Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Patches V1

For Christmas Nicole got me a Bamboo Tablet, so now I can draw like a pro on my computer. My first official action is to work on digitizing the alphabet-code-things that I have been doodling for the last couple of years.

Patches was one of the first ciphers I made that wasn't just plain making different symbols for letters. It is based off an earlier code, but I can't find that one right now (I have all of my recent ones in the same notepad).

To use this cipher read a 2x2 group of boxes, from left to right, top to bottom. There are no spaces. The encoded block in the example page says "I really dont like the word blo" (I didn't want to leave the g hanging around in its own row, so I just left it off.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

What it's not about

Before I get to my post proper, I just remembered something interesting that I thought about the other night. For me at least, I can make myself think of things that I have not thought about for a long time, such as a dart gun that I used to have before I was even in kindergarten, or in middle school being let out of class to look at a solar eclipse. All I do is to tell myself to think of things I have not thought about and memories start to pop up in my mind that I haven't thought about in so long. How can a brain do this? Is there some sort of "last time accessed" region that knows when I last thought about something? It is strange.

Well the reason I start to post was to talk about what it means to grow up, however my brain is sidetracked by figuring out how I can make myself think about things I haven't thought about for awhile. So I will just quickly write my thoughts about growing up.

In summary, it seems one good way to measure how much someone has "grown up" is to measure how much that person thinks, and acts, that the whole world revolves about themselves. For example a baby can be viewed as being so much about itself, that it doesn't even care to figure out what is wrong with itself, it just wants others to fix it for them. A toddler knows how to do things for others, a school aged kid can do deeds for the parents without asking, a college aged person can commit their life to someone else, and an "adult" can give their life to raise a herd of other people.

It is a bit simplistic, but I think a part of overall maturity would include a measurement of how much a person is not self centered. And in this regard there can be selfless kids that are more mature than some material craving adults.

On a different note, our hockey game got cut short this weekend because of a brawl between a ref and a player, after said fight the player returned to the rink and hit the ref with a hockey stick. The ref lost some blood and an ambulance was called. I think getting in a heated fight in a rec league about anything would mean you would test low on a maturity scale.

Monday, December 22, 2008

K-State Purple

Outside of Kansas it is hard to find K-State merchandise, here in Oklahoma it is all OU and Oklahoma State at the sports stores, and in Colorado it is Broncos, and the other pro teams. What makes finding K-State stuff even harder is that K-State purple is a very distinct purple, and alot of companies that put out mass collegiate apparel don't realize that it is easy to tell when they get the color purple wrong. So I'll do my part here to point out the differences of the two colors.

First I will start with the right K-State Purple. Now I'm sure that this purple isn't the exact right color, but I tried to match the color on my monitor with the color of my hat, which is the right color. The first thing to notice is that K-State purple is a blue purple instead of a red purple. I think the proper name for blue purple is indigo purple.

Now this is the most commonly used wrong purple that is used for K-State. It is most definitely a red purple (violet purple) and seems a bit sun faded compared to true K-State purple. Alot of times K-State items that are discounted are of this color.

I have a couple of ideas why people get K-State purple wrong. The first is because the color is very hard to replicate on TV. It seems that there are two main options when most networks decide to broadcast our games on TV. The first is to make the purple look almost black, which I think looks fine. However, the more common color that gets shown as is that red purple that is certainly not the right color. It is a rare case when the color is actually broadcast correctly on TV. The second problem is that K-State purple is sort of a unique purple color in the sports world. It is similar to the Colorado Rockies, maybe a bit bluer, but most sports teams, such as the Phoenix Suns actually use the red purple instead. This means that, unlike say red or kelly green, there has to be someone who knows what color they should be using. And I bet most of the times companies just get something purple without actually looking at the color. The final problem is that it seems even some apparel that starts out the correct purple color fades into the red purple (while some really good quality stuff fades into just a lighter version of K-State purple). So some of the problem at stores could be just old apparel that started out the right color but have changed slowly into the wrong color over time.
I could go on about how K-State ink purple isn't the same color as normal K-State purple, and what colors should be paired with purple (K-State's only official color is purple), but I can tell from your face that you have had enough of this topic. Cheerio.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mega Super Fun Game Post

I have been hoarding some good games in my bookmarks and I never get them posted, so lets just get them all out so I don't have to think about posting them again.

Age of War - This game is brought to you by my office mate, which has been his poison of choice recently. The point of the game is to eliminate the opposing city and to do so you make troops and improve technology. There are also mega attack things that are free to use and kill lots of stuff, however you have to wait for them to be available again once you use them.

SeppuKuties - A platformer where you have to sacrifice cute animals to finish the level, be careful though, you only get one set of animals to play though the whole game with. I am currently stuck on level 9 and I can't seem to figure out how to beat it.

Robokill - A sweet game where you are a robot and you kill other robots and get upgrades to your own robot. It turns out that this is only the first "world" and you have to buy the expansion to continue playing, but the free part of the game is long enough that it is still very fun to play.

IncrediBots - This game is alot like Fantastic Contraption only there is way more options to choose. It is a little too detailed for me to like it as much as Fantastic Contraption but it is still fun. Going though the tutorial before you start with the levels is a big help.

Powerpool - This is the game that I have been playing when i need a 15 minute break from my normal work routine. The goal of the game is to sink all the ball, except the cue ball, like normal pool. But in this game some of the balls have special powers. Zanyness ensues.

Super Stacker - You get blocks and you get a platform to build on, just make sure that the blocks don't fall off the platform and you pass the level. could it really be that hard?

Go ahead try them all!

Monday, December 15, 2008


For as longs as I can remember logos have fascinated me. I like the idea of a symbol being able to both name and define an idea. Today while sitting around I started to think about what in my past made such a deep impression on me about logos and branding. I started to think about good logos and bad logos, and why I thought a good logo was good and what made a bad logo. Then it dawned on me, I know why I had a deep approval for good logos. Back in 1989 K-State changed from their "fuzzy head" wildcat to their current Powercat logo. I bet that the change in logo during my formative childhood years (I was 9 at the time), along with their rise in the reputation of the football team ingrained a scene of success with strong logos, especially compared to other weaker logos that were around since then.

Now the reason that I started thinking about this today is that I found a video on Youtube that is an interview with the lead designer of the Obama logo (see the end of this post). Despite my political feelings about Obama I do admire the way that he ran his campaign. He did a very good job of branding himself and his ideas and his logo was a brilliant step in getting out his name and ideas in an image that did not depend on any words. I can only imagine that from election forward that actual logos (not just word art) and branding will start to take a major role in political elections.

It could be argued if working on branding candidates actually gets us closer to getting good people elected however.

Obama logo design video:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Love/Hate with Christmas

When it comes to getting gifts I liked to be surprised. But with that want of surprise also lurks something that I hate, acting surprised. The truth of the matter is, that even with the best gift possible I probably wouldn't give as much of a reaction as an average person would give an average gift. There are two reason why this is: 1) I have problems emphasizing emotions. 2) As soon I unwrap the gift I think about it instead of acting all crazy. For instance, say somebody gave me a million dollars for Christmas, I would probably say something to the effect of "cool" and then start to think about how much needs to be invested, and if my house should get paid off, etc. Yeah, that makes getting presents for me difficult since the givers joy is diminished, but that's all I can offer. Its not that I don't like the gifts that I get, it's just that I don't communicate my approval for the gift in the same way as others. It seems my "thought" response is usually way ahead of my "emotion" response.

But don't forget: I do like getting gifts. :)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cake in your face

Nicole has been tracking an interesting idea:
Couples that don't shove cake into each others faces during their wedding reception have a higher chance of having a better marriage.
I was thinking about this last night when I was getting ready for bed and I think I have one reason why this might be the case: When one of the newlyweds decides to shove cake into their spouse's face they are basically deciding that the attention and laughter of others is more important to them than how their partner feels. Obviously that is not a good first step for a marriage, and an indicator or how the person will feel when the initial infatuation love wears off.
As always there are exceptions to the rules, but in general this seems to be the case from what we have seen.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New food update

This week we have been cooking with three new focus ingredients: horseradish, liquid smoke, and beets. I figure I should let you know how things turned out.

