Jan 072013
 January 7, 2013  Posted by at 8:31 am Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on A Void – Black Bird

A reworded version of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (one of my favorite poems) from Georges Perec’s “A Void”:


‘Twas upon a midnight tristful I sat poring, wan and wistful,
Through many a quaint and curious list full of my consorts slain –
I sat nodding, almost napping, till I caught a sound of tapping,
As of spirits softly rapping, rapping at my door in vain.
“‘Tis a visitor,” I murmur’d, “tapping at my door in vain –
Tapping soft as falling rain.”

Ah, I know, I know that this was on a holy night of Christmas;
But that quaint and curious list was forming phantoms all in train.
How I wish’d it was tomorrow; vainly had I sought to borrow
From my books a stay of sorrow – sorrow for my unjoin’d chain –
For that pictographic symbol missing from my unjoin’d chain –
And that would not join again.

Rustling faintly through my drapings was a ghostly, ghastly scraping
Sound that with fantastic shapings fill’d my fulminating brain;
And for now, to still its roaring, I stood still as if ignoring
That a spirit was imploring his admission to obtain –
“‘Tis a spirit now imploring his admission to obtain -”
Murmur’d I, “- but all in vain.”

But, my soul maturinng duly, and my brain not so unruly,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your aquittal would I gain;
For I was in fact caught napping, so soft-sounding was your rapping,
so faint-sounding was your tapping that you tapp’d my door in vain –
Hardly did I know you tapp’d it” – I unlock’d it but in vain –
For ’twas dark without and plain.

Staring at that dark phantasm as if shrinking from a chasm,
I stood quaking with a spasm fracturing my soul in twain;
But my study door was still as untowardly hush’d and chill as,
Oh, a crypt in which a still aspiring body is just lain –
As a dank, dark crypt in which a still surprising man is lain –
Barr’d from rising up again.

All around my study flapping till my sanity was snapping,
I distinctly caught a tapping that was starting up again.
“Truly,” said I, “truly this is turning now into crisis;
I must find out what amiss is, and tranquility obtain –
I must still my soul an instant and tranquility obtain –
For ’tis truly not just rain!”

So, my study door unlocking to confound that awful knocking,
In I saw a Black Bird stalking with a gait of proud disdain;
I at first thought I was raving, but it stalk’d across my paving
And with broad black wings a-waving did my study door attain –
Did a pallid bust of Pallas on my study door attain –
Just as if ’twas its domain.

Now, that night-wing’d fowl placating my sad fancy into waiting
On its oddly fascinating air of arrogant disdain,
“Though thy tuft is shorn and awkward, thou,” I said “art not so backward
Coming forward, ghastly Black Bird wand’ring far from thy domain,
Not to say what thou art known as in thy own dusk-down domain!”
Quoth that Black Bird, “Not Again”.

Wondrous was it this ungainly fowl could thus hold forth so plainly,
Though, alas, it discours’d vainly – as its point was far from plain;
And I think it worth admitting that, whilst in my study sitting,
I shall stop Black Birds from flitting thusly through my door again –
Black or not, I’ll stop birds flitting through my study door again –
What I'll say is, “Not Again!”

But that Black Bird, posing grimly on its placid bust, said primly
“Not Again”, and I thought dimly what purport it might contain.
Not a third word did it throw off – not a third word did it know off –
Till, afraid that it would go off, I thought only to complain –
“By tomorrow it will go off,” did I trustfully complain.
It again said, “Not Again”.

Now, my sanity displaying stark and staring signs of swaying,
“No doubt,” murmur’d I, “it’s saying all it has within its brain;
That it copy’d from a nomad whom Affiction caus’d to go mad,
From an outcast who was so mad as this ghastly bird to train –
Who, as with a talking parrot, did this ghastly Black Bird train
To say only, `Not Again.'”

But that Black Bird still placating my sad fancy into waiting
For a word forthcoming, straight into my chair I sank again;
And, upon its cushion sinking, I soon found my spirit linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of Cain –
What this grim, ungainly, gahstly, gaunt, and ominous bird of Cain
Sought by croaking “Not Again.”

