Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas vacation recap

As I write this, we are still making our way up I95 from Florida. I didn't sleep well last night so after about 3 1/2 hours on the road this morning I have relinquished the keys to Chrissy somewhere in North Carolina. We are both working tomorrow but should be home by around 3 or 4pm today so all is good.

This trip has certainly been a busy one with visits to multiple theme parks, an Aquarium, and lots of good food.  On the way down we spent a night in Richmond with one of Chrissy's friends, then a night at dad's before hitting up Disney World for the day.  We mostly went to see the magic kingdom expansion but while there I made a great discovery; I can ride (at least some) roller coasters now.

We rode Splash Mountain twice, Big Thunder Railroad once, and much to my surprise, I even fit on Space Mountain for two runs! I forgot how much I enjoyed roller coasters. We ate dinner at Epcot and headed down to Mom's.

The dogs are just as plentiful (7) and crazy as ever. Somehow Mack manages to still get around despite being as large as a horse and 10 1/2 years old.  Mom & George are doing well also.

We managed to meat up with my stepbrother Sean before he headed off to NC and get in some mini golf too. Once Heather and Stacey were in town, we had dinner with everyone (Mom, George, Heather, Stacey, Pop Pop, Chrissy and I) at Stonewood grill and it was amazing.

Heather, Stacey, Chrissy and I all went to Busch Gardens Tampa on Sunday (with my renewed love and fitting in coasters) for another day of fun. While I did need a little assistance getting the harnesses fully strapped on most of the rides, I was able to ride all of the coasters I had planned on. I'll wait until I have had the plastic surgery to hit any more amusement parks though.

Christmas Eve we had the gift exchange followed by a  nice family dinner at Mom's. Chrissy had a few too many cosmos (followed by wine at dinner) so she didn't even make it to desert that night.

Christmas morning we drove up to dad's for our gift exchange and dinner there before Chrissy and I had to hit the road for Maryland. We made it up to Santee, SC last night and left the hotel early this morning before the weather got worse down there.  So, now we are still somewhere in North Carolina and the rain has picked up. I am going to shut my eyes for a few so I can be ready to take back over behind the wheel.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened at the Office Holiday Party

I attended my office "Holiday party" today and one of my interns ended up sitting at the same table as me.  At one point they started handing out door prizes by drawing names out of a hat. The person to my right won one, I won the next one, and the person to my left won either the next one or the one after that (someone at another table may have won a prize in there).  They guy who won the first door prize said to my intern "Hey, you are next."  I jokingly said "He's an intern, only 'real people' can win prizes" and we all had a good laugh. Right after I said that, the person to the left of my intern won a door prize.  That's right, it literally skipped JUST my intern.  One other person at our table ended up winning a door prize as well.  After the last person at our table won, the intern would have been next again in the trip around the table, and I said "What do you expect, you have two strikes against you.  You are an intern, and you don't have a soul" (he is a ginger).  He wasn't too happy with me for having not won a door prize.  He swears I cursed him.  Granted, the door prizes were only $5.00 gift cards, but the timing of my original comment was just incredible.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Speed doesn't kill, Δv does

People always like to say "Speed Kills" but really, it isn't the speed that kills, it is the acceleration when you hit something.  If speed killed, we would probably all be dead.  The earth's rotational speed at the equator is over 1,000 mph.  Our rotation around the sun is at 67,000 mph.  Our galaxy is moving at a blistering 600 km/s relative to the universe (600 km/s is about 1.3 MILLION miles per hour)[1].  Going 85 mph is not going to suddenly kill me.  Hitting a wall at 85 mph might do it though, but that is caused by acceleration.

This is why crumple zones exist.  The idea of crumple zones is to make a crash last as long as possible.  That may sound counter intuitive, but velocity = acceleration x time.  If you are going from 85 mph -> 0 mph, the idea is to extend the time to reduce the amount of acceleration and thus reduce the amount of force exerted on your body (because force = mass x acceleration). These are the things you learn in physics class.  I could do more math to prove the point, but why bother?

I will say there is some point where speed can kill when that speed is sufficiently different than the surrounding particles (such as air).  For instance, having something travel at 9/10s of the speed of light at ground level is bad!  For comparison, that is 604 MILLION miles per hour.  I don't know where that threshold is where things go from ok, to painful, to deadly, but people aren't reffering to such extreme speeds when they say "Speed Kills".

The point is, next time someone tells you speed kills, let them know they are wrong in the practical sense.  Well, unless it is a police officer who pulled you over, they might not find it amusing.

While having this discussion with a co-worker, she posed an interesting question which I have told her to submit to, so I won't spoil that by posting it here, but I hope it is picked because I would love to read the response to that one.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Exclusive Rights - And Why They Tend to Screw Consumers

A recent bit of good news actually came out about Netflix streaming and their new exclusive license with Disney.  Now, that is actually somewhat good for me, since I am a Netflix subscriber.  At the same time, I am reminded how much exclusive licenses piss me off and screw consumers.  Let's rewind.

Not that long ago, there were two different licensed NFL Football Video Games available on XBox.  Madden and NFL2K5.  Madden was $49, NFL2K5 was $19.  I bought NFL2K5 despite the fact that I had been a Madden fan-boy for years.  I was amazed by how good of a product NFL2K5 was and was glad I bought that one.  Shortly after that, Electronics Arts inked an exclusive deal with the NFL and the NFLPA, eliminating their competition in both price and innovation.  EA made tons of money, the NFL made tons of money, gamers got screwed!

2K Sports responded by inking a similar deal with MLB.  Surprise, surprise, same result.  MLB and 2K sports - Happy.  Gamers - Screwed!

As different studios sign exclusive deals with different streaming services, that means people who want to stream all of the movies they may want they have to subscribe to multiple streaming services.  Want to get all of the NFL games every week?  You'll be forking over money to DirectTV, even if you are streaming them ONLINE.

So, as a Netflix subscriber I am happy they inked their deal with Disney, but I feel bad for anyone who uses any other online streaming service.  Exclusive licenses mostly suck for consumers, but since they seem to be good for studios*, don't expect them to change.  *Except for the exclusive contract between MLB and 2K Sports, that apparently didn't work out well for 2K Sports.