Huskers squeak through – is it a pattern?

Fortunately no Husker fans read this blog so I won’t get my house firebombed for such disloyal statements as I’ll make here. The Huskers just barely won a game yesterday that they should have put away without breaking a sweat, but, then, other Big10 teams crashed and burned providing more evidence of how weak this conference. Now ‘weak’ is not usually a word connected with the Big10 since the teams love brute force power football and get the players to push everyone around, but ‘weak’ can also apply to: no offense, clueless coaching, and lackadaisical (and arrogant) defense. Except for the heroic effort of a single player yesterday’s game could easily have gone into overtime (what I was expecting (and dreading since the drive home would be awful)) and evenly easily lost since McNeese State didn’t know they were supposed to lose and go home.

So what is the problem (and has been the problem for years). IMHO, it’s actually fairly simple – Nebraska and even all Big10 football doesn’t send quarterbacks to the NFL. And the promising high school kids have tons of information, even agents, to know that if they want the big NFL bucks they have to go to college where their skills will shine. And, that’s not Nebraska. Simple – when is the last time a Nebraska quarterback has (successfully) gone into the NFL? (successful as in Heisman winner Crouch’s fiasco).

But even if some kid who might be good enough, trained by playing in a good NFL level offense, does happen to get recruited to Nebraska the mindless running game, especially expecting the QB to do much of that running, almost guarantees failure in pursuing an NFL career. Now if the Huskers can’t recruit a top-level quarterback, what about receivers? Is some hot hands receiver going to want to come to Nebraska to learn to block?

So in the time I’ve been imprisoned here and, of course, required to both watch and cheer for the Huskers, I’ve seen the same pattern, over and over and over (as stupid Bo said yesterday when only referring to five penalties when NcNeese also had a TD called back and could complain as well, and after all, aren’t most penalties really on coaching, as Bo fakes taking responsibility for). Anyway, it’s run and run and run, the pre-60s style of play that has been over for decades, but still dominates both Nebraska and the Big10.

So other than putting this on the coaches (for a stupid offense and weak recruiting) and then on the fans (who love QB runs since it’s easy to watch and understand and it’s hearkens back to the glory days) I put it squarely on the QB, i.e. Armstrong as merely the latest in a long string of mediocre QBs who get away with mediocrity because they occasionally thrill the crowd with runs.

Playing QB is incredibly hard and I don’t even pretend to understand it. But if you just look at motion on the field and the strategy and tactics it’s not that hard to understand. Despite many teams who love it, QBs should almost never run. Yes, a few situations still exist where it is appropriate but the real job of the QB is to throw.

And as the press and fans endlessly hounded Martinez for throwing mechanics it’s not about a QBs arm and certainly not about their feet (Joe Willy could hardly move and he routed the old Colts in the Superbowl). What it is about is the eyes and mind and particularly ‘situational awareness’.

You can read lots about this. The Air Force and the Navy study it and try to find ways to improve it, even though it’s mostly an innate skill. It is the single thing that really allows combat pilots and QBs to succeed. To take a quick glance of visual information and create in the mind a mental map of all the relevant bits of matter and their trajectories (both first and second derivatives) in space and predict where all these bits will be in the time for a shot (a missile or cannon, or a passed forward) to intersect precisely, meanwhile with the hostile forces not in a position to interfere with your attack.

And the great QBs, like Joe Montana, have this quality in spades. It is the cornerstone of QB greatness.

Now it’s hard enough to recruit a QB with exceptional situational awareness, it is even harder to train them to maximize this skill. And every run interferes with this.

A QB has an unbelievably difficult task that he must accomplish in just a few seconds. For the great one time slows down and they see the field and all the moving bits of matter clearly; for the mediocre ones they have to study it AND they end up focusing only on a small section of the entire area where they should have situational awareness.

So that is hard enough BUT then throw in running and even the best QB’s senses go to pot. In that 2-3 seconds to intuitively and instinctively plot the course of all the moving bits of matter, distracting that awareness, even for milliseconds to look for gaps to run through destroys the coherency of the QBs view of the field. A QB who thinks running is an option is NOT devoting 100% of his situational awareness to throwing the ball. Many Husker QBs I’ve watched are even worse than Armstrong at this.

But it’s also the fans and the press. A Husker QB is not going to the NFL so the field and crowd at Memorial Stadium will be his glory days. So when he misses a read and tucks and runs, but then gets some yards and the fans, who don’t realize this was actually a MISTAKE then scream their heads off. That goes to the head of a glory seeking young man where those screams from the crowd are the biggest payday he’s going to get.

A great running back doesn’t see the whole field, he sees the obstacles in front of him, instantly computes how to be stronger or more agile than the bits of matter along his route – his focus is a narrow tunnel a few yards long. A QB has to look at about 1/3 acre!! of field and at least 10 moving bits of matter. That’s incredibly difficult and if his focus shifts to that narrow corridor a running back sees, he can not possibly regain his feel for an area 100x larger. The run is poison to a QB.

So the Huskers will stumble along. They face a weak schedule. They have 100+ M$ to put incredible muscle and conditioning on their players. They can move mountains. They just can’t move the ball when they really have to.

Plus in watching this team only once I can remember did they really fight to win. They’re so used to dominating and being safely in front that when the going gets tough they collapse. Independently of how much better Oregon is do you really think the Huskers could have rallied to defeat Michigan State yesterday.

I cringe every time I hear Bo talking about how he’ll have to watch the film and figure out what to do next week. Come on – you’re not getting huge bucks to take A WEEK to figure out what happened on Saturday – you do it in real time. Did USC or Oregon win yesterday because their coach spent hours watching film? No, they adjusted, right there, on the field in real time and turned adversity into advantage. Bo’s brain is just too damned slow to even be on the field on Saturdays – he should get coaches who think fast (which, of course, would embarrass him) and let them run the game if he can’t think fast enough to command the game in real time.

But most of all, absolutely most of all, they need QBs who couldn’t run if you attached jets to their feet so their entire, 101%, attention is focused on one and only one thing – getting the ball to the player who is supposed to run, whether by hand or by arm. DON’T RUN!

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Coffee is going to throw anti-GMO crowd into a tizzy

With the recent announcement of the sequencing of the plant Coffea canephora the Luddite segment of the food movement will face a real dilemma. Can you see how?

Well, the DNA sequencing reveals the genes involved in caffeine production. And with that sequencing in hand, plus a bit more research on regulators, it’s just a matter of time before a GMO with knockdown of some gene critically involved in the caffeine production pathway is developed, i.e. coffee that is now grown as decaf.

Of course the scientifically ignorant anti-GMO crowd will snort and stomp their feet declaring war on this latest frankenfood, BUT they will have an interesting problem (quite a few of them personally).

You think the process for taking caffeine out of coffee today is gentle and benign?

No it involves harsh and toxic chemical treatment of the coffee with the undoubted effect of leaving some of those chemicals behind in their morning almond-milk latte’s. And we all know how evil chemicals and processed foods are.

So, guess what – the GMO decaf will be completely “natural” (and it can be organic and possibly even fair trade as well). IOW, the GMO version will be less evil than its chemically processed cousin.

Now other than giving up coffee altogether the anti-technology wingnuts of the anti-GMO movement will then, as the saying goes, “choose their poison” – which one will it be? It will be amusing to watch them try to spin whatever choice they make. And what company will end up the patents and be the new Monsanto to kick around?

Pretty soon the food Luddites will completely join up with the creationists and demand a stop to science because truth has this nasty way of creating these dilemmas.


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Time to trust Apple with your money, too!

Other than the fact that Apple probably sneaked this article out through their PR firm to get someone under press byline to publish it and therefore it looks like Wired, rather than Apple, has unbelievable audacity. This is Monty Python level of genius. Apple is all over the new, while their denials and spin (they fix an “issue” but won’t admit it was the cause) by their lousy iCloud security thus scandalizing celebrities who are dumb enough to think a nude picture they take on their iPhone won’t be scooped up by Apple and then lost.

With that stunning security breach now the claim is I should put all my credit cards under Apple’s control (with who knows what backdoors) and of course eventually not even use credit cards at all but just Apple will take over.

Not only is this article stupid by its unbelievably ironic and bad timing, but it falls on so many other grounds even I don’t have enough words to describe them all, but let’s pick a few gems:

The money may move digitally, at least after the analog swipe of the card, but it’s still along the same old networks, a kind of parallel internet built to handle credit cards long before the web, much less the iPhone, existed.

Old-fashioned isn’t stupid and new isn’t smart (again, check your photos Apple might have lost as well). “same old networks”, otherwise known as secure. Thank you Visa and MasterCard for using old technology that both works and is less hackable. And thank you for taking responsibility when something does go wrong (rather than Apple’s ridiculous spin as to how none of this is their fault, the famous Apple arrogance at work once again).

But most of all, do I really think the iPhone is the end-all, be-all, esp. as it now is falling further and further behind and the only thing Apple is going to do with iPhone6 is copy Samsung’s innovations from several years ago. Apple is a brand, not really a product, and slowly the public is deciding brand, but inferior, doesn’t cut it. So, come on Wired, you really think the phone that is a small fraction of all smartphones is going to drive payment systems! Why don’t you disclose how much Apple stock you own to shill for them so much.

At first, an iPhone wallet likely would act as a surrogate for credit cards, a way to store the data of multiple cards but using the phone as the way to transfer that data instead of a swipe. But over time, the point of holding onto any of those cards, which become digital abstractions once they’re on the phone, likely will fall away. Instead, for all anyone with an iPhone is concerned, the way to pay will be Apple.

Now this 20-something that wrote this probably doesn’t have enough credit cards to realize there are actually reasons to have multiple cards: the simplest is loyalty programs (I use my Amazon card at Amazon, my airline card at airlines, my Amex at Costco, and so forth – nope, don’t want a single card, esp. an Apple one), and the most interesting is, peace of mind (have you ever maxed out a card and then discovered you could use the other, or as once I found I hadn’t notified my card company I was on expensive trip and they cut me off thinking the card had been stolen, but alas, I had a backup card). Come on, Apple is going to control all my money with a one-size-fits-all needs. You probably never bought anything on a “secret” card where you pay online so maybe someone else in your household doesn’t happen to know about that purchase.

internet-based alternative to the existing credit card network standards with the aim of moving money in real time

Now this is silly on several levels: 1) Internet isn’t moving money, merely the information that triggers transfers in the banking system, which most assuredly is NOT on the Internet, 2) the existing credit card communication systems are just as “real time” (and might actually move money since they’re often banks), and, 3) WTF do I care whether money moves in realtime? If money really moves in realtime, from my POV, that’s called a debit card, not a credit card. If I only pay for stuff once a month, what difference does it make to me whether the store gets paid in 0.1 second or 10 seconds or 10 days. So who does your allegedly better “real time” movement of money help? And why should I care?

And then there is this little gem:

‘Apple’s already got a great mobile wallet. You use it all the time when you buy something on iTunes.’

As Stupid Sarah would say, You Betcha. But using that logic wouldn’t Amazon be my choice to handle my other transactions given that Amazon has lots of cards on file and you can buy lots and lots and lots of things at Amazon, not just a few tunes. You’re going to claim iTunes is some gigundo innovation when Amazon (and lots of others) were doing the same thing long before Apple. And even if you’re amazed by Apple (and not by Amazon), why not Google, who is a lot more omnipresent than Apple.

And here’s a frightening scenario:

In that world, it’s Apple, not the credit card companies, that have the control, even if those iPhone wallets are being used to “store” those credit cards.

This is a good thing! Brilliant Apple who almost releases nude photos is going to have control over my pocketbook. No, thank you. Are they going to protect me the way the credit card companies do? What about credit limits when “credit card becomes abstract”?

And just in case that didn’t scare me enough, there’s this:

Once the credit card becomes that hidden (do you remember which one is connected to your iTunes account?), it’s only a short logical step to that card being eliminated altogether. Apple could get into the credit side of the game itself.

Why do I want Apple in the credit side of the game? What could they possibly bring to the party? Are they so wonderfully innovative (in fact, these days are they even innovative at all, instead of now following MSFT’s business strategy of just copying first-movers) they can magically make, for me, buying things on credit somehow better.

For a while I tried using Starbuck’s app to pay there. Sorry, it’s actually way easier to use my gold Starbucks card instead. And guess what – same effect either way, my Starbuck’s account is immediately debited (and I doubt that’s somehow happening in the iPhone, folks, that’s one of those old-fashioned systems, on servers and networks doing that) and if it drops below a limit Starbucks reloads my card (same as if I use app) and I pay the bill monthly. Card always words, app sometimes does and when it does, same result as using the card. And getting my wallet out of my pocket is just so much harder than getting my phone out of my pocket – gosh, it might burn one whole calorie more work.

And the stupidity keeps on rolling:

Apple has the ability to succeed where Google and the few NFC-enabled Android phones to hit the market never could, because Apple controls the hardware and the software. Google supported NFC with its own wallet, but few handsets came out with the chips inside, since few payment terminals would take them.

Duh, fellows, does Apple control the payment terminals? Who cares about controlling the hardware of a phone that is a small fraction (and getting smaller) of the market. The payment terminals, if they get used, are certainly going to handle Android phones (and probably even Windows Phones) as well and Apple has got nothing to do with that hardware. Just stupid, folks – can’t you think logically. Oh, of course not, your love affair with Apple has you blind.

Except unlike a smartphone, a credit card doesn’t do anything else. The credit card companies themselves see this day coming.

Neither does a toilet, but you won’t see me expecting that from Apple. Nor a car, or a house, or clothes, or a doctor, or a … What utter nonsense it is to think I expect a single device to do everything and won’t possibly have anything else.

So enough, the idea here is silly and the article supported the silly idea is just downright stupid. YMMV.

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Don’t eat chemicals!

I haven’t ridiculed popular nutrition/diet sources for a while so I guess it’s time. I’ll start with this one, as usual from one of the worst sources of woo, HuffPo’s Healthy Living section (why do I keep reading HuffPo, not only are most of their articles stupid (and I am a leftie but like truth) their HTML and Javascript constantly destroy my browser). Anyway here’s the amusingly stupid article under seemingly innocuous title; the first line is killer:

Many of the foods we eat are full of chemicals.

MANY? How about ALL you silly person. This reminds me of the line in Casablanca:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Employee of Rick’s: [hands Renault money] Your winnings, sir.

Someone is telling my food contains chemicals. Then they throw out a long chemical name to scare me. Wow, I bet my food contains: dihydrogen oxide (must be source of horrible anti-oxidants),  or even  O-α-D-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-D-fructofuranoside (and that shit might actually kill you) and there are probably lots of disulfide bonds among the amine and carboxyl groups of the polypeptides.

You dumbshits – learn some chemistry before you start denouncing chemicals in foods or long chemical names.

Oh, I’m supposed to realize they actually mean “added chemicals” which of course are always awful in comparison to organic/local/range-fed/hook-caught chemicals many of which are far more toxic (hey writer, have you had the guts to try fugu in Japan? I have.)

This Luddite mentality of nutrition is totally stupid. People need legitimate, honest, accurate and helpful information about eating and health, not politics. Where are the facts in any article like this instead of just scare tactics. No wonder the public just tunes all this stuff out, the industry shills telling us everything is wonderful, the nutrition scolds telling us everything will kill us (wait until somebody finds something wrong with kale, oh gosh, they have – organic green stuff is the more common cause of food poisoning with raw milk a close second, so rather than a small dose of known and tested “chemicals” you ingest unknown amounts of well-known pathogens – smart!)

And of course there is also always this bit:

If you’re concerned, there are thankfully plenty of preservative-free items out there. They might spoil a little bit quicker, but at least you won’t be eating any calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid.

That’s right, Mr. Elitist. When there are countless millions, maybe billions of people eating from trash dumps, we spoiled first-worlders are prepared to throw out perfectly good food because we’re scared of a long chemical name (which, btw, suppresses thoroughly organic organisms with long Latin names) because we can afford to be wasteful and ignore the rest of the world starving.

The same issue applies to anti-GMO nonsense. Oh sure let’s condemn factory agriculture because we’re rich enough to eat hand-grown organic local stuff when huge portion of the world’s population would be happy to get anything to put in their bellies – the arrogance! (And most of these folks are otherwise liberals, but they like their perqs just as much as the Wall Street traders)

So let’s hear it for chemical free food otherwise known as no food at all and see how much you like that diet.



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Adding history & results to my vocabulary application

(I originally posted this to my special blog on this application but thought it is worth reposting here as well).

I’ve built quizzes (aka vocabulary drills) several times when I’ve built this kind of application before. One problem I’m trying to solve this time (at all, or better than previous attempts) is to get the drills to be more relevant relative to how well I already know words (or in some cases combinations of words, like the titles (on menus) of certain dishes.

I got interested in this decades ago due to a simple situation. I once went a very nice Italian restaurant in Carmel and its menu was entirely in Italian. At that time I knew very few Italian words so I was completely lost reading the menu. Of course as the restaurant was in the U.S. with English as the native language of the waiters it was easy enough to ask the waiters about the menu items, but of course that blew my pseduo-sophistication about being a worldly gourmet. As a result I set out to create a small “cheatsheet” I could carry in my wallet should I be faced with this situation again. I did this in the very early days of Net access so I was limited in resources I could use to create my own Italian->English word list so I actually had to buy an Italian dictionary which was very limited in its food-related words so my list was never much good.

Years later when I had Net access I returned to my list (now on PC instead of Mac) and I was able to find a lot more. Plus I now had several Italian cookbooks with the recipe titles in both English and Italian (thus making it easy to deduce some individual food words). So using all the dictionaries or food pages I could find on the Net I generated a much larger list. In fact the list eventually got too big and with too many obscure terms (ingredients used in recipes but unlikely to be listed on menus) but worst my obsession with list building (some people collect stuff, I collect knowledge – it’s cheaper and has some practical value). So I eventually found lists of wines, cheeses, pastas, etc. and so ended up with a list that was way too large to study. Plus I had all the recipe phrases from both my cookbooks and various online sources.

So I needed some sort of drill program. At the time the only programming support I had was the old Visual Basic 6 (mostly pre-OOP). I got an application (since dead on an old archive from older PC) and it worked and I learned many words. But as I never went to Italian nor again to a U.S. Italian restaurant without English items I never used what I learned and so, of course, mostly forgot all I learned. And as I don’t have either the vocabulary list or a working version of the application if I ever get to go to Italy I’ll have to do this all over.

During that exercise, however, I wanted the quizzes/drills (i.e. a word with multiple choice answers) to be constructed in a clever way that used history as well as my knowledge. Rather than be drilled over and over on words I knew I wanted to focus on words I didn’t know or that I had gotten wrong on previous drills. I mostly got that to work with the simple approach of generating a “score” (purely based on history, i.e. how often I’d drilled this word, how accurately I got it right on the drill). I could convert these scores into probabilities by simply summing all the scores and then dividing each individual score by that sum, then choose words randomly but via this non-uniform probability distribution. That helped but still had many flaws in terms of building the ideal learning tool. The biggest problem I had was incorporating time. While working on the project I’d do the drills often and I have good short-term memory so I’d learn words (or recipes) but then a month (or more) later I would have forgotten much of that since I had no occasion to use what I’d learned and thus reinforce it by repetition. But I didn’t forget everything equally so merely adjusting the probabilities by a single measure (time since last drill) didn’t work very well, so this time I’m really going to try to do that better. This was actually exaggerated by my score being tied to frequency of drill. As I got to know words better they came up less often (as expected) and thus often the counts of certain words, the ones I knew best, were lower. So when I’d repeat the drill months later those words tended to come up too frequently so I really wasn’t factoring in time properly. And I wasn’t using the drill tool properly, i.e. forcing myself to do the drills fairly frequently (like at least do one every few days on consistent basis).

