Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nerdiness in the Cause of Peace Isn't That Bad

I went to the fitness center today for the first time in yonkies, and still managed to do okay, though my calf muscle seems to have taken a few steps backward due to disuse. Fitness guy didn't even ask where I've been, though I had my excuses prepared--in pidgin/charade format.

I had planned to go the Chinese consulate today to get my visa for the upcoming China trip, but I noticed at the webpage that they are closed today--many things in Seoul were closed Sun., Mon. and Tues. due to Seollal, but this is the only place I know of that extended it through today. This was on their 2009 table of closings, where the Dec. 25 closing was announced as due to "Korean festival". April 6 is "Tomb-sweeping Day."

Incidentally, here are directions to the Chinese Consulate, from our friends at
Take Subway No.4 Line, exit at Exit No.3 of Myeong-dong Subway Station, then walk about 400 meters (437.4 yards) toward Namsan. The Consular Office is close to the Ticket Office of Namsan Cable Car Station.

Do you see what they've done? They've taken a measurement that is approximated to the first significant figure (400 m), then converted that measure to a result that has four sig. figs (437.4 yds). Appalling!

I mean, I did 6.2 km on the elliptical today (will have to start building back up) but that doesn't mean I did exactly 3.90072 miles. The fact that the readout is calibrated in tenths necessarily means any conversion can only have the same precision. Precision, of course, has a particular meaning in measurement, as does accuracy; but you knew that--so why didn't the folks at

Before we go any further, I also spent time on the treadmill and the stationary bike. Alas, converting from pounds to kilograms doesn't really change the outcome so far by much--though I have cinched up my belts a hole or two (count numbers are absolute since there's no measurement uncertainty).

The title of this post comes from a quote by Nixon: "Paranoia in the cause of peace isn't that bad." Or something close, though my google-fu has failed me. If you know what I'm going for, please send a comment to straighten me out. TIA (thanks in advance). But you know that.

Bonus Photograph: Snow in Itaewon.

Snow in Itaewon, Jan 25, 2009

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