Cameras

Jan. 22nd, 2019 11:45 am
warriorsavant: (Time)
Just read some silly meme about Gen Z making Millennials feel old, by not recognizing xxx. Most was extremely stupid pop culture stuff, like "they didn't know my fav band from when I was in college," and a lot of the rest was other pop culture stuff. A few were clever like "why do you say 'hang up' on a phone call?"

That, and some discussions here about taking pictures of the eclipse the other night made me think about photographic apparatus (apparatuses? apparati? thingies to take pix) in general. When I was young, daguerreotypes were just coming into vogue, but they were very combersome... Okay, more seriously, when I was a kid, my father was a bit of a Popular Science / Popular Mechanics / gadget guy. I suppose getting the latest camera was the equivalent of being a tech-gizmo-nerd. Polaroids were a big thing! Before that, we had a Kodak Brownie camera. (Dang, those items would be worth a lot of money as antiques now.)

I'm actually very good at composing shots. (Photos, I mean, although very good with a side arm also.) Partly that is my artistic eye, which I inherited from my mother, partly because with film, every shot you took cost money. Dermatology is very visual, so as Residents (early 1990s) we were encouraged to get a good camera, with a macro lens and ring flash. (That I still have somewhere.) It took really good 35-mm slides, and I had quite a collection. In 2005, I was mobilized to Walter Reed Army Hospital, and was asked to give a talk. I asked the Residents if they had a slide projector anywhere. They nearly died laughing, and claimed they'd have to borrow one from the Smithsonian. A little while after that, I decided to digitalize my whole collection. Even that is barely worth it now, as so much high-quality stuff on-line, but if giving a talk it is cool to have MY picture up there (with copyright notice).

Patients often insist on showing me pictures of their skin conditions. *Sigh.*
First, you are sitting right there in the flesh and full-sized, why would I want to see a tiny image of you?
Second, you stink as a photographer, especially a medical photographer, and the image on your phone is terrible. All that having been said, although I do have a small digital camera in my office, like as not, when I want a picture, I use my phone. (But remember that thing about knowing how to compose shots? It really matters.)

I don't take many pix of generic skin disease, but am getting better about documenting before- and after- for the small amount of cosmetics I do, also we're trying to build up a file for our Cutaneous Lymphoma clinic patients.
warriorsavant: (Space-horsehead nebula)
Was mostly overcast last night, but only a thin cloud layer, and the moon, what with being super, was visible through the clouds. Having been told it was a "super moon," I could see it looked bigger than normal, but probably wouldn't have thought about it if hadn't already been aware. Regardless, since moon visible through cloud bank, I set my alarm to wake up when it was eclipse time. Nom and Hedgefund indicated they wanted to be awakened to see it; Wallstreet not so much (too young to actually say, "*&$#^★♒︎☘︎☔︎ NO!"). (BTW, not sure about that whole "the Native Americans referred to it as the '"Wolf Moon," they had names for all the moons. Different nations might have had different names for different moons, but I suspect this is something made up by the Boy Scouts or other European-American peoples as "native lore." Anyhow, no wolves howling around my house.)

I woke up just before the alarm rang, shut it off, and walked around the house to see what windows it was visible from. Answer: a bit from tiny spare room, but best from dining room, and even from there only at the right angle. When the eclipse was actually starting, woke up Nom, who duly noted a notch was taken out of the left edge of the moon, then went back to sleep. Then woke up Hedgefund, who sleepily acknowledged that she wanted to see it. Basically, still at that age where pretty much everything is fine as long as she's with Papa (*dote, dote, dote*). Then she went back to sleep, so I carried her downstairs, set up a comfy chair by the window, with a blanket and phone and binoculars. She noted the bite taken out of the moon, then went back to sleep in my lap. I stayed up watching. Well, reading "The Economist" on my phone, and watching intermittently. When it was closed to full eclipse, I woke her up again. She again noted the change in the moon and went back to sleep.

