Fun with random numbers

Senrab, 2006/02/28 

If you have done any programming, you are probably familiar with the function rand(), which returns a number generated by a pseudo-random number generator. The range of the returned value falls between 0 and 65535 ((2^16)-1).

The distribution of numbers returned by rand() are evenly distributed, which means that there is an equal chance of getting a number anywhere within the range of possible return values.

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Eclectic or superficial?

Max, 2006/02/25 

Update: Hiromi's "Desert Moon" featured as the first "Track of the Week." Update 2: Here's a great review by someone who really knows jazz. This past weekend the family and I went to see one of the the most amazing musicians I've ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live. Her name is Hiromi, a young Japanese-born, classically trained pianist, and she is an absolute monster talent. We discovered her a year ago when she played at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay- a cozy little beachside venue which mostly features traditional jazz acts. Her calendar entry looked interesting so I took a look at her website to download the usual 20 second clips of music. To my surprise the site was extremely generous. Out of two full CDs she'd released she had full version mp3s of six fairly lengthy compositions, plus a reasonably high quality video for download. I downloaded a song and gave it a listen, then quickly grabbed everything else available (good move- it's not quite so generous now). The music was fabulous! read more…

KGB In The Post Office

byronius, 2006/02/23 

Yesterday, I was number 38 in line at the Broadway Post Office. A man in his fifties dressed in an appliance repairman’s uniform argued with the clerk. “But a package coming here from my homeland takes only eight days! Why is my package not arrived there by over one month?” The clerk was irritated by this — and pointing the man to a voluminous form for lost package claims, dismissed him from life.

The man visibly slumped, mumbled, took a form, and walked to the door. I had a Byron Moment. It Just Happens. “What country are you from?”, I asked him. “I am from Czechoslovakia,” he replied. “You know, we’ve had problems shipping to South America, and Italy, but I don’t ship much to Czechoslovakia,” I said, in my normal method of extracting life pictures. Talk about the mundane, sizing up the general human — and then suddenly shift gears, and not too directly. For instance — I casually mention that I’m reading a history of the KGB, the Mitrohkin Archives. Then I drop the name of Eduard Benes, and the fate of Czechoslovakia at Munich — and — Pow.

He began to speak. Every person in the post office stopped talking and listened, even the clerks. This was his story:

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Winter games

Max, 2006/02/21 

I’m having bucketloads of fun with my new GPS and a couple of software programs, mostly Google Earth and a topo map program- called Topo! of all things. I’ll save the GE stuff for later. For now Topo! has a practical application. I’m scoping out some ideas for routes to take on the annual winter trek- this time to Carson Pass, the same place featured on my birthday ski.

Here’s the GPS track of my 8.2 mile ski that day up to and just past Roundtop Lake:

That little green area near Roundtop Lake where it says “PACK” (you might want to click to enlarge) looked like an ideal camp spot on my recon trip and it’s a reasonable distance in at about 3 miles, especially considering wearing a heavy pack for two nights winter camping.

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An opening of faces

Max, 2006/02/16 

I work in software development and recently got a new job developing e-commerce web pages for a large department store in San Francisco. I’d worked in the city before, and was well accustomed to the routine of commuting into the city on BART, sharing space with hordes of commuters of every description in an ethnically diverse community. After getting into the groove a while, people tend to become part of the background, both on the train while I’m reading or trying to work, and while I’m hustling around on the street on my way in or out of the office or out on my lunch hour. There’s even a tendency to develop a little hostility as the fellow rats in the rat race are either in the way or are taking up space I would rather have to myself. Generally, though, my feelings toward my fellow city dwellers typically settles into indifference.

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Living with Peak Oil awareness

Max, 2006/02/15 

I’m a little concerned about my brother’s state of mind these days. He’s convinced that our way of life is doomed to a collapse which will leave innocent people in danger of starving while they spend every waking moment trying to ward off hungry bands of desperados determined to rape and pillage. He’s convinced that this is all going to happen quite soon, not just in the lifetime of his children, but in his own time- possibly in just a few years. I sympathize with his plight because I was going through the same torment a relatively short time ago.

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Totally sickening…

Max, 2006/02/13 

I won’t do this often, but this post is just a link to an essay I’d really like to highlight and urge people to read. It’s commentary on our famous “culture of life” Vice President, not about his ludicrous shooting accident, but about a typical “successful” hunting trip he engaged in back in 2003.

Please read it here.

“I guess the man made a little goof”

Max, 2006/02/12 

No, this isn’t about Cheney’s hunting accident- this is about a much more innocent mistake. I felt the need to balance out the geeky science of the Muon piece with a ‘Just Fun’ post of the highest order. Last summer, Robert (the Muon physicist) and I went for a hike in the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. Our target was Pyramid Peak, a tough little day hike unless you’re in tip top condition.

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What is a muon… and other non-trivial questions

Max, 2006/02/11 

A friend and ski/hiking partner of mine, Robert Palmer, is a high-energy nuclear physicist. As a leyman, I’ve often wondered just what his work really consists of, and he recently provided a glimpse in a letter he distributes to family and friends annually. The following primer on Muon Physics is provided for your edification and enjoyment:

Let me, for those who might be interested, try to give simplified answers to: a) what is a neutrino, b) what is a muon, c) what is a Muon Collider, what is a Muon Conversion Experiment, and e) What is a Muon Collider. I will start with the more familiar: matter and electricity.

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Birthday in whiteness

Max, 2006/02/09 

That’s me, in my element, shot on my birthday on the flanks of Roundtop Mtn just south of Carson Pass in the Sierra Nevada. It was Super Bowl Sunday and my hometown Steelers were shooting for their fifth world championship. As it happens they fared well. Do I have any regrets I missed a few hours sitting on a couch watching electrons dance? Hah!

See my quickie web gallery if you enjoy spectacular alpine scenery in winter.

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