Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some Things (That I Forgot To Publish)

1. I used twice as much electricity last month than I ever had in three years at my apartment. Something is clearly wrong, and it is a bad time of year to get anything done about it.

2. Some times it is important to act important. Part of life is deluding oneself. A neck tie can increase my productivity. It makes feel good inside. Acting and self-delusion is part of the game.

3. I am not failing. I am just not succeeding at the pace I would like.

4. My dad says arithmetic is more important than calculus. I argued for calculus with "Calculus made the machine so your cashiers wouldn't have to know how to make change." The lesson here is we define what is important to us and move forward from there. There is no use arguing about some things.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Great Quote By George W. Bush

From this article, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves,” as the man’s screaming could be heard outside.

I am not going to comment on Bush's legacy. I don't have enough time for that. But I don't think it is as black and white as some would like to think.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Establish Productive Routines

This has been my motto recently. Part of life is tricking your mind and body into doing things that it knows are at best marginally important.

But I haven't developed any routine about computer file storage. For some unknown reason I took my flash drive home last night. Usually I Gmail files, but last night, I saved my working files on a flashdrive an brought it home.

This isn't insurmountable. It is possible for me to go home and be back in the office within an hour. There are also other things I can do.

But the whole thing reminds me how important "productive routines" are. Some things you just have to do the same way over and over again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Some Things

1. The difficulties involved in evidence-based medicine and national health care are immense.

2. Last week I drove 1500 miles in 6 days, and that is okay.

3. Being a good worker (employee) and having a strong work ethic are not the same.

4. If you drink 50 ounces of caffeine-filled liquid, then you should expect to piss often.

5. It's all about focus. Focus. Refocus.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Current Events Or Humans

He screamed at them: "What the fuck are you laughing at? Don't you see the world is collapsing? Don't you see you have no future? Don't you see your youth will disappear? Don't you see you will die? But first you will suffer through life. Your youth will waste away. And you won't be laughing."

They were initially shocked, their eyes wide because of fear and surprise. But when he left, they continued to laugh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

College Football

1. Some times a decent offensive team cannot score. They drive the ball but make mistakes. Or they just cannot get anything going even though many plays are close. Most offenses that have these problems have no identity. They are usually "balanced" offenses without any superstars or "go-to" guys. This is what happened to Tech last night. They played a vastly inferior opponent (from a talent standpoint), a team that would lose three out of ten times to a team of Division III all-stars. They could have ran the ball down the team's throat. They could have passed the ball down the field. But mistakes and a lack of commitment to an identity kept the inferior team in the game. Tech's defense has an identity. They have an attitude. "When in doubt, blitz and take chances in the secondary." Tech's offense has nothing but a few athletes. It also has very little leadership.

2. Coaching matters. Quarterbacks cannot run with the ball in one hand. Once a quarterback decides to run, he has to tuck it and protect the football. A senior center who gets hurt has to know to lay on the field for a few minutes so the back-up center can get a few snaps with the quarterback. It isn't about being a tough guy. It is about smart football. Tech football is not smart. Offenses have to be smart to succeed consistently. Smartness is one of the only things coaches can add to a team.

3. One day I will write up my playoff plan for college football. My first premise is that to have an effective playoff, the number of teams in Division I-A have to be decreased. Each game as to provide information about a team. Florida beating up on the Citadel says nothing. Tech barely beating Duke is just as meaningless. We will never know how good Boise State or Ball State really is. Even if they make it to the BCS and beat a BCS team, we still will not know how good they were.

4. This goes back to number one. I think some coaches are pompous arrogant jerks. They are committed to something and will not sway from it no matter what. This thought is inspired by Michigan football, Bill Callahan's Nebraska and Notre Dame somewhat. In college football, these dogmatists succeed some times. Other times it does not. I still think the best approach is to evaluate talent before the season and on a week to week basis and coach smartness, mental toughness, and an identity. But I am not, have never been, and have no immediate plans to be a coach.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Thoughts

1. I have just spent three hours getting my laptops to immediately connect to a wireless network without password authentication. I had to update drivers. I had to wing some things and get away from the network-given directions. But I finally got it to work. I know why people don't like Windows. Making things simple is not the same as making things work.

2. The most important thing I have learned this past year is to unbutton all the buttons on my polo shirts before I pull them over my head. My big head has ruined too many buttons.

3. There are a lot of free things on the Internet. A whole lot. It really makes me wonder about the future of cable television and DVD rentals.

4. I watched Road House on TV the other night. Part of me prefers my super heroes to have super-natural powers. Part of me does not think vengeance could ever go that far. Smart successful business people are smart and successful because they are reasonable. There were too many potential Pareto improving exchanges between Wesley and Dalton for things to end the way they ended. All it all, it was an entertaining movie.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Organization, Geting Started, And Such

I spend a lot of time contemplating different ways of organizing things. (Now I am thinking about how to organize the first chapter of my dissertation.) I also spend a lot of time trying to get started. So here are my conclusions:

1. Organization, while important, is not key. There are many different ways to organize things. Many of these are only marginally different.

2. The best way to get started (for me) is to jump in and not jump out. In other words, worry about organization later.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"I Am Better Than This"

Multiple times this week I have said this statement to myself. I probably mean: "I am different than them. Or "I want something different than this." But my inter-dialogue uses "better", so I will stick with it. It is probably more proper to say I "thought" this statement, but I am kind-of talking to myself. I try to step outside of myself and pretend to be an objective friend. I know this is silly.

The first time I said it to myself (or thought) was when I was riding a bus at 1:30PM. I had spent the morning getting my oil changed and tires rotated. I spent an extended lunch in the apartment. And when I got on the bus I realized the 1:30PM crowd wasn't too impressive, not the kind of people I wanted to be, not bad people just not the kind I wanted to be. I want to be at work at 1:30PM.

The second time I was eating dinner and playing cards with these people. These people were not my friends or my family. They didn't care about me. These people were friends amongst themselves but couldn't find it in their heart to even act like they cared about me as a person. I couldn't find it in my heart (or the energy) to make them care about me. But I didn't find the energy or the heart to leave either.

The third time I am going to some lecture that ex ante has a 33% chance of being worth my time. The fourth time I am sitting in the lecture, and it is one of the 67%. I have a million of unimportant things to do. I have million things to do that will eventually add up or not add up to my medium and long-term happiness level. But I am sitting there half-listening, avoiding those millions of things.

I am better than this. And I will get better.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something I Have Been Thinking About

I wonder if gas mileage is still important. I see by their ads that GM, Ford, and Chrysler want to think not (at least GM--their ads are the most prominent). But they still put gas mileage in their ads. I cannot decide if this is a good strategy or not. Yeah, the Chevy Silverado gets good gas mileage for a truck, but it really doesn't get good gas mileage compared to a Prius.

I like trucks, but I don't think I will ever buy a truck for its gas mileage. And when funds are low and times tough, the one thing I can control is gas mileage. After these last few months, I am always going to care about gas mileage and efficiency. I wonder what the average American will care about.

Personally, I think we might have reached a tipping point where efficiency and reducing our interdependence on oil will trump SUVs, power, and comfort.

My dad thinks differently. I guess we will see.

Some Things I Have Learned

1. Learning how to work through your successes is just as difficult as learning how to work through your failures.

2. Dependability and reliability are important traits in people and products.*

3. Women who wear heels on Saturday mornings when it is raining want men to look at them.

4. "Do the best you can" is cliche but good advice.

5. Ironing makes pants look better, but I haven't decided if it is worth it.

6. Some times you just have to buy something. It makes you feel better. It is better than smoking or drinking. And it can be cheaper if you are smart. "Do something" is cliche but good advice.

*At first I thought dependability and reliability were redundant, but I think reliability is ex ante and dependability is ex post. They are positively correlated no doubt. A reliable person anticipates. A dependable person reacts. You get in a reliable car knowing it will start. You get in a dependable car not knowing if it will start but knowing if it does then it will get you where you need to go or let you know quickly that it won't. This is reaching and unproductive but I am doing something.

Third Post I Have Started In Three Days

At twelve, Jeff had a 40 year old woman's ass. His father was a cross country coach and distance runner. His mother had a 40 year old woman's ass. Jeff was doomed by genetics. He had no fast twitch muscles.

We were good friends. He loved Aerosmith and professional wrestling. I enjoyed professional wrestling. But after twelve I had enough fast twitch muscles to make me an average high school football player and shot putter. He did not. He continued to love Aerosmith and professional wrestling. He learned to enjoy pot and alcohol and a life without adult sensibilities. He failed out of college. He became a management trainee at Wal-Mart. And I haven't seen him since. I am sure he is well. I am sure he hasn't escaped his genetics. His father was an English teacher. His mother was a banker. I am sure he is doing fine now and has found some adult sensibilities.