On Monday night we made Portobello Mushroom Burgers which used homemade horseradish sauce. We couldn't find ground horseradish because either the store didn't have it or I couldn't describe the product good enough (they had more than enough prepared horseradish sauce though). So instead we bought fresh horseradish mushed it up using this recipe, and then used this recipe to make the horseradish sauce. The 'burgers' came out fine, at times they tasted like BLTs with mushroom and at times they tasted awesome depending on which bite I took (the stem of the mushroom tasted much better than the head). The horseradish sauce was good, but not amazing, however after a couple of days of rest in the refrigerator I bet the flavors will be a bit more developed. I will have to look for some more uses for horseradish now that I have a tupperware full of it.

Also on Monday night we started work on the liquid smoke recipe Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker since the meat was to cook for 16-20 hours. We made a 2 pound roast instead of the 6 pounds, but besides that we did everything as written. Come Tuesday night the whole house smelt of cooked pig. We did end up having to use some water in the crockpot since our roast was small. Even before dinner I was looking forward to eating the roast and I wasn't let down. It is amazing what pork roast + liquid smoke + salt + cooking for 16 hours can equal, in my case awesome. I think that the liquid smoke did play an important role in filling out the flavor, however I couldn't really pick out the 'smoke' flavor since the roast had caramelized quite a bit on its own during the cooking.

Last night we took the biggest leap of faith and made Ukrainian Red Borscht Soup. Since this was my first cooking experience with beets or any Ukrainian anything I was a bit leery about making a freakin huge pot of it. While getting everything ready the first thing that I noticed was how cool beets are. They produce alot of magenta dye and after peeling look really spiffy. It turns out that beets kind of taste like dirt potatoes, or maybe like turnip. They are kind of a pain to work with since everything turns so pink and I was constantly in fear of staining everything in my kitchen. After everything cooked for an hour or so we gave the pink soup a taste and it turned out to be fairly good. Adding the sour cream to the soup at the end helps alot and I would describe the soup as a tomato-vegetable soup with a definite beet flavor. It is good, and I will probably make it again, however it makes alot and it would be difficult to reduce the scale of the recipe.

So whats for dinner tonight? How about Kalua pork sandwiches with horseradish sauce and borscht soup? You bettcha.

Monday, December 01, 2008

BCS all up in here

Earl talks about the problems that the BCS faces this year, and me being the expert on everything has weighed in on the subject, but since I also am lazy (and I know a good post when I see one) I will just repost my comment about his post here.


Here are my two cents on the subject of the BCS.

When we talk about the BCS we need to realize two things:

1. The BCS was a huge improvement over using polls at the end of the season to figure the number one team in the nation. Besides different polls crowning teams national champions there was no guarantee that the number one and two teams in the nation leading up to the bowl games would even play each other. The championship game that we get now at least gets the top two teams to play against each other.

2. The BCS was devised to make the hard decision about what the top two teams are. In the case that there is a clear cut number one and number two all the polls and the BCS will agree and all is good in the land. However the BCS was made so that when there isn't an obvious matchup for the championship game. This means that when the BCS is most needed is when it has to make the tough decision about who are the best teams. So when the BCS is the most useful it will be criticized the most because it is there to pick only two teams. There really is no "win" situation for the BCS because somebody will always feel like they are getting left out.

Now I would much rather have a playoff system, as would much of the civilized world, however I doubt it will happen since there is just too much money tied up right now. Even an act of God (or Obama, whichever comes first) will probably not break the BCS logjam.

However if we do go to an 8 team playoff system we need to keep one thing in mind to keep it from becoming a pissing match. The point of the playoffs is to crown a single champion. And the point of the regular season is to be number one going into the playoffs. If we get to thinking that all our team needs to do is get into the playoff so that they can get a shot at the championship we will just fall down the slope of "well we are ranked 9 but are better then #8, we should get in too!" We can not, no, must not, think this way. We should think that the top 4 teams deserve to get into the playoffs, and the next for teams taken are there just in case there is some dispute about the top 4 teams. So the #8 team that got into the playoffs doesn't deserve to be there, it just got lucky.

If you liked this comment check out my blog. (Translation, I'm just gonna repost this comment over on my blog.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A brave new (food) world

Every once in a while I get to thinking about the trends in the food that I have been eating. Recently there hasn't been a main theme, but for awhile soups were getting made a couple times a week, there have also been spans of eating alot of pork, apple dishes, mustard, and cooking with beer. So yesterday I thought about what ingredients or cooking methods interest me and I decided on three ingredients that may be the focus of my new culinary experiences.

