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My Musings

Here I include some of my musings on various topics. You can filter through them by topic by using the menu to the left. Note, though, that some posts exist in multiple topics, especially for linguistic/computational posts.

Linguistic Musings

Disclaimer: If you are looking for an introduction to linguistics, rather than musings about it, you are in the wrong place.

How good is your video?

Consider the following words and their translation:

  • Evidence/Evident
  • Videre (Italian for "to see")
  • Vision
  • Verdad (Spanish for truth)
  • Video (English for old old old format for home movies)

Do you see it? Vision and words about truth are related! Interesting eh? Okay, I might be wrong on this one, but I'm pretty sure it is real.

Religious Musings

While at Brigham Young University, I brushed shoulders with a lot of religious folk. As a linguist, I found plenty of opportunities to take note of word choice in some religious texts.

Milk and Honey

In biblical and non-biblical scriptures (The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon), the words "milk" and "honey" end up popping up together. Why do you think that is? I like to think that it is because in a particular language (Persian if I recall correctly), which may have contributed to Hebrew, the word for milk/honey is a homograph (like English's their/there/they're). Thus, translators would have had a hard time determining which was which; in the end, they might translate it as both! Interestingly, ancient speakers might have even thought of the two as being very similar: they are both produced by a natural process, are sweet, and are indicators of life.

General Musings

Ham Radio

So recently I have been really getting into amateur radio operation. I have programmed my first radio and just recieved another in the mail. Time to put it to the test

Testing reception while driving

I programmed in one frequency manually and sent it with my wife who happened to be driving around town. From home, I transmitted a test signal every 5 minutes or so, saying something like "[my callsign] test [x]". She doesn't have a license, so she couldn't respond, but she tracked what she received. She returned within the hour and let me know that she heard everything I sent while she was with the radio...she left it in the car for a while. It was good news.

I had set the two radios to transmit/receive through a repeater. Knowing she can hear me makes me feel better. In the future, I might rig up better antennas, send stronger signals, and perhaps most critical of all, attach a radio to the car permanently (she just had a hand radio).

Currently, I just have a "rubber duck" antenna on the new radio, and with the older radio, I interchange a titanium quarter wave antenna or a copper quarter wave antenna with grounding. The titanium is nice and portable and super flexible while the quarter wave antenna is great when I want a crisp signal and I can handle not moving or can handle holding supporting the cumbersome hardware, which ideally requires a few meters of support, up to 18 feet of cable, and the antenna itself.

P.S. If you want a great device to generate "white" noise to help put children to sleep, these radios work great. Who would have thought that a $25 radio would double as a tool for helping my kid go to sleep. I just have cheapo Baofeng UV-5R radios

Amateur Radio (A.K.A. Ham Radio)

So, when I was a kid, I failed to pass the certification for becoming a ham radio operator. A couple weeks ago, after some 10 years, I started studying for it again. This time, I was determined to succeed. Armed with programming skills as well as improved concentration skills, I studied and studied. Luckily, they publish the actual exam questions--all 350 of them. I found a great website that helps people prepare for various amateur radio exams: www.HamStudy.org. The site worked amazingly well and I successfully passed on Feb 15, 2014.

I am not only excited to operate a ham radio, but I am excited to tell my family, and perhaps communicate with them via EchoLink, repeater, or RTTY. Oh, I'm also studying for the advanced certifications and things are looking good. Not sure if I'll ever need those, but I figured I'd do it anyways. Besides, advanced certifications unlock shorter callsigns!

In an effort to give back, I have created the following two websites. They aren't much, but they might evolve into more helpful websites with time:

  • Ham Prep: an exam preparation tool that unlike HamStudy.org, that tells you if you were right or wrong, then proceeds to the next question. It doesn't require a login or anything.
  • HamTools: a website with links to helpful ham radio resources. I hope to add some interesting features such as award-generation tools so you can easily make certificates for family/friends/children who achieve their first contact/complete their first foxhunt (locate a hidden transmitter). We'll see what it becomes! For now, it is mostly an idea.

On a side note, after looking at some radio codes and alphabets, it appears that radio operators invented texting language before people were texting on phones!

Coal Tar Update

So, I've applied the product maybe 4 times to my scalp. My wife does complain sometimes that my hair is not doing well and that I should cease to use it, but she never says that on the day that I use it, so it might be that I didn't use it. Sometimes she says my scalp is doing better, but that appears to occur nearer to the times that I applied it, so I can't tell. I don't think I'll ever be able to tell if it is helping unless I don't get through the dandruff after a month or two of use. If it then goes away within months, it might be that the product was hindering the healing or perhaps the weather is the main facor, which in 4 months is Summer. Yay. Summer is coming.

Coal Tar and Western Family Products

So, normally I don't put Western Family products in high regard---mostly because the foods I run into that they make tend to have (high) fructose corn syrup as their main ingredient. I can understand using the ingredient, but not as the main ingredient, especially after recent research which shows it to be more detrimental (to mice) than straight up sugar.

Anyways, where does coal tar come in? Well, it's not one of their food products--it's a shampoo for dandruff. It is even on the front of the package. It seems so out there that I can't help but be intrigued. My wife bought it for me for my birthday (generally I would advise against buying a guy a balding/dandruff-related product for his birthday, but in this case it was warranted as I have been hair conscious lately so it is a natural gift). Today is day one. We'll see if it makes a difference. Thus far it has, actually. Yes, on day one, it has made a difference. My shower experience smelled like tar, apparently. The smell reminded me immediately of shoe polish, though. I wonder if I could use the shampoo to shine my shoes...

Birthday traditions and gift giving

I can’t help but ponder on some of the birthday traditions that exist, particularly among native American tribes. Below is a small review of some of the traditions from some tribes. Perhaps I think the tradition at work seems to be related to #2…

  1. Birthday person is allowed to eat whatever they want. Being allowed to cut the cake is considered an honor. http://www.coolest-kid-birthday-parties.com/birthday-traditions.html
  2. Give gifts instead of receiving them. The only rule is that it not cost anything (hard to do in our civilization). http://matadornetwork.com/life/my-birthday-challenge-what-can-i-do-for-you/

Interestingly, some view gift giving more as a way to cause a debt to be incurred by another party, forcing the other party to, well, be nice until the debt is repaid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy
Now, I am not a “native American” in that I am not descendant of Lehi nor of the people of Jared, etc.. Nevertheless, in an effort to have a tradition of my own, I will order pizza instead of cake. The honor of cutting it will be given to those who make the pizza (a homage to consumerism J). As for the implicit debt you will be apparently accept, don’t worry about it since our office tradition will probably help you get me something when it is your birthday? On that note, what kind of pizza do you want me to order? Speak now or forever hold your piece for another year.

Fonts and Typesets

I was talking to a friend today who mentioned how some professors prefer certain fonts over others. I recalled once reading a research article on this very topic. It turns out that some types of fonts, to the human, seem to be more professional, or unprofessional, or creepy. Whether this is because it is learned (taught to us by English teachers who nag for "Times New Roman 12 double-spaced...") or innate is another question.

Computational Musings

Disclaimer: I studied electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, and linguistics. So read this from the standpoint of one who enjoys technology + theory.

Amazon Prime Day

So Amazon Prime Day was interesting. I think it was the first time I had heard of it...I think it was the first time they really did it, actually. I was skeptical of anything but Amazon products. I figured lots of online retailers were going to hike their prices weeks before just to drop them. Amazon, on their devices, didn't do this. I kind of wish I had purchased one of them when I had the chance. I was too distracted, though...

First of all, I was working during most of Amazon Prime Day. Second, I like to test websites as I use them. So the moment I got an email reminding me of amazon prime day--yeah, I clicked 3 links in that email nearly simultaneously. Three chrome tabs opened and loaded nice HTTP errors pages. Ha, I've seen Amazon be buggy, but see their HTTP requests drop was a new one. They must be having a successful day. After a few seconds, I refreshed the pages and they worked that time. Then I went back to work.


The more I use jQuery, the more I realize how awesome it is. It's not complicated, which is one contributing factor to its success. I learned the basics from codeacademy.com and the rest from just using it.

Self-Spamming: Leveraging Dynamic Self-Addressed Emails

As a algorithm designer (programmer/software developer/etc.), I have found that I sometimes end up needing to generate sample emails from the systems that I work on. It is at this point that I realize the importance of inbox filtering or of having an email account for spam emails. However, rather than build filtering rules for every system, I can simply leverage gmail's ability to recognize dynamic emails. Say my email address was bean@gmail.com. Now say I wanted to spam myself for system, X. I could have the code sent to bean+spam+x@gmail.com. My standard filter for "+spam" would pick this up and file it for me. I coudl then search for the generated emails of interested by going to that folder, then searching for +X! Handy, usefull, quick. One filter to rule them all.

Now if only I could get the real spammers to include such meta-information so I can filter them to the real spam-box...

That's all I have for now...

For more of my projects, see My Home Page

If you would like to provide feedback of any form, feel free to send an email to anonimo at byu.edu.