Mattfedder.com - Post Feed Latest posts on Matthew Fedder's Website https://mattfedder.com/blog/rss/blogPosts Sun, 12 Oct 2008 16:39:00 -0700 Sun, 12 Oct 2008 16:39:00 -0700 <link>http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/253</link> <guid>253</guid> <pubDate>Wed, 24 Apr 2019 17:36:51 -0700</pubDate> <comments>http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/253</comments> <description><style> #tile_20190424 a { display: inline-block; width: 33.3%; } #tile_20190424 p { width: 100%; } #tile_20190424 img { width: 100%; border-radius: 0; } </style> <div id="tile_20190424"> <p>A couple weeks ago, I heard some squacking noise, and went into the back yard to hear what it was, and saw this hawk fly from a jacoranda in our backyard to into a Eucalyptus tree across the canyon. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4832.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4832.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4834.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4834.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4835.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4835.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4836.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4836.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4837.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4837.jpg"></a> <p>Looked down around my feet and saw this allegator lizard trying to blend in. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4839.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4839.jpg"></a> <p>Spent some more time hanging around the back yard waiting for the hawk to come back. I mostly ended up just taking pictures of hummingbirds... <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4840.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4840.jpg"></a> <p>... though I did get one more flyby, of a different hawk. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4847.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4847.jpg"></a> <p>And then back to the humming biards, with a house finch and a Gulf Frittilary butterfly thrown in. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4850.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4850.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4851.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4851.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4855.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4855.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4858.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4858.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4859.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4859.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4862.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4862.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4863.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4863.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_4864.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_4864.jpg"></a> <p>Skip ahead to today, when as I was heading out, I saw this Red Shouldered hawk perched on a branch about 10 feet from the house. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5459.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5459.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5460.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5460.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5462.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5462.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5464.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5464.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5465.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5465.jpg"></a> <p>Later in the backyard, I again heard hawk-squacks. After looking around the trees, I spotted it on a fence about 100 feet away in the bottom of the canyon. And it looks like it was just finishing up a meal! Being in a canyon near dusk, the light is low, so the image is noisy. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5470.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5470.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5472.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5472.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5473.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5473.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5474.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5474.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5476.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5476.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5480.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5480.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5482.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5482.jpg"></a> <p>A hooded oriole returns to the palm tree where it nests. <p> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5486.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5486.jpg"> <a href="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/IMG_5490.jpg"><img src="//images.mattfedder.com/images/backyard-birds-2019-04/small/IMG_5490.jpg"></a> </div> </description> <author>Matthew Fedder</author> </item> <item> <title>Hummingbird http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/250 250 Sun, 10 Feb 2019 21:14:19 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/250 It is convenient that hummingbirds like to perch on exposed branches - it makes photographing them so much easier! <style> #tile_20190210 img { width: 33%; height: 33%; border-radius: 0; } </style> <div id="tile_20190210"> <a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-1.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-1.jpg" alt="Hummingbird Preening"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-2.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-2.jpg" alt="Hummingbird craning its neck away"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-3.