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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gangsters, Scoundrels, and Thieves: Teaching Economics Using Nefarious Historical Characters

This weekend I am giving a presentation at the UNCW Economics Teaching Conference regarding using the Gold Rush confidence man 'Soapy' Smith to teach the notion of product differentiation. Telling stories is an excellent way to engage students and add some fun to your lecture (for both you and the students!)

You can find my slides for the presentation below and a copy of the paper, which is forthcoming in the Journal of Economic and Finance Education.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall plans, training update, and race report

After experiencing a disappointing spring track season due to strange breathing issues (which we now think was vocal chord dysfunction after undergoing eight tests and consults to rule out more serious causes) I took the second half of June off from running and swam minimally. Starting in July, Coach Tom put me on a 10 week base-building plan after a few weeks of getting my running legs back and Coach Brett got my swimming rolling.

During those 10 weeks I built my running mileage up to 70 miles a week, did up to sixty minutes of Mill Mountain repeats a week (with my partner in crime Sarah), and swam four days a week consistently. I enjoy long hill repeats (for example 4 sets of 10:00 up Mill Mountain, jog down recovery) because of the focus on form and positive self-talk rather than splits, which is particularly helpful when just coming back into form in the heat/humidity of summer.

Three weeks ago we moved from base training to speed adaptation. Rather than having 2-3 workouts a week consisting of hills (Tuesday), aerobic threshold (Thursday), and a long run-workout (AT in middle of long run), I have 2-3 workouts a week consisting of tempo/speed mix (Tuesday), tempo (Thursday), and long run-workout (AT in middle of long run.) The purpose of this phase is to reintroduce my legs to running fast while still building strength. For example, this past Tuesday I hit the track for 3 sets of 2,000 meters at tempo effort (6:25-6:30), 1:00 jog, 1 x 300 meters at mile pace (58-59) (4:00 jogs between sets.)

I the past I have raced too soon and let the poor results get in my head. This season Coach Tom told me that I could not even pick out a race until he said so. I listened and actually enjoyed embracing the grind of training. He gave me the OK to pick a race a few weeks ago and I selected the Virginia 10 Miler 4 Mile event. The course is brutal and I have never done it (I have done the 10 Mile race several times), so there was no pressure.

Virginia 10 Miler 4 Mile Race
September 24, 2016 was a warm day for the 10 Miler competitors, but not an issue for those of us in the shorter event. I ran the first downhill mile and a half very controlled (first mile 6:07), focused on form and grinding up the hills from 1.5 to 3.5 (mile 2: 6:26, mile 3: 6:32), and giving it my all into the finish (mile 4: 6:17.) I was pleased with my strength and form and how I kicked any negative thoughts out of my head when they popped up. I won the female masters and overall race in just over 25:30 (6:25/mile average; the course was 4.03 miles) which was exciting. The biggest surprise was the $250 prize for the win (I didn't even look at prizes before the race!) 

At the top of the last big climb
 I am pleased with my early season fitness and firmly believe in my training plan. (I ignore those who mock my slow miles on recovery days.) 

The rest of my season looks like this:

October 7 - Royal Invitational 5K (Charlotte, NC; cross country)
November 6 - USATF Masters Cross Country Championships (Tallahassee, FL; 5K)
November 24 - Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot (Wilmington, NC; road 5K)
December 2 - Homer Bast Invitational (5k, indoor track, Roanoke College)
December 10 - USATF Club Cross Country Championships (Tallahassee, FL; 6K)

Additionally I am swimming in two swim meets (October 22-23 in Charlotte and November 20 in Greensboro.)

 Good luck in your season and I will leave you with a few MAlice pictures from the 4 Miler,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Updates on the Virginia Economy

Over the past few weeks the Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research has released two of my reports regarding the Virginia economy: one on consumer sentiment and inflation expectations and one regarding the real estate market.

You can read each by using the links below. As you will see, sentiments in the Commonwealth are strong and households report rising incomes (which is in keeping with national results.) There is a sentiment disparity by party as shown in the graphic below (VAICS=Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment.) This survey was conducted before the recent gasoline shortage.

In the real estate markets, inventories are falling resulting in rising home prices. In the graphic below for sale inventories = green bars, median list price = blue line (all data from but graphic is my own.)

The real estate index varies considerably across the Commonwealth. The break even value for the index is zero where equal shares of respondents believe the current real estate market has improved over the last year as those who believe it has worsened. The figure below shows the strength in the Tidewater, Central Virginia, and the Tidewater particularly relative to Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

Read the full reports here: 

Keep your sentiments up,