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Infinitesimals

Voicemail has its uses, for example, when one won't be able to pick up the phone for awhile, but needs to relay a message immediately, or when other forms of communication are not possible, i.e. e-mail or texting is inconvenient or irrelevant.

However, I still usually end up ignoring it, thus rendering most of the pros as moot.

(1) Oct 10, 08 - 11:18 AM

On the subject of high school friends, just because you're different, doesn't mean you can't be friends.

(0) Jun 17, 07 - 11:41 PM

Pi is wrong.

Well, actually, maybe it would just be better to use what is currently known as 2*pi. I've always thought it would be easier if sine and cosine had periods that were just pi, not 2pi.

So should pi be 6.283185...? Should pi be the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius, instead of diameter? If so, it would take about 50 years for this to gain any momentum in the mathematical community.

(0) Apr 20, 07 - 1:07 AM

The Perils of Being Called Smart

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | 12:39:42 AM
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So, I was browsing xckd forums, (excellent webcomic, by the way) and came across a topic discussing people who are "smart". I read it and connected it to some recent introspection.

The topic is a discussion about one boy called "gifted". He excelled at his classes. When he found something he didn't do quite so well at, he just gave up. Better to not try than try and fail, right? Many of the people on the forum seem to be able to make a connection with themselves, and I'll add my input here.

I pick up a lot of things rather easily. For example, in freshman year, I was the first one in band to completely pass off the march (High School Cadets!), despite having only picked up trumpet a few weeks ago. Likewise, my transition to trombone was quite smooth. I'm also known for being able to play an instrument to some proficiency within minutes of experimenting with it.

Now after this initial burst of talent is where the hard part comes in. Though I pick up new things easily, as I get to the details, I begin to fail. Why? I don't put in the required effort. Why? Because I get frustrated that my progress is not as fast as it once was. Plus, it's more work.

When I was younger, I was challenged a bit, but never too much. It was always just enough for progress, but I never had to really work hard. I was rewarded for excelling enough, but not pushed to go the extra mile. School was easy.

And now, I'm beginning to have to do work. Soon, I'll really have to do work. College, as Mr. Olson says, is more suited toward the hard-working "average" (or a bit above) kids than the "intelligent" ones, due to the nature of the work. It's not really something one can "bs", like, say, AP English. GE especially, the "weeding" classes, colleges are just seeing is the new freshman can handle this new education.

The school system could be improved. "Smart" kids aren't challenged enough and thus don't learn something very important: work ethic. This can later have adverse effects, as the students doing well won't respond nicely to struggles; they will give up rather than work, or avoid rather than chance failure.

It happened with me and piano. I did well and didn't even practice. When it got to the upper levels of the Certificate of Merit, I didn't practice the harder pieces. So, I fell behind and lessons weren't enough for me to progress, so I stopped. It happened (is happening?) with me and trombone. I did pretty good for awhile, but I hit a hill. Then Danny came in and far surpassed me.

Now I'm learning, though. I play piano now, just for fun. And I work at it. I'm getting better. I think I have to thank Brian Choi for this, because I saw him playing better than me. I then realized that I liked piano, and I wanted to play some of the pieces he was playing (La Campanella, for example). Trombone is a bit of a different story, as I don't quite have the same passion for it compared to piano, so it doesn't get the same focus.

If I find myself at the top, coasting along, then I'll get stagnant. I need some sort of motivation: a rival, or a bad grade, for example. This is where I'll find some work ethic. I need to find a challenge and work through it, improving myself on that subject and improving my work ethic.

So... having intelligence works in the short run. Having work ethic is better in the long run. The latter people end up doing well in life, but those who have both intelligence and a good work ethic are more likely to be the ones remembered. These are the (pardon the poor examples) Steve Jobs or George W Bushes (hey, you call him dumb, but he ended up as president... did something right there)...

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Sleep just a few more hours?

Monday, January 15, 2007 | 10:15:37 PM
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Do teens naturally sleep later?

I can definitely say that I'm more active later at night. Far too many times have I taken on some programming challenge at 9:00 and found that it was suddenly 2 AM. I once considered shifting over my sleep schedule so I would sleep after school and then wake up during this time. It was supposed to influence my productivity with regards to school. Anyway...

Right now, the high school starts school first, followed by middle, then elementary schools. The study shows that younger children (and adults) wake up earlier than teenagers. Why then are teenagers, brain dead in the early morning (see 1st and 2nd period), made to wake up the earliest? To prepare them for early mornings when they get a job? That will happen naturally as their sleep cycle shifts towards the morning, as in the study. With the buses, schools need to start staggered, but why can't high school start last instead of first?

1st and 2nd period are probably the most unproductive periods of the day. It's still too early for most people and their minds aren't quite together. The most productive periods of the day are probably 3rd and 4th. 6th and 7th fall because people have been in school too long and are anxious to get out, and 5th is simply weird, but that's besides the point.

But personally, I don't really mind the early start. I know if I'm sleeping too late (which might be the case Wed. if I don't start my homework), and I enjoy the "extra" time I get after school. While I may be more active at night, that's not exactly the case with the city, most places closing up shop to sleep, so sleeping late won't necessarily mean going out late.

I'm in the process of shifting my sleep cycle back from 2:30-11 to 11-6. And considering that the natural sleep cycle is actually a bit above 24 hours...

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Gas Prices and Fuel Efficiency

Thursday, November 23, 2006 | 2:34:00 PM
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Most Americans want 40 mpg legislation. Sure it's a noble statement, but hardly realistic at the moment.

Right now, very very few cars are above 40 mpg. I took a quick peek at the Toyota website and only the Camry Hybrid and Prius are above 40. The Prius is well above and the Camry is only just at 40; its highway mpg is actually 38, even. Basically, we'll be stuck driving one of those two cars out of their 7 total cars and no trucks, vans, or SUVs.

There was earlier a legislation to give compensation for drivers who bought a hybrid vehicle. The Highlander hybrid (an SUV) actually has worse mpg than the corolla. People got compensation for getting a vehicle with lower fuel efficiency.

Many people own SUVs also. So there's a bit of hypocrisy with people wanting cheaper gas, but not willing to give up their gas guzzlers.

Prop 87 was also defeated in the election earlier this month. It would tax the oil companies and use the money to find alternative energy sources. The oil companies spent a lot on advertising to convince people that it would only raise gas prices. Part of the legislation is that gas companies are banned from increasing gas prices as a direct result from this. They'll probably find some way to raise it anyway, but now they also have to pay for the advertising money.

People vote for their pocketbook in the immediate future, not thinking about the greater effect or the feasibility. So we want to make a standard that only 5% of our vehicles currently pass to make things more efficient, but we won't try to look for alternative energy sources because it might make us pay a bit more until we do find it?

So we want the challenge of making cars more efficient rather than the fuel less expensive. And 40 mpg is ridiculously high with the cars currently available. It takes trucks and large vehicles pretty much off the road.

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Freedom of Flag

Monday, November 20, 2006 | 9:24:09 PM
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A town in Nevada bans the flying of foreign flags unless an American flag is shown above it.

And yet we can legally burn American flags?

I'm all for patriotism, but I think this is a little far. I mean, how is it destructive that some foreign flag is displayed as opposed to our banner? It's just helping the people connect with their culture. And anyway, the first amendment protects this sort of symbolic speech. It's not harming anyone.

Why did this law even get passed? If anyone takes it to the Supreme Court, it's going to get completely trampled. I mean, the flag burning amendment still has yet to make it past both houses (and I doubt it would get the required number of states if it did pass the Senate). Some sort of law like this would either be passed just so it could set a precedent in the Supreme Court or because the legislators aren't that up-to-date on our Constitution.

This law was made to fight the Mexican flags that have been popping up around town. Well, there's a difference between Mexico and immigration. Sure, a lot of illegal immigrants come from Mexico, but not all Mexican immigrants are illegal. I'm against illegal immigration, but not immigrants.

You're a grand old flag, but you're not the only one in the world.

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