Tom Murphy VII Some epically self-flagellative running is called for this weekend, so I'm hoping for a particularly grotesque wintry mix... 6 years ago · Comment
p a c t o m
Pac Tom update: Polar adventures in data visualization
(19 Feb 2011 at 23:57)
For those just joining us, Pac Tom is my now 4½-year project to run the length of every street in Pittsburgh. This update is about a new visualization of the GPS data I collect as part of the project. Behold the most radar-like image ever posted on Tom 7 Radar:
radial.pdf - click to have your face blasted with maths
I'd like to think that my data visualization experiments are self-explanatory, but this one does not have the ability to write or talk so I will do the needful. Each one of the orange lines is a Pac Tom running trip (now a slot-jackpotting 222 of them). The squiggles always start at angle 0, corresponding to 0 miles. They proceed around the radar circle clockwise according to how many Tom-sneaker miles the trip is, with a full revolution being 32 miles. At every point their distance from the center is based on the number of crow-flying miles that I am away from my home, with the outermost circle being 8 miles. Red dot emphasizes the end point. I hope that you appreciate the radial and angular gradations because those were fiddly to make in SVG, particularly the labels.
What can we tell from the graphic? Well, most trips start and end at home. This is obvious from The Rules, which require it. You can see that a bunch of them end about the same distance away; these are all me fizzling out at CMU's campus, where water and HVAC are plentiful, or sometimes where I used to leave my junk. You can also see that there's some consistency to the specifics of the routes both at the beginnings and end (like if you look at those 15–20 mile ones that end at CMU, you see the same jog patterns leading up to those ends, which is me taking the same turn on the way back). There's even a more bold orange laser at the beginning, which basically corresponds to me taking any efficient route away from my house, regardless of where I'm going (it is roughly an Archimedian spiral, where after 5 miles of running I'm about 5 miles away from my house). The most interesting thing to me is that there really is a characteristic shape of a Pac Tom run when plotted this way. A typical runner's route (out and back) would be a prolate ellipsis, actually maybe more like a vesica piscis if the runner gets to the summit overlook or no tresspassing sign or whatever and turns right around. My shorter earlydays runs, which are hard to see because they're all bunched up on top of one another in the South-East octant, are kind of like that actually. But the canonical Pac Tom run now is obovate like a ginkgo leaf, where I run away from home then zig-zag back and forth for many miles, creating the tiny leaf teeth at approximately the same distance, then run back home. There's not even any reason why these would have to be leaf-shaped at all; you can see the few Pittsburgh Marathons in there (those count), which are more like abortive Spirographs.
I had appendix surgery (meaning they just cut it out and threw it in the biohazard) in September and then a work crunch that disrupted my running for a while, but I'm now back to it. I'm getting in decent shape again for the marathon, which I am excited about mostly because of the costume plans. I just polished off large distant neighborhoods Sheraden and Elliott (after a fairly heartbreaking trip where I thought I had at great effort finished, but had missed a tiny 50-foot segment, so I had to go many miles out of my way to get that one yesterday, in really OCD-affirming style. Having done that is actually one of the diagnostic criteria in DSM VII.) and the remaining cleanup to do on the South Side is pretty light and much closer to my home. I think I can be done with those with maybe two months of regular running, and maybe even finish the North Side, which is all that's left, by the end of 2011? 4500 miles in 27 days 15 hours of running, so far. You may track my progress via the graphics at the Pac Tom ultimate cybersite.
Tom Murphy VII In the third or fourth hour of running I sometimes have difficulty having complex thoughts. For example today I was thinking about the following for about 45 minutes: How can Scrooge McDuck dive into all those coins, for real? 6 years ago · Comment
Tom Murphy VII FYI, today's date (2-10-11) in the US is the same as the combination to the Addams Family vault (eyes, fingers, toes). Why do I remember this? 6 years ago · Comment
Tom Murphy VII Manic phase! "Cleaned" my room and my Facebook requests inbox. If you friended me years ago and I just accepted, sorry that that is weird. If you are some weird junk in my room and I threw you out, I am not sorry because what IS that? 6 years ago · Comment
s k y m a l l
Help science determine: Who is the biggest douche in Skymall?
(07 Feb 2011 at 14:47)
In that Luddite void between closing the cabin doors and the beep indicating it is now safe to use approved electronic devices, there is one perfect pleasure: The Skymall catalog. It has everything, including: Pointlessly impractical products you cringe at just imagining someone receiving as unwanted gifts at Christmas, copy that preys on the insecurities of business travelers, typo and physically impossible hyperbole treasure hunts galore, Photoshop disasters, new friends, and old familiar faces. But since 1990, science has wondered: Who is the biggest douche in Skymall?
Oh by the way my font is on the cover of the new Of Montreal album
(30 Jan 2011 at 11:31)
The fonts I made in high school and college show up all over. It means that everywhere I go, some part of my brain is continuously devoted to recognizing these guys anywhere that words appear, sort of like scanning for long missing children in every crowd. Some of my friends have become similarly afflicted, e.g. Nels who spotted them up on the jumbotron and now on the back cover of the new Of Montreal album False Priest:
What's exciting about this is that this is a band I really like, a quality of a sighting perhaps only matched by Tombats on Adult Swim. This particular design is in the genre "Circus of Bad Typography", though I think it fits in quite well with the artwork, which I like a lot. Mine is the first font up there; I like to think that the designer started by replacing Default Font with mine, and then was inspired like Oh yeah, now I just need to find twelve more amateurish sharewares to complete the look. Though if I were able to pick which song to render in my font, it would be Enemy Gene, Sex Karma, Famine Affair, or Around the Way. Maybe Casualty Of You, though that one seems too uncomfortably scooped by Jeff Buckley's 'So Real' to get my full endorsement. The whole album is quite good, I recommend it.
Also bonus nearby photo on my phone, this more average sighting of AJ on a budget toy in Target:
Tom Murphy VII Today's most difficult challenge: don't find out anything about the outcome of the Steelers game until I can watch it in a time capsule in Zurich. PIT → PHL → ZRH. 6 years ago · Comment
p e r s o n a l
Bakery Square, audio edition
(23 Jan 2011 at 12:20)
This weekend I finally recorded this song that I wrote for our inaugural open mic at our new office, called Bakery Square. It's a rare Tom 7 song that I don't record under time constraints. I couldn't decide if it would be techno mix or acousic version or electric rock, so it is all three. Cover art:
The lyrics here may be unpenetrable. Hints: We used to be in a building called CIC, and the office was officially known as PIT-CMU. The new one is called PIT-BAK but there was a short-lived passive-aggressive sign campaign (ineffective like all such signs) to rename it to PIT-BSQ I guess because it is a much more valuable word in Scrabble. The cubicles in this place are actually hexagonal, as illustrated above. The rest I guess will remain like some amusing memo to myself, which is how I like it.
Also, go Steelers!, who have their championship game tonight. Speaking of can't decide between techno and folk, here again is my old official folk version of unofficial Steelers song, and also the techno version, now quite amusingly out of date with respect to personnel and number of fingers in need of rings. Very sadly (to me), I will be on a redeye to Zurich for the entirety of the game, a champyinz-strength scheduling blunder.