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-3.jpg" alt="Hummingbird looking stage-left showing off its irridescent feathers"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-4.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-4.jpg" alt="looking the other way"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-5.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-5.jpg" alt="With beak slightly open"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-6.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-6.jpg" alt="With fireplant in background"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-7.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-7.jpg" alt="fluttering its wings"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-8.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-8.jpg" alt="two hummingbirds fight"></a ><a href="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-9.jpg"><img src="/img/hummingbird-20190210/hb-sm-9.jpg" alt="Glowing in the sun"></a> </div> Matthew Fedder Bokuh-villia http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/249 249 Sat, 03 Nov 2018 11:33:40 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/249 Took this while visiting my dad back in August. The background bougainvillia and foreground honeysuckle have been there since before we moved in about 30 years ago. [![Diffuse light from a bougainvillea behind three backlight honeysuckle flowers](/img/honeyvillia.thumb.jpg)](/img/honeyvillia.jpg) Matthew Fedder Backyard practice shots http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/248 248 Sun, 05 Aug 2018 13:06:46 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/248 A couple practice shots from the backyard taken with the new camera: [![An ant drinks nectar from a tropical milkweed](/img/ant-2018-08-05.small.jpg)](/img/ant-2018-08-05.jpg) I know that's not the best crop but the ant in the top-left corner looked so derpy I had to keep it in. [![Two Jonny Jump-Ups](/img/Jump-up-2018-08-05.small.jpg)](/img/Jump-up-2018-08-05.jpg) Matthew Fedder Aphids http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/247 247 Tue, 31 Jul 2018 22:25:32 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/247 In the backyard I have a fairly large stand of milkweeds. Unfortunately, they attract a lot of aphids, far more aphids than the monarchs they are supposed to attract. [![Aphids crowd the seedpod of a tropical milkweed](/img/Aphids.small.jpg)](/img/Aphids.jpg) Matthew Fedder Flat Tire http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/242 242 Tue, 24 Jan 2017 21:50:14 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/242 On the way home from work, a slow leak turned into a fast leak - turns out a leak formed around where the stem adheres to the tube, which is not a very repairable leak. I suppose I got my money's worth from this tube, though. There are four patches on this tube, can you spot them all? <a href="/img/patched_tube.jpg"><img src="/img/patched_tube.sm.jpg" alt="Photo of bicycle tube on washing machine, showing its four patches"/></a> Matthew Fedder Minimum Votes to Win the Electoral College http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/234 234 Sat, 12 Nov 2016 13:38:29 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/234 With a Republican once again winning the electoral college despite losing the popular vote, I was wondering, what, mathematically, is the fewest number of ballots needed to win the electoral college? My first approach was to rank the states in order of votes per electoral vote, and assign the states with the fewest ballots per EV to one candidate until that candidate has enough electoral votes to win. I found an interesting source of data in the United States Elections Project: They have already tallied in one spreadsheet not just the population of each state or the number of registered voters, but the projected actual number of ballots counted, including outstanding provisional / mail-in ballots. Since the goal is to compare electoral votes to popular vote outcomes, the number of votes cast by state seems the most relevant data to answer the original question. So, I used their [estimated 2016 November General Election Turnout](http://www.electproject.org/2016g) data, retrieved the morning of November 12th. I put those in a spreadsheet which contains the number of electoral votes by state, added a calcualted column Ballots per EV = Ballots / Electoral Votes, sorted by Ballots per EV in ascending order, and marked the first 32 states as belonging to the electoral vote winner. In the winner's states (marked as Republican [red] in the map below), I assigned the winner 50.01% of the vote, and the loser the remainder. In the rest of the states, I assigned the winner 0% of the vote, and the loser 100% of the vote. This of course is an impossible outcome in real life, but this is math, not real life! This resulted in 30 million votes going to the electoral college winner out of 133 million votes cast: The winner won with only 22.5% of the votes. ![Map of states assigned to winner by Knapsack method](/img/vote-min-greedy.png) *Maps generated at [270 To Win](http://www.270towin.com).* Given that the intent is to produce the most electoral votes from the fewest total votes, I found it interesting that this scenario included in the winner's column many larger states that are typically thought of as underrepresented, including 3 of the 5 most populous states: California, Texas, and New York. But that intuition is based on a measure of population per electoral vote. The many factors that prevent residents from becoming voters - citizenship status, age, and voter enthusiasm to bother voting - reduce the total number of ballots cast in these states by more than most, and moved the voters in these states to in fact be slightly over-represented in the critical metric of ballots per electoral vote. I imagine enthusiasm is significantly driven by partisan makeup of the state. Florida, a swing state, gives voters far more reason to believe their vote might tip the national election, and has far more political operatives dragging voters to the polls. But I also noticed that this solution produced a winner wih 284 electoral votes - a non-trivial amount more than the fewest electoral votes required to win. That New York was [the tipping point state](http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2016/Pres/tipping_point.html) demonstrated that it might be necessary to un-select one state before adding the next state. I wanted to know if we could do better. This seemed like a textbook case where the optimal solution needs to be found from among all possible ways to reach the current state, not just the most obvious one. So I whipped up a [knapsack-style dynamic programming](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapsack_problem#Dynamic_programming_in-advance_algorithm) solution. For each number of electoral votes, it computers from each fewer number of electoral votes (including zero) which state, if any, can most efficiently reach the curent number of electoral votes. That is: For EV_count in 1 to 538 Mark ev_count as having no solution For subproblem in 0 to EV_count - 1 ev_gap = EV_count - subproblem possible_states = states with ev_gap votes not in solution(subproblem) best_state = state in possible_states with fewest ballots per electoral vote If ballots(solution(subproblem) + best_state) < ballots(solution(ev_count)) let solution(ev_count) = solution(subproblem) + best_state Again assigning 50.01% of the winner's states' votes to the winner, and 100% of the loser's states' vote to the loser, the solution this found required about 2.5 million votes fewer to win: 27.5 million out of 133 million cast, or 20.7% of the total ballots cast. It did this by substituting the 22 electoral votes of Arizona and Indiana with Louisiana's 8 electoral votes, creating a solution with exactly 270 electoral votes. While an impossible scenario in any political reality (let alone the one we exist in), it is impressive just how unrepresentative of public preference the electoral college could get. ![Map of states assigned to winner by Knapsack method](/img/vote-min-knapsack.png) *Map generated at [270 To Win](http://www.270towin.com).* Is it inevitable that the best winning solution would have exactly 270 votes? Perhaps not. I also printed out the minimum ballots to reach every other electoral vote total, and there were in fact three non-trivial such totals that required fewer ballots than the optimal solution for one fewer electoral vote (at 489, 498, and 508 electoral votes). For this exercise, I broke out the states who assign electoral votes based on congressional district into separate "states" for the at-large and congressional-district based electoral votes by dividing the at-large ballots in half and assigning the other half of those ballots to the congressional-district based 'states' proportionally to the number of votes cast in those districts. I did not attempt to prevent any 'silly' cases such as an at-large winner who did not win any congressional districts, but fortunately the optimal solution did not require me to do so. A list of the states assigned to the winner: * Alabama * Alaska * Arkansas * California * Connecticut * Delaware * District of Columbia * Hawaii * Idaho * Kansas * Kentucky * Louisiana * Maine (At-Large and Congressional District-based) * Mississippi * Montana * Nebraska (At-Large and Congressional District-based) * Nevada * New Hampshire * New Mexico * New York * North Dakota * Oklahoma * Rhode Island * South Carolina * South Dakota * Tennessee * Texas * Utah * Vermont * West Virginia * Wyoming Resources: * [evpack.pl](/resources/evpack/evpack.pl), a knapsack implementation of the problem in Perl. No, it's not especially elegant code. * [states.txt](/resources/evpack/states.txt), state data I used, in tab-delimited format * [MinVote.numbers](/resources/evpack/MinVote.numbers), a spreadsheet used for the first pass, with vote assignments modified for the results of the second pass. Matthew Fedder First Violet http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/233 233 Fri, 18 Mar 2016 08:54:41 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/233 Alongside the California Poppies planted by a roommate last year, this year I planted the seeds from some <i>Viola tricolor</i>s (a member of the Violet family) and some Shirley Poppies. The first flower appeared today, and although it is tiny, about the size of a quarter, it is pretty. <a href="/img/FirstViolet.jpg"><img src="/img/FirstViolet_sm.jpg" alt="Picture of first violet" style="max-width: 100%"/></a> Matthew Fedder Another three men on a boat quote http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/232 232 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:03:00 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/232 <blockquote>There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line.  You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.</blockquote> <p>Just another installment of "some things never change": How many jokes in sitcoms have emerged from this phenomenon observed with earbud cords, now that everyone carries them around to use with their cellphones?</p> Matthew Fedder Antiques http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/231 231 Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:45:58 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/231 <p>From <strong>Three Men in a Boat</strong>, a novel written in 1888 and taking place in London: <blockquote>... [T]hey must have had very fair notions of the artistic and the beautiful, our great-great-grandfathers. Why, all our art treasures of to-day are only the dug-up commonplaces of three or four hundred years ago. I wonder if there is real intrinsic beauty in the old soup-plates, beer-mugs, and candle-snuffers that we prize so now, or if it is only the halo of age glowing around them that gives them their charms in our eyes. The "old blue" that we hang about our walls as ornaments were the common every-day household utensils of a few centuries ago; and the pink shepherds and the yellow shepherdesses that we hand round now for all our friends to gush over, and pretend they understand, were the unvalued mantel-ornaments that the mother of the eighteenth century would have given the baby to suck when he cried. <br /> Will it be the same in the future? Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before? <strong>Will rows of our willow-pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd?</strong> Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?</blockquote> <p>That certainly sounds like a timeless-enough musing. Here we are, "in the years 2000 and odd", and most anything Victorian-era that has survived to today is now an antique. But the narrator delves into his reasoning, and quickly finds himself (as he so often does) at odds with reality: </p> <blockquote>That china dog that ornaments the bedroom of my furnished lodgings. It is a white dog. Its eyes blue. Its nose is a delicate red, with spots. Its head is painfully erect, its expression is amiability carried to verge of imbecility. I do not admire it myself. Considered as a work of art, I may say it irritates me. Thoughtless friends jeer at it, and even my landlady herself has no admiration for it, and excuses its presence by the circumstance that her aunt gave it to her. But in 200 years' time it is more than probable that that dog will be dug up from somewhere or other, minus its legs, and with its tail broken, and will be sold for old china, and put in a glass cabinet. And people will pass it round, and admire it. They will be struck by the wonderful depth of the colour on the nose, and speculate as to how beautiful the bit of the tail that is lost no doubt was. We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog. We are too familiar with it. It is like the sunset and the stars: we are not awed by their loveliness because they are common to our eyes. So it is with that china dog. In 2288 people will gush over it. The making of such dogs will have become a lost art. Our descendants will wonder how we did it, and say how clever we were. We shall be referred to lovingly as "those grand old artists that flourished in the nineteenth century, and produced those china dogs." The "sampler" that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as "tapestry of the Victorian era," and be almost priceless. The blue-and-white mugs of the present-day roadside inn will be hunted up, all cracked and chipped, and sold for their weight in gold, and rich people will use them for claret cups; and travellers from Japan will buy up all the "Presents from Ramsgate," and "Souvenirs of Margate," that may have escaped destruction, and take them back to Jedo as ancient English curios. </blockquote> <p>Some things he gets right: "We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog. We are too familiar with it" recognizes that something cannot be valuable unless it is rare, which is pretty much necessary for anything old to be considered value.</p> <p>But it is not sufficient. The many relics of recently bygone eras that are in less than perfect condition are worthless, unless they are an example of something extremely rare or amazing. Here the narrator fancies that, rather than being at the forefront of an era of ever-improving manufacturing and artistic technique, he is at such a pinnacle that his despised trinkets will be future marvels, regardless of condition or skill. </p> <p>Given the tongue-in-cheek buffonery of his character's actions, I would guess that rather than believing the latter, the author actually disbelieved that his era's manufactured goods would ever be of value. And in that I can sympathize: What of today's mass-produced plastic goods will survive the test of time to be treasured in the future? Perhaps it's the very destructible, disposable nature of today's goods that guarantees that what <em>does</em> survive 100 or 200 years will be rare and treasured.</p> Matthew Fedder Matilija Poppy http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/229 229 Sat, 07 Sep 2013 19:13:27 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/229 Thought I'd at least put something on the front page to push that bike crash cut below the fold. So here's a picture of a Matilija Poppy, from the <a href="http://mattfedder.com/cgi-bin/photos.cgi?library=TijuanaRiverSlough">Tijuana Slough</a> <img src="http://mattfedder.com/Photographs/TijuanaRiverSlough/IMG_3148.BROWSE.JPG" alt="Matilija Poppy" style="width: 100%;" /> Matthew Fedder Spontaneous Adjustment http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/228 228 Wed, 18 Jul 2012 23:59:57 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/228 In the grand tradition of my dad's blogs, I will heretofore document my bicycling injuries. I've been pretty lucky, all in all. I can't recall so much as a scrape that I've received since some idiot in La Mesa driving a Green Mustang ran me over. (OK, he only actually ran over my wheel. It still wasn't fun.) In fact, I think that means that my previous bike - the Raleign SC-30 - has so far lived its entire life without an accident. The new bike - which I have so far had less than a month - can no longer claim the same. Because of my particular measurements and riding preferences, I purchased an <a href="http://www.jensonusa.com/Stems/Kalloy-Road-Adjustable-Rise-Stem">adjustable stem</a>. Before leaving work, I made some adjustments to it (raising it higher). Unfortunately, I did not torque it adequately. As I was comming to a stop at the stop sign in front of the information booth at the north entrance to UC San Diego, it decided that my adjustment was incorrect and in fact should be ALL THE WAY DOWN. The result was a fairly minor fall, all in all. Two scrapes, a couple of