More Mailbag

March 9th, 2016
A couple years ago I looked through my search logs to answer your questions. Since then there are fewer and fewer cases where search terms end up sent as Referer headers, but I'm still getting some. What are people asking?

how far should glasses sit on the bridge of the nose
As close to your eyes as you can comfortably wear them, to get the best field of view.
how to make malisious flashdrive
See here. Actually, probably forget I said anything.
how to get caffeine for staying late night
I recommend caffeine pills. They're cheap and compact, but the main thing I like about them is that you're not fooling yourself. When you drink coffee or tea you have this mix of drinking something because you like it and because you have an addiction. With pills you're being much more honest: the only reason to take this tablet is because you want to change the way your brain is working.
is Oxfam a good charity to donate to
Oxfam works in international development, which is a place where donations can go a long way. They have a very large number of programs, however, which makes them hard to evaluate. Donating to a charity that takes a single highly beneficial program and focuses all their effort there probably helps people more. GiveWell's top-rated charities are some of the best options here.
how to turn half and half into milk for cereal
Half and half on cereal is pretty tasty! But if you're trying to eat less fat, mixing half and half with skim as two parts half and half to five parts skim will get you something very close to whole milk.
is microwaving breast milk bad
No. Just (1) use a glass bottle with no lid, (2) swirl the bottle after heating, and (3) test a drop on your wrist before giving it to the baby. (more)

(This is apparently the main interest that brings people to my blog by far. Over a third of queries are asking about microwaving breast milk.)

is trumpet concert pitch
That's up to you. The instrument itself has no preference, though most players think of it as being in Bb. I decided to learn it as a concert pitch instrument, and as someone who mostly plays folk music this has worked out really well for me! Not having to transpose in your head on the fly is one fewer thing to think about.
where to mic a mandolin
It varies by mandolin and playing style. I ran an experiment on a Phoenix Unicorn but I've been meaning to try again with my Collings MT. I generally mic at a 70 degree angle where the neck meets the body, as close as I can without bumping it. Try some blind recordings and test for yourself!
how to open a Yamaha p95
Take out all the screws on the back, like with most things. But be warned: there are a very large number and it's a huge pain to get them all out.
side by side diff command line
Use icdiff.
what in my backpack?
String! Or nothing!
what are the raw materials of a car in front the engine
I'm really not sure what you're asking. If your car is a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado prototype, then coal dust, but that's probably not your car?
how much money goes to the farmer in fair trade out of the products we pay for
No one knows for sure, but not much. Sometimes you'll see people giving stats on this, but they tend to be over extrapolated. Part of the problem is that fair trade involves so many products and so many producers that the answers for coffee, bananas, chocolate, or whatever you're interested in are likely to be pretty different.
is two mg of caffine bad for 10 -year-olds
No. That's a very small amount of caffeine, about as much as in ten chocolate chips.
is there citric acid on watermelon
Not by default, but I recommend adding it.
what angle should you put a speaker to make it louder
Speakers typically are loudest "on-axis," which means when they're pointed directly at you. This effect is strongest for high frequencies and small speakers, though it does vary some by speaker design. Here's an interesting read on directivity.
what does an a minor look like on piano
how to prdict when lilacs will bloom
You can think of Lilacs as constantly counting up the degree-degree-days since the last frost, and blooming once that sum gets over 4264C. But you have to work in C since Lilacs are water-based.
where can i dance
Put your zip code into and it will suggest some local contra dances. If you're in Boston I recommend (and help organize) BIDA.
why we should we be force to dance with the opposit gender
If you only want to dance with people of the same gender, consider Israeli, Morris, or gay square dancing. All of these have single-gender groups (though with gay square dancing it's often de-facto).
what is the difference between maximizing total happiness and maximizing average happiness
Maximizing total happiness is called "Total (Hedonic) Utilitarianism" while maximizing average happiness is called "Average (Hedonic) Utilitarianism". In situations where the total number of people are constant, they're the same; they come into play when you consider questions that involve changes to the total. With a total view it's a good thing if, all else being equal, someone comes into being and has a good life, while with the average view this is only a good thing if that life is better than average. I think the average view is nonsense, but there is a whole field for this sort of question.
what does it mean when a older women asks a younger guy to dance
It depends where you are. At a contra dance, it probably means that the woman just thinks they would have fun dancing together, while at a bar it's more likely to be flirting.
best shoes for contra dancing
If I had to choose, I would say low heeled character shoes, but there are a lot of options and it's worth thinking through what you want out of your shoes.
why are you asked not to drink caffine before a sleep study
Because they want you to fall asleep.
a three-phase wire fell in water and did not shock me
Sounds like you were lucky!
narrowing a guitar neck for making a tenor
You should probably just buy one that's already narrow.
is it possible a person hear the thought of other person through air?
When people wish to communicate thoughts though air they typically use speech and hearing. The sender carefully positions their mouth and tongue to encode signals in the vibrations of the air they exhale, while the receiver decodes these signals by noticing the order in which the tiny hairs in their ear wiggle sympathetically. It's an incredibly complicated process, especially the sending, which typically requires 5-7 years to master. People can usually only learn this skill as a small child; adults who try to pick it up with no childhood exposure generally fail completely.
does the mbta bus still take cash?
It's a bit cheaper to get a CharlieCard and load money onto it, but the buses do take bills and coins. They don't give change, though, so have $2.10 ready.

(With the proposed fare changes this is actually planned to go down to $2.00. Everything else is an increase, but I guess they want to get people on faster by using a whole-dollar amount?)

can I pay my MBTA bus fare with a credit card
Sorry, no. You can use your credit card at a vending machine at a subway station to put money on a CharlieCard to use on the bus, or you can pay cash.
john westley save all you can
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists, advocated saving all you can, but with the specific goal that you give all you can.
describe the remaining contestant and explain why you think one of them deserves to win
The remaining contestant has the critically important quality of being the last remaining contestant. In other words, no one else is left in the competition. Therefore, this contestant deserves to win because they are the more qualified choice.
julia wise and jeff kaufman contacts
Neither of us wear contacts. Julia doesn't need corrective lenses, while I can't stand the idea of something being up against my eye like that.
what do you mean piano chords
A chord is when you play multiple notes at the same time. Typically in a band you'll have some people playing melody and other people playing rhythm, and chords are one way of playing rhythm. If you're interested in playing piano chords for contra dancing, here's a short introduction.
is fiddle instrument male or female
Anyone should feel welcome to play any instrument regardless of their gender, but within the contra dance community more men than women play fiddle. (Since more men than women play for dances, though, that's not too surprising.) On the other hand, more female contra musicians are fiddlers than male ones are. So depending on how you consider the question, you could see fiddle as a male or female instrument.

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