tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Save or Savor 2018-11-14T17:05:02Z Cory Jarrell tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1340218 2018-11-05T18:07:25Z 2018-11-14T17:05:02Z A Normalized Look at the Diversity of State Flagship Universities

I'm a big fan of the blog Priceonomics and I posted four years ago about one of their data visualizations where they look at how diverse major U.S. cities are using a metric that was new to me at the time, the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index or HHI. HHI looks at how evenly groups are represented among a market, and it's a really simple formula. You just sum the square of each group's market share as a percent, so an evenly distributed market would have a value of 1/(number of groups) and a complete monopoly by one group would have a value of 1. 

In the case a market has four groups, a perfectly diverse market would be: 

(0.25)^2+(0.25)^2+(0.25)^2+(0.25)^2 = 0.25

and a complete monopoly by any one group would be:

(1.00)^2+(0)^2+(0)^2+(0)^2 = 1


Since I've been playing around with College Scorecard and IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) college data recently, I thought it'd be cool to apply the same HHI method to each state's flagship university. The thinking is each flagship university is likely one of the most diverse colleges in that state, and is probably a good reflection of that state's diversity as well. So if I could find a HHI score for each state and each flagship university, I should not only be able to compare flagships to one another to see which are the most/least diverse, but also should be able to compare which states' flagship universities are more/less diverse than that of the state's population. Lastly I should be able to run a simple linear regression to see how good a prediction of a flagship's diversity just its state's diversity is.

**Disclaimer: I normalized the market share of each racial group across these five groups: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American/Pacific Islander. This means I am not considering any student that identified as: two or more races, non-resident alien, or unknown. I realize this is affecting the accuracy of the data -- especially not including two or more race responses -- but it was the cleanest way to compare the most prominent groups. Another note is that this research has already been done by others, including this fantastic interactive piece by Ben Myers in 2016 and this Hechinger report from earlier in 2018**


Let's start with the rankings of each state's flagship university, from most diverse to least diverse (perfectly diverse among 5 groups = 0.2, complete monopoly by any one group = 1):

Generally, the greater the population of White students the less diverse that university is; this isn't a surprise. What I did find surprising is just how White some schools (and their respective states) are. Seeing it as a percent is one thing, visualizing that on a bar graph really puts feeling behind that number. This is why I love good charts or data visualizations: they pack a feeling of scale or proportion that numbers can just never achieve. [Again keep in mind that I normalized the actual percentages across the five groups, so each group's actual percentage is smaller than it appears -- however their proportions to each other remained the same]


Another cool thing with the above graph is it visually identifies "sister schools", or schools where their populations are roughly the same proportions (via the scientific "squint and see which colors are about equal" method). Theoretically, you could Truman Show-someone: switch every other student at their school with the other school's population (save for a few close friends or familiar faces) and that student would never know the difference. However, that student would notice the difference if the student population of Rutgers (NJ) was replaced with that of New Hampshire. Completely useless, but a fun thought experiment. 


Looking at this data leads to a whole other discussion about how we stereotype certain schools based on their populations; for instance, I'm not at all surprised that UNC and UVA have similar populations since they're bordering states, but I am surprised that UCONN has a very similar population mix.


Another case: it makes sense that ND and SD's flagships have nearly identical populations or that VT/NH/ME all are very similar, but ND/SD also are extremely similar to VT/NH/ME.


Last one of these, but even though they are on opposite coasts of the U.S., the University of Florida and the University of Arizona have very similar populations.


Most of the time these schools have very close HHI scores (meaning they are similarly diverse, sorry for pointing out the obvious) but interestingly there are cases when another school will slip in between with very different proportions. This is interesting since technically that school that in between (B) is closer in diversity to the top school (A) than the bottom school (C) yet the top and bottom (A & C) schools have much more similar student populations. For instance, the universities of Delaware and Kansas have very similar populations, but technically Minnesota and Mississippi are more similar in diversity to Delaware than Kansas even though Kansas' population is more similar.

I think there could be an economic principle buried in this closer-but-not-as-close oddity and the Truman Show-style thought experiment above but that's for another time.


Anyways... now let's look at how each flagship university's diversity compares with their corresponding state's diversity. The schools at the top of the diagram below are MORE diverse than their respective states, the ones on bottom are LESS diverse than their state. [Note: State population figures have been normalized across the same five racial groups, again disregarding responses of two or more races or unknown, for comparison purposes]

As you can see, most flagships are not as diverse as their respective state's population. This is somewhat surprising to me, as I would've guess it'd be more of a 50-50 spit for some reason. In general, schools in the South (SEC football conference) need to do a MUCH better job at making their student population more reflective of their state's diversity. And WTF Delaware??


Finally, let's test my theory that a state's diversity is a pretty good predictor of that state's flagship university's diversity. To do so, I'm going to see how correlated the state and flagship's HHI scores are. Plotting them on a scatter plot (with college.hhi depending on state.hhi) and finding the linear trendline and corresponding R-squared should do the trick.

As expected, they're highly correlated, with an R-squared of nearly 0.77. You can essentially read this number as "A state's diversity score explains nearly 77% of that state's flagship university's diversity score". Even if it explained 100%, it doesn't mean that each group's proportion to one another is the same at the flagship as the state, but the overall diversity of the population market is equal. Again, not entirely useful, but interesting nonetheless. 


That's it, a quick look at how diverse each state's flagship university is. I'm attaching a publicly available version of the data I collected on this Google Sheet. I got the school's demographic data from College Scorecard (download link fyi), the state's data from U.S. Census estimates in 2017, and a list of flagship university per state by just Googling it.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1339954 2018-11-04T17:15:25Z 2018-11-05T02:19:28Z The (Current) State of Miami


Howard Schnellenberger coined the phrase "The State of Miami" to refer to the wealth of talent in South Florida, from Orlando to the Keys basically. The thinking then (and now) was that all that the University of Miami had to concentrate on was recruiting football players from this area and they'd be good enough to field a championship team. And that's right for the most part.


Players from The State of Miami have been some of the greatest to ever play the game; NFL and college Hall of Famers and Pro Bowlers and first round picks. And they're continuing to do it, just not always at Miami [See: Jerry Jeudy]. Players from South FL are just different: they're hungrier, scrappier, and overall angrier not to mention faster and more agile. They play with a special kind of confidence, a swagger if you will, that is undeniable and feeds off of itself. This makes the same players that are some of the fastest and toughest in the world start to play faster and tougher -- they start to bring that extra oomph with every single hit and block -- and they sure let you know about it. Which only feeds into it more and the feedback loop becomes self-reinforcing. [See: Miami's beatdown of ND one year ago or the impact of the Turnover Chain]


But the problem with this style of play is when it tries to be something it's not -- when it tries to be slow, methodical, and precise instead of fast and loose and intuitive -- the self-reinforcing loop switches from positive to negative and the level of play implodes. That's how you can have world-class football players, players that are a lot more talented than opponents they're lining up across from (no offense UVA, BC, and Duke - you guys kicked our butts but with objectively less talented players) just look lifeless and directionless.


This is not to say that Miami is lifeless or directionless at all, but they look like they are. And if you were again objectively looking at the current state of Miami, you have to start with the man at the top.



Coach Mark Richt (CMR) has been around the game of college football longer than I have been alive and he's forgotten more than most fans could ever hope to learn. But fans of the Canes and football alike can still analyze a team with less football and inside information and be more right than those on the inside. And it's not personal; everybody sometimes lose sight of the forest through the trees, it's impossible not to. Here are the good and bad things CMR brings to the Canes as the man in charge.


Good:

Loyalty - CMR is one of the most loyal people in all of college football. He showed it by being at UGA for 15 years, for continuing to support Bulldog causes even as Miami coach (which is great), and for being loyal to assistants and seeing them grow under him. He's also very loyal to offensive schemes which is a good thing as you have a record of a coherent philosophy that you can point to and always refer back to. I mean the man donated a million dollars to his employer and alma mater to build the new indoor practice facility. I call it "The House that Richt Built".

Stability - If you're loyal to teams and people and philosophies, one of the benefits you'll see is stability. People love consistency even if they won't outright admit it. One of my old bosses put it best when he said people don't get mad at poor performance they get mad at inconsistency because if you always perform poorly or are always late, people know what to expect and can react accordingly. I can fire you if I know you'll always be a bad worker or if we're friends and you're always late, I can tell you an earlier time and plan on you showing up late. But if it's when we're inconsistent that people get really mad at. And CMR is an extremely consistent person (except for his flip-flopping of QBs this year although I heard he did that late in his career at UGA). You know what to expect from him, you know he'll always remain calm and promote a stable environment to the team during games -- that's why his outbursts and grabbing an official last year or him telling his whole Bulldog team to celebrate on the field against Florida receive so much attention, because they're out of character for him. So the stability that Richt brings to the Canes is great, especially if he can be at Miami for 15 years as well.

Precision - If you've ever heard CMR go deep into the things that he concentrates on with teaching QBs, it's precision he covets. Always making the right read or decision is paramount to him because he loves consistency. Making a great throw isn't good enough, the ball needs to be perfectly numbers-high and 12 inches from the chest or something. When the offense is always making the right reads and running the right routes and blocking the right people, CMR's offense is unstoppable because of its optionality and answer for everything a defense tries to do to it. There's no answer for it.

Organization - CMR is a very organized person which makes sense since he loves stable systems that are precise. He'd be a fantastic manufacturing floor manager or would have gotten his Six Sigma certification in another life. I still think his greatest contribution to the Miami program (besides the point mentioned below about the defense) was bringing in a SEC-caliber organized recruiting operation. He has been recruiting at a high level for decades and he knows how to run an efficient football recruiting system. Along with Matt Doherty who runs the recruiting department and his tireless assistants, CMR's organization definitely bumped up Miami's recruiting [See: Paradise Camp]

Intelligence - Like I said before, CMR has been around football for a very long time. He's one of the smartest people in the business and has seen it all. The other greatest contribution that CMR has brought to the Canes was the intelligence to adapt Miami's defense to a style of play that it had shown to be successful in the past and that perfectly suited the type of defender that the State of Miami produced -- a fast and aggressive defense (I wrote about this in 2014 arguing for them to move to a 4-2-5 defense to take advantage of South FL players which Miami has done with the Striker position). Manny Diaz was the perfect hire to run Miami's defense and they have shown what removing barriers of forcing them into schemes that didn't fit their talents [See: Al Golden's 3-4 defense] and letting them play fast and intuitive can do for a team. This was absolutely the right call by CMR when he came to Miami and was very smart.

Values - CMR is a man of values. He's talked at length about the importance that strong Christian values have had on his life and has consistently demonstrated this with his and his team's actions in the community. I'm not saying the Canes didn't have values before he arrived, but everyone in the college football world knows and raves about CMR's values.

Family - CMR is a family man and fits the tight family atmosphere of the Miami Hurricanes football program perfectly -- because he is a Miami Hurricane! It's fantastic to have a Cane coaching the Canes, and promoting the family atmosphere of the Canes with former players as well has been a great decision. That's one thing that sets the Canes football program apart from others, it's a family.


