Stuff from September, 2011

This is the archive of tumbledry happenings that occurred on September, 2011.

Hard Wired Happiness

Srikumar Rao gave a talk a few TEDs back (2009) called “Plug into your hard-wired happiness”. I’ve transcribed parts of it in a kind of note format, because it was really interesting:


Effin Teenager

I leapt over a leg press machine so I could quickly move to another part of the weight room floor.

“How old are you, man?”

A random guy at the gym, one who I’ve talked to only once before, surprised me with his question.

After laughing for a bit to regain my composure, I answered: “I’m 26.” Twenty-six, I thought. That sounds… old. I’m over halfway through my twenties. That was quick.


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An experiment in my writing: parsimony of language. I’ll be trying to say more with fewer words because I’ve picked up a bad habit of mid-level writers: upon learning four ways to state an idea, use all four instead of choosing the best! Such writing is a recipe for boring communication.


Eleven days ago, my piece about serving millions of hits with limited resources hit the top of the popular Hacker News website. The visits to tumbledry went from 42 the day before the article to 29,000 the day after. Since then, comment spam has been continually left by what are most likely automatic little programs called bots.


On Competencies

I am nervous whenever I’m in the School of Dentistry in Moos Tower. Even on days like today when I have no patients scheduled, I am constantly aware of a sensation of compression: my heart beating in the back of my throat.

I noticed this today as I was pouring the stone to produce an altered cast. Nothing broke, nothing leaked, nothing was lost. We’ll get this fellow his removable partial dentures (upper and lower) in a few weeks, and things will be fine. So, it’s peculiar that I’m still so full of adrenaline — I wonder if my subconscious senses danger, even though nothing truly bad has happened at school for quite a while.


The Nod

When I see a patient, they generally need a dental device that fits with a tolerance of microns. “How does that feel?” I’ll ask. To check, they bite down once. After that, two things can happen. If you got it right, they’ll nod. You live for that nod — you spend hours in lab for that nod. I’ve spent entire afternoons separating stone from mould just to get the nod. I’ve redone impressions, asked for third opinions, agonized over silly little things, for the nod. The only thing better is when your instructor comes by and you get to show them you are, in fact, not an idiot and here, look, there’s physical proof of it — see for yourself, they’re nodding.



It’s raining and there’s some fall chill in the air. I just got back from getting Mykala a pumpkin soy latté and now we’re going to have a nice hot breakfast.

I couldn’t live somewhere without season changes like this.

Thinking About Facebook

It’s been a long time since I posted something on Facebook that wasn’t conceived and composed to produce a particular effect in the audience reading it. I no longer feel free enough to celebrate something (anything), express disgust, or just be myself in words and pictures. I’m constantly measuring and guessing about how my thoughts will be received. As a result, I’m more concerned with the reaction to my message and how people will judge me than I am with the actual message. That’s a bad sign: I can no longer be myself.


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Boards repetition

I’m 96% done with the 1440 NDBE Part II study cards I assigned myself in August. I’ve scheduled exam on October 10 and 11. I feel nervous — I think I’m on schedule, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve typed up almost 2000 digital flashcards into the Anki system. By transferring the information from the study cards to electronic cards, I can use the spaced-repetition algorithm to make my final weeks of studying extremely efficient. There is so much information: I feel I am trying to carry a gallon of water in my hands.


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Power Song

Nike+ has this “Power Song”; it’s what you play during your run when you need instant motivation. This is that song: “Part Of Me (Original Mix)” by Solar Stone from “Rain Stars Eternal”.


Despite its ungainly title, “Saussure, Predictive Text, Cycling Awake and the word ‘Book’” is an interesting article. Here’s the thesis: two unrelated books on your bookshelf can become associated in your memory, simply because they are next to one another. Similarly, two unrelated words on your phone can become associated in your memory, simply because T9 predictive text puts them next to one another. As a result, language grows in richness, because new associations are made on the bookshelves of our phones. It’s a really neat idea, one that has produced real-world results. For example, the word “Zonino” is “text misprediction” for “WooHoo!”