An Ill-Engineered Alarm Clock Feature

My alarm clock, just several years old, has a seemingly nifty feature that actually backfires.

This feature is essentially a projector of the time against a ceiling, to be used typically at night.  Imagine, time on your ceiling!

But, not so fast.  The projected time, by our perception it becomes blurred when viewed in the very milieu that it was made for:  a nighttime room!

So, what’s the secret?  Central vision works best in sufficiently bright light, due to its domination of cones.  On the other hand, vision in the dark is run by rod cells, which dwell outside that central region of the retina. So the point of the projected image your eyes are focused on is actually fuzzy.  Moreover, since only cones can process light info that contains color, they are disadvantaged in a dark room as such.  Of course, the alarm clock proper does not bear this difference, for this display, by its nature is its own light source.  And now that I have advised you of this sly feature, I hope you can get a better understanding of this.  (They probably should have consulted a neuroscientist, neurologist or ophthalmologist for better insight.  LOL)

And for the stargazers among you, this is true for dim stars, which can only be seen at a  directly adjacent point.

Alarm Projector
While there is apparently no difference in visibility in a camera, when your eyes actually this very image, you may have to “zig-zag” your gaze to get the time, or just use the commonsense method, look at the clock itself!

As a man blessed as a articulate writer and knowledge liaison, again and again you can count on me for making the arcane, technical world of science (and other topics) yours, especially after further schooling (and perhaps personal study of these secular topics).  And this may be a good time to focus my blog as I follow my Lord and Savior Jesus.

I must mention a key Scripture passage: the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, that whatever you’ve been given, you should appreciate, and indeed build upon that.  The word “talent” in that time, which was a very large monetary unit, has been adopted into English as what it means now:  a natural skill, honed by practice!  So don’t take your talents lightly.  The parable, as usual, is what Jesus spoke to the disciples.

So be a wise consumer.  Pray for what you need.  And remember, even the finest things earth has to offer is not even near perfect.


Why Faith Goes Beyond Mere Reason

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  – Matt. 6:34 ESV

I spent some of last night’s wee hours struggling with such cares concerning what are the best subjects (if any) to learn.  Since my chief interests are in the sciences, but include many other areas as well, I thought, concerning the ideas of practicality and usefulness of such knowledge, could be totally beyond use.

But as I have observed many times in the past, much of my knowledge will pay good dividends.  For example, why does bird excrement contain white and dark portions?  (Urinary products, primarily uric acid, are excreted in a combination with the actual feces.) Or, speaking of white and dark, the “white” breasts and the other, “dark” poultry portions (i.e., drum, thigh, and wing) represent differing rates of metabolism in the muscles (which, basically, is the meat before slaughter).

Physics is the reason why a Volvo commercial is false if it was to stop suddenly in the face of an obstacle.  Good for the rescued kid crossing the streets, bad for the driver with her inertia paced on her by a sudden stop.  And another ill-advised product I actually own:  an alarm clock that projects on the ceiling in the dark.  But here’s the catch:  in dark enough conditions, the center of the retina dominated by cones, will not respond in darkness.  The certain portions of the alarm clock numbers cannot be seen directly, so unless you skim around, you may get the wrong picture.  Likewise, you can’t see a dim star looking directly at it,  but you can when you look next to it.

I could go on and on about these things, but knowledge of any kind is a good investment no matter what it is used for.  After all, may come in handy in various situations.  For example, two botanical words:  “pinnate” and “palmate” refer to leaves concerning the veins of the leaf, compounding (when leaflets, while isolated, are really one subdivided leaf), and even the pattern of lobes on certain leaf margins.  (Thank you, Britannica.  But sorry, I can’t infringe your copyright, so no picture here!) Together with many other traits that are useful for identification, it may led a nice hobby to observe properties of plants.

And reason is a gift from God, despite many secular claims otherwise.  But all these unbelievers:  atheists, agnostics, deists, secular humanists, freethinkers, whatever, consider reason superior to religious doctrine (which is obvious by their disbelief of God).  Reason is good, but if it gets to an excess, it could take it into a powerhouse of planning and worrying about what could happen, rather than trusting a loving God and His providence.

And that was my very antidote, around 2:30 this morning, I put such matters in the hands of God, and immediately saw a better insight of the information.  Now I am much happier, and was asleep just after about 3 AM (and slept till 8 or even 8:30)

So, if you get anxious or frustrated from excessive reasoning, especially when it deals with personal problems (as opposed to appropriate uses of reason, such as asking questions and observing what happens as say, in scientific research or financial planning), turn it to prayer!

Bottom line:  Focus on learning for now, then you’ll have a arsenal of knowledge to use for different needs.  As always, one day at a time!

