Sunday, February 24, 2013


So, last Tuesday sucked. I was trying to get some work done when the power went out. I thought maybe we'd just missed the bill... except that Kat has that on autopay, and her account's not dry. After digging out a paper phone book, like in the olden days, we got hold of the power company and got an automated message indicating that they expected to have power up in a few hours.

I'm diabetic, and it went out about half an hour before I was supposed to eat... and there was basically nothing to eat in the house that didn't require a stove or microwave. My car isn't in the best of shape right now, and I can't afford to have it looked at, so I only felt safe traveling on foot.

I thought about walking to a nearby store, but our entire zip code was down. The whole thing was quite the spectacle: the news covered it in this article.. (We were in the very special zone that didn't have power back for good 'til after 9 PM.)

So I dug out the old phone handset and called my friend Mike. I asked to just go over there and play board games for the afternoon. Figured a power outage was as good an excuse as any to be sociable.

I hadn't been to his house for a while. His dad Mac's got this big dog Sadie who... she used to just bark and bark and bark ceaselessly. The last time I came over to his house though, she tried to bite me. They promised to keep her on a leash whenever company was by, but I didn't feel comfortable going there much anyway.

So it'd been a while.

We went to the store first to make sure I had something for lunch, what with the low blood sugar. Then we went to his place.Mike went on ahead so they could get her secured. Tied, I imagined. He came out and waved me inside. As I got to the door, Sadie got loose and charged me on the porch. Mike got knocked down physically, and he's not a small guy. She's a large animal. She bit my leg on the thigh, then got past me. She bit me again on the calf, wrecking my pants.

My hands were full of grocery bags, and even if they'd been empty? I don't carry a gun or a knife or anything. All I could do was kick her. So I kicked her square on the nose a few times. She ran further into the yard.

At this point, I was ready to kill. I yelled at the stupid mutt. I tried to think about what I could use to fight back in the yard - all I could come up with was finding a loose brick or rock to bash her head in. I was good with that. My pants were coming down, though. She tore the right leg on 'em wide open, and they didn't want to stay up.

It's been my observation that action in real life is rarely dignified, but chasing a mad dog in my underpants without any real plan was a little much without even having lunch. So when Mac said to go inside so he could secure her, I went in.

It came out I was the third or fourth guy Sadie had tried to attack - nobody was quite sure. I'm the first one she'd actually drawn blood on, but she went after the UPS guy every chance she could get, and nearly took a chunk out of a moving guy recently. There was a lot of speculation as to why: it wasn't as simple as 'brown men,' because apparently one of the others had been white.

I said that I only wanted one thing. Not money. Not a trip to the ER. Not new pants. I didn't want to make financial trouble for them because Mike and I have been friends since middle school, and I didn't want to saddle them with a big hit over what I thought was just an accident. They're better off than I am, but even a brief hop into the medical system can be very bad.

Besides which, Mac's also very, very ill. As someone who is also pretty sick, I just... didn't want to cause him undue emotional stress.

So I said all they had to do was get rid of the dog. It was clear Mac couldn't control her at all: I was bleeding, Mike was literally bowled over, and we were only lucky Kat wasn't hurt. The situation was plainly not handled, and all I really wanted to know was that neither I nor anybody else would get hurt again.

The best fix for an accident isn't payback or revenge, but to make sure it doesn't happen twice.

I explained that, or did the best I could to. I suppose words like, "I will kill the dog if I see her again" were mentioned. I was shocked and hurt. I did make it absolutely clear that I didn't blame anybody for it. My take was that the dog was obviously more dangerous than they'd realized.

Honest mistake, I figured.

Then we all noted it was lucky that I was the one who got hurt, because I had the presence of mind to defend myself and wasn't going to sue them into the Dark Ages.

The cuts on my leg are not scratches. If I'd gotten knocked down and Sadie had done similar things to my neck, I could've been killed. I shudder to think what might've happened to my hands if they had not been full.


They agreed what I asked for was completely reasonable. The words, "There's no coming back from that," were said to me.

Mac and Merri - Mike's mom - took Sadie to the vet to have her put down. When they came back, it turned out that there's a mandatory 10 day watch on any dog who bites a person to make sure they don't have rabies. We all knew the dog didn't have rabies, but given what that illness can do to people, I guess it's good there's zero tolerance there.

I was in pain, but I figured it was water under the bridge... and I am, unfortunately, no stranger to pain. Simple enough to downplay it with my prior experience. So I sat and played board games and had dinner and generally tried to talk about anything else to let everyone get past it.

We'd all done the right thing, or so I thought.

... then I found out, a few days later,  that it wasn't. Mac's been all over Facebook talking about how awful it is that he has to give up his dog, and finally settled on some crazy scheme to take her to dog school for a few weeks. There was also a lot of talk about how the dog wouldn't hurt anybody innocent, of course. Not children. Nobody who didn't have it coming. Someone in his extended family had the nerve to say I had it coming, something about how 'dogs have great instincts, and it's the idiots who need training.'

Sadie needed to be restrained in the company of guests, not held on a leash by a frail and irresponsible old man, but I'm the one who made a mistake.

Of course.

And I'm no longer welcome in their home. I made it very clear it was me or the dog. He didn't have the nerve to come out and tell me. The matter is just implied. I dropped him a very, very upset e-mail demanding to know how he could do something like that last night, but he didn't even have the good grace to be ashamed for what he did, or what he allowed to happen under his roof.

I also feel horrible knowing that while I can write Mac off - and the last I intend to worry about this is right after I file a police report on Monday morning - a lot of people in his life can't. Mike's stuck there until he can get another job and flee..

And that's really the worst part.

My leg hurts, but it's hurt worse.

It hurts knowing there are people I have known since middle school who can say, without any shame, "It's lucky only John got hurt." I've had worse betrayals.

The thing that hurts the worst is knowing there isn't a thing I can do to keep someone else from getting hurt because Mac Knight can't train, restrain or - in the end - dispose of an animal.

After edit:
Merri should in no way be construed as participating in this. She insisted on paying to replace the pants anyway, and was pretty clearly distraught that something rotten happened to me. Mike's stuck in the middle, with the unwelcome news that a dangerous dog will be returning to his home regardless of what she might do to him or his guests.

This one's all Mac.

Just wanted to clarify that.
A final update:

Mac did write to respond to my e-mail this morning. I'm reproducing a it here without permission because it was decent, and I wanted to try to be fair:
I'm so sorry this ever happened. I did not decide to try to bring her back until I consulted with several behavior experts. She will be getting extensive retraining, perhaps as long as two years. I will have the responsibility of ensuring she is never put in a position again where she could hurt someone.
I know this is not acceptable to you. She is also a member of my family and I had to look into the possibility of behavior modification before condemning her to death.
This dog has been my baby for nearly five years. She has kept me going when I felt like giving up due to my disease. I owed her a non-hasty decision, even according to the vet at the clinic.
I know this is not acceptable to you. I was bit by my back neighbor's dog last winter and I know how it hurts.
I would expect you will stay away while I have Sadie and I understand that. Again, I offer to cover you if you feel a need to see a doctor.
I don't believe there us anything I can say that will make this better, so I'm done trying.
I disagree with this decision because the situation was allowed to get so bad to begin with. I think she's too large and aggressive to handle this way, and that even if it is possible, it should've happened after a close call, rather than an incident.

For what it's worth, if she stays, I hope it works out. I don't want to be 'proved right' or anything else horrible. I don't trust that it'll work out, but I hope it does.

Anyway, I think I'm done talking about it. We've all decided what we have to do for our own peace of mind. Nothing else to do but do it.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I'm not feeling very well tonight. The AC iced over, and there's no hair dryer. So, I'm taking a break from my regularly scheduled Friday night goofing off to offer a public service announcement. Figure it'll keep me distracted from my troubles.

We've all seen one of these, I'm guessing:

Would you like to know more?

The majority of Americans probably skip right past these. They're a little complicated, and... really, who cares?

Except that a lot of people need this information to live. Diabetics have to read everything, count their carbs, check for bleached white flour. Rice. Potato. According to a casual Google search, diabetes affects about 8.3% of Americans, and diabetics need to know what's in every meal they eat. Forever.

It's possible to have allergies to all sorts of things. Another casual Google search suggests that many of the most dangerous allergies are food related, including peanuts, shellfish, dairy, soy, wheat and eggs. Consequences of eating the wrong thing can range from discomfort to death. Someone with a peanut allergy can be in for some real hard times, if they eat some.

People with heart conditions have to watch their salt, their cholesterol...

A lot of people need these things, even though the majority of people never do more than glance at them.

The only reason that we have them is government regulation. See, gathering and distributing this information is not free - it's a cost on businesses. Successful businesses are about minimizing costs. This is also information that a business may prefer to keep quiet, because people might choose to avoid their product for a competitor's with a little less sugar or a little less fat.

