Sunday, October 31, 2010

10-31-10: Southern CT College Hockey 2010-2011 Games to Watch

College ice hockey has been a passion of mine since my childhood growing up in Durham, New Hampshire, the home of the University of New Hampshire Wildcats athletic program. When I moved to southern Connecticut in the fifth grade, I was worried I’d never see good college hockey again. Fortunately, there was a plethora of good, Division 1 programs to choose from. Nothing quite as good as UNH hockey because Hockey East does not have any Connecticut-based teams, but still decent hockey.

The four teams nearby were Yale (ECAC), Fairfield (MAAC), Sacred Heart (Atlantic Hockey), and Quinnipiac (ECAC). Fairfield U no longer has a men’s ice hockey program (though, according to something I got from Yale after buying tickets, Fairfield U is co-hosting the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey East Regional). Yale and Quinnipiac have gotten better over the years. Sacred Heart has mostly survived in a weaker conference, and have the smallest venue of all the area teams.

Since I now live in New Haven, I am hoping to see a few Yale games this season. I went to a few good ones last year, and Yale had a good year. Quinnipiac has a new rink as of a couple seasons ago, but I didn’t see any games there last season.

Here are some of the highlights:

11/5/10: Yale vs. Princeton (I am attending)

11/20/10: Quinnipiac vs. Harvard

12/3/10: Yale vs. RPI

12/8/10: Yale vs. Vermont

1/3/11: Sacred Heart vs. St. Lawrence

2/4/11: Yale vs. Harvard

2/4/11: Quinnipiac vs. RPI

2/26/11: Yale vs. Cornell

Saturday, October 30, 2010

10-30-10: New Housemates Economic Dilemma

I had a discussion yesterday with a friend at work about an interesting dilemma involving two friends of his, two single heterosexual males, who bought a house together. The house they bought had two bedrooms, one of which was the master bedroom with its own bathroom and the other required its inhabitant to use the bathroom downstairs. They agreed to flip a coin to decide who got the master bedroom.

I found the decision interesting, seeing as though the winning party would have a distinct advantage in having the master bedroom, and the other would lose simply based on chance.

Something quite similar occurred when several of my friends rented a large house together a few years ago in Trumbull, CT. The last one in, my friend Michael, was quite cunning, and insisted that he get the master bedroom in order to sweeten the pot, otherwise he’d back out of the rental agreement and the rent would be too high for the remaining housemates to handle. He got the master bedroom.

Unfortunately, the five friends only lived in that house, which was very nice and very large, for one year – the owner decided to jack the rent up after their original lease ended. Three of them moved into an apartment in Hamden, CT, and the other two moved into an apartment in Milford, CT.

The three Hamden-based friends no longer live together, as one of them decided to buy a house in Trumbull with his fiancé. The two remaining roommates decided that they liked their apartment building, and found another, two bedroom apartment on the other side of the complex. Oddly enough, the apartment they found had two bedrooms of dissimilar size and luxuries. One bedroom was significantly larger than the other, and had its own bathroom.

Here’s how they decided who got the larger bedroom: the departing roommate who bought a house acted as an unbiased third party. The two remaining roommates presented arguments to the departing roommate stating reasons why they should get the larger bedroom. After a couple months of deliberation, a decision was made.

This arrangement, with a “neutral” third party making the decision, seemed far more fair than a simple coin flip. But I have another proposal for fixing such a dilemma:

It still involves a neutral third party. They would be offered something simple, like a dinner or something small, from both parties beforehand as a form of a flat fee. However, instead of each party presenting arguments, they would silently submit bids to the neutral third party indicating what percentage more in rent or mortgage payments than the counterparty they would be willing to make in order to live in the master bedroom. The higher amount would be the winning bid. The neutral third party would simply hold the bids for some short period of time and would reveal to the two parties involved at an established time. The winning party would then be bound to that figure.

