works before creating an account or if you happen to eat exactly what I eat you can just use the default.

Now by just taking about 5 minutes to organize my meals for the week I'm saving at least 5 hours of wasted time during the week. Hopefully some of you will find it useful too.

http://www.weeklyfoodplanner.com/

If roulette lands on red 5 times is it better to bet on black?

2011-11-25

If you have ever been to a casino and played Roulette, you may have had the urge, like I have, to put more chips on black if red has come up over and over. Now, we both know the odds are still 50% (Technically 47.37% because of the 0 and 00 but we'll ignore that for this blog) but it sure feels like you have a better chance.

I wanted to test this myself, but I didn't want to lose a fortune at the casino, so I programmed a virtual roulette table. It rolls the "ball" 2000 times and keeps track of of the results. I set it to only make a bet if the same color has come up at least 5 times in a row. If the next time the same color comes up again, it will make the bet again next time, and keep on doing so until it wins. Here is a link to the page:

http://cygnusx.com/misc/

As you can see the page re-calculates new rolls every time you load it. Also as you can see, betting after a color has hit 5 times still gives you a 50% chance of winning. You may want to refresh it a few times to see the results change with new data.

I think what causes your brain to want to believe it has a better chance of winning is 5 of the same color in a row happens far less frequently than 1, 2 or 3. Looking at the results though you can see each x color in a row happens about half as often as the x times in a row before it. So even though you have 5 in a row, half of the time the next roll will turn it into 6 in a row.

So save some money and don't put any emphasis on bets when getting the same color in a row many times. The same thing applies to coin flips or any event in which you have a 50% chance of something happening over and over. Even if you get that once in many lifetimes event in which someone has flipped a coin and come up heads 17,000 times in a row, there is still 50% chance the 17,001st time will also be heads.

Workout Journal

2011-11-19

I decided to try working out everyday for 30 days in attempt to get in better shape and lose weight. I've finally gotten to day 30, and some things I thought would happen, happened, others didn't. Before starting this my weight was about 216, ranging from 214 to 218 on any given day.

Everyday I wrote my weight down, how I felt, and what I did at the gym. My average workout went like this: 30 minutes on the treadmill walking at 3.0 mph, then another 15 minutes at 5.0 mph, alternating down to 3.0 to rest for a minute or two. After the treadmill I'd do an average of 3 weight lifting exercises, everyday rotating to another part of my body.

I went at 10am everyday. Half of the days I didn't eat breakfast before going and the other half I would eat something small a couple hours before working out so I wouldn't have post eating sluggishness. Aside from this I made no conscious effort to change my eating habits. I wanted to see what exercise alone would do.

The first few days felt normal, but on the fourth day my hip got very sore. I did a day on the treadmill for cardio instead to give my hips a break. My hip worried me at first but the next few days everything was fine from then on. I think it just needed to get used to being used daily.

Starting on day 4 my weight started dropping rapidly. From day 3 to day 6 I went from 216.8 pounds to 212.6 pounds. After the initial drop however, the weight loss stagnated and eventually rose to around 214 and stabilized. I was hoping to lose more weight, but unfortunately I'm only a couple of pounds lighter now. My guess as to what happened here, is that my body wasn't used to the initial drop in calories. When it adjusted for my body burning 3-400 calories a day I subconsciously ate more to keep my weight stable. The lesson I learned from this is if I want to lose weight I'll have to keep an eye on my calorie intake too.

Even though I didn't lose much weight, there were other benefits. Day 5 I was more excited to work out. I went from doing 2 minutes of running at 5.0 mph to 4, and my heart rate was about about 10 bpm lower after doing it. Around day 7 I noticed an elevated energy level both mentally and physically all day long. I could go to the gym for an hour and a half, come home and work for a few hours on some computer projects, and clean for another 2 hours and then cook an elaborate dinner for my family. I'd go to bed around 9:30 and sleep well throughout the night, which I often didn't before.

On day 10 I had a headache, and was getting a cold my wife and daughter had gotten and I was worried this would cause problems for my 30 day workout experiment, so I did shorter workouts from day 10-17. I did only 1 weight lifting session and walked for 3.0 mph for 30 minutes and cut out the jogging afterwards. On day 18 I was pretty much back to normal, and I never got nearly as sick as the rest of my family during this period.

On day 21 I got back to my high energy level, and this continued for another 6 days. Every day from 27 to 30 I felt like I needed a break but kept pushing through. I didn't have the energy I did before, and everyday it seemed harder to get up to go the gym and I was more tired when I came back. I think the lack of rest was finally getting to me.

I've decided now that this is over, to continue to workout everyday during the week and take weekends off to rest. I'm hoping this will give me the high energy level I was experiencing but not eventually run my body into the ground. I've also decided to monitor my calorie intake in attempt to drop some pounds.




In case reasons for exercise weren't obvious:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/01/25/1015950108

Adding tags to your life to get more done.

2011-11-19

The basic idea is to take things that you do every day already, and add a small task to them so you don't feel like you're doing much more work.

Cleaning the kitchen while my coffee brews is a good one. Every morning I would wake up come downstairs, get the coffee brewing and watch TV for about 5 minutes until it was done. Drinking coffee for me is one thing that happens every morning without fail. So instead of sitting down on the couch I decided to use this time to clean the kitchen. I was in there anyway right? So now I load/unload the dishwasher, clean counters, etc for a few minutes until my coffee is ready and then sit on the couch and watch TV until I am ready to start my day.

Second thing is I always drink a cup of water before my coffee so I don't get too dehydrated, so now I always take my vitamin D and fish oil (It doesn't cause heartburn on an empty stomach like C).

Before I start cooking I clean the kitchen. This with the coffee brewing tag make it so I no longer have to set aside extra time for cleaning the kitchen, I just automatically take care of it.

