Monday, December 31, 2007

Economic Naturalist Essay Topics

I've been getting a lot of hits from searches for "economic naturalist" that lead here. I think searchers are looking for potential topics on which to write essays...I may add more in the future, but here's a starter list:

Why do some fast food restaurants offer you a free meal if you don't get a receipt?

Why do good friends make bad roommates?

Why is locally farmed, organic food more expensive when it uses less fertilizer and does not have to be shipped as far or as long?

Why do students get discounts for movie tickets but not for popcorn?

Why did the tobacco industry support a ban on cigarette advertising?

Why might pesticides be good for your health?

Why is there a light in the fridge, but not the freezer?

Why do drive-up ATMs have braille on the keys?

Why are sell-out concert (or sporting event) tickets, which will be scalped later, not priced higher to start with?

Why do pimps dress the way they do?

Why do some cars have the fuel filler door on the driver's side while others have it on the passenger's side?

Why are the portraits on coins done in profile while those on paper money are in full face?
Why are newspapers, but not soft drinks, sold in vending machines that allow customers to take more units than they pay for?
Why do many bars charge patrons for water but give them peanuts for free?
Why do new cars costing $20,000 rent for $40 a day, while tuxedos costing only $500 rent for around $90?
Why does an accident in the northbound lanes of a divided highway cause a traffic jam in the southbound lanes?
Why is the price of gasoline really NOT too high?
Why does the government pay farmers not to grow crops?
Why would everyone be worse off if everyone was given a million dollars?
Why do you park in a driveway and drive in a parkway? (I actually don't think that there's a good economic explanation of this)
Why might vehicle safety equipment such as airbags and seatbelts kill more people than they save?
Why might a politician vote against giving himself a pay raise?
Why does the stock market offer a higher average rate of return on investment than bonds?
If we have so much wealth in the world, why does poverty still exist?
Why do many people buy larger houses when they retire and their children leave home?
Why are servers paid more than assistant chefs at high-end restaurants?
Why are the least productive workers in a work group within a firm typically paid more than the value of what they produce, while the most productive workers are paid less?
Why do taxi drivers quit early on rainy days?
Why does Apple sell its black laptops for $150 more than for otherwise identically configured white ones?
Why should farmers hate years when the weather is great for farming?


Note: many of these hail from Robert H. Frank's book The Economic Naturalist.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anti-Splashback Urinal

I would LOVE to see this design possibly coupled with a no-flow design to form the perfect urinal!

Monday, December 24, 2007

McKee Jungle Gardens

McKee Botanical Gardens, formerly known as McKee Jungle Gardens has a rich history of dazzling patrons.

I recommend you follow the link above and check out some of the historic pictures. I wish we could still make monkeys play violins and hold your hand while you walk down some (shorter-than-they-used-to-be) vistas. I'm going to visit this week with Andrea Gaga.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pick #56

Savage - Swing

featured on the movie "knocked up" in the dice rolling dance scene

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Old(s) Whips


not all of the Olds is in the shot, but you still get a flavor. Good cars.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pick #55

The Paul Schwartz Project - "Earthbound," title track from his 2002 album. I bought the album for $.50 or $1 or something like that from Jessica's FYE a few years ago.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Air Bubble of Death

I am laboriously typing this with 2 broken wrists...

When I was in the hospital, I saw a sequence of people who were taking care of different aspects of my condition. I had a Vicodin before the male nurse came to put in an IV, so I didn't mind the needle in my vein so much...it was a small needle anyhow. In case you're wondering I still said "¡Cabrón! ¡Hijo de puta madre!" I guess it's generally less offensive. Male nurse flushed the needle/tube setup with saline solution and left. A minute later, I noticed 2 air bubbles in the tube. I made sure to tell the doc (PA) that I thought we should suck some blood out to clear the line of air & he agreed. Between discovering the bubbles & the doc's return, I thought it quite possible that an air bubble had entered the blood stream. Not such a big deal while there was a tourniquet on my arm, but it had to come off some time.

I was thinking that this (accident of sloppy work) would be a craptastic way to die, especially for my family and friends. However, I decided that there was nothing I could do at that point and I would be ready to go if the air bubble ended up taking my life last Monday night. I have no pending grievances with anyone and I'm satisfied with my achievements thus far in my life. Don't misunderstand, I really would like to spend more time on Earth...I have lots more to give (and take, and share). I have most everything lined up, ready for death, including a will and living will.

This experience reminds me that I don't often tell people how much they mean to me. It just usually seems awkward. In general, now, and in a rather impersonal way, I'd like to thank all those people who have contributed to my positive life experiences and thus my ability to now view death from this perspective. I know that there was a good deal of uncertainty at the time, but emminent death is almost never certain. Special thanks to: family members, anyone affiliated with the HC, teammates, roommates, teachers (both in formal and informal settings, anyone with whom I've had a meaningful conversation with after midnight, people who've let me crash at their place during an adventure or after a party, fellow explorers of Spain and Ecuador, neighbors, and older people who are peer-like friends.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hiatus

I broke both my wrists today...might not blog for a little while...maybe I'll post pix.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pick #54

Tracy Chapman - Would You Change?

I first heard this song on Meg's powerpoint presentation from a Flagler thingy. It took a while to figure out who the artist is. For a while, I thought Tracy was a man, until Ashley corrected me this past summer. She just has a kind of husky voice.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Handicap Button

I can't stand it when people (who are NOT handicapped) go to the GYM and press the handicap button to open the doors. I mean, it's one thing at the dining hall or the dorms, maybe even the bathroom...but at the MFing GYM?? Seriously.

It's not just wasting electricity or wearing out the motor that gets on my nerves, it's the sheer laziness. Honestly, if you're that lazy, you probably aren't going to be doing your body much good at the gym.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Culture Shock


alright, this was taken in a small fishing town in Ecuador...

btw, for those who don't speak Spanish, fuerza means strength, not force.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Eco-Friendly Bill Payments

Are online bill pay services eco-friendly? They at least save a stamp. I'll go ahead and assume that the marginal electricity usage involved in paying the bills online is negligible. Paying bills online saves the paper of an envelope and the load on the postal service to deliver that envelope (gas, time, wear & tear on vehicles). Furthermore, funds are transferred electronically...you save a check and all the handling of that check. Nobody has to process the check, stamp it and sort it, so you save ink and mechanical processes by not writing a check.

Just thinking about this, I may have to start paying more of my bills online. The only problem for me is that my checking accounts don't have an online bill pay option...I have to use my E*Trade account for that, and I don't keep enough cash on hand to deal with all my bills through E*Trade.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Automated Assessment



Go ahead and check yours by clicking the link!


I'm not sure how they determine the reading level. Maybe the algorithm searches for long sentences or weird punctuation or longer words. Anybody out there know how this works?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Donating My Body to Science

When I was younger, I wanted to be buried intact. I'm not sure why anymore. After I'm dead, I'm dead (hard to argue with logic like that). I became an organ donor through a sign-up project in college. I probably have a pretty good heart & lungs right now...hopefully it'll stay that way. Anyway, donating your body to science postmortem and being an organ donor are mutually exclusive.

Although it wasn't an explicit attempt to donate my body to science, I began to think about my participation in an FSU exercise physiology experiment as such. I pretty much just ran on a treadmill for these people while they monitored my exhaust gases and heart rate. My only sacrifice was time...and dietary control for a couple days. I think that this may be the best way for me to participate in the experimental (hard) science community unless\until I get my degree in chemistry.

It's too bad I'm ineligible to participate in economics experiments because they pay good money. I didn't get any monetary compensation for my participation in the exercise phys. study, but they did tell me what my VO2 max is, which made doing all the other work worthwhile.

I like the idea of contributing to the repertoire of knowledge through my personal efforts. I told the exercise phys. people that I am willing to participate in future experiments involving running or biking since I'm not fast enough for any of their swim studies (yet). It might also be fun to participate in a psych study or two since there's all these human subjects regulations to keep them from injecting me with crazy viruses or causing me permanent harm.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Naptime Switcheroo

Ever notice how kindergarteners have nap time, yet they hate to take naps. Later in life, high schoolers don't have nap time, yet fall asleep in class. I say that the logical thing to do is move mandatory nap time from kindergarten to high school. The only feasible way to do this is to also move an equal amount of high school time to kindergarten. Since much of high school subject matter requires a foundation (can't do calculus if you don't know algebra), the subject you move would have to be an easy one without much of a foundation. I'm going to vote for economics. High school economics is pretty much a joke, and I think that teaching kids early on that they should forget about sunk costs and think at the margin would help them in the years between childhood and puberty.

The problem with this approach is that economics is only one semester in high school...high schoolers need at least 6 semesters of nap time...but there are only 2 semesters of nap time offered in kindergarten. I guess a reasonable compromise would be to pick some BS elective (pottery, leadership, basketball) and trade that out for a semester of nap time.

