Friday, December 18, 2009

One of the daily stops on my highly exclusive internet routine.

In 2006 I returned from an internet/media hiatus of two years I came to discover there were new words like "blog", "myspace" and "facebook." Huh?

A friend of mine explained that facebook was an exclusive networking communication site for college students only. It sounded cool so I joined up and started reconnecting and looking up old friends, some of whom I would never have thought about again.

A very uncomfortable phenomenon that I had to come to terms with was that my nicely partitioned world of relationships were smashing together as I saw how friends of mine in different groups were interconnected. "How could he know her!?" This uncomfortable phenomenon resurfaced when my friend's mom joined facebook, then my dad, and so on. Again, I learned to accept it and be alright.

Still uncomfortable is the fact that what I put on facebook will be looked up by future potential employers. Also uncomfortable is the fact that the marketing engines in facebook know the musical artists I like, the region in which I live, my age, gender, etc. and all are geared to target me. I really do not like to be categorized and that is what it tries to do. Let me also mention that I hate ads that try to appeal to 24 year old single males.

Another uncomfortable scenario:
"Hey buddy, I have been on a few dates with this girl. I think she likes me but I am not sure. I really like her though." I may want to tell a friend.

"Oh yeah, do you have a picture?" He would respond.

"No...oh wait, yeah check her facebook page. Log in as me and you can see her pictures." Really, who has not done that? Creeps. :)

Lastly, it is so uncomfortable to read when someone has a status update that is personal. Whether happy or sad, introspective or depressed; there has got to be a better place to share the emotionally sensitive and personal things in my life. Where can I go to get good relationship advice from people I know and trust without letting the whole world know? Facebook is great for somethings, but what about everything else?

Well, there is a better place. It is group communication, where the content is only visible to those invited. You can share pictures, videos, stories, quetions, comments or polls with only the people you want to. For the free hubs (groups) the ads are small and non-intrusive and the paid hubs have no ads at all.

The designers of the site always work to keep it simple, streamlined and easy to use. Simple, comfortable, private, secure communication with those you really want to stay in touch with. Check it out:

If you want to win an iPod touch, check this out after you look at the first link!
Contest details here: iPod Touch Give-Away!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Daylight Savings

Happy daylight savings, or non-daylight savings day!

Despite the potential this topic has for cost/benefit analysis, this is not the subject matter of this post. This post is about relative directional references.

"Spring forward, fall back." This phrase is supposed to help me remember which way (earlier or later) to move the clock. For some reason, it just confuses me because time is frequently referred to with contradicting relative directions.

For example, if you want to go back in time, you are referring to the past. However, if you want to push a meeting back, you are likely postponing it to some time in the future. So which does "fall back" refer to? Do I set the clock to be one hour less, or one hour more (numerically speaking)? When I figure it out, what trite saying can help me remember how to decode the first saying?

In the fall, I was reminded, you set the clock one hour later. This means you get to sleep an extra hour. How about, "Fall asleep again, you changed your clock" and "Spring out of bed sleepy head."

I think this could work for me or I could move to Arizona and avoid the problem altogether.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tennis Courts

I played tennis the other night with three friends. The courts at which we chose to play charge money if the man with the clipboard comes by. I had heard the rate was $5 and I assumed that was $5 per court. He came around and we found out that it was $5 per person. I question the incentives that this pricing structure creates.

The scarce resource marked for allocation is the courts, or court time. Consumers are assumed to maximize utility. When I consider my personal utility derived from tennis, things like number of hits, running around, games played, serves hit, etc. All of these metrics are reduced by playing doubles instead of singles. When we play doubles, we pay $20 per court, but singles is $10 per court. Either way I am paying $5, so whats the big deal? I get more utility from playing singles (keeping competition constant) so doubles gives me less bang for buck individually, and we are paying collectively more for the court.

My incentive structure is to have the same four people and use two courts to play singles. So due to the pricing structure, the incentive is to use more courts with fewer people which makes the resource more scarce per person. Stinking public operated tennis courts with their poor pricing decisions.

Unless for some reason they want to encourage singles over doubles play, or bank on first-timers or non-utility maximizing consumers, I think they need to evaluate their system.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pirates Loot

I saw a headline for this article:

I realize that the loser in this case is the fan and the player. I am neither of these, so perhaps this is where my opinion differs from those that are.

