I leave you paintball kids alone for 1 day and look what you do!  Y’all go off and find the newest, goofiest, and most suspicious thing you can and some of you call it awesome!  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, a new company just debuted over on the corner of internet for all things paintball.  Paintball Marketing(the company not the actual practice) has blasted onto the scene with this wonderful tidbit.

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I’ve composed a showcase of the 5 e-marketing in paintball posts. Enjoy.
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How can paintball rules be written to minimize issues with ‘cheating’ and maximize objective enforcement?

credit: Dye Paintball Blog

Paintball Ref Prepares for a Match

 

This is the hot topic of the week over at Paul Richard’s View From The Deadbox blog here and here.

Considering the year I spent contributing to creating the National Paintball League’s Rulebook, I thought I might be able to add a valuable 2 cents to this discussion.

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Yes, they do.

Credit to Memegenerator.net

When a major brand sponsors an athlete or league, they trade a mixture of cash, product, and services(that have a dollar value) in order to be featured prominently in association with the sponsored entity.  This makes business sense because both parties get something of value.  But what does it mean to be sponsored in paintball?  Do both parties get something of value?  Is this a real sponsorship deal or just a way to move product and get cheap advertising?

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89 cents

What is a paintballer worth to advertisers?

Do you know the value of getting your brand in front of one person?  Can you estimate how much effort is profitable or not?  If you are considering advertising, how much do you budget and what do you target for return on that investment? Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, we looked at the top of paintball for examples of how established businesses utilize e-marketing channels.  What if you don’t reside in the rare air of the established premium brands?  What if you have more ideas and goals than budget to spend on slick advertising buys? Read the rest of this entry »

Paintball is both a sport and a recreational activity.  Where most see camouflage and sneaking around in wooded places, a few see a sport that has it’s own celebrities, banner events, and prestigious titles.  Within this niche sport, two companies battle it out for the top share of participants’ wallets. Read the rest of this entry »

*Note to Regular Readers: 

This post dives into economics.  I know it isn’t my usual content here but I tutor students in this topic on a daily basis and felt very strongly that some records needed to be set straight when I read Paul Krugman’s “Bits and Barbarism” Op-Ed in the NY Times.  I’ve attempted to make this consumable for all audiences but it may be a bit dry for those of us who prefer reading about workouts and challenges.  I encourage each of you to read this, and the original article which is linked in the first paragraph, and ask questions if you don’t understand something.  Being financially literate and making well thought out decisions is a foundational skill right along side being physically literate and knowing the difference between productive exercise and destructive exercise. 

Cheers, 

Patrick Smith

 

Dr. Paul Krugman is a smart man and an opinionated man. But for whatever reason, he has taken a position on BitCoin that is negative and short sighted. He wraps up his allusion to BitCoin mining as a fools gold rush by saying that,

“we are, for some reason, digging our way back to the 17th century.” -Krugman, Bits and Barbarism, NYTimes, Dec 23, 2013

My issues with his opinion are three pronged. First, he uses Keynes and Adam Smith anecdotes as proof of the error in our ways, yet those same anecdotes could be used as evidence of the right at the same time. Second, he equates BitCoin mining to a valueless activity destined to fail. And third, his arguement seems to be based on the assumption that paper money and digital currency cannot coexist. Evidence out of context, ignoring basic principals of economics, and strawman arguments. Somebody isn’t keeping track of their logical fallacies.

Very quickly, I will explain BitCoin mining.

BitCoin mining is the incentivized system of paying BitCoins to those who allow their computers to be utilized for the processing intense calculations required to verify BitCoin transactions.

Simply, it is paying BitCoin transaction processors in BitCoins. It takes a lot of computing power through a distributed network across the globe, so those who volunteer their computers get something in return.

For more detailed explanation, see here.

Now lets get to the point.

Evidentiary abuse #1

Keynes argued that the most expedient way to reduce unemployment was simply government spending. This, in many ways is very true. But is not a long term solution AND is politically a non-starter in most environments. But that is besides the point. Keynes continued, based on Krugman’s anecdote, by acknowledging the political issue and suggesting, as an asinine yet viable alternative, burying cash in old coal mines. This would stimulate private industry commerce in order to attain said cash and by default of increased demand for labor, reduce unemployment. 

Through indirect effects, incentives increased private investment and reduced unemployment through commerce. 

Much like how incentives(earning BitCoins) are increasing private investment(buying special computers to process BitCoin transactions) and reducing unemployment through commerce(someone, somewhere along the chain of exchanges needed to either keep someone employed or hire someone in order to provide those computers, much less maintain them). Krugman suggests that this less elegant way is somehow bad. 

How is any commerce stimulating activity bad(barring of course crime and war)?

Evidence Abuse #2

Krugman brings in Adam Smith to use his pro paper money arguments. He compares BitCoins to Smiths concept of ‘dead stock’ in that his view of bitcoin mining is simply using up good resources in order to create immobile stockpiles of otherwise worthless “dead stock of digits.” 

Wait! 

