Thursday, 11 November 2010

Make you go Hrrrrmm...

  • It takes 7 seconds for food to pass from your mouth to your stomach
  • A human hair can hold 3kg
  • The length of the human penis is 3 times the length of the thumb
  • The femur is as hard as concrete
  • A woman's heart beats faster than a man's
  • Women blink twice as much as men
  • We use 300 muscles just to keep our balance when we stand
  • The woman has finished reading this whole text, the man is still looking at his thumb

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Banking Greed

I volunteer a few hours a week to a local soup kitchen / community centre here in Toronto.

The clients are, to put it mildly, poor. Some are living on disability cheques, old age pensions, some on welfare and a few are living by means unknown but they all have one thing in common. The need for a bank account.

A client at the centre recently asked me why he was being charged a monthly $5.00 fee on his account and having been a former banker, I had no good reason to offer him.

Let's see...

  • The bank gets his money direct deposited electronically so no teller is involved
  • I'm pretty sure that even as an account holder, he wouldn't be allowed to enter a bank let alone deal directly with the teller in person so no he's not a "high maintenance" client
  • The client has no credit cards, no line of credit, no loans, mortgages and no overdraft protection so he's not a potential credit risk
  • His account balance is never high enough to get any interest paid 
  • He is not likely to be writing many cheques and I doubt does more than 2-3 ATM debits a month
  • Of the ATM withdrawls he does, he can only do them in $20.00 increments so at the end of the month, there's likely some amount < $20.00 remaining in his account which rolls over monthly and the bank pools this with the rest of it's deposits
To put it bluntly, this guy is a LOW net worth individual but every month, like clockwork, he gets ding'd with a $5.00 fee for the privilege of banking with XXXX. Considering his gross income, that $5 is a fair chunk of change. That represents what he may spend on food for a day yet he has to pay it out to a corporation that last quarter made in excess of $1.28 Billion in profit.

I know all the arguments in favor of the fees. Hell, I used to spout them off when friends of mine bitched to me when I was in banking. This guy's money is safe, he's got convenient and secure access to his funds anytime he wants it through ATMs or Debit Card purchasing. The bank's invested huge amounts of money in the infrastructure to set up the network of ATMs. Etc..etc..etc..

But wouldn't it be possible for the banks in general to set up some kind of "Fee Waiver" program for anyone receiving Social Assistance ? I know the bank can tell where his monthly stipend is coming from. Just flag his account and the fee gets waived.

Let's do a little experiment. We're going to focus on just the homeless for this experiment, not the poor, the disabled, those on old age pensions, the underemployed or those just living below the poverty line. Just the homeless ok ?.............In Canada there are estimated to be somewhere around 150,000 - 300,000 homeless people.
Despite the visibility of homelessness in Canada, there are no accurate national statistics on the size of the homeless population.13 Canada's National Secretariat on Homelessness has estimated that the problem affects approximately 150,000 people,14 although other reports identify as many as 300,000 homeless in Canada.15
Lets say that the XXXX bank mentioned above was the ONLY bank that the homeless can deal with and they waive the $5.00/month fee for them all. Worst case scenario is that the bank would be out $1.5 Million a month in revenue ($5 x 300,000) or $4.5 Million a Quarter. The bank's Profit would drop by 3/10ths of a percent.

Read this sentence over carefully and then let it sink in.

If bank XXXX waived it's monthly banking fees for every homeless person in Canada, their profit would drop by 0.03%

While it may not be sexy imagery on Bay St. I would think a few posters showing a homeless person holding a mug of hot soup on a cold wet and snowy winter night or something like this would go a long way to guilting the shareholders out of 3/10 of a percent in profit................

(short notice and I'm not an artist)



Monday, 8 November 2010

Destination Toronto

Here's a look around my current stomping grounds, Downtown Toronto, Canada.
I've highlighted a few of the more "Tourist" oriented areas that may be of interest for those of you who've never been here.

If you want to read more about Toronto, I'd suggest that you look at sites like

View Downtown Toronto, SightSeeing in a larger map

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Time Lapse Wizardry

I've recently developed an interest in photography and while reviewing some of my favorite sites I came across the following videos. It's incredible that this is all possible with little more than an idea, some relatively inexpensive kit and an investment of time.

I really enjoyed them in fullscreen and hope you do too.

(courtesy of The Awesomer and Vimeo)

The talented Mike Flores used 2 custom track and dolly systems that he engineered himself to craft this gorgeous time-lapse montage showreel using a Canon 5DII. Very nicely done.

Shot by Sam Javanrouh with a Canon 5D Mark II, this 347 frame video of a Toronto lightning storm shows that it can strike twice–multiple times for the CN Tower in the middle.

Time lapse video of night sky as it passes over the 2009 Texas Star Party in Fort Davis, Texas. The galactic core of Milky Way is brightly displayed. Images taken with 15mm fisheye lens.

Simon Christen shot time-lapse videos of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the result speaks for itself. Nick Cave’s music helps a lot too. Go grab a cold one and watch the HD version in full screen.

Lotto Blotto

I, like many Canadians have been playing the various lotteries for some time now. Whether it's the pool at work, the impulse buy when getting change at the store or the last minute "Hail Mary" ticket when I realize that the lottery's damn big and for a few bucks I'll roll the dice.

Over time, as I began to amass nothing but mostly loosing tickets, I began to keep an eye on just how much I was spending. Now I realize that playing the lottery is more about the entertainment than anything else. Afterall, for your $2 you're getting the chance to dream about "What if I was the lucky winner.......".

The actual odds of winning a jackpot on Lotto649 are astronomical (see below) but there are people that indeed win and some of them win HUGE!

So over time, and relying on my Googl'ing skills, I began to search for the stories of winners, if only so I could live vicariously through their fortune. Think of it as my own voyeuristic trip that would likely be the closest I ever became a multi-gazillionaire. It seems that the actual winners of lotteries are a private bunch cause I didn't find a single website by a jackpot winner, or at least one that was marginally believable. Maybe they're required to sign a non-disclosure document when picking up the million dollar cheques ?

What I did find online was a huge array of "Lottery Systems", books, wheels and methodologies that promised to either win you the jackpot of your dreams or at the very least improve your chances. Now I'm not a mathematician but I am fairly sure I have a firm grasp of the concept of randomness......but.....I was willing to listen...up to a point. Personally, I felt that if any of these systems/schemes could in fact improve your chances, the authors wouldn't be too inclined to share their secrets with the rest of us (too busy jet setting and sipping bubbly). But, who knows.....there actually might be a few "Rain Man" intuitive lottery masters who have an altruistic streak and are willing to share their knowledge with us afterall (wanna bet on that one ?)

So here I am, handy with Excel and with a few hours to kill & I decided I would look at the underlying statistics and trends of the game for myself. What follows is not a system for beating the odds (technically you can't in a random system) but instead, a look at the various HISTORICAL patterns that have cropped up over the years. I've also tossed in some simple & intuitive ideas but as always...Caveat Emptor !!

Why did I choose Lotto649 ? Simply put, it's the cheaper of the major National lotteries here in Canada and also, it's the longest running that I could obtain all the historic data from which the following stats and analysis is derived. So without further ado, let's dive in and see what we can interpret.

First off, we'll explore some fun and interesting Lotto649 Odds'n Facts. Here's your chance to get a quick dose of reality. Then we'll move along with some of the basic Historical Stats & Trends. This is where the websites I mentioned above would have you drinking the Kool-Aid and believing in discernible patterns from which predictions can be made.

