A few years ago, I was in an area where white is a serious minority. I wanted to catch a movie. For a hundred miles around, I was part of a tiny minority. In visual range, I was THE white guy.

I walked around the mall a bit, but nothing caught my eye. I went to the box office, and could not get attention. No one would make eye contact with me. I asked for a ticket, and I was told “We don’t have a ticket for you.” Others were getting their tickets, just not me.

Some people would smile, and some would frown. Lots of suspicious looks, but lots of people who just knew I was an outsider, but it did not matter. Fragments of resentment of my outsider money were sprinkled around the edges.

This was temporary. Also, not everywhere was like that.

I got a cab, and went back to my hotel. Taxi driver was social and nice, but he was used to being around every kind if person. A customer is a customer to him.

My favorite food place didn’t care, other than a little squinting when accent differences had to be worked out. Their customers ran the gamut too.

But I got to go back home.

What if every single day was like this How would you react? How long would it take you to snap at someone for mistreating you because you’re an outsider?

Would you yell at someone when you are the only one of “your kind” in a sea of others? Would you feel safe?

What risks do you have in being the outsider that no one REALLY would be too upset about seeing you mistreated?

Who’s your chaperone? Who vouches for you as an outsider that’s okay?

Don’t let people be an outsider. Invite them in. Don’t hide from the awkward feeling. We’re all one big, extended family. Invite your distant cousin to sit with you. Hear a story, and do not worry that your life is different, or theirs is different.

Experience variety, not uniformity. Forgive the people who don’t do things “the right way” and above all else, remember the feeling of love. Feeling tense? Remember love. Frustrated? Overlay love. Angry? Love.

You can love without giving up what you need too. It just helps not give too much hassle to others who are probably feeling just as frustrated.

I may not always understand everything that’s going on, but you’re all my cousins. I hate to see you fight. Let’s get out of here and grab some food.

Biology Rambles with Khai

biology = whole organisms
microbiology = whole tiny organisms
cellular biology = whole cells of complex organisms
molecular biology = The machinery inside of cells
biochemistry = The chemicals of organisms, both inside and outside of cells
organic chemistry = chemistry involving carbon and hydrogen.

There’s more chemistry, and underlying chemistry is physics. Biology is an application of chemistry, and chemistry is an application of physics.

When you look at molecular biology, you see what looks like program counters and 3d printers. Most of the bits inside of cells are literally physical machines, aided along by the right shape to have a static or magnetic charge necessary to pull the right pieces out of the semi-random soup and move, attach, or detach them.

When you exercise, you literally dump calcium into pockets in a muscle cell, and those fit into a lock on a little machine that ratchets down a little rope, each click caused by an ATP molecule floating in, connecting, getting snapped, and having a tiny bit of electric charge transferred.

The fun thing is that ATP is also required to pump the calcium out of that little pocket, so when you’ve depleted ATP. There is a complex loop for making ATP, and a whole of of ways to keep that cycle (ctric acid or Krebs cycle) going, but the fastest way to make ATP is oxygen and glucose.

Oxygen input often lags behind, and you can always burn up oxygen faster than you can replenish it. When this happens, muscle cells get stuck contracted, and they keep trying to contract, competing for ATP in this depleted state. This is one of the ways a muscle cramp occurs.

This rambling brought to you by brain inputs triggered by talking to Khai about his AP biology test today, and how excited he is about all of the machinery inside of cells.

Class-M Asteroids

John W. posted about a Voyager episode (Emanations) where they found a Class-M Asteroid, and the question came up as to whether such a thing would even be possible.

In the episode, there were multiple Class-M asteroids around a Class-D Planet. Class-D is a small, rocky, barren planet, and Class-M means nickel-iron core, water, atmosphere, and overall suitable for human life.

This sent me off into research into what the minimum size might be for a human-habitable planet. Sea Level Pressure on Earth is 101.3 kPa, with 21% Oxygen. Minimum partial pressure of oxygen is 16 kPa, below which we cannot adapt. (15 kPa we lose cognitive functions, peripheral vision, and it gets worse the lower it goes.)

Pure oxygen atmosphere at 16kPa is not feasible either, because of dehydration and fire risks, plus oxygen toxicity. Bump up to 25% nitrogen to mitigate that. We also need a little moisture, at least 30% RH. At room temperature, we’re looking at another 1kPa.

