Weird Thing

In autojourno circles, fast refers to top speed and quick refers to acceleration.

I still look at that for a second every time I see it.

Tales from Grad School

Today, in my lab, I discovered what an intermittant wiring failure looked like.

It looked like a week’s work wasted.

The metal core of a wire snapped inside the insulation but, depending on where the arm was, would still make contact.

The master has failed more times than the student has tried, and I am well on my way to mastering this robot.


Trying to spend more time looking up and around. Headed to Boreas Pass today just to be there.

I particularly love the tree-tunnel effect when the mountains are tall enough to be seen.

BJJ White Belt

The basic order of operations in a BJJ match is take them down, get past the legs, achieve a dominant position, execute a submission.

In early white-belt, you’re learning how to roll in control, how to control your breathing, that you can control your breathing, and how not to kill the smaller people. The smaller people tend to think this is easy, just don’t murder me, but it’s actually very difficult. If I push left on someone and bend their spine, the movements are all off. On a big person, it’s a little twist: not comfortable but not significant. On a smaller person, the bent spine can mean an injury. The smaller people need to learn than yes, they need to tap to avoid the accidental-broken-spine submission, which they don’t necessarily think about either.

All that comes together to the main lesson of white belt which is: what’s going on and what do I do about it? The process of asking those questions is the skill. You look down at a tangle of arms and legs while you can’t breathe and need to process that into half-guard with chest pressure.

Going along with that, white belt is where you start learning moves. You get a few down and combined them with recognition to get to execution. So looking down at that tangle of arms and legs, you start doing the appropriate escape and move on.

What you don’t do yet, and I see this but I can’t do it, is the sequences. I can’t do an escape while thinking about how I want it to land. I’m still too busy figuring out what’s going on right now. The gateless gate before me is this position leads to that position, and that’s what I need to do. But I don’t know the positions, the moves, the analysis well enough. I require practice.


Long story short, I’m reading another long story, The Sword of Shannara, and I had Zelazny’s Roadmarks from the library on top of the stack. I’m a graduate student, so I have long due dates. However this was an interlibrary loan with a short due date. I got an email saying it was due in two days, so I sat down and tore through it.

I’m still reading The Sword of Shannara. It’s good, but long and slow.

I gave Roadmarks 3 stars on Goodreads, and if I find a $2 used copy, I’ll buy it.

This is my spoilertastic review.

The Road is sort-of like the Pattern. It’s an avenue between worlds and times, and much like shadow, there are an elect few who can travel it. What’s better about the Road than the Pattern is that you can take others. Randy, one of two protagonists though uninteresting, is guided onto the Road by a Clark-tech book. That’s amazing. That’s pure wonder. In so much fantasy, the magic realm is locked behind bloodlines or destiny, and the simple uniqueness of being able to take others is amazing. And you can still do it with bloodlines or destiny!

I cannot tell you how excited I was by this. There’s so much stuff in that! Some people are born with the gift, and great. Good on them. But with the gift, you can bring others. They don’t have to be chosen by a lesser fate; they have the power. They just need a guide, or instructions, or a foolhardly sense of adventure. Risk death! It’s a story. But it’s possible, and I love that.

In HP, the wizarding world can’t teach the muggles. Wizards are special, and there’s something deterministic and horrible to the lack of possibilities for those born without.

In Lovecraft, you’re…well, you’re going to get eaten by something or driven mad, so that’s just bad.

In Tolkien, there are only five wizards. Other magic is beyond all men, unless found in artifice. But the days of artifice are long gone, and even thought peace will reign, greatness won’t.

With the Road, if you can get there, you can explore. Now it’s naturally restricted, and that’s a good thing. Too many people would be going back in time to play murder, bang, kill with their grandparents. But the door has a key, and I love that.

The book is rather mediocre otherwise with an unresolved plot and unexplained characters. Red’s odd metamorphosis is left unexplained, and it’s vaguely hinted that he turns into a dragon. But then at the end, he doesn’t turn into a dragon, and the first scene is Red driving around not-a-dragon. Very frustrating. The antagonist is vague and unexplained. He’s never much introduced, and I’m left apathetic toward his big reveal. The plot, the characters, and the schemes don’t get solved, resolved, or even well explored.

The character interactions are fine.

Anyway, if the idea of the Road and more specifically its access wasn’t so interesting, the book wouldn’t be very good. But the Road was, and I can’t stop thinking about it.