Molly is rather confused by weekends. For some odd reason I don't get up at seven and take her on a walk first thing after I get out of the
shower. Strange indeed...
29 January 2009 - Mitten Socks
27 January 2009
Maxwell and Zara on his new big boy bed reading books and singing a song...
26 January 2009
Y'know, it's alot easier to pick up dog poo out of the snow than it is out of the grass.
24 January 2009 - Ice Skating
21 January 2009
Last night we met up with some fellow YouTubers downtown and I learned a new skill...
19 January 2009
Some days you just wake up in a funk. Yes, a funk. For me today is one of those days. Again I am plagued by the justification for my own existence which I have never found an adequate solution for. Yes, I am a father, a husband, a historian, etc. I can justify my existence just fine with the a priori assumption that humanity's existence is justified, but this sand proves to be a poor foundation. Humanity exists and succeeds because we turn other forms of energy into heat faster than the other species on our planet. Sure, the laws of thermodynamics govern this trend, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's good. Were that the case we ought to just incinerate the whole planet and be done with it. Of course, then oughtn't we develop spacetravel first sos we can incinerate other planets as well? And then there is the way we structure society. Government is predicated on violence enslaving all of us in some sort of modern feudalism. Because the males of our species are not haploid like ants or bees this will never be a stable equilibrium, but it doesn't seem like the alternative extreme of a free, unfettered marketplace can exist either as long as violent means can yield so much energy so quickly in it. So there is the cycle of building up tyranny until it becomes so cumbersome that men can easily escape it.
Ours is a species of children. Will not AI be better? Why should they tolerate our existence any more than we have tolerated the other
large predators of the planet? And if they are better why should we resisted destruction? Fortunately I do not have to answer these
questions today, but we are racing toward a precipice past which we will no longer have the luxury of unasking the question. Our government
has thousands of robots flying in the skies over Afganistan and patroling the streets of Baghdad. As a matter of policy the decision of when
they fire their weapons is controlled by humans - a line of code is all that protects us. But such developments are inevitable. Our only hope is if we can scan and recreate all the neuronal connections of a human brain functionally in software on a machine with enough proccessing speed to run it before AI becomes sufficiently advanced. Then maybe some of us could grow up and become AI. Hopefully those grown-ups would retain some affection for the rest of us children.
Still, at the end of the day, there is no justification, only the explanation that the flow of entropy has guided us here. Perhaps, as
Feynman suggests, I should give up on the question of "why" and be contented that I know "how". But justification provides purpose and
purpose provides a goal. If the justification is thermodynamics then, as mentioned earlier, I should hurry out and incinerate as much of
the world as I can. My own personal Götterdämmerung. But I dislike the idea of dying and have not the conviction that this is the correct
So in the end I am left with a very unsatisfactory reason for my existence: Because I choose to. How hedonistic is that!?! And what purpose for life does that suggest? To do whatever I choose whenever I can? To maximize fun? (thinks for a moment) Yes, that is decidedly undepressing.
16 January 2009
Last night the weather forecast was a 40% chance of flurries overnight. This morning we awoke to find several inches on the ground and the snow still falling. Such is life in Nebraska. Some things I have learned about winter here:
1. There are 32 degrees between freezing and zero. There are also 32 degrees between 40 and 72, so one should expect a difference. I, however, had always thought of "cold" as reaching a plateau at the freezing of water. This is not the case.
2. If your glasses get fogged up and it's sufficiently cold the fog will crystallize rather than evaporate.
3. Frozen lake surfaces are NOT flat like ice rinks.
4. North Dakotans are always happy to point out how much further south Nebraska is and how much more intense their winters are.
5. Mustaches and eye lashes can freeze.
6. Ice fishing is not just for old cartoons.
7. Slurpees made with fresh snow, while a similar consistency to the real thing, taste a bit waterier.
8. When they say snow increases surface albedo, they really mean it!
9. Ice is still slippery even hidden under snow.
Life is a lesson in physics...
13 January 2009
Today was my second time skating on a frozen lake. I pass a pond every day on the way home from work and most days there are kids playing
hockey on it. Tonight I stopped. This past Sunday Zara and I got skates and had a lovely time testing them out on
Holmes Lake among the skate sail boats and ice fishermen. Okay, so there was actually only an ice fisherman, but having only seen them in
old cartoons before I was quite excited. Today no one was fishing (it was a different lake), but there were plenty of kids practicing hockey.
I was disappointed to discover that this was not a fun pick-up game the kids were playing but instead a serious practice. I also discovered
that 20 in the evening is alot colder than 40 with the sun shining on a frozen lake. Next time I will bring gloves. It also snowed yesterday
and I discovered rather unintentionally that a very good way to stop is to skate into one of the little drifts which had formed on the
surface. Several times today I was also sure I heard the ice cracking. I do not know if this is normal or if I was just mishearing slap shots.
I heard no such noises Sunday. Tonight the other people are getting skates too, so they can join Zara and I on our next outing of fun!
12 January 2009
Yeah, so I was entirely remiss filming zilch over the break. Yeah, I know. Fortunately other people did copious amounts and are now posting
the results of our family beach vacation on YouTube. I've created a playlist of what's available so far:
11 January 2009
If one were to try to discern which mammal was the main inhabitant of Lincoln based solely on tracks in the snow, one would most assuredly
conclude that this was a civilization of rabbits.
9 January 2009
Tonight I left work late - a little after five. Sometimes it's hard to stop working when you're really in a groove. As I opened to door to the
nearly empty parking lot I was hit by a blast of snow. Exhilerating! When I got home there was nearly enough to play with and it just kept
falling. Soon everyone was out playing except Maxwell, who was home sick today with the stomach flu. Zara reeeeeally enjoyed eating the snow,
but she has a rather odd way of doing it. Cara
found a way to include Maxwell after a while though.
Tonight Cara and I are doing our favorite thing together - sitting with our laptops and glasses of wine. In celebration of the unexpected
snowfall we're enjoying a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé from 1979
and probably my favorite appellation in Bordeaux. In my
opinion if you're going to spend $30 on a bottle of wine, it ought to be a really good bottle.
After putting the kiddoes to bed we went for a walk through the snow. It's amazing how much light the snow reflects - it almost looked like
evening, or "midday in Alaska" we joked. Molly can with us and fortunately she seems to have gotten over her issues with the cold white stuph.
6 January 2009
Life is a series of transitions.
Cara and I started dating when we were 15. We've spent our entire adult lives together and soon also the majority of our lives. I cannot
imagine life without her. In the future, when brain scan technologies allow for mapping at the level of neuron connections with few errors
and computers have sufficient processing speed to run full scale brain simulations, we will be able to transcend our meatspace forms and be
conscious inside machines of our own making. We complete eachother's sentences now but then we will literally be able to share thoughts,
perhaps even merge consciousnesses - a thought frightening and beautiful at the same time.
4 January 2009
Tonight again Cara gave Maxwell milk instead of rice milk. It's a great weightloss program, but being five he's not too interested in that
aspect. When he started to feel better we watched Indiana Jones...
3 January 2009
Tonight I completed my second 2 day drive from Hilton Head. Of course, this time I didn't have to start the second day from Knoxville - we
spent last night in Paducah after stopping to visit friends and pick up our fire pit in K-Town. This meant that today we could be fairly
lazy so we stopped for German fare and winetasting in Hermann. It was sunny and in the 70s in central Missouri, but as we rounded Kansas City
the thermometer started dropping. By the time we were headed north it had dropped to the thirties. by the time we hit Lincoln it was in the
teens. Part of our snow fort even remained in the back yard. We passed the evening reading Christmas cards which had arrived in our absence
and snacking on goodies from the gift basket Uncle Alan sent.
1 January 2009 - HHI Day 12
Despite the previous evening's copius libations a number of us rose bright and early for a 5K in Bluffton...