One thing about my wife....

There are many, many things to love about my wife eyelid. One that I'm not sure I've ever mentioned to her before is this....

eyelid has an amazing aptitude for grokking stories and the characters in them. When I read a book, I tend to float along letting the characters do what they do and letting the story go where it goes. Even with just a few seconds of catching her up on the plot of what I'm reading or watching, she immediately calls out how/why some character action lacks any motivation or is out of line with the rest of the character. She's incredibly insightful and fast. It amazes me each time.

Just one of the ways she keeps amazing me day after day.


Here's how I've been baking bread lately.

At 10AM the day before, mix 150g of King Arthur Bread (or All-Purpose) Flour and 150g of water with the tiniest, tiniest sprinkle of Rapid Rise (Bread Machine) Yeast. I use a steel bowl and then invert a slightly larger steel bowl over it to keep it from drying out much.

At bedtime the day before, add 350g of flour and 350g of water. Mix well. Keep covered as before.

At 10AM the day of, add 500g of flour, 120g of water, 35g of salt. Mix well. Wait 20min. Knead for 8min. Divide into halves or thirds. Wait 10min. Shape into final shape.

For round loaves, put a towel in a bowl that's just barely big enough for the ball of dough so the loaves have to rise up instead of out. Put the loaf inside the towel with the bottom of the loaf up. Cover the whole loaf with the ends of the towel.

For long loaves, use a towel as a couche ( ) with folds of the towel separating the loaves. Put one edge of it against the wall and use cookbooks or rolled up towels to keep pressure on the opposite edge so the loaves have to rise up instead of out.

Let dough rise for 3hr and 15min (your time may vary depending on the room temperature. Our house stays at 74-degrees).

Pre-heat oven with pizza stone to 550-degrees making sure it is at temperature at least 45min before bread is ready. I also keep a cast-iron skillet on the lowest rack of the oven. For round loaves, I also put a dutch oven (I have one cast-iron and one enamaled, both work quite well but the enameled one is a bit cramped) with lid in the oven for each loaf.

For round loaves, I put them in the dutch ovens, score the tops of the loaves with a razor blade or somewhat-serrated knife, put the lid on, put back in the oven. Lower temp to 485. Bake covered for 30min and uncovered for 10min (or until well-colored).

For long loaves, (or if you don't have dutch ovens): Put parchment on a cookie sheet with no edge (or on upside down sheet). Carefully move the risen loaves to the parchment by hand. Score the tops of the loaves with a razor blade or somewhat-serrated knife. Slide parchment onto the pizza stone. Put 1/2 cup of crushed ice cubes into the iron skillet on the lowest rack. After 5min lower temp to 485 and bake for 17min (or until well-colored).

If the bread is coloring too quickly, cover with foil to slow down the color while getting heat to center.

Remove bread from oven and put on wire racks to cool. There should be audible crackling of the crust here, especially dramatic if you didn't use a dutch oven.

Note: I have tried at least a dozen brands of bread flour and all-purpose flour. King Arthur flour costs at least twice as much but would be a bargain at eight times as much. It's the best by far.

Minimal yeast at the start ensures that the chemicals they use to process and preserve yeast don't dominate. The high water/flour ratio at the start allows the yeast to move around. Salt inhibits yeast development so it comes as late as possible. French bread ratios are 100 flour :: 62 water :: 2-4 salt (by weight). Pizza stone ensures bottom of bread gets blasted with heat when bread goes in. Dutch ovens ensure moisture from bread helps gelatinize the crust rather than waft out of the room. Crushed ice in pan tries to do the same but oven is so porous that it doesn't make all that much difference (still looking for an alternative, may have to get or make some baguette cloches but all the ones that I've seen are too wide and too short).

If the times don't work well with your schedule, 4-5hrs in the fridge is about the same as 1hr on the counter.


Applicable Proofs...

We both know it's been forever since I posted on LJ. This one's too long for Twitter and doesn't mesh well with my mostly-Lisp blog. 'Nuff said.

I've started reading The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible by Lance Fortnow. So far, I'm enjoying the material. However, he keeps smacking into one of my biggest math peeves: Proof is Panacea.

Before I explain that or mention how it relates to Fortnow's book, let me tell you where Numbers smacked into this peeve.

Season One, Episode Five guest-starred Neil Patrick Harris. NPH was close to a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis. The Riemann Hypothesis is closely linked to the distribution of prime numbers. Prime numbers are intimately involved in much of the encryption technology in use today (even more so back when that episode first aired).