Lastly, we need a buffer, because we’ll breathe out CO2, and cannot have more than 5%, though Earth normal is 0.04kPa. In a spacecraft, the buffer would depend on air circulation, reaction times, etc..Mir used 34kPa total atmospheric pressure, with 25% Nitrogen, 75% oxygen, and the CO2 and H2O were under 1% absolute.

On a dwarf planet or planet, the buffer would be the difference in pressures across the habitable zones of the planet. Maybe the highest peak would be 14kPa O2, maybe 21kPa total. Maybe the lowest trench would be 36kPa total, and 24kPa O2.

For a third pressure, we’re looking at a third of surface gravity. Assuming similar density to Earth, this could be about the size of Mercury. You still want a molten core, so you can have a magnetosphere. Either the rock is young (relatively speaking), or it’s a moon for tidal heating. The other options of high radioactivity, or much closer to the star, have issues for survivability.

With a gravity of around 3.3m/s, and a 34 kPa mean surface air pressure, humans would be limited to the bottom 4km of atmosphere. That’s totally reasonable. Maybe people get altitude sickness at 2km instead of 6-7km. Fine.

Planet diameter is, again, close to a third, more like 38-39%. So, we’re talking about 4900 km in diameter, and about 3.3E23 kg (about 5.5% of Earth). Our largest known asteroid is 1000km, and our largest known dwarf planet is 2600km.

For our solarsystem, a “Class M” asteroid would not be possible. If you get big enough, you move from asteroid to dwarf planet, though this term was not in use during that part of Voyager’s production. However, if it were big, they would have just called it a small planet, or even a moon since they’re orbiting a Class-D planet. NOTE: We have M-Type asteroids, which a re “metallic”. Ceres is a G-Type, which is carbon rich.

If there were a higher density core, you could reduce the size requirements. Remember that asteroids are basically shattered planets, or proto-planets that never could accrete, so you could have one that used to be mostly core material. The earth is 35% iron, 30% oxygen, 15% silicon, 13% magnesium, and 7% other stuff by mass.

Something with higher percentages of other stuff, such as late generation supernovae fragments might be possible. You could get three times the density out of things like Osmium, Platinum, and Gold without being toxic, though at some point, you’re looking at terraforming rather than evolved life, and it would be extra extra rare.

You couldn’t just do a 2600km 60% iron planetoid, because you wouldn’t be able to have enough silicate to protect the surface. The planet would cool too quickly unless it were close to the star (like Mercury). You’d have a very hot side, and a very cold side, or a very narrow window of access on astronomical and geological scales. It would be very magnetic (and conductive), and very reactive with water (part of Class-M is lots of water). The limit is probably somewhere around 40%. Even 43% is only 20-30% increased density. Even Mercury at 65% is too big to be even a Dwarf Planet. The density here is just not enough to bring gravity up to our target on a sub-3000km body.

You might be able to scrape by with 25% gravity, and a breathing apparatus, or if it were a really young planet, or had some other source for keeping the atmosphere relatively thick, but that gets so much more difficult to find AND call “Class-M”.

A Chthonian planet that got shattered by impact might work, if it were somehow put into a reasonable orbit. It could have very high density for a small core, 4x that of the Earth. But, they get that size by being a gas giant, then having the atmosphere stripped by being in too close of an orbit to a star. So then, it would have to be shattered, and one of those pieces would have to be ejected into a stable orbit inside of the habitable zone. That really means TWO collisions, one to transfer, and one to remove eccentricity. Not very likely, but maybe even smaller than Ceres might work. You’d need a more radioactive core, otherwise the planet would cool way too quickly. But, a radioactive core, on a shattered planetoid, would have a radioactive surface. Not Class-M.

A planet that had a Platinum inner core, and iron outer core might work. I’m thinking 30% Platinum, 20% iron, 20% oxygen, 12% silicon, 8% magnesium, and 10% other stuff (lots of carbon since it’s a smaller planet) could totally work on a 1200km planetoid. Though, this type of body would not really be a “Class-M” body by Trek standards (nickel-iron core), but it might be close enough. “Exotic Class-M” maybe. Might be an issue for heavy metal poisoning, since not all of the increased platinum would be in the core. Excess surface level might mean excess platinum salts… etc.

We still have to be concerned with loss of atmosphere through interaction with other asteroids, solar radiation, maintainingthe magnetic field, etc. The planet would not be habitable for nearly as long, and probably would not evolve life on its own. This asteroid did not. The only life were dead bodies (basically a cemetery planetoid). It’s possible even the atmosphere came from the subspace voids, though why the moons had atmospheres, but the central planet did not, does not seem rational to me. The lower pressure means water boils at 60C, which limits our range of surface temperatures (and increases cooking times!)

