June 29, 2006

Just for the record

It hailed for like five minutes last night. Isn't it supposed to be summer? Looks like we're safe on the rain front tonight, which is good. I hope that the east coast flooding lets up so that everyone can go back home.

June 28, 2006

Giving it Away

So Warren Buffett has decided to give away 85% of his fortune, much of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Much has been made of this, as he's foregone creating his own foundation on the grounds that the infrastructure and capital expense required to do so would take away from the good his money could do. It's an intriguing idea, and one that shows Buffett's typical lack of vanity. He seems to have little desire to have a bunch of stuff named after him.

This is all interesting, but to me, the most intriguing part is his rationale for not having been much of a philanthropist up until this point. He rightly believes that giving away 2 million (for example) is better than giving away 1 million. He's proven himself to be one of the best in the world at growing his money, so he can ultimately do the most good by trusting himself to raise the money. This has led to his current estimated 44 billion dollar fortune, which he is now starting to distribute. Of course, this isn't a blanket excuse for people to avoid philanthropy, because most of us don't have Buffett's knack for growing money, and because it's all contingent on eventually giving it away. Holding off on philanthropy so you can buy a bigger boat isn't really the same idea.

To close, I'll leave you with my favorite part of it all: During the ceremony announcing all of this, the 75 year old Buffett stated that he thought he should act before he reached the age where he might sign a letter that began "Dear Anna Nicole Smith..." (via Slate)

I missed

Well, I didn't make it. I missed blogging yesterday. I had a great topic all picked out, but then I started cooking my gyros, and then Janet was using the computer, and then it was bedtime. Anyhow, I'll make up for it with two posts today.

First, the Gyrobike. Invented by college students for a class, it's designed to help kids keep from falling while learning good riding habits. If you start to wobble on a bike, you should steer into the fall, which is natural for you and me, but not necessarily to a six year old. On a bicycle moving at a normal speed, the wheels act as a stabilizing gyroscopic force, aiding with balance, but at slow speeds, the force is less, so there is less stability. Just try riding slow, then fast, and tell me which is easier. Anyhow, the mechanism on the Gyrobike simulates a higher speed for the front wheel, thus adding stability at the slow speeds at which new riders typically ride.

More to come later.

June 26, 2006

Site Redesign

In lieu of a long, drawn out post today on nothing of consequence, I've redone the site design. Well, I downloaded a template, messed with the top graphic, and changed the text color to be more readable. Enjoy, and...

I'm no one to be trifled with.
-Dread Pirate Roberts

June 25, 2006

Things that are elegant in their simplicity

but first, if you want to be on my newsletter mailing list for Strider Wrestling, follow the previous link and enter your email. Some of you reading this might be on my initial list anyways, so if you don't sign up, you might get one. The first issue will come out this week and every other week (or so) after that.

On with the list

1. Ohm's Law
2. Paperclips
3. The trap under your sink
4. The Club
5. Nike Swoosh
6. A baseball diamond

Any other suggestions?

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
-Albert Einstein

June 24, 2006

An Original Idea

I told Janet the other day that I don't have any original ideas, or at least none of consequence. Even the one good idea I had, the one about going back to college with all my experience and pretending to be a 19 year old freshman for a year has been done, though not as well as I could have, since the author of that one made no effort to hide her real identity, as she was a middle-aged woman living in the dorm. That's harder to explain away than a receding hairline.

So, now I go back and think about what I know. Wrestling, Engineering, Baseball, College. There's not a lot there for me to start with. Part of my problem is that I would love to do some sort of analytical research on wrestling similar to what's been done with baseball, but wrestling is so varied and features such small sample sizes that it's nearly, if not totally, impossible. Especially in Division III, if I wanted to do some sort of study correlating high school accomplishments with college success, the records required are non-existent or impossible to access, at least in the numbers necessary to draw meaningful conclusions. I think if I could get the data and analyze it, there might be some conclusions to draw about what to look for in high school wrestlers that indicates future success. If this data was available in scholarship-granting divisions, it would be even more valuable, as there's actual money involved there. At Wheaton, we have some minor control over who gets in, but all that gets a kid is the right to spend a whole lot of his or his parents' money.

June 23, 2006

Timeline

I was in a discussion on a message board about wrestling, and I tried to argue that wrestling's quality is as high as it's ever been for a lot of reasons, and I used two examples to help my point. First, I explained that the typical winning time in the 100 freestyle in a high school girls regional swim meet would have won the men's Olympic gold medal in any year up to 1924, and I also explained why Babe Ruth, who swung a 42 inch bat and had never heard of a slider would struggle in today's major leagues. This ticked some people off, and I'm giving a better explanation here, on day two of my committed seven straight days of blogging.

Here is a partial list of things that have changed since the 1920s and 1930s that might make a difference here: integration, international scouting, modern bullpen usage, slider, split-fingered fastball, cut fastball, modern medical techniques, modern strength and aerobic training, standardization of coaching, organized minor leagues, the internet, video study of pitchers/hitters, bigger players, faster players, stronger players.

And that list just applies to baseball. In other sports, the same thing holds. Watch video of old wrestlers and you will quickly come to the conclusion that these guys would have little chance against today's All-Americans. The world record in the 100m dash continues to go down. Look at the following chart of the progression of the world record in this event:

Why wouldn't this hold true in other sports? It's harder to see in other sports because the enemy is more than just the clock, it's the other athletes against you, and they are improved over their predecessors as well. I might be a better baseball player than every player in 1915 (not likely), but that means nothing if I can't get hits or strike guys out in 2006. It's called the timeline adjustment, and it doesn't result in favorable outcomes for athletes from long ago, but that's ok, the athletes only could compete in the era in which they lived. That's why we can call Ruth the greatest player ever because of what he did in the opportunities given him against the competition available. Saying that Randy Johnson would strike him out on three pitches is neither inaccurate nor a slight to the Babe's talents, it's just the way things go. Maybe 80 years from now, the great grandchilren of today's baseball anaylsts will say the same things about Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and Manny Ramirez.

June 22, 2006

Quick Story

Yesterday I jokingly told Janet that I have street cred. Her response: "You listen to classic rock."

Back on the blogging horse

I really need to do a better job blogging more regularly. I'm going to try really hard to write every day for the next week. We'll see how that goes.

Anyhow, today, I will regale you with tales of my investing. I bought some stock the past two weeks; the first individual stocks I've ever owned, so it's a big time. I already had owned an index fund tracking the S&P 500 plus what was in my 401(k). I bought a subscription to the Motley Fool Stock Advisor, and they're helping me pick with their two picks per month (plus past recommendations). Here's what I've got so far (the links are to each company's page on Yahoo! Finance):
Shuffle Master - one of TMF's June picks, they make casino equipment
Netflix - one of their July picks, they're projected to gain 25% more subscribers per year for a while
Starbucks - a market giant just getting into China
eBay - they have no competition and get more popular every day
HRPT Properties Trust - an REIT that invests in office buildings that is currently paying an 8% dividend

This might not be the best market right now, but we're in it for the long haul.

June 20, 2006

World Cup and NBA Finals

Both of these events are going on right now, though the NBA finals could be over by the time you read this. I haven't watched much of either, though I've actually caught more of World Cup, unfortunately, due to the televisions in front of the treadmill.

There's a strange sort of symmetry between these two events, and neither side comes out looking good. On the one hand, every time Dwyane Wade (yes that's how he spells his first name) drives the lane, the officials call a foul, even when he isn't touched, at least in one game-critical instance this week when ABC tried in vain to find a camera angle showing contact. The officiaing has been out of control according to most observers, where stars get special treatment, and fouls are called with little rhyme or reason. You would think the NBA could do better for its showcase event.

On the other hand, there's World Cup soccer. An article I read mentioned what I'm about to say, and it's all I can think about when I watch now. These guys can't go 2 minutes without someone taking a dive. Any incidental contact is cause for the contacted party to act like he was hit by a car. Sometimes the ref calls a foul, other times he lets it go, but it happens all the time. No sport featuring this little scoring and falling down on purpose as a major part of the game will ever go mainstream in America.

One sport features terrible officiating on fouls, and the other features players who, rather than play through and try to score, would rather fake an injury or a trip. Neither is appealing to watch when that part of the game takes over.

A quick aside on soccer: I've watched it, I've played it, I've known people who love it, but I will never, ever get it. Ninety minutes with that little meaningful action just doesn't get me going. Why Christians decided this was their sport is beyond me. Sure, wrestling has its occasional 1-0 or 1-1 boring match, but it's over in 10 minutes or less and you go on to the next thing.

June 15, 2006

On Notice

Just like Stephen Colbert, here's my list of who is On Notice:

1. Angry Chick Music
2. The State of New Jersey
3. People who don't use crosswalks
4. Mark Teixeira
5. The Eisenhower Expressway
6. Air Conditioning
7. Anyone named Schuyler, Skylar, Skyler or any other way you spell it
8. Dvorak Keyboards
9. Ed Bernanke
10. Tap Water

June 13, 2006

Ring Tones in School

Here's a short article about high school kids and their cell phones:

NEW YORK - Students are using a new ring tone to receive messages in class -- and many teachers can't even hear the ring.

Some students are downloading a ring tone off the Internet that is too high-pitched to be heard by most adults. With it, high schoolers can receive text message alerts on their cell phones without the teacher knowing.

As people age, many develop what's known as aging ear -- a loss of the ability to hear higher-frequency sounds.

The ring tone is a spin-off of technology that was originally meant to repel teenagers -- not help them. A Welsh security company developed the tone to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected. The company called their product the "Mosquito."

Donna Lewis, a teacher in Manhattan, says her colleague played the ring for a classroom of first-graders -- and all of them could hear it, while the adults couldn't hear anything.
I think if I were a high school teacher, I'd consider banning cell phones from my classroom.

June 11, 2006

June 7, 2006

2nd Period Fall

So I wrestled a match on Saturday. I signed up for an NHSCA qualifying tournament and showed up, hoping at least one person would be in my weight class. Well, one person was, and we wrestled. I didn't get much of a warmup, so it took me a while to get going. I almost gave up a takedown, but managed to avoid it by going out of bounds. Then, I scored with an inside trip from a front headlock and an underhook. In the second period, I escaped right away, then performed a go-behind off his shot and picked up his right leg when he stood up. I dumped him to his back for a two count, secured the Navy ride, then lifted his leg up, transitioning to a low leg cradle for the fall. Then I called it a day and went home, after picking up luch at Chipotle.

It was good to win, but it was a little unsatisfying, as my opponent stood way far away the whole time, only coming close to shoot. I was hoping to mix it up a bit more inside. The important thing is that I won, thus running my post-college record in all styles and at all venues to 8-2, if my memory is worth anything.

Here I am back in my younger days: