Thursday, April 30, 2009

So Smart It Gets the Vowels For Free!

I am unveiling a breakthrough personal research project that holds the potential to infuse business and societal systems with unprecedented levels of intelligence: a new computing system that will compete with people at the game of Wheel of Fortune!

Explanation: As soon as I saw that IBM was planning on creating a Jeopardy! computer, I knew they were taking the easy road on this grand challenge-scale problem. Everyone knows Wheel of Fortune is where the big intelligence is at. My computing system will be able to derive words from complex puzzles with perplexing clues like "Before & After" and "Famous Person". In an effort to find suitable opposition for our computing system, we are currently in talks with some of the great Wheel champions of the past, like Mindy Holtzman, the homemaker from Des Moines, who raked in $12,000 and a trip to Hawaii.

We have thought out every detail of this project, right down to the 3.5 foot maximum height requirement, designed to make Pat Sajak look tall. Let the competition commence!

Special Readership Question: Would Double Dare have been funnier?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giant Chipmunks!

Beware of the giant attack chipmunks!

Source: Well, really I just wanted an excuse to blog this picture:

One of the most frustrating things about being interested in both LEGOs and photography is that the internet provides so many examples of people who are vastly superior to me in both pursuits. I made the mistake of checking out my favorite LEGO blog the other day and I found this picture. Then, I compounded my mistake by checking out some other photos that this guy had taken (and his toy pictures, in particular). Aside from my jealousy over his tamed chipmunks, I was absolutely floored at the photos he created using his LEGO Castle Advent calendar.

Well, I can't beat him, so as I work on honing my LEGO skills, I suggest you go check out the cool stuff that he's done. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Evil Midnight Bomber Revisited

An object at rest cannot be stopped!

Source: This is another quote from the Evil Midnight Bomber from the Tick cartoon series. (sound byte here)

Any bad guy who walks into the Superhero club with a bag labeled "Bombs" is cool in my book. Here's Arthur confronting him in the club.

Here are some more quotes:

And he says to me, he says to me, you got Style, baby! but if you're gonna to be a real villain you gotta get a gimmick…and so I go I says Yeah Baby! A gimmick, that's it! High Explosives! (sound byte here)

And so he says, I don't like the cut of your jib, and I go, I says it's the only jib I got, baby! (sound byte here)

You'll never prove a thing, copper, I'm just a part time electrician…bad is good, baby! Down with government! (sound byte here)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Allergy Season Gets Worse

Warning: Sneeze With Caution

Explanation: Now that it's late April here in New Jersey, spring is in the air, and by "spring" I mean "pollen." Allergy season is in full swing, I'm taking heavy doses of Zyrtec, and yet I'm still single-handedly keeping the tissue industry afloat in these difficult times. I did a lot of yard work this weekend, which means I inhaled lots of allergens, which means my body is reacting to them, which means I'm sneezing a lot.

In general, sneezing is not a bad thing. In general. Unfortunately, my daughter seems to startle pretty easily, and my sneezes are generally a little too loud for her taste. As a result, most of my sneezes are now greeted with shrieks of terror, followed by several minutes of sobbing.

I didn't think it was possible, but this officially makes my seasonal allergies even worse than they already were. I hate scaring her. My sneezing episodes now include a combination of sprints to a different room and the horrible implosion feeling that accompanies trying to hold one in. Not fun.

If you visit us with allergies, beware! And if you see me in the near future, now you know why I look guilty every time I sneeze.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Am the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight!

I'm making gravy without the lumps! Ah ha hahahahaaaaaa!!!

Source: This is a quote by the Evil Midnight Bomber from the Tick cartoon series. Here's the sound byte.

Explanation: Some bad guys are evil geniouses. Some bad guys are raving lunatics. The Evil Midnight Bomber would fall into the latter category. Here are a few more quotes:

Boom Baby Boom! I'm the Evil Midnight Bomber what Bombs at Midnight! (sound byte)

So he says to me, you gotta do something smart, baby, something big! He says you want to be a supervillain, right, and I go yeah baby, yeah yeah! What do I gotta do? He says you got bombs, blow up the Comet Club, it's packed with superheroes…you'll go down in supervillain history and I go Yeah baby 'cause I'm the Evil Midnight Bomber what Bombs at Midnight!!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! (sound byte)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm Udderly Thrilled!

I have LEGO cows!

Explanation: I finally got myself the LEGO Medieval Market Village, complete with LEGO cows! I'm very excited about this. Of course, my daughter will probably be in school by the time I have enough free time to put it together, but that's not important. The LEGO cows are in my possession!

