Comet


Night walking videos on YouTube

Posted by: Ryan 1 month, 2 weeks ago
Categories: Fluff

Jess and I felt that our living room TV was a little small.  A few days ago, I heard about a good TV sale, and we decided to upgrade.  Our new TV is big, perhaps a little too big. It has 4K resolution, which is way cooler than I expected.  Content in 4K looks really sharp.

 

And that leads me to my current fascination: 4k resolution and 60 frames per second city night walking videos.  They look like a window into another part of the world. Plus, the videos are often several hours long - so they make good background ambience while working, cleaning, cooking, etc.

 

I am linking a few of my favorites below, but I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this video genre.  Highly recommend watching with your own music playing in the background.  Enjoy!

 

https://youtu.be/yKvu63qXSp8

This is a walk through Times Square in NYC.  It’s interesting to revisit New York through this video.  I particularly like how bright and colorful this video is, despite being recorded at night.  I wish this video wandered to other parts of midtown.

https://youtu.be/vHr4qSQ-5XU

This is video is a walk through a part of Tokyo. Within the first 10 minutes, the video cuts through narrow alleyways full of shops and eateries. It also features a few heavily-developed streets.

https://youtu.be/i5WqicwhdcA

This video shows London at night, and features some very neat light (and water) installations.  I haven’t seen all of this video yet.

https://youtu.be/1aqM14CYb4Y

This video is a walk through some less dense areas in Tokyo, including a few parks and shopping malls.  It ends in a rather neat way (as far as night walking video endings go).

 

 

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Tincture of Benzoin

Posted by: Ryan 7 months, 2 weeks ago
Categories: Fluff

This is a really great and effective product - and you probably haven’t ever heard of it!  It’s not drugs...it’s Tincture of Benzoin, and it helps keep bandages (including bandaids) stay stuck on skin.

They often come in packs of small vials. You break them sorta like a glow stick (there’s a vial within a vial) and apply it to skin in a thin layer using a built-in gauze pad.  Then, let it sit for a minute or so until it’s somewhat dry and tacky. Lastly, put on the bandage.

The bandage will stay stuck much better than normal. It will endure getting wet better than normal too.  This is especially useful for cuts in tricky places with a lot of movement, like hands, or where there’s rubbing, like the heel of your foot.  When the time comes, the bandage can be peeled off without too much difficulty.

I couldn’t find this at CVS or Walgreens, but I eventually found it at REI.  It’s probably also available online. 

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Violet’s Bandana Collection

Posted by: Ryan 1 year ago
Categories: Fluff

Jessica and I enjoy collecting bandanas for our dog, Violet. It’s a fun thing for us to collect because we often find interesting bandanas for sale while traveling.  Plus, bandanas are usually pretty cheap, and they are generally smaller than other keepsakes/collectibles.

I recently wrangled up most of her bandanas and put them through the wash.  Before putting them away, we arranged them in semi-chronological order (oldest in top-left and newest in bottom-right, like reading a book) and snapped this picture.

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Government Emails :(

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Fluff

About a week ago, I started receiving emails from the US Government.  A lot of emails.  Like 50 per day.  I understand that sounds scary - and I guess it sorta is - but you should know I am just receiving subscription emails.  From government mailing lists.

Nonetheless, somebody has maliciously signed me up for dozens of government mailing lists.  Some aren't even in English.  There is definitely some Spanish and Russian mixed in there; I think I may have seen Portuguese too, what does Portuguese look like?

The emails are mostly coming from the Department of State, but I also get emails from the Census Bureau, Citizen and Immigration Services, the CDC, and many other organizations - even the National Portrait Gallery.  Coincidentally, I think I might be the only person on the email distribution for the National Portrait Gallery.

What's going on?  Am I being hacked?  I checked my credit scores, bank accounts, 401k, Amazon account - there's no malicious activity.  I checked my Facebook - secretly hoping some evil hacker gained access and posted something on my behalf - but there was nothing.

