Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nominations Complete & Other Stuff

UPDATE on 2008 Weblog Awards:

Guys, the nominations for the 2008 Weblog awards are complete for the "Best Parenting" category. Kristy ended up with a "Score" of 30. In that category, that puts her at #4 out of 79 nominees. Over the next week or so, the finalists in each category will be notified, and the voting will begin on December 8. I will let you know if Kristy is a finalist so that you can vote for her.


As many of you know, I am in Minnesota this week. Kristy is being examined by the doctors at the Mayo Clinic. This facility is world class and occupies the greater part of downtown Rochester. I have been impressed by how nice these people are. It is quite obvious to me that Mayo spends money on getting the best people and doesn't worry about having the newest possible examination tables (see below). That tells me that they care more about patient care than image. We are very hopeful that these docs can find out what has been plaguing her for the better part of a year.

Another thing that I should mention is that many people feel that Fibromyalgia is a crap diagnosis or made-up syndrome. Before this week, I will admit that I was one of them. After spending over 2 hours here with the experts at Mayo, I was sure that was going to be the diagnosis because no one can seem to find out what the deal is with her. The woman calmly explained that, while she has some elements that fall into the syndrome, Kristy doesn't fit with fibromyalgia. That impressed me. I think that the diagnosis is probably misapplied in a lot of places, but here in Minnesota, I think that they have it right.
I watched #2 Texas TCEH get massacred by Oklahoma tonight. While I am always happy when the Red Raiders get embarrassed, I just wish that the Sooners were not involved.
I guess that is enough random stuff for one post.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nominate Kristy's Blog!

Ok! I know you like my blog, but I know who the best writer in the family is. The nominations for the Weblog Awards have started, and I think she writes the best parenting blog on the web. Sophie provides the material, and Kristy makes it hilarious.

I have started the nomination process, but you can nominate her as well. Here is the link for the nomination. Scroll down a little to find "Best Parenting Blog" and either 2nd my nomination or add your own. If you login via one of the supported authentication services (Typekey, WordPress, OpenID, Yahoo, AIM, etc.), your nomination will appear instantly. I don't have one of those accounts, so you probably won't see my nomination for about a day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chasing Mathematical Rabbits

Well, I am traveling this week for work. What that really means is that I sit in front of the TV a lot after 11-12 hours of work (usually watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN). I know that makes me a little weird. As some of my friends know, I got interested in poker a couple of years because I think it is an interesting mathematical problem.

For me, it is not as interesting when you see all the cards. It is quite simple to calculate the odds of winning when you know the cards (as on ESPN). The interesting problem for me was figuring the best hands to play against whatever number of players that are dealt a hand. Being an engineer and computer programmer, it wasn't enough for me to guess which hands should or shouldn't be played against 8 others players. I spent a great deal of time writing a Monte Carlo program that would:

  • Randomly shuffle a deck of 52 cards
  • Deal cards for 2-10 players
  • Deal the community cards in Texas Hold'em (5 cards)
  • Determine the winner
  • Repeat millions of times
I now have a database of over 100 million hands. It would give aspiring poker players some insight into when they should chuck their hands. How valid are my simulations that use random numbers to simulate these hands of poker? That is a good question, and I asked it myself. Here is the summary of the community card hands compared to the traditionally calculated statistical probability for each hand:
  • Straight Flush: 0.001536% (Sim), 0.001539% (Prob) --> Ratio = 0.99776
  • Four of a Kind: 0.023971% (Sim), 0.024010% (Prob) --> Ratio = 0.99838
  • Full House: 0.143659% (Sim), 0.144058% (Prob) --> Ratio = 0.99723
  • Flush: 0.196929% (Sim), 0.196540% (Prob) --> Ratio = 1.00198
  • Straight: 0.393720% (Sim), 0.392465% (Prob) --> Ratio = 1.00320
  • Three of a Kind: 2.110972% (Sim), 2.112845% (Prob) --> Ratio = 0.99911
  • Two Pair: 4.754903% (Sim), 4.753901% (Prob) --> Ratio = 1.00021
  • Pair: 42.249452% (Sim), 42.256905% (Prob) --> Ratio = 0.99982
  • High Card: 50.124858% (Sim), 50.117737% (Prob) --> Ratio = 1.00014
So, I have confidence that I programmed the darn "simple" problem right. It still doesn't help my poker game much because my "dumb" players all play the entire hand regardless of their two starting cards.

The next step is a Bayesian approach (using an expert opinion about probable outcomes based on limited information) to eliminate poor starting hands and improve the usefulness results of the program. Since I am not a poker expert, I need help figuring out the fold percentages for each of the 169 starting hands. Don't forget this percentage will change depending on the number of players that have a chance to beat you!

Who's up for the challenge?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Is This Real?

Well, I feel like I am going to throw up. I had this same feeling back in 1992 as the whole Hendrix College campus celebrated Bill Clinton's victory around me. It is good that the outcome is known early enough to get a good night's sleep. I do find some hope though:

Based on this logic, I can forget about sending my mortgage payments in the future, AND the gas station is going to just let the pumps run wild for anyone who shows up. WOW! What a country!

I have just two questions about this:

  1. Does the mortgage thing happen now that the election is over or do we have to wait until after the inauguration?
  2. Is this deal for all Americans or just the ones that voted for Obama?
I will have to call Chase Home Finance tomorrow to get answers to these very important questions, but I am still not sure how you prove that you voted for him. Anyone want to place bets about whether or not Chase will take my call seriously?


On a serious note, I am glad that I live in Arkansas tonight rather than Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Alaska , or Massachusetts. These are the seven states that still ban alcohol sales in some form on election day. I think there may be a need to stop by Crossover Liquor (in Fayetteville) to pick up some Maker's Mark before the night is over. I am just glad the election is behind us, and maybe a drink or eight will make it seem like a happier outcome.

Congrats to the Obama supporters. It is a historic night for this country, and the moment will be remembered for a long time. If I were you, I wouldn't count on him fulfilling many of those campaign promises. As for me, the only campaign promises he made that I actually believed are the tax hikes.
  • BTW, increasing taxes and practicing trade isolation are the worst possible things that you can do in a slow down or recession (just ask Herbert Hoover), but that seems to be Obama's economic plan.

In any case, I am installing an intrusion detector on my wallet that wails "I told you so!" over and over when taxes are increased and praying that the next four years won't be as bad as I think they are going to be.

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