Day 365 – Final Post

Year two thousand and nine has been an exciting, grace-filled year full of adventures, lessons, and valuable time spent with family and friends. This post draws my modified Project 365 to a close. Posting every day this year has been a challenge and a lesson in discipline, to be sure. Sometimes the posts came after midnight (never after 2 a.m., however), but there was a post for every day and the majority of them came in on time. My friend Emily Fisher did a good job making that happen by scolding me whenever she noticed a late post.

I did my best to make the posts interesting, and I hope you enjoyed them. I know some days were better than others. Those ‘better’ days were usually days I had time to go out and take photos specifically with the intent of posting them or write up some of my thoughts on various subjects. My girlfriend Amanda does a wonderful job writing down the ideas I have when we are together so I don’t forget them, as is too often the case with some ideas I come up with. Many of the things she wrote down for me this year turned into posts in one form or another. Other ‘better’ days were times when I travelled and posted photos/wrote about that day’s adventures. The not-so-good days were usually busy days when I didn’t have a lot of time to put into a post. I apologize for those days.

My immediate and near-future plans:
On this New Year’s eve, my parents and I are driving to Tennessee–a short, unexpected trip for a funeral. We plan on being back Monday, then I am driving by myself to Chicago for a quick visit with my cousin on Wednesday. I will be back Thursday night, then I am headed back to Hillsdale on Sunday, January 10. Somewhere in that time I plan on finishing Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, a few Platonic dialogues (probably the Meno and Gorgias). As for my blog, I am beginning a redesign. I am not going to continue posting every day, but only when I have something interesting. I will definitely continue to post, though.

Whether you’ve been reading my blog all year or you just started, thank you for reading! Have a safe, wonderful New Year!

Read’s Google Analytics report for the 2009 year.

Day 364 – The Fireplace

As I stood in front of the fireplace this evening, I realized that I don’t remember a time when my family has not had one. Both of our houses have had one, and so has my grandmother’s house. It is so wonderful to come inside from a cold, snowy, windy day and warm up in front of the fire. It is also a wonderful place to sit in front of and read or think. As soon as the weather turns cool, I yearn for the smell of a wood fire in the air outside and the warmth inside that it provides. It is something I miss greatly in cold Hillsdale, MI.

Back in October, when the weather first turned cold in Hillsdale, I walked out of my dorm, felt the cold air biting at my face, and breathed in deeply through my nostrils. Almost instantly I stopped in my tracks and smiled. The old familiar smell of a wood fire was in the air and it comforted me with thoughts of home.

I am taking advantage of the fire as much as I can over this Christmas break. Soon I will return to Hillsdale and it will be gone when I return later in the spring when the weather is warmer.

Day 360 – Answer To Calendar Question and Misc.

This is my answer to the Friday the 13th calendar question my friend David posed to me on Monday:

(I believe it happens when January starts on a Sunday or a Thursday, though I am not 100% on this.)

It happened this year (2009). March and November, with February, March, and November having Friday the 13ths.

January and July in 2012 – January, April, and July have Friday the 13ths.

March and November in 2015 – February, March, and November have Friday the 13ths.

January and October in 2017. Those are the only two months that year that have a Friday the 13th.

The miscellaneous:
I’ve really been enjoying being home, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing. I’ve been able to get things done that I did not have time for during finals, like cleaning off and organizing files on my computer, fixing my external drive and backup situation, and turning in schedules for the spring semester. I plan to write a few letters and come up with a website redesign this week. Also, I have time for reading now! I am rereading The Hobbit so that I can start the LOTR set I got for Christmas. I am very excited!

Day 359 – Merry Christmas

A few things to reflect upon today:
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Day 357 – Hummus

As promised, I made hummus today. (Among other things, that is. I slept in, went out to lunch and shopping with Amanda, visited the Amherst Schools tech guys, ate dinner with my parents, made hummus, then wrapped presents with the help of my Dad.)

My friend Dom came over to make hummus with me, as he as made it many times before. We made two batches of the following recipe:

30 oz. Chickpeas
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 red bell pepper, chunked
2 cloves garlic
1 package of pita bread (approx. 6-8 pitas)
A pinch of salt
A drizzle of olive oil
As much hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s) as you want

Get out your blender or food processor of choice. Puree the sesame seeds with the lemon juice and garlic first. When it is sufficiently pureed, add and blend the first 15 oz of chickpeas, salt, and olive oil. Then, add and blend the red bell pepper, the hot sauce, and the remaining chickpeas. If it is all too thick, add a little bit of juice from the chickpeas (provided that they are canned–if not, use a little water) to thin it out.

Next, cut the pita bread into 8ths, lightly brush the pieces with olive oil, sprinkle a touch of salt on the pieces, then put them in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees to toast them.

(The photo above is the hummus and pita chips Dom and I made. In the background is my family’s Christmas tree.)

Day 356 – Biscotti, Stir Fry, and Parfait

After a routine checkup at the dentist this morning and a quick lunch with Dad, I went to Amanda’s house and helped her make three batches of cranberry pecan biscotti. I’ll admit, I was not much help besides mixing together dry ingredients, but it was nice to spend part of the afternoon with her, anyway.

After we finished making biscotti, I went home to cook dinner. I told my parents I would make dinner tonight, so I made the spicy chicken stir fry that I made this summer (with a few changes to the ingredients.) My idea for dessert was to have yogurt with blueberries and raspberries, so I went to the store and bought both. As I started cooking, though, Dad had a better idea–make parfait out of it! I didn’t know how to work such a wonder, so I let him do it. It turns out that all you have to do is whip yogurt, heavy whipping cream, sour cream, and sugar together. It was great! After Dad made it, he and I layered tall glasses with the mixture, blueberries, raspberries, and granola. It was a wonderful tasting (and wonderfully easy) dessert!

Tomorrow: Hummus! I am craving hummus, so I am going to figure out how to make it tomorrow. If you have a good recipe for it, please email it to me at – I would greatly appreciate it! All I know as of right now is that I am going to have to get some chickpeas, red bell peppers, and then pitas to bake into chips. Looks like I have some research to do! (Hmm… and that just reminds me that I have done zero present wrapping…. I should get on that, too.)

Day 355 – Calendar Question

I visited my friend David Wagner today, and we drove all around the Huron/Sandusky/Port Clinton area this afternoon. David just got home for Christmas from his teaching position on Bordeaux, France. I haven’t seen him since the beginning of September, so it was wonderful to spend all afternoon and evening with him. If everything goes according to plan, I am going to fly to France to visit him (and take photos!) over spring break at the end of March.

Anyway, after reading the Blue Eyes logic puzzle question, he posed a calendar question to me. He is fascinated with the intricacies of calendars, so this is a question he has already solved and he wants to see if I can figure it out. If you figure it out, please don’t post the answer in the comments. I want to figure it out. I just wanted to post it so other people can work on it, too. Here it is:

In our lifetime, every 28 years there is a year with two 31-day months each having a Friday the 13th. Find the next year when all of this will occur and list all months in that year with a Friday the 13th.

Good luck!

Day 354 – Shopping as a Discovery Process

While I was out finishing my Christmas shopping on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about economics. I know I am strange, but it is what I am majoring in and what I’ve been studying these past three semesters at Hillsdale, and I am not very successful at turning my mind off (not that I’d ever want to…) More specifically, the work of Israel Kirzner. I read quite a bit of Kirzner in Austrian Economics I with Dr. Steele this past semester, so I thought I’d look at the world immediately around me through the lens of his work. The result? Shopping as a learning and discovery process.

Kirzner’s best work, in my opinion, is in characterizing the role and actions of the entrepreneur in the marketplace, a place which he viewed as in a constant state of disequilibrium. Entrepreneurs, by staying alert, learning, and discovering profit opportunities, tend to systematically move the market closer to equilibrium and erode ignorance that exists.

How does this relate to shopping?

I went shopping on Saturday not knowing what I was going to buy. I didn’t even have an idea. I was sheerly ignorant of all of the potential profit opportunities around me. All I needed was to stay alert to those opportunities the best I could and hope to stumble upon a profit opportunity and take advantage of it. I was, at least in my mind, a Kirznerian shopping entrepreneur, stumbling upon unexploited gains, reap the benefits, and add value to them as Christmas gifts to my loved ones. While shopping, I experienced first-hand the inherent “surprise element” (as Kirzner calls it) in the discovery process. I never knew the specific items I purchased existed, and there was no way I could search for them. I was in a state of sheer ignorance regarding their existence. Yet, due to the awareness of my cousin and me, I noticed the “$20 bills on the sidewalk” and “picked them up.” In the process, I was not only able to clear up a fraction of my ignorance and learn about shopping profit opportunities, but I had a good time engaging in it. If you aren’t all that keen on shopping and you are economically inclined, try thinking about it like this. It made my day a lot more enjoyable. (Okay, I know I am a little odd, but whatever works, you know?)

I am glad the market is in disequilibrium and that individuals do not have perfect knowledge of all possible trade opportunities. It allows for all sorts of interesting things to happen.

I encourage you to read a paper by Kirzner on entrepreneurial discovery and competition. You won’t regret it.

Day 350 – Studying, Studying, Studying

Here is where I’ve been studying all night – a room in the math building. I pushed multiple desks together to make a table.
My linear algebra exam is tomorrow morning. I am feeling a little better about it than I was yesterday.

On the plus side, my two exams today went well, or at least I felt like I did well. The results won’t be out for a week or so.

I apologize for the lame posts this week. I’ve been devoting a lot of energy to studying, and not much is left for creativity. I’ve been economizing on brain power.

Day 349 – I Wish I Was…

…at home, looking out my back window at the snow-covered porch, yard, and trees. Then going to stand by the fireplace to warm up, then settling down on the couch to read a good book.

Unfortunately, multiple finals stand in the way, and I am very worried about the Linear Algebra final. My stress level is through the roof right now.
On a lighter and happier, less stressful note, my macro final went very well today.

Back to studying.

Day 348 – Niedfeldt Christmas Party

Saturday night the Niedfeldt dorm held its annual Christmas party with a new twist – this year it was combined with Coffeehouse, so there was live music!

Here is my finals schedule:
Tuesday: Macro 1pm
Wednesday: Austrian Econ 8am and Understanding Music 1pm
Thursday: Linear Algebra 10am
Friday: Constitution 8am

Also… if you break your finger over the next week and a half, you can x-ray it at home while wrapping presents!

Day 347 – Link Conglomeration

Legal Systems Very Different From Our Own – David Friedman (video)

Contrasts in How Google Suggests Searches from Ben Casnocha

Rationality Advice from Mathematician Terry Tao on Less Wrong

Unintended Consequences of Environmentalism: LED Traffic Light Edition from Steve Horwitz

Minister’s Tree House (HT: Steve Stay)

Mountain Dew Throwback coming back again Dec. 28!

Absolutely beautiful wave (not the Google kind) photography from Clark Little