Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Compiler writers are the unsung heroes of the computer age

January 13, 2019

It recently dawned on me that everything we do with a computer, from making friends on Facebook, to running weather forecasting models, to rendering images on a browser, gets compiled down to a set of simple operations that a CPU executes at amazingly fast speeds. Without compilers and compiler writers most of the amazing things we do today with computers would not be possible.

I bow in honor of Alan Turing, who recognized that all computing can be done using a set of simple operations. Turing made the revolutionary breakthrough. Turing made today’s computers possible.

I bow in honor of the person or persons who recognized that high level languages can be created and broken down into – compiled into – the simple operations that Turing identified.

I bow in honor of compiler writers, who have devised ways to produce assembly code (CPU instructions) that are even more efficient than hand-crafted code.

I bow in honor of CPU makers; their machines are Turing’s soul incarnate in computers.

My strategy for mastering the Olympic weightlifting lifts

January 6, 2019

My new goal is to master the Olympic lifts. In particular, I want to master the snatch. One Olympic weightlifting champion (Jerzy Gregorek) says, If you can snatch your body weight into your 80s, then you will have a wonderful life. Why does he say that? Because the snatch is one of the most complex movements. It requires these attributes: flexibility, speed, and strength. The nice thing is, once possessed, those attributes transfer over to all parts of one’s life.

Here is my step-by-step plan to master the Olympic lifts:

(1) Increase my flexibility. Jerzy Gregorek said it took him a year to gain the required flexibility. I am sure it will take me at least that long. Probably twice as long. That’s okay. I want a solid foundation. I’ve been working on improving my flexibility for about a month. I’ve made good progress, but still have a long way to go.

(2) Master the squat press. What’s a squat press? It is this: Do a squat. At the bottom of the squat, press the bar overhead. Then stand up.

(3) Hire an Olympic weightlifting coach to teach me the snatch. I don’t think the snatch can be safely learned on one’s own.

Crunches are bad … here’s why

December 25, 2018

I spend most of my day hunched over a computer. That’s bad. It’s causing my spine to curve like a C, which is the wrong way for the spine to be curved.

The spine should be curved the other direction.

Crunches are bad because with every rep the abs are pounding on the spine to flatten out. But the spine should not be flat. The spine should be arched.

No more crunches for me.

In fact, no more exercises that pound the spine into flatness, which means no more upside-down leg press, no more flyes with legs up on the bench, etc. And certainly, no exercise that curl forward.

Two secrets to proper weightlifting technique

December 17, 2018

Secret #1: Curl your toes up. That will ensure your weight is on the middle of your foot (actually, on the front end of the heels).

Secret #2: Chest out, shoulders back. If you focus on keeping the chest out and shoulders back, it will naturally ensure your hips rise properly when lifting the weight off the floor and it will ensure your form is correct when squatting.

The power of truly listening

November 11, 2018

For almost three decades, John Francis has been a planet walker, traveling the globe by foot and sail with a silent message of environmental respect. For 17 of those years he didn’t speak a word.

Here’s what he said about listening:

[Before he stopped talking] I used to listen to someone just enough to think I knew what they wanted to say and then I would stop listening because I thought I knew what they were going to say. And then I would start thinking about what I was going to say back to show them that they were wrong or that I could say it better or look how smart I am. Not speaking was a great relief for me because I was able to learn from so many people. People have so much to teach if we listen to each other.

https://www.npr.org/2014/11/21/364688000/why-would-someone-choose-silence-for-17-years

Here is how to fix the education system

November 4, 2018

Every school, at every level, has these two mantras:

  • Learning is a lifelong process
  • Look longer and see more

The teachers repeat these mantras to their students, often. And at every level (1st grade, 2nd grade, …, 12th grade).

Every teacher exhibits, daily, a pure joy and love for learning.

No more summer vacations. School is year-round. 10 days off each year – a day off for Christmas, a day off for New Years, etc.

No more rushing to get through a curriculum. Slow down. The teacher introduces a concept and then lots of time is given for the students to explore the concept from all sides, see how it fits in with other things they’ve learned … let the concept become part of the student.

