Archive for February, 2010

Movies, games and other late night thoughts.

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Thanks to R’s tendency to only sleep when supported vertically, I’ve been putting her in the Baby Bjorn and finding other things to do. These things need to be generally stationary and relatively quiet. This means that I’ve been catching up on my Discover magazines, quickly exhausting Turner Classic Movies On-Demand and finishing off some video games (with headphones on).

As a result of this I have several random observations:
A) Watching The Manchurian Candidate (1962) while heavily sleep deprived is especially surreal. It also gives you crazy violent dreams, so I wouldn’t recommend the overall experience. [1]
B) I’ve now completed Bioshock which I started back in December. There was about a three week hiatus, but I made a pretty hard push to finish it over the last few days/nights. I really have to applaud the writers and designers for writing a compelling storyline with reasonable psychological and ethical hurdles. The scenery is very dark and bloody and combined with adult dialog, the game is rather squarely rated “R”. However, despite this, it rarely seemed gratuitous like other shooters I have played (and generally stopped playing). There was suitable opportunity for a ‘thinking player’ rather than a ‘rapid reflex’ player to ambush/evade/out-think the enemies with sufficient moments of sheer combat chaos to keep the heart going. I have Mass Effect waiting in the wings, but I think I’m going to evade game-commitment and install NFS:Undercover next. [2]
C) Every time I read another article about the plasticity of the brain, and the growing field of neural-mechanical interfaces I really feel like I’m in the wrong line of work. I am continuously amazed at how remarkably flexible and adaptable the brain is at integrating with new inputs. This is reinforced by watching N learn to spell, associate numbers with objects and generally become more sophisticated physically and mentally every day. We’re starting this road again with R, and so quickly she develops reactions to certain stimuli.

  1. Great movie though. Angela Lansbury as the manipulative Mrs. Iselin is fantastically dark. []
  2. Yes, I purchase and play games well after their initial release dates. Both Bioshock and Mass Effect have recently released sequels. I do this to keep my PC costs in check and to get a true bargain for my entertainment budget. I think I picked up Bioshock for about $10, and got a ridiculous number of entertainment hours out of it. []

Our little Valentine

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

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One more in the gallery.

Baby update

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

So we’re starting to settle into a bit of a rhythm with Rachel now. She’s pretty much sleeping in the early morning (this morning from like 3-8!), but this means she’s anything but sleeping from about 9PM until 1 or 2 in the morning. That’s a bad time for mental health.

Regardless, she’s still a sweetie.
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And lest you think we forgot our other photogenic child…
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(For those of you following on Facebook, realize that K has set up her notes to grab our blog feed automatically. Rather than harass you with all of my (Chris’) crazy rantings we’ve narrowed it to only grab the family update posts… like this one.)

Fundamental Particle Error

Monday, February 1st, 2010

As seen on actual ESD[1] mandatory training material (emphasis mine):

“Static electricity is a simple form of electrical energy. Every time you walk across a carpet, touch a doorknob, and get a spark it’s because you were splitting electrons. When you move, you generate an excess of either positive or negative charges on your body. Upon touching something conductive, the excess electrons are trying to find an electron of the opposite charge in order to neutralize themselves. So, an imbalance in electrons creates a difference in potential, which may cause an ESD event that may cause damage to circuitry.”

This is so fundamentally wrong it just hurts my brain. First off, in the Standard Model of elementary particles, electrons are indivisible. Even if you could split them, doing so by casually walking across a carpet would result in a significant release of energy. (Note, the annihilation of a single electron would be essentially unnoticeable from an energy release perspective, but if it happened as easily as simply walking across a carpet, we would have serious problems.) The amount of charge one can feel dissipating on a doorknob is on the order of 10^18 electrons. If they were really combining with “electrons of the opposite charge” (aka positrons… or antimatter electrons) this would result in a significant antimatter explosion. Something on the order of 100-200 kilojoules. Enough to heat about 40 kilograms of water one degree. Or for the 10 grams in the tip of your finger… pretty much vaporization. (Somebody please check my math on that.) Regardless… ouch.

I sent a correction. I’ll be interested to see how well received it is.

  1. That’s ElectroStatic Discharge for you non-technical acronym types. []