What is so bad about trying to make a profit? I mean, a baseball franchise is a business. Businesses is most cases have the objective to maximize profit. It is funny how the commissioner has to go and tell people that they are not trying to make a profit. Well, let me correct myself, he has to say the owners are not pocketing the profit. Still, if they were, that is a business decision. Right?

If I start a business and want to pay myself more, if there are profits I can put them back into the business toward growth or I can take it as my salary and do what I want. One way the business will grow and make me profit later, one way is for short run gain.

I cede that the accounting model above is simple. I understand that baseball has unions and rules and regulations and image and on and on and many people are not concerned with the profitability of the team, but with wins and bragging rights. But still, if you do not like the management and the way they run the business, perhaps it is time to find a team that you do like the management for - or stop enabling the management to make decisions you do not like by funding the team.

Monday, September 28, 2009


For the first time since sophomore year in high school, I had to purchase pants with a waist size less than 34 inches. I have consistently selected 34 waist for about 10 years.

Sometimes the 34s were loose or tight depending on the label. My current jeans may still just be manufacturer variance so I am not celebrating about a thinning waist just yet. My purchase of loose 33 inch jeans did cause me to wonder about the economics behind why some 34s are bigger and some are smaller. With such an objective measure, the idea of longer and shorter 34 inches seems absurd, but for some reason it is most definitely the case. Why else are there fitting rooms? If you knew a 34 X 30 would fit you perfectly, you would not need to try it on.

My original thought was that in order to gain customer satisfaction and loyalty, they may add some fabric and call 34 inches 33. Who would not want to shop at the place where they fit into 33 inch jeans? However, my friend reminded me of the marginal cost of fabric and if you are adding an extra inch to each pair of jeans, that is going to cost a lot of money.

Later we went to a relatively cheap clothing store where I barely fit into an adult large shirt. I typically wear medium. She said that cheap clothes are often made smaller and with thinner fabric. Apparently the cost saving method is to overstate the size of the clothes.

I just see this whole game theory, inter-temporal model that predicts the equilibrium between cost of fabric and customer loyalty benefit. It is hard to measure the profitability of appealing to customer psychology or how long that would last. It is also hard to know how many cheaters there would be in the game. All the while the social benefits of having a standardized system are dwindling.

Perhaps more experienced shoppers can enlighten me. What would be some other costs or benefits to understating or overstating clothing sizes?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Circumference of an Ellipse

I was thinking about the integral of a balls flight and wondered if it was equivalent of force. I do not think it is, but the distance travel path would be. Then I thought about it and I do not know how to measure that.

This led me to look into measuring the circumference of an ellipse and divide by two. The circumference of a circle is diameter * pi but an ellipse does not have a diameter. So I looked online for a simple formula and found there is not. But this website is quite thorough in the different options.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cheating Excel

Sometimes I feel like I am cheating excel. I feel sneaky about it and even a little bad. You see, the pivot table is a useful tool for creating charts from table data and formatting the information into quite a lovely little box.

The problem is, pivot tables make the spreadsheet heavy and bulky in terms of memory. I copy and past special the values and formats from the pivot table onto blank cells, then delete the pivot table. So I make the tool do all the grunt work, then skip out on the bulkiness and take all the credit for myself.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Indian Giver

An "indian giver" is one who gives away something in what seems to be a permanent but unspecified contract, then insists that the item be returned.

What then is an "indian taker"?

Volunteer Labor Equilibrium

A friend of mine recently interviewed for a non-paid volunteer position at an established relief organization. Apparently they had no positions open for a few months, but suggested she return at that time to try again.

I was blown away for two reasons. First, they must be quite ineffective at interviewing because they definitely do not know what kind of worker and person they turned down. Second, I was intrigued by the equilibrium that was apparently reached.

Marginal cost of the non-paid worker is 0. Well, maybe there are some training costs or other costs associated with account set up, HR work, etc. associated with new hires. So marginal cost is minimal. These means the return to marginal labor is also very low, there are non market influences (union like behavior by those in the paid positions protecting themselves) or the organization is not employing capital and labor optimally.

