Feb. 25th, 2009

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
to.done 20090224 )

I've already posted about the association between making phone calls and depression. I'm frustrated because not only am I not getting a handle on the phone thing, I'm not getting a handle on what the underlying problems even are.

I seem to have done much better yesterday at keeping track of my emotions, or at least remembering them long enough to write them down. Most appear to be negative, which isn't really surprising.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

1. Fractals (Because of your default icon, I originally thought your LJ handle was short for Mandelbrot Bear.)

My handle is (partly) short for Mandelbrot Bear; it was shortened both to make it fit in less than 8 characters and to make it ambiguously mean "middle-sized bear" as well. You can find more about the set and the program I wrote to generate the icon here. I came up with my original description when I came in to alt.callahans feeling "infinitely fuzzy"; someone else described me as a Mandelbear and the name inevitably stuck.

I love fractals. I bought Benoit Mandelbrot's books, and explored the space with fractint on the PC and some other program on the Mac 2. I think it was fractint that let you play around with different formulas; I discovered the Mandelbear set by replacing zi2 with zi3 in the usual Mandelbrot set definition (the set of points z0 such that the series zi+1=zi2+z0 remains bounded).

The Mandelbear and Mandelbrot sets are actually cross-sections of four-dimensional objects; the cross-sections in the other direction are the corresponding Julia sets.

I first encountered fractals in grad school, before the name had even been coined, when I was introduced to the Dragon Curve. This is the shape you get when you fold a strip of paper back on itself repeatedly, then open each of the folds out half-way. Four of them fit together to make a square with fractal edges that can interlock to tile the plane.

Fractals are perversely beautiful: they take difficult mathematical concepts such as limits, self-similarity, complexity, and infinity; and wrap them up in an image of such breathtaking gorgeousness that you forget just how weird they really are.

2. Filk

Let's see. I think filk first came to my attention in bardic circles at the SCA tourneys that Colleen took me to in lieu of dating. It was sometime in the late 1970s that we started going to SF conventions. My real intro to filk was through Amy Falkowitz, who had learned most of the songs on Leslie Fish's "Solar Sailors" album. I wrote the first song that I actually identified as a filksong, The Shores of the Night, in 1981 shortly before Bayfilk 1, if I remember correctly.

Ask three filkers to define "filk" and you'll get between four and six definitions. Mine is "the indigenous folk music of science fiction fandom." Your mileage may vary.

I love writing songs, and I've even gained enough self-confidence to love performing them. I love hearing other people cover my songs. I think the best things, though, is the filk community; just being able to hang around with a bunch of amazing, talented people, swapping songs and talking about everything in the universe.

3. Coffee

Let's face it: I'm addicted. For better or worse, one of the best coffee roasters on the West Coast, Barefoot, is only a short drive from our house (and on the way to the hospital, for what that's worth). Not surprisingly, I have song about it.

I usually drink two or three 12-oz mugs worth in the morning. I have learned not to drink coffee after noon unless I need it to stay awake driving at night.

4. The River (It's something you already write about on LJ, I know, but it is nonetheless one of the first things I think of.)

I'm glad The River is one of the first things you associate with me -- it's been an amazing ride, and I'm still more than a little bemused to find myself a respected authority on getting along with geeks. It surprises and delights me that some people are finding it helpful.

It started with the song a little over a year ago, turned into a major theme in my livejournal, and is now threatening to spawn at least two books.

5. Cross-talk (I remember you mentioning it in a post about geekboy care and maintenance or flow or something, and it made me more aware of my own sensitivity to cross-talk.)

I ganked that usage from [livejournal.com profile] cflute, who's even more sensitive to it than I am. Some of us don't multitask very well, so if there's another conversation going on, or more than one person talking to us at once, or a major distraction like a TV in the room, our train of thought gets totally derailed.

My main post on the subject was this one.

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