I did not calculate the scale height, nor any of the stuff to get exact with all of this. I might be off. This is just my mental gymnastics after too much dinner caffeine.

Tea Tree Soap 2018

Soap is done. It processed really fast, which scares me a little. I did use a much better stick blender. The pH came out a perfect 10 on one strip, and the other kind a 9.9.
I worry I’ll have trouble with it slumping whenever I remove the molds. I’m going to let it use up counter space in the kitchen until mid-week, and if it’s still soft, I’ll chill it before freeing it. I should have made this batch in January.
Anyway, I’m hopeful, though I overestimated the mold capacity. My old molds have self destructed (HDPE pipe, split), so I have some new, silicone ones. I used three, plus four Solo cups. Don’t judge. This is SCIENCE! 

Note to self, 3L of molds will not hold the soap created from 3L of oils, because, you know, another liter of water, plus some additives, plus the steam trapped in the soap during casting.  (Those molds were domed over with excess soap, and I tapped repeatedly to settle the bubbles.)

ps, I only burned myself once with a glob of molten soap!

If my brain were a CPU

5GHz, one core, 32 stage pipeline, multiple level branch predictors, out of order execution,

complete pipeline and cache flush on context switch.

64MB level-1 cache

No Level 2 cache

8 bit memory bus, with a 128-bit page select

All devices are memory mapped.

No I/O bus.

Fans and heat sinks clogged with dust.

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What is Evil?

What is evil? It’s not some force, roaming the land. It is a dark spot inside each of us. It’s an absence of love.

Be a better person. Don’t take joy in someone else suffering for their faults. Protect yourself, and those who are unable to protect themselves, and fill the rest of your heart with love and compassion.

Yes, we all get angry, frustrated, and generally are all horrible on the inside sometimes. That’s okay, but it’s not okay to wallow in it. It’s our responsibility to interrupt those feelings, and try to remember better ones. Try to be in a way that creates those better ones.


Today, at 8:22am, I turned 42 years old. I set up a mini-monitor and airflow for the new server location. I’m really happy with all that. Planted some squash. Watched about half of “Kill Switch”, a FPS style sci-fi movie. I made some lemon battery videos. I had lunch with my sister. I had cupcakes and coffee with Erica and Khai. I sync’d up with my team lead over the phone. All of that in a different order. Lastly, I’m about to go watch Max’s marching band performance, to see their progression. This has been a nice, chill day so far.

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Body Energy Usage

I ponder macro-nutrition needs a whole bunch. Here’s what I have handy, though my technical references are scattered and omitted.

There’s always a need for roughage, vitamins, and minerals, which come from foods with very low calories/kilojoules. Aside from that, the three main macros have specific needs.

A body needs 125 grams of carbs for your brain/nerves; just under 1 gram of protein per kilo of lean body mass to maintain tissues/muscles; and around 30g of fat for cellular and neurological structures. This is usually around 1200 kcal per day, but varies by person 10-20 percent.

Anything else you eat is either poop, or gets converted to sugar. Sugar is burned if it’s needed immediately for exercise (growing, standing, walking, cardio, whatever, anything other than sleeping). Any sugar that is not immediately needed is stored in muscles as glycogen, up to around 4% of your muscle mass. All sugar past that is turned into fat and stored in our fat cells.

This is where “whole grains” comes into play. If it’s not ground up, it takes longer to break it down. However, if you take grains, and mill them into a powder, IT IS NOT WHOLE GRAINS. Just because there is fiber in the food does not mean it’s slow to absorb. The less processed the food, the longer time period over which it trickles energy into your body. If it’s super processed, it all absorbs very quickly, and your body may have trouble figuring out what to do with it unless you’re depleted already.

This is also where some insulin resistance comes from, and why diabetics have normal sugar metabolism in their muscles during exercise, even if they are short on insulin, or are resistant to it. Resistance is GLUT4 which causes glucose receptors to move to the cell membrane, but exercise does the same thing – muscle is hungry, it asks for more. Muscle is not hungry, it asks for less, even if you try to overfeed it. Where would it put this excess sugar? It can only store so much.