If the primary explanation is the first reason above, that is great news for humanity, at least in this region. There are so many volunteers that there is not enough capital to allow them to be productive. Any more volunteers will just be getting in the way at this point and reducing the overall output. How excellent would that be? Could you imagine meeting with the Bishop and hearing, "Sorry, we do not have anything you can do for about 2 months. Every single calling is booked." That would have to be an extremely light load for any one person. I think that would stink too. Reminds me of a BYU ward. "I just got my calling, I am the hymn book collection committee to pick up hymnals after meetings. We work closely with the hymn book distribution committee."

I suspect reason number two is the most likely primary reason, but number 3 is also a weaker factor as well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Why is a day divided into 24 hours? It is a strange number of sections to divide the day. Why not 10 equal segments in a day with 100 minutes each with 100 seconds?

Years are the time for the earth to revolve around the sun once. Great. There happens to be a 365.25 rotations per revolution giving us days. I have not thought about weeks much yet. But hours in a day. That one is on the mind.

I heard a good answer to this question. 24 divides into 360 evenly. 15 degrees per hour. On a analog clock, this means each number is spaced 30 degrees from its neighboors. That is cool.

But, 10 also divides into 360 nicely. It would be 36 degrees per hour. I do not advocate changing this because people are far too comfortable with longitude measurments and our current time system, but it remains interesting to me why and who decided on non-decimal time system. Is this the same for all cultures? Or is time tracking a western idea that spread accross the globe?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speeding Metaphor

Dan and I were discussing the expected benefits and costs of speeding in terms of time. The benefit of speeding is your expected time of arrival is sooner and the difference increases as the distance travelled increases.

We agree that for short commutes, speeding only yields a slightly improved expected arrival time due to traffic lights. Short distance speeds only make a difference if the fast car makes the light and the slow car does not. The more lights between start and end reduce the effect of speeding on average.

For long distances with few traffic stops, say a 700 mile drive, travelling at 80 miles instead of 70 saves an hour and 15 minutes. However, if the speed limit is 70, there is some probability per mile that you will get a speeding ticket (given obedience to other traffic laws). If given a ticket, and the driver chooses to go to traffic school, he does not save any time. So the expected time saved is probablity of not getting a ticket, multiplied by the time saved, plus the probability of getting a ticket multiplied by the time lost (negative time saved of ticket process on the roadside and traffic school time).

Time saved and lost can be easily assumed, the probability of getting a ticket at a given speed is much harder.

Now for the metaphor: I have heard a metaphor (from traffic school) that was used to explain how flow of traffic is not a valid excuse for speeding. When everyone speeds, it is like the officer has a line in the water and all the fish are biting. He can catch plenty of speeders.

When applying this metaphor to the probability situation above, it is incomplete. A police officer may not be inclined to pull people over for going 5 over or 10 over. Why? He likely has bigger fish to fry. In other words, the speeders do not choose if they get tickets like a fish chooses to bite on the bait. The speeders only choose to swim in dangerous waters. The officer is the one who selects the fish. It is more like spear fishing.

So the faster you go, the higher the probability of getting a ticket is, but the more time you save. Also the flow of traffic does matter, because if you are consistently the biggest fish in dangerous water, you are more likely to get a ticket. This would make for a nice model with an optimum speed (or speed above traffic flow). There would have to be several parameters but I would guess optimal time saving speed is somewhere between 5 to 10 over the limit.

Speeding cameras would then be like nets. Any fish in the dangerous water is going to get scooped by the net.

Friday, June 5, 2009


If I were a waiter, I think I would get frustrated with people never being ready for the "Would you like anything to drink?" question. How many times have I eaten in a restaurant? This is ALWAYS the first question and yet, I am always caught off guard. I go straight to the main dishes thinking what I want to order for food.

Now, considering my attitude if I were a waiter, and analyzing the situation as a patron, I have decided that there is a systematic flaw present that would help the patron-me and the waiter-me if implemented. Put the drinks selection right at the front of the menu or in some automatically visible place. Why are the sodas, juices and milk selections always buried somewhere deep on the bottom in small font on the second to last page?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Restaurant Title

I was thinking about how delicious my sandwich was, but also how peculiar my tastes are as well. Growing up in a home with odd condiments always available (horseradish, 4 different kinds of mustard, mint jelly) I have learned to sample new ones now and again. Who puts spicy mustard and horseradish on their turkey sandwich? 

It was delicious but I do not think it would be for everyone. It seemed like a manly sandwich with some punch. So I want to make a restaurant called, "Real Man Food." The only milk there would be whole. No diet sodas. Lots of spicy stuff. Etc.  What are some manly menu items you can think of?

