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April 2006 - Posts

Random acts of kindness

 The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony

I was at the farmer's market Monday, my routine grocery shopping day, and something really cool happened.

I know the owner of the establishment from seeing and talking with him over the years I've shopped there so we've built a bit of a rapport.  He once gave me a free bag of groceries for giving him a copy of the dj mix I did a while back.  Monday, as I was checking out, I noticed loaves of flavored bread on the counter, next to the checkout registers.  I had spoken to him earlier when I spotted him since I hadn't seen him in so long, so as he came over to check me out we talked some more.  I told him the bread smelled nice and then put it down because I didn't intend to buy it -- since they all contained partially hydrogenated oil, haha.  He noticed one of the ears of corn I picked up looked kind of bad and told me to get another one, so I ended up getting a free ear of corn.  But then!  But then he told me to pick out one of the loaves of bread on the counter because he was going to give it to me!  Wow, I couldn't believe that.  He said he had an ulterior motive: to get me hooked so I would buy more next time, heh.  But still, it was a nice thing to do that he didn't have to do.  I've eaten a few slices of the bread and it is good -- despite the hydrogenation :).

Sometimes I can't help but notice kind acts people do, for me and others.  I wonder if it's true what "they" say, that your kindness will be rewarded.  I've done things for people before in the past, maybe the free food I've gotten at the farmer's market is mine.  Hmm.

Oh, my friend Mike bought me lunch the other day for helping him set up his blog on my server; thanks Mike :)

Posted: Thu, Apr 27 2006 11:17 PM by Humpty
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Dvorak keyboard layout

I don't know why I've waited so long to write about this since this is now my standard keyboard layout.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Some time ago, around 2002 or so, I started noticing tingling in my wrists and they hurt a lot too.  Since I program all day on a computer I immediately knew why I felt these sensations: repetitive stress.  Now I was using a split ergonomic keyboard for some time but I still had these issues.  Knowing where these injuries were headed if I didn't do something, and not particularly liking the surgery option, I investigated alternatives.  And the one I headed straight to was using the Dvorak keyboard layout.

Yeah, it looks weird, but trust me it's helped to eliminate the pain I felt in my wrists!  The basic principle behind the layout's design is to minimize stress and it's done by placing vowels on one side of the keyboard, the most used letters on the home row, etc. Instead of the randomness of the Qwerty layout the Dvorak layout is purposely designed.

If you're experiencing tingling in your wrists and they hurt from typing a lot, you know repetitive stress syndrome, I would highly suggest trying this layout.  It will take some time to get used to.  I eventually used a typing games program to get acquainted with it, that and printing out the layout and placing it in front of my monitor.  Actually switching to the layout is simple with modern computers since it just involves a software change.  For Windows XP go to your "Regional and Language Options" control panel, click on the Languages tab, and click Details, from there you add it as a new input language; click the Add button.  Other operating systems let you change to Dvorak, just using different procedures than I just showed.

I can now type as fast as I could when I used the Qwerty layout only now my wrists don't hurt nearly as much.  And besides, learning a new keyboard layout is a much cheaper option than surgery.

Posted: Wed, Apr 19 2006 1:11 AM by Humpty | with 1 comment(s)
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Prius to the Max! (i.e. I ran out of gas)

It finally happened, I ran out of gas!  Luckily being in a hybrid car I had enough energy left in the battery to get me to the gas station.

I've noticed that the out of gas indicator comes on about a gallon before it should.  Like in my other car -- my 2000 Deep Amethyst Dodge Neon that I miss :( -- the indicator would come on when I had about half a gallon left, but in my Prius it comes on when I only have a gallon left.  Because of this I've gotten used to ignoring the indicator and driving as if I had another gallon of gas left.  The indicator came on Saturday at around 290 miles driven since my last fill-up.  Today, as I was leaving home from lunch returning to work, I was completely out of gas at around 325 on the trip meter.  Yikes!