First off are beets. My first experiences with beets are from the younger years of my childhood when my mom would cook pickled beets as a side dish. Besides the very cool color there wasn't much to like about them, they smelt horrible when cooking because of the vinegar and they didn't taste that good either (I seem to be very picky about what things I like pickled, some I love some I can't stand). However now that I am older I have thought about it and have realized that I have never actually had un-pickled beets. So beets are the first thing on my list of cooking focus.

The second thing that I have been thinking about is liquid smoke. The reason I started to ponder it was because I was thinking about the "next big food" which, incase you missed it, is currently bacon. I thought that maybe cooking with smoke flavor would be a natural extension of the bacon craze. Specifically I was thinking that having a wide selection of types of liquid smoke, each from a different type of wood would be huge. So I did some research and found out that liquid smoke is actually condensed smoke, and not just a chemical concoction (plus one point for that) and there is already is at least a couple kinds of liquid smoke already made. So the last time we were at the food store I picked up a bottle but I have not cooked with it, although I have alreday picked out my first target recipe.

The last ingredient that I will try to use more of is horseradish. It seems like every three years or so I get a carving for horseradish, and yesterday when I was thinking about new foods I stumbled upon a website about horseradish. I generally don't like this type of ingredient; radishes taste like spicy dirt, wasabi is ok at best, and I get tired of ginger (which to me tastes about the same to me) real quickly. However a good horseradish sauce made with cream for meat, or horseradish and lemon potatoes sounds really good, so I will take a look to see what other uses there are for horseradish.

One other idea that I have seen tossed around that I will look into trying is to use tea leaves to cook with, I don't know how exactly that works out, but it sounds interesting. Does anyone else have new dining horizons ahead? I would like to hear about them.

p.s. While scouring the internets for pics I found a recipe for beet chips with horseradish dip, I might have to try that.

Friday, November 21, 2008


As is generally the case, the easy post trumps the hard posts. So the other posts I had thought about writing today will not happen: My Geekyness (Out of a bookcase full of interesting books I chose the basic stats book as reading material for the bathroom) and The Govt. Bailout (the worst idea since unsliced bread) .

Instead I found one of the coolest looking games to play, Auditorium. The basic Idea is to get the stream of particles to go through the sound bar things to make music. The way you direct the parties is through movable deflectors and other particle manipulators. As the bars light up parts of the overall song turn on until the full song is playing. The game sounds great and looks even cooler. It is like somebody went on board the Starship Enterprise, found what casual game they were playing and then made it for us to play. (It's a little know fact but Deanna Troi is an avaid casual game player on the comand consoles.) Now you can play visual awesome too. Clicky.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In good company

Every morning we listen to Mike & Mike on the radio on the way to work. This morning, among other topics, they discussed how you would feel about the following:

1. A bank makes an error of $50,000 in your favor, and no one will ever know about you getting the money. Do you give it back?
2. A store rings up an expensive item incorrectly in your favor, do you alert them?
3. You seen an old lady drop en envelope that you find has $500 in it, do you return it to her?

Mike and Mike were talking about it and said that it would be a hard decision to make in each of them (they were assuming for the sake of argument that they were living from paycheck to paycheck and in general needed money.)

I can not see how these three issues are even close to each other, even for the money needing folk. Here is what I think in reverse order.
3. Obviously give the money back, while this isn't stealing form the old lady it basically is, and it is defiantly the right thing to do. The loss of $500 will directly effect a person.

2. This is a bit tougher, for me it would depend on what store I am at, how much I like them and what the circumstances are. If it is at a store that has crazy sales all the time I would just shrug it off as a deal that I happened to miss. If it was at a locally owned store I would ask about the price. Walmart often rings up produce wrong, and sometimes I point it out sometimes I don't (even when the error is not in my favor).

1. If this situation was occurring to me it would completely matter which bank it was at, if it was one that I think tries it's best to do well such as BOk here in Tulsa or Community 1st in Manhattan (KS) I would tell them. How ever if the bank is stupid like Commerce or if the bank just got a gift for the government for being irresponsible (see bailout) I would keep it. And I would think nothing of it.

You see here is where I differ than many, I do not think that we should treat businesses like people. Why should we give them the benefit of being responsible people, when they will have no such care back to us. They are out to "make a buck" usually at any cost to us, so why should we not be out to get as much from them as we can? Should the screwing not be a two way street?

