July 31, 2008

Long Time Passing


'Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago'

'How many times must a man look up,

before he can see the sky
How many years can a mountain exist,
before it's washed to the sea'
'To everything . . . (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season . . . (turn, turn, turn)


 And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born,
A time to die
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together
A time to love
A time to hate
A time for peace,
I swear it's not too late.'

 * * *
Credits -
     words and music:  Where Have All the Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary; Blowin' In the Wind by Bob Dylan; Turn! Turn! Turn! by Pete Seeger and the Byrds
     photographs:  c emerson; r mendleski
     drawing: c emerson
     arrangement:  c emerson

July 29, 2008

A Black Rose

A black rose.   Heartfelt.   The final step on a long trip.

To quote someone dear:

Times like these I feel the mortality of life so much         more closely than I have before.   Friends die, parents die . . . that song from Seal that says,  'I may not know what you are going through, but time is the space between me and you.'

The end, or perhaps a new beginning.


July 25, 2008

Decision Tree of Life

Come to me now and listen, for it is said throughout Ravennoek great tidings are upon the land and under the sea.

You are given that peculiar gift, life, and an even rarer gift, self-awareness.

I have combined these with capacities to think, to plan, to love and to hate.  You may create.  You may destroy. 

What shall you do?

It's a simple question with a not so simple answer.

                                                                      But you must start your answer the very day you are born, as ill-equipped as you may be on that day.

You may not shirk this duty even as you age, as limited in time as your days may become. 

Yes, you must build, produce, follow, grow, squander, elevate, nurture and ultimately discover your own, personal, unique
decision tree of life.

                  There are no exceptions.

                                        There's no turning back.

                                                              But you can start over again,

at anytime.

Proclamation, Anno 043
Horatio Sandoval, Grand Duke of Ravennoek


July 21, 2008

Future's So Bright

I've been to Timbuk2.   That's for sure. 

Here's a better message . . ? . . from Timbuk3, found on YouTube --

              The future's so bright I gotta wear shades.  

      I study nuclear science, I love my classes.
      I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses.
      Things are going great, and they're only getting better . . .

             -- You get the picture.  1986.  At least it wasn't 1984.

Everything really good happens in Austin, which is where Timbuk3 wrote the song.


July 14, 2008

World of, World of Warcraft?

It’s about time. For those who are bored with playing World of Warcraft online with 9,000,000 other players, who no longer feel the adrenaline start to pump as they slip into one of their online avatars representing a virtual persona created from one of eight playable races and nine playable classes, it is now possible for them to slip into an online avatar representing a virtual person sitting at a virtual desk playing the virtual game of World of Warcraft.

This, according to the Onion News Network  in a video story entitled Warcraft Sequel Lets You Play a Character Playing Warcraft released recently on YouTube. Ah, the old reflection in a mirror of a person reflected in a mirror.

Now if YouTube can only survive the billion $ lawsuit Viacom filed against it last year, claiming copyright infringement of more than 160,000 television clips uploaded to YouTube. Ain’t life grand?

Say, could anyone just go outside and paint a real picture? You know, like claude@Mo.Net used to do.

July 11, 2008

Lemonade Out of Curveballs

          Life, as is its want, has thrown me a few curves of late. It took quite some time but I can now safely say that I can hit a curveball. With my new found talent there has been a marvelous awakening in small things, the minutiae that makes it all worthwhile, those often overlooked moments that make each of our unique passages through life so delightful. Not a few moments ago, I was speaking with a dear friend of many years with whom touch had been lost. Reconnecting and rehashing, reliving and revisiting. On one ear sat my little red cell phone relaying the happenings, the comings, the goings, the news of my old friend to my thirsty ear. The other, a bad and wayward ear, was eavesdropping, as it is fond of doing, on one side of a conversation my son was having with a friend that he has had from first minute, first hour, first day of first grade. My own conversation, having been sparked by a flurry of “old friend” contact of late, was meandering through high school memories of the mid 1960’s. That rather tumultuous time that so formed myself and my friends of long standing. We had all been together since, at least, 8th grade. Some longer. We shared highs, lows, successes, failures and, shared endlessly, incessantly, stories and dreams of girls. It is, more often than not, these stories of loves, of losses, of conquests, of imagined conquests, of crushes and crushing, that fuel our memories. The never ending give and take of our relationships with the opposite sex that seem to drive and inform most memories. If not directly then, always, at least, tangentially. No wonder sex sells. So........as my errant ear listens unbidden to my high school senior son’s conversation, I realize.....he’s forming the same deep, time tested, on again, off again, on again, helpful, hurtful, oh so important relationships that my renaissance is now enjoying. As I rejoice in the promise of many future moments with my friends, I imagine the next 50 years of his friendships. Where will they go, what will befall or uplift them. How will they drift asunder only to reunite at some often unexpected place or time with unexpected consequences. Once, when at anchor in a bay on the southern tip of St. Lucia, while making way to Grenada, a chance encounter with an old friend in a small bar drastically, and, I thought, sadly, altered my life course. However rocky that life detour was, had it not occurred, I would not now awaken daily to the woman who has since held my heart in her mysterious soul, and, to the beloved voice (to which I am now listening) which would express its supreme displeasure if, at any time, it were to become aware that I was eavesdropping on the discussion between “old” friends of the girl they both covet. That voice belongs to my raison d’etre, my son, and it was an old friend, that in an odd simple twist of fate, gave him to me. As the wife of one old friend I know is oft heard saying, “ain’t life grand.” So, get thee hither and make that call you have been putting off, find that lost love, lost friend – be you young or teetering on the edge of dotage – you never know what’s coming and not knowing is what makes it so much fun.

