Demystify

BYOD – Build your own deck

Or BOOD. Built Our Own Deck. Nah, BYOD sounds better.

Ever since we’ve moved into our home in Savage over two years ago we knew we had to get a deck. This wasn’t a wish list item for us: the dining room sliding door opened up into 4 and half feet of thin air. Quite a bit of work went into planning, designing and actually erecting the structure.

With this post I hope to bring some clarity to the whole process and maybe help someone who’s thinking about building their own deck. I’ve put down 7 steps which took me from the conceptualizing stage to the final end product.

Step 1: Start off with some idea of what the deck will look like

The size of the deck, the decking material, the brand, the colour. Don’t worry this will be just the first iteration, just to get the ball rolling.

The two sizes I was considering were 16’x16′ or 20’x14′. We knew that we didn’t want a deck that would require regular maintenance so wood (pressure treated wood) was out. Composite was the the way forward for us. Trex, Azek, TimberTech and Fiberon are the main players in the composite market, where “composite” is a mix of wood and plastic. The type of plastic and their percentage obviously vary by the respective proprietary formula used by each company, but the basic premise is this: since these aren’t wood products, yearly power wash and staining is not required. As for the colour, we wanted a lighter colour, which looks close to wood.

Step 2: Do lots of research

Learn (if you don’t already know; I didn’t) what the basic components of decks are: footings, posts, beams, joists, deck boards, ledger boards and so.

Look up videos on YouTube on how to build decks. This series of videos are perhaps the most comprehensive ones out there.

Try to narrow down the decking material you want to use. What separates an Azek from a TimberTech (incidentally both of these are now owned by the same parent company, CPG Building Products).  Are there other options out there? I came across BamDeck from CaliBamboo which uses a bamboo based composite, NyloBoard which uses 100% recycled carpet fiber – no wood, no PVC (but when I called them to inquire where their closest dealership is, they informed they were going out of business), Natural Composites which uses plastic and wheat (yeah, wheat). Got a couple of free samples of BamDeck decking delivered from California!

Read reviews, among others, at sites such as Houzz.

Step 3: Get quotes

Lots of them. Fine tune your requirements each time you meet with contractor, talk to them, get their opinion, receive their quote. I got quotes from 6 different places, ranging from established and referred-to local deck building stores, individual contractors and big box stores. This step will give you the best idea of what your dream deck is going to cost.

I’ve attached 3 quotes below just to give an idea of the range we were looking at. From almost $19K to $12K.

uglydeck quote

Quote from uglydeck.com

 

saleen quote

Quote from individual contractor – not including the permit

 

dsbahr quote

Quote from D.S. Bahr Construction

By the end of this step, I knew I wanted a 20’x14′, TimberTech Legacy Tigerwood decking, with a “picture frame” (border), stairs, risers and fascia of TimberTech Tropical Caribbean Redwood, with Westbury aluminum railings.

Step 4: Get hold of someone who will undertake the project on an hourly rate basis

Now, for most people the previous step will culminate with them signing a contract for one of the quotes, probably the lowest one, and then sitting back and enjoying while someone builds the deck for them.

I, on the other hand, wanted to build it myself. Let me take that back.  I wanted to build the deck with my hands, with someone along with me who knows what he was doing. Besides, when I sourced the materials myself the overall cost of the project was bound to be significantly lower.

Struck gold on Craiglist. Came across this individual who showcased his work (decks) with something along the lines of “I am willing to help homeowners how much or little they want me to”.

Once Pat came over and we talked, I knew that he would be the one helping me in building the deck.

Step 5: Get the permit

Once I got my rough drawing to Pat, he used a software to create detailed drawings that would need to be submitted to the city to get the building permit. We also went through a few iterations to create the list of materials, down to the nail.

Drawings – 1234

material list

Once you submit plan to city they will, in most cases, come come back with some questions. While some questions might be innocuous ones such as “what exact product from TimberTech will you be using?” to more arcane ones such as “are the stair handrails compliant to the IRC- R311.7.8 code?”