I saw the super moon, and the eclipse, but can't say I saw the "blood moon," it was just too overcast. When the moon was almost completely eclipsed, I could just about make out the eclipsed part, but as a faint, dark brown through the cloud cover, nothing reddish about it. When it totally eclipsed, it completely disappeared from my view. I carried Hedgefund back upstairs to bed, then went back down, dressed, and went outside. Nope, still couldn't see a pale red moon, or any moon, (and fortunately still now ravening wolves) so went back inside and went back to sleep.

Glad I did it. Didn't take any pix, because in the past, when have taken pictures of eclipses (sun or moon), they really didn't look like much: just a blob of light with a notch in one corner. Both Nom and Hedgefund claim they were also glad they saw it. Not sure she actually understands about how an eclipse works (Hedgefund, I mean, pretty sure Nom does), so tonight I'll have to rig up something with a lamp and two balls in a dark room.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
For Young: Took the kids back to La Ronde today. Nothing much different from last time, except one kiddie stage show (I had no idea what was happening, but Hedgefund seemed to enjoy it.) Did note that our season passes are good at any Six Flags amusement park. How many others in Canada? Zero. 'Sokay, if we happen to be in Dubai in the next few months, we're good. Again, all had fun.

For Old (or at least adult): Had my semi-annual Scotch swilling tasting. This is probably the only "guy" thing I do. I talk about drinking Scotch much more than I actually drink it, but a few times per year spend some time appreciating single malt. For my events, it is always a small group (5 guests last night), mostly different fields and reasonably well-established. I'm not very sociable in the usual extrovert sense of the word, but this is how I like to socialize: small group of interesting people. They'd be fun even if we all were sober, which we weren't after an hour or so.

Since the kids are too young to drink, or even make decent waiters, held it at my office. The highlights were Scapa and Edradour. I selected them by a highly effective decision making matrix: I went to the SAQ, took pictures of what they had, texted them to my accountant (who is also my Scotch consultant), then called him to discuss. It worked, as those were really, really good. (Started with the Scapa, then moved on to the Edradour, with some other decent tipples that other people brought in between.) Before we got started, accountant mentioned that some places provide eye droppers to add the water in precisely measured amounts. I did have an eyedropper, but it was contaminated with KOH (Potassium Hydroxide), which probably won't do much positive for your tastes buds, or your health. Instead, I broke out a small syringe, so could measure even more precisely, and we could take notes. "Never interrupt me when I'm doing science!" For the record, 0.1-0.4 ml of water in 2-fingers of Scotch is right. The lower amount for a smoother Scotch like the Scapa, the higher for a more complex flavor like the Edradour. (Yes, "2-fingers" is too a precise, scientific measurement.)

Actually, one of the group, for whom this was the first time with us, actually is a scientist. (Another guest is on the admin side of research, and I dabble, but he is actually full-time, paid to do it, basic science researcher.) He was a little hesitate at first, then asked me if he was invited just so the rest of us could make fun of the nerd later. Sheldon et al from The Big Bang Theory to the contrary, neither he, nor most actual researchers, are massively inept socially, and he fit right in.

Next time, instead of cheese, pate, and such, might break out the BBQ and have steaks. I believe that having different colors of food helps to make a well-balanced diet. In this case, lean red meat and pale amber Scotch. Balance is important.
warriorsavant: (Default)
First: Happy Canada Day. The cliché is that we have 2 seasons here: winter and Canada Day Weekend. Feels true this weekend. Summer has arrived with a vengeance. Even Nom, who is always cold, feels that it's too hot, and she grew up planting rice in the Mekong Delta. Well, not really, but is cancelling her plans to talk the kids to going to school in U. Hawaii, and more thinking U. Northwest Territories. It is the sort of weather that we here in Canada refer to as "a taste of your afterlife if you've been sinful, and those Gentle Readers in the Carolinas refer to as "an average week day." Anyhow, into the 30's (90's). We took the kids to the wading pool today. At least they had fun.

