Day 81: Training

In the balance between science and acrobatics, my lack of injury tells me I’m spending too much time on the science. Time to learn something new.

First, more time in parks and cafés with Aly. She needs to put those eyelashes to use, and flirt with random people.

While we’re out, my muse calls on a secure line. The noise in the background sounds kind of like she’s rappelling down the side of a building. All on schedule then.

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I mentioned she’s got a police record. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t ask her about it.

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She’s just here to con people out of muffin fragments, and it’s working.

The rest of the day is spent in acrobat training.

My instructor is one of those guys who can actually do everything he teaches, and then some. He’s also my brother. I’m planning on learning all I can from his experiences, good and bad.

The wheel is great, but unforgiving. It’s heavy and made of steel, and the floor is hard. Roll over your fingers, and they’ll all break. Kris has a lot of other advice for me, such as “protect your back at all times.”

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The helmet is a good idea, as serious head injury would complicate the day.

The spine shield is non-standard; it’s actually designed for ski racing. It does a great job of preventing impact-related injuries.

(If you’ve done a somersault on a wood floor, you know it’s not comfortable. Imagine doing a fast one from a few feet up, maybe with metal rails in the way. Hooray for spine shield.)

The shield also provides some back support, but as always, the most important back protection comes from muscle control, keeping abs tight and trunk solid. No device can give you that. Having had two spinal fractures in the past, I take back safety seriously.

Kris gives me a bunch of basic exercises and gruntwork, so that I can get my butt kicked, collect some bruises, and learn how the wheel moves. I spend hours and hours on them.

By the end of the day, I’ve got a bunch of new bruises and blisters, and I’ve put “shin pads” on my shopping list. I’ll be back every day this week.

Tonight I’m meeting up with Jon and Donna for some excellent pizza at Haystack. It’s great to catch up and plan future shenanigans.

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They’re amused by this picture, taken just out side the circus school:
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Random assertion: Being the oldest brother doesn’t always make you the teacher.

Steganographic data: 1826/2.8

Published in: on August 9, 2008 at 10:18 am  Comments (3)  
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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