After this change, the students who are most likely to fall asleep will have nap time and those who won't fall asleep don't get to. This sounds like a Pareto improvement over the status quo.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pick #53

Athenaeum - "No One" from Radiance

When I bought this album, I just listened to the first 2 songs (the singles). Then I took the CD on a road trip and ended up playing it through. It was so incredible that I burned copies of it for many of my friends. It was extremely hard to pick only one song from Athenaeum. I recommend a playthrough of the album. If you don't have a copy, you should go pick one up.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Double Entendre

A girl walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a double entendre...so he gives it to her!

best joke ever.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Incredible Laptops

OLPC is a program with a mission to supply laptop computers to children in developing countries. The specs of their XO computer are pretty impressive. The computers are designed for kids in the developing world to use and therefore are extremely durable/weather resistant, consume very small amounts of power, have incredible batteries, and are versatile. The features combined with the price of this thing are incredible.

I wonder why we can't get something like this going on in the States for poor schools. For instance, one of my brother's classes in middle or high school (neither of them "poor" schools) tried to give a laptop to every student enrolled in that (I think it was science) class. I never saw it, but I'm pretty sure the program failed.

What is a laptop going to teach a kid about general science anyway? Maybe you could have interactive dissections where instead of cutting open a real frog or pig fetus, you move a blade across the screen. I know that I didn't understand electron hybrid orbitals until I saw an online cartoon of how they form. HOWEVER, our kids have access to computer labs everywhere. Developing country children have probably never seen a computer in their lives.

Imagine the amount of information that can be loaded on an XO laptop and shared with different classes. In a way, it's better than textbooks because of its size and weight. Also, the architects of the project are pretty sure that children will begin to reprogram much of the software that comes on the machines.

I hope that these computers will not be taken by adults who are in a quest for power to be perpetuated by either violence or suppression. I guess I'm mostly thinking of Africa...I don't see this as a problem in Peru. OK, last thought...one laptop per child is a little too dense. Maybe one laptop per pair of children would be feasible. I'm not sure how long these things are supposed to last before breaking or becoming obsolete, but I think a couple rounds (not generations) of children could use the same computer during its lifespan. These guys are on to something.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Same Old Song and Dance

It seems like if you want to make a crappy song popular, all you have to do is come up with a dance for it. Examples:

Macarena
Cha Cha Slide
Boot Scootin' Boogie (not such a bad song)
Soulja Boy - Crank Dat
Achy Breaky Heart
Electric Slide (also, not such a bad song)
Hand Jive
Chicken Dance
Chicken Noodle Soup (I know they made the song to go with the dance, but still)


Honestly, do you think these songs would be nearly as popular if they didn't come up with an overly simplified way to make white people think they can dance?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase

For a good primer on minimum wage facts, visit the Employment Policies Institute.

Like the majority of economists, I am against raising the minimum wage. I certainly don't hate poor people nor do I want to keep them down for some personal benefit. Here is how I see the minimum wage issue... Assume that the labor market is segmented into low-, medium-, and high-skill workers. Assume further that the low-skill labor market is currently in equilibrium at price Peq and quantity Qeq. Now, raise the price of labor (wage) creating an artificial price floor (aka minimum wage) in the low-skill market. Raising the minimum wage will not affect medium- and high-skill workers who currently earn above the new proposed minimum wage.
At a price P1, the amount of workers actually hired falls from the current equilibrium rate Qeq to Qd, the amount that firms are willing to hire at price P1 (people/households "supply" the labor, unlike most other graphs you're used to seeing where firms supply televisions and people demand them).

Here's the tradeoff: people who keep their jobs earn more money, but some people lose their jobs entirely. All workers whose marginal revenue product is between P1 and Peq will be fired. However, people who do keep their jobs are likely to have any benefits reduced so that the employer can help offset the cash outflow of raising the wage. Now you're saying that minimum wage earners don't get 2 weeks paid vacation. While that's true, they could be forced to work more hours off the books after the wage increase or they could be given fewer hours per week.

It is a misconception that most people who earn minimum wage are heads of poor households. This misconception inclines people to think of anti-minimum-wage-hikers as cold hearted bastards. The fact is that around 15% of minimum wage earners are actually heads of poor households. Most minimum wage earners are earning a second (or higher order) income for the family. Many are teenagers or working mothers. Over the course of a few months, most minimum wage earners can earn a raise based on their own merit/performance. This may not be true in menial jobs or ones where you pretty much do nothing productive (e.g. Night Owls *which I heard is now discontinued thanks to Ed Fulton*). HOWEVER, if the minimum wage is raised from Peq to P1, then all of a sudden, there is an excess supply of workers, meaning that minimum wage employees are now expendable. One can be hired and another is more than happy to fill the vacancy.

More effective ways to get more money into the pockets of the working poor is through programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit that allows workers to make more money tax free or through HUD voucher programs that effectively augment family income by giving money toward paying rent. Raising the minimum wage won't be beneficial. Not now, not ever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Too Many Choices

Hey, do you want some ice cream?

What if I asked: Do you want chocolate ice cream, cookies and cream ice cream, apple pie, key lime pie, brownies, cookies, or cupcakes for dessert?

Which question is easier to answer?

The Dutch government commissioned an experimental economic study (Schram, Sonnemans. "How Individuals Choose Health Insurance: An Experimental Analysis." forthcoming) on how people choose health insurance plans when presented with different options. They found that when people have more options, they look at more absolute information, but less relative information and end up making worse choices. I think this is true in just about every decision-making environment.

The more choices you have, the more time you take to make a decision, and you process less information about each option on average, while it's even harder to pick a clear winner.

When I was home over Thanksgiving, my mom made some (pretty bad) brownies. She said that she tried to get just plain old, regular brownies. Apparently there are 5,311 different kinds the store offers now with all kinds of options. Let a brownie be a multidimensional good B(C,K,M,T)
Where:
C
hocolate set {milk, dutch, dark, Hershey brand, double, white}
Kind set {chewy, cake-like, thick}
Mix-ins {walnuts, nothing, chocolate syrup, another color mix for marbling}
Toppings {chocolate syrup, icing, different kind of icing, none, nuts}
As you can see, there are too many choices for brownies (all the permutations that give you different types of Brownies = B(C,K,M,T). You stand there for hours debating which box you should pick up. They all have different properties along the dimensions of: taste, cooking time, price, ease of making, consistency, size. This is just too much info for somebody to process. I say just put out a box of brownies with nuts and syrup and icing all in separately sealed containers, so you can either choose to use them or not when you start baking. I guess you could just pick what's most important to you and come up with a time-saving choice rule (I will get the one with the Hershey brand, no matter what the other components are).

Buying a new car or choosing which candidate to vote for have the same sorts of problems. Both things are so multidimensional that it's almost sure that one package will fall short of the other on at least one dimension. You have to decide how to rank the importance of each component of the package and come up with a decision rule that lets you pick something that's available. It's just about impossible to find a political candidate that you agree with on every issue or a car that's perfect in every way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You Are What You Do

What you do is who you are. How else could one be identified. I guess it's possible to define something by what it's not (something is dry if it is not wet...).

When I identify myself, it's always with something that I do. I'll tell you that I'm a runner (I'm starting to say triathlete), a student, a nice guy, a low-grade adventure seeker, an economist, or a chemist (usually chemist is in the past tense). I don't say that I'm white. I was born white and there's nothing I can do to change that. It's not something that I do. I am an environmentalist, but not the militant kind. That's because I do the 3Rs, ride my bike for transportation when possible, buy recycled, etc. but I don't chain myself to trees or live in a tree. I don't normally say that I'm a man or an American...once again, those are things that are either obvious or irrelevant.

When I try to identify other people, I identify them by what they do. They might be partiers or dancers, mechanics or video-gamers, impulsive or cool, birdwatchers or knitters, slackers or gangsters. I would like other people to evaluate me based on the merits of what I do.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Traffic Externality

The act of one individual driving imposes costs on the rest of society. Among them, there is pollution in the air, wear & tear on the road, increasing probability of an accident on that road, and slowing other people down. Since drivers do not take these external costs into account when deciding when/how much to drive, there is an aggregate effect of too much driving.

When I just drove for my Thanksgiving trip home, I left Tuesday night around 8:30 to get home and Saturday night around 10:30 to get back to Tallahassee. I wasn't trying to stay out of other people's way, rather I was trying to not have them get in my way. If you think about it, you don't really slow down each other car very much. However, when you add up the amount of time that every car is slowed down by you, it gets to be substantial on a non-open road. The effect is more compounded with a higher density of cars...you slow somebody down who then slows the cars behind him even more...

