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Messages - bluefoxicy

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The Pub / Go
« on: November 01, 2010, 10:44:21 AM »
This comes up a lot with me lately so I'll post a separate thread.

I play Go.

(My first game against a human, physically, with a tournament-grade set)

The de-facto English text is Janice Kim's Learn to Play Go series, which contains 5 books of about $15 each.  Read, play, read, play.... Also the Internet Go Server is the place to go to play Go; brush up against the computer for 3 or 4 games maybe, but it is stupid and erratic and nothing like a human.  You're better losing your first 50 games against 17 kyu players than winning against the computer; you learn more.  As O-Sensei said, failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.

For reasons that are difficult to explain, Go relates to just about everything in life.  Primarily, Go teaches balance and judgment; although I find that it also brings some recognition skills with it, for example the same mental process used to examine a Go position are used to correctly interpret an analog clock (something else I taught myself recently).  Go teaches you how to run armies; how to manage a team or a business; how to have a relationship.  The playing of Go is a form of meditation:  eventually you realize your opponent and his likely mistakes don't exist, and you are simply playing the game rather than playing against a person; you stop considering plays that serve no purpose except to grasp on the hope that your opponent will be mislead to a mistake.

In more concrete terms, Go is a simple game.  Black plays first.  Each player alternates placing a stone on one of the intersections on the board.  Each open space directly connected to the stones (in 4 directions) is a liberty; friendly stones on each others' liberties become groups.  By placing a stone on every liberty of an opponent's group, you reduce the group to zero liberties (of course); at this point, you capture that group.  The goal of Go is to surround territory, i.e. unoccupied points on the board that cannot be taken.

The simple implications of this are that capturing destroys territory, and invading destroys territory.  A group of stones that can be made impossible to capture, even supplying just two points of territory, may represent ten or fifteen or thirty points in your opponent's territory that no longer belong to him.

Further, captured stones each count as one territory point; and stones that cannot avoid capture in ANY sequence of play are counted as dead, and captured when the game ends automatically.  As a result, any struggling (playing on dead stones that cannot evade capture) supplies as many extra points as territory reduced if each play gets a response; if the stones are ignored because they CANNOT form life, they become easier to capture and hand over free points.  Likewise, playing out a capture sequence needlessly when the other player is not struggling actually reduces territory, lowering your score.  Thus dead stones are best ignored.

It's noticeable that, within these rules, it is possible to win without capturing anything at all.  The function of capturing serves to erase the points lost by territory invasion; just as the creation of life often reduces your opponent's territory more than it raises your own, since it takes at a minimum 10 stones to make 2 points of territory in the center (total reducing opponent territory by at least 12, and often more), or 6 in the corner to reduce by 8.  Of course, as your opponent loses 12 points and you gain 2, this is effectively worth a 14 point gain.

Built on the simplest rules is one of the most complex games possible.  The playing of Go is affected by microstrategy and macrostrategy; an indefensible position on the board can often be abandoned to play elsewhere, resulting in a situation where your small loss as the opponent destroys that claim results in your greater claim of a larger part of the board by growing influence.  Thus when you abandon a difficult or effectively lost area early, you force your opponent to follow; when you return to this area later, your influence may have increased such that you can now leverage other stones that happen to be nearby to claim part or all of the previously lost area.  All of these considerations have to be made at all times; as such, play early on can affect the outcome hundreds of moves later.

The strangest part of Go, to me, is that the standard and typical way to improve is to read books on strategy; to study life and death problems; to have a teacher; and to play games.  This helps me, of course; but I find that my greatest single advances come from the meditation on what Go means.  Consider several examples in following.

Understanding that successful invasion gains little but costs your opponent much has applications far reaching in life... and in Go.  In Go, a successful invasion might gain me 2 points.  Perhaps my opponent will irritate me so much in the struggle for life that I create a huge, filled-in blob where I might have created 10 or 15 points of territory.  No matter:  he has lost 30 points, and I have gained 2.  If he had lost 15 points and I gained 10, this would be less beneficial to me.  In life, anything you do may provide you no tangible benefit; but it may put you in a greater, secure position for benefit later, or simply prevent antagonization effects (such as your opponent having such a damn high score) that would keep you from prosperity.

