More goodies…

    I went on a little bit of a buying binge. Amazon is
the best and worst thing ever… It started out innocently enough, I
needed a new cable for my Airport Express. I hadn’t even heard of a
Toslink mini connection before, but that’s what I needed to hook it up
to my CD player that has digital inputs. Well, I started browsing and
looking at my wish list and things got a little out of hand. Another
pair of shoes (I’m addicted to how Eccos feel, the last couple of pairs
aren’t all that great looking, but Lord are they comfortable), several
books, two Cds, two DVDs, and the continuation of my shoe rack is what
I ended up ordering.
    So why order more books when I’ve got stacks of them
here that I haven’t gotten to? It’s a fair question, and it’s one that
I’m going to ignore for right now:-) Let’s see, a couple of books
attempting to reconcile Zen and Christianity, one about finding
enlightenment through Aikido, and a technical photo book about toning.
I’m very proud of myself for resisting (for now) the Long, Short, and
Connected discourses of the Buddah. That’s about 2500 pages of the
primary Thereveda canon, all in English. I’ve read the Flower Ornament
Sutra (about 1500 pages) which is supposed to be one of the main texts
of Mahayana Buddisim, and I’ve gone through the Blue Cliff Record which
is as close to a primary text for Zen as you’ll find. All I need are
those other three books and I’ll have a pretty complete library (for a
white guy). One day…
    My friend Galen turned me onto Tori Amos’ latest
album Scarlet’s Walk. He had been a complete Tori freak but gradually
lost interest in her as her product got worse and worse. He claims that
this new album is his favorite one of all time, Tori or not. I’m
listening to it now and it seems to be a little more complex and
accomplished than her earlier stuff (which is all that I’m familiar
with). It’s definately something worth checking out, my initial
impression is pretty favorable. I also got “Listen Without Prejudice”
by George Michael (used, thank you very much). I know, it’s schlock
pop, but it isn’t bad schlock pop. I’ve always liiked Freedom and I
wanted to hear what the rest of it sounded like. It’s really not bad
for what it is, and it’s more than worth the $3.50 I spent on it
including shipping. Gawd, the recording quality is terrible, all the
life is compressed out of it and everything has that kind of electronic
sound. Made for FM…SIGH.
    My silly purchases were the DVDs. These are my first
two ones of my own that I’ve bought. I can defend Ghost in the Shell,
I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and I’m really intrigued
with the Stand Alone Complex series. I can’t really come up with a good
reason why I bought the third season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. 
It does have some hilarious episodes, but I’m going to blame this on
Patrick (my step brother in law) for introducing this stuff to me. Oh
well, should be fun… I hope that this appeases me for the next I
don’t know how long since I have much more important things to spend my
money on, like tuition and insurence…

Isaac

Christmas happenings…

    I actaully had a very nice Christmas. With both the
day before and the day after off, I was able to spend time with both
sets of parents, a rarity.It’s almost like having a real job… Got
lots of cool things and people seemed to enjoy the gifts that I gave
them, so it was a succesful Christmas…
    I woke up on sunday to a real snow storm. We ended
up getting around 6 to 7 inches of snow. Much to my disappointment,
Nathan phoned and told me that the roads were indeed fine. So I went
back up on sunday as planned. My cold was quite a bit worse on monday,
so I decided not to go to work. I felt fine today, until I stood up. My
dizziness lasted most of the day so I didn’t go in today either. I’m
fine now, but it turns out I have tomorrow off. That looks pretty
suspicious I know, but I was sick, honest!
    I’m going to try to get through my “History of
Economic Theory and Method” by the end of break. It, along with “The
Road to Serfdom” were the two economics books that I got for Christmas.
I’m not entirely sure what I think of Hayek yet, I hope to have a
better feel for him after I finish “The Road…”
    Speaking of economics, I got some bad news right
before I went down to Gloucester. Turns out that I got a C in not only
math econ, but in micro as well. This is bad on several fronts. First
of all, micro is supposed to be my strong suit. The worse thing is that
if I get a third C, I’ll be kicked out of the program. I’m worried
about that, after all, I’ve never been a great student. C’s and I go
way back. Not only do I need to get above a C from here on in, I need
to bring my average up to a 3.0 to get a degree. So that means that I
need several A’s to counteract the C’s. Not impossible, but I have put
myself in a not so good situation…
    I’m not as worried now as I was before Christmas. I
feel as though I should be able to get A’s and B’s from here on out.
For some reason, the prospect of failure isn’t filling me with
paralzing fear like it did several weeks ago. Don’t know why, but I
feel as though my life is on the right track regardless of what i do in
school. Hmmm, that might be a dangerous way of thinking….
    Turns out I’m a bigger girly man than I thought.
With the addition of another pair of shoes for Christmas (and another I
just ordered) I have shoes everywhere. So I ordered a shoe rack.
Problem is that I have enough shoes that they don’t fit on the rack! I
have to order another shelf! What have I become?:-) Oh well, happy new
year everyone, hope 2005 is good for all of you!

