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Wednesday, June 17 2015

Personal Finance for the young

On today's Diane Rehm Show show on NPR, they discussed the topic of young people and money for an hour. It was a truly bizzare conversation.

The first 10 minutes were focused around college-age kids - those thinking about going to college and those just graduated. This was mostly OK, but:

For a minute or two where the panel insisted that personal finance is complicated. It really isn't. Personal finance is pretty simple for the great middle - those who have enough income to be comfortable in their situation, but not so much income that they need an advisor and a CPA to handle it all. Make a budget, file your taxes on time, save a little bit, and know how to evaluate offers for credit.

The panel also seemed unwilling to point out an obvious cause for why kids seem to need more help from their parents straight out of college: graduates aren't getting married at 22 and 23 as often. Operating a household is expensive; sharing a household saves money. And unlike with a roommate, spouses typically pool money to reduce the risk of one person being laid off and falling into financial trouble. There are some drawbacks to marriage - for example couples with large student loan debts are likely to hit the cap on the student loan interest tax deduction.

The second segment was largely about teaching small children the value of money. One of the panelists suggested giving your kids an allowance, but expecting them to contribute to household expenses (ala rent) "depending on your means." How about, if you're of limited means, don't give an allowance at all, and if you're wealthy give an allowance.

Another suggested a "three jar" allowance where the kid would be expected to save some money, spend some money, and donate some money. The concept of charity is well beyond young children. Maybe this is a good strategy for a 10-year-old, I think it is enough to teach a young kid that you can't buy a new bicycle with $27.

The first caller talked about people who don't understand credit cards and the panel suggested that cash was the way to go. This is obviously outdated thinking - first, it is clearly easier to choose not to carry cash - $100 in a combination of 20s and small bills is a noticeable thickness to my wallet, and there's a good chance whatever I do I'll end up having to break a 20 anyway. Second, you get substantial value out of credit cards in the form of rewards. The same is true of debit cards, where many banks will pay significant interest on your checking account if you charge a certain number of times to their debit card.

A later caller wanted to thank her father for prohibiting her from taking out student loans, and the panel praised the pair for their decision. Similarly to the previous paragraph about credit cards, student loans aren't actually that bad, as long as you do the repayment math first. Taking out $6700 a year in loans for four years would result in a monthly payment of around $330 on a 10 year term. Not a small sum, but if you take a job out of college with a salary of around $38k, definitely doable. Probably doable on less depending on the cost of living in your area. And keep in mind that $6700 will actually go quite a ways to funding a year of tuition at a public school - plausibly more than 2/3, with the remaining third easily covered by a summer job.

The best commentary came from two educators, one from Tulsa and one from Cincinnati. They denounced the myth that secondary schools fail to put on programming for financial preparation for college to the best of their abilities and that schools don't teach kids how to calculate the interest on a loan (although I would argue that this kind of thing needs to be emphasized and things like trigonometry de-emphasized)

Some times the ability of the school isn't sufficient - it is ultimately up to a parent to figure out how they can help their kids save for college.

Now for some things I agree with the panel about:

  • Choosing an expensive college because it's expensive/exclusive is not a good idea, and declining to apply to expensive universities is also a bad idea because the financial aid packages can sometimes be very generous. Applying to a dozen colleges is also a silly exercise.
  • Personal Finance is certainly a topic every public school should cover in some detail and repeatedly. The panel on the Diane Rehm show called personal finance complicated, and I disagreed above - but I've spent many hours trying to figure out the finer points of IRA investing. Knowing to save 5-10% of your salary is easy enough, but comparing competing offers from employers is not -- especially when it comes to fringe benefits and culture.

Wednesday, March 26 2014

Evansville's Well-Being Index -- Bottom 10 in the USA!

I was going to ignore this Gallup survey, released earlier this week. But then, the Honorable Mayor of Evansville, Lloyd Winnecke, felt the need to repudiate the survey in this YouTube video. In it, he says that an "extremely small percent of those people who responded did so in an unfavorable way." And, Evansville Courier and Press business writer Susan Orr wrote a story where everyone the paper interviewed (one person, talk about small sample sizes) was incredulous. "You've got Evansville lower than friggin' Detroit" the Courier and Press quoted Greg Wathen as saying.

