Friday, February 26, 2010

My Favourite Econ Prof Moments

Yep, they mostly look something like this.

The economics professors at the University of Calgary are a wonderful bunch. Somehow, in my entire degree, I've had exactly 2 professors who weren't middle-aged, dorky men. But luckily for all of us in the field of economics, nerds are back in.

Over the past several years, I've had some interesting interactions with my econ profs, starting with the first economics class I ever entered. I walked into the first lecture of Introduction to Macroeconomics on a Monday at 8 am, only to find my instructor (in this case, not a prof, but a PhD candidate) blasting "Don't cha" over the giant lecture hall's stereo. You know, that really annoying song that was cool in 2005?

I've had all kinds of econ prof moments over my career as an economics major, the crown of which took place yesterday. there was supposed to be a midterm in my "Economics of Taxation" class at 2:00. The whole class was there waiting at 2:05 and there was no professor in sight. We sat nervously, thinking that any minute, he'd walk in and we'd start our exam. He finally walked in at 2:27, did a second take at all of us sitting anxiously, and asked, "When does this class start?" Turns out that although he's been teaching us twice a week at 2:00 pm, for some reason he thought that the class started at 2:30. The exam has been postponed until Tuesday. The thing is, he's such a good prof that I can't even get mad about it. He's an incredible instructor, just prone to a little "econ prof weirdness" like all my other beloved Economists:

"Oh, there's no substitute good? Well, then, I guess we'll just kill you." Dr. H, referring to the ethics of price discrimination based on elasticity of demand.

"So this picture looks good, right? We're all happy with the Ricardian model of international trade? WELL, IT'S WRONG. I've been lying to you, and it's time to confess." Dr. G, telling us that our beloved idealized theories have no real-world applications.

"So if you want an allocation that's efficient AND fair, you'll just have to take someone's endowment away." Dr. W, on the futility of welfare policies.

"Goods are normally normal– it's why we call them normal goods!" Dr. G's thoughts on normalcy.

"With the kinds of prices we see in our world, we could live happily ever after, if only our equilibrium would behave itself!" Dr. W.

"Let's consider non-basket case economies..." Dr. G, on why we can never get good conclusions from African data.

"Agriculture tends to be a sacred cow everywhere." Dr. G's thoughts on Hinduism in relation to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

"... and so even though he might be better at both, I specialize in being a university professor and Bill Gates specializes in being a CEO, and we're both better off! Well, maybe him a little more than me..." Dr G's explanation of comparative advantage.

Oh, economics. The fun times never stop.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Step Closer

I'm not sure how many people I've told about my goal for the summer, but for those of you who weren't around during my post-mission goal-setting frenzy, I've been training for a triathlon this summer. Last semester, that took the form of riding my bike to school as long as the weather held, going for a run every few weeks when I wasn't sick, and going to the gym maybe four times.

This semester I decided to really get serious. In Thailand (after New Year's, when my will to exercise was string) I got on a treadmill at the hotel and ran three miles. This pushed me to my limit and I felt like I was going to die. It also took over 40 minutes. Since I've been back, I've been going to the gym at least twice a week and can tell the difference. Today, I set my best time ever– I ran the entire 5 km required for my triathlon, and I did it in 30 minutes! Now I just need to start swimming. I should probably get on that, since I need to work up to 500-700m (depending on the race) by the summer and I haven't been lane swimming since high school.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Valentine's Survived

Valentine's Day was so much cooler when I was in the third grade. You had a ton of fun making the mandatory cards for everyone in your class, and then you got to spend an entire afternoon at school decorating envelopes to be your Valentine mailbox, eating cupcakes, and playing various red-and-pink themed games. You chugged cinnamon hearts and got to scarf down those yummy jujube hearts, all the while telling funny jokes with Necco conversation hearts (whoever came up with the "fax me" one is my hero).

However, the older one gets, the more one realizes that Valentine's Day is kind of a pointless holiday. And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm bitter and single–in fact, I'm actually quite happy and single. I have a friend who referred to it as "Singles Awareness Day" and while I am reminded of my unattached status on February 14th, that's not what gets my goat about the holiday.

The thing that I think is retarded is that mass media and the big firms have decided which will be the most romantic day of the year and has dictated to couples when they will celebrate their relationship with something extra– whether it be a simple bouquet or a fancy dinner out on the town, or expensive jewelry. Then, they jack up all the prices to deal with the increased demand and prey on people who feel the need to show their affection through cheesy teddy bears.

As an economist, I cannot support this kind of price discrimination. Why should my eventual lover have to fight through crowds to get flowers on an arbitrary holiday that originated from a feast day for a saint from a religion I don't even believe in? What makes February 14th more special than any other day besides convention? I therefor present what I call "The Informed Consumer's Valentine":

Do not celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th (unless you are a third grade child with your required 25 cards).

