Ramblings

Usually drunken.
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Mountain Biking - Part 2: "The Wipe Out"

March 24, 2009, 7:58 a.m. by John
So yesterday afternoon my buddy and I went riding in Terry Hershey Park here in Houston. It's basically a 7 or so mile long park following a creek with a concrete path on one side and a mountain biking/hiking dirt trail on the other. About 20 minutes into the ride we decide to switch bikes just to see how the other rode. So my buddy and I are riding along the dirt path and get to this fairly steep 10' tall hill. Neither one of us makes it up the front side and have to walk to the top of the hill. He immediately jumps on my bike and makes it down no problem. At the end of the hill was a big tree lying across the path and so he jumps off the bike to get under it, just as I take off from the top of the hill. So the path down the back side of this hill is covered in roots from rain water washing the dirt out and other mountain bikers. This usually is a bigger deal going up than down so I didn't think too much of it...yet. So I start off and go over a couple roots no problem and then I get to this one that's sticking up about 6" above the trail. I'm not sure if I didn't try to pick up the front wheel or as I did I hit the brake, all I know is that I hit the root and my front tire stopped immediately. So, this isn't the first time this has happened and usually I just jump off the seat, put my feet on the ground, and awkwardly walk down the hill. This would not be the case today. As my front tire stopped I jump off my seat, put my feet on the ground, and said "Uh oh!," immediately catching my buddy's attention so he could watch the events unfold. As my feet hit the ground the rear tire lifted and I went straight over the bars. As I fell over the bars I tucked my right shoulder, I think I do this because of the number of times I jumped off my house and out of trees as a kid. Anyway, as I tucked my shoulder my left foot came up first and my heel caught the pedal of the bike, lifting it and sending it soaring in the air. As I landed flat on my back I looked up at a bike, that isn't mine, flying through the air. It landed about 4 feet away. At this point my buddy is also on the ground, except he's laughing his ass off. He somehow squeezed out "are you OK?," and by this time I realized that I wasn't in too much pain. I got back up, checked his bike and our cell phones that were in my Camelback. Thankfully there were no injuries to the rider, the bike, or the phones. We continued our ride and got a solid 13 miles in. My buddy swears it's the funniest thing he's seen in a long time. My shoulder's a little sore this morning.

Sea Town, Here I Come!

March 22, 2009, 10:22 p.m. by Sam
space needle
I'm going to Seattle tomorrow morning. I'm going to be getting a physical for a job I hope to get. Don't ask me why I have to go to Seattle to get the physical--that's just what my travel orders state. Getting asked to get a physical means I'm quite a bit closer to landing my dream job, provided that I pass the physical and that at least one other person does not pass the physical, which may be the case, since they don't ask you to get it unless someone else failed or is disqualified. Even though I'm only going to be there for a few days and it'll be mostly sitting in a doctor's office, I'm pretty excited. The only other time I was in Seattle was a far-too-long layover in the Sea-Tac airport in the middle of the night with nothing to eat but fast food. This time I might get a little time to see the city. I'm also stoked about getting a three day extension on spring break. I need a rest from SXSW!

I’d rather be dancing ballroom

March 12, 2009, 10:37 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
Last week at The Hall I realized that I am becoming increasingly frustrated with country-western dancing. I guess it isn’t specifically the dancing that I am bored with, but rather the (wait, let me get out my soapbox) relatively low quality of the average partner. There are, of course, some outstanding dancers to be found at The Hall, but they are the minority. I am usually fortunate to be surrounded by good partners, but on slow nights I find myself torn between my desire to dance, and my aversion to dancing with somebody who (a) is no good, and (b) has no desire to improve (either of the two is fine, but together it is a shitty combination). Another infuriating aspect of C&W is the lack of dancing etiquette. There are a few simple rules that—when followed my everybody—make dancing much more pleasant, they prevent collision and reduce traffic-jams. However, folks at honky-tonks have no knowledge of these guidelines (or perhaps they know them but have no desire to follow them, either way the result is the same). These rules include: No standing on the dance-floor, slower moving couples should stay to the inside of the dance-floor allowing faster moving couples to pass by, avoid stopping (for floor moves or otherwise) in a choked area of the dance-floor, don’t attempt lifts when another couple is in striking distance, and remain vigilant of other couples so as to avoid collisions. The Hall has also made a deliberate shift in their musical selection, this move toward Nashville Country is infuriating. The management claims it is good for business, but I don’t see how selling out your regulars and becoming exactly like your competition is a good thing. There is no denying that there are bad dancers and people with poor etiquette at ballroom dances as well. However there is adequate social pressure to correct the etiquette problems, and it is easier to recognize good dancers. I will continue to dance C&W because it is fun and I still enjoy the different social aspects of a honky-tonk, but there are several things that I would change given the opportunity.

don't just say google

March 7, 2009, 4:25 p.m. by Lew
here let me google that for you
I have something that matters to share with the internet. When someone asks a question don't just tell them to google it. A question is a way of starting a conversation. conversations are an essential tool for human survival and happiness. if someone asks you a question they are interested in you. they have some sort of respect for you and want you to share knowledge. we could just google everything but that isn't a society i want to partake in.

Gogo Thismatters

March 4, 2009, 6:39 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
check the stats, yo.
So, I’m pretty anal about checking the statistics of thismatters, this morning I checked the stats for February (at right). Fifteen Hundred viewers in the month of February, 50% more than January. Eat your heart out [other self-run website about nothing]. In case you’re wondering almost all the hits were for my [Lone Star bottle cap collection](http://thismatters.net/hobbies/lonestar/), and a great deal of them came from a [meta-filter article](http://www.metafilter.com/79554/There-aint-nothin-finer-than-an-icecold-LONE-STAR) about Lone Star Beer—which I swear I didn’t write—that gave me a pretty big shout out. The link from the [Lone Star Beer Wikipedia entry](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Star_Brewing_Company) has always brought in a few hits, but this meta-filter page is doing gangbusters. If I keep getting mad hits on my [cap view page](http://thismatters.net/hobbies/lonestar/capview.php?cap=1) then I might have to add an ad to it and start making back some of these hosting costs. I know what you’re thinking, ads are stupid and annoying, and you are right, but [one company](http://www.projectwonderful.com/advertisewithus.php) is actually doing internet ads the right way. If I were to add an ad it would be through them, but I probably won’t because ads are stupid and annoying, plus I have a job and don’t really need the money.

you're definitely doing it way wrong

Feb. 27, 2009, 6:06 p.m. by Trey
BBBOOOOOCCCKKKK!!!!!!
to kind of lighten up the mood of the blog for a change; i came across this motivational poster while i was being bored on the internet today. it pertains in two ways: a. you're doing it wrong b. i like chickens it made me giggle, thoughts?

Axioms: Meta-Nature's Candy

Feb. 24, 2009, 11:16 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
_The following is a guest post made by my roommate, Tim._\n\nSometimes in philosophy and math, it becomes requisite to acknowledge that certain \"facts\" are unverifiable. Assumptions are made, and arguments use these assumptions as a starting point. There's not a question of them being right or wrong, as they're either \"self-evident\" or just light from the proverbial void. I point this out in reference to a statement that \"2+2=4\" is \"always completely verifiable\". It's not that it's a bad assumption to make, but it's being somewhat abused to make a point about morality or birth control... or something.\n\nLet's start with what doesn't have anything to do with scientific fact (in this case, because it isn't scientific). Firstly, the afore-mentioned \"2+2=4\" is a special instance of what is called the law of identity (e.g. a = a). For certain arguments, this so-called law has been used as the assumption upon which various blitheringly stupid arguments have been made (see: Ayn Rand). Basically, science doesn't enter into it. Science is all about figuring things out based on empirical observation (called \"a posteriori\" knowledge), and the law of identity is self-asserting, not based on experience (called \"a priori\" knowledge), but draws its truth value from the claim itself. 2+2=4 is neither a scientific claim nor a scientific fact.\n\nThat being said, let's talk about another thing that doesn't have anything to do with scientific fact (in this case, because it isn't fact). It's true that scientists of a sort became aware of a possible health danger exists in the consumption of eggs. Researchers (people who experiment and analyze results) discovered a link between the amount and type of cholesterol in egg yolks and a dangerous increase in LDL cholesterol levels in the human blood stream. The researchers in question work in biomedical science, which at this point is far softer science than something like chemistry, making it particularly difficult to verify the veracity of claims made. At very best, there was fairly compelling evidence that the assertion could be true. The link was popularized, and many people did accept as \"gospel truth\" that \"eggs gon' kill us\". This speaks more to the fickleness of the general populus and less to the claims made by \"science\". As happens with things that may or may not be true, studies have been done that suggest the exact opposite; that eggs in fact lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. The absolute truth of the matter is arguably difficult to pin down, and as long as people keep immediately believing anything published on paper, people will continue to scapegoat \"science\" for giving us lowly commoners \"facts\" that later end up not being true. To clarify, the Houston Chronicle's \"health\" section doesn't count as science, as far as any vaguely accurate definition is concerned.\n\nNow, let's change things up completely and talk about why scientific fact doesn't have anything to do with what was said (in this case, because the term \"scientific fact\" doesn't make a damned bit of sense). The \"facts\" (I'm just going to discuss the laws of thermodynamics as the strongest possible objection to my own argument) that science currently possesses are very strong, but no matter how strong they contend to be, there's an implicit assumption that they are correct and that they are just so compelling that they're almost certainly true. I'm not going to disagree, as they are very, very compelling. Despite that opinion/fact, there are various contingencies in which science's strongest facts manage to be actively false (e.g. our context isn't as clear as it seems, there are forces at work we just flatly can't currently see... There are more. But don't take my word for it!).\n\nI've managed to pretty bluntly avoid my real problem with the obviously referent argument. The morality/ethics/religion/science battle royale being waged earlier was convoluted enough that I'm not sure that any of the parties involved were necessarily sure what was even being argued. But I suppose that's content for another headache.\n\nI suppose it's pointless to mention that THIS MATTERS.

