Professor of Computer Sciences and Mathematics
Approximation theory, wavelets, Gabor systems, splines,
polynomial interpolation, data representation, frames, scientific data,
Amos Ron's Personal Page is presently
It is slated to contain info about:
such as my favorite hotel clubs, and the best way to earn free hotel nights.
as a child, I used
to collect stamps (I have an almost complete set of Israeli stamps between
48-72). These days I collect credit cards.
My addictions Uneducated people
connect the word "addiction" to substance abuse and gambling. Well,
that's completely wrong...
My health My late grandma used
to tell me not to eat while standing, since `the food will go to my legs'.
Learning Korean (past) and learning Chinese
(present) I used to think that
learning a far-eastern language is practically impossible. I changed my
mind after visiting Korea in the fall of 2005. Then I even changed my mind
about Chinese, after meeting one day (at denver airport) with an american
who makes living by real-time Chinese-English translation.
I need to write that part
fast, since hotels, for example, change their program rules very often.
Hilton points used to be a great deal. Not any more. Holiday Inn points
were as good as Hilton. They also lost a lot of their glamor, but not as much
as Hilton. I assess the value of hotel points using the following metric:
1. The ease of accumulating points. That's usually the good part,
but also the misleading one (after all it is easy, for example, to
accumulate miles. The hard part is to spend them.)
2. The ease of getting a free hotel room. Holiday Inn is fabulous here.
The rest are also pretty good. That sets hotels apart from airlines.
3. The stability of the rules. Here the airlines are great. They
last changed the cost of a ticket (from 20k to 25k miles) about 15 years
ago. Hotels? just the opposite.
4. The "value" of a point computed by dividing the market cost of
the hotel room by the point charge as a free night. E.g., if the room
costs $150, and you pay instead 15k points, that every point is worth
1c, provided that you cannot find an alternative room of the same quality
but for lower price at some other chain. As a rule, 1c per point is a
5. I have gone a long way since starting to write this part
(around 06-07). Eventually, I realised that the best strategy is stick
with one program, and chose the Holiday Inn since they are by far the best.
By now, I am a platinum royal ambassador of the chain, which for all
practical purposes means that I stay more or less at each hotel at the best
room that they have (as an upgrade). It is completely unimaginable to realize
how far loyalty to a chain can pay off (and of course you need to spend many
night a year at that hotel. I have been far more than 100 nights at IHG
hotels during 2009).
Why credit cards? Let me just say
that the credit card industry is one of the most intriguing financial
industries in the U.S. Want to know more? what was the last time that you
really read the fine print of your credit agreement? are you one of the
oldies who accumulate miles via cc charges (which is outright dumb,
even if your airline won't go bankrupt). want to know the whole story? stay
- What are credit cards good for?.
There are three major ways your credit card can benefit you:
1. You can get cash rebates on your card. Cash rebates can be as high
as 5% (E.g., the older version of Citibank dividend card. If you have the
card make sure you use it frequently. otherwise Citi might downgrade you card
to their current 2% one). Getting
1% is widely available. Avoid cards that offer miles (the miles are
on par with 1% cash, at best. and the card usually charges an annual
fee). If you find a card that offers 2% cash rebate on everything,
that's a deal (I have an AE that does it, but the card is not available
any more: the rule is that good deals do not last long. I used to have a
Citibank Ford that gave 5% rebate toward the purchase of a new car. Three
years into the program Ford realised the kind of money that they lose, and
canceled the card. I still managed to save a total of $5k on two different
Ford cars. That was a bad deal, of course, I mean the cars).
Avoid "award cards" that promise "valuable gifts" for accumulating points.
These cards work like 1% rebate cards, but make it harder to pocket
2. The next reason for having a credit card is for borrowing.
in fact, I bet that most people do not recognize
the fact that they are addicted to something (and many do), and most
addictions are either benign or positive. For example, I am addicted to
Since then, I have always been skeptical about the merit of proper diet
(treating almost all statistical `evidence' as the result of some random
process. Smoking has always been the notable exception. I quit 25 years ago)
Well, not any more: after avoiding the flu and all types of viral
cold for more than ten years (while having once or twice of these in each
of the preceding years), I made my own scientific excursion, and was stunned
to see the amount of evidence that supports eating (and drinking!) certain
types of food. Of course, everything starts with coffee; but coffee is not
alone. more to come. In the meanwhile,
is the person who changed my life.
1. I started with Korean in 2006 since Korean is so easy.
Korean is easy since (1) it has only
14 or so consonants (which can be pronounced each in multiple ways), (2) it
has only 150 or so vowels, (3) it is actually not one language but five
different ones, and you need to choose the right one according to your
relative seniority and level of familiarity with your counterpart. Sounds
simple, right? It is really simple: for example, the words "oni?",
"wayo?" and "umnikka?" all mean "do ... come?" and are all derived from
exactly the same root ("upnida", pronounced as "umnida") by well-structured
rules. Did I tell you that Koreans will omit from the sentence words that
are not essential to understanding the meaning (e.g., the subject of the
sentence)? ... Yes, yes, I like challenges.
2. In 2008, I decided that Chinese is also quite easy. You see, you just
need to memorize no more than 3000 characters, and you can read 99% of
Chinese! There are no more than 35 vowels in Chinese, and each can have 4
different intonations, so we are talking about a mere 140 different vowels.
Adding to the simplicity is the fact that some of the characters that look
similar may even be pronounced similarly (most of the time this is not the
case). I decided that life is short and that my Chinese can do with 500
characters (if you learn the right ones this gives you control over 80% of
the characters). Right now I am over 400, so may not stop at the 500...
My laoshi (teacher) is my former TA Shengnan Wang (whose name means, for my
level of Chinese, the king of the southern victory. However, if you choose the
wrong characters for "wang", "sheng" and "nan", you get instead the death of
the hard life). Chinese is so trivial to learn that I may learn Korean in
Chinese characters. zai jian!