Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pick #326

Tommy Tutone - "867-5309/Jenny"

When a friend asks for me to text them Billy Bob's phone number, I like to write "for a good time call Billy Bob at 867-5309" but I use actual phone #

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Whiskey Air Freshener

I like the smell of whiskey.  I think it would make a great air freshener...but it would be a bad idea to use it in a car.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Parents are Economists #1: Honesty is the Best Policy

I think I might start a new blog series called My Parents are Economists.  It's true that neither of them are professional economists and that they might not think like economists sometimes, but they taught me a lot about the economic way of thinking when I was growing up even if they didn't call it that.

So, economists (especially game theorists) will tell you that honesty is not always the best policy depending on the payoff structure of the game you are playing.  My parents careful to make sure to structure payoffs such that truth telling led to higher payoffs than lying.  I would always get in more trouble if they found out I was lying than if I told the truth initially.  Since I'm a bad liar that raised the probability that they would sooner or later catch me in a lie to nearly 1.

As parents, you want to have an honest line of communication with your children.  If you want them to be straightforward with you, then you can't chastise them for telling you things like when they had a few beers the other night.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Power Grips on MKS Pedals

You can put Power Grips on MKS pedals.  I was looking for an upgrade to the stock setup on my fixed gear so I went with Power Grips.  I later had an accident because my left crank arm snapped in half and the left pedal was damaged in the crash.  I really liked the Power Grips because I could wear just about any shoe instead of being limited to my clipless shoes and still get good power out of the setup.

When I replaced the pedals, I wanted something a bit nicer than the Power Grips stock pedals.  I went with the MKS Sylvan Touring pedals after deciding that I didn't like the 1-sided MKS Sylvan Road pedals.  In fact, you can use any pedal as long as it has a place to put the 3 screws pictured in this post.  The Power Grips come with mounting hardware and I think the spacing between screws is fairly standard.

Riding my fixie in Tallahassee would be nearly impossible without a foot retention system.  I have some hills around here with a 10%+ grade and although they are not very long, it would be impossible to get up them with my 48/15 gear ratio.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I was teaching about doomsday predictions about a week ago.  I used global predictions of disaster to set up my talk about panic over running out of resources.  As specific examples, I used the Family Radio prediction about the end of the world in May of 2011 and the timely Mayan Calendar example.  I also mentioned the Y2K thing and almost none of my students knew what that was.  I had to explain that people freaked out about 12-31-99 rolling over to 1-1-00 would throw off computers and how early computer programmers didn't have the space to put 12-31-1999.

I guess most of my students were 6 when this happened.  I feel like it's a relatively current event, but I didn't think about my audience enough when using that example.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Four Way Tie

Tonight was officer election night at the Golden Key meeting.  There are about 10 officer positions.  A few of them didn't need elections because people ran unopposed.  The historian spot was fairly highly sought after with 4 candidates.  Each of them gave a great speech about their qualifications and vision for GK.  They were all so good and just about as good as each other that I could not decide for whom to vote.  Turns out that everyone else (on average) must have felt the same way because there was a 4 way tie.  Oh, and I abstained! (Someone else voted for a fictional name)  I could have been the deciding vote...but I don't think that would have been very fair since I don't have a strong preference.  Now they are all going to have to put together a portfolio and the person who produces the best quality work gets the job.  In a room with ~30 other people, I'm surprised that it came down to the wire like that.  A 2 way tie would not have surprised me, but the 4 way was pretty interesting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Similar Sounding Songs

I was watching this Vsauce video about if we will ever run out of music when I followed a link to a website that lets you play two similar sounding songs side by side.  I've had a few thoughts about some songs that sound similar or have similar words.  I think this might be a good theme for a mix tape.  Speaking of mixes, another relevant site shows that "everything is a remix."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Birthday Heat Map

This interactive heat map shows how common your birthday is.  Looks like people make New Year's resolutions to make babies.  It also looks like there's some preference to have a baby a few days before Christmas or a couple days after.  I'm sure you can see some patterns I missed.

This is a great data vizualization tool.  I've been thinking more and more about data viz.  I ended up doing some of it for my experiment just so I could see what was going on behind those spreadsheets full of numbers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


So the powerball jackpot is around $500M at the moment (or maybe more).  I've heard a lot of talk recently that it does not make sense to buy a ticket because your odds of winning are less than ___insert random unlikely event here___.  I took it upon myself to look up the odds of winning and calculate the expected value of a ticket.  Turns out that the expected value of the ticket depends on the size of the jackpot (surprise!).  You want to purchase a ticket for $2 if the expected value is greater than the $2 that you have to spend on the ticket.  In order to simplify things, I'll reduce all the non-jackpot figures.

You can expect to earn $0.36 + $(Jackpot/175,223,510).  That means that you should play only if (Jackpot/175,223,510) is larger than 1.64.  This happens when the Jackpot is more than $287,266,557...BUT, actually, what you'd need is a take-home value of $287,266,557.  After you take the lump sum and taxes come out of the jackpot it shrinks (I think to about 55% of its original size).  I guess that means that the jackpot has to be over $500,000,000 in order to break even in expected value terms.

Assuming no taxes and a jackpot of about $550M, the expected value of a ticket is about $3.50 so it makes sense to spend $2 on the ticket...IF IF IF you are the only winner and we are not worrying about taxes.

As more and more people play *technically as more tickets are sold*, the odds of having to split the jackpot increase.  Say you end up splitting a $600M jackpot if you win... then your expected value would be (300,000,000/175,223,501) + 0.36 = $2.07 which is just barely enough to justify buying the ticket (unless you really don't value the time that you spend waiting in line).  Also, after taxes it looks like your expected value is less than the cost of the ticket.

All that being said, I bought 5 entries tonight on my way home.  I don't expect to win, but the lottery gave me a ton of scholarship money and this could be viewed as a way that I'm giving back.  Good luck all you players.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

100GB Free Google Drive Storage for Eligible Chromebooks

Looks like I missed out on this offer:  100GB Free Google Drive Storage (for 2 years) for Eligible Chromebooks.  For some reason, Google is not offering this to Cr-48, Acer AC700, or Samsung Series 5 computers.  I think it's strange that this offer would not be extended to older (early adopter) machines.  I know that the Cr-48s were given away in the first place and maybe that's one reason they're not being given even more, but I don't think that it would cost Google very much to allow ALL Chromebooks to have the free storage.

The free storage is only for 2 years and I bet that people would continue the subscription for $5/month after that.  I'm a little bummed that I don't get the free storage.  I've been stoked about my Chromebook and would consider getting another one in the future.

You can read more about the terms and conditions of this offer here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Beer Choice as a Signaling Device

I just shaved today and didn't get carded at the store to buy beer.  I can almost always count on getting carded when I'm clean shaven.  I wonder if the beer I bought is one reason I did not get carded.  I picked up a 6er of Abita Restoration Ale and a big bottle of Abita Abbey Ale.

I think that underage drinkers are more likely to buy Natty Light or Bud Light or something along those lines.  I wonder how effective it would be for underage kids to try buying better beer as a signaling device that they are older.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Price Gouging" After Sandy

Notice that this gas station had gas.  One man informs the reporter that other stations are out of gas.  This one has gas precisely because they increased the price.  THE GAS STATION IS NOT FORCING ANYONE TO BUY THEIR GAS!  The price appears to be not high enough.  People are waiting in a very long line, so they must really want gas at this price.  Their demand for gas has increased due to the storm and they are willing to pay more for it.

Normally, gas is just used in their cars but now they are without centralized power production so many residents have a generator that they can use to keep the food in their fridge from spoiling.  Isn't that worth $5/gallon in unspoiled food alone?

Everyone should thank this gas station for raising its price so that there was still gas around for high valued uses like the generator above.  People who don't really need gas right now can wait until the price drops again before filling their tanks.  If the price stayed low, then everyone with 3/4 tank would try to top it off and there wouldn't be gas left for the generators.  Some people would benefit from paying a bit less for gas but others would be harmed by not getting it at all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend in New Orleans

I just had a great weekend at the Southern Economic Association's annual meeting in New Orleans.  We got in late Thursday night and one of the people with us wanted to eat at the Arby's across from the hotel.  Unacceptable.  I asked the check-in girl where we should go instead.  We ended up about 2 blocks away at Daisy Dukes and I had alligator sausage for the first time.  It was delicious.  It was also filled with locals and devoid of tourists (except us).  

Friday was a full day of sessions.  I had to present on Sunday at 8am and I filled in for Rosie as discussant for a paper on Sunday at 1pm.  I ended up revising my presentation (and my discussion) after sitting in on a few of the sessions.  Some of the talks I saw were phenomenal and others abysmal.  One terrible presentation was actually a keynote on Friday night.  This guy droned on for over an hour in his monotone about how Obama sucks.  I didn't expect it to be that partisan.  A week ago, Mankiw railed on some policies but gave specific recommendations for making things better.

I went to dinner at the Palace Cafe on Friday night with the people from W. W. Norton Publishing.  Dinner was delicious and the people were all fun and interesting and smart.  I woke up on Saturday morning to go to their focus group for Dirk Mateer's new textbook.  They wanted feedback on their online homework component.  If they are able to incorporate all our suggestions, they'll have the best online homework solution on the market, hands down.  I still haven't read the chapters from the book, but I plan on doing that before I get a job somewhere.  The textbook should be out for the fall semester at a reasonable price.

I ran into a bunch of other people I know who don't live in Tallahassee.  I got to see Glenn from my cohort who now lives across the pond in Innsbruck and Krista who is in Switzerland.  I attended a couple sessions put together by Dr. Salmon and he even gave a talk at one of them.  I saw some people who I'd met last year in DC and even a guy from UF who I met last week at the teaching conference.  I also ran into the focus group people all day Saturday.  Whitney came to my presentation and we went to lunch together on Friday.  I think it's a great idea to get yourself on the agenda at conferences so that you can go and visit with colleagues from all over.  The only downside is missing a bit of class.

I was lucky enough to have Marc cover my class for me on Friday.  The class was about the crash of 2008 and Marc was working on Wall Street at the time, so I think he had a better perspective than I could ever have.  I hope to incorporate more guest lecturers into my course design in the future.  I don't want just to use them to free myself up but also to give my students some variety.  Speaking of changes to my course, I got a lot of great ideas on how to improve classes and presentations.  I've made note of the actionable items and I'll begin to incorporate them the next time I teach and maybe even make a few modifications for the rest of the semester (like leaving some extra text off my powerpoints when I present in class but making it available online for students to download).

I guess I didn't mention that we traveled in style.  Mike's Limousine sent us a 50 passenger bus.  It was supposed to be a 20 passenger bus for about 11 people.  We only had 7 ride the bus.  It's a bit of a waste, but better than everyone driving individually.  Better than putting miles on my car.  Nice to sleep on the bus (or write this blog post).  It was cheaper for the department than reimbursing all of our travel expenses.  All around great stuff.

Pick #321

Seven Mary Three - "Favorite Dog"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Open Letter to Peter Morici

Prof. Peter Morici
University of Maryland
Smith School of Business
College Park, MD
Dear Peter:
In your guest blog-post yesterday at CNBC you argue that the destruction caused by hurricane Irene will spark a “process of economic renewal [that] can leave communities better off than before” (“Economic Impact of Hurricane Irene“).  Central to your argument is your claim that, because of the rebuilding, “the capital stock that emerges will prove more economically useful and productive.”
In other words, whenever assets still in use are destroyed, wealth will thereby be created – that is, people whose assets are destroyed will be made richer – because these destroyed assets are replaced with ones that are newer and more productive.
I hereby offer my services to you, at a modest wage, to destroy your house and your car.  Act now, and I’ll throw in at no extra charge destruction of all of your clothing, furniture, computer hardware and software, and large and small household appliances.
Because, I’m sure, almost all of these things that I’ll destroy for you are more than a few days old (and, hence, are hampered by wear and tear), you’ll be obliged to replace them with newer versions that are “more economically useful and productive.”  You will, by your own logic, be made richer.
Just send me a note with some times that are good for you for me to come by with sledge hammers and blowtorches.  Given the short distance between Fairfax and College Park, I can be at your place pronto.
Oh, as an extra bonus, I promise not to clean up the mess!  That way, there’ll be more jobs created for clean-up crews in your neighborhood.
Donald J. Boudreaux

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nash Equilibrium in Layman's Terms

My girlfriend watched a documentary about John Nash and how he overcame his schizophrenia.  I tried telling her about the Nash Equilibrium (NE) concept and she didn't either I did a poor job explaining or she wasn't focusing on my explanation or a bit of both.  I'm going to attempt to define NE and give an example in layman's terms below.

NE is a game theory concept, so it applies to games.  Economists use the word game a bit differently than other people, so you can think of a game as a scenario where more than one player interact with each other and the payoffs (perhaps who wins and who loses and by how much) are determined by the decisions of all the players.  A simple game is played on The Price is Right.  The winner is the player who guesses the number closest to the value of the item without going over.  All four players make a guess and therefore whether or not one player is a winner depends on the value of the item and the guesses of the other three players.  Likewise, paper-rock-scissors is a game.  If you throw rock, your payoff depends on what your opponent throws.

In a NE, no player can increase his own payoff by deviating if everyone else keeps their move the same.  Think about letting just one player (at a time) have a do-over...if they change their move, then we say they have deviated.  Another aspect of NE that hurts brains is that there can be multiple NE in one game.  I am going to describe a two player game for simplicity.

You and I get to pick an integer between 1 and 9 inclusive.  We do not get to communicate with each other about what we will pick.  Say that you pick a number by writing it down and giving the paper to a person organizing the game.  The payoffs are as follows:  if we pick the same number, then we each get paid that number of dollars (by the person who is organizing the game).  If we pick different numbers then we each have to pay the same number of dollars as the number we picked (to the person organizing the game).

Example 1 payoff:
I pick 5 and you pick 7.  Now I have to pay 5 and you have to pay 7.

Example 2 payoff:
We both pick 4.  Now we both get paid $4.

What about the NE?:
The moves we made in example 1 are not a NE.  If I were allowed to deviate, I would change my pick to 7 and we would both get paid $7.  If you were allowed to deviate then you'd pick 5 and we'd both get $5.  It only takes one of us wanting to deviate to make the scenario a non-NE.  The moves we made in example 2 are a NE.  If either of us were given the chance to deviate (given that the other player cannot change their move) then neither of us would want to because we'd go from getting $4 to paying something which does not make us better off.

