Category Archives: Random Musings

Who Makes Your Buying Decisions?

shoppingMy fiancé ran an experiment at work. Employees at his office get the very nice benefit of several shelves of snacks and a fully stocked drink fridge, and he is in charge of keeping them stocked. Inside the drink fridge, there are three flavors of sparkling water: lemon, lime, and mixed berry. The lime and mixed berry are stocked on the bottom shelf, and the lemon is stocked on the next shelf up with the orange juice. Every few days when he restocks, he notices that much more of the lemon has been consumed than either the lime or the mixed berry. This week, he decided to switch the lemon with the mixed berry, so the lemon was on the bottom shelf and the mixed berry was on the next shelf up. Sure enough, when he went to restock the fridge, mixed berry was the most consumed flavor.

This tells us that people make their decisions of which flavor of sparkling water to drink based on the positioning of the bottles on the shelves rather than the flavor itself.

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Reflections on Aging

agingThese past few weeks have been absolutely crazy. I’ve barely had time to stop and think let alone write much of anything. Work ramped up in the new year, I have a show opening this weekend, so my rehearsal schedule has been intense, and my parents were visiting for two weeks, so I spent what little free time I had with them. This isn’t really anything new, for as long as I can remember I’ve been involved in many different things and there are always periods when it gets a little overwhelming and all I want to do is hibernate for a week or two. But something has felt different lately: I’m starting to get tired.

Now I know I may cause some eyes to roll if I start complaining about feeling old at 26, but I’m starting to notice a perceptible shift. I’m aging, and I can feel it. Last night when I climbed into bed, I could feel every tired muscle in my body slowly begin to relax, making me acutely aware of just how tired my body was. When I look in the mirror now, I see an adult face, not the face of a teenager. A few small wrinkles appear next to my eyes when I smile. I can start to imagine what I might look like and how I might feel in 10 years, and I’m discovering that I’m ok with it.

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Products for Lazy People

As a society, we have become so used to convenience that we can’t live without it anymore. I’m no different. When my phone runs out of batteries in the middle of the day, I feel like I’m missing a limb. I have completely embraced technology and really have come to rely on it. But even I, with my ADD tendencies typical of my generation, have a line that is not to be crossed. Sometimes I look at a product and say to myself, “if I use this, it will be admitting that I’m a complete wuss who is incapable of doing anything for myself.”

Today, I bring you some of those products. These are not your standard “crazy products for lazy people” that nobody actually uses which you’ve likely seen before (things like the rotating fork to help you eat spaghetti). These are things I’ve come across that apparently people do actually use.

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Musings on Random Things: Election Edition

I voted this morning and I was brought back to a memory of my childhood. I have now voted in three presidential elections, and I have never used a voting machine. For my first election I mailed in my ballot, and for the next two I filled out forms by hand at the polling place. I then thought back to a day when I must have been about six, and my father took me with him to vote. They let me go into the booth with my father where there was a big machine with levers. My father told me which lever to pull and I “voted.” There was something so exciting about pulling a lever to cast a vote. Drawing a line to connect an arrow just doesn’t have the same emotional impact.
I also got to thinking about propositions. Here in California we had a lot of propositions to vote on. The issue with propositions is that most of them look good on the surface. Nobody would look at a proposition that aims to increase funding for education and say that it’s a terrible idea. But you have to look at how the proposition would work. Does it call for increased taxes on people who can’t afford an increase? Are there exemptions that render the proposition useless? Will the money actually go to the cause, or are there allowances for it to be used for other purposes? It’s never as simple as saying “yea, we should increase funding for education.”¬†
And yet you hear all the time politicians bad mouthing each other for their voting record, saying that the other guy voted against some law that on the surface sounds like a good idea. And we eat that stuff up. Why don’t we let our own experience voting on local and statewide initiatives inform us of how complicated these laws are and cut politicians a little slack? Have you actually read any of the laws our politicians in Washington are voting on? If not, then I think you should give politicians the benefit of the doubt that most of the time when they vote against something, it’s because of how it’s written, not because of the intended purpose.

Musings on Random Things

I haven’t been feeling very inspired so far this week. I’ve started a couple posts, but walked away from them halfway through because I just haven’t been able to put the right words together to convey what I set out to write about. So instead, I bring you the random ponderings I had last night when I couldn’t manage to fall asleep.

Imagine a person with no pain receptors. What is their life like? Do they even make it past infancy? Every bump to the head would necessitate a trip to the doctor to make sure there was no internal damage. And how often would they have to go to the doctor for thorough health evaluations? Monthly? Weekly? I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to go through life having to learn what behaviors to avoid without having the help of pain. Children are told “don’t touch that pan, it just came out of the oven,” but oh do children touch the pan anyway. But they have an immediate pain response, which reinforces what their mother told them and they learn to not touch pans that just came out of the oven. How much damage would a child do to himself before he’s old enough to understand that even though he can’t feel pain, he shouldn’t touch pans that just came out of the oven?

Enough is Enough – Bring Back the Refs

For anyone who watched the Packers/Seahawks game last night, it’s become very clear that enough is enough with these replacement refs. We’ve been watching botched calls all season, but now the outcome of a game has been directly affected by poor calls. It’s time to do something about it, right?

For anyone who isn’t a football fan, here’s what happened: the Packers were up 12-7. The Seahawks were down to the last play of the game. The quarterback, Russell Wilson, passed to wide receiver Golden Tate in the end zone. The pass soared into a mob of players, where it was apparently caught by Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings. Tate also made a play for the ball (after a blatant case of pass interference against Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields that would have ended the game wasn’t called), and the two wound up with simultaneous possession. Two refs came rushing in, one called a touchback (meaning Jennings intercepted the ball in the end zone), and the other called a touchdown. The ref who signaled touchdown gave his signal a split second before the ref who signaled touchback, so the ruling on the field was a touchdown. Now here’s the problem: in the case of simultaneous possession, the offense gets the ball, so it would be a touchdown. BUT simultaneous possession only comes into play when both players obtain possession at the same time. In this case it was pretty clear that Jennings made possession first and then Tate got his hands on the ball afterward, so it would be an interception. The play was reviewed, and the officials ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence in the replays to overturn the touchdown call, so the touchdown stands. More importantly, the incredibly uncontroversial question of whether or not Tate committed PI isn’t reviewable by instant replay. The question of who had possession is at least arguable, the real refs might have gotten it wrong too. But it is clear that Tate committed PI, and the real refs would have undoubtedly called it, giving Green Bay the win.

Everyone who cares even the slightest bit about football agrees that this is the last straw. The lockout has got to end. There was hope that after last night’s atrocity, the league would realize that they need to come to an agreement and get the real refs back on the field next weekend, but it’s not looking like that’s going to happen. But what exactly are the refs demanding that the league is so stubbornly opposing?

The refs’ demands

  1. Higher salaries – With all the talk about refs having to work a second job just to get by, I assumed they were making practically nothing. I did some research and found a lot of different numbers cited around the web for what the average salary is for an NFL ref, ranging from as low as $25-70k all the way up to $150k, but the sites that offer the most details on how the salaries are paid agree that it’s around $150k. So what the hell is their problem? The problem is that everyone else is getting big money – the players, the owners and the coaches. The refs are just as vital to the game, so they feel like they should be compensated more.
  2. Keep their pensions – The NFL wants to replace the pension plan with a 401k plan, freezing current pensions. The refs would get whatever’s in their pensions now, but future benefits would disappear. The refs are fine with switching over to 401k plans for new refs, but they are demanding that current refs get to keep their pension plans.

The league’s demands

  1. Replace pensions with 401k – The league wants to replace pensions with 401ks to reduce their costs. They’re following the rest of the country here; most companies no longer offer pension plans. The problem is that most companies have had to cut costs to stay successful; the NFL is making more money than ever, they don’t have to cut costs.
  2. Accountability – The league wants to be able to bench refs who make poor calls, much like a player would be benched if he wasn’t performing well. The refs oppose this because they question who should have the authority to decide when to bench a ref. This also ties into their salary demands. Refs’ salaries come from a pool that is distributed out based primarily on seniority. In order to be able to bench under-performing refs, the NFL wants to hire 21 new refs, but has not indicated that they will increase the salary pool by a proportionate amount, so the refs are worried their salaries will go down.
So who’s right? Well it’s really hard to say. On the one hand, the refs are already making a TON of money to work part time jobs. Sure, those jobs are incredibly stressful, but most people would agree that nobody making $150k/year for a part time job in which retirement benefits (whether it be a pension or a 401k) are included should be complaining about their compensation. Until you look at how much money everyone else involved in pro football is making. The minimum salary a rookie player can make is $390k/year. The lowest paid NFL coach makes $1.25 million/year. The league netted about $9 billion last year, and profits are just going up. The difference in what the refs want to receive and what the league wants to pay is about $5 million. Yes, they are fighting over half a percent of the league’s profits.
Both sides of this argument are being incredibly greedy, but I believe the main thing to remember is that this isn’t a strike, it’s a lockout. The refs aren’t striking because they want better benefits. The refs are being locked out by the league because the league offered them a new plan that reduces their benefits, and the refs, understandably, won’t agree to it. In my opinion, that places the blame squarely on the NFL. For a growing organization that is currently netting $9 billion/year to reduce the benefits of a small group of its employees by $5 million/year is just evil. Sure, nobody should complain about getting a salary of $150k/year plus retirement benefits, but when those benefits are being slashed for no perceivable reason other than greed on the part of the owners, I have to side with the refs. The NFL has to bring the refs back. The integrity of the game depends on it.