Friday, February 25, 2011

Economies of lifestyle choices

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11:20 AM LabmateP: here's my dilemma... at what point can i justify burning more gasoline to save money?

when i save 2x the $$ of gasoline i burn? 5x? 10x?

11:24 AM me: hmmmm


11:25 AM there are always unanticipated hidden costs

11:26 AM > 5x should be pretty good

11:27 AM LabmateP: yeah i'm not worried about time cost to myself though, more just about being 'green'

11:28 AM me: the best thing is prolly get the best MPG car in the long run =P

11:29 AM LabmateP: that's true if they still made that 65mph original honda insight

*mpg not mph

11:30 AM at $4 gas it still only costs me $60 max per month to commute from mountain view to milpitas

since i save more than 400/mo on rent it's well above the 5x mark

11:32 AM if i do some moderate hypermiling, i can probably keep my gas cost down do $45/month

11:33 AM hybrid can save another $10 maybe, but it'll cost me a lot more for the car (again, where is the line, 5x, 10x?)

me: =P

depends on how long you'll drive it


LabmateP: and all this assumes saudi arabia doesn't go up in flames making $10/gal gas

11:34 AM me: at some point the hybrid will save more

make up for the initial overhead

LabmateP: i can probably keep my car for another 100kmiles

me: lol "go up in flames"

that's the unanticipated factor

11:35 AM at this rate my plane ticket to [non-US country] will be freaking expensive

11:36 AM LabmateP: when i bought this car, i worked the numbers and found i won't break even with a hybrid unless i drive for >200kmiles (this is used prius vs used manual corolla)

11:37 AM this is with $4 gas though

me: ahah

the joys of economics

11:38 AM LabmateP: should add this is because i drive mostly highway, or at least is able to keep close to highway mpg almost all the time

11:40 AM if i live in SF then prius comes out ahead, but then again nobody drives 200kmiles in SF except for cabbies... so maybe that's a moot point?

11:41 AM a more extreme option is to crash my car into [LabmateJ]'s car

probably cost me a lot more but saves the planet

11:42 AM last time i checked his car still has a broken radiator thermostat, which means it's probably burning 50% more gas than it should, hahaha

won't pass california smog but he is a washington plate


LabmateP: so why should i agonize over my miniscule guilt of $40 gas vs $400 rent?

11:44 AM me: indeed...

Saturday, February 12, 2011


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Met a friend I haven't seen in a while. As good grad students, we chatted about research. I talked about my quantum physics simulations and he talked about MOS cap parameter extraction and modeling...

And then I managed to turn a conversation about the new football-themed decor at a campus dining place into a dialogue about philosophy, religion, and science :-P

"So many football pictures here... people are obsessed!"

"Yeah, the whole sports fan concept is like a religion... hardcore fans almost worship their favorite teams and/or players..."

"Are you Christian?"

"No, you?"

"I'm Buddhist."

"Buddhism is more like a philosophy... Christianity is more similar to sports team worshipping :-P"

"So do you believe in anything?"

"This may sound a little strange... I believe in the laws of Nature."

"Like Newton's Laws and such?"

"Yes, although they're only a subset of Nature's laws because they only work part of the time... And we won't ever discover all the laws because of our limited perception..."

(Then we talked about scientific discoveries and technological advancement... and decided that anything could happen in the next thousand years.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Random outing and random sighting

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Was having dinner at a popular student hangout near campus, with my friend from school, her bf, her bf's friend, her sister, a mutual friend of her sis and her bf. One can draw a relationship graph with weighted edges! We were all programmers to various degrees as well.

Had some pretty good catching up and conversations, mostly about work and research. Talked about puzzle hunts too.

There was a brief Mark Zuckerberg sighting as he was leaving with his Asian girlfriend. I stared for about 2 seconds when he was outside texting, just to confirm :-P We were thinking about doing a group stare but didn't happen, too bad!

Iris Zero, Arago

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Came across a curious manga series about high schoolers who are born with individualized special power called "Irises". And Toru, who apparently has no such power, is known as "Iris Zero".

Since he has no special powers, he is constantly bullied and thus adopts a "minimal exposure" philosophy to life. Although after a popular girl singles him out by confessing to him and hanging around him everyday, this situation turns complicated rather quickly...

As Buddy from The Incredibles says, "When everyone is super, no one is." That only applies if everyone's super along the same dimensions. It is interesting to note that because Toru has no "Iris", he compensates for it by developing a razor sharp intuition about people's intents and motivations. I must say this is a pretty special power that I'd like to have too...

Watching this story unfold is rather entertaining and adorable. This and Arago have been my good finds of the day...

Arago feels like Black Cat + Master Keaton + Dresden Files. Take an impetuous rookie police detective, a father-figure/mentor chief inspector, a childhood friend who becomes a weapons specialist in the same department, and lots of Anglo-Celtic-Gothic supernatural legends against the contemporary Scotland Yard & London backdrop. This one is a fun read too.