Thursday, January 29, 2015

Arms race on the road

I have long known there is a bit of an arms race on the road. People get larger cars so they are not the smaller car in an accident. What I did not realize is how much cars vary.

A driver of a Kia Rio is more than 150 times as likely to be killed as a driver of a Honda Odyssey. That is a bigger spread than I would have expected but the trend is not surprising; more surprising, someone driving a Chevrolet Suburban or Silverado is four to five times as likely to be killed as someone driving a Toyota Prius. There is a pretty clear weight verses safety relationship, but it is really spotty, with a few very large vehicles being quite dangerous and a few small vehicles being relatively safe.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Youtube diving video

The result of playing with my video footage, and some editing in Gopro studio was this video: Unfortunately it bumps too much. I need to swim ridiculously slow. I suspect I can do much better with very little practice.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Software Red Filter

Here is a gopro hero 4 black photo taken in protune before and after shifting its tint in the Gopro Studio software:

I don't believe that I will be buying a red filter. That took less than 30 seconds to do.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gopro Hero 4 Black Underwater

I took out a Gopro hero black underwater for the first time today. The main lesson is that the Gopro makes a horrible camera. Fewer than one photo in a hundred was of any decent quality. The slightest movement from either the person holding the camera, or what is being photographed and the picture is ruined. Also, it absolutely needs full sun, very few pictures in the shade turned out at all.

Still, I was able to get enough pictures for a fair number of iNaturalist submissions. It was also clear that the camera works well for selfies, where it is relatively easy to limit movement and keep things in a high light area. It also works much better for video than for still photos.

The following were all taken on the night time lapse setting:

The following were extracted from 4k video files:

Time lapse, or perhaps burst, seems to be the way to go. Pulling images from video just doesn't quite match up. From what I have seen, it is necessary to be really still and in full sun for the gopro to produce good results. When everything aligns it does well though.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

City Ventures La Habra

I am continuing to keep pressure on the city of La Habra to increase housing supply. The letter I just sent was perhaps even more forceful than normal for me. This is a development by city ventures which would bring 110 homes to an area with many empty storefronts. This is exactly what the city needs. Unfortunately the city appears to be trying to reduce the size of the development, so I countered with this letter:

                The City Ventures development is exactly the sort of project La Habra needs so that it can finally create a decent downtown.  The city has been unable to do so in the past because it has not been willing to take the bold action necessary to improve the area. This project represents a chance to finally bring enough middle class people within walking distance of the downtown area to bring dead storefronts back to life. To seize this opportunity all the suggested alternatives should be rejected in favor of Project Site Option 1.
                Alternative 1, no project, has serious long term consequences for the city. Every year in La Habra there are roughly 300 more births than deaths. Despite this population growth, the city has failed to keep home construction at the rate required to keep residents supplied with quality housing. From 2000 to 2012 the city averaged less than thirty new homes a year, less than a fifth of what is needed. The result has been thousands of people either forced to live with family members/room-mates or being entirely forced out of the city. Beyond mitigating the housing shortage, this project promises to bring many jobs to the city. These jobs come both from construction work and the more permanent jobs which will be created by turning La Habra Boulevard into a decent downtown.
                Alternative 2, reducing the size of the project by not developing the church site, and Project Site Option 2, the smaller site, have the same problems as Alternative 1 just on a smaller scale. These designs will create fewer jobs, force up to 63 families to live in poorer housing, and reduce tax revenue for the city. All this damage will be done to help a tiny number of neighbors who would only be modestly impacted if Option 1 were chosen. These homes will be some of the nicest in the city and the city will only benefit from them, there is no good justification to scale this project back.
                Alternative 3 hurts the long term goal of making La Habra Boulevard into a decent downtown. As much as possible a grid orientation should be followed in this development. The cul-de-sac model has been a failed experiment which results in cities where people are cut off from their community. A downtown housing development should be as open as possible to encourage the area to be walkable.  
                Alternative 4 has been rightly rejected by the city. La Habra needs to step up and develop its downtown, not make excuses to maintain the status quo.
                Instead of paying attention to the usual complaining from neighbors who will face minor inconveniences; I hope you take time to think of the individuals who will live in these homes. Because of the severe housing shortage there are 110 families who will be unable to get a home if Alternative 1 is chosen, 63 families who will be unable to get a home if Project Site Option2 is chosen and 39 families who will be unable to get a new home should Alternative 2 be chosen. These people are far more important than those who fight this development. It is for these people that you should choose Project Site Option 1.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pricing planted and reef tanks

After the high numbers I crunched the other day for the tank I wanted, I thought I would do a more systematic comparison of what it would cost to get started with a planted, or a reef, tank. This is a minimal start, what does it take to get a box of water which can at least hold the intended creatures.

This list did not include carbon dioxide injection systems, protein skimmers, or filters of any sort. Those things are nice to have, but can be picked up later if they are needed. It also did not include the price of livestock.