Which sounds like another good restaurant name, "Food Man, Chew!" And you could have a whole theme derived from the facial style.

Food Orientation

I have a theory about food orientation. I think foods taste slightly different, or I should say, the eating experience is slightly different based on the direction of intake.

For example, asparagus eaten leafy side first is different than stalk side first. I prefer leafy side first because it tastes more bitter, then the stalk is crunchy and does not leave the bitter after-taste. 

Another idea based on the first is multiple ingredient foods relative position. I find that a sandwich tastes different if you flip it upside-down and take a bite. The relative position of the layers creates a different experience.

In choirs, a good director will blend a SAT or B section  into a smooth gradient of vocal tone and sound quality. This helps the singers blend and match to create an overall more beautiful sound. I wonder if this analogy can apply to foods. Is there a most beautiful order to assemble then devour a sandwich?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Duke Boys

Do Luke and Bo have a hidden secret farm-base?

The wrecked a cop car every episode by evading the police. They are probably up for hundreds of moving violations, but somehow the Roscoe P. Coltrane never takes a warrant to the Duke home. Law enforcement is different these days. 

Global Warming

I recently blogged over to this page about global warming:

I found that while I agree with most of what he writes, the tone he wrote it in made me constantly fight what he was saying.  As I read I kept having to tell myself that I agree with his main(and just about only) point that increased carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere and that increased carbon dioxide leads to increased heat. In any case, this professor's arrogance really turned me off from his message and I kept trying to find holes in it. 

Some thoughts on global warming:

1. Most of the references I hear about global warming are anecdotal and therefore not extremely useful. 

2. Carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere and while there a lot of scientific research out there, I do not know of any conclusive evidence that ties the increase to human activity. My guess is that human activity is a substantial contributor to the increase. 

3. The above author seemed miffed when people refer to global warming as a religion. I also consider it a religion in a sense, but not with the same meaning as he refutes. I suppose that I do not think that calling anything a religion discredits it. I am a 'scientific' thinker but am also religious. I think that my religious believes are based on a scientific type method (See Book of Mormon, Alma 32). Nothing about carbon dioxide levels requires faith, but to change one's actions due to the belief/understanding of global warming does require a moral stand. 

Even at the most extreme of generally accepted estimates, the benefit of taking measures to reduce greenhouse gases  does not outweigh the costs when discounted over time. The effects are too slow and too far into the future to justify current action. Also while substantial evidence supports an increase in carbon dioxide and heat, there is much less conclusive evidence about the extent of the effects.  Therefore the moral stand is for the benefit of others (future generations.) 

I think those who change their actions to reduce global warming are acting in faith and due to a moral position. This statement is not intended to discredit anything or anyone, but to express their motivation more precisely.

4. Should this moral stand be legislated and enforced? I do not think so. I think before laws are enforced to make people act against personal time preferences, people should try social influence. Television networks, celebrities and many many people are doing just that and it is great. I do not oppose missionary work or trying to share the positive effects of moral actions.

Since greenhouse emission has a significant negative externality, it seems wise to in some way tax the bad activity or subsidize the good. I think this type of legislation is less preferrable than societal influence, but it is better than outlawing consumer products or certain car colors. I think that this type of legislation should be within reason. I know that is subjective and I would not know where to draw the objective line, but extreme taxes could severly limit personal liberties.

Sometimes taxes can erase societal influence though, and that would be bad. So really, stay away from tax and subsidy if you can!

5. Lastly, I think it is funny how much contradiction exists due to political party stances on various issues. When people try to paint things black and white, they are bound to contradict themselves at some point. In this topic, I consider the typical liberal stance, which is to enforce as many laws as possible to protect the environment and in so doing, limit personal freedoms (like owning a black car or buying certain types of lightbulbs.) I think that these are decisions based on a moral position. The same typical stance would think it bigotted and cruel to not recognize same-sex marriage, which is also a decision based on a moral position. 

Please notice that the inverse is true of the typical conservative viewpoint. 

I also believe that government legislation is easy to create, but harder to eradicate. So if in doubt, I lean to the libertarian side of non-implementation. 

