Monday, May 31, 2010

The Indianapolis Zoo - Cheetah Edition

The Indianapolis Zoo opened its Cheetah exhibit this weekend; hosted by Tony Stewart's likeness. The cheetahs have a permanent home at the Indy Zoo now. They won't be moving along anytime soon. I am proud to boast that the exhibit was designed by my brother-in-law and his company (Rotostudio). Mason was first in line to race the cheetah this morning.

Mason came in a close second to the cheetah time (Hey, I thought they always said that 'cheetahs never win'. Maybe I am confused) to cover 70 feet. Anyway, Mason had fun and the cheetahs were beautiful to look at.

Then it was off to the perennial favorites including the dolphin show, the snakes and petting the sharks.

We ended up at the water park ... as we always do.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quarter No. 1 ... done.

For a week, I get to put down my text books and pick up a delicious novel; devoid of demand curves, absent of accounting and filled with color and characters. I have been holding onto my latest novel since right after Christmas, when I was studying for GMAT. It is The Charm School, written by Nelson DeMille. The Dallas Morning News calls it (or called it since it was published in 1988) "A rousing espionage adventure." I call it a welcome break from textbooks, quizzes and finals. I can't wait to dive in. For one week I get to indulge myself. Then it is back to Data Analysis and Decision Making along with Operations and Supply Management.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Mallory is 3 and 1/2 (speeding toward 13) but she still needs the occasional lift in a stroller. With many summer adventures planned we knew that we needed an umbrella stroller that was easy to pack and light. The problem with umbrella strollers is that they are made for people who are 5'6". That is neither me nor Noel.

So, I went to work at the newly tooled work bench. My plan was to take the handles off of a old stroller and attach them higher up on the the newer one. You can see my work below.

  • Used Stroller from Once Upon A Child: $8
  • Various nuts, bolts and washers from Lowe's: $1.96
  • Not having to bend over pushing your child in a stroller: Priceless

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This sums it up

From today's Wall Street Journal:
"This oil spill is a reminder—unpleasant for a public raised on fabulous technological advancement, and for an Administration engaged in taking over U.S. health-care and Wall Street—that government is not the Wizard of Oz able to solve every problem. It is closer, this time as in most cases, to the Wizard of Id."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

I have been meaning to weigh in the on the illustrious Attorney General from the state of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, and his comments about his military service 'in' Vietnam versus 'during' Vietnam.

I find it a bit suspect that he would describe his service as 'in Vietnam'. While it is possible that he 'misspoke' (as he puts it), I find it troubling that he would have referred to his service in this way multiple times without making an effort to correct his language.

I graduated from the basic airborne course in 1996. I am very proud of that fact given my significant, and highly irrational, fear of heights. While at Fort Benning, I bought a t-shirt with big airborne wings on the back. Once in a while, while wearing it, a salty old veteran will ask if I was 'airborne'. I am quick to tell him (or her if a woman ever asks) that I just went to airborne school and that I was never in an airborne unit. You see, there is a big difference between serving in an airborne unit and being airborne qualified. The same can be said for being a 'ranger' and being a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School. These subtle, yet distinct, differences mean the world of difference to those that have served in these elite units.

The same can be said for service in different theaters of war. I served during 'Afghanistan', but I surely know that I never served in Afghanistan. A statement like that is false, self-serving and cheapens the service of those who have fought and died fighting the Taliban.

As a proud veteran of the Iraq conflict, I would be offended if someone claimed service for something that I or the hundreds of thousands of others accomplished while soaking up the sun in Baghdad (or other vacation destination).

I don't think I can give Blumenthal a pass on his characterization of his service. While it may not seem like a big deal, I think it speaks volumes about his character that we would let the belief that he served remain without trying to correct it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring Soccer

Spring soccer is once again upon us and Mason continues to enjoy the game. This is his fourth season and the evolution has been quite remarkable. From chasing butterflies across the field, the children now understand the concept and benefits of passing the soccerball to team mates among other keys to the game.

The league still does not keep score at the U6 level (although the kids sure do). They don't use goalies for another year or so, but the level of intensity is high and the play is physical. It is fun to watch.

A Year of Blogging

One year ago, I decided to put jot my thoughts down and share them with the blogosphere. Well, 230 posts later, I am enjoying sharing my family adventures and thoughts about the important and not-so-important things happening around us.

Thanks to all who have logged on, read the posts and left comments. I appreciate your readership. Here is to many, many more.

Subsidizing Pro Sports In Indy

For those of you that don’t follow sports and/or politics in Indianapolis, let me bring you up to speed. The Pacers wish to renegotiate their contract of the Conseco Fieldhouse and want to have the city pay for all of the operating costs … to the tune of $15 million per year. The Pacers, who have lost $200 million since being purchased by Herb Simon (local Billionaire) 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Indianapolis is grappling with closing six public libraries because there isn’t money to pay for them.

I think it is time that the citizens of Indianapolis take a stand against the Pacers and subsidizing professional sports in general. In a recent report commissioned by the Capital Improvement Board (the folks that run the Conseco Fieldhouse), the authors extolled the virtues of professional sports, citing the millions upon millions of dollars of economic activity that would be lost if our Pacers would leave. They also discuss intrinsic values including the joy that a franchise brings. I would like to debunk both.

Should franchises continue to enjoy these generous subsidies from taxpayers? The answer is no. John Sigfried and Andrew Zimbalist, both economics professors, have written widely on the subject. According to their research: "Few fields of empirical economic offer virtual unanimity of findings yet independent work of the economic impact on stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."

But what about the $55 million that the Hunden report discussed? How will Indianapolis deal with the shortfall in economic activity? Will there even be a shortfall?

Almost all Hoosiers have a fixed leisure budget. They will spend this money at Pacers games or at Colts games or at a restaurant, movie theater or bowling alley. Should the Pacers leave, these recreation-seeking residents will find a way to entertain themselves while still spending money. So, in effect, the Pacers leaving would have no impact on the city. In fact, some economists argue that the Pacers (along with the Colts) are pulling money out of Marion County. Let me explain.

If I spend money at a downtown restaurant, that money has a better chance of staying in the local economy when the waitresses, cooks and restaurant owners spend that money locally. On the contrary, much of the revenue generated by the Pacers goes to pay players. How many players do you think live in Marion County? My guess is not many. That, coupled with many of these players falling in the top marginal income tax bracket, close to half of money is sent to the federal and state coffers, with the balance being spent outside Indianapolis.

Hunden tries to argue the intangible benefits of pro sports and being a ‘big league’ city. Did Oklahoma City suddenly become a big deal because of the Thunder? Do you look down your nose at Seattle since they lost the Supersonics? My guess is that your opinion of these cities has not changed based whether or not they have an NBA franchise. The immeasurables include the joy that he team brings. In economics terms, this is referred to as ‘consumer surplus’, or the difference between what fans are willing to pay to see a sporting event live or watch it on TV and what they actually pay. For casual fans this is minimal. But for the die-hard Pacers fans, it can be a lot. The problem is that these fans tend to be higher income and, when we subsidize the Conseco Field House, we are transferring money from the population as a whole to this subset of fans. The money used to pay for these facilities, like sales taxes, hit the lower income brackets harder as they are highly regressive.

Professor Robert Whaples, who teaches economics at Wake Forest University, surveyed economists whether local governments should subsidize stadiums and arenas. A full 85percent said no, while just five percent said yes.

The city would be best served discarding the Hunden report and commissioning an independent study that estimates the true impact while studying what cities have done in parts of the country that have lost NBA franchises. It is time to put tax payers first.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


It turns out that the smartest guys in government and in the oil industry have been staring at oil billowing into the ocean for a better part of a month. Maybe they should call these two guys:

(Hat Tip: GF)

For those of you that get the email feed, go to for the video

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The National Training Center

This evening, mommy, the kids and I were looking through some photos (the paper kind, like they had in olden days) and I came across some from my National Training Center Rotation (at Fort Irwin, CA) in November of 2002.

This picture is of Capt. Brian Herzig, our fire support officer, Maj. Jeff Meeker, our battalion executive officer, and Capt. Jon Meredith, the battalion plans officer. By the looks of it, this picture was probably taken between 0100 and 0300 during one of our all-night planning sessions. Our 'battle rhythm' was that we would sleep every other night.

This picture is of Capt. Tim Love and me.

Me and Capt. Jay Haley. The officers of the battalion had a mustache growing contest during the training rotation. We didn't judge last place but, surely, I would have 'won'.

Capt. Jon Meredith and Capt. C.J. Kirkpatrick in front of our TOC (Tactical Operations Center).

Staff Sgt Racicott, Corp. Franke, Private 1st Class Newman (who was my driver) and Private Espinoza. The latter three were the horsepower behind my Combat Trains Command Post (CTCP).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Focusing on Price

Great advice from Barry Ritholtz, the CEO of FusionIQ and author of Bailout Nation.
Always remember that price is the most important aspect of any investment. Today we keep hearing people talk about "toxic paper" on bank balance sheets. Will, it's toxic to the banks because they paid 100 cents on the dollar for it. To somebody who buys it for 30 cents or 40 cents on the dollar, it's not toxic at all. So there is no such thing as a toxic asset. There's no such thing as a damaged property. There is only a bad price.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Forgetting our Roots

Much has been made of the arrest of Faizal Shahzad and his attempt to blow up a car in Times Square. It is a big story that shows the best and worst of what America has to offer. (I am kind of stealing this point from a Wall Street Journal editorial but it isn't my main point). The WSJ and Sean Hannity, both of whom I agree with the vast majority of the time, have it wrong in this case.

Both are upset at Shahzad's arraignment in court. Eager to exploit what intelligence he may or may not have, both insist that 'mirandizing' him was wrong, or premature. We must remember that Shahzad is an American citizen. As Americans, we don't get to pick and choose when we afford rights to other Americans. Hannity argued on his radio show today that there may be an urgent need for more information as 'there are usually coordinated attacks', he argued. Name them, I say. Well there was 9/11 and ... uh, well, there are others I am sure.

But it is terrorism, they cry. Defined by whom? I am not saying it wasn't, but the last thing I want is some bureaucrat defining when the government can suspend my rights. A mall shooting is terrifying. Should we suspend the rights of the suspect of that horrible crime. Ask the victim of any home invasion if it is terrifying or not. Where does it stop? Who defines terror?

It seems that the WSJ and Hannity (among others) wish to presume the guilt of this American citizen. We have rules for dealing with enemy combatants and rules for dealing with American citizens. If we let the government take away the rights of one citizen, it is easier for them to come calling for others.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Forget Double Stuf!

My mother sometimes says I have too much time on my hands, based on some of my posts. Not as much time as this guy ...

funny food photos - A Whole Lot of Stuff

Spring Cleaning

Today I got the itch to downsize my workbench. When we moved in a little less than five years ago, Greg (my bro) came to visit and put together a big workbench. We have grown into our garage and need a bit more space.

Mason was quick to help using the tape measure on everything he could. "Dad, this is 11 inches." "Dad, this is 20 inches". Whoa! Dad! This is like 65 inches!".

It was a nice excuse to try out my Christmas gift. A wicked cool radial saw with a Dr. Evil 'laser-beam' on it.

Daddy and Mason (as seen by Mommy and Mallory)

Mason after sweeping up after the old workbench was removed.

The newer, sleeker workbench (very exciting).