On all this I sat surmising, whilst with morbid caution sizing
Up that fowl; its tantalising look burn’d right into my brain;
This for long I sat divining, with my pain-rack’d back inclining
On my cushion’s satin lining with its ghastly crimson stain,
On that shiny satin lining with its sanguinary stain
Shrilly shouting, “Not Again!”

Now my room was growing fragrant, its aroma almost flagrant,
As from spirits wafting vagrant through my dolorous domain.
“Good-for-naught,” I said, “God sought you – from Plutonian strands God brought you –
And, I know not why, God taught you all about my unjoin’d chain,
All about that linking symbol missing from my unjoin’d chain!”
Quoth that Black Bird, “Not Again.”

“Sybil!” said I, “thing of loathing – sybil, fury in bird’s clothing!
If by Satan brought, or frothing storm did toss you on its main,
Cast away, but all unblinking, on this arid island sinking –
On this room of Horror stinking – say it truly, or abstain –
Shall I – shall I find that symbol? – say it – say it, or abstain
From your croaking, ‘Not Again’.”

“Sybil!” said I, “thing of loathing – sybil, fury in bird’s clothing!
By God’s radiant kingdom soothing all man’s purgatorial pain,
Inform this soul laid low with sorrow if upon a distant morrow
It shall find that symbol for – oh, for its too long unjoin’d chain –
Find that pictographic symbol missing from its unjoin’d chain.”
Quoth that Black Bird, “Not Again.”

“If that word’s our sign of parting, Satan’s bird,” I said, upstarting,
“Fly away, wings blackly parting, to thy Night’s Plutonian plain!
For, mistrustful, I would scorn to mind that untruth thou hast sworn to,
And I ask that thou by morn tomorrow quit my sad domain!
Draw thy night-nibb’d bill from out my soul and quit my sad domain!”
Quoth that Black Bird, “Not Again.”

And my Black Bird, still not quitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On that pallid bust, still flitting through my dolorous domain;
But it cannot stop from gazing for it truly finds amazing
That, by artful paraphrasing, I such rhyming can sustain –
Notwithstanding my lost symbol I such rhyming still sustain –
Though I shan’t try it again!


Jul 022012
 Going Home to Celebrate Independence Day  July 2, 2012  Posted by at 9:20 pm Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Going Home to Celebrate Independence Day

I’ll be home for the holiday to take some much needed time off of work at Dow. My time here has been outstanding so far! But, a little relaxation will help keep me going the second half of the summer. I miss my family and friends back home. As a convenience (to myself) I’ve found a nifty countdown plugin and added a countdown to my arrival in Gainesville after the jump.

Continue reading »

May 232012
 May 23, 2012  Posted by at 5:32 pm Law and Order, Random Musings, Technology, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,  40 Responses »

YouTube has just broken a whopping 72 hours of uploaded video per minute. Think about that. Every minute, three days of new video is added to, arguably, the largest such centralized repository of freely available video content. That is HUGE. That also brings up a few questions given the strenuous legal climate over the past decade. How such a monument to human creativity and curiosity will continue to survive without imploding under the strain of opposing human drives is largely a guessing game at this point. On the one hand, there is the self-evident natural will to create, innovate, remix, refine, renew, and share the endeavors of ourselves and others. On the other hand, there is also the similarly well intended and quite reasonable craving to retain proof and pride in the fruits of one’s labor, either through the direct capacity to demonstrate said results or via the more abstract means of equitable exchange for other produced goods. In the latter case, money usually suits the purpose rather well. In an attempt to adequately construct a balanced framework for these natural tendencies to promote a benefit to the community, the founding fathers remained intentionally vague when they wrote the copyright clause. They left it to the people to derive the meaning of “Progress of Science and the useful Arts.” At the time of writing it was meant to imply a restricted means for disseminating the labors of the booming fields of philosophy (lest we forget science began, and remains, as natural philosophy) and mechanical innovation to the public while reserving for those who labored a brief time to adequately profit from said work. Since this time, the meaning of the clause has been reinterpreted as an automatic entitlement to the use and reuse of all created works nigh in perpetuity. The copyright term for anything created today includes the life of the creator(s) plus 70 years. (/rant)

In light of this refreshed context, YouTube’s success seems a little more intimidating. While several organizations see YouTube as a threat to be sued and/or shamed out of existence (RIAA/MPAA/etc.), there are thankfully protections in place (fair use) for the rights of those they would happily squelch to see their goals met. Under the DMCA, the notice and take down system, while not perfect, has been tempered with the power of a fair use counter notice. Beyond these steps for settling a dispute over content, the accuser sues the accused in a court of law. The determination of copyright infringement, in general, has been found to require the ruling of a judge.