Special Blog Bonus: I finally caught up on my LEGO news. Here are some pretty slick models I've found:

  • I'm generally not into mechs (or whatever they call LEGO robot type thingies), but this model impressed me. Wish I could build like that... or had the time to try.
  • There seems to be a LEGO genre where a dark force is taking over the world. I've seen several models of this sort, but this one is my favorite by far.
  • This model is just a good old-fashioned castle, complete with the wood-on-stone buildings that I like so much.
  • And finally, this is just an impressive little piece of LEGO architecture.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shawshank You Very Much

I'm Tommy, the new guy. I'm always happy! I know who killed your wife. Isn't that crappy?

Source: This JibJab video, which presents the Shawshank Redemption in about a minute:

Special thanks to Evil Jeremy for sending me this clip.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BOGO Revisited

Buy one pair of shoes, get one half off is not BOGO.

Explanation: I know I've talked about BOGO and BOGOHO before, but I'm still seeing annoying advertisements, so I'm still going to complain about it. There is a local shoe retailer advertising their BOGO spectacular, where you can buy one pair of shoes and get one pair half off. This is NOT a BOGO offer. Ordinarily, I'd say it's a BOGOHO - buy one get one half off, but it isn't even that! It's buy one pair, get one pair half off. That's BOPGOPHO. To simplify, you're buying three shoes and getting one for free. It's a BTGO sale. Of course, BTGO is hard to pronounce, and since the shoes are priced as pairs, it's a little misleading. Luckily, I'm not much of a shoe shopper, so I probably won't be partaking in this misleading little sale of theirs.

Monday, April 20, 2009

You're So Mormoney and You Don't Even Know It

Dear Utah,

Please be careful with my money.


Explanation: The exciting financial events in my daughter's life just keep rolling by. First we received her birth certificate. Then her Social Security number. And now, thanks to a long morning nap on Saturday, I have opened her 529 college savings account! Woo-hoo! I've never been more proud of my little tax deduction.

If you've never looked into 529 accounts, they are pretty simple in theory. You open a tax-deferred investment account to save for college. Each state has a plan (or several plans). Some state plans offer a tax deduction on contributions by their residents. New Jersey does not. So there you go. I just had to pick a plan and open an account.

The problem is this. If your state plan does not offer benefits that make it the obvious choice, you then have to pick from over a hundred plans. Each plan charges differently - some have annual fees that are either fixed or percentages, some charge management fees, and of course there are the fees built into whatever fund you invest in. It's not just comparing apples and oranges - you're comparing a whole basket of fruit. It isn't pretty.

After over an hour of research, trying to find the perfect plan, I settled on Utah. It may not be right for everyone, but I figured it was the best choice for us. So there you go. My daughter's education hopes rest with the great state of Utah. Don't let us down Utah. We need you to come through for us.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mixed Emotions

I'm happy! No, wait, I'm sad. Wait - happy again. PUSH! PUSH! Nope, definitely miserable. Miserably happy. No, I think I'm angry. Or happy. I can't decide.

Explanation: My daughter can now smile. It's way cool and it makes Sarah and me quite happy when she smiles at us. The smiles, however, don't always come at appropriate times. Sometimes she's clearly in a good mood. Sometimes she's in the middle of doing some "work" (if you know what I mean). Sometimes they just come out of nowhere.

Yesterday morning was a prime example. Kari had just woken up, so she had a full agenda ahead of her: being happy to be alive, loving her parents, loudly requesting a meal, and waging war on some poor Sesame Street character. Unfortunately, her ability to prioritize isn't quite there yet, so she just took care of everything at once. This led to two minutes of smiles interspersed with screaming, crying, "pushing," and angry faces.

We, of course, reacted to this like any concerned parents would. We laughed hysterically at her.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Battle Wages On

Sorry, Ernie, but you lost. Let's see how Elmo fares.

Explanation: There is a constant battle being waged in our household. It happens all day, every day. It is an epic struggle, and while it is interesting from a distance, on the front lines it is more scary than you could possibly imagine. In a seemingly neverending line, the brave warriors set off, one by one, to face the gravest of dangers all alone. Some emerge with only minor wounds. Some are brutally defeated. None ever returns.

You see, Pampers has a contract with Sesame Street to put their characters on the front of diapers. Those pour souls must do battle with the most foul creations my daughter can muster. Believe me, they are foul. The victorious do not emerge unscathed, they merely contain the damage to the battlefield. The defeated are not so lucky. This morning Ernie lost an epic battle in which several innocent articles of clothing perished as well. Collateral damage from a devastating war. Elmo has been faring well lately. Big Bird has seen mixed results. Cookie Monster? Not good. One thing is certain: My daughter never loses.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Tax Man is Cometh-ing

This is your friendly reminder to pay your taxes early and often today.

Explanation: Today is tax day! It's that special time of the year when the tax man comes down your chimney and takes presents out of the pockets of all the good little boys and girls. Ironically, the bad little boys and girls get to keep everything in their pockets, but will most likely face the music someday when they're appointed to Cabinet posts.

This is a great day for those of us who have already paid our taxes, and a terrible day for those of us who haven't. I happen to fall into the first camp, which is why I have time to write this blog entry instead of pulling my hair out in front of a pile of paperwork. Normally, I like to get my taxes done as early as possible, but Daddy's little tax deduction made that difficult this year. In fact, I probably still wouldn't have them done if it weren't for a well-timed three hour nap by said tax deduction on a Saturday morning - a rarity in our house.

If you have finished your taxes, join me in the celebration! If you haven't, what are you doing reading this? OK, fine, just file for an extension and join the party, too!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Buying Vowels

"Yes, I'd like to buy a vowel please."

Explanation: My wife and I were out shopping one day in Pottery Barn for Kids, looking to use some store credit we have there. On the back wall, with a big "SALE" sign were wooden letters you can use for decorating your child's room. They had two kinds, big and small, and we decided the small ones, which were red, would match our daughter's room. As an added bonus, the small ones were on sale, which is always important at a store where everything is twice as expensive as it ought to be.

We walked up to the counter and asked the clerk how we would go about getting our daughter's name in those letters. She told us we could certainly get those letters, but they were completely out of vowels, which was why they were on sale. She did, however, suggest we go to A.C. Moore, who has similar wooden letters which you can paint yourself. My wife did that and they look great. The whole ordeal would have been easier if we had just given her a name with no vowels. Next time we'll know better.

Contest Results: The official weighing was performed at lunch time yesterday and our daughter weighs 10 pounds and 2 ounces! I was guessing nine and a half. Thank you all for your entries. As none of you have the anatomy necessary to feed my daughter, though, you are all disqualified and the winner is my wife! Congratulations, honey! Enjoy your 3am feeding!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Monday Contest

Guess my daughter's current weight! Winner wins an all-expense paid vacation to the 3am feeding of your choice!

Explanation: Yes, it's a Monday contest on the blog! My daughter has her two-month checkup this afternoon, where she will be weighed for the first time in a month. If you can guess the closest to her current weight, you will win an all-expense paid vacation to the 3am feeding of your choice! That's right - you can experience the joy and splendor of waking up at three o'clock in the morning to the sound of a crying baby. Change your very own diaper! Try for over an hour to get the little girl back to sleep, knowing that the minute you put her down in the crib, she'll just wake up again! This fabulous prize can be yours if... the weight is right!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finally, A Post

Remember, past performance is not an indication of future results.

Explanation: This may be the golden rule of being the parent of a newborn child. Not only do we not have a schedule in our house, but every time I think we have a schedule, it changes on me. Let's hope the same holds true for the stock market, huh?

In Case You Care: The answer to last week's math problem is (x-1)(y-1) - 1. So, for x=5 and y=11, the biggest number that cannot be made out of 5's and 11's is 4*10-1 = 39. Sure enough, if you consider the numbers that can be made from 5's and 11's, the list looks like this:

0 = 5*0 + 11*0
5 = 5*1 + 11*0
10 = 5*2 + 11*0
11 = 5*0 + 11*1
15 = 5*3 + 11*0
16 = 5*1 + 11*1
20 = 5*4 + 11*0
21 = 5*2 + 11*1
22 = 5*0 + 11*2
25 = 5*5 + 11*0
26 = 5*3 + 11*1
27 = 5*1 + 11*2
30 = 5*6 + 11*0
31 = 5*4 + 11*1
32 = 5*2 + 11*2
33 = 5*0 + 11*3
35 = 5*7 + 11*0
36 = 5*5 + 11*1
37 = 5*3 + 11*2
38 = 5*1 + 11*3
40 = 5*8 + 11*0
41 = 5*6 + 11*1
42 = 5*4 + 11*2
43 = 5*2 + 11*3
44 = 5*0 + 11*4

At this point, we have reached a string of five consecutive numbers (our x), which means we can make all numbers greater than that by simply adding multiples of 5 to 40, 41, 42, 43, or 44.

