The LOKi Keyboard

One of my star editors, Loki the Tortie, favors a workstation with instant access to the keyboard and the monitor. Please note that this strategic location also includes a cardboard box of suitable size and, as cat fanatics know well, an empty box is filled with a cat in the earliest possible nanosecond. She puts in long hours, so a workplace with good ergonomics contributes to overall productivity.

The coincidence of the alpha characters LOKI suggests that a trickster may also be at work here 🙂

Loki possesses some skills that make her work remarkable:

  1. The ability to patiently ponder an interwoven nexus of data trails, this sometimes requiring deep concentration.
  2. A studied demeanor suitable to sustained mindful concentration.
  3. A profound understanding of breathing in and out in a supra-autonomic way.
  4. Sustained purring, understood here as a low vibratory murmur that is punctuated with sudden twitches of insight.

I have recorded the intervals of Loki’s breathing/purring ratio by applying a number of statistical measures, each calculated, graphed and annotated in the spurious index I maintain in apocryphal lab notebooks stored nowhere or other in an unrecorded carrel deep in the bowels of the hypothetical library of the unknown university where my research may not or may be conducted.

Loki the Tortie in a familiar research station

Let us now proceed to Loki’s most recent research. Least, but for from first, Loki issues keystrokes in a discrete amount of time, typically in the range of 0.75 to 0.85 seconds — all conveyed with a stroke of a paw and the trail of a claw.

Here is a link to some signature work, that my fellow mammal recently keyed  in 0.732 seconds:


A cursory glance suggests that Loki needed to urinate: 2p. The semicolons may be delimiters, some code or an urgency to cover the distance to the litter box — perhaps indicating 3 sets of paws (3×2=6 semicolons). In this vein, it is interesting to speculate on that missing “i” from an expected “loki”. Clearly, more research is needed.

These eleven (11) characters are as compact as any regular expression I’ve ever seen, they recall the intense memory restrictions of mid 20th Century computers such as Eniac. Coding in those days placed enormous restraints on code size at the machine level, so rapid nimble paw and claw strokes are a tribute to Loki’s computational genius and the elegance of her code.


Right now Loki  the Tortie is in the middle of a mind meld with a couch cushion. I eagerly await the results of that meld 🙂

Meanwhile I want to read up on the work of Marc-Antoine Fardin, winner of the Ig® Nobel Prize for 2017:

PHYSICS PRIZE [FRANCE, SINGAPORE, USA] — Marc-Antoine Fardin, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question “Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?”

Thanks for reading.


Discovering Patterns in Language

Regular expressions. are powerful metamathematical tools, advanced techniques for matching patterns in a text or multiple texts — something fun and something useful. They are concise chunks of cryptic characters that can search a single text or multiple texts for precise patterns. Select an input file, do one thing or very many things to the file, then drop the resulting text into an output file.


Stephen Cole Kleene is the mathematician and philosopher who introduced the concept of the regular expression. He worked with Alan Turing and other pioneering types who were intensely active in the 1930’s. Their understanding of a mathematical maneuver called recursion; that led to breakthrough tools in logic — decisions made at superhuman speed and using the processing speed and memory to process words and numbers thrown together and called data. However, beware of the sorcerer’s apprentice phenomenon. Just bewaring.


An example: look for successive occurrences of WTF (upper or lower case) and substitute “what the fart”.

Through recursion you can stop, go backward a certain of characters, query the findings. Do something with it. Once you become familiar with the meta characters and the syntax, you can do a lot of useful things or destroy many useful things. So save the original file in a safe place and know where your output file ends up.


When I was a freelance translator I maintained a translation memory database that kept track of all my translations so that I might be reminded of earlier translations. The software I used was called SDL Trados; however, that was over ten years ago.

Here is one example of how I used regular expression code to insert a carriage return and linefeed whenever a blank space appeared in the original German. Essentially this created records that were one word long — the number of records was the number of words in the text. Then I queried my database for finds. A lot faster than the technique I used when learning German — looking up the words in a large-ass dictionary that I still have on the bottom shelf over there.


The same Unix tools developed in the 1960’s remain in the electrons flowing from my screen to yours. They remind me of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws

Hoping this is somewhat illuminating, or mildly amusing 🙂

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Now for something incompletely different, something inspired by Hariod Brawn’s comment below. It’s an article on The Sound (And Taste) Of Music by Layla Eplett — she brings a platter to the conversation and complements Mariano Sigman’s TED Talk:


Layla Eplett

Thanks for reading this postscript 🙂