Well, here's the facts, Mayor. The survey sampled 789 people by telephone (both landline and mobile) in the Evansville area. That's a very considerable sample size for the relatively small number of people living in it. As the Mayor says, that's over 300,000 people in the Evansville MSA, but consider that surveys for things like Senate races will sample only 1000 people to project up to the 6 million who live in Indiana.

Evansville is the lowest rated metropolitan area in Indiana, out of 7. Of those, Evansville:

  • Is most obese (28.6%)
  • Has most smokers (29.4%)
  • Has most uninsured residents (18.2%)
  • Exercises third least (48.7%)
  • Eats fruits and veggies at the second lowest rate (55.3%)

The only category where Evansville is in the top half of Hoosier metro areas is "has daily stress", which only 55.8% of Evansvilliagers expressed.

Since Mr. Wathen was curious, let's have a look at Detroit. Detroit reports fewer obese people, fewer smokers, more people who eat well, more people who exercise, more insured people. On five of the six categories, Detroit ranks above the River City.

Think about that, Evansville. Not about how Gallup is some evil organization that wants to destroy Evansville and promote Holland, Michigan. Look within.

P.S.: I'm not trying to imply that Evansville lacks amenities that other cities like Detroit or Indianapolis has, because to me Evansville seems to have most of the important ones. The problem is how people make use of them, or don't.

Monday, February 11 2013

Extremely Terrible Challenge-Response Questions

I've never been a fan of the "prove your identity" questions that many web vendors use, particularly financial institutions. I had to answer some of these today, and thought I'd share a couple of doozies.

What year did you get your first job?
This seemed like a reasonable question. But then I realized that I have no idea. I know I started my first job in September, but I have no recollection of what year. I could probably figure it out, but I don't want to do that every time I have to answer the question. The other problem is that for a person of known age, there is a very limited number of values which this might take, roughly a bell curve with center at 18 and tails extending toward 14 and 23.

What is the first name of the funniest friend you know?
There is a problem with this general class of questions: one's habits and friends change over time. So, in this case, the answer today might be my co-worker "Jack." In five years, the answer is somewhat likely to have changed, because people change jobs all the time, and I'm unlikely to keep track of Jack just because he's a decent Leno impersonator.

What was your first sweetheart's last name?
Here's another one that has multiple problems of recall. First, will future me think that my "first sweetheart" was a grade-school crush, first kiss, or first steady girlfriend? Second, will future me think to spell "Hoopengardner" with or without that silent "D"?

In what city was your favorite Olympic games played? What was the year of your favorite soccer World Cup?
These two fit very well together. They require you to perform two exercises:
(a) think about all the (World Cups or Olympics) you can
(b) Rank them subjectively
Again, someone knowing my age has a huge advantage. Being in my 20s, I do not remember the 1992 Barcelona Olympics at all and have only vague recollections of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. So, someone attempting access to this account would be able to guess with a one in eight chance. World Cups are even worse because there are only four that I would have any chance of remembering, and only one during which I watched a single match.

Even a middle-aged person is going to answer a question like this in a predictable fashion. Either they will pick a recent Olympics, or they will pick an especially famous Olympics (1980 with the "Miracle On Ice", 1992 with the "Dream Team" or 1996 because it was in the USA).

Here's why this is important:
Imagine you're a smartphone owner, who gets her purse stolen, phone and wallet included. Thief opens purse, finds phone with no passcode on it, and an email account logged in. Thief decides to play with your 401(k) which happens to be hosted at Fidelity. To reset a Fidelity password, you need only the last four digits of the victim's social security number (which many folks do not consider private information, including many employers who write it on pay stubs), the name of the victim, their date of birth, and access to their email or telephone.

Tell me what of that information is hard to find, given a purse? Maybe the last four digits of the social security number. Maybe. Some states in the past used the social security number as an identifier for issuing driver's licenses, so it isn't impossible that all of that information is on the driver's license.

Even after a password reset, the verification questions are still in the way. But what if the question is "What was the year of your favorite soccer World Cup," and the thief knows even a little bit about USA soccer?

I propose that perhaps using these security questions as additional passwords is a good idea, in place of actually answering the question. Even if you choose a common dictionary word, a 1 in 1000 chance of guessing a dictionary word is a whole lot better than the 1 in 8 chance of guessing which Olympics was my favorite.

Tuesday, July 26 2011

Bipartisanship is Alive and Well: Statistics

In 2011, Congress has passed 23 bills through both chambers.

