I have been doing SCIENCE! The sciencey kind of science! The kind that you see on PBS documentaries. I have been out to the Gulf Stream on a dedicated research ship, hauled up parts of the ocean floor, been seasick, thrown equipment that cost more than my car overboard, thrown fishies back to the sea, watched dolphins surfing in the bow waves beneath my feet, seen the ISS go overhead, seen the ocean turn a brilliant blue, watched a Navy weather platform colonized by seagulls, and walked through the churning engine guts of the ship.

This was all two weeks ago, and was awesome. I need to set up a flickr account, or find my old one, or something, to get them somewhere besides Facebook where the school people can see them.
So, I've been trying to tweak my resume, and reading online to find hints, and I've come to this conclusion. Nobody knows a damn thing about resumes, except to keep it short, because HR people have short attention spans and hundreds to look at. Other than that, some say yes to objectives, others say goals, some say neither, some say chronological order of jobs, others say relevance, some say paragraphs for what you did, others say sentences, others say fewer words the better.

Sheesh, it makes it harder to figure out what to put for things than if I'd just written something.
When people say "Somebody ought to do something", they forget one word, they mean "Somebody ELSE ought to do something".

We should all try being somebody else once in a while.

(I'm pretty sure the quote, or at least the idea, is from a Terry Pratchett book, and I could almost swear it was Susan's line, but I can't remember the quote or find it on Google, so you get this version)
When I was younger, I didn't care much for going to hardware stores. That wasn't the kind of tools and the kind of building that interested me that much. The most fun part for me, as a kid, was the funky panel carts with the bars on them they used to have to carry boards on them. That's started to change, which is to say I've started to change. Partly because my interest has moved on from just computer stuff, which these days mostly requires a screwdriver, if that, to more ambitious goals. And things like making trebuchets, which I blame on Mythbusters. (No, I haven't done it yet. I'll have pictures when I work on it)

Since I got my multitool, I've been carrying it with me most places I go. And I usually find a use for it at least once a day. The little one with scissors, or the screwdrivers, I've even used the can opener...once. But carrying it, there's a lot of times that I wouldn't have done something, but when I have a dozen different tools in my pocket, I can. The other day I fixed a shower head on a hose, because it was broken. It was just held together with three screws, and just needed to be straightened out. But if I hadn't had the tool, I'd probably have just sworn at it and decided to buy a new one, or make do. I probably wouldn't have thought to go get a screwdriver. In a way, it's a method of applied laziness, hacking my own behaviors. Because I know I won't go get something special to work it, but if I have it with me, I will.

And having tools available changes how you interact with the world. Not just because tool use is what separates us from animals (except some apes, and some otters, and some birds, and...) but because 99% of the environment most of us live in was built or adapted by humans. With tools. When you have tools too, you can interact with those parts of the world on the same level, rather than them just being something that's there, and does what it does. Part of that's a matter of mindset too, though. Interacting with the world, as opposed to passively accepting it. Which goes back to my hacker heritage in computers. :)

I'm not sure that I have an actual point here, or that I'm pointing out anything many others before me have, but it's all I've got the time for today.
High school should not be the best days of your life. I'm not sure if it reflects worse on the person or society if high school is really the peak of many people's lives.

Stuck

Nov. 16th, 2009 10:34 am
So I was reading about Nash Equilibrium the other day. I'm sure there's lots of complexities that aren't covered in the wikipedia article, but there was one thought that stuck out for me. It's in the introduction paragraph, so I can't really claim it's a great insight, though I think their example is non-ideal. "However, Nash equilibrium does not necessarily mean the best cumulative payoff for all the players involved; in many cases all the players might improve their payoffs if they could somehow agree on strategies different from the Nash equilibrium (e.g. competing businesses forming a cartel in order to increase their profits)."

It's entirely about local equilibria. Which is an important and valuable tool, in the way that a photograph is an important and valuable tool, but it you draw all your conclusions just from either, you miss an important axis, the changes over time.

