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20 July 2010 @ 10:31 pm
I haven't posted in a while. Should I even try to explain why? Laziness, apathy, weariness, social disconnection... hard to say any one thing. It's certainly not for lack of things to write about. Here's a quick summary of all that's new with me:

1. I live in a real house. I left Florida 3.7 months ago, but having an actual residence to tell various institutions I live at is very nice and much more conducive to getting work done. My cat is still in Florida and I miss her very much and try not to worry about her too hard (I really hope she doesn't have flea problems :/ ).

2. My very good friend Tim died a little more than a month ago. I had spent a lot of time with him just the day before and the week before. It was an accident and a real surprise to everyone. The funeral and afterparty were both wonderful! I'd like to write some stories here on just this subject.

3. I've never really been fat, except maybe for when I was in middle school and would feast on mountain dew and potato chips (zapp's cajun crawtators, yum!!!) after school every day. Over the 2 years I was in Florida, I gained an excess 20 pounds and got a bit out of shape. I lost all that weight and got back into shape after 2 months of being back in Oregon, just from walking and biking everywhere. Now the last stretch of my commute back home is 7 miles uphill and I'm getting to be in exceptional physical shape from that.

4. I've been more active on facebook lately, admittedly taking some attention away from LJ. I like them both for different reasons. LJ is more intimate, lasting, and allows me to properly format my entries to convey them how I'd like. Still - you should friend me on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/travis.pulley

5. I got my social security report that shows my reported earnings over my whole adult life. Making an assumption based solely on that, I'd say I am severely untalented at making money. The reality is much, much more nuanced though.

6. There is a ton of science/tech news I'd love to share here enthusiastically. I kinda do that mostly on facebook now, but maybe I'll post collections here periodically.
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Current Mood: hungry
10 May 2010 @ 03:02 am
No one else I know (as far as I know) has been watching the HBO series The Pacific. But for myself, this has been more exciting than any major movie franchise over the past decade. I know a lot about ww2 history, and yet there's so much I don't know or things I don't know in great depth. By now I have a well rounded picture of warfare over the 20th century, but learning about the US Pacific campaign through this series has really opened up a lot to me that I didn't know before.

Tonight's episode, part nine, centered on the Battle of Okinawa. The series is vastly different from history channel-style shows for dramatizing the presentation in such a way that really connects one to the characters (portraying actual people), the environment, and the zeitgeist. It's moving in a way that I just cannot compare to hollywood. Knowing the history in a textbook way engages me in the story like few other cinematic depictions can.

Allowing for my engagement with the show as described above, you must understand the intensity of my following statement: The last few seconds of this most recent episode sent chills down my spine like I haven't felt in some time. At first the shot was basically the marines packing up and moving out following the battle, just what I'd expect to see as the episode concluded. But as the music played a tune of "glad that's over now", the shot panned upward to a squad of B-29's on their way toward mainland Japan as the music neatly, yet suddenly, transitioned to a sound of dark foreboding.

Chills! This flight was not immediately preceding the dropping of the atom bomb (that happened only a few weeks later), but the deathstorm that awaited the Japanese people from these planes would be a type of horror I do not think I can imagine.

But then, they could well have been part of the aerial mining campaign that targeted Japanese shipping routes and harbor approaches. Those were probably less horrific (while being very strategically effective). The music led me to believe the former :/
Current Mood: enthralled
Might as well use it to cure cancer:

"It sneaks in, evades the immune system, delivers the siRNA, and the disassembled components exit out."

But seriously, why stop at cancer?
"What's so exciting is that virtually any gene can be targeted now. Every protein now is druggable. My hope is to make tumours melt away while maintaining a high quality of life for the patients. We're moving another step closer to being able to do that now."

Not in the article, but read from a slashdot comment: "The nanoparticles have a component that attaches to the transferrin receptor on the surface of a cancer cell. Transferrin receptors are highly abundant on cancer cells because iron (what transferrin carries) is needed for cell division processes."

