Posts Tagged With: Personal

Wilderness first responder training

  • CMC brought in a Wilderness First Response expert to teach us first aid so we could be prepared while leading freshmen on orientation trips in the backcountry. We had been partying every night and everyone was hung over for the talk, but even so, the nonchalance of some group members towards the emergency training put me off. The guy at the front of the room was treated as an outsider. He was dressed like an outdoors guy and wasn't shy about discussing violent injuries or putting his hands on someone to demonstrate the correct way to administer aid. We all laughed nervously when he did this. There was a low chance we would have to use any of the training, but the consequences of failure in a risky situation are huge. I sat through most of the meeting imagining having to face a room full of lawyers and angry, sad parents, and focused the whole way. I thought about saying something to the group but decided that I probably just wanted to show how much I cared about the training. On the whole the benefit from acting cool (acting tired, telling jokes, telling asides) probably outweighed the potential cost of not paying close enough attention to the training.
  • The guy CMC brought in was clearly an expert who flew across the country helping educate people and advising other first responders on the best course of action. He must see people get maimed, mauled or killed every day in the backcountry. When he tries to educate people (us) on how to prevent deaths in the future, we respond by not taking him very seriously. That must have hurt, yet he seemed fairly resigned about the whole process.
  • I was surprised that so much of the treatment focused on correct diagnosis and response and so little focused on overcoming the social pressure to take it seriously. Anyone who's read about Kitty Genovese, the smoke alarm room experiment, or Asch's studies on conformity can tell you that a large component of the response is recognizing the problem. Furthermore, the victim will be under social pressure as well and might insist that they're fine even though they're dizzy, or they're beginning to get hypothermia. Other times victims might try to hide the problem; the most common place to find choking victims is on the floor in the bathroom, unconscious. When I expressed my worries the other leaders said "I think in the real situation we would know how to handle it." I had some confidence they could diagnose problems in freshmen but what if a fellow leader, or a teacher tagging along on the trip, needed treatment? There would be significant chance of social pressure inhibiting response.
  • I was also surprised that the Red Cross, the American Heart Association and our teacher's organization still disagree on the correct method of treatment in many cases. I asked the teacher why and he said that there are tradeoffs in liability, long-term patient safety and knowledge. Red Cross tends to go for "help the patient, deal with liability later" and teaches their courses in the simplest way they can imagine to maximize the chances you remember the training. This was more advanced and often corrected the training I'd gotten last summer for the Red Cross.
  • The teacher often corrected people's misconceptions about symptoms and treatment. Many of these are staggering. Drowning victims, for example, do not flail their arms.

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The infinite bits problem; skills I’d like to build upon

The other day I made this list of things I'd like to learn more about (within the next year). I'm convinced that not focusing on one area has really hurt my impressiveness, so I need to cull this down and ruthlessly prioritize. The first priority at this moment is landing a kickass job, so that'll take precedence. I started by deleting RSS feeds not related to these areas. If you don't at least have a list of skills you'd like to improve upon you're probably spinning your wheels. I welcome comments. Desired skills/areas of knowledge Increasing Productivity Better speaking Reading faster Management skills Making people happy Linear programming Accounting Interview - Conducting and Responding Programming (general) Finance (options, bonds) Reading faces Game Prospect theory "Finding alpha"-related theory (hurdle rate) Depression Asperger's Syndrome Ways to increase or lower someone's status Coaching/Leading people (basketball) Consulting (knowledge) Web Design Design/Usability Photoshop summer activities: working at atlassian explore green startup speech coach coaching AAU consulting blog reading 1 book a week practicing game thesis Filming myself omnifocus plugin/iphone app toastmasters (?) 10 informational interviews Weekly podcasts next fall activities: start-up business Advice for a quarter stand thesis apply for jobs the cmc forum (?) complete classes Robert Day coaching practice interview club good eating club Create online course guide for CMC students planned courses: programming (practice for the ACM) thesis accounting accounting linear programming next semester: philosophy neuroscience (fulfill bio GE) accounting/economics computer science

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Notes on a trip to Vegas

In no particular order:

