Friday, August 29, 2008

Six degrees of separation--Sometimes fewer

There is a big article on the idea here, but I am concerned with the mundane practical applications. The idea is that any two people on the planet can be connected by people they know: For instance, I am one step away from people I know and two steps away from people who are known by people I know. Everyone on the planet is at most 6 steps apart.

There are things about the theory which I am curious about: Do we count as people we know only the ones we are currently in contact with? I must have known on the order of a couple of hundred Marines (on a first-name basis) over the 11 years in that organization, but it has been a long time and currently have only one phone # that I think is valid. Also, when research is done, it must be very difficult for subjects to name every person they know, but even if you could do that you would have to have similar data on each of those people and so on. So what I am getting at is this: If I wanted to say hi to a bushman in the Kalahari, how would I know who to pass the message to first?

This whole line of musing comes from the nomination of Sarah Palin. I looked-up some of her stats when I got the news of her being picked by McCain for VP. She attended the University of Idaho at the same time I was 8 miles away attending Washington State University. At the time, the drinking age was 18 in Idaho and 21 in Washington, so all the college bars were in Moscow and kids from both schools mixed freely.

There is a near-certain connection that I know of. I was pals with a girl who had just graduated from UI when we were working in Sun Valley and she was a Journalism major, just like Sarah Palin! Those two must have met since they had the same major and graduated the same year from the same smallish university. The problem as above with the Marines--I have no idea where she is now. We exchanged the odd letter for a couple of years after we both left Sun Valley and then lost touch.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All Dads Say That...

"Isn't that true"? She said.

"Isn't what true? I didn't really hear what you guys were talking about", I replied.

"My dad here, was just saying that I am the prettiest girl in the world and I was saying that all dads say that about their daughters. Don't you say that about your girls?"

"Oh no, not at all. I tell them that they are not all that pretty, so they better study hard."

It got a good laugh from a very pretty girl, even if it wasn't a totally honest answer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Gold Crown

I had a gold crown put in today and two things popped into my mind while I was being worked over: The dental tech had to take out the temp and did so by pulling up on it with a hooked tool. It came out without too much effort or force. It was kind of a surprise since I hadn't done much to favor it in the last two weeks. I guess I just lucked-out in that it never came out while I was on vacation 3,000 miles away.

Before cementing-in the permanent crown, my dentist had to blow some air at the tooth stump to make it dry--I knew it would hurt and so did she, she even warned me. Still, I half expected her to hiss at me, "is it safe"? right after the air-blow (and shock of pain). She is a total sweetheart, but still. wow! That hurt!

A short video of the crater and surrounding area.

video

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MSM criticism, eg shooting fish in a barrel, etc.

CBS4 has learned at least four people are under arrest in connection with a possible plot to kill Barack Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver. All are being held on either drug or weapons charges. CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass reported one of the suspects told authorities they were "going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a ... rifle … sighted at 750 yards.

This doesn't make any sense: There can't possibly be any point 750 yards away from the podium at the Pepsi center. For instance, The Rose Bowl is less than 300 yards from North to South rim. 750 yards is more than twice that. Doesn't anybody in the press know math, or how big things are?

Update: He will be accepting in Mile High stadium, which has no two line-of-sight points even half 750 yards apart.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time Bandits

Just in the mood to quote from this very quotable movie...

Evil: God isn't interested in technology. He cares nothing for the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men!

Robert: Slugs.

Evil: Slugs! HE created slugs! They can't hear. They can't speak. They can't operate machinery. Are we not in the hands of a lunatic?

and

Evil: When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different, because I have understanding.

Robert: Uh, understanding of what, Master?

Evil: Digital watches. And soon I shall have understanding of video cassette recorders and car telephones. And when I have understanding of them, I shall have understanding of computers. And when I have understanding of computers, I shall be the Supreme Being!

It is somewhat hard to be objective about these lines, David Warner gave such an incredible performance that I always hear the words in my head the way he delivered them.

Multnomah Falls

Our friends in Vancouver proposed we go to see Multnomah Falls. I was up for this because you can see them from the freeway and in years' past I had driven by a few times, but never had the time to stop and get a good viewing...

We had a good time there. We are at that stage--kids age wise--that they can all make a 1 mile hike to the top of the falls without much complaint.

video

video

Unicycle

A couple of weeks ago my nephews were here and one of them rides the unicycle: He was able to easily ride the thing down our long, steep and narrow driveway. This is something I had never been able to do; although I never really gave it a serious try. My view of it was that I would have to increase my riding skills by a very large amount to have a hope of doing this trick. I never thought it was impossible, just that the effort required was more than I wanted to invest in such an accomplishment.

I gave it a try when my nephew was here, but didn't make it. Now a couple of weeks later we were waiting in the front for BBQ guests to arrive and so I figured I would kill some time by riding the unicycle. I made it down the driveway on the 2nd try!

The thing which makes steep hills hard on a unicycle is that you control the device via three contact points; The seat is one and the two pedals are the other two. If you push sufficiently hard on one pedal, you will lift yourself off the seat and then have no control over the unicycle. This problem could be solved with straps on the pedals--or across the seat, but either of these 'solutions' would result in almost certain injury. One could hold onto the seat when on a steep hill, but this would require a lot of practice since I currently need to wave my arms around, a lot, just to ride on level ground.