$600 Bongs, Pot Butter, and a Frozen Corpse


Just came back from a 1.5 hour local hike. I love how the mountains and trails are so close that I can climb up to summits that overlook the entire town and come back in less than two hours. The weather is surprisingly mild during the day. Even though today’s cloudy, the temperature is around mid-forties. Of course, if you’re running up steep ridges in heavy hiking boots with a fleece on, it feels much warmer.

I’ve stayed in Boulder for almost a week now, enough time to get a sense of the town’s unique traits. Although Boulder is situated at 5,430 feet (1,655 m), the change in altitude from New York City’s sea level wasn’t drastic enough to make me feel anything. Here’s some more fast-facts about Boulder according to Wikipedia:

  • Population in 2008: 94,268
  • one of the most liberal cities in Colorado
  • “a choice destination for hippies in the late 1960s” a 2007 estimate stated “median household income in Boulder is $50,209, and the median family income is $85,807” although this might be skewed by the student population of UC Boulder

Boulder, CO Update; Heated Bathroom Floors and Sex Trivia


During my stay in Boulder, Colorado, I’m living at a private residence that James and I found listed on Airbnb. It’s a nice house. I’m sitting at a bistro table eating organic golden potatoes I just cooked.

I originally had some reservations/apprehensions about the hostess with whom I’m staying. I thought that James and I would have the entire two-story suburban house to ourselves. I thought rich people who wanted some extra income from their Cape Cod beach-front vacation house in which they stayed for a month out of the entire year were the ones to put up listings. But after watching Airbnb’s about video I realize it’s perfectly fine for them to stay while they rent it out.

Can You Give Me an ETA on Those TPS Reports?


Communities have their own jargon just as geographic regions have their own vernacular. US midwesterners say “pop,” their east and west coast counterparts argue it’s “soda,” and southerners just call every carbonated beverage “coke” (trademark dilution be damned).

Communities imbue their adopted jargon with their values and mentality, and later on the jargon instills in its future speakers these very values and mentality through its connotations. The military brass has sitrep, ISAF, and CENTCOM. These terms sound martial and chain-of-command. The startup community vocabulary includes bootstrap, stealth, and pivot. Corporate America has key performance indicators, end of business (EOB), and workstream. These terms sound verbose and officious. They ostensibly mark progress but are often used to play accountability hot potato.

More corporate boilerplates.

Who Is Cipher?


Who is Cipher? I’ll tell you.

A month ago, during the January 26, 2011 blizzard in New York City I met up with a friend from college. We drank beer at an Upper East Side bar called Johnny Foxes and talked about how our lives had changed since graduation. After working for several years, my friend decided to apply for business school. I complained about how no one warned me that leaving an academic environment and entering the rat race meant the discontinued use of one’s brain. After an hour of catching up, my friend said, “It’s jarring to talk to you. It’s surreal.”

Draw Golden Rectangle Using Javascript


I’m reading a book on the history and prevalence of the golden ratio called The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio. It inspired me to write a javascript function that dynamically draws the golden rectangle on your computer screen. Mathematicians call the center of the rectangle the “eye of god.” Here’s the live page, and here’s the source:

Why Dragon Dads Are Über Superior


Chua’s kids and the sign in the window no one noticed

Today I read the excerpt from Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that catapulted this nation into a long and unsatisfying discourse about parenting. Yes, I’m a little behind the times. Forgive me for not watching “Good Morning America.”

After reading the excerpt, I am in disbelief. Chua included in her list of things she never allowed her two daughters to do, “not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama.” She should be ashamed of herself. My children will be the No. 1 student in everything, including gym and drama. Not pushing my kids to be all they can be in every human endeavor means I don’t love them enough to believe in them.

Creating Value, What Value Is and Isn’t


Too many people abuse the word “value.” Some bandy about the phrase “creating value” to describe inane tasks equivalent to digging a hole and filling it back up to veneer dignity on worthlessness. For me, creating value means saving individuals money, time, or hassle; raising quality of life for society as whole; and practicing responsible environmental stewardship.

Know Thy Neighbor and the Car He Drives


Keeping up with the Joneses requires that you know who they are. What better way to find out than by looking up their demographic data by simply typing your zip code into this website? Here you’ll find out your area’s top five lifestyles as defined by Claritas, which was acquired by The Nielsen Company, one of the world’s largest market research firms. Claritas’ PRIZM system categorizes the US into 66 demographically and behaviorally distinct types, or “segments” to help marketers sell you more stuff you don’t need.

Wikileaks’ Cablegate Tag Wordle


I did a frequency analysis on the tags of all 251,287 Wikileaks diplomatic cables and created a Wordle word cloud. Size is positively related to frequency. You can download the basic data set from The Guardian (sorry, no text included) here, and create your own Wordle here. The meanings of the tags are here.

Wikileaks’ Cablegate Tag Wordle

X University: Lowest Acceptance Rate, Ever


While digging through my piles of digital debris accumulated during eight years of high school and college, I’ve gagged while rereading saccharine college application essays and barely understood incoherent essay theses. But once in a while, a piece of my writing pleasantly surprises me. This is one of them.

John and Mary had been accepted into X University, one of the most prestigious and excellent institutions of higher learning in the universe. It far surpassed Y University and Z College.  In fact, X University boasted an admissions rate of a slim 0.001%. Millions applied, nine and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine had their hearts broken, and every year ten lucky individuals gained entrance through those pearly gates. Dinner conversations were terribly boring.