The standing workstation

A high percentage of you work desk jobs. You may be aware that the human body is simply not designed to sit for long periods of time. Throughout most of our history, we have been farmers, hunters, soldiers, or some other profession that required we actually stand upright. (See chart below; click to view full-size)

So some New York Times blogger recommended that we switch to stand-up workstations to improve our health. One of the studies noted that even among regular exercisers, long periods of sitting correlated with worse health. It was a decent read, but even more fascinating than the article were readers’ reactions. Whether they liked the content or not, people seemed to think the article was saying more than it really did. (No one said standing instead of sitting is a cure-all for health, but some people got that impression anyway.)

In any case, several months ago, I raised my desk and have been trying to stand a good portion of the day while working (sometimes I get lazy). It may not be plowing fields or shaking down peasants for a feudal lord’s taxes. But it’s gotta be better than nothing.

S. E. Cupp is able to utilize meaningless statistics

And what about global warming and melting polar ice caps? A study by the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates that in the last three years alone, summer sea ice has increased by a staggering 409,000 square miles.

— From Let the polar bears die, liberals: It’s only your beloved evolution at work

To Ms. Cupp’s credit (?), I doubt she actually researched this statistic herself. She probably relied on some source who should know better, but is more interested in spouting conservative propaganda.

If you readers care for an exercise, please explain why this statistic is completely worthless in determining whether the polar ice caps are melting are not.

For bonus points, link to more useful statistics, and briefly explain what is most probably occurring with the Arctic Sea’s ice.

The Holy Empire of Liquid Egg Product

Thanks to Katrushka, I have discovered nationstates.net, where you get to create your own country. There’s not so much to do; everyday, you get a chance to create law for your country, nudging the needle in the areas of civil rights, economy, and personal freedoms. It should be fun to see things develop.

So far, elections have been outlawed and bicycles have been banned from major roadways. Once the country becomes poor enough so that people can’t afford their vehicles, I’ll probably consider allowing bicycles back on the road.

If you’re wondering whether the Holy Empire of Liquid Egg Product is planned to be loosely based on North Korea…that’s perfectly accurate.

Check out: The Holy Empire of Liquid Egg Product (that’s our flag at the top, by the way)

Blizzard determined that I’m not so good at Starcraft

Something like how the USCF ranks chess players, Blizzard now has a ranking system for multiplayer Starcraft 2. This weekend, I finally decided to take the plunge.

They give you 5 “placement games”, to determine which league you’ll be placed in, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. (There’s also the elite diamond league, which takes time to earn.)

Now I know I’m not good. I’m (relatively) old and slow, running at 35-50 APM. APM is “actions per minute”, which gives a rough idea of how quickly a player can react. In comparison, there was a professional Starcraft 1 player who ran 280 APM and it was remarked that he was “kind of slow”.

All my opponents were low-level players. The two games I lost were due to rushes (once by Zerglings, once by Zealots). When the game was more standard, I won fairly easily. Overall performance was good enough to be placed in Silver (aka, “you kind of suck, but not utterly and completely”).

Revived and new blogs

Revived blogs:

Gorckat has returned after a multi-year hiatus, and is playing chess again.

BDK is trying to generate a chess carnival for January.

Blunderprone and Wang had shorter breaks, but are posting again.

New blogs:

While I won’t say who Pilgrim’s Cottage is (the original blog was taken down due to privacy concerns), former readers will recognize who it is.

Last but not least is Katrushka. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, we are boyfriend/girlfriend as of a few days ago. A girl who can make Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle jokes and enjoys Diablo 2 is a girl for me.

100,000

Sometime ago, Liquid Egg Product received its 100,000 unique visitor. In one sense it’s flattering that so many people would bother stopping by to visit.

In quite another sense, you calculate the numbers and determine that LEP gets about 85 visitors a day. So it’s not like we’re hogging up all the bandwidth.

So thanks to all of you who visit LEP, but most especially the ones who visit from both work and home to artificially inflate the numbers.

How to beat women at chess

Blue Devil Knight has decided to start blogging again instead of taking care of his daughter. He’s calling for a Chess Improvement Blog Carnival. Here’s my submission.

There’s a somewhat famous book called “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess”. That’s all well and good, but the book covers too small of a niche. It’s useless for people like me, whose dad doesn’t even play chess. Or Luke Skywalker, who refuses to acknowledge he has a dad.

