Archive for January, 2007

Pregnancy update

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Had a doctors appointment yesterday, and things seem to be progressing very well. I’m at week 24, and have already put on 30 pounds, but the doctor didn’t think that was anything to be concerned about. It makes me wonder how much I’m going to weigh by the time May gets here. I’ve started to have trouble sleeping at night due to pain in my hips. Ended up ordering a big body pillow to relieve some of the pain. It made a huge difference, and I would recommend one to anyone who is pregnant. Slept much much better since receiving it, only having to turn over once per night, instead of every 15 minutes. Of course the thing is huge and takes up most of the bed, so I’m not sure Chris is really thrilled with it. The cats however think it’s great (Oreo has switched from sleeping on my hip/belly to sleeping on the pillow).

Saturday I noticed another pregnancy symptom kicking in: swollen ankles. They are huge! Need to remember to elevate my feet when sitting, and to drink a lot more water. hopefully that will keep the swelling under control. A little swelling I don’t mind, but having to choose carefully which pair of shoes I put on is not a lot of fun.

Other than those two things, I’m feeling pretty good, and for that I’m thankful.

Got a hankering for your hygenist?

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Washington state says you’re not allowed.  According to this article found on digg, Washington state has enacted some new regulations aimed at preventing inappropriate behavior between patients and medical personnel.  This certainly seems like an admirable goal, and some reasonable restrictions might be appropriate, since you can argue that a practitioner is in an advantageous position over the patient.  The extent of the restrictions taken to their practical and potentially unreasonable limits in Eugene Volokh’s Opinion Journal article.

The author explains how a patient/practitioner affected by the rule must wait two years before a relationship may begin.  This leads to an amusing hypothetical situation:

But wait; maybe before you leave and wait the two years, you ought to get a sense of whether she’s even interested, no? Except that even if you ask whether she’s potentially interested, her answer has to be: I’m sorry, but I can’t discuss the possibility of a relationship after the professional relationship ends.

Of course, this restriction does end two years after the professional relationship ends. So two years after switching dental hygienists or opticians, you can call up the person and say, “Hey, remember me, from two years ago? I only stopped coming to your office so that I could wait two years and then ask you out. So, are you interested?” At that point, she can start a relationship with you–or say, “Oh, sorry you had to stay away for two years, but I don’t think it would work out between us.”

Aviation patterns as Art

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

As someone who works in the aviation industry where traffic patterns and morning pushes are a major input into our designs, its nice to just sit back and watch the beauty of it.

This art project by Aaron Koblin (as first seen on digg) renders the daily US traffic pattern as dynamic visual art.

As an engineer in this field, I see many familiar patterns. The recording begins in late evening with the traffic winding down. Then redeye flights from the west coast seem to trigger the morning ‘push’ at 6-7AM (ET), the slight lull before noon. The noon commuter flights on the East coast spreading across the continent. Finally the evening traffic which continues right up until midnight. You can also observe all of the European flights arriving in the morning, and leaving at night.

Edit:  After viewing the comments I found these somewhat more literal but also intersting visualizations (on You-Tube)

Vienna posts gender neutral signs

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

At the risk of scooping The Evil Eyebrow on a signage issue, this is actually a month old story…
As heard on As It Happens, Vienna is beginning to introduce gender neutral street signs to raise awareness of equality issues. Unfortunately, the spokesperson was somewhat difficult to understand in her excitement (you can listen to the interview). As a result, I was left with the impression that all signs denoting gender would be randomly dispersed with alternate signs showing the opposite gender. (Imagine the crisis at the urinal!)

Fortunately, the ACTUAL approach is considerably more practical. I tried to find some actual images of the new signs (I found this one, but from the radio interview, understand that this one was not actually used) , but instead found these somewhat cynical alternatives. In any case, basically the idea is that instead of an exit or crosswalk sign showing the typical male stick figure, there are equivalent signs with female figures. For the previous image of a woman changing a baby’s diaper, there is now a man changing a diaper (and I thought the US picture simply showing a diapered baby made sense). Here’s a short article on the subject.

I’m left wondering how the women are denoted since I’ve heard hints of controversy regarding the typical bathroom signs and their skirt wearing patroness.

Another addiction…

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

X3 Reunion Logo

Continuing in my promised line of revealing my addictions, there is another game, X3: Reunion, by Egosoft. This is a game of space exploration, flight simulation and trading. The motto of the game is “X3. Trade. Fight. Build. THINK”. This game has absolutely stunning visual impact. The beauty and remarkable sense of scale when you slide your ship between the support beams of a gigantic space station or zip a fighter down the side of a capital ship. Planets have clouds that move, space stations revolve, ships and stations can be illuminated by stars, planetary albedo or the rosy glow of a nearby nebula. Please don’t take my word for it, download a rolling-demo or a video. Even if you have no interest in playing a game like this, you owe it to your eyes to see what can be rendered by computer games in real time. Be warned, if your PC video card is not up to date, the rolling-demo may seriously tax your PC’s video card.