Step 6: Source the material

From TimberTech’s website I found the “Silver dealership” (no “Gold” ones in my area!).  All the dealerships were big lumber yards. Went down to the two closest to my place and with the material list, got quotes.

Scherer Bros quote  Lamperts quote

I was a little disappointed as the cost of the material was actually a bit higher than I had accounted for. When I had almost made up my mind to go with Lamperts, I decided to check out Dakota County Lumber, another Silver TimberTech dealership. DCL is a locally owned lumber yard based in Farmington, about 20 miles from my place, with no branches. But boy, glad that I made the trip! The sales guy Eric was a huge help, assisting in modifying – trimming down actually – the material list based on his experience. And when their quote came in, it was a no-brainer.

DCL invoice

Make sure to have the materials delivered at least 2 days before your intended start build date.

Step 7: Start building!

The plan was to have Pat and me take 2 full weekends (32 to 40 hours) with a third weekend as back-up. The first weekend we ended up having my father-in-law and my sister-in-law’s husband helping out on both days. Also Pat brought over his almost-adult son. The five of us put in 10 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday. The next weekend, my father-in-law came down to help again. Pat, he and I put in 9 hours on Saturday, and we were done. Complete.

The first Saturday when we started working at 8 am, the air temperature was 32 deg F (0 deg C), with windchill of 27 deg F. We started off with 3 layers of clothing and stripped down as the day wore on. The next Saturday was a balmy 60 deg F at 8 am going up to 80 deg F (27 deg C) in the afternoon!

____________________________________________________________________________________

Monetary cost of the entire project: $10,763

Non-monetary costs: Sweat, sun burn, pain in arms

Would I do it again: Absolutely

 

Here are some in-progress and finished pictures.

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ledger board on

IMG_6648

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Diamond pier footings in place, steel rods waiting to be pounded in

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Working a 35-lb demolition hammer is fun!

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deck boards going over the joists

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finished work

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Brinda loves the deck

Note1: Diamond pier footings blows away traditional poured-concrete footings. Check out videos here. I had to rent the electrical breaker hammer. DCL supplied the 1-1/8″ hex bit required with the hammer.

Note 2: If anyone in the Twin Cities area is interested to get Pat’s contact details, let me know. Most highly recommend him. His work ethic, love of the job, collaborative spirit and his honest & open persona makes him a joy to work with.

Categories: Demystify, Home | 3 Comments

Selling our old house

He had a harrowing – at times felt like nightmarish – experience selling our house in Brooklyn Park. All it took was 11 months, 4 purchase agreements, 5 closing dates, and 2 real estate agents to get it done. And none of this was because the house was priced too high or had anything wrong with it.

We put in the house in the market on June 4, 2015, listed at $X thousand. We had renters in there at that point and the idea was to get it sold off by the end of the month so that we won’t incur any costs after the renters moved out when their lease ended in the end of June. Wishful thinking!

We had an offer on June 16, 2015, at $(X-1)thousand. We had our 1st signed purchase agreement on June 17, 2015. The buyer had the home inspection done, it came back with a couple of things, we corrected both. On June 26, we hear from our realtor that the buyer did not qualify for mortgage financing and the deal fell through.

The house stays in the market for the next couple months. We get calls from Canada about someone wanting to buy all-cash, though at quite a discount. We decline. A couple of lowball offers; we decline. We are in October now; summer is gone and we are tense. We get an offer for $(X-18) thousand. We accept. Second purchase agreement is signed on October 6, 2015. This buyer seemingly is better qualified than the first one in terms of securing financing for the purchase. The buyer conducts their own home inspection; we “fix” (very little to fix as now the inspectors are running out of things to find) whatever they ask for. On Oct 14, 2015 we hear from our realtor and this is her exact email:

Well I just got a phone call from the other agent, it appears the buyer has had a nervous breakdown!!!!  Yes I’m telling you the truth.  You could hold her to the PA but I don’t think it is in your best interest as she wouldn’t show up to closing it sounds like.  It sounds like she is going to Seattle to seek help and family!  I have never has this much go wrong with a listing in my life!!!  Call me when you can!  I am so sorry!!!

We then decide to take the house off the market. Before we do, we get an offer of $(X-26)thousand with a closing date of January, 2016. We decline and take it off the market. I can’t find the exact date when we had a new listing going on but let’s say around mid November. During the next 3 weeks we have plenty of showings and “positive” response from different sets of buyers but no formal offer. By the second week of December we were desperate enough to get back to the offer of $(X-26)thousand that came in October and see if they were still interested. They were! On December 15, 2015 we sign our 3rd purchase agreement for $(X-26)thousand, with a closing date of January 29, 2016. This buyer incidentally wanted a radon test to go along with the home inspection. The radon test revealed that the radon levels were higher; we fixed that for $1,600. All good.

On January 27, 2016 we hear that they can’t close on January 29 because of a “stupid date thing”. We are assured that the buyer’s financing will take only a week more and we will close on February 5, 2016.

On February 4 we hear from our closing agent that they heard from the buyer’s title company that they had not heard from the lender. When our realtor talks to the lender it was found out that they buyer has to go through underwriting again! We go back and forth for almost 2 weeks before we finally pull the plug on February 23 and sign the cancellation for the purchase agreement. We expire the listing and say bye to our realtor with whom we’ve worked with for the past several months.

The weekend of February 27-28 we embark on finding a new realtor by interviewing 4 individuals we think have a good handle on the Brooklyn Park market. End up going with the realtor who sold the house next to our old place (the one we’re trying to sell). The new listing goes live on March 4, 2016. We have 3 offers by March 5. We sign our 4th purchase agreement on March 7, for $(X-20)thousand and have a closing date set of April 22, 2016. The end is near, but not quite yet.

On April 20, 2016 we hear that there is a “minor loan issue” holding up the closing scheduled for two days later. We get washed over with feelings of disbelief and bewilderment and déjà vu. Our realtor vehemently tries to assuage our doubts that this time will be different (she knows about what we’ve been through with the other realtor). New closing date set for April 28, 2016. We spend 7 days and nights in mental agony.

And we do finally close on April 28. A BIG, red-lettered day for us. Vivian and I take half the day off and after the closing we go with our realtor to a bar to celebrate the end of a particularly trying chapter in our life!

 

Categories: Demystify, Home, Life | 3 Comments

Garage shelving

Organizing the garage to utilize the space have been one of the ideas that we have been working on since we moved to the new place. We have so much junk stuff that not even a 3-car garage is sufficient to hold them AND be empty enough to work in!

Going through various ideas on DIY websites and YouTube, I decided on a flexible shelving system attached to the walls.  There are 4 components to these shelving systems: the hang tracks, the uprights, the brackets, and the wire shelves.

The uprights hang on the hang tracks’ ledge, the brackets fits into the slots of uprights and shelves fit snugly on the brackets to make the perfect storage system.

I used the Tough Stuff series for all the 4 components for its greater carrying capacity. Each 4′ shelf, hanging on 3 brackets, is supposed to hold up to 400 lbs. There is a price upcharge for the Tough Stuff but worth it when you figure in the load carrying capacity and durability.

For the most part it was nice and easy. Drill into the studs, ours were 16″ apart. Screw everything on to the studs. We really ran into trouble when affixing the shelves on the brackets, after the brackets were slotted into the rails. This is what the manual tells you.

tough stuff manual

But this will NOT work. The much easier way is to mark out the specific wires each of the brackets will go on. Then fix the brackets on the shelves first, and then attach the whole shelves-with-brackets on the uprights.

Here is a video of my father-in-law and I doing this last piece.

And here is the finished – and occupied – product.

20150117_192123

 

Tools you’ll need for this project: stud finder, impact drill, level, screws, marker, pencil.

I used one 80″ and one 40″ hang track. Four 70″ uprights and two 47.5″ uprights. Fifteen 16″ brackets. Five 48″x16″ shelves.

