Saturday, December 16, 2006

I am eating a peanut butter sandwich

It is time to change the subject. I'm tired of scrolling down the page just to see if I have any new comments. If any of my legions want to comment now, I will be able to see it easily because this post is so short.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Scariest Animals

I would choose "spider" as the scariest animal. This is because it has such a completely inhuman appearance. The scariest animals are the killers. Spiders, cats, sharks, and snakes. There are probably others, but those are the scariest. You could say that a killer monkey is also scary, and this is definitely true. You imagine yourself locked in a room with a killer monkey your size, and you are definitely scared. But a killer monkey is just one type of monkey. Many monkeys are not killers, and probably would not hurt you if you were alone with them in a room.

The point about the monkey is also true for bears and dogs, which by the way are closely related to one another. Bears and dogs can be killers, but they also eat garbage and fruit, meaning that killing is not all that they think about. A dog can be your friend, and you can be his friend in return. Bears have a reputation for being big and lazy, though this is not necessarily true. "Killer bear", as well as "killer dog", is a useful specifier.

Cats are killers. All they think about is killing other things. For fun, we might keep one around with us, to live with us, but only because that particular cat is small. Again, imagine yourself in a room with a cat which is your size, and you are scared. Notice that I do not have to say "killer cat", because we all know that all cats are killers. But cats are like us. They're warm-blooded, and they have babies which we all think are cute. A cat is a battle machine, but you can empathize with it.

Snakes can be scary. Like cats, all snakes are killers, and so it is redundant to say "killer snake". Going by the alone-in-a-room-with-it test, you can agree that a snake which is about your size is a scary thing. But there is something silly about a snake. It is scary in general, and is only concerned with killing things, but it doesn't have any legs, which makes it look like a noodle or a piece of rope. So in a way, snakes are kind of stupid looking. Noodles are not scary, and so this detracts from the scariness of a snake. But certainly, snakes are scary, I will agree with whoever claims this.

Sharks are also scary, but it is unlikely you will run into one, because they live in the ocean. To a fish, a shark is probably the scariest animal. However, to a human, or to any other monkey, a shark is not the scariest animal. You do not walk around in the woods at night fearful of being eaten by a shark. You can't even picture yourself alone in a room with one, unless it is a room full of water, in which case I agree it is very scary. Also, they look a lot like fish, and fish are not scary animals; so, like a snake, a shark looks like something which is not scary, which detracts from its scariness.

As an aside, I will mention that a crazy man with a knife, or a gun, or a chainsaw, or some other terrible thing, is undoubtably a very scary thing. But, like a killer dog or a bear, and indeed just like his brother the killer monkey, the crazy man is only one type of man. In general, men think about killing a lot, but they also think about other things which are not related.

What makes the spider so different from all of these scary animals? Well, obviously it is a lot smaller. This is related to another other thing which makes it different, and that is that it is an invertebrate. Further related to this invertabrate nature of the spider is its face: spiders do not have faces. They can have a dozen eyes all over the top of their head, and their mouths are not mouths at all, but orifices surrounded by poisonous hypodermic fangs and gripping appendages made to prevent you from escaping. They do not chew, but rather drink you as a beverage after they have dissolved you with digestive juices which they inject into your maimed, paralyzed body. This is terrible!

Now, at least a cat has a face. You can look a cat in the eye, and relate to it. A cat has a soul. A cat is a mammal. Cats have babies, which everyone calls kittens, and which everyone agrees are not scary at all. Imagine yourself in a room with a spider your size! Its exoskeleton would probably be bulletproof at such a scale. You couldn't look into its eyes unless it was a jumping spider or maybe a type of wolf spider, since those spiders do have frontally placed eyes which have relatively good acuity and color vision. But you wouldn't be fooled by these spiders. A jumping spider is a perverted mockery of a cat. You and the jumping spider have nothing in common. You cannot relate to the spider. Spiders do not love their babies, and no one thinks that their babies are cute. Spider babies will eat their mothers if they can't find someone else to kill first.

This is why I would choose the spider as the scariest animal. If you put me in a room with a spider which is my size, give me a big knife so that I can cut off my own head before the spider gets me. I'll fight the cat, or the snake, or the shark, especially if you give me a gun or a chainsaw. But not the spider. A spider is like an armor plated eight-legged poison-fanged tank. Man, I just thought the dumbest thought, which was, "I hope no spiders read this", because I am that scared of spiders.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Political excitement

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to my new congressional representative, Mr. John Yarmuth, who today unseated Republican incumbent Ann Northup! I thought he didn't have a chance, but I voted for him anyway. Gore.. Kerry.. Mongiardo.. Yarmuth! Hooray!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

anyway, i told you guys that this war would be a great idea. it sure is turning out well.

i had a dream on sunday night which i think was pretty complicated, but here is the main part that I remember:

I go to this big garage, which is like an airplane hangar, but i'm there to get my oil changed, something like that. A guy in a uniform runs up to me, looks at me kind of funny, and asks what i need. I tell him whatever i'm there for, like, "can you change my oil?", and he looks confused. Then i notice that I'm riding a bicycle, and he says "I guess i could put air in your tires if you want", and i just sit there, kind of embarassed and uncomfortable. I don't remember what happened after that.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thobal Glermowuclear Nar

Theo: It's going to happen again.

Nina: What's?

Theo: Going to happen? A dark age, that's what.

Nina: How do you figure?