If you don't believe me, take a look at booze the next time you're at the store. Alcoholic beverages get a pass on labeling, and as a result? They don't do it. I can immediately know what's in a can of Coke or Pepsi or even Fred's Choice, but I don't have that same information when I pick up a can of beer or a bottle of rum.

The only difference is the law.

This whole thing has a long history, too. The FDA didn't happen overnight. People died before we got the rules we have now. Things were, in fact, pretty gross in the time of small government *.

I've heard a lot of talk about how efficient businesses are. How we should 'run government like a business.' I was recently forwarded an e-mail talking about 'taxmageddon,'  and how government was 'strangling' business and 'crushing' taxpayers, and...

Well, it was all very colorful. But here's the thing:

When a business succeeds, it's visible. We know Coke is doing very well. They have a ton of money, and they spend a lot of it telling us how great they are. The success of a business is readily quantifiable and spread around.

When a business fails, that's when things are quiet. Some guy opens a restaurant down  the road and it flops? You probably never even heard of it. That's part of why it failed. And they do fail all the time.

Government doesn't work like that. When a government program flops, you can bet someone is going to tell you. And the truth is, government screws up a lot. It's a human institution, and humans are all about mistakes.

When government works, though? Good government is pretty invisible, apart from going to the Moon or something. Part of the fun is that we can take it for granted. The good the FDA does is preventative: there's no way to tell how many people would've gotten sick or died without them. I couldn't tell you that.

All I can say is that I'd be one of the bodies.

The next time someone talks about small government for the sake of small government - rather than offering a nuanced critique of a specific policy? Try to remember food labels, and take a minute to think about all the other things government does that we don't talk about, because we're free to take them for granted.

Then maybe think about how to fix what's specifically wrong with government, instead of just forgetting the whole thing and returning to a veritable jungle **.

* The Jungle is an amazing read. It's a novelization, but it's based on Upton Sinclair's own experiences, and is held to be a major contributing factor in the FDA existing at all.

People really lived like that in this country.

** No, seriously, read it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Out of Sync

*dusts off the old blog*

I spend a lot of time thinking about this place. It's part of why I update so irregularly - I want the things I say to be accessible to the people who are, (at least hypothetically), reading them.

It's a bad habit for a writer to be in, even an amateur like me.

I come by it honestly, though. I've spent most of my life having difficulty communicating what I think and what I know.

Part of that is simply that I'm very bright. A favorite story of mine about my teen years was the time I skipped from 2nd to 4th year Japanese, while teaching myself Latin. I kept my Japanese notes in Latin for a while, just to maximize study time for both. All this, while managing a full International Baccalaureate course load. I held a B+ average for that program, despite being a very brooding and depressed teenager, and piling on extra things like that.


And I know how that sounds: "I'm super smart, and everyone else is too dumb to understand me!"

I don't mean that at all.

My point is that most people learn to socialize as children. They play with other kids, learn how to get along together. They get a sense for acceptable behavior, figure out how to read unspoken social cues and other very important skills for interacting with people and sharing ideas.

If you're smart enough, you lack a proper peer group at that critical age. Other children are too slow and limited to be interesting. Adults are better, and when I was very young, I mostly leaned on them for human contact... but they're a different species. A smart child is not a miniature adult. The gulf of experience is too wide. When you're that age, you can't even map the differences.

So if you're smart enough, you miss out in a vital skill set.

I know: I did.

Worse, being smart can be an obstacle to learning what to do. When you're smart, you're used to being right. You go to school, and you know the answers. You solve problems more quickly than everybody else. You remember things better. You correct people a lot. It's easy to get caught up in the notion that everyone else should be doing things your way, rather than accepting some need to change yourself. The whole 'everyone else is stupid' thing?

It's seductive.

I know about this one too. I felt like that as a kid. Indeed, I only escaped it because of an epiphany in the 8th grade. I didn't talk to the other students at my middle school much. They were mostly nice kids, and looking around FB, I think they mostly grew up to be very fine people.


We just... didn't have anything to talk about at the time.

Well, one day? I realized that by the time I was grown up, all the people I actually spoke to would be old. My classmates would be running the show. You know, like they are today. I also realized that they would have no real incentive to bridge the gap. It didn't matter what a special snowflake I was, they would never even know. The rest of them had each other. There was no pressing need for them to tease me out of my shell. (I should note that a few did try. The problem was not that I was surrounded by jerks. They were good kids.)

I realized that if I wanted to be a part of the world, a world that would belong to them, I'd have to figure it out myself.

I'm still working on that. I always feel like I'm about a half step out of sync with the whole world, forever bumping into things nobody else would stumble on. Indeed, I mostly see my life as a struggle to solve this. The language thing I mentioned above isn't just idle boasting: I was trying to get a handle on this at the time. I wondered what you could learn about societies from how they used language*. Latin and Japanese weren't the only ones I took a stab at, either - I learned that Greek has irregular nouns, Czech has sounds I didn't know existed and cannot replicate, and Gaelic is just an all around pain. :)

That has gotten easier with age. Life experience helps. Time helps. However, it's still hard to know how to navigate this, some days.

... and so sometimes, I don't talk at all. Particularly if I regard it as important.

I'm going to talk about some other problems with this a different time. Maybe soon, maybe in a year - whenever I settle on an approach I'm happy with. In the meantime, if anybody is still reading this, thanks.

As an aside: language differences really are fascinating. Just learning how and when to be formal in different cultures offers a lot of insight into what people value or fear, I think.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Letting Go

Hello to my loyal and patient handful of readers. On the writing front, the novel Of Questionable Veracity is almost ready to start gathering rejection letters. Kat's made a huge editorial pass, and a loyal circle of readers have made other contributions about the plot, tone, characterization and so forth. Everyone has been tremendously supportive.

*waves to his friends*

I'm terrified anyway, of course. Particularly because the story arc stands incomplete: I have rough drafts for two sequels awaiting similar editing, but I need one final book to finish the whole thing. I know how it all needs to wrap up, but not having the draft in hand makes me so very nervous.

*deep breath*

With all that fear, I'm doing what any reasonable person would do in the 21st century: I'm blogging about something else.

As previously discussed, I'm agnostic. Once upon a time though, I was Catholic. I went to a school with real live nuns from 5th to 8th grade. I was an altar boy too, one of only two in the church. Rang the big bell, carried the big cross up in the procession. Got to swing the incense. How I left is a story for another day, I suppose. At the rate I update this blog, 'never' is a distinct possibility. ;)

What's on my mind today was a story that I heard there, though. I apologize for not having all the details, as this was over twenty years ago:

Once upon a time, there was a man who loved Texas. It was his home all his life. He had a ranch and cattle, and really? Nobody could blame him. Upon his deathbed, all he asked for was to have a handful of soil from his ranch to take with him, wherever he was headed. His family obliged.

When he died, he found himself at the Pearly Gates, facing Saint Peter. Peter told him that he'd been a good man: gone to church, done right by his family and neighbors. He hadn't lied in any terrible way, he hadn't stolen anything. Peter said that all he had to do to step into Heaven was to let go of the handful of soil in his hand, as nothing of Earth could be taken inside.

The man said that it couldn't truly be paradise without a piece of home, and politely refused. He had a seat on the cloud outside, and... time passed. Eventually, his children lived and died, and they passed on to Heaven too. His daughter took a moment at the gate to plead with him to come with her, but he refused.

And so the man sat, forgotten and alone. He would've stayed that way forever, but one day, his hand slipped. The soil fell from his fingertips. He looked down in shock, and Peter swept him into Heaven.

Inside, the man found Texas, just as he'd left it. I forget if the storyteller mentioned him crying or not, but I imagine he probably did.


As linked to above, I don't believe in Heaven. I'm not concerned about all of that in the least. I like the message here, though: holding onto something that's broken can keep you from finding it again.

This has been on my mind because I lost a friend about three weeks ago. We'd known each other ten years. Been through thick and thin. But the past couple years were very bad, and I knew we couldn't be in touch forever. I stayed as long as I could stand anyway. Held on for dear life, like I do sometimes.

It only made stuff worse. Walking away has been good enough that I almost feel guilty. Despite our differences, I hope that my former friend feels the same.

Just wanted to share that, in case anyone else has a burden that they're not sure how to handle.

Thursday, March 10, 2011



I meant to write about this on or about Valentine's Day. You know, be all timely. As it turns out, I was busy doing the most romantic thing I could think of for my girlfriend instead, (Hi, Kat!). Then, I was busy finishing up a complete rewrite of a novel that's been stuck in my head. The first rule of novels is that if you're not finished, keep writing. Darned thing won't write itself.

So I finished the novel earlier this week. One little sentence is still bugging me, with many implications, but it actually has to do with this blog I meant to write. I can justify a pause here as sorting some stuff out in my head.

If there's one thing that the 21st century seems to be pushing, it's the notion that everything's better with an audience. :)

So. Like the subject line and the Valentine's Day lead-in indicate, this is about love. There's a lot of confusion about love in our culture. It's a vague, vague word, you know. Normally, we're not supposed to be so ambiguous in our meaning. Like, if you asked me to describe the Atlantic Ocean, a cactus and your mom, I could say, "Well, they're all mostly water."

It'd be technically correct, but it's a ridiculous thing to say.

Despite that, I can say: "I love chocolate," "I love a good book," "I love my girlfriend," "I love my family," and nobody seems to think that it's odd. We all take it on faith that we understand each others' underlying nuances when making those statements, and then we wonder how we fail. :)

In the name of clearing that up for myself... a few thoughts:

The first is that I love Dune, and I love Kat, and on the one hand, those feelings have about as much in common as a cactus and the sea, (I'll leave your mom out of this, from here on out).

Dune is a jaunt away from real life. You get to spend a little while somewhere else. Someplace where interesting things happen, and maybe you learn a valuable lesson about something-or-other. (For instance, Dune taught a lot of us that if you walk without rhythm, you won't attract the worm.)

Kat is someone I spend ungodly amounts of time with: we talk, we do stuff. We help each other. We're building a life together.

In either case, I appreciate them for what they are. I don't wish they were something else. I don't read Dune and think to myself, "This is fine, except that there aren't any giant robots." I don't look at Kat and think to myself, "Man, if only she had red hair."

I like them. Just as I found 'em. To me, that's the basic, water like commonality inherent to all love, whether it's for a friend or a piece of chocolate.

Of course, this leads to the second big problem, here:

In aggregate, people are meant to be together. We are social animals. The greatest man or woman in the world still couldn't accomplish what they do without the help and support of others. We all get lonely, and none of us could do everything needed to sustain ourselves with a decent standard of living, (although that's a blog for another day).

In the specific, though... no pair of human beings were actually meant for each other, no matter how well they get along. No married couple was 'born to be together.' We come with different desires and baggage and a million barriers to getting along, especially in a space as close as 'the same bed every night.'

Kat and I had a brief fight about something stupid yesterday. Didn't last and it didn't matter, but it did happen, and we're so sweet that I'm pretty sure we disgust casual passers-by.

The whole thing takes work.

Of course, we don't like to talk about it in those terms because it sounds sort of horrible. Like, if I say, "Baby, I love you, I just have to really put my back into being around you," well...

Doubt there's anybody here reading this who doesn't know me, but that's one of my problems getting along with people: I almost always tell the truth, but I have a gift for making it sound a lot worse than it is. It's why becoming an economics major was such a good fit for me: I'm sure I could make 'profits rose,' sound like an excuse to jump off of something. (That's the great thing about economics: it probably still is.)

I don't mean this in a bad way, though, so I'm going to stretch a little and try resorting to a metaphor, here:

Having a relationship with someone, whether it's sexual or friendly, close or distant, is a lot like sharing a garden with them. You have this shared space, and it's, you know, nice. At the minimum, you can come in and smell the flowers. If it's a really nice one, maybe you can pick some fruit.

In one manner of speaking, the whole thing is free. There's no charge for admission. You don't pay a dollar to pick an apple. That would make the whole arrangement something unsavory instead.

However, that doesn't mean that a garden bears no cost or responsibility: gardens need to be tended. You have to weed and water and plant and make sure there's enough sunshine, or the whole thing will be ruined. More than that, if one person does too much of the work, they'll get bitter and kick their partner out. People have different strengths and weaknesses, too: maybe one person likes to dig, and one person likes to weed.

More than that, you have to agree about what goes in it: there's no one flower bed that would work for every two people, and the only way to figure it out is to ask.

So that's why I wasn't here with bloggy things to say on Valentine's Day: I was gardening, so to speak. Kat had a new video card, but she doesn't really know how to install them. I do, but I hate mucking around inside of computer cases, and I'll admit that I was putting it off. So I took her computer apart, and that's what we did: we figured out how to get the stupid thing working together, and now she has it.

Another girl might've wanted flowers and dinner, or a movie. If I were with a girl like that, that's what I would've done. This is what Kat actually wanted, though, and she's still all tickled about it.

It was a good day.

Oh, one final thought, while I'm on the topic of 'things I love and why:'

My dear friend Denise plugged my blog just recently, and I wanted to do the same. Not as a quid pro quo, but because I really love what she's done with the place. It's funny and honest, which are my two favorite things. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

R-dy R R

Hey, all.