It also doesn't work when one or more of the participants aren't aiming at maximizing their whatever. Which is also covered in the article

So, I guess I'm not really adding anything about it, but it's still an interesting article and concept, so yeah.
Hey. Yeah, it's been a while. Bit of dust on this old place. Well, old in internet age, this LJ'll be five and a half in... Huh. The archive says the first post was in May, 2004, but I KNOW there were earlier ones, saying stuff like "This is just here for me to watch other people's LJs" and we know how that turned out. So, about five and a half years, we'll say. It's close enough. But that's just a number, not really a milestone. I'll get to those in a minute.

First though, I wanted to apologize to people, for not being around much, and not being around or talking to people much for the last while. Maybe a year. Part of the blame I can place easily on being busy, what with everything that's gone on. I'm back in school studying engineering, for about another year after this semester. I moved hundreds of miles, got a new job, got an apartment, got married, etc. So, a lot going on, and intermittent net access through it all. And I've barely mentioned most of that here. Which is what I feel a little weird about. I haven't mentioned much of that here at all, or anywhere, really. Haven't been able to be online and talk with people as much as I used to. That and I don't often talk about myself (which is why I've had a blog for five years, uh huh.) But I wanted to apologize to everybody for not being around, though I don't know how much that's going to change, 'cause I'm still busy.

Two of those reasons I'm busy are the milestones I mentioned in the title. The first? Last Monday, I turned 30. Which on the one hand is just a number, and doesn't seem very important, but on the other hand is made into this big huge thing culturally. And the other thing is we're buying a house. Despite these, I don't really feel like a responsible adult though. And I'm back in school, but there's far worse places to be, and I'm lucky I landed my internship when I did, and have been able to keep it. But I still find myself thinking things like "I wanna be a Science Hero when I grow up!" Or, in other words, this XKCD. Though I haven't made lego buildings in a while. My legos are in Virginia.

So what's the plan? Get moved, and finish school, and the rest I'lm taking by ear right now. Gonna have to start looking at finding jobs and taking the FE exam and that sort of thing soon, but not yet. Responsible Adultness? Well, gonna have to keep faking it. And try and get out more, instead of just letting responsibilities become excuses not to do the rest of the stuff I need to do. Cut back on the empty calories of flash game distractions and spend more time catching up with people I know. Send letters, the actual physical kind, 'cause it's really cool to get stuff besides bills and spam in the mail. Just need to figure out how to make the time, I've got two half-finished letters that've been sitting around for months.
If you're ever telling your child something at all similar to how they're the greatest disappointment in your life, you're doing it wrong.

You're not trying to "challenge" them, it's not "tough love", you're just hurting them, and possibly setting up a dramatic battle where they repudiate you and all that you stood for, rather than trying to meet your expectations. Possibly in a thunderstorm.

Also, it's not your job. Your job is to help them, train them, and encourage them to go out and kick the world's butt, then get out of the way and let them do it their way, and offer help when they need it.

But then again, I don't have kids yet, so I could be completely wrong. But I don't think so.
Proscrastination is one of my greatest flaws. But really, it's kind of pointless. Procrastination is a matter of putting something off in favor of something more fun. But whatever you're going to do is probably not as fun as having stuff accomplished, in the long run. And it's harder to have fun doing it when you've got this other stuff you're supposed to be doing hanging over you. But it sure seems easier in the short run.

So basically, what I need to do is apply the hacker principle of applied laziness to the rest of life.
There is no such thing as "away". At least when it comes to throwing things away. The real world isn't like WoW, where when you drop something it's destroyed forever. When you throw something out, it ends up somewhere. These days, it usually ends up in a hole in the ground. It used to end up burned. It doesn't disappear. That's something we're going to have to face, now, and for the rest of the future. (Well, barring nanotech that can break down waste and rebuild it into whatever you want, but if we get to the point of having that kind of universal assembler, the world will be completely different anyway. But even then we'd still need to make sure things got put into the assemblers for them to break down.)
And so I return to the welcoming wilds of internet-land. Sorry everybody. I know I've been kinda a crappy friend to a lot of you, falling off the face of the Interent like that. I can place blame several places, but really, life just got busy. Moving, school, working, planning a wedding, spotty internet, that kind of thing. I'm not dead, or sick, or suddenly abducted by a convent of amorous alien nuns or anything like that. So you all can relax. I am sorry for vanishing like that and barely being available to communicate with pretty much anybody. Hope nobody worried too much. Now I'm trying to get back more into the flow of things. No more moving of living out of boxes, for one. Internet access is still spotty at home, and school and work and the general business of living take up quite a bit of time. But I'm not dead, at least that's something, right? Even if I have been crappy by disappearing like that. Sorry folks.

