The Incredible Shrinking PAX Medals

A few weeks ago I attended my eighth consecutive PAX Prime. While there are many things to love about PAX, one of my personal favorites has become the PAX medals. All weekend long there are various tournaments and contests you can participate in to win a medal.

I have won a PAX medal at each of the last three PAX Prime events that I have had the pleasure of attending. In 2011 I got one for placing second in a Pac-Man Championship Edition DX tournament. In 2012 I won one for having the second-best pitch at the Pitch Your Game Idea panel. This year I won a high score contest for the Super Nintendo game Tin Star, using the SuperScope.

PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

As I was enjoying my PAX medals, I noticed something odd. Each year, the PAX medals are getting slightly smaller.

Time to break out some measuring tools.

PAX Medals: Ribbon Length

First up, length of the ribbons:

Ribbon Length Comparison of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

That’s 4cm of ribbon loss in just two years. At this rate, PAX medals will be a 15cm choker by 2020.

PAX Medals: Medal Height

Let’s check the height.

Height Comparison of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

The shrinkage of the medals is even more dramatic than the ribbon shrinkage. If it keeps up at the same rate they’ll disappear completely by 2020.

PAX Medals: Mass

Finally, let’s weigh these suckers on my kitchen scale.

Mass Comparison of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

The loss of mass is the most extreme, with an average loss of 3.5g per year putting the medals on a path to vanish entirely by 2018. Also, apparently PAX medals are not very nutritious.

PAX Medals: Shrinkage Summary

Here’s a summary of my findings:

Year Length Height Mass
2011 33.0cm 0.76″ 25g
2012 30.5cm 0.66″ 20g
2013 29.0cm 0.58″ 18g

There is one category in which PAX medals are getting measurably better: back-side engraving. The 2011 medal just had a generic number. The 2012 medal still had the number, but they added a bit about what the medal was for. In 2013 the number was dropped entirely and the font got a sweet upgrade.

Back of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

Anyway, this is all apparently interesting enough for me to write a 333-word blog post, but despite the shrinkage, I still enjoy my PAX medals.

Horse Head: Three-Time PAX Medal Winner!

Video Games + Home Improvement = Porch Launch

In honor of the launch home improvement network Porch (my employer), I created this Internet-meme-ish slideshow that ties together video games and home improvement.

Enjoy… OR ELSE.

[slideshare id=26285361&doc=11-classic-video-games-130917164657-phpapp01]

P.S. – I also posted it to BuzzFeed, if you’re more into reading these kinds of things in a flat format.

“Double Stuf” Oreos Actually Only “1.89x Stuf”

Here’s another great story about data, this time on a small scale.

Dan Anderson is a high school math teacher. As part of a class exercise, he had his kids measure the “stuf” content of regular Oreo cookies, “Double Stuf” Oreo cookies, and “Mega Stuf” Oreo cookies.

According to his kids’ calculations, the “Double Stuf” Oreos contained 1.86x as much filling as regular Oreos. Oops.

After his original blog post blew up on the internet, Dan did a more extensive experiment of his own and came up with similar results: “Double Stuf” Oreos contained just 1.89x as much filling as regular Oreos.

The experiments got quite a bit of attention online, and even drew an official response from Nabisco, as covered by ABC News:

A spokeswoman for Nabisco told the company’s Double Stuf Oreos are made to have double the creme filling as the original Oreos.

“While I’m not familiar with what was done in the classroom setting, I can confirm for you that our recipe for the Oreo Double Stuf Cookie has double the Stuf, or creme filling, when compared with our base, or original Oreo cookie,” the spokeswoman said.

And yet… That’s not what the data actually shows.

Data-driven observations: 1
Nabisco: 0

via BoingBoing

Sharknado: Has the “Shark Genre” Reached its Logical Conclusion? NOPE.

Today on a group chat at work, the topic of “Sharknado” came up. Because of course it did. In said chat, someone linked to an article in which the writer of “Sharknado” claims that “the shark genre has reached its natural and logical conclusion.” I believe that we proved his thesis wrong.

For reference, here is the “Sharknado” trailer:


RT: NPR: ‘Sharknado’ Dares To Ask: Is It Going To Rain Giant Man-Eating Sharks?

YO: I feel like I should revive our shark air-swimmer.

NG: Sharknado was all the rage lat night on Twitter. 9/10 tweets were about it

FN: OMG. Seriously, EVERYONE I follow on Twitter was going nuts about Sharknado.

OS: Fin’s name should have been Foo. Then Foo could have owned a bar, and been friends with Baz.

FN: The company that makes these movies is called The Asylum. They were also responsible for the “Megashark vs.” series and other recent super low budget classics. There was one with a mega piranha. Here’s a 2010 article about The Asylum.

OS: The low-budget big action knock-off is such a funny niche. I’ve been watching a lot of Rifftrax recently of mid-80s straight-to-video knockoffs. There’s always the one or two big-name actors who are slumming or fallen on hard times, the incomprehensible plot, and the strangely professional cinematography and sometimes stunts.


FN: Last sharknado bit from me for today (I have so much work I’m avoiding!): io9 did an excellent interview with the writer.

GR: Ha ha, awesome: “Honestly, I don’t understand why people are so perplexed by this concept. The logic is undeniable.”

TO: That interview is hilarious.

TO: “Has the shark disaster movie run its course, or are we just ramping up? It’s called Sharknado. I think the shark genre has reached its natural and logical conclusion.”

NO: In other words, have shark movies… jumped the shark?

YO: What about sharks in space?

YO: “Freddy vs. Shark”?

OS: “Sharks on a Plane”?

XW: Zombie laser sharks in space. On fire.

OS: Tsusharkmi

GR: What if the Yellowstone Caldera were full of… SHARKS?!? “Megasharkano,” in theaters 2014.

OS: (clap)

RF: “Shark Impact” – Asteroid containing space-sharks on course to destroy Earth. …or would that be “Shark-ageddon”?


OS: Megalogeddadon

RF: Ooh, nice.

RF: I guess for the logic to be undeniable, it would have to be a comet containing frozen space sharks

RF: +1 if the sharks are sentient/intelligent. Then you could pull in the “Independence Day” trope.

ET: RE: intelligent sharks — Deep Blue Sea

RF: @ET good point; the movie should also feature the star power of LL Cool J.

TO: Microscopic sharks (ala Fantastic Voyage; 1966) attacking the body from within!

GR: Megashark vs. Microsharks!

TO: Megashark thinks it killed microshark by eating it, microshark kills megashark from within, microshark dies due to a lifeless host. A shakespearean shark tragedy!

GR: You know what guys let’s just forget this real estate thing and pivot Redfin into a shark disaster movie company.

YO: We can keep the company name.

RF: Can we work zombie sharks into this?

QS: @GR How do you know that this ISN’T a shark disaster movie?

QS: Oh, hang on, guys. I’ll be right back…

RF: Somebody’s at the door!

RF: (Landshark!)

RF: Man, the internets are sadly devoid of any SNL Landshark skits. Wow; first aired in 1975. Now I feel *really* old.

NO: You know what Twilight needed? Hunky teenage sharks.

Vampire Sharks

QS: [Vampire Sharks]

NO: Would vampire sharks work together with vampire ents?

QS: I found this trailer when googling Vampire Sharks. It has, ah, homegrown charm.

RF: How about weresharks?

RF: That would be an unfortunate affliction to have you if you were landlocked during a full moon.

FYI: I anonymized the chat participants and cleaned things up a bit for readability.

Salmon, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, & Eggs – Tim’s Daily Paleo Breakfast

For most of this year I’ve been making the same Paleo breakfast every morning when I get to work. During that time, I’ve been asked some variation of “What are you making?” or “That smells delicious, what is it?” by roughly half of my coworkers. The short answer: It’s scrambled eggs with salmon and sun-dried tomatoes.

For those who want more details, and for the other half of my coworkers who would have asked me about my breakfast in the coming months, I decided to provide the following step-by-step breakdown.

Tim's Paleo Breakfast

Tim’s Paleo Breakfast Cost & Calories

First up, here’s a summary of the costs and calories in table format, because who doesn’t like tables.

Item Cost Calories
eggs $0.58 200
salmon $0.97
tomatoes $0.44
Total $1.99

Shopping List

Next, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to buy from the grocery store if you want to eat like me for some reason. I get all my ingredients for this Paleo breakfast from Costco, which is what I’m basing the prices on in the lists below. Okay, technically that last sentence was a lie since Redfin (my employer) provides the eggs as part of their regularly-stocked kitchen items, but I’m including the price of the eggs so other readers can get a complete picture of the total cost.

Here’s what I pick up at Costco:

  • 24 Eggs (organic free-range): $6.99
  • Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon, 16 oz: $15.59 $14.89
  • Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomatoes, 2 lb: $7.99 $11.47 $8.59

[October 2014 Update – A few months ago Costco stopped stocking Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomatoes, replacing them with Kirkland Signature Oven-Dried Roma Tomatoes. The new tomatoes come in the same size jar and cost around the same, but do not taste the same. In my opinion the taste and texture of Costco’s store brand dried tomatoes is inferior. I am now purchasing the Bella Sun Luci tomatoes directly from the manufacturer, who sells them for $50.67 + $18.13 shipping for a case of six, which comes out to $11.47 each. I have updated the prices above to reflect this change.]

[August 2015 Update – Good news, everyone! Costco dropped their terrible Kirkland Signature Oven-Dried Roma Tomatoes and brought back the Bella Sun Luci sun-dried tomatoes. They’re a little more expensive now than they were when I first put this post together, but the price of the salmon has gone down, so the overall cost is back down to just under two dollars. Nice. I never got a reply to the email I sent Costco corporate complaining about the inferior quality of their tomatoes, but I am going to take credit for this victory anyway.]


Next up, the daily portion size:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 oz smoked salmon
  • 1⅓ oz sun-dried tomatoes

Technically that’s half a serving of salmon and two servings of sun-dried tomatoes. Obviously you should adjust the portions to your liking, but that’s what I happen to use. It’s also worth noting that I typically use a fork to get the tomatoes out of the jar, allowing as much oil as possible to drain off. This means that rather than the labeled 48 servings per 2-pound jar, I get about 36 servings per jar. In other words, about 25% of the contents of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes is olive oil.

Let’s Make Breakfast

If you’re making this at home the instructions are easy:

  1. stir everything together
  2. cook it on a greased skillet

Unfortunately something the Redfin kitchen doesn’t have is a burner, which means the skillet method isn’t available to me at work. Consequently, I’ve had to learn how to make the perfect scrambled eggs in the microwave. Here’s what the complete process—store to serve—looks like for me:

  1. buy salmon
  2. buy sun-dried tomatoes
  3. buy eggs
  4. prep salmon (night before)
  5. prep tomatoes (night before)
  6. break 2 eggs into a bowl
  7. beat the eggs
  8. add the salmon & tomatoes
  9. stir ingredients together
  10. microwave 1 minute at 50% power
  11. remove from microwave
  12. stir ingredients together
  13. microwave 1 minute at 50% power
  14. remove from microwave
  15. stir ingredients together
  16. microwave 10-30 seconds at 50% power, depending on how wet you like your eggs
  17. remove from microwave
  18. enjoy

And here it is in pictures, if you’re more of a visual person (click for slideshow):
Paleo-Breakfast_01_Salmon Paleo-Breakfast_02_Sun-Dried-Tomatoes Paleo-Breakfast_03_Eggs Paleo-Breakfast_04_Add-Salmon Paleo-Breakfast_05_Add-Tomatoes Paleo-Breakfast_06_Add-Eggs Paleo-Breakfast_07_Beat-Eggs Paleo-Breakfast_08_Add-Salmon-and-Tomatoes Paleo-Breakfast_09_Stir-Ingredients Paleo-Breakfast_10_Microwave-1-Minute Paleo-Breakfast_11_Remove-from-Microwave Paleo-Breakfast_12_Stir-Again Paleo-Breakfast_13_Remove-from-Microwave Paleo-Breakfast_14_Stir-Again Paleo-Breakfast_15_Enjoy

That’s it! Add some salt & pepper or your favorite hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s Red Hot) and you’ve got yourself a healthy, delicious, energy-packed breakfast.

P.S. – If you’re wondering what “Paleo” is, in short it’s a way of eating that consists primarily of meat and vegetables. Basically you eat no sugars, no processed foods, and no grains. I’ve been eating this way (though not 100% strict) for most of 2013. I don’t care about nor buy into Paleo’s evolutionary mumbo-jumbo backstory. All I know is that eating this way helps me feel great and have more energy throughout the day. Plus I shaved about 15 pounds in the first month, so that was a nice bonus.