I thought maybe this is just some sort of glitch.  Maybe I signed up for one government subscription service and somehow all the other subscriptions somehow got switched on in their database.  But that's unlikely - because I've never signed up for one subscription.

I emailed the Department of State two days after this started asking them to please stop the emails.  To take me off their lists.  They didn't take me off the list - they haven't even responded.  I doubt they will ever respond.

Meanwhile, my inbox is a complete disaster.  I usually like to keep it fairly tidy, but now it's just a mess.  I've got Portuguese Portrait Gallery emails and all sorts of nonsense in there.  I can't live like this.  I try to unsubscribe, but it's an uphill battle.

Someone doesn't necessarily need to breach my secure information - or passwords - to sign me up for an email distribution.  I did a little investigative work to see what it takes to get onto the Department of State email list.  It's really easy.  You go to the top of the US State Department's blog website (here) and type an email address into the bar and click "subscribe".  The site will ask you to confirm the email address, then you click subscribe again.  That's it.  No captcha, no verification email to confirm.  And here's the worst part - after you subscribe an email address (it can be any email address), they bring you to a giant checklist page where you can select other government-related subscriptions to join.  When I say giant - I mean it.  It's massive.  There are even buttons you can click to expand the checklists even more so you can reveal more subscription options.

A big shout-out and thank-you to the kind soul who subscribed me to all of these government email lists.  And another shout-out to whoever designed this subscription system on the gov website.

If I find out a quick way to unsubscribe, I will follow-up here.

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Lying

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 4 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Fluff

It’s no lie that my post content has taken a dive over the past few weeks.  I hope to get back on the ball soon, but I still have a back-log of miscellaneous “life” tasks to do, and most of them won’t make compelling blog content.  In addition, I’ve been doing a little bit more ‘consuming’ of content lately (i.e., watching Netflix, reading comics, playing games).  This is fun to do, but I find it exercises the brain a little less than actually creating something.

Speaking of consuming content, I recently listened to an audiobook named “Lying” by Sam Harris. This is a very short nonfiction book (the audiobook is 75 minutes long) in which the author argues that you should never lie.  This includes white lies and those tiny lies you tell when someone asks you “how are you” and you say “good.”  Of coarse, the book covers lies of all sorts, and concludes that in every case, telling the truth (and using some tact while doing so) is always superior - with only a few exceptions (such as doctors and lawyers who are bound to protect their clients confidential information).

After reading this book, I naturally considered if I should follow a strict ‘no lies’ philosophy in life.  The book piqued my interest because I feel that I already live a very truthful lifestyle.  This is mainly because my mind just isn’t very quick in complex social situations, and adding lies to the mix causes the complexity to compound.  I prefer to operate under the solitary thread of truth. Even the truth can get hard to sort out from time to time!

After hearing the arguments in Sam Harris’s book, I’m going to make a conscious effort to live a life of complete truth. By this I mean I want to tell less ‘white lies’ and less of those tiny lies. I’m not making an oath of zero lies or anything - merely just trying something that could potentially have a positive impact on me and those around me.

[Cartoon image is from bigthink.com]

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Satoshi Nakamoto

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 5 months ago
Categories: Fluff

A month ago, I took my first steps into the world of cryptocurrency mining.  So far, the mining itself has been great - I've made about $80 by mining Ethereum, and I expect to accelerate that a little bit when I finally hook up my second video card that's currently sitting around doing nothing.  While $80 doesn't seem like much, it was essentially free money.  The impact to our electric bill has been negligible - and the mining is technically putting off a little bit of heat which offsets the gas bill.  Aside from mining, I also invested a (very) small amount of money into Ethereum, which hasn't done great as an investment so far.  But that's OK.  I'll let it ride.

When I first posted about crypto, I said I would follow-up with another post all about Satoshi Nakamoto (the mysterious inventor of bitcoin).  I had the Nakamoto post written about a month ago, but I forgot to...you know...actually post it.

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The short answer is that he is the inventor of bitcoin and, more importantly, the blockchain technology that makes bitcoin work.