As I can't remember enough number theory to write a proof here, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Sorry for the missing post yesterday and the late one today - it has been a busy week for me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Famous Last Words

"I'll just leave the grill cover off for the night. It's nice out, there's no way it could rain."

Explanation: I used my grill last night! Last week, my wife was kind enough to go pick up propane for me (while I watched the little one) and I've been itching to grill since then. The first two times it was raining or looked like rain, so I didn't bother. Then we finally got a nice day, only to discover that the burger meat in the fridge was way past its due date. Yesterday everything finally was on the same page and I made burgers.

When the grill was done, I turned everything off, but it was still quite hot, so I just left the cover off it for the evening. As night rolled around, I thought today's status message to myself and figured I'd just cover the grill in the morning.

Of course, at like 4:00 this morning, I awoke to thunder and POURING rain, at which point I cursed my meteorological optimism... and then went back to sleep. I'm beginning to think my grill has somehow offended nature.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Volleyball Update

We won in four games and nobody got hurt.

Explanation: As you may recall, two weeks ago, I played a volleyball match very aggressively against a very nice team because two players on a completely different team had really ticked me off. Well, last night we played the team I don't particularly love. I am happy to report that we won the match in four games. I will also report, neither happily nor sadly, that nobody got hit in the face with a volleyball.

On the bright side, nobody on our team got hurt, which is important considering that three weeks ago we lost 3 players in one game due to injuries. For the record, my teammate who elbowed another teammate in the face was still able to play. Anyway, we're still tied for first in spite of our forfeit last week. The playoffs start soon!

Follow Up From Yesterday: I have derived a formula to answer yesterday's math question, but I would like to take some time to try to prove it before sharing. For those of you who were still hoping to play with this problem, you have an extension. Good luck!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Math Makes Me Happy!

If x and y are relatively prime positive integers, what is the greatest value z such that there do not exist integers A and B (>=0) to make the equation Ax + By = z true?

Explanation: I think the explanation of this status will perhaps be more disturbing than the actual message. Then again, if you're a returning visitor to this blog, you probably already know how disturbed I am.

There is a game I play on Facebook in which (among other things) you have an allotment of energy with which to do jobs. The jobs each have an energy cost associated with them. So, let's say you have 20 energy and there are jobs that require 1 energy, 5 energy, and 6 energy. You can do 20 of the first job, or 4 of the second job, or 3 of the third job (with 2 energy left over, perhaps to do the first job twice as well). That part is pretty simple.

There is also a feature called an "energy boost" which will automatically refill your energy AND gives you 25% more on top of that. Because the energy boost refills your energy for free, it is beneficial to use all of your energy up before you apply the energy boost. For example, if you have 4 energy points left (with a max of 20) and you apply the energy boost, you end up with 25 energy points, with a net gain of 21 points. If you use the 4 energy points before applying the energy boost, you go from 0 to 25, netting you 25 points. The less energy you have, the more you benefit from the energy boost.

From this logic arose some interesting situations. If I have an energy boost available and I still have 137 out of 150 possible energy points, how do I break down the jobs I can do such that I end up with 0 energy. It's not as easy to compute when your jobs take 5, 8, 13, 22, and 27 energy. So I started to wonder...

Can I know without a doubt that, if my energy total is high enough, it is possible to get down to 0 before I start to do my jobs? I figured I'd start with the case where only two jobs are available. Clearly, the job costs have to be relatively prime. If they weren't, 4 and 6 for example, then number that isn't a multiple of their shared factor (odd numbers in this case) would leave a remainder.

I started to do the math and found a neat little formula that tells me without a doubt that if an energy total is above a certain level, I am guaranteed to be able to zero out my energy using relatively prime job costs. I'm not sure why it works yet, but I know I found the solution.

Can you find an answer? Can you tell me why it works? I'm almost certain there's a fundamental theorem in number theory lying around which covers this, but I haven't the time to look it up right now. Do you think Euler had to interrupt his work to change diapers? I think not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Little Sleeper

She did it! Kari slept through the night!

Explanation: Only seven weeks into her life and my little girl slept all the way through the night last night! After never having gone more than 6 hours between feedings (and even that was rare) she slept for ten straight hours and WOKE UP PLEASANTLY! It's a miracle! I'm so well-rested I can't even explain it to you. What a wonderful glorious day this is! Wait, let me write this date down so I can remember it and commemmorate the occasion: "April 1, 2009."

April Fools! OK, so maybe she only slept for 3 hours at a time last night. The important thing is, I'm awake enough to be aware of what day it is. That's something!