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Rubik's Cubes and Sing-along Sally

I have found that now that I have stopped going to school and have earned all the institutional degrees I will probably ever get (high school, bachelor of science, master of science), my mind tends to get bored if I don't keep learning. Sometimes it is just thinking deep thoughts and other times it is re-learning the deep thoughts that I used to have.

I recently wrote a short script in python (using the scipy libraries) that generates a WAV file of white noise. It starts off by generating a buffer of random noise. Then it passes the data through a lowpass Butterworth filter (which you can set the order and cutoff frequency). After filtering, it writes the data out to a wave file. To reduce transitional blips between frames, I just use the same frame back to back with the samples reversed. If the frame is long enough (more than a couple of seconds), it is difficult to notice any repeating cycles, and if they are that far apart, it is soothing, like ocean waves. I knew that I could do this sort of thing because Dr. Oliphant, my ECEn 380 professor, drilled this stuff into my head so deeply that I will forever have signals and systems running through my head.

IBM often gives away swag at their little on-site parties. Last party I attended, they were giving away free calendars (in February) and Rubik's Cubes. After about five minutes of playing with it, I had messed it up to the point that I could not fix it. I remember Timothy, my older brother, had a Rubik's Cube when we were younger and it had always fascinated me. I knew there were people who could solve it in minutes, no matter how messed up it was. So I went to Google and asked it how to solve a Rubik's Cube. It came up with hundreds of pages. I picked on of the many algorithms published and learned it. It took me about 2 weeks of working on it during the bedtime hours (when the kid is in bed and I am still awake) to learn how to do it on my own. But I can successfully solve it on my own in about 10 minutes. I plan on working on my time and technique so that sometime in the future I can teach Nicole (or Boy) how to do it so they can be Freaks and sovle it for Show and Tell at school.

And as if white noise generators and Rubik's cubes aren't enough, I also have started reading my old "Elementary Differential Equations" book because I don't remember much out of that class other than it was a mind-bending class. So I try to read some while I wind down each day. It is slow reading because it is pretty deep stuff and I find that it takes several minutes to get back to speed where I left off the day before and then it takes time to read everything 5 times to understand what is going on. I really like to learn though. That is the only part about school that I miss -- plenty of time to learn. I don't miss hoops to jump through, large crowds of people, long lines, small paychecks, and nasty apartments. But I do miss having 10 hours a day devoted to learning new stuff.

As for Sing-along Sally, Nicole is learning lots of sing alongs and finger plays. She LOVES to do all the little songs. "Ring Around the Rosies," "Eensy Weensy Spider," "Once There Was a Snowman," "The Wheels on the Bus," "Old MacDonald," and more. She even added three new verses to "The Wheels on the Bus" — the daddies on the bus go (snoring noise), the Lous on the bus go up and down (Lou is a friend of ours), the puppies on the bus go woof woof woof. She can say the actions to Patty Cakes all by herself. She is just the smartest little girl on the planet.