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Archive for February, 2012

For no reason other than I have oodles on time on my hands and I can think up this stuff.

In the game of Texas Hold’Em poker, the odds of having a hand that contains a royal flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten all of the same suit) is 1:649,740 (there’s your number for the day).

That’s all well and gone, but what exactly does that mean? What does it mean that you will get a royal flush once given every six hundred and forty-nine thousand, seven hundred and forty hands?

To put that in perspective, if, after playing a royal flush, you were to play a hand of Texas Hold’Em poker every minute of every day of every week of ever month of every year without a break…

…it would take you 1.23 years before you saw a royal flush again.

That’s a lot of time at the table.

(Oooh…here’s the math:

649,740 minutes / 60 = 10,829 hours
10,829 hours / 24 = 451.20833 days
451.20833 days / 365 = 1.2361872 years
)

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This title has a double meaning as I am catching up on two fronts.

First, for regular readers, you perhaps have noticed that my last post was at the end of January so I am catching up on learning how to write a nearly-daily blog.

Second, this posting itself will be catching up on news items that appeared on or around February 27 of various years.

We start off in 2001 and CNN has a story about a company, Terabeam, that has promised a solution of transmitting data across the “last mile”. This “last mile” was the gap between where high-speed cables in cities end and offices and home pick up the feeds. Terabeam, a Washington company, was touting lasers as the wave of the future that would throw our data quickly and efficiently throughout cities and suburbs.

Eleven years later and you say you’ve never heard of Terabeam and you’re not picking up your Twitter feed or latest download from Netflix via laser. ‘Tis true because in 2004, Terabeam was bought out by YDI, a Virginia firm. As for Terabeam’s touted technology, this April 2004 article states…

…the promise of Terabeam and its free space optics technology developed much slower than the pundits predicted. Selling high-priced telecommunications equipment in the middle of a market meltdown proved too difficult…Terabeam altered its business model three times in the past four years — finally settling on a high-speed millimeter wave system that uses radio frequencies instead of invisible lasers to transmit data.

While Jetson-style dishes dotting the urban landscape sending and receiving data courtesy of light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation has not taken root, the dream of transmitting bits and bytes through lasers is not dead. Intel announced in 2010 that they can transmit data at 50 gigabits per second courtesy of the magic of silicon photonics.

Let’s check back in a decade, shall we.

Jumping forward to 2007, this was the year that the United States Postal Service (USPS) introduced the Forever Stamp. This innovation from the USPS was a first-class stamp that was always valid regardless of how often or how much postal rates rose. When unveiled, the rate for a first-class stamp was thirty-nine cents. Today, the rate is now forty-five cents.

I have a stack of the Liberty Bell Forever Stamps as I bought them before our family made the move across the Atlantic last July. I had the feeling postal rates would rise while we were away and these stamps are a great investment.

Using Forever Stamps so far beats sending emails by laser.

The next year, 2008, has a tale about why the phrase “currency fluctuations” has the word “fluctuation” in it. At the start of that presidential election year, the United States dollar was so weak that one euro, the currency of the Eurozone, was equal to $1.49. The common European currency was so strong, there were stories coming out of New York City that merchants were accepting the euro as payment. The euro would strengthen later in the year to hit a high of $1.59 in July.

Here’s where the word “fluctuation” comes into play because when October of that year, and the Global Financial Crisis arrives, the euro plummets to $1.25.

Today, the euro stands at $1.33. However, wherever the euro stands in relation to other currencies, the currency itself and the Eurozone as a concept stands on the brink with the tumult over in Greece.

I doubt Gotham merchants are taking euros now.

Our last story is the opposite of the euro story where something that was down is now up. Back in 2010 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, American downhill skier Lindsey Vonn had a disappointing run in the snow. The headline from the sports section of The Washington Post from February 27, 2008, says it all as it proclaims “Vonn Limps To Her Olympic Finish”. In five events, she would end up with one gold and one bronze…and a broken finger. Granted, she won two more medals in the Canadian powder that I did, but I had also not won four World Cup races before the Olympics so there was more hype generated towards Vonn’s expectations in Vancouver.

We move the year dial up two years and the news is out that Lindsey Vonn, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and courtesy of her latest win over this weekend in Bulgaria, has won more Super-G races (eighteen) than any other woman in the discipline.

Congratulations, Lindsey Vonn. I hope to see you in Sochi.

Nice to catch up with you all.

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