Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: November 2004 (page 1 of 2)

What's the Matter With Kansas?

What’s The Matter With Kansas?I heard about Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter With Kansas? on The Daily Show shortly after the presidential election. The author caught my interest and I picked up a copy of the book. I found this book to be a great read. He does a good job of looking at historical precedent and taking apart what has changed.

From the book:

A while back the Wall Street Journal ran an essay about a place where hatred trumps bread, where a manipulative ruling class has for decades exploited an impoverished people while simultaneously fostering in them a culture of victimization that steers this people’s fury back persistently toward a shadowy, cosmopolitan Other. In this tragic land unassuageable cultural grievances are elevated inexplicably over solid material ones, and basic economic self-interest is eclipsed by juicy myths of national authenticity and righteousness wronged.

The essay was supposed to be a description of the Arab states in their conflict with Israel, but when I read it I thought immediately of my dear old Kansas…

Frank does not write from the center. He clearly is pro-liberal, pro-union and pro-choice. However, the text does not turn into self-righteous drivel. In fact, he takes issue with the lack of liberal attitudes in the democratic party — pointing out the weakness that now dominates it.

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland is a really great movie. We went to see it today during a matinee and it seems others had this idea as well. The movie was in one of the smaller theatres and it was packed for a 2:00pm matinee. Johnny Depp is great in this story about the making of Peter Pan.

I will not try to summarize the story only to tell you that there were very few dry eyes leaving the theater. The story takes a sad and heartfelt turn at the end.

You will not regret parting with your $8 for this one.

iMac G5

Those of you that have had to endure me rambling on and on about computers at some time probably know that I cut my teeth in the world of Apple. Actually, my computer lineage is like this:

TI-99/4A begets Apple //c begets Fat Mac begets Macintosh IIc begets “the wonderful world of Unix” begets Windows NT and on and on…

I was a huge Mac fan (err, zealot?) when that wondrous thing called multi-finder was released. I was eager to see the first color Mac. I really like these machines, but I got so frustrated with the sad excuse for an operating system that I had to bail. Additionally, they just don’t carry any weight in the business world.

I’ve been excited about Mac OS X for a while now and I finally took the plunge. They had a one day sale and I decided it was time to get an iMac. I got the 20″ iMac G5. It’s the most visible computer in our house so I appreciate the aesthetics. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun.

I just got it set up tonight. It’ll take a while to stop fumbling around in this thing. I’ll share my re-acquaintance experiences as it goes.

Change Game


When my wife and I decided to get married and start living together she found one of my habits to be a little annoying. It’s a habit that most guys have regarding change. Most guys probably have a jar, shoebox, or some other type of container that is filled with spare change. At the end of the day, you simply empty your pockets of change and put it in there. I had, over the years filled various containers full of change and every few years would lug it to the bank to be counted.

She didn’t think much of the boxes of change sitting around, so she tried to convince me to make a game out of using my change. Instead of thinking of all that spare change as a nuisance, it was a challenge to figure out how to use it in the right combinations. The goal of the game? To complete a cash transaction and have no change left in your pocket.

My slightly obsessive nature took this game and just ran with it of course! If you wish to play along, continue reading.

Recommended Equipment

The change game requires no equipment at all, but even intermediate players will find that their game play is improved with a simple coin purse. Here is an example of a leather coin purse that is ideal for the change game. [Buy one here!]

Coin purses can also be found in plastic, however they do not wear as well as the genuine leather type. This coin purse will allow you to keep your change organized, and by simply squeezing it’s sides the change game enthusiast can determine their change situation.


There are only a few rules to the change game.

  1. The ‘Give a penny, take a penny’ tray is completely out-of-bounds for the change game. You may not deposit a penny, or any other coin, into it or use a coin from it in your transaction. Ever!
  2. You cannot tip your way to a win. Simply taking the change you have and putting it in a tip jar disqualifies a win.
  3. The value of the coin is irrelevent for the change game, you only care about the number of coins. Having three quarters is as close to winning as three pennies.
  4. You win when you have no coins left!

Basic Strategy

When playing the change game you need to keep an eye on your current status. Strategically, certain combinations of coins are more likely to yield a win or be used quickly. Also, remember that small coins can be moved quickly.

For example, while 5 pennies are a lot of coins, you can use them very quickly as a nickel substitute.

A great tip while playing the change game is to combine nickels and dimes in place of quarters.

Advanced Strategy

To the uninitiated the change game can be a simple game of luck. It seems straightforward that you will have a set amount of change, hopefully less than $0.99, and the transaction will require change between $0.01 and $0.99. You have a 1 in 99 chance of winning. However, this assumes that the change required for transactions is evenly distributed.

To test wether this is indeed the case we analyzed 2,886 transactions over a 7 year period. These 2,886 transactions excluded restuarant bills (since they are typically rounded with a tip) and recurring payments or utility bills that would bias a specific cent value. We also excluded all transactions over $1,000 since it would be unlikely that cash would be used in such a transaction. The average transaction was $61.15 and the median was $35.29, with 1,850 of the samples being below $50, a very reasonable amount for a cash transaction. We then plotted the distribution of the change required for these transactions.

The distribution is not even. Nine values appear over 40 times in this analysis: $0.02, 0.04, 0.50, 0.80, 0.90, 0.94, 0.95, 0.98 and 0.99. While these 9 numbers only represent 9.1% of the possible winners, they are 15.8% of the transactions. In fact, if you just focus on the values above $0.90, those four values which only represent 4.0% of the possible outcomes are 7.8% of the actuals.

It is also clear that certain ranges or values should be avoided. There are nine more values that appear fewer than 20 times: $0.12, 0.27, 0.31, 0.33, 0.41, 0.58, 0.62, 0.66 and 0.74. While these should represent 9.1% of the winners, they actually are only 5.3%. Clearly combinations that should be avoided.

In general you can observe in the pattern that the range above $0.50 has a slightly higher likelihood of winning than the range below it.


You win the change game when you have depleted all of your coins. The coin purse on the left is an example of an ‘in play’ player and the coin purse on the right is after winning (the safety pin is not relevant to the change game).

Thingelstads Announce Pregnancy

MINNETONKA, Nov 25, 2004 (BABYWIRE) — Jamie and Tammy Thingelstad took a moment out of their Thanksgiving day activities to announce they are pregnant with their first child. The couple are ecstatic with the news and eager to let friends and family know.

The Thingelstads had decided that it was time to start a family shortly after getting married in 2002. After an unsuccesful attempt last year they were eager to try again. Tammy suspected that she was pregnant after having continual cravings for Lion’s Tap cheeseburgers. She took a home pregnancy test and was excited to see the good news. It was very early though and the couple kept the news close.

After passing the first trimester the couple made a trip to get an ultrasound as initial tests for the heartbeat were not successful. The ultrasound showed a healthy, early stage baby with two legs, two arms, a huge head and a quickly beating heart. While conducting the ultrasound it kicked a few times and spun around. Fetal movement is a great sign of a healthy baby.

This is the first grandchild for both sets of grandparents. Upon reaching them they were overjoyed. Kaye Olson, mother of Tammy, simply shrieked after hearing the news! Rosalin Chrest, mother to Jamie, was excited to hear the news and started sewing baby clothes immediately. Meanwhile Don Olson, famed softball coach and father to Tammy, immediately renewed his contract with the local girl’s softball league and quickly joined Tammy in hoping for a daughter. The numerous aunt’s of the future child were all delighted as well.

The Thingelstads are looking forward to a smooth pregnancy and a new member to the family in June of 2005. Tammy is hopeful the child will not take after her husband’s 9 lbs 8 oz birth.

About the Thingelstads

Jamie and Tammy Thingelstad reside in Minnetonka, Minnesota with their cats Logan and Gypsie. They have been married since July, 2002. The couple enjoys outdoor activities and decorating a very colorful house.

SOURCE: Thingelstad’s

Jamie and Tammy Thingelstad

Xbox Mod Night

Circuit boards, chinese takeout and ultrageek action. What can be more fun!? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. :-)

Operation was successful on the first try. Now it’s time to play with the software side of things. Big thanks to Chris and Chad! That nice soldering work is all Chris, can’t take any of the credit for that.


I just finished reading what has to be one of the stranger books I’ve read. Stiff is in a way like an owners guide for future cadaver owners. That is to say, all of us. Mary Roach goes into impressive, if not at times unsettling, detail about the processes by which cadavers contribute to education, safety and numerous other ventures. It is initially off-putting but after a few chapters is very interesting.

I found the references to pre-1900 practices of regarding cadavers to be alarming and the advancements of recent years interesting. Perhaps most interesting was the next to last chapter regarding ecological burial. Most interesting I think was understanding how radically different various cultures work with cadavers and in general human remains.

Interesting read, glad to have read it, don’t think I’ll read it a second time.

MarketWatch Acquired by Dow Jones

News hot off the wire! MarketWatch is being purchased by Dow Jones. Still very early. It’s great news on many fronts with lots of open questions still to be figured out.


This morning we had a mini-fiasco right here at home! Tammy was taking pictures with the Canon Digital Elph. If you are not familiar, this is a tiny camera that you can put in your pocket. Great little camera. She was sitting on the floor taking pictures of Gypsie. I got my big camera and took a picture of her and Gypsie. Tammy decided it would be funny to put the wrist strap for the Elph around Gypsie’s neck and I could take a picture. This is where the fiasco starts.

Gypsie moved her head and got freaked out at the noise of the camera. She immediately went into hyper-frenzy mode and made a bucking bronco at the rodeo seem tame. She ran through the chairs of the dining room table. Across the living room floor. Jumping up and down as she could to free herself. Meanwhile this not-terribly-cheap piece of electronics is draging on the floor, banging into chairs and smacking against anything else nearby.

Gypsie then ran into our bedroom where she somehow got the camera tangled into the pull on our blinds and she actually ripped the blinds off the window! Who would have thought this cat had such mighty strength! She ran under the bed and at somepoint everything got all tangled up and she broke free of this weight on her neck.

Amazingly enough, the camera has some dents but it works fine still. The blinds require some crazy glue. Tammy was laughing like a maniac at all this. It was quite funny but I was freaked about the gear. After a deep breath, everything is fine. I really wish we had video of it though — was really funny.

Check In

So far, so good in the quest to return to normalcy on the bathroom scale. Mostly the sugar headaches are gone. Body is getting used to eating 4 meals a day and going to bed hungry. I feel good, even a little excited. Not logging food is nice, but I question the effectiveness. I know this is just my obsessive nature kicking in, so it’ll be cool. Friday set my starting point at 271.2 lbs and 29.7% body fat. I need to get back to my “100 Pound” mark so that means 232, the math is simple — I’ve got 40 lbs to lose. Whew!

To give some perspective here is a view of the last four-and-a-half years. Yes, that really is 340 in the upper left hand corner. I certainly am good at moving the line in either direction. Time to move it on down. :-)

Time for the weekend. This week I really just focused on eating well. Didn’t do anything other than my weekly workout with my trainer for exercise. Next week I need to get the exercise rolling.

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