I did inflate some other costs though, The tanks are all with starphire glass which I am not sure I would actually do. The lights are also pretty high end, cheaper options exist.

50 Gallon Planted, 36" x 18" x 17"
  1. Tank, cover $240
  2. Stand, canopy $370
  3. Heater $30
  4. Fluorite $50
  5. Light $140
Total: $830

50 Gallon Reef, 36" x 18" x 17"
  1.  Tank, cover, overflow $381
  2. Stand, canopy $370
  3. Sump $204
  4. Heater $30
  5. Lights, $400
  6. Sump pump $92
  7. Sand $75
  8. Dry live rock $75
 Total: $1627

 75 Gallon Planted, 48" x 18" x 21"
  1.  Tank, cover $340
  2.  Stand, canopy $425
  3. Heater $30
  4. Fluorite $80
  5. Light $170

 75 Gallon Reef, 48" x 18" x 21"
  1. Tank, cover, overflow $476
  2. Stand, canopy $425
  3. Sump $219
  4. Heater $30
  5. Lights, $400
  6. Sump pump $92
  7. Sand $100
  8. Dry live rock $150
 Total: $1890

120 Gallon Planted, 48" x 24" x 25"
  1. Tank cover $625
  2. Stand canopy $500
  3. Heater $50
  4. Fluorite $120
  5. Light $170
Total: $1465

 120 Gallon Reef, 48" x 24" x 25"
  1. Tank cover $765
  2. Stand canopy $500
  3. Sump $323
  4. Heater $50
  5. Lights, $400
  6. Sump pump $184
  7. Sand $125
  8. Dry live rock $225
 Total: $2572

From that list it is clear that the initial startup cost of a reef tank is about twice that of a planted tank. It gets worse with time though. The greater cost of electricity, salt, fish, corals, and additional equipment like protein skimmers will make that gap continue to grow.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Spending in 2014

In a repeat of 2012 and 2013 I recorded the bulk of my 2014 spending. These are fairly incomplete records because they do not include expenses taken directly from my paycheck such as health and life insurance. They also do not include expenses paid by my wife such as car insurance.

Here is a chart of my overall spending:
It is virtually indistinguishable from last year's chart.

My spending on food and dining was 13% of my income, identical to last year. Again only 22% of my food spending was at grocery stores. Here were the top five grocery stores I went to by percentage of post tax/deductions income.
  1. Sprouts: 1.1%
  2. Zion Market: 0.7%
  3. Trader Joe's: 0.2%
  4. 99 Ranch Market: 0.2%
  5. Northgate: 0.1%
This was very little changed from 2013 and 2012 when sprouts were still top, the big new addition being the Korean grocery store Zion Market.

 Here were the top five restaurants by spending:
  1. Gen Korean BBQ: 0.3%
  2. Chipotle: 0.22% 
  3. Yosemite Lodge: 0.21%
  4. 85 Degree C: 0.20%
  5.  Chamsutgol Korean Bbq: 0.19%
Restaurants seem to be noisy data. I change restaurants a lot more quickly than other expenses.

Here is where I spent money I spent the most on other shopping such as gifts, audiobooks, hobbies, and home improvement:

  1.  Amazon: 3.0%
  2. AT&T: 1.5%
  3. Target: 1.3%
  4. Time Warner: 1.2%
  5. Pep Boys: 1.1%
  6. Apple: 0.98%
  7. Lucas Leite BJJ: 0.72%
  8. Disneyland: 0.40%
  9. Lowe's: 0.30%
  10. Laserquest: 0.21%
Amazon crushed Target now that I moved farther from a Target. Also, Time Warner has mysteriously signed me up for better internet service than I asked for pushing them up the list. Another thing I didn't add to that list is that I donated roughly 0.5% of my income to non-profits doing things I approved of. Mostly single issue environmental groups such as Calflora.

I decided to try to determine how much my net worth increased in 2014. My 401(k) increased by an amount equal to 23% of my after tax and deduction income. Most of this from contributions, some from market gains.Another 11% savings occurred from paying down the principal on my mortgage. There was some other appreciation and depreciation and minor changes in balances of accounts or items I bought but could technically sell for some percentage of their value. Ignoring them and saying that I increased my net worth by about 33% of my take home pay is probably accurate enough though.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


The new year comes fast on iNaturalist. Apparently it comes about six hours before the new year comes to California. Unfortunately that put me a few shy of my goal. I ended the month with 6603 identifications. I got another 185 identifications before the end of the day, but apparently iNaturalist is using a different time zone so those are on my January total.

That makes me the forth highest number of identifications in a month, of all time, first was 7924, second was 6695,  third was 6667. I probably won't try to beat any of those records for a few months. Now there is a severe shortage of species I know how to ID. Perhaps in a few months a backlog will build up again. The number of submissions is likely to continue to increase as more people learn about the site.