Feb. 18th, 2017

mtbc: maze E (black-cyan)
In helping Benjamin with his revision I find that I remember some things more easily than he. While I can recall much that I was taught over twenty-five years ago, he forgets the same thing from a few weeks ago, perhaps something we have already also gone over at home. Revision helps him to dust off hazy memories but for his sake I wish it required less effort for him in the first place. I have not remembered everything: for example, despite being well-drilled in it at the time, I think I have forgotten a bunch of rotational dynamics with pendulums and whatnot. On average I think I remember a couple of years' teaching less of my school subjects than I once knew. But, much was interesting enough that it easily stuck for the long term. With his revision, at least Benjamin still does well.

I think that interest is key. Just as Benjamin does recall much detail of collectible card games, I easily forget domestic trivia. For instance, exercise seems to make my nose run, so this morning in the bedroom I intended to bring my handkerchief downstairs when I came to work out. Downstairs, I wondered if I had done this, and indeed I found the handkerchief in the expected place. What I do not know is if I was even mindful of bringing it downstairs, but forgot, or if I was entirely on autopilot. My UK driving test still puzzles me: obviously I was mentally engaged with that but immediately afterward I had almost no memory of it. (My Ohio test I recall but that was trivial.)

My exercise continues to frustrate somewhat. I am still not back at the level I was before visiting Cornwall. And, my performance continues to vary according to factors I cannot identify. Within the first five minutes I can guess if it is going to go well. One remaining theory is that my performance has less to do with my physical fitness and more to do with my brain varying in what signals it sends about how much it prefers me not to do this. I do not know how much to trust the precision with which the machine sets the resistance level but the variance in my performance is high enough that I think it is probably more about me than the machine. I have a few theories about the relevant independent variables, such as time of day, but nothing yet for which a regression would give a sufficiently low p-value. My approach is to persist anyway and hope that the long-term trend continues to be good.
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
I attempted to watch a British Computer Society talk on the Refal progamming language, which seems to be of the kind of thing that interests me but it was difficult to tell. The brightness of the projected slides is such that the text on the light background is so washed out as to be unreadable and the audio, perhaps because of reverberation within the room, is also nearly impossible to usefully make out. I have seen this problem also with larger auditoriums: a lapel microphone can pick up audio reasonably but the video of the speaker and their projected slides is a disaster and one must train audience members to delay their question until a microphone has reached them or speakers to repeat the question.

At work our team is rather dispersed so we frequently face this audio/video issue for meetings. Fortunately we can typically share notes and slides directly from computers rather than by videoing projected displays. We have a couple of good microphones in the room but people do have to remember to speak loudly and clearly toward them and for remote listeners it still sounds like the in-room people are speaking from the other end of a large concrete pipe. We also have an annual users' meeting much of whose content would be nice to capture.

In our modern times I would have liked to think that remote meeting attendance is more commonly a solved problem: for example, that the research complex in which I work would have some meeting rooms optimized for it, with the projector also able to provide an electronic copy of what it shows, and for smaller meeting rooms some microphone setup that allows reasonable audio capture without requiring a microphone especially for the current speaker. Perhaps our human senses are more marvellous than I realize given that my in-person experience of meetings and seminars is so much better than the typical remote or after-the-fact attempt. It is possible to offer remote meeting attendance well but it is a rare surprise to find it actually done adequately except for largely one-way presentations wherein recording is done with screen capture from a sole presenter's computer for a wholly remote audience.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Thinking about the changes that I recall in my time in Britain, we substantially redesigned the common denominations of notes at least once and recently have further new five-pound notes in circulation, we retired the one-pound note in favor of a coin that is now to be replaced with another coin, we dropped the half-penny altogether, shrunk the five- and ten-pence pieces, gained twenty-pence pieces, and probably other things I now forget. (I would be in favour of dropping the copper coins altogether.)

I wonder what happened in the US over the same period. Sure, we get various designs on what are essentially the same quarters, but anything else regarding the currency that people usually use from day to day? I wonder. I am thinking that I simply forgot something or that the changes were less radical: maybe we got a bit more color on some of the note designs but the size and feel remained the same? Dollar coins have been available for ages of course but people just do not seem to want to use them. Perhaps there has been less need for change, in both senses!

Update: In comments I mention forgetting the two-pound coin. Now I also read that the Bank of England intends a new ten-pound note this summer.
mtbc: maze N (blue-white)
Donald Trump ongoingly proves that he is a very special variety of American president. Apparently much of the US news media is the enemy of the American People and I can't help but speculate about how he came to that turn of phrase. In conversation with what kind of person would such wording easily come to mind in that way? I doubt that it was carefully chosen by this president despite how I now suspect that George W. Bush is actually smarter than he initially seemed to me. The answers may seem obvious but, despite its colander nature, this administration may yet surprise us as we learn more of how its strangeness happened.
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