Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Patterns in the frost...

Patterns in the frost...  I snapped this photo a few minutes ago, out in our garden.  Last night the temperature dropped to just barely below freezing, and it was quite humid.  The result was a heavy layer of frost this morning.  But ... within a couple minutes of the sunshine hitting the ground, the temperature went above freezing and the frost melted.  On the right side of the photo, the sun has been shining for five minutes or so, and the frost is all melted.  The left side is shaded by a vine-covered arbor, and the frost has not yet melted.  The fairly sharp, straight frost line between the two areas caught my eye.

The photo was harder to take than you might think.  I was walking Mo'i on a leash, and he badly wanted to go hunting voles.  He was jerking me all over the place while I was trying to take this :)

Beautiful birds...

Beautiful birds...

Shake it off cop...

Shake it off cop ... as it would be, if filmed in Russia :)

A really nice evening...

A really nice evening ... was ours last night.  We drove down to Salt Lake City to meet up with some friends: Doug and Dee W. (who flew up here from San Diego to attend a conference), and Kevin and Casey P. (who live near Ogden).  We descended on the Red Iguana for dinner – some outstanding Mexican food.  Their mole sauces were especially enjoyable.  About three bites into our meals, Debbie and I looked at each other and said: “We’re coming back here!” It's the first time since we left Jamul that we've had Mexican food that wasn't Americanized junk, or just a step or two above.  Based on our small sample last night, the Red Iguana could easily hold its own with the best Mexican restaurants in San Diego.

It's been months since we've seen any of these folks (and in the case of Dee, decades!).  Our dinner conversation was full of stories and laughter and smiles, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Our drive home was filled with recollections of bits and pieces of our conversation that we particularly enjoyed.  We'd love a few more evenings like that :)

Arrested motion: waves...

Arrested motion: waves...  Beautiful collection of photos of waves taken with very short exposures...

Now this is clever!

Now this is clever!  Here's the puzzle: are condemned to die unless you can prove your intelligence to a devious jailer. You, and your friend, are incarcerated. Your jailer offers a challenge. If you complete the challenge you are both free to go.   Here are the rules: 
  • The jailer will take you into a private cell. In the cell will be a chessboard and a jar containing 64 coins.
  • The jailer will take the coins, one-by-one, and place a coin on each square on the board. He will place the coins randomly on the board. Some coins will be heads, and some tails (or maybe they will be all heads, or all tails; you have no idea. It's all at the jailers whim. He may elect to look and choose to make a pattern himself, he may toss them placing them the way they land, he might look at them as he places them, he might not …). If you attempt to interfere with the placing of the coins, it is instant death for you. If you attempt to coerce, suggest, or persuade the jailer in any way, instant death. All you can do it watch.
  • Once all the coins have been laid out, the jailer will point to one of the squares on the board and say: “This one!” He is indicating the magic square. This square is the key to your freedom.
  • The jailer will then allow you to turn over one coin on the board. Just one. A single coin, but it can be any coin, you have full choice. If the coin you select is a head, it will flip to a tail. If it is a tail it will flip to a head. This is the only change you are allowed to make to the jailers initial layout.
  • You will then be lead out of the room. If you attempt to leave other messages behind, or clues for your friend … yes, you guessed it, instant death!
  • The jailer will then bring your friend into the room.
  • Your friend will look at the board (no touching allowed), then examine the board of coins and decide which location he thinks is the magic square.
  • He gets one chance only (no feedback). Based on the configuration of the coins he will point to one square and say: “This one!”
  • If he guesses correctly, you are both pardoned, and instantly set free. If he guesses incorrectly, you are both executed.
  • The jailer explains all these rules, to both you and your friend, beforehand and then gives you time to confer with each other to devise a strategy for which coin to flip.
The solution is on this page.  I was surprised to see that a solution was not only possible, but quite straightforward (well, if you understand binary numbers, anyway).

A descent into madness...

A descent into madness...  A few days ago I posted – incredulously – about a $10,000 Ethernet cable.  This morning I discovered that some enterprising soul has a Tumblr blog that collects this sort of thing.  It's called Wat HiFi?, and if you have even the tiniest scrap of belief in causality, it will scare you.  You've been warned.  It is entertaining to read, if you can get past your despair about the human condition...

The blog's byline is:

Pseudoscientific wank from the pages of audiophile magazines.
That sounds like a Brit, and pretty much sums up the content.  It's a good thing someone is doing this.  I think.