Print Story Strawberry explosions, detached soles and other miscellanea
By lm (Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:16:54 PM EST) (all tags)
On the history channel, the closed captioning is about 500 hp wenches used to move barges over dry land.

But that is neither here nor there.

On the morning and evening commute, I've been slowly working my way through Muhsin Mahdi's excellent translation of Farabi's 3 part work The Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. This is the book that I hope will form the backbone of my MA thesis. Farabi's actual treatment of democracy occurs elsewhere in works like The Perfect State, The Citizens of the Virtuous City and The Political Regime. But the theory of knowledge that underlies his critique appears in its fullest form in The Attainment of Happiness which is part I of The Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle.

My argument isn't all that complex. The perfect city is unattainable. Therefore, the question arises what of what the best possible regime in actuality might be. But those things we can be absolutely certain of through necessary demonstration are immaterial as matter, among other things, makes what is universal particular, what is unchanging changing and what is necessary contingent. Therefore, we can never be certain that a particular regime is the best regime. All we can look for is the regime whose laws come closest to being universal, unchanging and necessary. In such a condition, Heraclitus' maxim that ``all is flux'' looks like a good candidate. Democracy, more so than any regime, embodies that maxim.

That's not really a very rigorous presentation of what I want to do my thesis on. In fact, it's only half the argument at best. But I find it to be a fascinating topic.

:: :: :: :: :: ::

The whole family trundled out to the thrift store. We spent too much money but came away with quite a haul. My bit consisted of three pairs of slacks, two shirts, two ties, a sports coat, shoes, and a shower curtain. I'd thought I'd gotten one more shirt but evidently not. I also looked for a proper hat but did not find any. Despite a very impressive number of ballcaps and strawhats, they didn't have any proper headgear that I could see.

On Sunday, I put the shoes on to drive my daughters to summer camp and quickly discovered the reason that they had been donated to the thrift store, the soles were falling off. They weren't falling off in the store but after five minutes of walking around my apartment in them, there were large gaps between the sole and the rest of the shoe. It should be easily fixable with the proper adhesive. I may take them to a cobbler, though.

The find of the night, though, was for my youngest daughter. I found a flute. It looks a bit beat up and I don't really know enough about flutes to know if the damage is significant. But I do know that flutes are hard to get the hang of at first. As my daughter did trumpet last year in band and wants to switch to flute, I thought thirty or so bucks was a worthwhile expense to get her started on learning to operate the mouth piece correctly so she could get a better idea of whether or not she really wants to switch to the flute.

The big find for my wife was an OSI special agent windbreaker.

I took a pass on the 5 gallon pot and the the pressure cooker I found. I really need a six or seven gallon pot to make 5 gallons of hooch at a shot. The pressure cooker was more tempting. But in both cases, the prices seemed too steep to me. Each was priced at $39.95. Also overpriced, but even more tempting, was a lovely old hand crank ice cream maker.

:: :: :: :: ::

I woke up Monday morning feeling like fresh mulch: shredded, pungent and smelling sharply of decay.

During the week last week, I failed to lose any weight. Over the weekend, I failed to gain any weight. This week, I'm down three pounds. I'm closing in on a very magic number. I have three more pounds to lose before I am scientifically certain that I am not fat.

With regards to lifting weights, having gone for a few weeks where I've been doing almost three complete sets, I've decided to start slowly increasing weight. I figure a nice, safe approach is adding one plate to one machine each week across the next five weeks. I was a bit surprised at first how much more difficult a single additional ten pound weight made leg presses. Also the increased weight, I suspect, is the reason that I can do fewer shoulder presses than in preceding weeks. But I'm still hitting at least the appropriate and mystical number of lifts. Also, I think it no coincidence that the week I started adding plates, I started getting shin splints.

With regards to running, I decided to start running my third mile on Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than walking. Three miles is the limit of both my time and inclination. Had I unlimited time, I probably would eventually increase that. But my time is very limited these days, especially in the morning. I do not, however, know how long it takes me to run these days. Having lost my wristwatch a few weeks ago, I have no convenient method to time my run.

The most curious thing to me is that for the past few weeks, my sweat has been smelling different on some days but not on others. Other than slightly increased milk consumption, I can't think of any significant dietary changes. And, given that the increased milk consumption has held steady, I'd expect my sweat to not smell different on different days.

:: :: :: ::

A couple weeks ago I decided to start a strawberry wine. The mash was a bit on the chunky side. About 02:00, my wife woke me up saying it sounded like someone was in the kitchen puking. I checked. No one was. I went back to sleep. In the morning, I discovered that the top had blown off the air lock. I started to remove the rest of the airlock and BAM the rest of the airlock blew off, blowing chunks of partly fermented strawberries all over the walls and ceiling. Oh, what a feeling. Recently I racked it and it tasted like MD 20/20. Given that it's only a few weeks old, this is not all that unexpected. It should get better with age.

I have another batch of wine about ready to bottle. It's probably a few months early. (I started it in December of last year.) But my new job has a semi-regular happy hour on Fridays and I was thinking about bring some in as I've been informed that it is incumbent on the new guy to provide the wine and beer at least once. But its too early. It's not a bad wine, but it needs to age longer.

