Welcome to my home page. I became blind at birth. I started programming computers at a young age. I also earned my general class amateur radio license, KA3TTT, a hobby to which I have returned with great joy. I practice Qigong and consider myself a Taoist. I use Linux as my desktop and Android as my mobile OS. I eat gluten-free vegan meals. For the rest you'll have to read my blog. To comment on what you read here, visit Disboardia, my bulletin board system.

How to Find Peace within Twittering-mode

December 31, 2009

I love Emacs. I love using Twittering-mode to read Twitter from within Emacs. Only one thing bothered me about twittering-mode, and quickly browsing through its source-code showed me the fix. I also modified a tip on their page to give a text notification of new tweets. Just place these lines in your .emacs and enjoy. Modify as appropriate. Send me a tweet if you found this useful.

<br /> (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/twittering-mode") ; if non-standard<br /> (require 'twittering-mode)<br /> (setq twittering-username "yourtwittername") ; replace<br /> (setq twittering-notify-successful-http-get nil)<br /> (add-hook 'twittering-new-tweets-hook (lambda ()<br /> (let ((n twittering-new-tweets-count))<br /> (format "%d New Tweet%s" n (if (> n 1) "s" "")))))<br />

Guess the Algorithm

November 30, 2009

A few days ago while aimlessly surfing the world wide web’s waves, I came across [Vintage Basic.

](http://www.vintage-basic.net) I don’t even remember what weird tangent I had gone on to find it, perhaps something related to reading about Lisp and old computers, I don’t even know. While there, I saw their collection of old BASIC games. I felt so grateful, since I remembered them from my days as a child on my beloved Apple II/E. The computer still works, but a girl who will remain nameless (especially since I now host her blog) lost all the discs. I still feel rather annoyed about that, but this helped a little.

In the course of downloading and running these great old programs, I found guess.bas, a simple number guessing game. I wouldn’t have gotten it, except that I remembered it.

] catalog

Does that conjure any memories for anyone? I recreated how it might look as best as possible. The game works very simply: you put in the maximum number, the computer picks a number between 1 and the maximum, and you enter your guesses. The computer tells you if you guessed too high or too low. Simple, right?

Two lines of code caught my eye, however.

<br /> 11 L1=INT(LOG(L)/LOG(2))+1<br /> 56 PRINT "YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET IT IN ONLY";L1<br />

After getting the maximum number in the variable L, it assigns INT(LOG(L)/LOG(2)) to the variable L1. In other words, it adds one to the integer (whole number) part of log base 2 of L. Why, I wondered, did it use this value for the number of guesses it should take you to guess a number?

For those who slept in math, the logarithm refers to the exponent that indicates the power to which a base number is raised to produce a given number. For example, the logarithm of 100 to the base number of 10 is 2. Since I slept a lot in English class, I ripped that definition off from my dictionary. I thought about the relation between logs, exponents, bases, multiplication, division, anything I could think of that might solve this fun little mystery.

I took a shower, and my mind wandered. I began thinking about how I would actually solve the problem myself. If I had to choose a number between 1 and 10, I would first guess5, the halfway point. That way, the answer would automatically eliminate half the numbers. I would then continue this process, each time eliminating half, narrowing down until i guessed the number. I think most people would solve the problem in the same way. It then hit me! The integer part of log base 2 + 1 would roughly compute this number. It makes total sense! Think about it! To illustrate, if L=10, then L1=4.

I find it interesting to reflect on this. You can tell a lot about a person and the time period by analyzing code. That fragment told me that whoever wrote that dinky little program probably had a background in math or computer science. Today’s kids pumped full of Java probably don’t even know what a logarithm even does! I took standard math in high school, then in college I took three awful semesters of discrete math followed by two semesters of calculus – pure Hell. Any system that bases itself completely around limits just doesn’t jive with my world view. To me, such a proposition denies the limitless nature of the universe and the soul, but I digress. I love all the wonderful opportunities modern home computing has brought to the masses, but sometimes I long for the days when you actually had to KNOW about computers and have some command of programming and math to use one. I confess it took me a little to figure out this mystery, but I think I did. Many greater than myself have come before, and

many will come after. I saw an entire legacy encapsulated in two lines of code. Don’t forget.

A review of Aria, the new Greek restaurant in Swarthmore

November 20, 2009

I had a chance to visit Aria, the new Greek restaurant that’s opened

up in town. You would think that a college town would have a few

quaint places to eat, but for the most part it really hasn’t. This

surprising lack made it feel good to find a place I can walk to and


I arrived with my brother and one of my sisters. We walked there easily. To me, it felt novel and nice to just walk into a building and sit down and eat. We got seated quickly, and waited for menus. In the background, a CD played of presumably Greek music. I don’t speak the language, so I don’t know. Suddenly, we noticed that the CD had started skipping badly. The skipping interspersed with the rapid tempo of the music made it sound like some new weird form of Greko-industrial. They must have noticed, because when I got back from going to the bathroom it had stopped.

The restaurant just started last week, so we had to excuse some things. They did not have menus, but would get them shortly. It didn’t matter, because the affable owner explained everything to us. I told him I eat a vegetarian diet, and he enthusiastically suggested his falafel. “I make a very good falafel sandwich.” “Sold.” “You want lettuce, tomatoes, onions, everything?” “Yes, load it up!” “Very good.” We all found the owner a joy to deal with, and it made the initial hick-ups that undoubtedly go with opening a place like this bearable. Give him a few weeks.

