兩週一聚﹕假如我有魔法或超能力

前言﹕這是一個叫「兩周一聚」的活動。是網友米雪兒發起。每月十五日﹑三十日﹐一班住在世界不同角落的香港人都會一起寫同一個題目。今天是第二十三次相聚,由火羽出題﹐主題定為「假如我有魔法或超能力」。

今期火羽出的題目很奇怪﹐要在魔法或超能力二揀其一﹐其實兩者屬於兩樣完全不範圍的東西﹐很難衡量得失作出取捨。超能力源於外在因素﹐可能父母是外星人﹐可能是基因特變﹐又或者遇上奇遇獲取異能。基本上超能力者不能選擇自己超能力的屬性﹐完全視乎劇情需要或作者的心情﹐超能力的設定全無規則可尋。相反魔法則必需經過學習苦練﹐不論是哈利波特的魔法學校﹐魔戒的白髮智者﹐羅德島荒野之賢士﹐還是鋼之金鍊師﹐他們除了天資聰敏外﹐亦不能抹殺後天的努力。魔法世界有一套別於現實的物理定律﹐但總不能違反魔法系統的結構。有些魔法或許相生相剋不能同練﹐如白魔法和黑魔法﹐又或者有些獨門魔法要遇上世外高人才獲傳授秘笈﹐但理論上在魔法世界中是沒有不能學懂的魔法﹐要學什麼魔法的自主權在我手裏﹐

在超能力的世界一切已成定局﹐超人面世七十多年﹐他還是靠那飛天﹐大力和刀槍不入那三招走天涯。蛛蜘俠更可憐﹐只得吐蛛蜘絲一招用到老。X-Men或Heroes那類群戲﹐角色的超能力分佈嚴重失衡﹐有些角色的超能力嚴重屈機﹐若非編劇刻意放水﹐其他角色根本完全機會﹐可以說故事是夾硬找戲來做。我不想要超能力﹐因為從來沒有一個超能力故事中只有主角一人擁有超能力。若我不幸淪為超能力弱的配角的話﹐下場比沒有超能力的普通人還慘。有些擁有屈機級的能力﹐比有人生出來父母一家八口領綜援﹐有人生出來李嘉誠係個孫更加不公平。至少在現實世界中﹐窮小子也有變成首富可能性的傳奇。在超能力世界中﹐Nathan永遠不可能打贏Sylar﹐只有“白金之星”才可以打贏“世界”。

超能力世界是一潭死水﹐魔法世界則多姿多彩﹐擁有無限個可能性﹐每天也有新的魔法。只要精通魔法系統的結構﹐甚至不用墨守成規沿用既有魔法﹐可以改良研究開發新的魔法。我是一個很貪心好學的人﹐若我懂魔法的話﹐攻擊系的魔法故然要學﹐防御系和治療系的魔法以備不時之需﹐移動系﹐偵探系和物質系的魔也很有用。我唯一對變身系的魔法沒有趣興﹐男子漢大丈夫光明磊落﹐行事不用偷偷摸摸﹐憑機智計謀或壓倒性的力量取勝才乎合我性格。我最感興趣是那些禁忌魔法﹐例如召喚魔神或毀滅世界那些。不過恐怕只能停在理論階段﹐要做實驗求證實在太危險了。魔法師不能只學一招半式﹐要不斷自我增值﹐才不會被魔法世界淘汰。舉例若學懂了空間轉移的魔法﹐但也不能放鬆腳步。可以移動一公里﹐就練習移動十公里。可以移動一個人﹐就練習移動一隊人。可以每分鐘移動一次﹐就練習每秒移動一次。學習魔法學海無崖﹐可不是一件輕鬆的事啊。

科幻大師Arthur C. Clark曾經說過﹐任何超越時代的先進科技與魔法沒有分別。我們若拿著現代的電腦﹐手提電話﹐電視﹐飛機﹐機關槍回到古代﹐古代的人也會認為我們的科技是魔法﹐因為那是他們不能理解的東西。其實我們已經生活在一個魔法世界﹐這個世界的魔法系統是牛頓三大定律﹐愛因斯坦的相對論﹐科學家是魔法師﹐而我們習以為常的高科技產品便是魔法道具。就算拿現代科技去魔法世界用也毫不輸蝕﹐手榴彈對骷髏兵﹐核子彈對召喚獸﹐F-22決戰噴火飛龍﹐不打過也不知鹿死誰手呢。

想有魔法或超能力的博友包括有 :

火羽mad dog (下期出題者)、HaricotVince凡鳥雛周游athrunz南杏lomichee老清五點不露KemptonC9讀與食軍師奶、亞占、Humptidumpti、hevangel、小貓、陸續有來...

