Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Way The Kids See It

I finally found my camera the other day and downloaded my pictures from the roadtrip that Elena and I took to Edmonton and Slave Lake 2 months ago. One of my favourite things about the trip was little Ben and his obsession with my camera.

One of the first times that I took it out to take some pictures, Ben was fascinated. He asked if he could hold it, and because I thought it was so cute, I showed him how to hold the button down and take pictures all by himself. Little did I know that I was kissing my camera goodbye for the next few days. Ben walked around the living room for about twenty minutes, snapping the shutter every few seconds (luckily for both my battery life and my memory card, he didn't press hard enough to take a picture every time). The only way that Ben let me have my camera back was if I promised to take pictures of him, which I was expected to show him on the screen within 5 seconds. Everytime I told him, "Just one more picture, Ben, then Auntie needs her camera back." he would wheedle another five minutes of photography bliss.

I ended up with some very cute photos, though–
after I deleted the 30+ pictures of light brown carpet and a selection of books. I especially love the one he took of Brigham.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

For the past few weeks, I'd been trying to figure out what I could be for Halloween. For my piano recital last Saturday, I ended up just wearing a black cape over my jeans and t-shirt (luckily most of the kids thought it was cool anyways, since I'm their awesomely cool piano teacher) but I wanted something better for the young adult party last night. Our family went to London Drugs mid-week and I was browsing through the costumes when I saw the perfect one: A Star Trek Outfit.

Unfortunately, the outfit was in a size more suited to a three-year-old boy than a 23-year-old girl who's 6'1". But who wants to buy their Hallowe'en costume anyways? I figured that I'd go to Old Navy, find a v-neck shirt in one of the Star Trek colours (rusty red, mustard yellow, or the classic dark blue), wear it on top of a black shirt, and make myself a little badge out of tinfoil.

Fastforward to Friday. I realize at school that I don't own black pants. Oh well, I've been needing some anyways. I'll just have to drive to the Tall Girl store in Sunridge on the other side of town after school and buy some black pants.

When I get home, I start working on my comm badge. One granola bar box, some skillful work with glue, scissors, and tinfoil, and 30 minutes later, I pressed it to my chest and said "Beam me up, Scotty." It was exhilarating.

Elena and I decided that the only time when we would be able to squeeze in the trip to Old Navy would be on our way to the party, so she got into the car dressed as Pippi Longstocking (braids pointing straight out, mismatched socks and all) while I was clad in black from head to toe. Let's just say I got waaaay less weird stares than she did.

When we finally arrived at the party, I was in full form. Elena made me say "Redd to Enterprise" and "Beam me up, Scotty– there's no sign of intelligent life here." about every fifteen minutes. It was great.

Final calculations:

New black cords with a 38" inseam: $79.99
1 roll of tin foil: from Mum's pantry
Red v-neck: $7.50
Black turtleneck: $7.50
My new reputation as a Trekkie: priceless

Conspiracy Theories... Part II

I'm taking an Industrial Organization class this semester. For those of you without the Economics vocabulary, that means a class where we study the behaviour of firms in various markets and analyze their potential for market power.

Don't leave! Don't fall asleep! I promise it'll get interesting!

So far, we've looked at firms in the competitive market, monopolists, and oligopolists. We're working right now on the concept of cartels and oligopolies and using game theory to determine their motivations to collude with each other to raise prices. It's actually quite fascinating to see how people get away with this stuff. And to learn how to do it ourselves. I've pretty much mastered the art of maximizing profit and getting away with it (at least on paper) so beware if I go into business as a monopolist. Or join a production cartel.

Today, my professor asked us to think of ways that members of a cartel can enforce their illegal collusion and destroy free-market America as we know it. Other than mob-style tactics, we came up with the idea that if information about different firms' prices and quantities are commonly known and generally accepted as reliable (which will only be true in the case of some third party like the government reporting them), then other members of the collusion agreement will be able to detect and punish deviants.

Now comes the best part. Our prof opens up the Alberta Energy System Operator website and shows us how the government has so kindly posted the daily data of the bids of individual energy generators and suppliers in Alberta– so that "consumers can be informed". How many people get a kick out of reading the daily, even hourly, changes in bids for electricity provision? Well, besides my professor. Then he goes on to tell us that this is exactly the information that all the firms need to be able to run a giant oligopoly of electric providers and to effectively find out which firms are cheating on the agreement and giving us cheaper power!

Yes, you heard me right. The government is assisting possible the illegal exercise of market power by cartels of power generation companies.

That's not all– ever since I started this class, I've been on the lookout for the tactics I've learned in class. I've spied firms creating artificial homogeneity in their products to raise prices. I've heard ads that promote price discrimination through created market segmentation. It's everywhere! Sometimes I feel a little paranoid about it all. But I swear it's REAL!

Maybe in Friday's lecture we can make some tin foil hats. I think mine is about due.