Thursday, February 19, 2009

Memories... (All alone in the moonlight...)

I love email, in what is likely an unhealthy way. First, webmail is convenient: since it's in the cloud it's anywhere I am.  Second, it's a semi-permanent archive of my conversations.  As a person with a less than ideal memory,* and a preference for working from an actual document rather than verbal communication (side effect of less than ideal memory), I really enjoy having that archive.

I let my Hotmail account go for too long without logging in, and it deleted my emails.  It was my primary email address from about middle school to the freshman year of college, when gmail came onto the scene.  It's odd thinking about not having those emails to reference, even if I actually needed to do so very infrequently.  For me at least, email gave those memories a greater sense of permanence, a tangibility.  This is an absurd feeling, because emails aren't any more tangible than biological memories.

If those memories not reinforced by a digital keepsake are less "real" to me, does that suggest that I devalue the physical world in some aspects?  Or am I losing memories that are impossible to capture digitally (touch, smell, impressions)?  To be honest, I have no idea of the answer to the first question, but I do think that the answer to the second is no.  But it is hard to judge what I can or can't remember!

I would love to see a study done on the use of digital media to augment memory, and its impact.  I think the real question for me is how is it different from keeping a notebook, or using post-its.  Does using digital media make us smarter, dumber, more forgetful? (It is of course a non-trivial task to define those, let alone measure them)

*According to my work and school performance, and asking around, I have a memory that is comparable to or better than that of my peers.  Apparently I lack confidence in my memory, rather than lacking memory.  This perhaps an even more telling example of the impact of using email to remember things:  Memories which aren't as clear as the digital versions are discounted, lowering the expectations I have of my memory.  Since I certainly lack photographic recall, very few of my memories are as objective or explicit as an email or photograph, making my expectations of recall sub par.

A Collection of Idols

Apparently I'm a sucker for stuff like this. I didn't buy any of these things (other than the tiki, which doesn't count as it is a souvenir), other people hid them in my room or were getting rid of them and bequeathed them to me. I have this awkward fear that 50 years down the road I'll die, and people will wonder what drove me to amass a diverse collection of curios from around the world. So far I've managed to limit it to the top of my speaker and the Pip-Boy on my computer, but if my habit of inadvertantly collecting books is any indication, I'll soon be adrift in a plastic sea. Good times.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Amgen Again Again

This is the corner that we camped on, this is the racer perspective.


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Monday, February 16, 2009

A Day at the Races

The Tour of California came to town today, managing to slip in during a break in the rain. The Bike Coop and I watched the race on the downhill leg into Santa Cruz. They had found a spot on a descending corner, giving a clear view of about a half mile stretch. I arrived late (that is to say, not with the rest of the crew) and quite overshot the corner. I was going about 30 mph into the corner, which was pretty hairy given the radius of the turn, that it was descending, and that it had been raining.

It rained only briefly while we were out there, and we stayed up there until all the riders had passed. At that point there was a little over a 20 minute gap between the leader and the last man. We trailed the race down into town, taking advantage of the street closures. (Being able to legally run red lights and have a heard of riders take up two lanes is very excellent.) All of downtown was shutdown, pedestrians and bikes having a field day on Pacific. Downtown would be much improved it were closed to cars.

All in all it was a pretty good day, seeing a race, punting around the course, as well as getting a good road run and a wet & messy uphill fire road climb in. I've posted the pictures I took to my Flickr, but I wouldn't consider them to be stellar.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shipping Containers

There is a fad in some circles right now to be "green."  Intrinsically this is a good idea, but some people go about it all the wrong way.  Shipping container houses are a great example of a failed attempt to be green. 

First, shipping containers aren't really cheap.  They are a huge chunk of steel, so even as sold for scrap they are pretty valuable.  Second, it's a huge chunk of steel.  And you're going to make a house out of it, thus removing it from any other use until the house is torn down.  Steel isn't exactly a renewable resource, I'd rather see it used repeatedly, and instead use a renewable material for houses (Perhaps wood? *gasp*).  Third, it's a poor excuse for being damn lazy. If you want a prefab house module, design one. Don't take something optimized for it's job, and make it something it isn't.

Also, does anyone else see a terrible irony in a consumer society packing themselves into a bunch of shipping containers?  Seriously.

Bike, Interupted

I now have a new left crank to replace the one I messed up.  After pulling the BB, it was pretty apparent why it failed: rather than having a continuous body, it had a separate bearing on the non-drive side.  If the left cup wasn't a perfect fit this would allow the bearing to move under load, causing the balls and races to wear faster.

Thanks to the coop, I have a new BB now, and it hasn't given me any problems yet.

I rode up to work through the center of campus, which is the first time I've done that.  I'm not sure if its a shorter ride, or if the topography works better for me (relatively short steep hills rather than a constant gradient), but it's a more pleasant ride than Hagar.  I also had an interesting encounter with a van this morning.  I don't think it was particularly life-threatening, just weird.  A van tried half-heartedly to cut me off and make a right, despite the fact that I was moving faster than them.  Normally I'd hit the brakes and let them take it, but they were moving at less than 10 mph, and looked more like they were moving up in the lane rather than making the right.  The net result was them awkwardly turning slowly into me, and me accelerating around and past them.  I'm not sure what the deal was with that.

In other news, you should pour one out tonight in the honor of Sheldon Brown.  He created a great, and highly accessible biking resource, http://www.sheldonbrown.com/ and generally did neat things with bikes.  A year ago today he ceased to be, a loss greatly lamented by the cycling community.