Friday, March 23, 2012
We don't all need college degrees to have a lucrative career. In fact, the wrong college degree can stifle a career. There's a lot of money to be made in the trades. Good examples are Electricians and Plumbers. Plumbers are already making as much money per year near the start of their careers as many people with well positioned degrees from a University. (Some degrees will command nothing more than $30K/year for someone just out of college, which is much less than a Journeyman Plumber who spent the same period in an Apprentice program.)
I got my start in the trades as a Drafter. I was working my first professional job when I was 18 after graduating Trade School (I had been working since I was 13). I didn't get paid a whole lot at the start, but even as a kid, I was aware of the need to have a marketable skill set (though I would've never used those exact words as a teenager).
There is a tremendous and growing skills gap between available jobs and those available to fill them. A recent article by Rick Badie discusses this problem. The article points to a machine shop with positions to fill, a stack of resumes, but no one qualified to take the available positions. This problem is happening all over the country. It's even a little frustrating. There are availble jobs. By some estimates, openings are literally in the millions that aren't getting filled!
mikeroweWorks was started by Mike Rowe, who is also trying to raise awareness of the opportunities in the trades, but also working to improve respect for the job that these tradesmen perform.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
In 1957, Hugh Everett introduced the idea of branching universes to solve a problem we encountered regarding seemingly random choices that the elements of the universe (waveforms in particular) when observed. Sometimes light appears as a wave, sometimes as a particle, and there is no way to know which a head of time. Everett suggested that the light doesn't make a choice when is it forced into one form or the other. It is always both a wave and a particle. The Universe branches into two each time the light is observed and forced to make a choice. In one Universe, you observe light beam taking on wave behavior. In the other Universe, another-you observes the light take on a particle behavior. Thus, the idea of branching Universes says that a two Universes are created every time a choice like this is made. There's a certain bit of faith required to believe this, but pure math doesn't lie, right?
Now, I'm no physicists. I'm not going to challenge the math that goes into this notion. It's been tested many times and found to be sound. However, math is nothing more than a numeric language that we created ourselves to parse out elements of the Universe to understand it in our terms. Keywords being "our terms".
Everett's assertions about branching Universes (or Many-worlds interpretation, as it is formally called) are based on time being both linear and two dimensional at the same time. Each branching Universe is 1 dimensional, created within 2 dimensional time, like branching lines being doodled on a piece of paper. Well, that means it could be said time is 1.5 dimensional. I know many physicists will cringe at my interpretation of branching Universes. However, at least from an intellectual point of view, this seems to me to be a reasonable simplification. My point is the the concept of branching Universes offers an unnecessarily complex and convoluted explanation for something as simple as a beam of light acting one way instead of another.
Spontaneous creation of matter and energy?
Another problem I have with branching Universes is this. Where is all the infinite energy coming from to create all these infinite branches? Infinite energy is the same as infinite mass (E=mc2). If the Universe really started off with all of this infinite energy, it would have immediately collapsed back on itself, never to grow in the first place. Or, if the energy didn't exist at the Big Bang, there's no mechanism now that can continuously double the energy within a Universe to spawn new versions of itself. Thermodynamics has yet to be disproved by quantum physics.
Why is gravity so heavy?
Yet another problem. If gravity exists outside of the Universe, as current understanding quantum physics now suggests, it would be impacted by the creation of new branches of the Universe. As such, even if infinite energy is being created on the fly (as opposed to being there at the start of the Universe), gravity would weaken so rapidly, its decaying influence on this Universe could be readily measured and would likely lead each Universe to fly apart to nothingness shortly after the Big Bang. There wouldn't be enough gravity to form a single dust particle, let alone entire galaxies.
Every point in the Universe knows about every other point, 13 billion light years away?
One more problem? Sure. For entire Universes to be created instantly and constantly by the actions of a single particle or waveform in a highly localized point, every bit of energy, every particle, everything that exists would have to be instantly duplicated. These means that every bit of energy, every particle, everything in existence would have to be in instantaneous communication with every other bit of energy, particle and every object in the Universe, 13 billion light years across! This creates a new problem! If the action of every particle in the Universe has the ability to replicate the entire Universe, the information of the Universe has to be immediately available to all points within the Universe at the same time. But if the Universe is constantly branching, there is no preferred frame of reference from which the Universe can be infinitely replicated! There's no sorting mechanism to give one choice a preference over another when they happen at the same time. This leads to yet another problem.
Branching causes information bottleneck
The very act of infinitely and instantly replicating the Universe would create huge gaps in information on whatever the current state Universe is in. Things happen simultaneously all the time. How are quadrillions of simultaneous actions supposed to be instantly reconciled to instantly form quadrillion x quadrillion Universes? Some suggest that the ends of the Universe (whatever is just beyond 13 billion light years in any direction) may already be out of touch with each other. This would make the Universe impossible to instantly resolve to form all of these simultaneous branches. Even if all information about the Universe is known to all points in the Universe at any given instant, there would be a measurable bottleneck of the branching activity. Time would slow down at an increasingly observable rate.
