Monday, December 20, 2010

On the Cure for Boredom...


... Which is quite simply, to do something which would induce boredom in others.

My mind is quite prone to urges to look far deeper into things that provide little value to life. A recent xkcd comic about tic-tac-toe led me to try make my own version. Apart from all the obvious points, such as that there are several strategies which produce the same outcome, a lot of symmetry involved, and that tic-tac-toe is a bloody stupid game to begin with, I was still fascinated enough to try draw up my own optimal move maps. Needless to say, my attention span let me down. However, I was still able to complete a move map for crosses (click on the image below for a larger version), and just over 43.2% of the map for noughts.


(On a side note, the probability of winning tic-tac-toe, assuming you are playing a person of any reasonable skill can be estimated with little difficulty for any possible move you make. Most people would calculate the probably of winning against a flawless player at 0%, but the correct value comes a little above this, since the chances of winning by default in the case of your opponents death (i.e. by cardiac arrest, assassination, aircraft crash, or meteor strike) before completing the game are neglected despite being significant compared to your overall chance of winning.)

Anyway, it got me going on the probability of winning at tic-tac-toe given certain moves, which gradually got me thinking of working out an optimum move map for other games. Which my mind then linked to a distant part of my memory which stores those techniques which are not really cheating, but give me a definite advantage in games. It’s the same part of my mind that vaguely remembers which properties to buy in Monopoly, and which opening moves to make in chess (unfortunately, it never learnt which moves to make after that). It is also that part of my memory that remembers blackjack card counting techniques I learnt years and years ago (If I actually knew how to play blackjack properly, I’d possibly even be able to pull one or two of them off). Which led me into wondering how I can get rich quick (legally and risk free) using a superior understanding of mathematics. However, my brain is so easily overwhelmed (actually, frustrated by its stupid human limitations, just like a computer with far too little memory. It often hangs for several minutes waiting for a result), and not wanting to be put off, I went to the university’s Mathematics library to get some books to read on the matter. Which I guess, if all else fails, will have saved me from boredom in the slowest week of the year.

Mind you, I did successfully write a program which calculates the winning lottery numbers with 75% accuracy (and a confidence of 0.000005%, but since when is that important?). If only the stock market was also based on random luck. Maybe then I’d be able to work it out.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

On an amusing fact...


... which is possibly not even that amusing, unless you have absolutely no sense of humour (like me). The date and time of this post, in YY, DD/MM; hh:mm:ss format, with a 24 hour clock, and provided that scheduled posting works as it should, will be 10, 11/12; 13:14:15. OK. I'm sorry. That is certainly not amusing. If it was worth your interest (which it probably isn't) I suppose I could have called it interesting.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Electrocution


I have been electrocuted a number of times. I blame the cartoons and TV shows I grew up with (not Dexter’s Lab, believe it or not, although I would be blaming it if I had watched it at that stage of my life). So many shows implied that a reasonably smart kid (or person, for that matter...) could, with very few resources available, build almost any gadget or device (Damn you MacGyver!). Being what I considered a reasonably smart kid, and having plenty of resources available (My grandfather was a third generation scientist, and I guess he wanted my father to follow in his footsteps. As a result, my father collected dozens of scientific toys, electric kits, radio kits and chemistry sets. He didn’t make much use of them, so I got them in almost new condition (albeit most of them around 30 years old.)), I liked to make little simple devices, such as connecting a visual alarm to my door so that I would know when someone started to open it (It did not actually occur to me that if the someone started opening the door, I would see the door begin to open.), and an electric xylophone, a transistor radio, and a crystal radio... you know, all the simple stuff that all kids make.

It didn’t take me long to work out that those kids (of which Dexter would have been a perfect example, had I known about him at the time) were not in fact incredibly smart, but rather incredibly spoilt. My measly little pocket money budget couldn’t even afford a single steel panel, never mind the materials I needed to build a killer robot like I wanted to.

Hell, I couldn’t even afford batteries, at the rate I got through them. Fortunately, my parents had enough faith in my intelligence (or perhaps just wanted me to stop nagging) to let me use a (cheap) variable transformer attached to the mains supply to power my inventions. This may not have been the best idea, especially since they were well aware of my poor hand eye coordination and my absent minded personality which had (and still has) the attention span of a mosquito on ecstasy. Thanks to this, I was no stranger to electrocution (although fortunately, none of them resulted in any damage apart from a couple of minor burns).

However, the three worst cases of electrocution I have experienced had nothing to do with those days spent trying to get some pointless circuit to work under my bed in my dark bedroom. The worst (probably because it involved my face) happened only a couple of years ago. Late one night, I woke up thirsty and needed a drink of water. There was a vicious thunderstorm raging outside (but that’s not what woke me – I can sleep through anything). Being too lazy to pick up a glass (and that would need the light to be turned on too!) I just drank from the tap, when lightning struck the water pipes. Fortunately, I pulled my face out, but not without getting numb lips for several minutes, and a very stiff, bruised feeling arm. The second worst involved adjusting the speed and timing of our electric gate. I unscrewed the case over the motor, and then, because there was no plug – the power was fed directly into the circuit board – I began to unscrew the power cables (because I strongly believe in safety first). If you have ever shoved a metal object into one of the bottom two holes of a three point plug socket, then you know what that feels like.

The third case (which happened to be the first, chronologically) was when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I had an NES (Nintendo Entertainment System, for those of you who grew up in the dark ages) which I used to play after waking up on weekend mornings before my parents. The console itself was extremely durable (in fact, it still works perfectly), however, the controllers and especially the power adapter were not. (I am certain that this is because the power adapter (a heavy block with three spikes on the end of a long cord) resembled a medieval flail – a fact that was regularly taken advantage of by both me and my younger brother.) The adapter’s plastic casing had a bit of a crack on the one side (and by a bit of a crack, I mean large gaping hole). I was well aware of the dangers of having exposed copper wire touching my skin as I plugged it in, and I suppose I could have just held the adapter differently, but I distinctly remember thinking “Hey, I’ll be quick. The plug won’t have time to zap me.”

On the bright side, despite regular attempts, I never did manage to break the lock on that substation down the road.

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On "Star Wars is for boys"


You can read the full story of Katie here. A basic summary is that Katie is a first-grade girl who gets picked on at school because she likes Star Wars, and Star Wars is apparently “only for boys”. Which, I guess I don’t need to point out, is stupid. In fact, I know more female Star Wars fans than male ones. Even my girlfriend is a huge Star Wars fan. So, because I believe that Katie has the right to like whatever she wants, I think you should wear a Star Wars shirt tomorrow (10 December 2010). If you don’t have any, then wear anything Star Warsy. If you still don’t have any, wear something geeky. If you don’t even have anything geeky, just make a plan. Just show your support and join the facebook event. Now. Otherwise may rabid squirrels infest your underwear drawer.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On Pie...


... because right now, that's what I really feel like. I really feel like a pie. I'm pretty hungry too, so I wouldn't mind eating one either. I'm just worried that that may feel a little like cannibalism.
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On Wimpy


Being a fast food outlet, Wimpy is always going to be a target for health nuts. As a defence, they put tables of nutritional information out on most of their meals. It was interesting to note the fat and energy content of their new breakfast, the “Flat Bread Stack Breakfast”, which I had enjoyed the day before without looking at what was in it (I saw a picture and thought “foooood”. It was good). Apart from the fact that it provides roughly two thirds of a typical person’s daily energy requirement, I was amazed to see that the nutritional information at the bottom of the advert on the sauce holder thingy claims that the total fat content of the meal is 55.9kg. That’s more than what I weighed all through high school. Wow.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

On NaNoWriMo Part II: On Barghest


which, as those of you who followed my progress would have seen, was more or less unsuccessful. To be a little more precise, I spent 73% of the month not writing at all, 7% writing hardly anything, and 20% writing a little. However, during the month of November, I did submit my first scientific paper for publishing, gave my first presentation to an audience outside of my own university, and did more travelling than any other month in my life. Anyway, here are the 11 or so pages of novel that I did manage to write. (Please excuse any grammatical errors. Proof reading is the reader's job)



STUMBLING over rocks, and massive chips of broken concrete alike, carefully dodging the rust-red twisted steel rods dull grey-white window frames, five-year-old Ashley made his way over to the whines of the dull dark brown lump of fur sticking out from the crumbling remains of what was once a monumental archway. He was not worried about the beads of shattered glass that covered the landscape – decades of rain, snow, hail and sandstorms had worn them into smooth, transparent beads. Anyway, if he did encounter the occasional sharp edge, his short childhood spent crawling over the ruined concrete landscape had made the skin of his feet, palms and knees almost impenetrable to all but the sharp metal edges that had somehow remained hidden from the weather.

The lump half squealed, half growled as he came close. Ashley stopped, instinctively understanding the warning. He pricked his ears carefully listening for any movement. There was no sound, not even a slight whistle of a breeze through the few steel and concrete pillars that still stood. Still not convinced he was alone, Ashley waited.

*****

Watching the boy from under a twisted steel frame, a dark shape also waited. Absolutely silent, it’s dull camouflaged fur rendering it almost invisible amongst the twilight shadows. Every now and then the dying light of the distant red sun faded reflected off a drop of saliva dangling from the corner of its mouth, but these were indistinguishable from the occasional glint of a glass bead that had remained somehow unscratched after so many years. As Ashley slowly began to move forward, the shape began to follow, slowly stalking ever so quietly. The light shimmered as it ran over its mottled coat.