Been the nerd/science guy that I am, I've been able to use metric for most things for a long time. Kind of bilingual in that. Since moving to Canada, became more "bilingual" (bimetric?). It's odd, but although officially metric, most people use Imperial for day-to-day items. Example: drivers licenses list height in weight in metric, but everyone will give you their height and weight in Imperial. The one thing that most people do use metric for every day, is temperature, and that is one thing I had the most trouble with. In the past year or so, I've been forcing myself to think in Celsius, and it's starting to sink in.
warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
The kids were lying in my lap. Combined body mass physically weighs maybe 50-60 lbs*, but all that cuteness functionally weighs 500-600 lbs and so hard to move out from under.

Usually I leave for work before the kids are up. I go kiss them goodbye. Wallstreet doesn't even stir. With Hedgefund, I tell her I'm leaving for work and I'll see her later. She nods in her sleep, but is aware I'm doing it. (If I don't do it, she is very upset when she wakes up that I didn't say goodbye to her.)

I start my own office at 0730h, which is earlier than most of my colleagues, but later than a few. The early hours are good for people who want to come before work or school, or are coming off the night shift. (I also take my lunch earlier so that I'm available during other peoples' lunch hour.) I've been debating starting earlier, and leaving earlier (or even - *gasp* - working a few more hours), but not changing anything for the moment. The other day was our monthly cutaneous lymphoma clinic at the hospital, which starts at a normal hour. Time enough for them to wake up. Time enough for them to crawl up onto the bed with me and lie in my lap, holding my hands, and smiling happily at their time with Papa. Time enough for Papa to consider retiring on the spot, rather than break their hearts by going off to work. Lots of "I love you," "stay home with us," "kiss goodbye." Even Wallstreet who isn't that much into being kissed. *Sigh* Keep working until they graduate from Med School, bah humbug.

*Technically should phrase that as "body mass physically weighs maybe 50-60 lbs in Earth's gravitational field."
warriorsavant: (Dr. Injecto)
I have two scientific facts to present today. The first is that everything is composed of molecules, which are built up (synthesized), from atoms. The second is that if this synthesis happens in a plant or animal, then God is happy, assigns an angel to dance around that molecule and bring great benefit to your body if you ingest it; whereas if that synthesis happens in a factory or laborary, then God is displeased, and Satan assigns a devil to sit on that molecule and thereby harm you if you ingest it.

Yeah, the second fact was sarcastic. Everything is made up of molecules, and they all exist in nature. Whenever someone wants “natural” treatment, I’m always tempted to state that I only employ supernatural treatments, and hope they don’t mind getting sprinkle with goat’s blood. That having been said, I rarely use the term “chemicals” instead referring to things as “molecules,” which of course, are much more healthy for people.

Molecules are molecules, your body treats them as such, and they have good and bad effects depending on the molecule and the dose, regardless of their origin. Whether evolution geared you to “process” certain substances is irrelevant. Plants can have good or bad effects on you or both: chocolate is yummy, strychnine kills you (although might be beneficial in low doses), digitalis can be life-saving or like-taking depending on dose. Which brings up the next key point ignored by naturalist and other mindlessly doctrinaire people: the dose makes the poison (Paracelsus, physician and alchemist, if you care). Entirely artifical substances can have beneficial effects, such as penicillin. Oops, penicillin is found in nature, named after the penicillium mold that makes it (however the penicillin you might be prescribed is produced synthetically to insure a purified, standardized, and we can have an adequate supply of it). Botox also found in nature. In high doses it kills you and/or gives you a plastic expression; in low dose it can treat many diseases (not just cosmetic). As for garlic, in low doses it tastes yummy, in moderate doses it wards off low-level vampires.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
I love bookstores and libraries. To me, the central reading room of a great library is like the nave of a cathedral (icon is Long Room at the library of Trinity College, Dublin). The problem for me is that I get brain-lock. I want to buy everything, but since I can't, I'm almost afraid to buy anything. What if it isn't the best choice? Actually, these days I find myself going more mid-brow, both at bookstores and libraries. I confess I hadn't even been visiting libraries much past 2-3 years, partly because so busy (dang kids, they interfere with my reading and my drinking!), and partly because the library nearest us isn't very good. We recently inscribed ourselves in the library where we'll be moving, which is much better, but still rather disappointed in 2 of the last 3 books I borrowed from there.

