Two Random Links: Number Representation and Web 2.0

Filed under: a group of folks,random @ 14:29

Link The First

.999… = 1 from Polymathematics.

Allen emailed this to me this morning. I am flabbergasted at the amount of horrible reasoning found in the comments of the above post. So emotionally trying were these comments, that I strongly discourage everyone with a heart condition from reading them.

Link the Second

Web 2.0 or Star Wars Character?

I saw this on skippy.net and was highly entertained. If I recall correctly, I scored a 34.


Lefthand Black

Filed under: a group of folks,neat!,slice @ 17:57

It being the birthday yesterday of a friend who will remain nameless, but whose gothic tendencies are at a solid “black is the new black, jackoff” level, Michelle, Bryan, Bonnie and I joined the birthday goth, spouse and sibling at Bar Sinister in Hollywood.

On the abstract level, dressing up to go out to a club in LA sounds really lame. But in practice, Bar Sinister was a wholly unlame experience in part because the dress is themed and not just ‘typical LA trendy’ but mostly because the venue is just plain awesome.
Read more…

Google Firefox Browser Sync

Filed under: a group of folks,tech @ 16:24

I’m behind the times here, but I just installed Google Labs’ Google Browser Sync for Firefox. All my bookmarks, cookies, history information, and passwords are now synced between my office, my laptop and my lab accounts. It even remembers what tabs/windows I had open when I last quit Firefox, so I can browse at home, quit Firefox, go to work, open up a browser and I’ll see before me all the tabs I just had open at home.

And everything’s encrypted. Too slick.

Of course, this means Greg can look at porn on my laptop and make it pop up on my office computer. (awkward).


I’m with the band

Filed under: a group of folks,neat! @ 00:32

This weekend was the third annual Caltech Dance Show. Being friends with a few of the performers and dating one, I was super excited to see the show. My excitement, as it turns out, was not misplaced.

I essentially know nothing about dance: not the histories, not the theories, not the performance. But I can categorically say “that looked awesome/hot/beautiful” when I see something deserving of such a label. Every piece in the performance I saw opening night on Friday deserved more than one such accolade: from Scottish country to Belly dancing and everything in between. To pick favorites though, I have to say I personally enjoyed most the Lyrical piece performed by Kristin, Val and Birgitta (emotive! gorgeous! passionate!), the Ceroc piece performed by Michelle and the Ballroom club (stunning! incredible! awesome! stylistic! …geometrically impressive!) and the so called “Contemporary” piece by Kristin, Alexa and the Dance Troop (fascinating! clever! provoking! red!)*.

…Yes, I realize these are the very pieces in which the people I know performed. They were still my favorites. Get over it.

For the second show Saturday night, I snuck backstage to wish Michelle luck and ran into Kristin who, being one of the organizers of the event, looked like she was trying to be in a dozen places at once. In order that she need be in only eleven, I asked if there were some dumb grunt work she’d like me to do (thinking of “move that over there”). She handed me a camera and asked me to take pictures backstage: people getting ready, shots of the performances from the wings, etc. Why not? So I took a couple hundred shots (most blurry, the use of the flash onstage being a no no). A couple of the best were pictures I had taken when I swindled my way past the ushers and into the audience, so I volunteered to take more pictures during the third and final performance on Sunday afternoon. This time, exclusively from the front row.

Somehow I became the show’s official photographer.

Armed now with a tripod and a sense of duty, I took several hundred pictures before, during and after the performance from carefully chosen locations (read “someplace I could lie down”). Everyone was very appreciative, but all I did was act pleasant and push buttons. The real work is being done by the people who have to sort through and possibly touch up those hundreds of photos I took (I’m thinking Kristin and Wolfe). Not to mention the absurd amount of time Wolfe is spending video taping, editing and making DVDs of the performance. But I was up front and visible, so I got the thanks.

A little cog in a big machine, but I had a really good time doing something I’ve never done before (Dad will be proud). The best bit, though, was watching the performers (one in particular!) do their respective things.

* I name the people I know, not necessarily the prime movers.


Cell phone post-disconnect redialing protocol

Filed under: a group of folks,useless @ 00:52

Allen posed a problem to me many have faced before. He was on the phone with a friend of his when his call was dropped*. He called back, but so did his friend and apparently at just the right time such that each reached only the other’s voice mail rather than the other’s actual self. In comedic fashion, this dialing around in circles happened multiple times. Frustration abounded.

The solution, he believes, is the development of a universally known and agreed upon protocol for how to reestablish a broken telephone conversation (be it cellular or landlinear).

I am here to state the optimal such protocol. You are here to read it, accept it, and follow it unconditionally.

The telephone post-disconnect redialing protocol for two parties

Whoever dialled that specific call must redial the call if the connection is lost, unless otherwise explicitly agreed upon by both parties during the course of that specific call.

The question is one of who should call whom. The above is optimal (for the appropriate definition of optimal) due to the following considerations.

  1. The caller should not put financial burden on the callee.
  2. The callee may not know the phone number of the caller, while it is clear the caller has access to the number of the callee.
  3. There is no mention of alternate Tuesdays or the color of either party’s socks.

