Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Agave Nectar

Javi was over at my house before Collegiate Nationals and he told me that he has been making his own sports drinks by mixing stuff together.  Black strap molases, agave nectar, salt, whatever else.  He recommended that I try some agave nectar.  I queried if it tastes anything like tequila (which comes from blue agave) and he said no.  I picked some up at Publix (in the organic section) and tried it.  Doesn't taste like tequila...actually pretty good.  It's got a really low glycemic index so it'll give you sustained energy.  I've mixed it in with smoothies a couple times and that works out pretty well.  I think you could also cook with it in leiu of honey.

As for tequila...I just don't like it.  Lotsa kids have a bad tequila night that makes them develop resentment for that kind of fire water.  I never had one of those nights.  I just don't like the scent or the taste of tequila plata or oro.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Invest in Energy Efficiency

You can get pretty awesome, tax free returns from investing in energy efficiency. The way you make these returns is by saving money on your utility bill. Basically, the money you save is like a dividend payment on your initial investment. One really cool difference between these dividends and those that are paid by the bank: you don't pay taxes on these dividends. You aren't actually "making" money, you're just saving it so you can spend it on other stuff. There's also the added bonus of better services from appliances. For instance, if you put in a new refrigerator, it's likely to have spill proof (resistant) shelves where your old fridge had the wire racks...or it makes ice faster...or there's a light in the freezer, etc. My gas stove saves me time by heating up faster.

You can often get tax credits or grants or some other credit for making energy efficiency improvements to your house. Another advantage is the stability of your investment. It's not volatile like the stock market. Also, it's countercyclical. In times when energy prices rise, you'll be getting a higher return on your investment. Right now, many people are scared to invest in stocks and real estate, so this provides a good alternative to holding your money under the mattress. There's never been a better time to invest in energy efficiency.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Old Ladies on a 4-Wheeler

I think this is pretty funny. If I remember correctly, the driver's son got this for Christmas and she wanted to take it for a spin. Went & picked up back seat passenger for a spin down the road. :::w00t!:::

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Money Changes People

I was talking to Dan about how money changes people. Say you get a windfall of several million dollars. Your behavior will definitely change. But is it because you have changed as a person? I contend that the answer is no.

Basically, I say that your budget constraint has changed but your underlying preferences (utility function, if you will) hasn't changed. The things you start doing are things that you would have done before if you could have.

I realize that tons of $$$ can change the way people treat you and likewise the way you treat them back. However, I don't think that the thing changing is your core being. It's just that now you can do bigger things than you ever used to.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wild Blackberries

Carmen came to visit me this weekend. She arrived on Friday night/Saturday morning just after 4am and left on Sunday around 6pm. Round trip road time: 24 hours! It was so nice to get to see her again.

On Saturday morning, she noticed that I have wild blackberries growing in my yard. She made me eat one after I'd just brushed my teeth and it wasn't so awesome. I tried one later and it was pretty good. I think I'm going to plant some (maybe not so wild) blackberries in a garden. She said that I could grow raspberries too! How cool & tasty would that be?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Appliances

I upgraded the following appliances: AC/heat, water heater, stove. I got new energy efficient (14 SEER v. my old ~5 SEER, 40 gallon gas v. 52 gallon electric 33 year old water heater) gas appliances. The work all got completed and inspected on my birthday. That was a good present. The city's giving me $2,000 in incentive money along with hooking up a 5 year, 5% interest energy loan. My home warranty company gave me $925 for the air handler which brings my out of pocket costs to $5,600...leading to a $160/month payment. I think I'll save around $80/month on my utility bill, but we'll see what the actual figure is. The crappy thing is that I have to pay an extra $9/month just to be hooked up to the gas...they don't put that part in the brochures.

