The Answer

I looked up at the tree. Its branches spread magnificently above me, its canopy catching the glittering late afternoon sun. Its limbs spread outwards from its trunk in twisted tendrils feeling their way in an unseen space. The knots and grooves in its bark were crisp artwork on a careful tapestry.

‘Do you know what you must do?’ the voice entered abruptly.

I tilted my head up and the up-side down face of the man with the hat came into view.

There were folds around the edges of his lips. Was it a smile? I couldn’t tell; he was upside down.

I didn’t feel like answering his question. I did not feel as though I was prepared for it.

‘I don’t think I know the first thing about who I am or what I am going to experience next,’ I said in a slow drawl.

He frowned, I think. ‘Do you think there is happiness to be found?’

I closed my eyes and let my muscles loose upon hearing the familiar phrase. It felt so tiring.

‘I was born naked and shivering into this world. Much of my childhood I have forgotten, and is now but a string of false memories coloured by my present desires. Every day this heart plunges into the cold and dark waters deep, deep inside a well. What do I know about happiness?’

There was silence. I opened my eyes, fearing I had offended him.

He wasn’t there.

I sat up and looked around. He wasn’t anywhere. The evening sun shone into my eyes as I searched for his dark form.

Nowhere.

Across the park, I heard a dog barking. Children frolicking in the water.

I lay back down and stared at the tree again.

Albert Camus said that the only serious philosophical question was that of suicide.

A small cynical voice in my head sniggered as it noted this thought. ‘It’s a tree. How did it make you think of this? You’re going to be hard to fix.’

I let out a long, slow breath. Did I really already know what to do?

In the distance, the tower clock of the university began to ring the hour. In that split moment, there was no room for the voice in my head any more.

As the voice returned and began its dissatisfied search again, I smiled at it.

I already had my answer.

 

The Great White Clouds Today, and Cauliflowers.

It’s awfully bright today. The sun is too bright to look at, and when it falls on your eyes it hurts, but in an amazing happy way. The sunlight is glistening off bright white cumulus clouds, sparkling pure diamond white wherever it falls. You look up, there’s cumulus clouds everywhere like this great migrating herd through the clear cobalt sky, far, far till the horizon, and it seems like we are in this awesome photoshopped True HD movie.

Our maid observed from the balcony, looking at the clouds, that they look like cauliflower. Which is quite true of those billowy cumulus clouds.

   cumulus_cloud_di00168_big[1]

But this similarity deserves more than a passing remark. It has got a story. Some of you know this, and I think the others will like to hear it.

Cloud surfaces are fractal shapes. A short way of explaining that is to say that as you zoom in closer to the surface of a cloud, you will see that there are curves and bulges and irregularities at smaller and smaller levels, all the way down, emerging only as you go closer in, and always looking roughly similar to the large scale curves and billows that you can see from far. So you cannot really tell how much you are zoomed in at any point. So this general irregular, non-smooth, fractured nature, together with being similar at all zoom levels, is what qualifies a shape to be a fractal.

You guessed it, cauliflower are also fractals. So is broccoli, or a bunch of other natural produce.

To try and have a grasp on the degree of irregularity or fractured-ness of a fractal, there’s this number called the fractal dimension or the Hausdorff dimension that you can calculate easily for a fractal shape. That’s not a completely accurate definition I gave, but if you’re interested, look it up. Anyway, although you cannot tell exactly what a fractal shape looks like from this number, it is still a useful way to categorize them into sufficiently narrow classes. So you can expect fractal structures with close fractal dimensions to also be visually similar.

Clouds have a fractal dimension of around 2.35. Cauliflower, around 2.28. Very close. The first fact, that their shapes have this fractal nature, is why they look similar at all. The second fact, that their fractal dimensions are close, is why they are even more similar.

This is not an isolated factoid. There’s boundless more of these if you start looking. The world is like this. As Feynman said, “Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.” These amazing little wonders are all around us. They surround us and enclose us. This is a magical world. Ask, read, know, and feel awesome.

That’s today’s sky I photographed. It was much more awesome in real life.

My blog: 2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Spam Today

You get this sort of spam often. But this story was something special, so I decided to share it.

From: miss florence (florencdidian1@gmail.com) 
Sent: 07 September 2011 20:50PM

Dearest one i trust,

Greetings my dearest one, my name is Miss Florence Diama i am 21 years old Girl from Southern Sudan. I want to have a common relationship with you, I need to tell you more things, but first I need your help to Stand for me as a trustee.

My father Dr. Diama yak Arop was the former Minister for SPLA Affairs and Special Adviser to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan for Decentralization. My father Dr. Diama Yak Arop, my mother including other top Military officers and top government officials where on board when the plane crashed on Friday May 02, 2008. You can read more about the crat through the below site:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7380412.stm

Some months after the burial of my father, my uncle conspired with my step mother and sold my father’s properties to a Chinese Expatriate. On a faithful morning I opened my father’s briefcase and found out document which my beloved late father used and deposit money in a Bank in Burkina Faso , with my name as the next of kin.

I traveled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money so that I can start a better life and take care of myself. The Branch manager of the Bank whom I met in person told me that my present status does not permit me by the local law to clear money or make a transfer of money into an account, he advice me to provide a trustee who will help me and invest the money or I should wait till when I will get married it demand by their Authority……

I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust. But rather take me as your own blood sister and help me. Though you may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you, well, I will say that my mind convinced me that you are the true person to help me. More so, I will like to disclose much to you if you can help me to relocate to your country because my uncle has threatened to assassinate me.

The amount is $5.6 Million and I have confirmed from the bank in Burkina Faso . You will also help me to place the money in a more profitable business venture in your Country.

However, you will help by recommending a nice University in your country so that I can complete my studies. It is my intention to compensate you with 40% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my capital in your establishment.

As soon as I receive your interest in helping me, I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Please do keep this only to your self. I beg you not to disclose it till i come over because I am afraid of my wicked uncle who has threatened to kill me.

Sincerely yours
Miss Florence Diama.

Why I don’t talk about my drumming

I was chatting on facebook the other day with a friend called Priya Martin. We were sharing our bad habits when I decided to goof around a bit. I was able to save the conversation because I was chatting from Empathy, a universal chat client. I am dvidby0 in the chat:

 

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:16 –

so, your turn again.

make it good.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:17 –

hmm..

I can’t think of any

I always leave closet doors open

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:17 –

that’s bad?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

yeah, according to my mom at least

oh yeah, I seem to misplace things a LOT

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

okay. Another bad habit of mine is i don’t talk about my drumming.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

why is that a bad habit?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:19 –

okay.

let me explain.

this will take some time.

let’s say I did talk about my drumming.

You follow me so far?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:20 –

yes, I do

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:20 –

you would ask me a few questions about it.

i’ll tell you a few things.

right? I mean in a chat, okay?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

right now?

okay, When did you start drumming?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

No no.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

k, so people ask you questions

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

i meant, in a hypothetical chat where i did tell you about my drumming,

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

in a chat

and then?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

these things would happen.

you would ask me a few questions about it.

i’ll tell you a few things.

right?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:22 –

yes

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:22 –

so, we would have a little conversation about that, but since most people aren’t into drumming, even those into music

the topic wouldn’t carry for too long, right?

It would be over in five lines or so, maybe.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:23 –

yup, I imagine I would have a hard time talking about drumming

go on

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:23 –

And that would save some time.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:24 –

yeah..

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:24 –

and we wouldn’t be wasting 16 lines here discussing this.

right? (17)

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:25 –

haha

right, so this is a much better topic

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:25 –

AND 7 minutes.

So now you see why that’s a bad habit that I don’t talk about my drumming.