I am sure we would have a good time catching up. But I doubt if either of us have the time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Neither Necessary Nor Helpful But Something I Felt Like Writing

I am sitting at Deet's Place. Deet's Place is Virginia Tech's on-campus coffee shop. In front of me is a co-ed whose thighs are protruding through her too short shorts. Behind me are two girls trying really hard to be good college students. Beside me are two guys trying to get laid. Deet's Place is a whole lot like the Eagle's Nest at my alma mater Bridgewater College. I suspect it is a whole lot like every college in America.

It is October 16th. It has been a year and a half since a crazy adolescent passed Deet's Place on his way to kill 32 unexpecting Hokies. It has been five years since I arrived on this campus. I want to say something has changed. I want to say Virginia Tech is a better place or at least a safer place. But either one would be lies. Besides construction zones and the rare building completion, this place hasn't changed much in five years.

Maybe things are not supposed to change. I never believed that "the only constant is change." Places and people change but at the end of the day, most of life stays the same. I get up. I eat. I breath. I love. I hate. I long. I sleep. Same old shit, different day.

When I saw the video of the crazy adolescent, all I could think about was what if I had made the effort to talk to him. What if I sat down with him in Deet's Place or the D2 cafeteria? What if someone became his friend instead of his enemy? Most of this was foolish. But "We Are Virginia Tech." "We are all Hokies today." I vowed to make a change. Life was too precious to be worrying about co-ed's thighs. Life was too precious to be so introverted that crazy people were able to slip through the cracks. I have felt some of the loneliness that crazy kid must have felt. It hurts. It does not justify what he did. But it hurts. We cannot deny pain.

I remember the press conferences. I remember that the University President (who is and was more of a politician than an educator) refused to say: "Let us grieve. We will review our policies. We will learn from this. But this is not about blame. It is about recovery. It is about grief. It is about making life changes for the better. Let us grieve." He did a great public relations job. Applications were up. Virginia Tech capitalized on the nation's attention. But the university did not change. Except the new dorms and research buildings being built.

Doors to most buildings are now difficult to chain shut. There are other ways to block doors. There are boards telling people what to do during an emergency. These serve as constant reminders of the evil of that day. There are electronic updatable boards telling people if there is an emergency. There are automatic Emails and text messages. I do not know what good these will do in case of a a real emergency. I guess they might help after the fact, but I do not see their prevention value.

I remember going into Deet's place a few weeks after the shootings. All I could think about was that you would need state troopers at every door. And it still wouldn't be enough. That was the moment when I got over the shootings. We have to live. We have to be. I have given up trying to explain unexplainable things.

I gained 20 pounds in the three months after the shootings. I have lost 110 pounds in the fifteen months since. It was just something I did. The doctor told me I was going to eventually die. So I lost weight. I vowed to make a change.

But I am still a lonely introvert sitting at Deet's Place commenting on crazy adolescent males trying to score. I still do no have the courage to sit down with the guy who looks lonely, the guy or the girl who looks like the world has left a gaping wound upon their heart.

At a conference in Orlando, a fellow graduate student from Siberia asked if anything had changed at Tech. I was taken back by the question and gave a quick and unthoughtful response.

Now I would answer: "No. Was anything supposed to?"

Before It Is Too Late

I read an article about "patients as consumers" this morning. It was long but reviewed how the law has treated health care patients.

Universal health care worries me. I worry about incentives for innovation. I worry about moral hazard. I worry about someone else determining what treatments my parents get or don't get. But I really don't think it is worth it to spend much time opposing it. Given my history, my genes, my feelings I am betting at worst it will be a wash for me.

But I still think the major problem is fixed costs. It takes so much investment to train doctors, nurses, and technicians. It takes so much investment in research for new drugs and new machines. Once the doctor is trained and the machine is paid for the marginal cost is relatively low.

I also think that doctors have a psychic (market) power over patients. Doctors do not do cost-benefit analysis with patients. Patients do not do a cost-benefit analysis and trust their doctor. Evidence based medicine can help this, but I do not trust statistics, especially when comes to a discrete event like life or death. I also believe in the placebo effect.

My answer has been some type of "flex" plan where patients make an up-front yearly contribution to fixed costs, and then pay the marginal costs during each visit. HMOs proved that this would probably not work. A single hospital would probably not be able to support all of every patient's needs, and the number of people needed to contribute to the program makes it private feasibility doubtful. People like choice and do not like long-term contracts.

So what I am saying is that I curious to see what our President-elect really does about health care. I say this while I am debating whether to go to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned or the doctor to get preventive blood tests done. It is all about trade-offs.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rocky III, Eye Doctors, And Pat Jordan

I watched a little of Rocky III last night. I caught the Rocky-Adrian "I'm afraid" scene. I am sure it is on YouTube. Paraphrasing, Rocky says he is scared for the first time in his life. He finally had something to lose, and it scared him.

Rocky was born a fighter, not a boxer but a fighter. He was dumb, but he could take a punch. He could always punch back. I always thought Rocky I ended perfectly. Rocky goes fifteen rounds, but he loses. But he also wins by just remaining standing. This is life.

I go to the Wal-Mart eye doctor yesterday. I am the only patient in the office, but the doctor is out on a break. He gets back fifteen minutes later. In the middle of his consultation he takes a phone call. We talk about football, politics, the machine he uses, and his guitar collection. I don't think the guy really cares about being an eye doctor.

Pat Jordan has repeated numerous times that he was and is a pitcher. Writing is just something he did to make money.

At one time I had a grander point here, but I have forgotten it. I guess what I am trying to say is that finding "who one really is" takes a lifetime. It isn't easy. Some people never find out exactly who they are. Some people give up and don't care who they are. But when one really finds out who they are, even if it is just a little piece, they should hold on to it. It doesn't mean they shouldn't question or challenge it. It just means "being happy in your own skin" is a good feeling.

Something I Wrote To Myself A Few Years Ago

"What does it all mean, Mr. Natural?"

"Don't mean sheeit."

You spend have your life redefining greatness. The other half you spend attempting to impress people who can't help but disappoint you. Meritocracies would be no fun. Of course, you are wasting your life, but what is your next best opportunity? It never comes to you; it can't. "No one said this was going to be easy."--J.C.M "You have to march to the beat of your own fucking drummer."--J.S. It will kill you, but if the music stops, you might as well be dead. They can't give you a grade on how much you care. They don't care, so why should you?

(I was (am) in a bad habit of talking to myself. Using "you" instead of "I" weakens the point.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Small Town Coffee Shops

I am sitting in this small town coffee shop, overpriced sandwiches, overpriced coffee, and overpriced bakery goods warmed up in the microwave. I say this is me. A small coffee shop in a small town is what I want. I want to get up at 5:00AM and not go home until 9:00PM. I want to have something that is mine. Something I can build. Something I can create.

But how long could I get up at 5:00AM? A month, six months, a year? How long before I get tired? How long before I lose the energy to create? Isn't energy the scarce resource? Isn't the loss of energy what doomed the video store? Didn't my uncle do the same thing except he had pool tables and gambling machines in the back? Didn't he eventually get "tired out?" Haven't I learned anything from the last few years?

That is the debate, regimentation versus organic order. I get up at 6:30AM (give or take twenty minutes and somewhat dependent on daylight savings time) without an alarm clock. Is it a good thing to force myself to get up earlier? Do I need that regimentation?

If the last few months has taught us anything, it is that uncertainty abounds. The world cannot be broken down into probabilities. Humans cannot understand probabilities anyway. Unfortunately, this says nothing about regimentation or organic order. But it does make me feel better.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Hey Diddle Diddle We're Running Up The Middle" Ready, Break

J.S. played guard. Well he started out as a tackle, but he ended up as a guard who played a little center. He wasn't very good. But he beat me out for playing time. In a mixed-up sort of way, he impeded my career as a freshman and as a senior.

J.S. was a rah-rah guy. Nobody on the team necessarily liked him. Nobody really respected him. But he talked a good game. He was always first in line for drills. He was always quick with a "Come on, guys," when practice wasn't going well. He would always volunteer to play another position if someone was hurt. The coaches liked him. By his senior year, even the coaches' affection had waned. But he was a rah-rah guy who always took advantage of any opportunity that arose.

During an off-week, he went camping. He came back with poison ivy all over his ass, legs, and stomach. He had poison ivy in places where no man should have poison ivy. He blamed it on an unwashed cabin mattress or bed spread. Then we found out that one of the female trainers had a severe case of poison ivy too. The story finally came out that he and the trainer had "explored nature" and were now paying for it.

I will always remember this story. But I will also remember that J.S. always found a way to get on the field.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Short Games

I don't think much of Bud Selig. I think Major League Baseball has problems. These playoffs and this series should be interesting, but they are not. Some of this is FOX and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Some of this is baseball should not be played in late October when it is thirty degrees.