Anyway, not much to say about the water heater. We never ran out of hot water before and we certainly won't now. It is cool that you can take a panel off the unit and peer at the flame inside through a window. The AC is way better than my old one. You can hear the difference in volume at the return. The stove is sweet. It doesn't boil water instantly like everyone said it would. However, I've managed to make it this far without burning anything although I'm sure that will happen some time. I've made some tasty dishes on it. The oven preheats really fast and you can really tweak the temperature on the stove top.

I think these new appliances will increase the resale value of my house, but who knows by how much. Looking back, I should have got gas when I moved in. Dang. Oh well, I didn't have the money back then (but wait, there was a loan program...!). I would have bought a gas dryer too and saved even more. The guy doing work here tried to talk me into a gas dryer but I already have a matching washer/dryer set and they work well so I didn't see the need to replace the dryer. It would be easy to hook one up in the future.

Come visit if you want to cook on my sweet new stove. I found out that there's a piece for it that you can put over 2 burners and it becomes a griddle! Too bad it's $100. I might try to find one on sale.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dejar la sombra

Me visitaste y dejaste tu fantasma. Me siga como una sombra. Para dejarla, fui corriendo por el crepúsculo al oeste para ponerla detrás. Voy a toda prisa para llegarla tan lejos posible antes que el sol se esconde bajo la tierra. En este momento la sombra desaparece y por eso me doy la vuelta y regresar a mi casa. Trato de eliminar la parte de ti que está dentro de mi todavía. Trato de sudarte fuera gota por gota. Cuando cae la gota, como cae la noche, en su lugar llega un trozito de la oscuridad. Ya que he sudado bastante viene la noche. La misma que ha tragado tu sombra sigadora hace poco tiempo. Viene con la noche la oscuridad. Es el fenómeno que nos separa. Ojos que no ven, corazones que no sienten. Aunque estoy liberado por poco timpo, sé que voy a ver la sombra a pasar por afuera mañana.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

American Airlines Antitrust

I'm writing a term paper right now about an antitrust case the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed against American Airlines (AA) on May 13, 1999. They accused AA of predating low cost carriers (LCCs) out of their Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) hub. AA was found not guilty on April 27, 2001. My research question is: did American Airlines price their tickets differently after the DOJ filed suit on May 13, 1999? I wanted to know if they responded to the case being filed, not necessarily the outcome.

Using panel data from the first quarter of 1991 through the third quarter of 2005 with 72,535 observations on 1,935 routes. Controlling for a bunch of stuff, including heteroskedasticity, serial correlation, and clustering of standard errors, I found that there was a price hike of around $30 on the routes involved in the case and an $18 hike in non-case routes after the suit was filed. Higher prices would mean that predation is less likely. So, I conclude that AA was responding to the idea that they were being tried for antitrust. I think it would be much more efficient to get the DOJ to send letters to companies telling them that the DOJ is ready & willing to prosecute if the company doesn't change its bad behavior. As long as the company believes that the DOJ will prosecute, then it should be in everyone's best interest to stop the bad behavior and stay out of court.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Para informarles

Ya es hora de informar a mis lectores fieles quienes no saben todavía q separé de la novia vieja hace unas tres semanas y media. Fue una decisión de nosotros dos. Fuimos comportándonos bien cuando estabamos juntos y pues somos amigos. Desafortunadamente, la vieja me preguntó si había una otra ya. Como estoy hablando con alguien, tuve q responder q sí. La respuesta la lastimó. Me enojó. No puedo dar la culpa a ella, pero no pienso q es tan mal de mí hacerlo. No estoy muy cerca de la nueva. De hecho la nueva va a irse de este ciudad al cabo de un mes. No es nada serio...pero todo igual, no le gusta a la vieja. Me suplicó que rompía todo tipo de conección con ella. Por un lado me siento como no estoy listo para empezar algo nuevo. Por el otro, ¿por qué no? La vieja dice que no ha pasado bastante tiempo y fuimos en el proceso de mover de un estado de amantes a un de soló amigos. Aparantemente rompí este proceso y tenemos que mover atrás hasta el primer cuadro. Ay! Caramba. Todavía no he salido con la nueva. No he abrazado ni besado ni nada de esto. No trato de esconder información por escribir en castellano porque sé que la vieja tiene una traductora. Imagino que pasan muchísimo tiempo juntas hoy en día.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Emergency @ FSU