I'm not suggesting that you take other people's time into account when deciding how to plan your driving trips. In fact, I don't do it. I plan for myself. Try to avoid busy streets to save yourself time, gas, and frustration. Don't go somewhere at rush hour. Drive smarter for yourself and you help everyone out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Camouflaged Lizard

I love the way this guy blends in to the ant-hill/log on which he's standing. View full size for better effect.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Molotov Cocktail Recipe

Thought this was funny. Came across it while looking for fun drinks to make for one of my parties:

Molotov Cocktail:

One can Gasoline
1, burning Oily Rag

Decant gasoline into a magnum champagne bottle, stuff one end of the rag into the bottle's neck, shake well, light, and serve.

Great when served to hippies, Communists and most armored vehicles.

Obtained from alex's cocktail recipes

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Fiat Money in Star Trek

Note: I'm not a Trekkie, so there may be errors on the sci-fi front...feel free to correct me.

Nick watches Star Trek sometimes. I've seen parts of episodes. We got in a discussion about the Federation's economy. He said that they don't have money because there's a machine called the Replicator that will reproduce anything that you put in it. Therefore, currency would become worthless because anyone could just make more and more currency. I asked how trade was possible. He said that there's a little bit of barter, but being a solitary ship in space pretty much limits how much interaction you have with other groups of people and you have to be mostly self-sufficient. I inquired if there weren't a sporadically exploitable comparative advantage in producing different goods by different societies. He said "only a little bit."

It took me until the next day to decide that all money would have to be commodity money as opposed to fiat money. Nick highlighted the obvious inflationary problems associated with fiat money. I will recognize a supply-side effect which would potentially decrease the selling price of commodity money, but I think that it could work.

I guess what the whole problem boils down to is what kind of trade-offs are made when you replicate an object. I would guess that you just have to give up the atoms that comprise the molecules that make up that object, so you can't use those same atoms to replicate other things. Perhaps in the throes of deep space, the demand structure changes inter(space)temporally frequently and unpredictably enough that the best thing to replicate is what's needed right now. Perhaps people could recycle old objects and take the atoms out to make new objects in the replicator. That would make a really cool situation where your consumption could double as savings (could you collect your poo, stick it in the replicator, and get an apple to pop back out??).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Un ligo que no veas

No mucha gente sabe que pasó al final de las últimas fiestas en mi hogar. Pues lo natural...fui a descansarme por la noche compartiendo mi espacio, sabes. Ambas veces, no pasaba mucho entre nosotros durante la madrugada, pero se puede llamarlo un ligo. La mañana siguiente de la vez penúltima, me sentí vacío. No significó nada ni fue esperado. No hice nada. Al contrario, la última vez fue increíble aun con menos "actividad". Paso unas horas con una guapa quien he admirado desde hace unos 6 o 7 años. Al hablar con ella, decidí que es bastante guay y quiero conocerla mejor. Me contó que tuvo emociones para mi desde hace años también. Al partir de ella, me sentí más lleno, más vivo y más deseado.

Tengo ganas de reunir con la última, quien me abrazó con ternura y miró tras mis ojos. En serio, palpita mi corazó más rápido por pensar en nosotros juntos. Ahorita vive en otra ciudad, pero va a volver al cabo de unas semanas. Pienso (en serio) de pedirla una cita aunque el horario puede ser un problema pequeño. Llegue cerca de la semana de examenes finales y me voy para pasar la navidad con mi familia. Advino que si va a funcionar, no serán muy fuertes estos obstáculos.

¡Ay! No puedo platicar d'esto con muchas personas, no sé porque. Tal vez sea que ella está lejos ahora y es que la situación parece lejos y no tocable.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pick #51

Copeland Davis - "Ridin' a Rainbow" from Endangered Species

Copeland Davis is awesome live. I went with Carmen to see him for free at Cityplace, courtesy of the HC. He used to play weekly, I'm not sure if he still does. I'm not sure if the album is as good as his live stuff, but I enjoy the album. Endangered Species was recorded using only live musicians in the studio, something that Davis is passionate about. He believes that truly talented musicians are in jeopardy right now as they are being poached by the music industry that pumps out sexy artists with an image who are not talented musicians. Just like alligators in Florida, we can help save this endangered species and bring them back to the point of thriving if we make an effort.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Secret Cypher

My neighbor Amanda's home for Thanksgiving now and when she came over to visit tonight, we ended up solving a cryptogram. I told her that I once invented a code more complex than simple substitution. In fact, Chris Page and I invented a cypher in the 2nd or 3rd grade. Up until this point, very few people know much more than that. I've only shown the code to a handful of special people. However, I was just thinking "what's the point of having this code if there's nobody to use it with?"

So, here's the basic idea... You divide the alphabet up into vowels and consonants. Let me write them as sets:
V={a,e,i,o,u}
C={b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s,t,v,w,x,y,z}
When you have a word, the way you write it in the cypher is by replacing the actual consonant with the element of set C that comes before it in the set (b represents z). Likewise, the first vowel in every word is replaced by the element of the set V that comes before it (u represents a). No other vowels are changed.

Example:
Economics is fun.
Adomolibr er dom.

I know it's nothing fancy, but hey, what can you expect from a kid? This isn't useful for slipping things past the government or fooling a cryptologist, but it could be at least a little frustrating to someone who is trying to figure out your code with a simple substitution.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Nick asked last week if it would be possible to make your own M&Ms. I think not. "Then what about Reese's?" Me: "I don't know, maybe." I talked to a couple people about it and we decided that we would melt down chocolate, pour it into cupcake wrappers, coat the sides with chocolate, freeze it to let it harden up, melt peanut butter, pour it in, freeze again, then top with more melted chocolate. At first I thought that we might have a problem of the layers separating. That didn't happen. They turned out pretty good.

Nick contends that we should open a restaurant. As an economist, I see that a small-scale operation based out of the house where the patrons were, umm, the people who live here, umm, would be a good idea. It is nice that with some good cooking skills, you can make a meal at home that's just as good as something you would get out at a nice restaurant for under half the price. The downside is cleanup.

In my opinion, my roommates and I are good cooks at least 85% of the time that we try. I think that the 15% failure rate is good because it means that we're trying new things and moving outside our comfort zone. Also, let me clarify that (re)heating something does not constitute cooking. Also not cooking if it comes out of a box. Normally not cooking if it goes in the microwave (unless this is a prep step or a time-saving shortcut that replaces part of the time on the stove or in the oven). It's not cooking unless you vigorously mix something then cook it until it changes consistency; chop something up; expose food to high temperatures; kill the animal or pick the fruit/vegetables yourself; ...I think you get my point.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

CheatNeutral

http://www.cheatneutral.com/

This site is weird. Thankfully, it started as a joke. CheatNeutral is a criticism of carbon offsetting companies. If you click the "About" link at the top of the page, then you can read about carbon offsetting.

It's pretty easy to look at and wonder how CheatNeutral could work. The answer is that it doesn't work. I mean, I'm pretty sure nobody actually pays them and they don't pay people. But I didn't sign up as a sinle/monogamous person so I don't actually know. Furthermore, you'd never show your partner the offset certificate. Also, 2 and a half pounds is an absurdly small price to pay for cheating. Browse around the site, though.

Cheating on me has thankfully never happened before (to the best of my knowledge) and it is the one thing that would make me terminate a relationship instantly. No sort of offsetting payment could be made directly to me, let alone to a third (or, better, 4th) party.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Asymmetric Abs



The picture is a little crappy, but my camera doesn't take such great pictures without daylight.

I noticed yesterday that my top 4 abs are asymmetric. I'm still working on building up the bottom 4. I've noticed on the cover of muscle magazines that bodybuilders and really ripped dudes rarely have symmetric abs. I don't plan on being really ripped, but I guess it's a possibility if I can get in the gym on a regular basis (which doesn't seem like a possibility right now, mostly due to a lack of motivation).

It's really nice to see results from working out. Makes me appreciate the ab work that I've done in the last couple weeks. Maybe now with a better diet, I could work on those bottom ones.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Max VO2 Max

I am participating in a study at FSU that's testing the effect of static stretching on endurance runners. Today I went to get my body composition and VO2 Max tested. Next week, I'll run for 30 minutes at 65% of my VO2 Max then either stretch or sit quietly, then run another 30 minutes as far as I can without being able to see how fast I'm going or how far or how long I've gone...but I will be able to control the speed.

The old lab record for VO2 Max was 68 mL O2/kg body weight/minute. Today I ran at 77 mL O2/kg body weight/minute. Check out this website to see how off the charts that is. Also, my body fat was 7.4%...nothing to write home about, but not bad. My max heart rate was 198, but I'm convinced it was higher when I was skydiving!

Striking Similarity


I was looking at some pictures from Spain that were taken by other people. I think this one came from Mani (it was in the folder Spain Pix\Not my pictures\Espana\Granada, which I think the nomenclature of the files & folders matches his style). Compare this to the picture I posted on November30, 2006 called "Flower Light." I thought it was actually one of my pictures that somehow made it into the wrong folder on my computer. Turns out that this one is taken from a slightly different angle. I've found a few other pictures that are very similar to ones I took.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pick #50

Watched Pots - "Triple Deke" from they're more afraid of you than you are of them

You can get this entire album from dude's website. I've been listening to it a little bit lately with Triple Deke as my favorite song, but that may change after some more listens. It's free, so it's totally worth your time. Dude wants people to listen, so hook him up.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nobody to Call

I decided to run today because my achilles is feeling better. I got about 4 minutes into it and decided to turn around and walk back home. Bummer. Running feels so good, but I guess it will have to wait a little longer. I decided to ride my bike to Georgia instead. When I was about 25-30 minutes away from home, I realized that I forgot to bring money with me and that I would probably need to refill my water bottle. On the way back, I ended up getting a gas station guy to fill it up in the sink. After that, I saw a guy next to his truck on the side of the road holding a gas can. I stopped and asked if he needed to call anyone. He said that he didn't have anyone to call. I wonder if that's because he's from somewhere else...I don't remember what his license plate said. I hope that he's just far from home instead of being devoid of friends. He had put a dollar's worth of gas in his truck, but that's all he had. I would have offered him a couple bucks if I had any with me. I wonder how much longer he stood there before anyone helped him.

I'll now mention that he was a black dude, probably about 35-40 years old because I'm wondering if, statistically speaking, black people have to wait longer than white people in a roadside situation before anyone helps them. I doubt that there's a good way to measure that, except with phony, small-sample field experiments which would be plagued by all kinds of design failures that would render the results useless.

I'll now diverge on a racism note. I'm learning in my UR class that there's a lot more racism in America than I thought. We've been looking at it in the housing market and public choice. I'm not sure if it's comforting or not, but a lot of discrimination can be explained by income. However, even after controlling for income, blacks still get the short end of the stick. I wonder if this will change in the future. For instance, my parents went through race riots in high school, when integration was still in its infancy. I wonder if we'll have more equality when members of my generation are in charge of lending institutions, apartment complexes, public policy, and the like. I think that we are on average less racist than our parents. I don't know if/when that will manifest itself in better equality in our country.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Instinct

Nick has a theory about food that certain colors go together. One day I was making chicken, bacon, & ranch to put in a sandwich. Nick said it looked like it wanted something green, so he threw in some green peppers. Yesterday, he put a glass of Maker's Mark in front of me and said "just look at that...I want to drink it." He said that the color just looked appetizing. I think it's kind of cool how we can eat things that are bright yellow or purple ketchup or (Sarah's favorite) blue raspberry. Those colors aren't normally good for you. In fact, instinct should tell you to stay away from them. However, we've been conditioned enough by living in our cushy non-survival-of-the-fittest-kind of world that we don't hesitate to pop some neon colored food or drink in our mouths.

Nick asked what do we have left in our repertoire of actions that could be attributed to instinct? He suggested sex. I don't know. I think that it's possible for someone who's been kept in isolation to have instinctual feelings about sex, maybe even a good idea of how to do it. However, I'm pretty sure that the sex that surrounds us on TV and billboards, conversation and radio songs, books and paintings, has led to a rewiring of that instinct. I mean, you should never instinctively even consider a Cleveland Steamer (nor should you even think about actually doing it). Nick's only valid example of an instinct is suckling. He says that babies know how to suckle and nobody teaches them. I agreed. I said what about breathing? I guess that falls in the category of nearly continuous autonomous functions, which don't count. What about getting into the fetal position to comfort yourself? Does that count?

I think that the only way you can know that something is an instinct is to react to a stimulus in a split second in a situation for which you've never been trained, conditioned, or informed. This significantly reduces the possible space of opportunities to find that you actually have some sort of instinct. Other things that we're programmed to do may fall beneath your perception. For instance, when cold water hits your face, your heart immediately slows down and your blood vessels contract in your extremities. While you may just write that off as a physiological reaction, how else would you define an instinct?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

No Such Thing as Indie Anymore

Nick told me that he heard people discussing that with the advent of internet sites like myspace, there's no longer any truly "independent" musicians (to a lesser extent artists of any kind) anymore. They might not have a major record label behind them, but they do have access to millions of potential fans through a popular website. Furthermore, any artists can put their music up on sites like mp3.com or last.fm. In fact, we ran into Micah (the American Studies guy) at a concert on Monday (Maylene & the Sons of Disaster, Poison the Well, Underoath). Micah clarified that it means something entirely different to be independent these days than it did 10-15 years ago.

Apparently some folks get upset when you suggest that their fav indie band is not actually "independent." I'm not entirely sure why you'd get upset about a thing like that. I guess it's like the thing when there's a song that's been your favorite by that band and then you hear it on the radio...you feel like something that you had an intimate connection with is now property of the masses (who obviously don't deserve proprietorship of this item). Maybe it's just a subcultural thing that you don't want to have tainted by the grimy hands of the masses. I guess I can agree that it's a bad thing for an "independent" band to blow up, sell out, and start making suckier music. However, I think major-record-label-signing would be a positive phenomenon if bands could maintain their style and everything else that the fans love them for.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Monitor on its way out...

My beautiful Planar monitor that some of you know and love is on its way out. In fact, it's been messing with me in small ways for a couple months now and it finally took a big plunge. The screen would freeze on occasion and power cycling the monitor wouldn't fix it. Sometimes the screen would be monochromatic and wouldn't reset until I plugged in another input (Nick's laptop). After a reset, it would work fine for an undefined period of time. I currently have my CRT monitor that I've been trying to get rid of hooked up as my computer's monitor. I actually had to move my desk out from the wall in order to get it to fit.

I'm kind of disappointed that my monitor has died after only 5 and a half years of use. When I got my computer upon graduating high school, I planned on having it for the next 8 years. I meant the tower-monitor combo for 8 years. I was thinking about it, though and it's been moved around a lot (possibly incurring small damages each time) and it was one of the early flat panels. Hopefully now they're built to last longer.

I'm replacing the monitor with this one from Planar. I hear that widescreens can increase your productivity, which would be pretty sweet. I also thought about watching movies on it being cool, but now that I have a TV, that's not such an issue anymore. I'm looking forward to having the extra screen room (and higher resolution).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Weekly Feature?

I think it would be cool to add another weekly feature to the blog, aside from the "Pick of the Week" song. Leave a comment with any suggestions. BTW, make it something that you think would be "Austin" enough for me to cover.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Corner Gas

Superstation WGN is airing Canadian sitcom Corner Gas at midnight Sunday through Thursday (maybe Friday too). It's a show about the small town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada. Basically nothing big ever goes down and the episodes focus on one or 2 out-of-the-ordinary events that pop up. I like the humor. I think that most of those things are funny because they're things that I imagine myself doing. I recommend you give it a watch. BTW, there's a hot chick on there...Lacey the diner-owner-lady is played by the beautiful Gabrielle Miller. I don't think I could date her character, though.

Also impressive is that they get high ranking members of the Canadian government to be on the show. Two ACTING Prime Ministers have appeared on the show, and at least one (what-do-you-call the head of province dudes??) was on there. If you don't like your first episode, give it one more chance before giving up on it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pick #49

Lazlo Bane - Overkill, featuring Colin Hay

it's a cover of the Men at Work song, but Lazlo Bane got Colin Hay (singer of M@W) to collaborate on this song. I really liked it when it came out, but forgot about it for years. I saw it last week on Scrubs and was reminded of how awesome a song it is.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Umm...Limited

There is NO SUCH THING as unlimited cell phone minutes. The claim that someone can use an "unlimited" amount of airtime in a month is preposterous. Of course the amount they can use is limited by the number of minutes in a month (on the order or 43,000).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Subscribe to MY Atom Posts

Alright, if you have a feed reader, I just put up an Atom feed. Go to the bottom of my page and click the subscribe button! Then you'll be able to see ~ the first paragraph of a post, but you just click the link to go to my site and read the whole thing.

If you don't know what I just said, let me explain. A feed reader is a program (like Google Reader) that searches (multiple) webpages and lets you know which ones are updated. Pretty much, you can check a program that checks multiple sources and lets you know which ones are updated. This beats surfing to my page and just checking if it's updated or not. I don't know a whole lot else about it, but I just had my last midterm of the semester today and decided to goof around online.

I've already subscribed to a couple blogs, including my own. Hopefully that way I'll be able to see if it's doing what I think it should.

I'm not sure what the advantages/disadvantages are to using Atom vs. RSS. I don't know if it's possible to output feeds in both formats for the same blog or not. If you know anything and have a suggestion, let me know.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

MY First Experiment (in Econ)

This morning was the first time we ran a real session of my public goods experiment. It went off without a hitch. We only had 10 participants, but they gave us some good stuff. It was really sweet to watch 10 people playing the game from the control room (because I was always "playing" the game in the past, for troubleshooting purposes, and couldn't watch the live updating of everyone's decisions).

