March 2018

I’ll be traveling from 3/20-3/30 to Denmark and Sweden, and I’ll leave a recounting of that trip for its own blog post, so this will be highlights from the last two weeks.

Most importantly, I’ve been giddy and nervous about some really exciting news that isn’t quite signed, sealed, and delivered, so I will wait until April to talk about it for worry of jinxing it!

First off, I got a new phone, a Pixel 2, which has been pretty much the same thing as my previous Pixel XL, but investing $700 in a shiny gadget that fits in your palm is always exciting. I particularly liked how quick it was to switch over (a few minutes of plugging the old phone to the new one transferred pretty much everything I needed), which I recall definitely not being the case with new devices even just a few years ago.

One thing that unfortunately didn’t transfer over was my Set statistics (If you’ve read my last end-of-year post, you’ve seen my raves about this mobile app version of the card game). Luckily, I had just taken a screenshot of my stats to show Bo before I switched phones (yes, I brag about my stats to my girlfriend).


As you can see, after 550 games, my record time was 01:58 and my mean time was 04:30. I roughly calculated the variance by eyeballing the heights of the columns and calling those 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 games, etc. The variance was 1:37.

So when I switched phones and started with a clean record board, and I played two games…


… I ended up with two of the fastest games I had ever played. It’s time for some quick math again. The z-score of a 2:00 game, if my gameplay were a standard normal distribution, would be -1.54; if it were lognormally distributed, the z-score would be -2.58. That means that the chance of me playing a sub-2:00 game at that moment was on the range of 0.5-6%, likely closer to the lower end (visual inspection of the histogram seems to match the math). And to have done it twice in a row, let’s just call that a 1 in 1000 chance.

So it seemed like quite a big deal, like I was on a whole different level now, but after a few more games, this is what my stats looked like:


Alas, no more sub-2:00 games, and the mean has reverted to 3:33. For those of you who’ve read Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman and Tversky, you may recognize my experience as a natural example of regression toward the mean. But I’m also improving by skill, because the chance of 60 games with a mean of 3:33 is actually much more unlikely than two sub-2:00 games (off the z-charts).

In summary, probability is fascinating, and so is Set.

In other news, I’ve been listening to NPR’s Austin 100, and as I usually do, I made my own “Austin 20”. I think the standouts are G Flip, Gordi, and IDER, if you’re even shorter on time. I’ve been to SXSW just once, on a Spring Break tour with my college a cappella group The Mendicants, and pretty much just experienced it as peering through a window at a Snoop Dogg concert. I’d definitely love to make it down there for real sometime soon.

The last two weeks have seen some exciting singles from Beach House’s upcoming album, as well as the full Yo La Tengo album, but the biggest discovery for me has been Japanese Breakfast (thanks again to an All Songs Considered episode). I think I had basically missed Japanese Breakfast because their single “Everybody Wants to Love You” from a few years ago, when it was making the rounds, seemed a bit too low-fi/surfer for my tastes. In fact, both Psychopomp and the latest Soft Sounds From Another Planet are surprisingly diverse, lush, and beautiful albums in their entirety. Just a list of songs from those two albums that I can’t stop listening to:

  • “Heaven”
  • “The Woman That Loves You”
  • “Jane Cum”: Incredible range and emotion.
  • “Triple 7”
  • “Diving Woman”: Channels a serious rock band, like The War on Drugs.
  • “Road Head”
  • “Machinist”: Oh my god, what a fun song. I still can’t place my finger on what this reminds me of, but it’s basically an anime dream.
  • “Boyish”: Channels Angel Olsen.

I’m looking forward to seeing Michelle Zauner play at the Fox (opening for Belle & Sebastian) in June! And this past week I went with Bo to see Lorde (with Run the Jewelz strangely as opener), in which the basic girls made us feel old and Lorde killed it with a tricked-out rendition of my favorite song of hers, “Ribs”.

26 is just around the corner, with a lot to behold!


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