My Zunivers

30 May 2007

Post 699

And I'm here to be nerdy.

A friend was just over here in my office talking about his experiments. Apparently the splitting involves pumping to the third stage and using some coupling. I know there's soemthing wrong with me when my first response was "That's totally Masters and Johnson."

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26 May 2007

Big Guns

I know myself some redneck hunters, and we've often wonderd what in Sam Hill a .50 revolver is good for. I've finally found my answer here.

Yep, .50 revolvers are for making gigantic pigs suffer for hours instead of just taking them down quickly with the elephant rifles.

Okay, okay. Not every kill is perfect.

500 pounds of sausage.... Geesh, I'm hungry for some of that. Too bad it's gone.

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24 May 2007

Camera Blues

Computer people, did you ever run ito non-computer people who proudly say stupid things about their computers? For example, did you ever hear someone say "I got a Dell, and it has a 150 megaertz hard drive and a flat panel"? Or how about "It's a Compaq, and it has 200 gigabytes of memory and a gigabyte of ram"? Or what about the ever popular "It's a Gateway, and it came with wallpapers and America Online"? Of course, you ask "What kind of CPU does it have" and they invariably say something like "It's a 52x dual layer one" or "I don't kow, but it has USB included." Thank you, Sherlock. Go have problems running your computer now. No, I won't fix it when you screw it up. Believe me, by the time you notice a problem, it'll be long past where I can help you.

Anyway, my wife and I have recently been shopping for a digital camera of the cuddley kind (that means point-and-shoot or nearly so variety). Let me back up a second and say something. I hate cuddley cameras. I bought my wife a cuddley camera for her birthday or Christmas in 2001. It sucks, but it replaced the old cuddley camera that had a broken manual film advance. The shots ended up unevenly spaced on the film. Not a little off, mind you, but up to 3/4 of a frame off. That feature was not compatible with automatic or sloppy negative cutting. Something had to be done to save us from the half-frame hades permnently screwing up our precious memories, even if it was a poorly shooting atrocity of a cuddley camera.

If I had had more money-- we were more poor then than now-- I would have just bought a real camera (that means pentaprisms and mirrors and removable lenses and more than one button or switch). My daddy taught me how to use a completely manual camera and light meter when I was a wee kid. If a nine year old can do it, anyone can. All you need to do is just learn a few things about photography. Unfortunately, since learning is involved, most people refuse to do it. Slow leneses and fast film are a mystery to people (and at the extremes could take some pretty mysterious pictures, but let's not go there).

Anyway, knowing about photography but not knowing much about cuddley digital cameras, I have tried asking around for some advice. The advice I get from people is the photography equivalent of the computer folly above. Gives a man a headache, I tell you.

I'm tired of people who talk about how many x's a zoom has. If you knew anything about cameras, you'd realize that the x stands for multiplication, and you'd notice that you need two numbers to multiply, and that you're bragging about only one of them. Of course, if you're an x-talker and I told you the other number, you wouldn't have a clue what the result of the multiplication meant, or that the missing number is just as important by itself. You just don't have an f-ing clue. (If you don't get that last joke, you're not a camera geek.)

I hate megapixel whores. I don't care how many fricking megapixels that other model is that's the same price. Oh, it's three more megapixels but it's cheaper? Have you ever considered that there's more to digital cameras than the number of megapixels? No? Stupid consumer trash. You've been played by the marketing system. You know, the one that tries to sell you more gigahertz than you need for your sound card. So go take your megapixels and make posters of pincushoiny view of the overexposed backs of the heads of the people in the row in front of you. Heaven forbid that you buy a model with fewer megapixels where you can-- get this!-- turn off the flash! You know, actually get a picture of what you want to see ten years later? It might be worth your consideration. On second thought, you probably could turn off your flash, but you don't know how! Ha-ha! And you'll still have that awful pincushion either way. Crappy optics do that, independent of the resolution.

Retro camera dolts annoy me, too. Anyone who I talk to about liking old-fashioned manual photography and who takes that as a cue to sing the praises of their 110 should be beaten mercilessly with a tripod fork. I have some 3x5 pictures taken on 110 cameras. My wife's current cuddly camera makes those look bad. And how are those old creatures manual? Because you need to put in the film by hand? The flash cube was fun, but golly are these people Stupid.

In seeking advice, I ask people questions about things that matter photgraphically, like the noise at higher ISO eqivalents, the f-stop for the lens, flash settings, shutter speeds, chromatic abberation, and the white balance. Sometimes I get blank stares. Thank you for being so kind! Other times I get responses about the size of the screen on the back and how easily they can make a slideshow using the software that came with their camera. And you should see the videos it makes! You know what? Eat poop and die, you photo-knowledge fakes! I never knew that the term "optical viewfinder" was so incomprehensible to experts like you.

In an ideal world, where I'm filthy rich, I'd just buy a cuddley for my wife and pick up a Canon 5D and some inage stabilizing L lenses for myself. Heck, I'd settle for a Rebel XT and some lenses just one step up from the kit lens. Alas, it cannot happen. The cuddley is all we can afford, and we'll probably get a Canon A710 IS. I guess I need to stick to my dad's old 35mm Minolta, then. It has a built in light meter and I have a flash that is easy to use, so I really can't claim to need more. After that it's all about want.

Have fun with your excess megapixels.

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22 May 2007

Renewed Faith in Human Intelligence

Exhibited by the police, that is.

Someone just drove through the stop sign outside my apartment building. This happens all the time. What doesn't happen often is a police officer sitting nearby. Even less often will the officer driving the car be looking the right way to see the incident, and then go tearing off after the offender, tires squealing and lights blazing.

I hope this means one less idiot driving back here like the brakes are missing.

On second thought, I don't have that much faith in human intelligence.

A tip of my hat to all the men in blue who value their work more than their doughnuts.

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Hiking

First off, congratulations to my wifey, who now wields a Master's Degree.

Today I went for a short hike, because the weather was too good not to go. Wildlife abounded. I saw a snake and lots of birdies. I also crossed paths with not one, not two, but five thru hikers (and one rather weary man accompanying his flip-flopping son on this section) and one thru hiking dog. Oy! We were just south on the trail from Lehigh Gap, and all had mixed feelings about the walk-- it's more of a climb-- up the other side. I had everything from smiles of anticipation to looks of "Oh, goodie, bigger rocks to make my feet hurt." When I told tham that I lived nearby, they all asked me the same question-- "How do you feel about the rocks?" I gave them all the same answer, "I don't know what it's like to hike without them." I actually enjoy the rocks, because they make hiking better exercise. They also give places for snakes to sun themselves.

At the end of my hike, I was able to help get two of the hikers, who had started the day at Eckville and had been living for two days on Little Debbies, to Palmerton.

This is the part where my mom and wife and sister will really throw fits, I'm sure. Hiking alone, okay, maybe, but driving random people you just met to a town! That's got to be over some line. But in my defense, number one, I have heard of them previously (the internet is good for that sort of thing) and they really did walk here form Georgia; number two, there were two of them (which is much less suspiscious than one), and number three, these are, after all, Hikers (a tight-knit impromptu family of backpacking lubbie-dubbieness of which I am a fringe member). Trust me, I wouldn't take a weird hiker any more than I'd hitch a ride with a weirdo.

So, anyway, I hope Turbo and T Mac have a good stay at the hostel.

Now that my women are totally miffed, I can say that this was a nice hike. On the North Trail I found an old AT survey marker. It was also decent walking overall, and the views form the North Trail are absolutely fantastic. You can see up to Lehighton from the west end, as well as having a good view of the turnpike tunnel coming out of the mountain on the north side. Also, those thru hikers showed me how to get down that trail quickly. I've never done a three mile per hour downhill like that before. Invigorating!

In other news, my adviser gave me a final project, to help him and his friends in Spain on some things, but it got finished too quickly without me, so we now know what I'll be doing. It was one thing or another, and it's not one thing, so it is another. That one should be much easier than the one I've finished. Also, we're soon going to submit le papier perpetuel.

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20 May 2007

It's Never Too Late

to take the Brutally Honest Personality Test.

Yes, I posted this one before, but it's a favorite of mine, you see.

For those wondering where I am or what I'm doing, I have a cold.

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16 May 2007

My Poor Neglected Blog

I haven't been thinking about much recently, so I haven't said much.

Life continues onward. The new simulaitons for le projet perpetuel may have had a problem, so I might need to make one more fix. Perpetuel indeed. My adviser, meanwhile, is in Spain, trying his best not to get involved in studying social networks. That last part is a mistake that too many physicists in the US are making, in my opinion. Let's not even ponder how much a joke it would seem to the funding people if someone wanted financial help to do such things.

I've worked on my dissertation, getting down some purpose-written stuff just for there. A whopping two pages worth! In my defense, I only half knew that content before I wrote about it, but now I know what I'm talking about. I'm sure my adviser will ask me to cut this stuff as too basic anyway, so I don't really know why I'm doing it, except to make myself feel bettter about writing more advanced stuff. I know the advanced stuff better.

Did I mention that I still can't find a job?

Let's see... what else.... Oh! I made steak and shitake tacos for dinner. That wouldn't have been too bad except that I didn't use enough of those dried shitakes for my liking, but I used too many for my wife's taste. I did use enough to pee the smell. Ooops. Socially inappropriate topic.