This has been a work in progress since the end of the summer. Although I revised the program a few times, if it weren't that Sean helped debug the program so well, I bet something would have gone wrong today. Fortunately, there weren't ANY problems during today's session. The participants made really good money, so I bet there will be a word-of-mouth promotion boosting our experiment's participation.

We're running another session in a week and Dr. Isaac is going to present some preliminary results at a conference over the winter break. Sweet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Camelbak Cleaning Kit

I've wanted a Camelbak for a really long time. I finally decided to buy one before I left for Spain. Since getting it, I learned that it's a bear to clean, mostly because it's nearly impossible to dry. Camelbak makes a cleaning kit for their bladders and I bought one from Sunshine Cycles earlier this semester. It comes with a specially shaped bottle brush to clean the bladder, a cool cleaner snake thing that goes through the straw, some anti-bacterial tablets (for heavy cleanings), and a hanger/dryer. It makes cleaning the Camelbak about 50 times easier, which means that I'm more likely to do it. In fact, I give it at least a cursory cleaning and allow it to dry after every use.

If you have a Camelbak and find that it's not so fun to clean, I recommend dropping the money for the cleaning kit.

Monday, October 29, 2007

La Fea Más Bella en DVD

Hoy encontré (y compré) en amazon.com un pre-order del DVD de Televisa de La Fea Más Bella. Dice que hay 3 discos, 700 minutos. No es posible caber todos los capítulos en dicho espacio. Será interesante ver que hicieron para cortar el programa. Pues, no vi ni el principio ni el final de la telenovela cuando estaba en la pantalla por Univisión.

Está disponible el 27 de Noviembre. Cuesta unos $20. Es una inversión para mi. Espero que tenga tiempo para verlo. Tal vez sobre las vacaciones del invierno.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pick #48

Baxter - "Leave" from Wine and Spirits

You can go to CD Baby via the above link and listen to a clip of this song. BTW, CD Baby is a great website to get a hold of music that's hard to snag anywhere else.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Unifying Theme

I've seen many blogs that focus on a very specific subject matter. This sounds like a good idea, if you have enough material. It's kind of the beauty of those blogs. I know that mine is all disjointed. Turns out that it's kind of like the way my head works. I never can get deep enough into one topic without my train of thought getting derailed and switching to another. I like having my pick of the weeks, the occasional Spanish entry, pictures, random stories, things about econ, comparisons I may make between different events...it's all very Austin-like if I do say so myself. I think it's likely that if you spent a day with me, whatever we did/discussed would closely mirror the variety presented in this blog. I ramble. Online, there's nobody to cut me off and tell me to stop.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century

You might be amused by the blog on Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century.

I've been pretty lazy these past couple days, not much to think about or say.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pollution Problem

This picture was taken while I was on family vacation in Virginia, summer 2006. We were at an overlook in Comers Rock. You're supposed to be able to see clearly the third row of mountains (click the picture for a full-size image, then look at the dim outline that represents the third row of mountains). The locals tell me that the reason you can't see so far some days is because of pollution. We had the same limited visibility problem on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a shame.

While pollution might make for great sunsets in California, it's not helping the scenery in Appalachia.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Economic Naturalist

I believe the phrase "economic naturalist" can be attributed to Robert Frank, author of The Economic Naturalist. He has a teaching philosophy that kids can learn econ better if they are able to apply it to situations in every day life. Some studies have shown that years ago, students actually knew LESS about economics a year after taking an econ class than students who had never had an econ class.

Economic naturalism is a methodology of looking at the world, asking questions, and using economic principles to answer them. A quick Google search for "economic naturalist" will pull up plenty of results. I have found myself not asking the questions, but answering ones I hear with economic reasoning. I sound like a nerd (even more than you're used to). For instance, see my blog entry titled "Arrow Securities." It's always marginal this and utility that. I think it's cool that I'm getting to the point where I can apply the stuff I learn in class to real-world problems.

I had my students over the summer write a 1-2 page naturalist essay. I gave them a few questions they could write on and I had a few students invent some rather interesting questions. I think my favorite was "why do pimps wear such extravagant clothing?"

If you ever have an interesting economic naturalist question and want to get my take on it, just ask.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Headphones

Some people can't believe that I don't wear headphones when I run. To be honest, I've tried wearing them, but it kind of sucks. I like having the music, but I dislike the constant slap of the cord. If I could find a non-iPod .mp3 player with wireless headphones that were somehow stay-in-place earbuds, then I'd think about running with music.

I wish I could say that the reason I don't wear headphones is to remain more aware of my surroundings. The truth is that I zone a lot when I'm running. I'll be in la-la land. Or focusing on my breathing. Or calculating how long the run will take at this current pace. Or watching a car go by until I can't see it anymore.

(Some of the time) I run to escape. I once told people that I use running like alcoholics use alcohol. Music is a part of my house, my office, my car. I don't necessarily want to escape it, but it's always nice to have a change. Oftentimes I sing in my head or even aloud in order to maintain a rhythm or to pass the time. For instance, there's a church I run past called Praise Cathedral Church. It always makes me jump into "Grace Cathedral Hill" by the Decemberists.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pick #47

Moldy Peaches - Who's Got the Crack?

Micah used to sing this song when he had a guitar in hand (and sometimes a capella). Recently, Nick discovered the Moldy Peaches and was playing this song and I thought it was super cool. I hadn't heard it in years. The Moldy Peaches version is alright, but Micah does a better cover.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Take It to the Limit One More Time

"So put me on a highway / and show me a sign / and take it to the limit one more time." - The Eagles

Today I ran 16 miles, which is farther than I have ever run at one shot. In the process of training for the marathon, I'm going to keep bumping up the mileage of my long runs, each time taking myself to the limit of where I have been before and then stepping beyond that. I've got to admit that I'm a little sore right now, but I didn't reach my physical limit aka "hit the wall." I'm waiting for that day to come where I have to push through a barrier. After I hit this wall, I wonder where the next one will be. The only one that I've hit in the past was at 3 miles...I just couldn't run 3 miles. It took me about 2 weeks to transition from running 2 miles to running 3. Ever since then, I've never had a problem adding more mileage, but I know that day will come.

Name Follows Function

Maybe form follows function for some buildings, but there are a lot of items we use every day that are named for what they do. Here's a list off the top of my head:

bottle/can opener (abrebotellas y abrelatas)
letter opener
magnifying glass
foot rest
CD player (tocadiscos)
projector
shrimp peeler
blender
printer
lighter
washer/dryer
dish washer (lavaplatos)
nail clippers
wire cutters
(bubble) mailer
money holder

I hope that was as fun for you as it was for me. I may come back later and add stuff to this list.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Experimental Econ - Sign Up

Alright, if you are a FSU student, you can go to www.xsfs.fsu.edu and click the "sign up" link on the right hand side of the page. Use your FSUID, NOT your SSN when you sign up. You are guaranteed $10 if you sign up for an experiment and you show up on time. During the course of the (roughly 2 hour) experiment, you can earn more money. How much more money? Well, I'm not allowed to tell you (it will vary by experiment and your performance), but what I can say is that about 90% of people who did one experiment came back to do another...so people overall must be pretty happy with how much money they're making.

It's not psychology, we're not out to trick you. If we can't tell you something, we'll say that we can't tell you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine

Before I took my Genetics & the Social Sciences course, I didn't know what the warning label Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine meant. I thought it was funny sounding. I also thought that it was absurd as phenylalanine is one of the 20 most common amino acids...I mean, everything has phenylalanine in it. Ok, well, not everything. But any time you eat "protein," there's a good chance it's got a decent amount (relatively) of phenylalanine.

Because I thought this warning label was absurd, I decided that they would be fun to collect. I had a decent collection at the HC, but I accidentally destroyed over half of them when I was moving out for good. I have added a few new labels to my collection since moving to Tallahassee. If you have any ideas for non-diet soda, non-gum products that have this warning label, swing that idea my way so I can be on the lookout for it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pick #46

Kings of Leon - "Knocked Up" from Because of the Times

False Alarm

I had my first false alarm today. Kinda weird how it happened. Andrew's window was open a little too much (like it has been for days) and something happened that made the switch open. Who knows what that was, but all's well that ends well.

So, I had just dropped Dr. Wakker off at his hotel and was returning a bike rack that I borrowed from this kid when I got a phone call from central station. Said zone 11, a perimeter zone, is in alarm. I asked if any interior zones had been activated. Negative. I debate whether or not to dispatch the police. Decide to give the go-ahead. I call Nick. He's only a couple minutes from home. He goes home and finds that Andrew's window is open a little farther than it should be. Everything else is fine. I tell him what to do to cancel dispatch. Operator at central station doesn't respond to his request to cancel, telling him that he has the wrong cancel code. He calls me and describes the perfect procedure he just did for canceling dispatch. I call and cancel. By the time the central station gets a hold of the police station gets a hold of their officers, they're at my house (I'm at school dropping off a bike at this time). I go to Publix and return home to nothing out of the ordinary. I called my mom to figure out why Nick couldn't cancel. Turns out it was operator error.