Here's the tricky thing...
First of all, you have to get past the idea that this is a simultaneous move game and you will not know what your opponent has chosen until after you have made your move.  Second of all, you might have deduced that any time we both pick the same number in the game above leads to a NE.  That is correct.  There are 9 NEs for that game.  We could settle on any one of them and it would be a NE.  All other choices where we pick different numbers are not NEs because one of us would like to deviate if we knew that the other person would not be able to change his answer.

I hope that helps.  I can answer any questions in the comments.

Note: I've only discussed pure strategy NE because mixed strategy will blow your mind...and I can't say much about it to the lay person except that it would be bad for a player to commit to a strategy such as "always choose paper in paper-rock-scissors" because the opponent would then crush you by always choosing scissors.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Greg Mankiw on Health Insurance

I was at the Cengage Learning annual teaching conference on Friday and had a great time.  Gail Hoyt gave a seminar for grad students about the top 5 tips for effective teaching & top 5 tips for the job market.  That was really good and followed by N. Gregory Mankiw's keynote address at lunch.  What Mankiw said really resonated with me.  I had no idea that he was so light-hearted and funny...I feel like he could give Yoram Bauman (the stand-up economist) a run for his money if he tried.

Mankiw's speech was about the fiscal challenge ahead.  I really liked what Mankiw had to say about gas taxes (there should be a ~$2.00/gallon tax on gas to help correct the negative externalities generated by driving) and getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction on taxes (even though I own a house, I realize that this is a terribly inequitable tax and costs our government lots of revenues).  What really resonated with me was his take on medical insurance.  I've actually had much the same conversation with my girlfriend and it was super duper neat-o to hear Dr. Mankiw express my views from his mouth to a room full of people/webcast full of viewers.  Here's the upshot of the problems with medical insurance:

People are using medical insurance as non-insurance.  Insurance should be for unexpected events, not regular medicine or treatments.  Since medical insurance compensation is tax deductible, people have too much of it.  To see why, consider what would happen if your auto insurance was tax deductible.  You would tell your employer that you're willing to take a pay cut if he pays for your auto insurance policy.  You would want better coverage than you currently have (as long as insurance is a normal good, which it's hard to argue otherwise).  Normal auto insurance now covers incidental things like accidents but it does not cover regular maintenance items like new tires, burned out headlights, oil changes, and filter replacement.  If you had the tax deductible setup, then you'd want as much of your car expenses to be covered by insurance (with a more expensive policy).  We would probably see clauses allowing insurance to cover filter replacement and oil changes.  People might even want to go as far as to have their policy cover gasoline fill-ups.

If this sounds ridiculous to you, consider someone with a monthly prescription that is covered by their insurance.  That might be too much insurance coverage.  I think that there are ways around "insuring" monthly prescriptions.  One reason why it's attractive to have insurance coverage for monthly prescriptions is the difference in cost between paying out-of-pocket vs. paying through insurance.  Part of the reason for the price difference is the market power of the insurance company compared to that of an individual consumer.  The insurance company can negotiate lower rates.  Another reason is that healthy people are subsidizing pill takers.  That setup might make sense for temporary prescriptions but not regular recurring prescriptions (which is like auto insurance covering gasoline).

If my gasoline were subsidized, you can bet that I'd drive more than I do now.  So would everyone else.  It's a tragedy of the commons type problem.  The monetary outlays on gasoline would increase and people would be concerned about the rising costs of auto insurance...but they wouldn't want to remove the moral hazard (speaking just about the gas and not about reckless driving) associated with purchasing that insurance.

Speaking of the rising cost of medical insurance, Mankiw does not think this is a bad thing.  One reason why the cost has increased is that the productivity of medical capital has increased.  We are also able to do amazing things with medical technology that we couldn't in the past.  When I broke my wrists, I was able to regain a near full range of motion.  I was informed by my surgeon that I would have about half the range of motion in each plane had this accident occurred only 5 years earlier.  Mankiw offers a thought experiment:  would you agree to pay the rate on medical treatment paid by your grandfather (in his 40s) in exchange for only getting the care that he could have received all those years ago.  Mankiw's personal answer is no.  My answer is no.  What about yours?  Consider the drugs that have been invented since then.  The MRI technology, laser surgery, etc.  Those things are more expensive than the older alternatives, but they're also more effective.  Mankiw further points out that we do not seem to experience diminishing marginal utility in years of life like we do for consuming other goods.  Nobody says "I've made it to 74 and it's all downhill from here...I don't care if I live another year."  We do say "I've had 47 slices of apple pie...I would hate to eat a 48th."  Given that a goal of medical care is to prolong life (or to improve the quality) then he thinks that we'd be willing to spend plenty more on it.  Perhaps with everything else getting cheaper we have more money to spend on medical care.  He would like to see medical care keep increasing in cost to keep up with the technological improvements.

I think another reason medical costs have risen is the shift in demand for medical services caused by insured people.  I'll admit that I've gone to the clinic at school for a sore throat because the visit was free.  I would not have driven to the doctor's office and paid $100 for a similar visit.  Driving down the cost of medical care will require: 1) aligning doctors' incentives to provide cheaper medical care, 2) driving down demand for medical services...perhaps by a preference shift toward healthier lifestyles or sudden death inducing activities and/or 3) a bigger increase in the supply of medical inputs.

I hope I've done some justice to his talk.  I've added some of my own thoughts along the way, so don't get mad at Greg if you disagree with anything above unless directly attributed to him.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chromebook Update: External Monitor

W00t! My chromebook now recognizes my external monitor at its native resolution!  I can mirror monitors, but I cannot run dual monitors.  It's steps in the right direction.  The improvements keep coming every 6 weeks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama FTW

I am amazed at the numbers from the election.  The popular vote went 50% Obama, 48% Romney, but Obama's electoral votes outnumbered Romney's 303 to 203.  That's some good campaigning and maybe a little bit of luck.

I had been thinking about Obama's lame duck presidency as a bad thing.  Now, I wonder if he will get some really great stuff done in that time.  I think that he has good intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions (if you don't know, it's either "the highway to hell is paved with good intentions" or "good intentions don't guarantee good outcomes).

I really hope that fiscal sanity can be restored.  By some measures, Obama's done a great job (see here) and by others he's done poorly (see here).  Unfortunately, I couldn't vote for either of the major candidates yesterday.  I cast a throw-away vote for Gary Johnson.  Funny enough, it was Romney's own propaganda that made me decide that I could not vote for him.  Not that my vote would have made a difference anyway (although at this time Florida still has not been officially called, the vote difference is near 46,000 votes).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

VO2 Max Update

I went to do my second VO2 max session for Emery's study on Thursday.  There was slight improvement because I got 65mgO2/kg weight/minute, up from 64 a couple weeks ago.  I still got stuck at the same part of the test (running up an 8% grade at 9.5mph aka 6:19 per mile)...but this time I lasted about 15-20 seconds longer than last time.

We determined that my speed for the downhill run (DHR) portion of the test will be 9.4mph.  That's pretty cool because the farthest I've ever run in an hour is 9.32 miles (well, I ran a 15k in 59:52).  I'll be running down a 5% grade for that entire hour.  I think it'll start to hurt after 40 minutes.  I guess the whole goal of the study is to make sure that I'm extremely sore.  There are moments when I wonder exactly what would make me sign up for something like this...but then I think it's cool again.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pick #319

Japandroids - "I Quit Girls" from Post-Nothing

edit 11-7: I saw Daniel Tosh wearing a Japandroids shirt on his 11-6 broadcast of Tosh.0!  I wonder if he saw this post before making a wardrobe decision.

Monday, October 29, 2012

HC Video

Check it out!  Video that makes HC look really good, partially because of J who is the star of the show.  I make an appearance at about 3:23, 5:06, & 6:15.  I do not remember being filmed in any of those scenes.  B makes an appearance at 4:51 then again at 4:58.  How did TBW miss out on this?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tri the Rez Race Report

It was kind of weird not doing anything to facilitate the operation of Tri the Rez 2012.  Kind of nice too.  Since I left, Jennifer has taken over with the help of some great volunteers.  I really could not have picked a better successor for race director.  Jennifer has everything running so smoothly.  Last year I went to Capital City Runners for packet pickup and had one of the smoothest triathlon packet pickup experiences of my career.  I decided not to get my packet on Friday because I would have had to leave school earlier than I wanted and I'm comfortable throwing things together on race morning.

This race has grown a lot.  There were about 365 racers if you count relay teams as one racer.  I heard some people who were concerned that the higher numbers of people would cause a bit of chaos, but the behind the scenes team really thinks things through.  Jacob ( is probably the best timer in the area.  Jennifer does a great job.  Everything ran as smoothly as in the past.  I imagine the race can take even more growth and still run like clockwork.

I ended up hosting 10 members of the UCF tri team at my house on Friday night although I was only supposed to have 3-5.  Another host was out of visitor parking at his apartment complex and they didn't want to get towed.  In fact, some other people at another place did get towed and had to get their car out of the impound before the race!!!

I parked inside the Rez since I wasn't planning on leaving before the end of the race.  It's nice to be so close for trips to/from car.  I got in line to get my packet and everything went super smoothly.  Apparently, not many people picked up packets on Friday and I would never have known.  They had it down.  There were plenty of body markers and I only had to wait about 30 seconds to get my timing chip.

I racked my bike along the other collegiate athletes using a new technique (the seat hook on the ISM works even though I have an under-seat bag).  I got my transition space set up then went to use the bathroom.  Not a long line because there were so many portapotties and a couple indoor toilets.  There's never long lines for bathroom use at Tri the Rez!

The water level in Lake Bradford was higher than last year but not as high as the 2 years before that.  I had a nice comfortable swim to the outside of the pack.  I sighted pretty well and the only mistake I made was a slightly too wide turn at the first buoy.  I lost my goggles at Bailey's wedding last weekend and this was the first time I wore my new goggles and I was happy with their performance...they didn't leak.

Removing my wetsuit took a couple seconds longer than I wanted but I made it through T1 in 48 seconds.  I feel like I had a weak bike.  The course was longer than in years past because Lost Lake Road is being paved.  The bike course was super well marked.  All the imperfections in the road (including one piece of roadkill) had been circled/outlined with orange paint.  There were definitely a few guys ahead of me doing some illegal drafting and I don't think they got busted.  I kept feeling like I wish I could get more power out of my legs.  I also had my bike shift on me without me asking it to shift on more than one occasion.  I need to figure out why that's happening.  T2 was pretty clean.

I was tearing it up on the run.  I passed plenty of people.  I made it to the 1-mile wooded section without being passed by anyone.  I was gaining on the guy in front of me and I heard someone coming up really fast from behind me.  Peter Wood went flying past and I decided that I'll never be upset if Peter passes me on a run.  I went on to pass a few more people, gaining a bunch of ground.  I tried to pass a couple guys on the Flastacowo homestretch but the one closest to me started to kick pretty loudly which warned the guy in front of him.  I wasn't able to catch the guy in front once he took off.

Post-race, I went straight to the massage table.  Got a nice massage then hit up food tent before taking a cool down backwards on the race course and cheering in the rest of my team plus other random people.  When it was time for door prizes, some were given to randomly chosen race numbers but others had contests.  I did a pushup contest and got worked by the winner.  Knew that would happen.  I came close to the other guys.  There was also a planking contest.  The winners went for about 9 minutes.  I knew that would happen and that I probably wouldn't be able to last through 4 minutes.

I helped Jacob the timer clean up a bit although he had just about everything under control.  Traffic had cleared out by that point.  I don't think that traffic was ever an issue.  I got inside the Rez pretty easily in the morning and I didn't hear anyone complain about parking or waiting in traffic.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Allow Steroids in Professional Sports

Everybody's on performance enhancers, especially pro athletes.  Even if it's not "drugs" or "doping," cyclists can sleep in altitude chambers or go train in the Andes mountains.  Same thing...trying to gain an edge over the competition.  We should come to expect this from our athletes.  All the guys Lance beat were doping.  All those homerun sluggers are doping.  Maybe they're not on "banned substances" but you can bet they're at least taking protein powders and creatine.  Why stop there?  Let HGH be legal.  Right now we are penalizing pro athletes who want to "play by the rules."  Let the rules say that anyone can take steroids or whatever else...then the honest people don't have to worry about getting left behind.  It would level the playing field and make the players a bit bigger.  I think it would make sports more spectator friendly.  And athletes could get legitimate medical advice and attention with respect to these chemicals.  Players would not be forced to take anything so anyone opposed to a particular substance can abstain.  Who loses here?  Nobody.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Old Field Cycles Test Drive

I ran into Justin tonight at Bread and Roses and he was on his "dirt road commuter."  He mentioned that it's up for sale for $2,000.  I admitted that I don't have the money or need for an extra bike, but asked to test drive it.

The paint is beautiful and the lines on the tubing are so clean.  It's got some innovative features.  The cable for the front drum brake is routed through the fork.  Drum brake in the back too.  The tires give great traction and the cotton wrap on the handlebars make them feel SOLID.  Speaking of solid, Justin build the wheels by hand with heavy duty spokes and a 29er rim.  I've never ridden a Campy shifter/Shimao derailer setup before, but it was pretty neat to downshift AND upshift 3 gears at a time.

The generator light isn't as bright as my DiNotte XML-3, but it's always on if you're riding and there's no worry about batteries.  It will stay for a while even if you're stopped.  Speaking of stopping, the drum brakes are a whole 'nother world.  They don't quite have the stopping power of my hydraulic disc brakes, but they do a damn good job.  They're also silent and are not exposed to the elements, so they should perform the same in wet conditions.  The tools clanking around in the bag in the front were not so quiet.  However, the front storage is huge and secured very well.  The saddle bag was not attached when I rode it.

My only complaints: 1. Brooks saddle...I would convert to ISM if I bought it, but some people love the Brooks.  2. I wasn't clipped in so I couldn't test drive it really hard.

Overall, this would be a great multi-purpose bike.  I think if I were forced to have only one bike, this might be the one.  You can commute on it, you could race it if you don't mind being a bit slow due to weight and knobby tires (and no aerobars), you can ride off-road, you can go shopping, and just about whatever else you want.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Updated Bio Stats

I learned some things about myself as a result of participating in a research study.  The study is trying to determine the effect of a supplement product on delayed onset muscle soreness.  The focal point of the study is making me run downhill for an hour (on a treadmill) then measuring how sore I am the following three days.  Before we get there, they are doing some blood work and made some biometric measurements.

...I'm 6'1" tall!  Thought I was 6 feet flat.

