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First comment Fri, Sep 28, 2007
There's this thing that happens on websites geared toward article discussion and comment:  For every single article that's published, some jerk announces that he (I'd say he/she but that's probably unrealistic) is the first commenter. 

[Image: firstcomment.png]

All websites have the ability to filter and delete comments.  My question is this:  Why do we, as a civilized human race, allow these idiots to clog up the internet with their worthless comments?  You might think I'm overreacting.  If so, you don't read enough geek websites.  This is a major problem, and I can't even fathom why website owners allow it to continue.  I personally think the offenders should be publicly mocked and beaten, preferably with a tube sock full of quarters or some sort of archaic torture device.  I think the general human populace is smarter than this.  We shouldn't need to be the first to comment on something, and that comment surely shouldn't be something as stupid as "First!" #technology

Site search Fri, Sep 28, 2007
I don't understand why websites have site searches like this: 

[Image: sitesearch.png]

If I go to a specific website, why would I want to search "the web"?  That's what Google is for! 

I remember reading the same complaint about CNN's site search, but they've apparently grown a brain and fixed it. #technology

Roads without lines Thu, Sep 27, 2007
A road near my house was recently paved, after which it was left unlined for about 3 months.  It's funny how roads without lines incite such horrific driving, even from me. 

It's not a main road, and it never has any cops, so most traffic laws are disobeyed anyway.  But I noticed a definite shift in collective driving habits after the road was paved and before it was lined.  There are manhole covers every few feet, and they seem to line up perfectly with a car's passenger-side tires.  The simple solution is to drive in the center of the road, which isn't usually a problem because there isn't much traffic.  But the road is a little hilly, so you have to be careful as you approach a blind hill where another driving is probably driving in the center of the road just like you. 

But then just yesterday, they painted lines.  Immediately, I noticed a change in my own driving habits, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  When there are lines, people stay between them.  Those manhole covers?  You just have to hit them.  Otherwise, you'd be driving over the center lines, and that's just stupid. #travel

Physics of sports Wed, Sep 26, 2007
If I ever become a teacher (which I won't), I'll teach physics.  But I'll teach it better than it was taught to me (that's right, Ms. C.) by comparing everything to sports.  I know the world isn't full of athletes, but I also know that physics classrooms aren't full of physicists. 

Position/Velocity
Q:  If Roger Clemens throws a 97-mph fastball, how long will it take to reach the head of a soon-to-be-angry batter? 
A:  If the pitcher's mound is 60'-6" from home plate, an object traveling at 97 mph will take
(1 hour/97 miles) * (3600 seconds/1 hour) * (60.5 feet) * (1 mile/5280 feet) = 0.425 seconds
(This is an approximation because the ball loses velocity as it travels through the air and it falls farther to the ground as it approaches the batter.  But for high school physics, it's good enough.)

Impulse/Momentum
Q:  If a 250-lb Jeremy Shockey catches a pass during a Giants game while running 8 mph and collides with a 180-lb defensive back running 10 mph, who will have the bigger headache? 
A:  momentum = mass * velocity
Shockey's momentum = 250 * 8 = 2000 lb-mi/hr
DB's momentum = 180 * 10 = 1800 lb-mi/hr
Even though the defensive back is running faster, his inferior weight will cause him to be a part of the post-game highlight reel. 

Trajectory
Q:  What angle must a hibachi chef fling a piece of chicken to get it into the mouth of a person sitting 5 feet away if the chicken's initial velocity is 13 feet/second, assuming the chicken's starting vertical location is equal to the vertical location of the person's mouth?  (Ok, this isn't quite a sport, but it's close enough.)
A:  angle = 0.5 * arcsin(gravitational acceleration * range / velocity2) = 0.5*arcsin(32.2*5/132) = 36.2 degrees
If his aim is even one degree off, expect to catch it with your eyeball. #math

Seasonal affective disorder Tue, Sep 25, 2007
Seasonal affective disorder is one of those newly-invented diseases that sounds made-up because everybody has the symptoms.  "Most SAD sufferers experience normal mental health throughout most of the year, but experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer."  Not to minimize what's likely an actual disorder, but who doesn't feel sad in the winter when they have to walk out to their car in 7-degree weather to scrape the ice off their windshield so they can spend another dangerous commute on the snow-covered, idiot-filled roads and sit in a cubicle for 9 hours? 

I'd say I feel most "SAD" at the border of summer and fall.  As much as I like football season and milder weather, fall has always brought with it three terrible things: 
  1. The end of lazy summer days, beaches, vacations, free time, and any fun whatsoever.
  2. The beginning of cold weather, ice on your car, extra blankets, and no more sandals.
  3. The start of school.
And that last one is what I think really makes the difference.  Even now that I'm out of school, that dread of starting things up again, being forced into an uncomfortable routine, and introducing an untold amount of stress into my life is built into the core of my being.  It doesn't matter that I graduated college over three years ago.  It wouldn't matter if it was 30 years ago.  That feeling, that pit in my stomach, is so ingrained into who I am, I doubt it'll ever go away.  Plus, I still know people who are in school, and I'm sure I'll always know people who are in school.  I feel bad for the people who are still entrenched in the education system, and I accept their pain and discomfort as my own. 

But anyway, thank God for school, summer, fall, and the ability to feel, because without any of it, we'd all merely be moist robots. #psychology

Relative regret (2) Tue, Sep 25, 2007
I think I do certain things because I'd regret not doing them more than I regret actually doing them. 

The perfect example is grad school.  I can't put into words how much I hate school and learning.  I can't wait until I can sit around and bask in my stupidity, without even a thought as to when the next assignment is due or how I'll find time to do it.  But at the same time, I know that if I didn't get my graduate degree (which is provided freely and conveniently by my employer), I'd regret it even more. 

