Monday, October 25, 2010

Math ain't dum

Here's an example of a geek saving the day.

So I read the above article and my first thought was that I should share it.

Not long ago I was having a conversation with my mom about this very thing - conservation of momentum. In short, in reference to the article, by Pole's vehicle to collide into the rear of his, while continuing to drive in the same direction, Innes's minivan absorbed some of the momentum from the pickup, until both were traveling at the same speed, creating a system of sorts - kind of like a train. Then, with the minivan now in charge, Innes's could then brake for both vehicles, thus saving the lives of many.

This is the same rule of physics, by the way, that explains why, in two-car collisions, the vehicle with the slower momentum, and its passengers, bear the brunt of total energy in the "system" of the crash. My brother learned this first-hand a couple of years ago; he was at a complete stop at a police roadblock and was rear-ended by a car going at least 50 mph. His car was totaled, and his back permanently damaged, while the offending vehicle and its driver were much less affected. When visualizing the physics of it, exchange the image of the lady's vehicle with that of a train. Obviously, the auto with the highest momentum has the most energy; when it collided with his car, the energy traveled through his car at a huge rate, treating the car like a spring. Like a spring, some energy pushed back at her car, causing it to rebound a little, which likely saved his life.

Anyway, I have nothing profound to say about it all. I really just wanted to share that article.

Now re-instigating Internet silence.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tonight's Set List - Joshua Taylor Smith & the No-One-Elses

Tonight's set list, performed on solo piano for an audience of one tired toddler:

Come Sail Away (just the first part) - Styx
Desperado - The Eagles
Sleepin' on the Sidewalk - Queen
Piano Man - Billy Joel
My, My, My - Rob Thomas
Bright Lights - Matchbox Twenty
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
Beautiful Mess - Jason Mraz

I think everyone was pleased with the performance. Hand eczema has been a problem the last week or so for some reason, so my thumbs and my right-hand ring finger started bleeding, but, hey, doesn't that happen to everyone?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Verinkothis and the Last Draconic Civil War (or What Happened to the Dragons that didn't Ascend?)

The rebellious dragon Kothis is known historically as Verinkothis, “Kothis the Destroyer,” a name he was given in the Last Draconic Civil War. Before the Ascension movement, he was a terrain sculptor by trade, responsible for both small- and large-scale landscaping and cavern safety, and preparing the land for public and private use as dictated by the Draconic Priesthood. He was a master planner and organizer, and was well renowned for his abilities and project leadership.

When the Draconic Ascension movement began, congruent with the spread of the Golden Ones’ settlements, Kothis became very skeptical of the Priesthood’s decisions. He thought that the Priesthood leadership was being led by delusional madness, perpetuated by ambition, not the Voice of Ja, concerning the Ascension and the divine gift of dominion on Tererae Solom to the Golden Ones. He was certain that the powerful magic was actually killing each dragon that performed the ritual.

As he publically voiced these opinions, he garnered a large following, consisting mostly of working class dragons, some artisans, and a handful of dissident priests (the notorious Seratha among them). His rebellious complaints appealed to many, as his concerns reflected the waning faith and egocentric desires of these few to remain as the dominant civilization on Tererae Solom.

As decades passed in the Ascension movement, most of the draconic populace ascended according to the direction of the Voice and the Priesthood, and the humanoid Golden Ones spread rapidly across the north. Kothis gained many more followers as the rampant evils of the Golden Ones became known, and his disputes with the Voice about the dominion of the evil humanoid race seemed increasingly more accurate.
After Ja eventually tired of the Golden Ones’ transgressions, He commanded the Draconic Priesthood to annihilate the entire evil civilization, save a small handful of families, which later became known as the Elder Faithful – the few Golden Ones who kept Ja’s laws. When Ja issued this command, Kothis and his followers felt vindicated; they felt that they were correct, that dragons were indeed meant to retain dominion of the world, and that the Golden Ones were to be destroyed. They did not believe, however, that Ja would further place Tererae Solom in the hands of mankind, and that He was already nurturing the new races that would inhabit the land.

Kothis’s group eagerly volunteered to aid the Priesthood in the eradication of the Golden Ones, and, unlike the Priesthood, the rebels reveled in the destruction. However, since they had denied Ja repeatedly in His command to ascend, and subsequently showed their blatent evil and lack of mercy in dealing with the Golden Ones, Ja told the remaining loyal dragons, though fiercely outnumbered, to gather Kothis’s forces and banish them from the face of Tererae Solom.

A great war ensued, commonly called the Last Draconic Civil War. The dragons loyal to Ja were outnumbered, a score of rebels for every loyalist, but the loyalists were supported by the power of Ja. Countless legends were borne during this war about the struggles and victories of the loyalists. It was during this war that the evil dragon leader was called Verinkothis.

In one battle, presumably somewhere in western Mavinaria, Kothis was buried beneath the rubble in a rockslide, later named in legend as the Grave of Kothis. Over time, the location of the Grave was lost to history, but it remained the source of legend and story long afterward and most scholars agree it was likely somewhere in Mavinaria.

Seratha, a dissident Priest and Kothis’s closest supporter, took over command of the rebel forces after Kothis’s death. Eventually all of her forces were captured and gathered to be exiled into a giant cavern far beneath the land’s surface in the chaotic Northlands. The resultant draconic civilization that developed there somewhat emulated their original civilization, with three major classes in society, the Priests, the hunters, and the builders. This punishment for the dragons was great and fitting, as the rebels never again enjoyed the sunlight or stars, and lost the freedom that creatures of flight normally have. In the centuries since, some few of these dragons, descendants of the rebels, repented for their ancestors’ behavior, and prayed for Ja’s mercy and release from the subterranean prison. However, most of the inhabitants perpetuated stories of their defeat as unjust and not divine.

Other than those angry stories, life for the dragons is similar to their lives prior to the civil war. Their diets consist of cultivated fungus and subterranean livestock farms of indigenous underground life, mainly giant underground worms. The area is a low Chaotic Point, which limits the dragons’ abilities with magic. However, the dragons have carved out plenty of room for themselves, even enabling some room for flight. Since they live far beneath the surface, they have had to be very careful when expanding their territory to ensure no cave-ins. They have constructed spherical, magical light sources, ten- to twelve-feet in diameter, which were mounted high upon the cavern ceilings to illuminate their world.

The dragons invested some work into attempts at digging out to the surface, but all such endeavors ended in either cave-ins or natural physical barriers. Neither anyone on the surface, nor the Elder Faithful, are aware of the dragons’ society deep below ground.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


That's right. Mondays. They suck.
Looking at the six-month gap between posts, I thought I'd catch us up on my mental health since my last January post.

I had a really bad episode in which I attempted to harm myself. My mother and my wife took me up to my doctor and basically said, "hey, this Cymbalta ain't cuttin' it." So he decided it was time for me to visit a psychiatrist. After a couple of meetings, he diagnosed me with Type II Bi-Polar. I was like, "okay...."

So a few months have transpired. I'm currently on a regimen of Seroquel in the evenings for management of my bi-polar syndrome, Cymbalta in the morning to keep my depression at bay, and Xanax when I have anger/panic/manic attacks.

And for at least two months, I've felt GREAT! I'm getting things done. I'm staying positive. It's nice, and very different from the last few YEARS.

So that's the update! :)

Stormy Summer

June 23, 2010, about seventeen YEARS since I first thought of Tererae Solom, is the historical date in which I finally stopped writing ABOUT the world, and actually began Solas's story. I've often thought about using this site to share some of the cool cannon that has developed for the world over the years, so hopefully I'll get off my lazy bottom and start doing that. :)

Maybe even later tonight!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How loved ones perpetuate depression

Not that you care, but I have clinical depression. I mention that you don't care not to guilt-trip or ask for pity, but because it's true - you have a lot on your plate too, and it probably angers you that I bring up depression as a justification for letting things bring me down.

One of the toughest parts of dealing with clinical depression is that friends and family often don't understand it, and actually think less of a person for it. Like one is using it as an excuse to not buck up and pull yourself out of a rut. Unfortunately, it is misunderstood. When stressors occur, the brain can start to get depressed (not sure what happens chemically here). To balance this effect, the body releases chemicals into the blood (I know of two, epinephrine and serotonin) as "mood lighteners." However, for whatever reason, sometimes the body doesn't produce enough, or maybe cells re-upload (remove from the bloodstream) the chemicals too quickly, and one moves from "normal" depression (i.e., something bad that has happened in your life) to a prolonged depression that can bring one down, even when things aren't going too badly. Basically, your mood can't be "lightened," so it's perpetually "dark."

Luckily, when diagnosed, one can take anti-depressants. I don't know how all of them work, but the ones I've taken, including Cymbalta, which I am currently on, operate as re-upload inhibitors; they prevent the cells from re-absorbing the mood lifters from the blood as quickly, attempting to balance the affects of depression using the body's natural solution. Here, dosage can be tricky. If the anti-depressant dosage is too small, the effects of the drug will wear off too quickly in comparison to the imbalanced system, and when it wears off, the depression comes back in full force. If the dosage is too great, the patient's mood will be over-mellowed - almost emotionless - which can add its own problems to the situation (low reaction times, feelings of lifelessness, etc.).

All I can assume is that people just don't understand the lack of control I have over it. It is assumed that I should be able to flip depression off like a switch; folks get tired of me having this problem, so they get mad at me for it. Particularly when most of the time, because of medicine, I am fine.

So I'm just venting it here, in the middle of the Internet.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rock Hard


Played some rock n' roll with my buds Sunday. Not only is it amazing that we can play The Thing That Should Not Be, by Metallica, or amazing that we're doing it with just bass, drums, and synth, but it's ridiculously amazing how heavy we sound with just those three instruments! Also started some work on my progressive epic The Paralleladigm; we'll be tackling it in parts. My forearms and throat are a little sore, but I'm really excited to be making music again, especially with such talented and energetic friends and musicians.

I was reading an article at work earlier today about adult learning; here is an excerpt, written by the managing partner of One Eighty Partners and founder of the Amherst Consulting Group in Boston:

Scientists now believe that the brain makes sense of the world through stories. Therefore, stories become effective behavioral change tools for managers. Because stories are experiences rather than arguments, the brain doesn't summon up rebuttals. When we encounter a story, we identify with it as if it's our own, trying out its points of view and the thoughts it conveys.

I couldn't help but find it laughable that scientists are figuring this out now, when Jesus was teaching through story and allegory two-thousand years ago.

Have a great week!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Calendar Day

Seriously, the Earth reaches this one particular point in its journey around the sun - a completely arbitrary point, mind you - and everybody gets so excited that they cry and get drunk and drop gigantic balls on television?!? I mean, I understand that it signifies a start and stop point for our yearly cycle, but businesses actually close for this? Why?

Sorry, I'm not trying to be a pessimist, but it just seems silly to make such a big deal for New Years! :P

In other news, Lifehacker posted a neat article about doing a 365-day photography project. Seemed like a cool idea to keep the art juices flowing. Not that I would really call myself a photographer, but art is art, you know?

In other, other news, I'm using the New Year as a motivator for getting some things done that have been weighing on me for awhile. Hopefully within a week or two, I'll have these work-related projects completed, and I can start some full-on creativity focus. Wish me luck.

And in triple other news, I'm going to play some music with some rockin' dudes tomorrow. I'll you know how much we rocked.