I know repetition helps from an actual experience. Once I visited Quebec City at a time when the people there, despite being required to learn English in public school, adamantly insisted on using only French. Now I’d had a little French and so wasn’t entirely lost, but my vocabulary was way too small. Fortunately waiters would be much more helpful if at least you tried to speak French (as I noticed them being very rude to some U.S. people who wouldn’t even try speaking French and/or even complained about no English). But the real interesting effect I noticed was that being inserted in a place where I had to use the local language I rapidly relearned (and learned new) French words. The immersion really helps. Lots of restaurants had pictures or specials or whatever that provided clues, but mostly lots of repetition. A few weeks in a place like that and I would have learned a lot, so when it comes to foreign languages there just is no substitute for repetition and usage.

Now last fall when I thought I would die soon I really wanted to go to Spain. Despite living in California for decades and picking up a word here and there I knew very little Spanish. And on a vacation to Portugal where we tended to go more “native” (i.e. go to little mom-and-pop restaurants instead of the touristy ones) I learned, the hard way, that really visiting a foreign country, outside the big cities, really requires some knowledge of local language, certainly at least in terms of ordering food in restaurants. There are some things I want to eat and other things I definitely don’t want to eat so knowing food vocabulary is essential. So in anticipation of a trip to Spain, despite the globalization that exists today and ESL common in Europe, I wanted to go to out of the way small towns and find the small mom-and-pops and eat there, so I needed the vocabulary. With these previous experiences (Quebec, Germany, Japan (didn’t learn much there but they have plastic food displays and I knew the basics of Kanji so I could copy the title under the plastic food to show to the waiter), and Portugal) I had a pretty good idea what I needed to do to prepare myself for a long visit to Spain. I needed two things: a) large food vocabulary and a few phrases needed in restaurants, and, b) again, a good drill/practice program.

So I set out to create the list, but I went about it a bit naively. I’d developed tactics before (with my Italian list) to find multiple sources and consolidate these on a spreadsheet where I indexed each entry by the word (or recipe), by what source I’d found to mine (extract terms with translations) or if I extracted word from a menu listing what online dictionary I’d for translation, and then all the disparate definitions (given online sources are often wrong or use somewhat bizarre translations) so I could, after getting lots of raw data, generate a single and succinct translation. So far so good EXCEPT what I failed to realize is that Spanish food terms are not universal: those in Mexico (or esp. Puerto Rico) may be quite different than in Spain. Plus in more third-world places that use Spanish or smaller restaurants in Spain unique vocabulary would be used (certainly true in Basque country of Spain, but even Catalan was different too). And I’d learned something interesting in China (where my hosts selected food but I asked them lots of questions) that often local ingredients are used, esp. vegetables, that literally don’t have any English equivalent (either the word translation or even that such an ingredient would even be available in the U.S.) So my Spanish lists was a mish-mash. And then I got a different diagnosis and so dreams of a long visit to Spain evaporated and I dropped the list.

So here I am again, trying to compose a good drill program. This time I’m focused on the harder (less commonly used) English words but the basic problem is the same. And now, especially after my years as architect at EMC I have a better idea how to structure, especially better OOP, such a program so I can make it far more sophisticated and robust. So that’s what I’m doing and I’ll comment on this issue again in more technical detail in another post.

Even though I’m trying to write decent code for this third try at this I realize I’m still doing a bit too much quick-and-dirty coding, not following good design rules. In particular, the approach for drill on less common English words has differences contrasted to drill on foreign language words. So I should have realized this at the start and immediately designed and used an XML “configuration” file that would alter the behavior of the application based on the subject matter. I didn’t do that, so that will be a big hunk of refactoring to now go back and add that, but that’s the subject of another post.

Not very many people write code, especially relatively large programs, for their own personal use. I do it because: a) I like to program, in fact, I started doing it purely for fun (although my first encounter, again had a practical value to me, my feeble and amateurish attempt to create a class scheduling program for my high school), b) the relatively few programs I could just buy (or download for free or use at some website) are fairly pathetic and my programs are a lot better, and, c) during the process of development I actually do some of the learning of the vocabulary itself (this can be a drawback, however).

If I did a really good job of this it might make a nice product with a nice alternative revenue stream (having a “free” player, but selling the vocabularies). It would also be interested to do this as a website (but I dread using ASP.Net instead of a local Windows Forms app, or worse, trying to do Javascript, or even worse, coding an Android app, which, of course, would be handy to actually take with me on a foreign trip (bah-hambug at Apple because iOS is closed to causal developers like me and a smaller bah-hambug at Google and Android makers for making Android development messy). A website, if I could ever attract people to visit, has the fun option of using some “big data” tricks (under assumption I get lots of visits) to actually tune the vocabularies (use big data to determine “difficulty” of words, plus how to make the wrong choices on multiple choice harder so guessing is less possible), but I doubt I’ll bother with that since my patience on a single project only lasts a couple of months before I find some new “fun” project.

But as probably the last time I’ll do this in my lifetime I’m hoping this application I’m doing now will be my best which is part of the reason I’m writing all these blog posts so I’m thinking through all the issues fairly carefully, plus also recording ideas or alternative techniques that I would forget without written records (of course, assuming I go back and look at all this written history).

So this won’t be either the least or the last post on this thread, so, oh joy to you, Dear Reader, you get a chance to read more of these long posts.


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Going to Boston soon

After dithering quite a bit I finally decided to attend the Centennial Celebration of the founding of the MIT chapter of my fraternity (Kappa Sigma) in a few weeks. Plus I hope to get an extra day and try (most of) the ascent of Mt. Washington, reliving another memory.

In general I don’t like reunions and have avoided them like the plague. In fact my 50th high school reunion was just held this summer and I did invite one attendee over for dinner who swore I/we (plus my wife was in same class) missed a great event. But even with that enthusiastic description I wasn’t sold and so don’t regret not going.

But in a couple of years I have my 50th MIT reunion which to me is a bit bigger deal, plus obviously a once in a lifetime event. But due to the circumstances of my undergrad days I actually had few friends outside of the people in my fraternity (which, then, was across the Charles and so isolated from other school social events).

So when I got the invitation to attend my fraternity’s Centennial that sounded more promising. Not only might I know more people at that event, but the obligations of brotherhood in a fraternity require everyone to be on best behavior and be civil and so forth. Even the young current members will be pleasantly attentive to us old farts because that’s their obligation. So this is more likely to be a better social event for my taste. And it’s not so packed agenda so there will be lots of time to see the surrounding area.

I have been back to Boston multiple times on business trips (only once for vacation) but I was usually too busy with work to do more sightseeing, so this trip fits the bill. And it settles the issue of attending 50th reunion (of course this event may reduce my aversion to reunions and I’ll attend that one too).

So soon off for hopefully a fun trip. Then a week later is our fall vacation so I get to throw the canyon country of Utah and later Santa Fe in for an interesting contrast to the intensely urban area of Boston. Now the question is: can I still drive like a maniac Boston driver?


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Programming post; can’t crosspost it

I spent a long time writing a post based on a simulation I was doing about certain behavior in an application I’m writing. I thought I’d be able to crosspost it here when I was done, but that doesn’t appear to be a feature.

So here’s a link:  Testing randomness in my application


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