September 2005

5 Sep 2005 [link to here]
my week

My week was pretty good. I spent it unicycling around giant fire-breathing robots in the desert. How was your week?

7 Sep 2005 [link to here]
big round number

The odometer on my car hit 100000 miles today. That makes my car's average speed over its 11.5 years just under 1mph. This means my car is about five times as fast as my bike was at some point, which often turns out to be true of their median speeds too. (And by that I don't mean how fast I'm going when I jump the divider into oncoming traffic.)

7 Sep 2005 [link to here]

(there's more!)

Yesterday I saw a great blue heron on the way to work. I mean I was on my way to work; I don't know what the heron was up to. I was rather surprised though. I often see egrets in Stevens Creek, but had never seen one of these guys in California before. They're really big.

8 Sep 2005 [link to here]
alpha males

Alpha males have been around a long time. When can we expect a beta release?

17 Sep 2005 [link to here]
king of snake

Today I met a man with a six year old boa constrictor. It was very soft. It's over 2m long and weighs about 7kg, but it'll be closer to 3m and 17kg when it's full grown. It eats once a month (rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chihuahuas), and the process sounds like quite a spectacle. It moves slowly (when it's not trying to kill something), but it's really sneaky and since it's so long, most of it can be halfway around the block before you notice you're just holding the tail end.

18 Sep 2005 [link to here]

Language oddity: "worked" and "wrought" are both past tense forms of "work", but being overworked doesn't imply that one is overwrought.

22 Sep 2005 [link to here]
lead by example

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

25 Sep 2005 [link to here]
double blind date

Last week my brain stumbled onto the phrase "double blind date". I immediately fell in love with it, but what would it mean?

In a traditional blind date, two people who've never met are set up by a mutual acquaintance who presumably thinks the two would like each other. But in scientific terms, this is not a blind experiment because the subjects know they've been matched up deliberately.

To make it parallel the experimental terminology, there would be a second pair of people, the control date, who no one necessarily thinks are particularly likely to enjoy each other's company. Neither couple would know whether they were the matched pair or the random pair. At first you might think it'd be really obvious, but that depends on the population the control couple is drawn from and how subtle the matchmaker's criteria are.

We could make it a double date by sending the couples to dinner together, but it's still not double blinded, and a double date of blind dates just isn't nifty enough. A double blind experiment would have an intermediary who didn't know which couple was which do all the arrangements so that there was no chance of tipping them off, but while this might reduce bias in the experiment, it's boring and isn't going to make the evening more fun. Instead, I propose the following definition of "double blind date", which is perhaps less terminologically accurate but probably more interesting:

One matchmaker selects two people for a blind date. Another matchmaker does the same with two more people. The four of them go on a double date, but without being told who was intended to be whose date.

Of course, the world is a big place with many people, and not only has someone else discovered the beauty of this chain phrase, but someone has made a short film based on it. The blurb makes it clear that he's thinking along the same lines (unlike all the other uses of the phrase I've found online, which describe a double date of blind dates), but I don't know where he went with it. Time to track down the film!