Getting graduate degree:  Regret level = 6/10
Not getting graduate degree:  Regret level = 8/10
8 > 6 → get graduate degree

When things are broken down into numbers, they make much more sense to me. #psychology

Blaming God Mon, Sep 24, 2007
I think it's perfectly fine to blame God for the bad things, as long as he also gets credit for the good things.  If I blame him for getting a flat tire while waiting in traffic after sleeping past my alarm, I should also thank him for giving me a job that lets me afford a car and a roof over my head, and for getting me up and to work every other day.  If I blame God for the death of a friend or family member, I should also thank him for giving them life in the first place, and for giving me continued life despite the fact that death is inevitable. 

I mentioned this topic a while ago, but in reference to blaming George W. Bush for the increasing (and then decreasing) gas prices.  No, I'm not equating GWB to God.  But the situation is essentially the same.  If we blame someone or something for a certain specific negative action, shouldn't we also thank that same person/entity for when the situation goes away or gets better? #religion

Recorded NFL Mon, Sep 24, 2007
I watched a recorded NFL game last night, and I'd probably place it in the top 10 best experiences of my entire life.  I wasn't able to watch the 4:15pm game, so I recorded it on my poor man's DVR.  While the game was being played, I made sure I didn't catch any scores or watch any replays on live TV.  Unlike a TiVo, I can't start watching something until it's done recording, so I had to wait until about 7:45.  Despite my innate understanding of time and its relation to football, I was still amazed that the game only lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes with timeouts.  Skipping the commercials cut the game time down by about 65%.  Also noteworthy is the fact that commercial breaks during football games last exactly 2 minutes, unlike 3 minutes for normal TV shows.  This means that I needed to press the "commercial skip" button exactly 4 times to get through a commercial break (it simply skips 30 seconds ahead).  What an amazing thing. #entertainment

Hosier (4) Fri, Sep 21, 2007
My last name is Hosier.  It's pronounced hoe-zher, with a long "o" and a soft "zh" like the "g" in "judge" or "age".  It's probably French.  Or Scottish.  Or German.  Or Ethiopian.  Or any of the other nationalities my parents have claimed to be descendents of.  It's obviously related to the word hosiery, which is a fancy word for leggings or pantyhose.  A person who fabricates hosiery for a living would likely be called a hosier, though that's not personally what I do. 

The problem with my last name is that it's impossible for people to pronounce.  Especially telemarketers.  I've heard hose-y-er, hoz-ler (obviously a misread), hose-er, hoy-zer, and even hose-y-ay.  I've heard all the stupid jokes and comments about being from Canada ("You're a hoser, eh?") or Indiana (the Hoosier state), and even that I might be related to the founder of a company that makes performance car tires.  I've had this last name for long enough that I just accept mispronunciations as part of life, especially if the person is unimportant like a telemarketer.  Even with people who say my last name on a regular basis, like a boss or a professor, I rarely correct them.  It's just not worth it.  People are stupid; they won't remember. 

A wrench was thrown into the mix when Wendy graciously accepted my last name in marriage.  She's only had the name for the past three years, but she's already fed up with the mispronunciations.  We're casually thinking about a legal name change, either to something un-mispronounce-able like Smith, Jones, or Wilson, or a more phonetic spelling of Hosier.  Here are some ideas: 
  1. Hozure - Has the soft "z" sound, but might be mispronounced hoe-zyoor.
  2. Hozher - Seems phonetic to me, but people might be confused by the "zh" letter combination.
  3. Hosher - Has the sh/zh combo, but will probably be pronounced to rhyme with kosher.
  4. Hojier/Hogier - Again, people might be confused by the "j" or the "g".  I can hear it now:  "I'm calling on behalf of the Police Benevolence Association for Mr. Hoe-dgi-er?"  I'm sorry, I don't know anyone by that name.  *click*
  5. Hodgjshzhier - If people insist on mispronouncing my last name, might as well make it a challenge.
#language

Abundance of digital images Thu, Sep 20, 2007
I'm amazed at the shear number of digital pictures that must exist in our highly technical society.  And more than that, I'm amazed at the variety of objects, people, and places that are photographed on a more-than-regular basis. 

It used to be that pictures were largely reserved for special occasions.  Parents (since most families only owned one camera, if that) would photograph their kids at Christmas, birthdays, and vacations, leaving their photo albums largely untouched for months at a time.  Unless your parent was an artist, it's hard to see a real fluid progression of your childhood in photo albums.  There were a few pictures from that day at the beach when you were 7.  And then there's your 8th birthday.  And BAM, you're in high school. 

These days, people take pictures of everything, all the time.  And everybody has a camera.  A typical week-long vacation for a habitual picture-taker like me usually brings in around 400 pictures.  A typical hike in the woods or stroll around a park can yield around 20.  I've found that the older I get (or the longer I've had a camera), the more pictures I'll take.  On a cruise in the Caribbean in May of 2006, I took about 85 pictures.  On a cruise in Hawaii in March of 2007, I took about 400.  I gradually become less and less selective about what I consider to be picture-worthy. 

But again, besides the actual number of pictures, it's amazing what gets photographed.  I take some pretty stupid pictures.  Whether it's a bug on a shirt, a sign on a building, or an unusual food item, anything and everything gets photographed.  And that's just me.  I see what other people take pictures of.  Everybody with a digital camera takes stupid pictures, simply for the fact that "if I don't like it, I'll delete it later."  It's a great thing to be able to take hundreds of pictures without even the slightest thought about film or cost or anything like that.  But I wonder if the world is literally increasing in weight as more and more magnetic hard drives are filled to capacity with digital pictures. #entertainment

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