Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Introducing the BCI Index

After a holiday party discussion about when certain commodities go on sale, I got a hankering to collect real data to back up my intuition.  Oh, and I have intuition.  For instance, baking commodities - flour, butter, cake mixes - go on sale during Thanksgiving week, early December and, to a lesser extent, around Easter.  This seems counter-intuitive in that the stores clearly know that people concentrate their baking around these dates.  Wouldn't it be wise to jack up prices?  Apparently, they believe that price elasticity also goes up along with the baking impulse.  They need to force the vague thought about baking into action by enabling us to save x percent on pumpkin filling.

Perhaps less well known is that Chex go on sale before the super bowl.  Why?  Chex mix.  Same reason as above.

So, on my shopping trips this year, I chose three items - store brand butter, Chex and the cheapest ice cream - and monitored prices at my grocery store, which is the rust belt Appalachian powerhouse Giant Eagle.  Below are the trends in the inaugural CBI (Chex, Butter, Ice Cream) Index, with high and low prices marked.  Note the Chex super bowl dip and the Easter butter dip.  

Butter averaged $3.91 per pound. Chex averaged $3.75 for a standard 12-ounce box of gold-standard Corn Chex.  The cheapest ice cream (er, frozen dairy dessert - why?) averaged $2.96 per 1.5 quart.  

Here are the first quarter trends:

Also, for anyone interested in the trend of what ice cream brand was cheapest week to week, here's that data:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 Pirates Predictions

In 2015, Charlie lead the way in both optimism and accuracy.  This year, he shows just as much optimism by predicting only a 2-win dropoff from last year.  I have never had the closest prediction.  Paige and Teddy have each won once, and Charlie three times.  You are now equipped to wager.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Two Recent Milestones

After months of it seeming inevitable, somewhere between the New Year and St. Patrick's
After the second-tallest person in our family's
first soccer match.
Day, it happened: Charlie got taller than his mother.  They hung around at even height (or too close to call) for a while.  His Competent Mother seemed reluctant for this milestone to arrive. 

It's right, though, that children get taller than their parents.  It's one of those subtle signs of the health and prosperity that is easy to take for granted.  We got an objective measurement while at the home of friends who keep a t-square near their family measuring post in the kitchen.  Charlie is a half-inch taller than Paige, which makes him - as you can see - not much shorter than yours truly.  He's coming for me.

The second milestone we reached - again after a long period of waiting and observation - is Teddy moving out of a booster seat.  No photographic evidence to share, but he's finally tall enough that the seatbelt doesn't come across his neck in that very dangerous way.  He might have attained that height 3-4 months before we definitively tested; he's no slouch in the growth spurt department.

He'd gotten self-conscious about being a fourth-grader in a booster seat.  Sorry, kid.  Your parents love you and want to keep you safe.  No booster seats in the car feels momentous.  Heck, it's only been 13 1/2 years that we've had at least one version of a car seat in our car.  More than half our marriage.  More than three presidential terms.

A family at church that is not done making babies put out a call a week after we retired Teddy's seat to borrow a booster seat as their dominoes of booster-eligible kids just keep moving through the ranks.  Just like that, it went from in the car to out of the car to out of our house and our lives.  We told them to keep it.  We're not booster seat people anymore.