So, anyway, absent of my own content, you can go read amusing things.

Rees-Mogg says Dawkins Sucks


At This Party, I might end up posting about today's primary election, and all the fun I had voting for nominees for offices like dog catcher and first assistant paper pusher.

A Sample of My Artowrk on My Wife's Blog

Farewell to Falwell

Jimmy Carter Weighs In*

Unbiased Sources [sic] Say Nicer Things

Update: Larry Flint Weighs In

[* The whole quote is not given, just part of it. Read at least the whole sentence if you want some context.]

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10 May 2007

My Creation

No, this isn't about origins again. I've picked that bone enough.

My right hand is burning right now. It's partly a little steam scald, but mostly it's capsaicin from some peppers.

Yep. Peppers. Peppers that I skinned after blistering them on a flame. Lots of fun.

I have managed to turn an assortment of peppers and other ingredients into a remarkable chicken-peach chili. It's not quite done. The great northern beans will go in soon. I don't want to overcook them. Overcooked beans become incoherent and tell stories about how badly the cooks treats his food.

This thing tastes absolutely wonderful. How? I managed to use all the problems with my ill fated beef and pear sauce experiment (six years later I'm still talking about that mistake) to remove the flavors I've found that make most peach salsa repulsive. The results of this experiment are wonderful, mostly from what isn't in it. My only mistake was not using any serrano peppers.

Too bad most of you won't get to taste it!

I think I need to go soak my hand in some oil now.

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08 May 2007

Walking Around

Yesterday I went for a hike on the southwest side of Lehigh Gap. I wasn't able to be up there a whole long time, but I had fun. At Outerbridge Shelter I signed the register, noting that there was onion peel on the shelter floor, less than a day after it had been cleaned no less! I headed out towards Devil's Pulpit as far as is now possible and played find the cairns out there on the dead area of the mountain. I also got to walk through some burned out areas (burned about three weeks ago according to all the fire team registry entries at the shelter). I took pictures of Allentown and Bethlehem, Palmerton and beyond, and The Pinnacle (once the leaves grow in that will be harder, if not impossible, to spot). as well as the East side of the gap, which was lit very prettily in the late afternoon light. If I had more time, I would have gone down into the Lehigh Gap Refuge and poked around.

Dad, I'm totally dragging you up there next time you want to take a hike.

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07 May 2007

The Ship

I have a link on my blog to the message boards at Ship of Fools. I read there regularly. My mood doesn't matter, because I can often find just about any mood there. I can read other people's rants, stick my nose in someone else's personal argument, pick at someone's Biblical interpretation, play Mornington Crescent, brush up on some Greek, find a new joke, roll my eyes at someone's politics, or read an amusing story.

That place is a rare gem among the message boards I've encountered. The people who play there seem to be a higher class than a lot of other places on the internet. Part of this, I'm sure, is the large Brit and Ozzie membership. Another part is probably the size of the headier sections of the boards, where some rather large minds go at each other over topics of philosophy, theology, and politics.

I go to other message boards, and I usually find my trip unsatisfying. Among the finds at the hiking board today was a thread where someone said what amounted to "Does anyone know where in Atlanta I borrow a copy of Film X just to watch once? If I had money I'd just buy it, but I don't." The responses so far are mostly links to retailers that sell the item! How can that half a dozen people and counting live with themselves? Of course, I don't expect much more from a place where nearly every post is an example of what you need to barely pass second grade.

So we come to one major reason I like The Ship. The people there can spell. They can put together sentences. They can think. The hosts throw a fit at people who don't do those things... unless other members catch the offenders first.

Anyway, if you've never checked out the place and you're lacking a social life (as I am in the middle of the night sometimes; British morning people can be good company), go give it a look. If you're depressed at The Ship, go find some other message boards to read. I am certain those will make you feel even sadder.

05 May 2007

May 4, 2007

The old blogger died.

So did my grandmother.

I got to visit her a couple weeks ago when she went into the hospital, and we had a decent chat. It was one of those put the pigeons on the perch sorts of visits, she and I both knew. She was pleased that the baby was healthy, that my wife is finishing her master's degree, that I saw little between me and a PhD (I see less now, by the way; I had a great committee meeting this week), that my sister had found work, and that my kid brother's education issues were finally identified and Mom and Dad are on the way to getting them fixed. I told Nana that when it was her time to go she didn't need to worry about my generation of the family. We're doing okay enough to be starting the next generation. She seemed pleased.

That day Nana told me the story of how she found out she was pregnant with my dad, one that she hadn't told me before, despite everything she used to tell me on the bus rides and lunches we used to share when I was a teenager (library days especially). I'll never forget the ending of the last story, a reprise of what had been my favorite line-- "Yep. My period was supposed to start on January 11." If you knew her, you'd know why that makes for a perfect ending to the storybook. Heck, if you know me you can probably take some guesses.

My dad was there for the second part of that visit, and the subject of how that side of the family has never been really close came up. After we all exchanged the same glances, I'm not completely sure what dad thought, but I know Nana and I were thinking along the same lines-- "I don't feel a need to go back and be closer, but I think you might." If that really is what we thought then no harm was done. Even if not, it's worth our eventually remembering
that there is no way for two people's lives to be completley shared. After the fact you always have things you wished about your interactions with someone who has died. The line ends up where it ends up, and we continue on.

That day my dad also made sure that my grandmother had the afterlife in order. I don't think that went as he expected, but I think it went very well. I subtracted off my grandmother's edgeiness about doing something new (that runs in the family, after all, and we don't get practice runs at dying), and I concluded that death wasn't anything for her to worry about. She also seemed tickled that Dad wanted to talk to her about the subject.

The five of us (my parents, my two siblings, and me) gathered this past Thursday afternoon in Nana's hospital room and spent some family time there. She was no longer conscious by then. I had already said goodbye, but I went to be with my family. In my mind I gave her a two days at most. I was actually happy to find out this morning that everything was over for her.

From her room window I could see the city where she was born to the southeast, the city where I was born nearly fifty years later. It is where she and I both spent our childhoods, a place changed by time in ways that I only know about because of her love for her own hometown. I can't tell you the stories because there are too many buried too deep in my mind. I recall a story from time to time, though. Those are some my favorite memories. Add that I have no bad memories, and I can say that even though we weren't very close it was a pleasure to have had her as a grandmother. I look forward to meeting up again sometime.

We've got a little work to do to pick up the leftover bits of her business. Nana did not want a funeral, so we are not having one. Saturday we're going to make a pass through her belongings to gather her financial records and collect up items of sentimental value. That will mostly be pictures, and maybe a few small items that we had given her as gifts. Maybe, if we're feeling Type A enough, we'll catalogue everything of value. After all, it will probably only take a few index cards to do it. The smallness of her existence is humbling, in a way. It certainly makes life easier for Dad, and for the rest of us helping him.

Today I had a rather normal day, although there was an ususual event (physics grad student lunch at the faculty dining room). I didn't do anything in particular today; it was a day to think. The next few days will be for thinking and resting. Sometime around Tuesday I'll probably be back to the grind.

Of course, I have mourned through humor to the extent that people would be offended. Instead of posting my favorites, we'll just leave it at that.

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02 May 2007

Speaking of Tools...

One Dr. Arthur Hoyte has had his lawsuit against KFC rejected. As fun as the CNN article is, you really need to read Judge Robertson's opinion on the case (HOYTE v. YUM! BRANDS, INC.), found here (or on the list here). I don't see the sarcastic tone that the CNN article claims you'll find in the opinion, but I do see an idiot making an idiot of himself in court. Okay, maybe it is a little sarcastic to say "It would be perfectly fine for me to tell you the obvious, but this is all so dumb that I don't even need to." It's very amusing overall, and also sad that he would waste the court's time on this trash.

By the way, I'm a fan of Robertson, which is why I bothered to link to a bio of him. I'm glad he's off the FISA court, doing more worthwhile things than rubber-stamping warrants.

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01 May 2007

Wordpress Coolness

I was talking to a colleague today about how even though we're nerds, other nerds sometimes do things that make us feel that much more normal. To that end, I present to you two Wordpress themes

Commodore 64-ish

Unix-ish.

So, go feel better about yourself... or feel sad like me that you don't have a blog presented in such a cool manner.

(PS. I found these on boingboing)

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Everybody Cares

An amusing article that many readers here will appreciate.

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Happy May

We could only hope.

I can't find a job. Apparently I've managed to become a specialist in something that absolutely nobody cares about. I could switch fields in principle, but why would anybody in some other area want me if they can hire people who are already in those areas? (This is, by the way, exactly why I didn't get three jobs so far, of the six or so I found out of about 120 inquiries, none directly related to what I'm doing now because nobody else in this country does anything more than remotely related.)

It's no matter, though, because my research keeps breaking down anyway. The latest result-- the fricking model behaves improperly with temperature. Increasing temperature makes the interaction overcome the fluctuations. It should be the other way around. This will be exactly the last time I trust a word, verily even a pair of letters (kT in this case), published by a thinckheaded European experimetalist n00bs. I hope they go back to their brie and enjoy it before they choke to death on it.

I'm about a bad day away from packing up and going to seminary. Oh, wait, another career I can't live with.

Happy May.

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