Playlist for 12/5/22

Been listening to these guys since high school, on and off. Consistently excellent!

In other news, I’m still working out, just in a calorie deficit so my energy feels lower. I can leg press 190 pounds now, and am getting comfortable with single leg RDLs. I’m losing visible weight, which is nice, and still rock climbing. My technique in rock climbing has improved and I can really feel a flow when I go up an easy route.

Holidays Messed Up the Workouts but Not the Music

I got some workouts in but didn’t track them because they were all over the place. I also got an electric guitar for my birthday and am getting reacquainted with my musical life.

This person was my old piano teacher when I was a kid.

My hometown has a couple of musical destinations, depending on your style. We have a Jazz Festival. But I spent half my adult life in California, which is full of musicians. I dated a few of them and picked up random stuff.

But 2023 will be dedicated to music with the goal of being able to shred on my guitar by the end of 2023. I will summarize my reading, fitness, and other resolutions to this year at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, here is a little bit of my playlist for today:

I LOVE sitar music. I wonder if they make electric sitars.

Subvocal Tendencies

I have a hard time talking and often wish that I could could connect a computer to my brain so I can communicate more… easily. The information from my brain bottlenecks at my mouth and vocabulary becomes a desert. I just can’t say something sometimes, so I don’t. Most of all, I am extremely terrified of the telephone and calling a stranger gives me so much anxiety I want to vomit out of sheer terror. I can scale 700 feet up a mountain and be hesitant, but public speaking and speaking to strangers elicit a deep dread that I could never shake and renders me frozen. There’s so much more I can express in media but, vocally? Nope. Not a chance.

Which is why the technology below gives me hope that micro expressions can be used to communicate. I’m not sure if this would erase that fear, but if I can use it to “write” my thoughts or command a computer (to put together a piece of digital art, or music), or create visual representatios of ideas, the possibilities are endless.

The technology involves a system of sensors that detect the minuscule neuromuscular signals sent by the brain to the vocal cords and muscles of the throat and tongue. These signals are sent out whenever we speak to ourselves silently, even if we make no sounds. The device feeds the signals through an A.I., which “reads” them and turns them into words. The user hears the A.I.’s responses through a microphone that conducts sound through the bones of the skull and ear, making them silent to others.

“A lot of people with all sorts of speech pathologies are deprived of the ability to communicate with other people,” says Kapur, a PhD candidate at MIT. “This could restore the ability to speak for people who can’t.”

This Device Can Hear You Talking to Yourself

Santana

Once upon a time, in a land far away… the land is San Francisco, where I lived at the time. I lived one street down from Haight-Ashbury (if you’re 45 or 50 or over, you’ll have heard of the street) and a 5 minute walk to Golden Gate Park. So one random day, me and my ex went on a walk and ended up on Hippie Hill, where everyone brings drums and gets stoned in the middle of the day (not sure if that still happens now). However, this day, we sat on a lawn full of hippies, more of them than usual, younger than usual… but after a moment, I noticed that these hippies were fake ones. Not dirty, not high, not smiling at nothing, not nodding to some unheard music, not washed out and older, and glaring at us… what the hell? Shiny hippies in spotless rags?

Then we noticed the signs. Something like, “We’re filming a music video here and if you show up, you might be in the video.” Well, okay, then. California is full of that kind of thing, especially the closer to LA you go.

Then FUCKING CARLOS SANTANA comes out onto the lawn, everybody rushes in, and I get a totally uncalled for, random-ass, free Santana mini-concert right then and there. Oh my god, he is good. Almost transcendental. This was witnessed by sooo many people, yet I can’t find that video. It’ll have to live on in my memory.

So that’s how I got introduced to Santana’s music.

How to Write a Research Paper

In high school, I took something called “Experimental Biology” where all we did was to do experiments and write papers. The culmination of this class was a giant “research” paper based on citations we looked up, old-style via microfiche, on the bacteria we grew in the lab. It took forEVER to find 3 articles on the bacteria I was working with. I will never forget the final, which was a set-up question for a paper written on the fly, in research paper style, during the 3 hours’ final exam time we were given. I was lucky. I had many classes that taught me how to write, two of which were in high school (I took creative writing as well). My old alma mater forced all freshmen to take a “How to Write a Paper” class and you had to pass it or else you spent the rest of eternity taking that class until you did. Thank god I passed the first time ’round.

