Friday, August 28, 2009

My First 24 Hours of Texting

I finally broke down yesterday and decided that it was worth $10 a month for me to get and send text messages. If it was just up to me, I would have probably lived without them, but unfortunately too many people I know assume them to be guaranteed delivery, so when their texts to me just disappear into the ether, they assume I just ignored it...

So in the last 24 hours, I have sent or received 70 text messages. Luckily most of those were to others on Verizon (ie my sister or my best friend), so I'm not counted against my 500/month for those. Most of those were sent using t9word, which I found to be an interesting experience. Sure I had used it before to enter short notes to myself, but never anywhere near thee extent I've used it in the last 24 hours. As I got more experience, it very slowly stopped being so much about hitting the number with the correct letter on it, and more about hitting the right combos for the words I wanted to type. Much the same as can be said about morse code: You can't think of it as dots and dashes. You have to start listening to it and just be able to hear that - .... . means "the" and - .... .- -. -.- ... means "thanks." In this case, it just happens to be only encoding, and not both directions.

It goes to show that, if you spend some time learning something every day, you can pick it up rather quickly. Now I just need to start working on my morse code as such...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Personal Best for Origami Ball

I have been folding these balls ever since 6th grade when my teacher had one on her desk. I was just obsessed with it, and she made a deal that for every week I turned in all my homework, she'd teach me the next step to making it.

The one she taught me how to build used 30 squares of paper. Each square is folded into a parallelogram, then woven together. The centers of each parallelogram make the edge between two of the pyramids on the surface of the sphere. The 30 ball was made by grouping the triangular pyramids in groups of 5, like the group in the front of the first picture. I soon discovered that you could make a smaller ball using groups of 4, which only used 12 parallelograms. Going in the other direction, I soon found that groups of 6 would make an infinite sheet (consider the pyramids as just equilateral triangles, and you can see why they'd lay flat).

This left me with a challenge: How do I make a sphere larger than the 30, when 6 groups don't make a sphere at all? I figured that a heterogeneous lattice would do it, but couldn't quite visualize what the layout would be.

Wikipedia to the rescue! Buckminsterfullerene (C60) is perfect to model my sphere after. Treat each Carbon atom as one of the equilateral triangles, and each bond as the long edge between each pair of triangles, and the whole design drops out. The fact that I was able to realize this somewhere in the order of 8th-9th grade, is, in hindsight, pretty impressive.

Wanting to have a general idea of what I was getting myself into, I wanted to know how many of these parallelograms I needed to fold. This turned out to be a fairly easy calculation. Each triangle is made from three interlocking parallelograms, and each parallelogram is part of two triangles. Since I'm treating each triangle as a Carbon atom in the fullerene template, I know I need 60 triangles. 60 triangles * 3 parallelograms per triangle / 2 triangles per parallelogram = 90 parallelograms. Quite a project.

Lucky for me, I was generally unemployed this summer, so time was my middle name. I woke up at the crack of noon one day, and decided, "self, today is the day that this is actually going to happen." A paper cutter, 24 sheets of paper, and 6 straight hours of folding later, I sat down to dinner being the proud owner of a sphere admirably larger than my last.

In case we're unclear, by "larger," I really mean "more awesome"

UPDATE: Before I finally disassembled it, I figured I should take a picture of this latest accomplishment next to its predecessors to give you a better idea of what kind of progress has been made. Pictures below is the Buckyball on top, with the 4 cluster on the left and 5 cluster on the right.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Have a Pen Problem

I'm ready to admit it; I have a pen problem. Fry's had a ridiculous sale this week: an 8 pack of pens for 15 cents. 15 freakin cents! So like every reasonable human being, I promptly drove to Fry's, Jeff Glass in toe, and bought 5 of them. Unfortunately, my wonderful mother pointed out that she needed more pens for her desk, so being the reasonable son I am, I sold two packs to her for 30 cents.

At this point, I was faced with a dilemma. I only had 3 packs of pens, which works out to be 24, which is good, but not nearly as awesome as 5 packs of pens. Normally, that would be that, but I happened to be in that side of town again (literally drove right by Fry's), so the obvious answer was to go in and buy another 5 packs.

I have 64 pens, and I spent $1.34 to get them. My life is awesome.