Mountain Biking

Feb. 17, 2009, 2:18 p.m. by John
I finally decided that i am gaining too much weight and needed to do something about it. i have joined a gym and it is nice to have a place to workout and destroy co-workers in racquetball but sometimes i just want to be outside. i have also found, over the years, that i despise running because i find it one of the most boring things to do ever. I have some friends in college station and here, in houston, who mountain bike on a regular basis and after riding with them a few times i decided to go ahead and buy one (see pic) i rode it a few times up and down the bayou behind my house but didn't get into any intense riding until this weekend. while riding i came upon 2 very important discoveries. 1. know which way your shifters shift. when you get up to a big hill you don't want to go into a higher gear, stall out, and stumble half way down...in front of other people. this sounds simple but you would be amazed what actually happens when you get into this situation. 2. look at where you want to go and not where you don't want to. this, too, sounds simple but have you ever seen those video shows where the guy driving down the highway crashes into the police car sitting on the side of the road? same concept when applied to trees and stumps while riding a bike. anyway, i would recommend this source of exercise to anyone. it's a great way to get out and get some fresh air, while getting a full body work out without getting bored.
http://www.fisherbikes.com/img/bikes/2009/640x400/

Update (Re: Options)

Feb. 16, 2009, 1:28 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
I [previously posted](http://thismatters.net/ramblings/comment.php?post_id=220) that I was considering quitting graduate school after finishing my Master’s degree. I’m happy to say that I have decided against that plan. My new advisor was able to pull some strings at NASA and get them to open up a fellowship position for me which led to a significant pay increase from my previous salary so I am in a much better financial situation than before. I’m still looking forward to teaching full (or at least mostly full) time, but I can put it off a few more years and muscle through my doctorate. In the interim I will continue to tutor and keep applying to be a lecturer here in the Mechanical Engineering department. As far as research goes I am enjoying my current topic a lot more now that I have funding and time to work on it, but will keep looking for a new and exciting topic for my Ph.D. As part of this development I took my qualifying exams (or [prelims](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preliminary_examination) if you will) last week. I’m happy to announce that I passed them both on the first attempt, so I am now qualified to start Doctoral work.

Valentine's Day

Feb. 14, 2009, 7:55 p.m. by Sam
cupid
I am sick of Valentine's Day. Not because of the commercialization or the fact that I'm single, but because of all the single people who complain about it. I know too many people who bitch about it for weeks on end and then have anti-Valentine's Day celebrations, wherein they pretend to not enjoy the idea of showing their loved ones what they mean to them. I celebrated anti-Valentine's Day exactly once, and that was when I was in 7th grade. Eleven years ago. I was 14 years old. Calling it Singles Awareness Day doesn't make you edgy. Nor does burning your panties or eating upside down heart cookies. Face the facts: you are, for some reason, obsessed with the idea of being in a relationship and bitter as fuck that you're not in one. You may say all the anti-V-Day stuff is a joke, but there's a kernel of truth to every joke. Maybe the reason you're single is because of your terrible attitude. Heaven forbid you let other people have fun today. Maybe one day when you find your sack and quit wearing shortpants to work, you might actually have a significant other and you will have fun celebrating V-Day. More than likely, you will not, so next year when you're feeling like a pathetic neckbearded lump of angst, try calling your mom or grandma and telling them happy Valentine's Day. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you and it'll give you something nice to do. Maybe next time Yom Kippur rolls around, I'll bitch and moan about it for weeks and call it Gentile Awareness Day. Or maybe on Bastille Day I'll have an anti-France party, even though I think France looks really lovely and I'd like to go one day. Anything to make a point to you chronic complainers.
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