So, I haven't been by in some time. Sorry 'bout that - you know, to my four loyal readers. :)

I spent winter break taking a class on a scripting language called R. That was a kick: two weeks to try and learn the language, the basics of LaTeX (a typesetting system), and how to get the two to talk to each other via a process called 'Sweaving.'

Also, as 8 days are such a long time: introductory spatial statistics.

Needless to say, this didn't go as planned. We all tried very hard: I pulled a lot of sessions staying up 'til midnight, and I was far from alone. The instructor's wife had a nightmare that he was cheating on her with a woman named 'R,' from what I heard. Part of the trouble was that everyone was deficient somewhere:
  • Poor Professor Rogers had never even taken a computer programming course before
As a result, he wasn't expecting all the difficulties with different machines. We had Macs, Windows XP through 7, etc. Not everything worked the same on every platform, naturally. I warned him this would never get better, with systems constantly changing. (One poor guy had a tiny little Asus machine that couldn't run the regressions for our final project.) We could use the school computers for R, but not LaTeX/Sweave.
  • The class only required entry level econometrics to get into, so all the students were unprepared in some required area.
For most of them, it was computer programming experience. I actually had the most experience in that area, which is a scary thought. Nobody else really knew anything at all, and I used to doodle games on my TI-85, way back when. (I did get the little thing playing Tetris, but I'm not exactly a code monkey. Never really did anything with C++ or anything, and all my exploits are over a decade old.)

In my case, the weak spot was econometrics: I hadn't even heard of most of the techniques we were supposed to be expanding on, while most of them were comfortable there. Lots of Criminology PhD students. I guess they do that stuff a lot.


Needless to say, I had a blast. It was just like old times: obsessive focus on a single subject, no time for anything else. Didn't write. Barely remembered to eat. Loved it. I think I was the only one who did. I have some fellow students in the current term who are all treating it like a traumatic experience.

Now that it's over, I'm continuing to try and learn about all this on my own, and just wanted to post about it here, (partly as a reminder to myself to actually come here and post more).

I'm trying to learn some of the basics of social network analysis, just for kicks. I found an online textbook, and my beginning project has been to try and map out the connections between the people who play on my girlfriend's favorite MUSH. They maintain a wiki for it here.

So far, I have learned enough to construct a simple adjacency matrix and run some plots of it. I haven't had time to make them pretty, but here are a few samples of what I've done just to peek:

For the more technically inclined, I stripped out vertexes that didn't have at least one two-way connection to another vertex, just to keep the scale manageable. Looks worse with isolates included, and it's hard to zoom properly in the rgl window.

The end goal is to try and embed the 3d object in a pdf, but that appears to be dishearteningly complex with the tools at hand. I have created an R script to just peel the links out of any arbitrary html page, though, so that's something. I could maybe create the crayon version of a spidering/pagerank system, between the two elements. (I'm not sure if it's obvious there, but I scaled the node size by the number of edges connecting to it.)

Anyway, I hope to be back with more stuff soon. I've been writing, too, now that I'm free. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


So, I was talking to a dear friend of mine about... well, you know, random friend stuff, when this exchange came up:

I guess you can't really put a price on the love of a child (though I'm sure Futurama made a reference to it.)

... Actually, you totally could.

The way you do it experimentally?

You would have to determine what people are willing to give up for the love of a child. For instance: a promotion? A car? Etc.

That puts a dollar value on a child's love the same way it does on a Big Mac - you can completely quantify it. Of course, each child's love is a highly differentiated product due to physical, locative and branding concerns along with the unique preference sets of each adult, so it would be hard to make, like, predictive models. But on a small scale, it totally holds up.

Probably all four people reading this blog already know that I'm very close to a Bachelor's of Science in Economics, having jumped ship from Accounting.

Here's the funny thing about it, though:

Nobody seems to really understand what economists actually do. We get lumped in with business guys, because, hey, we all wear suits and talk about money a lot.

It's a whole different thing, though.

Economics is the formal study of choice: that is, how people should allocate resources when they want more than they have. Money's a useful way of comparing two unrelated things, (in fact, this is one of the required properties of anything to be money), but it's really not the point.

Anyway, one of the most fundamental concepts in the whole field is that of opportunity cost.

You can always tell what something is worth to a person by what they're willing to sacrifice in order to have it.

Anyway, I'd better get back to the grind, but I wanted to share that thought while it was fresh in my head. I'll try to share more detailed thoughts about economics later. Oh, and do the other blog entries I promised about narrative. :)