Published Jan 29, 2009

OK, I rarely do the meme thing, but, what the heck, the first step to writing more is: writing more. So, therefore, I will write this!

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. When I was younger, I wanted to be an architect.

2. When I was much younger, I loved Legos, and would build restaurants with them, complete with dining tables, kitchens, and even the plumbing under the floor.

3. I believe in ghosts. In fact, I’ve seen ghosts.

4. The first thing I thought, when I saw this meme, was “why 25?” I know it’s a nice round number, but part of me thinks that there is a more-or-less ideal number of pieces of information to reveal in something like this, that will be little enough work that most people will do it, be long enough that most everyone will learn something new, and be short enough that nobody will have to write about crap. It’s kind of like the three strikes law: we could probably find a number or pattern of crimes past which recidivism becomes overwhelming, but instead we decide to apply the rules of baseball to crime. FAIL.

5. I don’t like responding to memes because I don’t like being told what to do. But, on the other hand, I want people to tag me in memes because of the whole attention-from-friends thing. So I guess I should respond more!

6. It’s like every 2 years I discover the Zone system all over again!

7. I color-code everything I can. Even the towels in the kitchen are color-coded.

8. Speaking of organizing, I really like to clump things into groups of like things. Whatever number of buckets are available, I can divide the pile of things in front of me into it, and the people who look at it will agree that it makes sense.

9. Despite my bent for organizing, I’m actually quite good at coming up with original ideas. In fact, I tend to think that all creativity comes from constraints. And, by extension, those people who say they can’t be creative because society/their employer/resources limit them too much are not, in fact, creative.

10. I also believe that all progress comes from laziness. I mean, if we weren’t too lazy to do the work by brute force, we’d never have invented any tool, right?

11. This is a convenient belief for me as I also believe I’m lazy. Others take issue with this belief, but I’m sticking with it.

12. In elementary school I could do dozens and dozens of sit-ups.

13. I can be a bit superstitious. I used to have lucky boxers, a lucky rugby shirt, and more. I still try to stick to lucky numbers and the light. 13 doesn’t make me that uncomfortable, though.

14. I really regret quitting taking math classes after integral calculus. I got an A+ in that class! I think I would’ve enjoyed going further. Plus, I’m such a stats geek.

15. Speaking of, I tend to think of everything in terms of normal distributions. Where does that restaurant, person, outfit, car, political opinion fit on the distribution of like things within the population? Are there other ways we can slice things up to see different distributions — for instance, the price of food in restaurants in strip malls rather than restaurants in general, or the colors of shirts rather than of whole outfits, etc.

16. I also tend to think of luck as normally-distributed within the population, and of good- and bad-luck events as normally-distributed within the life of an individual. That means that some people are more or less lucky than average — they are in one of the tails of the distribution of population luck. However, since any one person is likely to be of neutral (average) luck, streaks of bad or good luck will tend to regress towards the mean over time. So, your luck will change, don’t you worry/you’d better watch out!

17. Since luck is distributed normally, I spend a lot more time trying to make sure I’m comfortable with the process and information I used to make a decision than the decision itself. This means that often I can be good at making a snap decision. However, if a decision gives me a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, I’ll almost always change it regardless of how I got there.

18. In junior high I desperately wanted to be able to draw comics. I copied this wizard character I saw some guy drawing and I tried to draw a series with him in it. I was foiled by my craptacular drawing ability.

19. In elementary school I wrote a science-fiction novel. I was very proud of it, and it seemed very long. In high school I found the notebook I’d written it in, and was shocked to see that it was 9 or 10 pages long.

20. In elementary school I had one of those Kodak Disc cameras that I feel like I took shots with all the time, especially on vacation. I wonder where those shots went?

21. I was always jealous of my friend Andrew’s Walkman, since I never had one. Once, he let me listen to it for a minute — he was listening to Eye of the Tiger, and he made me give him the Walkman back before it got to the lyrics. Some time later, I saved up for a while and bought a very expensive Walkman, which I put in my locker a couple of days later, and it fell out and broke when I next opened my locker. I’d listened to it only a couple of times.

22. Either way, I have awful taste in music. I mean, I like what I listen to, but you won’t, so I’ll listen to your music, since it’s probably fine.

23. I have seen every episode of Law & Order. You can decide for yourself what that says about my taste in TV. I do, however, regret describing Bones as “cliched” and saying that the lead characters looked like a frog and a stoat. Well, the do, kind of, but I’ve decided the show is fun.

24. Once, in college, a classmate asked a small question about the Mexican Revolution, and I answered with an hour-and-a-half notes-free discussion of the politico-economic history of that conflict. I’m, uh, kind of handy at pub trivia too.

25. I grew up in a good part of Baltimore, but I remember stepping around passed-out crackheads to go to a great Thai restaurant too. It never occurred to me that was not normal. The school I took Tae Kwon Do at was in a pretty mediocre neighborhood.

Hmm, I might have to do more of this, I could come up with another 25… maybe that would make good content and break my writers’ block. Any subject matter requests?

Also: Milla, you’re it. And other people on Facebook.


Re: #9, have you read Doug Hofstadter’s Le Ton Beau de Marot (or however that’s spelled)? It’s all about how poetry emerges from constraints (also all forms of game), and languages are simply a bigger kind of poetic constraint, and interesting ideas like that.

Re: math — y’know, I handled multivariable calc, differential equations, and linear algebra (which they really should be clear is matrix algebra and high-dimensional “linear” equations, i.e. there are a potentially large number of variables Xi, but all the equations factor into products of Xi+C).

I hit a wall when I got to “advanced algebra”, which encompasses things like group theory. Group theory takes you all the way back to first-grade arithmetic and tries to pry open your brain and show that basic stuff like that is actually only one instantiation of a much larger class of possible systems. I actually did pretty well in the class — I got perfect scores on the things I turned in — but I felt like I was grinding through the processes without UNDERSTANDING them, and kinda lost interest.

Re: Normal Distributions — you should check out Taleb’s The Black Swan. A lot of things that people try to analyze using Gaussian priors, are NOT normally distributed. e.g. Returns on securities. Take the best ten single-day moves out of the S&P 500 over the last fifty years, and you lose 50% of the overall return. If the mass of human beings was concentrated like that, you’d have to be able to see a ballroom full of 18,000 or so normal people, weighing, say, 150 lbs each on average, and then add ten people to the room who each weigh about 135 tons each. NOT NORMAL. Which invalidates virtually all risk measurements and valuation tools used in portfolio theory (beta, Black-Scholes, etc). They’re still “the best we have,” but we ought to be aware that they’re broken.

Re: Bones — Emily Deschanel so does not look like a frog. Unless it’s a really hot frog.

Also, I love that show because my fiancĂ©e is socially-impaired in the same way as Temperance Brennan, just to a slightly-less-caricaturesque degree. It’s endearing.

I own Le Ton Beau de Marot, I’ve just never worked up the guts to read it. It looks… challenging.

Emily Deschnael is the stoat. David Boreanaz is the frog. I mean, look at the eyes! Also, I think the AIG bears quite the resemblance to Seeley Booth. That may influence me to like the show.

wow, i had no idea you were so OCD! (and yeah, i’m working on my own list, to be posted on FB soon.)

I’ve admired Boreanaz’s acting ability since I watched him maintain a rather grim expression in a scene where Angel is being pounce-hugged by Buffy — if I had Sarah Michelle Gellar wrapping all four limbs around me and grinning up at me coquettishly, there’s no way I wouldn’t be smiling, script be damned.