2D Time makes branching unnecessary anyway
Here's the kicker. If the Universe is 1 dimensionally branching within 2 dimensional time, then time is already considered 2 dimensional. If time is 2 dimensional, then there's no need for the branching to take place. If the Universe is a waveform in 2 dimensional time, the objects within it are smeared across this these two time dimensions. We are simply seeing a 1 dimensional view of our Universe intersecting with 2 dimensional time.
Ball passing through a plane acts the same as our view of time
This is similar to a 3 dimensional ball that passes through 2 dimensional plane. As the ball passes through the plane, an observer on the plane simply sees a line that grows, then shrinks. He doesn't see the ball itself. Depending on where the ball intersects the plane, the observer sees a shorter or longer line (even just a point). Any measurement of the line is just as valid as any other, but only the portion that intersects the plane can be measured at any one time. So, this is also true of the Universe if time is 2 dimensions, and the Universe is a waveform that intersects it at different points. We simply see different view points of the same event each time we make an observation. There's nothing random about the observations! We just cannot see the whole shape in our limited view!
We aren't creating new branches of the Universe when the Universe "makes a choice". We are simply observing where our Universe is intersected by 2D time!
When we observe something that forces the Universe to "make a choice", it's not random. We are simply observing which portion of our Universe (or the element being observed) is currently intersecting within the 2 dimensional time. This doesn't mean that there aren't parallel Universes that resemble our own. It just means that those Universes have been there since the Big Bang (not branching), using a measurable portion of the Big Bang's energy for their formation, just as our Universe has.
To be clear, I offer the above as a notion to point to other interpretation of Quantum Physics. It's not meant to be the final word on anything, nor does it represent a tightly held belief of my own. I certainly haven't done any math to back any of this up. However, I do believe there are physicists that are already moving along similar paths of reasoning, so I'm trying to get the word out as the concept of branching Universes has been gaining momentum in recent years with very little in the way of observations to back it up.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Here's a funny photo that Allie and I took at a tourist trap somewhere just off the freeway in Arizona or New Mexico while on our cross-country road trip just after Thanksgiving last year.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I picked up Tobzilla from the pet hotel and then drove to a farm ice cream "parlor". I'm not sure why it's called a "parlor" since you don't actually get to go inside. I think I mentioned this in a previous post. I had a small ice cream in a waffle cone. You got to watch out at the farm ice cream places. Smalls are typically still quite big. Tobzilla was a bit impatient with me as it took me forever to eat my delicious ice cream cone.
The farm ice cream shops opened earlier in the season this year since Winter weather ended a bit early. One surprize in New England is that the Diary Queens typically close during Winter too. I've never seen Diary Queens do that before. It was quite disappointing in November to be forced to get soft serve at a McDonalds. As an alternative to Diary Queen, I do miss Foster Freeze, which is a smaller California chain of soft serve ice cream parlors (you actually get to go inside at these places). Oh, one more comment about the farm ice cream shop; they do serve soft serve, but I had "hard serve" today.
After coming home, I relaxed on our balcony in the sunny and warm afternoon. Tobzilla doesn't get to go on the balcony often, so he was sniffing around quite a bit, and investigating how far he was above the ground. When I went back inside, he followed quickly.
Both of us then sleep for the rest of the afternoon with the Sun peaking through the blinds of the bedroom. I think I'm well rested now. I might actually not fall asleep during SNL tonight.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
When travelling across country late last year with my wife, I discovered a section of our hotel store at the Grand Canyon that was dedicated to Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. There was a foam board cut out of Mike Rowe’s image. To joke with my wife, who loves Mike Rowe but who never found her way into the store, I took a photo of me with the 2D cut out. The joke turned out to be so little, Allie forget all about the photo within a couple of days.
Irony a few months later
In a bit of irony, I actually did meet Mike Rowe at SolidWorks World 2012 earlier this year. Yes, he graciously took his photo with me. Can you tell which is the real Mike Rowe?
I thanked Mike Rowe a bit too much and then told him that my wife and I have been fans since he was on Evening Magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area. He looked at me surprized, if not a tiny bit consternated.
On stage at the conference, Mike Rowe talked about the need to bring recognition and honor back to the blue collar trades (plumbers, electricians, etc). He founded mikeroweWORKS for this purpose and to help people connect with each other in the trades.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Victoria is a very nice city with many interesting buildings, good food and they freely take U.S. dollars (1:1 with the Canadian dollar these days).
