Mathematical Mythbusting

Two occasions recently have had me pondering the speed of sound. The first such occasion was a lightening storm, of which we have very few here in the rain shadow of the Cascades. Lightening and thunder filled the sky all evening and into the night. Secondly, as I mentioned in my previous post, I watched the fireworks from a significant distance, which had an influence not only on the volume of the bang, but also on the delay.

In talking to people (esp. about the lightening, although I don't see what it wouldn't also apply to the fireworks), the rule of 1 second between sight and sound equals one mile of distance to said sight was oft cited. I myself used this rule in my early days. This time around, however, I got a little curious about that rule of thumb and wanted to run the numbers. Perhaps to your surprise, the rule isn't so accurate. Observe*:
Givens
Speed of SoundSs = 761 mph (or .2 miles per second)
Speed of LightSc = 670,616,629 mph (or 186,282 miles per second)
System of equations
Time it takes light to reach you tc = d/Sc
Time it takes sound to reach youts = d/Ss
Time elapsed between light and soundte = ts -tc
Solving
Solving for tctc = ts - te
Replacing for tc and tsd/Ss - te = d/Sc
Moving stuff aroundd/Ss - d/Sc = te
Factoring for dd(1/Ss - 1/Sc) = te
Solve for dd = te / (1/Ss - 1/Sc)
Plugging givens back in (using miles per second)d = te / (5 - .000001*)

This shows that instead of every one second between lightening and thunder equating to one mile, every 5 seconds equals to a mile. So next time you hear that thunder 5 seconds after the lightening, don't go rushing outside thinking you've got a 5 mile buffer because it's a lot closer than you think.
Thursday July 10 2008File under: misc

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Kayamping

After trying to talk people into it for years*, I finally had success in finding someone to go kayak camping with*. Saddlebag Island was the location (about an hour paddle from South Harbor Park). July 4th was the date. From our perch on the rocks, we could see the whole valley lighting off their tributes to America. The highlight, and what we positioned ourselves for, was the Anacortes display, which, as always, didn't disappoint. Watching the fireworks from such a distance and surrounded by such natural beauty was a great new experience. No deafening booms and no car alarms were just a few of the perks.

Not only was the fireworks watching good times, but the camping was good times as well. Dinner was Frito chili pie and corn. Pre-fireworks entertainment was tree climbing and [further*] exploration of the island. Other than the wicked headwind and broken rudder [again...] on the paddle home, we had a grand old time.
Monday July 7 2008File under: Anacortes, misc

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Phototastic

I like having pictures of where I've been and what I've done. Who doesn't? As for actually taking them (getting people all lined up, making sure there are batteries in the camera, etc.), that's another story. Esp. when traveling, I really try to force myself to take as many pictures as I can because I know I will appreciate it later. This blog has been a great help in the motivation category on that front. (It is also worth noting that I've had many great people contribute their photos of shared experiences to this blog and for that I'm quite grateful.)

But those are more documentary type photos. Rarely do I think I capture something that can stand on its own without explanation or context. I'm slowly learning the art of photography, or at least producing pictures that I like, and as my skill grows, my interest grows. Someday I will have a photo that I will like well enough to enlarge, have framed, and put on my wall*.

Speaking of fancy photography, my friend and your fellow BdW reader Sweet Julie has a photo in the finals of Nikon's Big Deal Photo Contest*. It is a great photo and worth checking out. Winners of the contest get a fancy new camera, so share the love and go vote!

(Yeah, so this post was a combination of having little going on in my world and wanting to help a friend win a free camera. If you've got a cause you want promoted to the throngs* of BdW readers, send it my way.)
Sunday June 29 2008File under: misc

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Apple Splitting Fun


In a further attempt to keep this blog at least somewhat interesting between my travels, I present you with this video I took of myself the other afternoon. A couple years back, a friend taught me how to split an apple with my bare hands. I hadn't done it in quite some time, hence the less than smooth performance. Still I think it is pretty neat.

Do you know any good food tricks? I was thinking of trying to work up a vaudeville-ish style act to demonstrate a bunch of food-related tricks. So far, I've got the t(r)oothpicks/saltshaker/forks balance, the speedy hard boiled egg peel, various grape toss/catch tricks, and this apple thing. I think I will need to find a few more before I am ready for Broadway.
Wednesday June 25 2008File under: misc, video

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Those Clever Coffee Folk

We all know I am a fan of language: crosswords, puns, double entrendes, and the like. One thing I've noticed in my travels (at least here in the U.S.) is the extraordinary number of coffee shops with witty names. I started a little list of some of the clever ones that I've come across. Do you have any to add to the list?*

Brewed Awakening - Westmont, IL
Loca Mocha - Brookfield, IL
Bean Counter - (I forget)
Cool Beans - Bellingham, WA
Uncommon Grounds - Havelock, NC
Brew Thru - OBX, NC
Stomping Grounds, New Bern, NC
Sacred Grounds, Chicago, IL

(I've been collecting these for a while in anticipation of a fun little post when there's not much else exciting going on*. The other day, however, I ran across this post over at Best Week Ever. It is a list of punny store names of any type. Included were The Human Bean and C U Latte. I figured I had better go ahead and get this post up before someone else steals my thunder.)
Tuesday June 10 2008File under: misc

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Familiar Voice on Marketplace

Marketplace is one of my favorite daily radio programs. If you've never heard it, it is worth a listen*. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an e-mail in response to a story. (Feedback, both positive and negative*, is a great way to help programs, blogs, authors, companies, etc. connect to the actual end consumer. I'm a big fan of feedback.) Anyway, I got a call yesterday asking me to read or paraphrase my letter, so they could broadcast it in their "letters from listeners" section. Needless to say, I was pretty freaking stoked.