July 9, 2008

White Elephants, Luv'm or Leav'm

White elephants are things with unusual, often hidden values. You can either luv’m, or you can leav’m.

At least that’s my definition.

If an item has a generally recognized value, it’s probably not a white elephant. A Rolex watch is not a white elephant. At least not yet, it isn’t. Not as long as people generally wear and respect Rolex watches. I don’t own one.  I’m hoping a Rolex watch will become a white elephant one day so that someone might give me one, at a white elephant party. Assuming no one then steals it from me.

Oh, did I forget to tell you? White elephants are usually traded at white elephant parties, or during a white elephant trading session during a party organized for some other primary purpose. Or you might find a white elephant at a white elephant sale.  Perhaps even at a flea market.  It's possible.

Now here is a good example of a white elephant, I think:

I found this example of a white elephant at TinyPineapple, a website of a person I do not know. That’s the risk of making your website or blog accessible to Google searches. People will find you.
Do you see the unusual, sometimes hidden value of the Cat and the Mouse Wall-Mounted D├ęcoupage Clock? If you don’t, click here and read TinyPineapple's artful description of the “beauty” he walked away with at his family’s last white elephant party.
There are rules for hosting a white elephant party. After all, when is the last time you heard of any human activity that didn’t have some rules? Oh, well.  Here is the basic list  (paraphrasing):

1)  Every participant brings a wrapped white elephant
2)  Participants pick a number from a hat to determine the order in which they take their turn
3)  Each person, in turn, picks a wrapped gift, or an unwrapped gift already picked by another participant (in which case the person whose white elephant was "stolen" gets to pick again)
I didn't make up these rules.  They seem to have evolved over time.
Click here to read the full rules, to find tips for making your white elephant party a success and to examine the picture of the white elephant in more detail. 
The author, Amy Francisco, lives in Texas and says she is a "sister of five Brady-Bunch-like siblings, and the daughter of a Web-surfing retired mother."  She's had over 352,000 views of her article on white elephants since November 2006.

That’s about it. Oh, I almost forgot. I don’t want to ever receive anything in the shape of an onion head, unless it's made of a high quality plastic. But I do see the hidden value in it.

July 7, 2008

Hands Across the Poker Table

I have to address this sooner or later.

People play poker. Life is like poker.

There are 52 cards in a standard deck. A poker hand is made up of 5 random cards.  At least, they better be random.

According to Wikipedia, there are just under 2.6 million unique poker hands that you can be dealt. To be exact, there are 2,598,960 different five-card hands.

At a poker table with 8 to 10 players playing a 5-card game, a professional dealer will deal on average about 25 hands an hour. Don’t ask me how I know this. Most dealers would like to deal about 30 hands an hour, but the average will almost always be less than that.

If our poker player plays poker for 7 hours a day, 6 days a week, our player will play 42 hours of poker a week. Each week the player will be dealt 1050 hands. Over the course of a 50 week year (even a workaholic poker player needs a couple of weeks off each year), the player will be dealt a total of 52,500 hands. Our poker player will need 50 years of steady day in day out poker playing to see all 2.6 million unique hands, assuming she is never dealt the same hand twice.

Seeing all 2.6 million unique hands is simply not going to happen during a lifetime of 'bricks and mortar' poker playing. Not even ardent poker professionals have that kind of steadfast time available for constant play. Somebody they know is inevitably going to get married and they will have to miss an extra week or two.

But we now have to make this review a bit more complicated, by adjusting our analysis to account for the current most likely poker situation. We originally postulated a simple 5-card game (as in 5 card draw). Everyone has seen this type of game depicted in Hollywood western movies.  Somebody almost always gets shot.

Most poker players today play Texas Hold ‘Em.  Players rarely get shot. While the ultimate winning hand is still made up of 5 cards, the current game is structured with each player receiving 2 unique (hidden) cards, and 5 community cards dealt face up in the middle of the table.

Each player constructs (mentally) the best 5-card hand she or he can out of the 7 available cards. This makes the total number of unique playing situations considerably greater than the 2.6 million unique hands previously discussed.

Our player can have 1,326 (52 x 51 divided by 2) different 2-card starting hands. If there were only 1 other player at the table, that player could have any of another 1,225 (50 x 49 divided by 2) unique starting hands. There would then be exactly 1,712,304 different 5 card combinations left for the face up community cards. Finally, our poker player’s initial 1,326 different starting hands reduces to 169 different unique hand values. (Eg., for pocket pairs, it does not matter which suits the cards are.)

This leaves our player facing the following total possible relevant combinations of hands to have to evaluate in a two person (heads up) game of Texas Hold ‘Em: 169 x 1,225 x 1,712,304 = 354,489,735,600. That’s 354 billion relevant hand combinations, not 2.6 million unique hands. Rather than 50 years to see all the possible combinations, it will now take our player more than 5 million years to see them all.  The number 354 billion then skyrockets to over 622 quintillion possible hand combinations if there are 9 other opponents rather than just 1 other opponent in the game.

Wowie, wow, wow! That’s a lot of different combinations to have to deal with. There is no chance one person is ever going to see all those different situations. In fact, each player at the table is never going to see but a small, teeny tiny fraction of all the possible combinations of random events that will occur in making up the hands that come across the poker table.

But that’s kind of the way life is, isn't it?


Update: 11/25/12, follow links to -

The Morning News: Pascal's Wagering
Somewhat Abnormal: Space Elephants!
RandomWalk: God is Possible Argument-I
UA-H: Virtual Labs-Probabilities (see Chap.12, Games of Chance)



July 6, 2008

Killed a Mosquito Today

Yes, yes I did.

Didn’t feel too bad about it, either. The mosquito was buzzing around my head, so I swatted it.

“What’s this got to do with a blog about philosophy, about the future of 6.7 billion ‘others,’ about randomness?”

Well, maybe everything.

But first we have to feel our way into this thing . . . and have some fun. If we go a little slow and have some fun, then it may be more likely that ‘others’ will want to ask questions or share their own thoughts, don’t you think?


See there? It’s already working.

I had a hot topic all lined up for today’s posting, but I threw it out the window when the mosquito flew in. My topic was going to be about how bright the future will be. Maybe I’ll use that topic later sometime. But the mosquito made me think about how broad and varied a communication tool the internet has become. To prove my point, I went straight to a Google search box and entered the title of my new piece,

                  killed a mosquito today
and came up with 162,000 search results. After skipping past the sponsored links, the first result was a story from Australia about a man killed by a mosquito. You can click on the link and read the article right now, then come back here, or do your own research sometime when it’s more convenient.

The next few results seemed to connect mosquitoes with terrorists, I don’t know why. There were links to other blogs, one in Canada, one in Singapore, and a link to an article in wikiHow on How to Avoid Mosquito Bites. The lead sentence says, "Nobody cares for mosquitoes, perhaps because they seem to serve no useful function for humans."  Now there’s a philosophical statement with a causal link and an implied value.

There is some other funny stuff in the article. Perhaps you should read it. Step 3, "Kill the flying mosquito with a double-handed clap,” is the step I used.

Further down the search results I ran across a question sent in yesterday to Yahoo! Answers.

ITCoA asks. . . When you kill a mosquito, do you feel a teeny tiny bit guilty?
Thus far there are 33 answers:

Delilah2 says . . . I feel guilty killing a lizard if that helps

McZilla Up For Prez says . . . Nope . . . I make my husband or son kill them
Whoops, someone just posted another answer while I was checking on what Delilah2 and McZilla said. Now there are 34 answers. I checked ITCoA’s profile. She lists her total point score to date. I guess Yahoo! gives points to registered users for questions asked and answers received. Well, that’s something.

Oh, by the way, the mosquito that flew in my window? That's a random walk event.


July 3, 2008


A good friend of mine told me to say little about myself. And much about others.

The Census Bureau's World Population Clock projects that there will be a little over 6.7 billion 'others' on July 4, 2008. That's a good thing. We need a lot of friends to make our future brighter.

I'm a little tongue in cheek here, because there were a whole lot less of us 27 years ago, and there will be a whole lot more of us 27 years from now. But I want to set a positive pose. Our future will be bright.

RandomWalk refers to random acts. Much like playing a game of cards. Or picking names out of a hat at a white elephant party. I believe this type of randomness has something to do with life. This blog will explore ideas related to randomness, as well as ideas related to causation and values, as we all face a complex common future.

Please chime in.