Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eat less meat, Suzuki says.

The Canadian green icon, David Suzuki, thinks that small green actions from each of us can make a big environmental difference. One of his suggestions is to eat less meat since producing the meat protein is much more energy intensive than the equivalent that could be taken from soybean. There is a difference in taste between meat and soybean, of course, that could be overcome if you ask a vegetarian :)

1. Suzuki at University of Waterloo.
2. Suzuki on energy plan.
3. Suzuki's autobiography review.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Green is Good and Admirable.

Besides governments and individuals, corporations are jumping in on the green train for the simple economic reason of cutting costs. For example, replacing the light bulbs with the energy efficient ones has immediate cost reducing effect. This was another idea discussed during KYACers event. It reminded me of the green actions taken by the IT industry where the electricity bills are rising.

Green is not only good but is also admirable. General Electric for example became for the second year in a row the most admired company (in America and in the world) due to its green initiatives [pdf], ideas and technologies that have global reach.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Open Ears, Open Minds, Open Souls.

There is music that goes beyond jazz. It will hypnotize you right from the beginning and wouldn't let you go till the end. I never thought there is something like this: 100% improvisation with absolute hypnotism. On Saturday afternoon I was rewarded with such a delightful out-of-the-box listening experience during Fred Frith and Malcolm Goldstein outstanding performance presented by Perimeter Institute (as part of the Pushing the Perimeter Concert Series) and the already traditional Open Ears Kitchener Waterloo Festival of Music and Sound.

The audience witnessed unusual ways in which violin and a guitar could be played. Drumming, screeching, pinching, chiming sounds accompanied the normal sounds of the instruments. If you were thinking that the violinist should just play the violin Malcolm Goldstein will prove you wrong. He will vocalize while playing or just stop playing the violin and invoke the spirits with guttural vocal chants.

As for Fred Frith I must say that the audience was astonished about how many ways the guitar could be used to generate sounds. Different parts of guitar were used for drumming, small objects or seeds were dropped inside it followed by shaking, small sticks were used to play on the cords or on the different edges of the guitar, chains were hitting slowly the cords or were dropped in some kind of resonating metal cups, the cords were tightened and loosened while being played, objects were put on the cords or laid on the guitar to generate special sounds. At a given time the guitar was used as a violin laid on the table, at another time the cords were covered with a towel while being struck.

Even though you may have the impression that music cannot be created in this way it was something magic about it. The beginning of the performance reminded me of the Weather Part I by Michael Gordon piece. It was like sometimes one instrument was following a thought or feeling and the other one was catching up in its own improvised way.

Another times the instruments were arguing violently from the beginning or one will start with some peaceful tune and the other one will go in a continuous violent argument. Then the guttural vocals will join the instruments. Familiar tunes will pop up here and there and disappear later in some random sounds looking for some soul trail. I even recognized a well known Romanian kind of pop tune for a fraction of time. The music was composed in front of the audience.

Starting from their bare feet entry on the stage till the end of their performance, by opening their souls, Fred Frith and Malcolm Goldstein invited the audience to open ears by opening its mind.

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KYACers care.

Lots of green ideas were proposed and gathered by the members of Kitchener Youth Action Council (KYAC) on Thursday afternoon at the Kitchener City Hall during an event that celebrated the Earth Day. The screening of Al Gore’s inspiring documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” stirred heated debates about who and how should act to make our environment greener.

Even though the event was organized by youths, green ideas came from a diverse audience of all ages. The role of the government and the green actions of every individual were discussed. Here there are some of the green ideas proposed: compost the disposable food since otherwise it will generate green gases in the landfills, buy local vegetable since they are organic and there is no need to be brought by the trucks, the stores should replace the plastic bags with reusable bags, use more often bikes and public transportation if possible, new buildings should be environmentally friendly, etc.

A green action event was organized on the same day in Waterloo. The young generation in KW area prove that they care about the future of our Earth.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Jazz Enthralled @ PI.

