"I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

Posted by Brian Sun, 10 Feb 2008 03:54:00 GMT

Many people find me to grumpy and distant when they meet me. I think I’m going to start carrying around copies of this article to hand to them. I’ve already tried it with one extremely annoying extrovert. Unfortunately she seemed completely oblivious to the actual meaning of what she was reading.

While on the subject of owner’s manuals, here is my companion manual. It’s meant more for your significant other, but combined with the first it manages to cover most of the essentials. So remember, if you see me out somewhere, I’ll be the curmudgeonly, nerdy introvert sitting in the corner people-watching because I decided that understanding the social dynamic of the party was far more interesting than participating in it. And if you decide to come over and talk to me, try to have something interesting to say. I already know what the weather is.

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Separation Of Concerns

Posted by Brian Fri, 01 Feb 2008 03:15:00 GMT

Let me try to explain to you, what to my taste is characteristic for all intelligent thinking. It is, that one is willing to study in depth an aspect of one’s subject matter in isolation for the sake of its own consistency, all the time knowing that one is occupying oneself only with one of the aspects. We know that a program must be correct and we can study it from that viewpoint only; we also know that it should be efficient and we can study its efficiency on another day, so to speak. In another mood we may ask ourselves whether, and if so: why, the program is desirable. But nothing is gained –on the contrary!– by tackling these various aspects simultaneously. It is what I sometimes have called “the separation of concerns”, which, even if not perfectly possible, is yet the only available technique for effective ordering of one’s thoughts, that I know of. This is what I mean by “focusing one’s attention upon some aspect”: it does not mean ignoring the other aspects, it is just doing justice to the fact that from this aspect’s point of view, the other is irrelevant. It is being one- and multiple-track minded simultaneously.

That quote is from Edgar Dijkstra 1974 paper “On the role of scientific thought”. Earlier in the day I had been reading about the futility of multi-tasking that our culture has become consumed with and then I came across his quote while reading about software design techniques. The two seemed to fit together very well.

I know the instant availability of information has definitely fragmented my mind. I used to be able to concentrate intently on any one thing with little effort. Now it seems almost impossible. Even writing this my mind is dashing in half-a-dozen different directions. That’s why I’ve been starting to unplug from various distractions. I canceled my cable TV months ago and I definitely don’t miss it. Is it really necessary to always be watching tv and reading? One of those two usually requires concentration. Why do you expect to get the most out of it while listening to Dr. Phil make someone cry? The explosion in media hasn’t been accompanied by an explosion in hours in a day. The sooner people come to grips with this and realize they can’t do it all, the better off we’ll all be.

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Where To Move?

Posted by Brian Sun, 27 Jan 2008 05:04:00 GMT

I’ve been thinking about where to move when the United States becomes a full police state (so we’re safe from the terrorists of course) and I’ve been thinking somewhere in northern Europe sounds good right now. Sweden, Norway, and Finland all sound like they’re willing to resist the modern police state mentality of the rest of western civilization. These have the added benefit of satisfying my love for winter, snow, and metal. Of course, by the time I’m ready to move, those nations could very well be moving toward a police state as well. These countries have problems now of course, but if the current direction of the U.S. doesn’t change with the next administration, I doubt they’ll be anywhere near as bad.

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Would You Like a Free Stress Test?

Posted by Brian Wed, 23 Jan 2008 01:18:00 GMT

Lady: Excuse me, sir. Would you like a free stress test? We’re doing them over on 4th St.
Me: Scientology?
Lady: Nods head
Me: Get away with your bullshit.

I really hate Scientology. Really hate it. So imagine my joy when a very soccer mom-ish woman asked me that on my walk home from work today. Luckily I had been out for a walk a couple of weekends ago and found the Scientology center downtown. Unfortunately the first thing that popped out of my mouth was to basically tell her to fuck off. I realized three steps after I started walking away that I should have dropped into pirate talk and asked if she had been Touched By His Noodly Appendage. An opportunity lost. I do want to go stand in front of their “church” dressed as a pirate and hand out fliers though. Any volunteers to join me?

On another note I can finally type with two hands for more than a sentence without pain, hence this post. My ulnar nerve was caked in scar tissue, discolored, and half the size it should have been. All that’s cleaned up now so we’ll see if things actually get better. I would describe my mood since before the surgery up to now as cautious optimism and it’s going to stay that way until I know for sure if this actually worked. If it did work I’ll most likely get the left one done too and then resume the life that got derailed 4 1/2 years ago.

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Surgery Today

Posted by Brian Mon, 07 Jan 2008 16:03:00 GMT

I just got back from having surgery on my right elbow to clear up scar tissue from around my ulnar nerve. Those who knew me throughout college should know why. I’m one-handed right now so details will come later.

