Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sad Day in Pootie Tang Nation

Update: Pootie Tang wins the season's high points by +11 over Wrath Man. Measuring the total payout like we measure the performance of one of our private equity funds would be as follows:

[Season High Points Payout + 4 weekly high points + $25 for making playoffs]:

2.35x multiple upfront capital call
IRR = 60.8% for 15 week season...not bad

Lost the semi-final game this past weekend in my fantasy football league, in a matchup that on paper was a done deal. That's why they play the games. Pittsburg D let me down big time, and Carson Palmer has been a dog as of late. Fat Catz took some mad money out of my pocket. However, to the victor go the spoils, so my congrats, el chubby kitty. (Click to enlarge.)

I have Westbrook who has been an absolute stud this year, and had no problem with him sliding at the 1, cause it's the right thing to do. You do anything to beat the Cowboys. It's an unwritten rule as an Eagle. The 6 points wouldn't have mattered in the end, but I do admit, my head was exploding at the time.

So I am still in the running for the High Points this year by 41 pts, which will be a nice payout if I can hold on. My team was basically left for dead after week 8, but went on a 6 win tear. So I was due... but as you can see, I had the highest points against (PA), so this has been a tough, gut-it-out season. (Click to enlarge, week 14 prior to this week's loss.)

Today is the first time I've been able to look at anything related to football after watching Chester Taylor do nothing against the Bears monday night.
Sorry this looks like I slapped this post together, because, well, I did. It's still too painful to look at the score.

Till next year...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Too Funny

I always knew Cookie Monster had a problem.

Hilarious, you know the people that came up with the muppets and Sesame Street were high as kites 24-7.

Verizon, Comcast and DishTV -- WTF!?!?

Just when you think you've seen it all...for all of you marketing folks out there, I think this by far is the best thing I've seen yet.

Comcast and Verizon are locked in a fierce battle to add subscribers, with Comcast being the established leader. However, Verizon's new Fiber Optic (FiOS) offering is clearly taking market share away from them. In fact, most of the fund managers I meet with at work have been hurt in 2007 by holding Comcast but have realized upside as Verizon continues to get more customers to switch from Comcast.

Remember the promise of all that fiber optic cable that the providers laid in the 90s? The Juniper Networks and JDS Uniphases of the world that were supposedly worth more than GE and drove the internet-bubble to dizzying heights with their killer-apps and fiber-optic that would render copper obsolete? Well it only took 10 years for all that infrastructure to get "utilized". We actually swtiched to FiOS and it is far and away better than Comcast. Comcast sucks, and competition is good, because without it, Comcast would continue to raise prices without as much of a peep from it's captive base.

I get it, Verizon and Comcast...but there is always a third competitor in any market, as Ghadar and his "Herfindahl Index" proved. DishTV is clearly the third game in town, with their niche being the sports package offerings where you can get your sports team games instead of having to watch the Giants or Yankees all the time. But the trade off is you every time it rains, no signal, and you basically have a sail mounted to your house.

So how is DishTV taking all of this competition, you ask?? Well, they certainly aren't taking this lying down. I was making eggs this morning, and noticed something on the egg itself. I kid you not, have a look at the picture below (Click to Enlarge):

WTF? This is brilliant, as is the marketing team that convinced an exec at DishTV to stamp a "1-800" number on eggs. Can't you just see the pitch:

"Here's our idea, it's called "Project Easter Egg." We stamp our 1-800 number on eggs. People eat eggs, it's the #1 breakfast food. Here is a pie chart that McKinsey put together showing the 5 year market growth estimates for egg consumption by U.S. Region. As you can see, the NY metropolitan area is growing by 25%, so we should stamp this info on eggs. If the take rate is 1%, and 1% of the take translates into a new customer, our subscriber base and revenue generated could be $MM. And not to mention that it's low cost way, so our Revenue per marketing $ goes up."

