Friday, May 15, 2015

Quote of the day...

Quote of the day ... anthropogenic global warming skeptic edition:
What I would like to emphasize is that human actions have very large effects on the ecology, which have nothing to do with the climate. Carbon dioxide is what we're producing in big quantities and putting into the atmosphere. This happens to be a very good fertilizer for all kinds of vegetation, good for wildlife, good for agricultural production, so it has many benefits. And this is something you have together with the climate effects, which are much less certain, so it's a question of drawing a balance. I'm just saying I don't understand it and neither does anybody else. I'm skeptical because I don't think the science is at all clear, and unfortunately a lot of the experts really believe they understand it, and maybe have the wrong answer.

Of course [the weather] concerns me, but of course, we don't know much about the causes of those things. We don't even know for sure whether it is more variable than it used to be. I mean the worst disasters were the Ice Ages, and nobody really understands for sure the causes of Ice Ages, so I'm not saying the climate disasters aren't real, I'm merely saying we don't know how to prevent them.
That's Freeman Dyson, in a quote from an interview about his new book...

Fun with big data...

Fun with big data...  On this web site you can check the popularity (in America) of just about any given name.  The site has a disclaimer for data prior to 1940.

The chart at right shows the result for my own given name (“Thomas”).  You can see that “peak Thomas” (the raw data is downloadable) was in 1952 – the year I was born.  I've always assumed that I was named after my dad, but (perhaps coincidentally) my name was also at its peak popularity that year.

The chart at left shows quite a different result for “Holly” – my sister's name.  Even at its peak (in 1983), “Holly” wasn't nearly as common as “Thomas” – but in 1955, when my sister was born, it was much less so.

My wife's given name is Deborah, and when I checked her name the results were even more dramatic (at right).  “Peak Deborah” was in 1954; she was born in 1955, and at that point the name was more popular than “Thomas” for boys.  But prior to 1944, there were almost no women named Deborah!  And these days, newborn girls are only rarely named Deborah.

I tried about 20 names from my family or Debbie's, and the results were quite a surprise to me.  Try some of your own, and if you find something surprising, leave a note to tell us about it!

31 things you will never hear Southern boys say...

31 things you will never hear Southern boys say...  Via my brother Scott, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia – sort of in the South...
31. When I retire, I'm movin' north.
30. Oh I wouldn't dare; she's only sixteen.
29. I'll take Shakespeare for $1000, Alex.
28. Duct tape won't fix that.
27. Come to think of it, I'll have a Heineken with a slice of lime.
26. We don't keep no guns in this house.
25. You can't feed that to the dog.
24. No kids in the back of the pickup, it's just not safe.
23. Wrestling is fake.
22. We're vegetarians.
21. Do you think my gut is too big?
20. I'll have grapefruit and grapes instead of biscuits, grits, and gravy.
19. Honey, we don't need another dog.
18. Who gives a sh** who won the Civil War?
17. Give me the small bag of pork rinds.
16. Too many deer heads detract from the decor.
15. I just couldn't find a thing at Wal-Mart today.
14. Trim the fat off that steak.
13. Cappuccino tastes better than espresso.
12. The tires on that truck are too damn big.
11. I've got it all on the C: DRIVE.
10. Unsweetened tea tastes better.
9. My fiancée, Bobbie Jo, is registered at Tiffany's.
8. I've got two cases of Zima iced down for the Super Bowl.
7. Checkmate!
6. She's too young to be wearing that bikini.
5. Hey, here's an episode of "Hee Haw" that we haven't seen.
4. I don't have a favorite football team.
3. Youse Guys.
2. Those cutoffs ought to be a little longer, Betty Mae.


1. Nope, no more beer for me. I'm driving a whole busload of us down to help in the Hillary Campaign.
The first one on that list has long fascinated me. I've seen maps showing where people move after retirement, and in fact is is highly unusual for people to move north (as we did!). I've forgotten the exact ratio, but it's on the order of 6:1 in favor of moving toward the south...

Progress in Paradise...

Progress in Paradise...  Three hours – that's what it took to work out all the changes required for our insurance yesterday.  I (naively) thought that transferring our car insurance from the carrier we used in California to our new carrier in Utah would be simple and easy.  Oh, no.  No way!

First, there are about six zillion options on car insurance.  It's been many, many years since I last reviewed car insurance in detail – I've just sort of been on autopilot while I was working.  It never seemed like it was worth bothering with.  After a couple hours of working at it, we've now got coverage that's better suited to our needs – and we're spending less money to get it.  Win! 

That was only part of the complication, though.  Another twist was my discovery that standard car policies don't cover the use of a trailer.  Adding coverage for the trailer was cheap – but I had no idea I even needed it!  Then there was the coverage for the shed.  The structural coverage was easy enough, but the contents are another story.  There are different coverages needed for tools, ATVs, and tractors.  Tractor attachments fall into a gray area.  This all took time to sort out. 

Then there were a bunch of discounts available for certain combinations of coverage (especially basic homeowner and automobile).  When I left, there were still a few unresolved issues – liability umbrella and some details around tractor coverage.  So I'm not quite finished with the insurance mess yet :)

One thing that surprised me: the agents were unfamiliar with high deductible rates.  On talking with them, I found out that nearly all their clients want policies with the lowest possible deductibles, apparently unaware of just how much more expensive such policies were.  Even the agents seemed unaware of how much less expensive high deductible policies were.  For someone like us who very rarely make claims on homeowner or automobile policies (two claims in 45 years!), the savings on high deductible polices is substantial.  We did the same thing on healthcare insurance, for the same reasons.

The rest of the day Debbie and I installed new fixtures in the upstairs bathroom.  We didn't quite finish, but we'll do so today.  The new stuff looks way nicer than the old!  The faucets operate with a satisfying smoothness and solidity; the old ones were creaky and felt like you were sliding pieces of plastic against each other (which probably is exactly what they were)...