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General Life Update – October 2007

October 11, 2007

Here’s an update as to what I’ve been doing lately.

I know I haven’t written an entry for a while.  I looked back and saw the last entry I wrote was Sept. 1, 2007.  I got to thinking it’s time write an update.

Since my last update not a whole lot has changed.  I’m still on those same goals I wrote about back then, though they’re taking a little longer than originally planned.

Mainly I’m working on Greg and I’s software project, which we plan to sell early next year.  (that’s the current plan anyway).  I’ve been working night and day on it, trying to get it finished as soon as possible.  It’s a huge software project.  By far the biggest and most intricate that I’ve ever worked on.  I’m having to use very complex computer programming skills that I’ve never had to use before, but it’s worth it.

I had gotten to the place where I hated computers and hated computer programming.  I began to dread working on projects, mainly because of the people I was working for, and the nature of the projects themselves.  But now, with TDP, I’m actually being challenged again.  It’s not menial rote.  I’m actually having to read software development books, and use my mind to think up creative ways to pull off super complex software features.

For example, in TDP, the user can go to our ‘New Segment’ screen, and can specify a very complex way of dealing with contacts.  All our competitors software projects handle contact groups by simply a ‘drag and drop’ sort of style.  You take a contact, and drop him or her in a folder, similar to how files are stored on a computer’s filesystem.

Greg and I designed TDP that it could handle those basic contact groups like other software packages, but we have a new concept which we call ‘segments’.  With our system you can go to the criteria screen, and can specify, “I want all contacts who have purchased such and such a product within the last 2 months, and live in Nevada’.  Another example, “I want all contacts who have received such and such a catalog in past month.”  Or “I want all contacts who have purchased over $500 worth of products from our company in the past year.”  You can build segments on all kinds of things – such as how much burden they’ve been on your helpdesk.  Pesky customers who ask for too many refunds.  All people of a particular faith, religion, or hobby in a certain area.  There’s all kinds of things you can do.

It’s super advanced, and I coded our software to where it could handle this in near REAL TIME.  (Amazing, I know – *pats myself on the back*)  In our product you can be sitting there, looking at your screen, someone can come online, order some products (via your website) then if they have purchased more than $500 they pop up on your computer screen (if you happen to be looking at that segment).  Well, you have to hit ‘refresh’, but still.  Try doing that in ACT, or Goldmine.  We’re going to blow our competitors away, literally.  That feature alone is unheard of, but we have countless other awesome features.

Other than TDP, I’ve been doing math studies.  A few months back I said I was going to read some mathematical philosophy books, and work through some other math textbooks I’ve purchased.  I’ve been doing just that.  I just got done working through the entire Algebra section of a textbook of mine.  I worked every odd problem (so I could know if I got the right answer).  I’m on logarithms right now.  I could’ve went through all of this a lot faster than I have, but I take a lot of time to study everything out and understand why the equations I’m plugging numbers into work.

I semi-recently (months ago, but I can’t remember when exactly) studied how to take sin, cos, and tan without a calculator.  I can actually write my own algorithm that can calculate that using calculus.  Pretty cool.  I read Issac Newton’s original work on Calculus (Fluxions, lol).  Classic works from the 1600s, haha.  Well hey, it works, and Newton was a philosopher, so he actually EXPLAINS WHY IT WORKS – in WORDS.  Strange thing to hear a person explaining math in words.  Something you don’t see in math textbooks.  In school, I used to just plug numbers into my calculator.  I had no idea what I was actually doing.  It was just some mechanical procedure you do.  Now I understand how it all works.  Mathematics is pretty fun when you study the proofs and the intricacies of how it all works.  I myself actually enjoy working the math problems themselves as well.  I used to hate the word problems, typically the ones at the end of each section that were difficult, but now I like those the best.  I guess I like a challenge these days.

I’ve been meaning to get back to finishing up my Sigmund Freud readings.  I never got to though.  (Frustrating – *pulls hair out*).  There’s just too much good stuff to do.  Working through this math, I instead have been reading mathematical philosophy.  I just read a book by Alfred North Whitehead (famous mathematician).  The book is called ‘An Introduction To Mathematics’, and it’s main purpose is to explain the core “bases”, or root principals behind all mathematics.