(photo via Getty Images)


Now it's time to talk about some bad things that CMR brings to the Canes as the man in charge:

Loyalty - It's no secret that CMR is loyal to a fault when it comes to moving on from his assistants and upgrading. This has hurt him many times in the past at UGA and is hurting him now at Miami

Stability - Sometimes CMR is too stable as opponents know exactly what to expect as he'll stick with the same plays over and over again, something he has been proud to admit in the past. Or he's too stable in that he doesn't use his emotions for good in reacting during the game, as a calm presence isn't always advisable in every situation. Teams need consistent environments to thrive but when an opponent is taking advantage of your stability, it pays to be unstable.

Precision - CMR's offense runs on precision but when the precision isn't there, it self implodes [See: 14, 13, and 12 points against UVA, BC, and Duke]. When CMR has a QB that can make the right reads AND the precise throws, the offense piles on the points [See: Matt Stafford, Kaaya and Rosier's multi-game stretches]. BUT focusing on precision isn't always the best thing to do. I can make the argument that Miami plays it's optimal offense when it is playing fast and loose and intuitive -- think backyard football or the 7-on-7 teams from South FL that dominate national competitions -- similar to how the Miami defense is currently thriving! We have too much speed and agility on the outside to continue to run a slow and methodical and precise offense. This is what fans mean when they say they want CMR to bring in a new playcaller - someone that will bring a pass-happy spread the field offense that takes advantage of speed. There will be more mistakes in this type of offense than in the current precise system, but the advantages will vastly outweigh the mistakes. When you're throwing the ball to speedy receivers  more than 20-30 times a game (which we have seen recently) you're going to have more turnovers but you're also going to have much more explosive plays and touchdowns. And since touchdowns have more expected points than turnovers (because the other team might not score), there's a rational argument for throwing the ball much more with Miami's offensive talent. This includes continuing to take advantage of your dynamic RBs with designed throws to them besides flat routes [See: Washington St., Oklahoma, and the LA Rams].

Family - This goes back to loyalty, but I think any reasonable person would conclude that CMR has hurt this team by having his son as QB coach. We all want the best for our family but if CMR really believes his son would be a QB coach at a similar program of Miami's caliber then he's blinded by nepotism. I understand CMR is the de facto QB coach but something's not working. It would be a slap in the face to every Miami assistant if CMR fired other assistants this off-season but kept his son as QB coach.


(photo via Matthew Emmons)


As you can see, Mark Richt brings a lot of positive attributes to the position of head football coach. But within all of his strengths lie weaknesses, just like in every other human. The current problem for CMR and the Miami football program is the weaknesses are outweighing the strengths right now. Forcing Miami's offense to be something that it is not is taking away some of its greatest advantages. Even Golden was able to recognize the type of offense that thrived with Miami's players when he brought in Jedd Fisch and James Coley and they ran a fast and throw-happy offense. CMR knew this with Kaaya as well but somewhere along the way the focus on precision took over and it has ground the offense to a halt. Being too loyal to bad assistants and family is hurting player recruiting and development.


The last three losses are unfortunately mostly a reflection of poor management decisions of the recent past, in both offensive scheme and player personnel. There's absolutely no excuse to have seen our (lack of) punting performance last year and go into this year without legit competition, that's completely a management decision. And it's literally losing us games due to poor field position, especially when combined with an inconsistent offense. You're giving the defense a horrible starting field position because of management decisions as play caller and special teams recruiting. To continue to defend the punter's practice performance is laughable when we have many games worth of film. Cut losses and move on but continuing to actively hurt your team and not making a plan to fix it in any other industry would be a fireable offence. That's what our punting has become, especially when combined with an offense that is inconsistent and punts frequently!


Overall I still think Mark Richt is the man for the job and will lead the Miami program back to greatness. But this feels like a critical adapt or die moment in his tenure. He can continue to be loyal to his scheme and assistants or he can draw on decades of football intelligence and realize that something needs to change. It's a hard pill to swallow for someone that professed how important running things himself was when he came to Miami. But it feels like the best path to greatness is to highlight his strengths as a program CEO - to be the stable organized force on top and lead these young men with your attention to detail and values. But look at the offense the same way you did with the defense and evaluate the players and talent pool's strengths and play fast and aggressive. Step back and let someone bring new life and energy into the offense. Step back and take an objective look at the current state of Miami.


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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1335378 2018-10-23T21:00:39Z 2018-10-23T21:02:22Z Basic Network Graph of Higher Education Researchers

As I have dived deep into the world of college access research over the last couple of months, I've noticed many researchers appear again and again across various higher ed topics (such as financial aid, college choice, and completion) with co-authors from different universities and across many different academic departments.


I thought it would be cool to see how these researchers are all connected; since even though 2nd or 3rd degree connections didn't directly work together, their ideas and co-author experiences were shared somewhat. And I hoped to identify some great researchers/universities doing some kick-ass work.



Above is that initial network graph of paper co-authors. Ideally I'd do this with citations but co-authors was an easier start. This shows which researchers published papers with one another. The bigger, bolder researchers are more connected across disciplines and topics.


Here's the basic process I used: 

  1. copy-paste from Google Scholar into Excel
  2. clean the data through formatting formulas (about 3400 papers)
  3. narrow down papers by title, keeping only those related to higher ed (about 1000 papers)
  4. format co-authors (nodes) to establish separate connections (edges) for each shared paper
  5. create a simple Gephi graph (this was my first one)
  6. cluster/organize the layout by Force Atlas
  7. filter out authors with less than 3 connections (it cleaned it up nicely)
  8. size the nodes by betweeness centrality
  9. partition and color the nodes by modularity class
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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1325157 2018-09-24T17:17:32Z 2018-09-24T17:17:32Z Songs of Summer 2018

From June 22 - September 22:


Smino - Anita


Khalid & Normani - Love Lies (Medasin Remix)


Apre - All Yours


Drake - In My Feelings


Jerry Folk - Sweetness On My Tongue


La Felix - Comes & Goes


Koresma - Turquoise


The Carters - Apeshit


Maribou State - Nervous Tics (Feat. Holly Walker)


Emotional Oranges - Personal


SACRE - Lovesick (Mura Masa Cover)


Channel Tres - Topdown


Bronze Whale - One


Breathe – Are you All Good?


Slenderbodies - Toxic (Britney Spears Cover)

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1311554 2018-08-13T13:49:59Z 2018-08-13T13:52:15Z Some "Real World Example" Algebra Classroom Posters

Here are some classroom posters for a high school math class that I created a while ago with the goal of bringing real world examples into the classroom. Feel free to use them if you see fit.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289932 2018-06-01T20:23:38Z 2018-06-01T20:23:39Z Book Highlights: "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Cain

0. Book Highlights from "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain

1. This book is about introversion as seen from a cultural point of view. Its primary concern is the age-old dichotomy between the “man of action” and the “man of contemplation” and how we could improve the world if only there were a greater balance of power between the two types

2. It focuses on the person who recognizes the following attributes: reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned.

3. Many personality psychologists believe that human personality can be boiled down to the so-called Big Five traits: Introversion-Extroversion; Agreeableness; Openness to Experience; Conscientiousness; and Emotional Stability.

4. The most important aspect of personality would be where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. It's the "north and south of temperament". Temperament refers to inborn behavioral and emotional patterns.

5. Personality emerges after cultural influence and personal experience are thrown into the mix. We are born with prepackaged temperaments that powerfully shape our adult personalities. Temperament is the foundation, and personality is the building.

6. We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. A sizable part of who we are is ordained by our genes, by our brains, by our nervous systems.

7. We also have a limbic system, or "old brain", which we share with the most primitive mammals. It is emotional and instinctive and comprises various structures, including the amygdala, and it’s highly interconnected with the brain’s "pleasure center".

8. High-reactive infants, typically introverts, are those who respond to new sights, sounds, and smell, and are sensitive to their environments. They pay "alert attention" to people and things. It’s as if they process more deeply the information they take in about the world.

9. Don’t mistake someone's caution in new situations for an inability to relate to others. They're recoiling from overstimulation, not from human contact.

10. High-reactive introverts who had a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers. Often they’re empathetic, caring, cooperative, kind, conscientious, and successful at the things that matter to them.

11. High-reactive introverts sweat more; low-reactive extroverts sweat less. Their skin is literally “thicker,” more impervious to stimuli, cooler to the touch. This is where our notion of being socially “cool” comes from; the lower-reactive your amygdala is, the cooler you are

12. (Incidentally, sociopaths lie at the extreme end of this coolness barometer, with extremely low levels of arousal, skin conductance, and anxiety. There is some evidence that sociopaths have damaged amygdalae.)

13. The neurons that transmit information in the reward network operate in part through a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is the “reward chemical” released in response to anticipated pleasures.

14. The more responsive your brain is to dopamine, or the higher the level of dopamine you have available to release, some scientists believe, the more likely you are to go after rewards like sex, chocolate, money, and status.

15. Someone who is highly motivated to go after rewards would be considered reward-sensitive. Reward sensitivity prompts us to climb ladders and reach for faraway branches in order to gather life’s choicest fruits.

16. There's also the idea that reward-sensitivity is not only an interesting feature of extroversion; it is what makes an extrovert an extrovert. Extroverts, in other words, are characterized by their tendency to seek rewards.

17. Extroverts have been found to have greater economic, political, and hedonistic ambitions than introverts; even their sociability is a function of reward-sensitivity because human connection is inherently gratifying.

18. In the words of psychologists John Brebner and Chris Cooper, who have shown that extroverts think less and act faster on such tasks: introverts are "geared to inspect" and extroverts "geared to respond."

19. Extroverts get better grades than introverts during elementary school, but introverts outperform extroverts in high school and college. At the university level, introversion predicts academic performance better than cognitive ability.

20. We live with a value system called the Extrovert Ideal—the belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. He or she prefers action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, making quick decisions, and works well in groups.

21. Participation places a very different set of demands on the brain than observing does. It requires a kind of mental multitasking: the ability to process a lot of short-term information at once without becoming distracted or overly stressed.

22. This is just the sort of brain functioning that extroverts tend to be well suited for. In other words, extroverts are sociable because their brains are good at handling competing demands on their attention. In contrast, introverts often feel repelled by these same events.

23. Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.

24. Introverts prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk and think before they speak, they hate small talk but enjoy deep discussions.

25. Introverts tend to dislike conflict and meet people in friendly contexts; extroverts prefer people they compete with.

26. Introverts also seem to be better than extroverts at delaying gratification, a crucial life skill associated with everything from higher SAT scores and income to lower body mass index.

27. More creative people tend to be socially-poised introverts. They are inter-personally skilled but “not especially sociable.” They described themselves as independent and individualistic. Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.

28. While extroverts tend to attain leadership in public domains, introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields. Outstanding introverted leaders have spent long periods of their lives in solitude.

29. "Serious study alone" is the strongest predictor of skill for tournament-rated chess players. College students who tend to study alone learn more over time than those who work in groups. Even elite athletes in team sports often spend unusual amounts of time in solo practice.