But in all things, there is so much gray area. In order to treat others as you would be treated, how does this apply here? Should we treat future generations like we would like to be if we were them? Or should we treat others now the way we would  by allowing people to consume according to their own morals and preferences?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I do not know what it is about those Subs

As I was eating at Subway today, I started to think about how many possible combinations of sandwiches you could create.

Someone may note that I have more posts inspired by sports and subway...

Anyway, in order to be a sandwich, you need bread. There are 7 or 8 bread choices.
On the website I see 21 permanent meat choices. (Includes veggie, which is the choice of no meat.)
The subway by my office has 3 kinds of cheese. 4 choices if you get no cheese, but 7 with 2 cheese options and 8 cheese combinations if you include no, one, two or all choices of cheese. (2 to the 3rd power.) Has anyone ever asked for multiple cheeses? I think I want to next time.
Toasted or Not. Mutliply by two.
I believe there are 9 veggie choices. I think the easiest way to do this is to raise two to the ninth power because you can get multiple veggies.
Then there are 8 dressing choices, wait, 9 because you can get oil OR vinegar. Again, multiple dressings is also an option.
Salt and pepper comes in one can so thats another times binary multiplier. 
Parmesean cheese sprinkle? Another two. 

So if my memory and math serves me right, that is 8*21*8*2*(2^9)*(2^9)*2*2 
And that is assuming you do not get multiple meat orders. I may try that next time too, "I would like ham, turkey and meatball marina sub please. Toast it. With pepperjack and provolone."

You could bound the options by only allowing choices that have no effect on the price (post-meat selection). I do not know if multiple cheeses increases the price, I am sure that multiple meats would. I also like to get my onions and peppers toasted with the rest of the sub -- that option is free, but not included in my combination calculation. For the sake of simplicity I will say that a sub with toasted onions and peppers is the same as non-toasted.

My product is 2,818,572,288 combinations. If you ate at subway once per day and chose a unique combination, it would take you 7,722,116 years before you ate them all. If you ate 3 times a day that is still 2.6 million years. How about 5 meals a day, all subway: Only 1.5 million years. 

I think my favorite combinations would coincide with the most hungry days: Veggie sub, no veggies, no dressing. You would only have to eat plain toast or bread 16 times. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Home Court/Field Advantage

Dave and I were chatting about baseball and basketball playoffs. He mentioned that there are more upsets in baseball than basketball meaning home field advantage is less of an advantage in baseball.

This is interesting because it seems that baseball would have more advantage due to the home team always having the last scoring opportunity and the fields are not standardized like they are in other sports.

First off, I would need to compare actual data to see if HCA is significantly different (number of upsets) in baseball than other sports. Secondly, if there is a difference, then I would need to make a testable model. 

Some preliminary ideas I have are that due to the simultaneous offense and defense in baseball or that baseball has a slower pace therefore crowd fed momentum may be less influential. Or perhaps scoring in baseball is driven primarily by consecutive hits instead of one time attempts in basketball. 

Any other hypotheses out there? 


This is a great book! The only downside was some locker room and back office quotations that were uncensored- but it was a fascinating look at how some clubs have exposed arbitrage opportunities in baseball created by old baseball knowledge. Strategies and players may be over and under valued because the decision makers in baseball are athletes and not statisticians or analysts for the most part. Thus old ideas have been assumed correct and not been exposed to thorough analysis.

It explores the Oakland A's management techniques and how they have done a lot with a little money by taking advantage of buying assets (players) cheap, in using their talents they show how they are good ball players and then sell them at a profit or lose them to free agency and start over again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Zeros and Fishnets

Today while I graded tests, I noticed one student crossed his zeros with a slash from about 1 o'clock to 7 o'clock.  In a mathmatics based test, where null set is always in the realm of possible answers, this does not seem like a very good habit. I assume the slash is in order to distinguish the zeros from the letter "o". Again on a math test, "o" is not likely a common answer. I pointed out this observation to the professor. 

A few problems later, my professor had the test and mentioned that there were a bunch of zeros on an answer he was grading. $15,000. You need to cross those zeros or else someone might think your answer is "isooo" all in caps. That is a common answer to many, many calculus problems.

Unrelatedly, I was walking on campus and noticed that people in shorts, sitting at park tables when the sun is high, creates an illusion that everyone sitting is wearing fishnet stockings. The tables are made of that material commonly found as playground equipment. It is hard plastic with small holes all over. It reminds me of small-link chain fences. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Follow Up on Subway System

So today I told the guy three drops of ranch. He did perfectly. 

I think the more objective and measurable an instruction is, the more likely it will yield the desired result. This seems obvious but I think that I still use a lot of relative adjectives that are open to interpretation.

Funny note about lunch today. I saw an aquaintance in line and we started talking as we waited. I told him my sauce woes and he chuckled. I found out why when he requested "a lot of mayo --- I will tell you when to stop." There was a good eighth inch layer of mayonnaise by the time he said to stop.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Subway System

I like Subway. But I have some concerns. No matter how hard I try to emphasize how little I want, I always end up with way too much sauce. 

Today I got a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki (I do not know why it is teriyaki) and I forgot to say "just a little" in response to if I want sauce and my sandwich was baptized in sweet onion sauce. It was not a Catholic baptism either. Even the times I do plead for as little mustard, mayo, vinegar or oil, I still end up with way too much. From a cost minimizing/utility maximizing approach this makes no sense to me.

I have a little fast food experience. In high school I worked for the famous In-N-Out Burger. I recall in a staff meeting we were instructed to give 3 ketchup packets by default and more only when requested. Most people never use very much kethup (just check the trash bags) and it saves money to only give extra to those who ask. The other thing I noticed in working fast food is you get into a rythym doing the task assigned to you. When something comes up to break the rythym, it is moderately frustrating (maybe I am the minority here.) Filling up empty ketchup containers, fetching more packets, replenishing the condiment holders or any other extra task completely although momentarily halted the assembly line.

So back to Subway. When the "Sandwich Artists" load the sauce on, not only is it costly to the franchise, but it empties out the sauce shooters faster than if they put on a paletable amount. I can only imagine gliding through sandwiches, getting faster and faster, feeling the groove and the worst thing happens -- you pick up the mustard bottle and its empty! Hold the line! Stop the process. Backup the sandwiches, gotta reload! How frustrating is that? So I see franchise and employee level incentives preventing sauce overload. 

Somehow these incentives just do not get the job done. Even my high pitched "tiny" only contains the damage at best. I am stumped. Next footlong I am going to try to walk them through the process, "Put 3 spots on there. If you feel the need to cover the entire sandwich with a thin layer, use the oversized butter knife thing." After that I will sound like the crazy guy who has VERY particular taste.

One last thing. If we take the word artist off the apron, will it help the line move any faster? Sometimes the condiment person is great. Sometimes you get Van Gogh back there placing the pickles symmetrically atop the tomatoes so you will get pickle in every bite. It is a great plan until you smother the thing in mustard so you cannot taste anything anyway. Then you wrap and roll the thing into paper only managing to fold it with the assistance of a machete. By the time that thing is unrolled on the table and on the way into my mouth half of the condiments have fallen out anyway.

I ate Subway for lunch today. I found a nice secluded table so I could compose this post in my mind as I ate. 

Pride Cycle

Check this out:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Bunny

On old aquaintance of mine asked the other day what gender the Easter Bunny is.

I always imagined the Easter Bunny as a boy. After some online research I found that there are a variety of opinions on the matter. One pattern I did notice from my online sample is that those who asserted male gender did not justify their opinion. Those who asserted female gender provided  supporting evidence. 

This pattern could mean one of two things. People assume that the general belief is that the bunny is a man, and feel the need to justify their opposing stance. Either this is true or there is no evidence for thinking the bunny is male.

What do you think?

Some evidence is that because the bunny lays eggs, then it must be female. But does the bunny really lay eggs? Female bunnies may have eggs but do not lay them.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bread Bag

I decided that I hate the twisty-do's the close the plastic bread bag. 

I love the square shaped open end plastic thingys that clip on. My only suggestion to the manufacturers of the plastic-do's is to make them a color that will not blend in with any counter top. Tie-dye, camo (ironically), neon green, yellow, bright pink, any of those would be hard to miss on the counter. The white ones are killer. They hit the counter and I give up on them. I usually find them a day or two later.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hot or Cold?

I was on a date and asked if she preferred to be hot or cold if she had to pick an extreme. She said she preferred hot and I began to react. Before I stated my case she protested that she does not like the position people always take and say, "You can always put on more layers in the cold, but you cannot always remove layers in the heat." She pointed out that this solution is merely avoiding choosing hot or cold, but finding a way to be neutral.

