IRON NODER: This Iron Noder challenge has been amazing. Thank you, Aerobe, for inspiring and leading, and for The Custodian, who got me to write that first node and break down the wall of resistance to writing I've had for so long.

It seems like a very long freight train, this list of nodes I want to write. Some are quite involved. All of the geometry nodes are interlocked, and I am finding that I can't write one without wanting to write (or improve) others.

All the while I'm writing these nodes, I'm filling out a notebook full of math formulas on geometry. It's lovely writing with a fountain pen in a book with real paper. Sketches are done in pencil and in a four color pen. Mathematics is indescribably beautiful. Formulae are beautiful. The artwork has to be beautiful too.

RUNNING: Sometimes I'll write for a few hours and then have to go running. The run is usually an hour or so. Some days I'm slow, and some days I feel like I'm moving pretty fast. The main thing to beat is boredom. I listen to podcasts for music by Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Armin van Buuren (techno and electronica - helps the running pace), and also podcasts by Nature magazine and NPR.

The other day I ran to Reston Town Center here in Reston, VA, and the middle of the town center was crowded with runners. I used to be self-conscious about my appearance around runners. I was noticeably heavier than everyone else. Now I look like one of them. The Fairfax County fire department was sponsoring a Nearly Naked run so that the runners could show off some skin. It was a benefit run for burn victims. The idea was that we would celebrate the skin we take for granted, when burn victims don't take their skin for granted any more. It was a great idea, and there were nearly as many onlookers as there were runners. A lot of buff firemen there. The ladies seemed to like that.

The course was only a mile. The nice thing about this race was that it was in its first year, and the organization was loose. The run was timed - a big digital clock was above the start/finish pylon. I'd wanted to time myself for a while to see if my pace, that I thought was getting faster as I was losing weight, was real, or if it was a figment of my imagination. I'd run three miles before this race, but that wasn't especially tiring. It was a good warm-up.

I deadheaded behind the runners who had actually paid money to do the race. When the race started, it only took 15 seconds to get to the start pylon. (Marathons typically have so many people that it takes an average runner four or five minutes to cross the starting line.) And then we were running.

It felt good for the first half mile, and then I sucked wind pretty badly. Everything started cramping up: thighs, shoulders, calves. Ugh. I kept thinking of my friend Lesley, who was also getting into running shape, who was posting some pretty good times - 8:30 to 8 minute miles, and I wondered if I was even in her league. (Her response: "BOO fuckin YA on the 8:30 mile!!! Sweet!!" Gotta love a chick who talks like that.)

It's kind of hard to run with a dog on the leash, but the dog kept up, and although we couldn't pass very well because she tended to run around one side of a runner while I went the other way, we did pass a few people. I wound up crossing the finish line in 8:30. Everything hurt at the end, but it was a pretty good time for me. I ran a marathon in 1999 with 12 minute miles. Ha ha ha. (Yeah, that sucks!) So this was an improvement.

I keep thinking of my ultramarathon friend Gena, who complains of having added a few pounds, but then runs a marathon without training. She seems to run at between 8 and 8 1/2 minutes/mile. And she has no trouble running with her pit bull half-breed. When she goes out for two hours, she sometimes comes home disappointed that her dog can't keep up. What a woman. Dear god. I wonder if I will ever have one tenth the endurance she has.

BONKING: Still had to run home, which was no fun. That was the closest I've ever come to truly bonking. I'd hit that hypoglycemic point and had no energy left. Got home and almost passed out until I got some lemonade down.

Went out to dinner that night, back aching and legs stiff. That was one date I maybe should have cancelled. There were a few times when I had to get up from the table, and the lightheadedness came over me until I braced against the table and could catch my breath. Then we started drinking and laughing, and everything was fine. I've never met a woman who had never gone to bars before. This is definitely a novelty.

WRITING: So here's the list of nodes I'm planning on writing. The ones I've written have little check marks by them. The nodes that are being added to the list seem to be growing faster than the rate at which the nodes are actually getting finished.

In the pipeline, coming soon: angle bisector theorem, cevian, alternate angles theorem, excircle, excenter, geometrical notation, centroid, orthocenter, Euler line, and Malfatti's Right Triangle Problem.

There's another wave of nodes that are getting written, but they need some behind-the-scenes work: the getting-huge barycentric coordinates, the follow-up trilinear coordinates that will be a piece of cake once barycentric coordinates gets finished, radical axis, radical axis for two circles, radical center of three circles (related to excenters and to the Nagel point), power of a point with respect to a circle, and then more triangle centers: Gergonne point, Nagel point, Spieker center, mittelpunkt, Symmedian point (might be a bitch, that one), de Longchamps point, Clawson point, The nine-point circle, and orthic triangle.

It's been fun re-appreciating the old master, Euclid. His brilliance is rising with every day that I learn more modern geometry. It's also been fun catching up on the current edge of modern Euclidean geometry. Mathematicians like Clark Kimberling, Paul Yiu, Alexander Bogomolny, Jim Loy, the late Steve Sigur, John Horton Conway (he seems to be everywhere in mathematics today, the Poincare of our day). Computers are having a huge impact in the way mathematicians work and 'see' geometric relationships. Java applets embedded on Web pages can help you see things in a moment that you would have spent days figuring out with pencil and paper. Software such as Geometer's Sketchpad, Cabri, and Cinderella are revolutionizing mathematics and education. (I know, I know - I haven't written these nodes yet.... soon, I promise!)

All of this may seem pointless to others, but not to me. If there's one feeling that dominates all others is that this will make me a better engineer, and will be better able to help me teach other engineers. I do a lot of work with orbital mechanics of satellites and the communications links that connect satellites and ground terminals, and link budgets are just a whole lot of geometry. I have always tried to condense down some of the more gruesome formulae to things that are elegant, that even managers can appreciate. And now it's that time of life where younger engineers want to learn the tricks, so they want to be taught these things. I think this will help them to understand concepts like slant range equations, area in view, the area of overlapping circles (coverage of multiple spacecraft for the same spot on the ground), and so on.

The business of communications links is trickier. Once the nodes for geometry are fully developed, then I can move back into the field I really know, which is communications engineering. The mathematics of modulation and coding is pretty arcane. That is one branch of mathematics that's not so pretty, not so easy to understand, and not so easy to teach others. That will be next. I'm going to see how simple I can make it. My high school buddy Jim has been pressing me for an as-simple-as-possible explanation for Claude Shannon's extremely cool 1948 papers, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication," and the companion piece, "Communication in the Presence of Noise." That will be a challenge.

THE IRON NODER CHALLENGE 4: FERRASSIC PARK

Day:            15
Nodes written:  18

  1. Electrical Engineering & Communications Theory
    1. Radio Direction Finding
  2. Geometry Series
    1. Polya's Ten Commandments for Mathematics Teachers
    2. incenter
    3. incircle
    4. circumcenter
    5. circumcircle
    6. A circle is defined by three points
  3. Science in the news: New elements
    1. darmstadtium
    2. roentgenium
    3. copernicium
    4. island of stability
  4. Geometry Series
    1. Perspector
    2. Encyclopedia of Triangle Centers
    3. Semiperimeter
    4. Menelaus
    5. Giovanni Ceva
    6. Stewart's Theorem
    7. Angle Bisector Theorem
    8. Cevian
    9. Geometric Notation
    10. Excenter
    11. Excircle
    12. centroid
    13. orthocenter
    14. Gergonne point
    15. Nagel point
    16. Euler's Line
    17. Trilinear Coordinates
    18. Barycentric Coordinates
    19. Alternate Angles Theorem
    20. Test for Collinearity
    21. Test for Point Inside Triangle
    22. Confessions of A Geometry Addict
    23. Triangle and Circle Geometry
    24. Triangle and Circle Geometry - Problem Set
    25. Triangle and Circle Geometry - Solution
    26. Steiner Ellipse
    27. Coordinates of the intersection of Two Lines
    28. Coordinates of the Intersection of a Line Fit Through a Point, and a Tangent to a Circle
    29. Equation of a Line Normal to a Line and a Point
    30. Geometer's Sketchpad
    31. Cabri - Interactive Geometry Software
    32. Cinderella - Interactive Geometry Software
    33. Cut the Knot
  5. Electrical Engineering & Communications Theory
    1. spread spectrum
    2. (noise stuff)
    3. The kTB Noise Floor
    4. Link Budget for Geostationary Communications Satellites
    5. Link Budget for LEO Satellites
    6. (Shannon bound)
    7. (coding gain)
    8. Claude Shannon
    9. Andrew J. Viterbi
  6. Reading
    1. Madame Bovary
    2. (Great Books reading list)
  7. General Math Topics
    1. Frank Ramsey
    2. Ramsey Theory
    3. geometric mean
  8. Chinese Space Program
  9. Slice of Life
    1. November 6, 2011 daylog & Iron Noder progress
    2. November 15, 2011 daylog & Iron Noder progress
    3. (Great Books reading list)
    4. (Distance Running Progress)
    5. On being newly thin

A Timeline, In Brief, For My Own Porpoises...

1994: Suicide, strange experience with death, resulting in temporary paralysis and haunting lucid dreams of a beautiful blonde woman in a cabin somewhere in unknown woods asking me to find her. Go where there is no snow, you will know it when you see her, you will have no doubt and the sky will turn to gold

1997: In March I travel to Orlando, Florida to meet up with a woman I met up north in Massachusetts, where I had been living. The first night in Orlando I meet the woman from the dreams waitressing in the restaurant we go to. Upon returning north I am haunted by new dreams. These lucid dreams involve and old man dealing me cards on a table, always three queens in the same order. He tells me this is the pattern I must follow. It is the pattern that has always existed in my life and the one that threw me into such misery that I took my own life. I am now supposed to learn from this pattern and to understand why I always fucked it up in the past.

Later in 1997 I agree to move to Orlando after encountering a woman from New Hampshire I fall madly in love with, and who becomes a temptation not to follow this path to the dream woman. She is a Two Queen. My life's history has always followed this path, a One Queen, who unearths deep and uncharted feelings and inspires me while being unobtainable is given up on as a Two Queen appears and offers me an easy road to what is essentially meaningful physical love. It doesn't last and leaves me lamenting the decision to give up on the quest to reach the One Queen, which prompts a Three Queen to appear and become a true friend who believes in me and ignites my fire to go on.

