February 12, 2006

Top n things

Top n things I would have blogged about in the past two weeks if I'd only had the time.
2. Our youngest son has turned a corner, after going through a period of absolute spike-in-the-headedness about just about everything. (My family tells me this is an old German term for a stubborn person). Kids eat up enormous amounts of time. Kid won't go to bed? There's the evening.
3. I am having dreams in preparation for my trip to Minnesota in a week's time. A recurring dream concerns crossing a large wildlife area with Tim McGuire, to get from St. Paul to Minneapolis. The wildlife area is swampy, bordered by highways and full of fish and birds. My dreams do not contain mosquitos. Aircraft fly overhead. Somehow when we get clear of the cattails we can simply drive away on the highway but when I think about it, where did the car come from? But that's how it is in dreams about the US isn't it, the cars are just there.
4. Thank heavens and earths for the mp3 player I got for Christmas. Almost makes me look forward to the daily commutes. Top tracks: Charlie Parker, Al Green, Hotel Costes, Bob Dylan, Eno, Flatt & Scruggs.
5. I have started to teach my class on the physics of molecules again. Great times! I am happy if I can make demonstrations using the abolutely most basic everyday objects possible. Today I talked about diffraction gratings and to introduce the idea I took a big-ass flashlight and shined it onto a CD, reflecting the image onto the wall of the auditorium. A nice colorful rainbow appeared. Now how the heck does that work? On Tuesday I snagged our older son's compass and a battery and a wire. Connect the wire to both poles of the battery and the compass needle moves. Nice illustration of the work of Danish Physicist/Chemist Hans Christian Oersted, showing the link between electricity and magnetism.
6. Neck and shoulder ache has gotten better, thanks to all for their concern.
7. Our nutty neighbor still has his Christmas lights up. He refuses to climb onto the roof when there is frost. He refuses to turn the lights off because he is afraid water will get into the tubes.
8. Beard Politics! Something had to give. I walked around for a couple of days with the Amish Fisherman, trying to convince myself of its timeless virtue. I couldn't muster the inner courage to inhabit this beard with sufficient revolutionary zeal (and that's the whole point of a beard, isn't it?), and ended up shaving it off. My son told me I looked younger without it, so that was something.


At February 12, 2006 5:30 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

Last time you were here, we walked through a nature center right near the airport. There were lots of cat tails, planes flying over head, plenty of birds. No fish, though.

At February 12, 2006 5:31 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

also, it was surrounded by highways.
what is your minimum bit rate for mp3 quality?

At February 13, 2006 9:20 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

These mp3 players deserve a whole blog in themselves. The speakers are tiny so you are never going to get good bass-- physics is working abainst creating low notes with wavelengths of 15 meters from a speaker smaller than a thumbtack. And my listening environment is noisy-- wind past ears while biking, train and passenger noises, etc. So for me there's no reason to go for high fidelity with this device-- better to use the memory for variety. Even so, I use 22 kbps which contains a larger dynamic range than humans can hear, especially at my advanced age.

At February 14, 2006 8:07 PM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Wait, I meant to say 128 kbps. Probably higher than it needs to be.


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