Weather where I’ll be

I won’t be posting anything next week but you can watch the weather forcast for where I’m at.  Thinking about the weather forecast makes me miss my grandmother.  She used to watch the weather channel all the time and she would call me up and tell me what my weather was supposed to be like and she’d want to know if they’d gotten it right!

Click for Beef Island, British Virgin Islands Forecast

Or if the image above is not working, which seems to happen more often than not, you can go directly to the Weather Underground page for Road Town.

Frustrated with customer service … again

Maybe I should get a job as a T-Mobile rep.  I know more than the folks that answer the phone.  I called T-Mobile today to ask
what roaming cost in the BVI and Puerto Rico.

The first guy told me calls from BVI would be free.  The web said
$2.99/min.  So I called back and it took the woman 10+ minutes to
confirm that yes it was $2.99/min.  (Took me less than 30 seconds to find it via Google.)  Then she told me text messages were free.  I asked her to
check because I thought they were 35 cents/message, and she confirmed,
"oh, wow, yes they are 35 cents each!"   (If for any reason you want to check it out yourself, here’s the web page: International services.)

Reminds me of the time I was talking to a United rep and he was trying to convince me that the longer trip was better because it had a shorter layover.  (Like I want to sit on an airplane any longer than I have to!)  I finally asked him in frustration if he’d ever flown on an airplane and he said no, he hadn’t!

How much do dogs sleep?

My dogs sleep a lot.  A really lot.  So I decided to see if I could find the real answer to “how much do dogs sleep?” According to Sleep and Dreams in Dogs and Cats:

Under controlled laboratory conditions both cats and dogs sleep about 13 hours per day but they wake up more frequently than people do.

According to Planet Dog:

• Adult dogs spend approximately half their life sleeping,
typically 12 hours a day.

• Some breeds need more sleep than others –
as much as 18 hours per day! (typically larger breeds).

I think mine sleep more than average – closer to the 18 hour limit.  They sleep 8 hours a night with us.  They sleep while we read or watch TV in the evening.  And they sleep all day if we leave them inside.  I’d bet they are only awake 4-5 hours a day during a normal day.

Buy your dog a good bed. Here’s one if they like turning in circles before they lie down.

Photo by mikecpeck.

What makes a good teacher?

The answer seems to be experience.  From Tenure, Turnover and the Quality of Teaching – New York Times.

The most important single influence is experience: first-year teachers are much less effective than others. The second year is significantly better, and by the fourth year, most teachers hit their stride.

But it’s not as clear cut as it sounds.

It is not entirely clear whether this experience effect is learning by doing (the more you teach, the more effective you become) or survival of the fittest (those who are not good at teaching tend to drop out early).

I think they miss the point though.  What makes a good teacher?  They assume it’s a teacher whose students improve on tests.  (And that may be the case but it should not be assumed.)  The business world tells us it’s all about metrics.  People will tend to do what you measure them by.  So if good teachers are those whose students get better scores on tests, teachers will work hard to make sure their students do well on tests.

Frequent Flier Mile Programs

I travel over a 100,000 miles a year so I have lots of miles and lots of experience with the airlines’ frequent flier mile programs.  I’m usually pretty loyal to United because they have a hub near me and I have 100K status with them, but when it comes to using miles, I’m partial to Continental.  They by far have the best web site, tools and programs to figure out when and how you can use your miles and to actually use them.

My favorite part about frequent flier mile tickets is that they are very flexible.  You can (at least right now) change the day and time of your return at any time without penalty.

For keeping up on frequent flier mile program changes, I recommend The FrequentFlier Crier newsletter. 

I’m going sailing!

I’m quite excited!  I’m going to spend the last week of my summer break taking a sailing class in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) with Offshore Sailing School.  The class will give me bareboot certification so I can go down and rent a sailboat on my own.  (And hopefully it will give me the confidence to do that!)  For the current weather conditions in the BVI check out Weather Underground.

Interesting theory on what makes us eat more

I just read a very interesting article by Seth Roberts, "What Makes Food Fattening.  (The Freakonmics blog pointed me to it.)  Nobody knows what makes food fattening but Roberts had a lot of interesting theories.  The article was well worth reading but if you don’t have the time to read all 77 pages, here’s my summary.  (Note that all the figures were at the end of the article.)  I’m going to state these as facts but the paper makes it very clear that they are all still theories.

  • We have body fat "set point", a level of fat or weight that our body tries to maintain.
  • This set point is variable and depends on what we eat.
  • Food has a flavor and an amount of calories.  The higher the amount of calories, the better the flavor will taste.  This is flavor-calorie association.  So if a banana had 200 calories, it would taste better than bananas do now with only 100 calories even though the banana flavor is the same.
  • The faster your body notices the calories, the higher this flavor-calorie association is.  So if it’s flavored sugar water, it reaches your digestive stream quickly and it’ll have a higher flavor-calorie association than food that needs to be broken down and processed by your stomach.
  • Foods can be paired together and have a joint flavor-calorie association.  French fries don’t have much flavor, so their flavor-calorie association would be low, but when we eat them with high flavor foods (like hamburgers), the hamburger/french fry flavor-calorie association is high with hamburgers contributing to the flavor and french fries (and hamburgers) to the calorie part.
  • The more flavor-calorie foods you eat, the higher your fat set point is.  This has something to do with when foods are plenty, food is more diverse and flavor-calorie associations go up.  When food is scarse, they go down and our fat set points go down.
  • Japanese are thinner because their food has less flavor and so the flavor-calorie association is weaker.
  • Fast food has a very strong flavor-calorie association and it’s very consistent.
  • The more consistent a food, the more likely you will develop a flavor-calorie association with it.

His advice?

  • Eat new foods often!  Your body doesn’t have a flavor-calorie association for it.
  • Vary food flavors often.  If you cook at home, make your dishes just a little different each time.
  • Consume calories with no flavor.  This will decrease your set point.  (Roberts claims drinking fructose water between meals will actually decrease your set point and cause you to lose weight.)

I’m not sure what I think about it all yet, but it’s a lot of food for thought.

2:36pm: I forgot one:

  • Eating the same food all the time makes it boring and lowers the flavor-calorie association.  All liquid diets are boring and so people eat less of them.