Chew Toy

Mar. 19th, 2019 09:11 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
If you follow the webcomic Freefall, I suspect you'll agree that Beekay's chew toy, in today's strip, is hilarious. Just sayin'. (Well, technically it's *tomorrow's* strip.)
stoutfellow: (Winter)
I wasn't planning on teaching this summer - I'm still not - but there is a possibility that I will be doing so. Yesterday the Assistant Chair, who handles scheduling and teaching assignments for the department, sent out a message: three courses needed instructors, thanks to some scheduling changes. One of them is Combinatorics and Graph Theory, which I haven't taught in a while but enjoy. It's a compressed course, five days a week for five weeks, which dampens my enthusiasm a bit, but still, I told him that I'd be willing to teach it if he couldn't find anyone else.

We shall see.


Mar. 17th, 2019 06:56 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, classes resume tomorrow, and I only did a few of the things I intended to do. I did get over to the Chef's Shoppe, and bought a new filter cone and a vegetable chopper. (They were out of the onion chopper I'd bought before, so I went with a more versatile instrument.) I also got Finances v6 up and running. So far, it seems to be a major improvement on the previous iteration. I'm still making tweaks, and I haven't really put it through all its paces yet, but a lot of things are going more smoothly.

Classes tomorrow. In History of Math, we're right on the cusp of calculus, with the work of John Wallis and Isaac Barrow. (Barrow was Newton's mentor, and actually discovered the relation between tangents and areas that we now call the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.) In Abstract Algebra, we're just getting into Field Theory, and we'll get to the connection to straightedge-and-compass constructions pretty soon. In Linear Algebra, we've finally gotten to abstract vector spaces. (This course still stays pretty concrete - our primary clientele here consists of engineers and physics majors.)

It's been a good break, but I need to get back in harness.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This time, in Civ 6, I'm playing as Shaka. Shaka is one of the Leaders whose special abilities make Domination the preferred strategy. My troops have already stormed the citadels of Georgia and Kongo, and I'm dithering over whether to go after Spain or Russia next. Every one of the other Leaders thinks I'm a warmonger; several of them have officially denounced me.

Gorgo of Sparta approves of me.
stoutfellow: (Three)
A little while ago, one of my neighbors rang my doorbell. She thought that Buster had gotten out. (She didn't know his name, but she's seen me out with him.) There was, indeed, a Buster-ish dog in the driveway, and when I called to him by that name he came to me willingly, but as soon as I got a good look and feel, I could see he wasn't. Wrong collar, shorter legs, more pugged nose... no tags. (I think he's a purebred Lhasa Apso, or closer to that than Buster is.) She decided to put the dog in her garage (she has one of her own, who doesn't get along with other dogs, in the house) and call the animal shelter in hopes that he's chipped. I think it's likely; the fancy harness he was wearing suggests someone who takes steps. On the other hand, I haven't gotten a notice from HomeAgain; but they don't generally do that until the owner contacts them, usually a day or more after.

Hope the pup gets back home!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Just FYI: Judy Collins' "Song for Judith" is one of the best friendship songs I've ever heard. That song by itself almost puts her at the top of the Collins/Ian/Mitchell/Nyro/Snow clade. (Janis Ian still holds the top spot, but oh, my, I love that song!)


Mar. 12th, 2019 04:45 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
What product was it that was featured in a series of ads involving a man opening his medicine cabinet and coming face to face with another man, who would then give him advice on health matters? They usually ended with the first man turning away from the cabinet and calling for his wife: "Mona!"
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I was just playing Civ 6; playing as Harald Hardrada, I was driving towards a Domination victory. I had already conquered the Scythians, the Zulu, and Macedon, and Sumeria was down to its last city. I had already begun moving my mighty navy towards the Khmer cities; they, and Wilhelmina's Dutch were all that remained.

Gilgamesh's city of Kish had had its walls blasted to rubble by a naval bombardment, and as soon as my land forces got there, they waltzed right in... at which point the game ended, in a Religious victory. I had already converted most of the cities in each of my remaining rivals.

Dammit, I was looking forward to grinding the entire world under my heel!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
What this university laughably calls "Spring Break" is next week. Since I have no Friday classes, I'm effectively on break already. (I don't have Thursday classes either, but I had to do some paperwork and meet with my Master's student yesterday.)