Smith suggested ‘dead stock’ as the concept of stockpiling a resource or good in such a manner that little will ever be done with that resource except as a potential hedge against future devaluation of a current monetary standard. Keynes even labelled the activity of saving, or stockpiling, money as a ‘leak’ to the economic system. 

So is Krugman correct?

I feel that Krugman takes a short view of these BitCoin miners and their long term intentions. Considering the relative youth of BitCoin as a currency, the proper investing tactic is to buy and hold. Allow the currency to become established and allow network effects to increase the agreed upon value, then utilize the appreciated investment through commerce. While some will openly buy lots of BitCoins in a direct exchange, the potential for profit comes from the incentives inherent to the mining activities. Krugman constrains his argument in such a way that it doesn’t account for long term utilization and commerce and as such disquallifies BitCoin miners as creators of ‘dead stock.’

Secondary to this argument, Smith hinged his support of paper currency on the idea that it facilitates commerce through simplification of transactions(as compared to bartering or the exchange of precious metals/gems/etc). I believe that today Smith would write a similar support of BitCoin because it reduces the heirarchy of processes that are incurred for each paper transaction to a point where commerce is further facilitated. Krugman ignores the incremental nature of the advancement and attempts to suggest that Smith would not support it simply because he didn’t write in support of BitCoin… in the 18th century.

Ignoring Basic Principals of Economics

If there is one concept of economics that seems to be the main theme of the Information Age and Web 2.0, it is Network Effects. This is such a basic and useful idea to understand that I would like you, dear reader, if you don’t know what Network Effects in economics are, to take a moment to learn.

  • Network Effects: When the value of using or possessing something is in direct relationship to how many other people use or posses something. As usage increases, value increases. (e.g. Facebook, PayPal, Craigslist, etc)
  • If your friends used it, you would be inclined to value it more. If they stopped using it, you would be inclined to stop using it.

Currency is largely valued based on network effects. As more people use the same currency, it becomes more valuable in the sense that it makes life easier to use that currency. 

A young currency’s valuation(e.g. Bitcoin) is the sum of both the network effects of those who actually take it in exchange for goods, services, or other currencies, and the speculative valuation on future ability to exchange. As the network grows, the speculation as a percentage of the valuation decreases and the valuation becomes mature and stabilizes. Currently BitCoin is immature and as such is speculative by nature but has incentives in place to grow the network over time.

So what does this all mean for Krugman’s argument? Krugman equates BitCoin mining as valueless and destined to fail. But BitCoin mining is within itself an activity that grows the network for BitCoins. Will some of the mines fail? Of course. This is speculative activity at best right now. We are not talking about American Dollars here that have been around for 200+ years and are an established standard, we are talking about a currency that hasn’t even reached infancy yet. 

BUT BitCoin has the right recipe. They have performance based incentives to grow. A transparent process. And communal consensus that there is opportunity. And where there is opportunity, something is going to find a way. 

Maybe BitCoin won’t be the next American Dollar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it found a valuable niche that will prove Krugman wrong and it will largely be because of the network effect.

False Assumptions

Last but not least, Krugman’s stance suggests that he assumes that a digital currency and a paper currency cannot coexist. In marketing, we are taught that as long as a product can differentiate itself in a meaningful way, it can claim a portion of a market. The largest market in the world is currency. Currency is how transactions are facilitated in a predictable and timely way. Currency is the true middle man. 

Right now, international travelers incur charges for currency exchanges as they move between countries that use different currencies. Those charges are annoying and sometimes exhorbitant. BitCoin has an opportunity to differentiate itself by reducing those charges significantly and reducing or potentially eliminating the need to exchange currencies(network size being the deciding factor here). BitCoin won’t replace paper currency in the near future. But it will have a spot beside paper currency similar to credit cards and electronic bank transfers because it can differentiate itself through the value of its network.

BitCoin is a young currency that is attempting to be inovative in its transnational application and the inherent efficiencies brought about by the fact that it is entirely digital in nature. 

Much like the data bit itself, its value lies in the fact that it can be reused infinitely and for nearly anything that one can imagine.

I respect Dr. Krugman for his agressive stance on monetary policy tools but here I think he is being short sighted and ignoring extremely influential effects that have become prominant in the the past three decades.

Last but not least I feel the need to make a disclaimer and warning:
BitCoin is a highly volatile digital currency that is currently unregulated by goverments and the value is not guaranteed in any way, shape, or form. Past appreciation does not guarantee future growth or even maintenance of current valuation.
Be Smart about investing.
If you are at all unsure, speak to a financial advisor about the high risks of speculative investing.

Have you ever bitten into a grapefruit rind?  You know that tart and kinda chalky bitterness that makes your mouth pucker just below and behind your jaw?  At the same time though you get hints of the sweet fruit inside.

That is what an IPA tastes like to me.  A good one has just enough tartness to make me tighten my neck at the peak of flavor but still delivers the hops oils and toasty notes of grains to keep me coming back for the next draw.  None the less, India Pale Ale style beer is not my go to beer.  

So tonight, when I was looking for an alcohol to sacrifice to the cooking gods for experimental purposes, it was the Deschutes Chain Breaker IPA that was on the chopping block.

