May 2011 Archives

» Ever notice how much better the brain functions when you're physically fit? How much more clearly the mind operates following a fabulous work-out? How much more lucid things seem when you're running barefoot on the beach?

Yoga Pose Down DogHere in Southern California, as you might imagine, exercise is big thing. Specially as spring arrives.

You see them taking to the streets, wearing bright colors, pounding the pavement. Because off come the clothes at the beach come summer.

The idea of living in a place where the climate is conducive to a fitness-oriented lifestyle was one of the things that drew me here. (Scraping ice off your windshield at 6AM gets old fast.)

Most of my life I've run to stay fit. Running is easy on logistics. No club member$hip dues required. Simply lace up your Nike's and step out your front door. (There's a 5K here in Corona del Mar next weekend, on June 4th.)

I've also spent plenty of time pumping iron in the gym. Love the bulletproof feeling of strength & power that comes from (testosterone) lifting weights.

Yoga Ancient Stone Relief CarvingI like the way my shirts tighten across my chest, and how much lighter things feel. Gunpowder soup .. mmm, yum. More nails, please.

» Yoga's Ancient Technology New for Me

Recently I've been 'practicing' yoga. It's very different from either running or weight-lifting. But anything that endures five thousand years deserves a closer look.

I asked this personal-trainer I know (from the coffee shop) if she could scribble down a series of poses.

"I got a better idea," she said. "I have this *great* DVD. I'll bring it next time I come. If you're not here, I'll leave it with somebody behind the counter. Keep it. It's yours."

Very good DVD, yes. I could see why she was excited. It just covers the basics, but that's all I wanted. (All I could handle.)

Yoga Pose Himalaya Mountains Stretching & Flexibility» -- Balance --

The biggest difference, I've found, between yoga and say, weight-lifting .. is that, with yoga, YOU provide the balance.

In weight-lifting, you're simply on one side, and the weight (gravity) is pushing against you.

Your focus is on ONE direction, and one direction only .. that being, whatever direction is opposite the weight.

In yoga, poses are designed such that you focus on two (or more) different directions simultaneously. The word balance comes to mind. Seems like a minor point, but in practice it's major .. from a mental perspective, I mean. Which is why I find yoga more difficult.

I can go for a run, or throw iron at the gym and not really think about it. My mind is usually a million miles away .. and that's why I like it.

Yoga Emphsizes Focus & Awareness» Mental Focus & Awareness

But yoga keeps your attention focused on your body and your breath. I'm sure I will get used to it, and I like the effect it has (.. more about this later) .. but yes, I find it considerably more difficult.

I mean, the DVD has instructions like "breathe awareness into your sacrum," and » "breathe awareness up your spine, energetically lifting each vertebra".

Another thing is that I never sweat doing yoga. And I feel sweating (detox) is important.

Update - A few of you wrote to mention Bikram, which is like doing yoga in a sauna:

Remember the climate where yoga originated isn't like yours or mine. Hence, why some forms of yoga specifically aim at using heated environments, the most widely known being Bikram Yoga, which of late has been marketed worldwide (since Bikram copyrighted his particular techniques). Both "Bikram" and generic "hot yoga" studios are everywhere here now.

The best thing I like about running (especially on the beach, at sunset) .. is how I dont have to think. My mind can free-wheel. Visit Nirvana. Spend time there. Weights require a little more, but it doesnt take much concentration to pump out a set of reps on the bench-press.

Fibonacci & the Golden Ratio

» While exploring the world of computer programming, I kept running into references to a mathematical concept known as » Fibonacci numbers .. sometimes referred to as the "Fibonacci series" or a "Fibonacci sequence" (of numbers).

Leonardo FibonacciLeonardo Fibonacci (pronounced » fee-boh-'nah-chee) was an Italian mathematician, born in Pisa (.. that's right, home of the famous leaning tower, whose construction began several years after Leonardo's birth).

He was a true pisan, who lived from 1170 to 1250.

Leonardo's father was Guglielmo Bonacci. The name Fibonacci means 'Son of Bonacci' .. a shortening of the Latin "filius Bonacci" .. similar to the way the name Anderson means 'Son of Ander'.

[ I was surprised to learn that Leonardo never actually used the name Fibonacci. ]

Some references cite him as the "greatest European mathematician of the Middle Ages." His greatest contribution was the introduction to Europe of the Hindu-Arabic decimal number system that we use today, based on ten digits with a positional decimal point and a symbol for zero.

At the time, Europe was still using the clunky Roman Numeral system, which made calculation difficult.

The Fibonacci numbers (or Fibonacci series) were (was) originally derived from a problem to calculate the population growth of rabbits under ideal conditions.

Fibonacci colored blocksSee here:

A certain man put a pair of rabbits in a place surrounded on all sides by a wall. How many pairs of rabbits can be produced from that pair in a year if it is supposed that every month each pair begets a new pair which from the second month on becomes productive?

Starting with zero and one, you calculate the series by adding the previous two numbers to get the next. Specifically » 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, and so forth. In other words, the next number is always the sum of the previous two. Simple, no?

The Golden Ratio

Perhaps more interesting .. is how we derive a good approximation of the golden ratio by dividing one Fibonacci number by the next (.. either way, up or down).

The golden ratio is defined as roughly 1.618-to-1, or 0.618-to-1 .. which is close to a ratio of one-third to two-thirds (33-to-66), and is usually associated with the Greek letter phi φ.

[ Actually, 60-40 is a closer approximation than one-third, two-third. While 62-to-38 is very close. The actual golden-ratio number is a decimal that goes on forever, so everything is an approximation.

I've divved up the home page according to the golden ratio, with the blue-green sidebars taking roughly 38% of total page width .. at least, when you use the default text size .. seeing the current layout is a liquid-elastic hybrid. ]

» Soon as I converted/upgraded the home page to HTML5, I started getting mail saying things like » "Rad, your new home page looks like krap on my iPhone." [ Doncha love the way my readers feel no need to sugarcoat. =) ]

iPhoneThere've been other glitches I've been trying to resolve, and the iPhone issue wasnt a major problem, since visitors could always use the weblog (where you're reading now) which is based on Movable Type ..

.. which views fine in any phone. But I finally got around to troubleshooting the "looks-like-krap" issue.

Seems the entire center column would instantly plunge all-the-way-down to below the end of the blue-green sidebars .. when the page-width was narrowed sufficiently (.. to ~800 pixels, which is not very narrow).

It didnt do that before .. back when I was using the XHTML 1.0 Strict <!doctype>. CSS, which controls the styling, shouldnt be affected by the HTML5 <!doctype>. So, what gives?

You might recall how there used to be a Google AdSense text-links bar at the very top of the center column (black) .. right below the blue-green horizontal navigation bar (i.e. » Forum, Weblog, Guides, etc), which itself wraps just fine. The text-link bar looked like » this.

I could see the problem occurred soon as the width of the center column became narrower than the width of that ad bar (468-pixels).

I'm not sure why it now behaves like that, but I couldnt fix the problem with CSS mojo, so I just removed the sucker.

Cool Ultra-Vivid Dreams

» I've been having the coolest dreams. The kind that are so vivid & realistic that they stick with you long after you wake .. so striking & vibrant that they seem to be trying to tell me something. (But what?)

DreamingI'm always intrigued by dreams in which things happens that I didnt know could happen, and in which I do things I'd normally never do.

This suggests it wasnt my imagination that produced the dream. (For how can my mind produce a scenario it doesnt know is possible?)

I mean, there have been stories of inventors getting breakthru's in discovery from dreams, or upon waking.

These dreams have been coming right before daybreak. I wake from them, feeling all their tingly freshness, and replay the scenes as day begins to dawn .. thinking about what (if anything) they might mean .. given their striking vividness.

I used to date a girl who seemed to have remarkable insight into dreams and their interpretations. (No, her name wasnt Sigmund.) She'd read some books on the subject. Initially I was reluctant to share, but gradually I became comfortable opening up. Before her, I never gave dreams a second thought. (She said I had cool dreams.)

Japan Airlines» My Daring Precision Pilot

My most recent dream had me seated as a passenger in a commercial airliner. We were leaving Japan (.. a place I've never visited in real life. I've been to Korea twice, but never Japan.)

The pilot was obviously skilled. While taxi'ing, we rounded the control tower like a Porsche on two wheels, after which he gunned it. Immediately we were heading up a ramp that resembled a pier (long, straight, narrow & elevated) .. with a slight incline.

Looking up I could see the sky. "Oh my God," I said to the guy seated next to me, "there's no roof." Wind swirled about the cabin, tousling hair everywhere. The roofless design felt free, liberating, not confined, sorta like driving a convertible .. yet risky, even dangerous.

About that time a retractable roof started to slide forward into place, slowly  .. similar to a giant sunroof on a car .. or a rag-top on a convertible. Before I knew it we were airborne .. tho not far off the ground.

Walking down the pier-like ramp, passengers were heading toward us from the parking lots (on their way to the airport terminal) with their bags in tow, satchels slung over their shoulders. Some ducked as we approached. "Wonder if the wheels are up," I thought.

The gnarliest part came when the pilot flew UNDER a bridge shortly after takeoff. Trucks and busses passed across the elevated structure above.

Dreams of FlyingThe maneuver was dangerous but it was clear he was a hotshot pilot with precise control of the plane. A ex-military pilot who was bored by flying commercial aircraft.

[ How do I know these things? (An ex-military pilot, bored by flying commercial aircraft.) I dont know. I just did. You know how dreams are. ]

That's when I woke .. right after we flew under the bridge. My first impression .. was that my life felt like it was being piloted by a hotshot with precision control .. which led to plenty of excitement .. but at times seemed dangerous, if not downright reckless .. if it werent for his skill & precision. And how I felt like a passenger on this crazy ride.

I also thought how weird it would be if Japan went to war in the near future (.. military pilot no longer content with flying commercial).

Commercial implies commerce, and commerce can be a source of international friction. And we all know that Japan has had its share of problems recently. Unlikely, but not unreasonable.

» Notice anything different about the Rad home page? (Hopefully not much.) For a cool surprise, scroll down to the bottom (of the home page) and click the link labeled » Validate.

HTML5 logoThat's right, dawg! » 100% valid HTML5! .. employing a handful of new, semantically-rich HTML5 elements ..

.. such as » <header>, <footer>, <article>, <section>, <nav>, <aside>, <hgroup> & <time> (.. including the datetime & pubdate attributes) ..

.. most of which are designed to replace the semantically-vague » div tag .. used so prevalently in HTML4 & especially in XHTML layouts.

[ The HTML5 spec contains 28 new semantic elements. ]

I'm not talking about a div-laden page which merely contains an HTML5 <!doctype>. No, sir. We're talking about honest-to-God HTML5 mark-up. I also implmented significant WAI-ARIA features (via the role attribute) which are invalid in HTML 4.

[ The term semantics simply means that the new elements used to mark-up the web page have more MEANING. In other words, they're more descriptive, and browsers will therefore be able do more things with them (.. when they become HTML5-aware in the coming months). ]

Call me Mr. Early-Adopter. More to come on how I accomplished this (.. much hair-pulling, my first jQuery script, headaches, burning eyeballs, etc.). But right now I need to re-screw my head on straight. (Might take me a while.)

There are still a few minor glitches I need to iron out, but nothing I'd consider a deal-breaker.