Cracking the “Cuss Code”

 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:7-10, ESV)
Eureka! I now have figured out why kids aren’t good candidates to curse.  There is a hierarchy involved, consisting of three groups of source meanings.
1). The “negative divine words”: hell, damn. These are not true curse words, as long as they are used in their context (i.e., a religious one).
2). The “butt words”: a*s, s**t. The former originally was used for a donkey. If used that way (which is rare nowadays), it’s not a swearword. It’s often used in many idioms, as well as compounded with “smart” or “dumb.”  The latter is synonymous with feces. (It is often used either symbolizing meaning “junk” or “stuff”, or as an expression of anger)
3). And finally, the “f-bomb.” Literally it refers to sexual activity, but it has been a widespread swearword used for many applications.
About children and their “innocence:” the first category will work its way through the preacher’s sermon. The second category, pertaining to the butt and excrement, is just goofy. And the third, final, and most serious swearword, the “f-bomb,” for obvious reasons, should NEVER be used before the parents share “the birds and the bees” with them.  Once they get into the nitty gritty, by secular standards, the floodgates open.  Swearwords are often a tool to emphasize and deepen the message one is delivering.

Now this may apply to adults in the secular world, but what about Christian adults?  In the above Scripture, from the Epistle of James, a unique NT book that applies the faith discourses of the Pauline epistles.  (James was supposedly a relative of Jesus, perhaps a half-brother, namely, conceived by both Mary and Joseph. His epistle is probably one of the oldest in the NT. ). Since God is the Great Author of all Scripture, it still applies even if it was pre-Pauline.

As seen in the above passage, the tongue has enormous power.  You can bless or curse with the same mouth.  So, whatever you do, I hope you understand the truth about swearing, at least someday.  Adults, with their sophistication, may no longer be “innocent,” but they still can be virtuous, kindly, and good citizens both in their earthly country, and the Kingdom of God (given that they are Christian, but again, only God can choose who gets salvation or not.)

Reaping from Keeping with my Own Peeping

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.  (2 Thess. 3:11, 12, ESV)

As was discussed yesterday, I was convicted (by Scripture!) that any learning (especially on secular topics), does not need to be matched to any other set of sources.  I’ve basically been, well, a busybody here.  So I’ve come to terms with the idea:  Let others research their way and do the same your way.

And, bar none, I have reaped many benefits of such.  I learned things far beyond what was in the Britannica!

In days past (when encyclopedias were more valued) libraries juxtaposed them with other sources (both reference and circulating), optimizing available knowledge.  Just like today’s Google.

Remember, my perspective on technology lies both in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Some things of the latter I like, others I would rather prefer from the last century.  Believe it or not, whatever its content, any print Britannica is fine, and may even find it unnecessary to keep the online and/or the DVD forms.  Any knowledge developed over the years can easily be updated, through yes, the Web!

And, in case you were wondering, the second portion of the verse above, refers not only in self-study (an existing — and and always persisting — pastime), but an actual job (and “living,” namely, to get paid), and thus wherever God leads me.  (But remember, after all, in NT times there were no universities or degrees!). And being “quiet” about such matters is to buck up and do whatever work that you are intending to do, not dawdling to draw parallels or competition.  (Of course, in the economy, business stands and falls on competition, but that’s a different story). It also, somewhat prophetically for the 20th and 21st centuries, bears the application of keeping within your own (sub-)specialty of a field and not crossing into others.

Americans:  remember those commercials for Delta Dental several years ago?  It emphasized doing one thing and being good at it.  It’s not the exact principle of this, for I do like to explore topics unrelated to what my main area of expertise is.  But I’d keep it casual; the web (or sources like Britannica) are prime examples.

Cyber-Coveting of Knowledge

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; and covetousness, which is idolatry.  (Col 3:5 ESV, my emphasis)

Well, even if I really enjoyed something, I still often want more.

The principal example involves encyclopedias, preferably the now-out-of-print Encyclopedia Britannica.  Also with their CD/DVD options gone, all they have is the internet.  But since I have all three of them (and the DVD and internet very similar, I have some quality info on our side.

Now here’s the catch:  In an internet dominated world, encyclopedias have been all but pulled off from reference shelves.  But I’ve been a little nosey here.  I seem to seek a equivalent pathway, tracking what elese may match a source’s content, just to see what others may see on the same topic.

Well, everyone has different research needs for the same thing.  Look at the folllowing passage from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

While money and material goods are not evil in themselves, such issues shows that Jesus, in his Parable of the Sower, “riches can be deceitful.”  This is true especially when you sell things, but that’s a different story.

Back to my situation:  Not only that everyone’s search needs are different, one’s “Googling” is none of another “Googler’s” business.  So rather than get into competititon between what sources I have and what’s available to others, it’s best just to “count your blessings” and when exploring for more, be content on that you can find, and treasure that.  Metaphorically, that is a new car among many used ones.

Also, the idolatry here is that of knowledge.  As individuals, no person is a clone concerning interest.  It won’t work, so let it be.

This does not rule out sharing knowledge with others. I can by all means benefit ohers with such a tactic.  But I can hereby say that it’s not my job to be speculate on others’ research inquiries to get the “same results.”  It’s not logical, it’s not ethical, it’s not practical, it’s not, well you get the idea, to do such “speculative searching” online

How to Make Non-Fiction Reading Productive and Fun

Most people don’t have photographic memories, so we must face it.  Nonfiction books aren’t there to be memorized verbatim.  They’re about concepts, not minute details.

Such details come in countless varieties:  names, dates, places, you name it.  Also, there are forms pertaining to particular fields.  Examples of scientific cases should be treated less seriously than the overall scientific ideas themselves.  For example, in a Britannica article on vision across the animal kingdom, I do my best to extract the key principles, using a Macintosh note taking tool.  Also, tools like highlighters (to be used only on your own printouts/copies!), are of avail.  Unimportant details, just to give examples, are such things as animals that may bear a structure or function to work in their habitat, or mathematical reasoning or equations.  My ultimate goal in researching topics of any kind  is to obtain a “take-home message” (of course, I’m typically already at home, but you most likely get the metaphor).

And some sources are just not for everybody.  Some are too easy for one, others too hard, still others not satisfying.  I typically use Britannica (and is wonderfully sufficient for me), though I am not endorsing nor condemning it and I leave it up to you to decide which are the best resources for you.

In any case, you could tediously memorize an entire unit of text, whether a paragraph, chapter, or entire book.  But I’d prefer just to understand a book or other source of info yielding a take-home message.  While the existing knowledge quantity grows, the capacity of the inquiring mind does not.  So don’t be too tenacious about learning.  It may backfire.

The Price is Wrong

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Mat 6:24, ESV)

Greed.  People, especially Americans, too often develop an insatiable appetite for it.  And one daytime show has always celebrated filthy lucre on American TV, for 45 years and counting.  That show is none other than “The Price is Right,” a late-morning staple on the CBS television network since 1972, which serves the US, both in the eras of radio and TV, and has been a leader in ratings (which also have a greedy connection, but that’s for another post).  It has also aired on the other two major US networks (NBC and ABC).  But their power had nothing like CBS has had.


First, when the show opens, four contestants are called to “Contestants’ Row.”  They are presented an item to bid on.  (This “bidding” is quite different than that at auctions, also for another post.)  Whoever has the highest bid among the four without going over the actual retail price.  If all four go over, they try again.  One strategy that contestants use is to bid a mere dollar, the ultimate way to avoid overbidding, which will work if the other three have overbid.  The winner of that item then is in for more, using a “pricing game.”  There are a truckload of them, but their central aim is to get prizes (two of their major prizes are cars and trips, and an occasional money game.)  There are three pricing games.  After each game, another contestant is called to fill in the missing seat.  Even if you lose, you still are entitled to “Showcase Showdown,” when you spin a wheel, which in itself can give you cash occasionally.  The wheel must not go over $1.00, but as close as possible.  The entire cycle repeats: bids, pricing games, and then the second showdown.

The “Showcase”

The climax of the game is known as the showcase.  This gives two contestants from the game (one of which is the “winner,” which I think is the one closer to the dollar in the showdowns.). The showcase is a complex of prizes, often with a theme.  When one of the two views the showcase, s/he can decide to bid or pass.  Now if you bid, the next contestant is stuck with the other prize, and you the originally designated one.  If you pass, the other contestant is stuck with your prize, and what s/he would have bid on is now yours, and you can’t get away with it.  The winner also has a privilege:  if the difference between the actual price and his or her bid is less than a certain amount, you’ll win both showcases.

So this double showcase winner, euphoric as he may be, combined with all the different prizes he has accrued, I assume he will be terribly miserable in just a few short weeks.  Alas, it’s a luck of the draw.  It’s your problem now.


You can see Satan’s cunning schemes here, can’t you?  Joy does not come from physical property.  It is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” that Christians enjoy.  Sure, you can enjoy the physical items for their purpose, but you must remember we are nothing without God.  So I think it may be time for “The Price is Right” to bid farewell (pun intended) to the airwaves.  And yes, keep a low profile in the Los Angeles metro.

If I were you and seriously couldn’t do anything but watch TV at 11:00 AM (when the Price is Right airs), try ABC’s the View, a talk show that makes controversial topics (e.g., politics) funny, or whatever NBC offers in your area.  And don’t forget cable/satellite, if you have it.  The new over-the-air “bonus” channels offer programs of all kinds (which rival cable’s heyday), often annexed to traditional stations.