Tag Archive for Observed

Halloween 2014

Another Halloween has come and gone. Unfortunately it was kind of a let-down as the number of kids was the lowest ever. However, I can say the kids were quite polite, most saying “trick-or-treat” and “thank you.” And all loved that I give out full size candy bars.

In years past Nadia and I would trade answering the door. But, as Nadia had to work it was left to me. So, what do I do? I make a game out of it for me! Since I couldn’t play my typical computer games as there isn’t pause when you’re playing against others online.

No, I wasn’t mean to the kids. Instead I took stats – YES! Stats are fun to me (to a point). Costumes? No, though zombies seemed most popular (more so with the girls than boys). Number of boys vs. girls? No, and I think there were more girls. Parent / older sibling escorts vs. not? No, but I think more with escorts than not. I kept it simple: what time and how many kids. And here are the results:

First arrival: 6:19 pm
Last arrival: 8:32 pm
Total visits: 13
Total kids: 30
Average kids per visit: 2.31
Median: 2
Mode: 2

Visits & Kids per visit for 2014 Halloween

Visits & Kids per visit for 2014 Halloween

Shockingly, not only did we not run out of candy, but I think I gave out less than half, and that includes two pieces I gave to two adults (not included in numbers above). I even bought slightly less than the last few years!

I do feel bad though, as I was closing the door I heard a girl give a squeal of excitement that she got a Snickers, but she actually got a Milky Way – similar colored packaging, but very different candy bars.

Take away: I don’t know if I should bother with candy next year.

Vegas, It’s Magic

I like Las Vegas. I’ve gone there many times – all but two times under the guise of having fun. Gambling. Surprise birthday party. Wedding. Hanging out with friends. And most recently a surprise anniversary trip – the anniversary wasn’t the surprise, the destination and what we did were.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Well, I’m too tame to have anything crazy happen so I’m going to boast of the luck I’ve had in Vegas when it comes to magic shows.

2010 – David Copperfield made me (and several others) disappear! Show Info
Not only was this my first Vegas show after so many trips, but I was able to be part of the group of people he made go poof! He called me Dr. Evil on stage, that was funny. He had us all sit in some chairs onstage, covered us up, a little hocus pocus, and we appeared at the back of the room. Do I know how he did it, yes. Did he pay us or have us sign something to keep quite, no. Did he ask us out of respect to keep quite, yes. Will I keep quite, yes. I haven’t told my wife and I won’t tell you. (As it was the final illusion he came to the room we were in and talked to us for a couple of minutes.)

He did give us an autographed photo, but as my mother-in-law is a huge fan I was too happy to let her have it.

2014 – Murray Celebrity Magician Show Info
My wife and I watch Pawn Stars and when we saw he had a show at the Tropicana we decided to go on a whim. It was a Sunday and not a full room, but we were up close and it was so fun. Was I part of any trick? Alas, I was not, if only I had thrown my flip flop at him when he asked for a left shoe I could have been part of a card trick as well as have my foot warmed by a pink slipper the entire show. But I hesitated. But, we did get to meet him after the show and Nadia got a picture with him!


Murray posing with Nadia after the show!

2014 – Penn & Teller made my phone disappear (and thankfully) reappear! Show Info
My second planned magic show I saw in Vegas and lo and behold I was selected by Teller from the audience for one of the first illusions. After getting on stage I handed my phone to Penn. He had my wife – in the audience – call the phone and had a brief conversation with her. He started the video recording for my viewing after the show so I’d know how the trick worked. After a fun introduction and me striking a pose, Penn did some abracadabra and *poof* my phone was gone, later reappearing inside the oddest thing from an unexpected location. After watching the video of course I know how it’s done. Was I asked to sign anything to keep quite, nope. Did they imply (or I infer) that the video was for me, yes. As I respect the craft I do keep secrets.

I cut the video where I did because I liked my pose there at the end and the trick is about to start. I don’t want to show or describe much of the trick because like Copperfield and Murray, and I’m sure many others, Penn & Teller’s show is worth seeing live, so why see any part of the trick from my camera’s point of view?

Take away: Vegas, it’s not just for gambling.

You Went to MIT… Big Deal

Several years ago I learned MIT has some video learning courses you can watch without paying the tuition. And, as I’m kind of a nerd I decided to watch some of them. Which ones? A finance master-level class, solid state chemistry, principles of chemical science, and a few others.

I’ll admit I don’t comprehend everything said as I’m not paying full attention – so it’s just as if I were there – but I’m also not reading the book, studying, or going for a degree so it doesn’t really matter. In one of the classes a multiple choice question was asked, with equivalent answers:

Q: Which of these equations equal 1?
a. 2 – 1
b. 2 / 2
c. 0 + 1
d. 5 + 6 – 10
e. a, b, and c are correct
f. a, b, c, and d are correct

Of course the question was much harder, it is college. Results… 30% of the students said e and 58% of the students said f. The teacher felt that because e is a subset of f, that most of the students got it correct. But doesn’t selecting e imply that d is incorrect?

Following her logic, as a, b, c, and d are each correct and if you add up the responses to a, b, c, d, e, and f everyone technically got it correct; the only way to not get the question correct would be to either not answer it or writing in your own answer (um, not an option in multiple choice).

For multiple choice questions I was always told to choose the ‘most correct’ answer when compared to others. In my example a, b, c, and d are all as correct as each other, e is more correct because you recognize several are the correct answer (though, implying one is incorrect), and f is even more correct than e because you recognize all are correct.

Heck, when I took Calculus in college I had quizzes with five questions I had to take regularly. We never have ‘All of the Above’ as an option, just three to five options and sometimes a ‘None of the Above’. The catch? We had to select ALL answers which were correct. That means solving the problem, and then solving each answer to see if they were equivalent to the problem. If I got two of the three options correct I still missed the problem.

Take away: it’s OK to tell students they’re wrong if they don’t give a full answer.

Amazon: Prime vs. Basic Account

Is Amazon Prime worth the $85 / year premium? Some of the pros include free 2-day shipping, access to their version of Netflix, and even the ability to “borrow” a book from their Kindle library. Some nice perks.

My wife and I decided to try it this year and have it on her amazon account as it has her kindle associated to it whereas I just buy stuff every so often. And in the last few months I’ve noticed something. Sometimes things cost more on her Prime account vs. my non-Prime account – even when shipping (digital downloads or free anyway or super-saver shipping) and taxes (we live at the same address) are not factors.

You did not read that wrong, sometimes things cost more on her Prime account than my basic account. My most recent discovery is for MS Office 2010. No image editing was done. I found the product, CTRL+clicked it (new tab), logged in to each each account and refreshed the page. You will see a different number of tabs, but that’s because I originally was going to do a side-by-side screenshot. However, I decided a full screen image was better so you can see the URLs are identical, only the accounts (and resulting cart) were different. All of this was done in the same browser (yes, there is browser-based pricing out there) and first I hit my account, then hers, then mine all within 1 minutes so it wasn’t a timing issue either.

If you’re curious, the price shown when you aren’t even logged in is the cheaper price. Sure, it’s just $4.53 for this product and it’s not necessarily every product they have different prices for, but with the number of products they have and the number of Prime users they have (10,000,000 as of 3/11/2013) it adds up for them and you.

Amazon non-Prime Account

Amazon non-Prime Account Pricing

Amazon Prime Account

Amazon Prime Account Pricing

Take away: if you plan to have an Amazon Prime account, make a second basic Amazon account for when shipping doesn’t matter.



Since when?
© thehamiltonian.net

Just the other night my wife and I went to the Kelly Clarkson (for me) and Maroon 5 (for her) concert at Fiddler’s Green. They were great. I can’t say anything about the opening act because for roughly an hour I was in line for food.

It’s not that the line was that long but Fiddler’s Green did not supply their concession people some sort of register or calculator, so the concessioneers resorted to using their own cell phones. I understand they want to make sure they get the amounts correct because they may be liable for any shortage, but they were adding numbers rounded to quarters and sales tax was included. But after getting incorrect change twice, both times in my favor, I’m very scared for the future of our country.

My first purchase was a soda (for me) and a beer (for her). The drink lady actually did the mental math correctly: $5.50 + $9.75 = $15.25. But when I gave her $20.25 she stumbled and gave me $6 back, I gave her the dollar and she realized her mistake. There was no line, she was friendly, and she didn’t actually seem like an idiot so no big deal.

My second purchase was for a hamburger combo (for me) and a hot dog combo (for her). I chose the combos for two reasons, first, it was cheaper than individual items, second, they were $12 and $11 so the math was easy. (This is the line I stood in for an hour with maybe 15 people ahead of me to start!) Immediately the person goes to his phone and starts looking up the prices on the cheat sheet. I informed him it was $23 but he gave me a dirty look and said, rudely, “I have to do this.”

“OK, just trying to help you out on $11 plus $12.”

No reply. But he accepted my $25 payment and started to get my order ready. He finally gave me my change: $3. I took a dollar and put it on the counter and said, “you might want this.”

“A tip?”

“No, but now I have the correct change.”

He then proceeded to fill my order, after asking me what the second item was. After receiving all the food and a drink he gave me the look of, “OK, we’re done.” I asked about the second drink as I ordered two combos and I got a mixed answer of “oh right” and “don’t tell me how to do my job.”

I’ll admit, I have a horrible short-term memory (ask my wife), but I’m going to be able to fill your order fully and not be a jerk about it.

Take away: great concert, meh food, worse service.