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Archive for August, 2009

Null pointer exception

Sunday, August 30th, 2009 by Ari

The St. Louis Rams drafted a QB named Keith Null.

Sometimes math is depressing

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 by Ari

One of the things I hate about living in the suburbs is the car-centric way we’ve built them. I did some quick math and my daily commute alone will cause me to drive over 1000 miles every month. (25 miles to work each way, times 2 ways, times 21 work days a month = 1050.) That doesn’t even include road trips, shopping, and other activities. The Government claims my 2000 Chevy Prizm gets 25 mph city and 34 highway. Since I often take city streets home to avoid traffic, I’m just going to do a straight average of the two and use 30 mpg as my average. Driving 1050 miles a month, I will use 35 gallons of fuel every month. I will burn through 10 barrels of fuel every year. At a cost of $2.60 (the current price at the gas station around the corner that I usually use), I will spend $91 a month (over $1000 a year) on gasoline. I will also be emitting 5.3 tons of CO2 per year. That is seriously ugly.

Would a new car help? Well, not as much as you’d think. The Prizm is a fairly fuel efficient car (it’s not exactly a “clunker“), and 30 mph is nothing to sneeze at. A 2010 Toyota Prius (MSRP $22,000), would run me about $655/year and save me $437 per year. That’s an ROI of 50 years – not exactly cost effective. (Although, if gas prices continue to rise, that ROI will continue to drop).

I am now officially a suburbanite

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by Ari

Buying a house, moving to the suburbs, and living there for a week don’t actually make you a suburbanite. Buying a lawnmower (which I just did) doesn’t even make you a suburbanite, although it is close. No, what really makes me a suburbanite is bragging about said lawnmower.

I decided I wanted to spring for an electric lawn mower. As a kid my chore was always to mow the lawn, and frankly I’m tired of buying gas, changing the oil, properly winterizing the engine, replacing the air filter, priming the engine, and sucking down engine exhaust while I push a 35 pound lawn mower around the backyard. The only problem with that of course is the cord, so I figured I’d get one of the cordless electric mowers that have become popular of late. The cheapest one I could find (because, yes, I’m a cheap bastard) was $300 on Amazon with free shipping. Home Depot had a Homelite model for $330 that claimed to be available at my local store. I decided to spend the extra $30 to get the mower immediately and set off for my local HD during my lunch break. They didn’t have the model I wanted in stock, but as I was heading out with my consolation prize (a hedge trimmer), I noticed that they had a bunch of lawn mowers outisde the store on sale, including the Black and Decker 19″ cordless electric mower. Usually $400, it was on sale for either $300 for a new one, or $200 used. (They are apparently coming out with a new model, and these weren’t selling fast enough, thus the sale). Since I was planning on spending $300 anyway, I decided to go for a new one just to be safe. When I tried to check out though there was a problem – the mower wasn’t in the system. After 20 minutes of waiting, they eventually just rang it up as a mower of a comarable price – $180. So in the end I got a pretty good $400 cordless electric mower for $180+tax – far less than the price for even the cheapest cordless electric. (In case anyone else is looking for a lawn mower, this was at the Home Depot in Fairfax VA, and they had about a dozen other mowers on sale when I left).

BDSM has never felt so…. plastic?

Monday, August 17th, 2009 by Ari

So Amazon now sells an Inflatable bondage chair. While I’m not entirely certain what a bondage chair is, (but I can guess) I do know that an inflatable one is just tacky.

Reality television becomes too real

Thursday, August 13th, 2009 by Ari

Do you remember the movie Running Man? In it, a wrongly convicted man is put through a deadly game and if he lives, he gets pardoned. Of course in the movie the politicians and network execs are corrupt, alter video to make the man look like a killer, and even execute the people who do “win”. Wikipedia calls this movie dystopian, most people think of it as somewhere between sci-fi and a thriller, and an example of certain societal trends to be avoided. Apparently Wallace Souza thought it was a great idea.

Wallace Souza is a former Brazilian police officer who became a TV host and politician, running on an anti-crime platform. He hosted a reality show that broadcast crime investigations and used it as a platform to rail against the high crime rate in his district. He had a knack for getting his cameras to the crime scene quickly – even before the police could get there. Apparently the police thought that was interesting and did a little investigating. Souza ordered some of the killings himself and then knew where to appear. He was also a drug smuggler, so he used this as an opportunity to eliminate his rival drug smugglers and then televise the investigation, all while promoting himself and his get tough on crime legislative approach. Souza has of course denied all charges, and is even using his legislative seat (yes, he somehow still has it), to officially call for an end to the investigation, even going so far as to compare himself to Jesus. (Hey Blago – you taking notes?) His legislative seat is also the only thing keeping him out of jail – Brazil (like many countries), gives their lawmakers automatic immunity.

Wallace Souza

This blog now has a math quiz

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 by Ari

I have spam. I also hate CAPTCHAs, which is why I have resisted putting one on this blog (or any of my other blogs) until now. I simply applied strict blacklists, blocked spambots that hit me repeatedly, blocked comments with more than one link, and deleted spam with a passion. Unfortunately, the amount of spam has finaly overwhelmed me. I broke down and looked into CAPTCHAs for wordpress. I decided to forgo the incredibly hard to read distorted letters which require you to squint really hard and try to guess whether that smidge on the screen is the letter O or the numeral zero. (When humans fail a turing test 10% of the time, maybe it’s time to scrap your turing test). Instead there is a small and very simple math test at the bottom. Answer it, and you get to post. No squinting at smeared letters, no trying to guess what that red text on red background is saying.

paying for water

Friday, August 7th, 2009 by Ari

Every year on tisha b’av we read the book of Eicha (Lamentations). Since we read it so infrequently and it’s not one that comes up in many other contexts, I’m not very familiar with it and I see new things in it every year. This year, one line jumped out at me. The author is lamenting all of the bad things that have happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in very poetic terms. Amongst the tragedies which are being lamented is this:

 מֵימֵינוּ בְּכֶסֶף שָׁתִינוּ

We have drunk our water for money

Hmmm…. I wonder what Jeremiah would have said had he known about our current bottled water craze.

small thought

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 by Ari

Things that flashed through my head today at various times:

  • Why do they call it the East-West Highway if it only goes west?
  • How exactly does one throw out a trash can?I can’t just take it to the curb now can I?