Category Archives: Leisure

Donut Math

I’m definitely playing too much of The Simpsons: Tapped Out these days. Eventually I’ll move onto other obsessions, but since I did some interesting math (and I hate throwing anything away that can be preserved digitally), I thought I’d share the results of a mathematical solution I came up with.

Donuts are the “premium” currency in the game – i.e. they’re what you can spend real money on, and they enable you to progress through quests and tasks more quickly as well as let you buy premium items, characters, and decorations. As you progress through levels, you earn bonus donuts until you reach level 939. After that, each “level up” gives you a choose-a-door option where you can win 1, 2, or 3 donuts. You can always spend $50k (in-game currency) to open up another package if you don’t like your first option, and there have been several lines of thought as to what the best strategy is to go for here. I went for a different tack – I already had more in-game dollars than I could ever spend, and placing a few bloodmobiles (the free-donut engine of choice among high-level TSTO-ers) would bring up several of these level-up bonuses in a row. Because I know time is my most precious commodity, I set out to figure what was the fastest method of getting donuts, regardless of the price in dollars.

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Inexperienced Biker

I appear to be a very inexperienced biker.  Back in high school, my parents and I would bike all over; we’d load up the carrier and try out trails, riding entire afternoons.  In college, I went through no less than 3 cheap Wal-Mart bikes.  The first rusted when I left it outside all winter.  The second, I abandoned at a rack somewhere on campus, and it was never seen from again.  The third… and this is when I really was trying to get back into exercising, when I really enjoyed biking around town… ended its life when I tried to go down a gully across from CyRide.  There was a rut at the bottom.  My front tire stopped cold… the rest of us: bike, mp3 player, me… went flying.  It bent the front fork (including suspension) and ruined that bike.

So, I’ve finally saved up and bought a ‘real’ bike.  Well, no $1500 professional-biker type a ride, but certainly not a Wal-Mart bike.  It’s nice and comfortable, and it’s crossover/hybrid tires move a lot faster than the mountain-bike tires I’ve always had before.  After I lamented that the front brake was a little off after I brought it home from Madison, my neighbor (thanks, Travis!) said, “well the back one will slow you down, but the front one is what really stops the bike well.”  Then he helped me get it working again.  Actually, that had nothing to do with the later incident, but Travis deserves a mention, since I got the same identical bike as he.

Anyway, last Saturday, I was invited to ride on Military Ridge trail with Ryan and Niha.  Since I haven’t regularly ridden for several years, I was a bit apprehensive, but I made it across town to their house without any problem, so I figured I was ready for at least a short ride on the trail.  We rode over to Pizza Hut where I got my trail pass (yes, you have to pay up here in Wisconsin).  The trail started just across the street.  I sped up crossing the street (it was a highway after all), but then didn’t realize the trail was so close until I saw Ryan slowing down right in front of me.

I could say I’m used to the cheap junk bikes without really good brakes; I could say Travis’s suggestion put off my fears of using the front brake on my extra-fast bike; I could call it dumb luck.  But overall, it was just pure ignorance and inexperience that caused me to mash both brakes as hard as I could.  The front tire stopped immediately, and I took a face-plant on the gravel road just inches from starting my first journey on the cross-Southern-Wisconsin trail.  Ow.

I cut up my knees pretty well.  I had been wearing biking gloves (Ryan and Niha were calling me such a serious biker) which probably protected my hands.  Later that day I found some cuts on my shoulder and stomach (so that’s why it hurt when I itched there!).  The bike’s none the worse for it; just a few scratches on the shifters.  All in all, it wasn’t that big of a deal; more of an embarrassment than a serious injury.  I’m looking forward to our next ride, where I’ll hopefully get to experience the trail itself.

But to add insult to injury, back home when I was in a bit of a daze (trying not to bleed on the carpet or anything), I slipped going down stairs and lost control of a thermos of coffee from that morning.  Thank goodness we have brown carpet. 🙂

New phone numbers

Amanda and I have new cell phone numbers now.  I’m kind of bummed out because the guys said there were a lot more 341 numbers available (which through a couple of translations I thought meant most of the 341 numbers were available), so we had a bunch of DIAL numbers picked out (DIAL-BEN, DIAL-ALF, etc).  Unfortunately, ‘most’ in this case meant only about 30%… none of which started with 5.

So we both have pretty random numbers (mine still ends in ‘BEN’ so that’s nice).  But another feature they didn’t tell us up front was that we couldn’t keep our calling plan (not a huge deal since we’ve learned can’t save anything since our plan is now the cheapest… ouch).  Plus within two hours of having my new number I received a wrong-number phone call.  *sigh*

Anyway, if you want the number, head over to the page page and ask for it (or be geeky and view the source for the page and figure it out yourself!)

I have internet!

We’re officially hooked up with Internet and TV in the new apartment. Oh yeah… and we’re back from Alaska!!

Yesterday seemed like a really long day… arriving in Chicago at 6:30am, which felt like 3:30 Alaska time. Then we tried to keep each other awake while we drove back to Farley, IA to pick up all the wedding gifts. After a brief nap and some lunch, we tripped up to Dodgeville, finally “home.” Whew, there’s still a lot of stuff in the apartment. I suppose I’m supposed to get at it right away…. *sigh*

My feet hurt!

That was a LONG walk we had to take to see the Mendenhall Glacier. (Two days ago in Juneau) Amanda and I were going to ride the city bus ($1.50 a ticket) to the local brewery, but while we were waiting for the bus, we met a young student who had been driving tours and said that the bus stopped near the glacier and told us some interesting tips about it. Since there was another couple on the bus already going to the glacier, we decided to go all the way out there and skip the brewery. We first heard it was about a 3/4 of a mile hike from the bus stop to the glacier…. then later it was a mile… then a mile and a half. Well, we made it anyway… got several good pics of the glacier, wandered around a bit, and made our way back to the bus stop. I complained for a fair bit of the way, but Amanda kept me moving. All in all, we made it out to the glacier for $6 rather than the $20 it would’ve cost for a tour shuttle.

Continue reading My feet hurt!

Capital of Alaska!

Hoy! That took a whole minute to login! Amanda says I’ll just have to type quickly.

We’re about half-way through our cruise and things are going very well. There have been a couple downers (including an incident which re-inforces my dislike of all things salad-y). Plus I’ve been fighting a cold since we got on the ship. Drugs are nice though, and Amanda’s been kind enough to put up with my sneezing.

Continue reading Capital of Alaska!

Touring the ship!

For 35 cents a minute, I can make really quick posts each day…. or maybe not. We’ll just see.

We got on the boat REALLY easily, and were in our stateroom within fifteen minutes from the taxi drop-off. The stateroom is kindof small, but I think it’s pretty nice. We’ve been touring the ship and are pretty impressed so far! Taking a bunch of pictures, some panorams, and movies. I think we’re in for a great time!

-Amanda and Benjamin

Married and out of the country!

Whee! We’re finally in the Coast Vancouver Hotel. I think God was teasing us, or at least testing us on trust. After leaving an hour after we had planned, yet still getting to Chicago an hour early, we had about two hours in the terminal before our 2:30 departure. Thanks to a problem with the plane, however we didn’t actually leave until 4. Just a bit stressful since we only had a 90-minute layover in Dallas. We got to DFW, found that the next flight (leaving in 15 minutes, on-time) was in a different terminal. God bless the Skylink…. the high-speed tram that got us to the gate just in time for final boarding call.

We made it through customs just fine and… YES!… our luggage made it to the new plane. Flights were very nice and smooth. Amanda did well for her first trip, even though we had a few tiny glitches! Well, I’m off!!!!

Exercise is Dangerous

Ow. So, probably a couple of hours ago I decided to head out on my bike and put in a good hour, if not more, of biking as I was so bored in the apartment and didn’t really have anything major to do.

I had planned to ride the trails that go just east of Elwood, but when I crossed Elwood and started riding along 6th, I noticed the trail I wanted was 20 feet over. So, like the shortcut-taking man that I am, I just rode down the small valley between the two trails. Unfortunately, the shadow from a tree was falling on a nice hole at the bottom of that valley. Since I was going fast to make it up the other side, I hit it at full speed. My bike stopped; I didn’t. I landed hard on my left shoulder as I watched my bike go flying over me.

I’m fine; well, a little (okay a lot) sore in my left shoulder, but nothing’s broken or cracked (or so “they” say at Student Health). Ice and Ibuproffen are my therapy. And no playing piano for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship tonight. As for the bike… the front fork is bent in a bunch and the wheel is, of course, nice and mangled. Big bummer since I had just gotten into the habit of biking to class and everywhere else I went. *Sigh* Only a few more weeks and then I’m out of here anyway. Thank you to my nice roommate Tom who picked me and my bike up and carted me over to Student Health.