若果想參加兩周一聚的朋友﹐可以參看這個網頁

I joke, therefore I am

This is the forth speech in the Humorously Speaking manual. The objective of the speech is to open with a self-depreciating joke and use at least two sets of series of jokes in the body.

Many of you may already know I am studying philosophy in SFU part time. I have learned to reason like Descartes, debate like Socrates. I though my arguments are invincible, until I have an disagreement with my wife. She simply says, “Honey, you are wrong.”

Dear Mr. Chairman, fellow toastmasters. I joke, therefore I am. Many people think philosophy is useless, boring and difficult. The mafia boss gives offers no one can reject, a mafia boss who studies philosophy gives offers no one can understand. I was a curious little boy since I was young. I like to answer weird questions like, Is there a God; What is good and evil; Do I exist? When my mom annoyed by my questions, she would just told me to shut up. Later when I grew older, I found all those questions all under a discipline called philosophy. Philosophy means the love of wisdom literally. I found philosophy very interesting and thought provoking.

The first course I took in philosophy is the history of philosophy. I learned philosophers from Plato to Aristotle, Descartes to Hume, Kant to Hegel. If you asked me what do they have in common? They are all dead. I learned that for every great philosopher, there exists an equal an opposite philosopher; and both of them are wrong. I did not get the answer for my questions, instead I got ten different answers and why each of them is wrong.

I still could not answer my questions, but I learn a few things about philosophers. I learned Occam shaves with a razor; Hume eats with a fork and Russell’s teapot is lost in space. I know Schrodinger has a cat, Pascal is addicted to gambling and God said Nietzsche is dead.

The mind-body problem always intrigue me. How do I know I really exists, not merely a brain living in a test tube hook up to the Matrix? I took a course in metaphysics to find the answers. Metaphysics means studies beyond our physical world, question the foundation of reality. In the end I figured out the answer to the mind-body problem. What is a mind? No matter. What is a body? Never mind.

Recently, I took a course in ethics to learn what is right from wrong or how to argue a wrong is a right. In the class, I learned different ethical theories. Aristotle said doing good is a virtue; Kant said doing good is our duty; Locke said doing good is having a good end result; Hobby said doing good is like we agree not to kill each other. I am a bit confused where ethics comes from. As an engineer, I know electricity comes from electron, so morality must comes from morons.

Although I am inspired to become a philosopher, but I end up being an engineer. Do you know what is the difference between a philosopher and an engineer? About 80k per year. Philosophers think hard on many great questions of all time. They think about the meaning of life, the dilemma of truth, the existence of the world, but they forgot the most important question: How to make a living?

The philosophy department in SFU is having a meeting. Suddenly an angel appears in the room in front of dean of the philosophy department and says, “I’ll grant you whichever of three blessings you choose. Wisdom, beauty or ten million dollars.” Without hesitation, the professor chooses wisdom. There is a flash of lighting, the professor is transformed, but then he just sits there, staring down at the table. One of his colleagues whispers, “You have great wisdom. Say something!” The professor says, “I should have taken the money!”

Campbell Hausfeld 1/3-HP 3 Gallon Air Compressor

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This Campbell Hausfeld is an entry level air compressor. It is on sales at Canadian Tires with 50% off the regular price. Campbell Hausfeld made professional air tools. According to online reviews, this model is better than Canadian Tire’s own Mastercraft air compressor or other made-in-China no-name brands. The box comes with basic accessories, 25′ air hose, 2 adapters, inflation needles for soccer and tires, air seal tapes and a blow gun.

When choosing an air compressor, the size of the gas tank, how much horse power of the motor is irrelevant. The most important number is the SCFM (standard cubic feet minute) rating of the compressor that measures the airflow. The higher the number means the air compressor can output more air. Usually, a sander needs 6-8 SCFM, a spray gun needs 1-2 SCFM. My unit only has 0.5 [email protected], so it is not powerful enough to drive more demanding air tools like spray guns or sanders. It is good enough to drive airbrush (0.2 SCFM) and nail guns if you don’t fire too rapidly. Or you can simply use it as an old fashion hand pump to refill tires or use it as a replacement of canned compress air for cleaning.

All air compressor are noise. According to the online specification, the noise level is 96dB when the motor is running. I have to wear ear mug to protect my hearing when using the air compressor. It takes about 5 minutes to fill the gas tank to 100 PSI. A full tank is good for 2 car tires or 30 seconds of maximum continuous blowing. (For those who are interested, 3 gallon roughly equals to 0.5 cubic feet. In theory the gas thank should last a minute, but after 30 seconds the air pressure is too low to be useful.) When the air pressure in the tank drops too low, the motor will kicks in and refill the tank. It’s really powerful blowing dust and dirt trapped in cracks. It is also handy in blowing dust on things too fragile for a duster. Having an air compressor is more cost efficient than buy canned compress air, which costs

Here is some maths for those who are interested. A can of 10oz Dust-off costs $6. The content is not air but a chemical called difluoroethane(R152A) with density 2.7014 g/L (from Wiki). A can of Dust-off has about 28 gallons of gas when the chemical is expanded in room temperature. Dust-off blast the gas at 60PSI, so a 10oz can last less than a minute. Oh! Did I mention difuoroethane is an areosol that can produce psychoactive effects and stupid teenagers stiff it to get high and kill their brains? Having an air compressor not only is cheaper in a long run, but also more healthy or maybe even more environmental friendly.

Too bad that the unit does not come with a nail gun. Now I am looking forward to get a nail gun when it is on sale. I still have to do more research about what type of nail gun I need. I think I only need a finishing nail gun, since I am not going to built any frame, dry wall or roof. I would like to have a dual use nail/staple gun and that would be handy.

My first home project, install window blinds

Since I bought a place, I am learning to to become a handy man. Today I just under took my first home renovation project, install window blinds in the garage window. We are replacing the generic flimsy generic vinyl blinds come with the house with wooden shutter blinds. It took me a whole night to dismount the old blinds on the ground floor using hand screw driver, then I bought my impact driver and took down the blinds on the second floor in 15 minutes.

Now I have lots of unwanted blinds and I wonder what I should do with them. I put them up on Craigslist, but so far no one is interested. I notice the garage has a window but it has no blinds. Everyone walking by can peak inside my garage. I figured that if I can take down the blinds, I would put it back up, so I recycle one of the old blind to the garage window. This time I am powered with a powerful hammer drill and an impact driver. Still it took me an hour to figure out how to use those tools.

First, I have to mount the bracket. I have to drill the pilot hole for the screw then use the impact driver to secure the screw. Somehow there are lots of metal around the window frame, I tried a few times before finding some wood to mount the bracket. After the bracket is mounted, the rest is pretty easy. I just have to put the blinds in the bracket and close the cover. I pulled and released the blinds a few times to test it won’t fall down.

I can safely practice my handy man skill in the garage, since even I screw up, my wife won’t complain. Now I have completed my first project successfully, I have more confidence move to more complex tasks. I have a few projects in my mind. The next one in the pipeline is to to install pull out and rotation shelves under the kitchen cabinet. After that I am going to install the closet storage systems. The most challenging project will be building wall mounted shelves for garage.

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Brother PT-1100SBVP P-Touch Scrapbooking Labeler

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Yes, it’s pink. No, I am not gay. I bought a pink hand held label printer. We need a label printer for our new house. This one is just too good a deal to pass. There are only two major brands of label printer, Dymo and Brother. When I think of label, I think of Dymo first. The old fashion emboss tape machine everyone has one when we are kids is too inefficient, so I am looking for an electronic label printer. Dymo is more expensive, but it has less function. It only support 12mm tapes, so I ruled it out.

Staples is having Brother label printer on sales, all models are 50% off. I don’t need a fancy business model with useless features. My choices come down to the entry level P-Touch series. There is one normal label printer in blue and gray color or the PT-1100SBVP scrape booking special in pink. Both of them have identical hardware and are selling at $25. The normal unit comes with only a 4m sampling tape. The pink unit comes with a 4m sampling tape, a 8m real tape, 6 Duracell AAA batteries and a carry case.

A replacement tape is selling for $20 in Staples. A pack of 8 Duracell AAA batteries is selling $12 in Staples. The extra tape and the batteries come with the pink unit already worth more that its cost. On a side note, the label printer company use razor and blade business models. The printer is pretty much give away for free and they make money on selling the tapes. Of course you can always buy cheaper online for about $12 a tape.

It is an obvious choice which model should I get. As a pragmatic engineer, function triumphs the appeal. I swallow my masculine pride and by the pink label printer. Luckily, I am a married men and my wife love scrap booking. There is no way the pink label printer will go into my tool box. It is a gift for my wife so she can use it in her scrap book. The pink label printer fits well with her scrap booking supplies. When I need to print a type, I can borrow my wife’s pink scrap book label printer.