I do however think that there are some companies out there that are trying their hardest to be good and treat their customers like people, and in those cases I will also try back to help them out. But Walmart, cell phone companies (besides T-Mobile), banks, and insurance companies, you are on your own. How much work would we have to go through to get $50,000 that an insurance company did not pay out when they were supposed to?

Note, however, that reporting errors on their part is different than stealing. Going into a bank that I don't like at taking $50,000 or shoplifting is NOT the same thing as giving back something that they gave me in error. Even if companies want us to think that it is.

On the same note Target has dropped a notch in the "I care about them" category. I got Nicole a fancy food scale for her birthday that turned out to not work correctly (it was very difficult to get it to "tare"). We tried to take it back last night to get a different one but they wouldn't let us return it without the receipt because it cost too much. What would they say if they wanted back something that they rang up for me wrong but I wouldn't give it back because it cost too much. They wouldn't be too happy about it I would figure.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The New Religion

He says it better than I can.

Update: Lance took a post off from his week long hate fest of his alumni (the grand school of K-State) to also talk about the idea of Environmentalism as a religion. He found a video of an interview with Michael Crichton were he talks about this subject. His views are quite interesting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I have to say that the most successful recent mission that the NASA has undertaken in terms of PR is the Phoenix Mars Lander. Besides the amazing discovery of actual water ice on Mars, the Lander had a twitter account with a following of almost 39,000 people. It was enjoyable to get up to the minute results from the Phoenix Lander as it happened on my phone, and it was very sad when recently the Lander sent out it's final goodbyes thanking everyone for their support.

Gizmodo has the final words from the Phoenix Mars Lander.

If you are reading this, then my mission is probably over.

This final entry is one that I asked be posted after my mission team announces they’ve lost contact with me. Today is that day and I must say good-bye, but I do it in triumph and not in grief.

As I’ve said before, there’s no other place I’d rather be than here. My mission lasted five months instead of three, and I’m content knowing that I worked hard and accomplished great things during that time. My work here is done, but I leave behind a legacy of images and data.

In that sense, you haven’t heard the end of me. Scientists will be releasing findings based on my data for months, possibly years, to come and today’s children will read of my discoveries in their textbooks. Engineers will use my experience during landing and surface operations to aid in designing future robotic missions.

(read the full note here)

I am glad that NASA has stepped up and used new technology that is freely available to increase the awareness of the projects that they are doing. This keeps interest in space exploration up and it also lets us know that the money we are spending on the projects are actually going to something useful. I will miss my daily tweets from the Phoenix Lander, and maybe when Martian summer rolls around in 2010 the Phoenix will have more updates to give us.

(There are some more NASA missions on Twitter: The Cassini Space Probe, The Mars Rovers, and The Mars Science Lab which will be launched in the fall of 2009)

Monday, November 10, 2008

King me

So last night when I was halfway asleep I had an idea for my blog post today, and now that I am more awake it doesn't seems as much of an awesome topic as it did last night, but it is at least something I have not thought about for ages, so worthy of a post. Behold.

There are two types of checker pieces that we had at school. Which pieces to use always was a weighty topic on my mind when we had indoor recess. On one hand there were the pieces that had the little star in the middle; there was always a complete set of these, but they were dull and the small star looked so wimpy. On the other hand there was the pieces that had a large shiny star in them which were defiantly the coolest looking piece, however, there was never enough of these to make a full set, so if I chose to use these then I would have to use at least a couple of the "small star" kind. The big problem was that the big star and small star pieces had different sized teeth cut on them, so they don't stack, so when they get paired together on a King they don't lock together right, and that is very annoying.

So the dilemma was: a complete set of lame looking pieces, or a partial set of cool pieces that don't lock with a few lame pieces. What was my solution? The obvious thing of course, I would use the cool pieces and then sacrifice the lame looking pieces as soon as possible. Note, it was against the rules to substitute the lame pieces on the board with cool pieces that were already captured, so there had to be a conscious effort to get rid of the small star pieces as soon as possible.

Because, you know, the point of playing checkers is to have cool looking pieces, right?

p.s. I liked the red pieces in checkers, however in all other games I prefer the black pieces over the other color.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Time for some fun. In Splitter you take the role of a chef that has a very sharp knife that can cut through wood and other objects. The goal of the game is to get the smiley faced ball into the orange disc. This physics based puzzler is a good way to pass by the odd 15 minutes. I wouldn't say that this game is the best puzzler ever but some solutions are clever. However, if you do get stuck they do give an option of watching a video that shows how to solve the level. Check it out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How the Republican Party Failed Me

It pains me to say it, but given my choice of candidates for president, my ballot had Obama marked on it when it was entered. Luckily I live in the second reddest state of all, Oklahoma, which only had 34% support for Obama. My vote was less of a vote for him and more of a vote against what the Republicans have become. If the race here was closer, I would have had to think much deeper about who to vote for, and probably would have not chosen either. But in the end of the day I did vote for Obama.

I had to think real hard about what is going wrong with the Republican party, because I have never voted against them, even when I had the luxury of voting for a 3rd party candidate. And the best single answer I can think of is that the Republican Party, as it currently stands, thinks that defending against terrorism is the number one priority for our government.

Now the idea of the government trying to protect its citizens is a good idea, but the way we have gone about it is wrong. Basically we are being protected through fear mongering. We can't take liquids on plains because of terrorists, we have to surrender our laptops at border crossing because of terrorists, we can't take pictures of structures because of terrorists, the list go on and on of ways that we are being "protected" from terrorists.

And here is where I have the real problem; we can't talk about fear at the same time that we talk about freedom. As the government becomes more fearful they must take away freedoms to protect against these fears, and once one fear is shored up a new one takes hold. This sort of thinking is leading us on a path directly to 1984.

Let me give an example; I have been thinking about... ...there are crazy people out there. But since I have to dance around this subject, like I am now, just so that I don't get called down to the FBI office means that I don't really have the freedom to talk about this subject. Even now I am thinking about deleting this above paragraph.
[Note: I did delete the paragraph, just left the start and the finish. If a kid can get hauled off to jail for writing a zombie story, I can't take those chances. Hurray freedom of speech. ]

So, what can we do? For one the government needs to stop being so paranoid. Also the GOP needs a major reform before I will vote for them again. I can not vote for people to take away my freedoms under the guise of protection. That is just crap. The Republicans used to stand for family and freedom, now they cower in fear. Hopefully one day they will get past the terrorist attacks. But until then I will vote other places.

Chin up Ron Paul, you didn’t fail, it was the party that failed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Up in smoke.

Another election, another slice of freedom gone, but this time it doesn't effect me directly since I am in Tulsa.

Manhattan (Kansas) passed their ban on smoking in public places this time around. Now everyone can enjoy their "freedom" of eating in a smoke-free environment at the cost of business owners deciding what legal activity their patrons can partake in.

Freedom doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want, how you want. Freedom means that the government will not limit what you can do.

Due up in 2012: Ban on trans fat
In the batting circle in 2016: Ban on large portions of food
Clean up in 2024: Ban on "unhealthy" food

Suck it personal choice, hurray government dominance!

Update: Ever since starting my job here in Tulsa I felt the need to post again about how no one does correct statistics in their studies. However, my comment that I left is close enough to scratching that itch that I will just post it here and be done with it (for now).

The first time that I actually looked at a study that was conducted, just to see what it had to say, was a study that the American Heart Association did on second hand smoke. What I found shocked me.
While the study was used to say that second hand smoke was dangerous and bad, the study actually found that unless you live with a smoker that smokes multiple packs a day for many many years second hand smoke does not hurt you.
They were lying to us about the outcome of the study.
This got me interested in other studies, mainly global warming, since the quick analysis that is presented to the general public is flawed. Sure enough, they aren't finding anything like they are claiming, but some how it gets reported that the problem is dire and completely our fault.
Now that I work answering statistical questions from people doing studies all over the world it is quite obvious -
It is rare for someone to do an actual statistically valid study.
I don't think that people are intentionally misleading people, or doing bad science on purpose, I think that it is a matter of not knowing what they are doing statistically.
And it is sad to say, but if you do the best experiment in the world, but then do a wrong analysis or misinterpret the results your study is for naught, or worse you come to the wrong conclusion.
So here we are with "evidence" for a need to protect peoples health with a smoking ban. Policy is made without regard to actually knowing the truth.
But we can all sleep better at night, right?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Followup

Alright, here is the pic of the pumpkins that we carved.