*****

Ashley studied the archway. As far as he could tell, it was some sort of bridge, although why it was made of concrete and steel, as opposed to the wooden bridges he was used to, was beyond him. No wonder it had fallen over, he thought. Wood is so much lighter. Anyway, what was a bridge doing here? There was no river. It was puzzling, but Ashley passed it over. The lump underneath it was far more interesting.

After reaching the bridge, he knelt down. The thing wasn’t stuc
k, as he’d initially thought, and it pulled back further into its hollow. It was filthy, and it was difficult to tell the true colour of its fur through the dust and mud that caked it. Behind it lay scatterings of dried grass and leaves, old clothing and torn fur of various small animals. Here and there a broken piece of bone or smashed in skull lay, showing obvious signs of frequent gnawing. It was half as big as Ashley, but Ashley was stubborn and too young to be afraid. He lunged forward and grabbed the creature by the ears and pulled hard. The animal snapped, its jaws closing around Ashley’s forearm, but it had neither the strength nor the position advantage that would be enough to do any more than skin damage. It hurt, but Ashley had all the stubbornness of a five-year-old on his side, and his grip on the creature’s ears only tightened. He pulled hard, trying to wrestle the creature out of the cave, but the creature refused to budge.


*****

The dark shape rose up barely metres behind Ashley, the thick fur on its back puffing out. A deep thunderous rumble came from deep within its chest. Ashley ignored it, intent on getting his newfound toy out of its hiding place. The shape growled again, this time a deep thunderous roar. Ashley heard and knew immediately what it meant. His heart leapt. He slowly loosened his grip on the ears and turned to face the monster behind him. He tried to back away, but trying to turn with a set of jaws holding his arm in place had gotten him into a rather awkward position. He fell into a twisted sitting position.

The creature was massive, with thick black and grey mottled fur, and shaggy triangular ears, pricked up at the roots but hung along its face. Little of its body was visible, but Ashley could see two columns of blood red eyes run up the sides of its long snout, and its jaw was slightly open, baring two rows of jagged teeth. As the growl ended, and a damp patch marked the spot where Ashley sat, the creature lunged for Ashley’s throat. A shrill whistle pierced the air, and the beast froze, it’s teeth inches from the skin on Ashley’s neck.

*****

The woman seemed to appear out of thin air. She wore a cloak which matched the colour of the beast. It was wrapped tightly around her, so he could make out little except her dark brown hair and green eyes. He did not know where she had come from, but he was more concerned about the uncomfortable heat.

“Cŵn, down. Gwyllgi, come here.” She ordered in a neutral tone. The big beast in front of Ashley lowered its head to the ground. A low rumble still echoed from deep inside its throat. He felt the teeth on his arm (nearly forgotten by now) loosen, and the smaller brown creature backed away from him slowly.

“Gwyllgi, I said come here.” The woman repeated. A small whimper came from the animal.

“Gwyllgi ...” she repeated, her voice rising very slightly, with a clear implication of a final warning coming through. The dull brown lump of fur half ran, half stumbled out of the cave, passed the larger beast, and up the concrete hill where the woman stood, tripping over it’s too short legs and long ears as it went.

“Good boy”, she said, holding out a small strip of something she took from her cloak. The lump of fur lunged for it, but she moved it out of the way at the last instant, causing the poor creature to fall onto its back, rolling several metres away before coming to a stop against an asphalt slab, its legs splayed in extremely awkward looking position. The woman scowled, and firmly told the creature “No”, but offered the strip again. It slowly stood, giving a sulking look in its eyes. “Slowly now.” Never removing its eyes from the strip, it walked toward her, slightly more steadily than before, but still stumbling. “Gently.” The creature took the strip carefully in its jaws and moved away slowly. As soon as it was out of reach, it began thrashing its head from side to side, viciously growling, its body writhing violently. With its claws, it began scratching at the strip, ripping it apart, gnawing constantly with its teeth, but struggling to keep a grip. In its effort, it had forgotten to keep its footing on the unstable ground, and went tumbling around as before, dropping the strip in the way. It scrambled over to the strip, and resumed its mauling.

The woman let of a sigh, shaking her head in disappointment. Turning to Ashley, who was still frozen with fear, she said “Come, let’s get you cleaned up.” Ashley’s cheeks went red with embarrassment as he was reminded of the damp feeling along his legs. He glanced nervously at the massive black-grey beast in front of him, which was still growling softly.

“Cŵn!” she shouted. The beast rose and approached the woman, and for the first time, Ashley could see its distinct dog-like appearance and character. The beast’s shoulder stood at least as high as those of the woman, and through its thick wiry coat of fur, it was still possible to make out it’s slender but muscular build. Its head was medium length, and much softer looking than it had appeared when it had been about to close its teeth around Ashley’s throat. Its eyes were blood red, and stood in columns, five on each side. The head looked abnormally small, compared to the beast’s long thick neck, which it held upright. Its long tail wagged furiously as the woman began to scratch the beast’s shoulders. It lowered itself to ground, and she climbed onto its back.

“Well? Aren’t you coming?” she asked Ashley. Ashley stared in amazement, too dumbfounded to say anything.

“Suit yourself,” the woman told him. “You two had better get home soon. Darkness is approaching faster.” Even before she finished speaking, the beast started moving away. She gave it two quick pats on its side, and it broke into a sprint, accelerating at an incredible rate, so that before long, it was running faster than anything Ashley had ever imagined. Within a few seconds, the pair had disappeared from sight.

The sun was setting fast, and he wanted to get home. The problem, which he wouldn’t have mentioned even if he hadn’t been too terrified to speak, was that he didn’t actually know which direction home was. He sat down and began to cry. A tugging at his arm caught his attention. He’d somehow forgotten about the smaller creature.

“You got left behind too, huh?” he said through his tears. The lump of fur bared its teeth and growled. The sun had disappeared completely now, and the residual red glow was the only light that remained. In the darkness, the creature’s ten fiery eyes gave off a very faint light. Looking into them made Ashley feel very uneasy, but he tried to ignore it. He looked back into the concrete cave. It looked comfortable enough – much better than the prickly dead bush he’d used for shelter the previous night, at least. The creature next to him growled again, louder this time. It snapped its jaws and pounced on Ashley, growling and snapping its jaws in his face. If Ashley hadn’t emptied his bladder just minutes earlier, he would have done so now.

A shrill shriek pulsed from somewhere far away, approaching rapidly. It echoed off the concrete and asphalt canyons, shaking the dust off the ground. On the eastern horizon, a dim flaming light appeared, approaching fast. Ashley held his breath, lay flat on his back, as still as he possibly could, closed his eyes and wished his heart would stop beating so loudly. He knew what the light meant, and while he wasn’t actually afraid of it, he knew that it must not see him, must not hear him either. He had seen what it could do, once.

It was over a minute before the light became more than just a pin point on the horizon. It covered the sky in an odd sweeping pattern, arcing up to a high altitude, then turning back down to the ground with an enormous acceleration, letting off the tremendous shriek as it did so, missing the ground by metres, and then slowing down to the top of the next arc. The trajectory reminded Ashley a lot of a game they used to play, where they had slid stones down a pipe that had been cracked in half down its length, the way the stone had swung from side to side like a pendulum, but still rushed down to the bottom of the pipe.

As it approached, the dust around him began to be stirred into frenzy, lifting up and swarming around. Concrete and asphalt chips started to lift off the ground, and gradually, larger and larger chunks and steel started to lift and swirl around in the air. Even though the creature on his chest seemed to be almost weightless, it was enough to pin Ashley firmly to the ground. He couldn’t hold his breath any longer. Taking in a brief, dust filled breath; he spluttered and coughed, struggling for air. The shriek stopped instantly.

Within seconds the light had swooped toward him, letting off a deafening whump as it passed just metres above him. The creature on his chest spun around and leapt, snapping for the light, but fell far short. Ashley felt a tremendous upward pull as the creature jumped off, and as it landed, it smashed him back into the ground. He bit his tongue as his head hit the ground. He trembled, his heart beating rapidly and irregularly, gasping for air, still battling to get enough through, the thick dusty storm around him scratching at his throat.

The image of the light was burned into his eyes. It was difficult to make out the exact shape with the flames that engulfed the creature and the turbulent cloud of dust and smoke that followed it, but he had not missed the enormous talons or the burning feather covered wings that blotted out most of the sky.

The phoenix arced up and turned again, swinging back down with its deafening shriek. Concrete chunks in its path shattered into dust as it passed, adding to its trailing wake. It thrust its talons forward, preparing to strike. Ashley tried to scramble out of the way, but the creature on top of him held him firmly in place. He tried squirming, trying desperately to get out from under the furry animal, but despite seeming to weigh nothing, it was far too strong. Ashley shut his eyes and waited to die.

A frightening sensation that felt exactly as if he had been dropped upwards made him open his eyes. The furry animal leapt through the air, mouth open, and caught the phoenix around the throat. Although it was so much smaller with week jaws and blunt teeth, the animal managed to get a grip on the bird’s neck. The bird twisted around in pain, its formerly regular path becoming very erratic, thrashing itself from side to side. Ashley became caught in its spiralling wake of dust and debris. The creature broke free of the phoenix’s neck, taking a chunk of flesh with it. Flames spouted out from the bird’s wound. It made a sharp turn in mid air, sending Ashley flying through the air. Fortunately, he did not have far to fall, but he slid across the ground, tearing this clothes and grazing his skin. A flying block of asphalt hit him in the head, and he passed out.