I analyzed the voting records on all 23 of those bills, and was shocked to find that 48% of those bills passed both houses by unanimous consent. And in that bastion of partisanship, the United States Senate, 18 of the 23 bills received no dissenting votes.

What are these weighty issues that 530+ Congresspeople have agreed on universally?

  • Five Laws Rename Federal Properties (post offices, federal courthouses and the like)
  • Three Laws Appoint Directors to the Smithsonian Institution
  • Three Laws provided programs for improvements to local airports

Some further bills that faced some opposition in the House but passed unopposed in the Senate:

  • Ended the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission
  • Federal Highway funding
  • Funding for various programs supporting small business
  • A continuing resolution for the Federal Budget
  • Authorization for the US's intelligence agencies
  • Funding to issue to refunds overpayments to the government
  • An "Interest Rate Reduction Act"

The most contentious bill this year to pass was an the budget continuing resolution 180 "Nays" in the House. (As mentioned above, the resolution passed the Senate without opposition). A close second was the extension of the Patriot Act with 153 "Nays" in the House and 23 "Nays" in the Senate. Almost all of the down votes to both of those bills came from Democrats. Overall, 80% of all "No" votes in both houses on successful bills since January 1 have been cast by Democrats.

By the way, President Obama has not vetoed one bill in the 112th Congress.

Monday, July 4 2011

59 minutes with traffic

Evansville's fireworks display began this evening at 9:01. It concluded at 9:30. Traffic seemed to return to reasonable, non-congested, levels on all downtown streets around 10:30.

In the intervening 59 minutes, I was able to make it to six problem areas, including both ends of the official detour. I have several observations to make, in brief:

  • Drivers are unfamiliar with downtown.
  • Drivers did not plan ahead when selecting parking.
  • Traffic cops and drivers don't speak the same language.

Consider: At minute 33, there were cars lined up for blocks along 2nd Street at Main in both directions. This despite at least eight officers directing traffic at various intersections on 2nd. A large part of the problem appeared to be drivers who were trying to go west on a 1-way, turn, and go east on the next street. The police were not allowing turns at many already-congested intersections, causing some frustration on both sides. Exacerbating the situation were drivers who stopped their cars in the middle of the street either to ask the officer what his signals meant or to argue.

The other two observations I had went hand in hand. Drivers either did not plan their escapes, or did not know what choices to make to do so. Consider how far able-bodied people can walk in 30 minutes. (1 mile seems OK here) It is less than a mile from any point on the river to the new arena, which has access to a number of streets to get out of downtown.

What were the major problem spots I saw? Basically all of 2nd St., Division St. between Mary and Fulton, and First Ave. at John St. were all congested for a long time. Shorter-term bottlenecks took place on all the "tree" streets -- Chestnut, Sycamore, Cherry, and the like as folks tried to align themselves in a direction to get out of town.

WEHT promoted a story on their late news to this idea. I didn't watch their late news because I was doing the reporting for this blog. WEHT's angle was supposedly that this was a test for how events would unfold at the new arena when it opens in a few months. I'm not sure I agree with this premise because the two classes of events are in different locations with different infrastructure in place. However, it does seem to me that, at least until the visitors to downtown become more familiar with the layout of the streets, arena events will take a long time to disperse.

Tuesday, June 14 2011

Center for Innovation Engineering @UE

The University of Evansville yesterday announced they would create a Center for Innovation Engineering in time for the upcoming school year.

University of Evansville

“The new center will intensify the practical nature of its programs, and this Kern Family Foundation-supported project will give UE engineering students an extra edge to compete in our global environment.”

From UE press release.

This puts Evansville at the crest of what seems to be a trend of entrepreneurial engineers. Related Post: Review of book "The Entrepreneurial Engineer"

I imply that it is a trend because of reports from the mainstream media. CNN published an editorial from one student who received a $100,000 fellowship to leave college and start his own business. Dale J. Stephens was one of twenty such dropout-entrepreneurs who received such seed money.

The Miami Herald reported last month that young entrepreneurs see their own businesses as their best chance to make at least a little bit of money in a portion of the country were unemployment is 13 and a half percent.

Coming back to Evansville, one of the great things about a degree in engineering is that, upon graduation, you have the skill set to be able to create any number of products that people might find useful. The problem for many engineers is that they have no idea how to go about rendering those services to potential clients. I personally see market openings in which I could have attempted to built a business. Many of my fellow graduates will probably begin to move the same way when they don't find a "job" by the end of the summer.