Understanding that an area of territory conceded to your opponent will be reduced by the cost of a failed invasion means the same in life as in Go:  to try and fail is no worse than to not try.  In Go, your opponent loses 10 points playing to trap and kill your invasion; but he gains 10 points by capture, totaling no harm or gain for you to make the attempt.  More importantly is the impact on your opponent's influence, a secondary effect:  if your borders aren't secured around the site of hostilities, you may give your opponent a strong base to attack from.  Knowing when to take risks and how to mitigate them is important in life and Go.  Mitigated risks are worth taking; foolish and uncontrolled struggles simply bring more and more constriction around you, boxing you in as your opponent's territory expands (or as your life problems grow).

And also it is good to be mindful of the impact of future events.  As I said, local play may prove difficult or impossible; at the very least it can prove wasteful and ungainful.  Perhaps you can prevent your opponent from gaining territory, but you will gain no territory either.  Perhaps a play elsewhere will eventually bring a position by which your influence can solidify your control over an area, now making territory or at least life where none could be made before.  In life, there are many situations where your struggles bear no fruit and your goals are unattainable; abandoning them now does not mean you cannot come back to them later, and indeed later events may unfold to make those struggles fruitful and to wholly accomplish your goals.

I suppose my uncontrolled ravings are beyond ken, difficult to grasp and seemingly disconnected.  After all, I'm talking about putting stones on a piece of wood.  This is a children's game, invented to occupy an unruly and stupid 8 year old; and yet I discuss the deeper implications of life through the game, as if a 4200 year old board game means something other than the confirmation that people were really f##king bored before TV was invented.  But that is how the universe works, isn't it?  Why would it ever be obvious?  We can't even figure out exactly why stuff falls down....

All Things Food / Re: Lunch time
« on: November 01, 2010, 09:58:51 AM »
Do the lids lock down in some way? If I used that thing above it would no doubt dump over.

I believe they're traditionally placed in a cotton sack that's tied down.

All Things Food / Re: Fruit... pathetic
« on: November 01, 2010, 09:49:35 AM » are quite the philosopher.

Are you studying or does it just come naturally to you.  :-\

It's both, really.  I know a lot of things but my mind is ... atomic ... often I just say I can speak the language of the universe/existence/gods/whatever.  In some impossible twist, I can think about stuff without language-- which, if you know anything about what language actually does, makes no sense.

The result is I make decisions based on things I'm fully aware of but can't explain or put into words:  I "just know" things, but I can't SAY what I know.  I struggle to explain stuff, or understand things.  This in part makes me an internalized philosopher, like Morihei Ueshiba or Buddha.  I sit around and profess some divinely bestowed "understanding" of things.

This in turn leads me to an unhealthy hunger for information.  This is possible to do beyond the constraints of your health; I've learned to compensate.  At a point I was learning multiple languages at once:  I've retained the codepages and minimal vocabulary, and can order my food in German at the market.  The "Headache" people claim to get is a combination of a sensation of pressure inside the skull (not going out or in, just THERE) and the dire confusion that makes it impossible to relate to reality in any sense except what you've most recently burned your brain out with if you put that much crap in at once.  My frequent relation of reality to Go is more of a philosophical one, and deliberate; but there have been times when I made connections that don't ACTUALLY make sense, they're just craziness.

I've been getting better at this.

To the point, I now target useful knowledge.  My disdain for most common aesthetics here (i.e. room decorations, gaudy frilly crap curtains and bed sheets, "Designer" anything with leopard print etc) also included a distaste for the painfully bland.  This I could not explain until I read a book called Shibumi, which I read because (imagine that) it had a picture of Go on the cover; the concept of Shibumi and Shibui actually matched what I had developed internally as an understanding of beauty.  The book itself contains... a lot of philosophy I was able to assimilate pretty well from the story.  I've also read some stuff about Aikido and its founder, Morihei Ueshiba; a lot of this is telling me things I already knew, but didn't know how to express.  Sometimes I stumble across something that I feel is correct, but hadn't thought of myself before.

So yeah.  I have huge communications issues and I'm crazy.  Go figure.  Anyone worth listening to is probably patently insane, though.

All Things Food / Re: Fruit... pathetic
« on: November 01, 2010, 09:28:07 AM »
It never fails...bluefoxiciy's threads are always entertaining and draw a big crowd.  ;)

I try.  Honest questions are boring... and get one-dimensional answers.  Anything that sparks a long conversation is both entertaining and bound to give a lot more information.

