Category Archives: Geekdom


In 2005 Genevieve Loussouarn, PharmD, Charles El Rawadi, PhD, and Gilles Genain, PhD published an article on the Diversity of Hair Growth profiles – Or, how fast hair grows on average based on race.

Their findings across a variety of races suggest hair grows by between 250 and 400 micrometers per day. Right now, the world population is 7.4 billion. For our back-of-the-napkin calculation we’re going to ignore children under the age of one, of which there are about 150 million in the world (per That gives us 7.25 billion people. Then we’ll estimate 1/2 of men over 50 are bald (I think this is conservative), reducing the number by 750 million or so… and voila! we have 6.5 billion full heads of growing hair! Using maths, and taking the mediaun hair growth noted by the scientists above of ~350ish micrometers per day, we can estimate that the world’s heads grow about 2,275,000 meters of hair a day or about 1,580 meters per minute. That’s 60 miles per hour of hair.

That’s a HEAD of hair. Now if we take 100,000 hair follicles per head we’ve got 6,000,000 miles of hair being produced globally per hour. If we could magically consolidate all this to a single follicle it would be launching hair out at about 1/100th the speed of light!

Recommended goal of humanity: increase population and expand to different planets/star systems until we are 740 billion in number, at which point we will collectively be manufacturing hair at the speed of light.


I got my hair cut this weekend. Needless to say, it was overdue.


Metric Prefixes

Metric prefixes sound a lot like Marx brother names. In fact, seven of the twenty common metric prefixes end in the letter “o”, which definitely helps*.  Here’s a list of the metric prefixes and, where applicable, the Marx family member whose name I think most closely matches its nomenclature.

1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000

1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000

1 000 000 000 000 000 000

1 000 000 000 000 000

1 000 000 000 000

Giga – See Groucho under “Kilo”
1 000 000 000

1 000 000

Kilo – Groucho. It’s a shame there aren’t more metric prefixes that start with “G” I felt obligated to choose Giga for one of the brothers, but “Kilo” seems to fit better for Groucho. The hard ‘K’ sound and the hard ‘G’ sound both have the back of the throat click which I think makes this comparison work.
1 000

Hecto – Harpo. An obvious choice here.
1 00

1 0


Centi – UGH. I’m torn on Chico. I’ve listed it for both Centi and Micro. Honestly, I think Micro is a better fit.

Milli – Minnie was the mother of the Marx Brothers

Micro – Chico, yes. This is a better fit.
0.000 000 1

Nano – Gummo. The “n” and “m” sounds are close enough that I think this works.
0.000 000 001

0.000 000 000 001

0.000 000 000 000 001

0.000 000 000 000 000 001

Zepto – Zeppo, a PERFECT choice. This fits better than any other
0.000 000 000 000 000 000 001

0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001


*Extra fun fact: I never realized that all metric prefixes that end in “a” are greater than 1. And ALMOST, all of metric prefixes between 0 and 1 end in “o”




I’m extremely excited. We’ve reached out to one of our gaming friend couples, Kelly and Jay, who will be joining us on this adventure. It will undeniably be tricky to orchestrate play times with J.Atlas now in our lives. Coincidentally Kelly and Jay have their own newly arrived infant in their lives; so perhaps gameplay vacations will work out well for all. I spent a few hours of my weekend going through the accessible portions of the box contents – IT LOOKS AMAZING. Pandemic Legacy is serious business.

New Games and an Idea

This week Jen and I acquired two new games: Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. Both are considered classics in the gaming community and after playing a few times I’m surprised that they weren’t already in our collection. These are top tier gateways into boardgaming that I now heartily agree should be in everyone’s closet. Seriously, go buy these right away definitely. Right now. Do it.

While we were playing the other night, we came up with an idea for Baby D. Every game comes with three quick stats: number of players, time to play, and appropriate ages. For example, Ticket to Ride is 2-5 players, 30-60min play time, for ages 8 and up.

The idea: If we purchase the right combination of games, we could have a board game for every age of Baby D. We could then celebrate each birthday with an inaugural introductory game… It’s like a gaming graduation each year! I LOVE THIS.

The problem is that certain ages are less common, probably because of marketing purposes. Games for ages 9+ and 11+ are much more rare than 10+; probably because everybody just rounds it off. FiveThirtyEight has a fun list HERE of kid-friendly games and their recommended ages. This will be a good start.

BTDubs, here are a few favorites of our collection with a quick pro/con

Dominion – Exceptional replay value, easy to learn/some strategies are annoying and slow the game down big time
Power Grid – Incredible depth, lots of strategy options/long game and long setup
Pandemic – Clever Co-operative play/prone to quarterbacking if one player is more experienced
Acquire – DEEP and immersive/can’t really be played with two people

If you have other gaming recommendations, please throw them into the comments

Last and not least: no board game post should exist without a link to


American Colonial Houses

I have been perpetually confused with what defines a house style as a Colonial. It has always seemed like the go to descriptor for any house that didn’t cleanly fit into any other category. I couldn’t find the common bond between one colonial and any other colonial.

What I didn’t know was that, unlike say the Cape, the Colonial style is a general style encompassing many well-defined styles and a few nebulous ones. Let’s learn!

The Basic.

The Basic.

First the basics: The American Colonial is defined by simpleness and symmetry. The original Colonials developed, as the name suggests, from construction styles of American colonists from the 1600’s *1. Some of the subtypes are attributed to the cultural heritage of the residents: Dutch, Spanish, French, German Colonials for example. The regional preferences of these cultural groups result in greater frequency of certain subtypes by region. Today we’ll look at the following Colonial types:
Garrison, Saltbox, Georgian, (Federal), Dutch, German, Spanish, and French.

Garrison Colonial
This one’s easy. Bump out the second floor a foot and you’re go. Mom D informed me that legend says this style was developed to allow Colonial’s to defend their homes by aiming their guns at the front door through that one foot gap. Bob Villa supports this legend, but suggests that perhaps the real origin is more likely roots in Elizabethan townhouses*.


The Garrison

Saltbox Colonial
Take your standard colonial and drop the back roof down closer to the ground. Wikipedia suggests that this was done either to a) evade some taxes by having the rear roof of the house at 1 story or b) affordably accommodate a growing family with a cheap lean-to addition in the back.



Georgian Colonial
Whoa there, now we’re getting fancy. Georgian styles added some flare. The decorative crown on the door? The faux flat columns on either side of the door? Exciting! Throw in some symmetric chimneys and we are good. Sometimes these might have added ornamentation like dental molding around the eaves. All these examples of flare were methods of pragmatically displaying wealth and prosperity *2. This style developed after 1700. *3



Federal… Style?
Federal houses are Georgian Colonials on steroids. Grandiose and formal. Their doorways are even more intense, they frequently have half circle windows or fanlights above their doors, with occasional pillars. Sometimes, Federal extends away from the pitched roof style home with some massive flat roof types. Other times they have their Pediment (the triangle part of the home) as the front of the building.

Federal Style

Federal Style

Fun fact: Some websites put the Federal style into the Colonial Revival type of houses. Other websites seem to put the Federal building as its own style. If any brilliant architectural historians are out there to set this one straight, please comment.

Let’s stop briefly to hit up roof styles. Check it out, some of these will be important to understand before we continue:

Roof Styles!

Roof Styles!

And thus concludes our intermission. Back to Colonials.

Dutch Colonial
GAMBREL THAT ROOOOF! The Dutch Colonial is extremely distinctive. You take a standard colonial, increase the pitch of the roof and then barn-ify it with a couple dormers. In fact these are often referred to as barn style homes. Sometimes the entryway has a pretty arch, other times there’s a porch on the one side. These Colonials are easy to identify. These style homes were more commonly constructed in the early 1900’s, so we’re definitely within the colonial revival era. NOTE: my drawing is not very good.



German Colonial
Standard colonial made out of stone. Bam. German Colonial.



Spanish Colonial
This house subtype is extremely hard to define. There are examples on the internet of basic colonials with ceramic tile roofs, to grand spanish villas rife with arches and stucco walls. There are a lot of these in California. I am not going to attempt a drawing as the style is too vague to capture in MSPaint.

French Colonial
Also tricky to define, French Colonial architecture in America can describe any number of different styles. One common theme that I have noticed are unusual roofs. First there’s the bonnet roof. Think McDonalds in the 90’s.

French example 1

French example 1

Sometimes the roof on these extends far out over the house with pillars coming down all the way around.

Then there’s the steep roof French Colonial. It has a hip roof, but this one is much steeper.

French example 2

French example 2

From my own observations, these houses tend to have multiple house sections all with those steep roofs. Arched dormers and center chimneys are not uncommon.

So there we have it! A quick walk down the path of Colonial architecture. It would seem that my initial impression of Colonials as a ‘catch-all’ isn’t entirely bogus because there are a lot of different looks to this genre, but hopefully this post provides a bit of clarity to this generous style. Thanks for reading!


Lawn Strategy

I have owned the House of Rock for nearly nine years. Over those nine years I have mowed the lawn many many times. As this is not a chore I enjoy, I try to strategically plan the mowing to be as efficient as possible.

My basic strategy centers around the basic principle that if I reduce the number of turns, I can improve my efficiency. As a corollary, we assume that fewer degrees of turning are also more efficient. Two 90’s are a little better than one 180. Finally, this obviously only applies to those of us whose yards are not large enough or open enough to accommodate Concentric Spiral Mowing as this would clearly be the most efficient use of mowage.

Let’s assume you have a perfect 10m x 10m yard. For simplicity sake, let’s also assume you have a 1m wide mower. What’s the most efficient mowing pattern?

The Long Haul
Making ten 10m passes is an obvious option. But this requires a total of nine 180° turns. I greatly dislike 180° turns.

The Perimeter
Another good option: walking the perimeter to make consecutively smaller rectangles. The frustration here is that when you get to the middle, you’re making near constant 90° turns. This method has the same total number of degrees turned, but with 90’s instead of 180s. Eighteen 90’s needed.

The Zamboni
One slight annoyance with both of the previous tactics is that turning a 90° at the edge of a yard results in a lost corner of tall grass. The Zamboni pattern is a clever one that removes the lost corners. If we were to label the columns of our 10×10 matrix as 1 through 10, the zamboni pattern runs column 1, then zips over to column 5. Back to 2, then to 6. You have overlapped the ends, which is lost time, but it makes some bit of sense for more rectangular yards. You still end up with eighteen 90° turns.

This weekend I discovered a new strategy by accident.

The big assumption in the content above is level topography. When a hill is in play things get funky. It’s much harder to do a perimeter cut on a hill. 1/4 of the time is spent pushing the mower uphill. BAD MOVE.

This weekend I realized that if you move to The Long Haul perpendicular to the hill slope, things work out very very nicely. Yes, you’re taking 180° turns, but you never have to push uphill.

This revelation pleases me.


1 in 135,145,920

Those are the odds of winning the mega lottery jackpot tonight. The jackpot is roughly $376,900,000 right now*. I wanted to know how many games of roulette you’d have to win before you’d have the same odds as winning the lottery. My next obvious question: if you won every time would you have more or less money than if you’d won the lottery?
*$376M is the cash return. The payment over time is the more popularly advertised value of $600M

A few assumptions:
1. This is a no limit roulette table
2. You bet all your winnings on the next winning color every time (no green!)
3. Luck is very much your lady tonight

Playing either red or black on a roulette wheel will return a 48.6% win rate.

So 0.486^x = 1/135,145,920 should tell us how many spins!

what’s the result? twenty six spins!
Actually not exactly twenty six spins, that’d be amazingly coincidental.
26 spins is 1/140,429,063
Close enough for!

Let’s see which option has a better return on investment:

A lottery ticket costs $2.00.
Each roulette win gives you 2:1 odds.

26 wins in a row would return $67,108,864
Sounds like you should head to the convenience store instead of the casino tonight.

But then again… how many more spins would surpass the $376M?
Twenty nine spins (total $536,870,912)- although one more correct call would put you over a billion… it is worth it? Just one more spin? What do ya say?

Halloween Candy Trial

Happy Halloween everybody!

This year I had been planning to dress up as Clippy, the helpful persistant Microsoft Paper Clip, but the halloween party I was invited to ended up getting canceled. Such a shame, as I had been looking forward to walking up to people and trying to help them with various tasks that they weren’t doing.

“Hi. It looks like you might be trying to dip your chip into your beer. Would you like some help?”
“Oh, hello there. It looks like you’re trying to write a text to an exgirlfriend. Would you like help?”

Anyway, I didn’t end up dressing up and instead I just gave candy away at home – but why not use this as an opportunity for a one on one battle between two different candy bars.


I bought two boxes of the largest candy bars I could find in two varieties: Snickers and Twix

When the kids came to the door, I offered them a choice of one or the other. What happened?!? First, let’s run basic stats on the candy bars.

Snickers: 3.29oz (93.3g)
Package Dimensions: 150mm x 32mm x 27mm
Calories: 280
Approx Density: 717kg/m^3

Twix: 1.79oz (50.7g)
Package Dimensions: 120mm x 45mm x 20mm
Calories: 250
Approx Density: 469kg/m^3

Notes: At 150mm in length the snickers is much more of a king sized bar than the twix. The packaging also seems more densely packed because they don’t need to split the candy bar into two different bars like Twix.

With the significant size and density advantage of the Snickers coupled with the far superior branding strategy, I submit that more snickers will be taken by Halloween trick or treaters.

Data Gathered:
Snickers taken: 23
Twix taken:23

WHOA! I was WAY OFF. Against all odds, the Twix were chosen with the same frequency as the Snickers! What a shocker! While the tally is a statistical dead heat, I think Twix pulled off a BIG win here. Volume of chocolate is a major factor and that Twix defeated Snicker’s size advantage is very telling. My highly unscientific experiment suggests that Twix is the preferred candy bar.

A few potential areas of error in my study:

1. The boxes came in different sizes. I had 24 snickers and 36 twix. As the snickers began to dwindle down there was the potential that a kid might have been socially pressured not to take the last remaining Snickers. However, countering this suggestion, when goaded to take the last one, a tiny superhero retorted “No way, I want a Twix”
2. I’m fairly certain that a vampire grabbed two Snickers while I was distracted by a princess that was struggling up the stairs. My data might be flawed.
3. One parent took a candy bar. Who does that?!? Parents, the candy is for the kids!
4. As everyone knows, a sample size less than 30 is pretty weaksauce. T-Statistics are sooooo amateur.