When I noticed the big red exclamation point on the dashboard I was like "Ah shit, this ain't good".  It happened just as I got on the road leading to my complex too.  There's a gas station on my way to work, about a mile or so from where I live, so I figured I could try to push it, especially since I had 6 of 8 bars left on the battery meter display.  My first obstacle was a red light.  This was an obstacle because I was going around 40 mph when I ran out of gas and I didn't want to have to stop since I would have to use energy to speed back up.  So I looked as best I could to see if there was a car coming and since there wasn't I just turned right onto the next road without stopping.  I did slow down but I just didn't stop.

Next up, traveling a mile or so with no gas!  As luck would have it most of my trip on the next road was flat terrain or downhill so I coasted and drove slow as much as possible.  There was one hill I had to get over and by then I only had one bar of energy left, yikes!  Luckily I had enough to get over it and from there it was just coasting downhill to the gas station.  Whew....

I actually think I had a tiny amount of gas left in my car though because I pulled into the gas station the wrong way, the gas cap facing away from the pump -- a habit since my last car had the gas cap on the right side of the car rather than the left.  But when I powered the car back up to move it I noticed that it was drawing some gas from the engine.  Hmm.  Anyway, when it was all said and done I put 11.914 gallons of gas in my Prius.  So I can definitely confirm that the gas bladder in the Prius can hold 11.9 gallons as the manual says, even though it warns you about low gas when you've only used up 9.

Moral of the story?  He who drive without gas in a Prius, only have one or two miles before kablooey!  This experience definitely gives new meaning to the phrase "driving on fumes".

Posted: Mon, Apr 17 2006 7:03 PM by Humpty | with 20 comment(s)
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Spiritual gravity

I'm taking an astronomy class this semester and we touched on gravity today.  It was neat to learn that 1) the Sun uses nuclear fusion to create energy and 2) that this tremendous amount of energy doesn't explode the Sun to bits because of the Sun's immense gravity.  Basically there's a perfect balance maintained between the powerful explosions taking place within the Sun's core and its gravity holding it together: one force trying to blow it up and another compress it.  To explain how this happens our professor touched on the four fundamental forces, the one of interest here though is the strong force which binds atomic particles together.

Now I'm not going to talk ad nauseam about physics because that's just not my thing.  However, the talk about gravity and fundamental forces rekindled something I've been attracted to (no pun intended) for a while now: spiritual gravity.  It's just neat to ponder over these physics concepts because all the forces, gravity included, seem so related.  There are currently four of them, used to be five, but they're all basically attractive/repulsive forces; from what I understand they differ in their scope of application.  Like gravity has an affect over vast distances, you can see this by our Sun's gravity holding together this entire solar system.  The strong force only binds atomic particles in close range, i.e. the nucleus of an atom, if atomic particles aren't that close to each other the strong force doesn't affect them.

This all just makes me wonder: exactly what is gravity?  On a more social level you can even see the effects of attraction/repulsion that constitute gravity when you consider that people are attracted to each other -- or repulsed as the case may be.  Sure liking someone isn't quite the same as say the Earth's gravity pulling you to it, but it is still an attractive force of sorts.  They just have to be related...

People find themselves attracted to certain things too.  I'm attracted to computers, others to sports, others to drawing, and whatnot, there's just a draw that exists between disparate things.  It doesn't even seem to matter that the thing in question is physical or not, it can be an idea, but there's just a draw, an attraction.  Ideas don't have mass but you can be attracted to them the same as the Earth is attracted to the Sun.  You don't need mass for a draw to exist between two things.  Hmm, but an idea is at least something that exists, just not tangibly, so you could say that an idea has a mass of sorts since it exists.  Speculative thinking, I know, but this is a speculative post.  If a non-physical thing such as an idea can be interpreted to have mass of a certain kind, and if physically massive objects exert strong attraction on things, then could massive ideas exert strong influence?

Hmm, I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud sort of.  But I just can't help but think that there's a link between gravity, love, hate, lust, etc.  They all seem to be the same thing, just given different labels.

The metaphysical nature of gravity...

Posted: Mon, Apr 3 2006 8:41 PM by Humpty | with 8 comment(s)
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