Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hypothetical influence on alien reproduction on their social structure

This came to me when I was taking a lunchtime walk with some co-workers:

So, let's say there's an intelligent alien species with three sexes.

-A "fetus carrier" sex, that's analogous to human females:  they get impregnated, and carry the fetus until birth.

-A "dominant inseminator" sex, that mates with the "carrier" sex.  This sex is kind of analogous to human males.  More on this in a moment.

-And a "submissive inseminator" sex.  This is kind of like an "Independent" who carries the swing vote when there is a 50-50 split in the House or Senate among the two dominant parties.  This will make sense in a moment.

When a "fetus carrier" and a "dominant inseminator" mate, the result is always a baby "fetus carrier".

In order to create a baby "dominant inseminator", a "fetus carrier" and "dominant inseminator" need to mate -- but during a fairly narrow time-period the "baby carrier" also needs to mate with a "submissive inseminator".  So the "submissive inseminator" serves as kind of a catalyst to making a baby "dominant carrier".

When a "fetus carrier" and a "submissive inseminator" mate, the offspring is always another "submissive inseminator".

Note that this has somewhat of an analogy to humans:  females carry the XX chromosome, and men carry the XY.  I read somewhere that, really, "Males only exist so that they can make additional males."  In other words, if females could figure out how to reproduce without intercourse, then two women could each contribute an "X" to produce a new female ("XX") with genetic diversity.  So it would be a closed loop:  females creating additional females.

With this in mind, maybe the alien "fetus carriers" are "(X)Y", the "dominant males" are "X(Y)Z", and the "submissive males" are "X(Z)" -- with the component in brackets being what is contributed during mating:

-"Fetus carrier" + "dominant male" = X + Y = another "fetus carrier"

-"Fetus carrier" + "dominant male" + "submissive male" = X + Y + Z = another "dominant male

-"Fetus carrier" + "submissive male" = X + Z = another "submissive male"

Another component is that "submissive inseminators" are physically smaller:  about two-thirds the height of the other two sexes, and slender almost to the point of being frail.  They also have about half the life-span of the other two sexes.  To put it in human terms, the "submissive inseminator" typically has a lifespan of about forty years -- about the same time as the "fetus carrier" is near the end of her fertility.  So it's almost like, biologically, they only exist to participate in the reproductive process.

So:  How would this reproductive structure affect the social structure on that planet?  Bearing in mind that on Earth, humans have basically one way of reproducing, yet have many different cultural social structures (e.g. pair-bonding; polygamy; polyandry (rare!); extended families; nuclear families; "free-love" situations; patriarchy; matriarchy) -- and some of these have changed over time, within a culture.

Because they are physically smaller, and have shorter lifespans, I predict that the "submissive inseminators" would generally be the less-powerful sex.  However, the "dominant inseminator" needs the "submissive inseminator" in order to reproduce another one of "his kind".  (Kind of like if, among humans, a male needed some sort of catalyst in order to have a son -- for those for whom that's an important thing.)

Because "submissive inseminators" and "dominant inseminators" do not mate with each other, they don't have to be attracted to each other.  But both need to to be attracted to the "fetus carrier"

Likewise, the "fetus carrier" needs to be attracted to the two types of "inseminators" -- but probably in different ways.

Just as in most(?) industrialized cultures here on Earth, I would project that "dating" and relationships are primarily and at least initially for the "relationship" aspect -- and that reproduction only comes up later (although it can be an issue right from the beginning).  So therefore I could see a "baby carrier" dating either a "dominant inseminator" or a "submissive inseminator" first -- and worrying about "having kids" later on in the relationship.

The cultural norm would probably be to have a three-person romantic relationship, and set up three-person households -- with one of each sex.

Among those who were out there, "dating", you would have two "layers" of being "single":  being just an individual, looking for two partners -- or being a twosome, and looking for the third.

If you were already paired up as a twosome, it would be a little more difficult to find a third person that was compatible to you both.

You would have classified ads and dating sites with many different categories.  Not including "same-sex" relationships (see below), among heterosexual folks you could have (to use human analogs):

-M seeking F or Z
-F seeking M or Z
-Z seeking M or F
-M and F seeking Z
-F and Z seeking M
-M and Z seeking F

Socially conservative people would probably say that a "marriage" (which would include three people, one of each sex) would be the best thing when reproducing and raising children.

Some people might have a two-person partnership, and only bring the third person in when they're trying to conceive -- a little similar to a same-sex human couple bringing in a third person when they want to have a baby.

There would be, mathematically, more possible forms of homosexuality:  since being a threesome is normative, you could have a three-person same-sex relationship -- or two of one sex, plus one person of another sex.

