December 30, 2004

Apple Pi
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

Notwithstanding the fact that I can't even do basic addition to save my life, math has always been a passion of mine. Though my lack of understanding may be the enticement, however, as I love a good enigma.

Mathematical algorithms are behind every aspect of life and nature, from being able to calculate the largest package that will fit in your mailbox, right down to the reduction of a recipe from four to two people instead.

I have just stumbled upon one answer of which the question had been driving me nuts for ages:

Which came first Ė the mathematical principles themselves, or our counting system, in which 1+1=2, which enables all the mathematical principles to actually work?

The answer I found here, in a paper called The Magnificent Perfect Square, by Roger Logan:

'Over the centuries, mathematicians have expanded the number system four times. Each new expansion was required because the then existing number system was not sufficient to solve certain problems.'

So it would seem the first problem is that my original question was not correct at allÖ 1+1=2 is not complex enough to enable all the principles to work in the first place.

Apparently, mathematics has four number systems in addition to the natural system (1, 2, 3, 4 etc.):

1. Integers (the natural system, but expanded to include 0 and -1, -2, -3 etc.)

The introduction of integers allowed many more algebraic equations to be solved, which would have been impossible to solve previously.

2. Rational (the introduction of fractions)

3. Real (which accounts for infinite decimal point ability)

4. Complex (an ordered pair of real numbers, imaginary)

I was a little disappointed in this learningÖ my first thought was almost a letdown, that maybe the natural system I love so much wasnít so natural after all. But then I read this paragraph in the same paper:

'The age old question is, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" This simplistic summary regarding the expansion of the number system makes it appear that the mathematicians' main concern was to expand the number system so as to solve the then current number problems. However, solving the number problems is what caused the creation, discovery or invention of new numbers, thereby forcing the expansion.'

After my reading, I now have a new question.

Are the expansions considered a discovery, or an invention? And would the answer be fact, or a debatable opinion?

If I tally the facts, I'm sure I'm oversimplifying everything. But I warned you I couldn't do basic addition to save my life.

December 17, 2004

Jess's List of Christmas Song Superlatives 2004
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

The Holiday season brings good tidings, yule logs, and oodles of radio stations that completely forgo their usual programming to bring us 24 hours of holiday accompaniment.

I do like it, and in my car, the dial occasionally creeps over to these stations, because there are a lot of holiday songs that are really, really beautiful.

However, there are those *other* songs that I have completely mixed feelings about, and it seems they deserve their own category. So here it is, without further ado, Jess's List of Christmas Song Superlatives 2004:

1. Best Horns To Get Everyone Dancing:
Christmas Rapping by The Waitresses

2. Best Song To Get Your Butt Moving When itís Christmas Eve And You Still Have Gifts To Get:
Run, Run Rudolph

3. Song Iíd Most Love To Hear Redone By Danny Elfman:
O Holy Night

4. Song I'd Be So Thrilled If I Never Heard Again:
Tie! Twelve Pains of Christmas, or Band-Aidís Do They Know Itís Christmas

5. Song With the Most Painfully Obvious Attempt At Glurge:
The Christmas Shoes

6. First and Most Famous Attempt at Modernizing a Christmas Carol:
Deck the Halls (1984), Manheim Steamroller

7. Most Evil Threatening-Sounding Christmas Carol:
The Carol of the Bells (1988), Manheim Steamroller

8. Song with the Most Misheard Lyric:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Olive, the other reindeer)

9. Most Unforgettable Christmas Song Appearance in a Movie:
Deck the Halls in the Chinese restaurant, A Christmas Story

10. Best Use of Onomatopoeia in a Christmas Song When Sung By Many People Simultaneously:
"We wwwwwwsssshhhhh you a merry Christmas!"

(or, alternatively titled, Best Disappearance of a Vowel in a Christmas Carol When Sung By Many People Simultaneously)

December 13, 2004

AtmosFEAR is the leaderboard of board games!
Posted by Jess in Gaming

It used to be that every time Matt and I played board games, we always said the same thing - why don't we play these more often? They're SO fun!

Well, fortunately for us, Reality TV hit the airwaves, and so Matt and I turned to good friends, good laughs, and good games!

Here's some of our favorites:


An oldie but still a goodie, just be sure to have the official "Scrabble Dictionary" at hand. Though Matt and I have yet to get that 50 point bonus for using all 7 tiles at once, we've come close. Don't forget our variation, "Scrabbizzle", in which if you can use it in a sentence, you can play it.


This game involves no board, but a lot of bull. A question is read aloud, such as "How did the Oreo cookie get it's name?", or "Why do Twizzlers have the texture around the edge?" Each person gets handed a card, and only one has the right answer. You then go around the room giving your "answer", and each person votes at the end. This game has never managed to be boring, and we've yet to find someone that didn't like playing. Major hint: Proper names and dates work WONDERS. But from experience, trust me. It's hard to believe that the last three question coincidentally all happened during the Great Depression.


Our current favorite! This is a board game that you play along with a DVD. Race around the board getting keys, while the clock on the DVD counts down from 49 minutes - no pausing! The Gatekeeper will appear on screen at random intervals ("Maggots!") to taunt you and make you do all sorts of silly things. You can draw time cards, in which you watch the clock to do certain things. For example, when the clock reaches 38:33, yell "Stop!" If anyone jumps, you get to take a key from them. The Gatekeeper is hysterical, and the interactions are random, so you can play the game over and over again and still hear something new that makes you laugh. Oh, and the really neat thing? The game comes in 5.1 surround sound for the background eerie noises. Though the Gatekeeper and noises might be a little scary for younger children. I took a screenshot of the TV so you can make your own decision. But, it's a great family game, up to six people can play.

The Gatekeeper:


And he says WE'RE ugly and stupid?

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