Categories: Demystify, Home, Tip | 2 Comments

Water Softener

Even before we moved to our new place, we knew that we needed to get a water softener system installed fairly quickly. The hardness in the Savage city water is around 19 grains, and anything over 10 grains is considered to be hard. (On a sidenote: The 19 grains is certainly not the hardest of water available for human consumption in the US. Places that use well water can have over 100 grains of hardness). We got quotes from Capones, Culligan, Kinetico, Lowe’s (Whirlpool tank-in-tank), and Home Depot (GE tank-in-tank).

Culligan and Kinetico are considered to be the “best” water softener systems that are available for residential use. I put the quotes around best because on further research, which I’m going to elaborate on below, these systems do have a better quality than the big box store brands, but their prices are nothing but absolutely ludicrous. You can build your own (superior) system for less than half the cost for a Culligan or Kinetico.

Before we dive into the various products available in the market, let’s take some time to understand what all factors we need to consider to build a water softener system.

First is, of course, the hardness of the water that we are trying to soften. You can get a test done to determine the hardness or use the data available from the city.

You need to consider a system which not only addresses your current needs, but also have the capacity to handle additional requirements, if you have a plans for a bigger family in the future or have frequent visitors who spend more than a day at your place. My suggestion is take the number of people in your current household and add 1 to it. The number of bathrooms you have in your house plays a role, but I’m a little circumspect of its importance. Let’s assume you have 3 person household and 3 bathrooms in your home. How likely is it that all 3 bathrooms will have someone taking a shower at the same time? Pretty rare, huh? More likely that 2 bathrooms might be occupied. My suggestion is to subtract 1 from the number of bathrooms in your home.

You’ll need to know the peak flow rate of the water in your home. Pretty easy to find that: take an empty 5 gallon bucket and place under your tub faucet, crank open both the hot and cold water, measure how long it takes the bucket to fill up. If it takes 30 seconds, your peak flow rate is 10 gpm (gallons per minute). If it takes 1 min, your peak flow rate is 5 gallons per minute. In most cities the average household peak flow rate will be between 7 and 11 gpm.

You can use this online calculator to input your numbers from the preceding  3 paragraphs.

Now we come to the components of the water softener system. Assuming we are going for salt based system, the primary component is (not the salt!) the resin. The resin is what removes the hardness (the Calcium and Magnesium bicarbonates) from your water. The salt (the 40 or 80 lbs. bags that you buy) is used to regenerate the resin when it has neared its low efficiency. The resin resides in the tall, cylindrical, metal tube. Since the resin is the most important part of the softening process, the size of the cylinder, and the volume of the resin required, are of utmost importance.

You will want to make sure that the maximum grains of hardness required to be softened by your system fits your needs.

The other very important component of the water softener system is the valve, or the control that will program and actually make the whole thing work. This control system sits atop the resin cylinder. Fleck is almost universally acknowledged to be the grand daddy of all valves available in the market. You can order a Fleck valve (and the whole system – resin, resin tank, brine tank, and connection)  at very reasonable prices at Ohio Pure Water.

Now we have looked at the factors that affect the water softening system and the main components that go towards making the system. How do we align these two? Let’s take an example.

We are a family of 3. Add 1, to get to 4. We have 3 bathroom; subtracting 1, we get to 2. We have a hardness of 19 grains and Iron level of 0.01 ppm. Using the online sizing calculator (and manipulating the “shower head flow rate” to arrive at a “peak flow rate” of 10 gpm), the tool tells us that we will need between 46,550-37,240 grains per week, depending on whether we are using a low or a high salt dosage. Since regenerating per week is a good idea, we can go for a system which will easily handle over 46,000 grains.

Let’s try this from a slightly different (but inherently same) approach.

19 grains of hardness, 4 people, 70 gallons per day per person water consumption on average.

So, that equals 19*4*70= 5,320 grains per day

We want to regenerate every 7 days, so the system needs to handle 5320*7= 37,240. Viola! We are at the same number, when regenerating with a high dosage of salt.

Take a look at the table below, or visit here.

With this, we can say that a 1054 system, with 1.3 cu. ft. of resin will do the job for us using medium salt dosage. (There is a trade-off with min and max salt dosage use. With min salt dosage use you’d use the most water, and with max salt dosage use you’d use the least water. Also with high dosage of salt, sodium in your water increases. So it is good to find a balance at the middle.)

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We have built the ideal system, so where to buy one now? Let’s go back to the 4 systems we got quotes from.

The Whirpool WHES44 at Lowe’s and the GE GXSH40V at Home Depot are almost the same price ($497/$488),  have very similar specs, and the valve for both is made by manufacturer Ecodyne, a company based out of Woodbury, MN. Lowe’s installation service is $199 and Home Depot’s $299. The city of Savage charges a one-time water softener permit fee of $49.50, which will be added on. You are looking at at around $750 to $850 for the whole thing. Additionally, the longevity of these tank-in-tank units is around 10 years, if you are lucky. A name brand (Culligan, Kinetico) or Fleck systems can easily last for 2 decades.

Culligan quoted us a 1040 (resin tank of 10″ diameter by 40″ height, with no mention of the actual resin volume) Medallist Plus for $1,998.50, including the unit, installation and permit fee.

Kinetico quoted us a 940 (resin tank of 9″ diameter by 40″ height ) Essential Platinum for $1,889, including the unit, installation and permit fee. The resin tanks actually holds a measly 0.6 cu. ft of resin!

I went to the Ohio Pure Water site and configured a Fleck 5600 SXT Electronic Meter with 48,000 grain capacity for $585. This would include 1.5 cu. ft. of resin, the 1054 resin tank, brine tank, 1″ stainless bypass valve, and delivery. I would only need to install it and pay the permit fee. Since I’m not a DIYer (I can follow “orders” from someone who actually know what they doing! I know enough to get myself into trouble, but not enough to get out of it!) I researched for a local reputable installer. On the recommendation of a neighbour I looked up Bob Sable. You can find him here and reviews here. Few of the reviews say that he even listens to your problem and gives out free, but pertinent and valuable, advice over the phone. I called him and we talked for around 10 mins. I asked him if I could meet him face to face and we fixed on a time later that evening. I went over to his place and we talked for almost an hour and half! I kid you not! In the end we came up with the same Fleck model, but from a local supplier. With installation, $798. And he didn’t even charge me anything for the consultation!

footnote: I also had Bob install a whole house filter. Total charge, including all units (water softener and filter), all connections, installation and permit came to $1,148.

water softener and filtration system

 

Categories: Analysis, Demystify, Home | 2 Comments

Cold weather wear

A blogger friend of mine had recently moved to the Midwest and, even after being in the US for a few years, was not totally prepared to face the wicked winter. That got me thinking. Maybe I should publish a cold weather clothing checklist that could be used by people to prepare themselves before they arrive in the cold.

Keep in mind that the cold I’m talking about here is sub zero Celsius (32 deg F and lower).

If you are planning to spend more than 5 mins in the cold, the following items will make it easier (note: you will not really be comfortable in your first winter!).

Let’s start from the very bottom …

– You’ll need a good pair of sturdy boots, preferably snow boots. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but I was culpable of not having one initially. (I still don’t have an actual pair of snow boots…)

– Woolen socks to go with the boots.  When you buy the boots, try it on with the woolen socks on – this will prevent you from buying your “regular” sized boot and not account for the thickness of the socks.

Moving up …the lower torso – waist down

– Start with your, you guessed it, underwear. Now if you are a woman, that’s the only piece of underwear you’ll need. If you’re a man, put on another pair of underwear. Why you may ask? Short answer, your balls will thank you. There is a biological reason men have scrotum outside their body. Basically the testicles are kept at a lower temperature than the body. Now, when you’re in a really cold temperature guess what happens? The testicles want to maintain their temperature and will get as close to your body as possible.

– Put on inner thermal pants.

– Your outer pants – preferably jeans or thick cords.