On another note, the fact that the College of Engineering would rather hire their own entrepreneur rather than depend on the School of Business just a hundred yards away says at least a little something. Schools of Business have been foundering in the economic climate for various reasons. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates with degrees in finance, management, and marketing all face below-average job outlooks over the next 1-3 years. Schools of Business nationwide are facing questions on what needs to change in curricula to help their students in a "new economy." At Evansville, that means that classes in entrepreneurship are being dropped from the requirements for some degrees.

It is also important to note the importance of the Kern Foundation. The foundation is based in Wisconsin, run by the family who created Generac corporation. Evansville is one of 18 colleges to receive the grant, including some well-known names in the field (e.g. Illinois Institute of Technology, Villanova, Boston University). I see every reason to think this is another good decision by the CECS.

Tuesday, May 31 2011

May: A turbulent month in review

I had eight of those "Week in Review" posts planned for the first week of the month. Things got in the way. I'll just post a simple timeline:

May 4: Take possession of an apartment across town. Begin to move in.
May 6: Death in the family. My mother was lost to cancer more than five years after the initial diagnosis.
May 7: College Graduation
May 7: Finish moving my stuff
May 8: Mother's Day.
May 10: Mom's visitation
May 11: Memorial services and burial
May 13: Actually move into new apartment.
May 16: Start a full-time job at Ciholas.

I'm only beginning to get settled into new habits. Workin' 9-5, getting used to running a household, and new familial roles all in one month. Its been an adventure, and I'm sure the adventure won't cease any time soon.

Thursday, April 28 2011

James Spann: Superhero in Suspenders

James Spann James Spann has had a few marathons in his life. Yesterday was one of them. As chief meteorologist for ABC33/40 in Birmingham/Tuscaloosa, he spent eight consecutive hours in front of a green screen yesterday, trying to prevent loss of life as numerous tornadoes ripped across his portion of Alabama.

The network of skycams he pushed the station to purchase provided live video of at least two tornadoes on the ground in Tuscaloosa and Cullman.

We can only guess at how much he helped with more than a hundred already confirmed killed in Alabama as the mile-wide twisters moved across multiple densely populated areas, affecting the homes and businesses of hundreds of thousands. If the fatality rate is less than 1%, then everyone involved, not just James Spann, should feel like they accomplished their goal.

James Spann is to Central Alabama what Batman is to Gotham City

(Screen grab at the top was from an earlier event)

Saturday, March 26 2011

Some Serious Reading

I started off at WISH-TV's web site for some info on the weather up their way (Indianapolis). I ended up at Deanna Dewberry's blog. She is having her third bout with breast cancer, and one of the stories she related was especially touching.

http://blogs.wishtv.com/2010/12/23/...

She tells the story of a very young woman who is in foster care and battling a severe form of cancer and she met at her oncologist's office. An update in February revealed that the girl was not doing well.

This reminds me of a woman who I met at a different oncologist's office in Indianapolis now nearly six years ago. This lady had esophageal cancer, and had been told it was inoperable. She was frail looking, and said she was unable to eat because of the pain. She was going to begin a new round of chemotherapy that day. I had been reading a magazine article about Micheal Phelps before she began to chat with us. There was no way I could stop listening to her and read Sports Illustrated.

I heard a talk today from Dr. Stephen C. Jacobson of Indiana University. Much of his research is related in some way to diagnosing cancer. I will forever be supportive of research like his. Today also happens to be the day when Relay for Life is held.

The fact that I stumbled on Deanna's very well-written blog on that same day seems more than serendipitous.

Sunday, February 20 2011

Thomas Troeger, hymnodist

This is a man who I have only recently Googled, and found that he is an ordained minister in two different denominations (Presbyterian and Episcopalian). He also wrote a number of hymns, one of which has appeared twice in the last 52 weeks.

The first stanza is as such:

Praise the source of faith and learning, who has sparked and stoked the mind
With a passion for discerning how the world has been designed
Let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey
Keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray

It is surely one of the best hymn texts of the 20th century. It may have become famous during the National Prayer Breakfast in 2007. It is also notable for being printed in the United Methodist Church's The Faith We Sing - on page 4, no less. The version in TFWS is with the tune HYFRYDOL, but I've also heard it performed to VIENNA and HYMN TO JOY.