30. What’s so magical about solitude? When you’re alone you can engage in Deliberate Practice, where you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly.

31. Some companies are starting to value solitude, and are creating “flexible” open plans that offer a mix of solo workspaces, quiet zones, casual meeting areas, computer hubs, and even “streets” where people can chat casually with each other without interrupting others’ workflow

32. Studies have shown that brainstorming performance gets worse as group size increases. There's three reason why: only one person can talk or produce an idea at once, some people tend to sit back and let others do the work, and people fear looking stupid in front of others.

33. In couples where the man is introverted and the woman extroverted we often mistake personality conflicts for gender difference, then trot out the conventional wisdom that “Mars” needs to retreat to his cave while “Venus” prefers to interact.

34. When a wife wants to go out every Saturday night and a husband who wants to relax by the fire work out a schedule: half the time we’ll go out, and half the time we’ll stay home.

35. Just as men and women often have different ways of resolving conflict, so do introverts and extroverts; studies suggest that the former tend to be conflict-avoiders, while the latter are “confrontive copers,” at ease with an up-front, even argumentative style of disagreement.

36. Since the days of Aristotle, philosophers have observed that these two modes—approaching things that appear to give pleasure and avoiding others that seem to cause pain—lie at the heart of all human activity.

37. There is something called behavioral leakage, in which our true selves seep out via unconscious body language: a subtle look away at a moment when you have to make eye contact, or a skillful turn of the conversation by a lecturer that sees it veering off topic.

38. It turned out that the introverts who were good at acting like extroverts scored high on a trait called “self-monitoring.” Self-monitors are highly skilled at modifying their behavior to the social demands of a situation. They look for cues to tell them how to act.

39. In other words, introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.

40. Yes, they are only pretending to be extroverts, and yes, such inauthenticity can be morally ambiguous and exhausting, but if it’s in the service of love or a professional calling, then it's worth it.

41. The best way to act out of character is to stay as true to yourself as you possibly can—starting by creating as many “restorative niches” as possible in your daily life, or places you go when you want to return to your true self.

42. We can act out of character from time to time, but we ourselves most of the time.

43. And once you understand introversion and extroversion as preferences for certain levels of stimulation, you can organize your life in terms of what personality psychologists call "optimal levels of arousal".

44. "Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act." —MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI

45. Flow often occurs, Csikszentmihalyi writes, where people "become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself"

46. The key to flow is to pursue an activity for its own sake, not for its rewards. Many of the flow experiences that Csikszentmihalyi writes about are solitary pursuits that have nothing to do with reward-seeking: reading, tending an orchard, solo ocean cruising.

47. In a sense, Csikszentmihalyi transcends Aristotle; he is telling us that there are some activities that are not about approach or avoidance, but about something deeper: the fulfillment that comes from absorption in an activity outside yourself.

48. So stay true to your own nature. Shakespeare’s oft-quoted advice, “To thine own self be true,” runs deep in our philosophical DNA.

49. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multitasking, stick to your guns.

50. To find out what you want to do: First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. The underlying impulse is important. Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to. Finally, pay attention to what you envy. You mostly envy those who have what you desire.

51. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It’s up to you to use that independence to good effect.

52. Those who live the most fully realized lives—giving back to their families, societies, and ultimately themselves—tend to find meaning in their obstacles. It's one of the great insights of Western mythology: that where we stumble is where our treasure lies.

/END In short, when I read Quiet a few years ago, it really resonated with me and I think other people will feel as strongly if they read it as well.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289705 2018-06-01T20:22:19Z 2018-06-01T20:22:20Z Book Highlights: "The Checklist Manifesto" by Gawande

Originally posted to Twitter on 4/1/18 by @cdjarrell:


1/ Book highlights from "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right" by Atul Gawande

2/ Why do we fail? Two reasons. The first is ignorance—we may err because science has given us only a partial understanding of the world and how it works. The second is ineptitude—because in these instances the knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it correctly. Second is worse

3/ Avoidable failures are common and persistent because the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.

4/ Re: complexity, decentralization is the answer. People need room to act and adapt. They require a seemingly contradictory mix of freedom and expectation—expectation to coordinate, for example, and also to measure progress toward common goals.

5/ Re: coordination, seek openness, equality, and an understanding of who people are early. Giving people a chance to say something at the start seemed to activate their sense of participation and responsibility and their willingness to note problems and offer solutions

6/ Main point of the book: Something as simple as a checklist can help prevent avoidable failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They provide a kind of cognitive net and catch mental flaws of memory and attention and thoroughness

7/ Good checklists ensure the critical stuff is not overlooked and ensure people talk and coordinate and accept responsibility while being adaptable to changes in the complex system

8/ Good checklists are precise, efficient, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations; they are, above all, practical. Bad checklists are vague and imprecise and try to spell out every single step.

9/ Checklists should have a clear point when to be used. They are either DO-CONFIRM lists where members use their experience and then pause to check everything has been done or READ-DO where people carry out tasks as they check them off, like a recipe.

10/ Good rules of thumb for checklists: keep them to between five and nine items, which is the limit of human working memory. Their wording should be simple and exact, and use familiar language. They should be one page or less, free of clutter and unnecessary colors

END/ Checklists work because discipline is hard—harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. Humans are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. But they're critical to avoiding failures that could be prevented in complex situations

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289704 2018-06-01T20:22:06Z 2018-06-01T20:22:06Z Book Highlights: "Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes" by Belsky and Gilovich

Originally posted to Twitter on 4/1/18 by @cdjarrell


1/ Book highlights from "Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them: Lessons from the Life-Changing Science of Behavioral Economics" by Belsky and Gilovich

2/ Minimize losses by diversifying: stocks (or stock mutual funds), bonds (or bond mutual funds), money market funds, even real estate (if you don’t own a house, then ideally through real estate investment trusts)

3/ Nobody wants losses however they do have a few advantages. Losses on investments that you’ve held for less than twelve months can be written off against capital gains; losses on investments held longer than twelve months can be deducted from ordinary income.

4/ Professional investors (and people in general) suffer from overconfidence. Problem with overconfidence isn't optimism; the real problem is the inability to temper optimism as a result of prior experience. Frankly, we don’t learn well enough from our mistakes.

5/ Invest-in-what-you-know approach is risky (employees have >1/3 retirement in their company stock) since your job is already tied to the fortunes of your workplace. Most recommend you keep no more than 10 percent of your 401k assets in your own company’s shares.

6/ General rule of investing (besides diversify): “100 minus your age rule”, or the percentage of 100 minus the age you're at should be in stocks (preferably index mutual funds) and any money you’ll need in next 5 years should be cash or cash equivalents like government bonds.

7/ Mutual funds are preferable to individual stocks as there's diversification built in, index funds are even better as they're even more diversified and reflect the overall market. Over periods of a decade or more, roughly 75 percent of all stock funds underperform the market.

8/ Other adv of index funds are that their expense ratios and tax bills are the lowest bc they don't require a lot of buying and selling and have much lower fee structures than mutual funds. A half a pct point over a long time will add up

9/ Stocks, remember, represent ownership interest in businesses. Stock movements in the short term are about emotions and rumors. In the long run, they’re about facts and profits.

10/ One of the best ways to evaluate individual stocks is price-to-earnings ratios, or P/Es. P/Es reflect how much of a premium other investors are willing to pay to own that stock. The higher the P/ E, the higher the premium— and, therefore, the more popular that stock is.

11/ Stocks with low P/Es might not be flashy but are often safer, even with their diminished investor enthusiasm.

12/ General individual stock advice: Put no more than 10 percent of your nest egg into stocks of individual corporations. The rest should be spread out over other kinds of investments.

END/ That's about it. Invest early and often, as the compounding effects are powerful over a long time frame, thus the advice of stocks (index funds) as primary investment. Pay off debts. Have high deductibles on insurance plans, as chances are small making of a claim.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289703 2018-06-01T20:21:54Z 2018-06-01T20:21:54Z Book Highlights: "The Happiness Hypothesis" by Haidt

Originally posted to Twitter by @cdjarrell on 4/1/18:


1/ Book highlights from "The Happiness Hypothesis" by @JonHaidt

Happiness come from within and without. Within: cannot be found by making the world conform to your desires. Without: Buddhism and Stoicism teach to break attachments to external things and cultivate attitude of acceptance

H=S+C+V. H(appiness) = S(etpoint) + C(onditions) + V(oluntary activities). This is the basic formula.

Everyone has a happiness setpoint—your brain’s default level of happiness—which was determined largely by your genes. Some people have a positive outlook no matter what, others have chemical imbalances that make sustained happiness hard

Conditions include facts about your life that you can’t change (race, age, disability, etc) as well as things that you can (wealth, marital status, where you live, etc). Biggest part is love, second biggest is having and pursuing the right goals

Voluntary activities are the things that you choose to do, such as meditation, exercise, learning a new skill, or taking a vacation. Martin Seligman proposes that V is largely a matter of arranging your day and your environment to increase both pleasures and gratifications

Pleasures are sensory and emotional delights that may be derived from food, sex, backrubs, etc -- they must be spaced out to maintain their potency. Gratifications are activities that engage you fully, draw on your strengths, and allow you to find a state of flow

(This is how new I am to threading, I stopped the numbering after 1. Will pick up in next tweet)

9/ Voluntary activities could also include volunteering: long-term studies found when a person increased volunteer work, all measures of happiness and well-being increased (on average) afterwards, for as long as the volunteer work was a part of the person’s life

10/ Seligman also suggests that the key to finding your own gratifications is to know your own strengths. One of the big accomplishments of positive psychology has been the development of a catalog of strengths

11/ On building character: ought to be a lifelong struggle to develop one's moral potential. As Paul said in his Letter to the Romans (5:3-4): “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

12/ On living virtuously: 6 broad virtues found in nearly all cultures. Wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. These expand to 24 character strengths in Seligman's research

13/ On reflecting inward: we are fairly accurate in our perceptions of others but it’s our self-perceptions that are distorted because we look at ourselves in a rose-colored mirror. AKA “naive realism”: Each of us thinks we see the world directly, as it really is

14/ It is easy to spot a cheater when our eyes are looking outward, but hard when looking inward. Japanese proverb: Though you see the seven defects of others, we do not see our own ten defects. Nigerian proverb: A he-goat doesn’t realize that he smells.

15/ On knowledge: both explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is all the facts you know and can consciously report, is taught directly in schools. Tacit knowledge is procedural and is acquired without direct help from others, and it is related to goals that a person values

16/ Wisdom, says Sternberg, is the tacit knowledge that lets a person balance two sets of things. First, to balance their own needs and the needs of others, to see things from all sides. Second, to balance three responses to situations: adapting, shaping, and selecting

17/ This second balance is similar to the “serenity prayer”: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

18/ Simple point about adapting and happiness: live close to where you work, as people adapt to many things but traffic isn't one of them (since it's so variable and chaotic). Less commute = less stress = happier.

19/ Simple point on selecting a career: When you have occupational self-direction, work is often satisfying. Make the work challenging but have freedom to approach it how you want. When doing good matches up with doing well, a career is healthy

20/ Simple point on selecting love: find a balance of passionate love (love you fall into) and companionate love (love that grows over time). Strong marriages have strong companionate love with added passion between people firmly committed to each other

21/ On striving for goals: goals fall in 4 categories. Work/achievement, relationships/intimacy, religion/spirituality, and generativity (legacy and contribution). Focus on the latter three categories for long-term happiness

22/ Happy people have "vertical coherence" among goals where the short-term goals advance the pursuit of long-term goals. It's the journey that counts, not the destination. “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing" (Shakespeare)

23/ On treating others well: golden rule (treat others how you wanted to be treated). "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; this, in a few words, is the entire Torah; all the rest is but an elaboration of this one, central point." (Rabbi Hillel)

24/ On reciprocity: the most important tool for getting along with people. Mimicry is a kind of social glue, a way of saying “We are one.” Humans are social creatures and reciprocity, like love, reconnects us with others.

25/ On controlling your reactions: Events in the world affect us only through our interpretations of them, so if we can control our interpretations, we can control our world. Echoed by Boethius, Buddha, Aurelius: Nothing is miserable unless you think it so

26/ On limiting your choices: Barry Schwartz calls it "paradox of choice" in that we value choice but too many choices undercuts our happiness. Don't try to be a "maximizer" and find best possible, as "satisficers" are happier with their decisions

END/ The book also dives into various topics such as evil, evolution, language, how the brain works, and many more. "The Happiness Hypothesis" is a fantastic book and I recommend reading it to understand a lot more

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1062778 2018-05-31T20:00:26Z 2018-05-31T20:00:26Z The present is the future

[Post begun in June 2016; finally published on the last day of May 2018]


Here is a list of jobs/careers I've been interested in, amongst others, chronologically over the last 18 years or so. The ones in bold I've actually held:


2000-04

Doctor 

Pharmacist

Political scientist/Politician


2005-09

Architectural Engineer

Professor


2010-14

Solar engineer

Product/Project Manager

Business Analyst


2015-?

HS Math Teacher

Volleyball Coach


In 2016 when I started an outline of what became this post I wrote:


And I'd be fine if that list ended and the question mark wasn't for 20+ years. Teaching and now coaching is really, really great overall. The job is intellectually challenging, the relationships are strong, the students are inspiring but the pay sucks. Right now that doesn't bother me much but it could in the future.


The present is the future. 


I've recently finished my third and final year (for now) in the classroom where I taught the possibly completely unique combination of ELL/Regular Algebra 2, AP/IB Calculus and 8th Grade Science. I have now become what I joked about last year to friends leaving the profession -- another young teacher leaving the classroom. Teaching was intellectually, emotionally, and physically challenging, the relationships were very strong, the students were endlessly inspiring, and the pay sucked for the work you do but was manageable without saving a lot. There's not one big reason I won't be in the classroom, just a lot of little ones. Death by (grading) paper cuts you could say.


However, I don't think my time as a teacher has ultimately ended; it's just been postponed. I still envision being in a classroom in the future, as I've always wanted to teach in college and I like teaching the older grades in high school. When and where that happens, I don't know at this time.


The 2016 version of this post continued: 


Judging by past performance that won't be the end however. Maybe in 4 years [2018 edit: 2] or so I'll do something that combines my Business Analytics and Education masters. Maybe I'll be into something completely different. Humans are bad at predicting how their future selves will feel so I'm not closing any doors.


Growing up everyone always said that I could be anything I wanted if I was bright and worked hard.  Why would you be surprised when I actually tried to be anything I wanted?  


People talk about how the Millennial generation is indecisive, that we lack loyalty, and that we switch jobs too often.  But aren't we just following the advice of those that raised us? Why would you not try to maximize career utility with whatever you want to dedicate yourself to as that changes? As long as you feel strongly about it after considerable thought and you don't hurt anybody in the process, why not?


It's comforting seeing these words in 2018, as leaving the classroom -- more importantly the students that came through that classroom -- was a very hard decision, as you've read before from countless others. And like they've said before, I'll miss the students the most, the coworkers second, the work towards the mission third, and the grind behind the work towards the mission last. Everybody should be incentivized to teach some sort of class (education/career/sport/etc.) in their early careers, as then everybody will be appreciative of all the work that goes on behind the scenes to create an engaged, successful, and welcoming classroom. I know I now am.


I always make the argument that getting more people into classrooms, even for short periods of time (2-3 years, ideally it's 5+), is a huge net positive. While they and the training invested in them may leave, many go into other areas related to supporting or improving education and, even if not, you have lifelong experienced education advocates. Maybe then we'd finally vote for people that would pay all teachers more, without the 20 years of in-district experience you need to work up to it.


Anyways, I want to be one of those that still impacts the students but maybe I could create that impact outside of the classroom, in a way that could leverage technology to reach many more students. I think there's currently -- and always been -- a market inefficiency in the college admissions process, particularly with low income and first generation students. I'd like to work on closing that information disparity gap and making a college degree more accessible to all.


I also feel that it's possible to create an impact at scale, which could maximize my expected Personal Impact Utility (PIU). 

Expected PIU = (% chance of creating impact) x (personal impact on scale 0-1) x (# of students impacted)


Helping to make the process of getting a college degree much more accessible at a mass scale has a much lower chance of succeeding as being in the classroom day in and day out and it definitely doesn't have as high of a personal impact rating; however the third variable is potentially so many times greater than the 500 students and players I've had that it becomes a worthwhile multiplier overall.


For now, I'll end with how I originally ended that post three years ago:


Something I try to tell my students whenever the conversation arises is that they don't have to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they're a teenager. Life changes and you too will change so be as versatile as you can. Get that STEM degree but take classes in the humanities. Get that psych degree but know how to look at statistics and technical information. Don't pigeonhole your future self because you might not know how he or she will feel.


Be whatever you want to be. Then be all that you can be.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1070742 2016-07-10T22:52:52Z 2016-07-13T03:17:23Z An Optimistic View on the Tesla and SolarCity merger


Disclosure:  I worked at SolarCity from July 2010 until December 2014 and still hold and am long $SCTY (or $TSLA in the future)

Let me start by saying as a $SCTY shareholder I'm not thrilled about the price I'm getting ($25 or so) but ultimately I think it will be better for the world in the long run and I hope the Tesla-SolarCity merger goes through.  I also don't think I could give as good of a bullish case on the merger as Jigar Shah just did.

It is the belief of most of the major decision makers involved that these ideas could be mutually beneficial when packaged together.  That combined with (IMO) the deep discount SCTY can be bought for right now, the decision was better to make sooner rather than later.  Elon has said that it's easier to create a single product and that's true, but David Crane's analysis that SC needs a reboot and couldn't survive this reboot in the public market is probably also true.  

So let's look at an optimist's view on the combined final product:

I think I've read that SolarCity will take on the Tesla name, I only assume as the Tesla Energy (TE) brand.  There should immediately be sales installations at Tesla stores in the states SC currently operates in, hopefully accompanied by an initial boost in leases/loans/sales in those areas as this is business as usual for SC/TE once the sale is made.  

TE needs to stop with the pushy door to door tactics that made the leases popular and instead rely on referrals and word of mouth sales.  Think of how many ads you saw Tesla run for their Model 3 launch that saw 400,000+ pre-orders (mine included)... oh wait, you didn't.  We've already seen evidence that solar is contagious and SC's referral business has been a success.  An emphasis on distributing the work needed to acquiring new customers to others (thoughts on that shared here) should drastically reduce the cost of marketing and sales overhead, a painful but necessary step to rein in costs.

SC as a company created a TON of jobs but some jobs inevitably become unnecessary when the organization becomes more efficient.  SC's operations department has become a machine when they're stocked full of scheduled jobs but during seasonal down times they become another unnecessary cost.  Their operations department is a huge success story in the field of construction management, the efficient gains they've made are remarkable but are getting harder to come by.  

What I'd like to see TE do is the same thing they did with their sales & marketing streamlining and distribute the work of their operations department.  You decentralize your installation work.  You'd be bolstering the independent contractor installer network by distributing not only your workers but also your knowledge by creating an industry-wide standard of installation excellence.  This will be hard for Elon and SC management to agree to as they like to have their finger on the quality from top to bottom and it may seem like you're losing that high standard of installation quality.  However it is simply being transferred via your industry-leading training and certification program to locally-owned and operated installation companies.  

Publicly it would look like TE is getting rid of A LOT of SC construction jobs and officially they are but overall those jobs are still being filled by the independent installers that are installing up to your standard (and even inspection) but are locally-owned and operated.  So you're actually creating a lot of small business owners, something that is always well-received.

Behind the scenes, I'd expect the Tesla and SC HR departments to see which roles are now duplicated, which are necessary independently, and which are mutually beneficial.  Then you decrease the positions that are duplicated and increase the mutually beneficial ones.  I think these are the main synergies Elon and Co. talked about initially.  I expect their battery and solar panel gigafactories to learn from each other and both benefit as well.

By distributing a lot of SC's work (both in creating the sale and installing the solar panels) they can streamline their costs and become more profitable.  Elon's always been a huge proponent of economies of scale and I think you can still have this with a distributed sales and installation force by controlling the standards instead of the workforce.  You'd lose a couple process efficiency points in the process but you gain that and more by not having to control everything.


I believe such changes can be beneficial to a combined company and I'm hopeful for the Tesla and SolarCity merger to finally go through, as it seems like it has been a long time coming.




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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1056119 2016-05-26T15:26:55Z 2016-05-26T22:51:10Z But how did you end up in Kansas City?

Like I've mentioned previously, ultimately I'm in KC because this was the recommendation of the algorithm Teach For America uses to determine placements.  That much is out of my hands.  But how KC was rated in my top 5 placement preferences was a conscious decision.  This is that story, 4chan style for simplicity.


>Be me

>March 2015

>Looking for jobs while finishing up my Master's

>Denver hasn't provided any good hits

>My other top 2 choices Austin and Raleigh haven't provided any good hits

>Need to decide where else I'd look for jobs

>Read U.S. News Best Places to Live 2015 article on web

>See how they ranked them based off stats

>Decide to make my own personalized rankings

>Copy down the stats for 25 cities I wouldn't be opposed to

>Stats like median income, high tech job %, and job growth go into the Job category

>Because I want to find somewhere with good jobs

>Stats like cost of living and median home price go into the Cost category

>Because I want to find somewhere that isn't too expensive

>Stats like % that graduated high school, college, and graduate programs go into the Education category

>Because I don't want to be surrounded by too many idiots

>Rank each category from most desirable to least and award more points to higher rankings

>Remove any cities that have too many unreasonably hot or cold days

>Remove any cities that are not on this list of best places to find love

>Rank cities now based on a (40% Job) + (40% Cost) + (20% Education) weighted point average

>Kansas City comes in 3rd behind Raleigh and Austin and above other cities I was intrigued by like Dallas, Charlotte, Nashville, etc.

>Go "huh, KC?" and just throw it in my top 5 placement preferences

>End up in KC


Most people think of KC as a "flyover city" that you would literally fly over and not even think about.  And in some ways, it is:  it's the closest city to the geographical center of the continental U.S. (aka it's in the middle of the map) and there's nothing distinguishable about its landscape.  But I've grown to love KC and I'm happy to live here as it has an up and coming vibe, has a great sense of community, and because the people are amazing.


The city data without my personalizations can be found here if you're interested

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1042534 2016-04-28T02:45:03Z 2016-04-28T03:04:53Z 2016 NFL Mock Draft

I can't let go of an old favorite past time of mine:  the NFL mock draft.  The picks I feel most confident in are Darron Lee to ATL, Ryan Kelly to IND and Mackensie Alexander to PIT.  I could also see Washington trading up for Zeke Elliot with New Orleans to get ahead of Miami.


Order NFL Team Player Pos. College
1 Los Angeles Jared Goff QB Cal
2 Philadelphia Carson Wentz QB North Dakota State
3 San Diego Jalen Ramsey CB Florida State
4 Dallas Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
5 Jacksonville Myles Jack OLB UCLA
6 Baltimore Laremy Tunsil OT Mississippi
7 San Francisco Paxton Lynch QB Memphis
8 *Tennessee* Ronnie Stanley OT Notre Dame
9 Tampa Bay Shaq Lawson DE Clemson
10 NY Giants DeForest Buckner DE Oregon
11 Chicago Leonard Floyd OLB Georgia
12 New Orleans Sheldon Rankins DT Louisville
13 Miami Jack Conklin OT Michigan State
14 Oakland A'Shawn Robinson DT Alabama
15 *Cleveland* Ezekiel Elliot RB Ohio State
16 Detroit Vernon Hargreaves III CB Florida
17 Atlanta Darron Lee ILB Ohio State
18 Indianapolis Ryan Kelly OC Alabama
19 Buffalo Noah Spence DE Eastern Kentucky
20 NY Jets Taylor Decker OT Ohio State
21 Washington Corey Coleman WR Baylor
22 Houston Will Fuller WR Notre Dame
23 Minnesota Laquon Treadwell WR Mississippi
24 Cincinnati Josh Doctson WR TCU
25 Pittsburgh Mackensie Alexander CB Clemson
26 Seattle Robert Nkemdiche DT Mississippi
27 Green Bay Kevin Dodd DE Clemson
28 Kansas City Eli Apple CB Ohio State
-- New England --
29 Arizona Vernon Butler DT Louisiana Tech
30 Carolina Emmanuel Ogbah DE Oklahoma St
31 Denver Andrew Billings DT Baylor
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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/967041 2016-02-18T22:41:47Z 2016-03-26T16:46:51Z Thoughts on the Future of the Solar Industry

//Update:  3/26/16

I've been thinking recently that the solar companies have to know that they can't compete against the utilities in all of these fights concurrently (http://www.wsj.com/articles/solar-panel-installers-face-clouded-future-1458926502).  They can't be reactive against goliaths, they need to be proactive in the fight as any David should be.  The solar companies and their supporters need to get the American people to vote on a comprehensive, objective study of the impacts of distributed solar on the grid.  This will bring attention to the nation-wide issue (not just on the state level) and hold both sides accountable in the eyes of Americans.  If it is found that distributed solar will hurt other users of the grid, the solar side should pay more.  If it comes out that it won't hurt the other electricity users and only the utility will lose profit, these state level fights should cease.  There is risk for the solar companies to initiate this fight but I think the national exposure (and publicity) and potential rewards (these state-level, utility-backed current fights) warrant the big swing at the plate.


___________________________

2/18/16

(Disclosure: I worked at SolarCity from 2010-14. I am still a shareholder. I am long SCTY)


Here are some thoughts I have on the future of the solar industry:


1.  Like Elon Musk has said before, solar will become the energy plurality in our lifetime, likely in the next 20-30 years.  We will still get plenty of energy from fossil fuels and nuclear but solar, both distributed and utility-scale, just makes too much sense to not win out over a long period of time.  Whether it's shorter than 20 years or longer than 30 is dependent on policy decisions but it's inevitable in the long run.  I for one would love to see it happen sooner since we could be saving 10+ years worth of not burning fossil fuels for those GWh.


2.  Think about the above point in terms of future value created for the industry.  Huge.  I think we'll see the solar industry to consolidate even more in the near future as economies of scale begin to act exponentially.  The big players will get bigger, there will be new market entrances from big companies in similar industries and more mom-and-pop operations will close shop.


3.  The cost of customer acquisition will be what separates the industry leaders from the rest of the pack.  Installation costs have come down and will level off but acquisition costs could get exponentially lower.  The biggest drop in costs will be because of the industry becoming more popular and accepted and will benefit the industry as a whole.  And the biggest brands will benefit the most from the name recognition.  Another way to drastically reduce costs is to democratize the sales process and let the customers do most of the work instead of internal sales teams.  Google's Project Sunroof is part of this process, as is SolarCity's Ambassador program.  I've already mentioned my thoughts on that : )


4.  Since almost all companies in a free market hate to lose money and investor-owned utilities (IOUs) stand to lose A LOT of future revenue from distributed solar, I'd expect their attacks on distributed solar to only increase in the future.  At the same time, they will trumpet every new solar plant they build.  The road will only get tougher in the near future for solar (think Big Tobacco type doubt created about the effect of distributed solar on the almighty yet purposely obfuscated "grid", as referenced here) but they're not at the big boss yet in the game.


5.  I think one positive that the pro-solar camp can take away from their fight with IOUs is that they're getting a lot of positive, cheap advertising. Solar is getting some love thrown around about it by the media and everybody from liberal tree-huggers to conservatives and libertarians.  Yeah there's doubt surrounding the solar industry right now (the constant fights with IOU-backed state regulators) but these fights will only last so long.  Pretty soon, it's going to be clear that distributed solar is actually helping the grid and these fights will almost disappear.  When the general public gets behind the logic and accepts distributed solar as not just an option but the no-brainer option then the universal love will be self-reinforcing.


6.  I hope SolarCity holds out and doesn't get gobbled up/run out. The Rives seem to be in it for the long haul, as does Chairman Musk. The company has and will make mistakes and has been given a lot of cushion since they're literally creating new processes as they go. Given their work thus far in building it and the long-term view of the market, the Rives should get the chance to turn it around in the near future. However, I can see investors getting impatient in the next year or two and voicing their opinion.  So a change at the top to a more proven, established CEO is possible.  I think there's enough smart people at SolarCity (and a big enough first-mover advantage) that they will figure it out, become more efficient, and prosper. 


7.  Even the most modest forecasts for the solar industry have it making up at least 10% of the electricity market that makes hundreds of billions of dollars each year in revenue. I don't expect them to hold a 34% market share forever, but even a part of that share is worth much, much more than the ~$2 billion SCTY market cap right now.  If the stock price is supposed to value a company on present and future value, I believe SCTY is very undervalued at it's current price.  That's mostly why I'm long SCTY, that and beginning to consider future company efficiency and industry-wide, mature-market gains.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/899853 2015-09-02T03:41:03Z 2015-09-02T03:41:06Z The Next Step in a Nonlinear Career


One of the people I most admire in the world is Elon Musk and a really cool thing about him is the insane focus he's had for most of his whole adult life:


"In the case of Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, and PayPal... it really stemmed from when I was in college and trying to think: what would affect the future most likely in a positive way?" Musk said. "So the three areas I was quite sure would be positive were sustainable energy, the internet, and making life multi-planetary."


When I left SolarCity 8 months ago to finish my Master's degree early, I knew it would be impossible for my next company to compare.  Not only did I work with amazing people (mostly) but I actually felt like I was doing my small part to make the world a better place, one home at a time.


After graduating I looked at Business Analyst-type jobs available but they didn't really excite me that much; yeah I'd be doing interesting work and making good money but at the end of the day, what was I actually going to accomplish? Save X company Y amount of dollars through process improvements or data analysis insights that would it more money?  I knew I couldn't just do that.


So I had my own Musk-type moment and thought about what I could do to most affect the world in a positive way and came up with my own list of three things:  sustainability/renewable energy, medicine and education.  I had already hit most of my goals on the sustainability/renewable energy front with SolarCity and I think the 'medical school' ship has long since sailed for me, so I looked harder back into education.


I always thought I would end up in front of a classroom at the tail-end of my career but honestly I was more concerned with making more money and earning prestige early on.  But having a couple months off to think deeper, I realized having a career that was challenging, rewarding and fulfilling was much more important to me.  The one constant in my life has always been a love of learning so if I can pass on that love to others that can then go on and impact the world positively themselves, that will have a much bigger impact than I ever could by myself.


Four months ago I joined Teach For America, taught summer school in Tulsa and today started as a math and science teacher at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Missouri.  Here's to the next step!

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/785906 2014-12-20T04:20:42Z 2014-12-20T04:20:42Z Wear Sunscreen


Originally found this via the song above but reading the speech is actually better.  By Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune:



Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '98: Wear sunscreen. 

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. 

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine. 

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday. 

Do one thing every day that scares you. 

Sing. 

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours. 

Floss. 

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself. 

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how. 

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements. 

Stretch. 

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't. 

Get plenty of calcium. 

Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone. 

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's. 

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own. 

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. 

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them. 

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly. 

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. 

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. 

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young. 

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. 

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. 

Travel. 

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders. 

Respect your elders. 

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out. 

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85. 

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth. 

But trust me on the sunscreen.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/785876 2014-12-20T00:26:17Z 2014-12-20T00:36:37Z Best Data Visualization of 2014


From this excellent blog post from the always great Priceonomics blog, it actually followed up this equally great post ranking each city by proportion of race.  


To me, even though it's a late entrant, this is probably my favorite data visualization of 2014, for two reasons:  it succeeds in its primary purpose of showing which cities are more diverse (those with relatively equal bar lengths by race) and you can also clearly see just how much MORE diverse some cities are than others.  So not only could you guess with the numerical value of each percentage but you also get a feeling for the intensity of the diversity as well. 

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/751351 2014-10-06T02:51:43Z 2014-10-06T08:34:56Z Why the Miami Hurricanes should switch to a 4-2-5 defense


Born and raised a Miami Hurricane football fan, I'll be the first to admit my opinion is biased when it comes to them.  I'll always see the promise in whatever team we field and will never enter a season without a sense of hope.  But for the past couple years, that optimism has been tempered pretty early in the season each year; no matter how good I think they'll be, they seem to disappoint more often than not when it comes to big games.  


For other teams it is easy to say that the other team was just simply better than you but for us that's not the case.  Usually our individual talent level on matchups exceeds the opponent's but we still seem to be worse off collectively (and are usually proven this on the field).  This points to a simple conclusion:  either we are being out-coached or we are being out-schemed, or possibly both.  Maybe it's not that simple.


