Monthly Archives: February 2012

How much ram is enough?

dual-opteron-mb-ramAs a former software engineer at Microsoft, I often get the question of “how much RAM is enough?” Since I imagine that this is a pretty common question, I figured I’d address it on my blog.

The real answer is, “it depends.” It actually depends on a lot of factors: are we talking about raising sheep for subsistence or commercial farming? Are you mainly using them to breed more sheep or are you planning to sell ram mutton? Are you concerned about inbreeding or are you intentionally trying to minimize genetic variation?

Rams, also known as the luckiest male animals on earth, can actually breed with up to 100 ewes in a single mating season (approximately 3 to 4 per day roughly), but it’s generally recommended to maintain a ratio of 1:30 rams per ewe. For those of you planning to start a commercial farm of more than 500 sheep, this means that you’ll likely need closer to 20 rams. However, for those of you looking to maintain a small farm of maybe ~10 sheep, one ram is probably “enough.”

If you’d like to learn more about sheep breeding, here are a few of my favorite sheep breeding resources:

  • Sheep101 – Click to learn more about what’s considered a “satisfactory scrotal circumference” for rams.
  • Things to consider before you get sheep – This is probably my favorite one as the guy talks about buying sheep like we’d think about starting a new diet or getting a tattoo.

Hope this answered your question!


And by the way, no, I don’t think it’s that gross.

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Common Misconceptions: Caduceus and the Rod of Asclepius


The caduceus

Often, we see the symbol of a staff with two wings and two snakes intertwined around it, and we assume that it somehow represents medicine. Even the US Army Medical Corps adopted this symbol as part of its branch plaque. This symbol represents the caduceus, a staff carried by the ancient Greek god Hermes (the messenger of the gods, protector of merchants, and provider of high end luxury goods).

The caduceus, however, has nothing to do with medicine, and when it is associated with medicine, it’s being mistaken for the rod of Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing. They are quite easily mistaken for each other as both involve serpents entwined around a staff. The actual rod of Asclepius, however, depicts only one serpent, and it looks like this:


Pictured: Jafar uses the rod of Asclepius to hypnotize the sultan

Hope you found this edifying!

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The Brush-Your-Teeth Dieting Technique


Dentist recommended Toothpaste® brand Toothpaste

Growing up in a Chinese1 household, there was one rule that was really ingrained in me: you do not eat for the rest of the night after you’ve brushed your teeth. Simply having the feeling of clean teeth after brushing my teeth at night would completely deter me from wanting food. The idea of sullying my freshly cleaned pearly whites was just so disgusting.

That led me to the creation of the “Brush-Your-Teeth Dieting Technique.” Now, any time I’m finished eating for the day, I’ll brush my teeth immediately, preventing me from wanting to eat for the rest of the night. Sure, I’m not going to lie, I’m thinking about having a bowl of ramen right now, but in the battle of appetite vs clean teeth, clean teeth prevails. Brilliant!

1Is that a Chinese thing? I had always assumed everyone was like this, but when I told a former non-Chinese2 roommate that I couldn’t order late night Chinese food with him because I had already brushed my teeth, he pretty much gave me this look:


2He’s Chinese now. No, just joking, I just omitted a comma and thought it’d be funnier to leave it out.


Comparing cost effectiveness of fish oil supplements

fish-oil-companiesA little while ago, I made a post about the cost effectiveness of protein supplements, and I found it useful enough that I thought I’d do another one that’s basically the same but looks at fish oil supplements.

Once again, I’m not really going to go into any real depth as to why I take fish oil. If you are interested, Lyle McDonald has a good article on supplements, and Martin Berkhan has one specifically about omega 3s (though it’s pretty dense).

For this post, I just took a look at a couple brands that I’ve used or read about in the past and compared how much you’re getting for your money. Here’s the table:


And here’s how to make sense of the table:

  • Cost per bottle – Just like last time, since we’re talking about value, the absolute cost per bottle doesn’t mean much, but this is the cost of the bottle that I’m evaluating.
  • DHA and EPA per serving – When we talk about fish oil, we don’t actually care about the volume of the fish oil. It’s the DHA/EPA omega-3 content of each tablet that we want.
  • Serving Size – Serving size does not affect the value of the pills, but it is useful to know how many soft gels you’ll be taking per day.
  • Soft gels per 3g DHA/EPA – Once again, I’m not going to get into how much fish oil one should take per day, but a common recommendation is 3g DHA/EPA, so this is just the number of soft gels you’ll have to take on a daily basis to hit this goal.
  • Cost per g DHA/EPA – This is the cost per bottle divided by the DHA/EPA per serving divided by the servings per bottle. It tells you how much you’re paying per gram of EPA/DHA.

The two cheapest fish oils I found were both by Kirkland. I personally prefer Kirkland’s Enteric Coated Fish Oil because:

  • I don’t have to take 10 of them per day to hit 3g DHA/EPA
  • It’s got an enteric coating (which supposedly prevents fish burps)
  • It appears to be Meg-3 certified. I read the link and still don’t really know what it is, and I’m sure it’s a scam, but it sounds cool, so I refuse to use products without it.

One last thing I’ll note is that I added Nature Made to the list because it always seems to be on sale in grocery stores with 2-for-1 deals. However, it actually ends up being almost double the price (per g DHA/EPA) as Kirkland’s Enteric Coated Fish Oil (and requiring double the soft gels per serving), and I’m guessing that it’s only 2-for-1 when the original price has been marked up by 100%. So watch out.

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Dear pinterest fitness, plz post harder workouts

abs1 abs2 back1  

One of my roommates recently said to me, “you should check out pinterest’s fitness page. It’s got a lot of pictures of hot women.” That sounded pretty good to me! (He actually had me at “should”! Advice he gives is often sound!).


So I checked it out and noticed a pattern. The vast majority of content in the fitness page fall into the following 3 categories:

  1. Pictures of attractive women with amazing bodies. Just as promised, there are lots of these, and they’re generally accompanied by comments like, “my goal for my abs.”
  2. Pictures of attractive women with amazing bodies with motivational captions. They usually say things like, “Be strong! Don’t give up! Stay tough! Do it for your health! No excuses! More exclamation points!”
  3. Suggested workouts that can be done in under ten minutes with no equipment. This is my favorite part. The other two categories get you all pumped thinking that everyone pinning stuff must be highly motivated and hardcore. They’re probably doing crazy weights with barbells and then running half marathons on a daily basis! …and then you see all of these workouts that are like, “Blast fat away! Doing 500 jumping jacks in 5 minutes is like 40 minutes of running!”

5 minute workouts are way better than nothing, and I’m glad that everyone’s sharing some ideas ideas that will help people fit exercise into their daily schedules, but I’m going to go ahead and throw this out there: the women in these photos probably didn’t get to where they are by doing jumping jacks or taking the Special K challenge. Their workouts probably weren’t very convenient.

In conclusion: to everyone on pinterest, plz post harder workout suggestions. Thx!

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A few thoughts on cheap protein supplements

optimumI’ve been buying protein supplements for the past few years without actually knowing whether I was getting a good deal, so I figured I’d finally do some math and share it. I took the four protein supplements I’ve used most in the past and looked at how much they cost per stuff inside the protein powder. Here’s the table I made:


Here’s how to made sense of this table:

  • Cost – Since we’re trying to figure out what the best deal is, absolute cost doesn’t actually matter. However, you will generally get a better deal as you buy bigger jugs/sacks of protein, so I listed the cost of the jug/sack on which I was evaluating the value.
  • Cost/oz – This is the cost of the jug divided by the mass of the powder inside of it. I’d best describe it as “how cheap the powder seems.” However, we don’t care about the mass on its own because the mass could just be a bunch of cheap filler.
  • Cost/serving – This is probably one of the more useful metrics as it tells you how much you’re paying for whatever it is that the manufacturer is advertising in their “nutritional information” panel.
  • Cost/g protein – This metric is interesting if you only really care about the protein and you just want to know how much each gram of protein costs.

Putting everything together, I’ve concluded in my very non-scientific survey that Syntha 6 seems the cheapest, but it’s actually a bit more expensive per serving. This is possibly because you’re also paying for all of the other stuff they put in Syntha 6 (fiber, vitamins, minerals, unicorn tears). This is also possibly because they have a pretty, translucent red bottle, so they think you’ll value it more. In any case, if you just want cheap protein, Optimum Gold Standard Whey seems like the way to go.

That said, there are a bunch of other factors that you may want to consider when buying protein like:

  • total number of calories
  • amino acid profile
  • speed of absorption
  • taste
  • what color it makes your poop1

…but I don’t plan to get into that on this blog as I’d just end up summarizing The Protein Book, so if you’re interested, you can probably just go straight to his blog. Good luck!

1Just kidding about that. Protein powder shouldn’t actually change the color of your poop. If it does… you may want to get that checked out.

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Halogens and Golden Girls!

Any time I hear someone refer to the element bromine as “Br,” I really want them to follow it with “thur!”


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