The only thing crazier than the pitch is the fact that the exec bought into it. I can just see the follow-on studies to understand the effectiveness of "stamping eggs with 1-800 numbers."

It's brilliant, but does nothing to make me want DishTV. Just thought I'd share, because it goes to show that people will do anything to get the word out. God bless the idiot that actually picks up the phone.

By the way, the egg was delicious. It's in the trash.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ass of the Week

is Bobby Petrino...what a coward. Wow, your season didn't turn out the way you thought, and when the going got tough, you ran away like a little baby. Get over it, life ain't perfect.

I don't even like the Falcons, but here's an organization that is imploding, and this guy writes a letter to tell his team that he is quitting on them. At least wait till the end of the season to sign with the Razorbacks, not the same night you quit. Whatever happened to honoring your contract? He and Nick Saban probably whine to each other every time something doesn't go their way or they don't get what it is they want.

Oh well, some people are leaders, some just think they are. Anyone can lead when times are good. The true test is how you handle things when they are tough.

Link to SI Article and Photo:

Mitchell Report Due Out at 2:00 PM Today

UPDATED -- Link to Report, with Names and Signed Checks by Players at End:

Can't wait to see this thing. I don't think anyone should be surprised by this, but it will be nice to see the names. Certainly takes the pressure off Bonds though, because if you put an asterisk by his record, how about Clemens' Cy Young? It wasn't just the hitters doing the cream and the clear.

This all makes perfect sense though, remember, the commissioner's office is just as culpable. They knew they had a problem, but after the players strike in 1994 (the last time I remember caring about baseball) the league knew its fan base was disgusted and didn't want to come back to the parks. So the league office looks the other way, especially when "slammin' Sammy" and McGwire have their little home run chase in 1998.

Why would you want to waste your money going to see something that is fake? It's no different than betting on a game that's fixed. The simple solution is for the Players Association to agree to fair testing. If you can test for it, and there are repercussions to your actions, then people won't do it. Christ, they do it in the Tour de France, what's the difference? The difference is there's too much money at stake. It's a business, not a game.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What to Do When You Get Hit by a Car Around the Holidays

I had a very surreal experience this morning that I feel compelled to share. I got hit by a car walking to the bus stop this morning in NJ. No joke. I was crossing the street and some woman never slowed down to make her left, and next thing I knew, i was on the hood and then on the ground after hearing the thud. So after yelling at this person for quite some time ("i believe I set the record for f-bombs before 6:45AM") and getting this person's license plates, phone number and name, i grabbed my blackberry and man purse that were strewn in the street and went on my way to catch the bus. No broken bones thank god, just some severe road rash on the arms and fleshy areas.

In hindsight, i guess someone was looking out for me, or it wasn't my time today. In a weird, surreal way, I remember thinking on the subway this morning that I felt like a stuntman on a high that can bounce off cars and survive (yes I went to work, Erin and my coworkers think i'm crazy). There is an awesome comic named Dane Cook who has this bit about seeing someone get hit by a car. His bit is pretty much what it was like...

If you ever have the chance to bounce off a car going 35, try it. It will definitely make you appreciate life and get you out of your "Groundhog day" doldrums.

All kidding aside, I know it's a cliche, but i look at this as another reminder during the holidays that life is short and too precious. Remember to keep in perspective what's important, and be able to recognize those in your life who mean something and are there to help you, and those who are fake and not true family or friends. Too often, we take for granted the fact that we will always see each other at the end of every day.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Google is Amazing..."So what is it again you did in grad school?"

The other day, Erin asked me "So what is it you did again in grad school?" To be honest, it was hard for me to remember too. So I started poking around Google's site. They have quite a few "focused" search engines, one being called the "Scholar" search engine. I typed in my name to see if I could find my paper so I could explain what it was I did, cause it's hard to remember...sure enough, I found my paper.

