Wednesday, June 15, 2011

10 Things I just don't get.

I've never claimed to be the smartest guy on the planet.  While this is not news, this is also a constant realization.  Every day there is a new thing that exposes me as not that bright.  One reason for this is there are too many things that are being invented and developed that I really don't care about NOW, but might later.  This is a cop out though because I could take new tech out of the mix and I'm still finding that there is so many things I know very little about.

Don't get me wrong, there are things I do know.  But it's pretty staggering to think that any person you meet will know something non-trivial that you don't know.  How do I know this?  I'm making assumptions.  I assume that everyone's life experience is varied enough that there is probably vital knowledge inside everyone.

That all being said.  There are some things that simply baffle me.

10.  Smoking - To begin, I know a lot of people that smoke and I live in a place where not a lot of people smoke.  I've heard it said that it's harder to quit smoking than nearly all hard drugs.  I feel sorry for my friends that smoke because they don't really like it and they wish they didn't do it, but that horse has left the barn a long time ago.  Ok, Turn the clock back.  WAAAAAAY back.  back to around say 1940.  Back when goofy scientists were saying smoking might be good for weight loss or some such nonsense.  Maybe we didn't have the information then that Smoking was slow death.  So maybe it looked cool and that's why people did it.  Now?!?  2011?  We have so much information that says that smoking really might be one of the dumbest most expensive mistakes you will ever make.  But people still pick it up.  WHAT?!?  This proves again that young people are idiots.  Because you would really have to be an idiot to start this weird habit. 

9. Just how big Avagadro's number really is - This is the number Avagadro built.  it's 6.0221415x10^23 If you are in Chemistry, you know what a mole is.  if you don't.  I'm not going to spend this blog trying to explain what you couldn't learn in a semester of Chemistry.  To put it in the most simple terms.  it's a number of molecules in one gram of oxygen and yet so much more, anyway,  that number is kind of big.  I read that it's the same amount of elements as the amount of popcorn KERNELS covering the United States...9 miles deep.  We don't have mountains 9 miles tall.  Popcorn kernels.  wow.  that's a lot of Jiffypop (Unpopped of course).

8. Common Sense - I used to think that I was possessed of a brain that was similar to that of the average human being.  The older I get, the more I realize that I'm only average among Americans and even then, not so much.  I have to assume that everyone else feels this way.  There are groups you fit in well with and groups you don't.  So Common sense would dictate that it's information that everyone knows.  One trip to the DMV and you would be hard pressed to think of what you have in common with the rest of the people in that line other than gas.  So maybe It's not common at all, and maybe I don't have it.

7. Why do I believe in Luck? - I consider myself a fairly analytical thinker, I'm not really given to the flights of fancy that many people indulge in.   I don't believe in luck, and yet if I'm playing a game that involves a random element, I find myself reaching for my 4 leaf clover.  When I lose I blame bad luck.  When I win, I think it is good luck.  I don't believe in luck.  I believe in statistics and standard deviations, not luck.  But if I had a lucky charm I thought gave me luck.  I would keep it. Until it wasn't lucky anymore, then it's bad luck.  I like to win.

6. The Motion Picture Rating System - Jack Valenti is the founder of this venerated tradition.  The semi-objective rating system for movies.  It's gone through several changes through the years.  I think it needs to go through one more change.  Elimination.  I have no idea why people look at this rating system like it is some kind of celluloid absolute.  It isn't.  This rating system seems to be as bought and sold as anything else in Hollywood.   I think I would trust it more if I had an idea of the people judging any given movie.  I know studios are given more leeway toward what they want and indie houses are not.  It just bugs me I guess.

5.  Reality TV - We already have the internet.  The ultimate reality TV show.  You can watch You-tube forever and see people making fools of themselves in front of a camera.  Of course I would rather watch that than the 'Reality' shows on TV.  The biggest reason is that on TV the shows are set up.  They edit the good guys and bad guys on those shows so they are not at all who they are in REAL life.  I like my TV written by writers and acted by actors.  If I want real people, I'll go to work and listen to any number of the people that work there.  They are pretty real AND I'm usually interested in their lives.  Unlike TV-real people that don't interest me in the slightest.