For the people who aren’t so lucky, I found one (of many) helpful sources: Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners. And for those who want more sources, this paper has some citations to check out.

Workout analysis for 11/13/22 – 11/19/22

It’s my birthday! I’m spending it relaxing watching electric guitar ballads because I got an electric guitar for my birthday. I tinkered on a shitty acoustic 27 years ago but I didn’t make time or money to keep it up. But 40 is the new 20, right?

Anyway, this week was tough to fit in a workout, but I made it two times. Work was insane (I worked 44 hours this week, which might seem like nothing to people who work 80 per week but I need work-life balance and at least 8 hours of sleep). I found myself crunching work past 6 pm a few times. Next week is the Thanksgiving holiday, so there will be plenty of time to workout then. We need to offset the eating, right?

My goal was to go past 50k but this is okay. I’m not going to beat myself up over it, as it seems like I grew calves this week, suddenly.

Spacetime from Entanglement

I thought this was cool.

Physicists have been suggesting for over a decade that gravity — and even space-time itself — may emerge from a strange quantum connection called entanglement.

By engineering highly entangled quantum systems in a tabletop experiment, Schleier-Smith hopes to produce something that looks and acts like the warped space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

One Lab’s Quest to Build Space-Time Out of Quantum Particles
Adam Becker

Dyamxion House

I’m always thinking about my next house. Ideally, I’d have enough money to build one that is efficient and robust, but still spacious enough for me to avoid claustrophobia. One idea I came across is Buckminster Fuller’s Dyamxion House.

Bucky designed a home that was heated and cooled by natural means, that made its own power, was earthquake and storm-proof, and made of permanent, engineered materials that required no periodic painting, reroofing, or other maintenance. You could easily change the floor plan as required – squeezing the bedrooms to make the living room bigger for a party, for instance.

Downdraft ventilation drew dust to the baseboards and through filters, greatly reducing the need to vacuum and dust. O-Volving Shelves required no bending; rotating closets brought the clothes to you. The Dymaxion House was to be leased, or priced like an automobile, to be paid off in five years. 

Buckminster Fuller Institute, Dyamxion House

I don’t need a rotating closet, though, as I’m totally fine with walking into my closet (as long as it’s a reasonable space). What would be cool is to start off with manual controls for various needs that can be adapted later on. A design that’s open to design. However, I’m not sure about the cost of this right now. It may be too prohibitive.

While I was at the planetarium

I don’t know what makes me notice things. Every day some little detail catches my eye and I have to go exploring. So I went to the planetarium last month because the telescopes were open to the public to view Jupiter and Saturn. I’ve never seen any planets through a telescope, because I didn’t know anyone with a great telescope, so all the telescopes I’ve peered through have been $5 second-hand ones that didn’t work or weren’t operated correctly. I have seen a solar eclipse though. My high school let everyone outside, mid-day, to see the solar eclipse in the 90s. Anyway. The planetarium had two telescopes, and they were a lot more than $5. They were with the wait, and not only that, a giant falling star shot directly between the two planets (they looked like stars in the sky) while we (about 100 people) waited for our turns. Everyone went “Oooo” like a Gary Larsen cartoon. What brings people together: planets and meteors.

Afterwards, in the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of these weird, weird things on the parking lot ground. They looked like baseball-sized brains. If you stepped on them, they squished in a splotchy, uncomfortable way. One post to Reddit (although I could have just Googled but what the hell) later, I found out it’s the fruit of the Osage orange tree.

Biologists believe that the large fruits evolved to be eaten and dispersed by the large herbivores, such as mastodons, which lived on our continent only 20,000–30,000 years ago.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Although I’m not in Missouri.