I figure on spending the week puttering around the house, mostly. I do intend a little shopping: the Chef's Shoppe for a new onion chopper (I've been avoiding recipes with onion since the old one broke, and that takes a deep cut out of my repertoire) and a new coffee filter cone (the old one's still more or less satisfactory, but it's chipped and ugly, and some undesirable things have been happening as well), and Target for a new laundry basket (the old one's crumbled and chewed to hellangone) and perhaps a few other household items.

Otherwise, I expect to spend my time playing Civ 6, working on my Finances database, and maybe writing the introduction and conclusion to Taxonomy II (and reading the galley proofs for Taxonomy I so I can give the journal the go-ahead to publish it). Perhaps I'll also do some "spring" cleaning. There are a few university duties I also have to attend to, but I can do them from home as well.

:stretches and yawns:


Mar. 6th, 2019 03:58 am
stoutfellow: (Three)
Ten years ago today, my friend and colleague V drove me over to the Madison County Animal Shelter. On the drive back, there were two more passengers: a year-old Yorkie named Gracie, and a three-year-old Lhasa Apso mix named Buster. For the past decade, they have brought joy to my life. (Also the occasional annoyance, embarrassment, and upset; but mostly joy.)

:raises glass:

Like a Lion

Mar. 4th, 2019 06:58 am
stoutfellow: (Winter)
The forecast high today is 22F. The wind chill is lower still. So, of course, it's one of those days when I'll be coming home around 8:30. (Forecast temp then: 18F. No snow predicted, though; we got our 1-4 inches yesterday.)


Mar. 3rd, 2019 07:01 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
"Liar, liar, pants on fire..."

What's the next line? I remember it as "Couldn't get over the telephone wire!" (Or maybe it's "Can't".) But I just saw someone give it as "hanging on a telephone wire".

So which do people remember? Or is there another variant out there?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I saw this on Balloon Juice.

The Oath of the Dog Lanterns:
"In canine day, in barkest night,
No squirrel shall escape our sight!
Let those who worship feline might,
Beware our power, Dog Lanterns' light!"
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
The city of Kandahar, in Afghanistan, was originally named after Alexander the Great. ("Alexandria" > "Iskandahar" > "Kandahar". "Iskander/Iskender" is a common Turkic version of "Alexander"; cf. the Albanian warlord Iskender Bey, AKA Skanderbeg.)


Feb. 22nd, 2019 09:11 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Before I say any more about isolated classes, I need to say a few words about area. The word has a slightly different meaning in the circles I move in, and I'd like to clarify that. I'll refer to the vernacular meaning as "absolute area"; "area", by itself, will refer to the technical meaning.

First off, an indication of the difficulties involved. Consider the quadrilateral with vertices A(0,0), B(1,1), C(1,0), D(0,1). This quadrilateral is shaped like a bow tie. What is its area? A natural answer might be the sum of the absolute areas of the two triangles it encloses, but that turns out to be an inconvenient choice mathematically.

The definition of area that I use rests on two declarations. First, the area of a triangle is the absolute area if the vertices are given in counterclockwise order; it's the negative of the absolute area if they are given in clockwise order. (This is related to the fact that a two-by-two matrix can have negative determinant, if you took and remember any linear algebra.) Second, if you have a polygon ABC..TU, its area may be computed by selecting a point Z and adding up the areas of the triangles ZAB, ZBC, ..., ZTU, ZUA. It turns out that the choice of Z makes no difference - the sum is the same, no matter where Z is.

For example, consider the triangle with vertices A(0,0), B(1,0), and C(0,1). The vertices ABC are given in counterclockwise order, so the area is the absolute area, which is 1/2. If you chose Z in the interior, all three of ZAB, ZBC, ZCA would also be counterclockwise, and obviously the area of ABC is the sum of the areas of those triangles. But what if you chose Z = (1,1)? Note that the triangles ZAB and ZCA are both counterclockwise, but ZBC is clockwise, so we get the sum of the absolute areas of ZAB (1/2) and ZCA (1/2), *minus* the absolute area of ZBC (1/2), so the area is 1/2 + 1/2 - 1/2 = 1/2. The same thing will happen for any choice of Z.

As for the bow-tie quadrilateral, the simplest choice of Z is at the intersection of AD and BC, (1/2, 1/2). Now ZAB is counterclockwise, but ZCD is clockwise, so the area is the absolute area of ZAB minus the absolute area of ZCD, or 1/2 - 1/2; the quadrilateral has area 0. (ZBC and ZDA are degenerate triangles, with area 0.)

If you want a challenge, work out the area of the hexagon whose vertices are A(0,0), B(1,0), C(1,1), D(1/3,1/3), E(2/3,1/3), and F(0,1).
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I was born in Augsburg, in what was then West Germany; my father was stationed there at the time. We left when I was about two years old, so I have no memories of it. (One of these days I'll do the tourist thing again, and Germany will be on the list.)

The family did come away with some souvenirs, including some linguistic ones, bastardized German phrases that became part of our family language. ("Idiolect" is the word for one's own specific habits of speech; there ought to be one for a family's.) One that I remember, we used with the meaning "It doesn't matter" or "I don't care"; I recall it as "mox nix", but of course that's a monoglot child's interpretation. Nowadays I know a little German, but not enough to confidently reconstruct the original. Presumably "machen" and "nicht", in some form or another, are involved.

I know there are people who follow me who know more German than I do. What could the original phrase have been, bitte?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
The San Diego Padres were founded in 1969. I saw them in action, for the first time, in May of that year. They actually won that game. In the fifty years since, they've ranged from "very bad" to "fairly good", with more of the former than the latter.

I left San Diego in 1975. Since then, I have been to exactly one Padres game, during Khalil Greene's rookie year. (Shame what happened to him.)

I am nonetheless very excited to hear that the Padres have signed Manny Machado. Jumping-up-and-down excited, I am, and looking forward to that infield (Hosmer, Urias, Tatis, Machado. :drool:).

There is a strong chance this will be my last post on baseball this year. But for once there's a chance that it *won't*.

DB Help

Feb. 17th, 2019 02:04 pm
stoutfellow: (Winter)
I'm rather annoyed by Microsoft's plans as regards Office (or, more specifically, Access), so I've downloaded OpenOffice, in hopes of building my library and finances databases on that platform. However, I'm finding the documentation difficult to work with. Just setting up the first form is giving me fits; for my Finances database, I start with a dashboard form, not tied to any table or query, which provides me with some immediately-needed data and allows me to shift to other, table-tied forms. OO Base seems reluctant to let me do that. (There are hints that I need to create that form with the OO word processor, which, whatthehell?

Does anyone a) know how to get decent docs for OO, or b) know of a decent, user-friendly, not-too-complicated DB environment, preferable as easy to work with as Access?


Feb. 16th, 2019 07:31 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
OK, here's the way I think about quadrilaterals: every quadrilateral arises by perturbing a parallelogram. Take a parallelogram PQRS. Move the opposite vertices P and R a certain distance, in a certain direction, and move the other two vertices the same distance in the opposite direction. The result is a new quadrilateral, a perturbation of the original parallelogram. Given a general quadrilateral, there's exactly one way to represent it as a perturbation; you can recover the parallelogram in this way. Let Z be the center of gravity of the quadrilateral. (If you use coordinates, Z = (A+B+C+D)/4. It's also halfway between the midpoints of the diagonals AC and BD.) If you reflect the midpoint M_AC of the diagonal AC in the midpoint M_AZ of the segment AZ, you'll get the first vertex of the parallelogram. Similarly, reflect M_BD in M_BZ, M_CA in M_CZ, and M_DB in M_DZ to get the other three vertices of the parallelogram.

Most of the classes of quadrilateral I've worked with involve either the base parallelogram by itself, or the relationship between the perturbation and various special lines of the parallelogram. More about that later; but this construction is key to the way I study quadrilaterals.

(I tried to insert a pair of pictures illustrating the constructions, but it didn't seem to work. Sorry.)
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I have known of the existence of pangolins, AKA scaly anteaters, since childhood; I was always interested in exotic animals.

Until today, I was unaware that pangolins are bipedal.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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