35000 feet

Woot! Flying back to Richmond!

I am writing this post on my tablet PC on the plane =) Need something to do to kill the time.

Of course, I’m not posting this on the plane =) too cheap to use the $30 (IIRC) satellite connection.

Can you see me waving at you 10058 metres above sea level? =P yeah yeah. shamefully old, I know.

ETA 8 hours 24 minutes. The plane is just north of Japan now. Need to fly across the Pacific. I heard planes from mainland China actually goes across the North Pole. That would be so cool =P

Everyone around me is sleeping right now, including this restless baby that has been screaming constantly for the past two hours. They really should ban babies from airplanes, for security reasons, considering the insane energy density of babies =P. They are like TNTs. But then again, chocolate bars have even higher energy density, just that the energy cannot be released as quickly.

I am actually doing an experiment with myself, to combat jetlag. I won’t go into the details, but the point is, I want to stay awake for the entire flight 🙂 which is just starting to prove itself difficult, as it is already 3am in Taiwan. So far, coffee and tea have helped a bit, and I am trying to keep myself awake by ranting on and on and on in this post :). I came prepared, too, with loads of good stuff on my computer (which I can supposedly get ~5 hrs of battery life out of, with two batteries… or until the guy in front of me decides to slant his chair), such as Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1 that I am listening to. I am learning Debussy’s Children’s Corner btw, really pretty piece (I THINK it’s the second movement. The one that starts with endless 16-th notes on the right hand). I’m really starting to love impressionist stuff :). Next up – Wicked =D. I am carefully selecting my music here. Need exciting stuff. Pictures at an Exhibition just won’t do =P.

BTW, this headphone I am using now is really nice with active noise cancelling. Active noise cancelling basically works by recording the sound from OUTSIDE, and merging the INVERSE of the noise into the headphone’s output, effectively cancelling out the noise. Really cool technology, and it actually works =P. I can barely hear the sound of the engines, and I am sitting right on the wing.

Also brought with me, on my tablet PC, is an archive of xkcd.com, some articles on computational geometry (my interest of study at this very moment), and a collection of almost all 金庸 novels =P (a Chinese “fantasy” novel writer). I am not sure if I want to read the geometry stuff, as that’s some hardcore calculus, and I am not exactly totally awake now :). xkcd comics could kill some time =D.

I think I will watch Red Cliff some time later :). At least there are (or is) pretty girl(s) in there. Or so I heard. Was hoping they would have Wall-E. That’s like the movie of the summer that I missed this year.

… Music has stopped… I have just finished listening to ALL OF Wicked…

WOOT WOOT WOOT! 1/3 way there. ETA 6 hours 51 minutes…

And at this very moment, one of my batteries just ran out…

I finally understand why people buy $3000 laptops just to get 7 hours of battery life…

haha there’s actually an AC outlet in the washroom. Not sure if I want to charge my computer in there, though…

Interestingly enough, I don’t feel sleepy anymore.

Now some random stuff that I have always been wondering. Have you thought that, maybe we all perceive the world in different ways visually? For example, maybe my red is your green? Maybe what you see as pink is the same as what I see as blue? As long as there is a one-to-one mapping, we humans will never be able to tell.

My fingers are really getting tired now. Time to put my computers to sleep and watch some movie =).

ETA 5 hours 28 minutes. Bummer. Didn’t end up watching any movie. The entertainment system thing is really screwed. All the movies are messed up.

Turbulance =S. The plane is REALLY REALLY shaky now. You know, humans cannot feel velocity, but only acceleration. I feel like I am riding a roller coaster right now, with the same feeling in the gut. It’s pretty freaky, especially on an airplane =P. But yeah, if you are reading this, I did come out of it alive.

My eyelids are getting heavier and heavier and heavier…
can’t sleep. can’t sleep. can’t sleep…
hmm. I wonder if anyone makes anti-sleeping pills? like caffeine pills? =P

ETA 1 hour

haha just watched a random movie. “Smart People” or something, about one weird, arrogant, self-absorbed, bastardicious literature prof going out with a student he failed ten years ago, who someone went into biology and became a doctor instead…

I made it =D

Hmm yeah, no sleep for >24 hrs + 9 boring hours in economy class + battery-life-challenged laptop isn’t exactly fun. Will see how my experiment turns out, though =).

