THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Could Tell You (But I'd Have to Kill You)

Ever find yourself chock full of a piece of information you desperately wish you could share with your friends but that for one reason or another you can't? For example, have you been at a dinner on a job interview and the friend that recommended you to the hiring committee has a big hunk of avocado stuck against his gum and his eye tooth, but you are just sure the manager responsible for deciding whether to hire you or not would not be pleased to be interrupted by you just to protect your friend from some mild embarrassment?

Only the information you have is perhaps a million times more important? (Espionage and international intrigue come to mind, no?)

Well, if you do, behave with honor. Call your friend and tell him that you have an extremely valuable piece of information but that you can't divulge it. That's what I recommend. Misery loves company.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Quote of the Day - Part 1

"It's like wearing a towel but with pockets, and it's legal."

That's right. He went there. In this article extolling (inadequately) the virtues of that ancient Scottish garment, the kilt.

Then enjoy this Lifestyle Guide for Wearers of Kilts. Confidence is high loyal readers will find clicking through to that link worthwhile.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

On Architecture of Note - Part 1

This Turning Torso building over in Sweden looks pretty pretty neat. And this website is a pretty fun way to learn about it.

Someplace on there (I couldn't provide a direct URL because I think the site is in flash or something) you can look at the views from each of the "living" cubes (cubes 3 through 9). The views of the Oresund strait and Denmark are - in my humble opinion - by far the superior views. Shipping commerce probably makes for some decent scenery. Especially as blue as that water looks.

Check it out.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I'd Have Gas ...

... If I Could Afford It.

Plenty of ink has been spilled recently about the price of gasoline here in these United States. And, predictably, one theme is the universal cure-all, the new "prayer", the exhortation:
  • The Government Should Do Something About This.

According to Harris Poll #66, released August 24, 2005, gas prices are one of the top five issues Americans want the federal government to address. Ten percent of Americans now believe that the price of gas is the most important issue for the federal government to tackle when Congress goes back to work in September.

Well, knock me over with a peacock feather, friends, because I would like to pay less at the pump too. And I know that there is something "the government" could do tomorrow to cut the price of gas by at least twenty percent (20%).

State, federal, county, local, whatever. The government's already got its greedy, sticky fingers over twice as deep in our pockets as Egypt did the Israelites (according to the Book of Genesis - and Gary North). And it is probably even worse than that by the time you roll in sales tax, property tax, and all the other basis points raked out of our souls by Your Benevolent Government. Easy come, easy go.

So, in the coming weeks, every time you hear one of our "public servants" throw up its hands - literally or rhetorically - and claim to be unable to help, do like me. Call them a Big Stinking Liar and spit on the sidewalk. Right then and there.

Or resume the position.

(I say this because of course that twenty-some percent of the price of a gallon of gasoline we pay subsidizes somebody and something. And those somebodies won't take it lying down. They'll complain. And people will be sympathetic. Legislators (other than Ron Paul) will lack the resolve. Policymakers will be frozen in their tracks. Deer in the headlights.)

The tyrants have taken over the asylum.

"Thank you, Sir. May I have another?"

Friday, August 26, 2005

On the Mating Habits of Cock-a-roaches - Part 2

Thanks to budget cuts (I presume) here at the building in which I toil, I am able to follow up with you gentle readers about the fate of the cockroach I have labeled female. (There's a post down below about this entitled "A Cockroach Orange". Go there. Read it.)

Some 10 hours after the first sighting, as I was leaving the office for the day, there she was, still flat on her back. Still wiggling her antennae back and forth. But where was he? Nowhere to be found. His lack of loyalty disgusts me. Next time I see him, he's getting squashed. Probably he just found some younger, more vibrant female cockroach who wasn't stuck on her back and scuttled off with her for some time between the floorboards (if you catch my drift).


Cockroaches don't mate for life. At least not any more than humans do.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lilliputian Hot Rods

Well, this is really something. Talk about a tiny car.

  1. BMW Isetta
  2. Dude climbing out of a BMW Isetta.

And two shots of this one:

  1. Isetta, open.
  2. Isetta, closed.

I would've loved to have one of those in college. It would have gone nicely with my success with the ladies (i.e., no need for a back seat!).

