Day 91: Sun vs. Fog… Fight!

DSCN1732b

It’s so foggy this morning that it looks like the sun’s never going to cut through.

DSCN1722
It’s foggy and lazy, and the cats are good with that.

During our Plum Day jam-making activity, a couple of the jars didn’t gel. This happens sometimes, for a few different reasons. It’s still sealed and safe, just sloshy.

Some of them can be repaired, by re-boiling and adding some sugar and pectin. It’s a good foggy-morning thing to do when you don’t feel like typing.

DSCN1720 DSCN1718

A few of them gel afterward, but those that don’t will be fantastic on ice cream.

Holy cow, By the time I’m done, the sun has actually started to poke through. I’m meeting with some very smart friends at the Presidio today to talk about the rules of telekinetic basketball, mostly just for fun.

By the time we’re done, the sun is victorious.

DSCN1725
Alcatraz and the Palace of Fine Arts, as seen from the entrance to the Presidio Golf Course.

There’s time to play at the golf course, but as the afternoon gets late, the fog starts winning the battle again. Half an hour later, people are reaching for their jackets.

DSCN1730

Random assertion: Cats know where the sunbeams are going to be, and what they’re for.

Steganographic data: 1814/4.1

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Day 36: Ballet and Irish Dance

Today is an all-day event we’ve been looking forward to: a lovely dancer we know is giving a special performance, with an invitation-only party to follow.

Our niece is 8, and she’s fantastic. Backstage after the show, she’s grinning ear-to-ear. The party afterward has cake and ice cream, barbecue, and kids running amok everywhere while the dog tries catch any food they drop. I love this.

On the way home my muse and I stop by Mission Beach to relax and say hi to the guys, grownups-only. Being the aunt and uncle does have some advantages.

Random assertion: Kids measure time by events they’ll remember forever. You did that too.

Steganographic data: 1860/0.8

Published in: on June 22, 2008 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Day 4: The Biggest Logic Puzzle Ever

Ben & Jerry’s in Berkeley on the west side of campus gives free WiFi access with any purchase. I like to think of it the other way around, as $3 WiFi access which comes with a big free cone of chocolate ice cream.

…so I sat in the ice cream shop with a Skype headset and called the muse in Hong Kong. Her “assignment” goes well, and after a quick change from brunette to redhead (with a new passport to match), she’s off to Taipei today before anyone notices the diamonds are missing. I get her back in 2.7 days, and I can’t wait.

(I tried to keep this post super-short, honest. I failed again.)

If you enjoy mind-bending puzzles, I recommend this book by Julian Brown as an intro to Quantum Computation. It’s written for interested readers, not math geeks.

In January 2000, my casual interest in this subject “clicked over” without warning, and became a hobby (in this case, the line between “hobby” and “obsession” is not well-defined).

Here’s why QC is cool:

On the U.C. Berkeley campus…

..in what’s called the Hearst Mining Building, on the very top floor (see the door up there?)…

…is what some people would call a nice bright attic with a comfy lounge and a small kitchen.

This, and the offices and computers and people and ideas it contains, is Berkeley Quantum Information & Computation Center (BQIC). In May of 2004, I skipped out of work for a few hours to attend the ribbon-cutting and dedication of this facility.

BQIC is another one of those places you won’t see unless you’re looking for it.

Today at BQIC, there’s a guest lecturer. Dr. John Yard from Los Alamos National Laboratory came to give a seminar on his recent work. By “recent”, I mean that he was presenting stuff he literally just finished last week, and it hasn’t even been published yet. There were about ten of us in the audience, which was awesome.

There’s a lot of the presentation I couldn’t keep up with (I just relax and write it down so I can stare at it later until it means something), but the conclusion is a shocker.

Here’s the gist: Imagine you’re trying to send a coded message to someone, but your transmitters don’t work at all, so the amount of information they can transmit is actually zero. By combining a few of the transmitters, you can create a code which allows the information to be transmitted anyway, and even keep it secure. (That’s a poor summary, but there it is.)

Afterward, I went to Christine and Shannon’s place. Once in a while, they invite a bunch of inventor-types and business-types to their place for an awesome dinner. It’s sort of like setting up a heap of kindling and then banging rocks together to make sparks.

Random assertion: If you think you’ve missed the golden age of invention and discovery, that it’s all been done and found, remember that your parents and grandparents thought the same thing, when they were your age.

Steganographic data: 1870/5.9