It's like the game of Go.  I can relate the game of Go to everything in life; everything I can't... can be related to Algebra.  The fuzzy stuff is a combination of both I guess.  This is why I tend to claim that all civilized men should study the game of Go; Geometry; and Philosophy.

One can relate the game of Go to asking questions as well.  In Go, you start with an empty board; you play one stone per turn, developing out the vague territory bounds through weak influence.  Eventually, stronger cohesion occurs as stones take more defined shape.  Around the bored, specific life and death situations appear.  Asking a specific question is like placing a shape on the board and asking about the proper play to create or destroy life (black to live, white to kill, etc):  this will teach you things and enhance your grasp of the game, but you really need to play Go to get good at Go.

The study of life and death gives you an understanding of life and death problems; the playing of Go proper teaches you to recognize, create, and prevent life.  It is as such when exploring a hole in a topic you understand:  a more open play draws in more information, building an entire structure instead of yielding a small and specific component.

All Things Food / Re: Fruit... pathetic
« on: November 01, 2010, 09:19:26 AM »
Fruit is good for you in moderation. It has the worst kind of sugar- fructose.

Fructose is one of the healthiest readily digestible sugars. Its instant energy

Ignoring the consistently demonstrated fact that cap is always right, we have two startlingly diverging assertions here.

Other Fermentables / Re: Milk?
« on: October 30, 2010, 07:39:00 PM »
It tastes very agreeable. Similar to yogurt but perhaps more sour with a little bit of a yeast flavor and bouquet. I dont detect any alcohol at all.

This batch went twenty four hours? I guess I could let it go a few days?

Don't go "A few days," it'll solidify.

Mine manages 2 days at room temp, and if it solidifies I shake it and it liquefies.  In an earlier stage, if it solidified I got cottage cheese (had to WASH it off the kefir grains to recover them, it was HARD!).  So this is different.

Yeah, it's like sour runny yogurt with a slightly different flavor.  Took me a few drinks to recognize the stuff as more than sour milk.  I bought some store-bought kefir which was similar and opened up my palate; this stuff tastes like a GOOD version of that, with more complex backing flavors but essentially the same base.

I'm gonna move up to 1qt mason jars for my batches.  I drink a lot of lassi, but this stuff is good and easier to make.

All Things Food / Re: Fruit... pathetic
« on: October 26, 2010, 06:09:05 AM »

All Things Food / Re: Lunch time
« on: October 25, 2010, 12:48:40 PM »
All sorts of things could go in that Bento-box. How about some crackers with a rich jam, soft cheese and pickled veg to accompany whatever else gets put in there?

Makes my Rubbermade containers look shabby... ;)

I bought it because of the aesthetic; but admittedly, the pair cost $55 (yeah I got two).  High-quality Bento Boxes go for $250+ each; DECENT ones go for $30.  Anywhere below that and you get the most hideous looking garbage, unbelievably gaudy.  That is not the aesthetic I prefer.

Take these $1100 Go bowls, for example:

Or these $80 ones:

Disgraceful.  Far too kitsch for the $80 set; far too noisy for the $1100 set.  Consider the $50 set:

Sure there are some very nice $150 bowls-- favorably to me, Kaya:

But the $50 Jujube bowls are quite shibui.  As would be this room if those cushions were less gaudy:

A good set of Bento Boxes might cost a bit more than a Rubbermaid set; but it's more the aesthetic than the price.  It is calming to the mind; in fact this is exactly what set my mind in the proper state to envision something more complex than stir fry or a ham sandwich as lunch.  I suppose it is a disability that I couldn't envision anything beautiful to complement a $2 blue plastic Tupperware TV tray.

But don't we even go so far as to control the color and even the clarity of the beer we brew?  Not just to make it light/dark and arbitrarily clear; but to make certain styles cloudy to compliment the stylistic color and traditional serving glass shape, and other styles crystal clear but darker and even more carbonated for an aesthetic change.

Hmm... crackers... hard tac or saltine?  Soft cheese... pickled vegetables I can live without.  A pickled beet egg maybe, or brown pickled eggs (malt vinegar) depending on aesthetic and flavor profile compliments (those English malt eggs can kick your ass if made strong and hot).

It's funny, people tell me pickled eggs last 2-3 weeks... but I actually age the damn things for 4-6 months before eating them.  Maybe I'll make some red beet eggs.

All Things Food / Re: Lunch time
« on: October 25, 2010, 10:32:05 AM »
Lots of fruit....

Grapes and fruit chunks obviously pack together, but what else serves cold?  Cheese cubes, seaweed salad I covered.  Meat is hard (I mean, sea food maybe; I like sea food), hence the sushi.  Rice is excellent.

Sticking a baloney sandwich in the fridge has gone out of style.

All Things Food / Lunch time
« on: October 25, 2010, 09:51:20 AM »
So I've acquired

and I'm considering

for packed lunch at work.  This involves some steamed white rice, seaweed flat stuff, maybe I can make some sushi with avacado and fresh vacuum sealed cold salmon (ready to eat raw is available, actually).  A couple cheese cubes would also supply decent protein intake.  Seaweed salad would also go nicely in there somewhere, and I can always pack in a Kiwi although the occasional overripe persimmon or some black figs would be a boon.  Perhaps a lemon or lime and some crab meat or a crab claw (like in the picture; these are fine chilled), served of course with a

of green tea with a little honey.  (I keep a 20oz Rikyu tetsubin at my desk)

I think the whole thing is quite shibui; and seaweed wrapped rice could easily become a staple for me.

Thoughts for small pieces of food to pack together?

All Things Food / Re: Fruit... pathetic
« on: October 25, 2010, 09:21:13 AM »
My mother always used to say...Bacon, Eggs and Sunshine is what keeps us healthy.

Evil.  Day.  Star.

All Things Food / Fruit... pathetic
« on: October 25, 2010, 08:50:01 AM »
Too much meat blahblah you should have fruit in your diet yada yada...


If you eat it (raw), it contains an enzyme that breaks down meat.

So, if you eat this fruit, it helps you eat more meat.

....... pathetic.  All fruit has to offer in the argument that you should eat more fruit instead of just meat is that it allows you to eat more meat.  Truly a piteous food that cannot justify its own existence and must instead rely on the prospect of increased consumption of bacon and ribs.

Other Fermentables / Re: Milk?
« on: October 13, 2010, 07:37:20 PM »
Hmm, I thought I got the same ones you did from the Real man Genius. Oh well. Ill try these first.

Yeah, that's what I got.  There's a set on there cheap that says "ORGANIC KEFIR GRAINS!!!!" and all and they're rarely alive; but the ones from RMG were minimal (seriously, dust sized man) but they grew RAPIDLY.

Other Fermentables / Re: Milk?
« on: October 13, 2010, 06:51:50 PM »
I want to get some of this going this winter, I might as well ferment other stuff, maybe charcuterie too.

I dont get to brew enough cause truth is, I dont drink that much. How do some of you guys consume all of the beer you brew?


I drank enough to puke once, last time I wanted to see what would happen if I drank a lot.  (Answer:  I puked.)

Normally I don't drink much at all.  I have Dow's Tawny Port here, 2/3 full that I opened SUNDAY.

Cap, move into an apartment.  Then you can bang on random neighbors' doors with 5 gallons of beer in tow.  "I heard there was a party here."  ".... uh.  There is now.  Who are you?"

When I got the "Organic" ones they wouldn't revive.  The other ones I got came from a Kefir enthusiast (he ships a bunch of literature with the amazon order) and worked out.  I let them sit too long in the last batch of milk and just had to wash a bunch of cottage cheese off the grains ~_~  But holy crap I have like a tablespoon of grains in there.

Other Fermentables / Re: Milk?
« on: October 11, 2010, 03:55:18 PM »
So Blue, where did you get your kefir grains?  

Amazon.  Real-man-of-genius.

Does the milk have to be raw?  

Blue when you say whole milk do you mean that it has not yet been homogenized?

No, the milk is flash-pasteurized.  TSC doesn't use any antibiotics (on healthy animals at least) or growth hormones, and pasture-grazes their cows.  Pasteurization is done by raising to 145 degrees and then crash cooling, so the milk is thicker and creamier due to less protein denaturing.

Whole milk is whole milk.  "Cream Line" whole milk is non-homogenized.

Or BFI would probably have some to share with you in about a week or two - they multiply like crazy.

My sample was dust sized.  In 4 days (2 x 1/4 cup batches) it's become... a quarter teaspoon.  Next week maybe I'll have a tablespoon at this rate, we'll see.

I have to concur, these are growing rather fast.

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