Night time Taipei, on the 4th dimension

Went to Taipei with my family yesterday, by the new HSR (high speed rail) =D, travelling at ~300km/hr (83 m/s). It was fun at the Taipei 101, went up to the 89th floor observatory. Bird eye view of Taipei city with all the skyscrapers =). Got some good food for lunch and dinner, too.

The point of this post though, is that, on the way back, at night, on the high speed train, I noticed something really cool – the lights in the city =). I saw a neat trick on the internet a while ago, and thought I would try to duplicate it. Much to my surprise, I actually did it =D.

Notice how the “lights” are dotted. Each line is just one street light. For those who have not seen the trick, this is because those street lights are on alternating current (AC), and so they switch on and off at 50/60Hz (50/60 times per second). If they were on direct current (DC), the lines would have been solid. The author of the original one I saw on the internet moved the camera by hand instead, using a long shutter speed (high exposure). My version used a camera phone that had no shutter speed control (except maybe the night mode, which I suspect increased exposure). Instead, I relied on high velocity (of the train) to get the effect :). Not as pretty as the original.. but.. =P.

Oh, and if you are wondering, Taipei is always starless due to all the pollution =<.

*edit* original image is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternating_current */edit*

Swimming with ghosts!?

Apparently, in the Chinese lunar calendar, July (August in the “modern” calendar) is the month of ghosts/spirits/whatever-you-call-those-floating-stuff-in-Spirited-Away. In that month, one is not supposed to move, marry, go near the beach, spit (because you may spit on those invisible ghosts)… etc. That, of course, raises some questions. First of all, why are ghosts bad and evil? According to Buddhist tales, those ghosts were all once human. Why are they trying to screw people over, then, once they are dead? Is our world really that full of evil people? There’s got to be more good ghosts than those old people would like us to believe. Also, why is July the month of ghosts? To answer this question, I think we have to refer to the ingenious proof that Hell is exothermic. Of course, the Asian hell does not work the same way as the Christian hell. Most notably, there is the concept of reincarnation. Meaning souls do come out of hell, and become human again. That means, while the Christian hell is an ever-expanding system, the Asian hell is in a dynamic equilibrium with the living world, which explains the phenomenom of hell breaking lose in July – it’s the hottest time of the year, and by Le Chatelier’s principle (what man does, nature tries to undo), the equilibrium shifts to the living world (since the forward reaction, death, is already proven to be exothermic), releasing ghosts =D. So much chemistry those ancient Chinese people knew, eh? =P

What it has to do with me, though, is that I get almost empty pools to swim in. Can you imagine having a lane all to yourself and you can swim down the middle, splashing as much water as you want? =D. So yeah, I am grateful of those “ghosts” =).

Next time you go swimming, remember to say hello to those ghosts, and give some love – life is tough down there =). Oh, and don’t worry about finding them, they are everywhere. Hell is crowded and concentrated. Just wave your arms randomly in the air. Chances are there is a ghost right in front of you.

Movies. Popcorns. Conspiracy Theory.

I was at a movie theatre today (the actual movie I watched is not worth mentioning. Just a truckload of cliche’s stuck together) and was wondering about… erm… popcorns (YEAH FOOD =D). Why is it that movies always come with popcorns? Just a long lasting tradition? I think not =). As some of you may know, I am a big believer in conspiracy theory. I think there is conspiracy in everything. The popcorn thing is no exception. Actually thinking about it, popcorns cost very little (a few kernels make a huge pile), and can be sold at sky-high prices. But then why would people buy them? Nowadays movie theatres are pretty much the only place where people sell popcorns. Is there a connection?

Ah, what do you think will happen if you confine hundreds of people in a tiny room for 3 hours, and give 1/4 of them free popcorns? May be worth noting that popcorns release a strong smell into the air. And next time, just before you take them back to the tiny room, try to sell them popcorns at rediculus prices =P. That, I think, is what happens at movie theatres. That’s why they don’t sell things like candies or chocolate bars – other people won’t smell them =). This is like forced advertisement, exploiting popcorn-buying customers =P.