bruises, and a chomp from my pedal. <a href="http://mattfedder.com/cgi-bin/photos.cgi?mode=browse&panel=3&speed=7&library=SpontaneousAdjustment&preload=0"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/Photographs/SpontaneousAdjustment//IMG_1530.INDEX.JPG"> - Left Knee</a> <a href="http://mattfedder.com/cgi-bin/photos.cgi?mode=browse&panel=4&speed=7&library=SpontaneousAdjustment&preload=0"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/Photographs/SpontaneousAdjustment//IMG_1531.INDEX.JPG"> - Right Knee</a> <a href="http://mattfedder.com/cgi-bin/photos.cgi?mode=browse&panel=2&speed=7&library=SpontaneousAdjustment&preload=0"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/Photographs/SpontaneousAdjustment//IMG_1529.INDEX.JPG"> - Pedal in left Achilles</a> Blood connects most immediately with other humans, but the worst of has been the bloodless bruises. My steering column had an intimate date with my chest, resulting in invisible bruises that leave me groaning every time I attempt to adjust my torso. And a huge bruise around my left knee is silent until I try to do any of the everyday tasks - tying my shoes, picking up my cat, or just resting it against the car door - that I take for granted. All in all I count myself lucky. Beyond the inconveniences, so many I know have suffered so much worse. It makes me wonder if I'm just a wimp w.r.t. injury. And to put it in perspective: Not far past the fateful stopsign are a pair of long, steep descents. If the stem had collapsed on one of those, at 30-40MPH instead of nearly zero, I can only imagine that I could have wound up <a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/14/teachers-death-is-5th-bicycle-fatality-this-month/">#6</a>. Instead, I instantly got up and pulled the bike off the road, hopped around for a few moments dumbstruck, and sat down for a few minutes. Knowing how much it hurt on the inside, it felt incongruous to watch everything continuing on as normal around me. Cars stopping and continuing on, kids playing on the grass across the street with their parents, bicyclists completely unquestioning of the akimbo angle of my handlebars and oozing blood. After that, fueled by adrenaline, I just tightened my handlebars and continued on home. In light of how my ribs have hurt for the next few days, and the massive bruise on my left knee, I'm rather astounded at how <i>normal</i> the ride was after that. At least I got a nice sunset out of the ride: <a href="http://mattfedder.com/cgi-bin/photos.cgi?mode=browse&panel=1&speed=7&library=SpontaneousAdjustment&preload=0"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/Photographs/SpontaneousAdjustment//IMG_1527.BROWSE.JPG" width="600"></a> Matthew Fedder Union Tribune pricing http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/227 227 Sun, 15 Jul 2012 14:28:33 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/227 The San Diego Union Tribune recently implemented a paywall: One can only view a limited number of articles before being redirected to a Subscription Offers page. OK, fine, I get that the UT is bleeding, and that Doug Manchester didn't purchase the paper <i>solely</i> to advocate his political views. But <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/13/156737801/the-cost-of-free-doughnuts-70-years-of-regret">you never win fans by charging for something you used to give away freely.</a> What I find interesting, though, is the pricing structure. An "unlimited digital-only" subscription costs $3.50 per week. A Sunday-only paper delivery, which includes the same "unlimited digital-only" subscription, also costs $3.50 per week. There are a number of ways of viewing this. The one I choose to take is that the UT recognizes that their content is the only thing they have of value. The Sunday paper only just pays for itself with revenue from advertising/coupons, hence it can be given away for free once you have chosen to pay for the content - it makes no difference to them either way. And the paper delivery of the rest of the week is the albatross on their neck, just costing them extra money, so you're going to have to pay up if you want that delivered. It is at the same time mind-boggling to admit that their primary purpose for being, their namesake (the "news paper") is worthless. But in an era where so many papers have gone under for refusing to admit that fact, perhaps it is an admirable admission. Matthew Fedder Warm days, cool nights http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/226 226 Mon, 25 Jun 2012 00:25:42 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/226 We're finally reaching the time of the year that cool evenings are a treat, rather than a punishment. Note that sometime around November, I'll be noting that the feel of direct sun in the warm afternoons are a treat, rather than a punishment. Matthew Fedder Mr. Beer #2 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/225 225 Sat, 05 May 2012 00:53:41 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/225 Mr. Beer #2 is in the fermenter. This time it is the <a href="http://www.mrbeer.com/product-exec/product_id/102/nm/Witty_Monk_Witbier">Witty Monk Witbier</a> recipe. Of course, I could not resist adding some additional sugar: A cup of white and a cup of brown. Now I have this to help with my brewing: <img src="http://mattfedder.com/Photographs/Device//2003-186-190200-DSCF0025.BROWSE.JPG" width="400"> I'll use that to measure the gravity over time. This contributes a) a better understanding of the pace and completeness of fermentation, and b) an ability to calculate the actual alcohol content of the final product. As an example, here is the first measurement: <a href="/img/mrbeer2brix.