Thursday, August 06, 2009

dog training part 2 and stupidity

So in the thrall of dog training, I dash to a pet supply house to see if they have anything to help in my endeavor. Spying a bag of dog treats (mmm! bacon!) I decide this is just what I need. No price on the 1 lb. bag but the half lb. bag is only $6.99. Surely, it can't be 2 times the price of the half pounder.

I can buy 3 lbs. of good bacon for $10. I mean good bacon. Thick cut, perfect fat and perfect lean. I mean really good bacon.

Plus I'd feel better feeding my dog real, honest, artery clogging stuff. So real bacon it is. It is pretty sad commentary that fake bacon flavored gunk costs more than the real stuff.

raspberry crazy ants

There was a good article on raspberry crazy ants and their effect on honey bees in today's paper. Unfortunately, it is pay only so I'll link to other free-er sources.

Like the fire ant the raspberry crazy ant was discovered in Houston. It was probably imported in soil, wood or other lawn type material.

The ant is prolific and voracious. It will eat and out compete fire ants. I'm glad of that. There was a time you could spread a blanket on the ground where I grew up and not concern yourself with being eaten by fire ants. No longer. I watched fire ants move through Little Rock in the 90s.

Raspberry crazy ants are problematic though. They eat bee larvae and infest electronics. The have been known, like fire ants, to short out electric motors. They are immune to over the counter ant poisons. They will be a problem for lots of people as they are spreading.

There is a simple solution to the beekeeping problem though. When I first started keeping bees I was worried about fire ants eating my bees. I constructed hive stands out of 2x4s and mounted them on heavy duty galvanized pipe. At each leg I put a small metal coffee can half filled with water and a layer of oil (vegetable or motor oil) so that the legs of the stand sat in the water/oil filled can. No problems.

Monday, August 03, 2009

nicely designed bike

but poorly designed page...

This bike is almost everything a bike should be. I love the integrated blinkers. I wish they were powered by a dynamo though. And the pedal cages. Beautiful!

I'm not sure why you would design a bike this cool and then put it on a flash based page. I'm not sure what flash is supposed to offer here. It doesn't make it easier to navigate. In fact it replicates the old medium of paper.

But, man, I love this bike.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

speed reading mark 2

I have always been a fast reader but want to improve my reading skills as well. I stumbled upon an article by Tim Ferriss that purported to do just that. So after reading it and practicing the methodology described I was able to increase my reading speed dramatically. It also feels as though my retention has improved as well.

The gist of the program is this: our eyes often reread lines we have read already in an involuntary reaction. Train your eyes to not go reread by following a marker; your finger or a pencil.

The next step is to train your eyes to make better use of your peripheral vision by starting with your marker up to four words into the line and finishing with your marker four words from the end. During these exercises I realized I had taught myself how to do this naturally.

I still saw significant improvement in my words-per-minute count after 20 minutes of practicing these techniques.

Original WPM Count:
408 WPM

Post practice (using my finger as a marker):
720 WPM

Post practice (using no marker):
684 WPM

I don't think that I will use a marker as the sound of my finger sliding across the page is somewhat disturbing. And I don't think I'll always read at this speed. I find reading to be a very sensual experience; from the smell of the pages to my gaze sliding over the shapes of the letters. Reading can (and in some cases I'd argue should be) a slow, almost lazy process. One that is full of expectation and surprise. One that builds slowly to a crescendo. Heaving, tossed with passion until torrents of words, thoughts and ideas come gushing forth in waves...

Wait, where was I?

It is nice to have the option to accelerate the process if needed though.

record labels and money making

Here is a novel concept: Record companies making money by allowing youtube users to use their songs in videos.

Everyone has seen the "JK Wedding entrance" dance but did you know that according to several metrics, Chris Brown's single is being bought frequently by viewers of the dance intro. Rather than squelching the use of the song (which lots of labels do, ahem, Universal) Zomba is using the video to actually sell its music! Amazing!

Not only does this show good sense on the part of Zomba's executives but implies a revitalization of an dying industry. Stockholders in Zomba should be very, very pleased.

dog training part 1 continued

Basically the way I understand Andrea Arden is this.

Pick a simple behavior that you want to reinforce.
1. When the dog does the behavior reward the dog. Often.
2. After you are sure the dog will do the behavior without prompting then name it e.g. sit, lay, come etc.
3. Keep rewarding.
4. Taper off the reward by switching hands. Then random hands (even other people's hands). Then completely quit.

It is a simple system and it is definitely working for Preston thus far.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

speed reading

I was reading Tim Ferris' post on speed reading today. I can't wait to try this technique out. I already read quickly but I don't know exactly how fast.

This exercise should should me how fast I am currently reading and, hopefully, improve my ability. We shall see.

dog training part 1

I recently checked out Dog Friendly Dog Training by Andrea Arden at the local library. I wanted to harness my full grown dogs energy and turn it into something useful for both of us. He is, by nature, a dog that wants to please and he seems to have taken to his training really well.

The gist of this book is to reward good behavior not punish bad behavior. So we started with sit. The idea is to have treats ready and when the dog inadvertently does the behavior you want then you reward him. So after a few minutes Preston got bored and sat. He gets a treat followed by a 'yes' voiced response. I step away and he gets up to do the process again. We worked through the handful of treats I had in short order.

The next day I started to add a voice command of 'sit.' Now he sits on command. The day following I started to make him wait for his treat until I give the 'okay' verbal release.

I am probably going a bit fast and will grow to regret it but he was sitting on command, to some extent, before I started this training regimen. But now, and this is the kicker, he sits on command and I can walk away and then give him the 'okay' release and he comes running.

I think as I do this I'm going to write down kind of a recipe book for this process. For me it is easier to follow a list of instructions and then gather the meaning behind the instructions later. Let me know what you think in the comments below...