Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quite Literally

This story begins about a month ago, on my trip to Thailand. It was late in the evening and I was sitting on the floor of my beach bungalow with my brother, sister, and dad. We were playing Oh Heck, one of the greatest card games known to man. For those of you who are unacquainted with Oh Heck, let me educate you. Seven cards are dealt to all players and they each place a bid on how many tricks they'll take. Taking a trick involves playing the card that is higher than all others in a given round, within a certain suit. The key to Oh Heck is not winning as many as possible, it's getting your bid. Hence, it is possible to win all seven tricks and yet get negative points in total if your bid was for zero tricks. Fewer and fewer cards are dealt with each consecutive round until a round is played with only one card, then rounds are played dealing more cards until the final round is played with seven cards again.

On that particular evening, Elena suggested that we play only from seven cards down to one and then stop. Aghast at this heretical suggestion, I insisted that we play the whole game, as "Playing up is half the fun!" I realized the double meaning in this statement and then followed it with "... quite literally!"

For some reason, Elena found this hilarious and asked me to say it again, this time with one index finger raised to strengthen my point. Thus was born the phrase of the trip, "Quite literally." It was repeated whenever circumstances made it amusing.

Fast-forward to yesterday's Economics 425 class (the Economics of International Trade), where Dr. G is explaining to us the virtues of globalism versus localism. Using an apt example, he demonstrates that although parsnips are tasty and we can produce lots of them in our Albertan climate, some of us like pineapples as well. "Unfortunately" he says, "when it comes to the production of pineapples, Alberta has been left out in the cold... quite literally."

You can imagine the immensity of my desire to burst into laughter and the odd looks I got from my classmates as I tried to hold it in. Especially since none of them seemed to find the pun that amusing.

Quite literally.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Note Update

Oh, and guess what? Someone missed class this past Wednesday and had to borrow my notes. Namely, Eric the famous note-giver. I figure we're even.

Words to Live By

Tonight I attended a YSA fireside given by a really nice, funny couple. Predictably (as when a large group of mixed-gender Mormon singles gets together to hear a lecture of some kind) the subject dealt with marriage and dating. Now, I'm not complaining. The marriage talks are some of my favourites. Speakers know that we've heard it time and time again, so they always come up with some new and fun way to tell us to get cracking on the dating thing.

Tonight's golden nugget of wisdom, referring to women's role in the Mormon dating scene:

"She who has a plan, will get a man." I think I'll stitch that one on to a throw pillow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Public Domain

I started work on my research paper for Regulatory Economics today! I spent some time this afternoon tracking down regulatory documents regarding electrical transmission in Alberta. Turns out that most of them are available as pdfs and I download a ton. The glitch comes when I want a copy of the updates made to Bill 50, the Electric Statutes Amendment Act of 2009. This is a piece of legislation by the provincial government and the only way to read what it says is to pay $5.00 and have it mailed. Maybe it's just me, but I think that citizens should be able to read legislation for free. Even if there's only one of us who actually cares about the updates to the Electric Statutes Amendment Act of 2009.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Should I Take Note?

I have this friend. I met him in a mathematical economics class where we were both sitting in the front row like the dorky keeners that we are. Said friend is double-majoring in economics and applied math, so he's a really good friend to have in a mathematical economics class. He also takes really good notes, a fact that I have exploited once or twice. Okay, three times exactly. Whenever I have to miss class, he's good at explaining the missed lecture to me or letting me copy his notes, and he used my notes once to get some missed material.

I was sick last Friday and missed class, so today, I asked if there would be a time in the afternoon when the two of us could meet up with a photocopier on campus. We arranged a time and parted ways, him to his next class and me to the gym. When we met up at Bound and Copied, the copy centre run by the Student's Union, we got started on the four pages of meticulous notes from which I would be reviewing the applications of lambda values in Lagrangian functions. Our first copier turned out to be completely bereft of paper, as did the second and third. The only copier currently not empty was being used to photocopy an entire textbook by some freshman too cheap to buy a book that he could probably sell to someone else next semester for the same price he paid for it. This was frustrating to both me and my friend. The funny thing is that it prompted him to tell various stories of all the annoying people who have asked him for his notes throughout the ages, some of which were pretty funny.

One was the girl who ran into him in the hall and, upon recognizing him from her class, asked if she could get notes from him for an upcoming lecture, as she would be getting her wisdom teeth out. In a rush, he said to ask him again in class. He never saw her again, as the semester was almost over. However, six months later he got a facebook message from her, asking why she had never gotten the notes and telling him that she thought they had a connection that day in the hallway and was he interested in going out with her?

Another was the girl who didn't speak English and kept asking him to explain concepts. After this had happened numerous times, he asked her if she had the textbook, to which she replied, "I no need textbook. You explain for me." He politely asked her to stop using him as a textbook for the course, especially since he didn't know all the concepts perfectly anyways.

I commiserated with a few stories about people who have asked me in advance for the next two weeks' worth of notes, since they'll be going away on holidays. People seem to think that when one sits in the front row, as we do, that we're really smart and know everything the professor is talking about. What they don't realize is our ulterior motives: I need to see the board, and my friend is borderline anti-social and so sits in the only place that isn't full of other people.

It took me this long to remember what we were doing as we complained about sharing notes with people. That's right, I was borrowing his notes. This must have occurred to him around the same time, because he hastily threw in,

"I knew you'd know what I'm talking about. That's why I don't mind sharing my notes with you."

Sitting on the front row makes me the exception to the rule.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Numero sata!

For all you non-Finnish speakers out there, the title means "Number 100!" Having this be my 100th post makes me feel like it should be something special, but unfortunately I've got nothing. Sorry.

Oooohhh. Idea just came. Here follows a list of hundreds in my current life:

Song on my iTunes that has been played exactly 100 times: Slide by the GooGoo Dolls

Number of goals actually written on my list of 100 life goals that the guest speaker told us to make last summer: 53

Hundreds of pages I have to read for my classes this week: 1.5

Mark out of 100 I scored on my last-minute heart attack Game Theory exam last semester: 78

Hundreds of dollars I spent on textbooks last week: 2.5

Hundreds of dollars I recently qualified for in student loans: 60

Score out of 100 that I would give my trip to Thailand: 110!

Number of people who actually read this blog: Nowhere near 100, but who cares?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What I'm Going to Be When I Grow Up

Remember how I've been whining for the past 9 months that I don't know what I'm going to be when I grow up? How a large portion of my blog posts were about my lack of purpose and direction and my wavering between one option and another?

Well, that's over, at least for the next month. I've come to a semi-decided conclusion about my future career path. I'm feeling really good about it (at least right now- hopefully I'll feel the same after a few weeks) and am very excited about the possibilities.

I'm going to be a regulatory economist.

This in essence means that I have two career options. I can work for the Competition Bureau to regulate industries that are taking advantage of market conditions to exercise market power. Or, I can work for a large company to help them find loopholes in the regulations so that they can keep exercising market power. Doesn't it sound exciting?

This all started last semester when I got interested in my Industrial Organization class, the one where we learned about conspiracies between firms to rip us off. I found it quite intriguing, so when my professor announced that he would be teaching a follow-up course next semester on Regulatory Economics, I pondered the possibilities. My first class was yesterday, and I'm already in love. We get to write a research paper on regulation in Alberta, choosing a specific industry- I'm pondering postage-stamp pricing in electrical transmission or the allocation of water rights. The Competition Bureau is coming in to the class in two weeks to hold a recruiting session, and the Department of Economics organizes a summer internship program that is only open to students who have completed this course series. But the best part of this class? There are only 7 students. I know this a regular occurrence for some of my friends who major in Byzantine Studies or take senior-level Russian classes, but I have never been in an undergraduate class smaller than about twenty people. I'm super excited and I think it'll be a great course.