I had never thought about it like that. So I had to stop and consider which I would prefer if I could not correct my situation. It becomes a harder question. If I am hot I get headaches and irritable, but it is bearable. I can put it out of mind. Cold is very forceful and it is hard to think about anything else when it is very cold. Also, I do not know anyone who goes into a refriderator to relax, but people do go into saunas. 

I think the original question would be better stated as "Do you prefer hot weather or cold weather?"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


At school there are events all the time for various clubs, teams, etc. For some reason, people feel that the best way to distribute information about events is by way of the flier.

This really drives me crazy. When I am walking, and someone puts a flier in my hand, I have nowhere to put it. I do not have to keep it, I can remember a time and date. Even if I did keep it, where would I keep it. It would clutter my wall, my desk or the floor. So I decide not to keep it, now what?

My decision turns to who I have to hurt now with this flier that I do not want. Do I hurt the organization that produced the flier by throwing it away and wasting their money? Do I help the organization and possibly someone who might be interested by placing it on a table; simultaneously hurting the people who have to clean up my litter? I hate littering.

It does not help that the people handing out the fliers sometimes are very prideful and feel like they have to push until you take the flier. So you cannot just walk by without getting called out. Today, I walked by just such a student. My hands were in my pockets and as I walked by I half shrugged and made a false attempt at taking my hands out of my pockets as I said, "Sorry."

I know it was a lame excuse, what I really meant was, "No thanks, I do not want one." Anyway, as I walked by he incredulously questioned, "Was that really your excuse!?" I turned around still walking and did a full shrug (removing both hands from pockets) and chuckled, "I just did not want a flier." Then he said, "Look, you just pulled your hands out! C'mon!" 

While I do not appreciate the aggressive marketing, I think his reaction was classic and I can totally relate to him having proselyted in Taiwan. I was laughing to myself for a few minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2009


When I use a desktop computer, the device I manuever to navigate the arrow is called a mouse. What is the correct way to pluralize that word. Is it mice? Mouses? Mousen?


What percentage of people who watch an entire Nascar race fall asleep during the competition?

I legitimately would like to know the answer to this question. I have a small sample size and my hypothesis is that it is a simple majority.

Double or Triple?

A few months ago on a Sunday afternoon we were having lunch. As Jared made a towering peanut butter and jelly sandwich with 3 pieces of bread and 2 layers of filling, he commented on the bounties of triple-decker sandwiches.

The Conflict:
Josh stated that it was not a triple decker but a double decker. He said because there were only two layers of condiment, it was a double decker.

When I heard this argument, I agreed, because if you think of a building with a floor, a ceiling, an upstairs level and a roof on top, that is like 3 pieces of bread, but two layers of living space. That dwelling is called two story, not three.

The Rebuttal:
Jared said each bread is a deck, and there are three layers or decks of bread. It is a triple decker. And claiming invention of the sandwich, He was authorized to name it as he chose.

The Resolution:
I used Google images search to find out what the general population thought. I typed in “double decker sandwich”, and to Jared’s chagrin sandwiches resembling his now half-eaten one were pictured. However, when I typed “triple decker sandwich” identical pictures were displayed. Not one “triple decker” had four pieces of bread. A toss up. What do you call it?


The second to last play of the playoffs was ruled a fumble and not an incomplete pass. I watched with Cardinal’s fans who groaned in disbelief. The call is not the subject of this difference of opinion.

If the refs called an incomplete pass, the Steeler’s receieved an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the ball would have been on the 29 yard line with 5 seconds to play. I agree that this would have been a far more exciting play to end the game. I never like to see the last few seconds kneeled away (though I understand why they are).

Here is the conflict: What are the chances that the Cardinals would have scored a touchdown on the last play to give them the win? I think it is less than 10% strictly due to the nature of football, combined with the severely limited options that the offense would face. Touchdown or lose, and they are probably going to throw to Larry F. in the air.

My roommate is convinced that Arizona had a 50/50 shot of scoring a touchdown on the play due to the high apex of Fitz’s leap and the accuracy of Warner’s arm.

I just don’t see it. What do you think?

Clear Path Foul

In the NBA there is a foul called a “clear path foul”. This occurs when there is a fast break opportunity and the newly defending team commits a foul. It is a clear path foul when there are no defenders between the breaking offensive player and the basket. The penalty for a clear path foul is the offensive team gets two foul shots and the ball (before 2006 it was one shot and the ball).