Theo: It's all trajectory. History works in trajectories. Something goes up, and maybe a part of it gets left in orbit, or floating in the atmosphere, but a lot of it falls back down.

(Argo enters)

Argo: Oh, no.

Nina: Theo was telling me about the coming dark age.

Argo: Right, right. Theo, what's up?

Theo: Who are you?

Nina: It's Argo, Theo. You know Argo.

Theo: Who are you? Where am I?

Argo: Ms Sandy's looking for you, Nina. Something about a birthday cake.

Nina: That's not fair. Argo! Tell her you can't find me! I went home sick!

Argo: If you're not here, then I have to something about a birthday cake.

Theo: Bring me my jacket!

Nina: Okay Theo, I'll tell Bellboy to get your jacket. Thanks a lot, Argo.

Argo: No problem.

(Nina leaves)

Argo: Theo?

Theo: Argo? Who am I?

Argo: See you, Theo. Watch out for those dark ages.

(Argo leaves)

Theo: Maybe shipbuilding brings you up, but then cities fail you. Then, maybe armies bring you up, but governments fail you. Then, maybe science brings you up, but technology fails you.

(Bellboy enters)

Bellboy: Nina told me about your jacket, Theo. You didn't bring a jacket today.

Theo: What brought us up this time, Theo?

Bellboy: You're Theo, I'm the Bellboy.

Theo: This time, communication brought us up, but democracy is going to fail us.

Bellboy: What's that?

Theo: We'll have it all. Bellboy. Ships, cities, armies, governments, science, technology, and communication. It will be a new dark age.

Bellboy: That's pretty grim, Theo.

(Bellboy leaves)

Theo: We'll also have global warming. That's not really related. How did I get here?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Introducing Yodekl and Waldekl

Yodekl: I can't think of anything to say.

Waldekl: Me neither.

Yodekl: I hate this.

Waldekl: Me too.

Yodekl: How was your flight?

Waldekl: What are you talking about?

Yodekl: I don't know. Nevermind.

Waldekl: How was your flight?

Yodekl: It was awful, I tell you, the plane was packed, and they ran out of peanuts, and a baby threw up on my pants, and I got in a fight with a stewardess, and they put me off the flight in-

Waldekl: What are you talking about?

Yodekl: I don't know.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fine Structure

Argo: Do you know what I've always had a problem with?

Bellboy: What's that?

Argo: Timezones. The way how, if you go east into another timezone, you have to set your clock to a later time.

Bellboy: What's wrong with that?

Argo: It just confuses me sometimes. The Earth turns east, so things always happen earlier there. Which means it's always later, since everything happened earlier.

Bellboy: That's not so confusing. Instead of saying 'earlier', say 'already'. Then, things happen already in the east, so it's later there. That's better than saying things happen earlier in the east, so it's later there.

Argo: I think I get it.

Bellboy: It's confusing because you're using earlier and later both in a positive way in the same sentence. But 'earlier' is referring to when things happen, while 'later' is referring to what time it is.

Argo: But that implies that 'what time it is' is always later than 'what happened'. Though that does kind of make sense...

Bellboy: Don't worry about it.

[[[HAPPY 200,000 miles, car! You will live forever!]]]

Car: I am legend.

Friday, August 25, 2006

i am hungry right now

My car has only traveled like 60 miles in the last few weeks, so we're still ~300 short of 200,000. Here, briefly, I will note those who have driven my car some significant amount of time.

Me: drove this car a lot
Jingping X.: is learning to drive with it recently
Samantha A.: drove it quite a bit in previous years
Lindsay H.: drove it a bit my first 2 years in knoxville

Me and 3 girls, wow!

hey, whatever, i was just writing an e-mail to somebody, and i used the phrase "one of them's" as a possessive. i thought it was funny because it sounds pretty wrong, but i think it's right. it was like, "two of my friends have a birthday today, and i know one of them's e-mail address". it would be kind of like if i wrote, "i know one of you's mama" (in this case it would obviously be easier to say "i know one of y'all's mama). i thought it was funny because it sounds pretty wrong, but i think it's right.

obviously it shouldn't be "one of their address", though i could have said "one of their addresses", with "one" referring to a member of the address group and not the friend group.

now, if we were speaking victorian pseudo-latin new-french english, maybe i could say, "i know one's of them address", but that sounds pretty weird.

In other news, I have been keeping track of all the loads of spam i get in my UofL account every day. Every hour actually. Every 36 minutes and 20 seconds actually. Here are some charts!

Here is the local period of junkmail message arrival. The vertical axis is in time-between-messages, and the x axis is date; the horizontal divisions are at noon every day.

{please click it so you can see the detail!!!}

So, a high dot means that several hours passed before that particular message arrived; all those dots on the 0 are from the messages that appeared simultaneously with other messages. There are a lot of those: almost 350 as of 5:05 pm on 8-25-06. We will probably break 400 sometime tomorrow morning. Now, I've just been keeping track for 17 days now, but 331 simultaneous spams is a big chunk of the 678 total since 8-8-06 (almost half, at 48.9%). Something may be going on here.. Here's a clue: the simultaneous messages are always identical to eachother.. Hmm..

Okay, next:

I'll just cite some statistics. For one, how many of these e-mails do I get every day? I will tell you. 678 e-mails divided by 16.9 days is almost exactly 40! Weird! I get almost exactly 40 crap e-mails a day!

Next, you wonder, how frequent are they? Are they getting faster? Very frequent! Yes, they are! On average, I get one every 36.33 minutes; however, the median interval is only 9 minutes, thanks to all those simultaneous duplicates screwing up the distribution. And they are getting faster!

I can average together the current intervals with each prior intervals to get an idea of the overall change in interval over time: if this number is 0, that means they're coming in no faster today than 16.9 days ago. If it's positive they're slowing down. But no, it's actually -23.85 seconds! The interval between junk e-mails is now 23.85 seconds shorter than when i started keeping track! (actually this isn't really accurate, since there's so much variance [just look at the plot above] i can't tell what the current average interval is or what the original average interval was.)

What next!

{please click it so you can see the detail!!!}

Here you can see the arrival of my junk e-mail collapsed across date, to see if time of day has an effect! Look! Obviously, the pink line describes the (normalized) number of e-mails that have arrived at that time of day- you can see that they like to arrive at lunchtime the very most, 12-13 o'clock.

The blue spots are just the inverse of the data shown in the first plot (actually the inverse of that data plus 1; otherwise all the simultaneous e-mails would get undefined values here). This means that it is a plot of frequency across time, get it? It obviously tracks with total arrival density (look at the blue line, which is just the average of all the blue dots, and compare it with the pink line).

Oh well, there you go!

Friday, August 11, 2006

my car

in the coming weeks, my car will likely be crossing the 200,000 mile odometer point. so, in the coming weeks, this site will be devoted entirely to information relating to the known history of my car.

my parents bought me a 1991 toyota camry the summer before i went off to knoxville. this was the summer of 1998. at that time the car had 85,000 miles.

so, in the past 8 years, this car has gone 115,000 miles, which is about 14,000 miles a year; the vast majority of this was acquired through back-and-forth trips between knoxville and nashville. since i've come to louisville, the car has gone into semi-retirement: two years ago, we crossed the 186,000 mile point, meaning the car had finally travelled 1 light-second. this means the earlier per-year mileage has gone from a likely high of 20,000 a year during my knoxville days, to about 7000 a year during my louisville days...

200,000 miles is almost 8 complete circuits around the planet Earth! this is a good long distance.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

-saw dinosaur skeletons. saw lots of birdies.
-making many hours go fast. this is hard to beat.
-a very tall building. not as tall as expected. still, tall.
-saw lots of rectangular things, and triangular.
-with rectangular windows and big rectangularness in general.
-into train stations. speaking of which
-went to china town lots of times to eat.
-walked around, saw lots of things, people, buildings, vehicles, birds.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Something is wrong with my hands. My wrists pop and make awful snapping/grinding sounds when they move. I have faint needlelike pains in the backs of my hands and my forearms. My right thumb is always stiff and weirdly uncomfortable.

Saturday, I helped Jingping to prepare a big meal for 20 Chinese students at her apartment. Her roommate and his girlfriend also helped. We cooked for 3 hours. I washed dishes and chopped vegetables, and stirred pots, and other supporting duties. Eventually all these people arrived, and they sort of stared at me. They were all nice though. I could have tried out some of my newfound Chinese speaking skills, but was reluctant, seeing as how my Chinese comprehension skills are around 2.5%. I had planned to escape after the cooking, but wound up staying around. There was lots of food. There are still leftovers now. I ate a duck's tongue. I did not really like it.

I have been working on an overly simplified mathematical model of interactions between cell populations in primary visual cortex, specifically between populations tuned to specific orientations. There are response and suppression biases, which I have been trying to figure out and fit to data obtained by testing the vision of human subjects, who really are hard to find. This is fun and I enjoy it.

I have been learning to play the xiao, which is a type of Chinese flute. I have a natural talent for it and someday will be famous.

Also, I think I am almost finished with Dragon Quest VIII, surprising considering all the other things to do. I think there are something like 76 hours poured into the game already. I keep wondering, why do the heros just stand there and do nothing when, after defeating a boss, the boss slowly crawls to accomplish the thing which the heros meant to prevent him from doing by defeating him? And why do they allow themselves to be thrown into prison by complete nobodies upon defeating a boss, when said nobodies were themselves unable to defeat the boss, thereby implying that they could have easily been defeated by the heros?

I have recently discovered the joy of Chinese pirated movies, which can be seen in your home with Chinese subtitles for free on the same day as they are released in theaters! I cannot make requests, though, because I am satisfied simply to have the movies wash over me so that I can pick and choose at will. I have recently been watching and rewatching the opening sequence of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, whenever I get a spare 10 minutes or so.

Finally, my car is in a coma. I cannot drive anywhere. This doesn't matter to me, because I can walk home and to Jingping's house, and those are the only places I want to be.

And, my birthday is on Thursday! Everyone say happy birthday!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Here are pictures to go along with ze previous post. If you click on ze pictures, zey will get bigger.

I went to my friend Shane's wedding. Here are my other friends Ian and Joseph.

Then I went to Texas with James to see Margaret and Michael. James, he is far away.

Meanwhile Jingping was in China. Here are some Chinese children.

Eventually Jingping came back and we went to Lisa's wedding. Here are Greg and Kim, who look happy.

And here is Travis. Sacre bleu, look at his beard!