Screenshot

Beyond the view, this game has one of the most advanced economies I have ever seen in a game. It makes use of multilevel commodities (Use A to make B, use B to make C, use C to make D), supply & demand pricing, and literally thousands of AI ships who are buying & selling wares throughout the universe. One consequence of this, is that this game ALSO taxes the processor in your computer to keep the universe running. The fact that such a powerful machine is required, is probably the biggest drawback of this game,

Screenshot2

This is definitely a long haul sort-of game. Despite that, I can easily sit down after work and play for 20 minutes to just blow off steam (of course I will also occasionally get sucked into defending against an alien invasion that has me defending the universe for over an hour).  I have been playing the same actual game since I started playing. I think I have almost 12 days (yes days) of play time into it. There is always more money to make, more ships to build, buy, more factories to outfit, commodities to control, pirates to wipe out… or you can be a pirate and prey on the law abiding economy of the universe.

The game contains 6 distinct cultures (plus pirate factions) which have their own ships, and access to unique technologies and commodities. Different species eat different things after all.

There is a plot of sorts, but I admit it’s pretty lame. The real attraction of the game is the fully living universe and how what you do and build has an effect that ripples across space. If you’d like to give it a try and you don’t mind downloading a 900MB file, there is a playable demo available.

Alone? I think not.

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

As I’ve grown up the strange uniqueness of my last name has turned out to be not so terribly uncommon.  Even less so when all of the possible misspellings are considered.  For some reason I stumbled on this data for immigrant registrations under the name of Schierer.  Any number of those could be truly related to me.  Most probably aren’t.

IE Sucks!

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

It has come to our attention that some of you people are still supporting world domination buy using Internet Exploiter. The fact that our website seems to display like that weird portal that Spock flew through in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in IE is not my fault. Well it is, because I didn’t bother to check. And yeah, even I’m forced to use IE at work, so I feel for you.
Anyhow, we’ll fix it. In the meantime may we recommend any number of oddly named Mozilla products: FireFox, SeaMonkey, Camino, or if all else fails Netscape.

I don’t promise it will look nice in all of those, but in any case I’ll see what I can do. Maybe tomorrow.

Edit: Hmm… on IE 7.0.5730.11 for WXP the page looks fine.  So what versions are people having trouble with?

Complete… but yet not.

Monday, January 15th, 2007

The third (but probably not final) book in the Temeraire series, Black Powder War by Naomi Novik was quite possibly better than the other two. Black Powder War CoverShe does seem to be getting better at this. Unfortunately, my satisfaction was dashed onto the jagged rocks with the first signs of what I will coin as the “perpetual series syndrome”.

Those of you who know me have heard me complain about this behavior from much more established (and impressive) authors such as Robert Jordan. Let me explain: I suspect that many authors will write a book with the hopes that a series may result, but complete the first story without knowing whether it will get picked up by anyone. If the book does well, the author will write more. If the book does REALLY well, the author will often leave the ending dangling loosely to entice us into buying the next book. I have no problem with authors wanting to extend their franchise… and there is certainly nothing magical about a trilogy as the perfect set (although I tend to like the classical 3-Act tradition this invokes).

Look at the Harry Potter series with its obvious serial association with Harry’s school years. If the next book (which seems the logical conclusion) does not end the series (or at least resolve the Voldemort adventure) I will be very disappointed.

I have always felt that every book must in some sense stand on its own… beginning, climax, resolution. If the book doesn’t resolve the issues created within the story… well then it’s just pandering to the publishers… or maybe the bank account. I understand that a 4th book is in the works and I won’t pass my complete judgment yet… but the ending of this story was suspiciously like the start of a failure to deliver.

Stay tuned…

Syracuse Traffic Curiousities

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Bill recently contacted us regarding a rumor that there is an upside-down traffic light (green on top) in a neighborhood in Syracuse.  I had heard the story before although I have not ventured to see it.  I think its time for a road-geek trek (to also look at another artifact that we are attempting to capture for the aforementioned persona).  To hold you over, here are a couple of references to the light (thanks Google):

Visit Syracuse Tourist Site

Upsate New York Roadgeek Meet October 2005

Brussels

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Pictures from my two trips to Brussels, Belgium, in October and December of 2003 are up in the gallery. For some reason these never seem to have been put up on the old website. Enjoy.