Go forth and propagate this decree unto the masses.

* Information is passed from cell phone to cell phone by electromagnetic waves cleverly encoding digital information in a fault tolerant and secure fashion such that your voice gets through with reasonable clarity to the party on the other end of the “line” without anyone else being able to listen in. These electromagnetic waves are simply a fancy technical sounding word for “cell phone fairies”. These eager, though sometimes clumsy, creatures occasionally drop your voice as they carry it from one phone to another, hence the term.


Monday at the Price is Right

Filed under: a group of folks,neat!,useless @ 12:12

The short of it is: if you have tickets for the 1:15pm taping of the Price is Right on a Monday, get there before 5:30 or you probably won’t get in (see the table at the bottom of the post).

On to the long of it.

In town visiting Michelle a week and a half ago was her good friend Laura whose greatest desire while in LA was to see Bob Barker at a taping of The Price is Right. Since Laura was just in town for the weekend, going to the studio on Monday was our only option. Unfortunately, Monday is the busiest day there for two reasons: all the out of towners just in LA for the weekend have to go on Monday (they don’t tape on Friday), and there are two tapings on Monday (they don’t tape on Friday). It was going to be a long day.

The previous week, Michelle had gone to the CBS studio to pick up tickets for the 1:15pm taping on February 5th. Apparently there was no line (though there was also no one at the booth for some time), and she, as a ticket picker-uper, was allowed to park in the studio lot for free.

Monday Morning (with deserved capitalization) Greg and I awoke around 4:00am and were picked up by Michelle and Laura at 4:30 here in Pasadena. Without traffic, we made it to the studio, where there was already a sizable line, at about 5:10am. Laura and Greg got us a spot in line while Michelle and I drove around the block to The Grove‘s parking lot (a mall lot that cost us $11 with validation).

We patronized the unenthusiastic coffee/bagel shop across from the studio (location is everything) and waited in line until, at around 6:00am, we were given tickets that held our place in line. I was number 131. At that point we were allowed to leave as long as we returned by 8:00am, so we picked up the car (the lot wasn’t yet taking money that early in the morning, so we decided to move the car while we could and save a few bucks) and drove to a nearby IHOP. We parked back at the grove and went back to the studio to wait for our priority numbers, which we got at about 8:30am. I was number 98; apparently about a third of the people in front of us were there for the later, second taping.

At 9:00am they called us back into formation and started droning on about rules (no disparaging remarks about the prizes, please), taxes (you have to pay them), the line we were sitting in (never leave it or you’re not getting into the taping), and a handful of other things that were repeated ad nauseum. Eventually, we were issued our name tags (Price is Right name tags!) and seating numbers (our fourth non-ticket). I was number 99; it’s unclear why we four were all bumped up a number.

At some point (cell phones and cameras are not allowed on the studio, so I wasn’t able to keep good track of time), they started calling a dozen people from the line up at a time to be “interviewed”. Contestants on the Price is Right are not drawn randomly. They are selected from the crowd ahead of time during this interview process. You only have a few seconds to make your mark, so be creative. We finally got interviewed at around 11:30. We then got herded into… another line! and sat down to play a few hands of UNO with our neighbors.

And then the moment arrived. We finally got into the studio a bit before 1:00pm and got seats. The place was tiny. Watching the show on TV, you get the sense that there are at least a thousand people in the audience and that “coming on down” is at least a 50 yard dash. As it turns out, there’s only about two hundred and fifty people at the taping, and most everyone is within twenty feet of the stage. The display doors (which look massive on TV) are eat-me tiny and the stage itself is about the size of a foosball table. When we first came in, I remarked that Bob Barker must be a midget. Apparently, the TV industry is just plain good at clever photography.

After being prepped by the show’s announcer, the actual taping flew by; everything was extremely fast paced: “Come on down”, bidding, win, play whatever game, cut to commercial, repeat. During “commercial breaks”, Bob would talk to the crowd and take questions. This was just about the only time we actually heard his voice. The staff there get all the audience members to ooh and ahh and scream and shout advice (“higher!”, “$1300”, “the soup!”, “My spleen just exploded”, and so on) with such volume that very little of what’s going on on stage is discernible. I now have a lot of sympathy for the contestants who keep having to ask about the previous people’s bids.

Sadly, none of us was called down. Our dreams (“one dollar, Bob”) were not fulfilled. The guy behind us did get called though, so I bet we were on TV for a second or two (unfortunately, the show aired today and I was too lazy to give anyone advance warning). Despite our lack of luck, I’m glad to have gone. Price is Right, for good or for ill, is truly a piece of Americana, and it was neat to be involved.

Anyway, that’s the boring long of it. For a less mind numbing account, see Greg’s First Post! on the subject.

Below is a table of a person’s final seat number for the 1:15pm taping vs. that person’s arrival time. Somewhere not too far past seat number 150, the people all came from pre-booked large groups which are guaranteed admission (and so don’t have to wait in line).

Final Seat Number Arrival Time
1 11:00pm
10 12:30am
15 2:00am
30 2:45am
40 3:30am
65 4:00am
100 5:10am
150 5:50am


Black Eyed Peas – My Humps

Filed under: a group of folks,music,news @ 16:43

Jeff recently lent me Monkey Business by Black Eyed Peas, and I’ve been listening to it on and off over the past few days.

It’s good. There’s several tracks that have, in the immutable words of our generation, huge, catchy hooks. “Pump It”, “Don’t Phunk with My Heart” and “My Style” among them. A couple are pretty sweet remixes of old classics including “Union” (of Sting’s “Englishman in New York”), and “Pump it” again (of Dick Dale’s “Miserlou”). And one track’s just plain fantastic: “Don’t Lie”. Though a couple lines are overly steeped in poppy vocals, the song manages to make it despite.

But the quality of the album as a whole is not what I wanted to comment on today. Rather, I’m more interested in dissecting the lyrics of one song in particular: “My Humps”, a fair to middlingly catchy song about a… shall we say ‘curvaceous’ hot girl. Allow me to reproduce a stanza of the lyrics here.

Tryna feel my hump hump,
lookin at my lump lump.
You can look but you can’t
touch it. If you touch it, I’ma
start some drama.
You don’t want no drama.
No no drama.
No no no no drama.

Consider those last two lines in particular: “No no drama. / No no no no drama.”

That’s one of the worst lyrics I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. I think I can honestly feel a little rivulet of blood pouring from my ears every time I hear that song. What was the songwriter thinking? “Uh… Something that rhymes with ‘drama’. How about ‘drama’? Yeah, that”ll do. And for the next line I’ll use… meh… ‘drama’ again. And for the forth… screw it. Slap another ‘drama’ in there, throw in a few ‘no’s for rhythm’s sake and call it good.”

Well, allow me to retort. You’re a no talent ass-clown. That’s right: no no talent. No no no no talent. And for this reason, I proclaim “My Humps” by Black Eyed Peas a work of sheer Musical Genius.


LA in the rain: a harrowing drive

Filed under: a group of folks,slice @ 14:39

Michelle got a call from a good college friend of hers on Friday telling her that she’d be in Santa Monica for the weekend at an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. Not having any set plans for Saturday, we decided to drive down in the afternoon to hang out. The problem? It was raining Saturday.

Most people who’ve lived in the area for more than a few months dislike driving the freeways in the rain. There’s two main reasons for this. First, since it rains so seldom here, the water brings up a lot of oil from the roads when it actually does precipitate. Second, and for the same reason of frequency, LA drivers aren’t any good at driving in the rain; they go too fast, think they can stop faster than the conditions allow, and can’t control their cars when they skid out.

Having lived in Pasadena for well over the specified time interval, I count myself both among the people who dislike driving LA highways in the rain, and now among the people who cause chaos when they try.

We were driving down the 110 and had to stop short. My wheels locked, and (close your eyes, Mom) the car skidded across two of three lanes of traffic (thank the Lord there wasn’t anyone in the next lane). I got back control of the car and managed to avoid hitting anything: both cars and walls. Everyone was fine. We went on our merry way (after being stuck in traffic for thirty minutes or so).

Personally, the worst part of the whole experience was that I had a passenger with me; though she was able to help calm me down afterward, I don’t think I’d have been as freaked if Michelle hadn’t been sitting in the passenger seat. The best part (if there is one) is that I humbly believe my reaction times will be significantly faster if anything like that happens again (though I pray nothing will). There’s at least that to be said for honest to God experience.


Nominate Caltech’s Superhero Mascot

Filed under: a group of folks,neat!,useless @ 10:35

A conversation with Michelle led me to state that Batman is a good Caltech superhero in the following sense. He adheres to an ethos of vigilante justice, relies on technology and intelligence (and shit big computers) rather than superpowers to get the job done (most of the time…), has an underground hideout and enjoys things with rubber nipples. I should note that it was this last point that really sold Michelle on the idea.

I’m curious to hear other nominations.

For Each Day {Pull(++Ups);}

Filed under: a group of folks,neat!,slice @ 00:04

Greg, circus-certified strong man that he is, recently installed a pull up bar in our apartment. I tried it out and managed seven pull ups before stopping. The next day I did eight. Two points make a line, so I decided to extrapolate the data at hand and make the following prediction.

The number of ups I am capable of contiguously pulling will increase by one up per day I use the pull up bar.

My prediction has proven to be accurate so far, and I’m currently at 10 pull ups. Assuming I use the bar most days, by this time next year, I’ll be doing something like 300 pull ups! A Popeye amongst Olive Oils! Fear my bulging biceps or… triceps… pectins… lemurs… whatever the hell is on my beefy ass arms! Fear those things!

Greg, upon hearing of my awesome plan, told me of a similar workout method:

  1. Adopt a baby pig.
  2. Lift it above your head every day.
  3. Impress the hunnies with your freakishly strong “bod”.
  4. Eat much bacon.

Brilliant. That must be how he became a circus-certified strong man. Having not the porcine access he did in his youth, I’ll stick to the pull up bar and see how it goes.

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