The best coaches fit their scheme to their talent; you work with the tools you are given, or another way to look at it is you only worry about what you can control.  But it seems that even though Al Golden has done some really remarkable things in his time at Miami (among them, guiding us through the NCAA mess, re-establishing community relationships, instilling a sense of accountability, etc.) he could improve when it comes to fitting his scheme to his talent.  Golden and our defensive coordinator, Mark D'Onofrio, have coached together since Virginia and Temple and even played together at Penn State, so the defense Miami runs is as much Golden's as it is coach D's.  But I believe in order for Golden to ultimately survive successfully at Miami he needs to adapt from what he has always run and switch to a scheme that maximizes the strengths of what is readily available to him (in terms of local talent) and simplifies things to allow playmakers to make plays.  And I wholeheartedly believe that this defense is a version of the 4-2-5 defense that Gary Patterson has made famous over at TCU.


"So what exactly is the 4-2-5 Defense?"


Put simply, there are 4 down linemen, only 2 linebackers, 2 cornerbacks and 3 safetys.  This differs from the typical 4-3 defense in that it replaces a lineback with a smaller, faster safety (Miami has run a 4-3/3-4 hybrid since Golden has arrived).  You would think that with this replacement that you would be easier to run on but actually this is one of the strengths of the defense; the interior is meant to force runners horizontally so that these faster replacements can run them down.  Also, they're normally able to line up with 8 men in the box to deter the offense from running and able to adapt to multiple WR substitutions without having to switch up your base defense too much. 


Coach Patterson has been fairly open throughout the years in the philosophy of his defense, but the two things he has stressed throughout is that his defense is built to maximize their speed and to be able to defend multiple different fronts from a simple base.  Instead of trying to wait for you to get this connection in how this is similar to Miami's past history, I'll let Ian Boyd from SBNation summarize it in his 4-2-5 primer:

The TCU 4-2-5 defense is descended from Jimmy Johnson's 4-3 over defense. It carries many of the same principles, including the positioning of the ends. Out wide, the ends are safe to attack upfield and are not confronted with the possibility of being pinned between a tight end-offensive tackle double team. If the ball gets wide of them, it's going to take the runner going horizontal for such a long time that the secondary will have time to arrive.

The area between the offensive tackles belongs to the defensive tackles, who also tend to align fairly wide. Unless there's a stunt called, after the snap the interior gaps will be the responsibility of the DTs and linebackers. They're looking to either make a tackle or spill the ball outside.

In this instance, the penetration is too quick. The runner can't bounce outside, so the run-support defensive backs converge in on the ball with leverage, in case the first wave misses the tackles.

Since these six players in the defensive front are always responsible for the six interior gaps, they can play it straightforward, as they do in the clip above. Or they can move around and switch up which of the six is responsible for each gap.

All this allows the Frogs to be instinctive and aggressive in how they respond to different formations, personnel groupings, or schemes from the offense. No matter what, the same defensive players will be performing more or less the same roles, attacking the offense from the same angles, dealing with similar offensive strategies.


So they're allowing their fast defenders to attack horizontally where they can use their speed to make up ground and allowing them to also play instinctively (and thus aggressively) by making it as simple as possible.  That sounds like something Miami could possibly benefit from.


"Yeah but does it actually work?"


It's fairly well known that Gary Patterson's defenses have been among the top in all of college football, so I know I'm not breaking any earth-shattering stats.  But compared to Miami's defensive stats, TCU puts us to shame.  Below is the summary for each of the last 7 seasons (including this one without yesterday's games) comparing Miami's defensive stats to TCU's.  I've conditionally formatted each year to visually identify the better team in green. (These are per game averages, all stats are from Sports-Reference.com's college football stats here)



As you can see, TCU was better than Miami in most of the defensive comparisons (SRS is an overall ranking, with a higher score being better).  In Miami's best year compared to TCU (2011), we were better than them in 7 of 19 categories, still less than half.  Below is the picture for the average of each category for each school:



Yeah, so any doubt is now likely removed.  Anybody in their right mind would rather take TCU's defense over Miami's over the last 7 seasons.


"Ok, but TCU's players must be very different from Miami's right?"


If you've ever read any other blog post that asks rhetorical questions to itself, you already know this answer.  This is the point that gives me the most hope in a Miami version of TCU's 4-2-5 defense:  our defenders are more alike than not.  In fact, the type of players that TCU covets are exactly the type that is famous for being prevalent in the South Florida area;  they are typically smaller and faster athletes that rely more on instinct than training.  These are the type of athletes that every team covets and Miami has a much greater chance of convincing the best ones to stick around than other teams.  


Basically I'm a saying, and what has been proven on a different level, is that I view roster building as a crapshoot overall, so to increase your chances of fielding a good defense, you should emphasize skills in which you have the best chance of getting quality athletes.  The great Miami defenses of old and those from a decade ago were built to emphasize their speed and instincts, and less on the size and play-reading of today's 4-3/3-4 hybrid.  Or as Ian Boyd says best again:


In true Miami 4-3 defense fashion, the Frogs are looking to put as much speed on the field as possible. They adhere to a "shrink the field" philosophy of finding personnel. They recruit with the main purpose of locating speedy athletes with potential, rather than finished products with years of experience at a particular position.

At defensive tackle, they prize players with the lateral quickness. They want a big guy who can stunt and work his way across an offensive lineman's face in order to control that space from end to end.

The other positions often feature players spun down from other roles. 

Let's look at comparisons of the average size of each position since 2008 from TCU and Miami players that also were recruited from Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties (height's are in inches and weight in pounds and TCU is in purple, Miami is in orange that looks yellowish here):



So if you dig into these comparisons, you start to see common themes.  Both TCU and Miami's defenders are normally underweight compared to the Draft Mockable positional averages of draft prospects (yes I know that the median draft prospect is likely bigger than the average size, but the average size takes into account prospects that were under- and oversized and honestly it's the easiest overall average I could find).  Both TCU and Miami defenders are particularly undersized on the defensive line and linebackers.  So it doesn't seem smart in either case to try and build your defense around size and strength when the recruits you have in your own backyard are smaller and quicker.


For the best example, just think of Miami's local LB's since 1999:  Nate Webster, Dan Morgan, Jonathan Vilma, Jon Beason, Tavares Gooden, Daryl Sharpton, Sean Spence and now Denzel Perryman.  Most were generally smaller than average but made up for it with speed and instincts.


"Well Miami's defense could never be as good as TCU's"


While we likely couldn't get as good of a teacher as Gary Patterson to bring his defense to Miami, we could likely get a former defensive coordinator of his who has worked closely and learned from him to bring over the scheme.  So even though the quality of teaching won't be as good, we could likely make up the difference by getting better athletes and recruits than TCU from right in our backyard.  


Below is the overall difference in BCS final standings and the recruiting rankings from the last 5 seasons from Regressing:



TCU has outplayed Miami even though Miami has recruited much better overall.  Actually TCU had the 8th best record of outplaying their recruiting rankings on the field, Miami was 105th since they actually underperformed versus their recruiting rankings.  Out of 120 teams.  


"So what exactly are you trying to say?"


Clearly something has to change.  Miami is underperforming on defense compared to how it should be based on its talent level.  This has been blamed on players not executing on their responsibilities for the past 4 years but some of the blame has to fall on the coaching.  And in this case, I'm blaming it on the scheme for not putting the players in the best position possible for them to play up to their abilities.  


What I'm saying is that Al Golden should adapt from a defense he has taught for many years for one that best utilizes the traits that are typical of the players it recruits.  Unfortunately this adaptation will force him to part with his friend and coworker for over a decade in Mark D'Onofrio.  It's not that he isn't capable of changing schemes but we would need to bring expertise in.  In doing so, we can possibly become an even better defense than the great TCU defenses of late.  And return to our roots of playing aggressive and with speed.


Lastly, I'll leave you with another Boyd quote, this one from his shrink the field link above (and here for those too lazy to scroll up), tell me who else who could field this type of defense besides TCU:


1). Shrink the field

Some teams build their teams by simply trying to get the fastest team possible on the field and relying on team speed to attack opponents, rally to the ball, and essentially shrink the field so no offensive player finds a match-up advantage or leverage to operate in for more than a small window of time before the defense converges on him.

Gary Patterson's TCU Horned Frogs are a perfect example of this approach as they rely on 4-2-5 base personnel that has at least five defensive backs, including three safeties, on the field at all times. They'll also play speed at cornerback that can run deep with vertical routes.

Even in their fronts the Horned Frogs target linebackers who can change direction and run in underneath coverage, defensive ends who are aligned wide and are often athletes bulked up and deployed to terrorize the edge, and even defensive tackles who have the lateral quickness to stunt and play blocks outside-in.

In all of their tactics, TCU is looking to handle opponents by playing speed everywhere and racing to where they think the ball will be, and then where ever the ball actually goes.

The 4-3 Over defense popularized by the Jimmy Johnson Miami Hurricanes really launched this tactic into the modern era, the Gary Patterson 4-2-5 TCU defense is largely a modern take on it.


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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/734168 2014-08-30T20:05:54Z 2014-08-30T20:05:54Z One reason the Philadelphia Eagles chose Cody Parkey over Alex Henery

While professional football might never get the Moneyball-type benefit that baseball has, I still think there are undervalued "situationalists" in the NFL that teams could exploit to their advantage.  This simply means someone that could excel in a certain underrated skill that adds value to a team, similar to how on-base percentage has for MLB teams.


One of those situationalists is the kickoff responsibility.  To state the obvious, kickoffs are necessary in football to start either half or after scores; they're usually exciting and filled with hope for the receiving team but also violent and dangerous, both to the player's health and to the team kicking off.  So it'd be great for a team kicking off to limit the number of chances that you give the other team to return one for a touchdown or to get a great starting position as well as limiting the amount of number of chances for someone on your team to get injured trying to cover the kickoff.  Thus why touchbacks are so important to NFL football.


I love the accessibility and usability of PFF stats, so I wanted to get some data behind the value of having someone on your roster that had a strong leg on kickoffs and got more touchbacks.  Below is a scatter plot of NFL kickers that played 8 or more games in the 2013 season, with their PFF kickoff value (the higher the value, the better the kicker was at kickoffs) on the Y axis and the average distance of their kicks in yards on the X axis (PFF doesn't clarify if this includes touchbacks or not).



The linear trendline describes the overall picture, namely that the farther a kickoff is, the better the kicker is at kickoffs.  This shouldn't be a surprise.  The R-squared value of the trendline is the "fit" of the trendline for the points, so a higher R-squared value means the trendline better describes the data.


Below is a graph of the kickers PFF kickoff value on the Y axis versus the average starting yard line of the other team on the X axis.



This trendline shows that, generally, the lower the average starting position of the other team the better the kicker is at kickoffs.  However, this also has to do with how well the kicker's team is at covering kicks.  That's why it makes sense that the average starting yard line trendline's R-squared value is lower than the average distance's trendline, because how far a kicker kicks if more of an indicator of how good that kicker is at kickoffs than the average starting yard line, since the latter isn't fully under the kicker's control like the first.


