Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Donuts

Donuts this week courtesy of Shubhajit Mitra. As he particularly mentioned Memorial Day, and the importance of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States’ armed forces, here’s a story about soldiers and donuts, courtesy of NPR. If you feel particularly inspired by the story, you can support NPR here, and the American Red Cross here.

The story starts when Russ Roberts, a George Mason University economist, started hearing about how veterans don't like the Red Cross. That struck him as odd, and when he asked about it, he always got the same answer: the doughnuts.
"And I thought, the doughnuts?" Roberts says. "What could that be?"
Go to any VFW hall, even today, and you'll get the same story: During World War II, the Red Cross had comfort stations for soldiers overseas, with free coffee and free doughnuts. Then, in 1942, the Red Cross started charging for the doughnuts. Soldiers have held a grudge ever since.
Turns out it's true.
"It keeps coming up, that they were charged for coffee and doughnuts," says Susan Watson, archivist for the Red Cross.
The organization started charging only because the U.S. Secretary of War asked it to. British soldiers had to pay for their snacks, and the free doughnuts for Americans were causing tensions. So the Red Cross complied, after protesting to no avail. It didn't last long — for most of the last 70 years, Red Cross doughnuts have remained free — but veterans haven't forgotten.
Chalk it up to something called categorical change, says Uri Simonsohn, a University of Pennsylvania business professor. Price changes, people can adjust to. But this was different.
"Imagine, for Thanksgiving, you go to your parents' for dinner and after a nice dinner they say, 'That's going to be $10 per person,' " Simonsohn says. "You would be upset."
The problem isn't the price — $10 for a good turkey dinner might not be such a bad deal — but that you're being charged in the first place. It changes the relationship. For the veterans, the Red Cross went from being a little like Mom, to being the corner store.

So for all the Internet companies out there looking to charge for your service — take heed. Changing categories is really difficult.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I lived to come to donuts!

I went mountain biking with Filipe on Sunday, on the Milwaukee River Trail. It was pretty great, but at one point, as I was trying to negotiate a narrow curve between a tree on one side and eternity on the other, I found myself having to confront both. Trying to sneak too close to the tree, I banged my shoulder into it and ended up flying off the other side of the trail. As I vaulted four feet sideways and four feet down to land with a kersplash in the river, I thought of donuts and you, my beloved colleagues. To my surprise, I survived to crawl ashore. Lucky to be alive, I’ll be at Wednesday Donuts this morning, counting my blessings. I hope you’ll be there too. LAP S185. 10am.

PS->Donuts this week courtesy of Dr. Colin Scanes. In Dr. Scanes’ honor, I’ve composed a song of thanks, sung to the tune of O Tannenbaum:
Oh, Colin Scanes Oh, Colin Scanes
Your wallet held a twenty
Oh, Colin Scanes Oh, Colin Scanes
You’re generous in summertime
I put this line in ‘cause it rhymes
Oh, Colin Scanes Oh, Colin Scanes
I found you in your office
Oh, Colin Scanes Oh, Colin Scanes
Of all the Bio faculty
You seem the most British to me
Oh, Colin Scanes Oh, Colin Scanes

Your wallet held a twenty.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's Evil Sara's Last Donuts!

Our little undergrad is growing up. I can still remember when she joined the lab. Heidi and I went to help proctor Dr. Alberto’s stats exam, and looking over all the innocent faces I asked Heidi, “Which one’s our one?” When she pointed Evil Sara out I thought, “Hmm, interesting.” But she was barely even “Bad Sara” then. In the intervening year or so, she’s grown as a scientician and as a villain, so that now we’re proud to call her the best undergraduate we’ve ever worked with (N=1). And she’s leaving us for greener pastures. Not until August, really, but she’ll only be around the lab one day a week after Friday…and it’s not Wednesday, sadly.

PS->Donuts this week courtesy of EVIL SARA! I’ve already talked enough about her, though. You know what else is great? My motorcycle. It’s a Ducati 900SS. Beautiful, and looks fast (but isn’t really that fast, by Ducati standards). I keep trying to convince my wife that we need more motorcycles, but she doesn’t really believe it.

Wonuts? Bah, back in my day...

So, I read on this newfangled inter-net blog from NPR that there’s a new donut hybrid available:
Personally, I just can’t understand this trend. First you have your cronut, then the sconut, then the blonut (that’s the bubblegum-filled one that’s so popular now). Where does it end?
In my day, we were happy if the donuts were filled at all. Sometimes it was mustard, but we were still happy. Those were different times, back in the mid-2000s. That’s why we stick with the old ways at Wednesday Donuts. No fusion donuts here, just old-fashioned donuts for people with old-fashioned ivory tower values.
Wednesday Donuts – LAP S185 10am.

PS->Donuts this week courtesy of Dr. John Berges. Dr. Berges is Canadian, eh. In Canada the national religion is to worship a former hockey player, Tim Horton. Some people go to the Tim Horton temple every day. With that level of religious fervor, it might be time for some drone strikes. Just saying. Canadians are good people though, because they share our Wisconsinian love of cheese that’s chewed up and spit out. Our mutual love of cheese curds may protect us in the event of a donut-themed religious war...