Now, with all of this in mind, YouTube might reasonably be wondering how cost effective it would be to work with purported defenders of artists’ rights to accommodate for the rights of copyright holders. Well, lets begin with the rate of content being uploaded, \displaystyle R.
\displaystyle R=\frac{\partial t_v}{\partial t}=\frac{t_v}{t}=72\cfrac{\text{hours}}{\text{minute}}
Converting this to its natural dimensionless units will help when it is split up.
\displaystyle R=72\cfrac{\text{hours}}{\text{minute}}\times 60\cfrac{\text{minutes}}{\text{hours}}
  Continue reading »

Feb 142012

When I took my process thermodynamics course as an undergraduate student, I was told to use what I had initially considered to be a completely redundant notation for partial derivatives for thermodynamic potentials.  The notation involved wrapping the partial derivative in a set of parentheses and noting which variables were “held constant” as a subscript.

Ex. \displaystyle\left(\frac{\partial P}{\partial V}\right)_{T,\vec{N}}

The derivation leading to this was woefully devoid of the mathematical basis for this apparently redundant notation.  Furthermore, so was the general literature on the subject, most of which consisted of fleeting introductions to their respective application.  As I played with the idea, it became clear why this notation was indeed very necessary.  It was only as I was solving a separate problem on my own that such notation yielded valuable information about the nature of the potentials being described.

Continue reading »

Feb 072012
 February 7, 2012  Posted by at 12:23 pm Random Musings, Reviews, Technology Tagged with: , , , ,  Comments Off on A Great Tool for Visualizing Disk Space

I’ve been using this free tool called “Folder Size” (download available here) for a while now. It is a very impressive piece of (free) software that scans the entirety of a selected drive and produces an empirical picture of the distribution of occupied drive space. I have found this to be to be invaluable when cleaning out my disk space as it allows me to see the effective size of folders as well as files. The ability to natively view the size of a folder in explorer has been missing from MS Windows since its inception. Originally, I stumbled upon this application while attempting to address that specific concern, which it does. Beyond displaying the size of folders, it also shows the relative sizes of all items at the same branch of the drive hierarchy in both a percent column in the analysis results and a graphical display below as well as detailed file and folder attributes. Some of the options for the data displayed are type of visualization and default size basis (think KB, MB, GB, etc.). I highly recommend this software if you are going through the “where did all my disk space go?!?!?” routine.

Jan 162012
 Old Work to be Posted Over the Next Few Months  January 16, 2012  Posted by at 1:28 pm Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Education, Projects, Publications, Random Musings, Research Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Old Work to be Posted Over the Next Few Months

Over the next few months I will be posting about many of the independent projects and research projects I did as an undergraduate.  They range from metabolic models to full process designs and cover a diverse selection of chemical engineering principles, several with significant real world applications.  Starting things off will be a walk through of a proof I wrote in response to a test grade I did not agree with and how the results of the proof may be used both to simplify and enhance a graphical method for predicting distillation column behavior.  This proof will be the basis for a paper I will be writing on the subject as well.

Jan 102012
 January 10, 2012  Posted by at 1:56 pm Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Skiing Vacation in Utah, Day 6 and Return Home

Well, I am back home and I had a fantastic time skiing with my family and friends.  It was nice to be able to spend time with them without the looming stress of going back to class hanging over my head.  Now its just finishing up graduate school applications.

The last day on the mountain was a lot of fun, though a little wearing.  We skied from ~9am until ~8pm, and the slopes were wide open (my guess is most people were still hung over from new year’s eve) for most of the day.

