Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Blast Lab: High On Budget, Low On Science

March 20, 2008

Long time no write! I had to chime in on this, though. I’ve watched a couple episodes of Discovery Channel’s new show “Blast Lab”. The premise is that the four team members attempt to solve an engineering problem. Their problem, as the series’ name implies, almost always involved something exploding (or burning, crashing, etc.). Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Mythbusters, but a few things about this show bothered me.

They have too much money. I’ve hardly seen the crew do anything. Almost every experiment requires outside experts. They have a seemingly endless budget, which means all the attention is diverted to flashy explosions and not to the problems at hand.

There is too little science. I know a lot of people are critical of the science in Mythbusters, and thats good. It’s part of the scientific method. However, Smash Lab seems to more or less ignore the science all together. There’s hardly any quantitative data taken. If they repeat tests, or run controls, we never see it. On a recent episode, they tested Rhino Lining (a truck bed liner) as a way to bomb proof a building. It seemed able to maintain the structural integrity of the building during a nearby explosion, but no effort was taken to test the human element. On Mythbusters, I feel certain we would have had ballistics gel dummies and/or force sensors inside. In short, for all the cost and danger of the show, little to no usable data comes out of it.

They’re addressing problems that don’t exist or that they have no business addressing. Not sure how else to say that. Do we need rocket brakes for trailers? It doesn’t seem that way to me. Maybe just, you know, disk breaks like on every other vehicle?

Lets not forget, too, that the dialog is stilted and  that the cast has about as much personality and the chair I’m sitting on.

I still love you Kari Byron.


On Photography

February 25, 2008

If you were, say, an evil mastermind, and wanted to develop a course of study to cause people to become bitter, shriveled husks of their former selves, you very well may develop photography. Let me explain why.

First, you spend hours of almost every day in a nearly pitch black (for developing paper) or absolutely pitch black (for developing film) room. Take away the photo work and close the door, and you’ve created a pretty nasty solitary confinement cell. Some scientists think it is bad for people not to get a certain amount of sun, so what a dark room’s safe lights do to you is beyond me.

Add to this the way the system causes you to wish your life away in 2, 3, 5, 8 minutes increments (because, truly, not even the Buddha himself could find peace or fulfillment in agitating a tray of developing solution for 2 minutes) and you’ve found a way to teach your students how not to appreciate the moment.

Finally, for good measure, throw in a little anti-Pavlovian torture to make it really stick. Pavlov, as you may already know, trained dogs to associate an external stimulus (a bell) with food, to the point that ringing the bell would cause them to drool. However, the opposite can be done; randomly administer shocks to an animal, and they will, in their confusion, sink into a deep depression. Photo is similar; each teacher has a long list of very specific procedures, which would be ok, except that every teacher’s list is different, and many are contradictory.

Ironically, though, I’m not writing this because I am frustrated with photography. Actually, I’m really excited about the next project, and I still get a lot of joy out of it. I was just wondering lately why it is that all the senior photo majors seem to be bitter, withered husks of their former selves. So I guess now I know. Oh well.

Feeling Good

February 20, 2008

Times are tough. Lots of pressure coming up (two midterms and a project due on top of normal homework). But I feel good. Not for any particular reason, just because. I suppose I got tired of thinking about how stressed I am all the time.

Hope you find the same!

“Do you do well to be angry?” 

Wacom (And Printers)

February 13, 2008

So, I’ve been feeling a temptation to buy a Wacom tablet lately. I think it would be a great investment in a lot of ways: it would give me lots of new artistic avenues to pursue, could benefit my graphic design work, and maybe even serve as an aid in learning to draw.

The downside is, it will cost at least $300, maybe more, depending on the model I buy. That’s a substantial chunk of change, and I’m, not surprisingly, cautious about it.

Any thoughts?

(Also, anyone have any idea my my printer, which is relatively good, would have trouble with a thicker [but still quite thin] paper stock? It seems to start printing fine, and then it starts bunching up the text more and more until it has printed over the same spot a bunch of times and jams with the paper about 4/5 of the way through the machine. Thanks)

Also, Lent!

February 6, 2008

So, I was just made aware that today is Ash Wednesday. I guess one of the problems with wanting to participate in Lent while not actually being Christian is the whole not-getting-the-schedule thing.

So the question is: What should I Lent? (And I know Lent is not a verb, deal with it.)

This Too Shall Pass

February 3, 2008


What can I say, it’s been one of those days. And after I was just happily talking about the future of my happiness blog! It turns out, pinhole cameras are miserable to work with, especially if you start to worry you are messing it all up (and actually messing up some of it, forcing yourself to redo it). I sent a text to a friend describing myself as “sweaty, tired, pissy!”

It doesn’t help when half the world is holding hands (I imagine, saying “ha ha, look what we have that you don’t!”) and yet your roommate’s life is telling you that it doesn’t last.

Which brings us to the title. I was walking back from the art building grumbling to myself when I remembered that phrase and the story behind it (it makes the happy people sad, and the sad people happy). I said it aloud, thought of myself happier and everyone else sad, and I laughed out loud.

I can’t control being sweaty or tired, but I can not be pissy. It’s really not worth it.

Also, I knew walking back I had to watch this. Cheered me up. ^^ Later everyone.


February 2, 2008

I had this bizarre dream last night. I got into a bar fight with a couple guys, and I quite frankly sucked. I mean, it’s probably not possible in real life to be as pitiful as I was in my dream. It was really sad.

Today, I picked up my weights for the first time in over a week and worked out a little.

Coincidence? Or compensation?

On Proper Blogs

January 26, 2008

This blog is doomed to a certain level of obscurity. Now, now, I’m not trying to be all whiny (done that plenty enough lately), I’m just stating a cold hard fact of blogging.

Personal or journal blogs do not compete with themed blogs.

The evidence abounds. JD, author of Get Rich Slowly and now Get Fit Slowly, also maintains a personal blog called Folded Space. The former has just passed five million hits (Congrats JD!), while the later… Well, I doubt there’s competition. Boing Boing, Make, No Impact Man, every blog I read is about something.

It’s not a complicated equation to figure out, really. No matter how interesting you may usually be, odds are a journal will just be too random to routinely interest the same people. A themed site will appeal to a smaller range of people, perhaps, but it will grab them more strongly, and the blogging business is all about repeat customers. It doesn’t mean that a journal blog like this one is a bad thing, just that you have to measure success by a different standard.
I’m laying all of this out because I have been thinking lately that perhaps I should start a second (well, third) blog with a proper theme. I love writing here, and wouldn’t plan on stopping. However, I admit that I would like a blog which could be financially successful, and this isn’t it. This is for fun, I’m looking for a writing job.

So the question to answer is, what theme? I couldn’t do financial, despite my interest in it; I’m just not that mathematically inclined, and besides, I think everyone would be better off if I directed them to JD’s blog. I’ve been writing a lot lately about college a purpose, which certainly is a topic with lots to be said about it, although it worries me that in about three years I will no longer be all that qualified to talk about it. That being said, a little cluelessness on my part could only help the diversity of ideas on the blog. Something along the lines of  gardening, local eating, etc. could work as well in terms of my interest for it, but I feel uncertain about it for some reason.

So what does everyone think? This is about serving the readers what they want, and that is YOU. So please, give me your ideas and input!

Perhaps I’ll Take The Job Revisit

January 25, 2008

A revisit, so soon? I know! It’s precedent setting. My father sent me an… energetically worded e-mail following my last post about college life. I asked him if I could add it up here (I’m all about discussion!) so here it is:

Just to point out a couple of things

If you quit college and get a job you won’t be building savings because you will be making $10.00 an hour and savings building is not done with that salary. You also wouldn’t be going out to dinner or a movie on $10.00 per hour.

If you have a family, you will be working 3 jobs to support them, so your schedule will be really easy: WORK all day.

Finish school, do a good job, and become a professor or what ever else you want and then you will have time and money to do all those things.

Almost nothing (actually, really nothing) in life is free; you need to put in the time (even if it is doing things that don’t make you real happy right now) to be able to get the things in your life the way you want them.

I know it seems impossible right now, but why do you think almost everyone says that their years in school were the best? Because the demands on your time and efforts and schedule only get worse later on

Your quote:

College has it’s set time period – courses are from then to then – but it also leaks into the rest of your life. Readings, homework assignments, movies to watch, photos to take, and always on extremely short notice. No one would put up with this from a job, yet it’s standard in college.

You must be taking drugs or having a breakdown (Ed.- Thanks, Pop), because every job I have ever taken or hired someone for had in its job description “and other duties as assigned” and just so you know that is because 50% of what everyone does in their job is last minute, not planned, and outside of their typical jobs duties. In that way college is the perfect training for a real job.

Well, I disagree in a few points. I think it’s worthwhile to mention that he has some bias that comes from being self employed; the rewards are greater but so are the demands on time. Whenever the business needs him, it needs him. Which could be the sort of work I want to do, it’s true. However, a more normal 9-5, as the name implies, generally falls between the hours of 9 and 5. True, your duties may change. You also may be asked to pull overtime, but you are offered extra pay, whereas in college, credits are credits.

That being said, I clearly must agree that this college thing is worth it, because I’m still here. And will be, for a while! 

Perhaps I’ll Take The Job

January 25, 2008

I’ve been thinking lately that I might be happier with a full time job then I am at college. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like a lot about college. Good friends, a good environment (even if it’s a cramped room), and generally the joys of learning. But I’ve been dreading going back after this break and I finally figured out why.

College makes it impossible to have a reliable schedule. I’ve held a summer job, and it wasn’t fun, but it fit into a very specific time period, and I could plan around it. College has it’s set time period – course are from then to then – but it also leaks into the rest of your life. Readings, homework assignments, movies to watch, photos to take, and always on extremely short notice. No one would put up with this from job, yet it’s standard in college. I was often told in high-school that learning was my job; in college, you better accept that it is your life or you will be routinely disappointed.

With a job, I could at least plan around it. Even if it’s not the best job ever, it will happen during set hours. There’s a cash reward, which increases if it the job goes outside it’s time frame. I can safely say, “After I work I can tend the garden for an hour, then cook dinner with my family and go to a movie tonight.” I’d be building savings, which I am guaranteed will have value in the future, instead of education, which can be pretty hit or miss in today’s America.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dropping out. Not even near it. I just wish college were a bit more like a job and not like a lifestyle.