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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Seattle Metro

A castle is rarely late.

Dear Seattle Metro,

Thank you for having the 11:20pm bus not arrive. I appreciate the opportunity to wait fifty minutes at night for the 11:50pm bus to show up. If I had known that you decided to not send that particular bus I would have walked home and made it in less time then the consequent wait and ride time.

Also I appreciate your concern in regards to wanting to raise the price of quarterly bus passes to $250, that is such a great idea that I could buy a decent bike each quarter and ride it in instead of taking an overpriced, unreliable bus system.

Michael

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Traffics

Hybrids are probably better for traffic then my car.

Hybrids are probably better for traffic then my car.

A sudden revelation came to me while sitting morosely in traffic: traffics are compression waves!

This thought made me want to simulate traffic in a 1D or maybe 2D particle model. The cars on the road have a given linear density of car and so the rate at which braking is propagated back is much higher then the individual car velocity.

The best time to see the traffic compression waves is approaching an uphill slope at night, then the brake lights can travel down the line of traffic eventually to your own car.

Maybe some more time stuck in traffic at night will help flesh out the model of traffic waves.

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Seattle Vote

Only motorcyclist can exhibit Extreme Caution!

Only motorcyclist can exhibit Extreme Caution!

I filled out my ballot for the city of Seattle and King county elections. I am not sure if it is Washington or just this county but it is all vote by mail. The only small problem I have with this is that the envelope to return the ballot is labeled with my name and address. I know that I had to sign the CA absentee ballot but I don’t remember if it had my name and address.

While I don’t feel the need for anonymity for this election it is not something that I want to give up. I know that they probably separate out the ballots from the envelopes using one for elections and another to keep track of voter fraud but it would be nice if there was another way to do it. Maybe do a double envelope, with the ballet sealed within the outer envelope that has the name and signature on it. That way they can be sorted without seeing who is voting for what.

As my first Washington election it is pretty simply, there were no long winded, poorly written propositions posed by a small group like in California. Though the county by county results of various propositions are always fun to view.

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Interview

Day 1 of Rain: rained on twice, saw sunlight once (indirectly).

Day 1 of Rain: rained on twice, saw sunlight once (indirectly).

Today I interviewed with Exxon Mobil, or more accurately I interviewed with a recruiter from one of the Exxon Mobil research groups. He was mostly interested in those with a few years of grad school completely and more towards the geology of things. I just wanted to interview as practice and see if there was a possibility of jobs in my future.

Looks like a no. I was essentially told that a PhD in Space Science has little or no place in Exxon Mobil unless it is through transferring what I learn to a semi-related field like combustion research.

Combustion and space plasma are not quite as similar as one would hope. I think this effectively crushes my dream of selling out to the man. I will be forced by societal pressure to take a job at a University, NASA, a private space company or a start-up of some sort. No large corporation with career track job for me.

At least I got a free dinner, a USB light, a 10x rock magnifying glass and a small card listing the geological periods. All (except the dinner) nicely logo’ed with Exxon Mobil. Exciting times.

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Waiting in LineNum

They sure look slick.

They sure look slick.

In line at Safeway today I had a thought, what determine the probability that someone will switch lines?

I figure it has to rely on a decaying exponential that depends on time. These would increase the probability of switching lines:

  • Number of people in front
  • Length of other lines (if shorter)
  • Speed at which current line is moving
  • Size of cart/basket (if smaller)

While these factors would decrease the probability:

  • Number of people behind
  • Length of other lines if they are longer
  • Speed of other lines
  • Mobility of purchase load (if larger)
  • Time invested in current line
  • Loud or annoying people in other line

I am sure it is feasible to do a study on how often people do switch lines, likely similar to changing lanes in traffic. If that study exists or will one day exist I hope that a mathematical model is included. The major component will be e^(-α t) with α dependent on the person in line.

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22nd Birthday

It has been nice and sunny in Seattle recently.

It has been nice and sunny in Seattle recently.

Today was my 22nd birthday, it was not as exciting at other birthdays. Then again the last really exciting birthday was 18 as I could register to vote. 21 did not have the allure of alcohol that many see since I was in Scotland while I was 20 and the drinking age is lower there.

Twenty-two is sort of bland, like nineteen. It also happened to fall on a Wednesday this year, a Wednesday of the first full week of graduate school. As with many of my birthdays it happens right after I move somewhere new so I do not have any many established ties yet for parties and things. Next year should be better.

The most exciting thing was that my roommate got me an erotic cake and I called my Mom. Not in that order necessarily.

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Buying Car Insurance

My precious car.

My precious car.

Moving to Washington I need to get a new auto-insurance policy. Not because my old insurance could not move, rather I was covered under my Dad’s plan since the car was registered at his address. Now I have a new registration and so a new insurance policy in my name.

I am faced with the question on how to pick an insurance company. Previously I was under someone else’s policy with no interaction with the insurance company directly however I have heard good things about the agent (Allstate) whom my Dad has worked with. Thus I turn to TV commercials. I checked out several of the prevalent ones: eSurance, Gecio, Progressive and Allstate. For some reason eSurance did not impress me since I never did a follow up visit to their site. Geico called me a few times, though I did not pick up since it was an unknown area code, the message the agent left just did nothing for me.

Out of the initial four it has come down to Allstate and Progressive for comparisons. Before rechecking the price I tried to find review online and quickly encountered nothing but negative reviews. Unlike books on Amazon or restaurants on Yelp people with good experiences probably do not review insurance companies as often as those with bad experiences. Even assuming some efficiency ratios I just ignored all of the online reviews and returned to the websites.

For the same basic coverage Progressive is one third the price of Allstate. So I e-mailed two Allstate agents, my Dad’s (a third party) and a local agent asking them a simple question: Why should I go with Allstate and pay triple what Progressive offers? I hope to hear back in the next day or so.

So I am left with three choices: pay the cheaper monthly cost and get basic Progressive insurance, pay the basic Allstate price for basic Allstate insurance or pay the basic Allstate price but get the maxed out Progressive insurance plan.

The fundamental problem I have with almost all of this stuff is that I have no grounding for what the numbers mean for liabilities. The only ones I have a firm grasp on are the deductibles for the optional collision/comprehensive insurance because I know how much I value my car. It is hard to be rational about decisions of numbers for underinsured motorist liability and bodily injury liability. It all seems like the thing where a higher priced item is offered to encourage people to buy the middle priced one, there is a more technical name for that I am sure.

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