Here are a bunch of other ones:

Always floss when I brush.

Start laundry/washing machine/dryer every time I leave/enter the house.

Every time I walk into or leave a room, do 1 thing, for instance pick up a toy, make the bed, throw trash away, etc...

Exercise right before taking a shower, I usually do some stretches, push ups, and sit ups.

Whenever you get home, check the mail and/or take the garbage cans back in.

Whenever you leave, take the garbage cans out to the street if they need it.

The first thing I do when getting out of the shower is make the bed.

Whenever your on hold, clean your desk.

I'm sure there are a thousand others, but you get the idea.

Learn how to write app for Android

2011-11-19

I have decided to learn how to write apps for Android. The knowledge I am coming into this project with is web development. I know PHP, Perl, Coldfusion, JavaScript, CSS, HTML. From what I can gather the programming language for Android is java, which I do not know, so this will also include me learning a new language.


Day 1: First step search "How to program android app".

Found: http://developer.android.com/index.html
Downloaded The Android SDK.



Tried running it apparently I don't have Java installed, so ran:
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk

I found http://onthefencedevelopment.com/?p=455 which is a great tutorial and saved me a lot of time figuring out details. Now that I have Eclipse installed, I tried to start a project but it seems I need to learn Java to do this as it's asking for things I don't understand yet, like Package name and Activity class.

Found: http://developer.android.com/guide/index.html

If you want to avoid some reading and get straight to writing a Hello World application go to: http://developer.android.com/resources/tutorials/hello-world.html (Note than when I first ran the Hello World program I thought it didn't work, but you got to let the thing run for a few minutes before the program actually runs.

After finishing the Hello World app, I've jumped straight to the Notepad Exercise: http://developer.android.com/resources/tutorials/notepad/notepad-ex1.html




Read one new Wikipedia.org entry top to bottom everyday for 30 days.

2011-11-19

I decided to read a new Wikipedia entry everyday for 30 days. Finding new entries turned out to be very easy; when I read through an entry there were often links to other entries that intrigued me. After finishing this project, I found I had a lot more links I wanted to read aside the initial 30. What I've done is listed all the initial 30 I read, then below that will be an ongoing list of links I haven't gotten to yet but wish to. I don't plan on reading one a day anymore, but as I go through my unread links, I'll move them to the read section.

I'd recommend reading many of the links in this list yourself, 80% of them are very interesting. Feel free to send me any links from Wikipedia you find worth reading as well.


Day 01: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigel

Day 02: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pol_Pot

Day 03: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitechapel_murders

Day 04: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaspoon

Day 05: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enschede_fireworks_disaster

Day 06: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato

Day 07: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timocracy

Day 08: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_man%27s_hand

Day 09: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_universals

Day 10: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophism

Day 11: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology

Day 12: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_spheres_of_Costa_Rica

Day 13: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratification_%28archeology%29

Day 14: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respirocyte

Day 15: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Magellan

Day 16: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tontine

Day 17: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyptodon

Day 18: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanaco

Day 19: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche

Day 20: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feynman_point

Day 21: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansen_Writing_Ball#Nietzsche.27s_Hansen_Writing_Ball

Day 22: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tensor_tympani_muscle

Day 23: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors

Day 24: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashic_records

Day 25: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Scholarship

Day 26: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

Day 26: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibogaine

Day 27: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democritus

Day 28: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

Day 29: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy

Day 30: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kellogg_Lewis


Entries I've since read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_of_Gou_Jian

Entries I wish to read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasco_da_Gama
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanaco
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magellanic_Clouds
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristocracy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplicius_of_Cilicia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclid_of_Megara
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ockham%27s_razor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocrates
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Superposition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_proof#History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yonaguni_Monument

No TV on weekdays for 2 weeks

2011-11-19

I decided to see what life was like with no television or video games so for the past two weeks I haven't watched any TV during weekdays. The DVR is great for this because you can go a whole week and not feel like you have really given up anything.

My morning routine changed from waking up, making coffee, and sipping it while I watched whatever had collected on my DVR from last night to sipping on my coffee while sitting at the computer. Throughout the rest of the week most of the time that would have been spent watching television was spent reading, cleaning, calling friends or going out into the world and doing something. I rarely thought about watching TV or missed it. I did look forward to the weekend more than normal though. When I got to the weekend, I felt a lot less guilty about spending much of the day watching movies, TV, and playing video games.

I'm not sure if I will continue the no television on weekdays but one thing has changed permanently. When faced with watching all the shows stored on the DVR, a lot of the shows no longer interested me. Some of the shows I was very excited about watching and viewed those first. The further down the list the less excited I was to see certain shows until I ended up deleting a good portion without viewing them. Many reality shows were on this delete without watching list. In retrospect I was watching shows I didn't really like. I was just using them to kill time. Since I found other things to do with my time those were of no use to me anymore.

I am going to take a lot of things off auto record now, so even if I go back to watching TV throughout the week, I'm sure I'll be watching a lot less of it.
Before this I was watching 14.25 hours a week or about 2 hours a day. After this I guessing it is going to be more around 3.5 hours a week.

Things I've learned.

2011-11-19

Never eat sweets for breakfast.

Take baths often.

Google is the easiest spell check.

Never poop under time constraints.

Wait for your pizza to cool down before you eat it.

Having children is great.

Always make your bed.

Eat new things whenever you can.

Be patient.

Take your vitamins.

Save your game at every chance.

Charcoal is better than gas.

If you think today's music sucks, you're not looking hard enough.

Throw accumulated trash away while your gas tank fills.

Keep eye drops in your pocket so they will be warm when you use them.

My favorite quotes

2011-11-19

"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates

Things I would change

2011-11-19

Why is 12 o'clock noon not 12:00am. 10am, 11am, then 12pm. That doesn't make any sense. The AM should turn into PM only when the numbers reset to 1. Better yet, just use a 24 hour clock and there will never be any confusion at what time you mean.

