30 April 2006

Sunday Sermons

Over at Pharyngula, PZ has an excellent post up. I'll admit that PZ is sometimes a bit too militantly atheist for my tastes, but I agree with him on this one. He's discussing the difference between maintaining a secular government and forcing society to be secular.

He's reacting to an earlier article (linked to in the post) which defined secularism as, essentially, equivalent to atheism. It's sort of amusing, to me, to read articles of this nature, because they've got this black/white spectrum going, and I'm on the green axis instead. I don't care for the extremists on either side.

On a related note, Positive Liberty has one contributor who regularly posts about the beliefs of the founding fathers. The most recent post is less overtly secular, but is very critical of anyone who justifies theocratic tendency with the "Christian Nation" rhetoric.

What's my take? Sometimes secularism is taken to an extreme. I have never seen the point of removing, for instance, the ten commandments from public property. They are a historical example of a set of laws. Also, most of them are abrogated by our own Constitution's first amendment, so I find it pleasingly ironic to leave them where they are. Even during my brief stint as an atheist, I found the notion of removing them to be a bit silly. I have no problem with public Christmas displays so long as they do not deliberately marginalize non-Christians, and so long as public displays of non-Christian holidays are allowed.

I do have one major holiday pet peeve with the Christians. It happens every seven years or so (sometimes jolted off or on by a leap year). It's when Halloween falls on a Sunday. They make all sorts of lame excuses (it's a school day being favorite), but what it really boils down to is that they can't tolerate having a semi-pagan holiday celebrated on their holy day. If it was really about the next day being a school day, the same arguments would come up when it fell on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. But no. It's only Sunday that's the problem.

This may not seem like a large issue. And in some ways it's not. But one year when this happened, we gave out candy on the designated Saturday, and had the light on Sunday night as well (the true Halloween date). We got one ring at the doorbell. One little girl and her father. I gave out the candy, and the father gave me a pathetically grateful "Thank you." I don't know what had happened at other houses, but just based on his facial expression and gratitude, I am certain it was NOT pleasant. Ever since then, I've despised the paranoia that far too many Christians have about Halloween falling on Sunday.

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29 April 2006

Taiji Stuff

It was just Mark and I in Don's taiji class this morning. Which was quite good, actually, as it meant that Don focused on some more advanced stuff that he wouldn't have even mentioned if Joe or James had been there (Mark and I are his most advanced students at the moment). Also, I got him to use the marrow-washing/qi-pouring qigong as a warm-up. That's a favorite of mine.

Anyway, the advanced stuff. The first exercise was a "simple" one, in that we weren't trying to do anything specifically, just trying to maintain attention on the feet and the hands throughout the form. I'd done this paying attention to both hands before, but never with the feet at the same time. It was quite instructive. When I actually maintain attention on all of them, it's like being in stereo vs. mono. I can "hear" information coming in from all four places. Then Don added an extra piece on, and had us concentrate on filling the hands with qi as we got to a posture, then allowing them to empty again during the transitions. Whether you acknowledge the existence of qi or not, you can't fight effectively if you're attention is not in what you are doing, and where attention goes, qi goes. That was a good exercise.

Oh, and in push hands, I actually pushed Don out once. Once. Since this is a very rare occurence, I was quite pleased.

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28 April 2006

Canoeing through Glass Doors to a Bead Workshop

Weird dream last night. Very weird. My dad and I were going to go fishing. For some reason, we were renting a canoe to do this. We got to the dock late, and I had to go get the canoe from where it had been tied. Either the water had risen a lot, or this place was insane. I went down a concrete boatramp with a rail at the side (like the one used at Littlewood to move the dock as the water level fluctuates), and had to get past a rather large ship that was sitting on the bottom, into the water, until I found the canoe. I was untying it when it occurred to me that I was underwater and therefore couldn't breathe. Usually in dreams, I can breathe underwater no problem. In this one I couldn't. I got the canoe untied and dragged it past the large boat (which was slowly sliding down the ramp towards me) and finally made it out of the water and took a gasping breath.

So then my dad and I got into the canoe and we were paddling along (I had forgotten to pick up the paddle next to the canoe, but Dad had an old wooden one that I think we lost years ago) ...eventually we got to a double set of glass doors that I had to hold open and try to give Dad steering directions on how to get by them. Yes, glass doors in the water. However, there were people standing on the other side, high and dry, yet we were still paddling in water. *shrugs* Anyway, the doors led to a restaurant, and I went to try and find a menu to discover if there was anything I could eat. Not sure what happened to Dad at this point. I got distracted from menu-hunting by some shiny beads, and the dream turned into a craft-show about taking those beads to make decorations (I've forgotten what kind; possibly beaded curtains). I think some more happened in the restaurant turned craft barn, but I can't remember it now. I have vague images of wooden tables and shiny bead trinkets.

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26 April 2006


There's a taiji conference in East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, from June 1 to June 4. It's being led by a student of Master Jou (one of my teacher's teachers). I would love to go. The fee for the conference is actually low, comparatively: about $300, including hotel. The problem is getting there. Cheapest flight out of Salt Lake that I've found is $523. Most were closer to $650, and some were even higher. The other option would be to drive. It's over 2000 miles, and mapquest's estimated time was 30 hours. Not doable by myself, since I wouldn't be in any shape to enjoy or benefit from the conference by the time I got there. No one else from here seems interested in going, either. Hence, *sighs* (Well, Don's interested, but he's got a summer class to teach)

Incidentally, estimated gas cost for the trip (driving) is $210. That's using 30 mpg as an estimate for my car. My car has been getting 35 mpg lately, though, so the cost might be lower. I'll keep checking air-fares, but I'm thinking that I'll just save my money and go to Bataan's taiji camp at the end of July.

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25 April 2006

A sausage is not always a sausage

Sausage is one of my favorite breakfast foods. It was what Grandma and Grandad ALWAYS had cooking for breakfast at their house. After Grandad died, Grandma primarily cooked it when I was visiting, though. However, it's been a bit of a pain figuring out how to get it to cook well as patties. Link sausage is...edible, but not very good. My problem with the patties is that they could be burned to a crisp on the outside yet still not completely cooked on the inside. The solution? Dihydrogen Monoxide! (aka "water"). Pour some good ol' H20 into the pan with the patties, and several things happen: (1) they don't burn until the water boils away; (2) the heat is more evenly distributed; (3) you can leave the burner on higher settings for longer. So you can get sausage that's actually DONE all the way through without charring it to powdery blackness. I am pleased.

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22 April 2006

Stars (and other ancient creatures)

Not sure why this has been on my mind lately, but this feels like a good time to write a post about it. The stars are a major problem for any claims that the universe was created 6000 years ago. Why? Simple. There are many stars that are more than 6000 light years away. There simply hasn't been time for their light to reach us.

So, let's look at this. Supposing that the stars and everything else were made 6000 years ago, we have to assume that God created the light that comes from those stars in situ, en route. So the light was created at the same time as the stars. Problem: the light contains information about the elements that make up the stars. Thus God also created a false record of information and planted it within starlight. Conclusion: God is a liar. Thus the whole reason for thinking the stars were made 6000 years ago vanishes.

Aside: Is it preferable to think that God built lies into his Creation or that those who wrote down his words got a few things wrong?

Now, Answers in Genesis has an "explanation" which avoids the difficulty, at least so far as the stars go. They argue that there could have been a time dilation effect around the earth, so that the stars are the milliions and billions of years required, but the earth is not. More specifically, there may have been an "event horizon" around the earth (and presumably the whole solar system). Okay... Let's try to visualize this. The stars seem to have been visible to Adam and Eve. So several billion years must have been compressed into the space of a day or two.