I'm Sorry, I Don't Speak Jive

"I'm just kind of hanging loose, as they say."

That can't be good for morale.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Casual Greeting Goof

What fun it can be to talk to people from your office desk while they are driving in their car. Just now as I was signing off with someone, I intoned: "OK, drive safe." And the person with whom I was speaking replied - to my amusement - "Thanks, you too."

That's no "you too, dude", but it'll have to do for a Wednesday.

A Cockroach Orange

Do cockroaches mate for life? I'm talking about cockroaches in Texas. Not those puny little things that pass for cockroaches up in the midwest. Down here in Texas, these creatures are of significant size. When you step on one of these Texas cockroaches, and this is no bull, some of the cockroach sticks out from both sides of your shoe. Even if you're walking around on size 10s.

But I digress ...

This morning I observed, at the very bottom of the stairs from the parking garage in our building to the main lobby, two cockroaches. One was extremely large and fairly aggressive. The male of the couple, I believe. He was upright and on his feet. He looked like he was guarding the other. He scuttled around and put his body between me and the other cockroach as I walked past. The other cockroach was the female of the couple, I believe. She was flat on her back, struggling. His devotion was touching, so I let him live. Plus I didn't want all that cockroach goop and guts on the bottom of my shoes. That is disgusting.

We get a few of these cockroaches in the house every month. Everybody down here does. They don't infest the place. They just show up from time to time. Generally when you find one, they're lying on their back and they lie there motionless. Sometimes they're dead when you find them, but sometimes they're just lying there motionless. When it's that option (i.e., they're just lying there motionless), and you go to scoop them up into a dustpan or a trash bag or something, it's always startling. If you accidentally flip 'em back onto their feet, they make their move - survival instincts - and they are very speedy. And (again) disgusting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Top 10 List

Here's the list of the ten most-played songs on my iTunes here at the office as of today (though note that Suitcase by Over the Rhine is on 43 plays and currently playing on repeat, so this is sure to change by the time you read this):
  1. White Flag - Dido (117 plays)
  2. Independence Day - Springsteen (94 plays)
  3. Dublin Blues - Guy Clark (82 plays)
  4. Lua - Bright Eyes (73 plays)
  5. World of Dreams - Peter Mayer (60 plays)
  6. George - Southpaw Jones (58 plays)
  7. The Scientist - Coldplay (54 plays)
  8. Like a Miracle - Rose Polenzani (46 plays)
  9. Pink Emerson Radio - Kathleen Edwards (44 plays)
  10. My Wild Irish Rose - Keith Jarrett (44 plays)

Rhyming & Stealing ... (a poker story)

Back on the $.5/1 limit tables last night I had an entertaining experience. For a change I outplayed an opponent - in consecutive hands. The events played out in an unfavorable way for him, both times. Here's what happened ...


    • HAND #1.

    I was on the button with A9 offsuit. Everybody folded to me. I don't like A9 offsuit, but with that hand and up against just the blinds, raising is basically automatic. So I raised. Only the big blind called (probably correctly assuming I was mostly raising to try to steal the blinds). All of the cards on all of the streets were rags - no likely straights, no likely flushes either. Big blind checked every street and I checked right behind him. He showed K7 offsuit (I don't like his calling my raise with that hand. I would just let it go. Chances are his hand is worse than mine and he's out of position. Chris - do you disagree?), and I dragged the small pot.

    • HAND #2 (the very next hand).

    I was in the cutoff seat (one to the right of the button) with KQ offsuit. Again, everybody folded around to me. KQ offsuit is a considerably better hand than A9 offsuit, so I was considerably happier to be raising in what looked like a play to steal the blinds again. The button and the big blind folded. My opponent on Hand #1 was in the small blind this time, and he called my raise (given what happened the last hand, I was sure he thought I was trying to steal again).

    The flop was 7c - 10c - Q. The small blind bet out and I raised (top pair, good kicker). He called. The turn was a K (not of clubs). The small blind bet out again, I raised again, and he called (I was raising here with top two pair. I was a little anxious about this - as I tend to be - because he could have had a straight, but I thought he probably would have re-raised before the flop if he had AJ.).