Paper on Crystal Structure of Human Telomere DNA

Reading this paper brought back a lot of memories, and really made me appreciate completing that paper for reasons I will never be able to fully describe. But if you will allow an old man to share his memories with you, I would like tell you why an "ACCCT Telomeric DNA repeat is potentially important" based on what I learned at WSU (Go Cougs!).

When I entered Washington State's Ph.D. program for Biochemistry, I started my thesis work with Dr. Kang in his x-ray cystallography lab. In a nutshell, x-ray crystallography is a scientific method, whereby you shoot high-energy x-rays through a crystal of biological material (DNA, RNA, protein, etc.) It's no different than sitting in the dentist chair and getting your teeth x-rayed, for lack of a better analogy. After shooting the x-ray energy at the crystal, an x-ray diffraction pattern is produced. The most famous diffraction pattern is Watson-Crick/Rosalind Franklin's DNA diffraction pattern, which allowed them to later determine the structure of DNA as an alpha helix. (It wasn't the guys, it was a really smart woman who determined the structure of DNA...funny how they don't tell you that in school.)

The diffraction pattern that is generated represents an electron density map that you then used computer algorithms to solve the structure of the biological entity (DNA, etc) you are analyzing. The promise is that if you can determine the structure of a biological molecule, you may be able to design a drug that can interact with the target to effect a function (think "enzyme is involved in cancer progression --> this bad enzyme's structure or active site has a hole shaped like a triangle, lets design a bunch of drugs shaped like a triangle and see if it blocks the bad enzyme --> maybe this will slow down progression of disease because blocking site will make enzyme inactive").

So we purified a solution of the DNA repeating unit "ACCCT" which is present in all human chromosomal DNA. In fact, this particular repeat is present in the telomeres of human chromosomes. Telomeres are the tips or ends of chromosomes (see cartoon below). These telomeres are important because telomeres shorten during DNA replication, which occurs when a cell divides. At some point, the telomeres become too short, and the cell can no longer divide. At that point, a cell dies.

Guess what cells have telomeres that, for some reason, don't shorten??? Here's a hint, what cells are immortal, and characterized by uncontrolled growth??

Cancer cells.

So the thought is if you can understand the structure of telomeres, or the enzyme that keeps repairing and lengthening telomeres everytime DNA replicates, then you can design a drug that prevents this enzyme from working. Cancer cells die, and that's a good thing.

I'm oversimplifying things, because there are a lot of really smart people who are working on this therapeutic approach to treating cancer. The takeaway from solving the structure of ACCCT is that people think of DNA as a static molecule, but in fact, as the structure of ACCCT shows, unorthodox, but energetically favorable binding can occur between DNA base pairs. This higher order binding creates a "supersecondary" structure to DNA that perhaps stabilizes telomeric end units in chromosomes. Perhaps the enzyme that interacts with telomeres recognizes this supersecondary structure, or perhaps this non-traditional structure protects the ends from degradation and shortening. Only time will tell.

This was probably one of the most intellectually stimulating things I have ever been fortunate to do. Makes the portfolio asset allocation models we run at work seem a bit boring...

Cartoon Diagram of Telomeres

Link to NYTimes Interview with Grandmother of Telomere Biology Field:

Picture of a crystal, seen from under a microscope. To prepare the crystal for xray, you stand in a cold room, and use a 0.5mm glass capillary tube to grab one of these suckers and then stick on the x-ray machine.

Example of a diffraction pattern produced after shooting x-ray energy through a biological molecule...This particular diffraction pattern is the famous DNA pattern that Rosalind Franklin generated from DNA. Watson and Crick then used it to subsequently become famous...pretty unfair if you ask me.

Example of an electron denisty map around the carbon backbone of a molecule. It's a stereogram, so if you stare at it long enough, you'll see it in 3-D. (Like the popular "Magic Eye" posters, sans dolphin or dinosaur...) For ACCCT, I sat in front of a computer monitor with 3-D goggles to fit the structure to the density map my cystal generated.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas has Arrived!