We were watching a Laker game and this foul was committed against Lamar Odom. My roommate could not understand how 2 shots and the ball was a just penalty for the foul.

I was sure that the NBA rule committee carefully evaluates the rules and associated penalties. They are likely approved by a majority of referees, players, coaches and administrators. I am fine with believing that they are making rules to provide a fair and marketable sport.

This article
provides evidence for my point of view:

“The ‘clear path’ rule would be tweaked because statistics showed teams are averaging less than 2 points when clear path fouls are called. (under the one shot rule)

‘The original idea behind the clear path foul was we didn’t want them to occur. But now, when they do occur, the offended team is not getting the yield point-wise that they should be,’ NBA vice president Stu Jackson told”

I wonder what the average point yield is now under the two-shots tweak. I also liked the insight into the team representation that is involved in the NBA rule changing process. It seems like it is a very bureaucratic system.

What is a sport?

This is a question that I revisit from time to time since I was 18. In the lobby of a college dorm hall, this question was surveyed to several people walking in and out by some pals and I. I believe this question originated from a Philadelphian who did not consider golf to be a valid sport. This was poorly received from the nearby chap who was a Californian golfer.

Philly defined sport as strictly games that are endorsed and sponsored by a city associated organization such as soccer, basketball, football, baseball, hockey, etc. (Think LA Lakers, NY Yankees, Pittsburg Penguins, Arizona Cardinals…)

The broadest definition we fielded was “anything with competition.” For further understanding of the justification for this definition, I probed various situations:

JH: “How about Golf?”

PA: “That’s a sport.”

JH: “Grades on a curve?”

PA: “That’s a sport.”


PA: “That’s a sport!”

Over the years I have refined my definition to this:
Sports are games with an objective that are judged on an objective scale, where the athlete does more work than the equipment involved. [There also seems like there should be some minimum energy expenditure requirement as well, because Pool and Poker are not really sports.]

For clarification, this definition rules out several olympic games such as figure skating, gymnastics, diving, etc. I call these competitive artforms. There is a subjective scale of judging. I completely respect the people who participate in these events, I understand that these require physical exertion, stamina, athleticism, practice and high skill level. By not classifying these events as sports, I do not mean any disrespect. I just like to classify things.

This also rules out motorsports. I like to call those MOTORsports. Again, no disrespect, I just do not think college basketball and nascar should be broadcast on the same channel. More on this later. Poker and football also should not be shown on the same channel.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are champions the best?

I think not necessarily. 
I think that a champion is the winner of a systematic competition. A champion is not necessarily the best.

Conflicting opinion: The champion is the best until beaten. They are the best until proven otherwise.

All events have a random or unexplained element in them. If I flip a coin and it lands heads, do I assume that heads is the more probable outcome? If I cannot repeat the experiment I have nothing else to base it on. I submit that there is not evidence to support any hypothesis.
One competition can tell you absolutely who won that specific competition. The winner of a championship competition is by definition the champion. To find out who the best team is, there needs to be a larger sample size to approach the truth. I see the characteristic of being better or worse than someone as a mean and variance, not a single draw. A single draw from a distribution does not provide evidence to prove or disprove anything about mean or variance of the distribution. Likewise a single elimination championship game does nothing to prove or disprove which person or team is better.

Here are some practical examples. If I play ping pong with two friends. I can nearly always beat Dan, but Dan can almost always beat Landin. Alas, Landin can almost always beat me. So who is the best? I think it is very hard to tell. Is Landin better than me because he can beat me most of the time? The champion depends almost entirely on the systematic set up of the competition, primary which two play first (in single elimination.) 

So the winning team of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is clearly the champion, but are they the best? They might be, but I do not know. There is insufficient evidence to support that claim. Since there is definitely randomness in basketball games, the results will form a distribution if the experiment is repeated. With only one game it is hard to tell. Therefore, the more games that are in each round, the more likely the better team will prevail. The same way that more coin flips will tend to bring the flipper closer to the true distribution of outcomes.

To me this explains why there are less upsets in NBA playoffs compared with NCAA. Honestly, I really like March College hoops and think the randomness adds to the fun. I do not care if the tournament determines the best team or not. I think it is fun to watch and because there are high stakes, there is a high excitement level as well. Champion is good enough for me.