Well, there are two ways for time dilation to occur. Gravitational time dilation is the result of being within any gravitational field. Gravity on earth is weak enough that this is a fairly minor effect. The equation for time dilation is T = t * sqrt(1-R/r), where T is the observed time, t is the time outside the system, R is the Schwarzschild radius for the amount of mass involved and r is (basically) the distance from the center of the mass (see wikipedia's article). Setting T to one day (or 1/365 of a year), and t to 12 billion years, we find that R/r = 0.9999999999999999999999999 That is, our position would be barely outside the Schwarzschild radius of the mass. So supposing that SOMEHOW the mass of the earth were increased enough to have this effect, and assuming that the radius of the earth itself was the effective Schwarzschild radius, the earth would need to be roughly 4.3 * 10^33 kg (about 2000 times more massive than the sun). This should REALLY have wreaked havoc with the orbits of the other planets, and we ought to be able to observe perturbations even today. We don't.

Right then. The other way for time dilation to occur is to move at a speed very close to the speed of light. Here, the equation is t = T * 1/sqrt(1-(v/c)^2), where t and T are as above, v is the speed of the system, and c is the speed of light. Solving, we find that the earth would have to be moving at 0.999999999999999999999999997*c, while the rest of the universe stayed, more or less, stationary. Okay, not buying this one either.

I can't think of any other known mechanisms that would result in time dilation. There may be some that I haven't heard of, but the primary problem is that this is an ad hoc hypothesis. It is not proposed on the basis of evidence, but to explain away evidence. Any supposed explanation that spends most of its time explaining why massive amounts of evidence are not valid/useful/meaningful is automatically suspect.

Oh yes. I did promise other ancient creatures. Two links from Pharyngula. The first is about a Snake with legs. Here is where evolutionary theory shines. It predicts that an intermediary between legged lizards and legless snakes should exist, and here one is. It predicts we should see a steady parade of gradual changes in the fossil record, and we do (see talkorigins, search for fossil record). Going by Creation "theory", we ought to see a random assortment of jumbled parts (ever been in ANY inventor's lab?).

The other link is Pharyngula's examination of AiG's response to said snake fossil.

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An Unproductive Day

Yesterday, I spent most of the day helping my mom with various projects, including a trip to Idaho Falls. She had gotten her fireboxes from Dad's house, and just carrying them to her car had made her chest hurt. So I got the job of carrying them into her basement. The original plan had been to pick up Mom's new lawnmower before 10:00 am, then head for IF, but Dad threw a snag into our plans. He'd picked today to get the snow tires off of the pickup. So we got the lawnmower closer to 10:30 am (it was NOT in a box as we'd been led to believe, which made it MUCH easier to get out of the pickup again). Then we had to clear some empty boxes out of Mom's garage for a place to put it, which meant that we stopped at K-Mart to recycle said boxes before actually getting underway.

Next stop: The Canton Restaurant in IF. I talked Mom into sharing some of their sesame chicken, with a side of stir-fried vegetables. They made it with cornstarch batter, per my request. It was MUCH better with the stir-fried vegetables to go with it.

We went to Best Buy (total bust, and lousy service), and Linens and Things next. Mom got another size of the bowls I'd gotten her for easter. Incidentally, we got much better service at Circuit City than we did at Best Buy, and Mom wound up buying a new DVD player. Grandma's will no longer play. I may take it and disassemble it. I doubt I can fix it, but it would be fun to see what all's inside.

Then we went over to furniture row. No queensize bookcase headboard (Mom would like one), but she did find some kitchen chairs she liked. They are nice. Solid oak construction. Wheeled base. Rather blah cushions, but they're the kind you can pull off and replace. So I took Mom/Grandma's old chairs (all but one; we haven't connected the base to the seat on the new ones yet), and I plan to spruce them up a bit. Or a lot. The old ones have a brass frame with a cushioned cloth seat and back. I may find some pewter metallic paint to cover up the brass. Then I figure I'll deconstruct the seats and backs. If the woodboard and cushioning is okay, I'll keep those. I would definitely like a different upholstery. One more thing: the back will be held on by more than a single screw. Those things broke on a regular basis, simply because one screw was not enough.

