Saturday, September 11, 2010

Occasionally they tell the truth - part 6

From the Huffington Post (among many other sites):
"I've made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know 'em too...We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

I don't know what to think of Simpson. He's blunt, and I mean that in a good way. We are becoming too dependent on government, and his quote expresses that.

However, he does seem to shoot his mouth off a lot and say some crazy stuff. Check out this site:

Friday, September 10, 2010

If it's Labor Day ... I'm at the U.S. 10k

The U.S. 10k is a 10k race held every Labor Day in Cobb County, Georgia. And that's where you will find me every year at that time, along with a bunch of Atlanta skater friends (and non-Atlanta skater friends, for that matter). You have to support your local events!

Here is a YouTube promo for the 2009 event:!

10 kilometers, 6.2 miles, may not sound like a lot. But this course has HILLS. The first time I skated it, I was not ready. On the ice, as a hockey player, I have to deal with a lot of things--but not hills. Those hills kicked my ass back in 2007. Over time, with practice, you get a little better at them, though.

Results page here (links to PDF files for recent years, all divisions):

To download the 2010 inline skating results as a PDF file:

This year's skate went a lot better for me. Weather was cooler, legs felt better, and I found some good packs to skate with. Result was 24:42, down from last year when I struggled to a time of 26:07. Back in 2007 I think I had a time around 33 minutes (and I wasn't able to skate this event in 2008).

Naturally, being long distance skaters, after we mingled a bit and got some refreshments we turned around and skated the course in the other direction back to the start. Then Clarence and I skated another 8 miles or so home, through the hilliest part of our "Smyrna Skate" route, in order to get some good hill training for A2A. About 20 hilly miles on the day, 6 of them going flat-out (or as close to it as we could muster!).

To paraphrase Badger Bob Johnson, it was a great day for skating.

Completely off the subject, did you notice what Badger Bob used as a pointer when teaching history class during his high school coaching career? I've done that, too, during numerous professional presentations. Gotta love a guy who does that!

Music and exercise

Fascinating article from the New York Times:
"Phys Ed: Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?"

I have to wonder, though: Do the economics lectures I listen to while skating help or hurt my workout? ;)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I love hardware stores

I love going to the hardware store. We went over the weekend, for some odds and ends. I took the opportunity to obtain another set of yellow and red cards, like they use in soccer games. I find these endlessly entertaining at work. This time (yes, I've done it before, help me, I have a problem) the cards say "Gala Gold" and "Lipstick Jungle." Just like the ones the FIFA referees use! ;)

Here is a description of the last time I did this:

I also took the opportunity to get some nice pictures of my girls. It turns out that the hardware store is the best place to get photos like these!

The funniest part about these pictures is that I told them to look sad, but they just couldn't do it. Maybe they want to be sold? And if so, who could blame them?! ;)

Jobs available! Must be fluent in Ebonics.

I really don't know what to think about this article. Is this a solid, practical solution to a difficult problem? Or is this a cop-out, a way to hire otherwise unhirable people (in that people who speak English should understand the Ebonics dialect)?

"DEA wants to hire Ebonics translators"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's up with lately?

Yesterday we had balls rolling around the screen. Today we have a grayed out Google logo.

I know why Google is doing all this, but I can't say why (yet). Yes, it's a gimmick to promote a new feature. Furthermore, by the time you read this you'll probably have heard the announcement yourself. However, if you happen to read this before 12:30p Eastern today be sure to check out the Google YouTube channel to see the announcement.

On a side note, I went to to type "why is the google logo gray today?" or something to that effect. Well, I had barely typed "why" when I saw the Google logo change colors and show the results from the image posted above. "Why did I get married..." shows up TWICE! "Why do dogs eat grass" and "why is my poop green" are also hilarious. Playing the Google guess game is always fun, even when you do so unexpectedly.

P.S. If you haven't heard, Google announced Instant Search earlier today. See Google's announcement here:

"Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.

"The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way."

Maybe it will strike you as a rather small improvement, but consider what happens when you're searching for something but you don't know exactly what to type to find it. You try one thing, it doesn't work. So you try something else, that doesn't work, either. And so on, until you find the magic words to get the results you want. Now you can see the results as you type. The instant you see you're not on the right track, you backtrack and try something else right away.

As Google says:
"Smarter Predictions: Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, predictions help guide your search. The top prediction is shown in grey text directly in the search box, so you can stop typing as soon as you see what you need."

Information Week has a nice take on it. I like the term "psychic search" better than "instant search" by the way!

"In 2000, psychic search was a joke. One of Google's April Fool's gags that year was the introduction of Google MentalPlex, 'the only search engine that accurately returns results without requiring you enter a query.'

"Nowadays, it's not a laughing matter. Google VP of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer may have been speaking in jest when she described Google Instant by saying, 'There's actually a psychic element to it.' But Google can divine a user's intent from a few typed letters more reliably than fortune telling hucksters. Google's store of data has become so vast that mysticism is now the most convenient metaphor to understand search science."

Finally, Lifehacker has a demonstration showing that, yes, Google Instant Search IS a faster way to search:
"How Much Faster is Google Instant?"

Do you even need a phone number anymore?

Do you even need a phone number anymore? Maybe not, at least not in the future. Check out this article from TechCrunch:
"Phone Numbers Are Dead, They Just Don’t Know It Yet"

What exactly is the difference between email, chat, voice calls, etc.? Well, whatever difference there is appears to be shrinking.

Google Voice Blog: Make and receive calls in Gmail

GMail Blog: Call phones from Gmail

Be sure to check out the funny video (same video on both blog posts)!

P.S. I've used this for months now internally. It rocks!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Occasionally they tell the truth - part 5

"It’s a free country. I wish it weren’t." - Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts.

Patrick was commenting on Glenn Beck's recent rally when he said that. Interesting how politicians sometimes reveal what they really think. Free speech is fine--as long as you agree with your betters.

Here is a link to the story:

And here is a link to the YouTube audio clip:

Why we have no respect for politicians

Politicians have a bad reputation for a reason. Exhibit A: Charlie Crist. This guy is only in it for the power. He pretended to be a Republican when that suited his needs. When that no longer worked, he quit the party to run as an Independent.

Crist has no core beliefs, and he's not alone. He says only what suits his needs at the moment. Now he says that he would have voted in favor of the healthcare debacle. He had previously said the opposite, only a few months ago.

Crist is rightly being blasted from both sides on this issue. From the article: "The Rubio campaign blasted out an e-mail with the subject line, 'Crist flips for sixth time on Obamacare!' The headline on an e-mail from the Meek campaign reads, 'Breaking: Governor Crist diagnosed with political amnesia.'"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Statistics Lesson (for Bill Gates)

Marginal Revolution had a very good article about "The Small Schools Myth" recently:

The question is: Do small schools really do a better job than large schools? The answer is no, not if you understand the statistical principles behind the data. Unfortunately, Bill Gates may have wasted a lot of money because he didn't understand these principles.

The above article linked to a chapter from Howard Wainer's book, "Picturing the Uncertain World."

What does it mean? The short version is this: With smaller samples you will tend to see higher highs and lower lows than you would with larger samples. People tend to focus on the "higher highs" that show up in smaller samples (student results from small schools) while ignoring the "lower lows" that also result from these smaller samples.

From the Marginal Revolution article: "Thus, for purely random reasons we would expect small schools to be among the best performing schools in any given year. Of course we would also expect small schools to be among the worst performing schools in any given year! And in fact, once we look at all the data this is exactly what we see."

Wainer's book goes on to illustrate this with other examples such as kidney cancer rates, crime rates, and sex differences.

You may not care about statistics. But this is a good concept to grasp. It will help us avoid overreacting to all the data that we must digest and interpret constantly, on the job and in our personal life.

Tractatalia! Two-time champion!

She did it again! Tractatalia is a repeat winner of the tractor pull at the Gogebic County Fair!

I mentioned this briefly in a past post, Tom's Parenting Advice, on May 11, 2010. That post has a picture of my girls at the 2009 Gogebic County Fair after competing in the tractor pull that year. I wrote:
"Talia has had a lot of nicknames ... One of my favorites was 'Tractatalia' when she won the tractor pull (pedaling a small tractor with weights on the back) at the Gogebic County Fair (Google it!) in the summer of 2009..."

Well, I wasn't there this year but my dad took the girls to the Fair. And Tractatalia won again. It was a good win because as a nine-year-old she was in the 9-10 division this year, competing against older girls, but she won anyway!

I guess I'm going to have to send her up north to the fair again next year!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dilbert goes green?

No, actually it's Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, that is going green! Check out this article of his, from the Wall Street Journal:
"How I (Almost) Saved the Earth "

As Kermit the Frog once said: "It's not easy being green."

The difference between the right and the left - an example

I haven't seen or heard enough of the Glen Beck rally in Washington to have an opinion. But the rally did demonstrate, once again, one difference between the right and the left. The left are a bunch of pigs. I have noticed this personally, from different events I have gone to.  The picture above shows the National Mall, after the Obama inauguration, by the way.

Despite their "save the planet" bullshit, the left continually demonstrate that they could not care less about lifting their little fingers to keep the planet clean.  They are perfectly comfortable telling me about what I need to do, but can't be bothered to do those things themselves.

"Conservatives, Unlike Liberals, Keep Mall Clean After Rally - Perspective - PatriotPost.US"