In the episode, NPH's daughter had been kidnapped by some baddies that were demanding a complete proof of the Riemann Hypothesis as ransom. Part of the premise of the episode was that with such a proof the kidnappers would be able to decrypt any secure internet transactions. Modern civilization would fall apart.

At the time, eyelid asked me, What would happen if someone could prove the Riemann Hypothesis? My thought at the time (and still), is absolutely nothing in any sort of short timeframe beyond winning the author a Millenium Prize.

If there is anything you can do to break today's encryption schemes once you know the Riemann Hypothesis to be true, then you can already do that just by guessing that the Riemann Hypothesis is true. Sure, there is a small chance that there will be some new tool or new revelation that comes out of the manner in which the Riemann Hypothesis is proven (or falsified) that might eventually make finding particular primes easier. I consider that a small chance and only after years of delving.

It is a sad truth that many of the great proofs are non-constructive. One of the easiest ones to follow is Euclid's proof of the Infinitude of the Primes. Suppose for a moment that there aren't infinitely many primes. If that were the case, there would only be N of them for some (possibly large) number N. If you multiply all of those primes together you get a number that is divisible by every prime number. If you add one to that number, now you have a number that has remainder one when divided by any prime number. So, either this number is prime and wasn't on your list, or you missed some prime that divides into this number. It must, therefore, be impossible to have a finite list of all of the prime numbers.

What can you do now that this has been proven that you couldn't do before this was proven? You can prove things that depend on it being true, but what can you do. The answer is nothing new. You can't even name a single prime number that you should have had on your list. You can't tell whether any given number that didn't make your list is prime or not. You can't tell how many primes you might have missed. Anything you can do because we've proven there are infinitely many primes, you could have done with just the supposition (or hope) that there were infinitely many primes.

I can understand how a TV drama might ignore that inconvenient truth so it won't fizzle the tension in your plot, but I can't forgive Fortnow the same sin. Fortnow says over and over again that if you can prove that P = NP then you can do all kinds of things easily that everyone else still considers hard. You'll be able to optimally route your Travelling Salesman, you'll be able to crack my public key, you'll be able to optimally fit your stuff into the minimum number of moving truck trips, and you'll be able to play a perfect game of Tetris if you know what order the pieces will come out.

First, as does Fortnow, I consider it very unlikely that P does equal NP. Second, even if P = NP, I'd only give it about a one in fifty chance of being provable. Third, if it's provable, I'd give it a one in one thousand chance that the first proof will be constructive. Fourth, even if it is constructive, I'd only give that a one in ten chance of showing any way to find an algorithm in P to solve any given problem.

Fortnow knows way more about P vs. NP than I do. Maybe he knows something that he's not letting on about that guarantees that the only way to prove P = NP is by demonstration. If that's the case, I sure wish he'd tell me. But, I think he's either just caught up in how cool it would be if NP were P or he's just building drama by sweeping truth under the rug.



Adventures in Upstate Ohio with Apple Maps as Your Guide

Suppose that you're travelling with four kids in the car. It's getting to be time for lunch and you want to exercise the kids a bit. Ohio has very nice rest areas, but you think a mall would be a better fit. So, you search Apple Maps for a mall.

You've just passed the I-90/I-75 interchange. You don't want to go back for all of the malls on the west side of Toledo, so you settle on the Woodville Mall.

You get there to discover that the Woodville Mall is all but condemned.

Fortunately, the babies have dozed off again. You need gas, but the gas stations near the mall are $.15/gallon more than the ones just off the highway were. So, you figure there will be some gas stations near the Sandusky Mall. You head out.

You get to point B and haven't seen a gas station. You search Apple Maps. It says that Coles Energy, Inc. is at around point D and Shumaker Gary BP is at point C. You decide that Coles Energy is probably a gas company rather than a gas station. You head back to Shumaker's. You find that Shumaker's is a BP distribution station. There are six tanker trucks and zero pumps.

You stop at a nearby restaurant. You explain to the lady behind the counter that you're just passing through looking to get to the Sandusky Mall and are in dire need of gasoline. She says, Hmmm... and freezes up. You're thinking, Fabulous. The nearest gas is going to be 30 miles back toward Toledo.

Finally, someone else jumps in and points you back toward point D. There are three gas stations right near there which did not show up on Apple Maps. Coles Energy was right across from the one you stopped at. Coles, indeed, could provide for you if you had needed propane, but not petrol. You got gas. Now, off to the mall.