1998: I discover the restaurant the waitress works in is located on "Golden Sky Lane" and that they broke ground to begin building on the site the day I came back from my death experience. All this works into telling this waitress, now a bartender, the story of how I came to be there. It is clear that she desires my presence, absorbs all that I talk to her about, and I decide to take the story of her own life and try to inspire her to succeed in her quest to finish nursing school and become a nurse.

1999: A Two Queen appears and over time comes to offer herself to me. A love develops that is primarily physical and does not last. She leaves me stating she has too much in her life to be concerned with having someone else in it, telling me she is not going to live to be thirty and must do certain things before then. Around this time my life comes apart and I am not certain there is any reason to go on. A Three Queen appears and reminds me, "If you give up then what are the rest of us supposed to do?" and brings me back to myself. She designates me as "The Dead Guy" and also as "The Jack of Hearts" as her way of interpreting my relationships with the Three Queens.

2001: I get married to a woman who fits no pattern and designate her the only existing Four Queen. For the next two or three years I live a fairly normal life and begin writing about my experiences and expanding upon what they all mean.

2004: A woman I considered my muse, gone from my life completely for a decade, resurfaces and calls me back north, claiming she is now ready to act upon long hidden desires and love. This begins a long down cycle of my life that lasts for seven years, but starts me on a new career track working with teenagers who are mentally ill, emotionally afflicted or developmentally disabled. This becomes my calling and my purpose.

2009: Somehow believing myself invincible I take on more and more responsibility at work and refuse to give up on working with a client who completely frustrates and emotionally unbalances me. I eventually lose it completely and suffer an emotional breakdown that limits my functionality for more than a year. I have considered 2007-2010 to be "The Age of The Monk" as I closed myself off from intimate contact with humans and devote myself to work and to educating myself in a variety of areas.

2010: Moved to North Carolina and started a new job working with psych kids. I continued The Age of The Monk but with a close eye on my own mental health. I seem to be well liked at work, but people are generally curious as to why I avoid any and all involvement with co-workers on a personal level. After a year on the job I start to open myself to certain individuals but maintain my distance. I am determined to avoid the entire Three Queens dynamic.

2011: I cannot resist a beautiful woman with a broken heart. Seeing a co-worker whose life has somehow come crashing down on her I decide I cannot stand by. Almost entirely randomly I ask her if she would like it if I wrote her a passionate love letter each night. She is leaving for another shift in two weeks so I figure for two weeks I can write her something each night that will make her smile or laugh. She says she would like it if I wrote these letters, so I do, and then find myself at a loss for words. How can I write "passionate love letters" to a random person?

I decide to study her and then to write about her kind and giving heart, her great beauty and her sorrow. I pour my heart and soul into the letters, always mixing in some ridiculous humor to take the edge off. She enjoys the letters and looks forward to them every night. I study her more closely, talk with her, come to understand her better as I look into her eyes as she talks and each letter becomes easier to write and also more intense.

I realize something is happening and it is happening to me. The more I study her, the more I come to truly care about her and the more I truly begin to feel something, and the more I write the more of myself I open up. She has done something to me in a way it has never been done before. Tina, the greatest of all past One Queens, appeared in dreams for years and I spent time trying to understand why after I met her. This woman did not appear in dreams and when I first met her she was nothing special to me, especially considering that I had closed myself off to that sort of thing. It became clear what was happening when I woke up in a sweat from sleep before her last night working on our shift, "She's a One."

I'm troubled that she is leaving, although she isn't going very far. Perhaps it is better I will not see her all night long because I am tripping over myself trying to sort out the emotions she is bringing up from deep inside of me. She is unlike any One Queen of the past. It was getting to know her that turned her into a queen, not the appearance of what I thought she might be. And yet like all One Queens she was emotionally unavailable, at times distant, locked in a battle with her own mythology and her own life's miracles and disappointments. I continued to write her occasional letters, including one where I wrote in terrible seriousness about how I felt about her and how I did not want to be another weight in her life. She would say nothing, but continued to seek me out, acting like a giggling schoolgirl when she encountered me, and the dance went on.

I then looked around and saw the pattern. I identified the Two Queen in my midst and the Three Queen as well. I defused the Two Queen situation and then asked the Three to promise to pick me up when I fell and to remind me of who I was. At first she thought I was crazy, but now she understands, as I expected she would as her name is a bizarre misspelling of Tina.

I have regenerated. From 1994-1999 I was known as Magick. From 1999-2007 I was The Dead Guy. From 2007-2011 I was The Monk. And now I am The Doctor, reassigned by the angels of Rancho Nuevo, no longer the Patron Saint of Waitresses and Female Bartenders, but instead the Patron Saint of Cute Nurses. I think Tina would smile at that. Somehow I got her through nursing school, gave her faith, and helped her to overcome her fear of death.

I am restored. The path has returned. This time I will surely screw it up again. And that's okay.

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