Then, I took Jingping to see Kingston Springs. We went to ze Slave Tunnel and climbed up on ze ridge above ze Narrows.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

why do i get a funny feeling that the blogspot scene is dying?

i certainly have not helped. instead of keeping people up to date on my personal life or entertaining them somehow, i for some reason wrote nothing but silly vignettes about lazy people working at a hotel or a brunch restaurant or something like that. Unfortunately, there will probably be more of those.

i have gone to texas, with james, and that was fun. also, earlier, i went to florida for a conference. i went in a car with two Chinese people. one of them was the other driver, the other is my girlfriend whom i guess you know, but at any rate she can't drive. anyway, the other driver, he drives at like 95 mph the whole time, dodging in and out of tiny gaps between semis slamming on the brakes/gas every 12 or 13 seconds.

i on the other hand drive a reasonable 80 mph all the time and never pass anyone or cut anyone off, at least i think so. so Yong, the guy, and Jingping, both tell me, independently, that "if you go to China, you cannot drive there", because apparently everyone in China is a lunatic. their driving laws are opposite as the laws here. here, we have shoulders, and you aren't supposed to drive on those. in China, you drive on the shoulders if you feel like you aren't going fast enough. here, you're supposed to go with the flow of traffic. in China, you can't get anywhere unless you're constantly getting in front of the guy in front of you. here, if you cause an accident, it's your fault for being reckless. in China, it's the other guy's fault for not watching out. you should have a chinese person explain this to you. and you should talk to them about politics.

for three weeks, Jingping was gone home to china and i had to fend for myself. i went to a wedding and went to texas, and did some schooly things, kind of, part timeish.

okay, then last weekend i took Jingping down to tennessee to see Lisa's wedding and meet my sister and michael and other people. now, i expected Michael Murphy, aka Murf, aka Circuitry News, would be there, and I expected i'd finally get to sit down and talk about a robot with him. alas, he didn't show.

so, then we went to kingston springs, and i took jingping to see the famous Harpeth River, and the slave tunnel, and we walked up on the big tall ridge between the Narrows and looked down on the cow pastures.

now things seem back to normal schedule, as i'm here in the lab at 10:55 not working on this paper i should be working on. i just typed up a results section, now i need to read this discussion over... and i have one good new subject and two not good subjects, one of whom is myself. and the company that is supposed to be repairing my test lens frames for correcting refractive errors keeps saying the part is back ordered, so i ordered a whole new set of frames from them, and they won't get back to me about it, and then i find out it's the end of the fiscal year so i'm not supposed to be ordering anything at all anyway until july the 1st.

so there we go, all caught up, now blogspot can go back to dying.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"peanut butter sandwich,
how do i love thee-
person makes too much noise,
hard for me to think."

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Save as draft

Nina: Argo, you look depressed. Did Walmarto get to you?

Argo: You know, sometimes I think, the last great change to the human experience was the telephone. I mean, cars and planes let you get places faster, but it's just a quantitative thing. You get to a place sooner, but you could have walked there if you wanted.

Bellboy: What about computers? Or the internet? People love that stuff.

Nina: Not this again.

Argo: Yeah, but they didn't add anything new. People could already read and write. People already could do math and science. Now they can do it a lot faster, and without wasting paper. So what?

Bellboy: So what's so great about the telephone? People could already talk to eachother, right? What's so new about that?

Argo: Because now they could talk to eachother and not have to be in the same place. It was like, suddenly, you could be anywhere you wanted to be, or at least your intellect could be there, and you could interact with any other person in the world who also had a phone. That's not quantitative, it's qualitative. That's new.

Bellboy: No it's not, it's just like shouting across the yard. Have you heard of yodeling?

Argo: Right, I thought of that. So I decided I was wrong. It's not the telephone that was the last great thing people came up with.

Bellboy: So what is it then?

Argo: I thought, maybe it's reading and writing. That way, you could communicate with the dead if you wanted, or at least hear what they had to say; and it's kind of like the telephone, where you can talk to someone who's not there, and have them talk back. So really, the telephone is just a high speed postal service.

Bellboy: I have a feeling you didn't settle there either.

Argo: Right. Reading and writing is just like talking. Replacing a human being with a sheet of paper is neat, but it's just a bigger delay, a coagulation of soundwaves. A person speaks, and maybe he's heard a few milliseconds later. Or maybe no one's listening. A person writes, and maybe he's read a few years later. Or maybe no one's reading. Writing is to paper as speaking is to air. So I went back further, and thought, maybe it was like in 2001, where the monkey picks up the rock and hits the other monkey with it. Maybe it was the first time one guy realized he didn't need fists or fangs, he could just take a sharp rock and do his buddy in. That was a big advance, right?

Nina: That was a dumb movie.

Bellboy: But just a quantitative advance on fists and fangs, right. One weapon is as good as any other, just faster or sharper or heavier. So did you come to any conclusions?

Argo: I almost decided that there was nothing new, nothing that people had done in all their existence that made them different from all the other monkeys and the other rats. But, then I realized I had forgotten about global isochrony! Surely, that's something new! That's people doing something they've never done before!

Bellboy: But?

Argo: People had kept time since sundials, and before. Waking up and killing something and going to sleep is a sort of keeping time. What's so special about everyone keeping the same time? Why is that different from one person keeping his own time?

(Long silence)

(Ms Sandy enters)

Ms Sandy: Argo, kitchen. Now.

(Ms Sandy leaves)

Argo: Tonight, I am going to set this place on fire.

Bellboy: That will be something new.

Nina: I'll say.

(Argo leaves)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Emblem. Emblem emblem emblem.

Dr Walmarto: I have a problem.

Argo: What is it, Doc?

Dr Walmarto: Often, I-

(Nina enters)

Argo: Go on, Doc, what's the problem?

Nina: Walmarto has a problem? What's wrong, Doc?

Dr Walmarto: See, often I am unable to-

(Bellboy enters)

Bellboy: Man! That guy won't stop talking! When is this thing going to be over?

Nina: Shush! Walmarto's telling us his problem!

Bellboy: Is it about his father? Doc, you don't have to do this.

Argo: And why not?

Bellboy: Because you and Nina will laugh at him, that's why.

Nina: Will not! How can you say that?

Argo: I think you undervalue our respective capacities for empathy, Bellboy. I am an excellent listener, and Nina can be very perceptive. Combined, we will make this very worthwhile.

Nina: Right, now Doc, what's going on?

Dr Walmarto: Often, too often, I am unable to discriminate between Tracey Chapman and Dan Fogelberg. They peaked twenty years apart, are of different gender, and of different racial makeup, and yet-

Argo: That's pretty lame, Doc.

Nina: Yeah, that's a pathetic problem. I wouldn't tell people about it.

Argo: You suck, Doc.

(Argo leaves)

Nina: Anyway, Bellboy, the speaker stops at eleven, that's what Ms Sandy said. Then they're giving out awards, then it's all over.

Bellboy: That really is a silly problem Doc. I wouldn't let it bother you.

Dr Walmarto: My father always told me he wanted-

Nina: Doc, we're not falling for it. It's eleven, Bellboy, you should get ready for the escapees.

(Nina leaves)

Dr Walmarto: He always told me he wanted to go to Sweden, to see the ice foxes.

Bellboy: Are there ice foxes in Sweden?

Dr Walmarto: They're lovely! Beautiful white fur, like a snowy flame enveloping a puppydog. They eat only snow, and they never, ever urinate.

Bellboy: O, eleven comes! And I, trapped, with Walmarto, sigh to Great Heaven.

Dr Walmarto: Sad, it's so sad.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"what have i here, but i have two brass screws
on my desk, but though i type and drink
from this cup of coke from mcdonalds, still
i wonder," i wondered.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Head on a string

Argo: Where is the cheese?

(Nina enters)

Argo: Where is the cheese? The cheese I put right here, just a minute ago?

Italio: Non so.

Argo: Italio, what did you do with the cheese? We have a full platter of GCSs on order, and you're hiding the cheese?

Nina: Argo, we have to get the food out before the invocation at ten. Ms Sandy is going crazy!

Argo: I know, I know! Italio! What's your problem?

Italio: Non sono buono, Argo. Ho un dolore della stomache.

Argo: Speak English, Italio! Where is the cheese? Where is the cheese, man!

Nina: This isn't working.

Italio: I know.

Argo: Oh, here it is. The cheese.

Nina: My god.

(Nina leaves)

Italio: Have you ever had the thought that people just sort of float around, like those trains that crawl up the sides of mountains, except that the body is like the train-

Argo: You mean a cable car?

Italio: That's it, a cable car.

Argo: So what's the cable, then? The brain?

Italio: Sort of. I mean, I guess I was thinking that the cable is the wanting to do things in the future that we all have. Or that we all sort of have. If you stop wanting to do things in the future, the car falls down the mountain, and that's the end of it.

Argo: Are you depressed, Italio?

Italio: Someone told me this story the other day, about a guy who breaks a really important promise, then has to kill himself. And everyone understands.

Argo: Nina! Nina!

Italio: So now, I walk around, and everyone I see is like a floating head, with legs and arms just sort of dangling underneath, and the head just drags them all around, on some invisible cable that's always extending off to the future somewhere.

(Nina enters)

Nina: What is it? Señora Plankton almost spilled her coffee when you yelled out like that!

Argo: Talk to Italio, he's talking about killing himself.

Italio: Not exactly, Argo. You see, Nina-

Argo: Biscuits.

Nina: What?

Italio: I wasn't talking about killing myself, Nina. I was just telling Argo about this idea I had.

Nina: I had a dream last night, Italio. I dreamed that you were telling me a boring story, and that you had just told it to Argo.

Argo: Ha!

Italio: That's strange.

Nina: It just went on, and on, and on. And Señora Saladmaker was screaming for coffee and carrotcake, and you just kept on talking.

Italio: What was I talking about?

Nina: It was something about how people are just like those cars that drive around in grooves in the ground, and-

Argo: The Tin Lizzies!

Nina: I don't think that's it.

Italio: You know, I was just telling Argo about something very similar. You see, I had suggested that people were just like-

(Nina leaves)

Argo: Italio, where is the butter?

Italio: Who's there?

Argo: I don't have time for this.

(Ms Sandy enters)

Ms Sandy: Boys! Where are those sandwiches? It's ten o' clock, and the invocation has started! Which of you is going to apologize to Sñr Pluto for this foul up?

Italio: Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe we're all just like balloons, but we're tied to the ground because we can't get out of our shoes. Maybe when my watch says 'Italio, it's 5 o' clock, it's time to go home', it's actually saying, 'Italio, you fool, don't go home! Go to Mexico and get in a fight with a Guatemalan! Go down the street and buy a bottle of strawberry milk and drink it and cry, and cry, and cry, because it's the last strawberry milk you'll ever have! Live, Italio! Live!'

Ms Sandy: But watches don't say such things. They rule us like the cowards we are, they don't free us to drink milk and go to Chiapas. Sandwiches, boys, sandwiches!