Better than a real alarm any day. Now Andrew knows that the magnet has to line up with the switch before he leaves the house.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Emerald Coast #4

Ok, getting the downer news out of the way first: the bike course had to be re-routed because some drunk driver hit and killed a cyclist who was warming up on the course. Now the happy stuff:

I don't have my official times/placement, but I'll edit this post when I get them. My overall time from my watch is 1:16:49.

My swim went awesome (except my right goggle leaking from the beginning and me having red-tide salt water in my eye for about 11 minutes. Anyway, my sighting was really good and I was within feet of both buoys. I felt pretty strong...maybe since the water was a perfect temperature or maybe because I've been training. My first transition went just like I'd practiced, knocking over 3 and a half minutes off my last T1 time!! I caught a lot of dudes on the bike course. The best was nearing the end...I passed Marc then Joe. However, during the run I came up behind someone that looked like (and WAS) Marc, then Joe...they had a way faster T2 than I did. I think I might get those elastic laces so I don't have to tie my shoes. I drank all my water on the bike, just like I had planned. I felt well-hydrated for the run. It was also nice to have my new race number belt (that saved some time). I was going pretty quick on the run. I would guess that I was at 6:10 pace, but apparently it was pretty solidly sub-6. In fact, I didn't think that the finish line could possibly be so close when I was nearing the end of the race.

I guess one good thing about being a weak swimmer is that you just keep passing people for the rest of the race. Passing people pumps me up and keeps me going. I'm glad that my strength is the last part of the tri.

After the race was a pretty sweet lunch/awards thing. Free beer. Too bad I had to drive. I still had 3 beers (didn't leave for about 4 hours, don't worry). Free beer led to the best shenanigan of the day. A girl who was 18 told the people who write your age on your body with permanent marker that she was 21. This allowed her to get beer after the race. However, she placed in her age group. When she went up to receive her award, the announcer said something about how she's only 18 but her leg says she's 21. Dude. Called out. I don't think she's going to try that next time.


Swim: 11:44
T1: 2:03
Bike: 43:04
T2: 1:52
Run: 18:05
Total: 1:16:51
Placement: 5th in age group, overall not posted on the results page.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Squirrel Catapult

Andrew showed me this video on YouTube. I thought it was pretty ingenious. I think we might try to rig something like that up in my back yard. The goal will be to get the squirrel over the back fence...home run!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Return of My Theme Song

If you don't already know, my theme song (which I thought I had retired) is "Timing" by Allister. Basically, I always seem to have bad timing with starting relationships with girls. Either their home life just exploded or they just broke up with the last guy or they're getting back together with the last guy or one of my friends says that he likes her...

Dating Sarah made me realize that I can date awesome girls. Ok...some of you other girls that I dated are also awesome, but we didn't stay together long enough to talk about you here...so don't go calling me up and bitching. Dating Homecoming Queen Ashley *as opposed to Ashley from soccer* made me realize that I should not date girls that I'm not interested in (I wasn't disinterested in Ashley, so I gave it a go).

Anyways, I met this girl @ FSU, thought she was hot. Waited a while to see if she was also smart and charming and all-around awesome. Found out that the answer is yes. Decided to ask her out. BTW, she set me up with the perfect scenario to ask her out (it was a coincidence having to do with a bumper sticker). I did. She says that she's sort of seeing some other guy, but it's "not official." That makes me wonder how long they've been dating. Would I have been able to be in his shoes right now if I had only learned about her awesomeness a few weeks sooner? Would she have "unofficially" dated me and then decided that he's a better option? Who knows, but I'm pretty sure that I can reclaim this theme song after its hiatus which started the beginning of my junior year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Road ID

So, my mom's always after me to carry some ID when I'm running. Probably a good idea...I mean, I could be gone for over 2 hours before anyone even thought about being concerned. Plus, I don't usually know where I'm going on my run except in the rare case that I have a specific destination. I hate carrying stuff with me while I run. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I came across Road ID. I ordered the wrist ID thing. I've worn it a couple times, and it's pretty non-obtrusive. Last Sunday, I noticed that Conrad has one of the ankle ones. I guess it is a good idea. If you're a runner/other type of go-far-away-from-a-single-location athlete, check the website out.

Important: search online to get a coupon code that gets you $2 off. There are always some active. It's worth searching for. Note that a lot of what hits on a search engine is expired...keep trying, it's worth it if you value your time at less than $30/hour.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

(Free) Music from Artists

Last week, Cortney told me about the new Radiohead album In Rainbows which is being released by the band on their website to fans, who can pay any price they like for the album. There is a processing fee for the download of £0.45. Cortney tells me that he did not pay it. I think it would be cool to see how much freeloading is going on concerning that release.

I told Nick about this and he informed me that Harvey Danger released its latest album Little by Little on their website. There is an option for you to make a "small contribution" to the band in return for downloading the album. I downloaded the album in under 60 seconds! *gotta love the internet* I listened to it a couple times...if I like it after a few more play-throughs, I will probably contribute $2-3.

I think it's totally awesome that bands are releasing their music and making it so easily available to the fans. I know that Radiohead can afford to do this, but I bet the guys from Harvey Danger are still working day jobs. They have a really sweet writeup of WHY they're doing this.

I bet there are plenty more bands doing this complete album free download thing (Carmen told me that Weezer did it for a while until their label (was it Geffen?) told them to stop). Please leave a comment if you know another band that's doing this. Bonus points for a link to their website.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Musical Eclectisism for Elitists

"I have a broad taste in music. aka I listen to everything." versus "I only listen to trance."

Don't you think that the person who listens to everything is more open minded? Maybe you can identify with them on some artist that you both like. For some counterintuitive reason, the perception of those who listen to anything is that of an elitist. Weird, huh? Consider that the person who specializes in only one (sub)genre of music can know much more about it than the casual listener of everything. Also that specialist probably selects their music because it is the best kind of music.

I am one of those "listen to everything" people, within limits. Some music has a time limit. For instance, when I first started listening to rap and techno, I couldn't stand either of them for longer than an hour at a time. I realized that even though I listen to "rap, hip-hop, country, classical, jazz, reggae(tón), flamenco, 'latino' music, rock & roll, punk rock, indigenous, ska, pop (well, at least a little bit...FOW are really popPY), folk, techno"...they're all really the same. I'm not sure how to explain it being without much of a music education, but they seem to all do the same thing. There are a few bands that seem a little different...Rasputina, Sigur Rós, Björk, (can't think of many others right now), but they're only a little different. Maybe it's something to do with an inherent quality of music that I don't know about (Paula tells me something about eastern v. western music produces this kind of effect).
I also realize that I don't listen to much "world, oldies, a capella, show tunes, heavy metal, grunge, eastern music (see above), blues, bluegrass, *other types of music that I don't even know exist*."

I've noticed that instead of the musical specialists looking down on the "everything listeners," it's the other way around. I don't look down on single-genre-listeners for their musical practices. I simply wonder how they can stand it. Sometimes I want to hear the light voice of Sarah Brightman or Norah Jones while other times I want to feel the energy of Millencolin or System of a Down. At times it's the rythm of the horns that gets my feet tapping while other times it's the violin popping out of an orchestra that makes my heart race. Sometimes I yell "SHUT UP" at the computer or CD player and skip to the next song or album because something just triggered a switch and I can't listen to the current thing anymore.

I'm always looking for more good, new (to me) music no matter what the style. If you have suggestions, please pass them my way. I must warn you that it might take me a while to listen to/get in to the music you throw my way. Thank you to the HC Spanish-speakers for helping build my library of Spanish-language music; to Stephanie for all kinds of awesome new stuff, random friends for sporadic suggestions, TBW for all the poppy stuff, Abercrombie Zach for a freshman year music raid, and everyone who uploaded stuff to me while I was on the network.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Top Shelf

NOTE: THIS PARTY HAS BEEN MOVED TO THE 9TH OF NOVEMBER.


This is advance notice (special for the readers of my blog) that we're having a top shelf party the first weekend in November...I guess that makes it the night of the 2nd 9th. To get in, you have to bring a bottle of high quality liquor (or wine, beer, whatever...it just has to be nice). No plastic-bottle-vodka allowed.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Health Care Surrogate/Living Will

Not too long ago, I filled out some paperwork that gives my parents the right to make "less-than-terminal" medical decisions for me in the event that I cannot make them myself. That way doctors can't just administer all kinds of useless crap and charge you for it later. Also, it means that somebody has my back when I can't come to the plate myself.

The health care surrogate is not to be confused with your living will. The living will is your decision on when you want them to pull the plug on life support. I think it is important to have a living will, not only for yourself, but even more for those around you. For instance, my mom's mom died of cancer. She spent her last days hooked up to a breathing machine. I don't remember exactly what here time frame was, but I think that she didn't want to stay on life support longer than 2 weeks. When the time came and my mom had to end her mother's life, she was just following her mom's wishes. Imagine how difficult that decision would be for someone to make on your behalf when they do not know what you want.

I got these forms done up pretty cheap by a Vero lawyer named Darryl Jacobs. Look him up in the book. He's friendly and efficient. I guess this sort of paperwork is like an insurance policy...pay a little bit for it knowing that it could save you a lot of money in the future, but home that you never have to use it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Edmund Skellings

Edmund Skellings is a Nobel Laureate in poetry. He was the dude who invented the idea of putting audio with written text. He read one of his collections of poetry and put a vinyl record in the sleeve of the book. Just think...those CDs that come with your textbook, the idea of putting that stuff together came from him. Through the years, his audio media have shrunk.

He was also the first poet to put his poetry in a Dolby 5.1 surround sound format with visuals. I got to see (parts of) this DVD before it was officially released in a Forum class freshman year. It's pretty crazy, words appear and there's colors and stuff is flying on/off the screen in perfect harmony with the sound coming from the speakers placed in every corner of the room (and in the front center).

One of his poems that I liked more than the rest is called "Aisle of You." Before it was even played, I put it together. Then you heard his voice saying it over and over. One of those things quite like "What?? I said 'vacuum'!!" or "olive juice," only not really.

I hung out and talked to him for a bit after his presentation. He's a cool old dude. A little weird, but I guess that's how you get street cred as a poet (if the Nobel Prize doesn't do it). He told me that he's always looking to revise his work because you can never get something perfect. I guess there is no boundary to the open set of perfection. Balls.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Facebook Stalking

I was talking to Meg today on the phone and she let me in on a few privacy settings you can do on facebook. I guess they were there all along if I had looked for them, but I quit playing with that stuff after I initially set it up. They have added more options since. It's pretty customizable. By clicking "privacy" in the upper right of the home screen, you can control who: sees your profile, finds you in a search, sees your status, peruses pictures of you, and a bunch of other stuff. I went on tonight and tightened some things up. For instance, now faculty can't see my pictures or status updates.

I have "facebook stalked" people, including my good friends in real life. However, my "stalkings" are usually limited to a once-in-a-while browsing of their pictures and reading some stuff on the wall or favorite _____s. I also like to check my new friends to see if we have some random friends in common...it's cool how the "small world" thing plays out in so many situations.

I've heard of some pretty sketch practices though. I think that the feed helps people stay on top of your life...even easier than constantly checking your away message. I mean, that stuff is totally legit if it reminds you of stuff that your friends are doing. I guess like anything else, moderate use is cool while extremism is bad.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pick #44

Calexico - Not Even Stevie Nicks from the album A Feast of Wire

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Triathlon Club

So, I officially joined the FSU triathlon club. They have a workout every day (actually 2 on Wednesdays). There's something like 70 members (I think). They do a service project every semester. I'm going to say (without proof) that they're the most active club on campus...I mean, who else convenes daily (even on weekends)?

They put together a training schedule to get as many people as possible to go to collegiate nationals this year. When you show up to a workout, there's an officer there who usually has some sort of structure for that day. For me it's nice for swimming since I have no idea what I'm doing. It's also helpful to have somebody next to you to push you to go faster.

The club is going to subsidize race entry fees in order to encourage people to race! I'm doing the Emerald Coast sprint triathlon with them on October 13 in Panama City. Should be a good time. Hopefully I'll have a little bit of speed in my step for the run...hard to do when you're training for a marathon.

Tomorrow, we're going to bike to Wakulla Springs from the St. Marks trailhead, then do an open water swim. Pretty sweet. It's interesting how easy it has been for me to adapt to multi-sport from my running background. After I bought the bike, the rest just fell into place. The other members of the triathlon club (I call it "the team" even though it's not technically a team) have been good motivation and I hope that I will reciprocate some of that back toward them. It is nice to have a team again.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Publix Weekly Ad

For those of you who live near a Publix, did you know that they put their weekly ad online? Simply go to their website and click the "weekly ad" link at the bottom of the page. You'll probably have to type in your zip code if you've never done it before. It will tell you the specials for that week. A new flyer comes out on Thursdays and it is good until the following Wednesday. I use it every week to determine what's not on my list that I should buy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Spanish Joke

So, I made up a joke in Spanish today then realized that it doesn't work. Here's the joke:

¿Cuál país suramerícano es lo más chévere? ... ParaGUAY

Then I realized that it doesn't work...why? Because UruGUAY is also in south america...

If only the prefix para- meant "even more so than uru-" then this joke would still work. Oh well, maybe I'll get 'em next time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks

go to http://quotation-marks.blogspot.com for a hilarious blog on misuse of quotation marks. This blog has good pictures to put things in context.

props go to Jensen for introducing me to this site.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tortilla Española

Decidí que debo cocinar una tortilla española. Busque recetas en la red y encontré esta:

"
Pelamos lavamos y cortamos las patatas en cuadritos pequeños y las salamos. Pelamos y cortamos en juliana la cebolla.
Ponemos al fuego una sartén honda con abundante aceite de oliva y cuando esté caliente, echamos las patatas y la cebolla.

Mantenemos el fuego no muy fuerte, para que las patatas y la cebolla se cuezan en el aceite. Cuando estén bien blandas y ligeramente doradas, las sacamos de la sartén y escurrimos el aceite.

En un bol batimos los huevos hasta conseguir una buena mezcla. Echamos entonces las patatas y la cebolla sobre los huevos batidos y removemos bien para que quede todo mezclado y rectificamos de sal.

Poner al fuego una sartén honda antiadherente, echamos dos cucharadas de aceite de oliva y cuando esté caliente, movemos la sartén para que quede bien aceitado el fondo. Entonces echamos la mezcla de huevos, patatas y cebolla y la extendemos bien. Bajamos el fuego y movemos la sartén con movimientos circulares para que la tortilla se mueva dentro y no se pegue. Dejamos cocer hasta que se vea que empieza a hervir la mezcla.

Damos la vuelta a la tortilla poniendo un plato llano encima de la sartén, a modo de tapadera, y girando la sartén sobre el plato. Ahora echaremos de nuevo la tortilla, dejándola resbalar cuidadosamente, desde el plato a la sartén.

Movemos de nuevo con movimientos circulares la sartén y la dejamos cocer entre 2 y 3 minutos, dependiendo del gusto de los comensales.
Apartamos y servimos en una fuente. Podemos servirla fría o caliente.
"
de http://www.recetasdiarias.com/recetas-de-cocina/recetas.php?idReceta=14

Pasaron unos 75 minutos en cocinar esto. La receta dice que la cocina dura 20 min, pero no sé como. Tiene un buen sabor no muy fuerte. Aunque hay una gran cantidad de ingredientes, no es tan grande al cabo de cocinarla.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pick #43

Sister Hazel - Look to the Children

Hit by a Car

Today, I took a trip by car to return my keg/tap, get a new mount for my bike headlight (replaced free of charge by the good fellas at University Cycles...call them at 222-1665), and pick up some eggs to make tortilla española. When I got home, I went to put my new headlight (he just gave me a whole new package) on the new mount on my bike. The light was broken. Brand new out of the package. WTF?

So, I decide to get on my bike and ride down there. On the way down Ocala, dude's inching out of the shopping center on the corner of TN and there's oncoming traffic blocking his exit. I cross in front of him. He decides to go with me still in front of him. Hit my bike's rear end, I thought it hit the frame and it nudged a bit of my left calf muscle. The fucker didn't even stop! Luckily, I wasn't hurt. Got back on my bike and rode to the bike shop. Got a new headlight (for some reason, my old one wasn't working anymore...it was weird).

If I think that there's a chance that a driver might not see me or might pull out as I'm trying to cross paths, I'll usually go behind them like I do when I'm running. I really thought I'd be fine crossing. See whatcha get for thinkin'? Lucky for me it was super-low-speed and all that got hurt was the rack on the back of my bike (which John @ University Cycles bent back into shape for me).

Watch out for drivers. Always wear a helmet.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rosetta Stone

I ordered Level 1 Swahili last night through the Rosetta Stone website. A simple Google search for a coupon resulted in getting $20 off. I hope to use it for at least a half hour a day, 4 days a week. Nick just got his Level 1 French program in the mail earlier this week. It's pretty cool. I also have a book that can teach me the things you don't necessarily pick up from looking at pictures and the like, such as: noun classes and verb conjugations (it's hard to represent first person in a picture).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday is Tri-Day

Today I went to the swim workout at 11:15, cut it off a few minutes early to go sign up for spinning @ 12:30 (I got the last spot on the waiting list). Turns out that I got in and I was the only guy in the class. Definitely different than riding a real bike...pros and cons. Then we did 7 minutes of abs (what about when someone comes out with 6 minute abs?). I maxed out the good girl machine at the gym! Met some girl who's going to join the Tri club. Tonight I did a fartlek run with 30 seconds on and a minute off for 4 miles.