Here are a few little facts about your odds of winning the Lotto649 specifically and the lottery in general.
  • You have a better chance of being killed in a Terrorist Attack while travelling (1 in 650,000)
  • You have a better chance of dying of a Flesh Eating Disease (1 in 1,000,000)
  • You have a better chance of being killed by lightning (1 in 56,439)
  • If you bought 50 Tickets a week, chances are you would win ONCE every 5,000 years
  • You could cover every possible combination of numbers and win, but it'd cost you $27,967,632
  • The number 13 is rarely drawn in the month of April
  • In Canada, winners do NOT pay Income Tax on the winnings, only on the interest earned on the principal in subsequent years
  • If your numbers start with 24 or higher, your chances of winning the jackpot are extremely slim. The same goes for any numbers that end in 26 or less
  • Approximately 72-74% of adult Canadians or more than 16 million people play the lotteries. Of this number, around 50% buy Quick Picks chosen by the lotteries' computers
  • Per adult population, Nova Scotians gamble the most, followed by Saskatchewans
  • The highest frequently drawn number, 31, appears the most in the 4th position
  • The Best 2 Numbers, 20 with 43, also show up quite frequently in the Overall Best 3 Numbers and seem to be drawn more with 1st position numbers, 9 and 2
  • Since the beginning of Lotto 6/49, 6 out of 10 draws have had at least one repeating number from the immediate previous draw
  • At least one Prime Number has been drawn in 90% of all draws
  • The most popular drawn combination of Odd and Even numbers has been 3 Odd and 3 Even

First Number
  • Starting your number selection is important
  • If you start your numbers with a 1, then you have 13,983,816 combinations to choose from.
  • If you start your numbers with a 2, then you have 12,271,512 combinations to choose from, BUT you are lessening your ability to win by 1,712,304 (13,983,816 - 12,271,512) combinations
  • Starting your numbers with a 3, you have 10,737,573 combinations to choose from. However you have now reduced your ability to win by 3,246,243 (13,983,816 - 12,271,512) combinations
  • For numbers starting with a 4, there are 9,366,819 combinations to choose from and your ability to win has now been dropped by 4,616,997 (13,983,816 - 9,366,819) combinations. That's a whopping 33 percent or 1 in every 3 draws that you are missing out on the Jackpot
  • If you examine Position Frequency percentages you will see that the first three numbers (1, 2, 3) in the first position of Winning Numbers account for approximately 32 percent of all draws while the first four numbers (1, 2, 3, 4) account for approximately 42 percent of all draws
  • So the higher the number you start with, the lower the opportunity you have of winning the Jackpot

    Prizes and chance of winning (source Wikipedia)

    Number of Matches
    Probability of Winning on a $2 play
    Share of 80.5% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 13,983,816
    5/6 + Bonus
    Share of 5.75% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 2,330,636
    Share of 4.75% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 55,492
    Share of 9% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 1,033
    $10 prize
    1 in 56.7
    2/6 + Bonus
    $5 prize
    1 in 81.2
    Any prize
    1 in 32.3
    If a jackpot of $30 million or higher is not won, the following prize structure applies to all subsequent draws until the jackpot has been won. This does not apply to bonus jackpots.
    Number of Matches
    Probability of Winning on a $2 play
    Share of 40% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 13,983,816
    5/6 + Bonus
    Share of 16% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 2,330,636
    Share of 15% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 55,492
    Share of 29% of the Pool's Fund
    1 in 1,033
    $10 prize
    1 in 56.7
    2/6 + Bonus
    $5 prize
    1 in 81.2
    Any prize
    1 in 32.3
    Draws are held weekly on Wednesday and Saturday, executed with a Ryo-Catteau Tulipe ball machine by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation.
    What we spend on gambling, by income group
    After-tax income
    Average expenditure
    Expenditure as percentage of total income
    All Canadians
    Less than $20,000
    $20,000 to $39,999
    $40,000 to $59,999
    $60,000 to $79,999
    $80,000 and over
    Source: Statistics Canada Survey of Household Spending
Below are a few Historical Statistics that illustrate various trends over time with Lotto649. While there is no doubt that there are indeed trends over time, even if you filtered your own number selections to fall within the ranges specified within these trends, you're still playing a RANDOM game.

    (Clicking on the photos will enlarge them in your browser)