Thursday, April 21, 2011

On the Undeniable Opposing Nature of Time

Your natural flow through time is to start off in the past, and move forwards into the future. From time’s reference frame, if you were to start off in the future and move to the past, then you’ll have moved backwards in time. So far, it’s simple and easy to follow. Now let’s look at it from your reference frame. If time starts off ahead of you, and then flows to behind you, then time is considered to be flowing forwards. If it were to start off behind you and end up ahead of you, it would be said to have flowed backwards. If you start off in yesterday, and moved to tomorrow, you’d have moved forward in time, but if Wednesday, 20 April 2011 were to start off in yesterday and move to tomorrow, then time would have moved backwards. Therefore, time must be facing the opposite direction to you.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

On the Disabling Effect of a Sense of Fulfilment

Isn't it fascinating that a sense of achievement is an incapacitating emotion. Or is it just me? Whenever I accomplish something at work (and it needn't be anything big), I am overcome by an odd desire to tell everyone what I have managed to do, and show off a bit.

I can't help wondering what caused humans to evolve such an odd thing. Surely, after achieving something big, it is most productive to continue on and achieve something even bigger? It reminds me of a scenario I read in a book a long time ago (I wish I could remember which book it was). If a taxi driver is having a very good day, then he will often reward himself by going home early. On the other hand, if he did not have many customers, he will often work late to reach a certain level of turnover. It is obvious, however, that he could obviously make a lot more money by working late on the busy days, and going off early on the quiet days, since his time is far more productive.

I once worked during the evenings in a video store (for about two months), and the exact same thing happened. On busy days, if we had reached a certain level of sales for the day, the manager would close the store half an hour early. Statistically, the store was far more likely to have more customers during that last half an hour on the busy days than on quiet days.

No surprises that this blog post was written last Friday morning, immediately after I had made a major breakthrough in a program I had been working on, and needed something to keep me occupied until lunchtime (since no one was around for me to show off to), and I was unable to concentrate enough to carry on with the rest of the program.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Abstract Bacon and a Spring Roll

And don’t forget the squawking featherless chicken that was tasting them. It truly was a magnificent site. It spanned well over four acres, and had once been surrounded by a twelve foot wall. It was only when a group of people got together, plucked out all of the chicken’s feathers, and began to tickle each of the wall’s twelve feet that the siege was finally ended. But that was years ago, and to this very day, the chicken is upset about having to remain cold throughout the winter.

You might ask why the chicken could not just buy a blanket, and unless you asked the chicken (or an acquaintance of the chicken) directly, you would risk receiving something along the lines of a blank stare, accompanied by some judgement about your mental health. For that reason, it is probably best not to ask the question of anyone (or anything, for that matter), other than the chicken himself. If you were to ask the chicken, the response would possibly include stunned silence, blatant ignoration, one or more isolated squawks, a series of clucks, or an aggressive attack. Whatever the chicken’s response, it is almost certain that it will not actually contain the answer to your question – that the chicken is unable to afford luxuries such as a blanket. Chickens are virtually unemployable, and when they are employed, they are reimbursed by means of shelter, protection from predators and dried grain – none of which are suitable tender for purchasing a blanket.

The chicken did indeed try several means of obtaining a blanket (or something similar), some legal and not, and landed himself in some serious trouble with the law. Fortunately, a good attorney managed to convince the judge that although chickens are not technically flightless, they are only capable of flying short distances at very low altitudes, and therefore do not usually present a flight risk. So, with a suspended sentence hanging over his head, the chicken gave up on his hopes of ever being warm for the winter.

That is, until the bacon and spring roll came along. Both were sizzling hot, and the spring roll was wrapped in a thin but cosy blanket of a flour and water based batter. The chicken was almost certainly jealous, so temporarily forgetting his criminal record, he attacked them both. Inevitably, he began to chew on them (since claws and a beak are the only real weapons an unemployed chicken could have readily available). Naturally, the chicken was not disappointed in the taste, but since both the bacon and the spring roll were inanimate objects and incapable of vocalising their thoughts, the chicken never did find out how they had come to be so warm.

So if you ever come across a featherless chicken chewing on a piece of bacon, be sure to catch him and fry him.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

On a Little Something Involving Pie

I'm not too sure where I get this stuff... The internet was down for 20 minutes, and I had to keep myself occupied.

IT was a dark and dreary Thursday morning when the last of the pie slices arrived home. It was raining heavily, and his pastry coat was feeling rather soggy. It would take hours for it all to dry out properly and reach its correct crisp golden brown hue. Careful not to lean out of the small dry nook that the small refrigerated entrance hall formed, he dug in what might have been a pocket of sorts for his keys. Cursing the fact that his pie pockets were filled with a sloppy cinnamon apple chunks in a sticky caramel gravy, he eventually found his keys. Inserting them into the lock and turning them, he quickly glanced back over his crusted shoulder into the dark street behind. Nothing.

Wrapped in the faint atramentous warmth of his box apartment, he turned up the heating element. In the orange incandescence of the oven, One could make out a variety of crumbs, discarded cigarette butts and a single half eaten pizza slice trodden into the aged carpet. Two couldn’t make them out – his eyesight had been severely damaged in a car crash years ago. Three would have been able to make them out quite well, but he’d been dead close on six years.

“Who’s there?” called Two, sitting up alert in his sofa.

The last of the pie slices remained quiet. Skulking slowly across the room, he withdrew an old buckled stainless steel blade. A bald eagle fluttered on the window sill, startling the pie slice. The eagle tried to take flight, instead crashing into the pavement below as its featherless wings failed to make purchase on the thin air. Flapping wildly, it dashed across the lawn, and into a dividing fence.

“God damn it!” screamed Four. “I was half way through disproving rational numbers as a closed number set under the division operation!”

“The fence was skew anyway, Six sat on it far too many times. Now shut up, I’m trying to sleep,” called Two unenthusiastically, before settling back down.

The last of the pie slices stepped on the half eaten pizza slice, his foot suddenly coming into the limited field of vision that One could make out. Slightly hung over, but mostly still drunk, One called out, his words slurring together: “S’at yoo’ Three? S’at the ghost ofa d’parted quant’ty?”

“It was that damn bird,” mumbled Two. “Now shut up, I’m trying to sleep.”

“Nope, t’wasn’t a bird. Looked like... Wheres’a fence?” One asked, and promptly fell asleep. Slowly, the last pie slice slipped back into the shadows, moving around the back of the room. wiping his sticky caramel hand on some upholstery as he went. Swiftly, he guided his pie cutter through One’s throat. Barely a choke escaped before the rich cranberry juice slid across the floor. Pulling out a small pistol, he fired a single shot through the glass door, into Four’s back. And then turned rapidly to fire at Two, but Two was not there. He did not feel the blade of the sword that he could see sticking out of his chest. As his vision began to fade, he was vaguely aware of a calm thud that he could recognise as words, but his ability to comprehend them had already abandoned him. The last thought that crossed his mind was the fatal flaw in his otherwise perfect plan. Two was not completely blind, merely severely visually impaired. Eight’s plot to become the only pie slice had failed.

And with that, the last of the pie slices descended into pie hell, where he would be baked unevenly and at the wrong temperature for the rest of eternity.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On the Fictional Nature of Isolated Thinking

I have always had the perception that other people think better when they sit still and concentrate on just thinking, but I've never had much luck thinking with nothing to keep the rest of me busy... I guess my misconception came from actors trying to mimic thought on TV, and popular phrases like "sit and think". The only times I ever realised that the popular perception could be wrong was when my dad quoted "sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits". Most of the time, I just sit. If I need to think, I have to find something to keep the rest of me occupied.

One of the easiest solutions, I found, was walking. I remember my brother and I having debates and discussions about a number of things before supper, and I would march in a circle around the dining room table, being careful to step in the centre of tiles in a precise pattern, because that was the only way I could get my mind to cooperate with me.

For most of my life, I have done a lot of my best thinking while walking. Even though my most productive serious problem solving time is in the bath, it is only because I tend to walk on the spot while lying down in the bath. I also used to read a lot, and as I lay in bed reading, my legs would walk against the wall. My bedroom wall had two dark lines across it where my feet had scraped out my footsteps. For the brief time that my bed lay under a window, I put a leg through the glass on two separate occasions. One of the things which annoys my father more than anything else is the way I wander aimlessly around the house while brushing my teeth or combing my hair whenever I have anything worth thinking about (which is most of the time).

When I was 16 or so, I worked out how to solve a Rubik's cube - a huge step forward in my thinking ability. The solution is just an algorithm, and after solving three or four different permutations, I could do it subconciously. It works far better than walking. When I needed to concentrate for a while, I pick up and repeatedly shuffle and solve my Rubik's cube.

Now that I think of it, right now, my hands are occupied with constant typing, I'm rocking in my chair, and tapping my feet together...
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