Read all about it.
Current Mood: intrigued
24 March 2010 @ 11:58 pm
I read Cory Doctorow's review of William Poundstone's Priceless: how our unknowing irrationality confounds the price of everything. It's a very interesting subject and I was moved by Cory's closing paragraph:

"I don't think we're always irrational. But I think that we probably spend as much time kidding ourselves, misremembering, mispredicting, and misapprehending, as we do accurately gauging the circumstances and behaving accordingly. I think that our social system has long favored those who understand how to exploit cognitive failures, and that the subtle evolutionary pressure has created a world where the opportunities to be fooled in ways big and small are nearly everywhere."

ergo, politics.
(Note: that link won't use quite so much of your time if you avoid following the many links it contains. You have been advised.)
Current Mood: hungry
12 March 2010 @ 05:15 pm
Every time I hear about a person in Texas being given some very long prison sentence for drug possession, I can't help but think of all the people given a slap on the wrist, or less, for killing people with their cars.

Most recently, a Bay City man was sentenced to 60 years for having a couple crack rocks (less than a dime bag) in a coat pocket inside his own home. The evidence against him was no more than what you just read there, but a jury convicted him on the impression that he was a violent dealer and they wanted to "clean up their city". Not like the million dollars or so that imprisonment cost the state could help clean up the city any other way.

I know I'm cherry picking examples here, but this stands in stark contrast to Dustin Camp whose story I linked above. He intentionally drove over someone while telling his passenger "I'm a ninja in my Caddy!", left the scene, and ended up with 10 years probation. Later he was arrested on a long list of probation violations, for which he ended up serving a little more than half his 8-year sentence before being paroled.
Current Mood: unimpressed
14 February 2010 @ 07:14 pm
Current Mood: hungry
13 February 2010 @ 04:24 pm
I heard a program on the radio today, and twice in the same program the inaccuracy of people explaining something specific made me cringe.

The first incident was confusing to me, a lady was talking about a toxic waste dump in california and described the things they accepted for disposal, among them liquid pcb's from "transmitters, like on telephone poles". At first I thought, what sort of transmitter needs liquid pcb's? Simultaneously I thought, what sort of transmitters would end up on telephone poles, and how many could there be?

At this point, it occurred to me that what she really meant was electrical transformers. Hey, they both start with a T right?

The second thing (transcript here) had a lady talking about "...we have 136 petrochemical plants and six refineries over an 80-mile stretch of land. We release nearly 200 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, water and soil."

So... 200 million pounds of toxic chemicals... over the past century? Every day? At the top of every even hour?

I understand relaxed social conversation where things don't always need proof, or evidence, or reason, logic, etc... But this woman's using very solid numbers to describe something to make a point, and it simply fails to make the level of sense one needs to form a proper opinion off of what she's saying. Might as well have an interpreter in frankenstein voice saying, "chemicals BAAAAD!"
Current Mood: annoyed
10 February 2010 @ 06:27 pm
Here is an example of pedestrian and vehicle tracking on a 2011 Volvo S60 prototype which identifies pedestrians, warns the driver, and applies full braking power if the driver doesn't react in time. I love it!

With a system that primitive and functional, it would be interesting to provide visual enhancement to the actual driver.

And what's with all those people just standing in the road at 0:23? Reminds me of all the people I see jaywalking badly who give careful attentive jaywalkers a bad image.

Current Music: Carole King
08 February 2010 @ 04:28 am
Staying up late again to watch endeavor launch, only to find out I'm nine minutes too late!

When it was scrubbed last night, the person on NASA TV said there would be a minimum 24 hours before the next launch. This being NASA and all, I figured I could take their specificity in all literal seriousness. It's my own fault for believing that and then not watching the official clock after it had been reset.

:( :( :( :(

Update: It's a good idea, in general, to show up early for things. Lesson learned.
Current Mood: disappointed
07 February 2010 @ 04:08 am
I'm waiting for 4:39 am to happen so I will walk out front and try to see the space shuttle launch from here. I've got a browser window open with nasa tv streaming live so I can see when the engines start up and know when to go look.

update: - so much for that!
Current Mood: excited