I always wondered why jazz is sometimes hypnotizing. A recent jazz experience gave me a chance to find an answer.

During last Friday PI Event Horizons Bistro Jazz performance of
Joe Sealy and Paul Novotny Trio I realized that jazz helps the listener resonate with some inner feelings. Maybe that is why jazz improvisations are so fascinating. The performer is like a soul trails opener, mesmerizing the audience into inner exploration of a space where time doesn‘t exist. It is like riding a bike as Sealy confessed. Then the performer awakes you from this pleasant and captivating ride. Some of the Sealy’s pieces made me live the jazz hypnosis.

His diversified show ended in a grand finale style with a piece about hope, as an invitation for hope that we learn from past mistakes and hope for a better and peaceful future, as he put it.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nation baptized by walls of fire.

These days during the 90th anniversary of Vimy Ridge victory I've learned about the glorious past of a great nation.

It is quite interesting to discover that Canada showed to the world its national status in a impressive way. Using state of the art technology and pioneering war strategy the united Canadian troops raised world's eyebrows in making possible the impossible (as exclaimed by a French soldier) by a surprising victory at Vimy Ridge.

Such a brilliant victory didn't come though without sacrifices. Even though 80% of the enemy's fire power was taken out by Canadian artillery (by using for the first time wireless communication of spy planes) the impossible challenge of conquering Vimy Ridge required military geniality that Canadians found in synchronizing infantry advance with artillery's fire power that was opening the way. In spite of all these innovations over 10000 Canadians (out of 100000 engaged in the battle) made the red carpet of victory with their bodies, giving birth to a nation.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Alice and Bob continued...

Well, the tale was not mainly about Alice and Bob, even though they were part of the action as supporting characters. The tale revolved around a strange adventure Daniel Gottesman had that challenged his cryptographic skills. During narration we learn about different cryptographic techniques, RSA, quantum cryptography, digital signatures, qubits, how quantum computers work, etc.

Strange enough Bob was not part of the main action since the presenter kind of substituted him. To make the tale more thrilling other characters were introduced, for instance two guys with smoky glasses that abducted the narrator. I’ll stop here... since I don’t want to spoil your fun when the online lecture will be posted on PI’s site.

The main message I took home from the lecture is how quantum cryptography can guarantee that Eve has no chance to find out Alice and Bob’s secrets. In quantum world any interference with the quantum information is detectable. Eve’s attempt to eavesdrop on the message between Alice and Bob results in changing the message. This is the manifestation of a fundamental physics law that the observer of a quantum phenomena cannot learn about it without interfering with it.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The quantum fairytale of Alice and Bob's secrets.

Once upon a time there were Alice and Bob and they had secrets to share. Since their first time[pdf] introduction, Alice and Bob characters played different roles in the information coding and technical communication theories. I was wondering why Romeo and Juliet was not used instead of Alice and Bob? Besides the fact that Alice and Bob suited better theorists in making the A and B abstractions more human like, I guess that they portray characters that share not only love secrets.

Alice and Bob were also the subjects of different Perimeter Institute (PI) lectures. A new tale of the adventure of their secrets sharing will be revealed tomorrow by PI researcher Daniel Gottesman in his public lecture
Quantum Cryptography: A Tale of Secrets Hidden and Revealed Through the Laws of Physics.

I'm eager to learn what progress have been made to keep Eve out of Alice and Bob secrets.

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Green glamour.

Speaking of trains... Let their glamour return! While at the beginning of their era there was no alternative to make them green, now there is. The good news is that they could help all of us become greener. For example what stops us to put all those long-range containers on trains rather than on trucks?

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Journey into the past in St. Jacobs.

I will start by recalling the glamour of good old days trains. It was a time when the locomotive was the symbol of civilization by shrinking the distances between people and places.

Then I do a smooth imaginary camera glide to show you St. Jacobs' charm in the past. These are only few of the attractions that the historic Snider Mill offer to its visitors.

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