What’s the point?

The conversation had returned to the question that had originally brought us together… “What’s the point?” Meaning, why does any of this matter? In the end, nothing we do really amounts to much.

From the perspective of the individual, we’re connected to one another via three or four generations, at any given point in time. Beyond that, people exist only as names in a grand story in which we may or may not play a  significant part. This human story has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years. So, what’s the point?

It was suggested that perhaps, as a means of creating a purpose… and as a consequence thereof… that volunteering in some fashion may give more meaning to our lives. It was an interesting proposition but not one I hadn’t already contemplated. Sure, helping out by ‘giving back’ to others is a great and admirable thing to do, but it doesn’t do anything that will ultimately make much of a difference. The feelings we have when we help others are only that… feelings… and therefore, self-serving. Perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical? This very question is something I struggle with on a regular basis… finding a point to life.

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What do you think about when you’re by yourself?

What questions come to mind when you’re alone? Are they based upon regrets? Joys? Or, just what’s currently going on in your day?

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Something to contemplate

 

What is the purpose of our existence? Are we just the latest in a long line of organisms to have mastery over the Earth? Do we even matter?

Evolutionary timeline:

The universe, based upon the recession of distant galaxies, is approximately 13.8 billion (13,800,000,000) years old. Our solar system and the Earth, 4.57 billion years old.

Earliest life (single cell) on Earth, 4.25 bya.

Multi-cellular (cyanobacteria-like) life began 3.0 to 3.5 bya.

Ozone layer develops 600 mya.

Earliest known animal footprints on land – 530 mya.

Earliest dinosaurs – 225 mya.

Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, wiping out most dinosaurs – 66 mya. This event gives rise to the dominance of mammals.

First hominins – 4 t0 13 mya. The divergence of the Pan (chimpanzee) and the Homo (human) occurred during this time. The Hominini was the last common ancestor of both the Pan and Homo lines.

Homo Habilis (Africa) – 2.6 mya. Habilis are thought to be the first Homo to use tools (2.3 mya).

Homo antecessor (Spain)- 1.2 mya

Homoheidelbergensis (Europe, Africa, and China) – 600 kya

Neanderthals (Europe and Western Asia) and Denisovans (Russia) – 350 kya to 28 kya

Anatomically modern humans appear in Africa – 250 kya to present.

The genetic ‘bottle-neck’ – 70 to 90 kya. Homo sapiens numbered very few and we almost went extinct.

Modern humans start to migrate out of Africa.

 

Ok, that was quite a lot to digest without losing interest. But, consider this; at what point did we gain a soul, if we do in fact have souls? When did we develop consciousness? When did we ‘leave the safety of trees’ and venture out as ‘land walkers’?

In the evolutionary timeline presented above, modern humans have been walking the Earth 250,000 years or so. We’ve taken many baby steps as a species. In the last 130+ years, we’ve accelerated those steps… going from the invention of the car to a man-made probe entering interstellar space.

Are we alone? Are there other life forms in the universe? Are we unique? With trillions upon trillions of planets out there in billions of galaxies, it’s doubtful we’ll ever know for sure. Even if we were to detect life in a nearby solar system (Alpha Centauri), it’s still 4.3 light years away. The fastest outward-bound spacecraft (Voyager 1), has covered 1/600 of a light year since it’s launch 30 years ago. That means that a trip to Alpha Centauri would last 80,000 years. Would those life forms still exist once we’ve arrived?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 American Mensa AG! FireHouse Special!

This year’s American Mensa AG is was held in Hollywood, Florida at the beautiful Diplomat Beach Resort. With nearly a thousand Mensans worldwide registered to attend this event by March, it was certainly shaping up to be a large party!

Within the Mensa organization is a FaceBook group called American Mensa FireHouse (1,575 members strong). Members of the FireHouse are known affectionately as “FireHosers”. Mensans from all over the world are welcome to join the FireHouse. Here are a few of the pics from this year’s annual gathering featuring FireHouse members.

The FireHouse!

 

Angie and Kash

 

Bethany and Erin

 

Cat

 

Diann and Kash

 

Erin and Bjorn

 

Erin and Jacek

 

Erin

 

The Boob Court

 

In memory of Marc Lederman

 

Johnnelle and Erin

 

Kash and LaRae (Mensa Chair… go LaRea!)

 

Lily and Erin

 

Jam session (Chad on the guitar and Seongtaek at the piano)

 

Seongtaek playing

 

Susan and Erin

A gift from the FireHouse

Laura and Taz

 

Therese Erin and 杨冰阳 (Aya)

 

 杨冰阳 (Aya) ready for a swim!

Johnnelle

Laura and Kash

 

Sexy Hottie (Joyce) with another sexy hottie (Laura)

Group pic!

Johnnelle and Bethany

Jason with Penn and Teller (Keynote Speakers)

Jennifer with Penn and Teller

Jimmy, Taz, and Jason

Michael

Penn and Teller

Bjorn

Touchy subject…

 

Carole and Sobeq

 

Gala dinner

 

Erin and Ellen

 

Erin and Ellen

 

Erin and Harriet

 

Erin and Kelli

 

Erin, Michael, and Johnelle

 

Kash and Kurt

 

Laura, 杨冰阳 (Aya), and Bjorn

The Airing of Grievances 2017

 

Andre hard at work

 

FireHosers 2017

 

Laura and Rob

 

Laura and Tony

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Naughty girl!

Thierrion and Bethany

Seongtaek and Bethany

Timmy and Stacey (Who says you can’t pick your friend’s nose???)

 

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San Diego Mensa uRGe 2017, aka “Nerd Camp” (26 May – 29 May)

The San Diego Mensa Regional Gathering kicked off today at 3 pm and runs through Monday, ending at 1 pm. The event is being held this year in Palm Springs, California.

The event theme this year is “Midnight at the Oasis”

Mensans from all walks of life will be in attendance. We have lawyers, authors, Armed Service members (current and retired), professors, artists, physicists, engineers, IT professionals, and even a sitting judge!

 

Movies being shown are:

Friday evening – Hidden Figures

Sunday evening – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Here are a couple of items that may be useful…

RGlineup2017 Agenda for 2017 San Diego Regional Gathering

Agenda for 2017 San Diego Regional Gathering

 

I’ll post stories and pictures, time permitting, as the RG unfolds.

FRIDAY – 26th

Registration

Margie and Dave Bowles manning the registration area.

 

Lots of fun Friday! Following registration, the day was filled with the laughter of old friends and new alike. Card and board games were enjoyed by many and puzzles were pieced together into the wee hours of the morning.

 

SATURDAY – 27th

Activities and conferences!

Very interesting seminar given by H. Stanley Jones covering the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  (MBTI). Upon completion of the MBTI worksheet and further analysis,  Mr. Jones will personally email the results to seminar attendees.

 

Bob Tutleman’s Sing-a-long!

Really enjoyed Bob Tutleman’s Sing-a-long. As always, it was a great performance! Thanks, Bob!

The Mensa Song – https://youtu.be/GQYBKeRTwEM

 

Again, more games! Games are a big part of AGs and RGs!

 

Sunday – 28th

The day was filled with games and shared fun, discussions, and testing applicants for Mensa. RGs and AGs are a time to make new friends. The American Mensa Firehouse was well represented! I personally counted 9 members in attendance. The ‘award’ for the farthest traveling Mensan in attendance goes to… Laura Ingram, who flew in all the way from Indonesia! Congrats!

Two Firehouse members are shown below.

Carole Lane (L) and Laura Ingram (R)

Later in the evening, several of us Mensans went to Toucan’s Tiki Lounge to see the “Drag Revue”. If you have to ask…

Anyway… there has to be a punch line in there some where… “10 geniuses walk into a gay bar…”  Yeah, I need to work on that one.

Monday – 29th

The end has come, as all things must. Time to say our goodbyes and fond farewells. Until we meet again…

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Sometimes a Blog Post Writes Itself…

Recently, I was talking to a co-worker about a picture I had run across on FaceBook.

He thought it was funny and asked, ‘Are all of you guys crazy?’

‘No’, I replied but then went on to expand upon my answer. I explained that we’re pretty much like everyone else, but a little more intense.

‘What do you mean?’ he asked.

‘Well, a lot of us are very knowledgeable in very specific areas… more so than the average person. We tend to research things that we’re curious about, in order to learn or gain a better understanding about a subject matter. And many of us are quite passionate about our points-of-view. Sometimes that passion is mistaken for being crazy. But that’s not to say some of us aren’t ‘touched in the head’, I said smiling.

‘So, some of you are mentally unstable?’ he prodded.

I did my best to answer… ‘Of course! It just stands to reason that a certain percentage of any population will have problems… whether it’s mental illness, specific health issues, and so on and so forth. I’ve read articles that attribute a higher instance of mental illness to highly intelligent people and I’ve read articles that say there’s no correlation between the two. I think it has a lot to do with how people identify and deal with potential mental health problems. That’s true for the super smart people and those who aren’t.’

‘Alright. Answer me this. Looking at the scale, where are you? he asked.

‘Oh, dude… you really don’t want to know!’ I remarked, laughing… and walked away.

 

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Misfit Toys

I’ve struggled with depression over the course of my life. There, I said it.

Depression was something I had always regarded as a sign of being mentally weak. To counteract my depression, I pushed through it by ignoring the emptiness… the despair… and tried to replace those feelings with a series of intimate relationships. The net result, aside from the countless notches on my headboard, was unhappiness. But I didn’t really have great coping skills in my youth either.

Today, it’s much different. I’ve learned to cope with depression in other ways. I’ve tried my hand at writing, a little sculpting/drawing, and devoting more time to my lifelong interest in learning more about world history. I find that filling my time with activities tends to limit the frequency and intensity of my bouts with depression. But there’s also a big downside to this approach. I usually get less than 4 hours of sleep a day… sometimes it’s as little as an hour. That can only go on so long before my body is exhausted. At some point I have to crash… sleeping for many hours at a time, trying to ‘catch up’. It cannot be good for my overall health.

It’s common for people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives to seek out religion. It’s not that I lack spirituality as much as it is not believing in organized religion to begin with. Religion provides people with a sense of belonging, comfort in times of crisis, hope for a better future, and reward in an afterlife. Not being a religious person, and not believing in an afterlife, there’s really no reason for me to adhere to any sort of moral compass or by societal standards… aside from creating pleasant living conditions for myself and my family. Let’s face it. The reality is that in order for many of us to be successful in life, we must adhere to certain standards, societal and otherwise.

Does that mean I can do anything I damn well please without concern for any repercussions? Absolutely not. I find that I’m still guided by a strong sense of what I consider right and wrong… good versus evil… and an obligation to others who depend upon me in the context of a family member, friend, or co-worker.

But, I do find myself wondering at times why any of it matters? I don’t believe in a god or gods. And if there aren’t any gods, then the concept of good and evil or right and wrong, are really just social constructs. All of it is then relative. The obligations that I feel towards others is, more or less, limited to my immediate family and close friends. And, as a very introverted person, my circle of friends is quite small.

I’ve reached a point in my life that I’m no longer too concerned in how others view me on a personal or professional basis with the exception of my family and close friends. Sure, I want people to like me but I won’t work for their approval. It either exists or it doesn’t. A sense of complacency now defines that part of my life.

That complacency, in conjunction with intervals of moderate/severe depression, have given me periods when I experience a complete lack of passion for life… a lack of empathy towards my fellow man… and that scares me. I know it isn’t healthy. Being the type of person that I am, I analyze myself constantly… my goals, my beliefs, and my obligations. But in the midst of an episode of depression, I wonder again… ‘why any of it matters?’

 

 

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Extraverted or Introverted Preference

Extraverted and Introverted are opposite preferences. A person’s natural tendency toward one will be stronger than the other.

Extraverted (E)

Extraversion is a preference to focus on the world outside the self. Extraverts enjoy social interactions and tend to be enthusiastic, verbal, assertive, and animated. They enjoy large social gatherings, such as parties and any kind of group activity. Extraverts are likely to enjoy time spent with people and find themselves energized by social interaction.

Extravert Characteristics

  • Gregarious
  • Assertive
  • Talkative
  • Social/outgoing
  • Likes groups, parties, etc.
  • Energized by interaction
  • Expressive & enthusiastic
  • Volunteers personal information
  • Distractable
  • Has many friends
  • Easy to approach

Extraverted Personality Types

  or  
Introverted (I)

Introversion is a preference to focus on the world inside the self. Introverts tend to be quiet, peaceful and deliberate and are not attracted to social interactions. They prefer activities they can do alone or with one other close friend, activities such as reading, writing, thinking, and inventing. Introverts find social gatherings draining.

Introvert Characteristics

  • Energized by time alone
  • Private
  • Keeps to self
  • Quiet
  • Deliberate
  • Internally aware
  • Fewer friends
  • Prefer smaller groups
  • Independent
  • Not socially inclined
  • Enjoys solitude
  • Thinks before speaking

Introverted Personality Types

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MBMS Science Olympiad Hovercraft Event 2016 – 2017

 

We’ve been fighting the issue of our hovercraft wiring harness overheating and burning up. Many solutions were tried but did not solve the problem. The electrical flow going through the harness was about 18 amps… that far exceeded the capabilities of most potentiometers. The load on the motor could’ve been reduced by using a smaller diameter propeller, but that would result in having to rebuild the close tolerance housing around the propeller and would reduce the downward/backwards thrust as well. So… after chatting with a gentleman down at Discount Hobby Warehouse, he suggested that I use a brass strip as a resistor to reduce the amperage going to the motor, thereby keeping the wires from heating up or burning. Below is the brass resistor I created using 2 brass strips.

20170129_181031-1

I took two brass strips (1/4 inch wide by 12 inches long, 0.100 thick) and placed a spacer between the two… taping them together at the spacers. I then soldered a short piece of 22 gauge wire at the end to connect them.

20170129_181937

I soldered the incoming power wire to the bottom of one brass strip that I had bent outward.

20170129_182403

The outbound power wire was attached to the other brass strip and leads to the motor.

20170129_190159

The brass resistor strip was then taped to the flag mast, again at the spacers to keep from bending the strips towards each other and negating the overall resistance.

20170129_190127

This is another angle of the craft. A simple on/off switch is all that is needed to complete the circuit.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me should you have any concerns or questions.

 

A special thanks to Mr. Babu Saladi and also to Discount Hobby Warehouse at 7644 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

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MBMS Science Olympiad Hovercraft Project 2016-2017

 

This is just a quick outline of how I put together a prototype hovercraft for the MBMS Science Olympiad. The prototype is made from PVC foam board, 0.125 in thickness. The example pictures are done in light poster board for ease of use.

prototype-hovercraft

Below are the steps taken to create the hovercraft.

power-assembly1

step-1 step-2

step-3 step-4

step-5

step-6

step-6a

step-6b

step-7

step-7a

step-8

step-8a

step-8b

step-9

step-9a

step-10

step-10a

step-11

step-12

step-13

step-14

step-15

step-16

step-17

step-18

 

 

step-18a

 

step-19

The two small triangles are to used as support braces at the base of the motor assembly.

step-20

 

shunt-side-walls-rear-view

 

shunt-assembly-front-view

The above picture shows the shunt positioned between the side wall assembly.

shunt-assembly-side-view

Above: This view shows the pin-hole locations and the shunt. By placing a pushpin through the side holes on both walls, you can adjust the angle of the shunt. The position of the shunt controls how much air is forced downwards for lift, and backwards for propulsion.

prototype-hovercraft

Revisiting the original prototype picture, we can clearly see the shunt assembly with the push-pins in place determining the appropriate angle of the shunt for the hovercraft. This angle position was achieved by ‘trial and error’. Testing the shunt position in combination with the selected propeller and motor speed, took just a few minutes.

hovercraft-skirt

The hovercraft skirt can be made of many types of material. I chose to use a simple plastic bag seal on both ends. Marking out where the shunt opening would be on the plastic skirt, I used a razor blade to cut the plastic completely through the top and bottom layers. Using double back tape, I centered and attached the plastic bag to the bottom of the hovercraft.

 

 

This was a quick mock-up of the prototype seen above. Braces, attaching of the shunt, etc., are all variables. Meaning, you must test to see what positions and angles work best for your particular hovercraft. Remember to keep everything on centerline as best as possible and to take into consideration the balance of your craft. Make adjustments as necessary. Most importantly, have fun!

MBMS Science Olympiad study sheets are provided below. Please check them out. (courtesy Ms. Stacy)

mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page1 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page2 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page3 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page4 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page5 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page6 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page7 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page8 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page9 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page10 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page11

mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page12

mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page13 mbms-science-olympiad-2016-2017-page14

 

 

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