While waiting for our food, we discussed the place. My sister said it looked like a plain room, with nothing particularly Mediterranean about it. Businesses haven’t done well here, especially restaurants and bakeries. The place started getting more crowded as the evening progressed, and we felt glad about that. They brought out some excellent pita bread and some mild but still good hummus. We enjoyed that and continued chatting.

We got our food in a reasonable enough time, and we all considered it very good. My falafel had all the toppings as promised. My order came with two halves, each individually wrapped in paper. I ate both. The order also came with some interesting flower-shaped corn chips. The rest of my family ordered giros, and enjoyed them equally. We had to go, but I did get some baklava to go, and that tasted wonderful as well. All and all, my order came to a little over six dollars – not expensive at all, another welcome change.

I give Aria four out of five stars. We had to wait a little at the end to get our bill, the service needs some improving, but it certainly will improve as the restaurant matures. I wish it well, and give it my blessing. They have a full restaurant, and do take-out as well, so if you live in the area give it a try. I may even join you.

Walking home in a surprisingly mild November rain, it felt good to have this new restaurant in town. We will have one or two other new ones opening which I will also review. I’ve had a few reoccurring dreams where I’ve found myself eating at a restaurant here in town, something that up to now most of us locals haven’t done, at least none of the ones I know. Dreams come true.

Update – 2010May31

I have heard that they have not improved their service, and others have had some less than spectacular experiences. They’d better pull it together. I hope they do.

A Review of Three Kinds of Chocolate Almonds

November 04, 2009

Bec and I got to try three kinds of chocolate-covered almonds. Almond A came from [Nuts Online.

](http://nutsonline.com) Almond B came from Campbell’s Healthfood store, in Des Moines. Almond C came from [Taza!


Almond A has a smaller size and harder shape. The chocolate tastes

more bitter, and contrasts well with the almond. It stood up very well

against both other kinds of almonds, which cost more.

Almond B has a thicker, creamier, richer layer of chocolate around

it than Almond A. Yes! It does cost $16/pound, so it better taste

good! It does.

Almond C, since it comes from Taza, tastes completely unique. It has the healthiest chocolate, closest to raw cacao. It has a more subtle taste.

We hope you enjoyed our review of three types of chocolate covered almonds.

An Evening at the Indian Restaurant

October 02, 2009

We have an awesome Indian restaurant near us called Sher-E-Punjab. I love going there, and this time I went with two friends. We have to go more often. Join me for an evening at the Indian Restaurant. Until they make it possible to send the smells and tastes of this wonderful food over the Internet, you will have to make due by looking at their awesome menu.

One friend and I arrived together, and waited for the other. She quickly arrived, and we took our seats. One friend and I both love Indian food, and the other has just started getting into it. I knew what I wanted, and we quickly reached a consensus for appetizers. We got some vegetable samosas, and some garlic naan! Awesome! The garlic on the naan tasted so fresh. I don’t know about you, but I could eat samosas every day! We loved the sauces too! For the main course, we all got Dal, a buttery lentil soup. The two experienced eaters got spicy, the other regular, but even that tasted spicy. That came with basmati rice, and the naan never stopped flowing. For drinks, we got mango lassi, which tastes great and helps quell the spice when needed.

As we ate, we overheard the conversation at the table next to us. A

guy and a girl started throwing around all these heavy topics,

including relationships, 9/11, philosophy, artificial intelligence,

and religion. I didn’t listen to every word of course, but I couldn’t

help but overhear snatches of conversation, and so wanted to join

in. At one point, the girl said something to the effect that

Christians don’t know about science, because they believe that when

they get to Heaven, that God will teach them about science. My two

friends consider themselves born-again Christians, and took offense to

this. As the lone Discordian, I maintained a noble silence. I try to

consider all views. I know a Christian who worked as a nuclear

physicist, so obviously he knows about science, but I also understood

the girl’s position very well. One friend said: “Forgive them Lord,

for they know not what they say.” I thought: “They’d say the same

thing about you.” She’ll probably read this, and i wouldn’t have a

problem expressing this opinion, because I still respect her view. I see a place for both science and spirit, I believe we need a science of the spirit. Without science, spirituality degrades into blind faith and blundering extremism. Without Spirit, science degrades into the rationalization of evil, and the advancement of eugenics. I just listened and considered all these points, but I hope the couple at the table will come across this blog one day. You never know.

At around this point, the spices started kicking in. I said that I felt almost like I had a buzz. My friend who also loves Indian food remarked how good quality spices do that. I agreed, since Indian chefs use fresh spices, and have a whole special kitchen for this purpose. I remembered after I got into a car accident in San Fransisco. I took my prescribed Darvocet, then took a second before leaving, since I didn’t want the effect to wear off while out. While at the restaurant, I ate some spicy chili soup, and I felt so high! I remember just sitting there, bruised and beaten in a wheel chair with a cast and a collar brace, and just holding my spoon and zoning out, just holding my spoon and zoning out and smiling. “Are you feeling funny from the medicine?” Mom asked. I said yes, languishing in a high I could legally and socially acknowledge. Yes indeed, good quality spices definitely do give you a little buzz, and the raw Cacao I ingested before leaving now synergized and produced something quite exquisite

for its kind. We do not program computers with artificial intelligence, we program them with intelligent artificiality.

We slowly finished our meals feeling quite satiated, and got confused over the bill. We figured out that we each owed $22 for the meal. I pitched in $23, because “That is just how a Discordian does things.” I got the last word without contriving. At that point, my cab arrived, and I bid my friends good night, and came home.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my evening at the Indian restaurant. Who knows, maybe the people at the other table will find this post. It always makes me pause and think when I have such a random once in a lifetime encounter, people passing in time making an unknowing impression. I can’t wait to go back. I love Indian food.

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