What triggered going to a bookstore was finding my stash of "lucky money." Vietnamese New Year tradition, the elders give everyone else a coin or small bill in a red envelope to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. I always felt that I should use it for something special, and put it away in a drawer - several years' worth when I came across it recently. Still not a huge sum, but enough to actually buy something. I metaphorically scratched my head, and decided a book was the ideal item.

I had a dental appointment, and I knew there was a bookstore nearby, so planned to stop there on the way home. Going into the store, I hit the brain-lock, and realized part of that was insufficient caffeine. Fortunately they had a coffee shop attached. Unfortunately it was a certain Seattle-based major chain, but drug addicts in withdrawal beggars can't be choosers. I ordered a cappuccino, and the counter clerk (I refuse to call them "barristas" - get real people) asked me something incomprehensible. After the 3rd repeat, I realized he was asking, "Name for your cup?" which still didn't make any sense to me. I've named my children (some silly legal requirement here). I used to name my computers, but got over that. Hedgehogs have names, of course, and they chomp your nose if you don't remember them. But I didn't see why I needed to name a coffee cup, especially a disposable one. Eventually he managed to communicate that he was asking my name, which he would then write on the cup, so they could call me out the huge crowd of… well, actually, I was the only person ordering coffee just then, but I suppose SOP.

Caffeine finally perking thru my system, I spent some lovely time browsing, and eventually settled on 2 books (more than my lucky money covered, but I had some standard money on me also). One was about Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, written by a reporter who had been embedded with a unit, and one was a popular science book on astrophysics. (Only downside is that it was written by Neil DeGrass Tyson, who although is an eminent scientist, and very good at popular explanations of science, also lead the evil movement that down-graded Pluto from a Disney character planet.) Looking forward to reading them, as soon as finish the last book I'd borrowed from the library, which is about expeditions to find the remains of the Franklin Expedition (for the non-Canadians/non-Artic history buffs in the crowd: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition ) I'm a firm believer that if you have books and coffee, the world can't be too bad.
warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
My curiosity as a scientist and my dotingness(?) as a papa often coincide, no where more than language development. Hedgefund has an independent streak (frustrating at times, but overall a thing to be encouraged). As an example of language development around that, she's gone from saying, "I do it self," to "I do it myself," to "I do it all by myself." Where and how does this progression come from? I don't think Nom & I ever actually uttered any of those phrases as such, and if so, not in that sequence. Probably she heard the most developed part of the phrasing, but could only comprehend and use the simpler forms at first. As her brain, and use of language develop, she could hear, comprehend, and use the more advanced forms.

I am reminded of learning French, or for that matter, an English speaker learning any other language that genders nouns. The teacher invariably says something like, "learn the definite article as part of the noun, pen is le stylo, not stylo." This, although well-meaning, and even logical, is met with blank looks and lack of success, because to an anglophone, it is entirely meaningless, and there is only just so much brute memorization possible.
warriorsavant: (Time)
This is not a "look at how screwed up xxx is" post. I'm referring to the mathematical concept of chaos, and having once demonstrated it to myself. I came across some old notes about it, seem to have been drawn from Jame Fleick's book Chaos: Making of a New Science. The short version is that we think that most systems are linear, when in fact linear is only a small subset of systems, or those systems only within limited parameters.

He gives the simple example of graphing the salmon population in a river, where, and adjusting how it changes year-to-year depending on the fertility (which would increase the population) and the mortality (which would decrease it). Run the numbers year-to-year, and graph it (either by hand, or computer). (Eek, math, scary… that's what computers are for silly, just go with the flow, it's a fascinating exercise.) Use the following parameters:
   P = this year's population. (As fraction of maximum supportable salmon population in that river. E.g. 1 = 100 of supportable population, 0.6 = 60% of supportable population.)
   F = fertility (I don't know how they derived it, probably something about how many viable offspring one can expect from salmon reproducing? It's set between 0 and 4 to make the examples work- you'll see why shortly)
   mortality = 1 - this year's population
      Next years population = (P x F x mortality) or (P x F) x (1-P)
         To feed it into a spreadsheet, next year's population = P*F*(1-P)
      Repeat with each successive year becoming "this year" and graph result.

