I love when grocery stores pay me!

So there was a deal at Kroger this past week or so (actually I think it has been going on for the past 4 weeks but I just found out about it – it ends today). Buy 6 Powerade Zero 32oz and get a coupon for $4 off your next order.

Since the Powerades are only 79 cents, 6 of them is like $5.15 after tax, so with the $4 coupon, it’s like 19 cents a Powerade. But of course, I got myself some .50/1 coupons, which double (up to the 79 cents) and make them free – so you make $4 for each set of 6.

I did that a few times today, and each time I had to play like 20 cents for the 6 of them (tax) and then got $4 back. But the last time, I forgot to put in my Kroger Plus card till the guy had already started ringing up the transaction. Since they’re $1.19 without the card, they all were ringing up at that, and then when he scanned the coupons, they doubled the whole amount (up to $1), since the computer thought they were $1.19. And then at the end all the 40 cents off lines came (reducing it to the card price of 79 cents), leaving me with a total of -$1.15.

So he was a little freaked out by that, but asked the manager and the manager was like “We owe him $1.15″, so they had to get a guy with a key and they opened up the drawer and handed me $1.15!! Hee hee. Makes up for the 64 cents in tax I had to pay the first 3 times.

And plus, I found a dime under the Coinstar machine on the way out, upping my total to 63 cents today (after $1.78 yesterday). I don’t have my spreadsheet in front of me, but I’m up over 9 bucks found so far!

Ghetto stud finder

So, first of all, all the “stud” jokes have already all been made. No need to repeat them in the comments or anything. Anyways, we have one of those stud finders that run on batteries (speficially the iSensor from Zircon)

With our recent spate of hanging things up and such, we needed to break out the ol’ stud finder. We bought this one quite a few years ago and I don’t know if it was just needing new batteries, but the thing was just plain screwy. The light would come on seemingly randomly. You’d think you found a stud, but then it wouldn’t light up in the same place vertically, or 16″ apart.

Short answer: it stank.

So after a quick google searching (i.e. Dan’s first law of the Internet), I came across this video which explains how to make your own stud finder.

Basically you take a magnet, and tie it to a piece of string or such (he used fish line, I used yarn, whatever). Then you just swing it back and forth at various places on the wall till it “hits”. I was fairly skeptical but I tried it out and it works! I’m sure this is how they must have done it in the old days.

Here’s a pic of me with my ghetto stud finder, getting ready to hang up our mirror in the upstairs bathroom


Well actually, that’s a picture of me staging for the camera what it looked like (if you look closely you can see that I’ve already drilled the holes)

A few words of caution: It should come as no surprise to many of you that there are other things behind your walls that might be made of metal that you might not want to drill into. Things like plumbing (bad) or electrical wires (worse). So once you get a hit, you should swing the magnet at the same place vertically to make sure you’re getting a hit all the way up the wall, as well as at regular intervals (usually every 16 or 24 inches) horizontally to make sure it’s a stud and not say, your sink supply line.

Service

So…. as Carolyn pointed out last week, we here in Cincinnati got slammed last Sunday by the tail of Hurricane Ike.

So we didn’t have much damage at our house, and unlike some people (who are STILL without power a week later), we only lost power for a few hours (we got it back just in time to watch the Browns lay an egg on Sunday night…)

But we still had tons of small limbs and sticks all over our back yard, which is a pretty decent size. The youth group at our church was going to get together this past Wednesday to come help people clean up and such and asked if they could come over to help. I didn’t think there was a whole lot that they could do but I said sure.

So fast forward to Wednesday. They were supposed to be meeting at the church at 6:30, going to someone else’s house first and then going to be at my house at 7. I thought the timing on that was pretty unlikely but they said Oh no, they’d be there at 7. So I went out after dinner and started doing a bit in the yard. I didn’t want to start cleaning up stuff because I wanted there to be something for them to actually do when they got there, but I wanted to get started a little bit because I was hoping to then cut the grass before it got dark.

7:00 came and went, then 7:05 and 7:10 and 7:20. I have to say I was getting a bit ticked off. I am a pretty punctual person, and while I have tried to mellow out in my old age (understanding that just because other people have different concepts of time doesn’t make them bad people), it still irks me. Plus, I kept feeling like if I hadn’t had them scheduled to come over that I could have had this all done by now myself. I kept having mental visions of me telling them off when they got there about how I was all done and I didn’t need them etc.

When they finally got there around 7:30, my attitude almost immediately changed and my heart softened. There is just something about seeing a large group of people (especially youth) just out serving other people and helping out. There was probably at least 20 of them and they made short work of everything in the yard.

So THANK YOU to all the people that came and helped, and if you ever want to soften someone’s heart – service is a good way to do it!

Soccer post

I guest-wrote a post over at Carolyn’s blog about our recent soccer game, in case you haven’t seen it over there.

Some complaints (from me)

So, just to let the tons of faithful TPMHTDM readers know (hi mom!), I have recently started writing on a new blog called “Complaints from Me. Actually it is a collaboration with my brother-in-law who started it.