I went to school last night to do some work for my term paper. I needed the computer in my office. I guess I got to school around 10:15 and left a little more than 2 hours later. I was riding down the part of Call St. that is made of brick pavers and I noticed when passing by the Woodward parking garage that one of those emergency phone blue lights was flashing! I decided to take a detour up to Tennessee St. in case there was a legitimate problem. We got an email today saying that a skinny black guy & fat black girl told some guy walking that they had a gun and to give them his money. The email says this event happened right by the flashing emergency light I saw at 1:30am, but I don't think I was at school that late. It must have happened before 1:30am. The guy got away unscathed.

It's not like the campus is totally deserted that time of day, either. Certain parts have decent foot traffic. I know that there are dark corners and side paths, but I normally see Call St. populated with one person every hundred yards that time of day. I guess I have a small sample size and there could be a big variance, but I figure that someone else must have been around. At least nobody got hurt (especially me).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pick #122

Just Surrender - "Forgotten Not Forgiven" from If These Streets Could Talk

Saturday, April 11, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday

I had a good birthday. I got up and had cinnamon rolls like I always do on my birthday. They were doing some work on my house so I didn't get to sleep in, but I guess that's alright. I watched as they worked on the water heater, stove, and furnace. I had to go to my 2pm class and the inspection was at 3. I got back home before 4 and everything was up and running. I demoed it all and it all works well. Dan made pasta with meat sauce on the new stove. I watched it boil water. It didn't happen as fast as I had been imagining.

I was fielding phone calls & texts all day long on top of the facebook greetings. I feel loved (except by a couple people who I was expecting to hear from...that's not you, is it?? ;)... Looking back, I don't think I went running. I meant to. I guess time was flying away from me. I went to dinner (yes, dinner #2) with my roommates @ Bird's Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack. I was surprised to see some of Andrew's planning friends when we walked in, but I was really taken aback to see Sarah and some of her people & some economists waiting at another table!

Dan signed me up to karaoke the Beatles's Birthday Song. I don't know any of the words. The crowd seemed not to care. I got to shotgun a PBR after my karaoke performance. The rest of the night I had 3 duets (better if I'm not the only one singing!)...Semi-Charmed Life w/Jonathan, Promise by Eve6 w/Kristen, and the last song of the night: System of a Down's Sugar w/Dan (who added the awesome screaming vocals..."WHO" can believe you, "WHO" can believe you...)

We went home and had some more beer & pizza and I went to bed at 4. I woke up this morning around the time necessary to make it to my experimental reading group, but I think I was still drunk. I hadn't read the paper anyway so I decided that I'd skip it for once...it's not a real class anyway. I got up at noon and went for a nice 4 miler after sucking down a spoonful of Hammer Gel and another of peanut butter. I felt so much better after coming back & showering.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Red Hills 2009

I had an awesome race this weekend @ Red Hills Triathlon. It's the "toughest sprint in Florida" according to the race's website. It covers a 1/3 mile swim, 16 mile bike, and 5k run. It's capped around 300 participants and it fills up fast, well in advance of the race date. It is quite popular for good reason. Kathy McDaris is the race director and she makes everything run seamlessly.

I convinced my roommate Andrew to do the race. He loved it. It was cool having him there. We've trained together a little bit. He did really well for his first time with the exception of getting a 2 minute time penalty for "improper placement of equipment"...we still can't figure out what he did wrong. He had the advantage of borrowing my race number belt and practicing transitions with me on Friday after we got our packets and tried to run the course. I also gave him some of my power smoothie, very similar to what I made before the Tallahassee Marathon.

Before the race even started, I had some stuff going for me. I put the ISM racing saddle on my bike and a Blackwell Research 100mm tubular front wheel. As for me, I kicked ass. I beat last year's time by 4 minutes, 49 seconds. Compared to last year, I dropped about 30 seconds on the swim, 20 seconds on T1, 3:27 on the bike, 11 seconds on T2, and 16 seconds on the run. I'm sure some of the bike time savings came from weather conditions, my Rudy Project Syton helmet that I didn't have last year, the ISM seat, and the Blackwell wheel, but I think the biggest improvement was my diminished fear of flying down the hills. Last year I still had the crash fresh in my mind. This year I was a little less cautious.

The swim went well. I stayed on course very well. I did zig zag a tiny little bit on the return to shore, but it was minimal. T1 went very smoothly except my sunglasses were fogged up a little bit and I couldn't wipe them off. Turns out it wasn't fog, but something that had been on my lenses from the day before. Nasty. Obstructed my vision for the rest of the race. I couldn't wipe it off with my jersey because of the material and the dampness. Anyway, the bike handled very nicely and I avoided all the rocks in the road. The only downside was that the sun was directly in my eyes heading down Bannerman so I slowed down a little when I was blinded. I went back & forth with Mike from the FSU team on the bike. He entered T2 before me and left T2 before me, but I caught him within 1/4 mile on the run. After I passed him, I couldn't see anyone up ahead. When I got a chance to check behind me I noticed that there was nobody within striking distance. The next finisher was 8 seconds behind me. I got 2nd in my age group, 3rd for FSU, and 15/245 finishers overall.

I felt great and rode that high all day long. I'm reminded why I train.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

FSU Rankings

There is a paper that just came out which lists rankings for various econ programs across the country. FSU's Urban Economics program is ranked 7th in the nation! Dr. Ihlanfeldt came by my office yesterday to inform me of this and I can only say that it's good news to my ears.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Caught in Rain => Elevated Mood

I was a little disappointed when nobody showed up for my 7pm run tonight, but I ran a little on my own. I noticed that it wasn't monsooning like I thought it would be and decided to try to beat the rain home and take advantage of the remaining daylight. I had parked my bike under the protective cover of the business building, expecting it to rain while I was at school...turns out that the rain was lying in wait to ambush me on the way home. You're supposed to attack an ambush and that's exactly what I did. I was at Call & Stadium when it hit me. Gusting winds and forcible pelts from full sized drops. I had my pack cover on the backpack and my rain jacket on. My shorts and the contents of their pockets got soaked very soon. The rain blew in gusts, driving stinging needles of raindrops into my exposed skin.

When I got to Ocala, the water was gushing down the bike lane. I decided to ride on the sidewalk. Runoff was still traveling down the sidewalk, but not nearly with as much force. The current on the road looked like it could push my bike into the storm sewer or the traffic lane, depending on what it felt like. I was also concerned about visibility and getting hit by a car if I was on the road. There was one point when I was going downhill that the wind almost stopped my forward progress! I definitely had to downshift from the usual gears I ride.

While I was cutting through the neighborhood, a tree branch fell about 5 feet away from me as I was passing. I thought that it could just as easily have landed on my head. I was also reminded by this point that my brakes don't work as well when they (and the rims) are soaked.

I made it home without incident and discovered that I didn't even care that water had leaked into the gap between the pack cover and my backpack. I was drenched but my upper body had stayed dryer and warm enough due to my jacket. I was riding a high off this trip back home for about an hour after getting back home. Normally rainy days put people in a bad mood. I was elated. I mentioned to Dan upon my arrival that it was a beautiful day and he snickered...I was serious.

I've found in the past that getting caught in the rain can make me really happy. I guess it's usually not a good thing if you're on the way to a job interview or something. I think I enjoy the entrapment of a storm as long as it's not violently lightening and I'll be able to change into dry clothes when I get to where I'm going.

¡Viva el aguacero!