If F (fertility)  <3, population quickly becomes stable.
As F increases, population becomes bi-phasic (alternates between 2 values), then quadriphasic (alternates between 4 nubmers), then octaphasic (8 numbers), then 16-phasic (I forget if there's a word for that), 32 phases… then it becomes completely chaotic.

When I graphed different values for F:
3.25 -> 2 phases
3.5 -> 4 phases
3.55 (through 3.5555555555) -> 8 phases
3.565 -> 16-phases
3.568 -> 32-phases
3.70 -> total chaos


Understand that when I first ran this experiment, I was alone, in a bad mood, and it was night. I sat there and watched this little graphing experiment rip away the veneer of orderliness of the universe, revealing the seething chaos underneath.  It was a very strange and unsettling experience.
warriorsavant: (Space-horsehead nebula)
I'm reading Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. COL Hadfield is the Canadian Astronaut who recently commanded the International Space Station. He is a totally impressive person by any count: Colonel in the RCAF, fighter pilot, test pilot, PhD in Engineering, plays the guitar… Actually, from what I've read, most astronauts are like that. They are the best of the best of the best that humanity has to offer. All the military pilots also have advanced science or engineering degrees, all the mission specialists have private pilot licenses, all are excellent in whatever hobbies they have, as well as being in great physical shape. In addition, as COL Hadfield points out, they have to have good personalities/people skills. Gone are the days of The Right Stuff where you could have the gruff, hard-bitten, hard-assed stereotypical fighter pilot. In those days, you went up solo, and stayed up for hours-to-days. Now you have to fit in for months with an international crew.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is his describing an astronaut's life, only a very small percent of which involves space flight, and that only if you're lucky. Basically they train and study non-stop. All sorts of things: orbital mechanics, geography, and mostly what to do when things go wrong. Despite that, he's an optimist. He's spent so much time wargaming "what could kill be next," that he's comfortable handling whatever it is. This is one of the parts of the book I can relate to. I don't claim to be astronaut caliber (although I have a few good points), but certain parts of the book do speak to me.

Part the 1st that speaks to me )
Part the 2nd that speaks to me )
Related point to part the 2nd that speaks to me )
warriorsavant: (McGill)
This post triggered by a question by [livejournal.com profile] ecosopher, who asked about publishing and research, "Is that something you'd like to focus more on, in terms of less patient contact, or are you keeping it as something on the side? Do you get any remuneration for this kind of thing?"

Since that's a complicated answer, I decided it deserves its own post, partly because it is a long answer, and partly because I'm still thinking it through.

Complicated, but I hope very interesting, answer )

Blood moon

Sep. 28th, 2015 05:07 pm
warriorsavant: (Space-horsehead nebula)
Really it was a super blood moon eclipse last night 2211h local.
 - A super moon is when the moon is at perigee, which is to say closest to the earth, making it about 14% larger than usual.
 - A blood moon (in this case) means a lunar eclipse, in which it has a reddish hue.

The last one was 20-30 years ago; remember seeing that too.

Wanted to share this with the children. Even if they are too young to remember, it would become part of their history that they'd learn later. That would be important, but so is their getting sleep. HF has only recently finally gotten on a reasonable sleep routine, and if I woke her up then for something she wouldn't remember, she wouldn't sleep all night, nor would the rest of us. WS? Well, ditto, without the "finally gotten on a reasonable routine."

