Monthly Archives: July 2016

It’s Roller Coaster Week!


Maria and I recently returned from a three-part “vacation”:
1. We went to the Behavioral Operations Conference in Madison, WI July 14-16. I presented my delay announcements paper on Friday the 15th. Conference went well. Madison was pretty.
2. From the conference, we left on a roller coaster road trip. Details below.
3. Over the weekend of July 22-24, we helped my mom set up her new house in Huron, OH.

Here are the stops on our crazy roller coaster trip:
1. Michigan’s Adventure, in Muskegon, MI on Sunday, July 17.
2. Canada’s Wonderland, in Vaughan, ON on Monday, July 18.
3. Hersheypark, in Hershey, PA, on Tuesday, July 19.
4. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, in Allentown, PA, on Wednesday, July 20.
5. Wildwater Kingdom, in Aurora, OH, on Thursday, July 21.
6. Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH, on Monday, July 25.

Yes, that’s 5 parks in 5 days and 6 in 9. We also wanted to goto Kings Island, in Mason, OH, on Tuesday, July 26 on the way back to Bloomington, but it was pouring when we drove through.

I’ll be breaking down the coasters and parks on our trip this week. Here’s the schedule:
Monday AM: Michigan’s Adventure Rides
Monday PM: Thoughts on Planning a Roller Coaster Road Trip
Tuesday AM: Canada’s Wonderland Rides
Tuesday PM: Cedar Fair Empire
Wednesday AM: Hersheypark Rides
Wednesday PM: Operational Thoughts on Fast Pass
Thursday AM: Dorney Park Rides
Thursday PM: Comparing Wildwater Kingdom Water Parks
Friday AM: Cedar Point Rides (the flagship post)
Friday PM: Park Rankings


Book Review- The Index Card

The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to be Complicated
by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack

The Index Card

This book comes from the idea that you can fit all the financial advice you ever need on an index card. High price/fee advice is overrated and financial good choices are actually simple. Good advice. Here is the index card and the book’s chapters:


Book Review- Misbehaving

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
by Richard H. Thaler, 2015


Richard Thaler has had a front-row ticket to the shaping of the behavioral economics field. In fact, he’s probably driving the bus. Initially working with psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Thaler helped define where the traditional model of economic thinking falls short. Humans aren’t Econs (economically rational utility-maximizers). Thaler’s initial work helped document many Supposedly Irrelevant Factors (according to economic theory) that significantly affect human decision-making. He was an outsider arguing for inclusion of behavioral factors at more traditional economic gatherings. Once the new field showed enough promise and more behavioral economists started doing research, the field took on a life of its own. Now, behavioral economics conferences are common, and I’m even presenting at a Behavioral Operations Conference in July. Thaler even became president of the American Economics Association in 2015 (a development which he describes as “the lunatics are running the asylum” in the book), and behavioral economic thinking has made its way into the U.S. and U.K. executive government policy groups.

Overall, funny and insightful. Worthwhile read.

Busy busy busy

-I am sprinting to finish two papers (“Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response” and “Linking Customer Behavior and Delay Announcements: Are Customers Really Rational?”) by July 24.

-I am presenting the delay announcements paper at the Behavioral Operations Conference this Friday in Madison, WI.

-After the conference, Maria and I are doing an amusement park tour of the Great Lakes region: Michigan’s Adventure, Canada’s Wonderland, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, possibly Wildwater Kingdom, and Cedar Point. We’ll also stop in Indiana Dunes State Park, Chicago, Detroit, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia (for a Phillies game), and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We’ll be back in Bloomington on July 26. During the trip, I’ll frequently be finalizing the two papers above while Maria drives.

-After I get back, I am sprinting again to re-submit “Incentive-Compatible Prehospital Triage in Emergency Medical Services” by mid-August.

-As such, there won’t be many website posts for the next month or so.

-After that, I will be working on a project inspecting the behavioral aspects of staffing and turnover, a new energy project, and finishing up my NFL betting project.

Book Review- The Monopolists

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game
by Mary Pilon, 2015

the monopolists

I don’t know any Americans that have not played Monopoly. Either you love it or you are wrong. I’ve covered some of the strategy before; I try hard to win when I play. This interesting book describes Monopoly’s backstory, which differs from Parker Brothers’ traditional tale. Various incarnations of the game existed for 30 years before Parker Brothers bought the rights, and the “inventor” of Monopoly, Charles Darrow, blatantly copied it from a friend. It originated as an anti-capitalist game called the Landlord’s Game. The book ends up focusing upon the legal drama of the board game Anti-Monopoly, which Parker Brothers sued for trademark infringement. After 10 years, Anti-Monopoly won the case on appeal, partially due to the reveal during the court proceedings of long-hidden history of the game. We bought a copy of the Anti-Monopoly game during our travels a year ago; you won’t see it in many game stores because Hasbro (which now owns Parker Brothers (and Milton Bradley)) has agreements with most stores to keep out the upstart. You can play Anti-Monopoly as a Monopolist (similar rules to Monopoly) or a Free-Marketer (where you charge more reasonable rents regardless of how many properties you own of a specific color).

If you like Monopoly, here are a few tangential games to try out:
Advance to Boardwalk
Monopoly Deal Card Game
Stock Exchange Add-On to Monopoly

Book Review- Napoleon’s Buttons

Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 Molecules that Changed History
by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson, 2003

Napoleon's Buttons

(This is a guest book review from Maria Schwartzman)

Did the chemical structure of tin play a role in Napoleon’s defeat and retreat from Moscow in 1812? That is how this fascinating look at the role chemistry has played throughout history begins. The seventeen general molecules discussed (peppers, nutmeg, and cloves; ascorbic acid; glucose; cellulose; nitro compounds; silk and nylon; phenol; isoprene; dyes; wonder drugs; the pill; molecules of witchcraft; morphine, nicotine, and caffeine; oleic acid; salt; chlorocarbon compounds; and molecules versus malaria) are woven into a narrative explaining both the chemistry behind the molecules and the history and context surrounding them. The chemistry is easy to understand (it’s not overpowering but stays interesting for someone who already knows chemical structures) and the history is fascinating. The order of the molecules presented was obviously thought out, as later chapters reference people or ideas from earlier ones, fully melding concepts together. I would recommend the book if you are interested in history, medicine, chemistry, production, biology, current technology… or really anything to do with human interest in the past 5000 years.

This book was listed on a “suggested summer reading list” developed by the DePauw librarians, and was recommended by one of the biochemistry professors. I enjoyed it very much. It is a fairly quick read (I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the chemical structures) and is well written.