Archive for May, 2019

On his birthday

Friday, May 31st, 2019

O Poet! my Poet! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
   Here Poet! dear teacher!
            Your words live in my head!
                  It is some dream that on this earth,
                        You’ve long been cold and dead.

30 x 5 = 150

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Today is the 30th day of the 5th month of the year, and also the 150th day of the year. If you multiply the day of the month (30) by the number of the month (5), the result is the number of days in the year so far (150).

How rare an event is this? Is this something we can say is true for many days of the year? Obviously it is true for all 31 days in the month of January, but that’s a sort of degenerate case.

Not counting January, how many days in the year have this unusual numerical property?

The general relativity centennial blues

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Let’s hearken back to a time pre-millennial
For today is a calendar date most centennial
When Eddington went on the trip of all trips
To Príncipe, where he measured the total eclipse
Which led to a truth most perennial

‘Twas a topic, they say, of some sensitivity
Noted physicists felt extreme negativity
Toward Einstein, whose spirits were certainly lifted
When all of the stars on the photo-plate shifted
Which confirmed, for all time, relativity

Yes

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Yes, in case you were wondering, as we all watch the daily outpouring of idiocy, the thought has indeed occurred to me: Our so-called “president”, and the current U.S. “administration”, is in fact a parody created by Mad Magazine.

The only thing that puzzles me is this: Has Mad Magazine ever sunk to this level of juvenalia? I would have thought that even they would have had more dignity than this.

Alas, I have a suspicious feeling that if Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Gaines were alive today, they’d be turning in their graves — not from despair, but from jealousy. It has taken more than half a century, yet finally somebody has succeeded in creating a parody that is ridiculous beyond even their wildest dreams.

Kombucha, by any other name

Monday, May 27th, 2019

Is there one here among us, who dislikes the tea fungus?
How lucky for me, to drink kargasok tea
I hear Titus Andronicus drank fungus japonicus,
And down in the Congo they like to sip hongo
In old Vietnam they’re enjoying teeschwamm
Meanwhile in Madras they drink loads of teekwass
And the knights toast their leige with a pint of cajnij
Whereas in Macao they all drink fine haipao
After which thereupon they will take some kwassan
While somewhere in Toronto they will serve you spumonto
Where a start-up (a Newco) prefers fresh tschambucco
And sometimes for thrills they will try wunderpilz
So perhaps it would suit ya to drink some kombucha

Conflict resolution haiku

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

talking it all through
won’t always solve the problem
but it couldn’t hurt

A challenge

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

At a meeting the other day at our lab, one of our invited guests was Professor Hiroshi Ishii from the MIT Media Lab. After experiencing our co-located VR technology, he issued the following challenge: How can we know when our technology has really succeeded?

But Hiroshi went further than that. What he was really seeking was a clear and concise answer.

So he looked at everyone around the table, and challenged us to convey our answer in the form of a haiku. I thought this was a very fair test, and I gave him the following seventeen syllable response:

      i foresee a day
      when we’ll use our tech within
      a meeting like this

On a train, backward

Friday, May 24th, 2019

At the moment I am riding on a train backward. The train is going one way, whilst I am facing the opposite way.

It’s definitely a different perspective. Instead of focusing on things that have not yet happened, you have the luxury to ponder where you have been, to take a few moments to savor the experience.

Sure, it is inarguably true that when you are in this position on a train, you can’t quite see where you are going. But the nice thing about riding on a train backward is that you can always see where you have been.

Looking back on what I have just written, I realize that I am on a train of thought. I will take a few moments to savor the experience.

Hours in the day

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Suppose you could randomly insert as many extra hours as you wanted into your day — for example to make those pesky deadlines. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, doesn’t it?

But suppose this gift came at a high price: For every extra hour you get now, two hours get subtracted off the end of your life.

Would you go for it? Or would you balk at the steep interest rate?

For me, just knowing such a deal was available would make me think long and hard about how I spend my time. Rather than accepting the offer, I think I’d end up spending my existing hours more efficiently.

One day, hopefully a long time from now, I’m sure I would thank me.

Notes on the incoming class

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

(last name first)


Fly, May She’s too flighty to last long.

Fold, Manny He’s all surface.

Gagger, Lolly She’s always late.

Gamesh, Gil This kid’s got an epic story.

Gory, Ali He isn’t what he seems.

Gram, Ana She reminds me of Mara Ang.

Guard, Van He’ll be first in his class.

Ho, Ida She is always in a state.

Idian, Flor I like her tan.

Ificent, Mal He’s a bad kid.

Light, Skye She’s extremely bright.

Lightful, Dee I really like this one!

Livit, Glen I think he’s Scotch.

Mander, Jerry He’s all over the place.

Manity, Hugh He’s just like everyone else.

Metric, Barry Kid can’t take the pressure.

Munn, Otto This guy’s a couch potato.

Nomial, Polly She loves math.

O’Bite, Gig He’s got quite a memory.

Oh, Pattie She likes hanging out outdoors.

Ovan, Dennis Is he a Neanderthal, or what?

Pyre, Em She’s got ambition.

Ramony, Pat I hear he inherited a fortune.

Russe, Bella Is that a Russian accent?

Shire, Devon I love her accent.

Stick, Joy She’s so controlling.

Tard, Leo He just came here from the gym.

Tedd, Jill I hear her boyfriend dumped her.

Torius, Vic This one’s a winner.

Tosterone, Tess She’s a tough one.

Trope, Zoe She keeps going in circles.

Tucky, Ken He’s from the South.

Uflect, Jen She’s so polite!

Undrum, Ken This one’s a puzzle.

Vation, Sal He’s very religious.

Walker, Jay He never follows the rules.

Ward, Lee Ugh, I can smell him from here.

Warm, Luke Don’t know if I like this guy.

Winkle, Perry He’s always blue.

Yuery, Jan She’s just starting the year.

Yurism, Ann She gives me high blood pressure.