13 June, 2014

A Birthday Special

Today is the birthday of a special musician and friend of mine and to mark the occasion I am posting a list of several famous composer's birth dates (and a picture of a neat cake). Have a blessed day!
  1. 21 March, 1685 - Johann Sebastian Bach
  2. 27 January, 1756 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  3. 16 December, 1770 - Ludwig van Beethoven
  4. 23 Febuary, 1685 - George Frideric Handel
  5. 4 March, 1678 - Antinio Vivaldi
  6. 7 May, 1833 - Johannes Brahms
  7. 7 May, 1840 - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  8. 31 January, 1797 - Franz Schubert
  9. 1 March, 1810 - Frédréic Chopin
  10. 1 April, 1873 - Sergei Rachmaninoff
  11. 8 June, 1810 - Robert Schumann
  12. 22 August, 1862 - Claude Debussey
  13. 22 May, 1813 - Richard Wagner
  14. 26 September, 1898 - George Gershwin
  15. 8 Febuary, 1932 - John Williams
  16. 14 March, 1681 - Georg Philipp Telemann
  17. 6 November, 1854 - Joseph Sousa
  18. 25 March, 1927 - Béla Bartók
On another note (pun intended)... Ma Sœur has refreshed her blog Riding Down the Lane and has begun posting on things she enjoys, such as herbs, wild edibles, cooking, and knitting. Click here to go to her blog

Picture Reference (link)

12 June, 2014

Fountain Pen Ink Review: Noodler's Dark Matter

I enjoy nice writing instruments, especially fountain pens. Over the last year I have "gotten into" fountain pens. It is a very enjoyable "hobby" if I may even call it that, for fountain pens to me are not merely something fun to use (though they are), but practical tools I use daily. Today I would like to present my first fountain pen ink:

Black and blue inks are obvious staples, and for my first ink, I was practically inclined to purchase one of the two afore mentioned colours. I prefer black over blue for most things, so I went on a hunt for the black ink I wanted to use for a long time (because one does not use up a bottle of ink very quickly). First off, I don't require a super black black ink, so that was not one of the factors in my choice. Dark Matter could be discribed as a very dark grey on some paper, but for all my intents and purposes, it is black. In the end, what really sold on this particular ink verses all the others was that the story behind this ink is science related, and it's got a cool name: Dark Matter. I had also heard many good things about Noodler's Ink and thought that it would be a wise choice to purchase one of their inks.

So without further ado, here is my sample:

Yeah, I know, a Varsity is not very impressive, but that is the only pen I have Dark Matter in right now. But Varsitys write really well, can be refilled, and only cost a few dollars.

Being a novice to ink, this review is mainly for apearence/colour reference, and not for specifics like flow or lubrication.

Picture reference as well as where one may purchase this ink: Goulet Pen Co.

The story of this ink can be found here at Noodler's website.

02 June, 2014

Polybius Checkerboard Cypher

The Polybius Checkerboard (otherwise known as the Greek square) was named for the ancient Greek historian to whom its invention is due. The original set up is quite simple, but variations on it can be quite hard to break. One variation was used by a spy in the American Civil War, and it was never broken by the enemy.

Below is the basic version.

1 2 3 4 5
1 a b c d e
2 f g h ij k
3 l m n o p
4 q r s t u
5 v w x y z

Yes, I did write out all of the html for that table, feel free to use it if you wish.

To use this cypher one substitutes the row number and the column number, for the letter. For example:

"A Study in Purple" becomes

11 43 44 45 14 54 24 33 35 45 42 35 31 15 or

1143444514542433354542353115 or

11434 44514 54243 33545 42353 11500 or even

1 1434 445 14 5424 333 5454 23531 15

So obviously one of the variations of the Polybius Checkerboard is spacing. Other variations include: scrambling the letters and/or numbers of the square and using different alphabets (this is called a "Greek Square" because it was originally used the Greek alphabet). I thought it would be neat for short messages to also be encoded mathematically, for example:

Take the square root of 1,143,444,514,542,433,354,542,353,115 then divide it by 999,999,999, then subtract 330,000 from it, and the number becomes 8,148.564434 (much more portable in my opinion). It would be impossible to crack without knowing what steps to take to reverse the function. One could even take 8,148.564434, divide it by as many people as one wants to give the code to, and have them only be able to come up with the right message when all of the individuals add their values. The variation possibilities are endless! Here is an exercise in breaking a Polybius Checkerboard, use the square above, I only used a spacing variation.