But most of us do play women at least once in a while. Like a few years ago in one of the Tournament of Lepers, chess blogger Polly crushed me in a match. And to be honest, I still need some stiff Jamaican rum to drink away the pain of that defeat. So I developed this 4-step program on how to beat women at chess.

My research revealed a great surprise: it turns out that women are people, too. Losing to that female 1400 drops you just as many rating points as losing to that male 1400. Here are some tips on how to deal with them:

1. Focus

When you’re sitting at the chessboard, your eyes should be directed towards those black and white things on the table. If your eyes are wandering anywhere above that level, you’re doing it wrong.

Sometimes, women will try to trick you by wearing a black and white shirt with the top few buttons undone. Don’t be fooled.

2. Do not redefine “center control”

Repeat this mantra, and repeat it again. “The center” refers to the squares d4, e4, d5 and e5. It does not mean what you want it to mean, even against Arianne Caoili.

3. Women can be emotional

See, there’s this thing called PMS. If you only play them during “that time of month”, females will be more likely to play emotionally than logically, increasing your winning changes.

If you do start to lose, tick them off by offering a draw every two or three moves. This will further increase any emotional imbalance already present.

4. Did I mention that women are people, too?

Bobby Fischer’s nugget of wisdom notwithstanding, playing a woman does not mean an auto-win.

Vivid dreams

It’s said that we dream every night, but simply don’t remember them. I don’t know how true that is, but last night I had two dreams that I could easily recall. Whether that’s because of going to bed 2 hours earlier than normal, or reading the Tel’aran’rhiod chapter in the Dragon Reborn (it’s about a World of Dreams), who knows.

Anyway, here they are:

Dream #1

In a classroom, there were about 25 of us listening to a lecture by Martin Gardner, who was well-known for his recreational mathematics writing.

The topic had something to do with finding certain types of solids that could have integral values for their sides, akin to finding integral solutions to the Pythagorean equation. At some juncture, I pointed out some error he made while using an irregular solid as an example. He thanked me and I felt rather proud (even though the error was trivial).

During the lecture, somehow I realized it was February 1979, so I must have traveled back in time.


Despite not knowing what Gardner looked like, in the dream he basically looked like himself without the glasses. And maybe a bit more hair.

After the lecture, most the students gathered in a circle and started chatting. I had a suspicion that some of them were also time travelers, but didn’t want to tip off non-time travelers in case that had dire consequences. So I simply asked if anyone else was a “Traveler” (about 8 or 10 people raised their hands).

Someone also brought up World of Warcraft and talked about the first expansion. Not the actual first expansion, but some expansion invented in the dream, which had a Final Fantasy 5 Bomb pictured on the CD cover (?????)

Eventually, everyone packed up to leave. But I realized I didn’t know how to get back to my own time, and was hoping to tag along with the others. But they all left quickly and it took me FOREVER to pack. Fortunately, Gardner realized that I was a time traveler. He told me I just needed to keep going and I’d find the right guide, or something like that. I didn’t understand and tried to ask for clarification, but whenever I looked at him, he faded further into a brown mist and grew fainter. There was no choice but to move on.

Wandering through a hall, I couldn’t find the guide Gardner was talking about, and eventually wandered into a supermarket. I started to think about what would happen if I were stuck in this time period. My ATM card wouldn’t work. The cash I did have was from the 21st century, so that was bad. I thought about going to see my parents, which would include my dad in an afro. But I didn’t even know what state I was in, so that wasn’t an option.

Then I woke up.

Dream #2

If you don’t want to experience a somewhat disturbing mental image, please stop reading now.

Understand this is really for the 4 or 5 readers who are entertained by this kind of thing.

You probably aren’t one of them.

OK, I warned you.

The scene starts at the Griffins’ house. As in, the Griffin family from Family Guy. Lois and I start making out in the kitchen. Peter ambles by, and doesn’t seem to care in the least. Even so, I tell Lois we should go back to my place. Which is a house next door that we are teleported into.

From the inside, it seems to be a one-room log cabin with a bed and sparse furnishings. She climbs on top of me, and we start having sex. I look up, and Stewie is there in a blue diaper, yelling and all ticked off. I get up and tell Lois we really need to do this somewhere else, but she doesn’t seem aware of the danger.

Lois_Griffin
Lois Griffin is so hot, she’s made me watch all of 6 episodes.