Tuesday, November 13, 2012


One of my life's goals was to say that I ran a marathon. I didn't want to run it, I just wanted to say that I have. Figuring I wasn't getting any younger, I trained for the Columbia City, Indiana Veteran's Day Marathon for the past couple of months. Race day was warmer than I wanted and there were a bunch of hills on the route - including right before mile 26. But somehow I managed to finish. Right before mile 25 my right calf cramped up so I had to do a goofy looking running/hopping gait, but it worked. As I saw the finish line I wanted to sprint, but then my calf seized up so I hobbled to the end. A woman running close to me came to make sure I was ok. My goal was to get under five hours, I got five and a half. But I can cross it off my to do list.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mustache Contest

Amy and I went to a Victorian Day for fun last weekend. Quite a few people were dressed up, making Amy jealous that she didn't have an old time dress.

We went to tea,
and there were buggy rides; including one with a dog.
But the real reason we went was for the mustache/facial hair contest.
There were some strong contestants,
including the guys who started the Great American Fierce Beard Organization (GAFBO) based in Lansing.
The one guy took fourth in the world competition, but he didn't do anything to get ready for this competition. That opened the door for me winning "Best Creative use of a Mustache or Beard as a Medium of Artistic Expression." My brother-in-law suggested the whip:
There were about 15 entrants and 6 winners; which gave me a pretty good shot. But there were was fancy facial hair.
We went out to eat and to the Avengers that night, which made Amy uncomfortable even though my facial hair was award winning. To placate her, I cut it down to just the stache.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Tough Mudder

Recently I did a Tough Mudder - a 12 mile run with about 25 obstacles. The beginning wasn't bad. We had some hurdles to hop over, a giant trough of waist high ice-cold water, muddy hills, a smoke filled path and some walls to scale.

There were some giant haystacks to jump over/through, then a muddy hill to go up and down multiple times while walking through water for part of it.
Then we had to do a 25 foot jump into some freezing water. It was in the 50s with no sun and slightly windy; making everything colder.
It had been a long time since I've done a dive and I froze as I fell into the water. And then the mud really began. It started off not too deep, but then slowly built up.

Falling back I turned my head a little too much and got my ear covered in mud.

It took about five minutes to get my ear cleaned out on the inside after I got home. Part of this obstacle were mud filled holes about chest high. It was slick.
 At least I didn't get my head fully covered.
The mud did not stop. I'm not sure how many times we had to run through it of differing heights. Sometimes it was just around the shoes, sometimes up to the ankles, sometimes knee high. The hardest obstacle had small hills - about 4 feet high, followed by a drop into a mud filled ditch about 4 feet high. There were more than a dozen of these all in a row. It was slick enough that in some places you couldn't make it up on your own; you had to have someone pull you up or push you out.
We then had a rope obstacle. It didn't look that hard; but the ropes were heavy and pulled down on you meaning you had to crawl on rocky mud covered ground. There were pins all over the ground as well that fell off people's shirts (that attached our numbers).
We then slid down tubes into water with barbed wire over our heads at the bottom.
We had to crawl up a tube, which didn't sound hard but there was no traction and it was covered in muddy water. We had to waddle up on our arms like a seal since our legs were useless. There were more boards to scales, monkey bars with water underneath if you couldn't make it (I survived one of the two), a long and shaky balancing beam with water underneath (I made it), hills covered with mud, crawling underground in a dug out tunnel, hopping over and under logs, going through a river, climbing up and down rocks, more mud and yet even more mud. There was climbing under barbed wire in mud as well as climbing under wire that was wired to give an electric shock if you got hit. I got a tiny zap. The last big obstacle was a half pipe we had to scale. I got close enough on my first try that the people at the top could pull me over.
Once this was scaled, it was a run to the end where there were more electric shocks waiting. Some how I made it.
No one obstacle was overly difficult, but over 12 miles they got progressively harder as I got more worn out. At the end I was dead and freezing. I used up all of our hot water taking a shower trying to get clean after I got home. Now I'm ready for next year.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Salsa Night in Michigan

For those who don't know, Amy and I moved to Michigan. I'm teaching economics at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. Jon and Katie live a few hours away and we got together a while ago for dinner, salsa and trivial pursuit.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Best Abstract

From the paper "Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?"

Probably not.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Journalism Excellence? No.

I regularly think up topics or come across news articles I decide I should address or respond to on this blog, but I obviously rarely get around to it. But today I just had to show you this article from Wednesday’s USA Today. Some of the relevant text is pasted below in case the link goes bad some day. See if you can see the fallacy. I will explain below the jump.

“[A] USA TODAY analysis has determined that a typical player for a program receives at least $120,000 annually in goods, services and future earnings for his athletic work.”

“But more than scholarships, players receive benefits including: elite coaching; academic counseling; strength and conditioning consulting; media relations assistance; medical insurance and treatment; free game tickets; and future earnings power that comes with some college education.” (Weiner & Berkowitz, USA Today, 3/30/2011)

The article was pretty interesting, but I am pretty disappointed in the “USA TODAY analysis” as well as the authors of the article. The problem is that by counting scholarships for tuition and future earnings power separately they are double counting. It is a pretty glaring error in logic. The value of the latter is the biggest reason for the value of the former. The analogy would be if I give you an apple that would have cost 50 cents. Then I tell you that what I gave you was worth $1.00: 50 cents for the apple, and 50 cents of your own money that you don’t have to pay to get the apple. It doesn't work.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Actual Information about Social Security

Social Security is in the news again. Let's face it: most people don't really know very much about how it works. They know they have to pay taxes for it, and that they will theoretically get benefits. But that's about it.
Unfortunately, many who don't really understand the other parts (e.g. how benefits are calculated or what the Social Security Administration does with the surplus money that they don't immediately need) seem to have strong opinions about it anyway.

Below is a link to a paper by the American Academy of Actuaries which gives some background on Social Security, details why it is projected to run short on money, and assesses the merit of several ideas that have been proposed to fix it. I ran across the paper earlier this year because it was one of the papers I was tested from on the actuarial exam I took in May. The paper is now almost 4 years old, but I think it should be required reading for anyone who wants to participate in a discussion about what to do about Social Security.


One highlight:

The surplus revenues from previous years has been "invested" in special issue government bonds. As those funds are needed the federal government will have to pay the money back with interest. This fact gives rise to the argument that "Social Security would be fine if the government hadn't already spent the surplus."
This is, of course, a stupid argument. First of all, the federal government will have to pay it back, so the money isn't gone. Secondly, the alternatives to investing the surplus in government bonds are investing in corporate bonds/preferred or common stocks (too risky), or stuffing it in a really big mattress (obviously stupid). You can't exactly do an efficient laddered CD scheme with two trillion dollars.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


On May 22, Amy and I were married.

Here's Amy's sister's post and our photographer's with more pictures.


Sunday, February 21, 2010


Fred Morrison, the inventor of our beloved Frisbee, passed away on February 9th. His NY Times obituary is available here.

Thank you, Mr. Morrison, for many hours of ultimate, frisbee golf, and general park happiness.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Irony, oh irony, how I love thee, irony

Friends of Irony: a site dedicated to pictures that are ... wait for it ... funny because they're ironic.

I liked these too:

You're welcome.


Friday, January 08, 2010

Ummm ...

Has anyone else heard about this?

Apparently an LDS gubernatorial candidate in Idaho is holding a meeting in a few weeks. Ok. But the meeting is for active Elders only, and the purpose is to discuss the "White Horse Prophecy."

I don't know about you, but this seems wrong to me on several levels.

1. An LDS candidate using his membership and perceived authority via secular position in order to gain political capital among other members of the church. Isn't the Book of Mormon pretty clear that priestcraft (using religion for one's personal gain) is a not a good idea?

2. Religion aside, what kind of person running for public office in the United States arranges a meeting and then explicitly states they're not inviting one gender? The article quotes Rammell as saying that "he hopes that the men will take the message home to their wives." Nice. Last time I checked, women in Idaho could vote. I hope they're taking notice of Rammell's perception

3. I perceive the topic—the "White Horse Prophecy"—to be problematic for several reasons. To begin, it's not scripture, it's not canonized, it's not officially taught, etc. It's compositional history (recorded 10 years after the death of Joseph by two men who relied on their memories) is open to criticism and leaves us with a text that cannot be defended doctrinally. (Note: I have nothing against the men and their integrity, but the history of the prophecy does not support a defensible text. FAIR has a decent article on this here.)

If you're going to have a political meeting for members of a specific religion, it's probably best to discuss something doctrinal / canonical rather than engage in speculation regarding a problematic text. Especially one that has been appropriated at times to justify the idea that Mormons need to take over the US government and ultimately institute a world government.

I paid attention to the story because, initially, the whole thing just got my feminine hackles up. I expect it to raise all of your feminine hackles as well. And your church vs. state ones. And your "what the hell?!" ones.

Seriously, am I missing something here? Am I the only one to see this not only as ridiculous, but dangerous? Next time I need evidence of the latent sexism in Mormon culture (not the church, but the cultural mores that has developed in the western "Mormon belt" in the US [Utah, Idaho, Arizona, etc.]), and specifically Mormons of a certain age (because honestly, I don't see this attitude as much in Mormons in their 20s and 30s) this story will come to mind.


Thursday, December 17, 2009


For another look with many more exclamation points, see here