Now let's see how touchbacks affect how good a kicker is at kickoffs.  Below is a graph of the kicker's PFF kickoff value on the Y axis versus the percentage of their kickoffs that were returned (assuming a kicker with a higher percentage of touchbacks would have a lower percentage of their kicks returned).



This trendline's R-squared value is much higher than the previous two other characteristics we looked at, meaning that the lower the percentage of kickoffs that were returned is a better indicator of a better kicker on kickoffs than the kicker's average kickoff distance or starting position of the other team.


All of the above should be pretty obvious to most followers of the sport, but it's good to have some data behind assumptions.  So now let's look at what was referenced in the title, the case of Chip Kelly and Eagles recently picking rookie Cody Parkey over veteran Alex Henery as their kicker heading into the season.  The first obvious reason is he was cheaper, as a rookie makes much less, meaning the Eagles had more money to spend elsewhere.  But let's move beyond that.


Chip likes to think out of the box when it comes to how he runs his team and so the Eagles trading a backup RB to the Colts for a rookie kicker to battle the entrenched veteran, something most teams wouldn't do, is another example of this type of thinking.  But Chip and the coaching staff obviously thought there was a chance they can improve their roster, so they brought in competition.  


Undoubtedly the most important quality a NFL kicker has to have is making field goals, so for the Eagles to pick Parkey over Henery they likely are at least equal when it comes to that.  But I believe a large part of Chip choosing Parkey has to do with his prowess on kickoffs compared to Henery.  Parkey led the NCAA in the number of touchbacks last year, hitting roughly 70% of his kicks for touchbacks.  Henery only kicked about 40% of his kicks for touchbacks last year.  Granted the footballs they were using were different in shape, both college and NFL kickers kick off from the same yard line so Parkey can be considered a much better kickoff kicker than Henery, touchback-wise.  


Assuming the Eagles have about the same number of kickoffs this coming season as Henery did last year (100 or so), switching to Parkey would result in about 30 more touchbacks than Henery!  That's 30 less chances for the other team's returner to take one to the house and 30 less chances for one of your players to get hurt trying to tackle the returner.  That is a huge advantage to the Eagles for switching out their kickoff kicker.  Assuming both are comparable field goals kickers (this is a big assumption, I'm not downplaying it), Parkey would likely add much more value to the Eagles than Henery would have.  This decision was another reason Chip Kelly is a great coach.


Now if a team already had a kicker who was excellent at field goals, but struggled on kickoffs, I could see a team keeping a kickoff-specialist on the 53-man roster in addition to that kicker as opposed to a 3rd string LB or TE.  I hope to prove this in a later analysis.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/732701 2014-08-27T04:40:24Z 2014-08-27T04:42:25Z Fantasy Football 2014 Draft Review


I'm only doing one fantasy league this year so I'm putting a lot of thought into it and going for broke rather than joining a bunch of leagues and playing around with roster combinations.  I follow a bunch of very smart football analysts on Twitter, so I absorb a lot of their predictions and opinions throughout the year without paying too much attention to it and subsequently benefit from it come only once per year, fantasy football draft day.


I'm in a 10-person league so there's talented players at every position but the guys I play with are knowledgeable as well so I don't feel too far ahead.  But I likely see more overall opinions from varied sources than them.


This year I wanted to try something new since we just added the PPR element to our league (something I was a BIG fan of).  So I went for broke and applied the zero RB strategy talked about on Rotoviz with a focus on big, physical pass catchers that saw a lot of targets.  I also wanted to guarantee that I would end up with at least 3 WR1-caliber players for their respective teams.  Overall I think I did very well, I got potentially 5 WR1s, a potential top 4 QB, the undisputed top TE and a couple of RBs with upside.


One note:  Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and I see things I could've done differently, but in too many years past I've been burned by picking a stud RB top 3 (CJ0.5K, Muscle Hampster, etc) so this year I traded out of the 2nd pick for the 7th overall and got to switch my 13th rounder for his 6th, so overall I think it was a win for me.  But yes I passed on Jamaal Charles and AP.


1st Round

I went with a past classmate in Jimmy Graham to open up my draft.  He's the #1 option on arguably the best passing offense in the NFL and he represents real value at the TE position, even though it's early for one.


2nd-5th Rounds

This is where I solidified my passing game within the first 5 rounds, which I hope will pay dividends with the 0.5 PPR element this year.  I got Alshon Jeffery, Jordy Nelson and Andre Johnson for my main WRs.  I was happy with Alshon and Jordy alone, but to get someone who is one of my favorite players and is a target magnet in 'Dre was icing on the cake.  

Originally I wanted to wait and grab a QB later but when I saw Stafford available in the 5th round, I knew I couldn't pass up his upside.  Barring injury, he'll put up top 3-5 numbers easily.


6th-7th Rounds

I guess I have to take a couple of RBs right?  I chose Gerhart and Tate as my lead backs.  Yes they're sub-standard on paper to most starting fantasy team's RBs but I think they're both safe options and RB1 options for their respective teams.  But I did give up PPR points for my RBs, which I tried to shore up later on.


8th-10th Rounds

This is where I got my key backups.  Torrey Smith is a frequent pick of mine because of his potential.  Plus he should see a lot more targets this year in the new offense.  

Nick Foles was a value pick and arguably my most important backup pick.  Yes I reached early for a fantasy backup QB but the last thing I want to see is my fantasy season derailed because of a QB injury. Plus you never know how Foles or the Eagles offense will progress.

Bernard Pierce was a gamble pick but I believe Ray Rice is on the outs, physically and roster-wise.  He's too unstable so I'm picking his backup.


11th-16th Rounds

Here are my other backups/special teamers:

I couldn't pass up the potential, even slight, value of Josh Gordon in the 11th round.  Even if he only plays a half a season, he might be a valuable trade asset or sub.  Also, if he's suspended for the year, I can just drop him Week 1 and pick up the unknown WR that impresses.

Darren Sproles was another high-upside pick because you don't know how Chip Kelly is going to utilize him.

Dan Bailey is a K.

Ladarius Green was a high upside pick as well although I don't know how he lasted this long.  Could be the steal of the draft if he's a trade asset by Week 9.

This was my "Oh shit it's the last 2 rounds, I gotta get a DEF and D player" moment.  So I went with Lavonte David because he's a stud and the NYJ defense, solely because they play Oakland Week 1.


Ballgame.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/731813 2014-08-25T02:18:14Z 2014-08-25T02:28:10Z 2014 NFL Draft Stock Trendlines

This is a little remix of a graph from an earlier post, I thought the graph was more informative flipped with the higher pick closer to the top and smoothed out.  The X axis is the month the mock draft was made and the Y axis is the average pick the player is mocked.


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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/731771 2014-08-25T00:23:00Z 2014-08-25T00:23:05Z Another Obsession: Fractals


Another thing I find fascinating is fractals, particularly those that occur naturally in the world.  For those that don't know much about fractals, let me save you the effort of typing it into Google.  


While mostly associated with the Mandelbrot set, they're actually found all over the world in nature.  From river networks to crystal formations to trees to snowflakes, fractals are all around us.  Also technically coastlines are fractals as well.  Here are some cool pics from http://paulbourke.net/fractals/googleearth/ and Google


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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/731758 2014-08-25T00:04:55Z 2014-08-25T00:06:13Z Songs I've been feeling lately

Just a recent collection


Raury - Cigarette Song (Snakehips Remix)


Cathedrals - Ooo Aaa


Royal* - Royal's Theme


Phantogram - Fall in Love (RATKING Falling Off Remix)


Tensnake & Jacques Lu Cont - Feel of Love (Kaytranada Remix)

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/725551 2014-08-10T16:55:42Z 2014-08-10T16:56:43Z The Sunshine State? Not Yet


I spent the first 22 years of my life in the great state of Florida.  One day I might return for good too (the smart money is when I'm retired and can find some land inland that will be beachfront property in 40 years with the rising sea levels).  But likely not anytime soon.


A lot of people in Florida are amazed that solar energy is bigger in places like Massachusetts or Oregon where the sun doesn't shine as often or as intense (insolation is as much of a part of the amount of energy you get as the amount of time it's sunny) as it does in the "Sunshine State".  They think solar is something that is far off in the future because they don't see it as popular in the state where it should rightfully be.  


While there are some realistic reasons why solar is not as popular in sunny Florida as it is in sunny California or Arizona (such as hurricane winds making the structural supports a bit more difficult than normal or the amount of intermittent cloud coverage making power fluctuations more frequent), the real reason is because the local Southeast power companies making the battle EXTREMELY uphill for solar.  They are in the legislators back pockets and wield A LOT of monetary "power" (the other kind).  


They won't be able to fight off common sense forever but they'll do a good job of putting the state well behind the curve when it comes to solar adoption.  Here is a quote from a SolarCity spokesperson in a recent article about the subject:

"We get all kinds of inquiries every day" from the South, said Will Craven, spokesman for SolarCity. "People there want to be our customers."

Florida, in particular, is known as the "sleeping giant" of his industry, Craven said. "It has a ton of sunshine, a ton of rooftops," he said. "But there is no rooftop solar industry in Florida."


In the south, utilities are fighting very hard to prevent solar, all the while maintaining the public image that they want it and are doing everything in the public's best interests, not their own profits.  I'll end on this note from the same article:

Officials at Dominion Virginia Power say they are moving as aggressively as they can to promote solar in a heavily regulated, fiscally conservative state reluctant to subsidize homeowners who go green.

Nearly two years ago, the company launched a pilot program that mimics the SolarCity and Sunrun models for leasing solar equipment to businesses. So far, two systems have been installed.

"It might sound small," said Dianne Corsello, manager of customer solutions at Dominion, but she says regulators want to see evidence that such programs will not create unreasonable costs for the utility.

"We are studying the impacts and assessing the benefits to our grid," she said. "It is providing an opportunity to get data."

Solar installation firms scoff at such utility programs. Sunrun Vice President Bryan Miller calls the Dominion rooftop effort "a make-believe program" designed for public relations, not to entice customers to install panels.

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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/718965 2014-07-26T17:03:39Z 2014-08-31T04:22:02Z Swarms

I haven't hidden my love of distributed generation.  There's something great about seeing a clear vision for the future and knowing that, while it may take some time, society's progress towards this vision is inevitable.  As one of my high school football coaches liked to say to us when we were enjoying the last few moments of cold air conditioning before going out into the sweltering Florida heat, "Get your asses off that bench, there's no point in delaying the inevitable."


That's one of the best things about being in the solar industry.  It doesn't matter how much money big oil/gas throws at ads that make solar advocates look like radicals, you simply cannot stop something that makes sense economically and environmentally.  People are starting to come around and it will only intensify in the future.


As distributed generation evolves, it's only logical that the future of the utility industry is in localized power management.  It happened with computing, it happened with cell phones, it's going to happen with your electricity.  Getting your power from one, big, central source that is very far away will become as outdated as landline telephones.  Houses are going to be generating their own electricity, storing it to use later and sharing it with their close neighbors when there is excess (and get paid of course).  You won't need to worry about the power going off for the entire city because a squirrel chomped on a power line 200 miles away anymore.


In one of my favorite TED talks, Steven Strogatz talks about how we and other animals naturally sync (not the Bluetooth kind of way).  In it, he has mesmerizing footage of swarms of birds beautifully moving through the sky together.  They look like they're being orchestrated by a single maestro or even central nervous system.  But they're not; there's no one leader or director, each bird moves independently but in unison as a group.  He says swarms only have 3 simple rules:

1.  They can sense what's around them

2.  They like to form lines (be ordered)

3.  They like to be close to each other but still have some space in between


When predators try to attack a swarm, those in the group don't know exactly what is happening, they just know that they neighbor moved out of the way quickly so they in turn move out of the way.  Their neighbor made a sharp left, so they made a sharp left.  The predator attacking the middle is left with a mouth full of air because the swarm automatically avoided it, without even knowing what was going on.  A single leader's job would be incredibly complicated, instead the swarm knew exactly what to do without even communicating to each other because they just followed those 3 rules.


I bring this up because localized power management will eventually do the same thing, it will act as one swarm but with no single leader.  Except in this case the predator is power outages, it could even be clouds.  Yes clouds.  Shade is the enemy of solar power and clouds passing overhead cause intermittent power fluctuations.  Just like anything else, stability and consistency is the name of the game so these variable changes cause problems in power management.  


But don't worry, we're just going to take notes from Mother Nature on how to combat this.  We won't need a central player or advanced algorithm to predict what will happen and direct the power to different houses depending on its usage.  The houses will all communicate with each other, when one needs more power it will be sent some, when another is temporarily shaded it too will be helped by other houses that aren't shaded.  Localized power management will act as a swarm, each unit acting independently but the group as a whole will be one efficient system.  And it will follow the same 3 rules that birds and fish have been using for millions of years.


"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority."
- E.B. White


// Edited because the first draft had a couple mistakes
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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/711023 2014-07-06T00:10:24Z 2014-07-06T00:10:25Z Inspirational Quote: 7/5/14

"If you believe in it hard enough, you make imaginary a reality."


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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/710973 2014-07-05T20:30:44Z 2014-07-05T20:30:44Z What a Good Remix Does

For some people, when they see the word "remix" next to a song's name, they automatically dismiss it.  For me, it's the opposite.  I think remixes, when done properly, can add a great deal to an already great song.  Sometimes it just enhances the original, sometimes it completely creates a different song.  Here are two examples of remixes completely changing already great songs and, in my opinion, creating better versions.




And...



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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/710776 2014-07-04T23:42:27Z 2014-07-04T23:42:28Z Using Census Data Analysis to Find Targeted Markets

That's a SEO-approved headline if I've ever seen one.


Thought it'd be good to share a research project I did about 8 months ago for my Data Analysis class.  Maybe someone else can duplicate it in another industry and benefit from it.  The basic instructions for the project were to use exploratory data analysis to gain a business insight; it was an introductory class for business professionals so it didn't involve very heavy lifting but it was challenging nonetheless.  Well since I concurrently was working (and still am) for SolarCity, I thought it'd be good to incorporate it because there might be benefits that emerge throughout the process.  Of course, I won't disclose any business information.


My goal was to pick a regional warehouse and be able to find the most "attractive" areas in which we should focus our sales efforts on.  First I picked the smallest area that the US Census gave open data for (which was the zip code) and found the top 50 zip codes that we have current customers in.  My theory was that our future customers would more likely be similar to our current customers than not, so I decided to focus my data analysis on describing our current customer base.  The US Census will give you a shitload of data, as long as you painstakingly gather it in little chunks.  So that's what I spent most of my time on.


Below is an example of the finished product of collecting the data individually and organizing all of it.  I'd say this took about 2/3 of the total project time:


First I just played around with a portion of the data, to make sure it made sense before proceeding.  To do so, I did a X-Y scatterplot of each Census data column against the total count of customers in each category; thus a positive correlation would mean you would expect more customers in a zip code the higher it is in that certain Census variable.  I only used the relative percent of some of the Census data columns, since this would paint a better picture than total numbers for certain ones.  Below is an example of linear regressions of some, with neutral, positive and negative correlations:


This yielded some interesting patterns.  I wanted to further analyze it and divided each variable (column of a particular statistic from the Census) into similar groupings.  Yes I added some personal bias to this analysis, but rarely was it hard for me to pick a particular grouping for each variable, so I'm confident I didn't inject too much bias.  Below are the groupings of the categories of different Census data:


Then I found the correlations by grouping, this was particularly interesting to see what had the highest positive and negative indicators of more customers.  Below is the graph by grouping:



Within each grouping, I was able to create bar charts that showed the correlations as you went across the spectrum of each.  So if you graphed house value, and there was a clear differentiation line where it flipped from positive to negative correlations, you'd know up to what house value to advertise to because anything more and you're wasting your efforts.  Below is an example of one of those charts, and it's not house value:


The final step was then ranking the zip codes I studied by the number of predicted customers it should have.  This would show the most "attractive" zip codes in which to focus on.  Also, my finding the difference between actual customer count and predicted customer count, you could find zip codes that are "underperforming" and target those first, since they should automatically have more customers than they do.  Below is an example, the right most column conditionally formatted red would be underperforming:



I thought the final product turned out great; I got a good grade on the project but more importantly I hoped it would help increase SolarCity's sales efforts by targeting specific areas that are more "attractive" than others.  It would be a quantitative compass, not a perfect solution but better than before.  After vetting the project with my professor and trusted confidants to make sure it made sense, I approached our sales managers and Direct Sales team (they're the ones that go around neighborhoods on foot so I thought it'd benefit them the most to have data to back up their choices).  However, after initial enthusiasm, it fell off the map like other ideas.  It would've required a bigger and more accurate test and pilot project to prove its worth before rolling out, but I didn't see how it could hurt our efforts.  In my mind it was worth a try.  But as it is often, there are different things on the immediate agenda, either that or I didn't talk to the right person.


Hopefully it's revisited in the future and I can expand on it more, this time while getting paid to do the analysis.  That'd be cool.  But I encourage anyone else who thinks they can benefit from similar analysis to do the same and see if it helps you out.
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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/710774 2014-07-04T23:23:53Z 2014-07-04T23:37:14Z Edison's Inspiration and Revenge


I just started reading "Empires of Light:  Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World" by Jill Jonnes and I'm already enthralled in it.  Although she can be superfluous at times (and so was using that word), she paints an exciting story about the battle a century and a half ago to bring electricity to the masses.


We all know the ending (Tesla/Westinghouse and AC power won out, even though it was more dangerous because it could travel long distances more efficiently) but that's what makes it so interesting.  Solar is going through a similar battle right now, and it is on the Edison and DC side (solar panels produce DC energy, and right now that has to be converted back to AC power to power things in your home -- hysterically it is actually converted back to DC power to power a lot of electronics) but updated to today's technology.  He was an advocate of a distributed system of power generators; unfortunately due to the technology of the time there had to be a toxic, noisy generation station every couple city blocks.  But in today's time, that is just the same exact thing as quiet, clean energy producing solar panels on your home's roof.  They don't put off any toxic fumes, they don't make any sound, all they do is just sit on top of a small area on your roof that was previously just occupied by dirt buildup and bird shit.


Anyways, I'm sure this won't be the only post I write about solar and the "War of Currents", but it hit home when I just read about Edison's inspiration for his invention of the lightbulb.  Jonnes writes, after Edison had just been introduced to arc lights:

"Then Edison rushed back to quiet, bucolic Menlo Park, his research workshop in backwater New Jersey, to throw himself into creating a better and more practical electric light.  He worked feverishly, thrilled at the possibilities of this new field."

But the best quote comes from Edison himself, describing where he got his inspiration from, as Jonnes continues:

"It was all before me.  I saw the thing had not gone so far but that I had a chance.  I saw that what had been done had never been made practically useful.  The intense light had not been subdivided so that it could be brought into private houses."

Jonnes then wrapped it up best with:

"Edison always liked to go after 'big things.'"


I felt connected to those words by Edison, because that's exactly how I've felt working at SolarCity.  Solar is not a new technology; but widely-distributed, affordable solar is a new thing and we're working to help bring that to "private houses".  It's all before us, whether SolarCity makes it long term, or the industry evolves and the next big player comes to dominate.  The world will benefit from this "Solar Race" the same way it did with the "War of Currents" bringing electricity to the masses.


Jonnes goes on to describe how Edison got it right:

The man who came up with the best arc light system might well make a fortune stealing away even that 10 perfect of the gas lighting business -- that of streetlights.  But the man who could subdivide the light -- to take it indoors and tame it into a gentle glow -- and power it with a dynamo, he would be the true Promethean, the blazing electrical pioneer, the hailed benefactor of humankind (and wealthy to boot).


Solar is doing that; we're "subdividing the light" by producing clean power right at the site that it is being consumed, or close to it if you're producing excess energy when you're not home during the day.  Right now, we're just beginning to come close to the price of power generated by fossil fuels.  But coal, oil, natural gas -- they can't come close to where we will be producing power, right at each home.


So that was Edison's inspiration, you might be wondering what his revenge could be?  Well, it's likely going to turn out that he was right all along with distributed generation, he just wasn't alive 150 years later to see it overtake AC power grids today and in the near future.  But with a much better technology than is coal-burning power stations of his day and age, distributed generation is inevitable.


Well, Edison will be right at least until fusion comes along.
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Cory Jarrell
tag:cdjarrell.posthaven.com,2013:Post/710148 2014-07-04T03:00:09Z 2014-07-04T03:00:09Z Introduction to ideas

Obscure title yes but it'll do for right now.  


Often we go through life wanting to do a lot of things:  we want to be successful in school and our careers, we want to have a loving family, we want to maintain our health and exercise, we want to give back to our communities/religion, etc.  But rarely do we have time for all of them on a consistent basis.  All along, we also have a lot of ideas of different ways we think the world can improve but again lack time and the resources to fulfill the execution needed to bring said ideas to life.


Sometimes we tell these ideas to others to seek external support; sometimes we keep them a secret because we're scared of external judgment.  But for every idea we don't let be known, there exists the possibility that the world never got to benefit from a possible "missed connection" of mutually beneficial or associated other ideas.  


I've never been shy about sharing my thoughts if I think they can help improve things in any way.  Often this information has already been brought up and discussed or dismissed but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be shared.  You either show that you are on the same page as those who you are presenting the topics to or you show that you need to learn more about the topic.  But that shouldn't deter you from potentially sparking another person's interest to continue where you left off.  It's a pretty high risk, low reward process as long as you have vetted the idea internally as well as externally with trusted friends.


So that's why my first idea after introducing my introduction to them is for someone to create said idea-curation-then-creation website; someplace that builds off of the positive purpose behind message boards and serves as a melting pot of associated ideas with simple UI and transparent philosophy.  After allowing for ideas to be connected, the best solutions will bubble to the top through Reddit-esque upvotes/downvotes then a representative can be chosen and the project can be paid for through crowdfunding.


That's got to be a net positive for the world.

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Cory Jarrell