In the book, he says that novice mathematicians typically get encumbered in all the technical procedures found in the ‘plug and chug’ math books, and don’t take the time to understand what they’re doing.  The book is meant to break that sort of stuff down.

I was blown away in some sections.  Remember imaginary numbers in algebra?  You’d take say the sqrt(-9) and the answer was 3i.  3 … i… i?  … i… what the heck is ‘i’.  There is NO NUMBER multiplied by itself which equals -9…. 3 * 3 = POSITIVE 9… -3 * -3 is POSITIVE 9… You can never get -9… Then I realized how imaginary numbers work.  Whitehead went into the philosophy of Rene Descartes, who invented the coordinate system.  He started talking about how numbers themselves work, and I found out that imaginary numbers are just another way of looking at numbers.  3i actually represents (0, 3), which is a two dimensional point.  Strangely enough there are ways of multiplying 2D points together.  The point (0, 3) multiplied by itself (the point (0, 3)) gives you the point (-9, 0).  Normal mathematics that most of us are acquainted with is one dimensional mathematics.  You can represent numbers in two dimensions as well.  Here’s the equation for multiplying 2D points:

(a, b) x (c, d) = ((ac – bd), (ad + cb))

Let’s say you wanted to multiply -5 by 3.  So, -5 * 3 = -15.  Easy enough.  Let’s do this same operation, but using 2D mathematics.

(-5, 0) x (3, 0)… so a = -5.  b = 0.  c = 3.  d = 0.

(-5, 0) x (3, 0) = a new point (((-5 * 3) – (0*0)), (-5*0 + 3*0))) which gives us: (-15, 0).  Which is the correct answer.  You can try this yourself with any numbers.  Since the Y values are simply 0, you’ll always stay on the X-axis… But let’s try (0, 3) * (0, 3) and see what happens:

(0, 3) x (0, 3) … so a = 0, b = 3, c = 0, d = 3

(((0 * 0) – (3 * 3)), ((0 * 3) + (0 * 3))) = (-9, 0)

So multiply the point (X = 0, Y = 3) by itself, we get the point (-9, 0).  So what they mean when they say the sqrt(-9) = 3i, is that the point (0, 3) squared is equal to (-9, 0).

I have one of those fancy TI-85 calculators (“nerdulators” is what I think most people would call them) – you know, the ones with the big screen, that can do graphs, calculate all kinds of crazy stuff, etc.  Anyways, if I type in sqrt(-9) it gives me the answer (0, 3).

Cool?  Yes, very cool.  Imaginary numbers  force you to step into 2D mathematics.  Descartes actually invented the coordinate system partly to explain these imaginary numbers.  It was really fascinating.

Of course, the plug and chug algebra textbook said nothing of this. It was really just a mystery.  You do some mechanical procedure, and stick an ‘i’ at the end of your answer and have no idea what you just did.  Unfortunate.

Whitehead had a really fun section on infinity and limits, and the core basis of how calculus works.  That was a REALLY fascinating section.  The ‘limit’ is such a subtle concept but super important to understand how infinity relates to algebra.

I miss reading my other philosophy books though.  I started for a few days reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s biography, but decided I had too much going on to read it.  I have Freud’s biography, Freud’s original letters to friends while he was inventing psychoanalysis, pioneering pscyhoanalytical essays by the founders of the subject… Mmmmm… Why do I have to be so busy!

Also, I found another set of books that I MUST buy and read.  There’s a set of books I’m going to buy called ‘The Masks Of God’, written by Joseph Campbell, which covers all mythology from ancient to modern.  There’s another book of Campbell’s, ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’, which I’m also going to buy.

I’m looking forward most to ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’, which covers the underlying pscyhological aspects of why people cling to religion, and the patterns as to how religion and mythology evolved over time, from a psychoanlytical perspective.  (OMG, *salivates*)  It goes into how people form conceptions of heroes, and why people look up to other people.  (religion mostly being people looking up to fictional heroes).

( I may have written about Joseph Campbell, and that I was going to buy his books in a past entry… I can’t remember.  If I have, I apologize for telling that again. )

But anyways, enough talking about the fun stuff to come.  I start getting restless thinking about books I want to read, and things I want to do.  TDP will be finished coding, and that should hopefully mark the end of my working days.  I’ll be able to study, travel… and study.  Sounds nice.  Buy my cabin, and place in Chicago.  Then write my books, read my books… write books… maybe even write some fiction.  Who knows, I’ve even been considering finding a girlfriend after TDP is up and selling.  I’ll actually have some free time in my life, and having someone special would be a nice way to fill that.

I was telling Andrew the other night about a fictional story I was wanting to write.  (Philosophical fiction).  But I’m also wanting to write some children’s stories, similar to the style of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series.  I love that stuff.

I want to study Physics as well.  (Why is there so much good stuff to do!).  I’m wondering if that’s just too much to bite off and chew, and whether I should just stick with psychology and philosophy, which are subjects I seem to like far better.  My true fascination with physics though is mainly understanding space and time, and getting to Einstein’s stuff, and having the mathematical background to understand the core structure of the universe.  Agghhh, I need to study Physics.  I’ll have time.  I’m making great progress.  I’m about 1/2 way done with my mathematical studies, and actually I have enough mathematical skills now that I could study Physics proficiently and understand most all the math.

Ah, who am I kidding.  I want to understand all the forces, electricity, heat, radio waves, atoms… Of course I want to study Physics.  *slaps myself*

I’ve fallen in love with math too, though.  Bertrand Russell’s ‘Principles of Mathematics’ keeps staring at me, in the shelf high above, longing to be read.  I love everything.  The more I study, the more I love the world.  I love literature, I love science, I love psychology, I love philosophy, I like the outdoors, I like riding motorcycles. (Have you seen the new Harley Night Rod?  OMG! – I must get one). I don’t think I’ll ever be bored another day in my life.

Want to hear a beautiful poem I read here recently?  (Well you’re going to hear it anyway):

Love Not Me (Anonymous Author)

Love not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face,
Nor for any outward part,
No, nor for my constant heart, —
For those may fail, or turn to ill,
So thou and I shall sever;
Keep therefore a true woman’s eye,
And love me still, but know not why —
So hast thou the same reason still
To doat upon me ever!

Here’s another poem I love, by William Drummond

Life

This Life, which seems so fair,
Is like a bubble blown up in the air
By sporting children’s breath,
Who chase it everywhere
And strive who can most motion it bequeath,
And though it sometimes seem of its own might
Like to an eye of gold to be fix’d there,
And firm to hover in that empty height,
That only is because it is so light.
— But in that pomp it doth not long appear;
For when ’tis most admired, in a thought,
Because it erst was nought, it turns to nought.

On another note, I’ve fallen in love with Enya.  Her music in amazing.  The song Caribbean Blue is pure bliss.  Her lyrics are deep and wonderful. Just watch this video (I love the child in the video):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae68NB-mOe4

“If every man says all he can,
if every man is true,
do I believe the sky above
is Caribbean blue.”

I’m sure that verse can take on many meanings, but when I hear it, I think of, “If we were all completely honest, with no deception, and shared what we knew, and these things we said to one another were true, would we have anything worthwhile to say to one another, or are we worthless beings with nothing to contribute or share?  Do you value the lives and contributions of those around you? Do you believe in mankind and our world?  Do you see the world around you, the skies above which completely surround us, as dark and dreary, or are they Caribbean blue?  How do you view the world?

That’s true art communicating so many things so succinctly and beautifully.

“If all you told was turned to gold,
if all you dreamed was new,
Imagine sky high above
in Caribbean blue.”

If the thoughts in your mind were manifested into reality, and the things you say about the world and those around you were created before your eyes, watch what you say and what you think about.  Think on blue skies, and believe in those around you, and that world will be created for us, because our thoughts and the way we think are what create this world.

And this, concludes this entry.

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