The long answer is that 'Satoshi Nakamoto' is almost certainly a pseudonym.  People who reviewed the computer code for bitcoin say that it was either made by a single genius or a group of specialists working together.  While the true identity of Nakamoto is unknown, there are a few theories…

A computer scientist named Craig Steven Wright has claimed to be the true Nakamoto on several occasions, and a few big names in the community have confirmed it.  But, a few other big names have claimed that he is a phony.  Some say that the evidence he provided was falsified.  The jury is still out.

Someone did an analysis of Nakamoto’s writing style and found that it matched the writing style of a man named Nick Szabo, who was the inventor of an earlier electronic currency in the 1990s.  A finance journalist studied the matter and concluded that Szabo would be the only person with sufficient experience and knowledge to invent bitcoin.  Szabo denies being Nakamoto.

There is a Japanese American physicist named Dorian Nakamoto, who was born under the name Satoshi Nakamoto.  A journalist once asked him if he invented bitcoin, and he said, “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people.” Obviously, that response made people freak out.  He later said he misinterpreted the question, he thought it was related to his work at Citibank, and that he hadn’t ever heard of bitcoin.

An electronic currency pioneer named Hal Finney happened to live near Dorian Nakamoto during the release of bitcoin.  It is known that Finney participated in some of the first bitcoin transactions and that he helped fix a few early bugs in the bitcoin code.  Analysis of Finney’s writing style also closely matches that of Satoshi Nakamoto.  Finny denies that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, and a Forbes journalist who met with Finney and studied him more closely reported that it’s unlikely that he is the true Nakamoto.

A Tesla intern even claimed that Elon Musk was the developer of bitcoin.  Musk denied it.

A software developer named Gavin Andresen has been the lead developer – and the main figurehead – of bitcoin since 2011.  In fact, Satoshi Nakamoto officially designated him as such.  Some rumors began to swirl that he may be the real Nakamoto, but then during a convention, Andresen said something to suggest that Craig Steven Wright was the real Nakamoto.  Shortly after, he retracted his statement.  Another interesting thing about Andresen: he lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

From my limited amount of research on Nakamoto, I've learned that tech journalists are obsessed with searching for him, and the cryptocurrency community generally doesn't care who he is.

...big shoutout to wikipedia and the first 5 webpages that come up when you google "Satoshi Nakamoto" for giving me this info.

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Panpsychism

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 5 months ago
Categories: Fluff

Quartz (A digital magazine/news source) recently released an article about Panpsychism.  This is a theory/concept that all physical things have consciousness (even rocks).  The Quartz article essentially claims that a scientifically rigorous explanation of consciousness in humans/animals has eluded neuroscientists, philosophers, and physicists; to the point where the theory of Panpsychism makes more sense than the concept that brains somehow produce consciousness from non-consciousness.  In other words - they are struggling to understand why assembling non-conscious organic flesh in a very specific way to make a brain causes consciousness to occur.

Panpsychists posit that non-organic matter has a form of consciousness that is "unimaginably simple" - so it's not like your bedroom mirror has any thoughts about your outfit choice.  While this concept initially seems ludicrous, they question why a scientific truth must make common sense to begin with.

You can read the Quartz article here.  You can read the wikipedia article on Panpsychism here.  I learned of this Quartz article from theJournal.email, which is a monthly email newsletter full of fascinating tidbits.  Image is from Shutterstock.

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The high school football coach who never punts

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 5 months ago
Categories: Fluff

While watching the recent Patriots game, I remembered a story about a high school football coach who chose to never punt the ball on fourth down - ever.  I dug the story up again, and it's even better than I remembered.

The coach's name is Kevin Kelley.  He is the head coach at Pulaski Academy in Arkansas.  Before I get into Kelley's coaching approach, let me first say that his record was 77-17 as of August 2015.  Looking up Pulaski Academy's 2017 record - they were undefeated.

Coach Kelley's theory is built on the concept that possession of the ball is more valuable than the position on the field.  From that concept, punting the ball is clearly a bad idea.  Coach Kelley never punts - even if his team is on fourth down with terrible field position.