– Last one, I wouldn’t say this is necessary, but if you’re really cold, ski pants or  snow pants are the way to go. Now don’t buy them from India or California! Come to the cold place and see if you can survive without them. Ski pants are eponymous. They are worn by people who are skiing or snow boarding.  Snow pants are typically worn by people who work outside for a living, in the snow. I have a pair of ski pants that I put on when I’m out shoveling or going to a football (soccer) game or dropping Brinda off at daycare in the morning.

Moving further up ….upper torso

– Again, start with your underwear/undershirt.

– Put on a long sleeve t-shirt or thermal t-shirt.

– A warm woolen sweater or a cozy hoodie.

– Top it up with a down jacket. Make sure this is of a name brand such as North Face, Columbia, Timberland or such I’ve seen a  lot of Indians coming to the Midwest armed with a leather jacket as if the leather jacket is the only solution for cold. I’ve never had a leather jacket (for regular wear; I do have a leather motorcycle jacket). Leather jackets are expensive, bulky, sometimes smelly and do not offer as great of a protection than the down jackets.

– Warm gloves. Like the toes, these extremities feel the brunt of the cold and is very important to keep them protected. Now these might cost a pretty penny, but get one which has thinsulate/wool/fleece on the inside and leather (or some sort of substance other than wool) on the outside.

Ohkay! Upward north …

– A scarf (also known as a “muffler” to many Indians) will help prevent the wind from going into the layer of clothing you’ll be wearing.

– You need a good winter hat. A skiing hat or a trapper hat is a must. A warm head goes a long way in keeping in your body warm.

– Sun glasses, or ski glasses, will offer protection to your eyes.

– A balaclava ski mask (kind of like the Indian “monkey cap”) if you need nose protection.

And you are set!

In most cases, you won’t need to wear all the stuff mentioned above. Things starts to get dicey when the temperature falls to single digits, and then sub-zero (-12 deg C and lower). The good news is, it does get better in subsequent winters! The last time I wore thermals was 2 years ago when I attended an outdoor show for 3 hours in single digit temperatures.

Categories: Demystify, It only happens in Minnesota, Tip | 1 Comment

World Cup focus: Belgium

With the World Cup in the summer of 2014, and the teams that will compete in the WC becoming clearer, I’ll try to publish profiles of some exciting teams. This week – Belgium. Belgium qualified for the World Cup on Oct 11, 2013 by virtue of their win over Croatia, which landed them top spot in Group A of the European qualifiers.

Now, Belgium is not a team that is repeated in the same sentence as “World Cup contenders”  (in fact, at the time of drafting this post, they aren’t even guaranteed a spot in the World Cup. Currently they sit atop Group A in the European qualifiers, with 2 games to go. If they can get one point from their remaining 2 games, they will finish top of the group and automatically qualify. If they finish second, they’ll be drawn into a 2-legged playoff and can potentially miss out), but this current team is full of promise and talent. Take a look at this formation of the Belgium national team.

belgium team formation

Let’s start the back. In Simon Mignolet, the Liverpool stopper, they have a towering presence in goal. Mignolet is probably the best keeper in the Premier League right now, and has already made some superb saves for his new club. As a replacement, Thibaut Courtois is having a pretty good run with Atheletico Madrid.

In defence, Vincent Kompany – the Manchester City captain – leads this exuberant team. Kompany is easily the most experienced player in the team. Thomas Vermaelen, the now-fit-now-not-fit Arsenal captain, partners Kompany in central defence. If Vermaelen stays fit, this pair can be the bedrock on which the attack will be built on. Jan Vertonghen, of Tottenham Hotspurs, fills in at left full-back, and Toby Alderweireld from Atheletico Madrid at right full back. On the bench would be the veteran Daniel Van Buyten of Bayern Munich.

The midfield is a 3-man zone, with Moussa Dembélé (Tottenham) and Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) providing the cover for the defence and Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea) playing the role of the link up between the forwards. Backup in midfield would be Steven Defour (Porto) and Axel Witsel (Zenit). The midfield is probably Belgium’s weakest link. De Bruyne, though full of promise, haven’t had too much playing time under Mourinho. Both Hazard and Mirallas (mentioned below) could be brought in to strengthen the midfield.

