Test 4: The Fate of My Mascot

Does the ShredMaster shred pipe cleaners?
Subject: A hand-made, pipe cleaner Rooster figurine (courtesy of EMJ)

Result: Chicken Soup for the soul. Very little noise, not even a squawk.

Notes: Similar to cotton, the pipe cleaners melded with the cutting grooves. A few passes later and we were only left with feathers. Elisabeth, thank you and sorry all at the same time. Though, I think you'll agree that this is how it had to be.

Test 3: Outside of the Norm

Does the ShredMaster shred cotton?
Subject: A 'Volunteer' cotton t-shirt from Boilerman (back when nothing ran smoothly, it cost $25 and everyone had fun)

Result: Borderline Dri-Fit technical tee. The shredder doesn't cut non-rigid items well.

Notes: The woven cotton melded with the cutting grooves. The first pass only made lines (not cuts) on the t-shirt. So I fed it through a few more times. I would've liked the result to be total annihilation, although on the last pass it got stuck, and I had to use the Reverse button to free it.


Test 2: Let's Get Rolling

Does the
ShredMaster shred wood?
Subject: A child's balsa wood glider

Result: Good tinder, bitch! Again, I had to flatten the plane so that it would feed smoothly.

Notes: There was a loud bang when the metal tip went through, but it's all good.

Test 1: The Control

Does the
ShredMaster shred paper?
Subject: Sunday newspaper coupons and store ads

Result: Shredded. The entire stack would not shred all at once. It had to be fed through in 2 parts.

Notes: The allowed width is much smaller than I had originally thought. This is going to require me to break things in to more manageable pieces.


Will it Sh... ssssshit it's a BOMB!

The 'Will it Shred?' grab bag I received from Slim had several pros:
  1. It looked like a bomb and made our admin curious about who was trying to "off" me
  2. It had lots of duct tape
  3. Luckily, she didn't question the attention line of: 'Will it Shred?'
  4. It was addressed with a post-it note
  5. It caused me to lie: My boss asked, "What's in that thing? It looks really weird!" Me, "Um, I'm not sure; I haven't opened it yet... Yes, you're right it does look weird"
Good work, Slim. Way to stir up a pot of paranoia among lame suburban life. Better yet, with something we wouldn't ever think out of the ordinary. Another victory!

Will it Shred?

I’ve recently received a promotion at work which has meant me moving desks.
Con: My boss sits to my left side (easy delegation access)
Pro: To my right side, there is an industrial paper shredder (easy experiment access)

In an attempt to steer this blog back to it's original intention (fun and learning), each week, with the help of your items and ideas, I will shred things. The only guidelines (not rules) that I have are 1) an item must be ¼” or less to be considered a shredable candidate; 2) items such as metal bars, which have no chance in hell of actually shredding, may be foregone for sake of future shred attempts (and my new job).

GBC ShredMaster 1236s - attached to illustrate age of machine and provide my engineer readers with a schematic that will aid in the fix of the machine once it breaks.

I will post a before and after picture. Stay tuned.


Financial INTERdependence

"Financial Independence" seems to be an ever-increasing goal of the masses. I can only assume that this popularity is due to how it's perceived: 1) seen coupled with lavish lifestyles; and 2) seen as not having to work yet being able to make enough money to survive (i.e. living off of interest). There are a few flaws with this perception that are being overlooked:

- The expenses that come with (news-worthy) lavish lifestyles equate to the earnings on investments equal to the GDP of small countries. This is far from the norm; don't believe the hype.

- The only way you can truly not work yet earn money is to invest in something that does not require maintenance and that guarantees consistent, positive cash flows (otherwise, higher rate investments require quite a bit of work). This equates to a low-risk debt security, such as T-Bills and CDs (1.5% - 3.0%). Translation: one would have to invest between $1.7M and $3.3M to offset average annual expenses.

The only ways to increase interest income are to: 1) increase the volume of money invested and/or 2) earn a higher yield. For example:
  1. To double annual income ($50k to $100k) assuming the same T-Bill and CD return range, one would need to invest twice as much ($3.3M to $6.7M).
  2. To double annual income assuming the same principal investment (between $1.7M and $3.3M), one would need to earn twice the rate of return (6% - 12%). This level of return would require investment in more risky equity securities, like stocks. Thus, enters maintenance (aka work).
It is possible to passively earn enough money to support any lifestyle choice as long as you have enough principal.* It's also possible to earn the same amount with a smaller principal through higher yields. However, higher yields mean more risk which means the need to actively manage* your portfolio (analyze security trends; identify mis-pricings; etc). This also leads to inconsistent returns - years of high returns adjacent to years with negative returns.

*Unless you win the lottery, inherit a ton of money, find a coke dealer's backpack, put in 20 years as an iBanker or are nearing retirement, none of this is worth considering at this age.

*"Actively manage" = having to work

New definitions should be:

Financial Independence - free from the need of finances (ex: living off the land)

Financial Interdependence - financial gain from mutual reliance (ex: a job; investments; currently defined as "financial independence")


Infinity Meeting

OBSERVATION: Despite using net meetings weekly, I always find them awesome. Wow, welcome to the '90s! I find infinity mirrors equally badass. I wish I had an infinity mirror at the office.

QUESTION: Can I duplicate the concept of the continuous loop of an infinity mirror at the office using net meeting?

HYPOTHESIS: I can create infinity with my computer by means of a net meeting (or 2). I can infuse two things that are badass.

METHOD: The idea is similar to an 'infinity mirror' where you place 2 (or more) mirrors to reflect one another to get infinite reflections. Likewise, I assumed the same effect would take place if I could share my screen to my coworker, and he could share his screen with me at the same time. This would essentially result in him sharing my screen with me, which should create an infinite loop. I figure that this will take some craftiness since only 1 net meeting application can run at a time.

RESULT: MSFT Communicator allowed us to both share our screens simultaneously. Net meeting went back and forth showing my screen through his net meeting of me, over and over. After 15 seconds of repeating screens we decided to close out before we blew up Gore's internet. I'm not sure if this actually creates exponential data sharing or not. Nevertheless, I'd like to let this run on a Friday afternoon and then go home for the weekend quit my job forever.

CONCLUSION: 2 things that are badass were infused. I'm certain that you could get more than 2 people in on a continuous loop.

FOLLOW UP: The only problem I've always had with infinity mirrors is that the viewer is blocking infinity. The fix is to face 2 mirrors in opposite directions (1 being a 2-way mirror) and stand behind the 2-way mirror so that you can look in without being in the way. If nothing is in between the mirrors, what does it look like? What does infinity look like? Would it make a black hole? Would it make a time machine? Would I go blind? FLUX-CAPACITOR!!!


Avoid Angries Until You/They Die

I was perusing a political forum recently and saw a comment from a Native American that suggests for "All white people to go back to Europe," clearly a mirroring of whitey suggesting that all black people go back to Africa. I was glad to see people point out the ridiculousness of the statement (joke or not), as shown by my favorite response:
"Africa should go back to Pangea."

Likewise, should the southwestern U.S. be reclaimed by Mexico? Should parts of the U.S. go to France, Spain, Britain, etc? Or to Native Americans? Maybe we should give the land back to the animals.

I support people who fight for what they are passionate about, basically people who give a shit about something. Although, in this case, I see a difference between passion and anger. People and places evolve. The same as how Africa cannot go back to Pangea, whites/blacks/etc cannot go back to their homelands because neither those places nor the people involved truly exist.

I see it in similar terms (but in the opposite direction) of an economic great that once said, "We're all dead in the long-run." Angry people die, and then new people that are angry about new things take their places. Avoid the angries until you/they die.


Glaciers Do-Do Shit

Although I've seen more than a few in my lifetime and have even hiked across a couple, I've always found it hard to grasp the strength of glaciers. Are they really that powerful?

My question was answered not too long ago at work. During this last winter, the company hired to plow my work's parking lot moves snow piles to a culvert/gully just across the way. Over the course of the melt season, the piles of snow slowly move farther away from the parking lot towards the drainage pipe. Once all of the snow was melted, I noticed a cement parking block nearly half way (~100 ft.) to the pipe.

THE FLACIER (fake glacier) MOVED IT! They are powerful; believe it.



Food for thought from D-Day: June 6, 1944 (Stephen E. Ambrose):

"At the beach called Utah on the day of the invasion...[the] U.S. Army captured four Asians in Wehrmacht (Germain) uniforms. No one could speak their language; eventually it was learned that they were Koreans. How on earth did Koreans end up fighting for Hitler to defend France against Americans? It seems they had been conscripted into the Japanese army in 1938 -Korea was then a Japanese colony- captured by the Red Army (U.S.S.R) in the border battles with Japan in 1939, forced into the Red Army, captured by the Wehrmacht in December 1941 outside Moscow, forced into the German army, and sent to France."

"...presumably they were sent back to Korea."

"If so, they would almost certainly have been conscripted again, either into the South or the North Korean army. It is possible that in 1950 they ended up fighting once again, either against the U.S. Army, or with it, depending on what part of Korea they came from."

Reread it a few times until it sets in. Some of these guys spent their whole lives fighting but not really knowing why. Cherish the cushy life we have. Also, through my educational experience, it seems Western teaching rarely gives us the fully story of the Asian WWII.


The Patch is Mine

POCAR is an orienteering race that is put on by Purdue Outing Club. It's held every year in southern Indiana on MLK weekend. Most years, only about 10-20% of the teams finish the race. For most, the only racing is that of trying to finish before the cut off time (48 hours). This was my third attempt at POCAR, and finally we finished it. Out of everything I've ever competed in (marathon, summiting high points, 1/2 Ironman, cycling centuries), this may be my biggest athletic accomplishment to date.

What makes it so challenging are the multitude of factors that come in to play:
- balance of sleep
- caloric intake
- use of daylight
- orienteering experience
- gear quality
- team dynamic
- weather variables
*Having the will to push on for so many miles is a must; however, any one of the above can cause for failure.

Our 2010 POCAR stats include hiking 50 miles, locating all 23 check points and being out for 40 hours (3 hours of which were sleep). The race was held in the 200,000 acre (over 300 square miles; all of which were fair game) Hoosier National Forest. The race is built to make you want to come back each year until you complete it. For that reason it's very uncomfortable and unforgiving, yet super empowering. People who have experienced it talk about it in a mythical sort of way, if that makes sense. The tricky part is that you only get 5-10 points at a time. Therefore, you never really know when the madness will end until it's over, which forces you to trudge through the cold, dark and hilly woods at night. You're also forced to plot UTM coordinates no matter your mental state or time of day/night.

The defining moment of the race was sleeping in the woods, not out of sleepiness as much as not knowing where we were. We became very disoriented (mental fatigue and darkness of night) with the ravines in a certain area, which caused us to spend 3 hours searching for a point in an area no larger than a few football fields. Since we couldn't see more than 100 feet and needed to see the land contours to determine our location, we slept from 4-6am. Since we were packing light (no tent or sleeping bags), everyone put on all of the clothes they were carrying and lied down in a group, like a wolf pack. Having camped many times before, I'm very familiar with the setting up camp process. This was unique in that we simply laid down from where our feet were planted once the decision was made. No other means of business necessary.

Another nice race highlight was the comic relief of our team name: 'What'd You Say?' This was definitely an unplanned victory that took the edge off when we were hurting. At the 3 manned check points, where you needed to present your passport and team members, they would always ask, "What's your team name?" Without fail, each time our team would go back and forth with the volunteers 4 plus times (straight-faced on our end; mounting frustration on their end) before they got it.

4 items that got us through the race:
1) Physical fitness and preparation - Surprisingly, running is not sufficient training for hiking of this intensity.
2) Orienteering experience and comfort with the outdoors - Had we not all been comfortable sleeping as is, there would have been a DNF.
3) "Blowmeyer" - Race volunteer Brian Lowmeier (email: blowmeier@...) gave our team a common evil to bond against and blame any race obstacles on. Crawling up a muddy 1/4 mile hill in the woods at 3am would cause someone to yell, "That ass-hole Blowmeyer put this dirt here!"
4) "So Fucking Easy" - This was the comment that one of our overly-cocky Purdue triathlon club members used to use (less the F'ing part, which we added later to emphasize the idiocy of it), despite ever demonstrating said ease. As we limped through cold creek water, judging if 20 miles was half way or not, and wondering if we had packed enough food someone would blurt, "This race is sooooo fucking easy; I wish they would've made it harder." It was equal parts humor to lighten the mood, tricking the others in to thinking they were being wusses and perspective enough to realize what we weren't going through (i.e. cancer; war; refugees).

Through stubborn determination, we earned the completion patch. What better day to do so than on MLK Day.


Let's Make this a Tandem

I'd like to get a tandem bicycle and ride around town solo on it to see what friends I could make. Either ride it to work as a form of (mass) transportation (networking too) or in your free time to get in exercise (go team!).

1 - You automatically know that if someone saddles up that you have something in common - adventure, meeting people, bikes.
2 - You can also discover your trust in them, depending if you let them steer/brake. (The only problem with letting a mere stranger steer your bike is that they could simultaneously steal your bike and kidnap you.)

"Random-Tandem," as I may want to call it, affords the benefit of deciding to keep this new friend or not, since once they are at their location and get off the bike, you can keep going or stay and hang out (OR, better yet, keep riding AND hang out).

Why stop at 2? Get a "tandem" 5-seater. You could ride it to work and pick up fellow commuters going your direction (mass transit). There'd be incentive to get on a 5-seater with 4 in the saddle, since your added effort would be much less. Although, beware of social loafing. There'd also be incentive to be soloing a 5-seater, rather than a normal (onsey) bike, since each added person adds to lowering each subsequent rider's work output.

How empowering?! Once I get a fivesey I'll let you know how it goes.