Tag Archives: space

Airlocket Sonnet with my Easter Bonnet

Credit: Neil Armstrong/NASA

Credit: Neil Armstrong/NASA

Today I offer a simple space sonnet dedicated to me and you.

Imagine that we are standing together in an airlock. The situation is obvious. Between us and the cold reality of space is a door. And on the wall is a button. It’s the button. You know, the one that controls the door.

Let’s explore the possibilities together. Think of it like a cakewalk in space.

  1. I have helmet, you do not: This one’s a no-brainer. I push the button. I mean, how often does life provide a chance like this? You have to take it. Space is incredibly empty. I hope you enjoy the irony that it’s about to contain your brains.
  2. You have a helmet, I do not: You just love having one over on me, don’t you? Quite simply life isn’t worth living knowing that you have something that I do not. I push the button. I hope you can live with yourself, you helmet-owning bastard.
  3. Neither of us has a helmet: Now this is quite the pickle. What to do, what to do? Ultimately, and don’t take this personally, but I’ll squeak out some famous last words about gooses and ganders and then pound that button with style and flair. Because, you and I are going to be hanging out for a while.
  4. Both of us have a helmet: Sigh. This is all so tedious and pointless, isn’t it? Sure, I could push the button, but so what? What does it matter? Nothing would change. It’s not even worth the damn effort. It just makes me angry. So I’m not pushing anything. Do what you want. I don’t care.

By the way, according to Wikipedia, a space suit costs $12 million USD and has a mass of 47 pounds (21 kg) without the life support backpack, but how much fun is that? That might seem expensive for just one suit but remember: It comes with two pairs of pants*.

*A very old José Jiménez joke.

The Urinal Problem

urinalToday we study a particular variation of the classic so-called Urinal Problem. For millennia great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates and others have pondered the great mysteries of gentlemen’s restroom etiquette. Now it’s my turn to take the problem out for a spin.

The classic definition of the problem, of course, involves an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of urinals. It’s easy to see how a problem like that could humble even the greats. In a flight of hubris, even I once made the attempt, and was left humbled and feeling flushed.

For simplicity, we will closely examine a three-urinal subset of n and attempt to fully solve the problem variation.

Abstract. A man walks into a men’s room and observes n empty urinals. Which urinal should he pick so as to minimize his chances of maintaining privacy, i.e., minimize the chance that someone will occupy a urinal beside him? In this paper, we attempt to answer this question under a variety of models for standard men’s room behavior. Our results suggest that for the most part one should probably choose the urinal furthest from the door (with some interesting exceptions). We also suggest a number of variations on the problem that lead to many open problems.

Source: Springer Link – The Urinal Problem. The complete paper is available for purchase.

It was easy to theorize a solution for the three urinal-subset based on the process of elimination (no pun intended). This is also known as The Vizzini Gambit. (See: The Princess Bride.)

Clearly you should not choose the urinal in the center as the next visitor must choose one of the adjacent urinals. Thus, it is obvious that the solution must be one of the end urinals. But which one? Elimination only gets us so far.

As is often the case, field research is required to test theoretical constructs. And that’s where the shit hit the fan. (The results of that experiment are beyond the scope of this article.)
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Space-Time Ice-Creamium

Ruby JewelRecently, after some Lebonese dinner across town, my wife said, “There’s an ice cream place only two blocks away. Let’s go!”

I was already full. Case in point: She was toting a box of leftovers but I was not. Mine had been crammed down my gullet. This scenario would soon allow me to put my advanced decision-making skills on display.

We walked into the shop and it was what I like to describe as “Portland cute.” The place was constructed to look post-industrial. This means concrete walls, vaulted ceilings with lots of duct work, lighting fixtures that hang all the way down from the ceiling and, of course, the pièce de résistance of the Portland eatery scene: the fake garage door. Those things are ubiquitous around here, perhaps even on par with the fedora and other trendy chapeaux.
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Paranormal Investigations – Gerbil Edition #video

There are two great mysteries in the life that one must unravel before traveling to the Great Beyond. One is the nature of the Bermuda Triangle. The other is, of course, how gerbils cause household items to go missing from the space-time continuum.

Today we uncover a disturbing piece of evidence that goes a long way towards explaining what really happens. I took the following raw footage at great risk of life and limb.

If you’re not willing to invest one minute and 44 seconds of your precious existence in the following ode to cinema, then I guess you really do hate my guts.

Hang on tight and be prepared for the twist at the end. “I see gerbil people!!!”

Ch-ch-ch-changes

changeKeep the change, ya filthy animal.

Change of Address

I live on the surface of a rotating planetoid. The speed of rotation is approx. 1,000 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, the planet itself is moving about 67,000 miles per hour around the sun.

The sun is the center of our solar system, which is also moving around the center of our galaxy at approx. 490,000 miles per hour.

The galaxy is moving towards something called the Great Attractor, appox. 150 million light years away, at a rate of 1,000 kilometers per second.

In other words, I just want it to be known my physical location on this planetoid is changing by about 2.5 degrees of latitude. That’s a lot!

Moving Paradoxes

A pending move means boxes. Packing lots and lots of boxes.

The more you pack the more exhausted you get.

The more exhausted you get the more you require peaceful, restful sleep.

The more you require sleep the more the more you lie in bed with your eyes open.

Can’t sleep. Might as well get up and pack some more boxes and make myself more tired.

Time to mortar a brick

parking-lotI’ve been hearing a lot of hubbub of late about online retail sales overtaking traditional “brick and mortar” businesses.

Boo freakin’ hoo. To my way of thinking that’s like worrying about one turd shitting on another.

Still, I thought it might be a good idea to reminisce a few moments about the proverbial good times of ye olde mom and pop. The good old days and the “little man” of Alan Jackson lore.

Brick and mortar? Mom and pop? Who the hell is in charge of naming this shit? Dr. Seuss? Family jewels are found in aisle 42. Bait and tackle in aisle 69. That reminds me: “Clean up on aisle 69!”

I’ve already written quite a bit about Mr. Online Entrepreneur. He’s slippery, slimy and makes jackals and amebas seem like highly evolved life forms. He lies about everything including – most especially – that the product you want is “in stock.” Then he gets your money and you wait weeks to find out if you’ll ever get the product he just totally lied about or if you’ll ever get your money back. Good times.

How about Mr. Brick Mortar? How does he compare? And who is this guy?

Does the plethora of dings on the side of your car give you any kind of freakin’ clue?
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Morning

A rare shot of my left hand.

A rare shot of my hand. I bet this was taken in the morning.

When I was younger I had a supervisor who was fairly cool. I thought I remembered him pretty well but I just tried to recall things about him and came up with a pitiful total of three factoids.

  1. His first and last name.
  2. He was a heavy smoker, drank craploads of coffee, and was a close-talker. M-O-O-N. That spells “bad breath,” laws, yes! I imagine it was what the world of the DOOM video game smelled like. That breath would stop a Mack truck. But that’s another story.
  3. He would never say, “Good morning.”

I’m a little sad that’s all I can remember about him. He was a pretty good guy. But, to this day, to honor him, I never say “Good morning,” either.

If you’re around when I stroll into work, a few things are certain. Well, perhaps “stroll” is too strong of a word. It’s more like Dead Man Walking. It goes without saying that the last hour of my life has not been pleasant, unless one enjoys running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I’m also running a few minutes late, I’m likely hella pissed from bullshit that happened to me on the three-mile commute, I just realized I forgot my lunch at home, and there may be a little foam and spittle.

I may even be clutching my chest and veering to the left.

It is, I think, decidedly the wrong moment to turn to me and cheerfully say, “Good morning!”
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