13.9% body fat!   I have about DOUBLED my body fat since the last study I did.  I used to be at 7.3%-7.5%.  Perhaps this is due to a different person testing me.  All three readings were performed with the caliper method, which has a fairly wide variance.  I doubt that I was ever really down at 7.5%, probably closer to 9%.  I'd like to think that I'm not at 14% right now but I've not been training so much and my diet is pretty crappy compared to other times in my life.

My VO2max went from 77mlO2/kg body weight/minute a few years ago to 64 today.  I have to do another VO2max test and I hope to get at least a couple points higher.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unappreciated for Tri the Rez

I had requested free entry to Tri the Rez this year, but the Triathlon Club at FSU has declined my request.  We had a little meeting tonight to discuss why.  Basically, the club does not think that I deserve a free race entry just because I founded the race and served as race director for two years.  The race earned $100 the first year, $1,000 the second year, and $5,000 last year.  I was not race director last year, but much of that money is due to the reputation that I built in the first two years.  I did race for free last year and it was amazing.  I got race number 1 and the best spot in transition.  It was the most fun I've ever had in a race because I got to see my course in action.  I think it is completely fair to get  a free race entry at a minimum for each year I was RD.

Let me also mention that I took a big gamble on this race.  The club did not have any money at the time, so I financed Tri the Rez the first year on my credit card, hoping that I could attract enough entry fees to cover the costs.  My gamble paid off and the club was the beneficiary.  I cannot believe that they told me that I should not be rewarded for this past gamble.

The club sees this race as a fundraiser and thinks that letting me race for free will detract from the profits the race earns.  They're right about that.  I predict the race will make $8,000 this year.  It would have made $0 if I had not started it.  When I asked what they would do with the extra money they made from my entry they did not answer.  When I asked again, the question was evaded again.  The race would not be harmed in any way by giving me free entry.

In all the service that I did for the club, Race Director was the toughest.  It's way harder than president or treasurer.

I don't care about the money, but a nice gesture would be great.  Turns out that I ended up with a $15 discount versus what everybody else pays right generous.  I told the officers never to ask me for anything else to help "the club."  I will still help individual members as I always have, but this feels like a giant stab of betrayal from a club to which I have given so much.

I really wish I could go on a run and think about this/cool off, but I'm a participating in an exercise research study tomorrow and I'm not allowed to run! #firstworldproblems

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Battle of the Bridges Race Report

Got a bit of free time so I'll give a race report from this morning.

Although Battle of the Bridges has sprint and "olympic" distances, the olympic bike is 26 miles (but Jimmy said his cyclocomputer read 27 miles!!).  I finished 3rd in my age group, 15th overall (out of about 160 men who did olympic distance), and 2nd for FL State.  Jimmy beat me by about 36 seconds...most of that coming from the swim.  I saw him on the run and tried to catch him, but he stayed strong.

Age group results.  Overall results.

I got up early and my mom made me breakfast :). We left on time and got to the race with plenty of time to spare.  Unfortunately, I had to rack my bike by the seat.  The swim start was gentle at first, then bottlenecked and I got sandwiched between a few guys.  I swam a bit off course because it was hard to sight on the buoys before the sun rose.  I also must have completely missed a sight buoy because I thought I was supposed to go straight at the first turn.  I had a bit of difficulty in T1 because my helmet buckle went in funny and I had to get it out then re-buckle it properly.  I also wiped the condensation from my sunglasses while I was there.  I flew on the bike course...well, it looks like I averaged 21.9mph, but there were some bridges on the course.  I left my legs on the bike course and my glutes hurt a lot for the first 2 miles of the run.  I ran in 45:12 which I thought was terrible, but the winner ran in 41:35 so I don't feel too bad.

After the race, I went on a service call with my mom &; dad then to lunch at Long Doggers, where we had a $10 coupon.  After that, we went to the beach and I transferred all the pictures he had taken to my computer.  Got dropped off at Alison's house and we're carpooling back to Tally in maybe an hour.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fine the Candidates

I decided while watching the debate last night that presidential candidates should be fined for every provable falsehood that escapes their mouths.  They can be given some leeway with percentages, maybe a +/- 5% band...for instance, no fine if they say something decreased 30% and the actual figure is 34%...but there is a fine if they say it decreased 80%.

The fine schedule would have to be written in a firm way, but somehow account for the size of the misinformation.  The fines collected could be contributed to something that all candidates agree on like medicaid for the current candidates or "education" for everyone ever running for office.  Maybe it could be applied to our national debt.  Whatever the case. they appear to need incentives other than looking foolish upon review to keep their tongues in check.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Body Image

I just saw a flyer about a course that "will trace the evolution of the 'ideal' American woman from the pre-colonial period to the modern era..." and talk about "the pervasive cultural pressures stressing conformity to a single norm."

I'm certainly not an expert in the field, but I will argue that there are currently cultural pressures stressing conformity to multiple norms.  Take a look at "hipster chicks" with their tattoos, piercings, and atypical hair styles versus "sorority girls" who all need to be tan with blonde hair.  "Guidos" from Jersey Shore follow a different aesthetic than the "girl next door."  Athletes have different ideas of ideal, even among themselves: swimmer girls have wide shoulders and runners are thin.  Triathletes fall in the middle while roller derby girls try to get bigger.  "Nerdy girls" wear glasses and cardigans and "rich girls" wear expensive clothes and jewelry.  There is obviously not one standard.  In fact, there is a scene in Scrubs where JD is dating a black girl and asks Turk for advice.  Turk says that the only thing different about dating a black girl is that when she asks you if her butt looks big you reply "hell yeah!"

Any woman can be beautiful.  Self confidence is a major factor in projecting that beauty for others to see.  I think that each girl should do whatever makes her feel the best and most beautiful without trying to adhere to a single norm.  "Hippies" won't want to dye their hair blonde and wear expensive fact, that might not be the best option for them.  However, some girls will want to pull a mix-n-match of things that are found to be appealing by other groups.  A girl who is nerdy, athletic, and has tattoo sleeves can be very attractive.  I don't believe that there is a single norm, nor should there be.  Everyone ought to pursue their own path to beauty, even if that path does not lead very far.  Those without interest in beautification need not invest much time or effort in pursuit of physical appeal to others.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Warren Buffet Can Fix Debt Ceiling...

Warren Buffet has a great idea on partially repairing our nation's economy.  Warren knows a thing or two about finances.  Unfortunately, Warren's plan won't work unless and until people get involved.  Most of us are rationally apathetic, knowing that our voice will not matter unless united with those of many, many others.   See what you think about Warren's plan, laid out below.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of...GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2012

1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Don't you think it's time?


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dialogue: Job Security

Austin: Hey Larry, looks like you'e making a mess in there.

Larry (the janitor): Sometimes you've got to make a mess to clean a mess.

Austin:  That's what they call job security.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bad News About Honduran Private City

Looks like the dream is dead.  A slightly watered down version of this city might be realized, but I don't like what I've learned about adaptations to the original idea.  Paul Romer answers some questions on Marginal Revolution.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Private City in Honduras

I got pretty excited when I heard about a private city that is being built in Honduras.  The details are not all worked out yet, but I expect them to have open immigration policies like the good 'ol USA used to.  The only tax will be a property tax.  No income tax, no capital gains tax, no estate tax, no sales tax, etc.  I'm not sure how the tax structure will be designed, but I imagine a straight ad valorem setup where you pay about 5% of the value of your property each year...that way the government has an incentive to provide an area where people want to live.

Since there are not going to be many taxes, there won't be many public services.  I imagine that the garbage collectors will contract with each apartment building or office building or private residence.  Power will be generated by private companies and sold to individual customers.  It will be very easy to start a business.  There will not be a large police force, but I understand that the city can employ legitimate use of force from Honduras.  As an effort to provide stability, a 2/3 majority will be needed to change laws in the city.

The only "catch" that makes this place not "completely free" is one tiny little regulation that I personally have no problem with.  Each business will have to employ a minimum percentage of native Hondurans in order that a portion of the prosperity generated by this city benefits Hondurans.  I don't forsee this being a problem because the best and brightest ones will be hired and I anticipate that there will be an excess supply of highly qualified Honduran workers for at least a few years.

If this city fails like some haters think it might, then the only people who lose are the investors.  If the city performs well, it could transform that part of Honduras in much the same way that Hong Kong was transformed from a rocky island into a booming economy.

If this place turns out to be a success, maybe I can end up teaching at a university in this city...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Some of My Research on SSRN

I have submitted some research to Social Science Quarterly and it is under review.  I was informed that it is fine to also post that research online at a site like Social Science Research Network.  Here's a link to my paper coauthored with Dr. Charles Barrilleaux and Dr. Daniel Scheller.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Atlas Shrugged Part I

I watched Atlas Shrugged Part I with the econ club tonight.  If you don't read the book before watching the movie, there are tons of characters heaped on you in this first installment of the trilogy.  It's tough to draw the connections between everyone without a background of how the story will unfold.  The movie times the presentation of information to the audience differently than the text.

It's true that there are some bad sets and terrible CGI, but I feel like this first movie was just a setup for an awesome Part II.  I hope they can trim the speech in Part III or else it's doomed to be boring.  Overall, the actors did a good job of portraying the characters.  I was an especially big fan of Taylor Schilling who plays Dagny Taggart.  She showed the confidence and determination that I imagined while reading the book.

Watching the movie now makes this book feels particularly prescient.  At one point, I seriously thought I heard Obama's voice from one of the government types who was basically talking about spreading the wealth around.  Spreading the wealth is a nice concept until one stops to consider where that wealth comes from before it is spread or who is in charge of the spreading or what sorts of incentives that creates for everyone.  In response to these incentives, Ellis Wyatt sets his own very valuable oil field on fire.  This is where Part I of the movie ends.  It is not unreasonable to think that non-fictional characters faced with the same incentives could do the same thing.

I am glad that I got to watch this movie with the right audience.  I don't think it would have been as good on my own or without a discussion afterward.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Groovy and Rad

The words groovy and rad seem to be used by people in certain cultures but are almost unambiguously good things.  I don't think I've ever heard them used sarcastically.  People might say "well that's cool" to mean that it's not cool.  Some people say "have a nice day" to mean F you.

I have heard alternate uses for groovy.  It can be a synonym for granola (the adjective, not the noun).  If you can recall a time you heard either groovy or rad used in a bad way, please let me know in the comments.

This post partially inspired by Millencolin's song "Fox."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Do Phones Ring Anymore?

On the way to my office, I heard a phone vibrate and thought it was mine.  Wrong.  Turns out that most phone vibrations sound the same.  Ringtones are sometimes the same, but it's easier to have a unique ring than a unique vibe.  I think kids these days (and older people too) leave their phones on vibrate.  Sometimes I think they're on silent because I see people pick up their phone all of a sudden and answer it.  I definitely hear less ringing from phones than I used to.  I wonder what's caused that shift away from an audible (ok, I guess you can hear a vibration) notification.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Penitent Driver

On my way to school this morning, I was almost right-hooked by a motorist who was presumably in a hurry. The speed limit was 25 and I'd be surprised if I was going any slower than 23.  I was in the bike lane when this girl came from right behind me (like most cars do) and turned right all of a sudden.  I can't remember clearly, but I think I saw her blinker and so jammed on my brakes.  I was able to avoid running into her.

Since I had a bit of time before I needed to teach, I followed the car into the parking lot (against the advice of law enforcement and some bloggers).  I finally got her to stop and roll down her window.  I asked her how valuable her time was.  She was nearly in tears.  She said that she saw me after the turn and felt terrible and she was convincing.  I told her that she only saved about 3 seconds by passing me and making the turn and that I could have been seriously hurt.  At that point I think she might have shed a tear.  I told her that everything's fine...I'm not hurt, she's ok, but to please please watch out for cyclists.  Not everyone rides as aware as I do.  And I thanked her for using her blinker (if that really did happen).

I can only hope that she changes her habits and tells her friends to watch out for cyclists too.

Monday, September 10, 2012

OSLC Welcome Statement

I got an email from my church "back home."  See excerpt below.  I've always felt that the church had this sort of philosophy, but it was nice to see it in writing.  When I was young and naive, I thought that all churches had an outlook like this.  I was very surprised to learn that some churches teach that God hates certain groups of people or used the pulpit for political purposes.

We welcome you to Our Savior Lutheran Church.  We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, black, brown or white.  We extend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, squirming children, and frazzled moms and dads.  We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like some of us, who can't carry a note in a bucket.  You're welcome here if you're "just browsing", just woke up or just got out of jail.  We don't care if you're more Lutheran than Martin Luther, or haven't been in church since little Joey's Baptism.  We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.  We welcome starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians and junk-food eaters.  We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted.  We welcome you if you're having problems or you're down in the the dumps or if you don't like "organized religion", we've been there too.  We offer a special welcome to those who are left-wing, right-wing, or middle of the road.  If you are only here because you are visiting grandma and she wanted you to go to church with her, we welcome you.  We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both.  We welcome those in flip flops or three piece suits.  We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now.  We welcome vacationers, snow-birds, year-rounders, seekers, doubters....and you!  We welcome you to Our Savior Lutheran Church, because we are a place of saints and sinners of all kinds who are here by the grace of God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Democrats: Let's Ban Profits

This is one of the scariest videos I've seen in a while.  I'm not trying to bash Democrats...I would be just as appalled if this were Republicans.  I have no party affiliation.  People really don't understand the source of profits.  See comments after video:

Profit is value created for society.  In order to make a profit, corporations have to sell the product for more money than it costs to produce.  Firms must pay their inputs their respective opportunity costs in production. That's economist talk for "you have to pay people to work for you and you have to buy your materials."  The people will not work for you if you do not pay them as much as they could earn elsewhere.  Nobody will sell you material if you won't pay as high a price as some other person.  Therefore, the inputs are valued by society at the price that corporations pay for them.  The finished product is valued by society at its sale price (or more).  Therefore, profits are a MINIMUM amount of value created for society.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When Traffic Lights Lose Power: Spontaneous Order

This site has an interesting case study on the spontaneous order of traffic in New Zealand.  It involves filming traffic one day when the lights were out and then again the next day at the same time.  I haven't counted the number of cars in each video...I assume they're supposed to line up approximately.

I must say that I've been in areas where the traffic lights are out and traffic did not flow as smoothly over here stateside.  Perhaps it's due to the rule that you're supposed to treat the blank lights as a stop sign.  That rule impedes the spontaneous order.  In case you didn't click the link, I'm posting the video below.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Good Timing on Facebook Wall

No joke, this was perfect timing for Dillon and Erin.  View full size for funnies.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pick #310

Marcel Marcel - "Pony and Moody" from Schlemiel EP

I could see this being used in a commercial...probably for a car

Friday, August 31, 2012

Finising a Bottle of Canned Air

Have you ever noticed that canned air starts to have a weaker force behind the blowing when you get near the end of a bottle?  One reason is that you are running out of propellant.  Another reason is that the can gets cold.  According to the ideal gas law (PV=nRT if you've forgotten), when the temperature (T) falls, so will the pressure (P) since volume is held constant by the size of the interior of the can.  This means that when you think you're near empty, you can wait until the can heats back up to room temperature and get some more air out of the can.  There are diminishing returns to doing this.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

College Stuff Checklist: Floor Fan

Freshmen who are going to college for the first time are often presented with a list of things they'll need to outfit their dorm room.  One item is always absent from these lists and that amazes me.  I'm talking about a floor fan.  Fans are super useful.  They're great when your air conditioning breaks or a roommate likes it hotter than you do.  They help dry spills and clothes that didn't quite dry in the dorm dryers.  They can get smells out of your room and cool off your computer.  You can make funny voices by talking into the fan.  White noise from fans can help drown out other noises and get you to sleep faster.  Good fans are durable and will last a very long time.  I recommend one that oscillates and can be angled up and down.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of Class

I was happy to hear that FSU did not need to cancel the first day of classes due to Hurricane Isaac.  In fact, I rode to school and home today without getting rained on.  There were a bunch of first years in my office when I arrived.  We currently have an overcrowding problem in my office which I'm working on fixing.  I just took it easy until class started.  I was the least nervous I've been for a first day of class.  Everything went smoothly in class except I realized that I have no idea how to proficiently use the Windows Media Player that comes on the classroom computer.  Maybe I'll switch to VLC.

I get a really good vibe from my students.  I had 22 people hand in an assignment today even though it's not due until a week from Friday.  I only put one girl to sleep.  I had lots of students introduce themselves after class and I'm going to need a few weeks to get names down.  I figure it's best to wait until after drop/add is over.  After class, I stayed and configured some of my electronics and all went well.

Back upstairs, I changed a few things in my syllabus due to a new scheduling conflict and students submitting error reports.  I think I'm ready to roll for the entire semester except for making some homework assignments and writing the tests.  I even had a former student drop by to pay me a visit between his classes.

Unrelated to teaching, I found a great remote desktop app that launches in a browser window.  It's called SparkView(RDP) and is available in the Chrome WebStore.  I came home and tried it out on my Chromebook and it works just as well as it did in my office!  Now I basically have a fully functional once I get home.  Good day.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Yay! Low Energy Usage

City of Tallahassee's Your Own Utilities has a tool where you can see how your utility usage compares to other homes.  Here is my picture for last month:
Looks like I did a decent job.  I'm going to have to stay on top of this to see if I'm always over on the far left.  I broke this down by electricity, gas, and water.  I'm on the far left for electricity and gas, but just to the left of the dark green/light green border for water.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pick #309

Anthrax - "Got the Time" from Persistance of Time.  
This became the first metal song to be played by the Curiosity rover on Mars on day 6.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rich Kids of Instagram

Have you seen RKOI?  Sometimes I'm impressed, sometimes dumbfounded, and sometimes wonder how I can get in on that action.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nobody Cannot Cross It / Tek Serious, Mek Laugh

This song's been in my head all day.  It's good to make light of a serious situation, as long as you still take it seriously.  Seriously.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pesto Salmon Recipe

I got some pesto from Bread and Roses yesterday and I needed to eat some salmon I had bought a couple days ago.  I found a quick, easy, amazingly delicious salmon recipe here.  Prep takes about 3 minutes if the pesto's already made!

Notes:  I cooked it with the skin on.  The skin comes right off after cooking.  I only seasoned the top and sides.  I did not measure out the ingredients.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bad Lip Reading: Rick Santorum

These BLR guys do a great job at matching words to lips...nonsensical at times but I can almost guarantee a chuckle out of this video.  If you watch on YouTube, then they have links to the source videos.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Purse!

I went running last night and found another purse.  I didn't bring this one with me because the valuable items were gone.  I found some phone numbers and called the girl's grandmother.  I never heard back from her and don't know if she got her purse because I have not run back there again.  I think I'll try to call the place she's staying if I don't hear from her by tomorrow afternoon.  The only things worth mentioning in the purse were a book, some clothes, a check book, and papers with some info on them (such as online banking user name and password along with a phone number labeled Grandma).

I sure wish people would stop stealing purses.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My New Chromebook

It wasn't "like new;" this Samsung Series 5 3G Chromebook  was brand new!  The Verizon Wireless 3G plan had not been enabled yet...doesn't appear as though it'd ever been turned on before.  The protective plastic sheets were still on it.

I've read reviews about a crappy keyboard, but I like this one.  There are a few keys that are different than other keyboards and I still have to figure out the keyboard shortcuts.  It's nice for typing except I don't have a number pad off to the right.  I'm not sure if the advertised 8 hour battery life actually holds up.  I never use it for that long straight.  I like that you can close the lid to put it to sleep which really saves battery.  When you open it up it's almost instant on.  You just have to enter your password.

It's an interesting idea to do everything on the cloud.  The 16GB SSD is nice because I can put pix from my camera on here and I can shake the thing when it's on and won't have to worry about hurting my data.  I am looking for a way to store my photos, though.  I need a web service that allows you to upload a decent amount of pix and not reduce the resolution.  Even Picasa trims the resolution.  This problem may be alleviated in the near future if Google gives 100GB for free on Google Drive to Chromebook users.

The Chromebook integrates well with all my Google stuff as should be expected.  I've found some great apps to use as workarounds for native applications.  I've started using Google Docs/Drive a lot more now and I use ShareLaTeX to write and compile my LaTeX documents online.  The neatest thing about that is I can access them from any computer without having to worry about my USB stick.  The only thing I don't like is that I can't get the color scheme that I'm used to (comments in red, LaTeX commands in blue, declarations in green), but I'm getting used to declarations looking like commands.  Also the debugging is a bit rougher for me to work with than TeX Works.  I'm really happy to have a laptop with decent speakers and an audio output that works.  I can hook up to my bigger speakers in my room and blast music from Google Play Music, Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, Grooveshark, or even stuff I've put on my hard drive.

The integrated webcam is great.  It's 1MP as opposed to my old 0.3MP which did alright for itself.  Just tonight I joined my first Google Hangout but only with one other person.  I think it might be super cool to get a few friends in on that.  You can share your screen (but they can't put your screen full-screen) and there are apps that you can use inside the hangout.

The Chromebook is really lightweight, honestly starts up from dead in under 10 seconds.  On a good start, you can pull up a website about 12 seconds after hitting the power button.  I've timed it.  It's really cool how you can get internet access over 3G.  I have not activated my free 2-year subscription with Verizon yet because I want to wait until I'm somewhere where I'll need it for about a week.  Right now I just try to use the offline apps which are really solid.  I have this offline Gmail app that will sync with my account, allow me to read and respond to emails and it just waits until I get an internet connection to actually send the messages.  I can also load web pages before I leave the house and see the contents of that page on the road.

Complaints:  the VGA out only supports the native resolution of the laptop, no matter the size of the external monitor.  Also, dual monitors are not supported...both display, but they are the same image.  You can't print by plugging into a USB cord into the printer because you don't have drivers for your printer.  I've found a workaround to this using Google Cloud Print which is really neat because I can use my laptop at my house and get it to print to the mail room at school!  If I get my Linux machine back up and running, then I can plug the printer into that desktop and use my printer again.  Luckily I don't have to print too much these days.  I still have a hard time understanding why they can't make an app to allow me to plug in the USB cord and print to my old printer.  My printer has wireless too, so why can't I just print over the network?  I don't know enough about computers.  It's not so bad to lack an optical drive.  I really would only use my Rosetta Stone disc, but that was made for Windows OS anyway.  CDs are going to be obsolete soon anyway.  It's difficult to open file formats that should be very open such as .csv.  There's a great online Open Office reader that will read the .odt family of file extensions and Word files can be imported beautifully into Google Docs format.

Take-home:  I got a great deal on this laptop.  It does just about everything I need it to do and it's supposed to only get better with time.  If you're interested in how they perform, I'll gladly lend you mine for a little bit (if you see me in person to borrow it).  I'm happy to give Google my money.  I wish they'd hurry up and become my ISP.  I like my Android phone and I like my Chromebook.  I'm trying to use more Google services now...just like I really started using Google Calendar when I got an Android phone.  They keep giving me more and more space for free (Gmail offered a free 1GB when I started and it's up to 10GB now).  The wireless connectivity is amazing and it's really light and portable.  You can charge it at the beginning of the day and use it really hard and it can still last without bringing along your charger.  If you're thinking about a new laptop in the $300 price range, get a used or refurbished Chromebook.  Once you adjust, you'll love it...just like the Chrome web browser.

UPDATE 8-27-12:  I just installed an awesome remote desktop app (SparkViewRDP) from the Chrome WebStore.  You can give it an IP address and connection info and it has all the features of Microsoft's mstsc.exe and more.  It opens in a web browser tab, is lightweight, and very responsive.  You can connect to multiple computers at once by running every one after the first in an incognito window.  I find myself adapting as I use my chromebook more, now there are some aspects of computing that I like a lot on here.  I'm retraining my brain to work in the cloud and I've even started using Google Drive when I'm on the windows machine in my office.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Renovo Bikes

Renovo makes beautiful bikes out of wood.  I'd like to try riding one.  It's interesting to see how they're made.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rudy Project Zyon Review Update

I've had my Zyons (available in other colors) for about 5 years now and I wear them almost every day.  I trained with them through an Ironman and I commute in them.  You can adjust the temple tips to fit your head snugly; I have worn them on a jet ski (with the floating "sailing" attachment) and on roller coasters.  They are super adjustable.  I turn them in to "prescription sunglasses" when I'm driving by putting them in front of my corrective lenses on my face.  The nose pad can adjust to make them sit at the right height for that.

A few weeks ago, the left temple tip cushion/cover broke and left the metal wire exposed which was not comfortable to wear.  I fell back on my temporary solution (old Oakley Minutes) then once I got back to Tally I sported my Rudy Project Horus glasses for a while until I ordered my replacement temple tips for only $10!

The Zyons are my first pair of polarized glasses (the Horus are also polarized) and they're great.  They don't have many scratches on them after all this time.  They don't bounce on my face when I run.  They have removable pieces you can put at the "corners" of the glasses to protect your peripheral view while deflecting road debris.

I would highly recommend these shades if you are looking for a durable pair of quality glasses to last you a long time.  If you might sit on them within the first week, then they might not be for you.

(see original review)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Soul Vegetarian Mac & Cheese Recipe

Trying to find this on the internet was difficult, so I thought I'd post it up.  This came from a newspaper article hanging in the Tallahassee location.

Soy Cheese:
1.5 cups soy milk
1.5 cups water
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic granules or powder or 3 cloves minced fresh garlic
0.5 cups tamari (a soy sauce)
0.5 cups nutritional yeast
1/5 block of firm tofu
1 cup vegetable oil

1 box macaroni noodles
1 Tbsp yellow mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Start cooking the macaroni according to directions on box.  Put the macaroni  in the casserole dish (I use a big rectangular one) and mix in the mustard.  Then you have to pour the soy cheese on top, being sure to cover the noodles.  The soy cheese will thicken when it bakes.  You'll bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese darkens slightly and begins to bubble on top.

Soy cheese:
Blend the first 8 ingredients in blender on medium for 25-30 seconds.  With the blender running, slowly pour in oil.  When all oil is poured in, blend for another 40 seconds.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Korbut Flip

Olga Korbut did a really amazing routine at the Olympics in 1972. Her style is way different than the stuff that I've been seeing on TV.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I thought I just saw a fun new Spanish word on Grooveshark.  At first I thought it was a proper noun or a misspelling...then I thought that it's a portmanteau of escuela (school) and escucha (listen)...upon closer inspection I realized the importance of accent marks.  I think it's supposed to say "escĂșchela" which means listen to it.  I guess it's a case of inattentiveness by speakers of another language throwing me off...but I often have to re-read sentences when people misuse "your" or other similar words in English.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crying Poormouth

One thing that drives me crazy is when I hear people complain about how they don't have any money when everyone else knows that is not the case.  I knew a guy in college who claimed that his family was poor, but they drove a new car (ok, maybe it was 3-4 years old), owned a $200k+ house, and he had a ridiculous collection of pricey apparel.  I know a guy now who mentions sometimes that he lacks lots of disposable income but doesn't go quite as far out of his way to let you know that he's strapped for cash. He eats out about 5 times or more per week by my estimates.  He also drives and uses gas when he is a perfectly capable cyclist with 2 bikes.  In addition to my case studies above, there are also categories of people who do this.  Orange farmers and gas station owners love to tell you that "there's no money in citrus" or "there's no money in gas" but you see them driving new $50k automobiles and at least the farmers have lots of land.

I think I understand the latter strategy:  They're trying to keep other people from entering the market and diluting their market share even further...anything to keep away competition.  I don't think I can grasp the former type of complaining.  In fact, the guy from college has since realized that life is pretty good for him even if he can't live like a rock star.  The fast food kid does drive an older car and doesn't buy new watches all the time, but does have a nice computer and an iPhone and other things that truly strapped-for-cash people don't have.

One more category of "poor" people is college students.  College students used to be poor, but now they are coming from families with above average incomes and will themselves earn above average incomes if they can manage to graduate.  Maybe graduate students might be poor still, but I don't know any (the econ department treats us well).  I will overhear kids with iPads discussing their poverty over a $5 pint at the bar.  I KNOW that there are A FEW poor college students, but I'm talking about the average college student.  There are also plenty of trust fund babies in college.

I know that I take things for granted, and my financial status might sometimes be one of them.  However, I never get so bad as to complain.  I can save tons of money if I want by modifying my lifestyle.  Maybe I realize how well off I am because I've seen people who are truly poor when I was in Ecuador.  I know that I don't have to do my laundry by hand and I have 4 walls and a roof to protect me from the elements.  I have shoes and everything else I need.  I occasionally feel like a spoiled brat for having a laptop and a smart phone, a car and 4 bicycles, a room of my own, and gadgets.  If I had trouble making payments on everything I consume then I would cut back on my extravagant lifestyle.  Definitely dump the TV plan and make internet a bit slower.  I could eat cheaper and not spend money on entertainment...even then I'd still be very well off.  Odds are that if you are reading this post then you too are one of the more fortunate souls on this globe.  I hope you can appreciate that status.