    The river was a low club, making a flush possible. The small blind bet out again, I raised again, he called again, and I won the pot. He had paired 10s on the flop and bet into me all the way and called my raises all the way. His call before the flop was terrible even if I was trying to steal - he had 10-4 of hearts. As far as my raise on the river, that's more aggressive than I normally am. I still had top two pair, but I thought it was a considerably riskier raise with the flush possibility out there. But I thought he just thought I was trying to steal, and didn't have a big hand. So I felt OK about raising again since I actually had a pretty good hand.


    I had a nice run of luck here to not have him pair up on Hand #1. I'm sure my playing Hand #1 so weak and slow actually worked out (although I know that's not recommended play) to make Hand #2 quite a bit more profitable for me than it would otherwise have been. If I'd have bet out on Hand #1 like you're supposed to after raising, he probably would have folded. And then I wouldn't have had to show my A9 offsuit and put in his brain that I was trying to steal his blinds.

    Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting and pretty entertaining. At least this time I got to be the hero!

    On Favorite Songs, Suddenly Remembered.

    What a wonderful day. I just remembered how much I love to listen to the song I Remember Me by the Silver Jews. A friend emailed it to me shortly after the album was released. I listened to it over and over and over and over again in the dark days prior to iTunes becoming popular. And the tech guys deleted all my mp3 files during an upgrade of our computers here at the office. And I didn't remember that song until just this morning. And then in a sudden flash I realized I had this ache from missing listening to a song that that friend had shared with me. So I called him up. And together we figured out what song it was. And I promptly invested $0.99 at my friendly neighborhood iTunes and have been listening to that song over and over again ever since. What a wonderful day!

    • Incidentally, my favorite line in the song is the line about "the sunshine walking inside" the woman. What a great line. What a great image.

    p.s. Yes, I know that $0.99 compounded at 15% for 40 years is $265.18. Today, it was worth it. I remember you .... and I remember me .... sing sing sing!

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Poker Chip Riffling - Update #1

    Quick update. My poker chip riffling is improving fairly dramatically. I can riffle two stacks of four and five chips successfully well over 80% of the time. I can riffle two stacks of six chips successfully at least 50% of the time.

    And - Cheese, this part is for you - I managed to riffle two stacks of seven chips successfully enough times in a row to scramble them and then un-scramble them. That sounds like a significantly greater achievement than it actually was. It only took 4 consecutive successful riffles to get them to unscramble. Which struck me as a very peculiar result. So I did it a few more times and them is the facts. It takes 4 successful riffles to scramble and unscramble two stacks of seven poker chips.

    You heard it here. Not first, I'm sure. But anyway ...

    Get the Door, Wheezy (Band Review - Part 1)

    I would just like to file the following review of the band Weezer:

    • They blow apples. Their only good song is that sweater song that was popular back in the mid-1990s.

    On "Hot Tips" - Part 1

    I am spending some time thinking about investing this morning. Browsing around on the internet for some new materials to read. Need to get that part of my brain geared back up again (and need to slow the part of my brain that just wants to play limit poker for pennies down as well). Today's thought about this stuff is this - related to (as indicated in the subject heading above) "hot tips".

    There are some famous investors who guard their investment ideas very, very jealously. This is understandable to me only to the extent that such investors have not yet taken all of the position they want to take at a particular point in time. By this I mean, that of course if there were people who would be interested to know what stocks I am picking (to date, please note, there are not - and thank goodness for them), and those people could learn that I have identified XYZ Corporation as a beaten-down stock that merits investigation as a possible value investing choice, well then it would be bad for me because presumably they would be more likely to purchase shares in XYZ than if they didn't know I was interested in it, and that might drive the price of XYZ shares up out of the "value" range. But once I've taken my position, it doesn't make any sense at all to me that investors continue to jealously guard their investment choices. On the contrary, it would seem to be more financially beneficial for investors to talk fairly freely about their investment choices after their position was established. Perhaps people would follow them in and drive up the value of their position. This would be a good thing.