Tell ya what, kids, we'll share the next one. It will only be another 20-30 years, and we should be able to enjoy it as a family. Until then, when you're just old enough to remember such things, we'll find a nice metor shower to watch together.
20150927 Blood Moon             20150927 Blood Moon2
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Was a Montreal Derm Society meeting this past week. The speaker was a Dermatologic Oncologist from France (Dr. Vincent Sibaud from Toulouse). He mentioned that in France at least, they are starting to look at cancers as being chronic diseases, like psoriasis or diabetes. They may not be "curable," but rather "controllable." Perhaps better to say controllable for at least for a period of time, eventually getting you in the end, but your living xxx more years.

We're probably far from that now, but I can see his point. Years ago, cancer was essentially a death sentence. You could try cutting it out, but unless you were 100% sure you got it all (which is impossible to say at the time), it could come roaring back. Later chemotherapy was developed, which was a crude approach. Sometimes worked for a while, but basically chemo works by non-specifically killing rapidly growing cells. Cancer grow faster than most other cells, so they selectively die (sometimes). Oh, but so do hair cells, the lining of your intestines, part of your immune system. Well, all swords have at least 2 edges. Of late, we are using "targeted" molecules that try to exploit proteins and cell functions that are actually different in cancer cells compared to normal cells. Comparing them to the old type of chemo is like comparing modern antibiotics to using arsenic or mercury to treat syphilis.

Do they work better? Yes. A cure-all? No. Also, they are hideously expensive, and since they keep you alive longer, those expenses go on for longer, and any system has only a finite amount of money. Nevertheless, they do indeed work better. Don't think we're quite at an era where all cancers are "chronic, controllable diseases," but at least there's progress.
warriorsavant: (Quebec sait faire)
The Jabberwocky, despite certain Australian national-imperialistic-cultural-appropriation claims, is native to Canada, specifically the boreal forests of Quebec. The original spelling, as set down by that famous French author, Louis Carrolle (nom de plum of mathematician Charles Filsdedodg), was Jabberouiaqué. However this was likely derived from the Iroquois Jabrwukki, meaning "terrible creature with jaws that bite and claws that catch."  The Iroquois, despite being among the bravest people ever to walk this earth, had a great fear of it, as it was not until the European colonists arrived, with the ability to work steel into vorpal blades that anyone was ever able to slay one. Since that time, Jabberwockies have been hunted near to extinction, with only a few hiding out, playing cards with Bigfoot and Elvis.
warriorsavant: (Computer-steampunk)
Driving to work this morning, I noticed the odometer on my car read 22222. Ah, the obsessional joys of symmetry. Since this was my Dad's old car, the odometer reads in miles. The dashboard display also gives outside temperature, which was also a symmetrical number this morning: 0. Yeah, ZERO. (Well, was symmetrical until it dropped below that.)

For the metric aficionados among my Gentle Readers, 0ºF = -18ºC-ish.

Canada is officially metric. (Whereas the US, being the technologically most advanced, and most democratic, country on earth is still using Imperial measurement, based on measuring the King's body parts in 12th century England.) As a day-to-day matter, Canadians use a mix of the two systems. My drivers license lists my height (none of your business) and weight (really none of your business) in metric, but no one actually knows their height & weight in metric, they give it in feet, inches and pounds. (We do not however, use the non-existent English "stones.") For temperature, people do use metric day-to-day. After all these years, I'm finally getting a gut-level feel for Celsius. Before, I would hear Celsius, then work thru a rough mental conversion to Fahrenheit to actually understand what that meant. Now I sorta, sometimes, understand it. On one level it makes sense to say 0ºC = freezing of water = cold. On another level, in Fahrenheit, 32ºF is cold, whereas 0ºF is COLD. The Fahrenheit scale made sense within the technical limitations of measuring things when Professor Fahrenheit lived (17th-18th century), but then so did measuring things by the length of the King's foot make sense in the 12th century. Still, having grown up with US measurements, it's hard for me to have a gut feel for metric. It's like learning another language. First you don't understand at all, then you have to mentally translate, then eventually you "think" in the other language - at least of the time, it tends to waiver in-and-out.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
We had Rounds this morning. The subject came up of a popular ecologists "dirty dozen" compounds that are widely found in cosmetics & personal care products - much to the derision of those of us who, well, actually know something about chemistry and biology. One of the older female dermatologists, who is always well-dressed, sniffed "I don't care what he says, I'm going to dye with my lipstick on."

I was presenting a few tips, which I had on a folder on my a USB drive. I plugged it in, opened the drive, and offered a choice: "tips, or pictures of my kid?" The latter was the 2:1 favourite. (Didn't actually show too many of her.)
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Some months back, I suddenly had a hankering for some cordials. Folks I used to know were big on making them, and thought I'd try my hand. Since I had no idea how to do so, I messaged [livejournal.com profile] marlenemcc. Although she'd fallen off the face of the earth (well, actually traveling around selling things at Ren Faires), hadn't heard hide nor hair of her in months (years?) but she broke radio silence to send a recipe.

To say a hankering is "sudden" is a relative term. Well, the onset of said hankering might have been sudden, but the execution took back seat to a long list of higher priority items. Today, however, as I was tallying up my list of projects and publications (had to make a list, was losing track), I decided it was time to put the plan into action. And, since I was listing scientific endeavours (more or less), I decided to make this a scientific experiment as well (more or less) and vary the recipe and keep track of the results.

Science (more or less) )

Will give you follow up in a couple of months.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Yesterday was slow at the office. It’s exam time at schools, so fewer people want to come. There will be a huge flurry later in June -  post-school, pre-summer camp, pre-summer vacation - then die down again mid-summer. Sadly the lack of total number of patients did not lower the number of douchetards who showed up, which made for a higher percentage of annoying people.

Actually I mostly like my work (90% of the time), and two conversations yesterday were some of the really good part, the part where I feel I can connect with someone worth connecting with. Don’t have a lot of time to chat with people, but the sometimes the few, brief exchanges brightens my day and restores my faith in humanity.

The first appealed to the science nerd in me. Patient works for Canada Space Agency, doing two things. First was analyzing how the space program benefited the country and the average citizen. Besides national pride, there are direct tangible benefits like developments in robotics, communications, and remote sensing, applications of which have come into everyday life. The second part was tracking what other space agencies were doing and figuring how Canada could work with them and so leverage its limited resources. The talk segued off into developments in space research in general. Some interesting points were the day the Canadian government decided to cut all cooperative ventures with the Russians b/c of Crimea, the Russians were due to launch a Canadian satellite 3 days later. Also, the Russians are the ones principally supplying and servicing the ISS. “Uh, yeah, we’re cutting all cooperation… except for these coupla things.” Talked a bit about alternative launch vehicles, and the commercialization of space launches. (We concurred on that last of “Why not? It’s now 50-70 year old technology, doesn't need government to do routine things.”)

The second conversation appealed to the culture snob in me. It was not so much a conversation as a conversation about conversations. She was a much older (on the experienced side of four score and ten) upper middle class European-raised lady. She was raised in a time and place which respected being cultured and learned. She said it was sad because she couldn’t have conversations with most people anymore. Not just because she out-lived all her contemporaries, but b/c most people didn’t have anything interesting to say. They could chitchat about popular culture and gossip, but had no opinions on, or knowledge of, world affairs, cultural matters, or anything deep. I mentioned that when I’d lived in Portsmouth NH, I lived 1 block from the public library which got many different newspapers (this was pre-internet boys and girls) and if I had a free morning, would spend an hour or two in the reading room browsing different newspapers from around the country and some international. She remembers café society where you could do the same thing over a cup of coffee and discuss the events with other patrons. Much of the modern world is an improvement, but not all.
warriorsavant: (Time)
We interrupt gushing about Sweetie-Pies to wish you a happy Pi Day.
To day is Pi Day - 3.14 (writing the date US fashion).
Next year, to this very minute, will be an epic Pi Day that will happen only once/century. (But I'll likely forget by next year, so posting now) Why? Because it will be (again, numbering American fashion): 3/14/15 at 9:26:53:

Pi Day

Even if not quite epic right now, it is still Pi Day, so I hope yours is happy and full of yummy. (We now return to our regularly scheduled gushing.)

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