Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving Fun

Well, one of my favorite holidays is done and so starts the official winter holiday season. Here's my flourish of random thoughts from the Thanksgiving vacation and about the upcoming holidays.

(1) I love Thanksgiving for a few reasons: turkey, ham, stuffing, yams, green bean casserole, chocolate pecan pie, time off from work, the in-laws, and Harry Potter.

(2) I love the end of Thanksgiving because it means I'm allowed to listen to Christmas CDs again!

(3) This year, we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday while we were there for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin shaped cake was a miraculous achievement! And I really enjoyed building the winter setting for her to display the ceramic cottages she collects!

(4) The drive home on I-80 around the south of Chicago is always a little rough. This year it was accentuated by even more road construction than usual, an accident on I-55 that slowed things down, and a flat tire! 5 hour drive --> 7 hour trip.

(5) I absolutely LOVE my daughter. Over Thanksgiving, she learned to scold the big dogs when they came too close to her food; and on the trip home, she decided that Lizzi shouldn't be allowed to encroach upon her half of the back seat. "No!" "No!" "No!"

I love the holidays!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Math Redux

Yesterday, I had a great reminder of some old math lessons that I haven't thought much about in a few years. Remember "banker's rounding," also known as round-to-even. Most people learn about this technique somewhere in highschool, be it a math or science class. For me, it was sophomore chemistry. Most people promptly forget about it and go on about their business, rounding numbers with, what some situations show, zero-biased calculations.

If you don't recall, the basic premise is this: If you are rounding a number, and the most left-most number to be removed is a 5, then you round to the prior digit to the nearest even number. For example, I want to round these numbers to the nearest whole number:

Banker's Traditional 14.5 14 15 15.5 16 16

As you can see, with traditional rounding, 5's always round up. With banker's rounding, 5's always round you to the nearest even number. As the theory goes, statistically speaking, 5 is smack in the middle of 1 and 9. It has no tendency to lean up or down. So, it should round up or down with equal likelihood to minimize the bias of the rounding. So, evens round down, odds round up... that is, you always round to the nearest even number.

Anyway, I ran across this at work yesterday. We're setting up a new Teradata system to replace our existing DB2 one. BIIIIIG databases. Well, the new system users banker's rounding by default. The old one doesn't. I'm absolutely sure that some user, despite not knowing SQL from a bad spinoff, will notice that some average dollar amount is off by 1 penny between the two systems. OMG! It'll be the end of the world, I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Different Kinds of Sick

My wife and I are very different people when we're sick. If I've got a fever, my skin aches, my kidneys hurt, my back is sore... and I love having my back rubbed. I like cuddling. I like cool breeze on my skin.

My wife: She can't stand touching when she's sick. She can't hardly have me in the same room with her sometimes. She needs to be alone.

It sucks when we're both sick.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I think of myself as a bit of a Hippie sometimes. I'm not nearly old enough to be one, of course. The important thing is that I tend to either like people or feel indiferent about them. I very rarely can say that I really hate someone. Here's the history of the people that I've hated.

c. 1985: There was a kid in grade school, 1st grade, that I really hated. He was the main "bully" at school. He pushed me down once, into the mud, and I had to go to the nurses office to get a loaner pair of jeans. (Her office was right next to the principal's, who I believed kept a belt on the wall with nails through it!!)

c. 1988: There was another bully. 4-6th grade, I think. He was really a jerk to everyone. Another classic bully. But the enmity he shows toward others. It made me sick.

c 1994: In high school, there was another guy in the low brass section of the band (I played trombone) that I really hated. I don't know exactly why. I have to admit that it might have been a little jealousy. He was awfully good. But there was something else about him that just made me hate him.

c. 2005: A coworker, whose head is just a bit too big to fit through the door, thinks that his latest undeserved promotion makes him just slightly higher than God on the VIP list. And he's behaving much like God -- the Old Testament, fire and brimstone sort of God. Ugh.

As far as I can recall, these are the only people I've ever HATED. I've been turned off by other peopel's behavior, but always been able to excuse or forgive them. Not these four, though.