During exercise, your fat cells can liberate about 90% of your weight in pounds as usable calories per hour. For me, it’s about 260 calories. The gap is made up from glycogen in the muscles, which is good for just about 90 minutes. If you exercise hard, and stop at 60, and rest for 30, those 30 mins still use up that glycogen for delayed processes, cleanup, etc.

Eating carbs cannot provide as much energy as glycogen, but it’s the next best thing. Also, if you’re fasting, your glycogen reserves get burned up pretty quickly. Glycogen is 3:1 water to sugar, so this is why the first week of dieting is so awesome. No, that’s not fat. It’s muscle energy.

Any energy deficiency not covered by food will be covered by muscle damage. About the same number of calories can be broken down out of injured muscle cells. For me, this is a total of muscle and fat sourced calories of about 520 calories per hour. If I exercise for 3 hours with no food, then my power output drops to 130 watts, which is about 520 calories per hour.

The best option to limit muscle damage, limit recovery time, and optimize exercise benefits when going for more than your glycoge, is to eat as much every hour as you burn, minus the calories that can come from fat. Staying carb focussed can give more energy, and can be easier to absorb, though for some people, this slows the breakdown of body fat.

Staying fat focussed keeps the fat burn mechanisms running, but it takes twice as much oxygen, which means you’re hear-rate limited. It’s less about muscle conditioning then, and more about cardiovascular improvement.

Staying protein focussed is tougher on the kidneys. The aminos have to be converted for use as fuel, and that’s a lot of extra ammonia to pee out. That can be an issue when dehydration might already be at play.

Cycling Fuel

Max bodyfat you can burn in an hour is roughly 1 gram per 10 pounds, or in calories, 9 times your weight in pounds.

Anything else is food, muscle glycogen, or actual muscle tissue. Glycogen max is about 4% lean muscle mass, which usually is enough for 90 mins, plus or minus. Food is whatever is in your gut, though exercise slows digestion.

Bonk is when you have used up all food, and your glycogen stores, effectively exercising while fasted.

Bonk power is the max sustained energy ouput when you are fasted/bonked. This is fat burn, and muscle breakdown, combines.

Average watts is roughly 1/4 your calories per hour.

Me as an example
I’m 280 pounds, and bonk power for me is 133 watts, which is about 520 calories per hour. Doing that pretty much guarantees cramps from muscle breakdown.

Biking, I tend to burn 750-850 calories per hour, but I can peak at over 1000 in some instances (beginning, well fed, well rested, very driven).

That’s a big gap, because being big, I get more wind drag, which is 50% of your energy above 15mph. I also take more energy to climb a hill.

Downhill is faster, so less benefit (less time spent going downhill), and often waste the energy by riding brakes so as to not plow through others.

I do best consuming 600 calories per hour while riding more than 90 mins.

So, I have to eat the equivalent of a meal every hour to keep up, and reduce cramp risks. Most of that needs to be carbs that break down in less than an hour. Also, I don’t want to have a bathroom break every hour.

Ride Fuel
Sugary colas have phosphate, glucose, and fructose – all good for refueling. Cookies, sandwiches, etc usually are low roughage, good energy density, and include salt. M&Ms were actually designed to be endurance fuel for the army, and they hold up pretty well in a plastic bag.

Basically, all the things that are bad for you normally make great endurance fuel.

As to proper “race fuel”, honestly, it’s too low calorie for someone my size. Some people only need 200 calories an hour to stay fueled, so half banana, a 2″ square of granola, and a swig of gatorade is fine. For me, that would be a whole bunch bananas, and two quarts of gatorade. Just too much bulk.

Add to all that the need for oxygen to build ATP (actual muscle energy chemical). It takes 35% more oxygen to burn blood glucose than intra-muscular glycogen. Fat takes twice as much oxygen as glucose. High heat, humidity, low pressure, altitude, carbonation, and alcohol all reduce oxygen availability. Transport of glucose into the cell takes ATP. Digestion of food takes ATP.

Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, and Metabolic Syndrome
The key there is to not eat much carbohydrate outside of the exercise times. When glycogen reserves are full (muscles recovered), and adipose cells are replete, then why would you need more fuel? That’s the practical wording of the physiology here, despite the perception of a faulty hunger mechanism for the obese, or lack of islets for type I, or the defective signalling in Type II without obesity triggers.

Exercise induced glucose uptake is normal in diabetic muscle cells:

Exercise may increase glucose sensitivity:

While glycogen is being replenished, glucose uptake by muscles in normal. GLUT4 is transported to the membrane during exercise, even in absence of insulin.