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Remember, never stick anything in your ear larger than a pirate.

Posted by Brian Sun, 06 Jan 2008 16:24:00 GMT

I embarked on an epic journey Friday night to watch every episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Friday night. I figure it will take me at least a four or five years to go through all 198 episodes. There are two reasons for me writing reviews as I go along. First, so that I can have a written record of my view on the series . And second, because I’m really bad at writing reviews. If I can’t get better at it after 198 tries, then that’s probably a sign to give up. So, without further ado…

Experiment K04 - Gamera vs. Barugon

Gamera vs. Barugon presents the absurdity of a Japanese giant-monster movie with the added benefit of riffing. In traditional fashion a mystical egg (mistaken as an opal) is stolen from a mystical island where it was guarded by a mystical people and transforms into a mystical monster when exposed to radiation. Oh, and this radiation was being used to treat athlete’s foot.

The movie features all the staples of a Japanese giant-monster movie. Poorly dubbed voice acting and bad translations are the norm. In the usual science scene most of these movies have, where some psuedo-science is usually paraded about as a way to destroy the monster, we get the incredible line, “If an expectant mother is exposed to radioactivity, a freak may be born.” The term freak is then passed back and forth in hilarious display of political incorrectness. Watching that whole scene, the absurdity makes it seem like it might as well be Joel, Servo, and Crow riffing.

Most people watch these for movies one reason and one reason only though. Because watching grown men in costumes tackle each other in model cities is hilarious. And who can forget a man in a turtle suit fighting a man in an iguana suit. Nobody, that’s who. Even if you want to. Desperately. Oh, and the iguana fires rainbows at things. Destructive rainbows. The kind an angry, alcoholic, leprechaun makes I think.

The riffing itself was pretty slim through the whole movie. They were definitely still honing their craft at this point. There was a running gag on chapstick for the last half of the episode (the caller had asked for more slapstick, but they misunderstood it as chapstick). The gem of the episode comes from a rant by Crow in one of the host segments.

I’ve been thinking about this chapstick, and it really helps our side to use as much chapstick as possible, although as a lubricant, it’s awful. I prefer 10W40, or 10W30 in the winter, or 5W30 or any lubricant with a heavy viscosity, though many orifices of the body produce their own lubricants or secretions. My favorite orifices are: the nose, the ear - the ear produces a gelatinous, wax-like substance which can be removed with a swab. Not to be confused with a swabby. Remember, never stick anything in your ear larger than a pirate. This could cause severe pillaging. “Arr! Jim-boy! Pieces of meat! What’s in those barrels anyway?”

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Console TV Aquarium Part 1

Posted by Brian Thu, 03 Jan 2008 03:09:00 GMT

Macquarium

So I decided that my Macquarium wasn’t enough and have now embarked on putting a larger aquarium in my parents old console television. I’m hoping to extend this project later to learn some basic electronics (controlling the light and some valves through the old picture control dials), but for now the goal is just to get a cool looking aquarium in a TV. I wasn’t able to find much of a guide on how to go about it, but it turns out there isn’t much too it. I’ll be writing instructions about I’m working on it.

First, you need a TV. I was able to secure a Zenith (with Space Command!) that, according to the tube, was manufactured in October 1983.

Empty Console TV

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera around when taking it apart, but there isn’t much to it. Just rip everything out and be careful with the tube. The more adventurous out there may want to try taking the tube apart and keeping the glass panel for the front of the TV. Do your homework first though. You can electrocute yourself on an undischarged CRT or cause an implosion that will send glass flying at high speeds.

Next, you’ll want to look at how the frame of your console is put together. Mine was held together by bolts and glue and required some work with a chisel and hammer to get it apart. And what exactly should you be taking apart? The goal is to get the top off so you can install some hinges for easy fish feeding and maintenance. On my model this involved removing the top and a back brace. The brace went back on with mending plates and the hinges attached to it.

Hinges Installed
Empty Console TV

Next you will want to take measurements for how big of a fish tank you can fit in. I want to keep the built-in speaker if possible, so that allows me to use an aquarium of up to 24”x24”x15”. That works out to a 37.4 gallon tank which according to this calculator will weigh over 400 lbs. Keep the weight in mind when deciding where to put your tank. I’m currently working on securing an aquarium of approximately the size I want or building my own. I’ll update when I have a tank ready to setup.

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A New Year

Posted by Brian Wed, 02 Jan 2008 03:38:00 GMT

I’ve been meaning to finish setting this site up for the past month and since it was a new year I figured I might as well get to it. I have no grand plans on what I’ll be writing about, but we’ll see where it leads.

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