Posts with mood calm (25)

link friday: company loyalty, sleep, The Price Is Right
Mood: calm
Posted on 2013-11-22 15:43:00
Tags: links
Words: 220

- Loyalty and Layoffs - I thought this was interesting but I mostly disagree. Certainly not all companies are worthy of your loyalty, but saying that none are seems equally extreme. If your company treats you well, try to treat your company well. I do agree that it's generally a good idea to keep developing your skills to keep yourself employable, etc.

- Sleep: The Ultimate Brainwasher? - more evidence that sleep clears out toxins and such.

- Winning The Price Is Right - a very thorough guide to all 71 pricing games from a game theory perspective; you don't even have to know the prices! It was surprising to me that there are some games you can win 100% of the time. Also, looks like they need a better random number generator? (see Bargain Game, for example)

- Why Are We Building Jailbait Sexbots? (NSFW?) - the short version is that researchers built a very realistic 3D model of a 10 year old girl, then used that to catch sexual predators. This raises all kinds of legal and ethical issues...

- Machine learning is way easier than it looks - aw, man, now I want to play around with this!

- The Changing Rules of Outing - interesting perspective on not giving special treatment to gay celebrities.

- Together and Alone, Closing the Prime Gap - the prime gap is down to 600!


CrashPlan and a few links
Mood: calm
Posted on 2011-11-17 10:22:00
Tags: reviews links
Words: 204

I checked in on The Wirecutter and noticed they said good things about CrashPlan, a backup service, including the fact that they have an honest-to-goodness Linux client! After installing it and reading more about it, I signed up and couldn't be happier. Prices are cheap, it seems to just work, and you can encrypt your data with a password so even they can't recover it (this is a good sign they're doing it right). $25 a year for 10 GB of storage sounds just perfect for backing up my source code! (they also have an unlimited plan...)

In this month's Atlantic, there was a long and scary article about Pakistan, probably our least friendly "ally".

A reminder: Obama says waterboarding is torture, and he's against it. (unlike some of the Republican candidates)

A beautiful five-minute time-lapse video of Earth from the ISS.

Life without stimulus - when the UK took austerity measures instead of a stimulus, their GDP is still way below where it was pre-recession (while ours is around the same). (thanks David!)

A new Rick Perry ad is both inaccurate _and_ grammatically incorrect!

The story of a last minute trip to St. Louis to try to see Game 7 of the World Series.


links amid the downtime
Mood: calm
Posted on 2011-04-06 13:40:00
Tags: work links
Words: 193

LiveJournal has been under a DDOS attack/really flaky this week. I know because I keep getting emails LJ for WebOS users. Sorry, everyone!

- SpaceX announced the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the world's most powerful (excluding the Saturn V), and launches will only cost ~$100 million. More stats in the press release. Hey, and they use LabVIEW!

- Should You Give Money to Homeless People? - from the article:

The short answer is no. The long answer is yes, but only if you work for an organization that can ensure the money is spent wisely.*
- Perhaps the best Reddit question ever begins with
I like big butts and I cannot lie, but is there some evolutionary reason as to why?
- A Murder Foretold - long New Yorker article about the "ultimate political conspiracy" in Guatemala. Reads like a Tom Clancy novel or something. (but with fewer submarines)

- Kindle and Nook readers bash high e-book pricing with angry one-star reviews - this annoys me SO MUCH. Review the book, not the price! If you don't think the book is worth the price, say so, but some people seem to think no book in the world is worth $15.


The Paradox of Choice review
Mood: calm
Posted on 2011-02-27 15:49:00
Tags: reviews books
Words: 444

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less is my latest read. The main thesis is that we have way more choice than we used to, and at some point this becomes a bad thing.

One famous study involves an "exotic, high-quality" jam display at an upscale supermarket. In one version, there were all 24 flavors available for sampling and purchase; in another, only 6 flavors were available for sampling (but all 24 were still available for purchase). The higher number of jams attracted more people to the display, although people tried the same number of jams on average. But 30 percent of the people that sampled from the small selection of jams bought a jar, while only 3 percent of those that sampled from the large selection bought a jar.

This is something that sounds crazy at first, but when I picture myself in the two situations it makes total sense. If I see there are 24 flavors but only 6 out on display, I would assume that these are the best flavors and I can limit my choice to just them, as opposed to trying some random subset of the 24.

A lot of the book is about limiting the things you have to choose from. He talks about maximizers (who will try every choice then pick the best one) versus satisficers (who will decide what is "good enough", then pick the first choice that meets that). As you might expect, satisficers tend to be happier, and it's a good way to deal with many many choices, considering that your time and effort in making a choice is not free. This is essentially a "second-order decision" to limit your choices.

Another tidbit: when a choice is reversible (e.g. you have the option of returning something you've bought) people tend to be less happy, because then they have the option (another choice!) to change their mind. When you're committed to something you tend to like it more.

Another bit I liked was about "hedonistic adaptation". When you get something nice, you're happier at first, but once you're used to it your happiness reverts to whatever it was before (more or less). To combat this, the author recommends developing an "attitude of gratitude" - thinking about the things that are good in your life and comparing them to what you had before. This helps because the natural tendency for people is to always look at the nice things that they don't have.

To wrap-up: it was an interesting book although a bit repetitive (it shared a few discussions with the ice cream book). I would recommend it, and it's available for borrowing (physical media ftw!)


Mood: calm
Posted on 2010-10-25 17:36:00
Words: 35

Voting is soon. You should do it.

League of Women Voters Austin voters guide (large .pdf)
Endorsements by the Austin American-Statesman
Early voting locations in Travis County (.pdf) - early voting is available until Friday.



links on a friday
Mood: calm
Posted on 2010-10-22 10:31:00
Tags: links
Words: 171

Shameless self-promotion: I'm singing the Durufle Requiem as part of an All Souls Requiem mass at St. David's church in a few weeks. It's a beautiful piece of music and the choir sounds very impressive. You should come!

Now, for a somewhat subpar set of links:

Brits Stiffen Their Upper Lips, French Take to the Streets - even though the world is fairly globalized, national characteristics are still alive and kicking.

Helpful snapshot of what online TV services (Hulu, Netflix, etc.) have access to which shows. We've vaguely talked about doing the whole no cable thing for a while, but it sounds like kind of a pain to make it work with the shows we watch.

The legend of gay astronauts!

A very clever malicious page that disguises itself as the Firefox "this page is malicious" page.

President Obama did a video for the "It Gets Better" project. Of course the commenters are ripping him a new one for opposing gay marriage, appealing DADT even though he doesn't support the policy, etc.


a handful of interesting links
Mood: calm
Posted on 2010-07-15 12:24:00
Tags: links
Words: 129

to celebrate my last free day until the summer musical opens!

- A plot of where beverages fall on the caffeine v calories scale. Adding the word "frappucino" to a drink seems to add around 200 calories.

- The "bee sting" theory of poverty - once you have seven bee stings, treating just one of them really doesn't seem that important.

- Apparently, just just exercising may not be good enough if you spend the rest of the day doing sedentary things. It sounds like making your sedentary activities less sedentary is helpful, too.

- Jewel does undercover karaoke - exactly what it sounds like.

- Chart of how many people live in places where gay marriage is legal - right now around 3.7% of the world population. Also, Argentina passed a gay marriage bill just yesterday!


Mood: calm
Posted on 2010-01-07 10:54:00
Tags: movies
Words: 93

We saw Avatar in 3D last night. I went in with pretty low expectations but looking forward to the pretties. And that was about right - the story was both simple and extremely predictable, and honestly the movie felt a little long. But the giant blue people were very impressive, and the 3D really added to the beautiful, beautiful scenery. I've learned that a magical-seeming world that looks amazing is enough for me to enjoy a movie (see: Coraline), and the 3D really does make it better. So I did end up enjoying it.


willpower is hard work
Mood: calm
Posted on 2009-12-28 15:16:00
Tags: psychology links
Words: 194

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, willpower is a very limited mental resource. Check this out:

In one experiment, led by Baba Shiv at Stanford University, several dozen undergraduates were divided into two groups. One group was given a two-digit number to remember, while the second group was given a seven-digit number. Then they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad.

Here's where the results get weird. The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Prof. Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain—they were a "cognitive load"—making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation.

Crazy, no? This might explain why I just had like 10 Altoids while concentrating on a problem at work.

1 comment

days go by and still I think of you
Mood: calm
Music: Dave Matthews Band - "Dive In"
Posted on 2009-05-29 10:13:00
Tags: music worldofwarcraft links
Words: 156

Had a nice relaxing week, apart from being sick Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh, and we downed a few new bosses in Ulduar-10 last night (Kologarn and Auriaya), although no loots for me.

Despite being sick most of the week I found some good links:

- Dave Matthews Band has a new album coming out next week, and you can stream the full thing at Pandora. So far it's pretty good!

- This article about health care in the New Yorker was both fascinating and a little depressing. It looks at why McAllen is the most expensive city for health care in the US, and basically the answer is because the culture for doctors there is to try to maximize revenue.

- How an Intern Stole NASA's Moon Rocks

- A rebuttal to those who claim that the new Star Trek movie threw away a bunch of continuity...short version, Star Trek has been throwing away continuity for quite a while now.


swine flu ads from the 1970s
Mood: calm
Posted on 2009-04-29 15:57:00
Tags: swineflu
Words: 52

Apparently in the 1976 there was a case of swine flu which got people worried about a pandemic which never happened. It seems like we're beyond that point now, but it's a little reassuring. Anyway, here are a few commercials from those days:

(youtube link because the embedded player is acting up)

1 comment

swine flu
Mood: calm
Posted on 2009-04-27 12:18:00
Tags: family swineflu
Words: 79

If you want to keep informed, there's CDCemergency on Twitter, as well as and (which is memorable but a bit alarmist at this point).

Being a slight hypochondriac, I plan to keep tabs on news but not too closely.

Wash your hands a lot, avoid touching your face with your hands, and stay home if you're sick.

Also, apparently my mom is liveblogging for a local news station tomorrow night, so that's pretty cool :-) - here's the link!


ok, not quite over the election yet
Mood: calm
Posted on 2008-11-06 10:59:00
Tags: election politics
Words: 198

A lot of stuff is coming out now that the election's over. For example, apparently (and I honestly have a hard time believing this) Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country, and refused interview preparation for the disastrous Katie Couric interview. This seems to put in doubt thoughts of running in 2012. Here's more on the "civil war" between McCain's people and Palin's people.

Nate Silver on what the hell happened in Alaska - looks like the most likely scenario is that Democrats didn't show up to vote since the election had been called by then. Bad Democrats!

More of the Newsweek special election project - it's hard to link to so here are the chapters that have been released. It's really fascinating stuff if you're interested in what was going on inside the campaigns!

All seven chapters are now released!


I will not miss election season when it's gone
Mood: calm
Posted on 2008-10-17 15:20:00
Words: 36

Sure it was fun for a while (it's fun to win!) but reading political comments from people (on YouTube, CNN, WoW) is depressing. So much anger!

The Austin Chronicle released their Best of Austin 2008 results.


last debate
Mood: calm
Posted on 2008-10-16 09:31:00
Tags: politics
Words: 132

Well, that was actually a pretty good debate. I thought McCain did better than the other two, but the snap polls show Obama winning by a wide margin. (58-31, 53-22, etc.)

I almost posted the video of Obama talking to "Joe the Plumber" yesterday since it shows Obama having an intelligent discussion for like 4 minutes about tax policy. After McCain mentioned him like 20 times last night, he's famous! Here it is:
A video of McCain's angryish reactions.

Obama had a good response to the Ayers question, which he had obviously planned since he basically dared McCain to bring it up. Nate at thought McCain was doing well up to that point but pushed too hard on the cheap sleazy stuff. But he was behind and had to try something...


shorter McCain speech
Mood: calm
Music: old LOST podcasts
Posted on 2008-09-05 14:56:00
Tags: politics
Words: 3

(yay Tom Toles!)


role reversal, music recommendations
Mood: calm
Music: Carly Comando - "Everyday"
Posted on 2008-01-17 10:18:00
Tags: getflix music projects work
Words: 485

This week I've been in the odd position of being really excited about work and not so excited about non-work projects. Work has been going really well - a lot of the setup for my big project is done so I'm getting into the fun part. The non-work project of pulling down Netflix ratings and analyzing them is pretty similar to what I've done in the past, but has enough different parts that just aren't interesting to leave me totally unenthusiastic about working on it. But I've already done enough that I feel like I should finish. I'll put it on hiatus for a while.

We've been catching up on Simpsons episodes from the last few months with people, and as a result I've seen "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" twice in the last week or so. It's a pretty good episode, but the part that struck me both times was the montage-like scene where it shows lots of pictures of Homer throughout his life to some hauntingly beautiful piano music. Anyway, djedi found the song, which is called "Everyday" by Carly Comando and I bought it last night - yay for Amazon MP3! The scene itself is based on Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years which is pretty creepy in itself, although the music really amplifies that. Good stuff all around, and I feel bad I missed this all the way back in 2006.

Yesterday at lunch I was really happy because of a problem I had just solved, so I went out to Pars Deli, a greek place at 183 and Burnet. Unfortunately, the parking spots are deceptively thin, and so as I was pulling in I heard a noise and realized I hit the car parked next to me. After I parked and got out, the car looked like a mess, but I could brush off most of it. (dust from my bumper or something?) There was still a scratch that was very narrow but kind of long, and I wasn't quite sure what to do, and I was mad for having done it, so I just walked away to the deli. It didn't take long for my conscience to get the better of me and realize that that was a pretty stupid/selfish/horrible thing to do, so after I ordered I went back out there and left a short note with some paper I found in the car. Not my finest hour - "doing the right thing...eventually" isn't exactly high praise.

I have a few Best Buy gift cards and kinda prompted by that I'm looking for some new music. Definitely getting the new Radiohead album, other options include "Year Zero" by Nine Inch Nails, "Distortion" by The Magnetic Fields, maybe something by LCD Soundsystem ("Sound of Silver"?), maybe something by Arcade Fire. I am open to suggestions! (surprisingly hip suggestions stolen from the AV Club's best of 2007)


Mood: calm
Posted on 2007-11-02 10:53:00
Tags: quiz
Words: 70

Your Social Dysfunction:

You display social deficits and oddities of thinking. Your perception and communication are similar to those of a schizophrenic.

Take this quiz at

Please note that we aren't, nor do we claim to be, psychologists. This quiz is for fun and entertainment only. Try not to freak out about your results.

To be fair I'm sooo close to normal! Oh well. You win again, "science".


NYC pictures
Mood: calm
Posted on 2007-08-29 09:19:00
Tags: dreams pictures
Words: 165

Pictures from our NYC trip are now up. If you like strange and interesting street signs, this gallery is for you!

djedi had to get up earlier than I did, so when his alarm went off we cuddled for a minute then he got up. I was trying to go back to sleep, but he kept making noise in the bathroom and living room, and occasionally coming back in the bedroom and making more noise so I couldn't. I eventually got irritated and started yelling at him and we got in a nasty fight when it was time for me to get up. Eventually he was ready to go, and he walked out the door while we were still fighting...

...and then I woke up for real. (everything after the first sentence above was a dream) My subconscious loses points for a) having us fighting 2) being very uncreative when it comes to dreaming. A dream about not being able to sleep, how original! Jerk.


Happy Fifth of July!
Mood: calm
Music: Radiohead - "Where I End and You Begin"
Posted on 2007-07-05 13:03:00
Tags: microresolution haskell worldofwarcraft links
Words: 334

Yesterday was nice - we got djedi his flying epic mount, finished Super Paper Mario, went out to eat at Copeland's, and didn't let the stormy weather get us down!

Super Paper Mario - pretty good game, and the story was kind of interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the ridiculous amount of conversation, etc. that you have to go through. Still enjoyed it though.

As previously mentioned, we saw Transformers at Bengies. I've only been to a drive-in once before, so it was fun! The place is pretty nice and retro, although the owner seems to be one of those people that sees it fit to enumerate every single thing you shouldn't do. See the House Rules and FAQ for examples. There was a condom machine in the bathroom that had (not exaggerating here) four paragraphs about how the management doesn't endorse their usage, and how it's just there for protection and abstinence is the only sure protection, etc. Yikes. The movie was pretty good for a summer blockbuster. (read: lots of giant robots fighting) I've never seen the series on TV so maybe you'd get more out of it if you did?

Microresolution complete! I spent some time on the hat puzzle genetic algorithm thing in Haskell. It's frustrating to work on because I really have to get in the functional state of mind, but I wrote a few tough methods (randomly selecting which genes to reproduce based on the fitness function) so I feel good about that. The genetic part of this is going to end up being a sort of framework for writing genetic algorithms in Haskell, which is a neat side benefit (although such things already exist).

I'm trying out Twitter. It seems neatish.

In Ohio, you can't get arrested on the Fourth of July! (except for felonies and would think the penalty for committing treason on the Fourth of July would be more strict or something :-) )

Babies learn to lie when they're six months old - lousy lying babies!


link explosion
Mood: calm
Posted on 2007-06-18 09:56:00
Tags: facebook programming links
Words: 318

I'm going do to something called the "compliment sandwich", where I talk about something good, then something that could use improvement, then end with something good.

You look like snoopy, and it makes me smile.

I tried to work on my new facebook app, and made the same little amount of progress that I had on the previous one, but I just felt confused. I think the ideas I have are all pretty heavily friends based which seems hard to do with the API. I'm probably gonna let this idea die unless I get a huge burst of inspiration, which seems unlikely. Supposedly this is why "fun" projects are better than work - if they don't end up working out, you don't have to force it. I still feel bad about it though, like I'm failing and not good at "this stuff".

You really wowed that rep from the Cincinnati office! (thanks for the real quote, which was a little hard to find)

I had a long weird dream Friday night, the culmination of which was that searching for minnesota guacamole was very important. The results, as you can probably imagine, are not interesting.

Links I was going to share on my now-defunct neato Facebook thing:

Places I visit every day:Places I go when I'm bored:


what if money were no object?
Mood: calm
Music: Radiohead - "The Bends"
Posted on 2007-06-04 09:27:00
Tags: music poll
Words: 342

(this is by no means an original question) Let's say that you won the lottery today, and you'd be receiving enough money to live on comfortably (maybe a little lower than your current standard of living) for the rest of your life.

My thoughts, cut to avoid influencing your answers :-)

For me, work is more than just a way to earn money; it's a way for me to make a difference (however small) in the world. I guess even if I couldn't find a job that I liked/was sufficiently good at, I would spend my time doing work-like activities. (contributing to open source products, etc.)

We had a good weekend. The weather was pretty nice on Friday and Saturday - we got together with a work friend and played some Mario Party 8. (verdict: not much different from previous Mario Parties, but still fun, and the minigames that use Wiimote functionality were neat) Saturday was gorgeous in the afternoon and I went out and got new CDs: 3 Radiohead, 2 Wilco, the new Linkin Park, and the Muse one with "Knights of Cydonia". The last I got because I was reminded of the songs existence via wildrice13 who was excited it was going to be on Guitar Hero III. I heard it at New Year's, and really liked it. The sample on iTunes was OK but not the part I remembered. Anyway, I listened to it later, and at first was disappointed because it was neat but not awesome like I remembered. Then it got to the good part with the great harmonies and stuff and I was happy and listened to it like 6 times :-) Point being, all the albums are up on my music site if you'd like to listen (if you don't have access, drop me a line!)

quijax came later that evening, after it started raining. (I think, was definitely raining most of the time) It was fun having a guest! (and somewhat reinforced our feelings of missing our friends and not getting to hang out with people)


(no subject)
Mood: calm
Posted on 2006-08-15 10:01:00
Tags: pictures rant terrorism
Words: 206

Pictures from this weekend are up. There are some good ones of the nephews :-)

No! Liquids!

I have a great link at home that I don't have in front of me about how the goal of terrorism is to terrorize. If we get worried and upset and scared and stop flying every time a terrorist plot is revealed, isn't that what they want? If this is really a "war on terror" (yeah, yeah, I know), we can't be surprised when plots are revealead and so forth.

Other things that make me mad: people who have no concept of risk. In 2004, 42636 people died in car accidents. Right now you're 10-200 times safer (depending on what metric you use) flying than driving. And yet people will get panicy about flying (to be fair, it can be a little scary) but then speed in their car, not pay attention to the road, drive while buzzed/drunk, etc. Really, this is even worse because you could hurt/kill not only yourself but others if you're in a car crash.

So I guess my point is - drive safely! (and I mean this as a directive, not a "hope nothing happens"-type statement) Don't talk on your cell phone too much, etc., etc.


bad news, good news
Mood: calm
Posted on 2006-06-29 14:35:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 325

Random news items that have left me thinking recently:

Bad news - High court upholds most of Texas redistricting map. The Supreme Court ruled that it is essentially OK for state legislatures to redraw Congressional districts whenever they want, and not just every 10 years (after the Census) as required by law. This to me is really horrible news. A Daily Kos article opines that the Democrats should take advantage and do this in states where the state legislature is more Democratic than the congressional delegation. I consider this whole thing to be a non-trivial threat to democracy. Guh.

Good news - High court blocks Gitmo military tribunals (CNN really likes to refer to the supreme court as "high court", apparently :-) ) This is a big rebuke to Bush's claim that, since we're at war, he has broad overarching powers to hold people as enemy combatants. Andrew Sullivan points out the court seems to have reinstated the Geneva Conventions in the "war on terror", which is also good.

Bad news - Israel hits Gaza as Hamas lawmakers held. This has been a rapidly-escalating series of attacks between Israel and Palestine and it looks like things are getting much worse. This latest conflagration started when Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier, and they have killed an Israeli settler since then. To put pressure on the Syrian president to stop aiding Hamas, Israeli fighters buzzed his home yesterday (anti-aircraft guns fired on them). Scary stuff.

Good news - Buffett to give away billions. Warren Buffett is giving away $30+ billion dollars, most of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. The Gates foundation does great stuff in global health and education, and $30 billion dollars goes a looong way. Good for him!

I read this great speech by Barack Obama - it's a little long, but very powerful. The last 10 paragraphs or so I liked a lot for personal reasons. I hope he runs for president in 2008 or 2012 or sometime...


some linking goodness
Mood: calm
Music: FFX-2 startup music...pretty...
Posted on 2005-08-01 20:48:00
Words: 91

(this post is refreshingly void of content)

Google Maps added a hybrid mode (that shows satellite imagery with street names, etc. overlaid) which I've added to my map as well. It looks reallly nice...something about the way the text is outlined in a different color to make sure you can see it or something...

This and this are very cool photos of many, many bouncy balls bouncing down a San Francisco street (supposedly for a commercial of some sort). Super!

Someone used my map to help them. That makes me happy!


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