After a nice Thanksgiving in Delaware we got back on Saturday and decided to get the tree. I've posted some pictures of our tree and the foliage that mom and Erin got at the farmers market. Classy thanks Mom!

Hope that everyone got to spend time with loved ones and remember to be thankful for what we have, rather than focus on all we supposedly don't.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Katie's New Friend

Katie made a new friend, Riley. Riley is my mom's chocolate lab, and these two got along like two little buddies. It's good to socialize dogs with other dogs, that way they are friendly and don't bite, like some "killer" dogs we know. (Actually, it's good for dogs or people to socialize outside your comfort zone in general, but that's a topic for another day.) Although it was funny when my mom, Erin and I took these two for a walk. Each one had to be in the lead, and would pull harder if they saw the other dog ahead. Hilarious.

"Mommom, give us the biscuit!"

Attic -- Phase I and II

Here are the before and after pics of the attic. I pulled out all of the old stuff, and put down two new layers. I will post additional pics after I cut the hole and install the vent fan in the roof and wire up the house fan to a switch down on the first floor.

Previous Insulation, check out the antenna and bathroom fan venting to the gable brilliant design by previous owners...

After pulling old insulation out, at the southwest end of house

52 bags of old insulation being put out with garbage two at a time, you do the math...

Pic of two new layers before finishing, with the vent fan now venting to the exhaust fan through roof, for now

Hopefully it works, and the the upstairs feels a bit warmer these days but more importantly, the bathroom vent isn't venting moisture into the attic.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Katie's New Trick -- "What get's rewarded gets done..."

Katie Rolls

So there was a saying that was particularly annoying in b-school that folks tossed around since it made you sound intelligent, but on balance, the statement is quite obvious. So by using it, you were basically saying, "i don't have an original thought or opinion about this case. So I will just buzzword you to death..."

Well I am not feeling particularly original, and as such, I am invoking the very phrase I used to loathe. But in this case, it's true. We taught Katie how to roll over, and all it took was the promise of a peanut butter covered biscuit to reward her behavior.

Enjoy...Katie proves that what gets rewarded does get done.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The F@#*%! Sofa Won't Fit!!!

Our house is a bit older, and as such, the hallways and stairs are rather narrow compared to the McMansions of today. The night the movers broght our stuff from NYC to NJ was a bit stressful because the box spring almost didn't fit up the stairwell since it was a queen size. But a few scratches later and the box spring was on its way.

However, the stairs down to the refinished basement were another story. Erin had a set of furniture that was from b-school, but of course, the movers could not get the sofa or loveseat or chair down the stairs.

Well, one recip saw later, a staple gun, some fabric, and a whole lot of swearing, and we got the stuff down to the basement. I saw a service online that took apart and rebuilt sofas for people that lived in the city, and decided "why not give it a shot? As we say in golf, God hates a coward."

"Inspirational"Link is here:

Enjoy the pics, and thanks for letting me share one of our successful, yet unintended projects with you.

Put Back Together After Using Recip Saw to Separate Back from Bottom of Sofa

This picture and the one above shows what the sofa looked like after I put the two pieces back together again.

Stapled New Backing Material

$15 worth of material from Wal-Mart and about 30 staples.

Good as new...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"How's Your Commute?"

I was recently asked this question while in Vermont for my buddy's wedding. His future father-in-law had given me a glass of wine from a cask he had bought and saved for the special occasion. As Erin and I were introduced to various folks, we stated that we had just moved from midtown manhattan to NJ, but that I was still working in midtown. And then the question came:

How is the commute?

If I wasn't a bit buzzed from the wine and tired from the drive up, I'd probably of said "it's fine, bearable." But that's only the answer on the best of days, so I replied "it S-U-C-K-S." However, the worst part is that I have lost a bit of weight since working in the city. So everyday on the bus, I end up having some fatass sit next to me. My theory is that these fatty's choose me because it appears there is more room cause I've lost so much weight. Not my fault they can't stop feeding their faces...

Sometimes I think I get too worked up about the commute, but MSNBC apparently confirms what I've been thinking all along...

Link to Slideshow:

Link to Article:

It is worth noting that I had a 3 block walk to work that took literally 5 minutes, so this is payback for the free lunch I was eating for 2 years. Truth be told, I love my job and the work I do so the commute is worth it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Jib-Jab: Fun with Existing Pictures

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
This is a site that you can use to take existing pictures and put them into Flash animations...

Here's one of us dancing.

Automatic Email Updates of New Posts

Don't forget to sign up for email alerts when new posts get put up. The sign-up box is over on the righ-hand side panel, beneath our picture.

Just type in your email address, and you will receive a verification email. Once you click on the link to verify, you will begin to get emails alerting you if a new post is up.

New Doggie Pics

Picture 008

Katie's is 1-1/2 year old mix (part german shepard, pit, lab, boxer mix) that loves to watch squirrels and eat peanut butter.

Erin and I love Katie for teaching us, among other things, that pit bulls get a bad rap. It's all how you raise them, just like kids. Don't be afraid of Katie, it's always a good thing to try to think differently from how people tell you you're supposed to think about something.

Here is the link to some new pics of Katie.
Picture 019

Rotating AVI Files

If your digital camera takes movies, inevitably you've taken movies with the camera roatated so the movie capture is "taller". Well, until now, i've avoided because most software packages (read "Apple iLife, etc.) are too expensive.

Here is a link to a free software platform that this guy Avery Lee wrote. Apparently Avery wrote this while in college, which makes me realize that maybe I could've been productive and added to our nation's GDP, but I was too busy drinking beer at our fraternity house...

Anyway, the program allows you to edit and manipulate movies...It's a great software package, and highly recommend if the software that came with your camera is not that flexible.

Link to Avery's Homepage

Link to Download File (Download the zip to new folder, then run exe file)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shut up and play already

In case you've been living under a rock, McNabb's apparently upset. Rather than get into it, here is a great article by Sal Palontonio on ESPN.

Hey D-Mac, I loved ya, but it's about winning, it's that simple. So throw it to Westbrook. He makes you better, cause you aren't that good anymore. All Westbrook did was get Garcia a contract in Tampa Bay, and he'll make Kolb look good too.

You and TO are the same person. Thanks Sal, you're article is spot on.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Katie Gives "Five"

Katie likes to do high fives with us for treats. Here is a short video of Katie showing you her new trick.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Doggie

Katie was rescued by a couple from a shelter. Erin and I wanted to adopt her after meeting her, she's sweet and extremely lovable. She's a lab/staffordshire terrier mix, and basically a big baby.

More pics here:
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by jkweil

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What to do in Supply Chain Class

Smeal Business Building Panoramic 1

So this post is for any Smeal classmates that may be visiting...

In 2004, if you were in the Keller building in State College taking an intro supply chain class (and you weren't a Supply Chain person), chances are you were playing one of the games linked below:

Original GROW Game -- I have no idea why it's so addictive

Link to all GROW Games

Yeti Sports (The Penquins)

Enjoy the walk down memory lane.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Here are some panoramics that we've taken recently while living in NYC and down in the islands. The pictures from Antigua are not photoshopped, it's that beautiful down there.

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by jkweil

Feeding the Tetras in St. Lucia

This is a video of the black fin tetras we fed everyday after lunch down in St. Lucia. They loved the bread from the buffet. By the end of the week, others were also feeding these little guys.

Black Fin Tetras in St. Lucia

Saturday, September 1, 2007

4th of July -- 2007

Here is a video of the Macy's fireworks on the East River. We watched these from our apartment window looking out over the river by the UN.

Link to other videos are here: