Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spinning a yarn

My brother's girlfriend sent me a link today discussing how some non-euclidean shapes can be knitted, and the fact that knitting is helping mathematicians to create tangible examples of higher order geometrical shapes, that otherwise only really exist in theory (and nature).
Shift gears.
I have some concern about theories of effective communication. A training session for work today explained the best way to communicate is to:
-Use the simplest word to convey your idea
-Keep it short, both use the shortest word possible and use the fewest words possible.
-Refrain from the use of advanced words (although they were only called "five-dollar" words... or something with an equally negative connotation)

Essentially, both communicating parties are supposed to come to an understanding that oral communication is extremely fallible and should talk to each other like simpletons to decrease miscommunication.

While my misanthropism begs I bark at others like retards, I disagree on two points:
-Advanced words have a function, and should be used when the shoe fits.
-If everybody communicated as above, our language would devolve to something simpler, and lose some of its capacity for communicating (ie the idea of good communication is an ad-hoc policy that will, over time, decrease our capacity for communication).

Synonyms are not equal... they are similar. Advanced words are best used to convey a more exact meaning. When I say, "many pragmatic arguments exist." I'm not trying to say, that there are "common sense" , or "non-quantifiable," or "practical" , or "realistic" arguments. I'm saying that all of those exist, with a little more emphasis in some areas, and a little less in others. Should I refrain from using that word ever again because it doesn't seem that many people know it? Well it depends on the situation, am I there to make fish dinner or to teach a man to fish?

And that's where my two points overlap. At some points, we must invest in communication with other by teaching them words, by learning words from them. That's how language works, how it evolves. If there was some way we could avoid using words others didn't know, or prevent them from learning when a word is explained, our language's vocabulary would deteriorate (the number of words vs time would decrease exponentially, with an asymptote at the few words "everybody" knows). Let's say everybody is allowed to learn words the first 20 years of their life and after than, no words can be learned, or used if another adult doesn't know them; now fast forward 1000 years. I can tell someone to do a simple task, but I can no longer convey detailed and articulate messages with brevity. Shit, I couldn't explain to them why their grammar is wrong because I wouldn't have the word "preposition."

My point is not that the corporate machine is doing something inherently wrong. It's that language is a beautiful thing, and the better one wields it, the more they can effectively accomplish/communicate.

Yes, there are some advanced or obscure words that are useless, they are advanced and obscure because they are dying; they have been replaced in common vernacular by a more efficient AND equally articulate method. Using advanced words for the purpose of confusion should never be done in the name of honest progress. It just makes you sound like an asshole (<- a word that needs no substitute). Advanced words can be used to express one's self more clearly, and can be a catalyst for respect, progress, and efficacy.

Maybe I've just been reading to much on the crapper... I'm 250 pages into this. While I skimmed about 100 pages, I've found much of it very interesting. It's always fascinating to learn the workings of something you've always taken for granted.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The olympics

...are awesome, for all the right reasons.

and the NBC Olympics site is sweet. It's about the same as recording all of the games and having them at your fingertips.

Only two more years to Vancouver, who wants to go?
Then London in 2012.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The incredible edible

Wow, a lot has happened since the last post. I bought my first home and got all moved in (but far from settled). I have 1300sq ft of home and about 600 sq ft of stuff. I imagine if someone broke in, they'd think I'd already been sacked and just leave out the front door. So I was without the interwebs for a few weeks, but now I'm back.

I was noticing my girlfriend had Large eggs and I only had medium eggs. This made me feel like less of a man, so as we speak I am learning more about eggs than I ever wanted to, and I am about to divulge the important stuff to you, the reader.

We all know eggs come in a few forms... Medium, Large, XL, Grade A, Grade AA, et al. Here's lesson #1. Don't ever buy Grade AA eggs again. The letters following the size are a quality rating, and have zero impact on size, weight, or taste. Eggs come in three quality ratings, AA, A, and B. It's all about aesthetics. Grade B eggs simply rate lower in appearance when broken out. The actual grading rubric is listed on the Eggcyclopedia (scroll to "grading"). Again, the only reason to buy AA eggs is for presentation in a fine restaurant (sure, lots of five star restaurants serve breakfast!).So weight is the only real difference, that's all we should be paying for. So what weight of egg will provide us the best bang for our buck? Again, from the AEB:
Sizes are classified according to minimum net weight expressed in ounces per dozen. Jumbo 30 oz.., Extra Large 27 oz., Large 24 oz., Medium 21 oz., Small 18 oz. and Peewee 15 oz.
Not one to disappoint, I took those size and compared the ounces per dollar at a couple of grocery stores...
Yes, that's my 3 minute attempt at an egg graph (a distant cousin of the Venn diagram). This is ounces per dollar, so higher is better. It looks like we should all buy Medium and Extra Large grade A eggs from here on out. If eggs are on sell, just figure out which is discounted by a larger percentage, and buy those. At least, that's eggsactly what I'll be doing (sorry, couldn't help it).

Hokay, time to go have a beer. Maybe I'll post about the house sometime later.

The American Egg Board (seriously)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I just found this site. I think I'll try and get through them. I borrowed a television from my grandparents while I was in a cast. My interest in it had a shelf life of about two weeks, it's not been on since. I much prefer typing in a subject that interests me on google videos and learning a bit. Just this evening I listened to a couple of on subjects I dream of comprehending.

I've been doing a lot of menial shit at work lately, so I thought I'd write a post on concentration. When I was a kid I loved to play Zelda on NES. Granted it was Zelda, and it was awesome, but I'd play for 3 days straight until my mother made me stop. These video game binges would usually cause me to ignore anything my body would tell me. I would ignore the pressure in my loins until I was on the verge of peeing myself, pause it, sprint to the bathroom, skip the shake and get back to the triforce as quickly as possible.

My brain is good for solving one big problem. Once my brain gets going down a path, it won't stop until something productive has happened (or I have a massive migraine and go to sleep). Conversely, I am terrible at switching gears, I can't have a conversation while typing an email, I'm as good as dead while watching TV. Some people's brains aren't wired like mine (I hope most people's aren't). I just wish we were advanced enough that we could all get paid the same for doing what we're best at, CEOs paid the same as payroll clerks (assuming equal competence at their respective positions).

I am becoming increasingly good at taking myself to that place of one-mindedness... I shut the door, dim the lights slightly and turn on the silence. I haven't been able to use this much while doing many little tasks over the past weeks. The sad part is, what I have used my uni-directional brain for has been skipped over by my superiors. They're very concerned about making sure my "i"s are dotted and my "t"s crossed... but no so concerned if I properly calculated the thermal coefficient for 200,000 square feet of amalgamated roofing (the former certainly has less true impact than the latter). I have a feeling it's because they don't think they'd understand it. This thought gives me hope and despair all at the same time.

BTW... I wrote the majority of this in Aug. of '07... I guess a year later it just felt like time.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I heart gerunds

The answer is... the sentence is complete and Bill Gates' logic has failed once more.
Assuming a 5 day work week yields 14k pieces daily.
"Assuming" in this case, is a gerund...

Suddenly, I find myself loving gerunds.

I move into MY house on Thursday. I'll have to start blogging at work until I get an internet connection. I need to buy a mower and a vacuum cleaner, stat.

Also I'm fat, but no longer in a cast... time to get back on the bike.

Friday, August 01, 2008


I just navigated one of those automated phone answering systems where you "say the option you want at any time." I really have to think twice and force myself to say the option over the computer voice. I suppose it's years of being conditioned not to interrupt others (although I'm sure I still do that frequently when I get excited). I'm guilty of several cases of waiting for the robot to finish speaking even though I know exactly what option I want.

I'm sure technologies of this type will abound in the not too distant future. The silly question I have is, will these technolgies affect culture such that people are more inclinded to interrupt others? How will the we respond to being interrrupted?

In other news, there was some dissention between Bill Gates, some friends, and me. It all started because I typed:
Assuming a 5 day work week yields 14k pieces daily.
What do you think, is that a sentence or is it not?

Hokay, I've just been taken off hold.