Business Idea: Airfare Limit Orders

May 12, 2014 By: erik Category: Musings, Travel

toy planeEvery time I shop for airline tickets, I find myself thinking about how little sense airfare prices make to me, and I’m reminded of the variability of the stock market. There are so many forces and variables acting on the price of a stock (or an airfare) that prediction becomes a matter of guessing probabilities where even the experts don’t really have much of a clue. The frustration at checking airline prices reminds me very much of that of playing the stock market. Prices seem to fluctuate for no reason and deciding when to make a transaction is painfully difficult…and the price seems to always go in the wrong direction right after you buy.
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I don’t understand information crimes

August 17, 2012 By: erik Category: Anarchy, Musings, Politics, USA

whistleLet’s say I have a secret. Perhaps I’m gay, or I secretly won the lottery, or I killed a guy once, or I have a terminal disease, or I’m in witness protection, or I’m embezzling money from my employer, or I’m having an affair, or I have a supernumerary nipple. Whatever it is, it’s absolutely true, but no one knows it, and I’d prefer that it stays that way. Now let’s say you somehow discover my secret and you tell everyone. What moral, ethical or legal lines have you just crossed?
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Why does do church bells chime every fifteen minutes?

January 23, 2012 By: erik Category: Musings, Religion, Spain

Bell TowerWhere I grew up, there weren’t any church bells that I could hear from my house, but there was one in the center of town near the municipal recreation center, where I spent many hours of my youth. As a kid, I became quite fond of that Big Ben tune that preceded the hourly chimes.
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Socialism and Liberal Morals

February 02, 2011 By: erik Category: Politics, Spain

I live in a country where the two dominant parties are The Socialist Workers’ Party and The People’s Party, both of which would be regarded as immorally Communist by half of my countrymen (the third place is The United Left!). With decent unemployment benefits and almost free healthcare to all, even the far right Spanish politicians are to the left of most Democrats in the United States.

By becoming a parent, I have been introduced to a lot of Spain’s socialist help-the-poor policies. Simply by procreating, my wife and I were eligible for 2,500€ “baby check” in government funds, a measure introduced in 2007 (and scrapped in 2011) to try to raise Spain’s birthrate. My region of Cantabria provides additional subsidies for child-bearers.
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German Cars Make People Speed

January 11, 2011 By: erik Category: England, Musings, Spain, USA

Autumn BenzIn the countries I’ve lived and driven in, I’ve noticed some differences between how people drive on the motorway (that’s like the “interstate” for you yanks). In England, people tend to drive with an unparalleled politeness. They will happily move over to let you pass, make room for you to merge in, or brake so you can change lanes ahead of them. Spaniards, on the other hand, are just as selfish as the Brits are selfless. In Spain, everyone assumes that you will also behave selfishly, so when you try to be polite to other drivers, they get confused or don’t trust that you’re really letting them merge. The Americans are somewhere in between.
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Why Christmas Is No Longer Special

January 06, 2011 By: erik Category: Family, Parenting, Partying, Spain

thumbToday is Kings Day, the traditional gift giving day in Catholic Spain. For people who prefer Christmas to be more about Baby Jesus than the North Pole, it makes more sense to give gifts on Epiphany, when tradition says that the Wise Men allegedly gave gifts to Jesus.

This morning, my mother-in-law articulated a concern I’ve been feeling but had yet to put into words:
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Social Networking and Flight Search Mashup Idea

November 02, 2010 By: erik Category: Internet, Musings

Suitcase SamI’ve got some extra vacation time to spend this year. I’d like to travel somewhere, but I don’t have any ideas. For the longest time I really wanted an app to show me all the places I can go from my local airport on a given week, but no one had anything like this. Recently, however, I have been blown away by the Kayak iPad app, which does just that, plus price range and temperature range sliders, and even checkboxes for pastimes like skiing, golf, beach, etc. It’s amazing.

But what I really want, and I suspect there are clever people coding this as I type, is a way to combine information from my social networks, primarily Facebook, with flight searches to find the best deals to go see my friends.
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Foreign Religions Make Hip Decorations

September 16, 2010 By: erik Category: Musings, Photos, Religion, Spain

Buddhist Bar Decorations (crop)Two new bars have opened up in town in the past year with the word Buddha in their name. One is an elaborately overdecorated tribute to British colonialism, with one section dedicated to Africa, complete with a life-sized plaster rhinoceros, and another section all about the Indian subcontinent. Despite the fact that it reeks of someone trying too hard to make their design point, I like it. Plus, they’re the only place in town with Grimbergen on tap.
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The Private Internet

September 06, 2010 By: erik Category: Geeky, Internet, Reviews

AOLbookRemember back in 1995, when companies didn’t advertise their internet urls so much, but their AOL keywords. “Find us online with AOL keyword ‘fluffy anvils’!” The reason this worked is that so many people connected to the internet via AOL that some people never even ventured out into the world wide web, but kept their entire online experience confined to AOL’s private servers. Corporations had, and I presume paid handsomely for, their own AOL pages.
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