Monday, May 02, 2005

Monday Deterministic One and Other Pseudorandom Thoughts

by Tom Bozzo

1. I finally had to RTFM to see how to engage randomly ordered playback with my car's hardwired iPod adapter (the only way to pod one's ride, BTW), and was amused to find an apparent firmware bug in the adapter. In "random" mode, I get the first track from the library — ordered by artist, then album — currently A Certain Ratio's "Only Together" from Force (Factory Records FACD 166, 1986). This may be the first track for some time, since I don't know of any other bands whose names begin with "A[space]" in my collection. While this gives my car listening (in shuffle mode) a slightly funky start, it's getting old fast.

From then on, the play order seems to be suitably random, though pattern-matching bias has me noticing clusters here and there. Friday in the office, I was getting "lots" of Spinanes and Wygals (consider this a click-through advisory to certain sociologists who may visit on occasion); on the drive in this morning, the random ten had two Buzzcocks songs, of which I actually listened through to "What Do I Get?" (1978). I have to drive through Shorewood Hills police territory, so I should probably skip "Fast Cars" when it comes up...

2. Toddler-free early Spring Arboretum blogging par excellence is available at Other Side of the Ocean here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (now that deep links to the Camic archives work).

3. Somehow or other, volunteering to sit in on the UW's Joint West Campus Area Committee on behalf of my neighborhood association led to a role in founding a neighborhood walking group. This has led me to meter my pedestrianism. I fear that I will prove to be well shy of 10,000 daily steps in my normal weekday activities. From the computer alcove in the house to work and back, I barely managed 2000 steps on the pedometer. The problem: it's 58 steps roundtrip from the office to the coffee pot/water cooler, 75 steps to circumnavigate the floor, and ~250 to my parking space (taking the elevator; ~350 via the stairs). I drink, as it turns out, somewhat less coffee than I'd have guessed. (In contrast, a round trip from home to the edge of Vilas Park at the Edgewood Park and Pleasure Drive is ~5500 steps.) Meanwhile, it's back to the gym...

4. Pecuniary incentives matter. My health plan has a program whereby they offer up to a $200 rebate of health club fees to members who regularly use the facilities, structured as $100 for each consecutive six months with at least ten visits per month. Missing a month resets the count. This has raised the watercooler conversation topic of whether the program offers a real incentive for increased gym attendance, or simply rewards people who would go anyway. (I would note that, to the extent it reveals some healthy behavior information, in principle it could be worth up to $200/year to the health plan.) At least for me, this makes the marginal cash value of certain visits high enough that it kept my nose to the grindstone through, e.g., Julia's newborn stage.

Anyway, I hit the six month mark a couple months ago, and was waiting for my $100 (having previously collected $200 at another facility), and waiting, and waiting. I looked at the fine print, which suggested that $200 might be the maximum total, rather than maximum annual, benefit. Logged April trips: 0.

The April check arrived in the mail on the 29th. Planned May trips: at least 10.

5. For the lexicon: Googlation. That's the act of translating a text from English (or another source language) to a target language and back, using an machine translator such as Google's, which hours long and forms hours of the fun (*). Oscar creats some Googlation art from the words "the Bush Administration" at the Columnist Manifesto, in the latest example of why his blog deserves one hundred times its average daily traffic.

(*) That's "which makes for hours and hours of fun," translated from English to German and back to English, using Google's translator.
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