Sunday, March 30, 2008

Considering how infrequent my posts have become (and how outdated blogging has become), this will be my last post.

I'll leave you with my usual late March posts:

Baseball bets:

Tampa Bay over 75 wins
Seattle under 84 wins

March Madness bracket update:

I had Louisville, Texas, Kansas, and UCLA in my Final 4, but if Kansas beats North Carolina on Saturday, I'm going to be in the money of my company's office pool anyway. Go Jayhawks!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

One of my co-workers apparently has a lot of time. Here's something he wrote up about Cal basketball.

Dear Abby,

I’ve been in a on-again, off-again relationship with Ben Braun and his Cal Golden Bears for nearly 12 years. Things started off great. In his first year, Ben swept me off my feet – taking Cal to the Sweet 16 and winning Pac10 Coach of the Year. I really thought he was The One, and that we’d live happily ever after. But since then, it’s been a roller coaster relationship.

What’s most painful is that I keep having my hopes raised, only to have them subsequently dashed. In the last decade, Ben has taken me to the NCAA tournament five times – only to lose in the 1st or 2nd round each time.

He has promised me contention for the Pac10 title a few times, and we’ve gotten close before, but he’s never been able to deliver. In 2004, he brought in a top 10 recruiting class with two McDonalds All-Americans. We had losing records the next two years.

This year has been more of the same. Braun got my hopes up by going 9-2 in the non-conference schedule, and beating #22 USC in the opening conf game. But then he lowered the boom – three straight down-to-the-wire losses on our home floor against good but beatable competition. Sick of the heartbreak, I finally broke it off one more (hopefully last) time.

But Ben is back at it again. He promises he has changed. He promises things will be different this time. He even brought me two road victories over the Washington schools.

My mother and all my friends say to cut him loose – he’s a nice guy, but he’ll never bring home the bacon, and you’ll be left heartbroken again and again. Abby, I am torn. Please help me. What would you advise me to do?


Afraid to Hope Again

Dear Afraid,

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a difference outcome. Ben has had 12 years to prove himself to you, but has never been able to deliver what you are looking for in this relationship.

For a little perspective, consider the other BCS girls out there who’ve been steady with the same guy for 11+ years:

Current Coaches at Same BCS-Conference School Since 1996

Jim Boeheim (Syracuse, since 1976)
Mike Krzyzewski (Duke, since 1980)
Lute Olson (Arizona, since 1983)
Jim Calhoun (Connecticut, since 1986)
Gary Williams (Maryland, since 1989)
Ben Braun (California, since 1996)
Billy Donovan (Florida, since 1996)
Tom Izzo (Michigan State, since 1996)

Besides your Ben, the other seven coaches have all won National Championships. Not just conference championships and Final Four appearances, but the whole enchilada.

College basketball’s a ‘win or go home’ world, and most coaches end up going home. By this measure, your patience with Braun has been just shy of masochistic.

My advice: let him go. Protect your heart. It’s never going to happen with Braun, so don’t waste valuable emotion, time, and energy on him. Cutting him loose will hurt in the short term, but will save you untold pain and suffering into the future.

Better to start fresh. Mr. Right is out there – you might as well start looking now.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Is it just me, or is Bill Simmons' next NBA article already written for him?

Let's start with the headline found on ESPN:

Grizzlies trade Gasol for Lakers' Brown

This has to be one of the most startling sports headlines I've ever read.

It took me about 15 seconds for me to get over the amazement of that headline.

One of the best low post players in the NBA for one of the biggest busts in NBA history?

Reading the article, you realize that the Lakers gave up the following:
- Kwame Brown, AKA Kwame Brown's expiring contract
- A retired player (Aaron McKie, for salary cap purposes)
- Tommie Aaron/Dom DiMaggio/Billy Ripken, I mean, Pau's brother Marc
- More than half of their draft picks between 2007 and 2010 (2 in '07, 1 in '08, 2 in '10)
- And some more cash

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today for work, I went to a training by Edward Tufte on the best way to present data.

One of the things Tufte encourages is the use of sparklines, small graphs that are very efficient because they store a large quantity of time series data in a small amount of space.

Here's a book excerpt about sparklines.

Friday, January 25, 2008

DVDs I own:

TV shows:

The Wire: Seasons 1 - 4
Arrested Development: The Complete Series
Family Guy: Volumes 1 - 3
The Office: Seasons 1 & 3
The Simpsons: Season 8

Office Space
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The Simpsons Movie

2002 Angels World Championship

The Wire and Arrested Development are the only 2 DVDs I've ever paid for; I've received all of the others as gifts.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I wrote up the following quiz on facebook about FICO scores.

1) How many FICO scores does a person have?
A) 1
B) 2
C) 3
D) 4
2) The median US FICO score is:
A) 660
B) 680
C) 700
D) 720
3) Which of the following does NOT affect your FICO score?
A) Gross income
B) Requests for new credit
C) Your adverse public record info
D) Collection agency accounts
4) Which of the following likely affects your FICO score MOST?
A) Amount owed on credit cards
B) Number of credit cards with balances
C) Difference of credit limits minus amount owed
D) Ratio of amount owed / credit limits
5) Which of the following likely affects your FICO score MOST?
A) Time since oldest credit account opened
B) Time since most recent credit account opened
C) Time since oldest credit account opened on active accounts
D) Time since most recent credit account opened on active accounts
6) Which of the following likely affects your FICO score MOST?
A) When your first late payment was
B) When your last late payment was
C) Average length of time your payments are late
D) How many times your payments have been late
7) Which of the following most likely affects your FICO score?
A) Checking your credit report or FICO score
B) Searching for a credit card in the last month
C) Searching for a mortgage in the last month
D) Searching for an auto loan in the last month
8) Which of the following is likely to improve your FICO score?
A) Consolidating debt
B) Closing inactive credit cards
C) Opening new credit cards
D) None of the above
9) Which federally-mandated website allows you to check your credit report for free?
A) credit.com
B) creditreport.com
C) annualcreditreport.com
D) freecreditreport.com
10) Which website has the most useful information about FICO scores?
A) credit.com
B) creditscore.com
C) fairisaac.com
D) myfico.com
11) Which of the following do you need to receive a valid FICO score?
A) An account opened 6 or more months ago
B) An account updated in last 6 months
C) All of the above
D) None of the above
12) What is the commonly-sited FICO score range?
A) 400 - 900
B) 300 - 850
C) 100 - 900
D) 0 - 99
13) Over the life of a 36 month $25K auto loan, approximately how much more will you pay if your FICO score is 660 instead of 720?
A) 656
B) 1656
C) 3656
D) 5656
Correct answers can be found in this post's comments.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rough day.

DeSean Jackson is leaving for the NFL, which isn't too surprising.

In other news, my company stock dropped 19% today, one of the market's biggest declines today.

Since yesterday: 19% decline
Since the beginning of the year: 28% decline
Since mid-November: 43% decline

I participate in our company's stock purchase plan, where we get a 15% discount on shares at the beginning of each 6 month period. It took less than 10 business days for my shares to fall below that 15% break-even point.

Worst part about this is that I actually put in a limit order a couple times last week to sell my shares. I put the limit barely above the market price but my shares were never sold... Argh... that's what I get for not selling my shares right away...