Instead, go to the stores on the 17th, when things are dropping down to half price, and buy that special someone a sweet teddy bear or a box of chocolates and keep half of the cash in your pocket to put towards the mortgage payment.

Because that's what real love's about.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Economic Applications

If this guy had taken a game theory class, he would have known better.

And people say that economics isn't applicable!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Most Exciting Mail of the Year

I was about to title this entry "Most Exciting Mail Ever" and then I remembered my mission call. Not much tops that. But it definitely wins for most exciting of the year.

So far this year, my mail has consisted of: Student Loan documents, a copy of the Electrical Statutes Amendment Act from the Alberta Queen's Printer, a friend's wedding invite, and a thank-you card from a wedding shower I attended a few weeks ago. Now, you must understand– I love mail. Mail is one of the most exciting things ever and I love getting it in any form. Even bills are fun when they arrive in the mailbox. Being a missionary only made my condition worse. As a missionary, you're so dependent on mail and every little envelope that drops through your mail slot is a little slice of heaven. Even when it's from the Nordea Bank.

Basically, I check the mailbox on a more frequent basis than anyone else in the family.

Today, it paid off! A fat envelope was sitting in there, with my name on it! Stamped with with a return address from Manitoba, I had no idea what it could be. I couldn't even wait the 15-second walk back home to open it. Standing in front of the mailbox, I tore open the brown paper and saw nestled inside four tickets to a Barenaked Ladies concert this April.

I am so happy.


Ever have that feeling where you know that you should go to bed, and you should do it an hour ago, but you just can't? When there's nothing actually worth doing to stay up, but since you just can't go to bed yet, you end up looking for the smallest excuse to stay up? I thought I'd get over that once I turned 10.

Nope, apparently not.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why I am not on Game Shows...

Tonight's FHE was Valentine's Day Jeopardy. I was pretty excited, because I'm good at trivia games. It's like my one claim to fame, other than the time I beat a bunch of nerdy guys at ZombieTown on my very first game, or the time that I accidently beat my date at President enough times straight that we never went out again.

(In case you missed it, that was my subtle way of telling you that I'm a fairly competitive person, under the best of circumstances).

I went into the game thinking, "My mission has mellowed me out– I'll be able to be chill for this game." Then they announced the teams: boys versus girls. That already got my competitive spark going.

I sat in the front row because everyone else was still putting finishing touches on their heart-shaped cookies. That was my first mistake. It is next to impossible to be chill or mellow about a trivia game when one is sitting in the front row. However, I passed my next task: when our Alex Trebek-esque host asked for a team captain, I sat entirely still and did not submit my name for consideration, even when one of the girls said, "What about you, Janine?" I humbly waited for another to be appointed.

"Yes!" I thought, "I've conquered my competitive instinct that made me the laughing stock of all scripture mastery games in early-morning seminary!"

Then they started asking questions and I knew I was lost. As much as I tried to stop myself from hollering out, "Who was Albert Einstein?" in answer to Who said it? for $300 ("Gravitation can't be held responsible for people falling in love.") it came out of my mouth without conscious thought. Apparently I am incapable of keeping quiet when there is a chance to prove my random knowledge.

This trait has made me the coveted teammate in all forms of Trivial Pursuit, but take warning: we may win, but you'll have to put up with at least one outburst where I correct the host's Google-obtained answer. Or reprimand the other team for not answering in the form of a question.

What can I say, it's an addiction. But I'm doing my best, and I think that one day, in 50 years or so, I may be able to sit through an entire episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in silence.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A New Era

Today I walked in to church and the first thing I thought was, "There are a lot more old people here than usual." (I go to a singles ward, so when I see people over 30 that are not: a) in the bishopric or related to a bishopric member or b) our ward's high council representative, it's a novelty). I spied an old seminary teacher and her husband and wondered to myself, "Do they have a relative in my ward who could be speaking today?"

Since Elena and I were about 15 minutes early for church, I spoke to our Bishop for a moment. He asked me which lesson I was teaching today in Sunday School, and in the course of the discussion, I reminded him how much I had loved teaching the Mission Prep class. He took a pondering look around the room and said,

"We may be having that again sometime." to which I responded,

"PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE CHOOSE ME AGAIN. I loved that calling more than any other EVER." He gave me a little smile and replied,

"I'll pass that on."

I thanked him and walked away, not understanding the meaning hidden behind his choice of words. It was approximately 45 seconds later that I noticed the entire Stake Presidency sitting on the stand.

*Hint: Stake Presidency + married adult couples randomly attending the singles ward + subtle hints from bishop = a new bishopric.*

That's right, we've got a new bishopric in our ward. We'll miss the old one lots, especially the awkwardness that came from suddenly getting a YSA as a second counsellor late last year (What do we call him? Brother Wood, or Jordan?), but I'm sure the new one will be just as great.