On the left is Nicole's. She carved a dancing Katamari, from the ball rolling game Katamari Damacy. My pumpkin is in the middle, it is a hand turkey the size of Godzilla destroying a town, scary, no? The pumpkin on the right is Charity's (friend from K-State) who carved pumpkins with us. You can't tell the differences in shading, but the hair glows in real (jack-o-lantern) life. So that was a good time.

Also, we dressed up for work since there was a costume contest, I didn't know that this was going to be the "offical" contest entry pic or I would have got a bit more prepared for it, like getting my leather bound book that I brought with, but, oh well.

If you can't tell, and no one could, I am a Data Sage that can do magical things to your data without regards to the underlying study or mere mortal rules of math and science, since this is a popular request from some of my customers. However, this was a bit too complicated to convey to people ourside my brain in the time they gave me to answer "what are you?" so I was going undercover as a wizard most of the time on Friday.

Nicole had the same problem that I did and didn't get properly dressed for the picture, she was a spiffy hat, but that is ok since she still won second place overall.

The winner of the contest was Jim, who had an awesome costume as a nerd, and really played the part well too.

Just for future reference: Jim looks nothing like this in real life.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween used to be the holiday that I would look forward to the most right after Christmas. I think that I really liked doing the decorating for the holiday and then there was trick-or-treating to get excited about. Recently Thanksgiving has taken the number two spot in my mind, but Halloween is still fun.

When I was growing we would follow basically the same routine for Halloween night. We would eat dinner at the normal time, which as I have learned is early for most people. While eating we would get our first trick-or-treaters at our door. After dinner we would get dressed up and get out the door around sunset. Either my mom or dad would go with my sisters and I around the block and neighboring blocks. Then we would walk down to my grandparents house and trick-or-treat along the way (her house was about half a mile away. After visiting my grandmas we would get picked up in our car and we would go around to my family's friends and trick or treat at their houses. We would end up with a large bag full of candy, which was a good haul for one night, but we didn't overdo it either.

As far as I can remember we had basically free reign to our candy when we got home, which actually didn't disappear all that quickly, I know that I would hide my candy and eat it throughout the year, and I would even have to throwout the old candy that was left when I put the new batch in the same place. (Stupid orange and black peanut butter things.)
When I got a bit older we would play candy poker which is just poker with candy as the chips, having designated values for each candy. We would get to keep the candy that we would win, so after a couple of high pot rounds one of us would get gun-shy and not bet anymore candy and the game would end.

My favorite costume that I can remember is when my mom made me a Link costume (from the Legend of Zelda). The part that I like the best was the shield that she made for me which rocked. I have heard that I dressed up like Pac-Man which was a good costume, but I don't remember wearing it. So it doesn't count.

The problem that I have now is that I don't get excited for Halloween until a couple of days before, recently it has been so hot still that it still feels to early in the year for it. But this year it got nice and cool so the holiday felt correct. Also, we carved some rockin pumpkins this year, which may account for way I am more excited about it this year than the last couple. (Also we got to dress up for work.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Just to let yall know I am on twitter and I have actually been using it a bit more than in the past (i.e. about once a week).

And now the talking points:
Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Monday, October 27, 2008

BOk Center On Ice

One of the big things that Tulsa was pushing for with its Vision 2025 was to build a new arena downtown to revitalize the area. The BOk Center was completed a couple of months ago, and Nicole and I got tickets to see the Tulsa Oilers (CHL) play their first game in the new arena.

The first thing that most people comment on when talking about the new arena is that the architecture looks cool. I have seen the outside of the arena many times but this was the first time that I was inside it. I was glad to see that they made the inside reflect the same kind of sweeping lines that the outside has. Inside each entrance the space is open to the top of the arena which looks pretty spiffy.

The arena consists of three levels, two for us mortals, and one level that is completely full of corporate boxes. I am glad to see that they put the effort into getting local companies to buy into the arena to help support it. I noticed that the big wig level had nice tv's, couches, and all the fixins that they like. I think that one of the keys to get teams to stay in a place is to have the backing of the local big businesses, if the money is always flowing in the team can withstand the ups and downs of the community support.

The part of the arena that the rest of us gets to enjoy was also nice. There is a fair variety of concessions -all at normal to low cost for arena food, depending on what you get. My favorite choice is In The Raw which is the local hot place for sushi. While I think that they charge way too much for sushi at their normal stores they kept the prices basically the same for the arena which means that sushi at a hockey game is one of the best options. That alone will get me to go to some games since having a solid food choice at the game will mean I have more options to go without having to think about the implications for my dinner.

For this game Nicole and I got close tickets just so we could be near the ice on the first night. They spared no expense where the action takes place because the ice looked good, the drop down scoreboard was impressive and there was plenty of (filled) seats. Nicole and I both thought that the arena was very similar to the St. Louis Blues arena, and we both liked Tulsa's better.

It is good to see something get planned out and pulled off so well. From the murmurs I heard in the crowd people were impressed with the arena and once construction gets done parking shouldn't be too much of a problem. Now if only the Oilers could play a little bit better. (They lost 5-1)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An illusion of choice

When trying to get little kids to do something a handy trick is to give them a choice about what to do, with both options resulting in the desired result. For example if you want to get your tyke to go to bed instead of asking him if he wants to go to bed, present him with the options to either get a piggy back ride to bed or to pretend like he is a spy and sneak into bed. No matter what the choice is the parent wins, because the desired result is accomplished, and the kid is happy because he got to make a choice.

That is what is going on with the United States political system.

It is sufficient to say that the big wigs in the political parties are very happy with their position in the current political system. Sure the GOP would like to see more republicans get elected, but if it doesn't work out in one election eventually things will return their way down the road.

Now, the Republicans and Democrats obviously want to stay in power, and the problem is that they have been in power for so long that they have been able to reshape the political system so that they will always stay in power. This idea of the absolute dominance of the two political parties has been tugging at my brain for a bit during this political season, but I was confronted with the problem head on yesterday.

You see this is the first time that I will be voting in a state other than Kansas. And down here in Oklahoma things are dome a bit differently, namely there is almost a complete absence of third party candidates on the ballot. I have two valid choices for president: McCain or Obama. That is it. No write in votes are allowed, no third party candidates onto the ticket. (Due to new laws in Oklahoma.)

So, for almost all my elected officials I must chose either between a Republican or a Democrat. But this problem is just limited to the great state of Ok. There are many rules and regulations that are made that are purposely put in place to keep all other parties from gaining a foothold in the political system. It's not that surprising, but when Republican and Democrat officials make rules about what parties can realistically run for president they basically said that only big parties can run, and what makes a big party? Well if your party is one of the ones making the rules.

So why doesn't this cause problems in America? Why isn't there an outcry about the fallacy of choice that we have? Because we do get a choice. Just like a parent herding the child to bed, we are given a choice either result is a win for a parent. Do we want Generic Republican Candidate A or Generic Democrat Candidate B? Since we are given this choice most people don't realize that there are more candidates out there, and some of them have actual ideas that aren't the same as the Democrat/Republican Party. The focus on "one or the other" has made us blind to choosing the one that is right.

So where does that leave us? Well, we know that only the Republicans and Democrats can play the game as it is now. And we need to get the laws changed, so it would be nice to get some third party candidates into office so that they can change the laws, but that is a bit Catch-22 don't you think? So here is an option that has a chance to work; destroy one of the current parties. If one of the parties can rip itself apart, it would cause, by default, a three party system. And when we open a debate to three parties it is much easier to get other ones in as well.

So how can you help? Well the best option always would be to always vote for third party candidates whenever it is possible if you feel that they are a better choice. They may not win now, but it will give them momentum to become bigger for the next time around.

What about situations where there is not choice like in Oklahoma? In these cases we need to try to push the stress in political parties to edge them closer to breaking their monopoly on the political system. For this election this means that, and I HATE to say it, the Republicans need to lose, badly. If Obama can win the election by a huge margin then maybe the party will buckle and split into a Freedom Loving - Small Government Party and the rest remain as the Domestic Surveillance - Big Business Rights Before People's Rights Party.

The split probably won't happen, but any crack in the status quo in Washington will help the parties that want actual change come to the surface. And once a third party is available to choose more parties will emerge. And if the kid asks if option C is OK instead of A or B, then the kid will start to think about what other options are possible as well. That is when we can start to put the government into its correct place. That is: It serves us, instead of it herding us into the direction that it wants.

People argue that voting third party is a wasted vote. I believe that voting Republican or Democrat is more of a waste.