Among humans, if one of the parents stays home part time or full time to look after the kids, it is usually the female.  But occasionally -- especially if the female has a high-powered, good-paying job, the male might be the one to stay home.  In this alien society, there is even **more** flexibility:  although the "dominant inseminator" might be the one to typically work full-time, it might be about 50-50 for the "fetus carrier" or the "submissive inseminator" to stay home with the kids.  So, similar to polygamous human relationships, there would be a greater opportunity for the "fetus carriers" to be "career women".

And probably other implications, as well...



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Working around the clock

I recently learned that someone objects to the phrase "24/7" ("twenty-four, seven" -- i.e. "working on it 24 hours a day, seven days a week"). 

There are a number of reasons, which I can't adequately communicate -- but among others, it's fairly cliched.

Thus, I have decided to use an alternative phrase:  when I plan to be working on something full-time, around the clock, I will be "going 60-60-24-7-365-52-12" -- or variations thereof.

("Sixty seconds an minute, sixty minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a week, 52 weeks a year, 12 months a year.")



Monday, July 14, 2014

The world is your workshop

Tomorrow is the final day of my eight days of vacation.  I got a lot done -- although (of course!) not as much as I wanted to get done.

One thing that this vacation has reinforced for me is that projects that don't take a lot of person-hours can still take several days -- because every time you glue something, or paint/varnish/oil something -- that's it!  Shift's over!  Time to stop work!

For example:  one of my projects -- which I'll discuss tomorrow -- is two pieces of wood glued together, with two dowels sticking out of the front, and then rubbed down with some finishing oil -- and then screwed to a rack.

But!  Prepping the two pieces of wood so that I could glue them together took maybe half an hour to an hour (I didn't keep track).  Then I glued them -- and that was it for the day!  (On to other tasks...)

The next day I handplaned them (mostly) flat, created two dowels, laid out and drilled the holes, and glued the dowels in -- and that was it for the day.

On day three (today), I oiled them.  OK, end of that segment.

And finally, on day four, I get to actually bolt it to the rack.  Whew!

The other thing I've learned is that, when you're fortunate enough to live where the weather is pretty mild -- that the whole world can be your workshop.  Or, at least your back yard can.

Here you can see three different projects glued and clamped.  My workshop space is pretty small -- and my workbench is (unfortunately) pretty cluttered, so I don't have a lot of room at the moment for bulky things.

Part of the clutter is due to various partially-finished projects -- something I tried, unsuccessfully, to address this vacation

To bring the message full-circle:  my primary project this vacation was the Swamp Guitar (basically a cigar-box guitar).  But because I'd have to keep stopping due to glue-ups, I also worked on a custom tool caddy, and a little bit on the Bretz steps, as well.  Once I actually finish any of these three projects I'll post some photos.

But, about two days ago I realized that there were just too many stages remaining for those three projects, I changed my focus to three fairly quick tasks -- such as the one I described above.

Tomorrow is my final day of vacation, and I post some pics of the projects I **did** finish.   As for the three "main" projects -- well, I'll keep picking away at them, an afternoon or two per weekend.  In among my other duties.  :)


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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review of Anastasia

Watched the animated movie Anastasia for our family movie night.

Pretty good.  The musical numbers slowed down the pace, in my opinion -- and the songs were functional, without being particularly catchy.

The animation seemed a little choppy -- like they were trying to save money by drawing fewer frames per second.

I was also annoyed by the un-necessary inclusion of "the dark forces" angle:  why did Rasputin have to be some sort of evil magician?  Couldn't they have come up with some other way of having the antagonist trying to thrwart their plans?

Plus, I thought the little white bat didn't serve any purpose -- except to be the obligatory small, cute "sidekick" of either the hero of the villain -- as per all other recent animated movies, it seems.

Anyhow:  worth seeing once.  Pretty good.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Best vacation EVER

I'm on a week's vacation.  This is the best vacation I've **ever** had!!! (!!!!!) (!!!!!!!)

It started out unpromising, in that last Friday was supposed to be my last day at work:  I just had two tasks to wrap up -- tasks that I really couldn't delegate.  However, Friday morning I was given two new tasks, that needed to be completed "sometime next week" -- while I was on vacation. 

So, instead of spending Friday wrapping up my two existing tasks, I ended up spending all day working on my new tasks. 

Since I didn't have any specific plans (e.g. a family road trip) for my holidays, I ended up deciding to come in on Monday, as well.  I ended up finishing all but one of my now-four tasks -- and the person to whom I owed the fourth task said that it could wait until I got back from holidays.

So!  Vacation started Tuesday.  It is now Friday evening.  Each day I've spent at least a half a day in the shop, working on my "swamp guitar" (it's like a cigar box guitar; more info when I finish it). 

When it gets too dark to do woodworking in my workshop (no electricity), I go outside and clean up small sections of the back yard:  clearing things out of the way and mowing the long grass that remains.

Today I managed to spend the whole day in the shop.  I reached a "gluing point" -- when I glue a section of a project I'm basically stuck until the next day -- so I turned my attention to two other projects:  a tool caddy (photos when I'm finished), and the Bretz Steps (free-standing steps, three steps high, for the back years -- for exercising). 

Today, as well as the other days, I also spent a little time clearing off parts of my cluttered workbench, as well as lapping (flattening a surface) and sharpening some chisels and handplane blades (i.e. making second-hand chisels and handplanes better).

Picked up a 300 grit Japanese waterstone a few days ago, to make lapping my blades easier.  This is the coarsest, fasting-cutting sharpening surface that the speciality woodworking store sells -- as far as I know.  It seems to work:  I'm wearing down -- and therefore evening out -- the backs of my blades noticeably faster than with my previous gear.

And!  I'm only halfway through my vacation.  So hopefully I will actually finish my swamp guitar -- rather than have yet another partially-finished woodworking project.

Stay tuned.  :)


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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Flatten with a stone

In general, I use the "sandpaper on a flat surface" method to lap my handplane soles and chisel backs.  However, even the coarsest grit of sandpaper can take an awful long time to flatten the back of a blade, if it's out-of-flat enough.

Based on some advice I'd gained from the woodworking e-list that I follow, I picked up the coarsest grit Japanese waterstone.  The thing about waterstones, apparently, is that they "cut" faster than oilstones, diamond stones, and sandpaper -- because they're continually showing fresh, sharp surfaces.

The corresponding disadvantage is that you end up with a lot of slurry -- the cast-off sharpening particles mixed with the lubricant (the water).  But that's OK, if it gets the job done.

So, as I said, I picked up a 300 grit waterstone.  Seems to work.  Above is a snapshot of the back of my larger morticing chisel, polished to near-mirror smoothness -- at least, the important end.

Similarly,he's a shot of a smaller chisel -- also super-shiny.  And again, note the contrast of the shiny section to the "old" section near my thumb.

The point (pun unintended) of sharpening a chisel (or handplane blade) to such smoothness is that it provides a sharper edge:  If the two intersecting surfaces -- which meet to form the cutting edge -- are this shiny, this indicates that the microscopic cutting edge will be smooth, rather than jagged and rounded over.

A super-sharp blade then means that you can actually slice the wood fibres, rather than plowing through them and breaking them.  This, in turn, leads to cleaner results.


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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Scavenged wood

On Sunday afternoon we went to a barbeque hosted by one of The Lady's co-workers.  I noticed a small pile of wood that was lying on the ground next to his garbage can.

I finally figured out a (hopefully) diplomatic way of asking whether he was throwing away the wood -- and if he was, perhaps I could have it?  He was (or rather, he was just going to burn it as scrap) -- and yes, I could.

Above is the "before" picture.  After we got home I couldn't help but spread the wood out to assess the situation.  As you can see, it appears to have been some sort of packing framework -- maybe from some appliance?  Various staples and nails are holding many of the pieces together:  they need removing.

This next shot shows four additional pieces.  Luckily, they don't have any nails for me to remove.

Here's the "after" picture:  I spent maybe a half hour (I forgot to keep track) that evening, removing the staples and nails.  In the photo, I've laid out some of the tools from my nail-removing kit, which I used for this session.  Yes, I have a dedicated kit, collected in a tool tote, for removing nails from pallets and such. 

This kit includes nail-sets and a hefty hammer (for driving nails back out of the hole), a "cat's paw" prybar for getting between pieces and prying them apart; and a pair of pliers to straighten bent-over nails, so that I can drive them back out; I also sometime hold the nail with the pliers, during the "driving out", to provide some extra rigidity, so the nail doesn't collapse.

Oh:  and a crummy margerine tub, for holding the discarded, bent nails.

As you can see, it's a pretty decent haul of wood for "free" -- if you disregard my labor.  I have a few ideas for what I'll build from at least some of this wood -- although it'll have to join the queue:  I have a backlog of projects (which I guess means that I won't get bored!).

Four of the pieces of wood got damaged in the process of separating them.  So today I glued them back together.

Then -- as usual -- I labelled each piece with the source (i.e. "the guy's house") and the date I got them.  I just wrote directly on them with a permanent marker.

As I think I've mentioned, I generally try to make my projects out of pieces from the same source.  Part of the design -- and engineering -- challenge, for me, is to figure out how to accomplish my design goals while using the available materials.


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