Even more interesting might be to have the winning party pay the median value between the two bids. Let’s say Party A bids 5% and Party B bids 10%. Party B would then win the bid and would pay 7.5% more in rent or mortgage payments than Party A. That way if one party didn’t really care all that much and bid only 1%, but the other party bid 15%, they wouldn’t be stuck with the entire bill. It would result in higher bids being made, assuming one party is more interested than the other.

I should brush up on my Game Theory.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

10-16-10: Mumford & Sons: "Little Lion Man"

I've heard this song on the radio a few times now, and hit has finally started to grow on me.

It's by a British folk rock band called Mumford & Sons. Not too many British folk rock bands make it very high on the charts in the U.S. these days, so it's refreshing to hear something different. Then again, I did hear it on an alternative radio station.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10-13-10: 2010 MLB Dollars per Win

Last year I did a quick numbers-crunching exercise to figure out which MLB teams got the most bang for their buck. Based on each team's announced payroll for 2010, and the final regular season standings (though it would make some sense to count post-season wins), here's how it turned out:

Team Payroll Wins $ per Win

San Diego Padres $37,799,300.00 90 $419,992.22
Pittsburgh Pirates $34,943,000.00 57 $613,035.09
Texas Rangers $55,250,545.00 90 $613,894.94
Oakland Athletics $51,654,900.00 81 $637,714.81
Florida Marlins $55,641,500.00 80 $695,518.75
Toronto Blue Jays $62,689,357.00 85 $737,521.85
Tampa Bay Rays $71,923,471.00 96 $749,202.82
Cincinatti Reds $72,386,544.00 91 $795,456.53
Cleveland Indians $61,203,967.00 69 $887,014.01
Washington Nationals $61,425,000.00 69 $890,217.39
Atlanta Braves $84,423,667.00 91 $927,732.60
Arizona Diamondbacks $60,718,167.00 65 $934,125.65
Colorado Rockies $84,227,000.00 83 $1,014,783.13
Minnesota Twins $97,559,167.00 94 $1,037,863.48
Milwaukee Brewers $81,108,279.00 77 $1,053,354.27
San Francisco Giants $97,828,833.00 92 $1,063,356.88
Kansas City Royals $72,267,710.00 67 $1,078,622.54
St. Louis Cardinals $93,540,753.00 86 $1,087,683.17
Los Angeles Dodgers $94,945,517.00 80 $1,186,818.96
Houston Astros $92,355,500.00 76 $1,215,203.95
Chicago White Sox $108,273,197.00 88 $1,230,377.24
Baltimore Orioles $81,612,500.00 66 $1,236,553.03
Los Angeles Angels $105,013,667.00 80 $1,312,670.84
Philadelphia Phillies $141,927,381.00 97 $1,463,168.88
Detroit Tigers $122,864,929.00 81 $1,516,850.98
Seattle Mariners $98,376,667.00 61 $1,612,732.25
New York Mets $132,701,445.00 79 $1,679,765.13
Boston Red Sox $162,747,333.00 89 $1,828,621.72
Chicago Cubs $146,859,000.00 75 $1,958,120.00
New York Yankees $206,333,389.00 95 $2,171,930.41

It looks like Texas is this year's real winner (fewest dollars spent per win while making the playoffs), though San Diego had a great run before fading out at the end to miss the playoffs by two games. Pittsburgh technically finished second, but also had the fewest wins in MLB. The Cubs and Red Sox spent the most per win without making the playoffs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

10-9-10: Expanded Replay in MLB Games

It’s ironic for me, as a hockey fan, to argue against expanded use of replay in any sport. The NHL incorporated replays on goals years ago, and it made a world of difference.

But the NHL was smart enough to limit the use of replay to just review of goals. They still rely on officials and linesmen to make calls on penalties, off-sides, icings, and other elements of the game. They realize that the game moves too fast, and nothing beats an official in position to make the call.

It seems that Major League Baseball is hearing more and more calls for the expanded use of replay. They currently only implement review by replay on home run calls. Some journalists are calling for its use during safe and out calls on the base paths.

I recognize that ice hockey and baseball are different in many ways. Baseball, for instance, doesn’t have penalties. They have outs. That’s how the game is measured: 54 outs in a regulation game. 27 per team. Teams are built around not making outs while at bat. Players are paid big money to have high batting averages and slugging percentage. Outs are absolute – not many subjective calls. Either the guy got tagged or he didn’t. Either the ball beat him to the base, or it didn’t.

The problem I have is: who has the best view of the play? It’s quite often the umpire. As video technology improves, it may be possible to find the better angle. But right now it’s very expensive. And you’d have to have it available in all ballparks for every game of the regular season just to be fair (a win is a win). Is it worth the expense right now? I think not.

And what happens to the fans who have grown tired of four hour baseball games? If managers were able to challenge more calls, it would lengthen the game. MLB has been working to shorten games. What incentive would it give to pitchers who are told to hurry up and pitch if they know the game could get delayed for five minutes for a video review of a close play at second base?

Baseball has a lot of appeal for its history. Sure, there may come a day when the technology is readily available, but all of the factors that go into the expansion of replay’s use in game settings must be considered.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

10-3-10: Massive Traffic Jams and the Cost of Life

I was caught in a traffic jam today on I-95 in Orange and the following thought popped in my head, a thought that usually pops in my head during traffic jams: "This had better be an accident and somebody had better be dead." Morbid and cruel, indeed, but it led me to wonder how big the traffic jam would have to be to be worth a human life. That is, how much time would need to be wasted by people in vehicles not involved in the accident itself, people just stuck in the traffic jam, to equal the loss of life.

I made the following assumptions in my simple calculation:

- The average length of a vehicle in the traffic jam is 15 feet
- The average number of occupants in each vehicle is 2 people
- The highway has 3 lanes
- All three lanes of the highway are closed and traffic is at a standstill
- The average length of the traffic jam is 5 miles (it would probably be much longer at its peak)
- The average amount of lost time per person is 1.5 hours

With those assumptions made, let's see the results:

Total people in traffic jam: 10,560
Total time wasted: 15,840 hours, or 1.81 years

Let's then assume that the person responsible for the massive traffic jam did indeed die at the scene and was 35 years old. The amount of time they would have lost, assuming average life expectancy of 78.4 years, is 43.4 years.

That's a difference of over 40 years. So, that traffic jam would not be worth the person losing their life. Of course, this is a very, very simple calculation, that only factors in time wasted. It does not factor in anything else like missed deliveries of goods or a missed birthday party or anything typically considered an economic or social impact. Just time wasted.

So how long would the traffic jam have to be, on average, for our 35 year old bad driver to have not lost their life in vain? Well, it's not so simple. Let's bump up the average time lost per person to 5 hours (since it takes time for people to get moving again once the road clears up, and it'd be a very long line of cars).

The answer: exactly 36 miles.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Got this in the mail today.

10-2-10: New Car Shopping

I am now in the market for a new car. Don't get me wrong, I still like my '03 Toyota Matrix that I bought from my mother after graduating college. It's just that I'd like a vehicle with a bit more clearance and all-wheel drive.

I began my search a few weeks ago. The first car I looked at is the Honda Element. My dad has one, his second, and loves it. It's known for it's box-like shape, which doesn't give it the "cute car" award according to the lady. But, it's practical, and there are some decent deals out there. My parents are dog people, which makes the Element quite ideal for trips to various abandoned properties to walk the three basset hounds.

After looking at various other vehicles, including the Honda CRV, I've narrowed my choice down to a Subaru Forester. It's more like a wagon, which I'm used to since my first two cars have been wagons, but with more clearance. That, and it's got all-wheel drive. Consumer Reports gave it a very good rating. I took a look on after seeing a TV ad for the 2010 Forester - pretty good deals. I also found out via that the 2011 models should be arriving later this month. That means that the price on the 2010 should drop significantly.

So, I'm just playing the waiting game. My goal is to get a new car by the first snowfall.