Brain on a Chip

In physiology, you learn that cells work with electricity. Action potentials were studied in every physiology class. A while ago, I read that scientists connected a neuron to a computer chip. Today, I wondered: what is the state of that research now? Well, a quick visit to Pub Med (I swear I use Google just a little bit more than I use Pub Med) showed that things were going along.

Lab-On-A-Chip for the Development of Pro-/Anti-Angiogenic Nanomedicines to Treat Brain Diseases

By the way, there are tons of articles about the blood-brain-barrier on a chip (lab-on-a-chip) to study how we can treat diseases of the brain more effectively (because it’s hard to get drugs to go through the BBB as it is neuroprotective). I remember that the first question on the first homework I ever did for neuroscience class was about the BBB. So, very important stuff. For me personally, and if I’m still alive, this research can help find more efficient ways for less medication to work in my brain.

Then there is brain computer interface, which is also highly fascinating but now I’ve run out of time to write and will have to look at the topic later.

Workout analysis, 11/6/22 – 11/12/22

This week wasn’t ideal for exercise. I took 2 days off lifting and ended up both rock climbing and lifting on Saturday (11/12/22). The first day that I took off, Thursday, was because work was way too busy for me to take any time off. Then Friday was a holiday but I spent an hour working (2x pay per hour!) and spent the rest of the day with Mom. So the volume might not be as much as otherwise. I have to remind myself that my muscles won’t disappear if I don’t work out for 2 days.

Numbers are out of hand

I had a conversation with someone who was so wowed by the AI progress so far (mainly Musks’ AI on YouTube) that he told me we’re going to have a full on replicant on our hands in the near future. As in, maybe we could have a Jetsons style robot maid in 5 years. Or have C3POs walking around. He was convinced, but I wasn’t. This is because you can put anything on YouTube after it’s been edited in Premiere, but also that human brains are so complicated.

The numbers get out of hand really quick for brains. The number of synapses in one human brain is equal to the number of stars in 5000 Milky Way’s. And then every synapse has something on the order of 100,000 molecular switches in it. And these 100,000 switches, protein molecules in every synapse, communicate a lot with one another, they interact a lot. And then that’s in one synapse, and then the, the human has something between 10 to the 14th, and 10, to the 15th synapses. Now, okay, so there’s a lot of complexity. And then to make matters worse, it is intricately arranged in very tight quarters. So the synapse again, there’s a billion of them per microliter of brain volume in a human. remember that each one of those synapses has somewhere between 10 and 100,000, switches in it. 

Why don’t we understand the brain?

I said that unless AI can understand culture, follow directions non-literally, laugh at a joke it hasn’t heard before, and get through an obstacle course it hasn’t seen or been programmed specifically for, and know when enough is enough, then we have created something human-like.

Until then, I’m waiting for the brain-computer amalgamation that would let me do my job while I’m working out.

Casualties of Cool

I listen to a variety of things while I work my day job. StarTalk, video game lore, interviews, speeches, lectures, etc. – it’s all a search away. Sometimes I listen to music. And sometimes I find something unusual that I’ve never come across.

So what’s trippy, gritty, ghostly, noirish, and spacey at the same time? What can bring to my mind Cowboy BeBop or a pod of whales floating in space having a conversation? I’m years late, but glad I found Casualties of Cool.

Diseases and syndromes I looked up in October

Microscopic polyangiitis – This disease, now known as microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), is a primary systemic vasculitis characterized by inflammation of the small-caliber blood vessels and the presence of circulating antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA). Typically, microscopic polyangiitis presents with glomerulonephritis and pulmonary capillaritis, although involvement of the skin, nerves, and gastrointestinal tract is not uncommon. 

Thygeson’s Superficial Punctate Keratopathy – Thygeson’s superficial punctate keratitis (TSPK) is reportedly a rare disease with an insidious onset, numerous remissions and exacerbations, and a long duration. The corneal lesions are elevated, whitish–grey in colour, and granular in the intraepithelium. 

Acute Eosinophilic Pneumonia – this wasn’t for work. Actually, I was diagnosed with this once a long time ago. I have no idea if this is related, but I found out recently (within the past 10 years) that I have eosinophilic asthma.