The alphabet. Why does c exist? It only makes two sounds that are already made by S and K.

Buttons that say Click here to restart now, or will automatically restart in 60 seconds. This used to be on window OS installs. The only option I'm given is actually no option at all. Why not restart immediately since I have no choice in the matter anyway?

Why is eleven and twelve not pronounced firsteen and secondteen? Or oneteen and twoteen?

Companies that advertise letters in their phone numbers, like 800-CALL-NOW. We all have phones on us all the time now we dont need this. It's more difficult to decipher the number, and some cell phones with qwerty keyboards don't even have letters on the number keys anymore.

Lower case i's and and uppercase l's needs more differentiation in many fonts.

Why is "everyday" a word but "everytime" is not?

Why don't we have the date written as Year, Month, Date. Biggest to smallest. Anyone who puts dates in their folders or file names knows the Year Month Date message works the best at keeping your folder in proper order.

Grocery Shopping Experiment

2011-11-19

I have a few different grocery stores in my general vicinity and I decided to figure out which one was the cheapest. I chose 5 different foods that I use frequently in our household, bought them at each store and came up with the totals to see which store on average saves me the most money.

I tried to buy things that wouldn't have weight variance, so I didn't get anything like chicken or steak where the exact weight would be hard to match at every store exactly. Also I bought the cheapest version of a product. For instance if there were 2 brands of 2% milk, I would always choose the cheapest in each store. Last, I used a discount card at every store that accepted them.

Shopping list:

2 gallons water
18 eggs
1 gallon whole milk
Cheerios
1 Loaf of Sourdough Bread

Here is the result in dollar total for each of the stores I went to:

Haagen :.....$12.84
QFC :.....$14.94
Safeway :.....$13.42
Walmart :.....$12.97
Winco :.....$10.27

Two things I need to note are the bread at QFC and Walmart only came in a large size loaf for sourdough. Also my wife and I both noticed the quality of the milk from Walmart was not up to par with the other stores. Also Walmart only had Cheerios in a smaller size than the other stores.

To put this into perspective, spending $100.00 at Winco will get me the same as spending $126.29 at Walmart, $145 at QFC, $125.03 at Haagen and $130.68 at Safeway. Lets say we go to the grocery store about 4 times a month that 100 turns into 400 for Winco and 580. That's $2160.00 a year you're saving by choosing the right grocery store to shop at.

If you don't have these same stores in your area which is very likely, I'd recommend doing a little experiment like this to see how much you can save.

Thoughts on Virtue

2011-11-19

This topic has always fascinated me. I just read Plato's Meno where Socrates tries to determine what a virtue is. He came to the conclusion that it is what makes men good. He also came to the conclusion that it must be innate in people.

Benjamin Franklin disagrees with this and felt you could learn virtues by practice. He created a method where he would list all the virtues he wanted to obtain, and the first week he would concentrate on the first virtue on the list. The second week he would focus on the second, while still maintaining the first, and so on. This way it would be not be an overwhelming endeavor.

I found a website with an extensive list of virtues, http://www.virtuescience.com/virtuelist.html. I picked the ones I felt were the most important to me, I'm sure everyone's list would be different.

Patience:
I think this may be the most important virtue and one which I had little of when I was younger but have come farthest in mastering. Lots of things in life like dieting, working out, and saving money don't show immediate results and without patience it's easy to get discouraged and give up. Short term patience is important as well. Getting stuck in a long line can make one irritated which is an unpleasant state to be in. Think of it instead as a good time to relax and think about life. Just sitting and thinking is probably undervalued today amongst many people.

Persistence:
Patience is a prerequisite for persistence. Lots of things in life are hard. When I learned to play guitar I had a lot of trouble with many chords. Especially that pesky F! Now playing the guitar is one of my favorite things to do and all those initial frustrations are just a memory.

Humility:
This one might be the one I need to work on the most. No one likes to be around someone who thinks they wonderful. Even if you feel like you are, some restraint in bragging about it will make you a more appealing person and more enjoyable to be around.

Discipline:
I am working hardest at the moment on this one. Cleaning your house everyday for 20 minutes is a lot easier than 2.5 hours straight once a week. It's a lot easier to wake up and play video games for a few hours in the morning, but waking up and getting everything you want done will make you feel better the rest of the day.

Confidence:
You'll never accomplish anything difficult to do if you don't have confidence. Once you can become great at something which first seemed unattainable you realize you can conquer anything you attempt.

Cleanliness:
No it's not easier to find your stuff when you room is a mess, contrary to many a teenager's belief. Being clean and organized is like changing the oil in your car regularly; it will keep your life running smoothly.

Courtesy:
Practicing courtesy will give you the same benefits as humility.

Curiosity:
You'll miss out on some great things in life without curiosity. Try every food you can, get involved in as many things as you can and read up on every subject that fascinates you.

Frugality:
This doesn't mean being cheap. It means maximizing the way you spend money. You can make a lot better meal at home for $10.00 than you can get at a fast food restaurant and $5.00 spent on a used book will give you more enjoyment $20.00 on a new DVD.

Honesty:
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" Sir Walter Scott. You can save yourself a lot of stress in life by being honest.

Moderation:
Lots of things I enjoy in life, wine, gambling, video games can lead to ruin if taken too far.


After writing this I would define a virtue as something which is hard to do but makes life more enjoyable. I disagree with Socrates, virtues can be learned, taught, it should be practiced. I do agree Socrates that it is what makes men good.

What food is really American?

2011-11-19

What foods are really American? Most of the foods we associate with America are not really from here. Hamburgers came from Hamburg, Germany sometime in the 18th or 19th century. Pizza, from Italy, French fries, France. The hotdog is a form of sausage which has been around as long as civilization, maybe longer.