    One countervailing idea of course is that if people know what you're investing in, people can ascertain whether you're doing any good or not. And it's even possible people will want to reprimand or ridicule you for making a bad choice. So adding an emotional element to the investing game. And it has been demonstrated that emotions are anathema to sound investment decisions.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    On Achievements - Part 1

    Finally. Or, as Etta James would say, "At Last." I just juggled 5 balls for a little over 1000 catches. At 1:55 this afternoon, I hadn't achieved that goal. A little over 4 minutes later, I had. Isn't America a great country?

    I'll be updating my personal juggling records here in just a few minutes.
    What a fabulous day.

    p.s. To view my juggling records, see:

    Also, please feel free to sign up as a member (of the Yahoo group to which the HTML link above will direct you), and enjoy the clips.

    A Brief Etymological Investigation

    Summarizing a brief investigation into the origins of the expression "What in the Sam Hill?" without an entirely satisfactory conclusion, here are the fruits, if you can call them that:

    some random bulletin board exchange on phrases

    some mildly more interesting analysis

    some heaping pile of bollocks purporting to answer the question, but just fabricating a response from whole cloth

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Courting Greatness

    Here's a link to some incredible juggling videos recently published by Anthony Gatto. Apropos of the subject heading, most of these videos were shot in a racquetball court.

    For those of you who may now know, Gatto is generally regarded as the world's greatest technical juggler (it's my understanding that this phrase means he can juggle more objects for longer than anyone else). Among other things, you can download a video of Anthony juggling six clubs for over 4 minutes, nine balls for over 30 seconds, and perform a seven-up pirouette while juggling seven clubs. Highly entertaining, and well worth your time. Happy viewing.

    Incredible Anthony Gatto Juggling Videos

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Brace Yourself

    Anybody know any orthodontists?

    I'm curious whether there is a demographic reason to think being a young orthodontist is a good career move.


    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    On Setting a Lifetime Goal - Part 1

    Today is the day. Today I am setting a goal that at some point in my life my family will have a net worth (measured in dollars) that exceeds the number of minutes I have then been alive.

    For those of you keeping track at home, here's the comparison from March 31, 2005 (the last time I prepared our family balance sheet):
    • Minutes alive = 17,278,560.
    • Net worth = more than zero, thankfully.

    And I did some math just now (with the help of my trusty Hewlett-Packard 12C financial calculator). If I hope to achieve this goal by my 50th birthday (May 25, 2022), I've got to compound our family's net worth by about 35% per annum. No mean trick. Looks like I've got some Warren Buffet-style wood to chop to get there by then. More reasonably, it appears that if I hope to achieve this goal by my 75th birthday, I've got to compound our family's net worth by only about 14% per annum. That sounds considerably more attainable but would still be pretty darn good.

    By then I'll have been alive (God willing.) almost 40 million minutes.
    That's a lot of donuts.

    And the Beats Roll On ...

    Enjoying some time at the $.5/1.00 limit hold'em tables at Party Poker again last night, I was privileged to see some poor sap who flopped quad 6s slow play them and end up losing to a guy who rivered quad 7s. The real tragedy here wasn't that the quad 6s lost to the quad 7s. It was that this was by far the worst beat I've witnessed at a poker table, but it didn't qualify for any sort of bad beat jackpot. Apparently at Party Poker you have to be sitting at a specially designated table and playing at least $2/4. I was also interested to note from the PP rules that the losing hand has to be at least quad 8s to qualify so even had the other conditions been met, we would've missed out on sharing thousands of dollars amongst ourselves because the guy that lost only had quad 6s, not quad 8s. That seems like an odd rule.

    Speaking of my session last night, I made what had to be the worst laydown of my life. I am still kicking myself about it this morning. Here's the story ... I had AA on the button. A guy raised from middle position, one person between me and him called, and I raised. The big blind called my three bet, the initial raiser just called, and the other person called the three bet. So we were four of us taking the flop for 3 bets each and I had AA. Nice enough, though I would certainly have preferred the big blind or the guy in the middle fold to improve my chances. Anyway, the flop is rags, 8 high, and rainbow. Again, nice enough for me. The big blind checked, the initial raiser bet, the guy in the middle folded, and I raised. So far so good. The big blind folded, and the initial raiser just called. So I was feeling good about my chances, and the pot was getting big (relatively, of course - this was $.5/1 limit). The turn card was a 10. The opening raiser bet, I raised, and he reraised me. And then I folded. There was $15.50 in the pot. It would have cost me $2 more to find out whether he actually had a set of 10s or whether he had something like A-10, QQ, KK, or JJ and was just finally feeling that his hand was better than mine. My opponent could easily have thought I was overplaying AK and been just trying run me off the hand.

    I folded immediately because I was just sure he had TT and had just hit a set on the turn. (Part of what was happening for me mentally was I was still tilting a little from some suck-out beats people had put on me earlier in the night. Huge mistake to let that experience - the "it just isn't my night" syndrome - affect play in this particular hand.) But on further reflection, I've realized that the math (probabilities, etc.) probably works out where folding was a terrible decision on an expected value basis (as well as strategic). If I was good at that sort of math, I could deduce and compare the probability that the guy had exactly TT with the probability that he had JJ, QQ, or AKs, AQs, or even ATs instead. I am guessing he didn't have KK because if he did I would've expected him to cap the betting before the flop. And I am guessing he didn't have AKs or AQs because I had AA and because I was showing too much strength and the pot was too big for him to be trying to bluff.

    But with JJ or QQ he could easily have played it that way. I would not cap the betting pre-flop with 4 people in with JJ and probably not even with QQ. Then when the button who three-bet before the flop raised on the 8-high ragged flop, I might slow down again and not reraise there with QQ thinking to take off one more card and do my reraising on the double bet streets (the turn and the river).

    So, all in all, I just can't believe I laid that AA down when it would've cost me $2 to try to win what would then have been a $20 pot based on my assumption that the guy had exactly TT (when in fact he could just as easily have had JJ or QQ and thought I had AK).

    Next time I hope I'm a little braver with my $2.


    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    And Speaking of Hobbies ...


    Did you know there is a fairly significant sub-culture of people who want to be just like Lance Armstrong? (Significant in terms of number of people, I think. Not political influence or wealth, of course.) The ten-speed bicycle has really changed.

    And a lot of these people shave their entire lower bodies. So I'm told. They also wear the funny skin-tight clothes (I think they're called "jumpsuits".) you see on the guys at the Tour de France even just to ride around on their bikes in their neighborhood. I'm all for hobbies, of course, but I don't dress up like a storm trooper just to practice memorizing the lines to Return of the Jedi.

    The above is a picture of one of these guys that I found. One can only imagine what's next for the otherwise normal-looking tot smiling there in front of him. Decades of chapstick and windburn if he follows in his daddy's footsteps.

    Now, in all seriousness, I wish I could do that bike racing myself. I never participated much in team sports in high school or college, but what I've read about the bike racing world sounds pretty interesting. Apparently there's a lot of strategy involved. And there is certainly a lot of terminology that has unique meaning and application in the sport. So that's pretty cool.

    But look at that guy - what a tool. Can you imagine seeing a guy dressed like that, working out on a stationary bike in a hotel gym in New Jersey or something? That would be too much.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    Acrimonious Acronyms, Anyone?

    I'm playing a little $.50/$1.00 limit hold'em poker tonight at Party Poker. And I've decided to use this forum - my weblog - to air a grievance.
    (I think this might be the first time anyone has ever used a blog for that purpose. I love plowing new ground.)

    Anyway, the grievance:

    • The acronym is "FY", not "FU".

    That is all.

    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Hill Country Blues

    Reflecting on a week spent in Texas' "Hill Country", I'm moved to share that the country is somewhat pleasant to look at, but it's very rough. Very unfriendly looking turf.

    Whenever I talk about that part of the state with my father, he tells me a story about some people who go to his church. Apparently these people did pretty well for themselves in real estate and real estate development during the last few decades of the 1900s. They bought property in a variety of places (Los Angeles County, California to someplace in Virginia and a bunch of places in between). When my dad asked them whether they ever bought any property in Texas, they told him, "Nope. This land in Texas is the most inhospitable land we've seen."

    Having just been there and looked around some, I know what they mean. It just looks tough and mean. The scrub brush and the gnarled oak trees. Not exactly the sort of place where you can just saunter out to have a picnic. Although people do a fair amount of sauntering in Texas.