Thursday, October 31, 2013

Geographically challenged

Jonathan/Yoni sent our children a new sweatshirt that he saw in his travels:
This may well be the funniest sweatshirt I've seen. In case you can't read the text, it says:
New York

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Press Coverage

I was also quoted in Monday, October 14th's Albany Times Union about the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah coinciding calculations. The reporter got things mostly right, and I had much more of an extensive quote than in the Wall Street Journal.

The wonders of useful coins

Coins are useful in China. This is pretty amazing for me as an american, used to paying by credit card for everything possible, just because coins are so useless. In this blog post I'm going to rant a little about the reasons.

  • Prices are prices. When you buy something for 2 Yuan, it costs to Yuan. When you buy something in the US for $2, it costs $2.13 or some other random amount that is impossible to calculate in your head and changes for different items and across states.
    This has two advantages
    • Round number prices, stay at round numbers reducing the need to use tiny change all the time. The fact that the smallest currency is 0.1 Yuan means you don't has as many ridiculous prices like *.99 cents for every little thing. 
    • You know the price ahead of time, so if you want to pay in coins, you can count them while you wait in line, not while people wait behind you.
  • Their smallest coin is worth about twice as much as a US penny. This is even though Chinese currency is worth way less than US. It is equal to 1/10th of a Yuan, sort of like a dime.
  • Coins have more buying power here. The truth is that this reason doesn't have as much of an impact as the previous two. Very few things can be bought for just 1 Yuan, but you can buy lots of stuff for 2-3 Yuan which is easily counted up to with 1.0, 0.5 and 0.1 value coins.

In case you aren't interested in my rant. Here are some more photos!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Hi everyone, I'm in China! The internet is really slow, and blogger is actually blocked by the great firewall... please expect short, infrequent and randomly timed blog posts from me for a while.

Friday, October 04, 2013

I am quoted in today's Wall Street Journal

Today's front page of the Wall Street Journal contains a story about how Chanukah and Thanksgiving coincide this year. The reporter for that story contacted me because he read my blog post on the topic from December 2010. I was one of the "researchers," and I got a quote in the paper, too!

Also, just so everyone knows, this is not the last time for many thousands of years before Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving.  As I pointed out in that previous post, in the years 2070 and 2165 after finishing (or in the middle of) Thanksgiving dinner people will light the first Chanukah candle. Additionally, although the first day of Chanukah won't coincide with Thanksgiving until the year 79043, (assuming the calendar isn't fixed before Passover happens in the summer in the year 15115), in the year 76334 the eighth day of Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving.