Thursday, April 10, 2008

I *heart* Economics

Until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t had a course in economics since high school, and I don’t remember that being especially exciting. I had to have a certain number of cultural studies courses for my degree here, and I was sick of art history and history, so I gave this German Economics for Foreigners course a try. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. Part of it might have been the instructor, who was delightfully sarcastic, but the subject was also quite interesting in and of itself. I ended up being one of the few people who wrote an exam in economics when it came time for our exams for admission to upper-division studies.

The experience didn’t exactly turn me into an economics junky, but I do enjoy reading the Filthy Commerce entries on Lisa Schmeiser’s blog, “The Rage Diaries.” Who knew marketing could be so interesting?

More recently, I got turned on to Marginal Revolution. I haven’t read very far back in the archives, but I definitely have to recommend an economics site (or any site) that links to an article on the demise of the semi-colon.

For Christmas, I got John The Undercover Economist, but he is never going to read it, so I’ve been reading it at bedtime. It is fascinating! I admit, I sometimes have to read back over what I’ve just read in order to be able to understand it, but that has to do with the topic and not with Tim Harford’s writing, which is very accessible and entertaining.

Have you ever learned about something, and then suddenly you come across it again, totally randomly? After reading about the Camelback houses in New Orleans in The Undercover Economist, and how they allegedly came about due to a weird tax law, I proofread a paper by an anthropologist in Louisiana who had a more plausible theory, that when free-standing, 2-story kitchens were built on to shotgun houses, the end result was the Camelback. What a strange coincidence, eh?

I recently got around to watching all 20 minutes of The Story of Stuff, and it was worth it. Ok, I found the first five minutes a bit, mmm, shrill, but if you have ever wondered about where all that great stuff for sale came from and where it’s going, this is the video for you.

Some day I will get around to watching all of the video “Money as Debt”, but not today.

And to wrap up my encomium of all things economics-related, I just read the Slate article “The Last Days of Cheap Chinese: why American consumers are about to start paying more for clothes, electronics, toys, and just about everything else” By Alexandra Harney. Wal-Mart won’t be cheap for much longer.

Mucking out the spam folder

While I was working on my laptop earlier, I thought I'd skim through my spam inbox, just in case something had fallen through the cracks. Nope, all spam, but I particularly liked the subject line "We're Doomed! Doomed!" Somehow, that got my attention more than the fake-porn and fake-watches sujects, but still not enough to open the email.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Somehow I have fallen behind on blogging, even though I have material. But on the other hand, I managed to get two articles edited and turned in on time over the weekend, so I am not a total slacker. In an attempt to get back on track, I am typing up some writing I managed to sneak in during our recent trip.


When we got on the plane [in Frankfurt, so on the international leg of our trip], Hannah noticed right away that there were TV consoles in the back of each seat. “This is the best plane I’ve ever been on!” she declared in her manically happy way.

personal tv

Then when she saw the free earphones that hook over the ears, she wanted a set for herself. (Stealing them wasn’t an option, because they have two prongs.)

Alas, despite the promised glory of individualized entertainment, it wasn’t completely peaches and cream. My controller was defective, and after repeatedly trying in vain to select the flight plan, I finally ended up whacking it against the armrest in frustration.

Since I didn’t have any electronic entertainment available, I decided to go with my stand-by, the seat-back pocket. I am pre-disposed not to like the Skymall catalog. As I told Hannah, it’s basically a toy catalog for grown-ups, as evidenced by the items Programmable Frozen Drink Machine, Arcade Legends Full Size Game System (for a cool $3695.95), and iMuffs (what a terrible name!).

But then I saw the Holy Grail of cabinetry: the Library-Style Media Cabinet.

How cool is that? I have been looking for a cabinet with doors for hiding our videos and DVDs in, without much luck, so I may be bookmarking this item for future reference. And I also want the skull-covered flannel footy-pajamas I saw.

Despite being in the last row (i.e. no one behind us to complain), I couldn’t put my seat back at first because a flight attendant had stowed a bag behind me. John was able to spend the flight leaning back and watching his choice of movies. [Here I noted, “I need a nap so bad!”] Halfway through the flight, I got my seat back. I hope that stewardess didn’t have a collection of heirloom glass in her purse.

So I kind of got the shaft on some of the amenities, but at least the facilities were clean, and there was hot water for hand washing. When you are a lady like me—small bladder, monthly visitor—public toilets get a lot of scrutiny. Continental Airlines, your toilets passed inspection! (DFW Airport, not so much.)

Hannah is insisting that she is a teenager because I let her buy her first “teenie” magazine to read on the flight, but still put on the little plastic wings the steward gave her.


After we got to my mom’s, Hannah was checking out Little Na’s extensive Pokemon video collection—“That’s how a Jamaican says ‘hedgehog’.”

The next morning, I was helping load suitcases into the truck, and John warned me I’d get a lady hernia. “What, an ovary will pop out? Or my hernia will drink tea with its pinky out?” Then I laughed, perhaps a bit more hysterically than John was comfortable with. Hannah woke up at 3 am after our 24-hour day of travel, and was up for good at 5 am, so I was feeling a bit stretched thin.

My mom had put one of her dogs into the cab of the truck while we loaded the luggage, to keep her from running off. Only, when we got in, we discovered to our horror that she had stepped in poop somewhere and then boisterous jumped all over the seats. *sigh* After that, we called her the “pooper pup.”


The first morning after we got to John's dad's, we ran out of propane. Luckily, I got a hot shower before it ran out, but we ended up running water through the coffee maker to wash dishes. The bright side was that we didn't have to suffer through one of his glacial breakfasts. I swear, some animals gestate faster than he can cook breakfast. And don't get me started on the "creamy" eggs. *shudder* Cold cereal first thing in the morning instead of a hot breakfast at 11 was a perfectly acceptable trade-off, even with my extended stinkiness.

Hannah got a pink stuffed bunny for Easter. She named it Gina Bunny Foo-Foo, her Chinese bunny.


We went fishing in Loosiana, and Hannah wasn’t having much luck. I overheard her trying to tempt the fishes to her line: “Come on little fishies; we won’t eat you. Bloop bloop bloop!” But then she shushed me when I tried to help with the blooping.


I think that about wraps up our Texas experience for this year. I’ve got more stuff stewing on my laptop, but John might need to use the Internet for actual *work* soon (so picky), so I will get to it later.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

LOL John sez

my new quilt

Im in ur quilt, stealin ur warmth.

(I refuse to spell q-words with k, even if it would fit the genre. BTW, Texas seems to have a shortage of qs and cs, judging by the signs.)

Off to read to Hannah. Maybe more tomorrow.