Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Day!

KU (the University of Kansas) is closed today because of snow.  Turns out they'll also be closed tomorrow!  This doesn't happen very often.  I started here in Fall 2009 and, since then, we've had 2 snow days.  (Campus has been closed other times, but most of them are during Christmas break when classes aren't in session anyways).  But back in Feb. 2011, we got a Tuesday and a Wednesday off for a big snowstorm.  And now we've had a Thursday off and we'll get a Friday off tomorrow for another snowstorm.  If I had to pick, I'd rather have a Thursday/Friday off than a Tuesday/Wednesday. :)

Even the concept of having "Snow Days" is weird to me.  Since I was homeschooled my whole life, I never really had to take a day off because I couldn't get to the school.  When your books are in the living room, the transit time is pretty minimal.  Of course, we got plenty of days "off" for other things (debate tournaments, museum days, etc.), and I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few days here or there taken off to go play in the snow.  But those weren't days taken off because I physically couldn't make it to the school building.

Bizarrely, we're similarly situated here - we live on-campus so even when there's plenty of snow I just have to walk to campus past the basketball arena.  It might take awhile for me to make the walk, but I don't think there's ever been a time when I couldn't walk to campus if I had to.  But even if I can make it to campus, plenty of my students commute in from KC or Overland Park and it would be unsafe for them to drive so far.  I'm glad they cancelled classes.

Of course, since I'm a grad student, my work is never really "done", even if I get a day off teaching.  But I might ignore some work tomorrow for a bit and play outside with James and Joy.  Maybe drink some hot chocolate too.  Seems like it'll be a good day for that sort of thing.  We should have snow days more often. ;-)

~Benjamin


Monday, February 18, 2013

Blizzards vs. Blizzard Cakes

So recently it was my birthday.  I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob, and all suchlike things were true.  And, in return to form, I decided to get a Blizzard Cake from Dairy Queen.  We've been munching on it for the past few days now and - yummy! - still have some to go.

But while eating this ice cream delicacy, I started wondering what would be cheaper: A mondo-sized blizzard cake or a bunch of individual blizzards?  Honestly, I assumed the cake would be cheaper.  It's larger and can be made at once (so, I would think, lower labor costs than making a bunch of individual blizzards one at a time).  But, since this problem is quantifiable (unlike most of what I work with, experimental philosophy notwithstanding), I decided to run the math.

Dairy Queen serves two sizes of Blizzard Cakes: 8 inches and 10 inches.  We opted for the 10-inch "Cookie Dough" cake at a (pre-tax) price of $25.99.  Unfortunately, the cake itself doesn't include its own weight on the label but DQ's Nutrition Information website gives us the information we need.  Therein (after clicking on DQ Cakes and selecting the appropriate 10 inch variety), we are told that 1/10 of the cake weighs 306 g.  (There is some ambiguity here since my cake is definitely labeled "Cookie Dough Blizzard Cake" yet the nutritional information is for "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough" - I think it's likely that these two cakes are actually the same, label variance notwithstanding, but that could be an error on my part).  Regardless, if 1/10 of the cake weighs 306 g, then 10/10 of the cake weighs 3060 g.  This is just a hair under 6 3/4 lbs - and although I didn't weigh the cake when I first bought it, this number seems plausible.  So 3060 g of DQ Blizzard Cake costs $25.99.

Now we just compare that cost to a requisite amount of Blizzards.  Since the cake weighs 3060 g, and large Blizzards are 21 oz, we need to convert.  21 oz is just about 595 grams, and a decent cost estimate is that a large blizzard costs $4.  (There's a nontrivial amount of regional variation there, as well as the fact that BOGO coupons are [relatively] easily had, or other sales, etc.).  3060 / 595 = 5.14, meaning we'd need to buy 5.14 large blizzards to get an equivalent amount of ice cream to one 10-inch cake.  5.14 blizzards would cost us $20.56.

So we could spend $20.56 buying 5.14 Blizzards (or, more realistically, $20 buying 5 Blizzards) or we could spend $25.99 buying the same amount of ice cream as a Blizzard cake.

I grant that there are aesthetic differences, or that one might prefer cakes to cups of ice cream, or any number of other differences justifying the cost difference might obtain.  Nonetheless, the price difference between cakes and Blizzards is nontrivial; buying a Blizzard Cake costs 21% more than just buying the equivalent amount of Blizzards.  Put another way, buying individual Blizzards you could buy a cake's worth of ice cream plus an extra Blizzard (thus getting yourself an extra 21 oz of ice cream) for the same price as one cake.  I don't know about y'all, but next birthday I might just forgo the cake altogether and get 6 Blizzards instead.

Let me know if I messed up the math.  Meantime, I'm going to eat some leftover Blizzard cake. :-p

~Benjamin