Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Friday, October 9th, 2009

I don’t know if this story is true, and that isn’t the point.  It’s touching and inspirational.
I sincerely hope that my children would make the right choice.

Don’t look for a punch line, there isn’t one. Read it anyway.
My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

“When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.  Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?”

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. “I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.”

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?” I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, “We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart.. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball..  However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.  Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.  Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.  Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, “Shay, run to first! Run to first!” Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second!”

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball; the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.  He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, “Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay” Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third! Shay, run to third!”  As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, “Shay, run home! Run home!” Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

“That day”, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world”.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

What would you do?

Star Wars – uncut

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Star Wars uncut has embarked on a truly unique venture.  They have split the movie (Episode IV, A New Hope) into about 1100 fifteen second snippets and asked for volunteers to film and upload one to three segments.

Hello! You and 472 other people have the chance to recreate Star Wars: A New Hope. Below is the entire movie split up into 15 second clips. Click on one of the scenes to claim it, film it, and upload it. You can have up to three scenes! When we’re all done, we’ll stitch it all together and watch the magic happen.

They recently released the trailer:

Star Wars: Uncut Trailer from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

Yikes! Snow Bikes.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Here’s about the coolest thing every.  Ktrak has been selling these conversion kits for a couple of years now, and they appear to be sold out for 2009.  Maybe next year.

This image is from the rolling video on their homepage:

Ktrak Snow Bike

Looks like fun.

If you’re content to coast, you can build your own with instructions from

If you want to go the other way (you adrenaline junkie, you)  you can also convert your dirt bike.

More info (and lots of other cool stuff) at GizMag.

The Missing Dollar

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

 A couple of weeks ago, this old riddle came up in conversation with a group of friends from my church.  It’s a good riddle, and an old one – you can easily find discussions of the problem and solution online (but don’t cheat):

 Three guests check into a hotel room. The clerk says the bill is $30, so each guest pays $10. Later the clerk realizes the bill should only be $25. To rectify this, he gives the bellhop $5 to return to the guests. On the way to the room, the bellhop realizes that he cannot divide the money equally. As the guests didn’t know the total of the revised bill, the bellhop decides to just give each guest $1 and keep $2 for himself.

Now that the guests have been given $1 back, each has paid $9, bringing the total paid to $27. The bellhop has $2. If the guests originally handed over $30, what happened to the remaining $1?

Can you explain?

I was prompted to revisit this as I thumbed through a book I found laying around the house.  The version in this book has a couple of interesting differences.  It starts with three men asking for three separate rooms for thirty dollars.  The clerk realizes that the rooms should have been $25.  That got my goat – $25 for three rooms?  So, the hotel has a three-for-twenty-five deal? A sale price of $8.33 for a room?  All, I suspect, to avoid speculation about the three men sharing a room.

An Anti-Placebo effect?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

The previous post about the Pygmalion Effect got me thinking about the Placebo Effect.

It so happens that I’m reading the chapter on placebos in Predictably Irrational (a fascinating book that I am currently enjoying very much). In this particular story, the authors found that the price of a placebo influenced its effectiveness. Seriously – expensive aspirin works better than cheap aspirin.  Could that be the reason behind the famous $25 hospital aspirin?

I presume that if our mind can cause an effect to emerge from a sugar pill, an anti-placebo effect should also exist.  Instead of just making stuff up, I consulted the Great Oracle on  the subject.  It seems others are pondering the same question:

Kathryn Ho does some actual research:  THE ANTI-PLACEBO EFFECT?

Karen wonders (and asks “The Straight Dope Science Advisory Board”)

Dear Straight Dope:

I’ve always wondered about any anti-placebo effect. For instance, I am skeptical that zinc lozenges prevent colds, but if they do, I sure want them to prevent mine, but I am worried that my skepticism will negate any real effects. So, is there an anti-placebo effect?

 Short answer: “Yes”.  Long Answer: read the column here.

 And, “Vaughan” writes in Reverse psychology in a pill: anti-placebo:

You may be aware of the placebo effect, where an inert pill has an effect because of what the patient thinks it does. You may even be aware of the nocebo effect, where an inert pill causes ‘side-effects’. But a fascinating 1970 study reported evidence for the anti-placebo effect, where an inert pill has the opposite effect of what it is expected to do.

It appears that the effect is likely real.

So, even if you love your Quack diets and treatments, there’s no point trying to win your skeptical friends over.  Whether they work for you or not, and whether they work via the placebo effect or not, it is likely to fail for a skeptic because of  the anti-placebo effect.

Not so good at math

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I’m a sucker for tricky math problems, and for nifty illustrations of human psychology (what other kind is there?)

Seth Godin posed a good one last week:

Not so good at math

A simple quiz for smart marketers:

Let’s say your goal is to reduce gasoline consumption.

And let’s say there are only two kinds of cars in the world. Half of them are Suburbans that get 10 miles to the gallon and half are Priuses that get 50.

If we assume that all the cars drive the same number of miles, which would be a better investment:

  • Get new tires for all the Suburbans and increase their mileage a bit to 13 miles per gallon.
  • Replace all the Priuses and rewire them to get 100 miles per gallon (doubling their average!)

Trick question aside, the answer is the first one. (In fact, it’s more than twice as good a move).

We’re not wired for arithmetic. It confuses us, stresses us out and more often than not, is used to deceive. [PS here are some reader-contributed explanations for those still lost: Charlie, and Nariman.]


The trick to understanding this problem is to focus on the gallons, not the miles. Change Miles-per-Gallon to Gallons-per-Mile and normalize for miles driven.

As a political snipe, which program would our Politicians be most likely to sell? Most able to sell?

The largest dead snake ever found, over 50 feet.

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

My son directed me to this video – a snake of titanic proportions.  It’s really rather startling.

When you are finished, you may hang up, or press one for more options.

Friday, August 21st, 2009

When you are finished, you may hang up, or press one for more options.

Yes, thank you.  Here in the 21st century, we all know what to do after leaving a voice mail message.

David Pogue examines these annoying voice mail tagalongs and droning menu options in ‘Take Back the Beep’ Campaign – Pogue’s Posts Blog –

The conclusion is not surprising (they do it for money), but the magnitude is.

“If Verizon’s 70 million customers leave or check messages twice a weekday, Verizon rakes in about $620 million a year.” — just from the excessive windage.

How much is a trillion dollars?

Friday, August 21st, 2009

 Thanks to I Hate The Media for this simple, graphic illustration:

Blogging in my sleep

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

I spent much of last night planning a post.  Sadly, when the time came to actually get up and do it, my enthusiasm for the subject drained away.  It involved something about photographs of email chains. about something interesting.

It is interesting how the big (or last) thing on my mind when I go to sleep often takes possession of my dreams.

Why does dream stuff seem to drain away like fog in the morning?  I read an interesting theory in Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware. Dreams live in the right (or Rich) brain – the creative half.  Language lives in the left (or Logical) half. The two halves cannot communication effectively with each other, especially in men.  As soon as you start explaining or analyzing the dream stuff, the L brain activates and chokes out the R brain — and the information it is trying to examine!