But that's not the only strange thing about Coach Kelley's approach.  Since he puts so much value on ball possession and so little value on field position, most of his teams' kick-offs are on-side kicks.  If you don't know, this means that rather than kicking-off by sending the ball to the far end of the field, they kick the ball only a few yards and let it erratically skip along the ground with the hope that they can regain possession during the ensuing chaos.  His team practices 12 different variations of an on-side kick.

Along with that same theme, Coach Kelley's team never returns punts or kickoffs.  This is because punt and kickoff returns are often high-risk for fumbles, and since possession is so valuable, returning the ball isn't worth it.

Obviously, since ball possession is so important to Coach Kelley, turning the ball over due to an interception or fumble would be bad.  To statistically reduce the likelihood of a fumble or interception, Kelley strategizes to move the ball down the field in as few plays as possible.  He found that plays in which three or more people touch the ball (i.e., trick plays) are statistically more likely to result in 20 or more yards.  So, his offense relies on them heavily.  Rather than blocking to help shield a ball carrier from defenders, teammates will position themselves behind or to the sides of a ball carrier to make themselves available for a lateral pass.  The coach says that the lack of blocking doesn't have a big impact because defenders are forced to position themselves differently to defend the potential lateral pass.

Despite the overwhelmingly strong win-loss record, there is a news story from 2016 about Kelley's team giving up 26 points in a single quarter due to the no-punt strategy.  Obviously, turning the ball over on fourth down while in terrible field position would be devastating, especially if done repeatedly.  But, despite this hiccup, the coach's strategy has garnered some serious attention.  NFL coaches have even consulted with him.

Here are some articles about Coach Kelley: [1], [2], [3]

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TP alternatives

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 6 months ago
Categories: Fluff

We've all been there before.  You've used the last roll of toilet paper...yesterday.  And for whatever reason, you can't get to the store to buy more.

So what do you do?  Comet is here to help.  After hours of research, consultation with experts, scientists, doctors, engineers, and technicians, we've assembled a ranked list of paper products which can 'rise to the occasion'.  If you run out of item 1, then you move to item 2, then 3, and so on.

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Moist towelettes
  3. Baby wipes
  4. Tissues
  5. Napkins
  6. Paper towels
  7. Tissue paper
  8. Coffee filters
  9. News paper
  10. Notebook paper
  11. Phone book pages
  12. Paper bags
  13. Printer paper
  14. Wrapping paper
  15. Magazines
  16. Parchment paper
  17. Junk mail
  18. Instruction booklets
  19. Post-it notes
  20. Bad books
  21. Old greeting cards
  22. Playing cards
  23. Cash (starting with $1 bills)
  24. Good books
  25. Old family photos
  26. Important documents
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J Peterman

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 8 months ago
Categories: Fluff
You're in a tea house in Kyaukpyu, a small fishing village in Burma. You're tired because you spent the night gambling with a group of thugs aboard a rickety fishing vessel off the coast of Bangladesh. You just ate breakfast, yet you're still hungry. Not for food, but for some relaxing and informative entertainment.
Through wooden shuttered windows you hear the productive yet calm murmur of an outdoor fish market. Patrons come and go from the busy tea house, placing a few coins on the counter on their way out. As the sommelier refills your cup with Royal Myanmar Tea, you pull your cellphone out from the pocket of your Himalayan Cotton Trousers. That's when you navigate to a website. This website. And you read a fascinating blog post about none other than J. Peterman.


If you watch Seinfeld, you likely know who J Peterman is. He was Elaine's boss for a few seasons. He was an eccentric world traveler and adventurer who owned a clothing catalog. The catalog aimed to sell clothing using detailed stories - much like the one above - in which the reader can fantasize about being a world traveler, and then buy the clothing to at least look like a world traveler.
First of all, I was amazed to lear that J Peterman is based on a real person, and that the J Peterman catalog really exists. I was then even more amazed to learn that John O'Hurley, the actor who played J Peterman in Seinfeld, invested in the J Peterman company a few years ago when it was going through financial trouble. He is now a part owner!
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