I've been on a bit of a classical music binge recently, so you'll forgive me bringing up Beethoven (who wrote the basis for HYMN TO JOY in his 9th symphony) and Joseph Haydn (composer of VIENNA) on the blog. This post is supposed to be more about the really nice sentiments brought forth by Troeger in his hymn. There are more nice sentiments to be found if your read the text for the other four verses.

Saturday, January 22 2011

Technology Builds on Itself

The oscilloscope is really the root of many other inventions in electronics. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their electronics empire by building oscilloscopes in a garage south of San Fransisco.

What brought this up? I looked at Digg this morning, and found one of the most dugg items was an article from Newsweek - an interview with Steve Jobs from their archives. He credited Hewlett and Packard with inspiring Apple, and makes several comparisons between himself and Woz and the pair who preceded them 40 years earlier. HP Scope - 1956

But back to that oscilloscope. This 1956 model looks quite antique compared to the digital scopes that I use today. But imagine debugging a serial bus (RS232) without a scope. Imagine Major Armstrong creating FM without it. Imagine AMPS, dAMPS, or GSM being invented without an oscilloscope. Imagine building electronic medical monitors without looking at the signals. Hewlett-Packard was not the first company to manufacture an Oscilloscope. But they provided much equipment that made everything that has happened in Silicon Valley over the last fifty years. The first three that come to mind are scopes, hand-held calculators, and printers and plotters.

Would there have been an Apple without an HP? It sounds like Steve Jobs feels like there would not have been one - not just because of the technology, but because of the entrepreneurial strategy taken by Hewlett and Packard.

Thursday, January 13 2011

Athiest Ethics Minors

Tonight's blog entry is sponsored by the following Facebook status. (Name removed because I did not ask the permission of the poster)

>Why is my Christian Ethics course required for an Ethics Minor?

(The poster went on to comment that that she mostly objected to the religious portion of the course)

There's two reasons why classes become required: a) Some authority figure says that a certain program should include a class on a certain topic (i.e. an accrediting agency, religious leader, the dean) b) The department decides that such a class should be included within a program.

Regarding (b), there are numerous reasons why the department would make a decision to require a certain class. Among them:

  • Attempting to get the maximum utilization out of an instructor. Consider this "Christian Ethics" class. If there's maybe 12 people who are required to take this class as a part of their degree program, perhaps a religious studies degree, and there's usually only three or four people who have an Ethics minor declared, then one instructor can knock kill the proverbial two birds with one proverbial stone. This is a typical situation at a small-er University like mine.
  • Competition between Department A and Department B. It is relatively common to see two departments with overlapping interests, Math and Physics for example, to offer competing classes. "Calculus for Physicists" would be an example here.

As far as the actual answer to the question, do some research. What agency accredits your department? When did the requirement come into effect? Who was on the faculty and who was chair at that time?

And, as a final comment, I urge college seekers to select a major before they enter the school, and closely look through the degree requirements at that time. University catalogs are universally boring reading, but I consider them the most valuable tool in selecting a University.

Sunday, January 9 2011

At the Laundromat

Saturday afternoon, I sat at a laundromat in the middle of the afternoon. It was pretty quiet. It was me and two other customers, both older African-American women. Now, if you've ever used a coin laundry, you know there isn't a lot to do while your laundry is going through the wash cycle.

So these two ladies sat there, kind of absent-mindedly folding their washing. Each of them seemed to have four or five loads, so they were busy with that for a while. And I could swear they were watching me to see just how well I had been taught to sort brights, colors, and darks.

After I left, I thought that I should have said something to one, or both, of them. I wasn't necessarily looking for laundry tips, but I can't imagine they would have been any less interesting than the Thrifty Nickel classified ads.

Saturday, January 8 2011

The King's Speech - a film

I found out about this film via Talk of the Nation on NPR this week.

I haven't seen it yet, as there does not seem to be a theatre showing it in Evansville. (That could be because the film is six weeks old) But I do want to write a few words about the premise, and about the interviews that were part of Talk of the Nation on Tuesday.

In the film, King George VI (Colin Firth) is in middle age, trying to overcome a stutter from which he had suffered throughout his life. At some point, the King finds a psychologist, Lionel Logue (Geoffery Rush) who is able to assist after "traditional" doctors were unable to provide relief.

