Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Economic Toolbox

When I started working with my dad, I only had the basic handtools: screwdrivers, razor knife, side-cutters, maybe a level and tape measure. I could only do basic tasks with the tools I had. You gotta start somewhere...I started by putting switches on windows. As I progressed in my skills, I acquired new tools. For instance, I got needle-nose pliers when I started working on phones (because you need them!). With networking stuff, I had to borrow the tools because they're expensive and it doesn't make sense to have my own set. It was always cool-and-a-half to get a new tool, because that meant that I was progressing in my abilities. Sometimes a new tool could help me get faster at a task that I used to do as well as letting me undertake an entirely different job.

Economics seems to be following the same pattern. I got to grad school without having much math. Right off the bat, I learned how to do constrained optimization (a topic I was curious about before finding out how it could be done). Now, I'm pretty good at setting up a Lagrangian to solve the constrained optimization problem. However, just like it took me some practice to be able to properly strip a wire, it took me time to learn how to interpret the constraints and write them down in a formula. While you can solve simple problems with a Lagrangian, sometimes you need to check Jacobians and Hessians (if you don't know, don't ask). I'd never even heard of Jacobians or Hessians when I entered the program, much as I had never heard of a sweep-90 before my first vacuum job. In economics, I started learning how to solve continuous time models, then worked on discrete time ones (with the envelope condition AND dynamic programming).

Just as I wasn't very productive my first few weeks/months on the job in the security market, I don't think I would be of much help to any professional economists with what I know now. However, I reached the point in my security skills that I know I could go to work for a company as a really good helper or a pretty shitty head of a 2-man crew (shitty by my standards, probably pretty average by industry standards). I think I'll probably be in a comparable position in the econ world after finishing my second year of classes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Viva Pedro

Acabo de comprar la colección de DVD "Viva Pedro," la colección Almodóvar, por Tiene 9 discos. Incluye las películas siguentes:
La mala educación
Hable con ella
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Todo sobre mi madre
Flor de mi secreto
Live Flesh
Law of Desire

¡Todas tienen el audio en español!
Será mi primera aumentación a mis propios DVDs que está en el castellano. Compré "Un día sin mexicanos," pero solamente tiene los subtítulos en español. Que decepcionado estaba.

The Bike Ride

Thanks to Paula for getting up early to cheer me on and for taking this picture!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I guess you might be curious how my first triathlon went.

I think I had a pretty good race. I didn't know what I was doing, so I just copied everyone else (like racking my bike in the transition area). The swim was so cold that I couldn't breathe normally. I also didn't swim straight and ended up going probably an extra 25m or so. My first transition time was incredibly slow, but that didn't bum me out. My friend let me borrow his road bike, and I was passing people going up hills on the entire course. The only bikers that passed me were on the $4,000 bikes with aero-bars and 2-ounce wheels. I can live with that. Nobody passed me on the run. My 5k time was 20:59...I wanted to be under 20, but that's not too bad. I felt crappy right after the finish. After a visit to the bathroom, I felt a little better. Got a massage, then decided that I could have gone farther. I think I want to do an olympic distance tri next. That's a 1500m swim, 40k bike, and 10k run. My sprint yesterday was swim 1/3 mile, bike 16 miles, run 5k. I would have to train more for the swim in the longer race, but I think that would be pretty cool. I'm definitely signing up for this race next year!

I wasn't even sore on Sunday. It must have been a good massage. I encourage anyone who has been thinking about doing a tri to register for one and go for it!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Pick #17

Son By Four - A puro dolor.

you just can't sit still if this is playing.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

International Party

Last night was my international party. It went pretty well. Good food. Copious amount of good drink. I think everyone had a good time. Lots of different countries represented. Off the top of my head, we had:

Cuba, Philippines, Mexico ( I mean Italy), Italy, Argentina, Jamaica, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Slutty-Schoolgirl-Landia, Tanzania, Kenya...

I was disappointed that some people didn't show up. Like my two (dot) Indians, Mexico (Gomez) Croatia, Turkey, TBW, Australia, the neighbor girls, and some econ people. Some of them had legit excuses. Their loss. Especially Australia...Germany put her on "friend probation" for not showing up!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ow, My Knee!

For some reason, my left knee hurts. It has hurt for a couple days. I'm not biking tomorrow or Friday in hopes that the knee will feel better by race time. It's only when I bend it at a certain angle (an angle that is required to propel my bike). I guess the upside of 8am classes is that they make it easier to find parking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

'07 Bonnie & Clyde

Melissa's having a party the week after mine, with a theme of "famous couples or trios." I'm going with Ashley as Bonnie & Clyde. I need to find a pinstripe gangster hat. I think I'm going to buy an inflatable Thompson submachine gun (tommy gun) from the party shop.

Interesting story how I found my other half for the famous couple. More or less facilitated by Melissa. Ashley had told me that she was going as one of Charlie's Angels (I don't know who she was paired up with). Now we need to get together and plan our outfit...

I said we should hold up the people at the party. She thought that was lame and we'd just get made fun of. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


So, Nick moved in a week ago. It's nice to have someone around the house. He was home when I got home from school today. How cool is that? We've had dinner together a couple nights. He uses the wireless internet. He likes the hammock (who doesn't?). It's nice to share my space again.

It's also nice to have somebody to talk to in person. Or have a competition with. We had a pull-up contest last night (I won!). I think we're going to try to do that regularly. But right now, I'm still sore from last night's efforts.

Actually having somebody here made me actually DO some of the projects that I've been thinking about. For instance, the guest bath now has shelves. Granted, there're only 2 up there right now. I might put up another one in the guest bath and put one in my bath b/c I like them so much.

Definitely better than living alone.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pick #15

Mountain Goats - First Few Desperate Hours from the Tallahassee album

I would pick "No Children," but Mike D's probably already got you liking that one.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dadasaurus Rex

Sometime last year, in the course of procrastinating, I came across this comic strip. You have to check a few of them out for them to start getting funnier. It's kinda funny that they always use the same animations. One of my favorites is about the Toyota Prius.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Man, I realized tonight what the comedown sensation is for someone on drugs. I guess I've had the sensation before, but never made the association.

I got to hang out with Sarah for a little bit, which I thoroughly enjoyed. When we parted, I went from the high state to the part where the chemicals wear off. I was in a slump until I finished my dinner, which was about 75 minutes later.

It is a rather unpleasant feeling. But I guess it's worth the high, which is why people keep going back to the rock. Unfortunately, I can't just go down to the corner and pick up a few grams of "friend"...but if I could, I might get hooked on the stuff.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Everything is a part of you.

I was just having this discussion on the phone last night. I don't think that you should laugh.

I have thought about it and realized that everything really is part of everything else in one huge, dynamic system. Taking it down to the atomic level, the molecules that are a part of your body right now are comprised of atoms that were at one time part of something else. Most likely, your anabolic processes built these molecules from atoms that you ate (or drank) or breathed in.

For instance, that hamburger you had for lunch: the bread is made of molecules that used to belong to a wheat plant, which in turn got its constituent atoms from the air and soil, perhaps fertilizer. The nutrients in the soil came from either the air (nitrogen fixation) or from decaying organic matter (things that used to be plants or animals). The meat in the hamburger came from a cow, which is an animal just like people. They get their chemical makeup from feed and air. They turn the nutrients in grass and water (and in England's case, the ground up remains of other cows) into meat that you consume. Some of the water you were drinking might have once been a part of the products of combustion of a tree that went into the atmosphere and then condensed in the source of your water.

Now that we have the incoming...time for the outgoing. You are constantly shedding skin cells which then break down and become part of something else. There are bugs that eat your poo. They continue the get the idea. I expel methane gas into the air without ever consuming methane.

Even outside of animals...minerals are constantly transported by water, undergoing processes of erosion and solidification. Volcanic ash becomes sediment in rivers and part of the soil that ends up growing plants.

I wish I had a better way of articulating this idea.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Pick #14

This week's pick is "Hey Ma" by Cam'ron from the Come Home With Me album...even though it is ridiculous for Al to ask "What else?" after Cam says he hit it...

Saturday, March 3, 2007

VB House

Old Trucks

I decided a couple weeks ago that old trucks make me happy. They don't need to be in mint condition; in fact, they can be rusty or dented up and scratched & they're just as good. Unlike new trucks, I don't mind seeing the flare-side or a short bed on the older ones. I think it's cool if they sound great as they go by or if they just barely seem to make it, chugging along.

Maybe this stems from my first set of wheels, an older F150. Old trucks might evoke emotions otherwise buried beneath the surface of current issues in my head. Sometimes I want to drive them, but usually it's alright just to check them out. Parked or moving. Old trucks make me happy.