Off Key and Painful

Back to gym with week in and summer seems to have set in in earnest. The only difficulty is the return of the summer seniors who switch to early visitation because of the heat quantity later in the day and generally make the gym a nuisance of social nonsense, detracting and distracting those of us who want to get done and get gone.

The podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with the use of video teleconferencing to give violin lessons and it was horrible. This piece of stercus was more boring than preparing (cooking) grits. So my attention strayed and I noted on the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver that the Los Angeles museum of “art” has placed a rock on display. Now given the interest in cave craft or rock art the last couple of weeks I gave this some attention and my disappointment was deepened. Do not mistake me. There are lots of beautiful rocks out there, large and small. I have several. Whenever I had to go to White Sands I would stay in Los Cruces so I could drive by the Organ mountains. But this rock is not beautiful and IMHO, not art. It’s just a piece of rock and unless you’re a pantheist and have some sort of religionist mania about rocks, not particularly notable as anything more than a swindle on the part of the “artist” and the museum.

On the positive side however, this does enhance the consideration that neandertals may have done those hand outline cave craft ‘paintings’ since compared to this chunk of mass that’s a lot more lookable and enjoyable.

On which note, one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me a link to an article that reports on a survey of New England Journal of Medicine statistics on discorporation causes over time. The actual report is linked but they presented this teaser graphic

The article calls the deaths per 1E5 a “rate’ rather than a period fraction (which we may think of as a probability over a years period?) but then we can’t expect journalists to understand technical stuff, can we? Evidently they can’t be bothered to properly explain what they are talking about either. The underlying information, especially on the journal web site is sound.

I was taken, first, by the decrease of almost 0.5 in only 110 years. The differences are pretty clearly a list of what can now be cured or postponed. Because of that, and the reduced probability of discoporation over a years time, which translates into a greater time to discorporation (RV), indicates the increase in the instances of cardiac, chaos (cancer), and senility (Alzheimer’s). I was also pleased to see suicide on the list. Given the backsliding of medical treatment with mutation and climate change, voluntary discorporation has to become socially acceptable.

Next, I ran across an article [Link] about MegaHard’s imperial conspiracy to lock out Linux from future computers by exchanging the BIOS for a complicated lock that they will sell keys to. And likely none to Apple or Linux competitors. The article dealt with the Canonical and Fedora responses to this which struck me as even worse kludges intended to make life easy for the bogs they keep hoping to attract away from Winders. Let’s see now the idea is that Winders 8’s tile GUI system “METRO” will be so alien that the Winders mindserfs will rush out to embrace the tile GUI “UNITY” of Ubuntu? And MegaHard will prevent this by locking out all other OS but MegaHard’s? Except the lock can be hacked. So why aren’t the distro developers developing hacks instead of caving to MegaHard’s lead? Something smells like rodent.

Lots of off key today. Violins really aren’t very pleasing musical instruments and medical capabilities are going to pot and now we’re going to have to buy computers designed to run Linux? Must be Monday.

, , , , ,

Kitted for College

FD SCP drug me off to MalWart the other day. Neither of us particularly enjoys the experience and we often find it annoying, like having to sit for too long on an uncomfortable seat, in an uncomfortable posture, while listening to a boring presentation but unable to experience mind wander – day dreaming – because of the discomfort. So we lessen the impact of the misery by sharing. And trying to be non-judgmental when one of us puts something in the shopping buggy that the other considers such.

FD SCP and I have rather different ways of navigating aisled stores. She tends to use something that look disturbingly like a two-dimensional drunkard’s walk, the result of seeking out things in the order they occur on her shopping list. I, on the other hand, tend to sort the list in order of a raster traverse of the aisles, or even just march along scanning the display and the list alternately. Except for catching up on anything missed my trajectory is a model of determinacy to her stochasticity. I rather suspect this is related to ancient learned, and hence genetically embedded, behavior dealing with hunting and gathering, but such is the subject for another blot.

In the progress, which was a mathematically interesting union of raster and drunkard, I noted that the store had dedicated a couple of semi-aisles to what I would characterize as college student equipage. Perhaps a more accurate description would be high shul graduate but not yet college student, and parents thereof, visualization/expectation of what should be carried off to college/dorm life? Anyway, there was a typical MalWart display of tacky sheets and towels, uncomfortable portable indoor furniture, and some study needs such as notebooks and the like.

Then, yesterday I ran across an article [Link] on Lifehacker entitled “Preparing for College: Tech Essentials for Your First Year”. The article – happily – does not discuss stereos or alarum clocks or any such technologies, but sticks with individual computers, eReaders/eBooks, and such; actual learning stuff. But the juxtaposition of the two did provoke consideration of my own experiences in this regard.

In my youth, in that chaotic period between being accepted to college/accepting a selection (campus of the Black Warrior, biggest scholarship) and actually attending my first class as an entering freshman, I and to a greater extend my parents went through this exact frenzy. I do not know whether my mother had articles in her women’s magazines that addresses this rite of preparation; I know my father’s did not because he had begun to encourage me to read these magazines. I did scan them but found much there incomprehensible or banal.[1]

At any rate however, my mother bustled about equipping me with all manner of stuff: towels but no sheets – sheets we were told were better rented, which it emerged, also included towels (one pillow case, two flat sheets, three towels weekly), a foot locker that I never could find anyplace good to stow, an travel alarum clock that died after a couple of weeks of dorm treatment, … And I got drug off to clothing stores that catered to ‘young’ men where they were supposed to know what college men wore. Sadly they lnew all about what fraternity bogs wore but not nerds. And they weren’t about to admit it, for several obvious reasons. Happily I did recognize that I wasn’t about to wander around in public looking like the clerks proposed so I ended up with a compromise of black denim jeans and conservative cotton shirts.

My father chimed in and recommended I get a pair of hush puppies – he was big on them at that time and they did make them in narrow widths in those days, unlike today! – which turned out to be the best advice I got except that the chemicals I used in lab ate through the toes in a few months, necessitating replacement when I was observed with holey topped shoes. This was one of the reasons I didn’t go home often; lack of automobile as a freshman was another. I was also outfitted with a typewriter for typing term papers. Interestingly this, which was perhaps the closest of then technology to the now technology of individual computer was of scant use to a nerd student. I typed two term papers as a freshman, but thereafter only the occasional research paper. I think I may have typed lab reports in one of my advanced chemistry classes but I soon found that in science and maths courses there were no term papers, research papers were better hand written, and generally ill suited to nerd formatting. The latter would haunt me throughout my experiences with individual computers as well.

The most useful thing I got during this period turned out to be the new K&E slide rule that I hinted at and received as a graduation present. It stood me in good stead until Hewlett Packard’s master stroke of the HP-35 in 1972 propagated through the marketplace. I recall taking qualifying exams for the doctoral program at the campus of the Tennessee about three years before defense, but from then back to that summer after high shul graduation, that K&E log-log decitrig ten inch rule, and, of course, bundles of IBM 5081 punch cards and later multi track recording tape, saw me through number crunching.

Happily I was only saddled with the equipage when I settled into the new experience of dorm life. Something like half of it was inappropriate and gradually got lost or taken home over term break and left to disappear in the gibble of stuff that hides in attics, basements, and the back of closet shelves. Things untold and unthought were added over time.  The great vacuum was note taking instrumentality. I was unprepared as my note taking in high shul had been a matter of ring notebook and margin punched paper. Upper classmen soon directed me to spiral notebooks (for order sake) and BIC pens. The significant thing was that college spiral notebooks are different size and ruling than those used in high shul, so not knowing and preparing inadvertently saved me embarrassment, a precious commodity for a freshman.

I shudder whenever I think of trying to take notes with a laptop. Even the best note taking clients – I use LeepNote these day, quite a lot – fails quickly in the environment of nerd courses. Equations and sketches of figures and diagrams are doable by hand if one is quick, a task too far on a laptop. And while I have bemoaned the cost of textbooks since I was a freshman – why I wailed do nerd textbooks cost so much more than bog textbooks?; the answer is, of course, supply and demand, there are many bogs so low prices, few nerds so high prices – I love the idea of eReader and eBooks although since the current technology is text-only with no pictures, nor equations!, I fear that these too are bog only these days.

Also happily, FD SCP and I had both experienced this so when we sent SCPdatter off we were careful to not equip her with the learning instrumentality that we knew would likely be wrong. And she was properly embarassed enough with what we did equip her with that we could be assured she would visit the same on her children.

[1]  There was a period in my young adulthood, after I obtained full time employment, that I read Playboy catholically in an effort to know, if not understand, how I was supposed to behave as an American male of my age cohort. The material was still incomprehensible, banal, and additionally, silly.