Archive for March, 2009

Casino Float

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

I’ve been curious about the business of casino operation for a while. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the float on chips. People buy chips to play games. The chips can be out for a long time before being redeemed.  Chips are redeemed in one of two ways. One is that a customer of the casino returns them to the cashier. The other is that “the house” returns them to circulation. Since the casino has to retain cash to cover the value of outstanding chips they can’t actually benefit from float*. They can count the money as theirs only when the house itself returns the chips to the cashier.

In theory that doesn’t make much difference between the time chips leave the cashier and they time they return is usually pretty short – generally hours.  But sometimes chips stay unredeemed for long periods of time. Some are lost, some are saved as collectables (I have a small collection myself) and some are held in safe deposit boxes (by patrons) for later visits to the casino. In those cases the casino still has to keep cash at the casino to cover the value of chips that are long outstanding. And no float.

What I’ve been seeing lately is casinos bringing in new chips – changing the design, logo, colors, etc – and declaring the old chips no longer valid. They do this with plenty of warning of course. But at some point the chips are no longer redeemable chips in circulation and the casino can take the money that people paid for those chips and use it themselves. This is cheap profit – well as long as the chips cost less to buy than their face value. Since most chips are well less than a dollar to buy (probably much less than a dollar if bought in the bulk that casinos buy them) and a dollar is generally the lowest value chip I think that profit might be pretty good.

I do wonder how much money is involved though. I tend to expect people to turn in chips that are worth more than $5. I’ve sure a lot of $1, $2, $2.50, $3 and $5 chips are never turned in and that they add up to a good number. But how good a number? Is it lost in the noise of total profits or is it a significant number. I figure that casinos have to report this somewhere but I haven’t yet gone looking for it.

Just one more thing that makes casinos more complicated than they appear on the surface.

(*Float being taking advantage of the time between when the customer pays for the chips and the chips are redeemed to invest or earn interest)

Airport Annoyances

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

After a great start in an airport this morning I landed in Detroit later in the day. In many ways this is a nice airport. A single long terminal but there is a nice shuttle and lots of moving walkways. Also more and better food options than some places. But I had to pay for wi-fi and then there is the power situation.

I am sitting at my gate and there are as far as I can tell one pair of power sockets. Someone is laying in front of them while using both of them. She’s got one of those “leave me alone” faces on too. But I have a spare battery so I’m getting some work done anyway. I do wish I was plugged in though.

Airports should have more power outlets. MHT has added some recently BTW. And people who use limited sockets should really either limit themselves to one or use a power strip. I travel with a power strip BTW. If I want to plug in more than one thing in a public place I use it. It seems like the only reasonable thing to so.

Surprisingly few people seem to travel with power strips. They are always surprised when I pull mine out or suggest it as something to do. I would have thought it was an obvious thing to do these days. No?

Airports

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I spend a lot of time in airports these days. They are all pretty much the same but I am finding some things that differentiate them. Small things but after a while they add up. take comparing Manchester (MHT) and Logan (BOS).

Both are about the same difference in time and miles from my house. Well depending on the time of day. Getting to BOS for a morning flight can take upwards of 2 hours while it never takes more than 45 minutes to get to MHT. Big win MHT.

And wi-fi access? Free at MHT but expensive at BOS. Lots of airports have free wi-fi these days and while it is a small thing I see it as a leading indicator. Airports with free wi-fi seem to generally be more passenger friendly to me. They tend to all be cleaner, newer, have better amenities but also be smaller. Although Orlando airport is huge it does have free wi-fi and lots of other things to recommend it. Yeah I’m a fan.

MHT is smaller than BOS and that cuts both ways. As a plus if means you don’t have to go running around as much. One time I flew out of BOS on Delta and back on Northwest. That meant that the parking lot that was easy when I got there was a long walk when I got back. And heaven help you if you enter the wrong terminal for a flight!

Speaking of parking. MHT is $10 a day for long term parking while BOS is $24 a day. Huge difference and that has to be factored in when you price flights to/from either airport. For a five day trip a fare from BOS must be at least $70 less than MHT if you are going to leave your car at the airport. Yes at MHT you may have to take a shuttle but the shuttles are quick, clean and convenient when compared to a long walk through BOS Central Parking.

BOS has more food choices – they’re very limited at MHT. Sometimes that is a big plus for BOS. BOS also has more airlines and more direct flights. But prices? Usually I don’t find a lot of difference. Sometimes the flights are less expensive from BOS and sometimes from BOS. This is even without figuring in the costs of parking. Since MHT is much easier – physiologically even if the traffic is not an issue – to get to I find it a lot easier to find rides to MHT than to BOS. And honestly traffic is almost always an issue.

So hands down I need a really good reason to fly out of Logan (BOS) if I can also fly out of MHT. No contest.

Note: Written from gate 3 at MHT and posted using the free wi-fi.

Spam Phone Calls

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I’ve been on the Federal do not call list (sign up your phones at http://donotcall.gov) so when I get a span phone call I get annoyed. Today one came in and asked me to hit 6 to talk to a representative. I did.

After a minute a person asked if I was holding to lower my credit card interest rate. I replied that “I am if you can tell me who I am. Other wise I am holding to see if I should file a Federal complaint against you.”

Amazingly they hung up before I finished my statement. Do you think they realized that they were breaking the law?  At least I figure I cost them time and money.

I Think My Brain Is Getting Full

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Every so often I start to feel like there is no more room to stuff information in my brain. Today is one of those days. Now I know from experience that given a little time my brain will reorganize things and Ill be able to fit more in. I’m not sure if it tosses stuff away or what. I guess if it tossed information away it would probably do so in a way that I didn’t know it was missing. On the other hand from time to time it occurs to me that I used to know something that I can’t quite seem to remember.

Or maybe there is long term storage in my brain some where and it just takes a while for things to get moved there. A philosophical question perhaps?

None of this would be a problem if I felt like I already knew everything I wanted or even needed to know. But no! There is a lot I still want to learn.

Hopefully I’m just tired and I’ll be fine by Monday. Or maybe I need some time off. Frankly I think that this mental reorganization is what vacations and to some extent sleep are for.  So maybe I should get to bed? 🙂 No time for vacation just yet.

Anyone else ever feel this way? Is it an age thing do you think? Or am I just mentally deficient? (A claim that I have heard in the past but usually from really stupid people. 🙂 )

Hats

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I just don’t understand why more men don’t wear hats. The story I heard is that when JFK didn’t wear hats that was the beginning of the end. I have no idea if it is true but if it is that is not a credit to him.

I pretty much have practical reasons for wearing head coverings. I wear head coverings because I am short of hair covering my head. The sun in the summer and the cold in the winter and rain and wind all year round can make things uncomfortable for me. But I also like the way a good hat looks.

Yes I like hates. Not caps so much. Baseball style caps are just too informal for many occasions – as in pretty much anything but sports and recreation activities. I admit that I used to wear them but mostly because it was the socially acceptable sort of head covering to wear. But it never felt quite right so some time ago I decided to wear real hats again.

What’s the difference? Generally hats have a brim and caps don’t. Baseball caps have a visor. Brims go all he way around.

A hat is warmer in the cold weather. In warm weather I have a straw hat and a hat with ventilation so it can actually be cooler to wear a hat than not because of the sun protection. The brim also protects my ears and the back of my neck which caps do nothing for. It’s all good!

Lately I have bought some crushable felt hats. These are great because I can toss them in the suit case when I travel. Plus they really look nice and fit very comfortably. I have some non-crushable hats and in some ways they look nice. A good beaver felt hat can look really sharp. I have a high quality cowboy hat that I wore for many years. It needs either reblocking or replacing these days. I hope to get it reblocked. But at least you can do something with it. A cap gone bad pretty much just gets tossed out. And why not? But a hat has character and style. It’s real clothing.

24

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Don’t read this if you object to spoilers. You’ve been warned.

This show gets me worked up week after week. Were it not for my wanting to spend time with Mrs. T. who likes to watch it I wouldn’t watch.

Two things bother me about it. One is Jack Bauer. Yeah, he’s the hero. But the man is so into torture and it seems like each show brings things down to the bad guys winning (where the bad guys are defined as anti what ever Jack is for) or jack has to torture someone. And yet torture is bad/evil. Such a conundrum.

Of course it ignores that torture doesn’t always work. In fact if often backfires. So what we have are artificial cases that make it look like a bad thing gets a good result. The ends justifies the means? In this case they are building a straw man argument of sorts. What if they showed it sometimes not working? But on 24 is is so artificially clear that “torture is the answer.”

This is not a good thing. In fact I worry a little that the show is going to convince a lot of people that torture is ok if done by the good guys. Talk about a TV show teaching something about morality!

And the other part of the show that bothers me (this is the spoiler I warned you about). Some of the characters are complete idiots. The VP tonight should absolutely 100% without hesitation have ordered the re-taking of the White House. But no. He doesn’t want to be blamed for the off chance that someone could hold him responsible for the President getting killed. Ordering the retaking is still a no-brainer.

If he doesn’t order the re-taking they might get the President and bad things happen. (Which oh by the way exactly what is happening.) If he does order the retaking and the President is killed people will blame him. But at least the real bad guys lose. Probably he survives to finish the term as President. Maybe if he is as good as he things he is people forgive him for any bad that comes out of it and he gets reelected.  Fifty years from now someone will write about him and call the book “More Profiles in Courage” and he’ll have done the right thing. And maybe, and this has a high probability of happening, the President will be saved, the bad guys will be dead, the White House will be free. In the real work there is not Superman Jack Bauer. Dang how hard is this one to call?

Maybe idiot is not the right word. Maybe the right way to describe it is that people are so totally self-serving that they can’t put the good of the nation ahead of themselves. There are just so many of those characters on 24. Sometimes it makes we want to throw things. Arrggghh!

Now the President had a terrible choice tonight. Did she make the right decision? I don’t think so. Not on a rational logical basis. But of course you can’t make decisions about your children’s well being logically and rationally. On the other hand she is the President of the US! We ask a lot of those people.

Now I don’t fault her completely. I don’t know how I would have decided and perhaps I would have done the same. But just once I want to see someone do something genuinely heroic at great personal cost. I want to cry for them in their pain rather than wait for some deus ex machina Jack Bauer to make things right.

Yeah I’m grumpy. 24 does that to me.