Perspective on the lottery — and even bigger numbers.

Large numbers are interesting. The following quote about a hedgehog sneezing is a good example. The article at the link uses that as a starting point and goes large. Really large. Makes the brain hurt a bit to try and grasp it and doesn’t really serve any useful purpose outside of math research…but it is an interesting read if you can make it through.

Photo by Anatoly Ivanov on Unsplash

A recent Mega Millions lottery had 1-in-175,711,536 odds of winning. To put those chances in perspective, that’s about the number of seconds in six years. So it’s like knowing a hedgehog will sneeze once and only once in the next six years and putting your hard-earned money down on one particular second—say, the 36th second of 2:52am on March 19th, 2017—and only winning if the one sneeze happens exactly at that second.

From 1,000,000 to Graham’s Number — Wait But Why

From a different article about big numbers — but much easier to understand big numbers, a humorous use of Sour-Patch Kids:

And in a night fraught with moments of self-loathing, carefully placing 50 eXtreme Sour Patch Kids on top of another 50 eXtreme Sour Patch Kids, alone at 2am, was the low point. Moving on—

What does A Quadrillion Sour Patch Kids Look Like?

Why aren’t all cocktails served in the same glass?

Did you know the current martini glass is much bigger than they were back in the “3 martini lunch” days? But then, even the small ones are at least a shot of booze, so that would still be ridiculous.

The PBS Ideas Channel talks to Brooklyn bar owner Ivy Mix about all the different kinds of glassware that cocktails are served in. The most interesting bits are about how factors other than taste influence how people enjoy drinks, as with wine. Men in particular seem to have a difficult time enjoying themselves with certain types of glassware and drink colors.

Why aren’t all cocktails served in the same glass?

Ultimate – An Excellent Sport (no parents! no refs!)

My son plays the sport called Ultimate. He got involved in college when he lost interest in soccer and baseball — his two high school sports. I had heard about it, but didn’t know a thing about the sport. It was some sort of game that involved a frisbee and was like soccer, basketball, and football.

Photo from Wikipedia: Adam Ginsburg Pictures from an Ultimate Tournament in Dallas

Naturally, I expressed interest in seeing one of his games. His response was clear: “No parents.”

Continue reading “Ultimate – An Excellent Sport (no parents! no refs!)”

“the largest-ever double-blind egg-boiling-and-peeling experiment in the history of the universe”

From the New York Times:

With that in mind, for my first column on cooking and science for The New York Times, I decided to undertake my greatest egg-peeling experiment yet, and I have finally come up with some answers. Ninety-six volunteers came through my restaurant, Wursthall, in San Mateo, Calif., in August to peel and taste more than 700 eggs, cooked with various methods, making this — as verified with a cursory search online — the largest-ever double-blind egg-boiling-and-peeling experiment in the history of the universe. (If anyone from Guinness is reading, I have pretty extensive documentation.)

How to Boil the Perfect Egg – The New York Times

How many of us have stood by the sink cursing at the hard boiled eggs that won’t peel easily? Ok, if not actually cursing, then grumbling. In my limited survey, 100% of people who have cooked and peeled hardboiled eggs have not been successful in peeling all the eggs cleanly. All have grumbled out loud about it while peeling.

Finally someone scienced this and gives us answers. Yes, answers, plural. No silver bullet here…

Cokie Roberts – back when journalism was more interested in thinking than yelling.

I watched a fair amount of ABC Sunday morning in the 1990s with Cokie Roberts (seen here in an ABC picture interviewing President Bush with George and Sam). This was back in the day when these shows were more interested in exploring the issues than yelling about the other side being wrong. Cokie Roberts was able to understand all sides of an issue and speak calmly and clearly.

Continue reading “Cokie Roberts – back when journalism was more interested in thinking than yelling.”

A software developer and a software tester walk into a bar…

A software developer and a software tester walk into their newly opened bar. The tester orders a beer. Orders 0 beers. Orders 99999999999 beers. Orders a lizard. Orders -1 beers. Orders a ueicbksjdhd. The developer says, “See? It all worked. I told you everything was fine.” First real customer walks in and asks where the bathroom is. The bar bursts into flames, killing everyone.

Heard a variation of this at work the other day. Note, I have been both developer and tester in my career and fell into the above trap several times.

For those few of you that smiled at this, I strongly recommend reading the replies to this Tweet. It is hilarious.

Recommended Blog: St. Paul By Bike

This blog, St. Paul By Bike, gives a nice overview of St. Paul. The author (Wolfie Browender) is riding all over St. Paul on his bicycle and writing about what he finds. Good stuff.

Saint Paul By Bike-Every Block of Every Street ©

July 2, 2019

Merriam Park, Hamline-Midway, Como Park

Living in the southwestern part of Saint Paul means I almost always have to ride east, north, or both, and so it was with this ride to the Como Park neighborhood.

Chair-ity at 1645 Charles Avenue.
Chair-ity at 1645 Charles Avenue.

From the pause at Charles, I moved almost due north along Fry Street until Taylor Avenue, where I was effectively forced to turn. (Fry dead ends half a block north of Taylor because of the limited access to Pierce Butler Route.) Pedaling one block east on Taylor and I was at Snelling, one of the busiest and least bike-friendly streets in Saint Paul.

Photo courtesy Google Maps
Photo courtesy Google Maps

At this spot there are two options; take the risk of riding north on Snelling a half mile from Taylor over Pierce Butler and two sets of railroad tracks to the off ramp to Como Avenue, all the while…

View original post 2,619 more words

Mother Nature is Weird… Kalutas

Male Kalutas, a small mammal, dies shortly after mating. Article might be behind a paywall.

One to two months before the onset of the mating season, male kalutas stop producing sperm and start producing large amounts of testosterone and corticosteroids. Although this influx of hormones drives them to mate, it also suppresses their immune system and puts immense stress on their internal organs.
“The precise cause of death is usually ulceration of the gut track,” Dr. Dickman said. “They’ll be leaking blood into their body and begin to suffer organ collapse.”

New York Times, These Marsupials Go Out With a Bang, Annie Roth, Aug 28, 2019

Kalutas, which reach sexual maturity at just 10 months, have only one two-week window in early September during which resources in their environment are abundant enough to support reproduction. During these brief, frenzied breeding seasons, male kalutas mate with several females — for up to 14 hours at a time — until they succumb to exhaustion and die.

New York Times, These Marsupials Go Out With a Bang, Annie Roth, Aug 28, 2019

What is yet to pass…

Nothing like a graphical representation of every day of your life to put things in perspective…

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.

It’s a similar story with my two sisters. After living in a house with them for 10 and 13 years respectively, I now live across the country from both of them and spend maybe 15 days with each of them a year. Hopefully, that leaves us with about 15% of our total hangout time left.

Tim Urban, Dec 11, 2015. The Tail End [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Sometimes a little math can illuminate life, or what is left in life, in “oh wow” ways. 

50 years since Moon Landing

Ignoring the crass commercialism (hey, it’s Oreos), it is strange to think that it has been 50 years since the moon landing. I watched it in a black and white TV and space travel has interested me ever since.

Yes, I think we should go back.