4. The Soul - This is my philosophical meandering along the lines of Descartes.  So we exist due to the fact that we recognize our own existence.  That's kind of circular, but it kind of gets us closer.  I would just like to know how is it that I can see through my eyes and see what I see and not any other eyes in the world?   I can't really imagine not being able to be aware of my surroundings the way I currently am.  When you die, do you maintain that same sense of self?  I guess if you don't you won't care either. I'm not the first to be baffled by our own sense of self-awareness.  I'm sure I won't be the last.  It's one thing to know how the brain works.  But how does the sense of self work?  Baffling indeed.

3. The guy that drives super slow on the road - No, I'm not talking about the guy that drives the speed limit.  I'm talking about Mr. 50 miles per hour in the 65 zone.  Usually hanging out in the right lane, but sometimes he hangs around in the left as well.  I don't know what kind of person this is that watches everyone roll by him and give him the evil eye.  Is he that guy that just likes to piss people off? (I don't really understand them either).  Or is he just super old and should be taken off the street.  Or better yet, is he texting someone and he doesn't understand that you shouldn't do that while driving.  so many possibilities.

2. Why do I get scared when I don't believe in ghosts?  -  This isn't like Luck.  I really don't believe in ghosts.  My most popular blog 10 reasons ghosts don't exist outline it pretty well.  But if I'm home alone and watching some quasi-documentary on real ghost stories long enough and it's dark, I get spooked.  I don't really expect anything to be in the dark when I look there, but still.  It's creepy.  Then I wake up the next morning and feel kind of silly.

1. Why does misery love company? - I only think some misery loves company.  For the most part when I'm feeling miserable, I would just as soon talk to nobody.  There is a certain level of misery that seems to appreciate company, but what if the company makes you even more miserable?  It seems that we have more miserable people than ever.  You only need to see all of the anti-depression medication adds on the TV.  It's apparent that there are more of us than ever and yet more of us are miserable.  I actually am not usually miserable.  To the contrary I feel that I'm a fairly happy person.

So there it is.  It's my Birthday some where during the month.  I will mark the position of the earth relative to the sun when I was born.  I'm not sure why it's important.  I was pretty disappointed when I realized that a lot of other people probably shared my birthday.  Now I'm ok with it.

No this is nowhere near the list, but it's the printable list and it's probably a changing list.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

10 indicators that you probably shouldn't gamble.

I've written blogs about gambling before.  I love it.  It's a lot of fun and the only form of entertainment where you have a chance of coming home with more money than you started with.  You probably won't, but at least there is a chance.

Over the past few trips to my favorite gaming establishments I've realized that there are times when I (or anyone else) should simply not gamble.

10.  You don't suffer fools well - Most gambling is a social event.  You go with friends to make some wagers and laugh at loosing and cheer at winning.  But if you gamble at all, you have had the experience of seeing that person wander to the table not knowing what they are doing and they are probably inebriated.  This person starts to gamble and starts getting louder and more obnoxious.  You start wishing for their financial demise, if not for the loss of their glittering conversation, then for the loss of the flowery bouquet of their aroma.  At that point, you will find that that person will win and win and win.   Probably making the dumbest mistakes in the game but then winning despite their ignorance.  You hope even more that this putz will burn out.  Nope, it doesn't happen.  When you truly wish for someone to loose, you will find that it's really not any fun.  You should pick up and move away.  Don't go somewhere else and start gambling!  Take a break, just stop.  You start up again and if you start losing, you will blame your drunken acquaintance and you won't shake the bad feeling and that is not what you are there for.  Give it a rest, come back fresh and start over.

9.  You think the universe might have it in for you - This isn't just gambling, this is life.  There are those that think the glass is half empty.  Others think the glass is half full.  As for myself, I think that the glass is the wrong size.  If you believe you are an unlucky person, you will focus on your losses and assume that you are not lucky.  If you believe you are lucky, you will focus on your wins and wonder why you don't have more money ;).  If you think that your Karma is such that you don't deserve to win, you are right, you don't.  Just stop right now.

8.  You are good at math. - If you are at all good at math, you can figure out what the actual odds are of winning any of the individual games v.s. what they are actually paying you.  You'll quickly find that there are no odds in the casino that are in your favor.  There is one bet that is NOT in the houses favor, but it requires a bet that is.  It's the Free Odds in Craps.  The more you play on free odds only, the more slowly you give the house your money.  So what keeps people coming?  The fact that those odds are calculated over the long term.  In the short term, you can win.  People come home with those stories all the time.  They don't tell you much about the rest of the times.

7.  You are already in debt - Ok, so you are in the hole.  If you are in Hollywood, you desperately bet what you have left on a horse whose name you saw in a hymnal at church the prior Sunday.  Since this is obviously a sign from heaven, you feel like you just have to take the opportunity.  If you're still in the movie, you're going to win.  If you are in real life, maybe you will win.  But you are in debt!  you don't have money to RISK on a bad return.  Don't go anywhere near a casino if you have bills to pay off.  Besides.  Gambling is no fun if you are worried about every dollar you have out.

6.  You HATE to loose. - Ok, nobody likes to loose.  But some people don't mind losing much.  I take a pretty broad look at gambling.  I've had times where I've been really mad about losing but came home with 50 dollars ahead.  I had won 300 early in the night and lost it during the rest of the night.  I really didn't like that.  I came home even once and it was one of the best times I'd had.  I lost 80 dollars and had one dollar in change left in my pocket.  I won 5 dollars on a pull on a slot machine.  and the rest of the night clawed my way back to even.  I was thrilled.  Also.  Anyone that says you are getting money without earning it really hasn't gambled much.  Any money you can get away with from a casino is pretty rare.  If you just can't stand the thought of losing games you are designed to loose, you probably shouldn't play.

5.  You HATE to see others win more than you - One of the strange factors of luck is if you are with someone that seems to always win.  You don't understand it, but they just do.  It's like they fall bass-ackwards into the pot of gold and you couldn't find lucky with a leash and a dog whistle.  If you gamble with this person.  You will loose and that person will win.  If you are with a friend you really think could use an extra buck etc.  That person will loose and you may win.  You think this makes no sense or isn't true?  You haven't been gambling.  It is this bit of superstition that rears it's ugly head when you hear the tale of the father that takes his son to the door of the casino and says 'son I'll give you this dollar, or I'll put it in that slot machine over there and you could win more.'  After thinking it over the boy decides to take the risk and the father then proceeds to put the dollar in the slot and win thus foiling his life lesson.  It makes superstitious fools of us all.

4.  You prefer goods and services to entertainment. - The ONLY way I look at gambling anymore is that I'm being entertained.  I feel like it's the only form of entertainment where I might actually come home with more money in my pocked than I left.  Let's see you do THAT with a night at Turn off the Dark.  If you really need to feel that you've gotten something in exchange for your money, then don't gamble.  It will never feel worth it.

3.  You have a healthy sense of self loathing. -  I've seen some people keep on risking more and more even though they EXPECT to loose.  They aren't winning and they don't have any expectations to do so yet they keep going.  They are just punishing themselves.  That's it.  If you want to feel punished.  get on a good losing streak with a healthy dose of sleep deprivation.

2.  You really can't stand buffet food. - Gambling and all you can eat buffet go together like Family Reunions and Salmonella.  Buffets can be found at most casinos and are often given as a comp or a come on for frequent players.  Lots of people like buffets.  If you aren't one of those people, you will probably not enjoy some of the trappings of gambling.

1.  You just don't feel lucky. - There is nothing like feeling unlucky.  It's like you are a Svengali in reverse.  You can tell that whatever you do, you will be on the losing end of things.  Now, just a note, Dice and cards don't know who you are or how much you do or don't deserve to win money.  They don't know when you are going to break even or if you are on a 'streak'.  You on the other hand will link events together and assign some kind of interpretation to them and assume that they in turn link to some other event that determines if you deserve to win or not.  I can't change this.  It's what we do best as humans and it's what's responsible for some of our greatest achievements.  Just remember.  If you feel unlucky, you are.  So stop until you feel lucky or at least neutral.  You'll save yourself a couple of dollars.

There we are.  It's summer time.  Time for you to go out and get a vacation.  I suspect that where Gas prices are now it could be a Vacation fairly close to home.  See ya in 15 or so. (tell your friends, subscribe, thanks!)