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="/img/mrbeer2brix_inset.jpg" alt="Brix refractometer showing a line at 12.8 degrees brix" /></a> <table> <caption>Specific Gravity of Mr. Beer #2, in Plato units</caption> <thead> <tr><th scope="col">Date</th><th scope="col">Brix (&deg;Bx)</th><th scope="col">Temp (&deg;F)</th><th scope="col">Plato Units (&deg;P)</th><th scope="col">Specific Gravity</th><th scope="col">ABV (%)</th></tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr><th scope="row">5/4/2012 11:00 PM</th><td>13.0</td><td>76</td><td>12.5</td><td>1.050</td><td>0</td></tr> <tr><th scope="row">5/6/2012 11:42 AM</th><td>11.4</td><td>73</td><td>10.05</td><td>1.040</td><td>1.41</td></tr> <tr><th scope="row">5/7/2012 11:27 PM</th><td>7.8</td><td>71</td><td>4.37</td><td>1.017</td><td>4.48</td></tr> <tr><th scope="row">5/8/2012 7:01 PM</th><td>7.1</td><td>71</td><td>3.27</td><td>1.013</td><td>5.05</td></tr> <tr><th scope="row">5/9/2012 8:30 PM</th><td>7.0</td><td>73</td><td>3.11</td><td>1.011</td><td>5.13</td></tr> </tbody> </table> Expected post-fermentation ABV (via recipe): 6.6% Expected post-carbination ABV: 7% Since the last listed measurement, the refraction index has stayed at 7&degBx (as of 5/13, but unlikely to change). So I supposed it'll just get to sit there a bit while the yeast clean up any outlying acetaldehyde and what not. Matthew Fedder Mr. Beer mentioned on Fark http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/224 224 Fri, 23 Mar 2012 10:53:04 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/224 In a comment on Fark, a user mentioned: <p style="border: 1px solid #8a8; padding: 5px; background-color: #cfc; border-radius: 10px;">"Homebrew can be Awesome - if you did Mr. Beer or one of those cheapo no boil kits with sugar - then you might have a hard time making decent brew."</p> WE'LL SEE! From the pre-bottling tasting, it's a bit cidery (as the Mr. Beer manual warned), and the hop/malt flavor is a bit thin. But I'm sure it'll still be OK! Matthew Fedder Mr. Beer #1 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/221 221 Sun, 04 Mar 2012 01:41:47 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/221 Mr. Beer #1 is in the fermenter! For anyone who hasn't heard of it (I wasn't THAT familiar with it beforehand), Mr. Beer is a basic home-brewing kit. It comes with a barrel-shaped 'fermenter' with a spigot attacked, and their revenue model seems to be focused on selling a wide variety of reasonably priced (but not cheap) "malt extracts" that save you the trouble (and, from what I hear, 64000-btu-necessary) process of making wort from your malt and hops. And I received just such a kit for a birthday present! You know who you are, thanks! :-D The kit starts with a mysterious "sanitizing" powder, which you are instructed to use to sanitize the inside of the fermenter, a bottle opener, a measuring cup, and a spoon. Although the package has some safety warnings (and it contains 'carbonates'), they call it a no-rinse sanitizer, meaning you are to leave it inside the very fermenter that will hold the brewing beer. It occurs to me that a) the measuring cup will only come in contact with ingredients that will later be boiled, and b) they do NOT suggest sanitizing the top of the Malt Extract cans, which contact the malt extract, and <strong>will</strong> be added after boiling (albeit only shortly). So, onto beer #1: Ingredients: 8.5 quarts Target 'purified water' 1 can Hopped Malt Extract, <a href="http://www.mrbeer.com/product-exec/product_id/7/nm/West_Coast_Pale_Ale">West Coast Pale Ale</a> style 1 package 'Booster' And my variation from the recipe: 1 cup brown sugar I mention boiling but not <strong>what</strong> I boil: They instruct you to boil 1 quart of water with the 'Booster' pack - a pack labeled only 'Corn Solids', and which is accompanied by warnings that you should pour very slowly to avoid 'clumping'. Boy are they not kidding! It must be corn starch - which clumps worse at higher temperatures. I ignored instructions and stirred it into pretty warm water, and had to add more water to bring down the temperature and reduce clumping. Their handy little chart suggests how much each sugar source will increase the alcohol-by-volume of the results of a batch of beer: Each can of Hopped (or unhopped) Malt Extract will contribute 2.3%; the Booster pack, 1.4%; and the cup of sugar, 1%. So, by their predictions, the result will be 4.7% ABV. I was going to add 2 cups of sugar to give it a healthy 5.7%ABV, but they also warn that "2/3rds of the ABV should come from malts, to avoid a cidery flavor." OK, well I'm over that limit, so hopefully it won't be too bad! They suggest 7-14 days for fermenting, and 7-14 days for bottling. So, that means I should be putting it in bottles around St. Patrick's Day, and emptying the bottles starting in April. Let's hope it goes well! Matthew Fedder Vista Sleep http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/219 219 Tue, 18 Nov 2008 14:31:24 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/219 The delay between when I hit a key to wake up my PC at work, and when hitting another key to bring up the screen, is long enough that I get distracted by something else. I realize my error when the computer goes back to sleep, the screen having never turned on. Matthew Fedder Google must be reading my blog http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/218 218 Mon, 17 Nov 2008 21:26:23 -0800 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/218 They now have the best maps of Argentina -- street level maps! W00t Matthew Fedder Why I'm voting Yes on Proposition 1A http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/215 215 Sat, 25 Oct 2008 22:18:20 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/215 Proposition 1A will allow California to build a bullet train between San Diego and San Francisco/Sacramento. This project is the best option to fulfill California's growing transportation needs for the next 50 years. You see, in California, we have a problem: Over the next 22 years, the population is expected to grow 50%; by 2050, our population will nearly double to 60 million. Yet even today, our transportation infrastructure is quickly reaching its limits. Both our intracity highways and airports operate near capacity. Nowhere is this more striking than in San Diego, where our airport will within a year will be operating at 92% of clear-weather capacity, with replacements predicted to cost over $10 billion. In the year 2000, 600 million trips longer than 100 miles were made along the high speed rail corridor. By 2030, that number is expected to grow by 2/3rds to 900 million. While some of that can be absorbed into the existing infrastructure's capacity, we clearly must also work to increase it, or risk constraining our economy. High speed rail can play a huge part in this for many reasons: <strong>Developed Technology</strong>: The technology behind high speed rail was developed 40 years ago, when Japan opened its first bullet train. It has been refined and implemented in country after country: France, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy. There are no theoretical challenges to overcome -- we know how to build it; we just have to do it. <strong>Low construction costs</strong>: Since we're using developed technology, relatively little engineering need be taken on. So, the train can be constructed for half the cost of equivalent highway capacity. <strong>Low operation costs</strong>: Ridership would only have to be 1/3rd of the predicted numbers for the project to be self-sufficient, meaning the state will have broad leeway to lower fares, pay the project's principle, or buy out our public partners. Every high speed project in the world is profitable, and recent projects in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Italy all became profitable within a decade of opening. <strong>Oil Independence</strong>: Despite the current respite from expensive oil, the long term costs of driving long distances look grim. As we speak, OPEC nations are gathering to cut production to ensure that prices don't stay below $100 per barrel long term -- and this means our "low gas prices" are as fragile as a house of cards. As a result, train ridership projections estimate that 90% of passengers will come from automobiles. The bullet is electric, and can be powered by locally-harvested solar power -- or whatever form of electricity is least expensive at the time. Even if that option turns out to be oil, the train requires 1/4th of the oil per passenger as driving, and 1/3rd as much as flying. So as we enter an age when $100 oil will be but a pleasant memory, rail transportation will ensure that we aren't held over a barrel by high energy prices. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun) Speaking of oil: <strong>Environment</strong>: Air quality is a major problem in California. The high speed train will save tens of millions of cross-state car and plane trips a year, potentially replacing oil consumption with solar, nuclear, wind -- really, any kind of power that proves to be feasible. <strong>Geography</strong>: California is perfectly suited to a high speed train. With two large population clusters separated by 400 miles, our population is spread out just enough that it is grossly inconvenient to drive from one end to the other, yet close enough that the hassles and delays of airport travel make flying inconvenient relative to the time spent in the air. A train from LA to SF should only take 15 minutes longer than flying when you include door-to-door times. <strong>Convenience</strong>: Ever driven from San Diego to San Francisco, Sacramento, or Monterey? I have, probably 7 or 8 times (enough that I've lost count). The biggest problem: Los Angeles is in the way. My options are to either add an hour and a half of travel time and try to drive through after rush hour arriving at my destination when the day's already over, or leave at 3:30 AM to get past LA before traffic hits. The high speed train will be entirely grade-separated, so a trip to San Francisco will take the same time no matter what time I leave. Plus, you don't need a gallon of caffeinated beverage to stay awake through the trip. <strong>Comfort!</strong> Because space is not an issue, trains can offer passengers comfortable spaces -- Leg room, elbow room, reclining chairs, room to stand up and walk around, or sleep comfortably. Travel becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. So, pay no attention to the "Reason Foundation" (a think-tank funded by oil lobbyists), or the "California Rail Foundation" (three guys who formed an 'organization' to sound official). Pay attention to the numbers, which show how quickly this project will pay for itself. Pay attention to the economy, which would otherwise grind to a halt costing Californians billions of dollars a year. Pay attention to your wallet, and how much you stand to save compared to flying or driving. Pay attention to your city's wallet, as they won't have to pay for highway and airport projects. Matthew Fedder Election http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/213 213 Fri, 17 Oct 2008 22:33:03 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/213 I suppose it's good the election is held just as Winter is coming to bear; it puts voters in a more somber and contemplative frame of mind. Matthew Fedder Insanity on the I-15 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/212 212 Sun, 12 Oct 2008 21:25:30 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/212 Most people would say that talking doesn't distract them from driving. What about if you're deaf? I saw a woman driving up the I-15 in a rented Aveo with the inside light on. That always stands out after dark... so I figured, "they're probably from out of town, maybe they're reading a map?" It turns out the light was necessary because they were carrying on a conversation in sign language. The driver was actually signing with both of her hands. I didn't peer in long enough to check if she was holding the wheel with her knees or just letting the car choose its own path. Also, it's not unusual to see a vehicle make a sudden move across two lanes. How often do you see a gasoline delivery truck doing that? It's the first time I have, at least. Since it was driving away from the gasoline depot, it's not outside the realm of possibility that it was completely full. Matthew Fedder Mira Mesa Bumps http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/211 211 Sun, 12 Oct 2008 16:59:19 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/211 Mira Mesa's not a bad place to live, but getting anywhere sucks. There are only a few main thoroughfares to serve tens of thousands of people, and all the freeways are a long ways away. Those who get sick of the lights might be tempted to meander through the side streets, but our fabulous citizens have solved that problem: all the side streets people might be tempted to use to circumvent the arterials have been defended with speed bumps. Well, I wanted to get over to Jack in the Box for an Extreme Sausage Sandwich in a minimum of time. In true fashion for an over-thinker, I spent half an hour scouring Google Maps (satellite view) for streets with bumps, and marking them in a custom map overlay (the redlines, below). I then found a fairly easy route I can take avoiding these annoying barriers (the green line). Voilá! <iframe width="400" height="350" frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;s=AARTsJrHkhHBC3ec5DJHz1b46zPjVmQkRQ&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=118152581627643326034.000459135426da10c9cf3&amp;ll=32.923474,-117.135801&amp;spn=0.025216,0.034332&amp;z=14&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=118152581627643326034.000459135426da10c9cf3&amp;ll=32.923474,-117.135801&amp;spn=0.025216,0.034332&amp;z=14&amp;source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small> It involves a lot of turns, but only 3 lights and 3 stopsigns, as opposed to 9 stoplights and one sign if you go down Mira Mesa Blvd. Matthew Fedder Polls http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/210 210 Sun, 12 Oct 2008 16:52:05 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/210 Anticipation is high for November's election, and it's my turn to play Talking Head. Like any reporter in the traditional media, I will tell you that the election is tight (after all, I don't want you to get bored -- I need ratings!), and could go either way, depending on October Surprises, the turnout, voter excitement, the Bradley effect, the anti-Bradley effect, the economy, the stock market, and the candidates' ground games. About the best case McCain can hope for, if everything goes his way: <a href="http://mattfedder.com/img/BestCase_McCain.png"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/img/BestCase_McCain.sm.png"></a> And likewise, the best Obama can hope for: <a href="http://mattfedder.com/img/BestCase_Obama.png"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/img/BestCase_Obama.sm.png"></a> The maps were made on RealClearPolitics, a site run by republicans and largely highlighting anti-Obama news stories (from sites like the National Review). They assemble all the various polls into composite scores. There has been some question about the neutrality of the polls they select to include in their composite, but overall it's pretty good. Not nearly as cool as <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com">Five Thirty-Eight</a>, but then 538 doesn't have a tool where you can select who you think will win a particular state. Matthew Fedder Disappointing BIke Ride http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/209 209 Sun, 12 Oct 2008 16:39:00 -0700 http://mattfedder.com/blog/post/209 I finally hopped on the bike for the first time in months (apart from biking to work from my parking spot). Well, my chain's been slipping a lot lately, no matter how I adjust the position of the chain; I'll have to inspect it for damage on either the sprocket or stretching of the chain. When you weight twice as much as <a href="http://www.fatcyclist.com/about-fatty/">other bicyclers who consider themselves fat</a>, you tend to put more strain on your components. Anyhow, between the slipping chain, the winds (15MPH WNW, gusting to 23MPH), and not using bike shorts (in my mind I thought it was about half as far away), it was a pretty uncomfortable ride on an otherwise absolutely beautiful day. So where was I going, you ask? I was riding from my home to The Map Centre, in Kearny Mesa (Clairemont Mesa Blvd), hoping to find some good maps of Argentina for when Tina and I visit this December -- specifically, hoping to find a map for what will likely be our base of operations in Mendoza: <iframe width="300" height="300" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=mendoza,+argentina&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=h&amp;s=AARTsJrj9Lux3Ya6djaJcC55utsLAmCjhw&amp;ll=-31.353637,-63.193359&amp;spn=22.425327,26.367188&amp;z=4&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=mendoza,+argentina&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=h&amp;ll=-31.353637,-63.193359&amp;spn=22.425327,26.367188&amp;z=4&amp;source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small> Decent mapping data is hard to come by for Argentina. Of the four big-time mapping websites: <ol> <li>Only Mapquest has street-level data for Mendoza</li> <li>Google Maps doesn't even show the highways in Argentina; compare to their coverage of Chile</li> <li>Alas, despite being Argentina's 3rd largest city, Mendoza doesn't show on Mapquest at all until you zoom down to at least "Regional" level. </li> <li>Despite having better streets of the area, everyone except Google Maps still sucks, so that's what I embedded above</li> </ol> Well anyhow, when I get there, I find this note on the door: <a href="http://mattfedder.com/img/PICT5597.JPG"><img src="http://mattfedder.com/img/PICT5597.sm.jpg" border="0" /></a> What a bummer. It's so sad to see such an iconic business die -- it makes me wish I'd bought more of the maps I'd always wanted. Well at least I was able to get a country-level map from Barnes and Noble. Matthew Fedder