Guidestar

Reading this article last week about robot caregivers and thinking about the empathic side of AI – a gentler HAL. I was reminded of the Guidestar system and Jerry from the movie War, Inc. Not sure if this was meant to be a machine or a voice call to a human – I like to think it was a machine.  The move is satire in the same category as Idiocracy in which the Green Zone in Baghdad has been renamed “The Emerald City.” Jerry’s voice is Montel Williams.

The second interaction is the best, in which Hauser (John Cusack) tells Jerry that he feels like a morally twisted character from a Céline novel. The juxtaposition of Céline and Hauser having a therapy session with a bot in a private jet is genius.

This area of machine / human mediated interactions is fascinating to me. It feels like this is what people ultimately want, but seems like it will nearly impossible to achieve, given the complexity of human emotion, but also the fact that the scientists working in this field are not the most emotionally intelligent humans (I’m generalizing).

Case in point, I noticed yesterday one of the engineers at work wearing a t-shirt with the message: “Social engineering specialist: Because there is no patch for human stupidity.”

There is probably a good talk on this topic as it relates to designing these interactions.

Freight-training

http://www.strava.com/activities/169071885 

freight-training

Tried some lactic threshold training today. I was yo-yo’ing from ~160bpm to ~180+, then recovering back down to around 160 before stepping on the gas again. Kind of harder than a sustained tempo run – more cyclic.

This run is a sustained climb when you hit the trail (around mile 3). Super quiet in the woods today, just my feet hitting the trail, some rustling leaves (maybe Sasquatch) and my breathing.

Outside shop

Zippy 8 miler downtown in the morning and then worked outside all day.
Literally *all* day, 9am – 9pm.

IMG_0904

I’m building a treehouse that will be about 6′ off the ground when finished. I finished the main supports and  bolted the sides together today with 1/2″ by 8″ galvanized bolts. The deck supports are 2×6 pressure treated on joist hangers, the deck is cedar. Most of the time today was spent making sure everything was square – measuring and measuring and measuring. The 4 corners are slightly offset because of where I set the posts, so I squared to one corner and shimmed the others before drilling and bolting.

I have no idea what I’m going to put up for walls (or roof). I’d like to keep the weight of the entire structure low, but still need a safety rail for anyone up top  (stainless cable railing…?). With the decking in place but not attached, I realized that I have enough wood to curve the front of the treehouse. I’m planning to attach the decking square, and then sketch a curve across the front and trim it with the jigsaw (and bevel the edge with the router).

The footprint is small – about 8×6, but I realized as I was cleaning up today that it would be a perfect spot for a telescope and chair — which may drive some decisions on roof options, maybe something convertible.

 

Thermonuclear reactor

Mt. Hood 50 miler race report - https://gobeyondracing.com/races/mt-hood-50/

http://www.strava.com/activities/165172284
(Watch died a few times during the day…)

Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

tl;dr
I literally enjoyed every second of the race. Truly enjoyed it as in, I relished the entire experience… except for the falling… but I’ll get to that part.

It was close to 32 / 90  deg on Saturday and very dry and dusty on the Pacific Crest Trail. I brought along 6 frozen bottles of Tailwind, carried them with me in a cooler and divided them at the start among 2 drop bags. I only swapped one of them at the first aid station and didn’t touch the others the entire race.  My strategy for the day quickly moved to 1 bottle of water, 1 bottle with Nuun (electrolyte drink) and sodium caps.  I was checking my hands to see if they were swelling at all (too much sodium, retaining fluids) and if so, I skipped an s-cap delivery and drank water or diluted Nuun. The best thing that I learned is that my stomach is like a thermonuclear reactor…meaning – I took in calories all. damn. day. Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a piece of banana at every aid station worked for me all day with no issues. A theme I gathered from a few other runners was that they were getting nauseous. I felt that a little bit early on when I was only drinking Tailwind – I think it was because I was intaking too much sugar and it was too hot. My body couldn’t both process the sugar and sweat off the heat. That’s my theory anyway. When I switched to water I was good to go.

I was most concerned with my stomach going into the race. If I couldn’t keep calories going in, things can go pear-shaped quickly unless you puke and reset (I’ve heard). I started with a couple of gels and some Clif blocks, then found that the PBJ’s were what my stomach wanted. It was like throwing logs on a roaring fire all day.

