Whistle while you work September 12, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in humor, physics.
Tags: braces, life of brian, monty python, whistling
I’m not a big whistler, but every once in a while the mood hits me. Yesterday after seeing this (it’s about the ‘new’ trailer for Monty Python and the Holy Grail), my mind travelled to The Life of Brian and, inevitably, this song:
It’s one of those annoyingly catchy (and yes, totally absurd) songs. While it was burrowing its way through my brain, I started whistling. Except, I discovered I couldn’t.
As some of you may recall, I had orthodontic work done and finally had my braces taken off last spring. While wearing braces, I don’t imagine I tried whistling at all because whistling with braces is pretty much a futile exercise. However, after having all my teeth moved around, I discovered that however I had learned to whistle before no longer works.
In order to whistle (at least the way I do it), one holds the lips in such a way to allow a stream of air to pass through. The stream is disrupted slightly by the lips and teeth, causing the air to vibrate. Then you can move your tongue around in your mouth to change the frequency of the resonance, which will change the pitch of the whistle.
It sounds easy, right? Except that with my teeth in a different position, I can’t seem to get that vibration there. Everything is in a new spot, so I’m not sure how to place my lips.
The end result is that I’m trying to sing, “Always look on the bright side of life,” which is so darn cheerful because of the whistling, and I can no longer whistle. Despite the song’s mandate, I found myself a hair depressed…
Friday fun: It’s a trap! August 23, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in family, Friday Fun, humor.
Tags: admiral ackbar, friday fun, traps
I actually had planned another post for today, but I’m too short on time to write it out. Hopefully next week…
In the meantime, Mike, the older son, and I were having one of those philosophical discussions one has when one’s brain cells are fried because it’s the end of the week and you’re all suffering from the dreaded summer cold. The comment that excited this discussion was a Far Side comic (which I can’t find). The comic shows a couple guys walking through a jungle, and one of them has been caught in a death trap. Meanwhile, one of his fellow jungle-goers is telling another that this is why he tends to walk near the back.
This led into a long discussion about what the safest position in a hiking party is, particularly if one is going through an isolated jungle. From the movies, we know that the first guy always trips the net or falls into the pit or what have you. The guy in the middle always ends up succumbing to the rocks on the cliff or bridge that have been weakened by the first guy. The last guy always gets picked off by the natives.
As far as we can tell, this seems to hold unless you’re the protagonist in a non-George R. R. Martin book/show/movie. And, of course, the doubters are all hosed regardless of position.
So what do you think: what is the safest position in a jungle-venturing party? If you have a reason why, I’d love to hear it.
Ambassador for the engineers May 22, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, humor, work.
Tags: conference, feminism, sexism, trade show
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After writing about my experience manning a booth at a conference (geez…even how you work a booth at a conference can be phrased in male-centric terms), it has slowly dawned on me that there is another way to view the experience. I was rather frustrated that people seemed surprised when they found out I was an engineer. I have realized, however, that I need to look at it in a different light: such a reaction, when not accompanied by an obvious derogatory or sexist statement (as has happened), could potentially be viewed as a compliment. Maybe in expressing surprise that I’m an engineer, what they were really saying was: “Oh my! You can talk to me without using technobabble or looking at someone’s shoes! Nor do you have male-pattern baldness!” It’s a good thing to go out and destroy those stereotypes, right?
I almost speak Greek April 13, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, humor, science.
Tags: accuracy, greek, kappa, precision
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I was working on my thesis, trying to do some debugging, when I discovered a discrepancy between two pieces of code. Mike was standing nearby, and when I made that noise one makes when they discover something is afoot, he asked what was up.
“There’s a difference between kappa in these two programs.”
Of course, I blanked at that particular moment and couldn’t dredge up the meaning from the recesses of my memory.
“Umm….it’s that little K thingy.”
I think that’s the accurate but not precise answer…
Research expenditures January 4, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, humor, research.
Tags: Mike, research
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This morning, Mike said something about how he forgot to pick up some wax paper at the grocery store. I dug around in one of my drawers and produced an as-yet unopened roll of wax paper (because I’m awesome like that).
Me: ”Does the younger boy need it for school?”
Mike: “No, I need it to store some widgets. They have adhesive on the back, so the wax paper works real well.”
Me: “Oh, you didn’t tell me that this was for research purposes. I might have to put a hefty markup on that. Say, 300% of cost.”
Mike: “I’m sure the markup would be closer to 10,000% if I stated that the research were for national defense.”
That’s one expensive roll of wax paper.
FCIWYPSC, now with more cowbell! December 18, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in humor.
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Today was our departmental holiday potluck. I brought deviled eggs but chose to bring my own lunch rather than brave the terrors of potentially glutenated food.
However, as I was waiting for my food to heat up, the ‘band’ was setting up nearby. The band consisted of the Minion, a couple of my coworkers, and another coworker from a different department. I jokingly said that if I’d known there was going to be music, I would’ve brought my dumbek.
Unbeknownst to me, they needed someone to play the cowbell. Seriously. They had two of them along with two clamshells on a stand, so I was volunteered to help with the percussion. I think I did okay, except on the reggae piece. Of course, the Minion was on drums, and I was watching him…so I’m secretly thinking I can blame him. Maybe I ought to look into cowbell lessons. (Although I did get some help from @MissMSE already!)
Repost: Happy Talk like a Pirate Day! September 19, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in humor, math.
Tags: matrix, rotation, talk like a pirate day
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(This is a repost from my old Livejournal blog.)
On this most holy holiday, where we all celebrate the day when His Noodliness touched us all (and which we observe to prevent more global warming), it’s important to remember what the day is truly about: transformation.
You’ll often hear Pastafarians (and their lesser imitators) say, “Arrrr!” What, you ask, could they be talking about?
It may not be obvious, but they are talking about Arrrr (R), which is the rotation matrix. (Note that this is quite different from the Matrix.)
As any good sea-faring pirate knows, rotation matrices are essential tools for navigation.
Any rotation can be given as a composition of rotations about three axes (Euler’s rotation theorem), and thus can be represented by a matrix operating on a vector,
We should remember, on this day, that a series of rotations can be accomplished by multiplying the matrices of each individual rotation together, thus resulting in a single rotation matrix (not Matrix) to describe the overall transformation that has been achieved.
And this concludes the sermon for today.
Friday Fun: best videos I came across this week June 8, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Friday Fun, humor.
Tags: electronics, robin williams, solar physics, star wars, venus, video
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Just keep in mind that I don’t have a very high bar for all of them….
Friday fun: Encabulator madness February 17, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Friday Fun, humor.
Tags: friday fun, turboencabulator
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If you ever need practice speaking jargon, I’d suggest studying one or the other of the two following videos.
My theory on the Big Bang Theory January 30, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in humor, physics, science, science fiction, societal commentary.
Tags: Big Bang Theory, physics, stories, suspension of disbelief, TV
I really don’t watch much TV, but I do own all of the Big Bang Theory that’s available on DVD. Most of my friends really enjoy it, too, and I have a theory why that is: I think that it’s one of the few TV shows that nerds can stand to watch because it is far more factually correct than most TV shows.
Most of the nerds I know are the ones who annoy everyone else at movies by making commentary throughout about the impossibility or improbability of what they’re witnessing. (In particular, my older son is this way. Of course, he also likes to tell you what’s going to happen next, so he’s been banned from speaking during movies.) Suspension of disbelief becomes a little harder when you’re faced with something you know cannot possibly happen.
I think this became obvious to me in one scene where Sheldon was waxing (un)poetic about how great Isaac Newton was. Leonard made some comment meant in sarcasm, and Sheldon’s response was to say that Leonard disputed Newton’s claim that he invented calculus so Leonard wanted to put Leibniz at the top of the Christmas tree.
Most people who have no clue about calculus would probably laugh at this scene because Sheldon missed the point of the sarcasm. On the other hand, those of us who know anything about calculus might have been laughing because we knew exactly to what he was referring. And it made me ponder…would I want Newton at the top of my tree, or Leibniz? For the record, I would have been fine with Newton at the top of the tree because he did a lot more than invent calculus…but I still am glad for Leibniz’s wonderful notation. Either way, you couldn’t have just thrown any mathematician or physicist’s name out. It HAD to be Leibniz because the rivalry is so historic and well-known among mathophiles.
As I go through the show, I find little details like that a lot, and I really enjoy them. Whether or not I want to, I tend to pay attention to those points and letting them go is tough. Sometimes they even draw me in more than just the storyline does. In the episode where Sheldon is attempting to teach Penny physics, I kept thinking, “There’s better ways to explain that.” And when she was supposed to answer a question, it felt like sitting in a classroom and wanting to blurt out the answer.
It’s a real treat to watch a show that doesn’t use science as some sort of nifty backdrop to the story, where the science actually is important to the story or at least makes it more fun. And better yet, it still manages to entertain all the non-physicists out there, too.