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Jonathan's Page.


(like I really want a homepage. . .)

Last Updated 02/16/12.
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What Does He Do?

   He:

Life, the Universe and Everything.

     Douglas Adams had it more right than he knew when he picked a number for the answer to this question.    Depending on your point of view the answer is actually zero or one.  If you think you exist it's one, if not zero.
     Unfortunately, just intellectually knowing the answer is not good enough, you don't get any joy from dry intellectual activities, you actually have to realize it.
     An alternative and more substantial answer is that the Universe is Light, we get this from Einstein's E=mc2.    We are part of the Universe and are therefore Light as well, this is also born out by a few mystical schools.    Now the interesting bit.    Light viewed objectively travels at a velocity, viewed subjectively it does not experience time at all, it is everywhere everywhen simultaneously.    The Universe is objective Light and only exists when we are being objective, should that blessed moment ever come when we switch to being subjective the Universe ceases to exist (as we know it anyway).    The mystery is how we ever switched to being objective, or that we continue to see it objectively and that it is so damned difficult to stop seeing it objectively.
     And then of course there's the big question, what is that subjective existence?  That is pure Being, but with no 'ing' as that implies time, just Be.  No time, no space, no thought, no thing, just Be.  It is ultimately fulfilling and that which all seeking whether knowingly or unknowingly is attempting to find.  But you already have it, your being is part of that Being.  Which is why Vedanta has the saying Thou Art That.
 
     And while we're on the topic let it be said:  With the decline in influence of organized religion generations of the future aren't likely to be basing the numbering of their years around religious figures any more.  So instead of B.C. and A.D. we're likely to get B.I., Before Internet, and A.N., After Netscape with 0 A.N. being something like 1994 A.D. when Netscape 0.9 was released.  Think I've still got that binary somewhere on my machines. . .

Flute.

      I was walking up to my ashram one day (early in my days of going to the ashram) vaguely wondering if I could play an instrument when this very famous image of Krishna playing his flute (similar to this one) came to my mind.
      "Ahhh, yes, the flute, that's what I'll learn".
      I used to play the oboe decades ago and have had a feeling of incompleteness not playing an instrument since then.    Now I just live in hell, the flute is one mongrel instrument to play at all well.    My flute teacher once told me a story about how someone was interviewing Galway and made the comment that he had a nice flute.
      "What?    This contraption?" was Galway's reply.

      He calls it a contraption because the flute is an exercise in compromise, in order for it's third octave to sound anywhere near the right frequencies the lower two octaves have to be oh so carefully distorted such that almost every note is either flat or sharp to some degree.    A flute that only has two octaves is a cinch to build perfectly and a few have in fact been made throughout history, however that would be too easy.    Which is really hilarious for me as one of the reasons I decided to pursue the flute after my initial inspiration was that I thought it was a set and forget type of affair, no reeds to break or soak, no strings to stretch, no need for perfect pitch, nada.    Ha, wrong!


      I play two flutes these days, a really nice Muramatsu AD series suprano flute loaded with options that has a head joint second to almost none and a Yamaha Alto flute (with a straight head joint), the only alto worth having by all accounts and after playing it I believe 'em.    I also had a bass flute made for me by Eva Kingma, which I played almost exclusively for about 9 months after I first got it, however when my lung capacity became fairly limited due a lung disease I had to stop playing it, it takes a tremendous amount of wind.    I then went back to the alto I had at the time, a Gemeinhardt piece of junk, and found much to my surprise that it was fun to play.    You see, although the bass has untouchable tone it takes so much wind (for me at least) that expression is almost nil.    The Gemeinhardt soon pissed me off (it doesn't take too much playing before it's limitations become too irritating) and I didn't have the Yamaha yet so I started playing the Muramatsu suprano again.    I had forgotten what a truly superb instrument it is and I was lost to it, ah, the joy, I never thought I would love it again. . . The Bass Flute.

      Sometimes I hear pieces that to the best of my knowledge are unavailable as solos for the flute, when this happens I usually transcribe and arrange the piece for the solo flute, some of them have even made nice solos.    These were originally done with SongWright, a nice old DOS based and rather crude program, which by the time I had designed a zillion special characters produced reasonable output.    Now in the days of Windows 95 I wanted a point and click program to do my pieces, that and the fact that I was having trouble remembering all my kludges -- about the only thing that fit the bill was Finale, a solution rather akin to the use of a sledge hammer to kill a fly.    I finally worked up the courage to sink the bucks into it's purchase and I haven't regretted it, while not exactly easy to use if you persevere you can get it to do almost anything -- certainly anything I have wanted to do to date.   When my flute teacher saw the results he suggested I publish them, consequently I make these available to anyone that's prepared to download the Adobe Acrobat reader.

Golf.

Image by Paul Szep       This is another one of those activities not exactly associated with spiritual aspiration by most people.    They'd be right, however once you are genuinely inclined in matters of the spirit everything becomes spiritual.    In this case it is a test.    Doominating is a test that you loose almost instantly, zooop, and you're sucked in, you've forgotten just about everything else other than the task at hand -- to frag everybody else more often than they can frag you.    In golf however one does not get lost so quickly.    Quite the contrary, you can wind up with lovely mind battles where the realization dawns on you that if you really were detached from how well you were playing your game it would improve immensely, real Catch-22 material.
      I don't think I could play golf in the standard American way, we have a nice cerebral group from the University to play with and have wowed more than one person that has joined our group over the years as a walk on when one of us is missing with the level of conversation we tend to conduct.    For instance, should one of the players lapse and lament that he would be happy if only he could hit his driver straight he is immediately verbally slapped down to earth and reminded that "No, then you'd want to chip reliably, and after that putt well and after that to always get out of traps in one shot. . ."
 
      And while I've no doubt metal woods revolutionized golf clubs (I wasn't playing during reign of persimmon) I gotta say these 460 cc drivers revolutionize the game of golf, not just clubs.  I was never interested in spending $300 on a driver (let alone $500), far too much money on something I might not like in a short period of time.  However with the manufacturers pumping out new models every year the old ones gotta come down in price and when we're talking around $150 I'm in splurge range so I went and bought a Nike SasQuatch Sumo 5000 Driver.  Incredible.  Used to only pull the driver out when it was needed.  Now it's a case of you only choose another club off the tee if you're going to fly the green with the driver.  Never did I think I'd be a three wedge carrying player but now so many holes are drive and pitch I had to go hunt up an approach wedge that matches my old X-14 irons.
 
      On Golf and Enlightenment though, Caddyshack only had it half right with "Be the ball".  Think about it, when you're Enlightened you're One with Everything, you couldn't miss a putt if you're the putter and the green let alone the ball.  I'm thinking rounds in the low 50's at the very least, and that's assuming you're not holing out every shot from the fairway. . .

eXtreme Golf Croquet.

      The family's played Golf Croquet for generations and not with your usual kiddies croquet equipment either, we played it with real tournament quality equipment (even if it was antique. . .)  I never really bothered to keep it up despite how much fun it was when moving to 'Zona because, you know, grass doesn't exactly grow here.  Not without someone really trying hard anyway so backyards tend to be bereft of it.  And then we're having a work party in one of the parks where there is actually a bit of grass and we're all trying to think of something to do and I'm like "Doh, Croquet of course!"  So I go buy a cheap Chinese knock off of a tournament set and I'm looking at the dirt in the backyard and I'm going to give it a whirl anyway.
      Turns out it works really well.  It's more forgiving when the ground is wet during the monsoon and on parts of the yard where there's a little sand, but hey, it's recognizably Croquet.  Of course while it's not as extreme as some people's game, it is eXtreme Croquet, you've got nasty lies, trees, bumps, walls, the odd rock or three (they do tend to get removed when encountered).  And of course, sheds. . .
      And having got the fellow techies interested in the game it dawns on me one day that there's grass at the U and I'm like, hmm. . .  Called facilities management and they're not minding hoops whacked in their lawns so we're all over it.  There are a number of courts we set up, one of the best is our winter quad bowl court.  Others are little more eXtreme. . .


Riding a 'Bent.

      These days I commute to work on a 'bent, a recumbent bicycle.    For years it was one like the top one, now it's one of the speed demons below.    I happened to have to go to Ajo Bikes (in Tucson, where I live) for an unusual part for another bike and noticed that they had a bunch of recumbent bikes and having always been fascinated by them went back to test ride a few the next day and wound up bringing a Vision R40 home.    The weather is so infrequently inclement here that I was starting to feel a bit guilty driving 5 miles to work and so have managed to assuage my conscience on that issue at least, and riding a 'bent is fun.    Not to mention the novelty of the thing, it fascinates almost everyone, every day I get at least one "Cool bike, dude" called out to me.
      All of which is pretty interesting given that the doctor that repaired the spiral fractures of my tibia and fibula when I was eighteen predicted that I'd be in a wheel chair by the time I was forty.  Well, he got the wheel and chair part right but I suspect he meant wheels parallel to each other and not in line. . .  
Vision R-40

      Then one day (after about 12000 miles) the old R40 was needing a major overhaul so I trekked off to see what sort of damage I would be up for.    Frank at Ajo Bikes just happened to have gotten the R64 in that I'd expressed interest in months and months ago and by the time I got up to $1000 in parts alone to refurbish the R40 I figured to hell with it, go for the new beast and damn the consequences.    Having two equal sized (and narrow as hell) wheels sure is a new sensation.    And it's 25% faster than the old one, comfortable cruising speed is up to 19 or 20mph, the sensation riding it made me think that it was like riding a guided missile.    Nimble too, never had the guts to ride through the garage door before but it's not a problem here. Vision R-64
      Then a year later Eric asks if anyone is interested in riding El Tour de Tucson as team and I foolishly indicate that I'd be happy to help him out if he's a rider shy but 109 miles is more than double the longest ride I'd ever gone on.  So I start lengthening the weekend rides and find much to my surprise that this is indeed a doable thing.  And I also rationalize that if I'm going to be riding centuries I'm now in the enthusiast bracket and am therefore allowed to have two bikes (the R40 didn't count, it was quietly aging in the shed) -- and besides that ripping all the commuter gear off the R64 each weekend is starting to get old.  So I wind up with this custom R65 (which is probably the last R65 Vision ever made actually, damned shame they screwed up and went out business), basically the same bike but with much nicer components on it and here I am riding my third El Tour crawling up Rattlesnake Pass trying to convince my cramping legs not to seize up completely.

      And as if I hadn't just dropped enough money on the R65 I have to find out about the Rotor system crank which makes the thing even better, easier to spin, less wear and tear on the knees, really, quite impressive.

      And of course it didn't come with those HED tri-spokes either, that was a to treat myself to getting first place recumbent in 2004.


      With El Tour done our team (called Megahurtz) continues to ride each weekend and with my penchant for mapping my routes out and now having to communicate said routes to the other riders I now have the rides we do posted on the web.  They're unpolished MapPoint output so the directions can get a little daft and they occasionally use odd streets because the map data isn't up to date (the west end of River being the prime example) but if you're after some good Tucson rides they're free for the taking.

S2000.

      So I'd been driving an '87 Accord for something like 15 years and while it was still running well once warm and still had close to 100,000 miles before the engine was likely to give out it was running rich and smoking like no one's business when cold and probably needed a kit put through it's carburetor.  Honestly, I was done putting repairs into the thing that cost more than the blue book value of it.  Normally my policy on cars has been buy a second hand one and if it gets trashed buy another.  Except that the Accord lasted 15 years and I was unaccountably unhappy with the prospect of spending real money on another econobox.  So the guys at Precision Incorporated that have been servicing my car the whole time I had it are like "Get the S, it's the only thing that'll satisfy you."  Well, I know better than that, however within the realms that a car might satisfy I'm willing to concede that the S would do it (a car by a manufacturer other than Honda isn't an option).
      So I go and give one a test drive.  Didn't really want to get into a second hand one as (a) who knows how it's been abused and (b) money wasn't that much of an issue.  And wow, what a car.  Tight suspension, well, I've been riding racing bikes with no suspension for years so I'm like "So?"  It's only a two-seater, but really, how often do I use the back seat in the Accord?  Like almost never.  Small trunk space?  The golf clubs fit (just) and I found a rack on the Internet that lets me carry the bike around and strap large boxes on when needed.  Looks pretty 'naf too, you certainly know which S is mine.  Fuel economy is within 10% of the Accord where the power isn't even in the same ball park.  No hardtop option.  Well, it's not like the bike has a windshield let alone a soft top nor that convertibles aren't desired items in most people's books so we'll give it a go and if I don't like it I can get the removable hard top and rip all the soft top hardware out and save a few pounds.
      Result?  I'm worried about what I'll do when I'm so crippled I can't get in and out of the thing because there's no way I'm voluntarily buying another type of car.  The S brings out the fanatic in it's owners, or only fanatics own them, hard to say.  Like the rest of my toys weren't extreme enough, here I go again, sheesh.  First off, the tires that came with my '05 are out, Toyo Proxes T1-R tires are like night and day compared to the originals (the R bit in T1-R probably standing for Racing so it's not particularly surprising) and they only wear a little bit faster.  Other than that I'll have to put an after market Robbins top on the thing one day (my modifications and patches seem to be holding together, guess I'll have to take a picture of those) as Honda really missed the boat there and are in total denial over the issue.  But boy oh boy did they get everything else right.  I don't normally rave over things like gear boxes, but the box in the S is in a class all it's own, snicky tiny little throws and there's nothing like knocking it back a couple of gears and flooring it.  Sometimes even three gears --cruising at 65 MPH in sixth, need instant acceleration, well third's good for a second or so till you hit 77 MPH.  The engine is just insane.  I'm used to engines that peak and then loose power telling you it's time to grab another cog.  Not so on the S.  It climbs to 6000 RPM, then the VTEC kicks in and you've got another whole engine and the power jumps and keeps climbing all the way to the red line at 8200 RPM.  Which takes less than a second in first gear, you gotta be ready to shift or you're gonna hit the rev limiter.  And that rev limiter is a good thing too, far too easy to over rev that thing when distracted by other events, I'd have killed it long since otherwise.  You can drive it passively changing gears just as you hit VTEC and it's a gutsy 4 cylinder engine, you'll be way out in front of regular traffic.  Or you hang on till the redline and drive the screaming beast, your choice.


Humor.

      So for years I've been collecting quotes when I come across them, (a) because a lot of the time they're entertaining and (b) because sometimes there are some real gems in there that show extraordinary insight.  I use them in the signatures of my emails and people are constantly remarking how cool they are and could they have them too.  Well, no, they're served up by a custom program I've written and OMG, we're not going there.  But then along came Twitter and I'm developing an automated tweeter and I'm like, hmm, good test bed would be to tweet the shorter quotes I've collected.  So now they're slowly going up there:
      Always liked Despair's stuff too.

Doomination.

      I had given up playing computer games, like I had given up listening to music, they just didn't fascinate me anymore when along came Doom.       I remember dreaming years ago (1982) that if I just had enough mips at my disposal (like a mainframe's worth of them) I could do this kind of stuff, and then all of a sudden, here it is on my desktop.    My interest in the game would have died soon enough, but for the Death Match, or as we soon called it Doomination.    With three or more players it's untouchable.    For a while it was Duke Nukem 3D and then it became Quake.    It does not seem to matter too much which engine is used as long as it is first person shoot'em up, the Friday afternoon Doomination Sessions were totally intense for years and years.
      I must've been the only wannabe yogi around who played, thankfully all things come to an end and this too passed.  Phew, it was really tough on the nervous system.

Custom Appliances.

      Besides the relatively tame and these days rather common practice of overclocking celery I build myself custom home appliances like the Gong Clock when the need arises.    This little gem was started years ago and it was only after much tweaking that it finally reached a state where I felt I could divulge the details behind it's creation. Gong Clock

Work.

     As part of my work for the Psychology Dept. I maintain one of the most user hostile systems ever designed, Dmastr.    Written back in the Dark Ages on a PDP-11 this behemoth has survived to current times at a significant cost, notably that old scripts to control it (item files) written in the cro-magnon era will probably still work.    Dmastr is a display system running on an IBM PC/AT clone for presenting stimuli to subjects and recording their responses, originally for lexical decision tasks, nowadays almost anything that the faculty ask me for.   Back in the PDP-11 days this was text only, now it is text, graphics and sound -- real multimedia, however multimedia with a difference, it is millisecond accurate.    It's freeware.

      Threatened by the rapid pace of the computer industry having made almost all of the components utilized by Dmastr obsolete I have since voyaged into the wonderful world of Win32 development, worse yet, DirectX.    If you thought the arcane world of bare metal level PC coding was tough, you should try the "easy" way.



Should you really want to communicate you can eMail to: jforster@someplace.spam.dont.go

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