My In-laws liked it a lot. We had a relaxing time, just walking around without too much of a schedule to worry about. We had a great dinner at a local steakhouse. There was this Celtic themed store with some of the highest quality clothes I've seen (and the prices to match). I even have a video around somewhere of Darth Vader playing the violin (street performer).
The vibe in Victoria is definately different than Vancouver, B.C.
One of the reasons we chose to take a cruise with Norwegian is that the cruise starts and finishes in Seattle, WA (within the borders of USA). Many cruises start in Seattle, but then end in Victoria. That means we'd have to take an international flight home; a painful experience which I am always more than happy to avoid.
So, even though Norwegian wasn't everything we expected it to be, it was everything it needed to be. I guess that's not a great endorsement, huh.
Overall, the trip was enjoyable. Some pluses (many of which cost more $$$) and some minuses (many of which were part of the cruise package for no additional $$$). We did our trip to Alaska. We did our first cruise (and prolly last, at least for a long while). We took my In-laws on a big vacation and had a lot of quality time with them. And, I got to see my best friend and his family before and after the cruise.
Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A microchip may soon be available from the minds at MIT that will allow blind people to acheive some level of sight. It's not a full site, but "blind person to recognize faces and navigate a room without assistance."
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I did the ziplining canopy tour in the rainforest. By an amazing coincidence, Allie took her parents on a nature walk excursion that was run by the same operation on the rain forest floor. So, while I was zipping around overhead, they were walking on a guided tour below. Allie said she kept an eye out for me, but we weren't in the same part of the forest at the same time.
They got to see a bald eagle, owl, bear markings on a tree, a canoe being made (in progress, not from start to finish), and other natural or native items.
I was zipping around the canopy with a group of people, most of which have never ziplined before. It was a lot of fun. I haven't developed the photos from this adventure on my disposal camera yet. Hopefully the film is still good after all this time (2 years). I do have this shot taken by an automatic "ride" camera.
Note the gratuitous fist pump. :)
The excursion took up so much time in the trip to a from the dock and on the adventure itself, we didn't get a chance to check out anything in the town of Ketchikan itself.
Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
At first, I wasn't sure where to place the Virtual Therapy. Is this a tremendous fail or something that will change the future? Well, so far the results speak for themselves. 95% of patients complete the virtual course, versus only 37% when with human therapists.
Straddling bus will take your car to work and offers to save 860 tons of fuel (who measures fuel in "tons"?) each year by replacing old fashion walk-on buses. Come on, get with the 21st Century, already. (Where's the flying cars which will likely consume far more energy than current ground bases cars?)
It's bacon floss! That's right, there is a bacon flavor dental floss! There's nothing quite like spreading that refreshing bacon taste throughout your mouth right after a juicy onion dominated meal.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
We made the journey up the Glacier Bay to visit the impressive Johns Hopkins Glacier. Along the way, we saw dolphins, whales, cliff dwelling goats, and eagles, all from our cabin patio.
Before arriving, everyone was asked to keep as quiet as possible, so as to not disturb the glacier. Once at the glacier, the port side of the ship was first to view it. Of course everyone was on deck, watching and waiting for the slightest signs of calving.
The moment reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the book Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In that book, there's a restaraunt at the literal end of the Universe. People from all over the Universe would go to this restaraunt at the end of time to watch the last bit of the Universe fade into nothing. It felt kind of like that on the cruise ship. People from all over the World go on this cruise to the end of Glacier Bay to watch one of the World's remaining glaciers slowly melt away. I actually was hoping for global warming to work just a little faster so I could see more dramatic scenes of ice breaking off and crashing into the water.
There was a solo seal swimming around in the cold bay water at the root of the glacier. I assume the little guy was busy hunting for food amongst the chunks of ice floating in the water.
The ship then slowly and quietly rotated around so that the starboard side also got a view. Allie's parents relaxed on their patio at this time, along with me and Allie in our own patio next door.
Once we left the glacier, the cruise ship went on a tour around other portions of Glacier Bay. At one point, off in the distance, I saw one glacier with a massive calving of ice crashing into the bay!
The ship later headed south. Allie and I relaxed in the spa at the front of the ship. Several of the reclined chairs faced foward so we could kick back and watch the ocean pass by. We saw more dolphins and some sort of fish that was jumping out of the water.
Seeing Glacier Bay was my main purpose for this trip. Cruise ships are really the only way to see this amazing place for the average person (unless you happen to have your own boat and know how to navigate the World's seas).
Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
- The next leap year where Feburaury does not have a full moon is 25721.
- The current definition of the term "Blue Moon" dates back to March 1946, in which Sky and Telescope magizine mistakenly misinterpreted the definition of the term from 1937 Maine Farmers' Almanac. "Blue Moon" originally referred to the third Full Moon in a season which has four Full Moons2.
- Atheists outnumber all but nine organized religions in the World.
- The skin of a polar bear is black. Though the fur appears white, it's actually clear.
- More often, you will use more gas making a left turn than making a right turn.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The hashtag #masspike has some interesting tweets about the portion of I-90 that runs through Massachusetts, called Mass Pike. So, since I'm driving on a section of Mass Pike on most days, I've started posting a semi-daily tweet attached to that hashtag which covers some experiences I've have while on that toll freeway. The fact that I have something to complain about practically everyday should say something about a large minority of poor drivers that frequent this stretch of road.
People swerving excessivly (worse than drunks, in my opinion) are quite common. Even worse is when a big rig is actively swerving into adjacent lanes without the intent of changing lanes. More than once, I've seen hapless cars have to veer, literally avoiding dangerous accidents.
Many drivers treat the road as their own ash tray, flinging cigarette butts out to bounce into the cars behind them. Many butts have a well inflamed cherry. Rather unsafe.
I'm sure many people aren't all that clear on the concept of what a lane is. It seems a dashed line in the middle of the road is an invitation to drive on top of the line down the middle. This is a particular problem with freeway exits. A problem with freeway entrances is the opposite. If there is only one lane, lane splitting is employed. See, here I thought lane splitting was only legal in California with a motorcycle and a car. Massachusetts, it's illegal, so why not just completely break the law by lane splitting a big rig with another big rig!
These daily events aren't limited to Mass Pike, and they aren't even the half of what goings on. So, keep an eye on the #masspike hashtag on Twitter to see what your missing.
Friday, December 30, 2011
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Swagway is a small town near the end of the Chikook Inlet. I think (don't quote me on this) that this was one of the Alaskan Gold Rush towns.
On this stop, Allie and I went on an excursion. It was called a safari, though I think any trek in Alaska might be considered the antithesis of "safari". Either way, it was an adventure. We were a part of a larger party that rode a ferry from Skagway to an outcropping of land about an hour's ride south. From there, we took a bus up to the camp in the rain forest. We geared up with rain gear and went for a hike through the forest. Finally, we arrived at a river where some canoes were ready. After rowing up river in the canoes, we reached the foot of a glacier. The glacier was very jagged. Most of the facing surfaces were pristine white, though part of one side had mixed with a recent avalanche for a granite-like appearance. The glacier made the cold day even cooler at its base. As we canoed around the melt pool, we noticed plenty of birds and fish.
Our safari guides had one thing on their mind. They didn't likely get paid much for spending their spring and summer at this outcropping of land between the bay and the glaciated mountains. To pass the time, they enjoy a local beverage. I forget the name, but it's a beer made from spruce tips. To augment their income, they collected spruce tips from the surrounding forest. When they return to town, they trade their spruce tips for the beer that is made from the spruce tips. The guides talked about this beer quite frequently.
When we turned to Skagway, Allie and I set out to find the bar that served this beer. It is at the end of the street directly down from where the cruise ship was docked. If you get a chance to go to Skagway, make sure you try to find this bar and have the spruce tip beer. It's not the best beer you'll ever have, but it is pretty darn good, and a great way to experience Skagway that most other people will easily miss.
Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
(I know this recounting is a bit late.) Day 8 of Allie's and my road trip across the USA was a drive home. This leg of our journey seemed to drag on, even though it wasn't the longest segment on our trip. Along the way, we found this rather humorous posting of a No Parking sign. Clearly, patrons of this gas station are willfully ignoring the posted instructions. Frankly, I'm not sure how one might fill up at a gas station without parking, especially since the motor is supposed to be turned off while refueling. Maybe the driver can have buddy pump the gas while he puts the car in neutral and pushes his car a few feet in one direction and then pushes back a few feet in the other until the gas tank is topped off?
Upstate New York isn't quite as beautiful this time as it was the last time I travelled these lands. Fall had long passed its peak, and winter has not yet claimed the earth with snow.
On a personally interesting point, while I was not driving, I had plenty of time on my hands, of course. The evening and twilight hours had passed. The moon was out and looking beautiful. I decided to try once again to take a detailed shot of the moon with my automatic camera. Successful execution of this operation has eluded me for 30 years. However, there's enough settings in my Canon Powershot to finally pull this off with a fair amount of success. Usually, when you try to take a photograph of the moon with a standard camera, all you get is a ball of light. This time, after some experimentation, I was actually able to capture some level of detail. Additionally, this photo is taken upward through the passenger side window in a moving car! It's not the best shot ever of the moon, but an achievement, nonetheless.
Alas (yes, I actually used that word), we made it home in Massachusetts. This is our home now, not just my home. This is a point that will soon sink in for Allie, but I fear she's going to have a bit of homesickness coming on soon, just like me a few months prior. Tobzilla has been a bit unsettled on our entire road trip. However, today, he seemed to know something was different. He was less nervous. He seemed to know that this home wasn't just another hotel for one night. Time to unpack and recover from the trip.