Saturday, 19 May 2012

... Spock Lizard

People just aren't good enough at being random to play Rock Paper Scissors*.

Most people play Rock first - in fact, most people play rock 36% of the time (compared to 30% paper. The psychology behind that may be laughable, but the maths is fun). Unless, of course, they watch QI, in which case they know that most people play rock too much, so they play paper. Although if they know that you know that they watch QI, they'll expect you to expect them to play paper, so they'll think you'll play scissors. So they'll play rock...

Anyway, regardless of attempted tactics, in any game like this people will unwittingly form patterns. The human brain is hot wired to see and make patterns everywhere; it' an evolutionary thing, apparently our ancestors didn't play a lot of RPS. This results in a species where individuals use the same opening gambit nearly all the time, or tend to play the symbols in the same order, or they still think that playing the same symbol twice in a row will be unexpected. So if you happen to know that individual, they will become predictable. 

Throwing Spock Lizard into the mix doesn't help with that - it just takes a little longer to figure out a partner's patterns. But it does lessen the chance of ties. And, most importantly, it encourages dinosaur impressions.


* The Japanese version is called Chief of the village, Tiger, Mother of chief of the village. Catchy, huh?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

One More Vodka Cranberry

So, a few of my friends are lenders over at Kiva. They were discussing it recently, and one turned to ask me if I were a lender.
My reaction was predictably defensive. I do give to charity - both in time and money - but I don't earn a lot so I don't give a lot either. No one was trying to force me, it was a friendly enquiry, yet I felt guilty.

I thought about that.
I thought about the fact that I can take weekends away in hotels, or buy tickets to shows. I can be educated to degree level, then change my mind and do another degree in a whole new subject area. I can buy books, or go out for dinner, or pick up nonsense presents for the boy, or make a million other frivolous and not so frivolous purchases. Sure, I have to think about those purchases; I can't buy all the things I want, I have to budget monthly to keep a roof over my head. But, essentially I know that I can decide to stay in the pub for another rum if I want to.
Not everyone has that luxury.

And so I thought, sure, I give to charity - mostly to causes that have had an impact on my life or my families life - arts education for young people, Alzheimer's research and mental health support services. But, well, why not give a little more? I can manage it, I'll just have to cut back on my weekly purchase of Kinder Eggs.

So, these things in mind, I decided to become a Kiva Lender. I am pledging to myself, and to you out there in blogoland, that for every frivolous shoe purchase I make, I will also make a loan to someone somewhere around the world who doesn't have access to the things I take for granted.

The Ironfist zombie stilettos I brought at the beginning of April helped fund purchase of wool by Vicencia, a Bolivian lady who wants to start a blanket weaving business.
The Wonder Woman Converse I plan on getting tomorrow will help Dilbar from Tajikistan to buy a digital sewing machine in order to expand her embroidery business.

Pretty cool, huh? Cooler still, once those loans are repaid, I can just send the money out again to help someone else.
These people could have been my friends - members of my craft group maybe - had the circumstances of our births been a little different. And I'd like to think, had I not had all the opportunities I do, someone somewhere might be willing to help me buy the maths textbooks I seem to enjoy smacking my head against.
Noods x

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty

There is something eternally appealing about a creature to whom the epitome of paradise is falling asleep on your head. It is one of my favourite things, to wake up and find myself wearing a purring cat-hat. It almost makes up for the times I get woken up by a whining ball of breakfast-demeaning grump who doesn't appreciate that 6AM is not a time to expect Whiskers by waitress service.

My little fleece 'n felt kitties are full of rice, so can be microwaved and popped in pockets as purrfect* handwarmers - just what this beautiful English Spring weather demands...

*I am so sorry.