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

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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A for Awesome

It is not secret that I do not like V for Vendetta. I have a problem with the tone of the movie, the script of the movie, and the fact that you are rooting for the villain in the movie.
Well guess what "movie" does what V for Vendetta did, but with a double punch of awesome and awesome-r. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
This short film does a much better job of showing why some evil people are good and some good people are evil, and gets me to actually root for the villain. Other pluses are that it is funny, free, and a click away. Watch it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wanna Bet?

Lately I have been working on various ways to predict scores in football for my fantasy football league. But since I am trying to predict something that doesn't really happen (i.e. fantasy football games) I can always claim that the models that I predict are right. So I decided to give a whirl at predicting some NFL football games versus the spread. So lets see how this goes.

Game M1 Conf. M2 Conf.
SD@Buf Buf .36 Buf .73
NO@Car NO .25 NO .66
Min@Chi Min .28 Min .52
Pit@Cin Cin .78 Pit .09
Ten@KC KC .20 KC .75
Bal@Mia Mia .12 Mia .95
SF@NYG SF .44 SF 1.00
Dal@StL Dal 1.00 Dal .30
Det@Hou Det .31 Det .32
Ind@GB Ind .45 GB .45
NYJ@Oak Oak .47 NYJ .39
Cle@Was Was .74 Cle .09
Sea@TB TB .89 Sea .70
Den@NE NE .79 NE .20

M1 and M2 are based on the same model, one just includes blocking on team defense. Conf. is the scaled confidence each pick has for the method.

I wonder if I can pick better than chance doing this.

Update: If I was going to bet $100 multiplied by my confidence, I would have ended up this week with the totals of: -$322 from the M1 system, and -$199 from the M2 system. No so good. I'll give it another try this week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can I touch them?

Michelle usually beats me to posts this sort of thing, so I better get it up now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Play to Dream

Alot of people are opposed to the idea of lotteries, saying that it is a tax on the poor or that it is tax on people that are bad at math. And I agree that basically no one will win the Powerball, but I think that playing (in moderation) is a good idea. And, no, my reason isn't because it gives the government money.

The reason that I think the lottery is good to play is because it gives people something to dream and hope about. When we were kids we were able to dream about what presents awaited us at the two greatest times of the year, birthdays and Christmas. For two months leading up to these holidays the wild ideas of what awaited filled my head. But as adults we don't generally get really excited about those holidays anymore, at least not enough to think about at night when going to bed.

I think we should play the lottery so that we have something to think about, to make us think "How big of a house is really too big?" Of course you will never win the jackpot, but the price per week to play will make up for itself in the hope that maybe you will win, and be able to buy a vacation house in Alaska, or maybe build an awesome library onto the house.

You shouldn't play to win, you should play to have the chance to win.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Ball Games

Come right up and get a three pack of ball games for your Friday needs.

We will start off easy with FunkyBall. The object of this game is easy, just get your pink ball into the pink box. You move your ball left and right with the arrow keys. The key to this game is to always keep your ball under control because once it starts bouncing around all willy-nilly it is all over. On the easy level I finished up with a time of 14:54.

After you have warmed up a bit it is time to move on to The Eyeballing Game. The point of this game is to get as close to the actual geometric answer as possible. The tasks involve making a right angle, picking the center of a circle and bisecting an angle. I actually had a good time playing this game. My overall average was 7.97.

To round out the three-pack we have These Balls Are Made for Hiding. In this game you direct a laser that bounces around on hidden spheres. The point of the game is to not let any of the spheres reach the bottom of the screen, while trying to get a high score. The more spheres you hit in one shot the more points you get (click the mouse to take the shot). Every 15 shots or so the level changes and the spheres get a bit smaller and different walls are available to bounce the laser off of. This one is oddly addictive. I got to level 4 (the second red stage).

Check them out.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Apple of my ears

There is nothing grosser sounding that eating an apple. It must be something about the firmness of the flesh that turns real juicy upon bite impact that requires slurping from the lips and all of this is amplified by the shape that the mouth makes when eating the apple so that every sucking sound is directed right into my ears.

I dare you to find a grosser sounding food to eat.

Update: I must really dislike this sound.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Making the right mistakes.

Soon six computers will be throwing it down Turing Test style. Maximum PC has an article about it here.
The Turing Test is a test where a researcher chats with the computer, and if the researcher can't tell if he is talking with a computer or a person then the machine passes the test. The article has an example of the test; here is the part of the computer conversation that I want to highlight:

KW: What mysterious subjects?
Subject: Think deeply about mysterious dubjects.
KW: What's a dubject?

KW is administering the test. "Subject" is the computer.

Why would a computer misspell the word subjects? I am guessing to be tricky. You see, computers can't make a mistake, so having a computer make a mistake will throw people off the trail. However, when I was reading the two conversations in the article this exchange made me immediately think that this was computer making an intentional mistake.
Why was it so obvious? I think the first thing is that a real person who is trying to prove that he is a human will first make sure that he doesn't make obvious mistakes. Why? Because everyone is looking at what you type and you don't want to look like a fool. So I doubt that any mistakes made would be done in obvious places like the first letter of a word. A better choice would have been to misspell subjects as subects, or subjectc.
Also I think that a human would pay more attention to focus of the sentence, perhaps the computer should have misspelled the word "deeply" or 'about" instead.

So how would I instruct a computer is purposely misspell words? The first thing that I would do is to make different levels of chatting. Writing text for a casual conversation will have more mistakes than when writing for a formal matter. Secondly, I would weight the chances for each word to be misspelled based on their importance in the sentence. I would also place the misspellings in the center of the words since it is harder to catch those when checking over the sentence for errors. And finally I would reference a large bank of words that are typed, maybe gathered from the internet, that has common ways to misspell a word so that the misspelling seems more natural (because you can't just pick a word to misspell, you also need to know how to misspell it.)
I would think that having a computer make logical mistakes would be one of the simpler things for a programmer to figure out.

Those are my ideas on the dubject.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dilemma: Raccoons or Kids?

Going into today I was going to post about Free Range Kids. However I just found an awesome video with raccoons.
Which one to post? Which one to post? Umm... I'll go with....

Raccoon Party!