Wednesday, December 29, 2010


A body mass index of 23.7 is normal weight, so I haven't been on a serious diet ever before. However, it is too much stomach fat for pole dancing, so next year I'll diet from 63kg to 55kg, resulting in 20.7 BMI.

The problem with mere physics-based diet of eating everything less it that it increases hunger, devastates ability to concentrate and produces relapses. Cutting out just starch (pasta, potatos, rice) seems to alleviate these side effects. Full ketogenic diet would require too much cooking. Keeping weight stable is much easier task: just weight yourself every morning, and eat less for a day if your weight crosses your Alarm Barrier. Body has some internal weight-stabilization mechanism, which makes this easier by controlling appetite.

Actually I already started on December 1st, first losing 1.5kg by dieting. Then a puke disease on Christmas days with vomitting and diarrhea took another 1 kg away, apparently permanently, despite me eating as much as I could keep inside, and sometimes a bit more, triggering The Symptom. Although the figure on the scale decreases, this is bad news for dieting. First of all, bed rest wastes muscles, so relative strength doesn't increase. Secondarily, the bacterial ecosystem in the guts still haven't recovered to the point where stool doesn't resume liquid form from a bit heavier exercise.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas, your last one

Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the hole
Not a creature was stirring, not even a Dhole
Aldebaren hung at the right place at nine
In the hopes that Great Cthulhu would come out this time

The Fungi from Yuggoth, all snug in their caves
Were plotting to turn all the people to slaves
The Deep Ones in Rlyeh, the Ghouls in their graves
Were dancing and singing and acting depraved

When what do my wondering eyes should appear
But a mouldering sleigh and eight corpselike reindeer
With a horrible driver so leprous and reeking
I knew right away that my fear was unspeaking

The reindeer were gross, as they flew up from hell
And It hoarsely whispered and chanted a spell
Ia Shub Niggurath! Cthulhu ftagn!
Nyarlathotep! I summon you on!

As decomposed flesh before the charnel stench rise
And meet with the open air polluting the skies
Up to the housetop the horror it rose
And the gangrenous odors assailed my nose

And then in a slopping noise heard on the roof
The lumbering clomping of octopoid hoofs
As I drew in my head and was turning around
The horror lurched into my room with a bound

Its eyes how they pulsate
So bulbous and gory
This blasphemous creature
So noxious and hoary

I was frozen by fear, my feet woudn't run
I threw up my cookies, this wasn't much fun
It whispered my name and said "You come with I"
I tried to refuse and it said "Then you die."

It came at my throat with its grim claws extended
But a miracle saved its victim intended
I had three Elder Signs in a slot in the floor
It screamed with a fiendish sound and went out the door

It sprang to its sleigh, and its team gave a surge
And away they all flew to the sound of a dirge
I heard it exclaim as it flew out of sight
"You're lucky this time, for the stars weren't right."

This joke gets old quickly, but there's always the first time you hear it...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Follow-up on the goals for 2010

Summary: What's the point of setting goals, if you don't track them?

  • Cleaning up this blog. Completed except for a few removed posts and the status signaling post, which I didn't know to be provocative. The burst of negative feedback in the summer was probably just a sign that the posts were relevant. Status and sexuality are still a bit mysterious, so unavoidably some posts miss the mark. The best option is to write so clearly written and understand the subject so well understood that everyone agrees with the posts. However, if some rabid psychobitch chooses to keep on insisting that I'm too young to walk 10 km without being accompanied by my mother, no amount of rational explanations can possibly ever resolve that, and that's why the comments are nowadays moderated.

  • Year of bodyweight training. Completed. Got that push-up from headstand to handstand in October. Not planning to continue bodyweight training, it neglects feet and gets monotonous.

  • Get Chinese to completion where active study can be replaced by reading news and blogs in relaxed way. Completed for newspaper text only. Also, Chinese Language Group revealed that writing and speaking skills need a lot of work. However, there won't be Chinese goals for 2011. I'll integrate writing practise to other activities, like writing journal partly in Chinese.

  • More active social life. Completed. Been participating in events of The Club, pole dancing events and in organizing Go Congress in the summer.

Last year I wrote that physical instincts give valid raw data, but social insticts give only bad advice. This has changed. Now also social instincts give correct raw data, and the bottleneck is acting on those instinctual situational assessments.

In Pole Debut 2010, I had a 15-minute chat about pole dancing with a previously unknown girl. Overcoming bitch shields used to be impossible for me, but now it happens once every 3 months when strong context is available. Further progress will hopefully enable that more reliably with less context (for example in concerts). That is still a far cry from Roissy's or Finndistan's level, where they can talk with pretty much any girl without any context in nightclubs. However, even modest progress shows that the approach works and the direction is right and that there is no reason for despair despite me being 10 years behind my peers in social skills. Advanced methods like negs are still far, but the few written negs I've tried have produced good results. The option of just magically getting great social skills overnight is not on the table. Gradual progress is, and it is happening.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Simo the Crank

This quote is from Emanuel Derman's My Life as a Quant

When I was a graduate student at Columbia in the 1970s, physics was the great attractor for the aspiring scientists of the world. Bearing witness to this was the large box of documents kept near the entrance to the physics deparment library. We referred to it as the "crank file." The box contained the unsolicited typewritten letters, manuscripts, and appeals that poured steadily into the mailbox of the department's chairman. Eccentric though the documents were, they made fascinating reading. There were eager speculations on the nature of space and time, elaborately detailed papers refuting relativity and qunatum mechanics, grandiose claims to have unified them, and farfetched meditations that combined physics with more metaphysical topics. I remember one note that tried to deduce the existence of God from the approximate equality of the solid angled subtended by the sun and the moon when observed from the earth, a remarkable circumstance without which there would be no solar eclipse.

None of these papers had much chance of getting past a journal referee. Few of the writers had much hope of even getting into graduate school. They may not have wanted to. The letters were mostly a cri de caeur from isolated and solitary physicist manques all over the world.

Most of my classmates laughed at the naivete of the letter writers, but as I skimmed through the crank file I found it hard to feel superior. Instead, peering into the box of manuscripts, I always saw my pale reflection. Out there, beyond academia and industry, were people like us, similarly in thrall of the same sense of mystery and power that lay behind the attempts to understand and master the universe with only imagination and symbols. ...

Old madness took a grip of me for 2 months. But this dark side needs to be processed somehow, merely denying it as in 2009 is not the right answer.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Slow maybe

So I found a contact person from Tampere University and met her on Tuesday. She's a practising teacher, which means that she has visibility to the frontline trenches of computer-aided language learning. The 30min discussion that we had already clarified many things.

The primary difference between educational establishment and the Chinese/Japanese self-study scene is that the educational establishment is content-rich (they have paid, experienced and talented professionals writing content) and algorithm-poor. By contrast, the Chinese-Japanese self-study scene is content-poor (they have few good databases like EDICT/CEDICT for vocabulary) and they squeeze the last ounce of juice from those by applying high-quality algorithmics.

AFAIK The flashcard senetence deck which I used was created by simply searching example sentences for each HSK character from Juku. Also MDBG annotator work by searching the characters from the one extensive free Chinese vocabulary that there exists, namely CEDICT, despite the fact that it doesn't even break the words into several meanings. This way, algorithmics take full use of the few available databases.

By contast, in educational establishment we have professionally collected dicitonaries where each entry give plenty of information about phrases and alternative meanings, but where the algorithmics are controlled by companies who have no interest to do Firefox extension plugins, flashcard programs or annotators. The difference is even bigger in textbooks.

It seems to me that the teachers on the trenches don't need another slow and difficult site like the translation sentence site. Instead, they get far with customizations to existing tools. Let's hope that my contact person has patience to meet week after week and months after month to discuss needs and uses of technology in language teaching. It will be like peeling onions: I need to peel their needs layer after layer by small customizations (at most 1 week) which give them what they want.

In the long run, to get a thesis topic I need to find out an area where longer computer science effort is needed to implement useful features to CALL tools. However, getting from small customizations to that level will take months. Let's hope that the teaching/language contact person has patience to go through the technology mapping discussions instead of getting impatient for the apparent lack of concrete results.

I'd rather spend months in analysis paralysis, considering various rerearch topics, rather than to pick a research topic only to find out years afterwards that my research output is completely useless, because I failed at due diligence in the beginning. That nightmare scenarion actually happened with Finnish Annotator. I'd rather spend months doing due diligence, only to find out that there is no CALL research topic, thatn start and waste effort prematurely.