Alternative Transportation

After finding out I could take advantage of public transportation to get to and from school, I decided to enroll in Alternative Transportation, a program offered by Transportation & Parking Services (TAPS) that provides incentives for people to substitute alternate means of transport over driving.  I ran into a few glitches along the way, but ultimately I succeeded at obtaining a night/weekend parking permit free of charge.  There are other incentives available, some of which depend on what mode of transportation you opt to use.  For instance, people who walk or ride their bicycles to school can take advantage of locker and shower facilities; people who carpool or vanpool can get an emergency ride home when an emergency prevents them from going home on the carpool/vanpool.

Since I had just started riding the bus to school, I decided to apply for Alternative Transportation as a public transportation commuter.  This choice ended up causing me a bit of grief.  TAPS accepts this kind of application for people who have had at least five rides on the bus.  However, TAPS only receives monthly reports from Riverside Transit Agency (RTA).  I had already made twenty trips to/from school by bus when my application was denied — when TAPS got the September report in mid-October, only two of those twenty rides would have appeared.

Instead of waiting until mid-November to reapply, I asked about applying as a walker.  By then I had already walked home from school twice, so I knew it was not an implausible option.  That application was accepted in about four hours.

Another choice I made that caused some grief was the method of delivery of the award:  I asked to pick it up instead of just having it mailed to me.  In the application approval e-mail, TAPS told me they would send another e-mail when the permit was available for pick up.  I waited weeks and never received that e-mail.  Finally, on Monday (ereyesterday) I sent TAPS an e-mail asking when I could pick up my permit.  The response was almost immediate.  With half an hour to my next class, I walked to the TAPS building and picked up my night/weekend parking permit.

My expectation was a permit for the quarter, but my expectations were exceeded.  The permit is a full year permit, valid from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.  Long story short, Alternative Transportation seems to be a decent program when it works.  Getting it to work was a little bit of a headache for me, though the delays were at least as much from me waiting to deal with minor hassles as from TAPS’ side of the process.

Jokes

I’ve been holding onto these jokes for a little while now — one a variation on a well-worn theme, the other something I don’t think I’ve quite seen before.  Naturally, if you’ve seen something similar to the second one before, I would appreciate comments that can point to previous incarnations.

1.  A variation on a theme
There are 10 types of people in the world:
• Those who think this is a binary joke.
• Those who think this is a ternary joke.
• Those who think this is a quaternary joke.

• Those who realize this is a base 10 joke.
• Those who just don’t get this joke.

2.  Something else
I have discovered a truly marvelous punchline, which this joke is too small to contain.

Every day I get in the queue…

… to get on the bus that takes me to U…CR.

It looks like my schedule this quarter will allow for me to take public transportation to and from school.  That means I can avoid purchasing a parking permit.  While it is nice to be making a step towards `going green’, my motivations for taking this step are admittedly more financial than environmental.  As a student at UCR, I can ride on the RTA busses free, so I can save a bit more than 2% of my net income by not buying a parking permit (almost 3%, counting the little bit of gas I save).

It may not be much, but with the uncertainty of what happens after the end of this quarter, I’m happy to be able to cut corners financially, especially since it does not stress my schedule.  I might even be able to take advantage of routes other than the home ⇒ school ⇒ home circuit at some point.  _

While driving

Out on the road today I saw some things that made me think. While none of those things were Deadhead stickers on Cadillacs, one thing I did see was a license plate, 4GIV2##. I think it was 258 at the end, but that was not the part I was focused on. I thought, “How cool to have an ID plate in the 4GIV series. And how even more cool would it be to have the plate 4GIV490.” (Matt. 18:21-22). Actually, I thought 4GIV539 would be cool because I misremembered the quote as seventy seven times seven. I’m glad I looked up the reference before writing this. * whistles *

Another thing I saw was a truck for a company called Shipping Experts Consumer Handling Transportation (SECH Transportation). Unfortunately I do not read Hangul, so I can’t really tell what their website says, but you’ve gotta appreciate their enthusiasm. Not having the benefit of seeing their website while on the road, my mind naturally went to the obvious mathematical connection – hyperbolic secant, the reciprocal to a perhaps more familiar shape: hyperbolic cosine, a.k.a. catenary. The catenary is the shape a chain or cord will naturally fall into if its ends are held fixed in a constant gravitational field. It is also the shape (inverted) of a famous US landmark.

On Roflections

For my inaugural post here, I would merely like to explain the title chosen for this blog.  Symmetry is all around us, and many important things can be related to observing symmetries.  Two basic symmetries that often go hand-in-hand are reflection and rotation.  My language below will have a bias towards two dimensions, but a lot of it does generalize to higher dimensions.

Rotations can be made from reflecting twice, but along different axes (that go through a common point).  What happens if you keep adding more reflections through axes that go through that point?  Three reflections will give you something that may be a reflection, but it also may not be either a reflection or a rotation.  I don’t know of a standard word for a combined reflection and rotation, so I made a suitcase with two equal-sized compartments to put them in:  roflection.

What happens if you reflect again?  In two dimensions, a reflection with a roflection will always combine to make a rotation, since four reflections about a common point is equivalent to two rotations about that point, which is another rotation.  In higher dimension, it is still considered a rotation, though not necessarily a simple rotation.  For instance, in 4D, a general rotation leaves a point fixed, and will have two orthogonal planes fixed, in the sense that those planes are closed under the operation of applying that rotation any number of times.

There is a nice pun value to the term ‘roflection’ as well, thanks to the penchant towards abbreviating in texting and internet culture, which include a number of phrases that indicate amusement.  ‘Rofl’ is one such abbreviation, and it is my hope that there will be occasion for jocular posts.