But I like this three and half inning game tonight. I might just watch the whole game and get to bed at a reasonable time.

(I predict that Lidge blows his first save tonight. The game goes to extra innings, and I go to bed.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coversations Overheard While Waiting For The Bus

"Once you accept and admit you're flawed, pardon my language, but you once admit you're fucked-up, life changes. I wouldn't say life becomes easier. But things changes."

I think the context was Christianity.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Walter Williams Does It Again

Walter Williams' experiment from this post at Cafe Hayek:

"Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read 'Vote Obama, I need the money.' I laughed. Once in the restaurant my server had on a 'Obama 08' tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence. When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need -- the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight. I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient needed money more. I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances."

Yeah I went home this weekend.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Cannot Believe These Three Guys Could Get Together


I am not going to comment on their point. I am still in shock from seeing those three names together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Conversations On The Bus, "Yeah, That's Awesome," And My First Economics Related Idea

"Yeah, I got really drunk. I had to call a cab. My brother had given me all of these cab cards. I call one. He comes. He says, "Baby, you got some junk in your trunk." I am so drunk I play along, shake my ass, and ride in the cab.

Yeah, that's awesome."

My college roommate liked to order pizza but always forgot to buy drinks. I always had drinks in the fridge but was too cheap to order pizza. My roommate always had extra pizza. I always had extra drinks. We could have easily contracted and both been better off, but we never did.

In a way it was a prisoners' dilemma. But I always chalked it up to "communication costs." It cost both of us something substantial to admit to one another that we wanted something that only the other guy could provide. Now game theorists and economists have thoroughly dealt with this problem, but it is really a psychological problem. The real issue is decreasing the psychic cost of communication.

This has very little to do with anything except to say that there are some things in the world that don't make sense. And that is okay.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Acting In Aiports

I am sitting in an international airport. The wireless signal does not reach my gate. (I think this is the city that wanted to give free wireless access to all its citizens.) The only outlets are located in modified 2’ X 2’ phone booths. I decide I am going to write a blog post. No I decide I want to write a blog post.

I have been thinking about this post for a few days. But I think it is clearer now.

I could go to an airport bar. Most of them are crowded, but I could start a conversation with someone. Something worthwhile could happen. I could go to McDonald’s and eat some more. I have already had two peanut butter sandwiches and some peanut M and M’s. But I want to appear busy.

I don’t want to be busy. I don’t want to work on my dissertation or something to advance my career. I don’t want to review tomorrow’s presentation or tomorrow’s workshop papers. But I want to feel busy.

I want to be important. I want to look like I have to make phone calls and work 14 hours a day. Some of it is me worrying too much about other people. Some of it is a screwed up ethic that graduate school, my Dad, and my “world” have instilled in me (both in the case of work and looking like I am working).

But it is also an astute recognition of self. Because I do like it. I like the life where you are sitting in airport phone booths bitching about wireless connections. I like the possibility of meeting somebody really important. I enjoy the feeling of doing something even if it is just acting.

When I threw shot-put I always thought it was more important what you did when the coaches weren’t looking. I used to practice after all of the others left. I used to practice in the rain and snow. I wasn’t getting (and didn’t get) any better. Smart practice is the key to success, not just practice.

But I sit here writing blog posts, thinking of stories about average to below-average looking stewardess, dress salesmen, and businessmen acting busy. I could go to a bar. I could sit down with some old British people. But I like where I am sitting.

Maybe I have done something to advance my career.

(ML pointed out to me this morning that most work is acting. As attractive as digging ditches seems at times, ditch diggers must feel some emptiness in their work. The Myth of Sisyphus comes to mind.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Didn't Watch The Second Half

Of this game.

My uncle and sister went to JMU. For some reason, I feel some connection to the purple Dukes.

Some times it is better to run around and try to run out the clock than punt. Before long there will be clock management coaches on the side line.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Being The Subject

A few months ago I participated in an engineering experiment. I found out I was partially color blind. I had to change into spandex so my movements could be monitored. I was getting paid $20 an hour.

The experiment was being conducted by fellow graduate students. They made me feel like shit. They talked around me instead of to me. One rather feminine fellow kept telling me "You're doing a good job," like I was three years old. I wasn't a colleague. I wasn't a student. I wasn't anything to them.

It was the worse ostracized feeling I have felt in a long time. I wanted to be friends with them. I wanted to talk politics. I wanted to participate in their intellectual banter. I wanted to discuss experimental protocol with them. I usually do not give a damn about most people. But these people, because they were acting like I was some stupid subject only to be observed, intrigued me.

Maybe it was because they were engineering people. Maybe it was me. I don't know.

But when they finally paid me, which took three extra days, I felt a whole lot better.

From The June 2008 Issue Of The Journal Of Economic Literature

From The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins by Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer*:

"...The world economy in the last quarter century has been surprisingly calm, and has moved sharply toward capitalism and markets. In that environment, our framework suggests that the common law approach to social control of economic life performs better than the civil law approach. When markets do or can work well, it is better to support than to replace them. As long as the world economy remains free of war, major financial crises, or order extraordinary disturbances, the competitive pressures for market-supporting regulation will remain strong and we are likely to see continued liberalization. Of course, underlying this prediction is a hopeful assumption that nothing like World War II or the Great Depression will repeat itself. If it does, countries are likely to embrace civil law solutions, just as they did back then."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baseball Starts In An Hour

1. I just saw a woman breastfeeding. This is not as cool as I once thought it would be.

2. This morning Saved By The Bell: The College Years was on channel 27. Sportscenter was on channel 28. Mike and Mike was on 29. Bob Golic wasn't bad as the resident advisor. This is a horrible time of year for Sportscenter. Mike Golic carries Mike and Mike when he tells his locker room stories, but most of Mike and Mike is unwatchable.

3. Baseball starts in an hour.

4. ACC football is very mediocre. With this being said, Wake Forest should never beat Clemson. Especially 12 to 7. Tommy Bowden better be looking for a job.

5. Baseball starts in an hour.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Some Things

1. It took me a gallon of bleach, a bottle of CLR, a new curtain, and a new mat, but my shower is clean. The sad thing is it still isn't really clean.

2. I don't wash off fruits or vegetables. I just eat them. I haven't got sick yet. My grandfather never did either. He lived to 84.

3. I wash my hands 5 out of every 6 times I piss.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Everybody Has A Reason To Begin Again" From Springsteen's "Long Walk Home"

I play basketball with these kids. I let the kids shoot instead of me. If I get the rebound, I pass the ball to a kid. I rarely shoot.

Most of the kids go home. Some kids stay behind. These kids tell me I am too nice. They say this is the root of my problems with the opposite sex. I tell them that I have no problems with the opposite sex. I tell them that the opposite sex is crazy anyway.

The some kids leave. I am alone with my thoughts. I freak. Maybe the kids are right. Maybe I am too nice. But my high school football coach called me the dirtiest player he ever coached. I once held a guy by his practice jersey, choking him, so he would not hit the quarterback. My favorite thing was to get under a guys pads and pinch him. I was an effective crotch blocker. But you know what: maybe I am too nice.

It is the difference between perception and intention. I pass the basketball to the kids, because I want them to feel included. I want them to feel accepted. I could not stand feeling "left out." I spent a significant portion of my life feeling different and outside of the main clique. That is a lonely and stupid feeling. I have seen too many parents and possible mentors indifferent to that feeling. I have seen that loneliness perpetuated by indifference. I do not want to be part of that perpetuation. I pass the ball to the kids, because I want to pass it to them. I would rather see them shoot and play together than shoot myself. It has to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with niceness.

But that is not what the kids saw. They are just kids. But in some ways I failed as a teacher. In some ways, I was just as bad as the indifferent mentors and parents.

When you try to teach others, you learn about yourself. It is not what I can do for the kids; it is what the kids can do for me. This sounds strange and mixed-up, but at the end of the day, a mentor or a parent is only as good as his kids' perceptions. (An author is defined by his readers.) And perceptions have very little to do with intentions.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When You Leave The Tea Bag In Too Long, The Tea Becomes Too Strong

I have been listening to country music radio. This is because I get very few stations on my MP3 player.

Every five minutes an Obama ad comes on. Every 30 minutes a McCain ad comes on. The fact that Obama is spending this much money on country music radio ads in southwest Virginia intrigues me. I cannot decide if it is a sign of progress or a sign of the apocalypse.

I am becoming very indifferent to the whole thing. I know it does not matter. And the fact that people thinks it matters blows my mind.

"Don't believe in rock 'n' roll
Can really change the world
As it spins in revolution
It spirals and turns"

It spirals and turns, baby.

"This is my life
It's what I've chosen to do
There are no free rides
No one said it'd be easy"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Conversations Heard On The Bus Or Possibilities

Guy to Girl: "You have a boyfriend?"

Girl: "Yes."

Guy: "Good. I have a girlfriend. But if anything changes, I'll let you know. You do the same?"

Girl (with a little smile that has a thousand interpretations): "I will."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

667th Post

I am standing at the pisser. I cannot remember what day it is. I cannot remember what month it is. I cannot remember what hour it is.

But I keep saying "If I only had more time." That is bullshit. Time is not scarce. It is energy that is scarce.

I can make all the excuses I want. But life is about energy. It is about getting out of bed. It is about caring. It is about caring so much it hurts. It is about caring so little that you say "Screw it." It is about looking deep inside oneself and saying: "This is what matters. This is what I am going to fight for. This does not matter. This is what I am going to let go."

I can never forget energy is a renewable resource.

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Field Goals, Extra Points, And Brian Billick

I am not going into probabilities. But I would go for two-point conversions and touchdowns more than the average college or NFL coach. It is about offensive confidence. Touchdowns win games. Field goals keep games close. It is also about being unpredictable. Another offensive play is another play to do something creative and unexpected.

Brian Billick did the Redskins game yesterday. His NFL philosophy came off as it is all about luck and bounces. If you make it, it is a good play. If you don't, then eventually you will get fired anyway. This translates somewhat to college and high school football too. There is too much competition and genius rarely lasts.

I found him refreshing. He isn't a great commentator. He wasn't a great coach.

But he did win a Super Bowl.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thoughts This Morning

1. I haven't blogged in a while.

2. Blogging isn't a bad thing to do in the morning. At least I am doing something.

3. What would I say in an interview at Wal-Mart? I would probably talk about high-margin items like produce, and how Wal-Mart could capitalize on local products. I also think stores need better faces. They need produce and meat managers who know or at least act like they know frequent shoppers. I also think Wal-Mart should take the Dyson philosophy and be proud that their stores work. This is more complicated. Fortunately, I do not have any interviews lined up with Wal-Mart in the near future.

4. I have said this before. But Cowen's "Get something done every day" becomes truer with every day I don't get anything done.

5. I have donated the Blazer. It was sad. I probably could have gotten a few hundred dollars for it from a junkyard, but some times you just have to let go.

6. I cannot get interested in sports. I hope the Rays win the AL East. But I really don't care. I think the NFL and college football is pretty uninteresting. Maybe the playoffs will get me fired up, but I doubt it.

7. I find my my current colleagues, co-workers, cohort to be somewhat uninteresting. This says more about me than them. But I have seen a lot of good people come and go. I tend to retreat inside of myself when I get bored and disinterested. This is probably not a good trait. It is a worse trait to talk about other people who you don't really know.

Friday, August 29, 2008


One time in college we had a veteran team. It was getting towards the end of training camp. Everyone was getting hurt. Not severely injured, but nicked up. Coach decided to end camp early. He let us go to the pool to help us heal up. It was probably the most reasonable memory I have concerning coaches and training camps.

The thing about training camps is that for three weeks your life was football. We got up at 6:00AM. We went to breakfast at 6:30AM. We practiced to noon. We ate lunch and relaxed until 2:00 meetings. We practiced until 6:00PM. We ate dinner and then had meetings until 10:30PM. It was football all day long.

I hated it. I still do not know if it is productive. Athletics is about muscle memory. Muscle memory comes from conditioning. It comes from practice. But a lot of training camp is about getting through not honest practice.

The important thing, the freeing thing, is that you begin the season.

There is a lesson here for me. I do not know exactly what it is, but it is there.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nothing Against Argentina

But I want total destruction.

I do not know where the Chinese got these fans, but they sound pro-Argentinean or anti-American.

I do not like the flopping in international basketball, but on the whole, it is a more physical game.

Officiating is horribly inconsistent.

Now it is time to refocus and finish the destruction.


I have decided to watch at least some of the US-Argentina basketball game this morning. Part of me worries about jinxing them. Part of me is avoiding work. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do. This is why wireless Internet and laptop computers were designed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Poor Service

I am sitting at this coffee shop. It has a big sign that says "No Wal-Mart." It has a container asking for donations to a legal fund to fight Wal-Mart. It is retro-hippie. It presents itself as a place where the counter-culture meets. A place where money does not matter even though it costs $2 for a cup of coffee.

Well it took the lady two minutes to wait on me. She didn't say "Thank you." She didn't say "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry" when I was waiting for her to refill the coffee pots.

Sometimes you have to make a stand. Sometimes you have to say "No more." We'll see how long it lasts, because I do like the place.

"You have to stand for something, or you will fall for anything."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hard, Not Easy

He was always a cool guy. At least he thought he was cool. Conversation came easy to him. He genuinely liked people. Sometimes he talked too much. But he was cool.

Then it happened. He said something stupid, not entirely untrue, but stupid.

He was not cool anymore. He tried to tell himself that "coolness" was self-defined. But he had always lived by others' definitions. He couldn't change that now.

He guessed he would gradually accept his new position. But it would be hard, not easy.

It Kind Of Comes To You

I was a center. Sometimes we had turn-back pass protection. Sometimes a nose tackle lined up in the A gap between me and the guard. The middle linebacker was responsible for the other A gap. I was responsible for the middle linebacker. But if he didn't come I was supposed to help the guard with the nose tackle. But I always had to keep my eye on the middle linebacker. No matter what I did I couldn't get it right in practice. "Damn it, you got to help out more. Damn it, the middle linebacker is going to kill our quarterback. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Shit you are going to kill us Bastiat, F-ing kill us." It didn't matter what I did. I did it wrong. I hated after-practice film session. I hated turn-back protection. I felt helpless. I knew what not to do. But I had no clue what to do.

I asked the starting center. He said "When you get in the game, it kind of comes to you."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"We Only Got 4 Minutes To Save The World"*

Why would anyone make a trade with Billy Beane or the San Antonio Spurs or the New England Patriots?

If Beane or Popovich or Belicheck called me and said I have a deal for you, I would certainly think myself out of it. I know the limitations of moneyball, but the biggest disparity in professional sports today is upper managerial talent. There are no Michael Phelps in MLB, the NBA or the NFL. There is just too much competition. Baseball, basketball, and football are too developed. Too many talented kids want to go pro.

This begs the question. How has Phelps done it? Some of it has to do with the nature of individual verus team sports. Phelps only depends on other guys in relays, but he must be a freak of nature.

Have you ever started to write something and it does not go anywhere? It does not make sense. It is just writing to be doing something.

I have.

*That Justin Timberlake song 4 minutes featuring Madonna.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


All day just waiting.

Will The Package Be Delivered?

I have sat here all day. It has become a test of will. Very rarely do I not go to the office when I am in town. I have worked it out where I can work from home, but I hate sitting here waiting for a package that might or might not come.

Some Things

1. Waiting around for UPS sucks. There has to be a better way. Especially when the package could fit into my mailbox. My libertarian side likes the innovation that UPS and FedEx has brought to the market, but waiting around sucks.

2. Missing UPS sucks too. I did that Friday and yesterday.

3. At least I am reaping some of the benefits of the air conditioning I am paying for each month.

4. This is another post, but it wasn't the gas.

5. I enjoy reading. But there comes a time in a man's life where he has to write. Reading is and should be mostly recreation. Life is not all recreation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Preliminary Interviews

Some are good. Some are bad. Some are in-between.

I will be fine.

But like with most things, it comes down to want-to.

The best advice I heard came from a banking consultant: "Just finish. Don't worry about perfection. Just finish and sharpen your communication skills. No one really cares about your research. They care if you can explain your research. They care if you can talk."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Mental Health Post

This is going to sound like self-pity. It probably is, but sometimes "talking about it helps."

Yesterday morning the Blazer quits. I call AAA. The guy comes. It starts up the first time for him. It was low on gas, but it should have had at least 2-3 gallons left. I couldn't fill up, because it was running so bad Sunday.

"I bet it just doesn't have enough gas in it," the tow driver says.

"Well, I have AAA Plus. I get five gallons of gas free. Should I call again?."

"I ain't coming back out here again." My place is less than three miles from his shop. I wanted to punch the asshole in between the eyes. I wanted to call AAA just for the hell of it.

I take it to the shop less than 1/2 mile from apartment. I was going to let the guy take it back to his shop even though I've never been there, but that became out of the question. He drops it off on level ground. It runs right back into a spot with out shutting off. He doesn't repeat "I bet it is just the gas." But I know he is thinking it. I want to rip his head off.