Highs:

  • After tagging the 40 mile aid station (furthest aid out on the figure 8 course), I pulled out my shuffle and burned down a huge climb – probably my fastest mile of the day. I reeled in quite a few people in that section.
  • Thermonuclear reactor for a stomach. This may not always be the case, but I’m pleased that I assessed the situation quickly, adapted, changed strategy and got my game on. OODA loops.
  • Mundo legs. The last 10 miles were rolling descent to flat terrain all the way back to the finish. There were some runners who would run and stop - I think it was from being very tired, but also the pounding rocky singletrack descent- it completely trashes your quads to the point where it’s too painful to run – I know b/c I felt it  running into the finish at Beacon Rock 50k. I think commuting with a kid on the back of an 80lb bike has worked my quads. I had no issues bombing down very technical singletrack. So fun.

Lows:

  • The first 25 miles were relatively flat… a few steady climbs, but on the way back in to the start/finish to begin the next big loop, I must have fallen about 5 times. I remember one particular tumble that ejected both bottles from my vest as I landed on my side. There was a guy behind me who sympathized that he had taken a tumble too – but it was really no consolation as I did the same thing a few more times (sans ejecting the bottles). In retrospect I think I was going through a mental low and I was being lulled into a really efficient running gait where I was keeping my feet just skimming the ground – and each time something got in the way I would catch a toe and down I went. The running wasn’t difficult, but it was hard to maintain mental focus as the terrain was kind of boring. I can’t stress how frustrating and difficult it was to dig myself out of this mental hole I was in. I kept asking if there was something wrong with me… was I really that exhausted? The worse part was that each time I fell, I worried that I was going to do it again. When I stumbled and caught myself my feet skidded in my shoes and I could feel the bottoms of my feet burn – super painful for a few seconds. I started to worry that I was going to hit my head or break my wrist… all dark/negative thoughts. Once I realized what was happening, I upped the self-talk about being in control and getting my shit together… that worked and I was back and into the start/finish and back out again.

The volunteers were phenomenal. Rolling into aid stations and having your bottles filled with ice and being sprayed down or having cold water dumped over your head – it was like having the best crew evAR. The long climb up to the aid station at Warm Springs was particularly grueling. It’s such a relief to finally see that aid tent and hear some music and roll up on some friendlies. Every aid station was a power-up.

When I saw the final course markings back to the finish, I stashed my headphones and listened for the cheering and the cowbells. I passed a few hikers at one of the final turns and a women said to me, “almost there – enjoy it!”. I took a deep breath to take in the moment and then climbed up out of the forest onto the road for the final 200 yards into the ranger station and finish line.

IMG_0900Sunset on Friday night rounding the bend on 26 just before Gov’t Camp. I bivy’d near the start on Friday night, set the alarm for 4:30 to make coffee and oatmeal on the Jetboil for b’fast.

It was a good day to run in the mountains.

DFW vignettes and personas

Reading The Pale King and – specifically the interviews with (the wigglers) – and pondering the parallels between designing and writing. DFW’s writing is so … ummm… “constructed” … it’s designed (well). From the word structure to the underlying theme all the way to the concepts in a larger paragraph/chapter.  It’s not so much that the fiction is written, but the entire (fragmented) narrative is designed. I cannot think of another way to describe the technique.

A good example is this one (I don’t feel like typing it):IMG_0889

 

This is the core idea that encapsulates the entire book.  Picking apart the structure of this passage, we have the narrator telling the story of a contrived story (the play **) that has no “action”.

Imagine designing something that had absolutely no utility (or no use that anyone could determine). Is it art? Or is it an object that has no utility other than to delight? Isn’t this the best kind of design? (I think so).

The book is about boredom. Holding the concept of boredom in your hands and investigating it, exploring it’s nuances – trying to understand this “thing” that we take every measure in every action of our lives – to avoid.

Sometimes when I’m telling my daughters bedtime stories, I’ll play a game and begin to tell a story within a story within a story etc. and then back my way out of the stories to end exactly where we started.  “A totally real, true-to-life play.”

**DFW used the same technique in Infinite Jest. It was a film that Himself created.  The point was to make all the theatergoers leave in disgust.