:: :: ::

My two daughters spent close to three weeks in Ohio visiting friends and relatives. We picked them up fourth of July weekend at close to the midway point between Toledo and DCia where my wife's mother's family was having its family reunion. Then they were home for a week before I drove them westward for two weeks of summer camp. I must be getting old. Driving six or seven hours at a shot seems excessive to me. On the latest trip, the first 300 miles didn't seem so bad. But from then until home was the pits.

I find it mildly interesting that this most recent trip was the first time I really missed my old Yaris. Before we moved out to DCia, I sent it off with a friend also moving off to college. I figured in a city larger than the Cincy, a commuter car would be more of a cost than it provided in benefits. It isn't often that I'm driving somewhere, far less often that I'm driving somewhere without my wife. But racking up 500 or more miles in a single day, zipping through the hills and mountains of Pennsylvania, the Yaris certainly would be more fun than a mini-van, especially around the tight corners on back roads.

Since much of these trips are in radio black holes, I took my laptop on the most recent one. On the four and half hours homeward bound, I only had three bands repeat: Midnight Oil, Love & Rockets and Sinead O'Connor. I guess that marks me as a child of the 80s. But it's not my fault I didn't get repeats from other bands. Also, I tried to do a bit of quality control when choosing which disks to rip on my `new' computer after my fatal hard drive crash of a year and half ago. Even on shuffle, not a single song spun up that I didn't like. A few surprised me, I had forgotten that I had them.

All the same, I'd still rather have radio where you never know what you're going to get. When I spent a decent amount of time in the car when I lived back in Cincy, I was introduced to a number of recent bands that I'd never have gotten into otherwise. I guess I could listen to podcasts. But podcasts require two things I have not enough: foresight and iPods.

:: ::

I was in Radio Shack recently looking for some odd contraptions (2.5mm audio connector to mini-usb converter, 9v battery connectors, etc.) and ended up browsing through their MP3 players. For quite some time I've been looking for a decent, very small radio. Turns out I've been looking in the wrong place. Portable radios seem now to be mostly attached to other devices: phones, MP3 players, GPS units. I guess I'm just too old to be technologically hip anymore.

But then I got to thinking that most of what I listen to the radio for is news. I waver back and forth on this. Some mornings it strikes me just how vapid radio news is becoming. Or maybe it always was that way and I just didn't notice. But I suspect that there is a large correlation between my level of dissatisfaction with news and my level of knowledge about a given news event. So maybe I should go for the foresight and learn how to use podcasts to bring in some of the shows almost always worth listening to such as Diane Rehms.

As technologically unhip as I might be, I was still able to codger together a 9V battery adaptor of a type that used to be commonplace when I was a kid that I couldn't find in these newfangled, updated versions of Radio Shack that seem mostly to carry mobile phone and iPod accessories. It's the kind of A/C adaptor made for devices that run on 9V batteries not designed to take adaptors. Instead of going to a male plug, the adaptor runs to the battery connector that snaps onto the 9V cell. It's an easy 5 minute project. It also worked out just fine.


And now that I'm doing the odd SQL trigger here and there, I'm reminded of two parts of why I hated being a programmer: having to consider every possible combination of input no matter how moronic, and being handed a substandard design and told to finish it off. I have the first part ironed out. The second part will take longer. First, I have to figure out how to handle an inherent race condition that comes from not updating a batch of events in the order in which they were created but in batches by operation as if all operations could take place independently of their context.

But on the other hand, I'm learning new things, which I quite like. I don't know that an increasing knowledge of SQL will benefit me much in the future should I be able to make the transition from IT monkey to grumpy old professor. But relational databases, especially if designed properly, are one of the few niches of the IT world that I find to be interesting. I suspect that this is in part because relational theory has its roots in predicate logic.

It's also fun when I get to ask clients who know little to nothing about how computers work if they would kindly double check the results of the way that I converted binary hashes of strings to hexidecicmal notation against their existing database. Certainly, I am a bad man.

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Strawberry explosions, detached soles and other miscellanea | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
500 hp wenches?!?!? by atreides (4.00 / 3) #1 Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:31:37 PM EST
500 hp wenches used to move barges over dry land

What? Are these enslaved giants? Or something else from the Monster Manual?

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

I once played a paladin that married a wench by lm (4.00 / 3) #2 Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:45:18 PM EST
I don't think she had 500 hit points, though.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
SanDisk Sansa by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 08:39:09 AM EST
Cheap mp3 player+decent FM tuner. Or just get a portable CD player that plays mp3 cds.

The only tstation I listen to on broadcast is WTOP, for news. Otherwise it's XM and my iPod.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Democracy... embodies that maxim by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 08:45:52 AM EST
But which Democracy? We're gonna need a definition.

Any chance of that thesis being posted online? Sounds interesting.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I certainly hope to put it online sooner or later by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 09:03:43 PM EST
But probably later.

And, yeah, Farabi's definition of democracy is very much an open question. It seems to follow Plato more than Aristotle even though Farabi argued that both said held to the same philosophy with regards to politics. As such, there were none of the constitutional safeguards of inalienable human rights that we like to associate with modern liberal democracy.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Strawberry explosions, detached soles and other miscellanea | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback