Value My Stuff!

...wills continued

The whole will process has a fundamental problem. As far as I'm concerned, people in "the will-making biz" should be marketing to my family/friends, since they are the beneficiaries (literally and by definition).

Therefore, I have a new (very capitalist) concept:
I will sell my current assets at discount to be dispersed upon my death. It's a great deal for both buyer and seller. On that note, I'm opening up the bidding on my stuff - pennies on the dollar.

For example, you pay me $1,000 right now for my car (it's worth $10k+). Correspondingly, I put you in my will for it. Assuming I die today, you make out like a thief. Since, I could buy a new car or (theoretically) have this car until I'm 80 years old, this $1k investment is a rip-off. Therefore, the will can be updated whenever the buyer chooses. If you want to terminate the contract - done. I give you your money back (without interest), you get removed from my will, and you can always write-up a new contract with me another day.
This concept combines predicting life expectancy and investing. It closely mirrors some ideas of life insurance: the younger one is = less chance of death = higher the buyer ROI = more risk = less bidding wars.

Am I a capitalist? Yes. Is this greedy? I don't think so. Why should I feel bad about getting paid for the things that I'm giving/selling you? I'm giving you a deal. This not the greatest option for both parties. If any one's going to make money off my death, I'm going to be a player. It's my stuff after all.

Potential Problems:

  • Like a bank, sellers should be required to have a certain percentage will purchases liquid in case of contract termination, since refund and will update should (ideally) occur ASAP.
  • Selling assets (terminating the contract and collecting on the interest) to change buyers has a negative effect. If there is a preferred buyer, they should outbid the current buyer or they should be willed your asset outright (at no cost).
  • This concept, in the wrong crowd, could breed collusion and ulterior motives. Getting killed for my stuff is not a goal. To avoid this, I will only sell so much percentage of my assets to one party and require very confidential records on each side. Maybe this is the risk you run by trying to capitalize in this manner.


Mo' Wills, Mo' Problems

I don't totally understand wills in regards to how those in "the will-making business" justify them to others. I do see the benefits of them; however, there is a big piece with which I just don't connect. Are these so-called "benefits" just a way to capitalize off of death?

Measurable benefits of a will:

  • Cost: wills are less costly than the alternative - probate court.
  • Speed: wills allow for your assets/debts to be disbursed/settled more quickly
  • Property Rights: wills allow those who you select to get your stuff (killer SWAG, pun intended)
*Which of these benefits will I realize upon the activation of my will (aka my death)? NONE.

Immeasurable benefits of a will (excerpts taken from will publications):

  • A will is 'doing the right thing.' (This simple phrase automatically entitles you, otherwise making you a horrible person.)
  • It is a final expression of your love for family. (Why not share this love during your life?)
  • You don't have to worry what is going to happen to all your possessions should something happen. (Why worry about things that will happen after your death?)
  • To ensure that all of your assets and personal possessions are distributed to the people that matter. (Freeloaders!)
All of this being said, I do think that having a will is the responsible thing to do because it takes the burden of "cleaning up your life" off the shoulders of your family/friends. However, a big piece of me wonders why I should be paying for benefits that are, by nature, impossible for me to realize. Why shouldn't the potential recipients be paying the fees associated with creating a will? After all, they will be gaining from it.

Here are the possibilities:
  1. I make a will = My family/friends can get my stuff quicker and with less hassle. Yes, that's courteous, but it's free stuff to them. They should take on this burden, since they are benefiting.
  2. I don't make a will = My friends/family can take it or leave it. If they feel my assets are worth the time in probate court, by all means, make a living from it. If not, "Whatever." You weren't due my assets anyways. My assets can go to the state (or wherever they end up) for all that I care - I'm DEAD.

To be continued...


USPS Hoops

My last 2 experiences at a USPS office have taught me patience (and shown me that none of their employees really want to help).

Experience 1:
I picked an appropriately sized box from the shelf, assembled it and put my item inside to be shipped. There was no built-in adhesive on the box. I made my way to a side counter where I used the only available tape to hold the box together.
I got up to the counter and said, "Media mail please."
"This has Priority tape on it; it has to go priority."
"Oh, even if it's marked Media mail?"
"Hmm, ok, I'll be right back."
"You have to buy the box before you leave."
"Do you have any clear tape that I can use?"
"Yea, but you'll have to buy it."
"Ok, never mind. I have an idea."

I headed back over to the side counter and looped the "special" blue tape so that it was only taped from the inside. Ta-da! No tape was showing, suckers. So I headed back to the counter, a mere 10 feet from where I just was. The attendant had definitely watched what I had done, yet said nothing.
"Ok, we should be good now," I said.
"You still used blue tape."
"Yea, but it's hidden."
"But I know it's there."
"I don't get it..."
"If someone opens this up and sees the blue tape, it will go Priority."
"I hope that the recipient is the only one opening it up."
"Well, it's subject for inspection," she said as she simultaneously stamped it with a red stamp that read the same.
"What do you think are the chances of them inspecting it?"
"I am them. They are me. So do you want to just pay Priority rate already?"
"No." I spun around and fast walked toward the door."
"You have to pay for that box!"

I headed back to pay for it. With only 15 minutes until close, I rushed to a nearby bookstore, where I recently bought $200+ of textbooks (if it's any consolation). They gave me FREE clear tape. the woman at the bookstore asked if I was having difficulties with the post office. The must get this a lot. I headed back to MEDIA mail my package.

Experience 2 (different location):
After waiting in line for a few minutes, the guy in front of me got out of line and walked down the hall, at which time I heard knocking. I looked up and saw a sign that stated: "Knock on door for passport assistance." I heard him knock a few times with no response, so I was ready to let him back in line. I was called up to the counter before the man gave up knocking.

I stepped up and said to the attendant, "There's a guy knocking on that door."
"What do you mean?" came from behind a blank stare.
"I think he needs passport help."
"Do you want to mail that?" pointing to my package.
"Yes, but the man knocking was in line before me."
"What do you want me to do about it?"
I didn't move. It took me a few seconds of standing there, blinking, and not putting my package on the counter before he stepped back to page someone to help with the passports.

*Picture courtesy of Guerneville, CA (Apr. 2009)


Guns Don't Kill People, Bullets Kill People

I saw the above bumper sticker recently. I like the statement (because I'm pro-gun and anti-royalty), although it wasn't the most respectful given the recent news. Interestingly enough, I could tell that this was not a new sticker - peculiar timing. Other than reminding me that Kennedy "did no wrong," it made me think about how weird the conceptions of freedom are.

Freedom seems of greatest concern where population density and diversity are both high. When these are found together (i.e. large U.S. cities), the landmine of potential problems is huge due to the net decrease in tolerance. Most people that live in dense/diverse cities seem to have higher tolerances, for whatever reason (maybe for sake of otherwise constant rage). However, each person that has "that ONE thing they just cannot tolerate" times a million people, makes for contentions in freedom, which causes this net decrease in tolerance.

My general stance on the subject is: "Allow people as many freedoms as possible as long as they don't infringe upon their neighbors." While this is all fine and dandy, it neither takes in to consideration common courtesy nor differing tolerances of infringement. Isn't it too bad that, put in certain situations, adults are just really big children?

It's interesting to me that despite being stereotypically polar topics (in terms of political leanings), homosexuality and guns similarly infringe upon one's neighbor:
- While my gun can be under lock-and-key, some do not like its potential
- While a homosexual can think/act the same as a heterosexual, some do not like his/her potential

Even if not directly witnessing/experiencing the infringement, one may remain intolerant on a certain topic. This intolerance depends on how directly affected one is by this infringement and how much they care about the direct/indirect affects. Each freedom has an opposite freedom. For instance: Freedom to Own a Gun vs. Freedom to Live in a Gun-Free Neighborhood. Is that to say though that each option is equal? If so, with any corresponding legal decision freedoms are neither created nor destroyed.

If you take a utilitarianism view, then choose the outcome of those who hold the majority view (greatest good). In that case freedom can be created/destroyed. Therefore, true democracy optimizes freedom and seeks normative relativism. To be put in to action we'd replace Congress with an elected mathematician (or two) who comes up with a function that takes in to consideration all major decisions (political, religious, etc.). Then, each eligible voter can take a scantron test based off this formula, which would determine normative relativism. The sum of all outcomes will be law/policy.

Oh wait, without elected officials, people like ole Teddy couldn't have late night, extramarital rendezvous (with DUI written all over it), kill someone, and still get off scot free. Damnit! And I was feeling close to a solution.


HRMs - Still Redundant

I've never been a fan of using a HRM for distance training. Yes, HRMs do measure how hard one is working; however, there are too many determining factors that warp BPM in to an "impure" reading. I suppose there are few data outputs that are rarely complete pure, but what's the cause for all of the HRM hype?

Last January I started the new year with an open mind and a marathon on the brain. Thus, I committed to giving HRM training a whirl. I initially planned to use it solely for base training. The feature that beeps (REALLY annoying) if you get too high ensured that I kept a slow pace. [Background: early season, I tend to get hyped, train too hard and get injured.] After two months I figured I may as well keep wearing it.

I rarely use it as an intensity monitor during training (other than for long runs), yet I thought I could use it more for planning purposes after training. For example, I have ploted the corelation of HR (bpm) and pace (min/mi). The lower-right corner is the most desireable as it maximizes pace and minimizes HR (go faster for longer).

The above points and trend lines include runs that I wore a HRM (~65% of the time) for the below given distance ranges:
Navy: 10 mi or greater
Pink: 6 - 9.9 mi
Yellow: fewer than 6 mi

Clearly, the further I run the more the trend line shifts to the undesirable corner (upper-left), meaning I become more inefficient. On separate charts, I focused on the furthest outlying points from the trend line (for better or worse) to hone in on how I can maximize (minimize) my race efficiencies (inefficiencies).

Bad Outliers:
relatively out of shape (running beyond my current fitness level)
weather (hot/humid, snow)
terrain (hilly)
health (sickness)
lack of fuel (little/no liquids and food)

Good Outliers:
weather (cool/breezy)
steady pace (negative splits)
sufficient fuel (Gu and Gatorade)

I was crossing my fingers that more profundities be brought to light. Only the obvious was answered. HRMs - still stupid. And I schlepped that thing around for miles!


Homos and Heteros - they're just words

I researched some specific distinctions, of which I was curious. I expected to obtain a quick and succinct answer to my inquires about all of the types of Homos and Heteros but ran into a lot of conflicting information. Piecing together various sources and definitions, the below is a chart that I figure correct:

Homograph ---- s/d ------- d ---------- s ----------
Heterograph --- s/d ------- d ---------- d ----------

Homophone ----- s -------- d --------- s/d ---------
Heterophone ---- d -------- d --------- s/d ---------

Homonym ------ s --------- d ---------- s ----------
Heteronym ----- d --------- d ---------- s ----------

*** s = same, d = different, s/d = same or different ***

The most commonly conflicted notion is that some of the above words are synonymous, which is completely false. By using simple etymology, I avoided making the same mistakes and possibly shed some light on the distinction of the subject. In actuality, "homonym" and "heteronym" are subsets of a combination of the "graphs" and "phones."

- Heteronym (aka Heterophonic Homograph) - different sound, same spelling; desert (to abandon) : desert (arid region)
- Homonym (aka Homophonic Homograph) - same sound, same spelling; tire (to become weary) : tire (what fits to a wheel)

The other two combinations of the "graphs" and "phones" do not have specific words for their subset distinctions.

- Homophonic Heterograph - same sound, different spelling; too (also) : two (2)
- Heterophonic Heterograph - different sound, different spelling; Purdue (awesome) : Notre Dame (suck ass)

From what I found, "graphs" (writing/spelling) and "phones" (pronunciation/sound) were pretty straight forward. Whether it be "homo" (same) or "hetero" (different), the distinction laid within only one of the above categories of the chart.

When it came to "nyms" (name), exact etymology translations became fairly ambiguous, hence the conflicting information. Another item of note, which is very obvious is that "meaning" is always different. I believe this category was used to make sure there was distinction from synonyms, antonyms, etc.

It's obvious why there is no distinct word for "heterophonic heterographs." However, I seek to find (or create) a word for "homophonic heterographs." If you know what this word is or have a good idea for one, please let me know.

By the way Pablo, wrong usage (Re: comment on 3/27/09 post), dumbass.


Ergonomic Boom

I'm not really in to fashion; however, I would say that I'm in to trends. What's fashionable at any given moment seems to based around what a select few consider it to be. Trends, on the other hand, are typically trackable or predictable, a more of a cause/effect relationship from which one can learn.

Recently, I've noticed a "second coming," if you will, of bendy straws. Everywhere I go, they appear more and more frequently - restaurants, grocery stores, etc. I've been trying to identify why there has been a resurgence. I have 3 theories:
  1. Cyclical - like that of tight jeans, then baggy jeans, then tight again, it's a simple and healthy change for the sake of change.
  2. Economic - stockpiled during the 80s, this unused inventory has been brought back out of hiding to save on expenses.
  3. Ergonomic - riding the wave of the ergonomics crazy, flexible straws are simply trying to "get them some of the profits."



Oh yea. We the MAN!


Son of a _ !!!

Oh boy...
Antares is the 15th brightest star in the (our) sky. It's more than 1,000 light-years away.
- There definitely are aliens somewhere
- Not so sure about "the heavens" or any gods
- Our sun probably orbits something larger
- Paris Hilton, Hanna Montana, Anna Nicole, McFluffer Bitch-tits are all REAL important
- I'm so over the Earth


Say Peace toYour Piece

Buying a "conversation piece" translates that you are buying something not typically bought, other than to make you appear more interesting by filling awkward voids in conversation by way of a unique possession.

Why not buy something because you like it's function or style? Would you not have more to (genuinely) talk about with an item you had chosen for specific reasons rather than an item you know little to nothing about, other than it being labeled a "conversation piece?"

Buying based on your function/style gives 365 days per year of your wants/needs. Buying conversation pieces is buying for your guests, realizing the piece's value but a fraction of the time, assuming they even like what you have purchased.

Transition from "conversation piece" to "conversation peace" by cutting out the crap, posers.


Slurs: Lost in Translation

My south-of-the-border friend Pablo and I often discuss cultural differences and oddities. He told me a story about how our mutual (African-American) friend Donnie came to visit him in Mexico City. While there, they both went over to Pablo's other friend's place. Donnie was immediately greeted in the front yard with a loud, "What's up my NIGGER!?" As Pablo wasn't sure whether to put his face in his hands or to get ready to break up a fight, Donnie fired back with, "Nothing my SPIC!" ...and that was it; the rest of the night progressed as usual.

I found many things interesting about this story:
  1. While 22 million people live in the entire metro area of Mexico City, there are probably only about 500 black people there, I swear. I base my evidence on a 2008 visit, when I saw ZERO in a week's time while being out in public 12+ hours per day. It wasn't odd until I actually thought about it. It's not necessarily good or bad, and I understand that similar extremes can be found all around the world; however, it did make me appreciate our diversity a LOT.

  2. The friend who let the N-word fly ever so freely only did so (in his mind) out of respect, showing that he watches BET and listens to rap music, which he directly related to Donnie, the only African-American he'd ever met. Through understanding the common ignorance, somehow it actually did spread respect through showing that he'd consciously tried to be on the right page (misguided, but tried).

  3. Donnie fighting fire with fire, having Pablo as the only other person in-the-know at that moment, gave the perfect response. It showed that slurs are just bullshit words that are dependent on there intention and are otherwise meaningless. It was light-hearted on both ends, one end ignorant of the countless negative connotations, the other end utterly mindful yet adaptable.

On it's surface the story is funny, although it possesses something to be learned.

*I apologize for using racial slurs, though I thought writing them out (without &#*%!) made the delivery more rousing. I had to look up the N-word (one or two Gs?) while writing this. I guess I'd never written it before.


Santa: Outsourced

No letter back from Santa. Since I dropped it in my work outbox, I'm guessing it was probably even stamped. What a crock!

Dear North Pole, Alaska (and the surrounding regions):
You suck in comparison to your classmates of yesteryear.

Dear Santa:
Why do you no longer exist?

I hate Xmas,


Efficiency Things to Death

Thinking about and acting upon efficiency is probably my nerdiest of hobbies. I dabble in efficiency so much that I tend to "efficiency things to death." Although I plan to change the world with it someday, until that day, I never said that I was good at it yet...

Reflecting on my past efficient acts, I've noticed that more often than not I cause more harm than good. Efficiency is measured by the ratio of an output (job, product, result) to the amount energy (calories, time, money, heat) put in to create that output. Thus, the higher the ratio the more efficient the process:

  • higher output with same input

  • same output with lower input

  • higher output with lower input
For Example:
I have eaten oatmeal every morning for 10+ years and counting. After entering "1:00" minute on the microwave for the thousandth time, I wondered how long the zero button would last until I wore it out. From then on I entered "60" seconds - same result with 1/2 the amount of wear on the zero button. This also led me to wonder how much time I would save over a lifetime of eating my morning oats by pushing one less button. One-stop shop for efficiency!

Why stop there? Knowing that everyone else in the household used the zero button more than their fair share, I decided to eliminate zero from my microwave routine altogether. I would enter "61" seconds. This was more efficient yet, right?

Later, upping the ante even more to entering "66." I could double-tap the "6" button faster than hitting "6" then "1" (not drastically affecting my meal's consistency). So I was saving optimal button pushing time and wearing an underutilized button.

And then my parents remodeled the kitchen and replaced the microwave... All of my long-term button-wear planning had been lost. This caused me to contemplate my earlier mission. I still had contributed to efficiency..., or had I? While on the surface I had saved a billionth of a second with the new double-tap method, I was actually wasting much more than I had imagined. The waste:

  • 6 additional seconds (minus a billionth of a second) awaiting plump oats

  • 6 seconds of additional microwave power that was no value added (oatmeal has equal nutritional value whether hot or cold)

  • 6 more seconds of microwave "drying" (I prefer it on the softer side)

  • The brain power (calories) used contemplating this idea, which inevitably wasted more
My current microwave has the option of pushing "Start," which has 1 minute as a pre-programmed. One button operation for perfect oatmeal!

The problem was that I unknowingly shifted my focus to a specific goal. Although I thought I was maintaining the initial goal to create efficiency, what actually happened is that each time I got more and more specific, my goal also got more and more specific. Instead of my goal continuing to reduce overall time, it ended up being to reduce button pushing time. In conclusion, when working toward efficiency, often take a step back to look at the big picture. It's all too easy to get caught up in one aspect of efficiency without taking in to account its affects.

Other examples:
  • Not braking on the highway as much, in order to save gas, will not allow other motorists to be warned that you are slowing. Thus causing an accordion effect that ultimately wastes more gas among all involved parties.
  • Wearing a fuel belt in a race, in order to save time at a water stop, will save time in respect to changing course to get water, but will waste more time overall since it's extra weight being carried the entire race, which slows one's pace.

*Inspired by: http://adventuresinmissingthepoint.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/what-about-the-remaining-20-from-the-other-80/