Let me beef for a minute about spinning...first of all, you don't go anywhere! Second, you don't know how fast you're going. On the up-side, the shifting is really smooth. Third, music too loud. Last and probably most important: they don't have cut-outs in the seats, which means it hurts your taint after sitting there for too long. Sometimes I wanted to stand up and pedal for some pressure relief, but I didn't want to get kicked out.

I think that I'm going to try to get in a workout in all 3 disciplines on Fridays. For the swim, I'm at the mercy of Dan's workout schedule. If I make it into the spin class, then I'll do whatever they do...if not, then I'll come home and do a bike-run combo with a short transition time.

A Winter Chill

The last couple days have seen low temperatures in the high 60°s. I was actually chilly on the first part of my bike ride to school today. There's a definite undertone of a chill in the warm, moist air. It's interesting how just a little hint of relief makes all the heat seem so substantially reduced.

I'm not sure what causes this barely perceptible difference in the air. You just know that the chill is there. I think of it as scattered pockets of molecules with lower kinetic energy..maybe it's actually a smell that triggers the colder feeling. Who knows? Anyway, I'm not looking forward to the day I have to put on boots and a jacket to ride to school.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Flying the Confederate Flag

What do you think about flying the confederate flag? The Confederacy actually had ass-loads of different flags. What we think of as THE Confederate Flag is a modern combination of the CSA's Battle Flag's colors with the Second Navy Jack's design. Actual historical flags of the CSA have become more obscure. Still, this flag arouses strong feelings in many people.

Rednecks think that the flag represents their heritage and they should be allowed to fly it freely. It is displayed anywhere from a front porch to a vehicle to someone's clothing or even tattoos. It is a symbol of pride to which they have a birthright.

In general, hippies and blacks are opposed to the flying of the confederate flag. They think that it recalls an era of slavery and oppression of minorities by the white man. ¿The past should be forgotten and put behind us?

If people are opposed to it based on the atrocities committed by the government represented by the flag, then they should start to think about what the USA has done under its current flag...

Both sides refuse to see the validity of the other side's argument. I heard a pretty original response from Whitney's Jason. He says that he doesn't like it because it represents treason against the USA. I think that most people's opinions are valid. You have the right to free speech and should be able to fly your own flag if you damn well please. However, your rights stop where they start to encroach on those of others. BUT, you do NOT have the right to not be offended. As for flying by governments, I guess that's something that maybe should come down to a vote.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pick #42

Juan Luis Guerra - Frío frío

Janny burned me a disc with this song on it. I liked it a lot and started listening to it often. I sang this song at a local karaoke bar in Madrid (not in the touristy part of town). Not only can I not sing, but I butchered a beautiful song...but I learned all the lyrics by reading them on the screen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ease of Use v. Control

It seems that in order to make something easier to use, the user must have less control over that something. For example:

automatic v. manual transmission cars
AOL v. Firefox
zTree v. Java (I've never programmed in Java, but I'm pretty sure this is true)
Nintendo (8-bit) v. X-Box (it's a stretch)

I wonder if there's some inherent property of simplification that requires removal of control...any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Meet New People

Friday, it's going down...a "meet new people" party @ my place. Even if you know people, it's guaranteed that you'll meet someone new here. Show up, Friday after 10. Keg of Killians.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Things to do Before I Die

I have a running list of things I want to do while I can do them. Here is a tentative list. I'm working on the 3rd language thing (kind of slowly aka "at my own pace" right now) and even slower at the piano thing. I'm training for the Tallahassee marathon, which is not a qualifier for Boston, but it's a step in the right direction. Motorcycle should be quick. I plan to knock out parasailing later this semester.


In no particular order:
learn to wallflip
run the boston marathon
learn to ride a horse
parasailing
surf
learn to ride a motorcycle
learn a 3rd language
learn the piano
spend a day in outer space

Let me know if you have any suggestions (preferably ones you know that I might add myself but didn't...don't say "oh, you should put bungee jumping on there").

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pick #41

Tim McGraw - Live Like You Were Dying

Owe man, would I do some of that stuff...I don't know about the bull riding, but why not give it a shot. I think I would go to Macchu Picchu and maybe dive the Great Barrier Reef. Deffly skydiving again.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Take Away

There is (supposedly) a parlor game called Take Away (TA). It goes like this: there are 21 pennies on a table and 2 players who alternate in taking a turn. During a turn, each player may remove 1,2, or 3 pennies. The loser is the one who removes the last penny. I was thinking about this game and how one would go about winning it. Obviously, you want to leave your opponent with the last penny (because if there are 2 left (or 3 or 4), then they will just leave you with the last penny.

As I was reading in my Jehle & Reny text, the second player should always win the game (kind of like tic-tac-toe...except that there IS a winner)...From my above logic, it would be good to leave your opponent with 5 pennies when they make their move, because then, no matter what they do, you can leave only one after your move. J&R call 5 a "losing position." In fact, they extend this to say that the following are losing positions: 1,5,9,13,17,21...all others are winning positions. So, be careful of just taking away 3 at the beginning to get the game over fast, because even if you're the second player, you could lose...player one takes 3, you take 3, he takes only 2, then you are in a losing position!

I thought that it was cool that I thought about the structure of the game using backward induction without even realizing what I was doing until later on.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Liberties of Relationships

One measure of the degree of "closeness" of a relationship can be summarized by the number and types of liberties afforded to the parties engaged in the relationship.

For starters, when you meet someone in a higher position than yourself within the same social hierarchy (for instance, student meets teacher), it's common for the student to address the teacher as Mrs. ____ or Dr. _____. After a comfortable relationship has been forged, maybe the student takes the liberty of calling the professor by their first name (or a title, such as "coach").

Another example: it's alright to make fun of personal shortcomings in friends, but not in random strangers. The closer the friend, the more you can say about them without getting your ass kicked. You can also take the liberty of asking progressively larger favors to progressively closer friends. This leads to my "dispose of a body" test of friendship. Ask yourself how many of your friends would unquestioningly help you dispose of a body if you really needed their help. How many of your friends would you help out?

With other types of relationships, there may be physical liberties. For example, I'm a very huggable person...but I won't let someone I don't know give me a hug. That's a liberty reserved for friends/family. I'm sure you can fill in the blank with girlfriends, etc. The closer you are to a significant other, the more you get away with, both physically and verbally (yes, your butt DOES look big).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Alone After the Ballgame

I think that tonight is the first time that I've left the field alone after a ball game. When I was younger, my parents were always there. When I was in college, my room-/team-mates were there. Tonight I left alone and it was a weird feeling. Even though I haven't played in about 3 years, it's weird to play a team sport then be an individual again right after it ends. I've never had that feeling with races (which I go to/leave from alone all the time). Weird.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Softball & Accountability

I'm playing intramural softball now. Our first practice was today and our first game is tomorrow. Although we won't be practicing much, I think that there's still enough incentive to be halfway serious about the games out of respect for my teammates. I guess it's hard to play softball without a team...but you can run with or without a team.

And when I run without a team, I feel that it's not as bad if I slack because I'm not letting my teammates down. Having somebody else there for your practices/workouts holds you more accountable. This effect isn't constrained to the realm of sports, either. I have never done theater, but I think that this applies. If you stretch your imagination, it could work with grades in school (who is your team? the people in your study group.).

Even though I think I'm a fairly self-motivated person, having others to let down is an incentive to do it right. So, if you're slacking, try getting someone else (who you care about) to hold you accountable.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Pick #40

Jayhawks - Save it for a Rainy Day

from the album Rainy Day Music. Their first song that caught my attention was Tailspin, but I think I like this one better.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Qué Servicio

escrito el 23 de Mayo de 2005 a las 0748h en mi cama del hotel en Guayaquil.

Ayer fuimos al parque nacional de historia y dejé mi camera en el hotel. ¡Qué estupido! Robaré fotos de otros. Después, caminabamos por Las Peñas y comimos allí. Compré un gorro tonto para Sarah.
La parte más interesante de ayer fue la cena...un hombre del hotel vinió a nuestra habitación, cojió el dinero y regresó en unos 25 minutos con Pizza Hut. Nos obtuvo un descuento de $5 y por eso le di una propina de $5. ¡Lo invitamos por dentro para tomar un traigo [sic] y él lo hizo! Esta mañana, el mismo hombre fue para comprarme agua sin gas. ¡Qué servicio!
Ahora es seguramente la duración más larga en que no me he afeitado. Creo que puedo pasar las 5 semanas (o menos) sin afeitarme por un "premio" de Sarah...aunque es una sorpresa.