I also took a video while going down the Payday run.  Unfortunately, its a bit large and I’ll need to compress it before posting it.  It starts about 50ft down from the top of the lift and ends a bit after I end back at the bottom of the lift.  It should probably be watched without the sound on.  This wasn’t my fastest run, but I was a little tired and I was worried I might crash and lose my (crappy) camera.  I’ll have the video up when I get the time to pare it down to a manageable size.

The flight home was rather uneventful, but it was nice to finally be back in town.

Jan 012012
 January 1, 2012  Posted by at 8:00 pm Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Skiing Vacation in Utah, Days 4 and 5

Day 4 was a day to stay up the mountain.  Even though there was a little snow from the previous night, it quickly mixed in with the slush.  We avoided the slush near the base by exploring the McConkey area, but there was only a couple runs and no bowls open.  Unfortunately, the McConkey area was also a bit rocky.  Day 5 was great, there was a bit of fresh snow from the night before and brief flurries in the morning.  Thankfully, it was cold enough that most of the new snow stayed powder.

Dec 292011
 December 29, 2011  Posted by at 3:38 pm Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Skiing Vacation in Utah, Days 2 and 3

Well, the second day was awesome.  I got to hit the slopes from 9am to 2pm then 5pm to 8pm.  What a long day and night on a “bald mountain.”

In other news, today it rained and it was decided that skiing down slush and rock would be rather unpleasant…

Dec 272011
 December 27, 2011  Posted by at 10:00 pm Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Skiing Vacation in Utah, Day 1

It’s been a day and I’ve already carved up a third of Park City. There isn’t much snow out here, but there’s supposedly some on the way soon.  I took a couple pictures a ways up the mountain (see gallery below).  It was a fantastic view, but it wasn’t the snow covered peaks I was hoping for.  I’ll throw some more pictures up here in future posts as my vacation continues.

Dec 212011
 Wow… So, I’ve Finally Graduated  December 21, 2011  Posted by at 6:13 am Education, Random Musings Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on Wow… So, I’ve Finally Graduated

Its kind of surreal. I’ve been expecting this day for a couple years, but it still feels a bit premature. I’d like to take this moment to say thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. From advisers to family to fellow students, you’ve supported me along the way and that means as much to me as your cheers of approval when I switched my tassel over to the left. That kind of thankless altruism is inspiring.

What I’ve earned:
B.S.Ch.E. Chemical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude
B.S. Chemistry, Cum Laude

Dec 122011
 December 12, 2011  Posted by at 5:00 pm Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Another Study of Light Path Geometry
Dec 092011
 December 9, 2011  Posted by at 12:01 am Chemistry, Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Study of Light Paths in a Fluorescent Medium

This time I used a bottle of tonic water with my 405nm laser.  The quinine in the tonic water is fluorescent and glows with a bright blue color under UV light.  It also clearly displays where the light path is.


Dec 082011
 December 8, 2011  Posted by at 3:53 pm Chemical Engineering, Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on Fluid Dynamics in a Rocks Glass

So I was intrigued by how clearly I could see thermal counter diffusion gradients in my whiskey, and I took a bunch of pictures of it.  The shape of my rocks glass did a great job diffracting the light from my computer monitor, which incidentally emphasized the density and refractive index differences at the surfaces of the protruding fingers of cold water.

Dec 082011
 December 8, 2011  Posted by at 2:40 pm Photos, Random Musings Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on Strawberry Caramel… Or Brittle

Step 1: Add a bunch of extra sugar to some cut up strawberries.  Then add water in slight excess of that which would be required to form a saturated sugar water solution at the refrigerator’s temperature.  This keeps the strawberry slices from fully dehydrating and saturates them with the syrup the strawberry enzymes make by the time the syrup is collected. (Collect underpants)

Step 2: Wait a while. (???)

Step 3: Collect the strawberry syrup and enjoy the sweetened strawberries. (Profit!)

Step 4: Boil the strawberry syrup with a very small amount of added butter or oil until you end up with a caramel.  Don’t over do it unless you want to make a brittle instead.

Step 5: Pour out the hot caramel and wait for it to cool down to cut it up into small pieces.

Step 6: Get frustrated when you realize you forgot to lay out confectioners sugar on the cookie sheet before pouring a hot and sticky substance on it.

Step 7: Break up the cooled mass into bite size pieces.