No more tests. Instead, students write, write, and write. “I don’t know what I think until I write it down”

Do these things and it will revolutionize our world.

The education system is broken and needs to change

October 13, 2018

Learning is a lifelong thing. We should stop treating it as something you do just in your youth. Teachers should stop flying through a curriculum for the sake of pronouncing “We covered all the material”.

I was a good student in school. I did well in all the tests. But as I reflect on my schooling, I realize that my learning was superficial. I didn’t deeply understand the material. I didn’t internalize the material. Internalizing a new idea comes about only by spending lots of time with it, looking at the idea from various angles, and relating the idea to other things. It’s only now, after many years away from school, that I am deeply understanding things. How? By slowing down and spending lots of time thinking about each idea.

Look longer and see more.

Researchers create new font designed to boost your memory

October 11, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

A new font can help lodge information deeper in your brain, researchers say, but it’s not magic — just the science of effort.

Psychology and design researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne created a font called Sans Forgetica, which was designed to boost information retention for readers. It’s based on a theory called “desirable difficulty,” which suggests that people remember things better when their brains have to overcome minor obstacles while processing information. Sans Forgetica is sleek and back-slanted with intermittent gaps in each letter, which serve as a “simple puzzle” for the reader, according to Stephen Banham, a designer and RMIT lecturer who helped create the font.

“It should be difficult to read but not too difficult,” Banham said. “In demanding this additional act, memory is more likely to be triggered.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/05/introducing-sans-forgetica-font-designed-boost-your-memory/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ee5902abf438

Look longer and see more

September 16, 2018

Look longer and see more.

I find that simple little saying amazingly profound. It tells me to slow down, look more closely, and understand more deeply.

I wrote it on a yellow sticky and stuck the sticky on the side of my monitor screen so that I am reminded often.

Here is the path to the Fountain of Youth

September 15, 2018

Constant change in both food intake and body stimuli is a key to the Fountain of Youth, I think. Intense, infrequent jolts to the body.

The body adapts shockingly fast. Jolt the body one day and the next day that jolt is far less effective. Everyday must be dramatically different from the last.

Here are the foods and body stimuli that I use to jolt my body.

Foods

  1. Blueberry sauce: get one of those large packages of frozen wild blueberries from Costco (I think it’s got about 10 cups of blueberries in it). Make a simple blueberry sauce with half the package and eat it over the course of a day. So, 5 cups of blueberries are consumed in one day. Wow! What a jolt of energy and mental focus that provides.
  2. Green drinks: get a bunch of greens (spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc.), put them in a blender with a bit of water, and make a green drink. Do this at breakfast, again at lunch, and again at dinner. Plant-based is awesome.
  3. Soup: steam a bunch of carrots, celery, and beets (or some other in-season vegetables) and then pulverize them into a soup. Consume at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  4. Fresh orange juice: squeeze 4 oranges to make a wonderful glass of fresh orange juice. Do this at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  5. 500 calorie day: eat just green salads all day; use fresh lemon and/or balsamic vinegar for seasoning.
  6. Supplements: I used to take supplements every day. What a mistake that was. Now I take a multi, omega 6, and B12 supplement just once a week to jolt my body.
  7. Caffeine: The benefits of caffeine (increased alertness and energy) accrue only on day one. The next day the benefits drop precipitously. So, caffeine (e.g., black tea, green tea, coffee) should be taken infrequently (once a week, or every other week).

Body Stimulus

  1. Donate blood: once a quarter donate blood to the Red Cross. The loss of blood forces the body to generate new blood, which is a massive stimulus to the body.
  2. Cold shower: take a cold shower and/or ice bath. Again, this is a massive stimulus to the body.
  3. Long walks: go for a long walk, at least 1 hour in duration.
  4. Leg exercise: the leg muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body; an intense stimulation of the legs will jolt the entire body (and mind). Among other things, I do a static leg press. I have gotten up to doing a 1700-pound static leg press (strongmen do over 3000 pounds). This is a huge jolt to my entire system.
  5. Stretching and foam rolling: an intense, infrequent session of stretching and foam rolling will jolt the body and mind.
  6. Deadlift: lifting heavy weights is a great stimulus of both the body and mind.