It is in the attacking third that Belgium has an embarrassment of riches. The starting eleven would feature Eden Hazard (Chelsea) in a wide left position and Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) in the center/right forward. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) would be the focal point of the attack. All three have been in the prolific form in the last and current season. Ready to take the field as substitutes would be Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Nacer Chadli (Spurs), Dries Mertens (Napoli), the latest sensation Zakaria Bakkali (PSV Eindhoven).

Note: The latest latest sensation Adnan Januzaj (ManU) hasn’t yet agreed to play for Belgium.

What would your Belgium team look like?

Categories: Demystify, Sports | 2 Comments

Football, across the pond

Jason Sudeikis, from SNL, as an American coach of the English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspurs.

Categories: Demystify, Sports | Leave a comment

Magnitude of a loss, or a win

I have come to the conclusion that in events where there are winners and there are losers, the losing side or party or individual experiences MORE pain, than the winning side or party or individual experiences happiness or satisfaction.

In other words, the magnitude of the loss is more than the corresponding magnitude of the win.

The wins and losses that I’m talking about here are personal ones. Not the ones that you experience second, or third, hand. For example, let’s say you’re an Indian and you were overjoyed when India won the World Cup in 2011. Would you have been equally sad (as you were happy) if India lost in the finals? Maybe, but then maybe not. But let’s suppose you are Gautam Gambhir. Would you have been more crestfallen had India lost? I think so.

This “condition” generally does not manifest itself in situations where fortuitousness plays a greater part (like gambling, lottery)  in the outcome of the event than skill or hard work.

I come to this conclusion, after suffering my share of losses. In football (soccer) games, in the recreational leagues that I play in. It is a wonderful feeling to score a goal. But the bitter taste of a defeat for the team overshadows your personal achievement. Then on the other hand, when we win there is a distinct feeling of oh-we-should-have-won-this-game-no-big-deal.

Can this be attributed to human nature? Evolutionary traits that were passed down? Any psychologists out there (budding, qualified or otherwise) who want to take a dig at this? I think I will start to make an effort to enjoy my hard-won wins more from now on.

Categories: Demystify | 2 Comments

Wealth inequality in America

An eye opener. See if you what you “think” corresponds to reality.

Jon Stewart once said something along the lines of (and this is not verbatim, just as much as I remember) : “People say that 50% of the population doesn’t pay enough taxes. Let’s suppose you tax the bottom 50% of earners 100% of their income. Take away all their possession, you still will not get enough in taxes as you would from the top 10% . The bottom 50% simply don’t have wealth.”

The visual corroboration of that statement.

Categories: Demystify, Economics, WTF | Leave a comment

MPG and cost of gas

Since we got the Nissan Rogue a few months ago, I’ve been agonizing over how much I’d have to pay more in gas, as this vehicle gives approximately 3 miles less per gallon compared to the earlier Mazda6 it replaced. How will this pare out on my wallet over the course of the vehicle?

To quantitatively analyse this I’ve come up with a couple of spreadsheets which will tell me very closely how much more I’m shelling out for gas.

There are 3 variables:

1) Number of miles I drive this in a year – For the past few years I have averaged around 15,000 miles. I will make this constant.

2) The cost of a gallon of gas – I have laid out scenarios where gas is $3.00, $3.50,  $4.00 a gallon, and the price per gallon at the last fill-up before I wrote this post

3) The mpg that I’m getting out of the vehicle – The Rogue is averaging around 24.8 mpg, whereas the Mazda6 averaged 27.5 mpg over its course with us.

So, if we assume that the price of gas would average around $3.50 a gallon for the next 5 years, my total increase in gas-money would be ($2,116.94 – $1,909.09) x 5 = $1,039.25

Which, with the added AWD and space of the Rogue, I’m okay to live with.

To further this exercise, I have changed a few of the above 3 variables to give a broader view.

Categories: Demystify, Economics | Leave a comment

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