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Name: Tyler
Location: Mountain View, California, United States

thinking := [life, games, movies, philosophy, math, coding, pizza, &c.]

Monday, October 30, 2006

manhattan island

Here's a photo I took early last spring near the East River.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I was recently reading a forum in which someone claimed that the tapetum lucidum of the human eye is responsible for red-eye in photos. The tapetum lucidum, latin for "bright carpet," is a reflective layer at the back of the eyes in many animals -- but not humans. Based on other web sites (besides that forum), it seems that the human red-eye effect is due rather to a quick flash not giving our pupils time to adjust, so that light is focused and reflected off the blood vessels of our retina.

However, what I found interesting was that guanine crystals play a significant role in the reflective property of some animals' tepeta lucida. The name for guanine (C5H5N5O) derives from "guano" which comes from Quechua (language of the Incas) as the Spanish word for "compost" -- id est, poop and/or fertilizer. In English, guano is specifically bat poop. Guanine is named after guano since that is the material whence guanine was first isolated (in 1844 according to wikipedia).

Guanine is also famous as one of the four nucleobases (along with adenine, cytosine and thymine (uracil in RNA)) in DNA.

This made me think: why is there so much guanine in bat poop? And here is a theory: perhaps, evolutionarily, bats once relied on their vision much more heavily. In that case, a layer of highly reflective material on the floor of a cave would certainly help in identifying your prey (such as a flying insect) at dusk or dawn.

What do you think? Anybody know a better reason why guano has so much guanine?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blogger: space above tables

I've noticed that some innocuous html tabling in your blogger posts produces an inexplicable void between the text above and the table below. To illustrate, I'll insert a table here which contains verbatim the snippet of code between HERE and THERE:

row one

row two

<table border="1">
row one
row two
<tt>HERE and THERE:...

As you can see, what's with the space??
Here's the dilio: Blogger loves to insert a <br /> whenever a bloggee (is that what I am?) hits a newline. So when I'm a-typin' away with my </td> \n </tr> \n <tr> &c, I'm unwittingly inserting a loafing linebreak into that tenebrious nether region tween trows and tdata cells. And where do you think these purgatorial pockets of padding percolate? Why, they are so presumptuous as to prepend themselves precisely previous to our table!

The solution? Simply don't newline in the nether regions:
<table><tr><td> (newlines allowed here!!)\n
</td> (but not here!!!) <td> (ok again :)

Don't worry, I will also make some attempt at getting this fixed a better way!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nantucket Nectars lid messages:

reminding you just how incredibly interesting everything else in your life actually is.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Dear my plethora of avid fans,

It has come time to reveal to you some secrets. Specifically, the secrets of the first level in LocoRoco, the newest video game.

The first secret area is at the very beginning - you have
to jump on the flowers to get there.

Next is one of them hidden berries you have to
touch to grow 'em.

Dude, don't forget there are three berries on this floating
thingy right here.

To the left and below the next group of flowers
is a scale in another hidden area.

If you have at least 18 locos in your blobbydude
then you get the prize.

The last hidden area with a berry is to the right
of this chute you slide down near the end.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


This weekend I celebrated the Hindu festivali Divali with the Raj family and friends. Divali is a very social celebration, involving many lights (such as candles) and apparently a bit of singing (not in English) and in this case a fire alarm as well from all the candles. I must say the food was great and it was fun to see my old friends who are slowly getting married and all that crazy grown-up stuff.

Arj and Catherine - newlyweds with a kid on the way!

Arj and I

Left to right: Indra (Arj's sister), Chris and Catherine

Thursday, October 19, 2006

dynamic broadcast

Despite my virtual vow of televisual non-observance, I must admit that I enjoy watching certain shows (such as Lost) when they can reasonably be viewed in a non-televised manner - i.e., without so many annoying commercials. Hence my disappointment that the new season of Lost has apparently been dropped from iTunes (anyone know why?) and instead shown with "limited commercial interruptions" for free via abc's website.

Would you like to try it out? Simply go to Wow, that's a great-sounding name. It just reeks of velocity. Fast! Moving! And let's not forget that abc is indeed the American broadcasting company, specializing in nothing but the large-scale distribution of audiovisual entertainment. Hence I cannot but help find it ironic that these streaming videos never work! Not only does the site not even load properly on my mac (in either firefox or safari), but every single time I have tried to watch a show (on my windows machine) it has failed at some point; in most cases, I was not able to watch more than a minute or two at a time. Due to a plethora of poorly-programmed applications, the complacent webviewer my question my complaining as mere quibbling. For comparison I ask you to imagine having to "reset" your television every few minutes because your show suddenly froze mid-frame not at all infrequently.

I assure you tis not my connection speed that's lacking. To confirm the fault of the server (as opposed to me, the client, or perhaps my connection), I dutifully wasted several hours of time watching clips of video game music and other equally utilitarian morsels streamed mellifluously via youtube.

Dude, abc: get with it!

Update (29 Oct 2006): Looks like Lost is back on iTunes! That's nice.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Gentle readers: it has been far too long since I've synchronized my on- and offline (aka real-life) happenings. Without further ado, the skinny-

In May, after five short years of decadent cavorting about amidst the mathematical glitterati of Courant, I succumbed to the persuasions of greater responsibility and frickin' graduated. Armed with a PhD in math and a strong desire to avoid a career in food services, the most natural course of action was clearly to join the ranks of Google, my favorite local search engine brobdingnagian.

Hence the choice to switch from my old home-brewed blogging hackworks previously used to ye olde automatia (one reason this makes sense is that blogger is owned by my new employer). Do I feel the slight tinge of selloution upon forsaking the independent-spirit of my old blog system for the cliched cookie-cutter world of mass-marketed stylesheets? Perhaps a bit -- but let's face it, this pre-fab design looks a heckuva lot better than my old stuff. And now I can finally tell my feed-hungry friend Erin I've got your RSS right here.

Plus I've got some ideas for personalization... (to be continued).