  • Like Washington D.C., Las Vegas is best visited at around 3 AM. Everything is still open, the most interesting characters are out, it's warmish outside and the crowds are not there. You can cruise the whole Strip in the middle of the night and get all your sightseeing in. Especially with all the neon around.
  • I made two double-or-nothing bets for $20 each, one with better than 50% odds and one with slightly worse, and lost both. On a low bankroll stick to low bet sizes; the rush of winning comes more from winning than from winning large amounts. Walking out of a casino with more money than you walked in (and your share of free drinks) feels great.
  • Bill Gates used to pay for all of the high-roller accoutrements and then play $5 a hand blackjack. This site has a bunch of helpful tips about how to play blackjack, where to find low minimum tables, how to calculate the house edge based on the specific rules of the game, etc. I was surprised by the number of people who gambled but did not know basic strategy. Not knowing basic strategy is like walking by quarters on the ground without picking them up. Then again, gambling is all about throwing away money.
  • I would recommend starting with at least 10 times the minimum bet. If you aren't willing to risk that much money you probably shouldn't be playing. I did not follow my own advice but it was my first time going to Vegas in about ten years.
  • If you build an awesome new hotel, it helps my hotel because Vegas is a more attractive tourist destination. But it also hurts because people are going to want to go to the new hotel more than yours. Obviously it varies by hotel but my guess is that the first effect dominates. Note also that most of the casinos are owned by the same groups.
  • Be prepared to spend money. The goal of every hotel Las Vegas is to intertwine spending money with having a good time. Vegas will cater to your every whim if you are prepared to spend enough money. Needless to say your mindset towards your wallet is completely different when you're in Vegas; it's disorienting and glamorous, you're out with your friends and you want to impress them, etc. Even though I ended up spending less money than I had budgeted for the weekend, it was still surprising to see how fast it goes. It will go even faster if you're buying drinks in the clubs, which I didn't.
  • I could look at two people flirting and tell with around 95% confidence whether magic's going to happen or whether the guy should be trying his luck elsewhere. But when most guys are hitting on women, they tend to think the woman hasn't made up their mind yet, or that they can make a woman decide to go home with them, especially by spending money on drinks or access (bottle service) or gambling. This makes me tend to think that all of the positional purchases you can make in Vegas are the casinos rent-seeking from betas. Alphas will take what they want, and you can always have a good time without spending too much money.
  • I talked and danced with a few girls while I was there but I was fairly suspicious of hired guns, especially after a guy in the elevator told us he got robbed by a girl after bringing her back to his hotel room. If it looked too good to be true, it probably was.
  • You can play beer pong at Excalibur. You can bring your own cups and beer, too, and then go play the $3 minimums, some of the lowest on the Strip.

Las Vegas is the largest tourist trap in the world, a place with no inherent physical attraction. The whole place is designed to make you equate spending money with having a good time, and for the most part they are successful. On the whole I found the trip unfulfilling; there's always pressure to spend more and there's the constant feeling that Vegas people are only interested in you while you're spending money. Your best bet in Vegas is to find a niceĀ restaurant.

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Obscure Game

Create an obscure signal, poster, or status that only a few people on your campus will understand. You can't know any of the people and if absolutely no one understands the signal, you lose. Whoever gets the fewest number of people wins. Bonus points if a Google search won't help you figure out the answer. The idea is to confuse as many people as possible so if you actually know what's going on you'll feel special, or something like that. It's similar to the 'random game' we used to play in high school - think of the randomest person that everyone knows. I thought of this one today, but it's not too hard: "What about moccasins, waldfogel?"

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More books out of the library

It's 1 Am and I'm too lazy to add links, maybe later Tyler Cowen, Discover Your Inner Economist. Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion. Explain how large deposits of a valuable resource (diamonds, oil) can hurt the economies of a poor country. Dean Smith, The Carolina Way - Read to get better at coaching.

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Currently Reading:

I have these four books in my room, maybe I'll have time to read them, maybe I won't: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This book is about how bad we are at predicting unpredictability. Malcolm Gladwell has more. The Persistence of Poverty, by Charles Karelis. More at MarginalRevolution. Blue Blood, by Edward Conlon, because of this blog post at Freakonomics. And finally, The Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places, because this Larry Craig business is funny. This book is actually fascinating, if a bit off-putting.

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Advice For Prospective Penn Students

Number one, every student at Penn knows you are a prospective student. Not because you are gawking at all the buildings or you're with your parents (although these are good indicators). It's because you all walk around with a little white bag with a blue Penn crest on it. If you want to look like you fit in, ditch the bag. Number two, don't take pictures next to the Ben Franklin on a Bench on 37th street and locust walk. We giggle when you do so. Frat boys get drunk on the weekends and decide Mr. Franklin would make a great urinal. Number three, realize that (almost) everyone at Penn is extremely career driven. In Wharton and in Engineering it's expected that you will get a high-powered internship every summer. Less so, but barely, in the College. A Penn degree is a means, not an end. Number four, when you are trying to get to know a school, the tour and the admissions lecture should be just a start. You are going to commit four years of your life to one school or another; make sure the choice is the right choice for you. Have a long talk with someone who goes to the school. If you don't know anyone, ask your parents politely to scram and then find someone to tell you about their experience at Penn. I would suggest going to the dining hall or the library. If you're a preppy, pick someone wearing Ralph Lauren. If you're a hipster, find someone who looks like they belong in GQ. If you're an athlete, find someone wearing sweats. Aim to get this person (or group) to talk to you for at least an hour, but don't tell them that up front. This is possibly the best way to find out if a school's right for you: to talk to someone that's been there. Bullshit testimonials or blogs on an admissions website don't count. (I would be more than happy to show you around and talk to you, especially if you are friendly. This is a photo of me: If you are resourceful you can get in touch with me.) Number five, make sure you are nice to your parents. They are paying for (most of) you and while they may be embarrassing you in front of your peers it's probably only because they are freaking out about only being able to coddle you for another year. Your parents have invested a lot in you, be nice to them. Best of luck! Let me know if you pick Penn for next year.

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Prison Vouchers

What if prisoners, when sentenced, were given a voucher and could choose what prison they went to? As long as the state ensures prisons with escapees are heavily fined and prisons have minimum capacities, a voucher plan could do wonders for our overtaxed prison system. Heck, prisoners could even put up money to go to a better institution! Prisons would have to compete for money from prisoners, and prisons with the worst reputations would disappear. This would never get past Congress but I like it. I have to flush this idea out more.

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