Daily Departures

Departing daily from the ordinary objects of my thoughts.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Building projects

If you are one of those people who loves building stuff, then boy have I found the site for you. The site in question is called "Instructables."

Basically the site is reader run. Reader run in the sense that readers build stuff, document the building procedure (pictures included), and then the documentation is posted on the site.

If you look around on the site, there are a number of things to build. Everything from a low rider bicycle to burning little elephants into the underside of a CD-R to a marshmallow gun to Hungarian Shelves.

All of these, and more can be found here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


In a post below I asked a question and requested answers to the question in the comments thread. There has been some confusion about what the scenario is; let me try to clarify.

The scenario in question involves a transporter accident. You step into the transporter, expecting to be de-materialized and then re-materialized in a new location. There is an accident. Instead of the transporter beam re-materializing one of you, it re-materializes two copies. So, there are now two people who are atom-for-atom duplicates of one another. Furthermore, there is no fact of the matter which one of these two people is the same person as the one that entered the transporter. (You might even think that they are both the person that entered the transporter.)

Each of these people has the same beliefs, desires, memories, physical traits, and so on. They are IDENTICAL in every respect! If I know one of them, then I know the other equally well; they can act individually; and they would each go on to live full lives.

Now, the question:

What would you do with this person?

[A sample answer: I would fight this person to the death because we'd be so similar; we'd be critical of each other in exactly the ways that drive each of us insane.]

Now: Answer in the comments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


One thousand hits in under two months. That is despite my failing to achieve my goal to post once a day (including weekends).

OK, there will be no more "I've had X many hits" until I reach 5,000. I promise.

Now I am still interested in what people think about the question that I ask in the post immediately below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

They've almost done it

Anyone who has seen Star Trek knows what the transporter does: it dematerializes a person and then rematerializes them in a different location. Devices like these are the bread and butter of science fiction, but science-fiction-they-be no longer. Scientists have not only successfully transported single atoms, but now they have been able to transport an entire laser beam... that's a lot of photons! Not only can they transport the laser beam, but they are able to duplicate it.

The transporting scenarios bring up lots of philosophical puzzles, some serious and some not. I have one that is not that I'd like to share.

Suppose that we has a perfectly working transporter. This transporter can relocate nearly anything, including people. Now suppose that we are to transport you. However, things don't go exactly right and the result of the transport, there are two of you. The resulting people would be qualitatively identical. Both would have the same number of hairs, the same scars, the same beliefs, the same memories, the same strengths, and so on. None of your closest friends or family would be able to say one way or the other that one of these two people was you and that the other was not.

Now, imagine being in this situation. Given that you can only be one of these individuals, the question is this: What would you do with this person?

There are obviously many many answers, but if you are really not sure, then it might help to ask: would you get along with the other person? If not, then what would you fight about? If so, then what would you 'bond' over?

I want comments here. This time I don't want comments for the sake of comments, I am really curious about what people would do. Comment away!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Digital library, here I come!

Have you ever taken books out of the library only to have them recalled before you were finished? If not, then just trust me, it sucks.

Atiz has developed a reasonably sized book scanner (that turns the pages!!) that will be available for purchase soon.

Can you imagine going on a trip and not being able to decide what books to take? If you are taking a laptop anyways, then why not take all of them. It sounds like the best compromise to me. It is one thing to have a good collection of academic papers on your computer, but a good collection of books... mmmmmm.

Despite all of these virtues, I don't think I'll be splurging anytime soon. With a $35,000 price tag, it is a little--OK a lot--out of reach. Besides, I'd rather spend that money on the books themselves.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It's complete

What is complete you ask?

The completed task is the age old one of trying to systematically decipher baby gibberish. Surprisingly enough, the translation schema is very simple and it will allow us non-gibberish speakers to speak back. The only problem is that many gibberish-speakers do not have the ability to discern sounds as finely grained as is needed in audible language processing. But, for those non-babies who still speak gibberish, there is now both a way to understand them as well as a way of communicating with them--a way that doesn't involve multiple hand gestures.

So, now that you are ready to learn, go LEARN!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I love coffee, I love style

One of my favourite indulgences is a strong cup of coffee--with just a smidge of cream to change the texture. Another favoured thing is style. I don't mean fashion I'm a big Apple fan. (It is not the main reason, but it certainly is a contributing factor.)

So, given these two things, it would seem to follow that I would love very well designed coffee makers that make strong coffee. It does. The coffee maker that was recently displayed on Moco Loco is just that.

The maker, called Moka is designed by Joey Roth and is one of a few other gorgeously designed appliances. For example, see the Tea pot 'Sorapot' below.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I've seen it all

I knew that there were a lot of blogs out there, but honestly, I had no idea. The blog that this banner came from is dedicated to all things shaving. I can understand how a blog about gadgets or a blog about all things Apple can keep people coming back, but SHAVING!

OK, OK, I know there is a market for nearly everything, but I really do wonder who would consistently check a blog like Shaving Stuff.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My kind of research

We've all heard the old saying: "A beard keeps you warmer in the winter." But is it true?

The person pictured above decided that there was only one way to find out. You can read more about it at his website. Given that he is an avid winter athlete, he participated in a barrage of activities and he discovered that--to him anyways--having a beard really is warmer. So, if you live in an inhospitable climate, then I encourage you all--ladies included--to grow a beard.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Art once more

On one of my favourite blogs--Art Moco--, there was recently a post about an artist named, James Casebere. What Casebere does is he makes scale architectural models, in very fine details and then he photographs them. There are a number of very interesting things that one can do with models that cannot be done with real buildings--or, at least, not done without significant cost. One common theme in Casebere's work is flooding. As you can see in the picture above and the one immediately below.

This next picture displays another blessing afforded to a photographer who takes pictures of models is that he can set up nearly perfect lighting conditions; as in the image below.

Lastly, I love the image below. It makes me imagine having a party in that room with all of my friends, the building being set on the top of the hill looking out, in all sides, over the Greek Isles, and maybe even having a great band jammin' on one side of the room. I'd like that.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. (Feel free to tell me whether you like them or not.)

[More photos available at Marc Selwyn Fine Art.]

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Explanation of 'meme'

Thus far, a few people (person 1, person 2, and person 3) have responded to my tagging then in my 4-meme post. One thing that there responses have in common is that they both question what 'meme' means. I'm going to explain.

The wikipedia has two bits of information that I did not know about meme's; namely,
The term "meme" ([mi?m] in the IPA; rhymes with "theme"), derived from the Greek word mimema, "something imitated" often refers to a piece of information passed from one mind to another. The term first came into popular use with the publication of the book The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins in 1976.
The wikipedia entry is quite extensive, but instead of saying what it says, let me instead way what I took the term to mean (which is roughly confirmed by the wikipedia entry).

'Meme' is the social analogue of 'gene'. The idea is pretty simple, each complete meme will contain information that is unique to the person who answers the questions. The questions remain nearly constant from generation to generation, only occasionally with mutations--as in the changing of a question. So, normally the questions are the consistent structure, the answers tie the particular meme to a particular person. The '4' identifies something about the structure of this particular meme--in this case, the number of answers required per question.

Clear enough?

Friday, February 03, 2006


Every once in a while you come across a website that you just need to share with people. I stumbled across ZeFrank a long time ago and I shared this site with a few people, but this blog seems like a good place to share it with anyone who reads it.

As with most great websites that will make you laugh, there is a lot of content; so, to save you the time and trouble, I've sacrificed my time to give you a list of some of my favourites.

Under 'Stuff to Watch', I recommend:
  • Request (Do you ever get e-mails requesting you assistance in the transfer of large sums of money from the son of a former government official of Senegal? Well, if you do, watch this!)
  • New Years (Have you thought that the New Years traditions are wacky? Watch this for further insight.)

Under 'Educational Videos', I recommend:
  • Pre-Date (Need some pre-date encouragement?)

(Note: Most of these videos are good for all locations, but maybe use headphones.)

Finally, if you want to hear a rap song that argues that Santa ain't fat, then check out the song "Santa Ain't Fat."

And, enjoy this fantastically hilarious site!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I saw this 4-meme on two blogs (one and two); both of which are cooler than mine. Although I never got tagged, I'm going to complete the questions anyway. (I've changed the questions a bit to suit my taste... for example, there was a question about TV, but since I don't have a TV, I'm not answering it.)

Four jobs I’ve had:
  1. Tree Planter
  2. Adjunct University Professor
  3. Inflatable Interactive Games Operator
  4. Dishwasher (crappiest job, ever!)
Four movies I can watch over and over:
  1. Good Will Hunting
  2. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  3. Gattaca
  4. Shine
Four books I would buy again (if need be):
  1. The Brothers Karamazov -Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. On the Plurality of Worlds -David K. Lewis
  3. Naming and Necessity -Saul A. Kripke
  4. Angela's Ashes -Frank McCourt
Four places I have lived:
  1. Winnipeg, Manitoba; Canada
  2. Syracuse, New York; USA
  3. Freidrichshaffen, Germany
  4. Malibu, California; USA
Four places I’ve vacationed:
  1. Barcelona, Spain
  2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  3. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  4. Clear Lake, Manitoba
Four of my favorite drinks:
  1. Coffee (but only of the good variety)
  2. Rooibos Provence
  3. A Very full-bodied Cab-Shiraz
  4. New Castle Brown Ale
Four sites I visit daily:
  1. The New York Times
  2. The Unofficial Apple Weblog
  3. The Daily Mumps
  4. 3hive
Four places I would rather be right now:
  1. Barcelona, Spain
  2. Vancouver, BC; Canada
  3. Patagonia, Argentina
  4. Sao Tome; Africa
Four people I am tagging:
(The people in my sidebar of course!)
  1. Jennifer
  2. Jonathan
  3. Matthew
  4. Rachel

The rule is that, whoever gets tagged needs to post answers to all these questions on their blog and then tag 4 more people. Keep the meme going.

[UPDATE: I'm also tagging my friend Nathan and my friend Brendan.]

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

You think you like ring tones?

Well, I'm almost certain that you do NOT like them as much as this guy.

I highly recommend that you watch the ring tone dancing that goes on in the Starbucks; c'est formidable!!

When you are done that, check out number five. I mean, what could possible be better than a skinny white guy, in yellow tights, a red cape, and a green mask, trouncing around in the snow? (Alright, I too can think of lots of things that'd be better, but you've got to admit, this is pretty funny.

(Note: You must have the sound turned on if you are going to watch these videos; otherwise, they simply loose the desired effect. So, the louder the better! Now, go on and click one of those links above... do it... NOW!)