And I think I just found my new favorite thing to do with IPAs!

Steamed Chicken Breast in an IPA Reduction

AKA

Hoity Toity Drunken Chicken

Yup! Based on the idea of the whole chicken steamed by a can of beer, this recipe is super simple and can be made in less than 30 minutes.

Here’s whatcha need:

  • 2 Chicken breasts(thawed, bones/skin on or off)
  • 1 Bottle of Beer of the IPA variety
  • A skillet with a lid
  • A wooden spoon and a silicon spatula

Here’s whatcha do: 

Gratuitous Product Placement without Compensation!

 

  • Pour half the beer into the skillet along with the chicken
  • Cover and put on medium heat
  • Once the cover begins to steam, hold the cover down to increase the steam pressure inside for 8~10 minutes ensuring that the beer doesn’t all boil away(Make sure to vent steam in a direction away from you or your hand.  I’m not responsible for you being dumb with things that can burn you)
  • Remove cooked chicken from the now reduced beer and add whatever remains of the beer(Cause I know you were drinking it while you held down the lid)
  • Over medium high heat use the wooden spoon to constantly stir the beer until it reaches the desired syrupy thickness of a good reduction.
  • Remove from heat and drizzle over the chicken(this is where the spatula helps because the spoon will not get enough of the sauce off the side of the skillet)
  • ENJOY!
The reduction is the hard part because once you get close to the consistency you want you need to be careful to not scorch the sauce.  If all goes well, your plate should look something like this. 

 The Cap Says ‘Bravely Done,” I Agree

 

 Since you effectively pressure cooked the chicken, it will retain all the moistness of great chicken AND pickup the flavors of the beer you used.  

On top of that(literally), the sauce is now IPA concentrate.  All the flavory goodness of your beer of choice reduced down to two table spoons worth of citrus and hops notes in a syrupy golden yellow drizzle.

I can’t wait to try this with a porter or nut ale!

Have you ever put a couple of handfuls of quarter size pebbles in your clothes dryer and turned it on?

Neither have I, but I can reasonably assume the sound that would emanate from your dryer would sound much like a Subaru driving down a gravel road in the wilds of Nevada.  That was the sound that defined my Friday.  A friend and I took her little blue Impreza(The Adventure Wagon), my camera gear, and a handful of snacks and headed north to Pyramid Lake.  Once there, we decided we had plenty of time and wanted to explore.

With a full tank of gas and most the day ahead of us we headed north along the west shore.  We stopped here and there along the shore to snap photos.  My favorite stop around the lake is Needles but you can’t get close to the actual tufa formations because vandals caused the tribe to close the area.  We did go as close as we could and I shot enough for some serious panoramas so in the next few weeks I should be able to get those edited and posted.

We continued north and west away from the lake till we came to Sand Pass road where we turned north.  From here the road dropped into the Smoke Creek desert and heads all the way up to Highway 447 at Gerlach. (Some of you may have heard of Gerlach as that place where all the Burners go through as the last gas before Black Rock City)  Well we didn’t go all the way up to 447, but we did drop into the Smoke Creek desert just far enough to refind a hotspring that I had been brought to about 14 years ago.  

It wasn’t quite what I remember, but it had all the prerequisites for a good soak.  The water was warm without being too hot, there was some muck but not so much to make the bottom squelchy, and there were minnows which meant the water wasn’t toxic or anything.

So of course we stripped down and plunked right in.

Who Likes Natural Hot Tubs? This Guy!

The water was maybe a degree or two too cool but far from unenjoyable.  

After a good long soak where we admired the looming storm clouds, 

The Adventure Wagon and Tools of the Trade

we decided it was time to keep rolling.

We turned south and headed for the border!

The California border that is.  Back over Sand Pass and then a right on the Fish Springs road took us to Fish Springs Valley where on the far side the townsite of Flanders, Nevada still remains.  A long since abandoned railroad town, Flanders is worth a quick google search to see just how empty it is.

At this point, light was fading and the wind was picking up.  Our signal that the reported snow storm was on final approach and it was time to get the adventure wagon back on paved road.  We reconnected with Highway 395 at Doyle, California and took off south for an otherwise uneventful drive back to Reno.

As the snow socked in, I was on a date(which was lovely) and it brought the city to a very quiet halt.

If you are a fan of theater, do get over to Good Luck Macbeth to see “The 5th Wind” while it is still playing.  The playwrite is a local gentleman who I feel has displayed a talent for writing a well composed and complexed narrative that will leave you thinking.  The actors are also very talented and it was easy to get absolutely lost in the world within that stage.

With that, Friday was a wrap and it was on to a Saturday and Sunday that were defined by homework in preparation for finals.  

Nothing to bore y’all with so I’m going to leave you with this public service message from serious tutor Patrick. 

Listen Up Kiddos

For those of you prepping for finals,

Eat well and sleep well.  Studying hard won’t do you any good if you don’t have gas in the tank and can’t recall anything because you are too tired.  And no matter what…

Finals are over in just over a week!

 

For everyone else,

Always wear a bow tie when rocking the stache glasses.

 

236 Days till NYC Tri