Isaac
  

It’s official…

    I passed the math econ course. A C isn’t exactly
making me incredibly happy, but it is far better than the alternative.
Anyway, I hope this was my most difficult class and that things get
better from here.
    I had my first nut-job of the season today. Her
husband was looking for a card reader and she asked where they were
made. When she was told that they were all made in Tiawan, she lost it.
“That’s terrible, slave labor..” Her husband and I assured her that
there wasn’t slave labor in Tiawan, and she asked why we didn’t have
any US made ones. Well, there aren’t any made and she was shocked,
SHOCKED that there wasn’t a US made version. I made the mistake of
pointing out that at least they were cheap. I swear I am not making up
her response… “Cheap? These aren’t cheap! $25 is a lot of money, a
person with a crummy job couldn’t afford one of these! It’s sick that a
person with a minimum wage job can’t buy this. This economy is going to
grass(?) and its terrible. Cheap, this isn’t cheap…” She wouldn’t
fucking let up on the cheap thing, kept tossing out, “It’s SOOOO cheap,
isn’t it?” She couldn’t be consoled by fact there weren’t any American
cameras. “Well, if the senators would pass the laws that they are
supposed to and stop taking bribes there would be!”She finished her
evening at Penn Camera by telling me that all the merchants that didn’t
sell American goods should be thrown in jail. Luckily her husband (the
guy buying the stuff) was pretty low key and bought stuff. She wasn’t a
bag lady or anything, she really believed this stuff. Lucky for her I
kept my head and decided not to engage in an argument there on the
floor…

Isaac

Mall thoughts…

    I had to finish my Christmas shopping, and the only
place I could think of going for everything was Tyson’s mall. It was
pretty easy to get there, very little traffic for the last sunday
before Christmas. When I did get there, I saw that some of the obvious
parking places were reserved for valat parking. My initial thought was,
what a rip off! They take x number of parking spaces and reserve them
for valat use, that sucks, now I have fewer choices of where to park or
it’ll cost me…
    Then my economics thinking took over. Why are they
doing that? To make money of course, but they must be filling a want if
they are making money off of it. I realized that for me, the worst part
about Christmas shopping at the mall is the parking situation. You have
to drive around forever to get a spot, and then you have to hike there
and back. Of course if you can’t remember where you parked (I never can
at Tyson’s), the aggravation is compounded. What would I pay to avoid
all that hassle? I’m not sure, but when I saw that valat parking was 5
bucks for 4 hours, I didn’t think twice about it. Turns out that it
made my shopping quite a bit easier and I was in a much better mood.
They were able to transform my aggravation and time into 5 bucks. I
would probably have spent a little more than that too, but this is a
classic example of micro economic bliss. Both sides got something out
of the trade, and profit was generated out of something that was just a
waste before (my time looking for a space, looking for my car, yelling
at all the assholes Christmas shopping, etc). I imagine that for the
power shoppers or people that can’t get around too well, this is an
even better deal…. It almost made me wish that I had done all my
shopping there (almost mind you).
    What else… Oh yeah The Apple store. I’ve been
planning on getting a new Mac for a while. I’m looking at a dual
processor G5 powermac with various add ons. I’m also going to get a new
LCD screen. I was planning on getting a Sony, Viewsonic, NEC, etc
instead of an Apple one. I just couldn’t justify the price difference.
Well, I saw the current Mac monitors in person and OMG I want one!!!
They are absolutly gorgeous. The 30″ is unbelievable, but way way way
out of my range. The 20″ is looking mighty good though. I’m going to
have to come up with some sort of justification, because that’s what
I’m going to get:-) Apple never ceases to amaze me… I also want a new
laptop, maybe a powerbook this time but that’s going to have to wait
another year or so. There are some pretty amazing rumors about the
upcoming ones. Carbon fiber cases, dual core G4 processors, etc. I
think the wait will be worth it.
    The strangest thing I saw was at Abercrombie and
Fitch. They hired hunky, muscular guys to walk around the store without
shirts. Guess they were going for the women and gay guys this year. If
they had hired some beautiful women to walk around without shirts I’m
sure their sales would have been much higher!:-) Anyway, before I
forget, Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope you had a great Haunaka
David!:-)

Isaac

    Well, it’s over. I think I did well enough on the
exam. There weren’t any major freezes on my part, unlike last time. If
he grades like he did on the first exam, I’ll probably get a c. That
combined with a B- on the paper should get me a c in the class. I’ll
take it! Found out today that they will allow you to get three c’s in
the program. Any more than that and you’re out… I think  I’ll be
OK, this was my toughest class I think.
    Ah yes, freedom, what to do with it? I know, I’ll
clean this hellhole I’ve let my living quarters become, and I’ll finish
that preamp project I’ve had on hold for the last 5 months… I should
hit the books this break too. Need to brush up on on my stats and
linear algebra before econometrics next semester. In the meantime I’ll
be back at work full time, money is good I guess…
    Speaking of money, I will be out of credit card debt
for the first time in years this month! I’ve never been one to hold
back on buying myself stuff, but I’ve manages to go on an austerity
plan and pay back everything while working fewer hours. Of course
selling some crap helped too… Anyway, I hope I can be good now that
I’m used to being poor. We’ll see…

Isaac

    OK, sorry about the last entry. It was all but
unreadable due to poor writing and nonexistant formatting, I’ll try to
do better from now on…:-) Kenji says my camera is all ready, woohoo!
I’m going to try to get some pictures over break with it, we’ll see how
that goes. I need some stuff in order to process the negs and make
prints, but I think it’ll be pretty cheap. I’m going real low tech,
contact printing so there’s no enlarger. I’m on the lookout for a cheap
35mm enlarger actually. That’ll allow me to make the occaisional print
from 35mm and be able to use contrast filter for printing my contacts.
I do have a 4×5 enlarger, but it’s a beast. I have no room for it…
    Tomorrow is the day, the math econ final… I’ve
been studying my brains out for it, to the detriment of my other
classes I’m afraid. I don’t think I did very well in my micro final,
certainly not as well as I should have… Anyway, I think my main
problem with the math is that I simply don’t think that way. I can do
various techniques with varying degrees of success, but I can’t arrange
my thoughts like that. As I look over my class notes, I realize that I
can do all the math that’s required, but I never would have thought of
doing it in the way he did in class. Of course that’s what the whole
class is about, so I’m trying not to panic. I feel OK about the test
mostly because I know what to expect and how to take it this time. I
think a C is within my grasp if i play my cards right. Wish me luck, I
need it!

Isaac

“What happens then?”

A friend called me to catch up on stuff. He decided to play “Ask the Economist” and fired off a handful of questions. They started out with the typical finance related questions, where should I put my money etc. I had to go into the whole thing about not being an accountant or finance person, that I was studying economics. So he asks where the economy is going and I tell the only truthful answer, nobody knows. Think about it, how many of the talking heads on tv or the radio have their life savings into whatever they think is going to happen with the economy? Why aren’t all the people calling for economic ruin because of the falling dollar shorting the dollar in currency markets? They should make a fortune if they actually knew what was going on. They don’t really know they’re just taking their best guess, it’s all anyone can do.
My friend then went on to something a little more interesting. “There’s only 3 cell phone companies now, what happens when they get down to one, what then?” Like so much of economics, the answer is pretty straightforward with a little thought. If, through mergers and acquisitions there was a single cell pone service company left, what would happen to rates? What would happen to service? The conventional wisdom is that once there is no competition, the company would jack up its rates and really “take advantage” of consumers. Here’s the thing, companies have to compete with both actual and *potential* competitors. If people see that a company is really raking in the dough, you can be sure that another company will come along for a piece of the pie. The lone company has an incentive to keep rates low to prevent competitors from starting up. They will of course try to split the difference between what they would charge in a competitive market with what they can as a monopoly, but the rates shouldn’t go up as high as you’d think. If they do, it will only be temporarily, another competitor will take up the slack eventually.
What about monopolies, they’re bad right? Well, there are two different types of monopolies. The first one is a natural monopoly. this is one that has some sort of “natural” advantage over their competition such that no one else can compete with them. The second type is the one granted by governments. Natural monopolies are incredibly rare, I don’t think there can be one over the long haul. Competition always finds a way to eventually break into the market or to innovate a new product that will be a substitute for the monopolist’s product. Government granted monopolies are typically the poster children of wasteful, inefficient organizations. many argue that these are the only “true” monopolies that exist. The government will either charter a single company for some service, pass laws preventing entry into the sector, or a combination of the two. This looks pretty bad for consumers, and it is. There is a silver lining though, even if the law forbids direct competition, businesses have the incentive to pursue that potential profit. They do so by innovation, they create products that can be substituted for the monopolized product. A perfect example is cable TV. Local governments grant small scale monopolies in that area to particular cable companies. For the length of the contract, another cable company cannot compete for that market. Satellite dishes were created in order to get around the government granted monopolies. Now people have a choice, and it keeps both companies on their toes… The moral of the story is that profits are what cause companies to innovate, and it’s what, ironically, will cause companies to keep their prices in check.

Isaac

I win…

OK, I was hoping to get about $500 from my Ebay sale. I got over $1100!! God I love Ebay, Merry Christmas to ME! The best thing is that I didn’t sell anything that I considered valuable, just some photo crap I had around. Of course I haven’t actually gotten paid for anything yet so I shouldn’t get too excited yet. The real surprise was an antique brass lens I picked up a couple of years ago for 98 bucks or so. It sold for 559 bucks! I bet a couple of “snipers” got caught in their own game. The high bidder has dropped some cash on some other lenses recently, so I’m hoping it goes according to plan. All the stuff I’m selling is obscure enough that I don’t really worry about getting ripped off, who would go to the trouble for an item that a couple of thousand people in the world know about? I did manage to sell my Olympus p-440 printer for almost 300, that was the most mainstream item I had, the rest really were obscure. Anyway, I hope that will take the sting out my weekend working…

Isaac

Papers are up…

I went ahead and put my papers up on my website. There are a few economist types that stop by now and again. Even you non economist types might get something out of them… God, I just got through typing them up, now I’ve got finals next week and two days of work between them and me. My mom’s coming to town too, we’ll see how much work I get done, I hope I’m not too grumpy/short with her and Rick. We’ll see how it goes. I might actually have a couple of days off between the end of finals and full time work. I might go back down to Dad and Butler’s place. I’ll have to check my schedule…

Isaac

“Besides, it gives me hope that someday techno will die and be forgotten.”

That’s a quote from my friend Jenny. It reminds me of something I thought of a while back. There were a lot of electronic based groups that became popular in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Almost all of them are gone now, the only one that I know of that is still around is Depeche Mode. I think the reason they survived is because they were the only ones to really understand all of the ramifications of that type of music. I once read, or heard (hell I might have made it up, but I don’t think so. I’ve been looking for the source of this for quite a while and can’t find it, but it sounds true) that at the end of least one of their concerts, Depeche Mode set up their sequencers and drum machines and left. The music kept playing and playing until a roady finally pulled the plug. To me, that shows an almost Zen like understanding of the nature of that music, and it’s one of the reasons they have been so successful at it for so long. Techno, in my mind has taken the next step, it is an almost soulless endeavor with little need for human touches. It features prominently in most of my purgatory dreams…

Isaac