See here is what I was trying to get at in the battery post. I am an intelligent male. I know a lot of things. But I don't know enough about cars. I am logical, but I don't know that sometimes, especially when you are on a hill, and your car is old, 2 gallons of gas might not be enough. I could spend time learning about cars, but that would be unproductive. So when a "car" guy demonstrates how ignorant I am about cars, I get angry. I feel helpless. I feel like I am not a man. I feel like shit.

I go in to the shop and report my problems. It is a new front-desk guy which scares me. He is emotionless. He doesn't decrease the shit or helpless feelings. I think about calling AAA to get those 5 free gallons. That would make me feel better. But I don't.

The guy calls me back after lunch. It was nothing simple. But they were busy. So I would have to wait until today to get the final news.

He calls again this morning. After they took more things apart, the flow chart told them that it was a $1100 repair. The guy indirectly tells me it isn't worth it. He also tells me that it seems to be working okay now, but he is confident that it won't last. He tells me about the new car he just got. I finally say that I will pick it up and make a decision after I go to Orlando next week.

I decide that it is time to move forward and buy something else. I call my Dad. He calls his "car" man. I decide that when I get back from Orlando, I will definitely buy something else.

I pick the Blazer up. The diagnostic fees were over $100. It runs fine to the gas station. I put 18.25 gallons of gas into an 18 gallon tank.

All I can think: "Maybe it was just the gas."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Million Things To Do And A Car That Does Not Work

Pat Jordan discussing his uncle in A Nice Tuesday:

"He could have let that disappointment overwhelm him, make him bitter or, even worse, self-pitying. But he never did. He never found an excuse to be unhappy. My uncle was a happy man because he knew happiness was not a given. It was not something deserved. It was something to be worked at, created out of any little thing at hand. My uncle was a master at finding joy and wonder in life's minutest details that the rest of us so often overlook in our pursuit of grander pleasures. Like that toast. It was the most perfect buttered toast I have ever had."

Friday, July 18, 2008

It Is Friday Or Things I Learned This Week

1. When one has a thousand things to do, he has to start somewhere.

2. Participating in an experiment at a major research university is not worth it. No matter how much they are willing to pay. I did discover I was partially colorblind.

3. I had to buy another phone charger. It is cheaper to have a charger for every place you can possibly be at then to buy a new battery.

4. Fiber is key to feeling good.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I am riding the bus one afternoon to pick up my Blazer from the garage. This older guy gets on. He asks the driver about his kids. His English is unrefined. His attire suggests poverty. But he loves his kids. He wants to make sure they got off at an earlier stop. They did. He wanted to make sure they were okay.

My sympathies go out to the man. Poverty haunts me. There were things I wanted that I did not get as a kid. We weren't poor. I have never been hungry. But I empathize. There were times when I felt poor. Feeling poor is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. Seeing poverty reminds me that I have a heart. Seeing poverty makes me want to cry.

What do I do? Rent movies. Employ people. Do economic research? Teach his children?

Do I keep on rockin' in the free world?

It is all about doing something.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

High School Students

I taught some Governor's school students. It wasn't teaching. I just let them do "research" and play economic games on the computer. They focused for about 45 minutes, then they screwed around for 30. Part of the problem was every five minutes of their day were structured. They were young, but kids should have some freedom in the summer.

They talked about college, SATs, and facebook. They did the classic (at least at my high school) UVA versus William and Mary debate. One guy spent the last 30 minutes doing the "SAT question of the day."

There was a lonely girl who kept to herself. A beautiful girl who hadn't discovered her beauty yet. There were some girls who talked continuously to hide their lack of confidence. There were some guys who I wanted to punch in the face. The guys who I hated in high school. The guys of wealth and privilege, the glamour boys, the guys whom things had come too easy to. The guys who needed their ass kicked.

In ten years none of the stuff they were worrying about would matter. I wanted to expose the lies that SAT scores and "good" colleges that overly concerned parents were spreading. I wanted to tell them to go to a couple of field parties before they graduated. I wanted to tell them "everything was going to be okay."

But I didn't. I just let them continue to fool around on the computers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sports Thoughts

1. The Brett Farve thing is out of control. I don't know how I feel about it. Everyone seems to be behaving foolishly. I am sure interested in seeing how it will all play out.

2. I cannot decide if the Braves should give up the season and trade Teixeira or not. Part of me thinks they are underachieving. Another part of me thinks they might be overachieving. I just expected more consistent offensive production.

3. I watched a little Arena football today. I liked it but not enough to watch the Arena bowl next week.

4. I learned a lot from playing sports. There are sports guys and there are non-sports guys. Don't get caught on the wrong side of that line.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Morning Contradictions Or Are They?

My response to Atlas Shrugged:

Life affirming. No doubt. I am right. I am the only one who can let them win. I have to give them the moral sanction.

But why did Eddie Willers and Rearden's secretary have to go. It is the pompous poverty professor thing again, the failure to understand the proletariat. Eddie Willers kept a good number of trains from crashing, probably as many as Dagny. In the end, like some in Rand's cult, Galt's crew gave up. I can't get past that. Fahrenheit 451--I'm no good in the woods.

I am not as great as her characters were. But I have to succeed. I am getting to the point in life where it is live or die. If I choose death, this book will always be in my library to remind me of life. That is the beauty and curse of memory. All I can ask myself on 2/20/2005 is to produce. Do not produce dribble and horseshit like I saw at Friday's circle jerk, but produce something worthy.

Life and production not death and taxes.

And the Einstein Quote of the Day:

"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recharging Batteries

The other week my Blazer would not start. My lights worked, but it would not start. I called AAA and told them I needed a tow. The guy came. He explained even though my lights worked my old battery could not start the Blazer. He gave me a charge. It started. I parked it at the garage. The garage replaced my battery.

The whole ordeal reminded me of how little I know about cars. It reminded me of how little I know.

At first I was upset. How have I made it through life so ignorant? How can I continue to make it through life so ignorant?

But then I remembered that is why I got AAA in the first place.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Something I Heard And Something I Wrote In A Email

"I get up every morning and do the best I can. Most of the time this is good enough. Some times it isn't. But I get up every morning anyway."

I am a professional writer. No, I am a professional communicator. I get paid to write. I might eventually get paid to teach. I will get paid to communicate. But I have never embraced being a professional communicator. Yeah, I read a good amount. But I have never embraced the fact that I get paid to communicate. Maybe I have not embraced being a "professional." But the common theme I have found among most good writers and communicators, is that they go to their "office" to write and they care about what they are communicating. What this has to do with anything I don't know, but I feel like it is some sort of personal break-through.

The guy emailed back that our main purpose in life was communication. He complained that communicating with his wife was the greatest challenge he ever faced.

Some More

Another post on futures markets and speculation.

It will all work itself out.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Life Is Funny

Someone else on oil speculation, just in time.

And someone else on irrational fears. Wal-mart cannot rule the world.

"Don't believe in rock 'n' roll
Can really change the world
As it spins in revolution
It spirals and turns

It spirals and turns, baby.

"This is my life
It's what I've chosen to do
There are no free rides
No one said it'd be easy

No one said it would be easy, did they?

Some Things

1. To answer's GGM's question, the government will and would screw any reforms up. I say this from a purely ideological standpoint. I will say the same thing about any attempt for government reform. Endy points it out better than I can. Sometimes speculators win. Sometimes they lose. As my old finance professor asked, "Why does bread stay the same price all year?" What would reducing speculation really do except make things more volatile most of the time?

2. Economists should champion optimism in times of pessimism. So look at all of the evidence for self-correction. I have driven for 1200 miles in the last two weeks. Every time a car passed me, I compared its fuel efficiency to the Blazer. Almost every new car I see gets more than 30 miles per gallon. The buses are more crowded. I have organized my computers to be able to work from home more often. I hitched a seven hour ride with two guys that I moderately despise. "The times they are a changin'." It will be tough, but everything is going to work out eventually.

3. What I am saying is I haven't thought about or studied gas prices very much. This is probably a good thing. Adaptability is the only trait that matters.

4. Last year there was a drought. This year I am low on blood because of mosquitoes. Uncertainty abounds. We adapt.

5. The Wal-Mart oil change tradeoff is why I got into economics in the first place. The only thing I know is that there is no optimal answer. That is why there is a non-Wal-Mart oil change place on every corner. That is why no single entity can ever rule the world. We adapt.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oil Changes, Wal-Mart, And Disposability

I get my oil changed at Wal-Mart. I figure they cannot mess it up too bad. My regular mechanic would charge me more and tell me everything that was wrong with the piece of shit. The guys at Wal-Mart change the oil, make sure there is air in the tires, and let me go on my merry way. I like this, even though, every time I am waiting, they screw-up something on someone else's car. It usually has to do with tires, so I guess I am okay.

The beauty of Wal-Mart is that it has turned most everything into a disposable product. I buy a $8 shirt or jeans, I wear them for a while, but I do not care if they rip or get stained. They are only $8 and replaceable at a moment's notice. The other day I bought a $9 coffee maker. All I could think was as long as it made coffee 10-15 times, then it was worth it.

Now GGM will surely point out the sadness in all of this. I like quality stuff too. But right now, when times are tough, I am really thankful for $8 jeans and $9 coffee makers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Story I Have Told A Thousand Times Or Fear Is A Two Way Street

When I was in middle school, we played football after school. It was me and a bunch of mediocre athletes. No, I am a less than a mediocre athlete. So it was me and a bunch of boys who were less athletic than me. Me competing against inferior athletes was mostly due to circumstance. It is also me revisiting and revising my youth.

I did not run the ball often. But when I did I would spit. I would claw. I would keep my feet moving. I would punish the mediocrity that was trying to tackle me.

So this one time, my team was losing. I decided we needed a quick score. I ran the ball. This hockey player tried to wrap me up. A central Virginia hockey player was trying to tackle me. I had to punish the mediocrity. I elbowed him square in the temple. He went down. I scored the touchdown.

"You killed him." The guy was still laying on the ground like he was dead with everyone huddled around him.

"He shouldn't have tried to tackle me." I jogged over to make sure he wasn't really dead.

He eventually got up. He suffered no long-term effects. No one's mother ever knew. He has a wife, two kids, and a career in the Navy.

We finished the game.

But I ran the ball less often.

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It Is Not Missing The Bus By Twenty Seconds

It is how I react to missing the bus by twenty seconds. At least that is what I have to keep telling myself.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some Things

1. I went home at 5:15PM. I ate dinner. I read about Tom Seaver. I came back to the office at 6:30PM. So what?

2. Before I went home I read this. I am talking about something I know nothing about, but the old-school sports columnists (not profilers like Jordan, Rick Reily comes to mind) take themselves too seriously. Every now and then, they hit a poignant subject, but most of the time their insecurities and their jealously of athletes comes through. I find most of their writing empty. I like Simmons most of the time, because he is objective about his subjectivity. He always reminds me that he is writing his opinion. I still like Whitlock, because he obviously cares. (Maybe I like him for his libertarian slant on many issues.) The point here is that good writing is hard to come by.

3. I have gotten old. I enjoy sports writing more than watching the games. I find this very disturbing. I need to go to a baseball game.

4. The vast majority of shit does not matter. I must accept this.

5. Even though George Carlin is gone, everything is going to be all right. It will never be the same, but life's comedy will not stop.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Video Stores Or Why Family Businesses Fail

1. My Dad turned down a thirty days free account for a cash on delivery account. "It is just easier." I had the whole thing worked out, but the woman bypassed me and went to the old man. I guess she knew what she was doing. I guess he knows what he is doing.

2. He is complaining about documentaries and foreign films not creating high enough returns. He has a point. But the idea was always to develop a yuppie-artsy clientele that liked going to video stores with documentaries and foreign films. To build this clientele there has to be some cross-subsidization.

3. We have the best employee we have ever had. She is organized and driven. She makes us a lot of money. But she does not share my vision. This combined with number one and two infuriates me. I might just be an absentee buyer, but I would rather not care than be this angry.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tomorrow Does Not Exist

1. Tomorrow is just another concept like infinity or demand or supply. It doesn't mean a damn thing. I find this comforting.

2. In the Father's Day Wiffle Ball Game, I was 2-2 with two homers. Then it rained before it was an official game erasing my stats.

3. I saw a yard sale sign that said "Moving Sale Write Here." The people were moving away because they had just finished their doctorate degrees.

4. I lost four out of seven games playing basketball. I won the sixth and seventh game, because the other guy had played hard for the first five. I guess I was waiting to "turn on the jets." I am certainly waiting for something.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For The Record

I find the majority of the posts on this blog sad. I hope to one day look back at all of this, and say: "Wow, that was a difficult time in your life. I am so glad you finally got over yourself. I am so glad you stopped being your own worst enemy. I just don't know why it took so long."

Soul Searching Or This Goes Nowhere

I am behaviorist. I have no idea what that technically means. I doubt if it means anything. It would be better to say I am an addict. No, I am like an addict.

I have habits. Most of them are bad. Most of them are destructive.

After my second movie in my second night, I was complaining. My girlfriend told me that my problem is that I can not enjoy anything, because in my mind, there is always something left undone. When I was at the movie, I was concerned about my unfinished dissertation. When I was working on my dissertation, I was worried about not watching movies and getting a job. I have difficulty finishing, focusing, and letting go. These fears make my life much more difficult.

Now I have known all of this for some time. (Most of my posts concern these subjects.) I have made studying self-help books and productivity porn a pastime. The solutions I have found have all been the same: set goals, establish habits to meet these goals, and then you will be successful. I interpret this as the backwards induction model or as the planning model.

But I do not believe in planning. Planning always leads to failure because of uncertainty. One day the alarm clock does not go off. One day someone needs help moving. Random events screw up the plan. One would have to create an infinite number of contingency plans. And honestly, the screw-ups usually turn out to be better than the original plan. I wrote one time: "I want to prove that the world works even if it doesn't make sense." I really want to do this, even though I don't know what "proves" means in a world that doesn't make sense. I am a behaviorist.

I am beginning to realize that this aversion to planning and goal-setting is bullshit. I am addicted to being unhappy. I am addicted to indecisiveness. I am addicted to not having goals and plans. My habits confirm these addictions. All addictions are empty in the long-run.

Some of my addictions stem from genuine curiosity. I am interested in many things but only for short periods. Maybe it is because of Nintendo. Maybe it is just me.

I know this. My dad and uncles are the same way. I will never be happy working for someone else. I will never be happy if I consider myself "stuck." I know this. But instead of recognizing it and adopting the singlemindness that it takes to put oneself in unstuck positions, I continue with my "stuck" habits and addictions.

I have no idea exactly what I am saying here. But things are much clearer in my mind.

I just have to finish.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Three Movies Three Nights

Iron Man was another good Marvel film. It didn't pretend to be more than it was. It remained wonderfully fake without feeling fake. It reminded me of X-Men. Good actors, slick dialogue, and good special effects. Just like a good comic book.

I felt similarly about The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Of course, it was deeper because of C.S. Lewis, but I enjoyed the action and the pace. I will leave the deep thoughts for some other night. As my Dad says, "It kept me awake past midnight, it must have been pretty damn good."

Sex and the City did something I always wanted to try. It made a movie based on Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter." After watching it, I do not want to try anymore.

I am still young and dumb. I know very little about anything. But eventually one has to wake up and put childish things away. One has to "fuck the bullshit" and live life for happiness. Pride, the accumulation of fashion, and living like you are twenty lead to one looking like they have been "rode hard and put up wet." There is nothing prideful or fashionable or youthful about looking leathery. The women of Sex and the City look old and worn out, and in the end, they admit it.

It just took them too long to get there.

I Need A Jump Start

Blogging is useless. It is wasteful. It is intellectual masturbation for non-intellectuals. It is psychology without a professional. It is excessive. It is dangerous.

But I like it. Yes I do.

I wanted to write a "Why I Blog" post, but I could not come up with any reason other than "Some times I want to bitch and complain."

Some times I want to bitch and complain, and that is good enough for me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What I Learned Today, Email To Sam, And Thoughts On Experimental Economics

Sam said I needed to expand on these, but expansion is overrated.

1. Being professional and organized are the keys to success. It is all about time management and getting something done everyday.

2. Someone needs to really reexamine experimental economics. Levitt and List (2007) tried to do this, but they miss the point. Field experiments are as uninteresting and uninformative as laboratory experiments and econometric analysis on revealed preferences. McCloskey's rhetoric argument comes to mind. We are all telling stories. The beauty of stories is that at the end the reader defines what the moral (meaning) is.

3. I readily admit I am an idiot, but "bias" has no relevance in economics. This is also a big problem with experimental economics. The experimenter has to define "bias." This makes "bias" subjective.

4. I want to be an applied economist. I want to apply the "economic way of thinking" to relevant problems. Yes, "economic way of thinking" and relevant are subjective.

I will settle for a job that pays well and has good benefits.

Sports Thoughts

1. I could not watch the Pistons last night. I care too much. I do not like the Celtics, and I have a feeling that this is going to be a rough series for the Pistons.

2. The National League is getting screwed with this 16 versus 14 team alignment. You can take this argument further and break it down to divisions. A six team division versus a four team division. Is this a big deal? Probably not. But it bothers the hell out of me.

3. I am reading David Halberstram's The Education of a Coach about Bill Belechick. I still say it is about luck.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some Thoughts

1. Pat Jordan should write an article about Seth Greenberg. There is a classic shade of gray Jordan story there.

2. I cannot stand people saying "Well, you have the right to your opinion." What does that mean? If you do not agree with me, tell me why. If you are tired of arguing, then you must be wrong. This is as bad as saying "You are biased."

3. Some times the world seems fake. People seem fake. Existence seem fake. These times create religion. This is why people talk about "living for a higher cause." But that seems fake too. Reality has to be perception. Perception is all we have.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thinking, Time, The Next Five Minutes, Athletes And Other Shit

I stay away from others' comments. I read them. They make me feel self-important. I am saddened by this self-importance. So I stay away.

But in the last post some things came up. It is obvious I do not practice what I preach. One cannot blog at 9:49AM from his office about how important it is to to get up and go to work. This blog is not my work. It cannot be. I get paid to bullshit about integrated pest management in the United States. I do not get paid to blog.

This being said, my work requires me to have portfolio of ideas at all times. It requires me to read. It requires me to be up-to-date with things going on in the world around me. It allows me to examine many ideas and increase my "knowledge." Maybe allows is a better word.

I am a knowledge worker. I do not possess any physical skills. I do not perform manual labor. My "knowledge," my "human capital," my capacity to bullshit earns my salary. This is what college degrees do. They turn people into professional bullshitters.

I wish I could romanticize this fact. I cannot. All I can say is that "some of this bullshit is kind of cool."

To be good at anything, one has to focus. One has to concentrate on the task in front of him. He has to take control of the the next five minutes. Just the next five minutes, nothing else matters.
I agree with Jeff. Jim Brown would run that lily white motherfucker over. He would not think about it. He would just do it. I have to bullshit about integrated pest management well enough to get me a job.

I agree with Sam. I have to maintain a portfolio of ideas. This will be key to getting a job. A portfolio of ideas requires thinking. It does not require worrying. Worrying is a waste of time. I cannot continue to waste time. I cannot continue to have too much time on my hands. Life is much too short.

So I am going to quit fucking around. I was fortunate enough to be around some good athletes. The one common thread between all succesful athletes is training and focus. They train and focus to the point where they cannot worry. They gain knowledge in their training, but when they play, they just do. All they care about is the next play or event. All the other shit leaves their mind, and they just do.

I have been like this before, and I will be like it again. And I am going to stay away from others' comments.

"The trouble with talking
Is it makes you sound clever
The trouble with waiting
Is you’ll just wait forever

There’s a loop of excuses
That plays in your mind
And makes the truth
Even harder to find"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Successful People Have Done

And they got up in the the morning and went to work.

And they worked.

And they did not let others' perceptions cloud their work.

And they did not let their own perceptions cloud their work.

And they did not let depression stop their work.

And they integrated their experiences, their successes, and most importantly their failures into their work.

And when the day had ended and their work was done, they allowed the day to end and their work to be done.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Good Blog Post

Joe Posnanski's "Roses and Bosses."

Yeah, he is talking about Pete and Springsteen.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Again With Pat Jordan

"The end of innnocence" or what Major League Baseball is really about.

Being Here Versus Being There

Life requires focus. Well, the good life requires focus.

Life can only be lived now. The past does not matter. Past futures tell us that everything ends up alright. It gives us information, but that does not matter either. All we have is now. Every future depends on now, right now, the next second of your life. The next second is all that I control.

This is certainly not new information. It has been with us since the beginning. In fact, Jeff and GGM have said it better on this blog.

But it is the hardest lesson I have ever tried to learn. It is a lesson that I continuously forget. A lesson I have to relearn over and over again.

But everything ends up alright. That has to be good enough for me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cuba Is No Utopia

My dad is proven wrong.

When Texiera leaves next year, will Pena or McCann take over at first base?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Things I Learned This Afternoon

1. Shooting basketball, not playing, but just shooting does wonders for me. I start focusing on putting the ball just over the rim. I forget about how many I make. I just shoot. I have noticed younger guys (and maybe older guys too) do not feel this way. They want to play. They want to compete. They cannot see the value in focusing on putting the ball just over the rim.

2. A shower in the middle of the day especially warm days also does wonders for me. Feeling clean and refreshed is important to mental well-being. Some times morning showers just do not "take." Also, especially on warm days, a luke-warm to mildly cool shower makes you feel better than a hot shower because they "take" much better. It is hard at first to accept the cold water, but afterwards it does feel better.

Some More Good Sports Writing

Ray Allen is obsessive (via Bill Simmons).

The article reminded me of this post. The guys who are really good are different. As Coach Spencer used to say "They march to the beat of their own fucking drummer."

There is nothing wrong with being different.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


A: I don't trust non-parametric econometrics.

B: You mean you don't understand non-parametric econometrics.

A: No...I don't trust econometricians.

B: What do you mean? You don't trust people in general?

A: I don't trust anyone who analyzes data that they did not have any hand in creating. It just seems foolish. Why would anyone attempt to answer a question or understand a problem through someone else's eyes? There seems to be a step missing to me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Arnold Kling discusses academia.

One has to define success before he can achieve it.

Bitterness has destroyed many men. I have to do what I care about, what I am passionate about. There is no other way.

Now I have to discover what I care and am passionate about. Working on my resume has helped me realize this.

I am starting to understand that a resume is just as much about the future as it is the past.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bottled Water

I do not enjoy drinking water. I prefer diet soda.

I have tried. Sometimes I compromise with tea, coffee, and sugar-free drink mixes. But I always go back to diet soda.

Yesterday I bought a 24 pack of half-liter bottles of watter. I have done this before and will probably do it again. I usually use the bottles for the sugar-free drink mixes. It usually takes me three months to finish the 24 pack.

I am dehydrated. Dehydration leads to fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps. I consume too much caffeine. This worsens my acid reflux which rots my esophagus.

What do I do?

The answer is to drink water. No matter if it is from a bottle or the fountain. Just do it.

This post has no point but represents me recognizing a problem and attempting to correct it.

Postive Thoughts

Over The Rhine's "We’re Gonna Pull Through"

You take your own sweet time
Order us a glass of wine
And wink at all the rich folks in the room
We’re gonna pull through

We’ve been careful, we’ve been good
Doing most of the things we should
But the picture is much bigger than we knew
We’re gonna pull through

There’s no such thing as cool
And we’re gonna pull through

I’d rather feel your heat
On a wicked winter day
Than watch a holiday parade

With dancers and balloons
We’re gonna pull through

You hold me just the same way
Levon would play
And The Weight is my favorite song
We’re gonna pull through

Breaking our own rules
We’re gonna pull through

Maybe, sorta, kinda
If I really had to say
Something good is on its way
And we’re gonna pull through

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Football Story

Spence was a chiseled fullback. Two inches taller and he would have been Division I.

Stew was a sinewy cornerback. He was an all-conference long jumper, an above average Division III athlete.

I was an un-athletic center. A senior who had broke his leg as a junior. Now I could barely move to my left. I was always a step slow even for an offensive lineman. The leg made things worse.

It was Friday. Practice consisted of getting your uniform for Saturday’s game, screwing around, walking through tomorrow’s plans, screwing around, running when your special team was called, and screwing around some more. We then got in a circle, yelled “Win!” in unison, and went back to the locker room.

I had my cleats off. I stood up to take my shorts and jock off. My locker was next to Stew’s. He was 49. I was 50.

“You motherfucker!” Stew crashed into me, Spence on top of him shouting at the top of his lungs. My surgically repaired leg buckled. I barely scooted away in time.

Some other guys stepped into to break it up. I had no idea what the whole thing was about. It was not important.

Spence solidified his reputation as a truly crazy motherfucker. Stew remained a nice guy who had trouble knowing when to stop trying to be funny, a guy who won more accolades than Spence, but never earned the respect or fear from teammates that Spence did.

All I could think about was what if? What if my surgically repaired leg had snapped? What if I had been hurt? What if one of them had been seriously hurt?

I guess none of those things mattered after we won Saturday.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have To Win

When I was a senior in high school, I was the bench press king of the weight lifting class.

In February, I put up 300 pounds to put myself well-ahead of the offensive guard I played beside's 275. He played baseball, so he was not a threat for the rest of the year. The old coach rang a bell when someone put up 300. It was a nice moment.

(Our football program was going through a down period at the time. That is why these weights are a little low. We also had a very anti-supplement coach. I did not learn how to lift intelligently until college. I did not learn about nutrition until after college. Also many seniors quit lifting after football season and concentrated on curls and the things curls can bring a horny mannish-boy.)

But then in April, out of nowhere, a big ol' boy from the holler who was in the other class put up 300. I failed at 315.

The last max out was during the exam period. I maxed 315 on my second try. But the big ol' boy still had a chance to beat me the next day.

His class (and himself) decided to play basketball instead of maxing. I won by default.

A future Division I track prospect who did not lose in high school let me know of my championship. He said something to me like "You didn't want to win like that."

We had won only three football games total in my junior and senior years. I choked at the regional track meet and failed to make states. I replied "Sometimes you just have to fucking win."

I was a wise eighteen-year old.

Another Pat Jordan Story

Here it is.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What I See

I walk to the bus. I see people talking and texting on cell phones. I see different brands and features. I see cars. I see different brands, sizes, fuel requirements and social signals.

I do not see one kind of anything. I do not see optimality. I see opinions, some foolish, some intelligent.

Some people minimize risk. Some people do not give a damn about risk. Some people consider risk a "spice of life." Some people buy lottery tickets. Some people buy insurance. Some people buy both.

When there is no optimality, when there is no "best" answer, when we just do not know, what do we do?

I better do something.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Laziness Or Discpline

I fix turkey breakfast sausage for breakfast. I burn it. It is not enough for lunch.

Instead of spending money, I eat four inches of the cold turkey smoked sausage that I left in the office. I eat a couple raw almonds.

Come 6:00PM, I am starving. I miss the Kroger bus. I catch the 7:15PM "go home" bus. I cook some freezer burned chicken tenders and eat a salad. I have a chocolate ricotta Splenda dessert.

I feel fat, full, and content. I guess that is all one can ask out life.

Pat Jordan

I have to read A False Spring.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Am Slowly Learning To Deal With Life

I woke up this morning. I didn't know what to do.

I have things to do. I have things to mourn.

I get to the office after 9:00AM. I check my Email. I have more things to do.

More things to do doesn't make the things to mourn disappear.

"Rockin' In The Free World by Neil Young
There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin' their feet
People sleepin' in their shoes
But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead
Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them
So I try to forget it, any way I can.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

I see a woman in the night
With a baby in her hand
Under an old street light
Near a garbage can
Now she puts the kid away, and she's gone to get a hit
She hates her life, and what she's done to it
There's one more kid that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand
We got department stores and toilet paper
Got styrofoam boxes for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people, says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn, got roads to drive.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world."


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two Discoveries And Academic Writing

I listened to Rudy Ray Moore last night. I assure you it was an enlightening experience. I am laughing as I write this post.

I linked to some articles written by Pat Jordan after reading about him here. He is a "pull no punches" writer that knows and has played sports.

I read and enjoyed two Pat Jordan articles this morning. I labored through three academic articles this afternoon. I just do not understand the purpose of much academic writing. All of the important (if there are any important) things are listed in the abstract. The rest is just excruciating details about nothing, nothing whatsoever.

I bet the average readership (introduction to conclusion) of any academic article is less than twenty-five.

Could a popular writer make a living with this kind of readership?


1. I am in a graduate macroeconomics class. Our department head is teaching it. We get our first exam back. Like most of my classmates, I get less than 25% of the possible points. One student gets a very high percentage of the points. The department head is going over the test and made every thing seem simple. All the answers were based on straightforward game theory.

Except for the department head and the simplicity, this was a whole lot like my graduate macroeconomics class.

2. I am back in my 12th grade English class taking a test. I am with students I currently know. They keep talking to me. They won't shut up. I can't finish the test. Time is running out, and there is no way I am going to finish. People keep talking to me. I am freaking out.

I wake up and remember I do not have anymore classes to take. But this is a reoccurring dream.

3. The Virginia Tech basketball team makes the Final Four as a 10 seed. I keep saying they are no good. They only made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT. They are a 10 seed. But they make it to the Final Four.

Maybe this was a premonition about next year.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some Things I Have Learned

1. Cheap jeans are cheap. Cheap jeans cover your ass. They help with cash flow. But they are cheap. No one will ever make the cover of GQ wearing Wal-Mart jeans. I do not care about making the cover of GQ. I like cheap jeans for most purposes, but they are cheap.

2. My home computer works 3/4 of the time. My office computer works 5/6 of the time. That other 1/4 and 1/6 of the time has taken years off my life.

3. I have bought four generic phone chargers. Over the same time I have had one original Motorola charger. Motorola chargers are twice as expensive as generic chargers. My phone battery works 1/2 the time. The generic chargers have the tendency to constantly switch from charging to not charging when they begin to fail. I am sure this has not had a good effect on my battery. Again it is a cash flow issue.

4. To put these cash flow issues behind me, I have to work harder. Move forward. Move forward. Move forward.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Day

Most of my day consists of bullshit. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don't. And it really does not matter as long as I continue to subsist.

"What's Your Favorite Color?"* Or The Subjective Theory Of Value

Living Colour's "Open Letter"

(v. reid, additional lyrics by t. morris)

Now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see...

This is my neighborhood
This is where I come from
I call this place my home
You call this place a slum
You wanna run all the people out
This what you’re all about
Treat poor people just like trash
Turn around and make big cash

Chorus: now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see

Last month there was a fire
I saw seven children die
You sent flowers to their family
But your sympathy’s a lie
Cause every building that you burn
Is more blood money that you earn
We are forced to relocate
from the pain that you create


We lived here for so many years
Now this house is full of fear
For a profit you will take control
Where will all the older people go?
There used to be when kids could play
Without the scourge of drug’s decay
Now our kids are living dead
They crack and blow their lives away


You’ve got to fight
You’ve got a right
To fight for your neighborhood!

*Living Colour's "What's Your Favorite Color"

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I Almost Bought A Honda Fit

But I am going to think about it some more. The sales person assures me it will be gone tomorrow, but we will see.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Two Other Thoughts

1. One of my first sports memories is Danny Manning and Kansas winning the NCAA Championship. I remember wanting to be like Danny Manning. He was a stud during that tournament. I was indifferent about the game last night, but as a kid with my first name, the Jayhawks was the coolest nickname I had ever heard when I was six.

2. All the President's Men is getting good. It is starting to mess with my sleep pattern as I race to finish it. I am beginning to understand why Nixon was so hated. I also do not understand why Bob Dole ever had any political success after 1973. There is no integrity in politics or reporting. It reminds me a whole lot of academia.

Thoughts While Working On My Resume

I couldn't write this post without being overly pessimistic or optimistic, so I will copy something from Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Almost Home":

"I saw my life this morning
Lyin' at the bottom of a drawer
All this stuff I'm savin'
God knows what this junk is for
And whatever I believed in
This is all I have to show
What the hell were all the reasons
For holding on for such dear life

Here's where I let go"

That is just the right mix of optimism and pessimism.

I also like her "Stones in the Road."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion. "

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I Almost Had A Sunday Night Freakout

But then I ate some dark chocolate.

Move forward. Move forward. Move forward.

And for the record, I am a bitter person. I do not like seeing other people happy. Sometimes I say I do not like seeing people delude themselves. But it really comes down to not wanting them to be happy.

I have become so self-loathsome that I cannot stand seeing other people happy.

In many respects this has been a good week for me, but this realization has kind of slapped me in the face.

Move forward. Move forward. Move forward.

Something To Say Or Nothing To Say But I Write Anyway

The other morning I set three alarm clocks. I usually do not set any. But the other morning was important. I spaced the alarm times just to make sure I did not hit snooze and forget.

My atomic alarm clock reset itself to pacific time in the middle of night. (I might have hit an incorrect button, but it is atomic time, it should know what time zone without me programming it.) This was my first alarm.

My phone had no signal, so it couldn't connect to the network or register a time. This was my second alarm.

Now my 20 year old AM clock radio saved the day.

I am certainly not some nut who says we depend too much on technology, but the whole thing made me wonder.

Paul Simon says it well.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Just Seems Appropriate

Pride (In The Name Of Love)
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you...)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love...

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thunder cloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Rain down him
So let it be
So let it be

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thundercloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Let it rain
Rain on him

From this site.

"You Don't Need Those Last Few Lessons"* Or Thoughts As The Weekend Approaches

1. Acid reflux cannot be a new disease. People must have dealt with it in the past. They must have found ways to live with it. I think my Grandfather had it, and he lived to be 85. Yes, I have stopped taking Prilosec, and I feel fine.

2. I want to wake up in the middle of night worried about making Friday's payroll. They say Bill Gates still does this. I want responsibility. I want to care. I want to create wealth. I want to create a happy family. These are the things that make getting up in the morning worth it.

3. Economists see individuals and incentives. Health-care providers see sick people. The reconciliation of these two views will not occur over-night. It might never occur. But good economists see sick people, and good health-care providers see individuals and incentives.

4. Voluntary forbearance and appreciating voluntary forbearance separates adults from children.

5. Sometimes I don't know if I am starting or finishing. But I do know it doesn't matter either way.

6. When the Yankees came to Virginia Tech they rationed tickets off by a lottery. Students who were not even here last year got to go to the game. The lottery as a rationing device is foolish. But I do not have the energy or time to rant against it.

*Jackson Browne