The thing is, even after several decades and much research, the science of the stutter has not progressed all that much. As the guests on TOTN suggest, Logue (who was a real person) became somewhat of a pioneer in the area. Vocal exercises and rather generic psychological techniques remain the primary tools in combating a stutter, although other high profile stutterers have found success with other methods.

One of the things I found interesting is the age at which Kristen Chmela (one of the guests in TOTN) sought help. She said she was in college. The other is that the cause of stuttering is unknown. And finally, I've heard people tease that it is cruel to put an "ess" sound in the name of another speech condition, the lisp. Well, it seems similarly cruel to put so many repeated sounds in the term for one who stutters, a "stutterer."

Monday, December 13 2010

Two Anniversaries

Three years ago, I was a little wrapped up in one event to recognize another important anniversary.

On December 13, 2007, Richard Strauss was getting airplay via a Flash ad at phpBB.com. For it was on December the 13th that phpBB 3 was finally released.

I don't remember exactly how I spent the day, but I know a fair chunk of it was devoted to phpBB-ing. So much so that I ignored the other major event of the day, locally at least. The 30 year anniversary of the worst aviation disaster (link to Bill Merkel's blog) to ever happen locally.

Since that date three years ago, I've come to understand far more deeply the impact which that event had on the local area. Bill's blog post links to an inter view that Mike Blake gave at the 30th anniversary.

Blake:

I come back from covering a game at [Roberts] stadium, and as soon as I come in the back door, ... and my boss, the man who ran the station, a man named Conrad Kagel, looks at me and he says 'the Aces.' And when those words were said, everything changed.

It changed the city of Evansville for decades. Everyone I've spoken to who was living in Evansville at the time remembers the event. There was a service in memoriam to that 30th anniversary at 12 noon on December 13, 2007. I remember walking past the crowd gathered on the Memorial Plaza centered on campus. There were several hundred people present, even though the event being remembered took place so long ago.

Sunday, December 5 2010

Advent

A thought hit me this week. It arose from a complaint a musician had about the lack of credible advent music. It was enhanced when I read the Wikipedia article on Bach's Christmas Oratorio. The wiki article lead gives the dates when the Oratorio is traditionally performed:

The first part (for Christmas Day) describes the Birth of Jesus, the second (for December 26) the annunciation to the shepherds, the third (for December 27) the adoration of the shepherds, the fourth (for New Year's Day) the circumcision and naming of Jesus, the fifth (for the first Sunday after New Year) the journey of the Magi, and the sixth (for Epiphany) the adoration of the Magi.

Continue reading...

Sunday, November 28 2010

An Early Checkup on College Basketball

At the beginning of the season, I was told that Butler and Purdue would combine for more wins than the other D1 men's basketball programs put together. Here's a look at the status after most teams have played five or six games. (Notably, this post comes on the heels of both Butler and Purdue getting upset on Saturday)

Continue reading...

Friday, September 17 2010

Mattingly Moves Up

The national media has just lit up with baseball news. Don Mattingly is being named manager of the L.A. Dodgers this evening.

Mattingly is one of the few "celebrities" whom I've so much as been in the same room with, Not that "two degrees of a Donut" makes him a better manager. But it will probably give the Dodgers a legitimate following here in "Baseball no-man's land."

Wednesday, August 4 2010

Expect to see this soon

Segway and Stroller
Originally published at http://allfunny-stuff.com/

With the recent proliferation of Segways in Evansville, someone might be persuaded to give up walking and just reach for the baby in the stroller.

Wednesday, July 28 2010

We Need to Score More Runs

For the first time since early July, there seems to be a good reason to have hopes for the Evansville Otters. Otters

The manager change on July 5th caused some upheaval in the player's ranks (as you expect with any coaching change). My sentiments probably hit a low last week when the Otters were shut out three times in five days.

But the hitting seems to have finally come around again. That's the significant piece that's been missing for the last six to eight weeks. In July, the team has scored an average of 3.6 runs per game while allowing 4.6. This is despite good pitching and fielding. (After being in Evansville for four summers watching at least a few Otters games per season, I find that the Frontier League is oriented more to hitters than pitchers.)

For comparison, River City scored 5.4 runs per game so far in July, and has won a number of games by just one run. They also took a couple of games by scoring 15 runs!

I know this post sounds cliché. "We need to score more runs." But sometimes coaches really do know what their talking about, no matter what Stephen A. Smith might think.

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