New Site is up

July 30, 2006

The new site is finally up. HujoBlogger has moved to hujoblogger.com

Misleading Reputations

July 28, 2006

My favorite thing about working in New York this summer is getting the opportunity to visit different cities. Every city I go to I have a preconceived idea of what its like. What its going to look like, what the people are like, what the weather is like, etc. Reflecting back in the past year I have travelled quite a bit. I have visited ten different states and driven through another nine. I road tripped from Texas to California and back, Texas to Colorado and back, and Texas to New York and I’m not looking forward to the driving back part. Other trips include Ohio, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Florida, New Orleans, Las Vegas twice, and Annapolis twice. The point of me telling you all of this is because what I expected to find in all of these travels was different then what I actually found.

Geographic reputations commonly lead to misperceptions. I will focus on two and touch on another. Before my trip to California I felt like I had heard every bitch as to why Cali, Southern California, in particular was such a disaster of a place to live. I had this stuck in my head that it would never be a place that I could picture myself living. It’s overcrowded, there’s forest fires, blackouts, earthquakes, landslides, liberal protestors, taxes are out of control, cost of living is insane, there’s smog, traffic, crime, and in general the people are too Hollywood, superficial, and materialistic. After I got there I realized this reputation was wholly unwarranted. Maybe not wholly but it wasn’t near as bad as it was made out to be. In fact it was pretty damn cool. Lush valleys, the ocean, palm trees, sunny 70 degree weather in January. None of the natural disasters hit when I was that wasn’t an issue. And last, in general, I didn’t notice that the people were that much different.

When I would tell people I was moving to New York for the summer to work for GE almost automatically people wished me “Good Luck with that”. Not a good luck with that in terms of I hope the job goes well, but good like with that as in good luck with everything that comes with moving to New York. I think the reputation that was in other people’s minds were more extreme than the one I had but I had my expectations none the less. What I found again was that these reputations are completely overrated. Very few New Yorkers actually talk like New Yorkers, and thank God for that. I’ve come to discover that the New York accent is more of a NYC thing and even then its blown out of proportion. On the subject of NYC I have to admit I was a little bit intimidated before my first trip down. I envisioned this filthy, dangerous place with prostitutes and homeless people everywhere. I envisioned chaos with ultra busy indescent assholish people flying around looking out only for themselves. I have only been to Manhattan so I can’t speak for the other burroughs but for the most part NYC was pretty freaking cool. It was a ton cleaner than I expected and there are ten times more homeless people in Austin then there are in NYC. I guess I never put together how incredibly expensive it is to live in Manhattan and how that would affect things. Once I got there I didn’t feel like it was dangerous at all and the intimidation factor quickly wilted away.

On my trip to Colorado over Spring Break I saw the same thing with Denver. When I thought of Denver I envisioned this Coors Light commercial with pure white snow-covered mountains, fresh mountain streams, and horses running free. No doubt there are parts of Colorado like that and it is a very beautiful place but I came to find out that Denver is a very industrial town which is not at all what I was expecting. I did not at all expect to see smoke stacks, factories, and rusted out anything that was metal.

My point is reputations are usually not all they are made out to be. Things are usually more normal than they are made out to be. I run into reputations and expectations that people have for me just being from Texas. Everyone expects that I love hunting, country music, George W Bush, football, and BBQ.  For me only about half of those things are true which surprises people. When I am introduced to a co-worker 90% of the time the first thing they tell me is “You don’t sound like you are from Texas.” I’ve never said it but everytime I think ‘Yea, most people don’t, just like you don’t talk like you are from New York.’

-hj

The Ultimate Guide to Fantasy Football

July 25, 2006

We are entering the dog days of summer which means two things: NFL Training Camps are about to start and Fantasy Football drafts are right around the corner. I had been making some notes for a FF blog but Bill Simmon’s latest article inspired me to bite the bullet and crank one out. Seriously, who has a cooler job than this guy? His proclamation that we are “not allowed to complain about four things in life: nudity, free food, free drinks and fantasy football” literally had me laughing out loud alone in an empty house.

I have one caveat with this post, if you compete in ANY of my fantasy leagues this Blog is NOT for your eyes. Divert your eyes immediately and if you read this just know that you can forget about Purgatory your soul is going straight to Hell. Good, now that that’s out there lets lighten the mood and get on with it.

My first year playing FF was my senior year of high school during the 2001 season. I finished 3rd that year in a season scared by a scandal in which the best players on one guy’s team were systemically distributed to two other player’s teams. That’s my side of the story anyways. Scandals like this, one-sided trades, and message board boasts are what makes FF so exciting. These things are inevitable. If you are thinking about taking up FF know this: Nobody makes friends playing FF.

So why in the hell would I be any kind of authority on FF? I, aka Cowboys4Ever, have had my fair share of success in the FF world. My first year I finished 3rd. Then I went three straight years winning FF championships. According to Yahoo I have earned trophies in 7 of my 10 seasons in various leagues. My streak ended last year with another 3rd place finish. I decided to give everyone else a break to keep them interested. Yes that is me talking smack, more on this later.

If you are going to play FF do it right. First things first, a live draft is crucial. The draft is the most exciting thing in fantasy football and a computer automated draft of preselected draft sheets takes away all the fun. If you absolutely cannot get everyone together because of geographic reasons instant messaging is a good substitutde. Absolute worst case scenario email but this is very slow and I’ve only done this once. No Individual Defensive Players(IDPs). Definetely go with Team Defenses but if you must go with IDPs IDPBlitz.com is what you are looking for. Play your championship in Week 16. There is nothing worse than riding Curtis Martin to a breakout season only to have him sit in Week 17 because it is a meaningless game for the Jets. People who don’t keep up with their teams make no fun and are usually the source of scandal bc they don’t take it seriously. I suggest not inviting these people back or employing a 3 Strikes and You’re Out rule.
The two league setups that I like break down like this. The best setup is to have 8 teams, you play everybody exactly twice, no byes, top 4 make the playoffs which you play in Weeks 15 and 16. The next best setup is to have 14 teams, you play everybody exactly once, top 6 make the playoffs, top two get first round byes, the playoffs last Weeks 14-16.

Okay now that you have your league set up for a great season here is a guide to the Top 10 things to do to win your league.

10 Dont draft a kicker. Every year I see people draft Venatari, Vanderjagt, or Elam is the 10th round and you want to say something but you don’t. Kicker is the most unusual position because the best player rarely gets the most points. How do you predict if a team is going to be settling for a ton of FGs instead of TDs? Last year the top 3 kickers in our league were Neil Rackers, Jay Feely, and Shayne Graham. How many of you drafted them? How many had even heard of Rackers of Graham? They are too unpredictable and the point differential, atleast in our league ,is too narrow to waste a draft pick.

9 Be conscience of bye weeks but dont let it make your decision. If you can pick up Drew Brees as a starter regardless if he has the same bye week as your starter you never know when your starter is going to go down and worst case scenario you have some good trade bait.

8 Look for reasons why a player can be stopped and leave yourself outs. In poker they always talk about leaving yourself outs i.e. don’t put all your stock in one idea that has a possibility of failig. Here is a freebie that breaks Rule #7 but hey I am a nice guy. Most people are trying to decide who is the top 2006 FF player between Shaun Alexander, Ladanian Tomlinson, and Larry Johnson with about 90% going the way of Larry Johnson. LJ will fall off in his encore to maybe the most amazing 7 game stretch in history. You will realize this when you ask what is preventing a defense from stacking up and taking him out of the game? Gonzo coming off the worst season of his career? If KC picks up Ashley Lelie then maybe but until then I want a guy with some outs.

7 Don’t tip your hand on anything. Draft and free agent pickups are a chess game. The more you talk about who you like and who you are watching the more you show. (Unless of course you are using reverse psychology and you intentionally put info out there bc you have the #3 pick and you want Larry Johnson to fall to you at #3 ;-).)

6 Talk trash. Talk lots of trash. This will make things much more fun and interesting. Even if you are playing for a pot, in the end bragging rights are what matters most. FF will be more enjoyable if you don’t let yourself realize that there is a significant amont of luck involved and this is actually probably a huge waste of time. Don’t be that guy who rationalizes his failures with “Hey I have a life” or “Some of us have a job”. Just take it on the chin and fire back on the message board.    

5 Contract year players. “Rule #1 Never underestimate the other guys greed”. Last year the discussion for the #1 pick was between Shaun Alexander and LT. The deciding factor for me in putting Alexander at the top of my board was that he was in the last year of his contract and he was teething to get paid. The result? An NFL record 27 TDs and a throw back FF type season ala Priest Holmes and Marshall Faulk of yesteryear. Contract year guys can backfire if you end up with a weenie who is more concerned with staying healthy then putting up sic numbers. The magic formula is a cocksure blinged out ex-Miami player. These guys are the Tony Montanas of the FF world. Two Scarface references in one bullet, wow.

4 Build with Running Backs, Running Backs, and more Running Backs. They are the most consistent, most predictable, and in 90% of leagues they will score the most points.

3 Draft and build your team for the FF playoffs. Last year was the first year I looked at a player’s schedule for Weeks 14, 15, and 16. If you are thinking about gearing your team around Peyton Manning and in December he is playing on the road, in the cold, against hard-nosed, rough-and-tumble, 3-4 blitz-crazy defenses like Pittsburgh or New England then stop.

2 Don’t take advice 99% of the guys on TV and the magazines are trash. They either are toeing the line and not providing any value that differentiates them or they are making wreckless predictions with no rhyme or reason to get their name out there. How can you advise me if you don’t know A) How points are allotted in my league B) How many teams are in my league and C) What depth I already have at that position.

1 Understand the concept of value When I started using this philsophy is when I started drafting smart and winning. Lets say you are ready to pick Peyton #1 and you predict he will pull down 100 pts this year. LT is second on your list but you only expect him to pull down 85 pts. Do not make a decision based on this alone! Numerically determine every player’s value. Lets say there are 8 people in your league. You expect the 8th best QB to be Michael Vick with 90 pts. You expect the 8th best RB to be Warrick Dunn with 45 pts. Passing on Manning you potentially give up 10 points of value but passing on LT you potentially give up 40 points of value. In short if a position has depth fill another position before there is that huge drop off.

-hj

I Own MySpace

July 23, 2006

Last fall I took a night Finance class through the University Extension program. The program is intended for young professionals who want some kind of continued business education. Most of the people in the class worked at Dell or Freescale or some place like that. The class had a stock investing project that has now led me to believe that I know enough to be dangerous.

Everyone in the class got an account with Investopedia.com and we were given $100k in Investopedia play-dollars with which to invest. Market orders were $20 and limit orders were $30. We were ranked in the class based on how much we grew our portfolio. In the end I finished second in the class growing my portfolio $16k in a little over 3 months time. The math is easy, that comes out to 16% growth. I became pretty fanatical about the project, checking my account everytime I got on a computer, DVRing and watching MadMoney religously, and setting up alerts to send text messages to my cell when stocks hit certain prices.

I made a good chunk of my change riding the Google wave but the rest was predominantly made short-selling which automatically classifies me as an AntiChrist in the eyes of many investors. Short selling is the opposite of long selling in that your are betting the stock will go down. For me it was easier to identify a shitty company than to identify a good company that will also be seen as a good company by other investors. So off I went short selling Blockbuster, GM, Ford, Dell, and a couple weird companies that nobody has heard of.

You may wonder why I don’t try to make real money trading stock. The majority of the money I have invested from my internships and what not are in a Mutual Fund. There are three reasons for this. 1) It takes a lot of work to buy and sell individual stock and to constantly monitor things 2) I am not convinced that the project wasn’t luck and 3) the fees are too high for my means. $20 and $30 fees for a $100k account is nothing. Fidelity charges me a $30 fee per transaction so a $300 purchase would have to grow 10% just to overcome the fee. The magnitude of the Investopedia account helped to dilute the fees on every transaction which was good bc I made tons and tons of transactions.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago (I tried to find a more confusing way to word that but I couldn’t). I was in the airport flying back from my Florida vacation and I saw a Wired Magazine with Rupert Murdoch on the cover. I had heard the name but I really didn’t know who the guy was. I picked up the mag and read the article right there in the store, I know a pretty schiesty thing to do, shoot me.
In short Rupert Murdoch is the man. He runs News Corp which owns Fox, Fox News, Fox Sports Net, the New York Post, and as of late MySpace. I was immediately a fan bc as most people know the reason Fox News and blogs are blowing up is because they provide an alternative to traditional liberal biased media. If you don’t believe in media bias whether it by East Coast bias or Liberal bias you really are just choicing what you want to believe.

When I got back to New York after looking into it a little bit more I bought some News Corp (NYSE: NWS). So now I can legitamately say I own MySpace granted I am in for a couple hundred bucks in a company that has a Market Cap of $18.3 Billion.

I decided News Corp has a bright future for a few reasons:

Fox News went from nonexistent to #1 in cable news in 5 years. You always got to love a good underdog overthrows the evil empire story ala Dell v IBM, Fox News v CNN, and about to be Google v Microsoft.

Fox has all 5 BCS bowl games this year. They have every World Series and All Star game through 2013. They’ll have the 2008 Super Bowl. They have the world’s most popular TV show in American Idol and above all they have atleast three more seasons of the greatness that is 24.

But the most important piece of their portfolio that sold me was the MySpace piece. Traditional media is at a crossroads although those selling points for Fox and FoxNews are better than what most have to offer. The marketing value in controlling MySpace will be huge. Lets say one company had the sole rights to sell advertising space on every roadway in the US? Well one company is approaching having something analogous to that in the virtual social networking world. And on top of that they have a real good idea, better than anyone else atleast, what types of cars are on those roads, who is driving, where they are driving, why they are driving, etc. You think companies would love to tap into that marketing knowledge? I do too.

This week I open a package from my dad. In it, a few cut out newspaper articles and a copy of the Rupert Murdoch Wired magazine. Again, great minds think alike.

-hj

How Google stole the show

July 22, 2006

My last post got me thinking about the evolution of technology, the Internet, and how Google came to steal the whole show. What follows, in short, is a history of the digital age as told by Hujo Blogger. I don’t know if it is perfectly accurate but I promise to at
least make an interesting argument.


While looking at my list of digital age technologies I realized that 10 years ago the only ones I used were a computer, the word processor, and the instant messenger. A lot has happened in the past decade and here is my explanation of what happened. There were three metrics that defined what we could and couldn’t accomplish with our computing: Processor speed, RAM, and Hard Drive. Hard drive was the one that would determine off the bat if you could or couldn’t use an application. RAM and processors determined how fast you could use something but ultimately the bottleneck was in the amount of hard drive space. Keep that thought.

The Internet hits with AOL. Eventually we realize web browsers, instant messaging, email, and ISPs are four separate things. Google comes along and makes the whole Internet thing make sense with their search. Their AdWords advertising program makes the business part make sense.

Now, in the past couple of years Google, the Internet, and the hard drive bottleneck issue came together to result in a handful of products. Because hard drive space was always the limiting factor people were always conscious of that. Hard drives were not cheap once upon a time. As a result of that, I assume companies invested a ton of R&D into creating cheap hard drives. Now desktops come standard with 100 gigs like its no problem. Nevertheless that mindset is ingrained in us. If you are a pack rat like me you cringe at the idea of having to delete pictures, papers, presentations, music, email, etc because you have to make room on your hard drive. Last November when I clicked the wrong thing in Outlook and virtually a lifetime supply of my email was deleted, I thought I was going to cry.

Google came along with GMail with three differentiating features. First it had by far and away the best user interface. Second, it was web-based so you could access email from anywhere without having to download it. Third, and what hooked us because of the mindset was the promise of 1 GB of hard drive space which within months became 2 GB.

By this time hard drives were already a relatively cheap commodity but I think that because of that mindset we were trained to jump at the chance to live as an uninhibited email pack rat. So what does Google do? They roll out web-based products (email, calendar, spreadsheets, Writely is still to come) that promise you virtually unlimited hard drive space, access from anywhere, and a friendly user interface in exchange for selling advertising around the periphery. Their bet is the cost of the physical servers that store the data will be less than the revenue they bring in from selling digital advertising.

This is exactly why I think Google will beat Microsoft. Microsoft was king of desktop based software. Google is the king of web based software. What direction do you think we are heading?

-hj

Digital Age Technologies

July 20, 2006

Mark Cuban recently blogged that the Internet is boring. His point was that people always talk about how the Internet changes the world but its not actually the Internet its the applications and services the Internet made possible. The actual innovation in terms of the Internet has been limited as he claims there has been less than 5 mbps added in the past 5 years.

I became interested in this concept and made a list of all the technologies I use in this digital age.

Web Browser Mozilla FireFox Once you dump IE and get hooked on tabs and all the keyboard shortcuts you will never go back
Email Client Gmail I can access it from anywhere, the keyboard shortcuts make it lightening quick, and the storage the allot is virtually unlimited
Cell phone/Text BlackBerry One of the few technologies on this list I actually had to pay for. Only had it for a couple weeks but I love always being connected.
Feed Reader Google Feed Reader I admittedly have not tried any of the others. Google’s seems to work well enough.
Blog WordPress I used Google’s Blogger for the first year but I like the added features in WordPress like the ability to tag posts by category
Search Google I remember using Dogpile in my MIS class senior year of HS. I don’t remember why or when I started using Google but it’s instinct now.
Photo Album Picasa One of the few desktop based software products I like. I’m not sure that it’s any better than say Flikr but it’s nice to just watch it find all the pictures I have stored on my hard drive and see them come organized to one place.
Desktop Search Google Desktop Search We have been using Windows for how long and they never thought to make something like this?
OS Windows XP although I am considering buying a Mac before Vista comes out and blows everyone’s minds
Music Player iTunes/Pandora Winamp is quicker bc its a much smaller program but Apple just figured out music software and marketing
P2P File Sharing Shareza (no illegal downloading here 😉
Instant Messaging AIM/Google Talk Google Talk is tons better, it’s web based but Instant Messaging services are only as good as the network of people that use them and right now not enough people have left the dark side.
Social Network Facebook I exist on MySpace and Friendster but I don’t use either
Web-based bookmarking del.icio.us I still admitedly don’t fully understand how to use this but I like the idea
Encyclopedia Wikipedia I find myself going more and more to Wikipedia before I go to Google because I know if the search finds a result the info is going to be much more clean and in a format that I know I can understand. Wikipedia will eventually steal a huge chunk of Google’s search.
Computer Dell Latitude Laptop considering Mac see above
Spreadsheet Excel/Google Spreadsheets Google allows me to store everything on their servers and access it from anywhere but Excel’s functionality still has it beat
Wordprocessing, Powerpoint Microsoft Office boring
Podcast Feeds iTunes
CD burning iTunes
Fantasy Sports Yahoo! altho thinking we might should check out ESPN’s this year guys, maybe draft in both leagues and get in and get a feel for ESPN then make a decision
Mapping Google Maps Until other services align with search engines and make their maps dragable there will be no competition
Calendar Google Calendar Very user friendly, Text Message alerts are great as are daily emails with that day’s agenda
Mobile MP3 player Rio Nitrus Very, very old school but for whatever reason the iPod doesn’t excite me. Mostly because its not free.
Can you think of any that I missed or are there technologies that I don’t use that I am missing out on?

-hj

TXDOT is underappreciated

July 18, 2006

I am usually pretty good with directions. I am usually pretty good with directions while driving in Texas I should say. Since I have moved to New York I have been getting lost like its my job. I feel like everytime with out fail that I try to drive to someplace new I get lost. I usually can committ a map to memory and just go but that does not work at all up here. I think part of the reason is that i am not familiar with the area and part of the reason is the signage on the highways suck. But the biggest reason is the absense of feeder roads.

Feeder roads I have decided are greatness. I never appreciated them like I should have and when I get back to Texas I am going to write a big thank you letter to TXDOT. Things you take for granted are just not so without feeders. Take for instance last weekend I was in Boston and I was on a road heading north. I knew I was heading north. I knew 495 runs North-South and was about a mile to the west of me. So easy enough, I’ll just take the next road I see west and it will hit the highway no problem, right? Wrong. Not when you are living in a world absent of feeder roads.

Under normal circumstances that road heading west would lead to an entry ramp to the highway or atleast to a feeder that would lead to an entry ramp. When you live in a world absent of feeders you have to realize that you only get access on or off the highway about once every 3-5 miles and because there are no feeders you have to hit it EXACTLY. In my case the west bound road went right over 495 and the next thing I know I am in the middle of nowhere. 20 minutes later and I am on dirt roads surrounded by farms in the middle of nowhere. And I don’t even want to hear the “Stupid-Male-pull-over-for-directions” line. There was no where to pull over unless I wanted to hop a fence and hike up to a random farm house. So eventually I come across a major road at which point I notice that nearly every car on the road has Rhode Island plates. Not a good sign. Maybe its just me or maybe its a Texas thing but I seem to notice license plates like crazy now I assume because they all look foreign.

I will spare my friends who did not know what state Boston was in the embarassment by not mentioning their names but I will remind them that Boston is not in Rhode Island. Thats another concept that is hard to grasp being a Texan: getting lost and ending up in another state. If that happens in Texas for the most part you screwed up pretty bad. Luckily they mistakenly labeled the counties in the northeast as states and I was only 20 minutes out of the way although the adventure in all was about a two and a half hour affair.

A similar problem occurred about a month ago during exiting. I GMapped Hooters and found that it was over on the othre side of Albany by Crossgates Mall. I see it is right off I-95 and the mall is surrounded by a few major roads. I figure I’ll get on I-90, see the mall, pick an exit and find my way over. Easy enough right? Ofcourse not. There were no exits and I ended up swooping back all the way around downtown basically to where I started. About 20 miles in total and I was back to where I started. How stupid is that, why could I not get off when I wanted to or atleast soon there after. I never ever remember having these kinds of incidents in Texas.

Yea I could print off maps everytime I go some place new but that kills trees and kills principles. Why should I change? Why don’t these states just make a highway system that works. No wonder they all put in subways, atleast then you know when you can get on and when you can get off.

God Bless Texas

-hj

Things to do list

July 16, 2006

A couple of years ago I watched an interview with Charles Barkley and he said something to the effect that if he would have written down everything he wanted to accomplish in life he wouldn’t have dreamed up the list that he ended up living. I am not a Charles Barkley fan by any stretch of the imagination but it inspired me to make a list of things wanted to do before I died.
The List

I recently went back to that list to see how much (or little) progress I had made in the past two years. I can now cross the following things off that list.

Go Scuba Diving……. Cozumel
Sing a song at the top of my lungs with some friends at a bar……. 21st birthday
Take a picture with a longhorn……. Halftime of a football game
Go to a football game at Kyle Field……. 40-29W!
Go to an Army-Navy football game……. 42-23 Navy, Lincoln Financial, Philadelphia, PA
Go Skiing in shorts……. actually boxers Spring Break 2004
Go to a College Football National Championship game(Hopefully a UT win)……. Hit this one on the head
Grow a beard……. Spring Break 2006, close enough…

-hj

Pet Peeves

July 12, 2006

While at a bar my last night in Austin a buddy of mine told me about a blog that has become one of my favorite. The blog is written by Scott Adams who is the cartoonist who draws the Dilbert cartoon. He is quite possibly the wittiest person I have ever read. I highly suggested bookmarking his blog or adding the RSS feed to your reader.

A couple months ago he wrote a blog about his pet peeves. I thought the post was hilarious and I have been thinking what funny personal pet peeves do I have? Well I have come up with the list.

“I never watch TV”
This one was parodied in Pulp Fiction when Samuel Jackson asks ‘You know the shows on TV?’ and John Travolta boasts ‘I don’t watch TV’ as if they makes him cool. Jackson then burns him with ‘Yeah, but you are aware there is an invention called television and on this invention they show shows, right?’ Why do people believe that their not watching TV is such a bragable quality?

Miss use of Literally
For some reason it completely whips me when people use the word literally in the exact wrong way. For instance if someone is talking about a comedian and how well they did. “The comedian was great. He literally was killing everyone”. No! You use the word literally to convey that you are not speaking metaphorically that you actually mean something is happening. For instance. “He literally kicked his ass” when you are trying to tell someone that he didn’t just beat somebody up but he actually kicked the guy in the butt.

The term 9-to-5
How did the phrase 9-to-5 come to be? Most everybody who does not work a shift job works 8-to-5. I have never worked a job that was 9-to-5 and on top of that I have never even heard of someone who works 9-to-5. I’ll admit this one is a pet peeve mostly because I am jealous.

People who ask a waiter/waitress if food is good
Asking a waiter if a certain dish is good is a completely subjective question. What they may like you may not like, the question only puts the wait staff in an awkward situation. Better questions are is it salty, is it spicy, how big is the portion. If you ask a subjective question like is this good then don’t get mad if it isn’t. To me thats the real peeve not just asking the question.

“I never invite people to be my Facebook friend”
This is similar to the I don’t watch TV thing. So its cool to have a Facebook profile but not cool to use it or add to it? Honestly who came up with these rules?

When people, inparticularly Spanish speakers,”pronounce” things in Spanish.
If we are speaking English lets pronounce things in English. For instance when someone pronounces the name Maria and the r sounds more like a d if you can imagine that. When you says Mexico you don’t pronounce the x like an h. Why do you switch languages mid sentence. I could pronounce Spanish words in Spanish if I wanted to, anyone could. But we don’t bc its goofy. I never hear people get all puffy sounding and try to pronounce entrepreneur like they speak French. Thank God too how annoying would that be.

People who are overly paranoid
People who are scared of using a cell phone at a gas station. People who are overly scared of getting struck by lightening. People who are obsessive about locking the door. Freaking chill out, the world is not out to get you. News flash the planets revolve around the Sun contrary to the impression you give.

Laws to protect people from themselves
If a persons decisions or mistakes can hurt or even just affect someone else then okay pass the law if you absolutely have to. But laws that protect people from themselves when there is no chance they could hurt someone else. As long as the person is 18 and deemed old enough to make a decision let them live with their mistake. (motorcycle helmets, seat belts)

What pet peeves do you have?

-hj

GE is my kind of company

July 10, 2006

I’ve been an intern at GE for almost two months now. I’ve met some great people, had some meaningful projects, and gotten to experience an area of the country that I hardly knew.

GE is my kind of company because they have a culture that embraces innovation, embraces change, embraces globalization, embraces Indian engineering, embraces Chinese manufacturing, embraces a coming of age 2 billion person customer base, embraces the digital age, embraces open source type technologies creating platforms for employee blogs, wikis, and forums, embraces DVR technologies creating advertising value that can only be experienced by those with DVRs (onesecondtheater.com), embraces the world’s toughest challenges being energy efficiency(turbines, wind power, and coal gassification), emissions reductions, and potable water creation(desalination plants).

GE embraces engineers which is good because they are going to be the ones that are going to solve global problems. The World is Flat discusses the ineffectiveness and lack of visionary US politicians because they are mostly lawyers and career politicians that don’t understand the problems and they certainly don’t understand how to solve them. They just know how to create laws that get in the way. Indian and Chinese governments are all engineers and that’s why they have accelerated so quickly through the industrialization process and thats why they will continue to do so. Just 4% of US college graduates walk away with engineering degrees as opposed to 20% in China. And thats 20% of a very large number compared to 4% of a relatively small number.

Green is the new red, white and blue. We have to get past the unwanted labels of liberal and tree-hugger and make it American. GE is doing their part and more companies will follow not because it is the nice thing to do but because there is an economic future in it. Its the smart thing to do.

-hj

This happens all the time

July 8, 2006

I feel like this happens all the time. People don’t understand business nor do they understand the democratizing power of choice so they panic, act selfishly and hypocritically, and run to the government for help. Most recently this overblown panic has been in the form of Net Neutrality. That may or may not ring a bell but either way it is important and could DRAMATICALLY change they way you use the internet.

I went nuts on YouTube one day and watched a few dozen YouTube videos of vblogs and TV shows debating Net Neutrality. Rocketboom’s vblog breaks down the issue best. I was pretty sure where I stode on the issue but after finding out Moby was spear-heading the campaign to legislate Net Neutrality I was positive I knew where I stood. Sometimes people can do a campaign a disservice by offering their support. For instance when Democrats support the cause of gay marriage it creates a knee jerk reaction because this is the same group whose morality supports partial birth abortions and assisted suicide.

For those of you too lazy to watch the videos Net Neutrality is the concept that the internet should be a place where people are free to go wherever they want, whenever they want essentially for no added price. Sounds to good to be true right? Well thats why TelComs are attempting to stick it to people by pushing to block certain sites, align with certain sites, and create bottlenecks to tax internet users. Do they have the right to do that? ABSOLUTELY!

The Internet does not just exist, companies had to invest money to make it work. They had to take risks and lay cable under neighborhoods and across oceans and do all kinds of things that most people do not appreciate. In the end the lines that connect my computer to yours is a business. However they want to procede in their operation of that connection is their business and they should be allowed to make that connection as uncomfortable as they want, its just bad business.

People are lazy and they would rather spend energy bitching and creating media to bitch then to exercise choice. Slavery ended nearly 150 years ago and we live in a free society, ACT LIKE IT. You do not have to have the internet and you do not have to use a certain company for your ISP.

See 99% of people look at issues like this and think ‘how does this affect me’ instead of ‘what is right’? How does it affect me? It sucks. It sucks big time. But that doesn’t make it right for me to demand the government take away a company’s rights to act as stupidly as they want. See the main reason I don’t think this is really an issue at all is say Washington allows TeleComs to tax and screen the internet. All that means is someone is going to get rich. VERY RICH. Because a handful of entrepreneurs will wet their pants and will work day and night to create the newest truly neutral network that enables internet users like we are accustomed. And then the choice will not be a choice at all.

Last year I saw this very same thing happen in Austin except the government did step in and stick it to the businesses. Austin was debating passing a law to outlaw smoking in bars and restaraunts. I thought this was totally bogus. If I had invested however much money for a primo spot on Sixth Street to set up a bar and I want to allow people to perform an act that is perfectly legal as long as they are of age then I should be able to do that. What was most hypocritical was that they didn’t outlaw drinking. I am not sure that anyone has been killed by a driver under the influence of a cigarette. All of that on top of the fact that Austin is a grunge hippie city and while that is not my thing I respect that.

So the people won and smoking is out. Its weird because I hate being around smokers so in that regard it is a dream come true. But was it the right thing to do? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Why should I demand to have rights in a private establishment? If I walked in to your house and told you that I didn’t like having the TV on MTV because it was bad for my health because it makes my blood pressure rise you could/should tell me to get lost.

If you don’t like that a bar is too smokey I have a great solution for you. DON’T GO. Exercise your choice to go to bars that aren’t smokey and guess what people will recognize that. If smoking is such an issue that it drives people away then there would be a market for bars that don’t allow smoking.

Things will work out in the long run if you exercise choice but the last thing we need is more government.

-hj

Foxwoods

June 29, 2006

I just got back from a trip to Destin Florida with my family. Destin has always been our family vacation spot and has great beaches if you ever get the chance. Last Saturday I had a flight out of Hartford leaving at 6AM. I flew out of Hartford because it was about $200 cheaper than Albany. That Friday before I left I was debating if I should drive up to Connecticut Friday night and get a hotel. The cheapest hotel I could find was $70 and considering I would only be there a matter of hours because I would need to be at the airport be 5AM I was struggling with dropping that much money. Driving up that morning/middle-of-the-night was also an option but that didn’t sound like much fun.

At about 4:30 that Friday an angel whose face I still have not seen walked into the my coworkers office across the hall. He suggested making a weekend trip to Foxwoods. For those of you who don’t know Foxwoods is the biggest casino in North America. I made up my mind if Gmap claimed it was less than an hour out of the way I would pull the trigger. ETA=57 mins. Bingo. I was no longer thinking pessimistically about the night.

I get to Foxwoods and it is incredible. Absolutely huge. I park in the parking garage and make a bee line to the casino. Over the course of the next couple of hours I so a handful of things that made me depressed that certain people find their ways into a casino. To me gambling is not necessarily a bad thing if you are doing it with dispensable income and if you give yourself a fighting chance by having a clue at the table. I make my way to the blackjack table to get started just like I always do. The cheapest blackjack table it $25. That’s a pretty rough minimum but I decide to give it a shot. Three hands, two losses and one win, and I decide I can’t stomach $25 hands of blackjack so I get up. During those three hands I saw the one things that frustrates me more than any other move in blackjack.

I’ll try not to get too deep into the rules of the game but idea is you try and get as close to 21 without going over. The dealer has to hit until 17 even if they have 16 and you have 12. As a result the dealer can have 6 results: 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, or bust. If you are going to stay with something below 17 you are basically throwing your cards away and betting that the dealer is going to bust which a lot of times is the right play.

Here is the situation, the dealer is showing a 10 and the guy next to me has a soft 16 (ace and a five). He decides to stay and tries to convince me that he likes to play conservatively. That wasn’t conservative that was just stupid. You see, with a 10 showing there is an 8/13 chance that the dealer already has 17-21. But even if that weren’t the case there is no harm in hitting a soft 16 because it is IMPOSSIBLE to bust. Absolute worst case scenario you hit and get a 6 and you have 12. Staying on 12 is the same as staying on 16 because they both mean you are throwing your hand away and betting the dealer busts. Stupidest play in blackjack and I wanted to tell him he deserved to lose his money but I didn’t.

After my three hands of blackjack I spent the rest of the night at the Craps and Roulette tables. While playing Roulette I saw two of the most stupid plays I have seen in that game. A guy rolls up to the table trying to look cool in his baggy jean shorts, sleeveless shirt, tattoed biceps, crooked designer hat, and sun glasses. He spreads $900 in twenty dollar bills and proceeds to put the better half on black and plays the rest aimlessly on random single numbers. Of course it hits a red number that he definetely is not betting on. Same thing, buys back in for $900 in twenties making a huge scene. Same betting strategy, same result. He sulks away and disappears into the crowd and I don’t feel a bit sorry for him. He showed up trying to look cool, bet like a fool, and walked away a loser.

The next guy buys in for big but opts to get $1 chips. He spreads out his bets covering every single number including the 0 and 00. Let me explain this. There are 36 numbers 1-36, half red and half black. There is also a 0 and 00. That totals 38 possible results of the wheel each of which pay 35:1 (read this is the house advantage). This guy puts bets on 38 numbers and yea he wins every time but he comes away with less money every time as well. You could buy 25,827,165 Texas lottery tickets and gaurantee a win but if the pay off is $4 million you are a sucker. That guy really thought he had the game figured out and I didn’t have the heart to break the news to him.

“A man’s gotta make atleast one bet a day, else he could be walking around lucky and never know it”

-hj

Innovation=Juice

June 25, 2006

The other day I discovered a list that I wanted to see for a while now even though I didn’t even know it existed. That list was Business Week’s ranking of the 100 most innovative companies in the world. That list is important to me because innovation is what gives me juice. Outside-the-box type ideas that break rules are what get me going.

 

By Business Week’s measure Apple is the most innovative company in the world. My experiences with iTunes and other people’s iPods in combination with their new commercials are making me seriously consider making a Mac my next computer. The reasons not to? I haven’t used Macs before. Weak. They are different. Weak. I can’t think of a legit reason. iTunes and iPods are so Googleesque(who finished 2 by the way) in that they are so sleek, simple, and yet powerful.

The rest of the top ten went 3M, Toyota, Microsoft, General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, Nokia, Starbucks, and IBM. The past two summers I have worked in the oil industry and this summer I am at General Electric. I can testify that it is a complete 180 degree difference in working for one of the top innovative companies as opposed to working in an industry with only one company BP (41) in the top 50.

I broke the top 50 companies down by industry to see if there were any trends there. Automotive, computer software, and telecommunications tied for the most with 5 each, retail had 4, and computer hardware had 3. Most all the companies are household names. The ones in the top 50 I didn’t recognize were IDEO, Research in Motion (they make the Blackberries but I didn’t know them by that name), Ryanair, Tesco, Danone, WL Gore & Associates, and Bang & Olufsen.

To me this list is more important in deciding a company to work for than an Forbes 500 list or list sorted by revenue or profit.

-hj

Why is fiction so important?

June 24, 2006

Let me begin being by saying the purpose of this particular blog is to share some ideas but also to receive some feedback via comments or trackbacks.

I always hated reading as many people do. Growing up I never read and I always associated reading with being a pain. Over the past couple of years I have become a pretty avid reader. A majority of it is web-based content but I have read quite a few books as well. The conclusion I came to as to why I and many other people associated reading as being a pain is because for so long we were force fed fiction.

Growing up in school year in and year out we had English/Language Arts classes and we were forced to read fiction books. Alot of the books, in particular the Shakespeare readings, were difficult to read and atleast in my case provoked very little thought. The three reasons I came up with why reading as a part of education is important are to create desire and means for obtaining knowledge, to spark thought and ideas, and to appreciate literature and writers.

For those of you who don't know me I pretty much only read non-fiction and the only two books I can remember reading precollege that I enjoyed were Michael Dell's Direct from Dell and Reggie Miller's I Love Being the Enemy and neither of those were for school. Why can't nonfiction be incorporated into education? It meets two of those three criteria and I'm not saying it needs to be all non-fiction so its not like the appreciation aspect would be eliminated. We aren't forced to appreciate art or music why are we forced to appreciate literature. This is a disservice that leads people to associate reading with pain.

I think the reason lies in one of two phrases that rub me the wrong way, "its always been that way" and "because I said so". The last fiction book I tried to read, granted I didn't know it was fiction when I picked it up, was the DaVinci code. I was interested because it seemed to be advertised as a book that was based on little known historical facts that provoked thought about religion. About ten pages in I went from interested to not interested after I realized it was a fiction book based on manipulating pseudo facts to tell a made up story. Needless to say I didn't get much past page ten.I am not saying we should go with fiction free education. I am just saying why can't nonfiction have a place so that people like me don't give up on reading all together. In same ways I think its just that I could be unique bc I don't like a lot of the fiction pop culture type books and movies. I am not a fan of DaVinvi Code, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or The Matrix. These just don't do it for me but that should be okay.

Alot of times fiction is valued because it is supposed to spark creativity and imagination. I think that is true to an extent but in many cases nonfiction can go beyond what fiction can. Like when I blogged about the story of the 2005 Texas Football team and that if the story had appeared in a book or movie it would have been written off as unrealistic. Fiction often has constraints that the oddities of reality can go beyond.

The bulk of the books I read today are biographies. I am a big believer in the thought that the path to success is through emulating successful people. Explain to me why the world of academia cannot come to grasps with this thought.
-hj

I really like this team

June 21, 2006

I have always considered myself a Mavs fan. Most of my allegiances in the sports world are based on geography. Cowboys, Stars, Mavs, Rangers, etc. But with the Mavs it was more so the only reasons I liked them were because of Mark Cuban and because their first name was Dallas. At least that’s how it was, until this season.

I don’t have many favorite teams that aren’t any Dallas but my second favorite NFL and NBA teams are the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Pistons. I love teams like that because of their attitude and style of play with an extreme focus on defense. The attitude part is huge though. A tough-nosed, chip-on-your-shoulder, workman-like, prima-donna-free, gritty attitude. The Dallas Stars during the Ken Hitchcock days were a perfect fit for me as a fan because they both embraced this attitude more than any team in the NHL and they were from Dallas.

When Don Nelson was here coaching the Mavs it was tough for me to like them because they were the antithesis of that attitude. His plan surrounded trying to win through gimmicks and changing the game rather than through an attitude. He created this freak show circus team with people from 6 continents that tried to change the game by outscoring people in the hundreds using their one trick pony in the form of a seven foot German whose specialty was the fade away jumper. How’s that for a run-on sentence?

Some people think scoring alone is exciting. Don’t count me among those people. See teams that rely on scoring and strategy don’t when championships because it takes attitude and heart to win a championship. You see this all across the sports world. The Indianapolis Colts and Texas Tech set a ton of records and win a bunch of games but they aren’t championship teams. They are gimmick teams. One thing about gimmick teams is that they lack the toughness to win championship type games. Look at the Colts games the past few years in the playoffs against the Steelers and the Patriots, two teams that had that attitude. Look at Texas Tech’s games last year against Texas and Alabama, two teams that had that attitude.

Then Avery Johnson came around and now I love this team. Its not even because they’re winning its because I can feel good about cheering for them. Avery came in and said forget trying to have the first Mexican (Eduardo Najera) and Chinese(Wang Zhizhi) born players. Forget scoring 100 points and all the free Chalupas. Forget offenses based on 7 footers taking fall away jumpers. We’re going to be a tough team. We’re going to be a team with a focus on defense. We’re going to be a team that slashes and gets guys to the free throw line. We’re going to be a team of good ol’ American-born black guys. The result? A 60 win season and the first trip to the finals.

Now it didn’t work out this year as far as a championship and there is a laundry list of reasons why. Dwayne Wade blew up, Dirk got shut down, free throws down the stretch, the temptations of South Beach, suspensions, and the fact that the NBA officials are determined to prove that they are the worst officials of any sport during any era. The NBA definitely did their share suspending 3 Mavs players for 8 games and handing out half a million dollars in fines. Since when has the NBA suspended players in the playoffs for anything short of murder? All these DWade-MJ comparisons make me laugh. You can’t compare the two. Jordan got a ton of calls but he never got the calls that Wade gets. Wade is a super star and I really like him but he's got to put in mor than three years before the refs start rolling out the red carpet for him like they have previous stars.

I couldn’t be more satisfied with the makeup of this team. What scares me is the potential disaster that lies ahead. Mark Cuban is not going to max out Jason Terry and he will opt out in free agency to another team that will. He had a hell of a run this playoffs and probably increased the value of that deal by $40 million. I’m not saying increased the value of the deal TO $40 million but BY $40 million. He is definitely going to get paid. I guess some of that will depend on what teams have salary cap room and all that but it’ll work itself out for him.

The second thing I fear is that Cuban is going to bolt. It is hard to deny that he is incredibly frustrated with this league and it seems that the league is absolutely determined to deny him a championship. The past couple of months talks of Cuban buying the Cubs, Penguins, and Pirates have started blowing up. He has talked about how he is both interested in owning those teams but not interested in owning multiple teams. The one good thing is that as much corruption as there is in the NBA front office, baseball and hockey aren’t exactly in the middle of blooming times right now either.

But hey it was a helluva run and a good time. If nothing else it gave me an excuse to get out of the house and frequent the bar at Hooters where I sampled nasty Canadian beers.

 -hj

I have to admit…(World Cup)

June 17, 2006

Alright I have a confession to make. I watched the entire US World Cup soccer game today and I did it out of choice. Now granted it was an incredibly boring day and I had absolutely no other options that is no excuse. That being said I was expecting to watch a game that would make me think twice about all the harsh things I have said about the game of soccer over the years. That was hardly the case. The game lived up to my lowest of expectations.

The one bright point (I'm trying to be optimistic I really am) I found in the game of soccer is that there are no commercials. From a fans point of view this is great. Why a network would pick up a sporting event where they can only sell advertising during halftime, while people are away from the tv making trips to the kitchen and the bathroom, is beyond me. The sad part is the one bright side of the sport has nothing actually to do with the sport and everything to do with the way it is broadcasted.

As far as the game was concerned the amount of diving that goes on is incredible. I thought about feeling bad for how badly I ripped the way Manu flops but I let that thought come and go. I still don't like him. When people talked about how soccer players dive I thought it was on par with how Manu dives i.e. three or four dives a game. In that 90 minute game, of which about 70 minutes was walking around or fetching balls there had to have been 30+ dives.

My next thought was how weenie are those Italian players? I had heard of the magic spray that is supposed to cure all ills. Thats goofy and it was definetely used multiple times in this game. But the spray was nothing compared to what I saw next. A guy gets slide tackled and takes a dive. He stays down and gets the call and the trainers run on the field. The camera pans back to the scene and they are straping this guy to a FREAKING STRETCHER on which they carry him off the field. This man was not paralyzed he hurt his ankle. Upon reaching the sideline he got up and started jogging off the "injury". He was back in play in a matter of minutes. Do these people have no shame? Give me a freaking break. Three Italians were taken off the field on stretchers, none with neck injuries. The first American who gets slidetackled and taken off the field on a stretcher can stay over in Europe.

Btw the way is there such thing as a legal slide tackle? The announcers kept mentioning how poorly officiated this game was and it was to the point where I wasn't even sure how it was supposed to be. Speaking of announcers the reason I got sucked into this whole debacle in the first place is because the lady on SportsCenter this morning told me that the Americans had to win this game, the biggest game in this country's history, to have a chance to move on to the next round. Then during the game the announcer twice told me that the Americans did not have to win the game, that a tie would keep the window of possibility open as well. Okay, so whats the story here? Your job as an announcer is to tell me what I am watching and why I am watching it. I was promised this monumental soccer game but what I got was a couple hours of flopping that resulted in a 1-1 tie.

While watching the game I came up with three things that would drastically improve this sport. The first and most obvious is do what you have to do but eliminate the tie. This has its obvious reasons. The second thing is allow a player in possession of the ball to be body checked i.e. hockey. This would make for great entertainment and it would help to change the mindset of the players on the whole. I would pay money to see a streaking forward get put on his back by a defender. My first thought was that this change would mostly benefit the defense and would reduce scoring. I then came to the conclusion that in this game it may be impossible to reduce scoring. The last rule change would be to make the field 40% smaller. This would increase the action and the amount of physical play.

-hj

Don’t get left out of the future

June 10, 2006

Almost two years ago I was making an argument to a buddy of mine but I wasn't aware of the term that encapsulated the idea I had in my head. We were discussing Texas football and I was making the argument that the program could do a much better job of turning lemons into lemonade. Everyone always jokes about how critical Texas fans are of their football and how willing they are to lend their opinions. Well as a result the contribution of fan ideas are very inaccessible to the program. Well the term I was looking for I now have learned was Web 2.0 and the organizations and individuals who embrace it will be successful.

It is my prediction that success in the future will be as a result of accessibility, transparency, and accountability. These three things can come easily and cheaply in the form of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 isn't an actual thing it's a term to describe the second wave of web services and a truly web-based community. Think about what things are exploding right now. Social networks like MySpace and Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, and podcasts. User created content that is made available through interconnected web communities. This is how society communicates and entertains itself now.

I've been reading a corporate blog lately by a guy who runs a company that specializes in helping companies get started with employee blogs. While employee blogs are a PR nightmare in terms of liability they are provide credible insight and personality. Companies like Microsoft, Boeing, GE, Google, and Sun now all have employee blogs in some form or another.

I have two examples of instances where individuals and organizations have embraced this Web 2.0 type environment. The first, as sacrilegious as this is to type, is Texas A&M's AD Bill Byrne. Byrne isn't really an Aggie, he just got the job a couple years ago out of Nebraska, so I have never really felt bad for secretly liking him. I'm still a huge DeLoss Dodds fan and he owns Byrne on the field but Byrne kicks Dodds' ass as far as Web 2.0 is concerned.

When Byrne got to A&M he started Bill Byrne's Wednesday Weekly. Now the website is a piece of shit and those farmers don't know to call it or format it as a blog but the concept and content are right. In a post a couple years ago Byrne responded to emails from Aggies who wanted to paint the stands at Kyle field maroon and they wanted the situation with the orange, GOD FORBID, Gatorade jugs on the sideline fixed. He acknowledged receiving the emails and then responded to both explaining to those idiots exactly why they wouldn't do either. Fair enough. In his latest post he open's up the books to the athletic department and discloses their budget, actual expenses, and actual revenue.

My second example is with Mark Cuban. He makes himself very easily accessible via email which he uses religiously. I've emailed him a couple of times and he generally responds within hours, pretty impressive. When he didn't pony up the dough for Nash he went on his blog and explained why. When he made the decision to use the amnesty clause and cut Finley last summer he explained to his customers essentially why he made that decision. When Kenny and Charles ripped the Mavs for how they defended the Suns pick-and-roll on opening night, Cuban went on his blog and broke down the percentages of how teams had defended Phoenix and what their actual rate of success was.

Accessible, transparent in your decisions, and accountable for the decisions you make. Mack Brown is always very accountable for what happens on the field and I love that about him. But as far as the program and the department on the whole are concerned, how about some insight into their philosophy behind stadium expansion. How about some insight into what the hell is going on with Texas-OU in Dallas. How about some insight into why guys are jumping ship on the men's basketball team.

The era of secret decision-making is over. Web 2.0 will leave those behind. Everyone talks a big game about how they're dedicated to their customers but then they refuse to get feedback from them and deny them communication. And I'll leave you with this thought. For the most part I kept this post light heartened in discussing Web 2.0 in the context of sports programs.

What do you think is the future of these 3 traits in politics? There will always be areas where secrecy is a must (national defense) but everything else is fair game.

*Cue Washington bumrushing WordPress.com*

-hj

NBA Finals, Internet Gambling, Lake Charles, and Vegas

June 8, 2006

The NBA Finals start Thursday and my Dallas Mavs are in it so I'm sure you expecting that I have money on the line. I do, Mavs win I walk away $46.50 richer. What you probably didn't expect is that is if the Heat win I still walk away up $10.50. I've found my gambling specialty, betting on championships.

Two summers ago I read Bringing Down the House. I have never been a big reader and I definitely have never had a book that I could claim to not be able to put down. The book is about a team of MIT engineers who learn to play blackjack and take Vegas for a ride. I was hooked. I ran simulations on my computer, dealt myself hands, I couldn't wait to turn 21 for a reason totally opposite of the normal college student.

My first gambling experiences were at the lovely casinos on Lake Charles in Louisiana on Thursday night trips last summer while I was working in Houston. Since those Louisiana trips I found my new favorite city in the world. I've been to Vegas twice in the past year. On these trips I played mostly blackjack, craps, and roulette and the success has been up and down.

With the school starting I realized that my casino trips were coming to an end. The upside was football season was starting up and I discovered the greatness of the offshore sportsbook that is Intertops.com. I started off hot. I was doing tons of research into betting strategies and college football and I was developing strategies of my own.

I had two faults that severely hit my bankroll. The first fault was not staying disciplined with a 1-3 unit betting system and randomly placing large bets on games I was sure on. The second fault was betting on OU. I just looked it up, I put money on OU 7 times and I lost 7 times. Half the time I picked them to cover, other times I picked against them, didn't matter. The eighth time it hurt the worst. Oklahoma was a four point favorite on Big Monday against a very bad Texas Tech team. A four point spread was solid money so I smartly put down thirty-five large. I tune in with less than 5 minutes and OU has a solid double digit lead which they promptly piss away to a one point win. This is why rivalries and school hatred exists.

I finally found my groove betting on extras, in particular futures bets. My first project was the NFL East right before Thanksgiving. The Redskins were favored to win the division so utilizing Excel's Goal Seek function (if you don't know how to use it, learn to) I put my money so that if Washington won I would break even but if Dallas or New York won I'd be up. If the Eagles won I'd be very screwed.

This streak continued when I put money on Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Denver early in the playoffs, although most of my profits dwindled when I hedged my majority position with Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl with a lot of prop bets on Seattle.

I really knew I was on to something when I put money on five different College Basketball Teams to win the National Championship on February 6th. The earlier in the season you put money on a championship the better odds you get. Those five teams (Texas, Florida, UConn, Memphis, and West Virginia) included Florida who went on to win the whole thing.
But those were little victories compared to how hard I whipped them in the NBA. On January 23rd I placed bets on Miami(6.5:1) and Dallas(14:1). Two weeks later I piled more on Dallas and Miami and put some on Phoenix and hedged my bets by putting a small bet on San Antonio. I started to get cold feet at my bold feeling that neither the Spurs nor the Pistons would make it back to the Finals.

If I had half an instinct about baseball I'd be placing futures for the World Series now. College Football futures are already out and I have to be honest Ohio State(5.5:1), Notre Dame(6.5:1), Florida(11:1), and LSU(14:1) look awfully appealing.

Go Mavs, MFFL!

-hj

Texas is the new brand

June 6, 2006

I had previously blogged about the profitability of Texas' football program and I ran across an article recently predicting merchandise revenues would double this year. I attributed all this to three things. First and foremost the national championship win. Second, the fact that Texas has nearly half a million living alumni, more than any other university. And third, biggest Texas has one of the largest student populations in the country. Well I recently moved to New York and now I have to add a fourth reason that may come ahead of the previous three. 

I have a buddy from Northern California who goes to school with me at Texas. The question often comes up why he decided to come to school here and he always talks about how he thought Austin was a cool city and he thought it'd be different. But he also mentions how it wasn't as out of the blue as you might think and that his friends from high school always wore Texas stuff and after they started college they would always ask him to bring home hats and shirts.

With that in the back of my head, fast forward to last weekend when I was walking through a mall in Albany, New York and I passed by a Lids hat store. I was suprised that a stack of burnt orange Texas hats caught my eye. I was amazed at how decked out the college section of the store was with Texas hats. I counted 17 unique styles of Texas hats at a Lids in Albany, NY. Burnt Orange on White, White on Burnt Orange, White on Black, Burnt Orange on Black, White on White, etc. And it wasn't as if they just had a wide array of hats from every school. Notre Dame and Michigan were basically the only other schools in between the coasts with hats. Not a single Ohio State or Oklahoma hat which surprised me because both were big state schools whose sports programs have been successful. And in case you're wondering no other Texas school was represented.

This is when I realized what the real reason was for the boom in revenue. It wasn't as much the population of fans or the success on the field, Ohio State and Oklahoma has both. It was THE BRAND.

Just like people all over the country for the past decade have sported Michigan and North Carolina gear not because they were fans necessarily but more because it was a brand. The fact that those universities are popular and successful are part of what makes that brand so they aren't totally independent but just because you have the numbers and the success doesn't make it a given that the brand will sell.

The Collegiate Licensing Company which enforces the merchandising licenses for colleges puts out a ranking of the Top 50 selling universities. How did that list pan out for the 2004-2005 school year? #1 UNC, #2 Michigan, #3 Texas. If the forecasts are right that Texas' merchandise sales will double this year I can't imagine that list staying as it is.

This past Saturday night I watched the Mavs take Game 6 from the Suns at the ESPNZone in Times Square. Again, people all over the place with the Texas brand. And I'm really not delusional in the way of thinking that these people were even Texas fans. My point is they wear the brand just as I used to wear a red UNC hat. I never cheered for UNC a day in my life (well, okay I almost wet my pants when they won they NC last year resulting in a huge payday for me).

This sporting of a brand solely for the sake of the brand would annoy some people. Aggies in particular seem to get annoyed when people root on a college program with which they are in no way affiliated. To me gettin angry over that is just plain ignorant. Support is support, am I wrong?

I think what I am more excited about than anything is that for the first time in my life I have a wardrobe full of the new, hottest brand. 😉

-hj

Oil Mythbusters

May 28, 2006

Today there was a great article in the Dallas Morning News about the realities of our gas prices, oil company profits, service station boycotts, price gouging, and the realities of taxing oil profits. I realize the blog I wrote about these same subjects may have been too long to hold people's attention. This article explains almost to a T exactly what I was trying to say and does so in a much more eloquent manner. I'm not sure if you need to sign up for a free membership to view that article but if you do I can assure you that won't spam you and it'll only take a second.

What I most do not understand is the arguments of price gouging and the argument to tax the profits harder than usual(40%). These are two issues that I did not talk about to the extent that I wanted to in the previous blog.

In the instance of Katrina I understand punishing a company for using the economic laws of supply and demand in a way that really hurts people that are in an unusually vulnerable position. But in everyday normal circumstances what exactly is price gouging? Is it businessmen working for oil companies trying as hard as they can to make money for their shareholders? In the sport of business money is how you keep score thats just the reality of the situation. Businesses are not in business for fun or just to keep themselves occupied. They are in business to turn a profit plain and simple. Oil companies just happen to be in an industry that sells a product that Americans are addicted to and have been led to believe it is their God-given right that they have access to cheap oil and its derivatives. High schools economics teachers: stop letting your students sleep through your class. Its simple Supply and Demand. If you have something that is becoming more and more in demand you are going to be able to rise the price and turn a better profit, you would be stupid not to.

The second issue concerns taxing oil companies harder than normal. In my previous blog I got into how much more profitable most other industries are in terms of profit margins. That defines more why this taxing is unfair but now I will get more into why it's not only unfair but it doesn't make sense and it will end up making oil more expensive in the long run. Lets take ExxonMobil for instance, last year they brought in profits of $36 billion. The first place that profit is going to go is to the shareholders in the form of dividends. The shareholders are the ones who risked their money to make this possible in the first place. At the end of the day the money that is left over is invested in research and development (read future ways to extract tons more oil efficiently). If you tax that profit harder the shareholders are still going to get paid either way its the R&D that you are hurting. But it makes politicians popular to promise middle-class voters added tax revenue from ugly, mean, Texas-sized oil companies and this is an election year so it'll probably happen.

-hj