The bird aimed at the animal, now crouched waiting on the ground. As the bird approached, the animal jumped, sinking it’s fangs in exactly where the flesh was already torn. Flames streamed from the side of the phoenix, and the pair went crashing into the side of a concrete pillar. An inferno burst forth, engulfing both the bird and animal in a furious orange fire.

*****

The splashing of morning rain on his face brought Ashley into consciousness. In front of him, five pairs of burning eyes watched him from under thick matted filthy fur. Ashley sat up. It was the first time that he had time to look at the animal closely. Its fur was a rich black colour, but was caked with mud, making it appear brown. The rain was slowly loosening the chunks of the mud. Ashley reached out to rub it off. The creature lowered its head and growled, baring its small teeth, but did not back away. The creature was chubby with loose skin, and had an abnormally large head with long floppy ears and a large square jaw surrounded by droopy oversized cheeks. A droplet of drool swung precariously from its mouth. It had seemed vicious in the hollow which Ashley had assumed to be the creatures nest, but now, apart from its demonic eyes, it looked harmless – pathetic, even.

“It seems you two have made friends,” came the voice of the woman from the evening before. Ashley looked past the creature to see her sitting next to a fire, with a fat rabbit busy roasting. The mottled grey beast lay next to her. She sat in silence for several minutes before speaking again.

“His name is Gwyllgi. He’s a barghest,” she said suddenly. Ashley looked up. “I have been trying to train him for the past three days. He seems to prefer solitude though. I reckon he’s about four weeks old now.”

Ashley looked up at her, not sure what to say.

“He likes you. If he chooses to stay with you, you should look after him. He will look after you if you do. Treat him badly, and you will be dead.” She turned the rabbit over on the fire, and stared into the flames. The silence made Ashley feel very uncomfortable.

Eventually he blurted out “My name’s Ashley.” He was not sure why he had said that, and felt like an idiot when the woman ignored him. “What’s your name?” She ignored him again, her attention lost in the flames.

After a while, she took the rabbit off the fire and gave some to Ashley. He had not realised how hungry he was, and devoured it quickly. When he looked up, the woman was already finished and kicking dust over the fire, extinguishing the flames. When the fire was out, she used her foot to move the dust out the way, and a single mottled egg lay in the centre. She picked it up in her gloved hand and held it out for Ashley to take. He was hesitant.

“Don’t worry, it’s not hot,” she told him. Carefully, he took it from her. It was warm to the touch, but it did not burn him. “It’s a phoenix egg,” she told him. “I don’t know where it came from, but we should be weary of whatever killed it.”

“He did it,” Ashley told her.

She looked at him, puzzled. “Gwyllgi? He couldn’t have. He’s nowhere near strong enough. You’ve been hit too hard on the head.”

She sniffed the air. “You smell,” she told him. “Come, let’s get you cleaned up. Whatever took down the phoenix could still be around. Cŵn!”

The mottled grey beast came over and lay down in front of her. She picked Ashley up and put her on its back and climbed on behind him. “Hold on tight,” she said, and whispered something unintelligible to Cŵn, who made a sharp right turn and began to gallop.

The noise of the wind was unbearable, but Ashley fought the unbearable urge to let go and cover his ears. Soon, however, the noise was replaced with a loud ringing in his ears, together with the gentle rain and the soft but steady thumping of Cŵn’s padded feet on the hard uneven ground. Ashley tried to tell her she had forgotten Gwyllgi again, but no sound came out of his mouth.

It wasn’t long before the ruins of the concrete bridge were no longer visible, and soon, they were out of the long dead city and running amongst scattered ruins of much smaller, more scattered buildings. Dead brown grass covered most open areas, but every now and then an oasis of green burst through. Gradually, the ruins became more and more scattered, although they never disappeared completely. Ashley new that it was impossible to escape the old world, although in his imagination, he always believed there were places that had been untouched by man or animal, where he could just be left in peace.

*****

Crouching low and absolutely still in the long but dead grass, Sen watched his prey grazing at the oasis. It was an abnormally large herd of bluebacks –small, long-legged, deer-like reptiles that stood about knee high. They were mostly a greyish-brown colour, with a much richer and darker grey patch over their backs. They skittered and jumped around nervously, watching both land and sky, weary of predators. Seeing them this far from the mountains had once been very rare, but was becoming increasingly common as the northern tribes were pushed down by the uninhabitable tundra that grew more and more with each passing winter. Sen couldn’t help wondering what would happen once the northern tribes were forced over the mountains into the city ruins below. Then where would the bluebacks go.

Ever so silently, he raised his weapon – a heavily modified long bow which used a combination of an electric motor and a complicated lever system to pull the string far tighter than he would be able to on his own. He held it horizontal so as to remain hidden. Even though bluebacks did not have exceptionally remarkable eyesight, they were especially sensitive to movements and were timid enough to bolt at the first sign of danger. From his back, he carefully unclipped his arrow from his back. It was a thin rusted steel rod, salvaged from one of the thousands of collapsed buildings that scattered the ruins of the city. One end had been carefully sharpened and half a feather had been attached two thirds of the way down its length. It was not particularly accurate as far as missiles went, and its range was actually rather pathetic, but its weight meant that it had the momentum to go through the thick scales that covered a bluebacks skin.

Taking a deep breath, and took aim. His bow had an automated radar adjusted directional thermal sensor which pointed directly where the arrow was expected to hit, which would tell him when he was on target. Unfortunately, bluebacks were cold-blooded, and had very well insulated skin, so they rarely gave off enough heat for the targeting system to work. Sen had to aim by eye, but he was used to it. He drew back his arrow and aimed for the what he thought looked like the fastest animal in the herd. The moment he loosed the arrow, he leapt out of his cover, breaking into a sprint. Even before he had hit the ground again, he had another arrow in the bow and was taking aim for the next target. He was nowhere near as fast as the bluebacks, but by the time they had all scattered out of range, four of them had hit the ground.

Strapping his bow to his back, he quickly made his way over to the closest animal. It was still alive, but the arrow through the back of its neck had rendered it paralysed. It was giving out a coarse soft roar as Sen approached. He took a long dagger from his waist and stabbed it through the animal’s throat. Wasting no time, he moved on to the next animal, which was starting to limp away, arrow still sticking out from its hind quarters. With one swift movement, he loosed the bow from back, drew an arrow, aimed roughly, and let off an arrow through the blueback’s skull. After seeing to the last two animals, one of which was already dead the other which couldn’t breathe through a punctured lung, he dragged them all away from the small patch of greenery at which they had been grazing. He removed his arrows and clipped them one by one to his back, then strapped his bow over them. With a length of rope he took from his shoulders, he tied the legs of all four animals together, and then tied the other end of the rope around his waist, before climbing the rocky slopes out of the valley to begin the long journey home.

*****

There were hundreds, if not thousands of such valleys carved out of the landscape. They started deep in the mountains in the distant north, where the melted snow and ice runoff from the ice fields that had once existed beyond the mountains, collected into gushing streams and poured down into the plains below. There, the streams had combined into vast rivers which had gouged out massive canyons into the otherwise flat terrain. Aeons of wind and rain had worn the canyons into gently sloped valleys, and settlers had been drawn due to the readily available water and abundance of wild life. Farms had popped up, and they built huge dams to irrigate their crops. They farmed the wildlife out, and replaced it with their domesticated cattle and sheep. Over the centuries, the farming subsided and villages and towns popped up, these growing rapidly, eventually forming cities. The cities grew, and with them, overpopulation, starvation and crime became serious problems. The rampant death rate was second only to the incredible rate at which the millions at first, but later billions, of impoverished people could breed.

The only thing slowing the growth of the cities were the frequent earthquakes from the tectonic action which kept the mountains growing. As skyscrapers started to go up, and then come down, the people learned of the importance of designing and building earthquake proof buildings. But pressure from the vast homeless population and the lack of resources driving the prices of building materials led to almost all contractors taking shortcuts. Very soon, the standards of buildings dropped, and the numbers of critically damaged buildings after each earthquake began to rise phenomenally. Rather than making repairs, the megacity just abandoned the critically damaged buildings and expanded outwards. Of course, having the buildings officially abandoned meant that the homeless could move into them. When the buildings did eventually collapse after several years, tens of thousands lost their lives each time, but those that survived would just move onto the next building.

The megacity began to die from the inside out. Having no means or resources to find and dispose of the bodies in the rubble, the people just left them there to rot. Diseases bred, and animals, firstly insects, then rats, then dogs and other larger animals moved in. Eventually, with the population in the tens of billions, the city’s growth came to a standstill.

Gradually, as the tectonic plates shifted, the mountains grew. Tens of thousands of years after people had first settled at their feet, they were tall enough to cut off the rain which came in from the distant ocean in the south. Snow ceased to fall on the ice fields, and over time, they melted, leaving behind the bone dry, wind scorched tundra. Without the constant feed from the ice fields each summer, and with only the winter rain to keep them flowing, the rivers dried up for half of each year. With no water for drinking or sanitation, and – perhaps more importantly to the citizens – there was no water to drive the city’s industries.

With the city taking the little water that did come down from the mountains, the lands to the far south began to dry up. Within barely a few hundred years, they had formed a vast desert, with no water and only a handful of plants and animals tough enough to survive. Within a few millennia, even they could only be found around the edges. What had once filled the landscape was eroded by the wind into dust, and the dust formed furious dust storms, which accelerated the erosion.

The inhabitants of the southern lands gradually moved north, and settled amongst the remains of the city in the north. A scepticism and hatred for the citizens of the megacity that had developed over thousands of years was far too deep to be just dropped, and it ensured that the southerners would never venture far into the inhabited parts of the city. There was inevitably some conflict between the two populations, mostly brought on by the original citizens, but the southerners were scattered and had no leadership structure, so it was impossible for the city’s shambled government to launch a structured attack against them. That was when the world fell into chaos.

But that was millions of years ago.

*****

Sen found the location of the town annoying, to put it mildly. In fact, the very fact that there was any need for the town was something he had difficulty understanding, and he made a point of voicing that opinion at every opportu




And that's where it ends, because, like I've said I hardly ever finish anything.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On Social Networking


Just in case you haven't noticed, I have made a few changes to my blog to incorporate popular social networking sites. Firstly, I have scrapped the Stumble upon "Thumbs up" button, since in the almost 14 months it's been available, it was clicked once, and that was me testing to see if it worked. In it's place, there are two sets of buttons. The first gives you options to share the post via email, blogger, twitter, facebook or google buzz.

The second gives you the option to like the post on facebook (without posting anything on your wall).

Please use them, as it gives me exposure so that I can get past my current audience of about 20 readers... I promise to try get back to posting in December.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

On NaNoWriMo


Anouncement. I am taking a break from blogging for the month of November to take part in NaNoWriMo. You should all take part too. You can use the time you normally spend browsing pointless stuff on the internet (like right now) to be constructive and write a novel.


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Monday, November 1, 2010

On the Ring Around the Sun


that appeared over Johannesburg today, which has got people talking. They actually occur quite often (or so I’ve heard - I don't go outside often, and if I do, I don't generally look directly at the sun. Apparently you can see them almost every week in higher latitudes). But having read about the phenomenon before, and being a know-more-than-most (not a know it all. I don’t know it all, I just know a lot more than most people, and that likely includes you), I felt obligated to correct all the incorrect myths that have been circulated by people who couldn’t be bothered researching things (and I am not talking specifically about radio hosts...). This is a photo of what I saw. (The dot is a reflection of the sun on the lens cover)




The halo is not caused by water droplets or condensation of water vapour like the rainbows that appear after rain, and it is not caused by cirrus clouds. It is caused specifically by hexagonal prism ice crystals that are scattered randomly in the upper atmosphere. These often occur inside thin cirrus or cirrostratus clouds, but may occur in other clouds as well. There is a myth that the halo means it will rain in 12 to 24 hours, but it is more like 2 to 3 days in Johannesburg, and only if there are visible cirrus or cirrostratus clouds in the sky (which there were today). There is a twisted version of the myth which says there will be a good rainy season. That is rubbish, and there is no connection between halos and long term weather.

There are several halos that can occur. What happened this morning was a 22° halo, the most common type. If you point one hand at the sun and the other at the halo, the angle between the two will be 22°. For a brief time, a parhelic circle was visible, which runs around the point in the sky immediately above you, and passes through the sun, and earlier, the 46° halo was also faintly visible. There were no sun dogs visible today! Sun dogs are two bright spots on either side of the sun, which are also known as "mock suns".

With a quick 30 minutes in Gimp (because Photoshop is for gullible losers), I drew a pretty picture (not to scale) to show some of the halos that can occur.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

On Adding a Bit of Challenge, and a Close Call


Some people seem to always have good luck, and some always seem to have bad luck. It’s just one of those things (Yes, one of those things, started by one of those people. You know, Them... The ones who always say). Unfortunately, throughout my entire life, I have been cursed with neutral luck. My brother, on the other hand (that’s most likely the left hand, even though I tend to wave the right one when I say that. It’s just a trick to distract you from what’s really going on. Pay no attention to it.) always seems to have good luck. This made playing most board games against him almost impossible. In Snakes & Ladders, for example, he’d take an average of 15 moves to finish, whereas I’d take around 30. Games like Risk, which are supposed to be games of strategy, were pointless because my troops rarely won in combat, since my average roll per die would be 3½, whereas his would be more like 5.

The game that annoyed me most(partly because I quite liked the game) was Monopoly. The main reason was that although my average roll per die remained 3½, my brother’s would vary so that he could magically avoid paying rent or landing in jail. He would draw all the good “Chance” cards, leaving me with the taxes and maintenance costs on my hotels. Eventually, when we were older, I made official changes to the rules by adding realism to the game. Rather than just allowing the money to flow freely, each player was required to record the flow of money using accepted accounting practices. Each transaction needed to be recorded in a journal, which was transferred into a ledger at the end of each round. Every tenth round, a player was required to produce complete financial statements, which were then audited by the other players. It did significantly slow down what is already a lengthy game, but that didn’t bother us. And while accounting is by no means fun, it didn’t really detract from the rest of the game too much (Actually, it did, a little, but it was better than the same person always winning. Honestly, I don’t have difficulty dealing with losing. I just get bored if every game is the same. Why don’t you believe me?).

It was for this reason that I was horrified when, in his final year of school, my brother decided he wanted to be an accountant. I couldn’t help feeling responsible for damning my brother into (no offence to any accountants reading this) what must be the most boring profession in the world. For the whole year, my conscience nagged at me (Not really, but I wanted to say it did. For dramatic effect). I breathed a small sigh of relief (Once again, only figuratively), when my brother decided at the end of the year that he wanted to be an actuary. Fortunately, he is now studying towards a real career in computer science and applied maths.

(On a side note: You’d think my parents would notice my brother’s unusually high luck and use him to win some money in the lottery, and you’d be right. The problem is, with the odds of winning a prize being 1 in 807, and the odds of that prize being the lowest possible prize (with an average earnings ratio of approximately 32.9 to 1 for a win (since he never got more than 4 numbers right)) being around 87.6%, even if my brother was 5 times more likely to win than the average person, it would still result in an average net loss over time of 79.6%. Never forget that lotteries were invented as fund raising schemes.)

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

On A Thousandth-Folded Shoe


A man on the loo, aft’ an hour or two, nothing had come through. Though his back end chute had given no more than a toot, he’d found a fold in his boot. Said he on the seat, “You’d think a fold so neat pride of origami elite.” Then, with his big toe, he pushed it over just so, and the fold in the shoe did grow. After a second fold, too a sight to behold, the edges he slightly rolled. He continued this way, this strange new play, for more than half of the day. Numbered these folds in his shoe six hundred and two, and still onward they grew. And within a week, though his seat did reek, he’d folded a flawless bird’s beak. And though his cat lay dead, for it hadn’t been fed, he didn’t even think of his bed. But there that man died, because he was all bloated inside, and let that, child, be your guide.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

On the Shiny Silver Flying Pizza...


which I was initially convinced had chicken as one of its toppings, because my mind momentarily chose to hide from me the fact that chickens are actually flightless birds. Within seconds, though, I managed to come to the conclusion that it must be a ham pizza, since pigs fly (I’m sure of it) and the overly processed pork products (salami, sausage, bacon, etc) are much heavier foods than ham. A simple ham and a light mozzarella pizza on a thin crispy base would make the perfect flying pizza.

Although that would not account for the rich silver colour and the overall shininess of the object, which lead me to the conclusion that the object must have been a flying saucer. An insect or two must have found their way into the silvers cupboard and made off with a member of gran’s best tea set. The problem with that theory is it does not offer an explanation as to how the insects opened the cupboard (but I’m certainly not an entomologist, so I would not know whether that is possible or not). In addition, the object was not perfectly round, and the saucers of gran’s silver tea set are – the observation that led to my initial suspicion of a pizza.

There is no doubt that my brain works very slowly at times, but I should point out that the above thoughts passed through my mind in fractions of a second (which is an interesting saying, because a half second is a fraction of a second, so in the plural, several thousand half seconds would be classified as fractions of a second (which acts as my defence against accusations of my writing being contradictory due to my earlier statement of “within seconds”)), and it wasn’t long before I realised that a shiny silver not-round object floating across the sky could be a cloud. A cloud bringing light rain, with a colour like that.

So, maybe in a little longer than most other people would have taken, I managed to conclude that the flying object which I had failed to see had not been a pizza or a flying saucer, but in fact a rain cloud, shining in the reborn strength of the spring sunshine behind it. But, of course, I failed to see this cloud, because this notion of “spring rain” in this part of the country is rare, and only happens one or two years out of five. It is strange how people never remember that usually, the first real summer rains usually only fall around the end of October or beginning November.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On Avo Farming: Part II


Although I initially wanted to keep my miniature avo orchard indoors, I have finally given up and moved it outside. The move seems to have been good for them, because two of the seeds have put out roots, and another four of them have started to open up. More importantly, they have remained more or less precisely where I left them.

A long time ago, I became convinced that armies of devious bovine were secretly sneaking around farms and arranging the trees in straight lines. I am sure this has something to do with preparing for the immanent human enslavement that the penguins are planning. However, the trees on my farm (which measures a vast 750 mm x 500 mm) have not moved at all.

There are two possible reasons for this. The first is that my farm is completely cattle proof. The entire farm is raised almost a meter off the ground, and located in a garden surrounded securely on three sides with precast concrete walls, with a steel palisade fence on the fourth side. However, I do not believe that the precast walls would stand up to a bovine assault, and I am not convinced that bovine would be unable to climb over the fence and negotiate the spikes on top, which leads to the second, slightly less comforting reason. The cattle have yet to find my farm...

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On Farming


Until this morning, the number of avocado trees busy germinating in my bedroom was in the double digits (They’ve now moved to get more sun, and make way for a second PC, but they’re still in the house). Does this qualify me as an avo farmer? My first instinct was no, because none of them actually provide me with food (In fact, only three have even started to show signs of rooting so far), but that got me thinking. What actually defines a farmer? If I went and bought 100 hectares of land, ploughed it all up and sowed seeds, then there would be no doubt that I’m a farmer... If I have ten avo trees germinating in my house, am I a farmer?

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Monday, August 23, 2010

On the Aphasic Constitution of Stochastically Selected Lexemes


Such as "The panchromatic bumpmap prognosticated the uncircumspectness of the putrefaction." or "A component of the thoroughly edited regulation truly broke the deleted bucket." Makes perfect sense...

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Monday, August 16, 2010

On Parking


I’ve always wondered why some people like reversing into a parking. The standard excuse is that it is “easier to get out.” This is certainly true, but it is also more difficult to get in. The whole system needs to be investigated in terms of the total net increase or decrease of ease that is gained by reversing into a parking.

The entire process can be broken up into two obvious tasks: Entering and exiting. Using a simple scale from one to ten in order to rate the difficulty of the task (with one being really easy and ten being really hard (or for those that require a more precise scale: the scale being a measure of the average between task related brain activity, relevant sensory activity, and muscular activity required to execute the manoeuvre; approximately logarithmic to base e; and scaled and shifted along the axis such that one is equivalent to the difficulty of driving in a straight line at constant speed, and ten is equivalent to a high speed hand-brake turn into a narrow fit parallel parking, including at least two jumps over other vehicles, at least one of which must be carried out without the aid of a ramp)). Rating each task individually and averaging them gives a reliable indicator of the total difficulty of the entire parking process.

Considering an average sized parking with cars on both sides, the difficulty of each task is estimated to be approximately (to the nearest integer) as follows:
  • Reversing in: 4
  • Driving in: 2
  • Driving out: 2
  • Reversing out: 3
The primary difference comes in the reversing out compared to reversing in, since reversing into a wide area is easier than reversing into a narrower area (obviously).

The average for both going in and out of the parking is thus:
  • Reversing in, driving out : 3
  • Driving in, reversing out: 2.5

The argument is therefore invalid in the absence of further reasons.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On a Few Words of Wisdom


For several months now, I have been getting obscure comments on my posts. Those who leave comments (and maybe one or two of you who don’t) may have noticed the introduction of a word verification step (which I must admit, I hate), and then later on, manual comment moderation. No comment appears until I have read it personally. For those wondering why this is necessary, I have been getting comments consisting of some line in Chinese (which sounds as if they are taken directly from fortune cookies), such as “所有的資產, 在不被諒解時, 都成了負債.” Although they are occasionally surprisingly relevant to the post, and almost always give interesting words of wisdom when translated, I never publish them because they are followed by a string of full stops, each one linking to a site with strategically placed words like “chat”, “girl” and “live sex” in the URLs. If only they would leave off the links, I’d publish their comments.

I’m sure this is some sort of plot by the Chinese government to control your minds though, so consider my comment moderation as me protecting you from becoming brainwashed zombies... But, thinking about it, maybe you’re already zombies, so here is a sample of some of the wisdom I have gained. It can’t do too much damage.
  • All of the assets, not being understanding, have become liabilities.
  • Survival but continued fighting in the heart and soul; writing is sitting the trial itself.
  • It is easier to get than to keep it.
  • Do not look for lessons from the failure of people, success is far away.
  • Happiness is not the key, only the ladder.
  • Tired? A cup of coffee, a rest!
  • Only endless teacher learning, teaching can be serious, only burn themselves to other people's lights lit.
  • Maturity is the ability to adapt to life in the vague.
  • Quality is better than quantity.
  • As a man sows, so he shall reap.
  • Hammer and nails to the same as always work toward fixed.
  • Enrichment within the letter of the most important! Beauty is but skin-deep.

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On Driving


Just an observation. Click the image to enlarge it...
For once, you can actually click the image... Wow! Advanced technology!
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On Headphones


It really is a stupid design to have a set which goes over your head with a cable which runs past your chin. The natural tendency is of course to chew on the cable, since it’s right there. I don’t know how many sets of headphones I have destroyed in my life. I have a draw in my desk which contains several tangled up chewed through cables which are covered in various degrees of solder, cello tape and connection plates in some attempt to get them functioning again. These cables really should have a steel armour or something around them.

Although I do dread the day that wireless headphones of high quality become commonplace. I can only imagine what I’ll start chewing in place of cables...
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Not Being Careful What You Wish For


An overly athletic nose seems to be a consistent problem in July which I almost managed to hold off for this year. I’ve had a mild ear infection for the last couple of weeks, and it seems its finally managed to work its way into my sinuses. The only problem is that it didn’t come running out like it usually does. As a direct result, my entire face felt like it had been stuffed like a Christmas turkey. All I wished for was for my nose to run so that I could clear it out.

Needless to say, my wish came true – my nose is running... a lot. It is annoying to have to blow your nose every ten minutes, and the worst part is that my face still feels like the Christmas turkey (although I’m not going to be tricked into thinking it might taste like stuffing, so don’t even try that). Now I’m just wishing that I will get better soon, but the universe doesn’t grant wishes that often. Oh well, I guess it’s just been a normal July...

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Friday, July 23, 2010

On the Valve to Spout Ratio...


... in taps, particularly. And which may be one or two, depending on the bath/basin/sink layout, design and relative laziness of the plumber who did the installation. The ratio has little importance in a bath, since the water mixes anyway. It is also of little significance if there is only a single valve (as any additional spouts would be redundant), but in the case of separate hot and cold taps on a sink or basin, the ratio should in all cases, without exception, be 2:1.

Unfortunately, in all of the basins I regularly encounter, there is a 1:1 ratio of taps to spouts. If you need to wash your hands quickly, it is impractical to fill the basin (not to mention that filling the basin wastes water). Thus, holding your hands under the tap becomes the most practical solution. The problem with having a 1:1 valve to spout ratio with separate hot and cold valves is that no mixing would take place. The water from the hot spout is too hot, and water from the cold spout is too cold. My solution to this is often to have both taps on and dart between the hot and cold streams. This is an unnecessary waste of water that would be solved so easily by increasing the valve to spout ratio.

Conservation of water should be our number one priority. If we’re not careful, the penguins will have solidified all of it in their Antarctic ice factories and we will have none.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On Pretty Much Nothing


Um... Yeah. So, well... Nice weather we've been having... Er... yeah.

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On Even More Nonsensical Gibberish than Usual


Which is all it is these days, really, and I promise to bring you more of it. I’m not talking about this in particular – I’m talking about absolutely everything everyone says (not only celebrities, politicians and news readers, because they only started the trend). Actually, that’s an unfair statement, considering that none of it is really nonsensical (at least on some superficial surface level) and that very little of it is actually gibberish (except for some of the jargon some people tend to use because they think it makes them seem smarter, but it only results in vacant expressions and the occasional yawn). It’s just that it might as well be, with the things that go through people’s heads.

I’ve heard people refer to humans as an “advanced species” so many times, it’s now annoying. They cite our technological and scientific achievements as evidence for this: things like cloning, space travel, the internet, our global transport network and the like. The truth is that human’s are actually pretty pathetic. I’ve touched before on why I believe it was a four year old boy who discovered bread, and how it was a retarded kid who discovered fire. This is pretty much just more of the same ranting and whining on pretty much the same topic, but from a much more modern perspective, so you can probably just stop reading now if you didn’t like the last two whines on this topic.

Seriously though, can any of those major scientific advancements be attributed to the human race? Surely the credit is only due to a small group of individuals. For example, how many people do you know who can build a relatively simple device like a microwave, or something as fundamental to our age as an internal combustion engine. If I took a sample of, say, twenty “average” humans of good mental and physical health and working age, from a variety of backgrounds, put them in an isolated room with unlimited access to basic raw materials, and asked them to build a basic television set, or a rocket capable of deploying a satellite in orbit (which is far simpler than the television set, in my opinion), would they be able to do it?

And that is pretty much all I had to say, except for the even more nonsensical gibberish that I promised you. Because garbleshlarve in wiglabashaver isen dashrioclabber esquoobleo nas flabbergeelo ons kuelliamp ondaes shlay.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Cheese Encrusted Bacon and a Loaf of Shoe


Well, not really. But it could have been. It’s actually not really about anything, really. Really... But you’ve heard that before. But Cheese Encrusted Bacon and a Loaf of Shoe doesn’t really tell you anything. What use is a title that doesn’t tell you what to expect? It’s a title without spoilers, that’s what it is. Think about it. A title like Alice in Wonderland is a bad title because it contains spoilers. The title already gives away pretty much all of the story. It focuses on a girl called Alice, who lands up in Wonderland. Then as soon as the first young girl is introduced in the story, you start to wonder “Is this Alice?” until her name is revealed, instead of just enjoying the story. And then after Alice falls through the rabbit hole and has no clue where she is, all the suspense that could have been built up is wasted, all because the title tells you she is in Wonderland. It really does spoil the story. The purpose of a title is not to tell you what it’s all about – it’s to get you to read it, and if you thought this post had a bad title, well, you’re reading it aren’t you?

But that’s all completely irrelevant. What is relevant is the title – in this case, picked completely arbitrarily (although not really randomly) to be On Cheese Encrusted Bacon and a Loaf of Shoe. Although cheese encrusted bacon certainly does sound good (although I’ll probably pass on the loaf of shoe (only probably, because, after all, I’m the sort of person who uses nested parentheses (sometimes even double nested parentheses) in his text, and it just might be edible), since it sounds like it may be chewy (and did you notice how parentheses distract your train of thought?)), it tells you absolutely nothing about what you are about to read. What it does reveal, however, is the weird way my brain always falls back onto one of two subjects – namely food or animals. I have no idea why it seems to do this so often, but it just does.

In fact, I’ve gone back and tracked how often these two topics come up in my blog, and plotted a graph of how the fraction of the blog covering these two topics varies with time. At least it seems to be on a downward trend...


And then, even though it highlights the declining regularity of my posts, I was in a graph plotting mood, and wanted a second colour, so here are is a graph showing the total posts, and the animal and food related posts for each month.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On Depth Perception Problems and Meal Times


I’ve never really been able to judge how far away an object is. It’s just one of those things... I’ve never really been able to tell the difference between a small object close up and a big object far away. I never saw the fascination of those stereoscopic binoculars that were popular back in the early ‘90s (those ones with the two little cardboard wheels with frames of Spiderman or something printed on rectangles of transparent plastic arranged around the rim). And those 3D images where you squint and see a 3D image jump out of the page. Those never worked for me. And this new fascination with 3D films, I just don’t get. To me, it looks the same, and I just get a headache. It’s a minor disability, and I just couldn’t care less... usually...

The only thing that does bother me about it is that I cannot judge the size of a plate. This is not a problem for foods that are a pretty standard size, like sandwiches, but for other foods it becomes a major problem. If the plate is slightly smaller than usual, I land up dishing up less food than I’d like. That’s not so bad, provided I can go back for a second helping. The problem is when the plate is big (or square – I have great difficulty judging the size of a square plate, and I almost always get it wrong). With a big plate, I always land up with more food than I want. I don’t like this, because having a plate that isn’t completely empty being taken away from me is something that really bugs me... Even a couple of crumbs get on my nerves.

Just thought I’d say it... Don’t worry. Just try not to think of me having a normal driver’s license and driving on the same roads as everyone else...

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On Zombie Rodents


Or maybe not. There’s not really much you can say about zombie rodents, apart from the fact that they’d behave very much like normal rodents, except maybe they'd move a bit slower (and be easier to catch). And maybe they'd drop a limb or two here and there... Think about, rats are pretty much your most zombie-like creatures already. Actually, don’t think about it, because then you’ll realise what a load of nonsense I’m actually talking.

The most zombie-like creature is actually a shark. It thinks “foooood” and starts mindlessly following one target, but it’s easily distracted if it passes more food and it will start mindlessly following that one instead. But the shark is driven by pure instinct, which brings me back to the rodents. The whole reason behind rats being used in labs to test behaviour is that they are predictable animals that are driven by pure instinct. If you train a rat to do something, it will do it.

Which brings me to the zombies. Consider a zombie human. It is simply a mindless being which is driven entirely by its instinct to find “braaaaiins”. I’m curious as to how easy it would be to use this zombie instinct to train it to follow mazes and the like. Would it be possible to insert electrodes into a zombies head and trigger automatic responses? Does anyone know where I could get hold of a couple of zombies so I can try this out? Although, now that I think of it, maybe building cyborg zombies is just asking for trouble.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

On Towel Day


In memory of the death of Douglas Adam’s on the 11th of May 2001, and in celebration of the premier of the Star Wars episode IV on the 25th of May 1977, I’d like to remind every geek and nerd out there to remember to carry their towels with them tomorrow.

For does the Guide itself not say:
      "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

      "More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."


Even if you never read the Guide and don’t understand the significance of Towel Day do it for the sake of Geek Pride Day tomorrow.
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On Dead Things...


There is a rat (or something) that died (or something) in the roof (or somewhere) of our house. We have assumed almost everything based on a disgusting smell that has been seeping through the ceiling of the main bedroom for over two weeks now. In order to solve the mystery, I was the one who had to go up into the roof. They claimed that it was because I was small and flexible, but I disagree. I am certainly flexible from my martial arts training over the last three and a half years, but I am the second biggest in the family. Anyway, there was no way my mother was going to go up there, and my brother hid himself in his bedroom for the day (the little coward), so I was stuck with it.

Armed with a spray of air freshener and with Vick’s Vaporub spread thickly over my nostril’s, I went up to see what I could find. Needless to say, I found spiders – big ones and very much alive – but no rats. Plenty of rat droppings and half eaten rat poison, but no sign of any actual rats. Rats supposedly remove their dead, don’t they? So I left a tub of fabric softener in the hopes that it would absorb the odour (whatever had made it) and made my way down again.

What’s the point in that story? I wish I knew...
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On the Blue Screen of Death


I used to get frustrated when my computer crashed and gave the legendary “Blue Screen of Death”. Not angry – I hardly ever actually get angry, but I do sometimes get frustrated. Over the past couple of years, I have instead started to sympathise with my poor computer in these moments.

I’ve always had those weird moments where I walk all the way across the house to fetch something, and then stand there like an idiot when I realise that I’ve forgotten what I walked all that way for. It’s exactly the same as when you stand at the ATM and realise you’ve forgotten your bank PIN – the same number you use several times a month. And those times you try to remember a word or a person’s name that you use regularly. I seem to be getting these moments far too often these days, and it has shown me how the computer must feel. They are just memory faults, and that’s exactly what causes the blue screen. It’s just the computers way of suddenly stopping and saying “Uh, what was I doing?”

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Associated Concepts


In advertising. And not only advertising, but also in product branding. Think about puppies... Anyone who’s known a puppy quite well will understand what I mean when I say that they are very messy animals. Once you get over the cuteness, you realise that these are animals that are designed to make a mess. Which is why I’ve always wondered why a company would want to print puppies all over toilet paper, when the thing you least want the toilet paper to do is to leave a mess.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

On Suspicious Interests


The university library website has a button which reads “My Reading History”. I did go onto the site to search for a book, but I'm easily distracted by things like that. Reading through the list of books I've taken out was fascinating, but I couldn't help wondering what people who didn’t know me would think about the combination of topics I read... I'll give you a selection of books I've taken out in the past three years.

  • Torenbeek’s Synthesis of Subsonic Airplane Design
  • Blakelock’s Automatic Control of Aircraft and Missiles
  • Hemsch and Nielsen’s Tactical Missile Aerodynamics
  • Coppin’s Artificial Intelligence Illuminated
  • Fleeman’s Tactical Missile Design
  • Niu’s Airframe Structural Design: Practical Design Information
  • Buckland’s Programming Game AI by Example
  • Oates’ Aerothermodynamics of Gas Turbine and Rocket Propulsion
  • Fryling’s Combustion Engineering
  • Kuo and Summerfield’s Fundamentals of Solid Propellant Combustion
  • Glushko’s Thermodynamic and Thermophysical Properties of Combustion Products
  • Nise’s Control Systems Engineering
  • Malone’s Analysis of Rocket Propellants
  • Sutton’s Rocket Propulsion Elements
  • Baker’s Explosions in Air
  • Mataric’s The Robotics Primer
  • Anderson’s Modern Compressible Flow
  • Glass and Sislian’s Nonstationary Flows and Shock Waves

No wonder people think I’m a dangerous person.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

On an Official Sort-of Announcement...


... which is merely informing you that these posts will no longer be occurring on a Sunday. They could occur on any day of the week, and may not occur every week. I do not know which day they will appear on, but I can guarantee you now that it will no longer be a Sunday. Become a fan of my Facebook page to be updated about new posts instantly...
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On Division by Zero


Following on from my post on π last week, another thing that is becoming rather popular within the geek culture is this notion that you cannot divide by zero. This annoys me because I can, and it’s really not that difficult. Just because your calculator can't do it doesn't mean it's impossible.

You may be expecting a warning about here about high mathematical content, but you’re not going to get one. The reason I decided to leave it out is because I don’t regard this as high level maths at all. In fact, it’s pretty fundamental. The average child will have zero covered in maths at school at around the age of seven, and should learn the basics of division at the age of nine. Therefore, I expect the average nine year old to be able to divide by zero.

All you need to get your head around is the fact that there are different types of zero. For example, even though 2 times zero is still zero, it’s a different zero. In fact, it’s twice the first zero, even though it is given the same zero, but this only becomes relevant in a couple of special cases...

In general, a positive number divided by zero gives infinity. A negative number can be made positive by taking out the negative. Zero divided by zero depends on the origin of the zero, so if you take the first zero in the previous paragraph and divide it by the second zero, you’d get a half. Since it’s not usually as simple as that, you’d simply apply L’Hopital’s Rule, which does require some elementary differential calculus, but it’s really not that hard.

Hopefully the world's so-called “geeks” and “nerds” will read this and stop making such a big thing out of zero...
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On Sheep-Pigs


Last week, three mangalitsa (commonly known as sheep-pigs) were transferred to a zoo in Essex in the UK.


It's a woolly breed of pig from Eastern Europe that is starting going extinct. They used to be popular because they're apparently easy to raise and they grow quickly, but since it's much easier to transport fresh meat over long distances, there is less demand for locally raised pigs. People prefer the imported meat because it is less fatty, despite the fact that the meat of the mangalitsa is actually juicier and has more flavour. People are strange.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

On Communicating with Aliens


Popular belief has it that whatever intelligent life from outside of our solar system that we encounter will be so far removed from us that we will be unable to communicate with them. It is often said that we will need to demonstrate our intelligence to them by showing knowledge of mathematics. Most specifically, by using universal constants such as the value of π . This bugs me a lot, firstly because mathematics is not a universal language (It’s principals may be universal, but to assume that the way in which they apply is universal is completely ignorant. If you disagree, go try to find the similarities between Mandarin and Icelandic), and secondly, because we assume that this intelligent life will also make use of 3.1415... as their magical constant to map circular geometries into linear ones.

Speaking of mathematics, I did promise many months ago that I’d have a warning when I went off about that sort of thing, but then I never made use of it. So, as promised:

WARNING: HIGH MATHEMATICAL CONTENT.
If you wish to remain socially functional, do not pay
to much attention to the technical details.

More importantly, the number π , the so called “universal constant” is starting to become extremely popular amongst the sort of people that like to think of themselves as part of the “geek” or “nerd” stereotypes. As a person who is often considered to fall into these stereotypes, I am ashamed that this number is held in such high esteem when I see π as an embarrassment.

π is essentially defined as the ratio of a circles diameter to its circumference, which is all very well. But what mathematical significance does the diameter of a circle have anyway? Well, the sad truth is, very little. I mean, a diameter makes perfect sense when you are talking about a circle, but when you get to more complicated, non-symmetric shapes, how would you define the diameter? A meaningful radius can be defined, even if it varies around the shape, but a meaningful diameter does not exist.

A far more meaningful constant to use would be 6.2831853... i.e. the ratio of the radius to the arc length of the circle. I’ll refer to this as Π . Then you’d be able to write a single equation which contains every single mathematical constant:


Which, in all honesty, makes -1 a far cooler number than π could ever be...

But I do admit... I have absolutely no dislike for pie.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Fruits and Vegetables


Consider for a minute or two the consequences of building a house out of carefully treated and prepared fruits and vegetables. How would the house look? How would it smell? How durable would it be? Would it be a feasible idea in the long term? I mean very long term, as in would it be comparable to more conventional materials, such as wood, bricks, steel, concrete and the like... Think about that for a minute or two, and see what you come up with.

Then imagine a pea. A single green roughly spherical seed from a legume, approximately 7 millimetres in diameter, containing carbohydrates held together in a tightly packed unit by glycosidic bonds and held together with a soft protein shell, to feed a single microscopic cluster of rapidly multiplying and mutating cells that serve absolutely no other purpose except to consume their surroundings, eventually spread out into a complex network of intelligently controlled cells, eventually produce more peas before being discarded completely, to rot and decay and disintegrate and eventually dissipate. Only a tiny fraction of the peas will ever serve this purpose. Most will be eaten by some other cluster of rapidly multiplying and mutating cells, some of these clusters being consisting of tens or hundreds of trillions of cells. All these clusters serve that single purpose: consume, spread and multiply. These are all attached to another single roughly spherical object which is two billion times bigger than the original pea, containing liquid metal silicates held together by a mutual gravitational compression, with a brittle magnesium silicate and aluminum silicate shell which serves no purpose, and only exists because it is stuck in a never-ending plummet towards (although eternally missing) yet another roughly spherical object one hundred times bigger than itself. This sphere itself only exists as the result of an uncontrolled self-sustaining nuclear fusion explosion that was detonated by a collapsing gas cloud formed in another unbelievably massive, yet microscopic explosion billions of years previously. The collapse of the gas cloud has been temporarily stopped by the nuclear reaction, but will inevitably resume as soon as the gaseous fuel has been used up, until it is a hundred thousandth of its current size. This is in turn drifting in its own slow never-ending plummet towards a single point of oblivion along with several billion similar collapsing gas clouds, and this point of oblivion is drifting away from several billion other similar points, but gradually slowing down, until the mutual pull of all the billions of points in the universe cause a collapse into a single point, which is only a figment of the mathematics’ imagination, and doesn’t truly exist in the real world, and this temporary quantum fluctuation can no longer be considered to truly exist. Peas really are fascinating.

Did you forget about the house? Think of it now. And now think of it tomorrow, and in the next week, in the next year, in the next decade, in the next century, in the next age... Is it still a house? Did you think of it as a hollowed pile of untreated decaying vegetable matter, or did you consider the carefully treated and prepared fruits and vegetables that formed a single carbon supercrystal that will last undamaged for millions of years.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

On Some More Indecisive Mathematics


Solution time! I don’t just like to point things out, but I like to answer questions too. Last week’s post posed an interesting paradox. Those of you with knowledge of science, mathematics or logic would know that reality does not allow paradoxes, and they always arise out of some misunderstanding.

It’s all a trick, actually. A magic trick, like where the magician slips a coin out from behind your ear, or has an extra card up his sleeve. It’s only a matter of distracting the audience when a third envelope is added into the problem. It was never mentioned explicitly, but I’m sure you all noticed that there are in fact three possible amounts in the calculation, namely 0.5x, x and 2x, even though in the problem, there are in fact only two envelopes. The correct solution goes as follows. Let the envelops contain amounts x and y. The relation and values between these two is not important at this stage. Assuming equal probability of having either envelope, the expected value is (x+y)/2. Now the relationship y=2x can be introduced, giving an expected value of 1.5x, which is what intuition tells us anyway. Granted, this is still more than x, however, this solution made no assumptions about the contents of the envelope we are holding, so the expected value has a 50/50 chance of being more or less than what we already had originally... Which is what intuition tells us anyway.

Consider now a completely different problem of a similar nature. And this time, there is no paradox, no lies, no hidden tricks. I will be completely honest with you on this one. Consider that there are now three envelopes, and only one contains any money (and I know which one does, but you don’t). I let you choose one envelope at random. I then show you the contents of one of the remaining envelopes, which turns out to be empty. I then give you a choice to either keep the envelop you have, or switch it with the unopened envelope I have.

In this case, the maths behind it all reveals that you are twice as likely to get the money if you change your mind, even though your intuition tells you it shouldn’t make a difference. Think about it for a while, and then read the greatly simplified (rather non-mathematical) explanation in the comment.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

On the Mathematics behind Indecisiveness


Using statistics to make decisions is a good idea, but you should make sure you understand exactly what’s going on first. Think of this, for example.

Imagine I was holding two identical envelopes. One contains twice as much money as the other, but there is no way of telling which is which. I give you one of them, and you have the option to take the other one instead or keep the envelope you have. Which is the best option to choose?

The maths is pretty simple. Say you are holding envelope A, which contains an amount x. Envelope B thus contains either 2x with a probability of 50%, or 0.5x with a probability of 50%. The expected value is simply the mean of the probability space, which is 1.25x. This is more than the contents of the envelope in your hand. The maths therefore says you should switch envelopes. The problem is, I now give you the option to switch back. The maths doesn’t change, and so you should switch back. In fact, you should never settle for what you have, and always change your mind.

The moral of the story? There’s no point in being indecisive. I’ll always have more than you.

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On the Workload-Productivity Correlation


You may have noticed the steady decrease in interesting posts on this blog over the past few months. I have managed to correlate this with my workload. When the blog started, I was writing software for vacation work. It was nice and challenging, but I was still managing to get roughly 10 to 12 hours sleep a day, 6 days a week. My mind was operating perfectly under those conditions, and at maximum creativity. After three weeks, I went back to university, and started as a final year engineering student, with probably the biggest workload possibly imaginable. My sleep was immediately cut back to 5 hours a night (and I blame this for the nonsense my imagination spawned during that time). In June, I wrote my final exams, and suddenly, with the work pressure gone, my minds activity dropped too. The posting rates for June and July were 30% lower than the pace I had been maintaining for the first half of the year... However, August saw the approach of the first deadline for the biggest research project I had ever undertaken. The posting rate shot up. On the 17th, I had to present my research findings, and then submit a twenty thousand or so word paper later that week. I should have spent the 16th rehearsing and tweaking my presentation, and typing the report, but I typed up no fewer than six posts for my blog that day. After I finished my degree in October, I had almost nothing to do, and you can see the immediate drop in both the number of posts, and how interesting they are. I started reading for my Masters degree in November, but there has not really been any pressure to work. My mind has been fairly inactive since then. This is the reason that you now get four to five posts a month instead of nineteen, like you once were. I am even struggling to get one post a week; my mind is so bored... I need a challenge. I should probably just be more focused and work harder, but I can’t help it. I’m a naturally lazy person. You may ask what the point in this post was, but I can’t tell you myself... It’s just an observation.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Annoying Noises


I sometimes wonder if it’s instinct that drives me to make pointless and annoying noises when I’m in a particularly lazy mood. Like my tendency to drum out rhythms on tables, or pop bubble wrap if it’s there... Or if I have a tin can, I crumple it in my hand so that it crinkles and pops noisily. I can imagine out in the wild that it would be beneficial for some animals to be noisy in the hopes that it would scare off predators. I feel that it must be instinct, because it definitely does not happen on a conscious level. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s like breathing.

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On Tableware


I saw an advert for a meal at McDonalds recently. The advert, as adverts for food usually do, included a photograph of a close-up of a carefully arranged meal on a plate, with cutlery and a drink in a glass... At the bottom of the advert, the fine print states “Tableware not included.” The amusing thing is not that this has to be said... It’s not that someone actually could think that the tableware is included, but rather that it would be included for free when the meal is ridiculously cheap to start with anyway.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

On Access Control


The university has recently (meaning over the last 2 years) installed access control to all the parking lots across the university. However, due to construction work on a nearby building, the largest parking lot on the campus has only one access point. University security has finally gotten round to closing all the booms (18 months after they were installed). Refer to Figure 1 for a representation of the layout of the access point, taking note of the positions of the card reading point, A, the entering vehicle, B, and the impassible barrier between them, C.

Figure 1 - Schematic layout of access point.
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

On Google, Part IX... And Some Other Search Engines Too


I haven’t written a Google post in months, which is unfortunate, since it was sort of a tradition with this blog. There's a lot to catch up on, so this post is quite long... Of course, I use the term Google loosely to refer to what should be correctly called a “search engine”, because ask.com and Yahoo users are just as bad as the Google users. (But I don’t refer to Bing... I ignore Bing, and Bing ignores me. I do not like Microsoft.)

The Google saga somehow turned into some sort of ongoing series, which was not the intention when I started the first post, but it’s already making its 11th appearance. I think it’s time for a recap. Episode I started as a sort of consolation for those who came across my blog searching for information in the hopes that there might be something useful here. I was a little upset that my visitors were leaving disappointed, so I made an effort to answer some of the most common questions (which seemed to involve far too many ants). Episode II came about, because the internet really does have all the answers, but most people don’t know where to look. Episode III was there because some of the questions were starting to get downright silly. Episode IV was simply about Google and the number 23. Episode V was a bit of filler episode (which needs no comments, please), but episode VI returned to the original story line, bringing in, not just searches returning this blog, but searches in general. Episode VII is not relevant to this recap, because if you’d followed my instructions, you would not be reading this, Episode VIII returned to my original mission of answering questions that came up in search engines (which inspired a side story). There was also a special episode, which was rather tedious, and certainly not worth rereading.

Back on track, and since episode VIII was similar to episode I, and it’s side story had a similar tone to episode II, I believe that it’s only fitting that episode IX follow the format of episode III... A somewhat more comprehensive version of that episode. OK. After that little diversion, it’s time for the show...

how destructive are sheep - It depends. Are you talking about destructive to lawns, or destructive to cities... A herd of sheep can annialate a lawn in a matter of hours, but sheep don’t do that much damage to buildings... They are fairly weak for their size.

"her three heads" -Hecate -Hekate - Yes, all three of them.

giant rabbits and chickens - It’s an acceptable combination, since chickens are rather harmless animals, and the giant rabbits, being herbivores, tend to ignore the chickens.

pig with sheep hair - No. Woolly pigs do not exist.

"toilet swallows pupil" - I wish I knew... I honestly wish I did.

sheep poison potatos - No they don’t. There is absolutely no recorded incident of even an attempted potato poisoning carried out by a sheep.

draw a sheep pig - No. I could, and I have before, but I don’t just draw on demand. And neither does Google.

alpha-numeric thinking problems at 24 hours in a day - If you’re having problems thinking all day, you should probably go see a doctor. It might be a tumour or something serious, and it would be seriously unethical for me to help you here.

two sheep pig - Nope. Just one. The alphanumeric one.

laminated plastic - Yes, laminated plastic. A nice cheap alternative material for a variety of household uses.

how to draw rabbits eating - Draw a rabbit. Make its head tilt down. Draw some lettuce around it. Or maybe it’s head not tilted down, but a piece of lettuce sticking out of it’s mouth.

rabbits eating chicken - Very unusual. Perhaps you are mistaken. Rabbits are the little things with long ears and fluffy ball-like tails. The animal with the pointy ears, and a long tail is actually your neighbour’s cat.

how to store cheese in the fridge fungus - Wrap it up and place it on a shelf. The temperature should be between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius.

very aggressive giant rabbits - Giant rabbits are less aggressive than their conventionally sized counterparts. Perhaps it has rabies?

pig mating sheep - Dude... That’s disgusting. Can we drop this subject? Right now? Please...

squirrel eggs - No. I understand that you saw a squirrel in the tree, and a nest in the tree, and that there were eggs in the tree. This does not mean that the eggs were laid by the squirrel. Remember that squirrels are notorious home invaders. The eggs must have been laid by dinosaurs.

skunk stolen - It wasn’t me. I swear.

can rabbits eat salad - Tuna salad? No. Chicken salad? I guess they can pick out the chicken and eat the rest. Green salad? Certainly.

alphanumeric over v neck - I’m not sure. I’m clueless when it comes to fashion/

sheep don't eat potato plants - No they don’t. They eat grass.

numbering, type, alphanumeric, sort out - Gees... That’s pretty rude. And until you ask politely, I’m not going to sort it out. I think using the roman numerals to number repeated posts is perfectly acceptable, and I’m not going to change it.

skunk pig - Are you trying to insult me? Saying I smell or something?

utensils blogspot -All you need to know is that they are dangerous. Plotting to kill you. It’s the penguins, I’m sure.

sheep as smart as pigs - Nowhere near. Sheep are seriously stupid.

pig eating utensils - They don’t exist. Pigs don’t use utensils because their trotters don’t allow them to grip tools. They use only their mouths.

WORDING FOR DOOR SIGNS CLOSED DUE TO WEATHER - Please read this and then this.

my house is infested with ants - That’s unfortunate. Perhaps it’s time to move out?

pig intelligence - Pretty high. Higher than a sheep’s anyway, and certainly higher than 90% of internet users.

famous alphanumeric laws - Most laws are alphanumeric. Mainly because alphanumeric characters are the standard means of expressing the English language in a written form these days.

potato toxic sheep - Yes. Potatoes are toxic to all animals when green. Cook it until it the inside goes white and it’s safe to feed it to your sheep. Although, it’s probably healthier to feed your sheep grass.

"my foot" sprain blogurl:.blogspot.com/ - No, my foot. Not yours. You sadistic bastard. It’s better now, so I’m going to come kick your butt.

kinetic energy of a pencil landed on the carpet - This was answered in Episode VIII.

Alphanumeric Respect T-Shirt - Like I said before, fashion is not my field.

what do you know by looking at the front cover of the sheep pig - The title, the author, and possibly the publisher, depending on which edition you have.

black dot on potato poison - Like I said, if it’s green, it’s bad. Cook it until it goes white and it’ll be fine. The black dots on the skin are not poisonous at all. It’s the green in the flesh of the potato that’s the culprit.

when turning tap off in the house it makes a groaning noise - Yes, it does. As you close the tap, it blocks the water. The water needs to slow down and stop, and this forms a series of compression waves. These travel back up the pipe at the waters sonic velocity. The net result is a moving pressure gradient along the walls of the pipe, which results in a very slight deformation in the pipes shape, depending on how it is held in place or mounted inside the walls. This changing in shape can cause either groaning or rattling noises as the pipes pull at their mounts, especially in older buildings.

are potato plants toxic to pigs - Again, yes. Raw fresh potatoes have a faint green tint. This is caused by a class of chemicals known as glycoalkaloids (particularly solanine), which are toxins which attack the nervous system. Cook the root until it goes white, and it’s safe to eat, even for pigs. The rest of the plant is never safe for any mammal to eat.

died from eating potato - There are none that I know of (excluding choking, of course). Concentrations of toxins in potatoes are kept low enough that they are not deadly. Quoted from Wikipedia, “symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, headache and dizziness. Hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils and hypothermia have been reported in more severe cases.”

spelling pig noise - Pigs have a range of noises, including “oink”, “squeal”, “hiss”, and “woof”. I’m serious about this. Pigs bark like dogs almost as much as they oink.

why is pig not very useful - They are fat and lazy. How many fat and lazy people do you know who are useful?

sheep intelligence - I have never seen any evidence that this exists.

trick with radius and sheep - I’d really like to learn it whatever it is. Especially if it’s involves making sheep fly...

are potatoes poisonous to sheep - I’ve answered this already, but for the record, sheep eat grass, not potato.

Being body smart and not having ADHD - I’m not sure what you mean here?

pig door handle - As opposed to a conventional metal or brass one? Or do you mean one that oinks or squeals when you turn it? Or a metal door handle in a pig shape?

what do blue monkey eat - Absolutely anything, as long as it can be chewed and resembles food.

HAVING INTELLAGENCE - I’m sorry, but Google can’t help you there, and neither can I. Some of us were born with it. Unfortunately, you weren’t.

pig pokemon - Swinub, an ice and ground type Pokémon (a rather pathetic one at that), which can evolve into Piloswine, and then into Mamoswine (using the Ancient Power).

sheep breading tehnology - If you mean technology that will grind up a sheep into a fine powder, which can then be combined with water and yeast to form a dough, which can be baked to form a solid loaf, then I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any.

alpha numeric pig shaped - You’re probably better off making your own. They’re not easy to find.

animan jaw wat louk as a pig - I’m not sure what an animan is. (Is it really that surprising that this came from South Africa?)

squeak ants2 - Ants are silent. They don’t squeak.

ideas for sheep pig art - A big part of art is creativity. Observe sheep pigs and use your imagination.

the sheep pig story extract - Go to a library. Read the book. It’s a short children’s book. You can finish it in an hour. Stop being so lazy.

misconception in maths integral - Which one? There are millions of them. They have been the downfall of many first and second year university students.

house settling causing crashing noise - A crash is more unusual, but possible. Rattling and groaning are far more common.

how to make alphanumeric monkey - Take one male and one female alphanumeric monkey. Encourage [censored action] and wait.

alphanumeric piggy drawings - The best way is to get a normal drawing, and then make it alphanumeric.

alphanumeric pig - See above.

draw a thin sheep looking at the sleeping pig - You’re not going to get lessons for something so specific. Picture it in your mind, imagine the lines on the paper, and draw.

can ants dig thru cement - Yes.

are sheep smarter than pigs - No.

pig mating dog - Dude, seriously... That’s really, really disgusting. I thought I told you to drop this subject? Please... Right now.
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