Unfortunately, Marketplace was preempted on KUOW today by campaign coverage so no one got to hear it. (I did, however, get an e-mail from a friend back in Maine that heard my 15 seconds of fame.) Anyway, for any one interested, you can listen to/read the story on their website or I've edit it down to just my blurb for archival purposes here. I don't know if this counts as my 15 minutes of fame, but it's pretty neat anyway.

(Because it fits in so nicely, I thought I would at least mention it for those who don't remember: A couple of years ago, I got a little NPR air time on Weekend Edition Sunday, doing their weekly puzzle (with puzzle master Will Shortz). That clip is archived here. Two "appearances" on popular NPR shows. Once I win that pesky Car Talk puzzler and do something significant enough to get Terry Gross to interview me, I'll have completed the circuit!!)
Tuesday June 3 2008File under: misc

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Folk Life 2008

"Play, Dance, Sing, Taste, Learn, Participate" – this is the slogan for the 2008 Seattle Folk Life Festival*. I think it would be fair to say that I took about 91% of that advice*. If you've ever been to a Folk Life festival at the Seattle Center, you have a general idea of the scene. For those of you who haven't, let me paint a picture.

There are stages everywhere with all kinds of music and dance that you can imagine*. In between stages, there are food and vendor booths selling your typical array of festival foods and goods. On just about every corner and tucked into any open space between stalls, there are buskers galore: jugglers, musicians, little kids doing their cute thing, and the smattering of 'performance art' folk. Just about every inch of remaining space is filled with people, esp. at midday when the weather was so gorgeous. It all combines for an atmosphere that does well to support the festival's slogan.

Highlights for me included: Spoonshine on stage and on the street corner, having an 'in' with a troupe of street performers and being able to watch their show evolve and progress*, juggling with friends new and old on the lawn as the sun was going down, and lazy, directionless time where I was free to follow my nose to good food and ears to good music.

To have a listen to some of the music from the weekend, click here. No clips from the Spoonshine or Citizen's Band shows unfortunately, but it might be worth checking out the June Madrona show from Saturday. Also, here are a few photos I snapped: people galore around the International Fountain, me seeking shelter from the sun, and the ever present Space Needle in the setting sun and at night.
Monday May 26 2008File under: Seattle, misc

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Not Stupid Enough


Here's the story*: while waiting in line to attend the David Letterman show, they make you fill out a survey with your name, age, where you're from, etc. It also has a place to highlight any stupid pet tricks your pet might be able to do, famous people you may have met, and stupid human tricks you might be able to do. Thinking that the field was required (and that if anyone knows a stupid human trick or two it would be me), I filled it in, thinking nothing further of it.

Sure enough, the next day, I get an e-mail from the show asking how I came about knowing this unique trick of mine and if I had a video I could share with them. I was on the road so I postponed a filming session until I got home. And after practicing a bit*, this is what I got (view the video above or check it out here on YouTube).

I sent it off last week and haven't heard back. Judging by the speed of their response last time and lack of a response this time, I can only assume that my trick just isn't stupid enough for them. Or maybe it is too stupid. Either way, there went my hopes and dreams of being on the David Letterman show, at least for now. Next on the agenda: come up with an even stupider trick.
Monday May 12 2008File under: video, misc

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Tuesday Trivia - USA Edition

Over at IHJ, Chris has started a nice little routine of posting trivia question(s) each and every Tuesday*. His questions are less of the you-know-it-or-you-don't* variety and more of the if-you-put-your-mind-to-it-you-should-be-able-to-figure-it-out* type. However you choose to hyphenate the description, they are good fun.

It fits nicely that I've been preparing for a trivia post for some time, inspired by my recent travels. I thought I would throw them in the Tuesday Trivia realm so we can all exercise our brains together. For answers, hover over question number at the end. Feel free to post your score, or any qualms you have with the questions, in the comments.

State Capitals:
1) How many U.S. state capitals have more than one word? (ex: Kansas City (if that was the capital))
2) Which U.S. capital's name shares no letters with the name of the state it's in? (ex: Not Salem, Oregon because they both have an "E")
3) Which 4 U.S. state capitals start with the same letter as the state they are in?*
Other Geography(ish):
4) Name as many popular U.S. cities with 6 or more syllables.*
5) What letter isn't used in the spelling of any states name?
6) Rank the 4 major timezones in the U.S. by population, greatest to least.
Other:
7) What state has the most vanity license plates?
8) Name which presidents have memorials on the National Mall in D.C.
9) Which is the only U.S. state that has a non-rectangular flag?

Answers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 72, 8, 9
Tuesday April 29 2008File under: misc

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Happy Pi(e) Day!

Okay, so maybe Pi(e) Day isn't for another 2 days, but we all know what I save Friday posts for. And since today is Wednesday, unofficial crossword day, I thought I might as well go for it.

For some reason, this crossword* really took a long time and it didn't turn out awesome. It was my plan to submit this one for publication because I really like the theme, but a few of the answers weren't up to snuff*. That said, it still ain't bad so I encourage you to give it a try: Crossword - Happy Pie Day.

I also should thank Dan B. for saving me from using the answer "Radu II"*. His suggestion is quite a bit better, although still not NY Times material (which isn't his fault at all. How many things can you come up with that fit the form _ad_ _ i?)

As always, I would love your feedback (too hard, too easy, too many specific knowledge clues, etc.). Also, have a wonderful Pi Day on Friday. Bake a pie. Recite pi. Go to a Pi Sig frat party. (Oh, and for those of you who aren't following the whole Pi Day thing, check out last year's post on the subject for further enlightenment*)
Wednesday March 12 2008File under: misc, holidays

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