Now, you are flipping back and forth between Apple Maps and Google Maps to compare. Google Maps had Shumaker's on it. It also had one of the three gas stations that had been right on your path. Of course, somewhere in here, Apple Maps quit giving you spoken directions. So, you missed the turn at point B in the previous map. You kick Apple Maps back into action and it leads you through the path shown to point C.

Point C is not anywhere near the actual Sandusky Mall. It is out in the sticks. You passed through a closed campground and past a few farms and through some sparse neighborhoods to get to point C. There is no mall there at all. There are dirt roads. There is a bay.

Of course, you're way far away from decent cell reception now. Neither Apple Maps or Google Maps can properly locate you. You track down an intersection that's big enough to register on Google Maps and start heading to what you hope is the real mall with Google Maps now.

Now, there is a gorgeous rainbow over the road and an Ohio trooper that just pulled over to start clocking cars. You were also expecting the exit to be labelled Milan Road. You miss the turn at point B and turn around at point C.

You make it almost to point D and fear that what was labelled Sandusky Mall on Google Maps and the exit you took off of Ohio-2 is really just a Meijers store. Thankfully, you just gave up a few hundred feet too early. The mall does exist, is open, does sell food, and does have a children's play area. Now, it's dinner time.

Having been awake for 34hrs now, you send your spouse in with the kids while you take a somewhat cramped nap on the floor of the van. The nap is surprisingly pleasant until your boss calls to remind you that you need to turn in your timecard sometime in the next 18hrs.



Null Intersection Hypothesis?

Here's the situation. You're in an all-day meeting at work. It comes time to order the pizza for lunch. A quick survey of the 20 people present reveals that four of you are vegetarian. Obviously, since 20% of the people are vegetarian, 20% of the pizzas should be meat-free.

Of course, this fails to take into account the fact that some non-vegetarians will have just a slice of the meat-free pizza.

There should be a name for this problem.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is the law of the excluded middle. According to the classical laws of thought, every proposition is either true or not true. There is no middle ground. For this situation, things would have to be framed as: That every person either only eats meat-pizza or only eats non-meat-pizza. That doesn't quite work for me. This suggests the name The Law of the Excluded Eaters.

The next thing that comes to mind is Bayes' Theorem. According to Bayes' Theorem, the probability that someone is vegetarian given they are eating cheese pizza P(V|C) is equal to the (prior) probability that someone is vegetarian P(V) times the probability that someone is eating cheese pizza given they are vegetarian P(C|V) divided by the (prior) probability that someone is eating cheese pizza P(C). The pizza problem is a common fallacy that makes grokking Bayes' Theorem tough for people. The common fallacy is called Berkson's Paradox and is related to the Prosecutor's Fallacy. People inadvertently equate the probability of eating cheese pizza P(C) with the probability that one is vegetarian P(V). This suggests the name The Bayesian Pizza Paradox.

The next thing that comes to mind for me is a simple Venn diagram. The problem assumes that the set of people who eat meat-pizza and the set of people who eat non-meat pizza have zero members in common. The intersection is the Null Set. This suggests the name The Null Intersection Hypothesis.

I like the name, too, because of its association with the Null Hypothesis from statistics. It suggests that every group-pizza order is a sociological experiment where the assumption going in is that meat eaters will eat only meat-pizza and non-meat eaters will eat only non-meat pizza.

The Venn diagram concept also brings up the Inclusion-Exclusion Principle. By that principal, the number of people in the who eat either sausage pizza or cheese pizza |S ∪ C| is equal to the number of people who eat sausage pizza |S| plus the number of people who eat cheese pizza |C| minus the number of people who eat both sausage and cheese pizza |S ∩ C|. It is common for people to forget to subtract that last term. This works when the intersection is empty. This suggests the name The Exclusion-Exclusion Principle.

That same principle here is also related to the Triangle Inequality. By the triangle inequality, the number of people total is less than or equal to the number who eat only meat pizza and the number who eat only non-meat pizza. This name is suggestive in shape. But, I'm not sure the Pizza Slice Inequality really works for me.

Another thing that comes to mind for me is the 80-20 rule. In this case, though, it would be the 80-80 rule: 80% of the people eat 80% of the pizza. It doesn't really work for me though. It doesn't fit well enough.

Another thing that comes to mind is proportional, representative democracy. One person = one vote. This suggests the name Representative Pizzocracy. But, it's not mathy enough for me.

Unless someone has a better suggestion, I'm going with the Null Intersection Hypothesis.



Units of Measure

In a radio news story about the on-going drought, some water company representative said that last month's water usage (in whatever area he was talking about... I don't remember... it doesn't matter here...) was 300 million gallons.

We have many, many commonly used subdivisions of gallons:
  • 1/4th of a gallon is a quart
  • 1/2 of a quart is a pint
  • 1/2 of a pint is a cup
  • 1/8th of a cup is an ounce
  • 1/2 an ounce is a tablespoon
  • 1/3rd of a tablespoon is a teaspoon
We have many units of liquid measure larger than a gallon when it's wine or ale.
  • One rundlet is 18 gallons of wine
  • One firkin is 84 gallons of wine or 8 gallons of ale
  • One tierce is 42 gallons of wine
  • One barrel is 31.5 gallons of wine or 4 firkins of ale or 42 gallons of oil
  • One hogshead is 63 gallons of wine or 1.5 barrels of ale
  • One pipe is 1.5 firkins of wine
  • One tun is 2 pipes of wine
This is a total mess, especially needing to know if you're talking about wine versus ale.  But, if we're talking about hundreds of millions of gallons of water, shouldn't we have some unit bigger than a gallon?

Maybe millions of gallons would be used too infrequently for people to remember how many gallons are in the units.  But, I think we should start using metric prefixen:
  • 300 megagallons of water
  • 16 teradollars of national debt
  • 50.9 to 50.4 megavotes


My Small Apartment -- No-stalgia

I woke up this morning feeling very nostalgic for an apartment in which I used to live. It was a really small apartment. I lived there for awhile with eyelid and before that with _xis. I have very distinct memories of this place. All of these memories are very happy. This morning's memory was being there with eyelid.

This is the apartment layout.

As you can see, it is very small. As you can also see, there is a large grayed out area of the apartment. It is left blank since I have never seen that part of the apartment.

In all of my memories of this place, I am sitting at the table next to Scoot or eyelid or _xis, laughing and talking, while one of us is cooking at the stove. Now, it's fair to point out here that the last sentence probably wasn't interpreted as intended because of basic assumptions about how things work. At no time in these memories were there more than two people in the apartment, yet there were two people at the table. One of whom was also at the stove cooking. Simultaneously.

You see, this apartment does not exist. I have been dreaming these memories for more than fifteen years. Every time that I remember this place, I spend the next several waking hours trying to be sure there really was no such place. The memories are so happy and so real and so temporally impossible and so spatially paradoxical.

A recurring dream. Of happy memories. With dear friends.



What It Means (Legally) To Be Male

There has been a substantial push by the Republicans in the Minnesota legislature to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage (which is already against Minnesota state law). Now, it's no secret that I am absolutely for marriage equality. But, this whole thing has gotten me thinking more about the legal status of being male or being female.

It is 2011. I have given up hope that anyone in my lifetime will invent a good way to package plastic wrap for home use. But, it has been illegal since 1920 to keep women from voting. It has been illegal since 1964 to discriminate in hiring on the basis of sex. It has been decades (not enough, but decades) since women needed their husband's permission to open a bank account. Since 1998, it has been illegal for me to sexually harrass people of either sex.

If I walked into the DMV today and told them that my driver's license has been wrong about my sex for all of these years, what would happen? They certainly wouldn't change it without my birth certificate. If I alleged that that was wrong or alleged that I could not find it, where would I be? Who gave the DMV the right to define what sex I am?

Why does it make any difference to the government (especially those espousing small government and personal freedom) that I am male?

The only answers I have are that if I am (legally) male:

  1. I can be drafted into combat posts.
  2. I can be penalized for entering women's restrooms (maybe?).
  3. I am not allowed to marry a male.

I can see the political expedience of the first. I can see the convenience of the second. I've got nothing for the third.


Who categorizes books for Google?

Some time ago, I was looking to see what books might interest me on Google Books. I don't know who (or what pattern matcher) categorizes books for them. But, this is certainly not what I was expecting to find in Technology & Engineering.

Largish screenshot... But wait until you see...Collapse )


C++ Quiz

So, I spent too much time today trying to figure out why this C++ code worked fine:

std::set::iterator found = m_transactionIDs.find(id);

if (found != m_transactionIDs.end())

if (someReallyComplexCondition)
else if (someOtherComplexCondition)

When changing it to this gave me a core dump with a stack trace of nothing but Ada:

std::set::iterator found = m_transactionIDs.find(id);

if (found != m_transactionIDs.end());

    if (someReallyComplexCondition)
    else if (someOtherComplexCondition)
Peek here for the answer and subsequent rant...Collapse )

Or, is there some legitimate reason for this to be legitimate?


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