Man

Sep. 8th, 2008 08:34 pm
A month and a bit without a computer and I totally get out of the habit of LJ.  I didn't even post on my birthday yesterday or anything.  So, what's going on?

I'm in classes, that's part of what's kept me busy.  Taking math, math, engineering that's math, drawing (for engineers) and materials.  I've got an internship with an engineering company, which basically means filing and some paperwork and learning things.  And working part time at yet another Starbucks.  Haven't unpacked everything yet.  Bought a laptop more powerful than my desktop, but haven't even needed it yet.  Watching MIT opencourseware for some of the classes while I'm doing homework for those classes.

That's about all for the moment, plenty to keep me busy lately.  I'll try and get back to posting more.  And reading my LJ more too, I haven't forgotten you all.  I'm just busy.

Arrival

Jul. 7th, 2008 10:27 pm
A week ago, I arrived in these wilds and began setting up a base camp. Now that the barest semblance of civilization has been established, I have begun casting about for the necessities of life. Thus far the natives have been relatively welcoming. I shall write more as things develop.

Packing

Jun. 18th, 2008 09:16 pm
Packing brings to mind one eternal question:

How did I end up with so much STUFF?
Well. Interesting couple of weeks it's been.

My fiancee's dad has melanoma. They don't know how bad it is yet, waiting for test results. But it decided one course of action. We'd been talking about moving down to Savannah, GA, where her folks live. Now there's no question about it. We're moving down there before the end of the month. So I'm going to be busy job hunting, cleaning and moving my crap, and generally getting ready for this. I may end up with a lot of stuff I don't need or want, mostly books and comics, which will either be sold or given away. Maybe I'll do an ebay page, though that's harder to do for stuff I'm leaving here.

Things never stop changing, do they?

A Thought

Apr. 12th, 2008 05:32 pm
One of the manifestations of my revolutionary instincts is I think everything in society should be able to be questioned, looked at and examined at a fundamental level. If it's not working right, then it should be changed, or gotten rid of even.

But the thing I expect many conservatives miss about this idea, when they're complaining about people questioning "traditions" is if something's truly useful, it's perfectly possible for people to look at it, examine it thoroughly, and decide it's fine the way it is.

Illusuions

Apr. 3rd, 2008 11:58 am
[livejournal.com profile] theferrett makes a very good point about confidence and things, in a metaphor involving D&D.

A point I can empathize with quite well, and I know many other people I know can too. Except probably the part about having a ridiculous number of sex partners. I dunno, some of y'all are pretty freaky.

Gary Gygax

Mar. 5th, 2008 08:34 pm
Gary Gygax is dead.

I heard about it yesterday, but didn't know what to write. And I'm still not entirely sure. Without Gary Gygax, there's no D&D, and without D&D, I wouldn't be here. I'd probably be somewhere, but not here.

Most of the people reading this I've met through one RP or another, online. I wouldn't have met most of you without the influence of D&D and thereby gaming in general. Most of my friends through school I met because we were gamers, though there were few enough times we actually played D&D, and I never went to cons.

I have the old AD&D books at home, picked up over years of visits to used bookstores through my childhood. There's a milk crate full of D&D adventures I found one happy time at a thrift shop. I think that was where I first ran into D&D. There was this box full of booklets with maps, traps, monsters, treasure, and other things that set my mind racing. I couldn't even have been ten at the time. And one day, treasure of treasures, my dad found an old copy of the first box set three book original Dungeons & Dragons in the basement, one he'd had himself. Including those crappy plastic dice with unpainted numbers. Who'd known my dad had been cool once?

As kids, my brother and I played D&D with my aunt watching over us, when we couldn't stand staying in the hospital room where our grandmother lay dying.

It's really an inextricable part of my childhood, even when I didn't have anybody to play with. But I had the books. The treasures. The heroes. The monsters. The illustrations of monsters with (gasp) boobs.