[ Special thanks to the Excavator (Alaska) for helping with the jQuery script. (Yeah, that's something I need to learn.) ]

Modifying the mark-up itself was actually the easy part (.. after reading the excellent book by Remy & Bruce). Fun stuff. On the other hand .. converting my previous CSS-styles to target the new HTML5 elements .. that turned out to be the tricky part.

With CSS, if you omit even a single comma, your whole page-style falls apart in grand fashion. And it can be difficult to find something like a missing comma.

Valid HTML5 Mark-up» Headaches of Being an HTML5 Early-Adopter

But my BIGGEST headache (by far, surprisingly enough) .. was getting the dang column lengths equal. What a pain that was!

I searched long-n-hard for answers .. googling queries such as » html5 equal height columns script.

Was surprised to find nothing helpful. If you really wanna torque your brain nicely, take a gander at THIS page (.. titled » Equal Height Columns with Cross Browser CSS). I mean, you start to get the feeling » Just shoot me now. (And note that I understand CSS pretty well.)

Regulars may recall that getting equal column heights/lengths was the first problem I ran into .. way back (in 2007) when I was trying to convert the home page from a table-based layout to pure CSS.

Seems it's STILL a royal pain .. cuz my old matching_columns script wouldnt work in HTML5 (.. despite tweaking the 'div' to 'section' .. and pleading desperately).

First Loose Baby-Tooth!

» The Bug has a loose tooth! His first. (Still has all his baby teeth.) The wiggly fellow appeared on the bottom row near the middle .. a little incident that hearkens the arrival of bigger things. One more milestone on the road to maturity.

Many of the kids in his kinder-class already have teeth missing. (I nicknamed one of his classmates "Toothless" .. after the Night Fury that starred in How to Train your Dragon.) So we were kinda expecting this.

Piglet & Pooh Looking for ButterfliesHe noticed it earlier this week while brushing before bed (.. not the easiest thing to get him to do).

The next morning he woke me at 5AM » "Dad!"

Me » "What, pun'kin?"

"My tooth feels looser!" He sounded wide awake. I glanced at the clock. "Oh, honey. It's *very* early."

"Can I play some games?" he asked.

"You should get some more sleep. It's still dark out."

He's a sound sleeper and rarely wakes early. Fortunately he fell back asleep.

Friday morning at school, he was showing it to all his friends. Later, when I picked him up after school, he had received an award that day for demonstrating 'Enthusiasm'.

I asked his teacher, "Was he enthusiastic today?"

"Very," she said with a smile. =)

He seems to be doing well in school. He can read already, and the week prior, he was called up in front of the entire school to receive an award for Self Control, which came with a gift certificate for a cup of frozen yogurt from a local yogurt house .. and that's exactly where we went soon as we left.

Self-control and enthusiasm .. seem like opposites, no? Opposite ends of the spectrum. Bi-coastal.

Pooh & Tigger and Friends» Love, Affection & Attention

I try to give him as much (unconditional) love & affection as I can .. in the limited time we have together each week.

Sometimes I hold him tightly on my lap, cradling him, and kiss him all over his face .. his eyes, his cheeks, his forehead, his ears. Everything. A kissing machine gone wild.

This week, in the midst of these merciless kisses, I paused to tell him, "You know, I only get to see you for a few days each week. So when you go back to mom, I save up all my love while you're away, and I then fill you up with it when I have you again." Then I proceed to kiss him all over his face some more.

He laughs, giggles, even squeals when I get near his ears. "I fill you up with love," I said, "until it starts gushing out of your ears. Look, there! It's starting to ooze out of your ears!" And I madly kiss him some more.

When I finally stopped, he pointed to his right ear (with eyes sparkling & his baby-teeth smile) and said, "It's only coming out of this ear, dad. It's not coming out of the other one yet." =) Too cute.

At which point, I attack his face with scores more. Goes to show that you can never give kids too much affection.

I'm sure there will come a day when he will have none of this .. when he'll be too cool for kisses from his dad. But until that day arrives » incoming! Take cover!

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