Basically, it’s just where we document complaining letters that we send to various companies, along with their replies, if any. Long-time readers will know that I have done this several times in the past, usually with good success.

Anyways go check it out – I just posted three complaining letters – one to Kroger, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart

One of "those" work days

Yes, yes, the other day I had one of those work days that Carolyn enjoys so much. You know, where I have to leave the office at noon and go to a park and eat pizza and play games all day. In fact, I believe she even had a little comment about this past one.

Anyway, someone took some of the pictures of the great race and put it on a slideshow with some music and such

Enjoy it here

I would like to point out a few things:

1) I never claimed I could beat Baldino.
2) If you look closely you can see him edging into my lane just as I was (totally) going to pass him
3) In his defense he did trip and almost fall half-way through the race

Where have all the nickels gone?

So it’s been awhile of change finding for me and I thought I would give some reports. My Internet friend Carey has been tasked with creating a website to track change finding and I am pleased to report that this morning he made some good progress on it.

In the meantime, I am just using a spreadsheet. So, in 54 separate occurrences (on 29 distinct days) I have found $4.29. That’s 67 days since I started on June 28th, meaning there have been more zero days than coin finding days.

Breaking it down, I have found coins in 15 different municipalities in 5 states. 3 different people have found coins for me (I count coins found by me ever-growing army of minions) and an additional 4 people have tipped me off to coins.

Breaking it down another way, that’s 7 quarters, 16 dimes, 6 nickels and 64 pennies (12 of them being pre-1982 copper pennies.

So it got me to wondering, why have I found so few nickels? I had an interesting conversation yesterday with my friend Jeff who writes an incredibly boring blog about Microsoft stuff (). Since he lives in (near) Columbus, I was IMing him to ask what city / township / municipality the rest stop on I-71 just north of Columbus was. See on the way back from Cleve-o Sunday night I found a dime there and so I needed to ensure accurate reporting for my log.

In the end, we decided on “Sunbury” but that is neither here nor there. After we decided on that, the conversation went towards my dearth of nickels. He said that he also gets fewer nickels back in change. We started talking about the various price endings (00, 01 … 99) and how you only get nickels if it ends in 5-9. So I started writing up a spreadsheet with the different values and what coins you might get. Then I slapped myself and remembered Dan’s first law of the Internet. Naturally that was already done.

So what about you, dear readers? Do you also find that nickels are the least-used coin?

An NFL contest

So I enjoy sports, and I enjoy numbers. So if you enjoy neither of those things, this may be a blog post you should just go ahead and skip. If only I could make this post about maps too then it would be like the pefect post. Anyways, the folks over at pro-football-reference.com are sponsoring a contest for this upcoming NFL season. They have sponsored several similar contests in the past, and the thing I like about them is that in addition to some football knowledge (and luck), they also require a bit of thinking.

The gist of this contest is that there are 38 questions. For each of the 38, you have to pick one of the 2 choices. Whoever gets the most right at the end of the season “wins” (no real prize just honor and glory).

So for example, the first one is

Number of wins by the Texans
Number of wins by the Panthers

So you just pick which one you think will be higher. From there, it gets a little more crazy like

Number of rushing yards by LaDainian Tomlinson
Number of combined passing yards by all 49er players EXCEPT FOR the week one starting QB.

Full rules and such are over at the contest page

I thought that I would use this post to kind of detail my reasoning behind my picks / entry. First of all, I thought I’d find a site where they run a bunch of season simulations. Of course there is one. I also did a compilation of the 37 entries posted so far, just to get an idea of the conventional wisdom from people that are probably following the NFL season a bit more than me. I also grabbed the data over at p-f-r to help me answer a few questions as to how likely some things were.

So, let’s go
1. Whatifsports has the Panthers with 10 wins and the Texans with 6 – good enough for me
2. Cowboys with 12 and Jaguars with 10
3. Browns with 10, Packers with 9
4. Lions with 6, Ravens with 5
5. Redskins with 9, Cardinals with 6 – good enough for me
6. Giants with 11, Saints with 8 – good enough
7. Chargers with 11, Raiders with 6 and Falcons with 5. I will go with the Chargers. I looked at the simulation data, where it lists for each team its expected winning percentage for each game. I ran a bunch of simulations with random numbers in Excel on that and it told me that the Chargers had 11.3 expected wins, with a 1.63 standard deviation, the Raiders with 5.6 wins and 1.63 st. dev, and the Falcons with 4.9 wins and a 1.73 standard deviation. Using that data, it is about a 61% chance for the Chargers.
8. It’s almost certain that the team with the most wins will have somewhere around 13 wins. So whereas in question 7, you had some downside with the Chargers (if they underperform), here SOMEONE is going to have the most wins. If the Patriots go in the crapper, maybe it’s the Jaguars, or the Colts, or the Cowboys, or whoever. Rams and 49ers are projected with 5 and 8 wins. Using the calculated percentages in each game, I get 5.4 and 8.0. Taking the top 6 teams (projected at 13, 12, 11, 11, 11, and 11), and running them through 1000 random simulations, it gives about a 67% odds that one of them will have more than 13.4 wins.
9. Continuing on that vein, since the last place team in the AFC south is unnamed and undetermined, my gut would go with the Bears. Doing the individual game sims drops them from 6 to 5.4 expected wins. The Texans are at 6.4 and Titans at 7.1. That makes it about 58% chance for the AFC South team
10. The Bills home probabilities are 34, 71, 27, 69, 34, 47, 74, 21. The Colts road probabilities are 61, 83, 68, 84, 67, 65, 55, 66. That projects to 3.8 Bills home wins and 5.5 Colts road wins – Colts it is.
11. For the NFC West I get 5.4, 8.0, 7.4, and 10.4 (total of 31 wins). For the AFC West I get 11.3, 7.3, 5.6, and 3.8 (28 wins) – NFC West. I note that this has gone 32-5 for the AFC in the submitted responses so far.

Okay now we get away from the total wins and on to the more “odd” ones

12. The quarterbacks in the 2008 NFL draft (that have any chance to start) are: Matt Ryan (should start all 16?), Joe Flacco (is starting at least the opener), Chad Henne (listed as the backup). Simulation has Pennington with 11 TDs and Clemens with 8. I’m going to go with the 2008 QBs
13. While Randy Moss is really good, I think it more likely he will return to a “normal” range of 12-14 TDs so I will go with the group
14. In 2007, there were 56 players that had a 100 yard rush. There were 49 in 2006. Last year Harrington had a 69 yard pass and Redman had a 74 yarder (not clear if those were TDs). I will go with the Falcons.
15. Here you’re guessing on how long JT O’Sullivan will last. LDT should gain at least 1200-1300 yards or so. Though I’m a bit concerned about Tomlinson getting injured since he is getting older, I will go with him, banking on O’Sullivan being super awesome :-)
16. In a homer pick, I’m going with Cribbs
17. Simulation has Bush with 4 rec TDs and Young with 2 Rushing – Bush.
18. Here you have to bank on futility AND longevity. I will go with Warner as I think Pennington has more of a chance to get injured / demoted
19. Peterson is probably good for 15 TDs or so. The sim on the closest loss for the Chiefs is 10 points (they’re picked to lose every game individually though they’ll (probably) win some of them). I go with ADP
20. Sim has the top QBs at 2.4 TDs per game or about 38-39. I can’t see the Ravens ever scoring that much. Sim has them averaging 20 points per game with a 3.8 st. dev.
21. Sim has Westbrook and Jackson at 186 ypg and the trio at 248 – seems obvious, though I again am in the minority at 28-9 on already submitted responses.
22. The “elite” TEs should be around 90 catches, and I think between the other trio, they will have 1-2 games over 100.
23. Seems like selecting the max of a lesser group has better odds than the min of a “better” group since you only need EITHER one good season by one of your 4 guys OR one bad season by one of the other 4.
24. Likely / Possible Top 10 rushers born in the 70s: Tomlinson, Westbrook, Jamal Lewis, E. James, Taylor, T. Jones, L. Johnson. I figure 4 or 5 QBs will pass for 32 (Sim projects 4). I like that better than those RBs
25. Both Orton and Croyle stink but I will guess Croyle.
26. Sim has James with 11 TDs which will be much more than Kris Brown misses.
27. Battle of my fantasy football keepers – Sim has Edwards at 1400 yards and Johnson with 1140. Especially given Johnson has an injury history and no remaining offensive line I will take Edwards.
28. Sim has 15 TDs for Barber and 20 sacks for Williams.
29. The champs for 2007 were: NWE, PIT, IND, SDI, DAL, GBP, TAM, SEA. I’d say NWE, IND, SDI and DAL are all good bets to repeat, with outside shots from the other 4, so I will go with the same.
30. Can’t be more than 4 or 5 playoff games decided by 7 or more points (there are only 11 total games anyways) so I will go with the group – especially since I only need ONE of them to get lucky and score a few TDs
31. In 2007, 5 visitors won playoff games, 2 in 2006, 6 in 2005, 4 in 2004, 4 in 2003. I’ll go with Brees who is probably good for at least a 4 TD game if not 5.
32. Gotta go with the Pats
33. Gonna go with the Cowboys / Giants
34. Guessing AFC
35. All hail the Patriots.
36. Ditto
37. Judging from projections, the max of this group will be about 30-35, so I’ll go with points in the Super Bowl
38. I figure 1 maybe 2 double digit losses for the Cowboys – so it seems likely we’ll have more ints than that.

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Well that was some rambling. We shall see how I do.

1. Panthers 10, Texans 6
2. Cowboys 12, Jaguars 10
3. Browns 10, Packers 9
4. Lions 6, Ravens 5
5. Redskins 9, Cardinals 6
6. Giants 11, Saints 8
7. Chargers 11, Raiders 6, Falcons 5
8. Rams 5, 49ers 8, Most (13)
9. Bears 6, AFC South (Texans – 6)
10. AFC West (28), NFC West (28)