That's all because of something Gary Gygax started. And then the other games that came forth from that. He gave all of that to all of us. Yes, even the Johnny-come-lately computer gamers. No D&D, no WoW.

I had only one encounter with Gary Gygax, directly. Last millenium, 1997 or 1998, there was an online convention. I don't remember the name, but the PWL (PlanesWalker's League, an old magic online league) had a virtual booth there, and I was an op by then, so I was at the con. And the star guest was one Mr. Gary Gygax. ANd I made an ass of myself, or at least thought I did. I don't remember the question, but I asked something about original D&D and LotR, and what other inspirations he'd had, or something like that. I don't even remember his answer, because a little later on, one of the other PWL folks messaged me saying my question had hurt Mr. Gygax.

In retrospect, I don't think she knew that. And I'm sure he got that kind of question all the time, but I was still young then, and I felt awful. I didn't stick around to see the rest of the interview. That was my closest brush with him. I guess I'll never find out if he got offended, or even cared or remembered that encounter now. But I never got to give him the kind of fanboy thanks that today's Order of the Stick did. And that's too bad.

Goodbye, Gary. So long and thanks for all the dice.
I haven't written much about my girlfriend here. Part of that has been some of the general lack of blogging here, because of life being generally busy and not always near a computer. And part of that is because, despite having a public blog on the Internet, read by tens of people, I tend to be a fairly quiet and private person. At least sort of.

But, some story. Since the middle of February last year (no, not Valentine's day, that'd have been too too cheesy) we've been dating. On the whole, it's been wonderful.

However, as of last weekend, I don't have a girlfriend any more.

I have a fiancee.

It wasn't all fancy or as planned as I'd hoped, but it was the moment, and I wasn't going to wait until it was too late just to do things fancy.

I love you, sweetie.
"Well hey, if they're dumb enough to fall for it, that's hardly my fault, is it?"

Con men are fun and glamorous in stories. Because in the story, we're in on the con. We get to feel smarter than the victims, because we know everything that's going on. We get the same high the con men do. And we got to feel superior, because we're too smart to fall for that kind of setup.http://drmcninja.com/page.php?pageNum=18&issue=10
http://drmcninja.com/page.php?pageNum=18&issue=10

Except, con men have a saying. The easiest people to con are smart people, because they think they can't be conned. For starters, nobody has time to be smart about everything. That's why we have specialization and experts. And we pay somebody else to be smart on our behalf about stuff we don't know. Especially technobabble, that sounds important and meaningful, but is actually gibberish. Nobody wants to be the one who's not good and smart enough to see the emperor's new clothes.

And then of course the con man can salve his conscience with his ill-gotten gains and the fact we gave them to him of :our own free will" 'cause we should have known better. It's all the victim's fault, for not being smart enough, or not paying enough attention, nevermind the fact the conmen were deliberately trying to keep you from paying enough attention, or bringing your intelligence to bear.

Just look at the subprime mortgage mess. Many of the people who should have known better, even Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, got behind these. The banks got behind them because they made more profit than a regular mortgage. And the banks, the investment companies, and the independent loan people all pushed them on all of us, even people who could have qualified for regular loans. Nobody listened to the naysayers, because for years, housing prices kept going up, and going up, and every year they did, it "proved" people were wrong when they said this couldn't last forever. And now here we are, and the stock market is shocked, SHOCKED that loans made to people who couldn't afford more than the interest aren't being repaid.

When the experts, who are hired to be smart and supposed to know these things are either conned, or in cahoots with the con men, or just pushing things because it makes them more money, what are regular people supposed to do?

Which is why I'm not convinced by conservatives' refrains of "Personal responsibility". Yes, we really do need to provide people with better financial education. But saying that's all we need, and people should know better and read the contracts and so on only goes so far. It ignores the willful deception on the part of the lenders, who pushed these kinds of things as far as they could, and got rich off it. And now they've left a lot of other people holding the bag. Trying to make it into a matter of "personal responsibility" becomes blaming the victim.

Anybody can get taken by a con man. It doesn't do any good to blame the victim, the fault lies with the con man, who ran the actual con.

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