I just accepted a new job, same company but different department. I will be doing pricing of our insurance product, so that sounds boring but actually the product is amazingly complex and there is a great deal of interesting math behind it. Oh and it comes with a raise and a promotion and the new department will continue to support the professional exams that I’m taking. Not much else is new, but the new job was very exciting.
Also I ran across this youtube video, perhaps one of the coolest things EVER!!!
I went out cycling with Dominic again after work. This time it was a little colder, but still enjoyable. We went to Chagrin Falls which is a cute little town outside Cleveland just out in the countryside. We had some ice cream or rather I guess it was strawberry sorbet at a place where apparently George Bush stopped on one of his campaign trips in 2004, pictures of which were hung around the shop. I forgot to bring my camera again, but will try to remember next time. I did find a website that lets you plot you route and it gives you information about the distance traveled and an elevation profile. The two big jumps in the elevation profile are us decending into the Chagrin river valley which we meander along and then going up the valley to Chagrin Falls and then back down to the valley and then back up it on our return. Here is the link to the ride map.
Things seem to be going well at the moment. I spoke with the hiring manager for the position I was interested in and it still sounds like an excellent opportunity, so now I am going to go through the formal interview process. Also I went to physical therapy on Tuesday to work on rehabbing my nagging knee injury. They used an ultrasound machine to aid in the healing of the inflamed tissue and I was very skeptical and maybe it’s placebo, but my knee feels a world different. I went on a 26 mile bike ride with Dominic and I was totally pain free the entire ride. My knee didn’t even feel funny much less painful. And by the fact that I went bike riding you can probably surmise that it is finally spring and nice outside for a change. I think next time we go riding I’ll bring my digital camera and take some pictures; the ride is very scenic.
Dominic, Will and I headed down to Athens, OH this weekend to go mountain biking on some crazy fun trails. The terrain in that area of Ohio is very hilly and makes for some incredible views and biking. It was in the low sixties, perfect for mountain biking. This was my first attempt at real mountain biking as opposed to riding on the road on a mountain bike. It was quite a bit more difficult than road cycling with which I have far more experience. It proved to be a humbling experience as both Dominic and Will were consistently ahead of me. Although to be fair they were riding $2,000+ mountain bikes and I was riding a heavy beast that had a semi-functional rear brake and the tires were practically bald making traction difficult. Despite the poor quality bike I still really enjoyed myself. Mountain biking is more about technical bike handling and peak power efforts a certain moments when you need to clear a log or get up a steep hill. In other words, the exact opposite of road cycling. If you want to see pictures they are available here on Picasa.
Two other eventful things have happened recently:
1) I got back my MRI results for my knee and they indicated my knee had no specific damage, no torn ligaments, no cartilage damage or other abnormalities. The doctor recommended 6 weeks of physical therapy and from there referral to an orthopedist if things do not improve.
2) My old boss contacted me and asked if I would like to apply for a position in pricing. I asked if they would support my exams the same way my current department supports them and he said yes they would. I suggested we get together over lunch sometime next week to informally go over the position. It sounds promising.
I think a picture says a thousand words in this case. It has been very cold for far too long here in Ohio and now the snow is finally melting and it is warm enough to go outside and be comfortable.
Also long overdue is a posting of one of my favorite pictures from a trip my brother, dad, and myself took to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I also made a print it using ezprints.com which was the only online photo printing site I could find that would print panoramas. It will be pretty huge and necessitate a great deal of wall space as the picture itself is 12″x32″ and the frame is 20″ x 40″. I also discovered in the process of trying to get the picture framed that Michaels is outrageously overpriced. They wanted $150 for drymounting, glass and the matting. Just as easy would be to get a glass store to cut you some plate glass, don’t drymount (instead use a good backing that will keep the photo flat, and buy yourself a matte cutter. Total materials cost about $50. Labor about 1 hour, plus you get to keep the matte cutter which can be used for other projects.
I’m also working on setting up Gallery, so that I can share all of my photos on my site.
Well I applied for a position in another group at my current company and to make a long story short it was a long shot to begin with and what I had thought would be the best job I could dream up, but then bait and switch and hostile interviewers, no thanks. Translation huge disappointment. Part of the reason I was interviewing was that I feel I am topping out in my current position and have relatively few options left with my current employer if I want to continue to grow and learn and make forward progress on my professional exams. So to make a long story short as my brother put it today, “Man plans and God laughs” (after a little googling I discovered is a Yiddish Proverb). Anyway I still think planning can be worthwhile, but for the moment I am just going to study hard for my exam and hope that opens up some doors for me down the road.
In other news I finally went to the doctor to investigate what I should do about my knee that has bothered me ever since I injured it on an attempted east coast bike trip with Ryan. The doctor put my knee through the same range of motion exam that the doctor at the ER had done when I initially injured it and concluded that I should just take more painkillers and stop running so much. I said I like running and don’t want to destroy my liver by the time I am 30 by taking NSAIDs which tamper with your liver’s proper functioning. After cajoling him into believing that this was a real problem he sent me to have an MRI. The results should be back sometime this week. I’m hoping there is a long term solution to this problem.
I know I have been out of school for two years and am supposed to stop being so obsessed with my discipline, but I saw two things this week worth noting related to economics. One is a standup economics routine you can watch on Youtube here (don’t reread that sentence you read correctly the first time, but by the time you have read all of this you might as well have) and the other was a research paper that I initially read about here and then found the actual article here.
The Youtube vid may only be funny if you have taken enough economics to become jaded about the usefulness of the basic concepts of economic analysis, but the article about marginal tax rates should convince you that government wastes your money. If you don’t want to read the article the conclusions are the marginal tax rate is about 40% for almost everyone, is only slightly progressive and that there are significant arbitrage opportunities available by putting money into a 401k or an IRA. If you want to understand why putting money in a Roth IRA is actually a worse arbitrage than in a standard IRA or a 401k with pretax dollars you will need to do some thinking about your 1040 form and realize that despite the suggestion than future tax rates will likely be higher (which I think is arguable but not conclusive) that the arbitrage is worth more than the future tax savings.