Friday, October 1, 2010

Cinnamon and Spice

There are four teenaged boys in my house.
They just played taste roulette. (Five liquids on the counter. Four are nasty. One is sweet.) Poor new guy had 3 seconds to choose which one to lick.

He licked up balsamic vinegar.
Could've been worse.

Then they moved on to embarrassing the new guy into swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon (And we all know how that turns out. This has happened a number of times in my kitchen and each time I think someone is going to die.) I will never forget Max's friend, Jon, opening wide enthusiastically for a huge serving of cinnamon, inhaling deeply as he shoved it in his mouth. It was classic. I was ready to take him to the hospital...

Anyways, Andrew (Drew's friend) was not as willing a participant as Max's friends had been (Andrew is a pretty smart cookie) (not that Max's friends weren't smart too, but...) and I intervened because it sounded like bullying to me. In the end, Drew confessed that he has never done it himself. One of the benefits of being the youngest, I guess. He watched both his older bros and their friends do stupid human tricks and got the gist of how it works.

Long story short? All 4 boys took spoonfuls of cinnamon out to the front yard and 'ate' it at the same time.

My life will be boring once this season in my life is completely done.

In other news, my other son, the older, maturer one that is going to university, posted one of his assignment answers on facebook. He's at SFU now, which is no UFV. Higher standards, greater expectations, fuller work load, harder markers, etc.

Imagine my pride when I read his answer and the teacher's/marker's response:

#3: explain to someone who is investing in the stock market, who has very little understanding of statistics; what standard deviation is in terms that they understand.
I’d say look: say you are a big time drug dealer and you have 10 guys dealing for you. You can sit back while they do all the work, maybe once in a while you have to get someone killed but really, its not a big deal. Things are going good. They all are bringing in money. Some are doing better than others. Jimmy works in downtown van so he’s pulling in 100 grand a month from college students who spend their parents money on anything but school. Frank though is out in mission and designer drugs aren’t so popular, so they just listen to Nickleback and smoke weed. That’s only 20 grand a month. But its ok that frank is pulling in less than jimmy because money is money right? You still get to roll in that balling Mercedes. Anyways say for fun you want to find out how much all ten of these guys bring in to you on average, because you like to keep records, in case you ever go to the feds. So you take those 10 big briefcases of cash each month and you find that on average, all ten of these guys will bring in 60 grand. This is your mean. Obviously Jimmy is more, frank is less but on average its 60 grand, or the mean is 60 grand. What would be nice, you think is if all your dealers were close to 60 grand. Because I mean, what if Jimmy gets arrested? BAM! You lose 100k a month! That’s bad news man you would need to have 5 franks just to make up for what jimmy was pulling in. no way. If everyone was pulling in close to what the average is, that’s way better. That way if frank gets shot, or jimmy get ratted out by his girlfriend, its not so big a deal. You know what I mean? You still are in a relatively good place, you aren’t depending so bad on your heavy hitters. So you think to yourself… jeez. Just how out of whack ARE all my dealers? Are they all over the place? Or are most of them pretty close to the average?, which would be really nice for security sake. So what you do, is you pay a statistics teacher to do some math for you. What he does, is figures out that hey Jimmy is 40 grand over the mean, which is 60 grand. And he finds out the Frank is also 40 grand away, but he’s below the mean. This stats teacher who you are paying good money to, does this for all ten of your drug dealers. He finds out that, on average your dealers are 30 grand out from the 60 grand mean. Hey that’s not so bad. Obviously Frank and Jimmy are extremes on either end but most of the guys slanging crack are a bit closer to the mean of 60 grand. So you know that your boys are usually 30 grand out, or they deviate from the average by 30 grand. This is your standard deviation. Now you know that if Jimmy starts really getting in with the clubs on Granville and brings in 150 thousand a month and Frank gets a DUI so he can’t sell as much, goin down to 10 grand: that 30 grand standard deviation you had before is gonna get a little jacked up. Its probably gonna grow to like 40 grand or something because these guys are selling such disproportionate amounts of drugs. This aint good. What if Jimmy OD’s off his own supply? 150 grand gone!? Man you aren’t secure in your income now, bro. you better be praying Jimmy has a guardian angel or something going on because a lot of your bank is coming in through him. NOW, if Jimmy and Frank were making real close to the 60 grand average like everyone else, your standard deviation would probably drop because things aren’t so high and low now. You dig? I’d say its probably best for you to have a low standard deviation; if everyone is bringing in 60 grand. Who cares if Jimmy gets shot? He’s not doing anything more special than anyone else in your cartel. That’s the way to be man. No risks. More security. Alright you got it? You see what I’m saying? Ok: your drug dealers are stocks, your drug cartel is that Capital Appreciation Fund and those briefcases of money is your investment. peace.

Dear Clint,

Not only is your below answer the funniest I have ever seen to this question or on any question in this course, it also shows a very clear understanding of standard deviation and statistics generally. Everyone deserves passes and that answer should certainly be worth some sort of bonus, but given your clear ability here, we also would like to see you do well in the course and keep up the consistent effort. Though it obviously must be encouraging to know that you would have a bright career in drug distribution management if everything else falls through.

Though it obviously must be encouraging to know that you would have a bright career in drug distribution management if everything else falls through.

... exactly what a mom wants to read. 


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what one of my essay questions is on my Psych midterm on Monday! These stat deviation things pop up everywhere - yuck. (Too bad I can't plagiarize). Thank Clint for increasing my understanding of the concept : )


Anonymous said...

That's awesome!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes there are just no words!