Argo: I don't wear a watch.

Monday, March 27, 2006


"Wow, things really are hard."
"This is what I was thinking. Or, it was the first thing that came to mind."
"Also what came to mind, is how different this would look spelled phonetically."
"Or with a different alphabet."
"A phonetic alphabet."
"All alphabets are phonetic."
"No they aren't."
"I see, by your ironic example of the '."
"That's not really a referring to a sound though, so it's not an example."
"So I perceive irony where there is none."
"That is often the case."
"Anyway, things are hard."
"Right, they are hard. Sometimes they are hard."
"No, they always are hard. Never easy."
"I disagree, for me things often are easy."
"It is hard for me to believe you."
"Perhaps this is a problem of perception."
"I think that easiness and hardness are always things that are perceived."
"True enough, though you evade my true meaning."
"Is it interesting how you can have linked antonyms?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like rough :: smooth :: difficult :: easy :: hard :: soft :: crunchy :: squishy."
"I've never thought about that."
"So, is it interesting?"
"In a pointless sort of way, yes."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


{Due to the slight, in fact nearly zero, yet real possibility that the topic/s of this post's previous incarnation might read it and kill me, I instead bring you the following vignette:}

Toby: Morning, Bellboy! Quite a morning!

Bellboy: Yes sir, Toby sir.

Toby: What's the special today, my boy?

Bellboy: You'd have to ask Nina, Toby sir.

Toby: Well, get her in here.

Bellboy: Nina! Fat rich man to see you!

Toby: What was that?

{Nina enters}

Nina: Yes fat Toby?

Toby: You, Bellboy, you call Ms Sandy in here right now! I won't stand for this!

Bellboy: Argo! Argo! Fight between fat rich man and dinner jacket!

Toby: What?

{Argo enters}

Argo: Did I hear... Dinner Jacket Fight?

Nina: Hurrah!

Bellboy: Now, sir, your jacket!

Toby: What are you doing! Unhand me, you scalawag! Ms Sandy! Ms Sandy!

Argo & Nina: Jacket! Jacket! Jacket!

Bellboy: Taking bets!

{Ms Sandy enters}

Ms Sandy: Bellboy! Nina's brunch tips on the jacket!

Bellboy: Taken!

Toby: Someone help! Help me!

Nina: Wherever you go, there you are.

Argo: 10 o' clock, and the cows have placed their bets.

Ms Sandy: Nina, Argo, inside! Soon the banquet guests will begin to arrive!

(Argo, Nina, & Ms Sandy): Jacket! Jacket! Jacket!

Bellboy: Jacket, TKO on the big staircase!

(Argo, Bellboy, Nina & Ms Sandy): Hooray!

(Argo, Nina, & Ms Sandy leave)

Toby: Little did we know, setting out, that isochrony would prove to be a device for the enslavement of mankind. Living to the pulse of mechanical monstrosities, living and dying to numbers and dials, dying without a thought to time, except that there was more to be had. Curse this jacket! Curse isochrony! Curse these slaves!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Okay, so last night was interesting. Really, all day yesterday was interesting, but I'll just describe last night here.

See, Jingping is of course a foreigner, and on top of that an asian foreigner; on top of that, a Chinese asian foreigner, which means that she is a prime target of Evangelical Christians. So, when she arrived here, she went on social getting-to-know America functions, etc., and joined up with a Contact Family who would invite her to family dinners and church functions, etc. So, she had asked me to go along with her to the next one. I agreed; she just knew it was some sort of Easter performance. I thought, okay, I haven't been to church in almost 10 years, this could be interesting. Gosh, was it interesting!

You see, this wasn't just a church. This was one of those Megachurches I've read about. The building is as big as Neyland stadium. The congregation is something like 20,000 people. I think this is the place (Southeast Christian Church) which broadcast Bill Frist's big creepy christian network message last spring when there was the whole stupid political filibuster judgey thing. So, it was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a church service.

No! This was the life of Jesus, performed over 2 hours with professional lighting, an orchestra, a cast of dozens of costumed actors, maybe a thousand extras, special effects, angels lowered from the 200 foot vaulted ceiling, and, of course, the five 20 foot television screens positioned above the stage so that all the thousands of people in the audience could get a good cinematic look at the faces of the actors.

Needless to say, I was scared to death. Jingping was genuinely entertained by the whole thing, and was absolutely confused by my terror, though I did derive a sort of enjoyment from the experience; she, being a geniune Chinese communist, seems completely immune to it all, and takes it as a sort of cultural tourism, while I'm sitting there thinking about what a hive of weirdness and complete unreality surrounds me, and how did I get here, and how can there be so many of these people, and do they all really think that in the end Jesus flew up into the sky with everyone singing songs out of a Simpson's parody?

I mean, he flew up into the upper tier at the end, on wires, and everyone is cheering and singing. My mouth was hanging open. I had heard of these things, seen satire of it, but I never thought I would see one. These people are serious! These people are crazy. It was entertaining, though, and Jingping and I got to have a long and confusing argument about religion and communism and democracy and single-party systems and truth-being-relative, while eating dumplings and having a headache, and man, my brain was tired! Fun fun fun! You can try and guess who took each side, and what was agreed on and disagreed on, and what she thought I disagreed with but didn't, and what I expected her to disagree with but didn't.


And that was only the end of yesterday! Yesterday, a nice day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The stars, like peanuts

Argo: Lately I've been really staticky. I don't understand why.

Bellboy: You mean you keep getting shocks?

Argo: Yeah. Every time I touch anything metal, I get a little shock. It's been going on for weeks.

Bellboy: I've had that happen before. It's probably a combination of this weird weather and the fact that you don't use fabric softener.

Argo: The weather has been strange, hasn't it? It's freezing one day, then nice and warm the next; then a big storm, then it's cold, then it snows. It's like the seasons have been alternating every half week. Everything seems out of sync.

Bellboy: I've been thinking about that global isochrony thing, you know? How time is the same wherever you go. It's strange to think about, about how there's this rigid time-structure all over the planet, and that people obey it like crazy, but that there are these natural forces that just drift around, oblivious, paying no attention at all.

Argo: I've wondered if you can see it from space. Maybe the whole planet is ticking, you know? Especially during the day time, but probably all over; maybe there's this periodic hourly pulse emitted from the surface of the Earth, along with the background noise created by thunderstorms and random human activity. An hourly pulse, probably blurred over a few minutes, on noise, windowed by a 24 hour amplitude cycle.

Bellboy: That's crazy, man.

(Ms Sandy enters)

Ms Sandy: I demand to know what's going on! Where are Dr Walmarto's slippers? I told you, you ugly bellboy, you are not to bring that monstrosity onto this property!

Argo: I take offense at that, cow.

Ms Sandy: What did you-

Bellboy: The monstrosity isn't here, Ms Sandy, it's home recharging. We were just standing here, discussing something.

Ms Sandy: Was it global isochrony? Were you discussing global isochrony again? It's almost nine o' clock, there is work to be done, and I will not have this talk of global isochrony! It's madness!

Bellboy: It's not madness, it's-

Ms Sandy: Bellboy, shut your ugly mouth! Argo, to the kitchen, we have a banquet to prepare for. Where is Nina? Ugly little Nina!

(Ms Sandy leaves)

Argo: That woman is doomed. She has sealed her stinking, crawling fate.

Bellboy: Could you cook me a grilled cheese sandwich? I'm starving.

Argo: Sure, I'll send Pablo out.

(Argo leaves)

Bellboy: The engine of the Earth's peoples carries on, pulsing into space, ticking like a clock, rotating and revolving through the void! A tiny world teeming with pulsars, all calling our names, synchronized in perfect global isochrony!

Monday, February 13, 2006

No bananas

Theo: Where am I?

Nina: "Where you are today,
you will not be tomorrow,
neither yesterday."

Theo: What? Who are you?

Nina: I am your guide in this place, a place of ethereal wonder.

Theo: Yes, okay.

(Ms Sandy enters)

Ms Sandy: Nina, get back to the kitchen! Put your hat back on!

Nina: Yes, Ms Sandy. Here is your omelet, Sir.

(Nina leaves)

Theo: What is this... thing? It smells like eggs.

Ms Sandy: That, sir, is an omelet. It is in fact made from eggs.

Theo: Who are you? What is this place?

Ms Sandy: Tell me, Theo, have you ever heard of something called global isochrony?

Theo: What is that? Who is Theo?

Ms Sandy: In just a few minutes, the time will become seven o' clock. When that happens, you will understand everything. In the meantime, tell me what you know about global isochrony.

Theo: What is this thing? It smells like eggs. I would like some coffee.

Ms Sandy: Absolutely! Nina, immediately!

(Nina enters)

Nina: Yes Ms Sandy!

Ms Sandy: Our guest would like some coffee, ugly little Nina! Right away!

(Nina leaves)

Ms Sandy: Theo, that is an omelet. It is made from eggs, and cheese. Sometimes people put onions or other things inside. Yours is made only from eggs and cheese.

Theo: What are you talking about? Who are you? Where am I?

Ms Sandy: In 1884, in Washington DC, president Chester A. Arthur called an international conference to discuss a system of globally isochronous time. It was not legally binding or anything, of course, as there were at this time no international institutions such as the United Nations. It was just a good idea.

Theo: What am I doing? I taste eggs.

Ms Sandy: You are eating an omelet, Theo. How does it taste?

Theo: Where is my coffee?

(Nina enters)

Nina: Ms Sandy, hurry, there's been an accident in the kitchen! There's blood everywhere!

Ms Sandy: What? Theo, you wait here!

(Argo): Ye gods, not again!

(Ms Sandy leaves)

Theo: Who are you?

Nina: I am your ethereal muse, brought alongside to trade in cheese, wine, and slaves.

Theo: What are you talking about? Where am I?

Nina: You are in hell, Theo. You are in hell, and I am the devil. I'm here to torture you. Eat your eggs, and then I can continue with your treatment. Eat quickly, because-

Theo: Bellboy! Bring my coat!

(Bellboy enters)

Bellboy: Nina! Where is your hat? Ms Sandy will be angry if she sees you without it.

Nina: Ms Sandy and Argo are cleaning up a mess in the kitchen. You and I are free to do whatever we like.

Theo: Coat! Bring my bellboy!

Bellboy: Well, if you're not wearing your hat, I'm not wearing mine.

Nina: That's the spirit! Give Theo his coat, and we can sneak off for a little while.

(Nina and Bellboy leave)

Theo: President Arthur, what a man! Little did he know that one day global isochrony would be a basic and subliminal fact of human existence. Or maybe he did know it. We'll never know what he knew, or at least, we'll never know whether or not what we know is the same as what he knew. What a tremendous world.

Monday, February 06, 2006

How Things Get Out of Sync

Argo: I was thinking today about something which I think is called 'global isochrony'.

Bellboy: What's that?

Argo: It's where everybody on the planet who has a clock, which is a lot of the people, or everybody on the planet who has to meet some clock-borne schedule, which is even more of the people, where they all change hours at the same time.

Bellboy: Why were you thinking today about that?

Argo: I don't really know.

Bellboy: Well, did you figure anything out?

Argo: Not really. I mean, I thought about it, and tried to look up something about it.

Bellboy: Did you find anything?

Argo: Well, I found a term, I think it was 'global isochrony', which I think applies to what I was thinking about. And I found that the institution of 'Time Zones' is what keeps global isochrony in place.

(Ms Sandy enters)

Ms Sandy: Hi there boys, good morning!

Bellboy: Why hello, Ms Sandy!

Ms Sandy: What are you two talking about this time of morning? Shouldn't you be cooking breakfast, Argo?

Argo: No breakfast this morning, Ms Sandy. I am vexed.

Bellboy: Ms Sandy, have you ever heard of something called 'global isochrony'?

Ms Sandy: No I haven't, and you'd do well to keep your ugly mouth shut. Argo, get to the kitchen.

(Ms Sandy leaves)

Argo: I'm glad she's gone. I don't like her.

Bellboy: Keep your voice down, she might come back.

Argo: I don't care. If she talks to me like that again, I'm going to stick this finger in her eye.

Bellboy: Okay, but first tell me what you learned about global isochrony.

Argo: That's it, I told you all I know. All the countries in the world live in time zones. What I was wondering was, when did this happen? I mean, back when they were laying railroads down, and suddenly you had reliable schedules, it was time to make departure and arrival times official; so, it was a good idea to synchronize all the clocks.

Bellboy: Right. But when did this happen? Or has it completely happened yet?

Argo: Exactly! That's what I wanted to know. When did local isochrony become global isochrony? Was there an International Time Zone Treaty? How many people are left who have no connection at all to hourly time? There are still herders and jungle people aren't there? They don't use clocks do they?

(Ms Sandy returns)

Ms Sandy: Argo, get to the kitchen! Sñr Pluto wants eggs and waffles, and he wants them now. Your pay will be docked for every moment Sñr Pluto goes without eggs and waffles. Argo, get your dirty finger out of my eye!

Argo: Six o' clock. Right now people are clocking in, clocking out, meeting new people, saying hello, opening up, closing shop, starting class, making phonecalls, tuning in their televisions, their radios-

(Argo and Ms Sandy leave)

Bellboy: Everywhere, alarms are waking people up, children are being put to bed, chimes are ringing! Global isochrony is amazing!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wow, my posting rate is really down. Really, I just can't think of anything to write about.

Anyway, the other day Jingping and I were talking about memory. We were talking about how strange it is to remember things from very, very early on. I point out that things seem dim in most of my oldest memories, like the lights are turned down low; she pointed out that the very earliest ones seem almost completely visual. It's true for me: I can remember images from when I was 3 or 4 years old, and specific events from as early as 4; but, I can't remember many details of what it was like to experience those things.

Anyway, people, what's the earliest things you can remember? I know for certain that I can remember my 4th birthday. Some other, foggier recollections seem to be even older, but I have no way of dating them.

Okay, that's it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Post

I'm sure everyone is wondering how Andrew is doing. This morning he had a short snowball fight with a girl! For the time being, life is good.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Let's talk about the number '2006'.

What makes it special?

First, we should find its factors. These include 2, 17, and 59; a sparse number, with only 3 factors! Not as sparse as 2005, however, whose only factors were 5 and 401. What this means I cannot say, though I sense that big prime numbers are dangerous things. Maybe this will be a better year. Next year has the factors 3, 3, and 223, and while 223 is a pretty number it is also a relatively big prime (11% of the year of which it is a part, compared with this year's 3% and last year's 20%), so maybe we should take advantage of this year's maximum primeness of 59.

This is of course assuming that prime factors of years have any significance at all. It could be we should be using a lunar calander, or incorporating month, day, or even time along with year. These things are difficult and it is correspondingly difficult to understand them.

I must stress that while 59 may seem to be an innocuous number, it is not coincidentally also the sum of the days in the first two months of the year (or the second and third months of the year). So this may be a signal to do all you can in these days because then the next prime is 17, which terrifies me, coming as it does between 13 and 19.

Now, factors done and considered, what else could be special about 2006? Why, this is the future, and no one can know what the future holds. This could be the year in which fusion power takes hold, or man returns to the Moon, or he travels beyond! Machines could become sentient and enslave humankind, or a terrible Metavirus could sweep the Earth and destroy indiscriminately 99.7% of all human life.

I however suspect that 2006 will be suspiciously similar to 2005. On a small scale, of course, since we are so very small, noisy fluctuations due to the heat of the Earth's mantle may be perceptible to us, as changes in quality of life, love or comfort, or ups and downs in the state of politics. Remember, however, that this is just noise due to the heat emanating from the Earth's molten core, and that on the average 2006 is exactly like 1906 except with glowing LCD cell phones and lots of little Japonese comic books in the bookstores and probably fewer horses.

In closing remember, you have 53 days left (or possibly 84, but do not count on ambiguities) in which to crustify your dealings for the year 2006. After that time
it may be too late to turn things around.