Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's hard to blog when having too much fun

Yes, I know, it's been another hiatus on my blogging activity. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's just that the things that I want to talk about would require more time to blog than I have free to think about them. So I decided to just throw things out there and at least I'll get some things out. I apologize in advance for not providing much commentary on any of them. The order is not really important.

1) Average per household food cost for the largest cities in the US

Original article from Bundle

The diagram above is quite interesting, but, at the same time, not necessarily that helpful. Looking at New York numbers is probably the best way to see how misleading the numbers could be. It's all a matter of how big the city is and how diverse the population is. Cheap food can be very cheap and it becomes expensive very rapidly. For example, you can go to McDonald's and spend $4 per person on a reasonably sized meal. At the same time, I can go to Whole Foods and spend $15 on salad and a little bit of starch and protein.

The same thing can be said about groceries. I remember when I was living in Stillwater, OK that I could go to Wal-Mart and spend $30 on my weekly groceries. Today I generally don't spend less than $70. And I'm probably even buying less food than I used to buy (I used to have more time to cook than I have today).

My point is that when you have things that are this different, every time you have a mix of population of multiple different income levels, low income people (that is usually a majority) will pull the average cost down very rapidly. A better metric would be to look at this number as a fraction of the income level. Do New Yorkers spend more of their salary on food, or on buying HDTVs?

2) Arts

Lots of things going on in the arts department here. A day before my birthday Amy and I went to see the world premiere of Amelia. It was a very different opera. The story line was mostly non-linear and there were very few things that I could call a "big aria".

The production was divided into two acts of roughly an hour each, each with three scenes. Between the scenes the curtains would go down but the orchestra kept on playing. No pause for clapping until the end of the acts. The music was quite modern, unusual for opera, but nothing that I can say I had never heard before. But, as I said, very different for an opera.

Later this month we are going to watch Candide. This piece has a little bit more of a personal connection, as I've rehearsed most of it for a future performance that actually never happened before I left the choir. It's much lighter operetta, but with the normal arias, duets, choirs, etc. Let's see how well they do it. It's always a danger to listen to a piece that I know very well, as any small mistakes will drive me crazy.

Finally, the choir I sing with (Seattle Jewish Chorale) is getting ready for our last concert of the season coming up on June 13th. Tickets are available on Brown Paper Tickets and with me if anybody is interested. It's going to be a great concert. I'm very excited about it.

3) Work

Lots of things happening at work. So many that writing them here will bore some people. I'll just say that I've been working late most days (not today, though, as I'm in one of those uninspired days - which gave me time to write this post!) but starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel of my most important project of this year.

Oh, and today I was awarded my first patent! It was one I filed with two other co-workers over 4 years ago. I have other 5 or 6 out there being reviewed. The patent process is very interesting, to put it mildly. I believe that patents are important, but they can be easily misused and that makes me sad. The question that people with way more understanding on the subject that I do have been asking is whether the danger of misuse is worse than the benefits that it provides. I will not even try to answer the question.

And I think that's all I'm going to write about today. There are my topics to cover, like my robot building project, the wedding, Facebook, Twitter, working in South Lake Union, my new gadgets, winemaking, books read, just to name a few, but I'll leave those to my readers' imagination until I decide to be uninspired to work again and write another long-ish post.