So what foods can we really consider American? Well we can start with what the Native Americans were eating. Maize, or corn was originally from the Americas. So cornbread? As American as apple pie. Oh wait, apple pie was from Europe. American as turkey (which also originated in the Americas). Perhaps the phrase should be As American as pumpkin pie.

Succotash is another dish that came from Native Americans but was made popular by Sylvester the cat.

One of the biggest American foods and probably my favorite is BBQ. Slow cooking meats was practiced by Native Americans and taught to the Spanish. When Europeans introduced the pig to North America we got the main ingredient the BBQ we know today. Sweet potato, Vanilla, Tomatoes, Sunflower Seeds, Maple Syrup, Peanuts (Peanut butter) and Pecans also come from here.

Corndogs, Philly Cheesesteaks, The Rueben Sandwich, The Cobb Salad, Buffalo Wings, Turducken, one we should be especially proud of in my opinion, are all purely American creations.

When I started this article I was thinking I might find 2-3 truly authentic American contributions to cuisine but I was pleasantly surprised to find some of my favorite things are truly American.

Examining Popular Linux Distributions

2011-11-19

I've been running Ubuntu for a while and decided to check out Kubuntu, the KDE version. I was surprised how different it was so I decided to see what else I might have been missing. I decided to play around with some of the more popular distributions and see which one I really liked best. I'm going to give my impression on each of the ones I've used and decide which I like best.

Ubuntu
http://www.ubuntu.com/download

Kubuntu
http://www.kubuntu.org/getkubuntu/download

OpenSUSE
http://software.opensuse.org/114/en

Linux Mint
http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

Fedora
http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora

Ubuntu is the most popular distribution and what I've used for the past few years. It's got a good look to it, doesn't have been bugs and usually operates smoothly. Any Linux distribution is going to take some tinkering to get running the way you like and Ubuntu is no different. It's hard to give my impressions on it as I've been running it as my default OS for so long. This blog will be more me comparing the other version to this one.


When I first installed Kubuntu, I was very impressed. It looked more like my Android phone, it had widgets I could put on the desktop, a cooler look than Ubuntu, and more bells and whistles in general. After playing around with all the widgets, I didn't use any regularly. It also had more of a tendency to crash, which is the main reason I got away from Windows. After running this for a few months I decided it was time to move on.

I figured it I was going to be installing OS's, I might as well try them out all at once so I wouldn't have to worry about setting things up just like I
liked them every time.


Next I tried OpenSUSE. The installation was pretty simple, the only complaint was I couldn't couldn't access the wireless network because there was no way to enter a password. Once the installation was complete connecting to my wireless network wasn't a problem at all. The installation was the kind I like; you enter all your information at the beginning and come back later and it's ready to go. No "Click this or that" halfway through before it completes on it's own.

Under the YaST section you'll find something very similar to a Windows control panel. Compared to Ubuntu, there is a lot more to configure here such as the ETC settings, Samba, and hostnames can all be configured here.

The first thing I do on any new distribution is a software update which was as simple as can be. I then turned the desktop effects to maximum and everything is still moving as fast as before. So far this OS feels very stable, nothing is lagged or glitchy. After a night with this I had a feeling this would be my favorite, but I still had two more to try.


Now on to Fedora. Using this made me appreciate OpenSUSE even more. The look isn't as sleek as OpenSuse, and the way it's set up makes navigation more cumbersome. If you put the mouse cursor in the top left corner it will automatically makes all the programs small so you can select new ones. This might be cool if you could get to other programs easier, but aside from alt-tab, you have to move your cursor all the way in the left corner every time. I accidentally moved my cursor here many times while using the OS and the effect is very disruptive. There isn't a task bar on top where you can view all your open programs which I really think is important in any OS.

When you want to launch an application, a menu opens with every program installed which makes it difficult to find what you're looking for. You can view through categories which makes it more manageable but it's still just more mouse clicks before you can get to what you want to.


Linux Mint did not let me burn to DVD with my windows burner for some reason, so I went into Kubuntu and burned it without any problems.

When I first installed it I forgot to connect to wireless first (which is said I should do) and I got an error at the end of the install. It may also have been because I ejected to DVD too early (After it said it was done installing though). Following this, I did another install without these mistakes.

The first thing I noticed about this was how good it looked. By far the best looking distribution in my opinion. I was getting very excited about this one until I tried to do an update before setting up my wireless connection and the whole system locked up. After rebooting I notice this is the first Linux I've put on my laptop which my volume control buttons did not function. When going into Firefox preferences to change some settings it feels clunky, and when clicking on parts of the menu they would freeze up.

I was quickly becoming more disappointed with Mint. Clicking on the scroll bar is a bit difficult, there is a specific area you have to move your mouse to before the scroll bar actually shows up, which is inconvenient but it does seem like the kind of things you'd get used to pretty quick

It detected my local windows network without any tinkering which Fedora nor OpenSUSE did not. It also viewed an .avi file I downloaded right away, again while Fedora and OpenSUSE did not.

I was hoping to find the "holy grail" of Linux distributions, but I didn't find any that really had the best of everything. The best OS structure, reliability and user friendliness were not to be all found in one OS. There is the possibility that the laptop I used (Lenovo Thinkpad R61i) has some hardware that's not working out quite right with Mint. But I think after judging all them on equal terms, I would have to say the best alternative to Ubuntu is OpenSuse.

I wanted to add that since writing this, I have installed Linux Mint on another computer using Vmware player and all the bugs and complaints I had before have disappeared.




How to get back on track

2011-11-19

Often I find myself on a productive path in life. I've do 8 hours a day of productive work for a few weeks, then one day I don't feel as well as normal, or some interruption occurs and I decide I can slack off a bit. Within a few days I am playing video games all day and accomplishing very little.

I've found myself in that situation very recently, so I figured I'd try to make a guide on how to get out of a rut. Hopefully anyone reading will find these tips useful as well.

One of the most common factors I find when I am starting to feel unmotivated is I haven't been to the gym in 4 days or more. I try to go every other day, and if I don't my energy level starts dropping dramatically. I sit in front of a computer most of the day so I have a tendency to get out of shape very quickly. If you feel sluggish ask yourself when the last time you got some exercise? If it was more than a few days ago, I would make it your first priority in life getting to the gym, playing basket ball, taking a long walk, or doing whatever you do for physical maintenance.

Another cause of low energy might just be dehydration. Sometimes just drinking a couple of glasses of water can help get you back on track.


Having a time when you start your work everyday is also helpful. If you don't have a set time to start working, you have to decide to sit down and start working on your projects where as if you have decided ahead of time you'll do a certain thing at 7pm every night, or 9am every morning, you have to decide not to do your work, which is harder to accept. Setting an alarm on your phone or watch (does anyone still use those?) can be good reminder to get up and get busy.

If you are in one of those situations where you know you should be doing something important but you're browsing Facebook or news sites endlessly I find just putting some music on can instantly change your motivation. I don't recommend Beethoven, jazz, or Radiohead. All of which are very good, but pick some tunes with a real high energy level, and play it as loud as possible. Not only will it get you amped up but it'll make whatever you doing less boring while you do it.

Making deadlines is helpful as well. Write down the thing you are trying to do and next to it when it should be done by. Having this date in your head will push you to work more than you normally would.

Last, just do it. This works a lot of times. If you are putting something off while reading this, just stop reading, and go do that thing right now.

Why I wouldn't use a transporter.

2011-11-19

As far as sci-fi methods for going vast distances quickly go there are two possible methods, a wormhole method and a Star Trek style transporter.

The problem I have with the transporter method is I can't be sure that I would be coming out on the other side. When the transporter initiates, it breaks up all the particles in your body, transfers them to the destination and re-assembles them. It seems to me there is the possibility that the instant your particles are broken up, consciousness as you know it will cease to exist.

Imagine an alternative scenario where instead of transferring your molecules it creates a perfect copy of you in which every quark in every atom is in the exact same position, spin, etc... That version of you would feel it had just been teleported, however the original you would still be back at the original location and think nothing happened.

The idea of whether you would really show up on the other side, or some other entity exactly like you would and the original you would just cease to exist becomes somewhat philosophical and dependent on the nature of the universe. If we live in a universe where time has a minimum planck length, and from one instance to the other is like the pixels moving from one location to another on a monitor giving the illusion of movement, there is an argument to be made that if one instant your consciousnesses is in one location and the next moment it is in another and teleportation doesn't destroy the original.

However it time is perfectly smooth, one could argue that the break in continuity when all of your particles are scattered throughout space, the individual who entered the teleporter no longer exists.

The wormhole method however, where you body's state would remain intact throughout the trip would pose no danger to you in my opinion.

How many atoms are in our body?

2011-11-19

The average person weighing 150 pounds has approximately 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in their body. That is a big number. Lets try to put it into perspective.

If you took every atom in your body and lined them all side by side how long would it be? Well an oxygen atom (Our bodies are mostly water) is 120 picometers in diameter. That's about 8,333,333,333 atoms in 1 meter. If we divide 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 by 8,333,333,333 we get
840,000,000,033,600,000 meters. Did 8 billion ever seem like such a small number?

840,000,000,033,600,000 meters seems like a hard distance to really grasp, so lets convert it to kilometers. 840,000,000,033,600. I didn't even need a calculator for that one, but that distance is still too big to comprehend. There are 9,460,528,400,000 kilometers in 1 light year so that means all the atoms in your body spread end to end would span a little more than 88.7 light years.

Using your phone wiring as a speaker system.

2011-11-19

I, as well as many others I believe, don't use the land telephone line for anything. With mobiles, Skype, and VOIP there isn't much reason to pay the price the telephone company charges.

A good use of all this perfectly good copper wire is to use it as a prewired speaker system. You can pipe your computer output to any room in the house with the telephone jack.

You can pick up some self amplified computer speakers at Good Will for a few bucks. You can often fine some old phone cables and headphone jack cables there as well. If you are lucky you could probably get everything for less than $15.00.

Splice the headphone jack into the the telephone cable. The phone line usually has the ability to connect two telephone lines in each jack. Green and red wires for line one and black and yellow for line two. You can use these as your left and right speaker wire channels. You'll likely want solder and electric tape the wires. Next step is to connect the speakers to a telephone cable the same way.

You will also need to go outside and find the box the telephone line goes into. There should be a simple telephone jack that connects your house with the outside line. Disconnect this. Back inside you connect the jack to your computer and another jack to your speakers. I have only hooked up one set of speakers at a time but since the speakers are self amplified you should be able to set a pair up in every room if you like.

The end.

Comparing Amazon vs Winco prices

2011-11-19

I decided to see if it is worth it to buy common household items from Amazon vs my grocery store. These will only include non-perishables.

Baby wipes Winco : 6.98
Baby Wipes Amazon: 7.15

Luvs Diapers Winco : 16.98
Luvs Diapers Amazon: 15.96

Cotton Swabs Winco : .98
Cotton Swabs Amazon: 1.57



This isn't as extensive as I was originally planning, but it has become quite clear very quickly that there isn't much savings, if any to be had by doing some shopping. Gas can't be included into the equation since you still have to go to the store for food anyway.

I was initially buying diapers on Amazon just because I assumed it would be the cheapest place. When you assume you make an ass out of u an me. Or in this case just me.

Building a coat rack

2011-11-19

So I got sick of using this poorly designed coat rack we've had for a while and decided to go to Lowes. Coat racks there range from about $16.00 for very small low quality ones to about $100.00. I was able to make something comparable to the high end ones for about 1/4 the cost.

I picked up 5 of these hooks in the area of Lowers with cabinet handles and hinges. I also had a long piece of wood left over from an old project which I cut to 2' long.


Cabinet



I got my router out and chose a bit I thought would go well on a coat rack and went around the sides.


Cabinet




A little sanding makes a huge different after routing.


Cabinet



Next I measured a section of the wood and divided by 5 to get equal lengths for the hooks and took a pencil to mark the holes before putting it on my drill press. I also drilled two countersink holes so I could screw it into the wall after the 1st and 4th hangers.


Cabinet



After that I clamped it down and used my orbital sander to smooth the sides and face.


Cabinet



Next step to stain and varnish it. I've learned by being cheap and using the same can of varnish, all the furniture you build ends up matching. I use a disposable paint brush to apply the stain, and then wipe it off with a paper towel after a few hours. You'll find a lot of different opinions on staining methods but this works fine for me and it's a lot faster than what many people will suggest. I put varnish on later that day and let it sit overnight.

I have a piece of particle board I lay over my table whenever I stain, varnish or paint anything so I don't mess up my shop.


Cabinet



Now there wasn't anything to do but screw the hooks into the board and the board into the wall. I'm pretty happy with the result. Not only did I save money but I had everything measured to fit perfectly in the space it was going.



Cabinet



Cabinet

Are mathmatics invented or discovered?

2011-11-19

The first thing that comes to mind is that Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz both invented/discovered calculus by themselves in at the same time without knowledge of the others work. This leads one to believe it must be a discovery and not invention. Another argument I would make for this is if the light bulb was invented by two people separately, the light bulb could have been created in two different ways, different filaments, gases, LEDs, or a method we have not yet discovered. The value of pi on the other hand would be exactly the same no matter how many people discover it. The ratio of a circle's circumference to it's diameter is always 3.141592653589793238462643383...

To call this a discovery it is necessary to determine what exactly is being discovered. We may call it a formula or law, but what it is fundamentally is information. Our everyday experience tells us information must be stored in some way, either symbols on paper (letters) or sequences of 0s and 1s on a hard drive. If the equation is discovered, where was that information being stored?

There are two possibilities I can figure. Either there is some other plane of reality with the information of every mathematical question that has ever been asked or will ever be asked and somehow humans are able to tap into it, or the information is somehow an innate part of our universe.

Would another universe with different laws of physics have a different value of pi? Perhaps the idea of pi wouldn't apply in another universe, or perhaps pi is a truth that would span every possible incarnation of a universe. Even in a 1 dimensional universe, assuming such a place could support intelligent life, they would still be able to calculate above their dimension as we can calculate above ours and determine the value of pi.

I feel like I could write a book about this one question but I will end it here for now.

Back up Batch file

2011-11-19

I thought I'd share my method for file back up. Instead of messing with hooking up external hard drives or tape back up, I just have two physical hard drives in my computer. One of them is 1TB and the other is 250GB. With Windows Task Scheduler I run a batch file every week.

backup.bat:

xcopy /E /D /S /H /R /Y "c:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Desktop\Documents" E:\Documents
xcopy /E /D /S /H /R /Y "c:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Desktop\mp3" E:\mp3
xcopy /E /D /S /H /R /Y "c:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Desktop\Pictures" E:\Pictures
xcopy /E /D /S /H /R /Y "c:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Desktop\Videos" E:\Videos

This is how I have been organizing my file system recently, obviously you will need to change the directories to reflect your situation. If you have several people in your house you may want to share a folder on the network that anyone can copy files they need backed up as well.

One thing to note is deleting files on your hard drive wont be reflected on the back up drive. If I make a whole bunch of changes to a directory tree, I usually just delete the backup version and run the file again to refresh it.

If anyone has a good method for removing files that don't exist on the main drive from the back up drive, please let me know at blog@cygnusx.com.

Earth Scale

2011-11-19

The first dot represents the Earth's diameter, the second line represents the diameter of the sun on the same scale, and the 3rd is the distance from the sun to the earth on the same scale.

Scale Distance from Earth to Sun

Remove the top 3 most time consuming activities in your life.

2011-11-19

I have used this technique a few times and it always has good results. I write down a list all the things I do most in my free time. It may take a day or two you can keep a journal with the times you spend on each activity. I then remove the top 3 activities from my life for a week. These generally tend to be the most unproductive things I do in life.

Beforehand I have no plans on what I'm going to fill up my extra time. I just make sure I don't do the things I usually do. Every time I've done this I find something more fun, exciting, and rewarding to do with my time.

Many times I will get stuff done around the house I've been putting off but more importantly I tend to pick up new hobbies that I enjoy from then on.

How to transition to being self employed.

2011-11-19

I am currently self employed but I've done the standard 40 hours a week for many years. I want to try to give some advice on transitioning into a very different life style, self employment. I learned a lot by doing things right when I stopped working for someone else and I learned just as much though by doing things wrong.

A few years ago the company I was working for was sold and I lost my job. At the time this didn't feel like a good thing, but in retrospect it forced me to try new things and take more risk than I was prepared psychologically to do at the time. Many people don't have the fortune of losing their job and getting pushed in to trying to make a way for themselves but if you are thinking about I recommend giving it a try. Unless you are about to retire in a few years, you can try, fail, and mess your life up pretty bad and still have enough time to repair all the mistakes and get back on track before retirement. And if it just so happens to work out, you may live a life you only dream of now.

My first bit advice applies to anyone, not just those people looking to start their own business. Add up all your bills for one month and make a goal of having 6 months of cash in your checking or savings. Not stocks, bonds, CDs, etc.. If you are looking to start a new business venture you'll need some time to get things started, and even if you plan at staying at your job, you never know what tomorrow brings and you need to be prepared for a layoff at any time.

This might be the most important thing and it was the biggest mistake I made in my transition. I thought "I've been working for 9 years straight and in that time I've taken off about 1 week for vacation and 5 sick days, I deserve a vacation, I'll just do nothing for 2 months.' As I learned it is very hard to transition from having nothing to do all day for 2 months to putting in 8 hours a day of hard work. My solution was to time myself and make sure I did at least 1 hour a day of work, then a few days later, at least 2, etc... until I worked up to 8. It's much better to not take any time off. If your last day of work is on a Friday, you should get up at 9am on a Monday and start whatever business or project you are intent on doing.

Keep a schedule. Do an 8 hour day with 1 hour for lunch, and take 2 days off a week. There is a reason we have this as the standard work hours. Working more than 8 hours a day like people did in the industrial revolution before labor laws were put in place will leave you with no time for anything fun. If you work much less you'll feel you are not accomplishing enough in your life and likely become depressed. Samuel Duncan Parnell said "There are twenty-four hours per day given us; eight of these should be for work, eight for sleep, and the remaining eight for recreation and in which for men to do what little things they want for themselves." I believe that is good advice.

Another thing you must do, and this can be done while still employed, is write a business plan. Write it as detailed as possible. You shouldn't have parts of it that read something like "Work on sales." It should read more like "Put ad on craigslist, write list of 25 stores you can call to sell product to, call all stores on the list" etc...

The less you have written down, the more likely procrastination will set in. If you get to a point in your plan that just says "Sales" You may think "I really don't know what to do here." When you don't know what to do you will put it off. When you have everything in great detail you'll never run into a "I don't know what to do" moment and you'll be able to keep forward momentum, doing each small step until it all adds up to great things.

This is obvious, but I'll say it anyway. After you quit, get your expenses down. Get rid of your maid, learn how to fix your toilet yourself instead of hiring a plumber, cancel cable if you're not watching it much. I wont go into many details as I'm sure you can figure out your own expenses, and if not there are many articles on the internet covering this more thoroughly.

Last, try to make your first dollar as quickly as possible. Lets say you are making some new product that you dream will be sold in every store in the world. First, make one of them and sell it on Ebay, a swap meet, a friend... If you can make that first dollar quickly, it will keep you inspired to make more dollars, and it can help you stretch that 6 months worth of living expenses out longer and longer. It can be hard working with no paycheck. You have to put in a lot of hours and not get anything in return for a while. Whatever little accomplishments you can make will keep you motivated.

Books everyone should read

2011-11-18

I decided to make a list of books I felt were useful to anyone no matter what profession they go into. This is just my list and is not to attempt to list all of the greatest books, just books I feel have the most practical information.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This title is about as clear as you can get as to the book's intentions. I think any profession, and personal relationships can be aided by this book. It may sound like it is about how to manipulate people but it's more about finding ways of mutually benefiting, or just how to make someone feel important. The advice in this book if used by everyone would make the world a better and more pleasant place to be. Aside from that it will also likely help you get what you want and understand better what other people want.

The Bible

Whether you are Christian, another religion, or atheist, this book is a must read. Now the term must read may make it sound like a page turner, which it is most definitely. It's more as if the pages were glued together it's so hard to get through, but if you are Christian, you should really know where all your beliefs come from. If you're not, you should know what a huge percentage of people base their faith on, and it is referenced so often in other books, tv, movies etc... that you need to know it to understand what they are referring to. I'm sure everyone has heard the term something "of biblical proportions" and its good to know exactly how big those proportions are. (I thought I needed to mention as a side note, I am an atheist so please don't take this someone trying to push their religion on you.)

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

This is another book which will be useful to you which ever field or career you decide to take. It's mostly a book about managing tasks in you life, and deciding the most important tasks to manage. There are probably other books that have similar advice but this is the one I've read. I don't follow his exact system of organizing things, but knowing how he does it has been very influential in how I created my system. I personally think no book will have the perfect way to do things, everyone will have their own tweaks which will be better for them, but more important then how the system works, is that you at least have some system in place. This book is a good starting point.

Any good book on nutrition

There are so many out there, and I'm sure some are better than others, but you should read at least one. Knowing how what you put into your body affects you is very important. When I read the symptoms of certain vitamin deficiencies I recognized them in me or friends and family. Everyone has a different diet and you may realize you don't happen to eat anything that provides a specific vitamin. Knowing what comes from where you can alter your diet or take supplements to correct anything you are lacking. I would venture to say, feeling good day to day is the most important thing in life and knowing how what you eat affects your body, along with exercise, is the best way to feel good.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

This book covers so much information in a wide variety of areas, it's worth a read just for that. Some of the most important historical events, scientific discoveries, and greatest men are written about in Cosmos. I can't give a specific reason you should read this book, but I can assure you at least some information learned in this book will help you or inspire you. A History of Knowledge by Charles Van Doren is another book similar to this. It's explores the most important discoveries mankind has made and how they were made. Ever wonder how we know what elements the stars are made out of when they are light years away? The answer is more straight forward than you might imagine.

The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud

Freud is one of the first men to really start treating the mind as a science. While many new theories have come out since and our understanding of how the mind works has increased, reading Freud is like reading Newton. We know Einstein replaced Newton's theories of gravity but if you use Newtonian formulas they still work 99% of the time. His theories on how the mind works are insightful and very interesting.

Tachyon Computer

2011-11-09

There has been news recently of neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. While many remain skeptical of the news, I thought it would be fun to think of the real life implications of a faster than light particle. Physicists have theorized of a particle that moves faster than the speed of light since the 60's called a tachyon. Normal matter can never go faster than the speed of light but a tachyon can never go slower than the speed of light.

According to Einstein any particle going faster than the speed of light must be traveling backwards in time. This creates a lot of problems with causality so it's widely accepted that nothing can go faster than the speed of light (or more accurately nothing can go faster than the cosmic speed limit which is the speed light just happens to travel at). Imagine you had a television with an antenna that detected tachyons. You could watch television broadcasts from the future, assuming they were sending the signal in tachyons. I'd love to see what the world is like 2000, 2 million or 2 billion years from now!

More fascinating to me still would be the idea of a tachyon computer. It would need a tachyon detector to receive information from the future, but to send information to the future you could just write out questions on a piece of paper if you wanted. This seems pretty low tech so we'll just put the questions on a ROM chip. It would be very important to put a time stamp on this data because the Earth rotates around the sun. The future computer operators would have to point the tachyon beam in a specific direction in both time and space so they would need to know where the earth was when the message was sent. There would be certain times when the future Earth was positioned directly on the other side of the sun and we would likely not be able to send a beam back to the past Earth because of interference but that is no problem, they'd just need to wait until the Sun is no longer in the way. From the perspective of the people in the past, information would still be returned instantaneously.

Lets assume we wanted to know how to build a teleportation device. We could write down in our computer "Please send schematics back for teleportation device." Hoping that at some point in the future humans discover how to teleport. When/if they do they would beam the information back to us. Now the question arises, what happens to that future where the teleporter was invented? Let us assume it is erased and overwritten by the new future in which we got the information on teleportation via our computer. Where did that information come from? In this new timeline no one ever invented the teleporter since we've always known how to do it from the tachyon computer.

In order to deal with this problem I think we have to assume every time a piece of information comes back from the future a new separate timeline must be created. Now, we live in a timeline where the information for building a teleporter came to us via tachyon computer, but in the multiverse in another timeline, the inventor of the teleporter still invented it. This way we don't have information just being generated out of nothing. There are theories that every moment the universe splits into every possible outcome of the current universe, so having new timelines created from information from the future would fit in with that theory.

This would also solve another potential dilemma. What if you asked the question "How do I build a teleporter" on the ROM which travels forward in time in the regular fashion, get the answer, and then replace the ROM state with a new question. In the rewriting the current future idea of the universe, because you changed the question after you got the answer, the future never got the original question so how could you have gotten an answer? One solution would be to never erase old questions, always just adding new questions until you ran out of memory, but lets say you did erase a question, would all the teleportation devices just disappear? Would your timeline get erased like the future timeline and replaced with one where we never learned how to build a teleporter from the tachyon computer?

The alternative timeline theory again makes more sense. Once you get the info, you are in a new alternative timeline so even if you delete the original question, the first timeline still has it and still was able to answer it. The only unfortunate thing from some points of view, is the people in all the older timelines will never really get to benefit from all the information provided by the tachyon computer, they would have to just answer the questions as a favor to people in the new timelines being generated. Unless of course they ask the computer how to travel between timelines and reap the benefits of the new timelines.

At the point this computer was invented something like The Singularity (Read The Singularity is Near, or search on Youtube for some videos explaining this fascinating idea) would occur. Almost instantaneously we'd have all of the technology that will ever be invented at our disposal. The only thing that would slow us down is our imagination, which would actually be a considerable factor if you think about it. If you could ask an ancient Roman if he could have any piece of technology from the future, he would never ask for a cell phone, as a device like that is beyond his comprehension. Just 50 years ago people wouldn't be able to conceive of a portable internet connection. This factor would preventing us from getting stuff from the very distant future. I would imagine we'd never ask to know about anything that wasn't discovered within the next 50-100 years.

My new opinion on organic foods

2011-11-07

My previous opinion of organic foods was "I'm sure there is a small difference but not enough to justify the higher price."

That changed today.

I have really gotten into juicing recently. I suggest you do too but that's a whole other blog. You can google "benefits of juicing" and find articles in which someone spent more time researching why it's good than I have. (I spelled google with a lowercase g because I am using it as a verb, not as a noun. I'm assuming that is grammatically correct?) I also highly recommend a documentary called "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" which can be found on Netflix Instant streaming. I'll just sum it up by saying juicing makes you feel how you hoped vitamins would make you feel.

I've been experimenting with all sorts of fruit and vegetable combinations so I had some apples sit in my refrigerator for a while. When I cut them open they looked like this:

Apple

Concerned something was wrong, I asked my wife if I should eat them. She didn't know what was wrong with them but quickly found out that companies will dye their apples to make them look more appealing in stores. I was under the impression buying an apple was a simple way to eat raw natural food with nothing unusual in it. I loved the idea my juices were 100% natural juice. Finding out there was something as unnatural as dye in my apple really shocked me.

The juice wasn't 100% juice as I assumed, it was mostly juice, propylene glycol, and propylparaben. Propylene glycol is produced from Propene, which is petroleum based. I'm don't know enough to tell you if propylene glycol is bad for you but I would just prefer in general not to have fossil fuel based chemicals in my juice. All I want is juice.

Here are some links pertinent to artificial food coloring:

http://www.cspinet.org/new/200806022.html

http://www.ehow.com/about_5341387_ingredients-food-coloring.html

I've decided to make a change in my buying habits. On the way to the grocery store I frequent there is a fruit stand. I'd go there on occasion as they had great prices, bought locally grown fruits and vegetables, I liked supporting a local small business and the people were very friendly. Many times I would skip it however to have the convenience of going to the produce section of the grocery store and saving a stop.

This will no longer be the case, I plan on doing all my shopping of fruits and vegetables at this stand. I bet many of you have a stand like this near you and if you as fortunate as me it's right on the way to your grocery store. I suggest paying them a visit. You will need to ask them what their policies on foods are, if it's grown locally, if they are organic etc... it only takes about 2 minutes to pull in and out of the parking lot to stop on the way to get the rest of my groceries. It's not a lot of time and if it helps me make 100% pure juice I can afford a couple more minutes.