Monthly Archive: June 2009

Oregon Coast Road Trip

For the last 5 days and for 3 more, my wife and I have been traveling up the Oregon Coast by car.  It has been our most impromptu vacation ever, by far.  She is a nurse, and managed to work out a long chunk of time between shifts with a bit of creative rescheduling.  But that was just 2.5 weeks or so ago.  Yet here we are (also thanks to a very understanding manager of mine), currently in Depoe Bay, where the sounds of waves crashing against rocks just 40 feet away and 20 feet below lulled me to sleep, and, in conjunction with the rising sun, has given me a peaceful morning.

Hopefully, I’ll be writing a series of reviews on the trip on this blog.  While researching, I found lots of opinions, but all seemed to be missing some details, deviated from books that people mentioned as useful from their own experiences, or were at odds with what the local residents stated.  This confused me.  I believe in getting the opinion of the local inn or hotel keeper about restaurants, etc, and I depend on guide books to help me find the right locations.  And the kindness of others out there to tell me what is really worthwhile during an 8 day trip, as many has does this exact same itinerary in the past.  So maybe I can fill things in a bit.  We’ll see.

The trip started out with a 7 hour drive straight to Brookings, where we essentially just wanted to stay the night but actually had a bit of time to enjoy the sunset.  Then onto 2 nights at Bandon, a night each in Yachats and Depoe Bay, then finishing with 2 in Pacific City.  I’ll start with Brookings in the next post, hopefully to be written tonight.

coordinates and street addresses

I’m heading out on a trip along the Oregon coast very soon and have been trying to make sure my GPS can find all of the hotels we’ve booked.  The problem is that many of them are just addresses along the highway.  That’s probably fine, but I know that, for instance, in Big Sur, there are addresses like “100 Highway 1” that won’t work at all.

Coordinates, however, are supported by my GPS.  But google maps does not convert the indicated address location into coordinates.  Or at least it doesn’t do so in an obvious way.

It turns out that if you select the link option after mapping a place, embedded in that link are the coordinates, though they aren’t formatted correctly and will likely need a bit of testing to make sure they’re right.  Rather frustrating and I think a bad feature to omit, but I guess I should be happy there is a workaround at all.

More google thoughts later…

How to become a SCUMBAG in 2 years

First – a SCUMBAG is a Santa Clara University MBA Graduate.  It’s also an acronym that I really don’t like, but it’s catchy for a blog post title.  Works at the twitter-size level.

When I first entered the SCU evening MBA program, I was provided two options for how to get through the program in either 2 or 3 years.  The former included taking 3 classes per quarter in the Fall, Winter, and Spring, and then 2 in the summers.  It was pretty intense, and I realized that I was likely to come much closer to 3 than 2.

Well, it turns out I could have finished in 2, despite a far less taxing schedule.  Before you go onto “more,” I will say that I have slowed down my course progress a bit to time my enrollment in the ultimate “Capstone” course with a large group of others that increase my chances of being on a good team.  And so that I can use Santa Clara’s employee tuition program to take a few classes out of pure interest, rather than only those required and needed to graduate.  So I am looking at 2.75 years.  But somehow I could have finished in 2… (more…)

On-site photo printing: lessons learned

At a wedding this past weekend, I was hired to set up a backdrop, take photos of guests, and print them on site.  I had never done this before (the client knew that) but put together and tested a setup of having a computer control the camera, automatically feeding the image into an editing and printing program, and bought a printer that produces “ready to go,” fully dry and archival prints in about 30-45 seconds.

The couple set out “tickets” at each seat which were good for 1 print (multiple photos could be taken for the benefit of the couple, but only 1 print per ticket).  The couple also wanted the guests to be able to choose from the photos and pick the one they wanted to have printed.

Needless to say, I learned quite a few things.

First, it is borderline impossible to do this alone.  An assistant is almost a requirement.  I think that, if I laid everything out in a very tight arrangement right around the camera, I might have been able to do it.  I would probably mount the camera and computer on a single multi-mount tripod accessory, then have the printer on a table right next to me.

Second, letting the guests choose from multiple photos is a bad idea.  It just clogs up that part of the process.  It should be highly controlled – guests get one photo, the photo is printed.  I can do that with a few clicks after each shot.  Now, we could still use the tickets so that guests could have barter tickets and get multiple photos taken, but only 1 photo per ticket, and that photo gets printed, period.

Third, I need either 2 or 3 of these consumer dye-sublimation printers or shell out the $2000+ for a professional grade one.  30 seconds seems fine when working out a workflow in one’s living room, but is way too long when people start hovering over you wanting 1 more print, 1 more print, or if they start queueing up and we have to close up shop early just to make sure all the prints come out.  The consumer printers also can’t handle the prolonged generation of heat that well.

Finally, and on a good note, small, hot-shoe strobes worked just fine for this situation.  I did not have to bring in big professional lights, though I would have if I had the chance.  Battery packs for faster recycling is a must, though.

The “let them fall” concept of macroeconomics

Last night, on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Peter Schiff was interviewed.  Schiff is an “economic commentator” (as compared to an economist?) and the head of a brokerage firm.  Stewart showed a number of clips of Schiff on CNBC prior to the current economic crisis warning of the dangers of the housing bubble, sub-prime mortgages, and over-leveraged companies and individuals.  These comments were made well in advance of the actual recognition of the situation and there is audio of people actually laughing while he is talking (I got the impression they were other guests of panel shows, not the moderators or CNBC folks themselves, but I cannot be sure).

At any rate, the gist of Schiff’s argument is that

  1. The government should have let companies fail.  No company is too big to fail.
  2. The market will dictate how things will fall out in the end, even if it means massive recession for now.  The market is strong.
  3. This is all because of how messed up things were, so let’s let the bad die out
  4. The government is just making things worse by intervening, and we might have hyperinflation.

In some ways, I find this very dangerous.  In others, thought-provoking.


BBC NEWS | Business | Obama pledges 600,000 summer jobs

BBC NEWS | Business | Obama pledges 600,000 summer jobs.

One thing I know is that there is a lag when it comes to fiscal policy.  The government spends the money, but creation of jobs takes a bit of time as projects are identified, and certainly hiring into those jobs takes time, then income, then willingness to spend, then GDP rise.  

But I wonder how long the lag usually is.  This is something we never studied really in my macroeconomics classes.

I also wonder whether the fear of spending for the sake of spending (which is actually kind of okay when the goal is to SPEND above all else) made selection of “shovel-ready” projects a lot more difficult.  So even if a project was ready to go there was still more scrutiny, so it took longer to get going, so jobs are still falling.

Smart move: Feds refuse to buy troubled assets with TARP – Jun. 8, 2009

Smart move: Feds refuse to buy troubled assets with TARP – Jun. 8, 2009 .

I am usually not one to question Allan Sloan (but who am I to say I do or do not question person X or Y – I’m kinda nobody), but this is kind of a strange argument.

Okay, in our 20/20 hindsight, maybe, just maybe, the Treasury’s switch-a-roo with TARP to invest in bank equity instead of buying off troubled assets wasn’t so terrible.  I still think it’s lousy to have done that, but maybe Sloan has a point that the obstacles of figuring out exactly how to value those troubled assets might have killed the effort in the first place.

But we knew about those obstacles.  And I think the folks running TARP had a pretty good amount of leverage they could wield.  And, finally, Sloan’s use of the problems other, quasi-similar programs have faced as reasons why TARP would have been just have difficult to implement is a weird way around.  Just because another program has had problems doesn’t mean TARP would have had such problems.

And those assets are still sitting on bank balance sheets.  Massive recapitalization is still needed.  Hm.

The stagflation myth – Paul Krugman Blog –

The stagflation myth – Paul Krugman Blog –

The whole thing about stagflation is kind of weird.  The term refers to the economic situation of the 1970’s, where one had high unemployment and inflation.  Usually you don’t have both.

First, there is a misconception about inflation.  It’s not that we print all this money and it’s now worth less.  It’s more that prices go up and a loaf of bread that cost $1.50 yesterday now costs $2.  So the money is worth less but because of prices, not the actual number of bills out there.  In fact, in terms of real money supply, over time the rise in prices brings everything back to a steady state.  

So, usually, as unemployment goes down…i.e. people get jobs and have salaries and start buying things, they tolerate higher prices more and more, and we have inflation.  So you don’t usually have both at the same time.

Economists fall into two general categories when it comes to macroeconomic policies – those that control and influence the overall, national economy.  The first comes from “neoclassical” or “conservative” angles, where government involvement should be small or is useless, and that it’s all about the central bank (The Fed) moving interest rates around to keep everything stable.  In theory, that should work.

The other group follows roughly those ideas put forth by John Maynard Keynes in 19…36, I think.  He basically said that we can affect demand through government spending.  Moving demand moves prices, output, etc, and we can pull ourselves out of recessions and other problems.  Of course, the ideal scenario is a combination of fiscal (gov’t) and monetary (Fed) policies that work together.  

Many conservatives point to stagflation as proof that the Keynesian economists had it all wrong.  However, it’s not that they were wrong, it’s more that since their theories targeted demand and stagflation couldn’t be solved by moving demand around, then Keynesian policies were wrong.  But that’s like saying…just because I can’t make a car go faster with higher octane gas, then high octane gas is useless or “wrong” or something.

TiVo Wins Round 2 Against EchoStar – BusinessWeek

TiVo Wins Round 2 Against EchoStar – BusinessWeek.

Considering all that TiVo has done wrong in trying to build up its subscriber base (I mean, it’s a great service, but they never really reacted to DVR’s from Comcast and other cable providers, etc, and that market just went away…), it’s great to know that they have been successful in defending their idea.

And seriously, EchoStar should just suck it up like they did before and pay a licensing fee to TiVo.  They get all of these other perks of the TiVo service, too. You lose the original case and an appeal, along with $209 million?  Sheesh.