Last Stops: Target and Barnes and Noble. The only place I bought anything was Target. Two necessities, and a "painting". It's that new style, where it looks like you've got a genuine canvas, but it's really just printed onto a fancier material. It's a picture of red plum blossoms on a white background in a black frame. I've got one room painted entirely red, and I think the white background on this picture will look awesome in there.

Anyway, time to head for taiji.

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20 April 2006

Shotgun Wedding?

Well, not quite, but Pharyngula has an amusing take on some conservative inconsistencies. Some good comments there, too.

Random connection to tonight's 123 class. We're on probability and discussing dependent vs. independent events. So I asked them whether the events "person is Republican" and "person supports gun control" were independent. No one seemed to know this...which rather confused me. Apparently I have non-political students. They got the next one just fine: the events "leaving from home late" and "arriving at work on time" are definitely NOT independent.

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18 April 2006

Stars and Patterns

I'm currently watching the Stargate episodes that were shown on Sci-Fi last night. They run four episodes back to back on Monday night. I was watching Stargate semi-regularly last summer before I got sick of it. I seem to like it better when the weather is warmer. No clue why that might be. Right now they're in the season where they discover the Russians have been using the "other" Stargate to run their own missions. So naturally we're getting a lot of backbiting. But I find it amusing that certain plotlines show up that would be impossible if there weren't another gate (Tielk (sp?) is currently stuck in the "buffer" because the Stargate he went through was destroyed before his pattern could be re-established). Another gate is necessary because the buffer resets every time the wormhole opens, and they have several teams offworld who need a way home right now.

I've currently lost interest in the matrices class. It's interesting, but I'm in writing mode at the moment. I'll keep doing presentations, but I'm currently grateful that I'm only auditing the class. I've recently realized that I have...how to put this? There is mental energy within me that, if it is not directed, causes problems. I can focus it on writing, and channel it into my characters and stories. I can focus it on a project or a goal. I can focus it on math. It is difficult to focus it on two things at once. But if it is NOT focused, I start getting...erratic. I get mild delusions, feelings of paranoia, near-hallucinations. This can also happen if I am TOO focused on a single thing (preparing for my Master's Exams comes to mind). As schizophrenia as a heritable component, I am not pleased by this realization.

And now I must grade Math 123 exams, which may be painful. The test ran long. The sudents who consistently do well finished. The rest did not, to the point that I told them to pick one problem not to do. Hopefully that was enough. We shall see.

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16 April 2006

The place of sex in books

Not my usual style of post, but reading Anne Bishop's latest book got me thinking about this topic today. Now, it's inevitable that sex is going to play some role in many stories. It's more a question of how it's dealt with, for me. So I'm going to compare some authors that I read:

Robert Jordan: His is my favorite approach (and the one I take in my own writing whenever possible). That is, make it clear what's going to happen, then discreetly "close the door" and move away. No excess details.

Laurell K. Hamilton: Rather the opposite of Robert Jordan's. Now, she is very inventive, and so graphic that her sex scenes are actually so clinical as to be boring. Seriously. Partially this is because she overuses them. At least, in every recent book I've read. From Guilty Pleasures to Obsidian Butterfly, she did a good job. All the Anita Blake books after that... The first two were roughly 90% sex scenes, with the other 10% a very thinly woven plot. The next one was better. An ACTUAL plot, but still intersperesed with far too many sex scenes. I'm not kidding when I say there were so many, they got BORING. Especially one scene that SHOULD have been a pivotal reconciliation. Instead of thinking how wonderful that was, I was just thinking, "Oh. Anita's having sex. Again." My suggestion to Ms. Hamilton would be to save the excessive details for those sexual situation that are actually pivotal to the plot, and dump the rest.

Anne Bishop: Somewhere in the middle. She often describes sex scenes in more detail than I think is necesary, but they are ALWAYS pivotal to the plot. Also, she doesn't use them so much that I start dreading turning the page. They always fit, and she uses them appropriately.

Now, my take on sex scenes when I write them is that they should have just enough detail to get the point across. In most cases, I do not need very much detail, and take the Robert Jordan approach of quietly moving away to give the characters their privacy. Occasionally, I need more than that. But I still take a minimalist approach. Especially after reading Laurell K. Hamilton's recent Anita Blake books, I consider excessive detail a turn-OFF.

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Happy Easter

From Daily KoS, a thoughtful Easter discussion. I agree with just about everything said in this article. When a religion that claims to serve the God of Love begets hatred, something is clearly wrong.

So what did I do for Easter? I began my yoga practice again, washed dishes, and had some buckwheat cereal. Yesterday I took my mom a basket of goodies (four CD's, two pyrex bowls with lids, two pretty towels, and a carved wooden cat curled up like it's taking a nap. Oh, and a weird plush flower thing, with a wire in the stem that can be bent into just about any position. She got me a bouquet of carnations last Sunday (mainly because she figured she'd forget if she waited).

I think of Easter largely in pagan terms. It's a time of renewal for the Earth. A time when the yin of winter begins turning to yang in its progression to summer. For anyone who hasn't researched it, there are countless "dying and rising gods" throughout pagan traditions. But only AFTER the introduction of agriculture. The dying and rising god was a symbol of the grain that "died" and produced seed that would "rise" come the next planting season. Note also that such a seed had to "enter the earth" before it could rise.

I always love it when Christians show off their pagan spirit. ;^D That's one of my favorite things about Christmas, too.

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15 April 2006

Saturday Romps

I got my snow tires taken off of my car yesterday. So naturally today one of my regular tires decided to have a blow out while I was driving to IF for taiji. First, I felt this strange wobbly vibration in the car and the steering wheel. I wasn't sure what it was, though it occurred to me it could be a tire. I figured I'd pull off at the nearest exit to check it out. It had other ideas, and popped right after I'd passed a pickup. So I pulled off to the side and had to dig out my spare tire and jack. Luckily, it was on the passenger side, so I had my car between me and the 75 mph traffic. I actually enjoyed changing the tire (nice, simple, physical activity), but it did make me twenty minutes late for taiji. And this afternoon I had to replace said tire. The blowout was rather impressive, actually. The entire outer section of rubber (the surfaces which contacts the road) had been torn from the inner support section, but was still in one piece. This meant that I had to get the car up higher to get the tire to come off, but such is life. Strangely, the hardest part of the process was getting the rim off so that I could get to the bolts. The rim did NOT want to part company from the tire.

And James made it to taiji today, for the first time in over a month (unless he was there last week when I missed). I got to push hands with him. I really like pushing hands with him, because he has an excellent root. Which means that when I get something to WORK on him, I had to have used my own root and my waist. Nothing else will move him. There was one point where I just busted up laughing at him. He was trying to push me out, and pushed on my forward (left) thigh from one side. Then he pushed on the other side of the thigh. Then he actually reached under my leg and tried to bodily lift it up from the ground. He couldn't do it. I was too well-rooted. Well, up until I busted up laughing I was. It was a classic cartoon moment, I swear. Big huge guy (compared to me, anyway) grunting and groaning to try and lift my leg and foot off the ground. I was also pleased that my root WAS that good. *grins*

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13 April 2006

Conflicting Information

I started looking up manuscript submission guidelines (in the hopes of getting something published). From Daw Books' submission guidelines: "Very important: Please type your name, address and phone number in the upper right hand corner of the first page of your manuscript. Right under this, please put the length of your manuscript in number of words."

They also request a cover letter, so I looked for some tips on writing one. Here's part of what one page had to say: "Never, never, never list the word count. Not even on short stories. It's says, HACK, in bold letters. It is a lie perpetuated by Writer's Digest Books. No one cares about the exact word count. Editors and agents can see that a 300 page manuscript is, well, a 300 page manuscript."

:^) I think I'll go with the actual publisher's guidelines if I submit... (And if that publisher won't take it, and another publisher requests something else, I'll go with that publisher's guidelines).

On the bright side, all the cover letter info agrees on the basic format:

Paragraph 1: Brief introduction to the manuscript, including title and and a very very short description.

Paragraph 2: Publication credentials / Personal history (ideally relevant to the manuscript you've sent)

Paragraph 3: Contact info and closing remarks. Should also contain preferences about what to do with your manuscript when the publisher is done looking at it. (Same place that said NEVER include the word count says NEVER ask for the manuscript to be returned; *shrugs*)

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12 April 2006


There's a billboard advertisement for Cable internet in Idaho Falls. Nice BIG letters proclaim: "$29.95 per month!*" The * is clear at the bottom, and is completely illegible from the road. It seems like this ought to be illegal. Having seen their ad elsewhere, I know it's something like "*for the first 6 months."

Other news: my sword form is definitely improving. Don's corrections are getting pickier. For the non-practitioner, that means I've got the "choreography" down (mostly), but not all the fine nuances. Sort of like when you're sanding: you start off with a large grain to get off the roughest stuff, then progress to finer and finer grains. Well, I'm onto a finer grain sheet of sandpaper now. (I wonder if Don would appreciate being compared to sandpaper...? *shrugs*)

Not much else happening this week. We're looking at rational expressions in 025 (polynomials in fractions, basically), and ratios and rates in 015, and we're having a test over Fibonacci numbers and exponential/linear growth in 123. I decided to cover the growth stuff rather than Fractals mainly because there's more stuff there that they will actually use (interest calculations come to mind). We did take a tiny look at fractals, in the form of the Koch Snowflake and the Sierpinski Gasket. With the Koch Snowflake, you draw a triangle, then put another triangle in the center of each edge (should trisect the edge). Now you have 6 triangular points, and put a triangle on each of their edges. Now you have 12 points.... and keep going. The end result does look somewhat like a Snowflake.

The Sierpinski Gasket is similar, but opposite in the sense that you remove things rather than add them. Start with a shaded triangle. Find the midpoint of each edge and draw another triangle connecting those points. Erase the shading inside the "new" triangle. Now you have three shaded triangles inside your original. Find the midpoints of each side, connect them into triangles, and erase the shading. Now you have nine shaded triangles... Repeat ad infinitum.

There's a cool variation of the Sierpinski Gasket that gets to the same end shape through random processes. We didn't get to that in class, but I thought it was fascinating.

But now I suppose I ought to write said test, so that they can take it tomorrow night.

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09 April 2006

Weekend Chores

Yesterday I got to play electrician again. My mom got a lamp with three separate controls for each of the three lights, and she wanted a way to turn it all on/off at once. So I put a switch in the power cord. Made a rookie mistake, as I'd never done it before. I just cut right through the cord, and later realized I'd only needed to cut through the live wire, not the ground. Which meant I had to reconnect the ground and put some electrical tape on for good measure. Once I got that sorted out, however, it went smoothly, and didn't blow up when I plugged it back in and turned it on.

The other project was to put in a lighted lightswitch in my mom's bedroom. This is the same bedroom with the wood paneling. Wood paneling that previous renovators had cut too small to extract the former plug-in. They did the same thing with the lightswitch. *grumbles* So that's going to wait until I have time to take a hacksaw to it.

We also got Mom's new filing cabinet on a wheeled base. It would be much simpler if they'd just make filing cabinets come with wheels, or even holes for attaching wheels. Hmmm... might be fun to try doing it that way, and I'll bet the wheels would be more stable, too! (I doubt Mom would let me experiment on HER filing cabinet, though.)

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08 April 2006

A Few Changes

I've added a few links to the left, and removed one comic. It was a decent comic, but it's rather pointless to link to it when it seems to update once a month or so. I added Evil Comics, Inc, both because it is enjoyable, and because any mistyping of the address invariably takes you to a rather scary place. I also added Aikida, which I've been reading for a while. Warning: while the current storyline is quite well-done, I don't recommend going further back in the archives than that. I went back to the beginning and read all the way through...and wondered how such utter garbage had turned into the currently excellent storyline. Very good artwork as well, though a bit obsessed with the female form.

I've also linked to several blogs that I read regularly. I'll probably expand this later, and possibly divide off the science-oriented blogs into their own category. But this is enough for now.

Oh yes. I've got a bit of a sore throat at the moment, and didn't feel up to driving to IF for taiji this morning. The taiji would make me feel better, but I think it would be irresponsible of me to drive up there given the way I feel at the moment. Yes, Virginia, there IS a difference between a caffeine withdrawal headache and a sinus pressure headache. *sighs*

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07 April 2006


My mom needed someone at her house to accept the filing cabinet she'd ordered; as it was Friday, and I have Fridays off, this duty fell on me. She also needed someone there for when the plumber came to fix the downstairs toilet. It wasn't sealing properly, so it would fill up and then the water would seep through the seal and we'd hear it start running again to fill up. We had tried to replace the parts ourselves, but whatever parts the last plumber used, we couldn't find anything compatible (American Standard is apparently the brand name). So the plumber came, found that the rubber seal was shredded (literally; it fell apart as soon as he pulled it off). He had one that was the right size to replace it. Painless from my end. I wonder what Mom's bill will be, though.

Anyway, it wasn't too long after the plumber left that Fed Ex got there with the filing cabinet. Mom had wanted them to put it in the basement, but apparently Fed Ex has insane policies in that regard (if he so much as brought the handtruck into the house, he was required to send out a carpet cleaning team), so that didn't happen. So, naturally, I took it upon myself to get it down the stairs. *grins* I like a challenge. Honestly, with two people, this would have been cake. It wasn't that heavy. It was a bit awkward for one person alone. The hardest thing was getting it off of the kitchen floor and onto the landing at the top of the stairs. It was only one step down, but the box was nearly as wide as the landing. Eventually I turned it at enough of an angle to get it onto the landing. The rest was easy. I gradually angled it down, and stayed in front of it to avoid another calamity at the bottom. Then I just let the weight rest on my back and walked down the stairs. No problem. I also claimed the ten dollars Mom had left as tip money in case the delivery guy took it down.

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05 April 2006

Random Tidbits

I never mentioned yet, because there was no external sign of it, but I actually have an officemate this semester. Technically. We've been in the office at the same time exactly once. For the first half of the semester, I don't think he'd been in here at all. Recently there have been signs of habitation: a pile of scratch paper, a rubber duckie with a police hat and whistle, and a squishy foam lightbulb.

I had my first sword lesson since before break today. Not as bad as I expected. The first week back, I was too behind to go. The second week, I was having caffeine withdrawal headaches. By a strange coincidence, Don was having bad days then as well, and was just as happy NOT to give me a lesson. Today, we worked on some refinements. You know you're making progress when the instructor stops saying "No, facing THAT corner," and starts saying, "Fair Maiden's Wrist" or "Turn the waist!"

And yesterday one of the beginning taiji students asked me if I was an Aquarius. I blinked for a moment and said, "No. I'm a cancer; I'm the hideous disfiguring disease of the zodiac." Then he told me that I acted just like an Aquarius (which apparently means very extroverted). It isn't often that I get told I'm extroverted... :^) I'm definitely less of an introvert than I used to be, I admit, but I'm hardly an extrovert. Anyway, this guy was disappointed. He said it was the first time in a year and a half he'd guessed someone's sign wrong.

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02 April 2006

Improbable Vest-Making

Question from the most recent Math 015 exam: "It takes 3 1/4 hours to make a single beaded vest. There are 52 working hours. How many vests can be made in this time?"

Correct answer is to divide 52 by 3 1/4 --> 52/(13/4) = 52*(4/13) = 16 vests.

Many got this answer or something close to it. Several came up with 169 vests (by multiplying rather than dividing). One person came up with a number over 700. Let's see, it takes more than 3 hours to make a vest, and you're going to make 700 of them in 52 hours? I'd like to see your time machine!

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