Posted by AZDuffman
Sep 06, 2011

Beat the coins--week 1

First week on this. To recap, sports betting is supposed to be like playing the stock market. There is a theory that darts thrown at a board can do as well as professional stock pickers. Since I can't throw darts well, I am using a virtual coin-flip to see how picking games at random does. All lines are Bodog unless noted for all season. All vigs are -110 unless noted. Lines are as published wed night all season. ARE YOU BETTER THAN A COMPUTER GENERATED COIN FLIP?

PIT over BAL PIT+3/-135
ARI over CAR ARI-7
ATL over CHI ATL-3/-105
CLE over CIN CLE-7/100
NYJ over DAL NYJ-4
NO over GB NO+4
IND over HOU IND+8.5 (betus line)
BUF over KC BUF+6 (betus line)
MIA over NE MIA+7
DEN over OAK DEN-3
STL over PHI STL+5
MIN over SD MIN+9/-120
SF over SEA SF-6/-105
DET over TB DET+1/-105
JAX over TEN JAX -2 (betus line) updated 9-7-11.
NYG over WAS NYG-3/-120


buzzpaff Sep 06, 2011

Why would you bet a -120 let alone -135? INSANE !!!

imperialpalace Sep 07, 2011

STL over PHILLY at +5? That's crazy talk (or, in your view, moxie). Not enough points! I'm sure I'll end up placing a decent-sized bet on ARI at -7. Carolina is a lock to have a top five pick in next year's draft. Good luck on the season.

Ayecarumba Sep 07, 2011

Here are my picks that are different that your coin flip:








In the ideal bookmaker's world, half the action will exactly match the other half, so a coin flip is appropriate if you believe the lines have settled appropriately. The real money for the punter comes from exploiting unbalanced lines. I don't think a sharp would have equal action on every single game, just the ones with perceived edges.

Posted by AZDuffman
Aug 22, 2011

More wild stuff found the courthouse

Some people might find looking at up to 200+ year old doccuments boring. It is only boring if you make it so. As you peeps know, I have been having a blast with what I have found, some directly some while looking for other things. Trying not to repeat what I have posted before, I have seen:

A person who left his wife a person in his will. Saw this twice, actually. Not technically "left a person" but "left the services of a person(s.) Looks to be indentured servants as they were left with soe walking-around-money at the end of their service.

Huge land grant to one G Washington. And land grants recited as being given by one T Jefferson. Yes, those guys.

Said land grant above, here in PA, was given to G Washington by the COLONY of VA. I have to wonder if "How the States Got Their Shapes" would ever be interested in that?

Land paid for at the rate of 15 Shillings per acre. Someone with a better understanding of the British Money System can explain how much that might be today?

Land paid for at "'x' shillings, LAWFUL MONEY OF MARYLAND."

Add to this that when you look at the property lines form grants made in the 1700s and some of those lines are the same to this day.

Makes your day go fast when you get to pretend you are an ametaur historian, which in fact you are.


odiousgambit Aug 23, 2011


benbakdoff Aug 23, 2011

I research my family history as a hobby and I never find it boring. The stone walls here in New England form the same property lines that they did in the 1600s and 1700s in many cases. The cemeteries also go back that far and you wouldn't believe what is inscribed on some of the markers. Fascinating!

teddys Aug 23, 2011

As you know, G. Washington spent a lot of time in Western Pa. working as a surveyor. And I beleive the Colony of Virginia claimed that land (they claimed a huge amount of land -- pretty much everything east of the Ohio/Allegheny) so they had the authority to grant it.

Very interesting find.

thecesspit Sep 09, 2011

There was 20 shillings in a pound sterling, so 15 shillings is 3/4 of a pound. How Sterling got transferred to dollars during the revolution, I have no idea.

Posted by AZDuffman
Jun 08, 2011

"Field Offices" and some good customer service

If you have worked an "outside" job you might be familiar with the concept of a "field office" though you may call it something else. A field office is a place where you can do work, make calls, and kill time if needed. They must not mind you loitering even if you are actually working. Places like Starbucks were almost invented for this. Years ago a pay phone was a requirement. Now anywhere you can buy food or beverage for a few dollars and spend an hour or more. You cannot take a table from other paying customers forever, but many places don't care and even encourage this to an extent as customers will not find such a "dead" place.

This week and in some future weeks I will be "on the road" in a different city for a project. No office locally. The courthouse is a required place to be, but it is uncomfortable to do work there after you look up what you need. I am here with two others and after a "where are you" conversation it hit me that every call we seem to be somewhere different. Such as:

The hotel lobby or bar which seems to be serving as an unofficial "business center" for several guests as there is no "official" one
The bakery
The coffeehouse
A local bar (yes, you read that right)
And a local "deli" that is more of a coffeehouse with light sandwiches

It is a fun project so far, but have to admit it feels a little like being some kind of bookie where you don't spend too much time in one place.

Anyways, on the deli, it is pretty empty this time of year this being a college town and school is out for the summer. I can't remember much about the fancy coffees no matter how hard I try. So I just asked her if she had what I like at Starbucks on the menu. She asks what it is and I tell her. Says she doesn't have it but says she will google it. This gets better, you need to make a "simple syrup" and chill it overnight. Half as a joke I say, "I'm here for weeks, maybe save some." I go back the next day and SHE SAVED SOME! Says she will "calibrate" the sweetness level until it is right.

She is either has really good customer service or is really bored. I'm not that charming.


FleaStiff Jun 08, 2011

Libraries and Barnes and Noble used to fulfill that function too. And at least in Seattle, coffee shops were often daytime meeting places for people working on various projects. I remember going for a morning bagel and coffee and hearing a meeting at the next table involving real estate renovations of warehouses by two women who had Microsoft shares. When I returned for a late lunch, there were three businessmen discussing some sort of rezoning project. A good many of these mailbox places are either co-located with coffee shops or have coffee shops near them. People would pick up their morning mail, make a few copies, file things in some folders, then have breakfast. No need for an actual office and no need to live in your car as if you were in Los Angeles where girls keep a few outfits in their car, their laptops in their car and have mini offices in the cars.

If you've found a good place, stay put. Just don't wear out your welcome by hogging their tables during their busy times or stretching a recharger cord across their aisles.

Its like having an Executive Suite for free! Its great. One executive suite firm actually arranged their conference rooms to each be accessible from their own coffee shop. Works great for these virtual companies that hire temporary consultants and programmers as they need them and rent conference rooms only when they need them.

DJTeddyBear Jun 09, 2011

AZ -

That's cool that you found someone so accomodating.

>> She is either has really good customer service or is really bored.

Why not ask her?


I do the "field office" thing all the time.

As a DJ and Wedding Ceremony Officiant, I need to meet with the clients. I don't have a home office, and clients are often uncomfortable with meeting at their own home.

The alternatives I suggest are: DunkinDonuts, Starbucks, bar, hotel lobby. I suggest DD first because that's my personal preference. I don't drink coffee or booze, and Starbucks doesn't know hot to make a decent cup of hot cocoa. Plus DD has cool summer alternatives that Starbucks can't match.

I sometimes get asked what happens if I'm sick the day of their wedding. First, I'd have to be VERY sick to consider an alternative. Second, I have a list of people I can call. As it happened, I was once asked that question while at a DD, and one of the guys on the list was with a client a couple tables away from me!

AZDuffman Jun 09, 2011

@both: Yeah, I am avoiding wearing out my welcome though my co-worker said the first place didn't care. The place with good service closes mid-afternoon and I was happy to leave as they had the temp set to what felt like 60F. The bump in caffeine intake concerns me mildly though I will not touch decaf.

Yes, lots of people meeting about who knows what today. I outlasted them all! Hopefully I do not burn out that 5 square blocks is my "life" during the day. Not having to drive? PRICELESS.

Posted by AZDuffman
May 09, 2011

The death of cursive and the Palmer Method?

As you all know, my days are now filled with looking at all kinds of old deeds and other doccuments. One interesting part is that as you get back to about 1890 or so the deeds go from typed to handwritten. I'm not sure when typewriters came into widespread use, but about 1890-1900 when the doccuments go from typed to someone's handwriting. And even though 99% of the handwritten ones are difficult to read let me say the handwriting is better than 95% of what you see today. It gets even more impressive when you remember that there were no Bic ballpoint pens, back then it was inkwells.

My "break-in" to the title side of the then-mortgage business was "typing" legal descriptions from an old deed to a new one. It takes some time and needs to be perfect. Even on a PC with spell-check a small farm with some weird boundries could take 30-60 minutes. Then I look at these old deeds. Such well-formed handwriting. No ink splotches. No "doctor's handwriting." Readable, 150 years later. Yes, you sometimes need a magnifying glass to get it right, but someone 150 years from now was reading my handwriting they would never get the title chain finished.

I can imagine someone taking half a day to get these deeds right.

One more thing. Remember how I said I started in "typing." I was told "just type the legal description from that one to your new one." I always wondered how long an error could continue. Well, I got an 1850s deed last week and the legal description was somewhat wrong. My imagination showed someone being told, "look, just copy from that one to your new one."

Life changes yet maybe stays the same?


FleaStiff May 09, 2011

In property descriptions even obvious errors are not corrected.

Many law offices now insist on photocopying of property descriptions rather than retyping even if its only one sentence.

AZDuffman May 10, 2011

@Flea Interesting. Wasn't an option when we prepared a new deed. I just wasted a full hour today as part of the legal description of the property was listed as an exception on another deed, many years before. I have plotting software but it just shows the shape, you cannot put it in relation to anything so you have to look and use your head to compare.

The good news is this. I read there are about 2,500 gas wells in PA right now. They say this new drilling could put 3,000 new wells PER YEAR for the next few years. That would be like a new strip in vegas every year for several years. Then there could be other states. I hope it lasts.

konceptum May 11, 2011

I always thought that the use of real ink well pens would require better penmanship. Of course, I've never written with an inkwell type pen, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. It just seems that using one of those would require someone to write slower and neater, to avoid running ink and what not.

Posted by AZDuffman
May 03, 2011

This new job is one of the best ever so far.

Posting it here because as the old joke goes, "because I'm telling everybody."

As I have mentioned in passing here, I started a new job about two weeks ago. If someone told me in college that I would completely enjoy abstracting real estate titles I would have asked if they had enough beer to share. But for someone who likes both history and problem-solving, this is the gig to have. First, just reading the old doccuments can be a trip. Wills are truly a window into someone's life. Building the title chain takes a lot of detail work. But by the time you are done you feel as though you know the people who signed those deeds, over 100 years ago in some cases. And you wonder why they did what they did. Why some never married, or died young. By the time I am done I have a little story in my head about the "whys." (Is the story lonely in my head?) The report to the client is accurate, but you get to giving some ownners "pet names" and stuff. It passes the time and makes it fun.

And there is the fun stuff to see. Today I saw some of the ways owners got their land as grants from the Revolutionary War.

Last week I saw an entry of a slave being freed by his master. Right there with the real estate transactions! Makes sense when you think about it. Forgetting the immorality of slavery for the moment, slaves were "property." Property had to be recorded. His name was "George."


DJTeddyBear May 03, 2011


Thanks for sharing.

rdw4potus May 04, 2011

Sounds like a great job. The stories have to make it very interesting.

AZDuffman May 04, 2011

Glad you enjoyed it. BTW: The "stories" are mine. For example, one owner from 1900 or so was named "John." Now, reading the deeds I can just feel how smart this guy was. So I am pulling deeds, making a flowchart, and saying to myself, "lets see what Johnny-boy did with his coal rights!" Or that when John died, his wife survived him by 20 years and she did this and that. I mean, I've been on my own two weeks and it is weird, after a week of searching the title chain and you feel like you want to meet the whole group of people in heaven for dinner when you get there.

And when you get before about 1890 or so the deeds are handwritten in cursive. You can imagine someone taking 1-2 hours to write it so neat as there were no ball point pens then. And I can go into the courthouse (or do it online for most stuff-figurative visit though it is just across the street) and see the any doccument from all those years ago.

Is anyone wondering why I write about "The History Channel" so much? I know the feeling Rich has when those old doccuments "walk in to the shop." <smark>