Monday, April 30, 2007

"Unfinished Business In Blacksburg"

Skip to the random thought

In August 2004, I moved from Jacksonville to State College. Along the way, I thought I would play a round of disc golf at the Golden Hills Disc Golf Course near Blacksburg, VA. Unfortunately, as soon as I teed off on hole #3, it started pouring rain. So, I left, but I vowed to return again and play all 18 holes. I didn't think it would take 32 months to get back there, or that I'd be living in North Carolina when I did, but on Saturday, I drove there to take care of business.

First, a review of the course. The course is advertised to have severe elevation changes. Does it? Well, there is one hole that is 180 feet long with a 63-foot vertical drop. (It says so on the tee marker. This was the first course I have been to where it lists elevation change on the tee markers in addition to the hole length.) Other than that, there really wasn't a whole lot of elevation change, at least compared to other courses I have played in places like Asheville and Indiana (PA). Maybe it just didn't seem like there was a lot of elevation change, because most of the course was in the woods. I threw a 66, which is about what I expected, considering that this was my first regular round of disc golf (not counting those "tournaments") in five or six weeks. The course was very tight, but it was short (most holes around 200 feet from the middle tees), so I wouldn't call it an unfair course...although it would be nice to have a little more opening on some of these holes.

Now...you wouldn't expect me to go to another state and not talk about the drive, would you? I took different routes north and south to see which was faster - a the roundabout interstate routes (as suggested by MapQuest et al.), or a more direct route:

The interstate route is 220 miles; the more direct route through Danville and Martinsville is 187 miles. Of course, I timed each route, and much to my surprise, the interstate route ended up being 7 minutes faster. I'm always disappointed when the interstates are faster. Still, VA-8 from Stuart to Christiansburg was a fun road. Not quite up to the standard of many of the mountain roads in Virginia, but still worth the trip. These roads are even more fun now that I have new tires. Wee!

Along the way, I passed through three new counties in Virginia, and my car's odometer also surpassed 150,000 miles. I would consider that a major milestone. I have updated the Car Mileage Log accordingly. (I've changed the format slightly to emphasize the county in which the milestone took place, since that's definite, but cities aren't always necessarily.)

On Friday, I talked about the hat that started my collegiate collection, the Virginia Tech hat. Well, I was going to be driving by the truck stop where it was purchased, so I thought I'd stop by four years after the fact to see if they still had the outstanding selection they did back then. And, yes - you betcha. There were several hats I considered, but I settled on Michigan State and West Virginia. Other available hats missing from my collection included Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, LSU, and Missouri. Maybe I'll have to go back again. Why didn't I buy more? I have a rule where if I'm going to buy hats, I have to buy exactly two at a time. You save money by buying two instead of one, and I don't want to buy four at a time. That would just be crazy. Eventually, I'm going to have to get a Virginia hat. They have one at almost every truck stop I go to (mostly because almost all of my recent purchases have been in Virginia), so I've almost taken their existence for granted. But I'm not going to find a Michigan State hat at every truck stop along I-81.

So, that's what I did on Saturday. Now I have to figure out what to write about the rest of the week...

Today's random thought:

- Almost everybody pays for gas with credit these days (or debit), and that's taken the "perfect pump" out of relevance. I think that's too bad. Back in the cash days, you'd want to make a sale on the whole dollar to make the impending transaction easier. But now that you pay with plastic, it doesn't matter if it's $25.00 or $25.63, the transaction is just as easy. But for no particular reason other than just for fun, I've started trying to execute "perfect pumps" when I get gas. Today's high gas prices mean a whole dollar amount is always within reach, but it may be harder to get it to stop right on the button. But so far, I'm 3-for-3. And even in today's all-plastic age, this isn't without its benefits - it makes the checkbook math that much easier.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Only Four Months Until The Next College Football Saturday"

Skip to the random thought

So, in the past, on those random Saturdays where I have nothing extravagant planned, I've listed all of the college football or basketball games available on my pay-per-view package. But college basketball season just ended, and college football season doesn't start for another four months. (I don't count those Spring football scrimmages. I pay about as much attention to those as I do to recruiting.) But, I'm sure there are still plenty of sports on television on Saturday. So, I loaded up the program guide on my Tivo-like device and searched for "live sporting events". Here's what came up for Saturday: (This may not include everything.)

1) 730a, FOX Soccer Channel: English Premier League - Bolton v. Chelsea, I don't think I'll be up early enough for this one. Aww...
2) 830a, Golf Channel: European PGA Tour, Spanish Open. Oh yeah.
3) 1000a, FOX Soccer Channel: Middlesbrough v. Tottenham Hotspur, English Premier League. A doubleheader!
4) 1100a, Speed Channel: NASCAR Nextel Cup, Aaron's 499 Qualifying. I like NASCAR, and even I think qualifying is kind of boring. (Although, it is more interesting this year, now that 5 or 6 full-time teams fail to qualify every week. And, besides, qualifying is your only chance to see Michael Waltrip on the track all weekend.)
5) 1200p, ESPN: NFL Draft. NASCAR qualifying is boring, but the NFL Draft? Yuck. I'll tune in when it's about time for the Jaguars to pick, and that will be it. I'll just look up the results on the internet after it's done. (Speaking of which, BellSouth finally connected my apartment to the internet on Thursday. Good thing, too - I was ready to give Time Warner a call and ask for cable internet.) One thing I don't understand about the draft. The team with the first pick has had several weeks to make up their mind. So why is it when they're "on the clock", that they sometimes use the entire 15 minutes? Shouldn't they know who they're picking by then?
6) 1230p, ESPN2: Track and Field, Penn Relays. Yep, I'm going to list every live sporting event that came up on the program guide.
7) 100p, FSN South: NCAA Baseball, Duke v. Wake Forest. There, that's a little better.
8) 100p, Golf Channel: Nationwide Tour, Henrico County Open. Is it sad that I know exactly where Henrico County is? (Richmond, VA, in case you're wondering.)
9) 200, CSTV: NCAA Lacrosse, Yale v. Harvard. "Smart" schools are pretty good at lacrosse, it seems. Maybe it's a hard sport to pick up.
10) 300p, ABC: NASCAR Busch Series, Aaron's 312. That's better. (In case you're wondering what significance "312" has, 312 miles = 500 kilometers.)
11) 300p, NBC: NHL Playoffs, San Jose v. Detroit. This is why I have two TVs.
12) 300p, CBS: PGA Tour, Byron Nelson Championship. I watch six golf tournaments each year - the four majors, the Players Championship, and the U.S. Women's Open. (Yes, that's right. And the Women's Open is just down the road from me, too.) This one isn't on that list.
13) 300p, TNT: NBA Playoffs, Detroit v. Orlando. What's the NBA?
14) 330p, FOX: MLB, Boston v. NY Yankees. Ugh. Again?
15) 400p, FSN South: NCAA Baseball, Mississippi State v. Mississippi.
16) 400p, FCS Atlantic: NCAA Baseball, Florida v. Vanderbilt. Despite the Seminoles' outstanding record this year, it kills me that FSU lost two out of three to the stupid Gators.
17) 400p, FCS Pacific: NCAA Baseball, Oregon State v. Stanford. Oregon State, your defending national champions!
18) 500p, CSTV: NCAA Volleyball, MIVA Championship, Ohio State v. IPFW. What is MIVA, exactly? It's the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. I guess volleyball is like hockey, where all of the conferences are different. Now...what's IPFW? It's Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, of course.
19) 530p, TNT: NBA Playoffs, Cleveland v. Washington. I'll give the NBA a little credit. At least they manage to get all of their playoff games on national television, unlike the NHL.
20) 600p, Speed Channel: NASCAR Crafsman Truck Series, O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. Wee!
21) 600p, TV Azteca: Mexican Soccer League, Jaguares de Chiapas v. Guadalajara. I didn't realize how many Spanish stations I got until I found this stuff. And there are a few more on another cable tier that I don't get, apparently. (I don't think I'll be paying for those, though.)
22) 700p, FCS Atlantic: NCAA Baseball, Florida State v. Miami (FL). Sweet! And this is a down year for Miami (FL), so FSU better win.
23) 700p, WGN: MLB, LA Angels v. Chicago White Sox.
24) 700p, FCS Central: NCAA Track and Field, UCLA v. USC. The rivalry!
25) 730p, CSTV: NCAA Volleyball, EIVA Championship, Penn State v. St. Francis (PA). We are...
26) 800p, Versus: NHL Playoffs, Ottawa v. New Jersey. Wow, I didn't think they were going to show any games of this series.
27) 800p, TBS: MLB, Atlanta v. Colorado. I thought TBS was going to show some non-Braves games this year. Or is that just for the playoffs?
28) 800p, ESPN: NBA Playoffs, San Antonio v. Denver.
29) 800p, ESPN2: NFL Draft. Just in case you haven't had enough by this point. I remember back in the 1990s, ESPN put a NASCAR Winston Cup race on tape delay so they could air the sixth and seventh rounds of the NFL Draft. I mean, come on. (I think this was before the days of ESPN2.)
30) 800p, Telefutura: Mexican Soccer League, Tigres U.A.N.L. v. Pumas U.N.A.M. Or something.
31) 800p, TV Azteca: Mexican Soccer League, Monarcas Morelia v. América. I guess I should root for América?
32) 1000p, CSTV: NCAA Volleyball, MPSF Championship, Teams TBA. I couldn't find who was playing in this championship, but I'm going to make a guess: UCLA v. Stanford.
33) 1030p, ESPN: NBA Playoffs, Houston v. Utah.
34) 1030p, FOX Soccer Channel: MLS, Chivas USA v. Los Angeles Galaxy. It's my understanding that "Chivas" is the name of a Mexican team, and the MLS created "Chivas USA" to appeal to Mexican-Americans living in southern California. Does that sound right? (Anyone who actually follows soccer? Robert? You still read my blog?)

See, there are plenty of sports on television this weekend. I don't know how much I'm going to watch, but it's there if I want it. I'll probably just stick with NASCAR, the NHL playoffs, and FSU baseball. It's been a winning formula so far.

Today's random thought:

- Automatic toilets waste water. They just installed a couple of them in the work bathroom, and they almost always flush before I'm done. This forces me to flush it again using the "manual override", which wastes water, and saves no effort on my part since I have to flush the toilet once either way. What purpose does an automatic toilet serve? Are people not flushing the toilets? And what's the point if it flushes too soon?

Friday, April 27, 2007

"My Connection To Virginia Tech"

Skip to the random thought

I realize this post is probably a week late, but better late than never, right? This isn't one of those "I wrote it a week ago and am just now posting it" posts. I just got the idea yesterday. In the wake of last week's shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech, everybody has been showing what little bit of "Hokie" they have in them. I'm going to do the same.

First off, many of you know that I collect college hats. I don't know how many I'm up to, but I think it's about two dozen. One of the hats is a Virginia Tech hat, and that's actually the hat that started it all. On my 2003 Spring Break trip, we stopped for lunch at a truck-stop-type place off I-81 in Virginia, not far from Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. Wandering around the gift shop, I noticed that they had really cheap college hats. $6 each! $10 for 2! And look at the selection! All I had was an old Florida State hat, so I felt like getting another one. But not another Florida State hat. I was on vacation, and I was near Virginia Tech, so I found it appropriate to get a Virginia Tech hat:

That picture was taken over four years ago. Don't I look goofy? And doesn't the hat look nice? It's endured its share of wear and tear since then. But I was very proud of my Virginia Tech hat. I would wear it a lot. I don't wear it as much anymore because of its age, but I try to incorporate it every now and then. And that's the story of how I started my college hat collection. (Didn't I tell that story before in my blog already? I forget. As the life of the blog goes on, that's going to happen.)

What was my "obsession" with the Virginia Tech hat about? I don't know, I guess I always liked them. And not just because Florida State has always had their number in football, whether it be in the 2001 Gator Bowl, 2005 ACC Championship, or the 1999 National Championship. And not just because they beat Miami (FL) a lot, either. Maybe I like the school colors. Maybe I like the Blacksburg region. (That's definitely an area I could make my home.) Maybe I like that their mascot is a turkey. Maybe it's a combination of things. (Just to clarify: A "hokie" is not a "turkey", even though the animal mascot happens to be a turkey. The name "hokie" was derived from a school chant back in the day. That's my understanding, anyway.)

A couple more "connections" to Virginia Tech. Earlier this week, I started a season playing as Virginia Tech in College Hoops 2K6. Can coach Seth Greenberg (a.k.a. me) lead the Hokies to the national championship? Given the difficulty setting I'm currently using, I'd say, "Yes." (Maybe not in the first season, though.)

Also, here's one of the cars currently racing in the Chris Allen Racing League:

This car has been part of the league for a while now, but just now in Season 26 has it finally made it to the top division (the "A-series"). Earlier this week, the #02 car picked up its first career top 10 finish, and then picked up another top 10 in the very next race. Wahoo! Go Sandy Go! ("Sandy" is the name of the driver.)

So, yes...I guess there is some "Hokie" in me. And that's what it's all about.

Today's random thought:

- Often times in the work parking lot, people will back into their parking spot for easy exit. This forces them to drive past the spot in which they intend to park first, and then back in. But what if somebody is following one of these "backers" and wants that spot too? And the "backer" doesn't signal his intention? Then we have a problem. (This didn't happen to me, exactly. I was behind a backer who didn't signal his intention, and I pulled into a spot behind him, but there were two adjacent spots.) Personally, I think how you park your car says a lot about your work attitude. If you pull in forward, you're excited to be at work. If you back in, you're delaying your arrival, and you're preparing yourself for a swift exit. Personally, I'm not a "backer", but that's just because I suck at it. I have a hard enough time pulling forward into a parking spot.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Sick Day #1"

Skip to the random thought

Yesterday was my first sick day of my work tenure. But it wasn't the first day I was sick - I knew that on Monday. I didn't sleep well the night before, and I had a persistent sore throat. It wasn't bad, but it felt like a minor illness. But at that point, I was already at work, so I stuck it out. I considered using a sick day Tuesday, but nope - I woke up (without the alarm), and didn't feel all that bad. And besides - if I didn't take a sick day, what else was I going to do all day? Sit around all day? Boring. I might as well do that at work, because at least I have internet access there. (Speaking of which, as of this morning, I still don't have home internet. They told me it would be later today. I don't believe them.) Then, yesterday, fresh off a night on NyQuil and a no-alarm-clock sleep, I came to work 30 minutes late, and again didn't feel bad. Then, an hour later, it hit me, so I went back home and slept. (But not before I posted to my blog, of course - something I still can't do at home.) I felt justified in my sick day - I could have stayed, but the sick leave is there for me to use, so why not use it when I'm sick?

Sick days work like vacation - I get 1.54 hours of sick leave per week, which adds up to 80 hours per year (two weeks). Also like vacation, I can have a maximum of 160 hours (four weeks) of sick leave. But unlike vacation, I do not get paid for unused sick leave - use it or lose it. I guess the idea is to encourage you to use sick leave instead of coming into work and getting everybody else sick. At the same time, it also encourages you to use sick leave when perhaps it isn't necessary, but I have a hard time convincing myself to use it unnecessarily. I was sort of sick on Monday and Tuesday, but I didn't realize it when I woke up - I mean, I'm always tired when I wake up Monday morning, so that's nothing new. If I knew beforehand when an illness was forthcoming, I could plan for it. (Maybe I should invest in a thermometer or something. They're not that expensive.) I usually don't know how well I really feel until I'm at work (like yesterday), and at that point, I might as well stay. But yesterday, I felt it early enough in the day, so I left. Quite honestly, I would have rather stayed at work. But my co-workers probably wouldn't appreciate having someone sneezing and blowing his nose around all day.

I've had a history of few-and-far-between illnesses, so it wouldn't surprise me if I reached the four-week maximum of sick leave. I didn't get sick even once during my entire tenure at FSU, and I never missed a class due to illness. (Key words - "due to illness".) At Penn State, I got sick a couple of times, but that didn't stop me from going to class, because grad school isn't like undergrad - it's not good to miss a class. I also had a cold within my first month or two on the job here, but I only had one day of sick leave saved up at that point, so I didn't use it. And I don't remember for sure, but I don't think I missed more than one or two days due to illness during all of high school. So, while I generally don't get sick that much, even when I do get sick, I don't like to let that disrupt my daily routine. I guess I'm kind of stubborn that way. That, and sitting around home sick isn't fun. If I'm going to just be sitting around all day, I might as well do it at work, right? When I'm sick, I'd rather be at work. When I'm not sick, I'd rather be somewhere other than work, such as the golf course or Nova Scotia. Funny how that works.

As for today, I feel better today than yesterday, but still have a "runny nose". The plan is to work the full 8 hours. We'll see how it goes.

Today's random thought:

- Yesterday was "Adminstrative Professionals Day". Has society become so overly politically correct that people now take offense to the term "secretary"? Ugh. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a "secretary". In fact, I'd rather be a "secretary" than an "administrative professional". Calling yourself an "administrative professional" makes it sound like you're insecure about your job, and that you have to attach a pompous title to it to legimitize yourself. That's why when people ask me what I do for a living, I say I'm a "programmer", not a "systems analyst".

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Car Warning Light Parade"

Skip to the random thoughts on "24" (Spoilers!)

The recent trials and tribulations of my car gave me an idea. Is it possible to get every warning light on my car's dashboard to turn on at once? (I'm talking about during normal car operation, not when you first turn the car on and all the lights come on quickly.) Let's see, shall we? (This is hypothetical, of course.) In increasing order of difficulty...

- "Daytime Running Lamp Indicator": When the daytime running lights are on, this light is on. Simple enough.
- "Safety Belt Reminder Light": Obviously, all you have to do to get this belt to come on is to unbuckle your seat belt. However, the light will eventually turn off even if you don't buckle the seat belt, so I don't know how to get it to stay on for an extended period of time.
- "Brake System Warning Light": Put up the emergency brake, and this light comes on. Next.
- "Low Fuel Warning Light": Obviously. This light comes on with 1.5 gallons or less of fuel in my tank. That's good to know - that means I have about 40 miles to go. I've only seen this light come on twice, because I'm a wuss.
- "Service Engine Soon Light": This light is called the "Check Engine" light in some other vehicles. According to the manual, this light will come on if you leave the gas cap unattached. Simple enough, right?
- "Low Coolant Level Warning Light": I imagine if you "scoop" enough coolant out from under your hood, this light will come on.
- "Traction Active Light": My car has traction control, and this light comes on when you spin the tires and your traction control engages. So, if you know how to spin the tires, you're in luck!
- "High Engine Coolant Temperature Light": How hard is it to overheat the engine? Well, you could try shifting late, idling in heavy traffic, or maybe even going all NASCAR-like and putting tape on the front grill. Would that work?
- "Oil Pressure Warning Light": If you don't put enough oil in your car, will this light come on? I've never seen it.
- "Battery Warning Light": If you don't replace your battery for a while, then I guess this light may come on. I haven't seen it yet.
- "Anti-Lock Brake System Warning Light": Ever since the accident, this light has been coming on for me. I'm under the assumption that this means I have no anti-lock brakes. No big deal, right? Either way, in order to get this light to come on, I guess you just have to get lucky and "hope" your anti-lock brakes go out.
- "Service Light": This is for "non-emission related failures". I don't know of any convenient way to make this light come on.
- "Air Bag Readiness Light": I've never seen this light stay on. This is another light were you just have to get lucky.

Again...this is hypothetical. Then again, at the rate I'm going, I won't even have to try to get all of my warning lights to come on.

Today's random thoughts on "24": (Spoilers!)

- At least now we know how we're going to spend the last five hours of the season. Gotta go get that thing (whatever it's called) back from big bad Chinese Guy. Afterwards, I'm sure big bad Chinese Guy will experience a spectacular death.
- I wasn't sure how the Audrey transfer was going to go. I actually thought there was a chance Audrey would be a fatality. (They wouldn't have killed Audrey last season, but now that she's a "guest star", she's expendable, much like David Palmer, Tony, and Michelle in Season 5.) In retrospect, it should have been predictable. Jack has everything under control, and is going to take his own life, until CTU comes in and screws it up. Then, big bad Chinese Guy gets away with that thing (whatever it's called), and we've set up the next 5 hours of the show. Obviously, I knew Jack wasn't going to die. But I just didn't think hard enough about what was going to happen beforehand. (I try not to think too hard when I watch television.)
- I have a problem with the choice of Nadia as the next head of CTU (even if it is temporary). Shouldn't it be based on longevity? Or would it have been Chloe had she not helped Jack last hour? Have we seen the last of Bill Buchanan, until a cameo appearance next season?

One more thing...the reason it's taking 24 hours for your comments to appear is because I still don't have internet at home, so the only time I can approve comments (or publish posts, for that matter) is at work. (Scandalous!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Moving Day #12: Recap"

Skip to the random thought

Starting last Friday and continuing through Saturday, Amber and I moved all of my stuff from my old one-bedroom apartment to the new two-bedroom apartment. How was it? Well...let's just say I woke up very sore Sunday morning. I don't have any huge pieces of furniture, but we had to carry them from one building to the next. And it doesn't help that I'm significantly out of shape.

I think your official "residence" is designated by where your bed is. With that in mind, I guess I officially "moved" around noon on Saturday. As is often the case during my moves, the computer and its desk were the first things to go on Friday evening. Setting that thing up as soon as possible is often a priority. Now...the plan was to have the DSL hooked up there waiting for me upon my arrival. Was it? Nope. While BellSouth had my phone line hooked up upon my arrival, they neglected to put in a request to have the DSL reconnected as well (despite my clear request). Oops. So, as of this morning, I still don't have home internet. In the meantime, I've had to actually watch the Weather Channel to get the weather. Just like in the old days! Speaking of which, there were no such problems with the cable connection. I connected my two-television system and TLD to the wall, and the cable guy came on time and "flipped the switch" (or whatever they do). That's good, because no TV and no internet would make me go...something something.

One thing I noticed about this apartment complex that I had never noticed before are that there are a lot of families and kids. I've never spent much time outside around the apartment complex before, but I spent a lot of time outside walking back and forth between buildings on Saturday. There are a lot of families in my new building in particular (which I think is all two-bedroom apartments). So, in that respect, I guess living here is probably better than living, say, near the NC State campus.

Even though almost all of my stuff was moved by Saturday evening, we weren't done - we still had to clean the old apartment. About two months ago, I had stopped doing any kind of cleaning, knowing that I would have to exhaustively clean the place in a couple of months anyway. But with Amber's invaluable help, we got the apartment sparkly-clean! I almost want to go back in there and look at it again. But, then again, I don't want to screw it up. That, and I've already turned in my keys. I have to admit, I actually miss the old apartment a little bit. But that will change once Amber moves down here. A two-bedroom apartment is a little much for just me. Maybe I should just close the door to the other bedroom and forget it exists for a while. Unfortunately, my computer's in there, so I can't do that.

Speaking of the other bedroom, we've decided to make that the "map room". I've been collecting various state maps along my travels, and now, they're all proudly displayed on the walls of the map room. It's really sweet. So, whenever I use my computer, I'll be staring at a map of South Carolina. And, when I wanted to show Amber where Waycross, GA was (there was a fire there or something), all I had to do was go into the map room and point at the Georgia map. Also included on the walls are most of the states I have been through lately (plus two Canadian provinces!). However, not included among the maps are Florida and Pennsylvania. I'll have to work on that. I think a stop at the respective welcome centers is in order. I also only have one state west of the Eastern Time Zone (Louisiana). The maps are all official state Department of Transportation maps. I could go to AAA and get a bunch of maps that way, but I think that's cheating. I consider these maps to be kind of like trophies.

Now, a final statistic. I lived in my old apartment from June 19th, 2006 through April 20th, 2007. That's a span of 306 nights. But of those 306 nights, I only actually spent 257 in the apartment. The other 49 nights were spent out of town. (I know that's an exact number - it's based on my "nights by county" stat keeping.) How many nights will I spend in the new apartment? Well, I think the biggest question is this - will this blog still exist when I move out?

Today's random thought:

- Here's a "restaurant time" update. Waffle Shop's record time of 4m00s from March 18th was amazing. But could it ever be broken? Well...I think so. It didn't quite happen this past weekend, but we were close. The Carolina Ale House served Amber and I our chicken fingers in 4m04s. (We have very sophisticated tastes, don't we?) The food even came out before the salad and the drinks got there! I don't know if I've ever seen that before. (Only the main course counts for timing purposes.) And because the timing begins once my order is completed, the time could have been even faster if I didn't order first. (I know that's probably not the best way to do it, as opposed to starting it when the waiter/waitress leaves the table with our order. But that's how I've done it for 13 years, so I can't change now.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Lewis Hamilton Is Going To Take Over The World"

Skip to the random thought

Even though it's Monday morning, and I'm now all "moved in" to my new apartment, I haven't written the "recap" blog post yet. So, in the meantime, here's a post about Formula One. (I admit, as the life of the blog goes on, it's getting harder to find interesting things to write about.)

Now that I get the Speed Channel and can actually watch all of the Formula One races, I've been quite intrigued by the Formula One season thus far, perhaps even more so than NASCAR. Why? Is Formula One really more exciting than NASCAR? No, of course not - the racing in NASCAR is certainly more exciting to watch. But that's not the point. In an effort not to repeat myself here, Formula One is true, fair racing. Let's face it - NASCAR is made-for-TV racing, especially these days with all of those caution flags. If you have a 5 second lead with 15 laps to go, you better watch out, because NASCAR might conveniently find some debris and throw the caution. But if you have a 0.2 second lead with 15 laps to go and the race is exciting, NASCAR will do everything they can not to throw the caution. (Exhibit A: The last lap of the Daytona 500.) So, if you have a fast car, it's in your best interests to sandbag it and make it look like an exciting race. I wonder if anyone exactly does that. If they're not, they're simply not trying hard enough. And if anyone gets a flat tire and doesn't cause a caution flag to come out, they're just stupid. Stop the car on the track, spin the car intentionally, whatever - if you get a flat tire and have to pit without the aid of a caution flag, you're going to lose a lap, at least. That's not racing. That's crap. Formula One, on the other hand - no such issues. The race keeps going unless it's absolutely necessary to stop it, and it's as close to "real racing" as you're going to get in motorsports. I have to respect that.

So, now, on to this season in Formula One. The best thing about this season - no Michael Schumacher! Yay! I was tired of him winning all the time. Even if he didn't win the last two championships, the championship seems much more wide open now than ever. Well...relatively speaking. I'd say four drivers have a legitimate chance to win the championship this season. In Formula One, that's a lot. It's usually two, three at the most. The reason is because there is such a competitive imbalance in Formula One due to gaps in technology and resources between the top and bottom teams. The best driver can't get in the worst car and even finish in the top 10. This season, there are clearly two premier teams, McLaren and Ferrari. ("Teams" in Formula One race two cars.) Everybody else? They're all racing for 5th place. In three races thus far this season, nobody outside of McLaren or Ferrari has registered a podium (top 3) finish. And so far this season, nobody has taken charge, and there is a three-way tie for the points lead between defending champion Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen, and Lewis Hamilton. (Felipe Massa would be up there too if he didn't underachieve at Malaysia, so I still consider him a championship contender, although he's probably the longest shot of the four.)

Wait...who is this Lewis Hamilton guy? He's a 22-year old rookie from England, and he's also my new favorite driver in Formula One. I've had a "favorite" Formula One driver in the past. (He's Canadian, of course.) But he doesn't race in Formula One anymore, so that frees me up to pull for my boy Lewis. He's the first Formula One driver ever to pick up a podium finish in each of his first three career races. And, he's driving for one of the best teams, so he's a legitimate contender. I really like the guy's demeanor, too. After the last race, the post-race interviewer asked him what he thought about being the first driver to His response: "Sweet!" Now that's what I'm talking about.

Lewis hasn't won a race yet, but if he keeps it up, he'll get there. This guy could be the next big thing in Formula One. Go Lewis go!

Today's random thought:

- I haven't been able to pick up Oldies 106.9 (Fayetteville!) on my radio as of late, but this morning was an exception. It was crystal clear, all the way up to I-540 (about 2/3 of the way to work). Wahoo! Maybe it's the weather or something. Do wind and temperature affect radio signals?

Friday, April 20, 2007

"Moving Day #12"

Skip to the random thought

It's only been 10 months since I moved to Raleigh (Cary), but already, it's time to move again. Except this time, the move is remarkably shorter - probably about 500 feet or so. In theory, this move should be a lot easier than the 500-mile move I executed last June, even if I do have to move furniture this time.

What is this move about? Well, my current one-bedroom apartment isn't big enough for more than one person to live comfortably, so I'm moving to a two-bedroom apartment the next building over. Amber isn't moving to Raleigh (Cary) for another month, so the original plan was to execute my move then. But apartments aren't always available on-demand here, so I got coaxed into accepting my new apartment while it was available. The new apartment is ideal, because it's not a long move (as opposed to moving to the other side of the complex), it's "newly renovated", and it faces the south side of the building, which will (in theory) allow me to get DirecTV some day if I so choose. It will probably be an easier move now anyway, instead of moving my stuff and Amber's stuff all at once. And, when Amber moves here, everything will already be set up for her. And, the weather's supposed to be really nice tomorrow.

Moving is a complicated process, even if it is just to the next building over, because you have to change all of your addresses. In most cases, you can do this with a simple phone call, but Time Warner Cable was a little more complicated. While the eventual goal may be to get DirecTV, I'm going to keep Time Warner for now, just because I know it's going to work. DirecTV will always be there for me later when I have some more time on my hands to take care of it. (This past week has been hectic enough as it is.) I thought a simple phone call and "flip of a switch" would take care of the Time Warner move, and that all I'd have to do is move the Tivo-like device to the new apartment and plug it into the wall, but...nope. Apparently, the people who lived in my new apartment before me owe Time Warner money. So, they couldn't just "flip the switch". I had to go into the Time Warner office (which, like many other offices, inconveniently closes at 500p) and show my picture ID and a copy of the lease to prove that I wasn't the guy who used to live there. Or something. But in any event, the cable guy still has to come out to the new apartment. I'm not sure why, considering I already have the equipment, but whatever. Based on my experience, Time Warner doesn't have very good customer service. But from what I've heard, DirecTV has even worse customer service. That's one reason I'm putting it off for now, because I'm afraid I won't like it as much. Even without ESPNU, the NFL Network, and access to NFL Sunday Ticket, I do like some things about Time Warner. I only need one converter box and a splitter to get a signal on multiple TVs. With DirecTV, I'd have to get a separate box for every TV upon which I want a signal (unless I want to see the same thing on two TVs, which would be dumb). Also, my Tivo-like device through Time Warner can record one show and still let you watch another show live. While I can get a Tivo-like device through DirecTV, I don't know if it would let me watch live TV opposite a recording, because each receiver only gives me one channel at a time. That would prevent me from doing things like watching the Weather Channel during the first 10 minutes of "24", then starting "24" at 910p and skipping the commercials. Many people think "the grass is always greener on the other side", but I think I'm just the opposite - I'm afraid of change. So maybe I won't get DirecTV. We'll see. At least the new apartment will give me the chance.

I've been packing various "loose items" from my apartment the last couple of days. The current plan is to move all of my stuff from old apartment to new apartment tomorrow. The hardest things will be the couch, the various dressers, desks, and bookshelves, but I think Amber and I can handle it. None of it is very big. Packing the other stuff isn't that important, either. I don't need to load everything compactly into a moving truck or a car, so I can just put stuff in a box, move it 500 feet to the next building, and unload it. And I don't have to do it all at once, either. I technically have until the end of the month to move out of my old apartment. The complex gave me a two-week "overlap" period in which I have access to both apartments in order to give me plenty of time to move my stuff and clean. (Sunday is cleaning day. That's the plan, anyway.) And they didn't charge me extra rent! Wahoo!

I'm quite experienced in moving, although it's always been fairly light. I didn't own any furniture until I moved to Raleigh (Cary), so I've never had to move any furniture. I've also never had to rent a moving truck. All of my moves have incorporated no more than two cars. And there have been a lot of them, too. I moved eight times while at FSU - there and back each of four years. That's one disadvantage of the dorms. (The place I lived the final three years was more like an apartment than a dorm, for the record.) Since then, I've moved three times - Jacksonville to State College, Dunham Hall to Garban Hall (a similar 500-foot move), and State College to Raleigh (Cary). So, that's 11 moves in my life, and this weekend's move will be #12. (There was also a move from Jacksonville Beach to "inland" Jacksonville, but that doesn't count. I was 3 years old. It's not like I had to help.)

After 12 moves in less than 7 years, I'm tired of it. Thankfully, in theory, I might only have two moves left - apartment to first house, and first house to bigger house. That doesn't count helping Amber move next month - that move will be a little more difficult than this one (albeit much more rewarding). My parents haven't moved in 22 years. Must be nice.

There won't be a blog post tomorrow, because I'm probably going to disconnect my computer later today. If everything goes according to plan, I'll be sleeping in my old apartment tonight, and in my new apartment tomorrow night. Wahoo!

Today's random thought:

- A while back, I started regularly using a Google Mail account, because Yahoo Mail became inaccessible from work. (I don't know if it still is. I'm afraid to try.) "Gmail" does carry some advantages and disadvantages over Yahoo, but one thing I like is that Gmail groups together "thread" emails with multiple replies. So, I got an idea. How long can I make a single email thread last? Amber and I started one between each other this week. And we don't plan on erasing the previous email text either. It's going to be awesome.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"The Order Of Food"

Skip to the random thought

I'm going to attempt to make a full-length post out of a simple question. When you have a multi-course meal, in which order do you eat your food?

Let's start simple - main course plus one side item. I have many meals like this, some of which are of the traditional "burger and fries" or "chicken and fries" variety. Most generally, my order is fries first and burger second with no overlap. Why? Well, I feel like if I eat the burger first, then the meal has already climaxed before I even start the fries. The fries are the warmup - the "supporting act", if you will. They should go on stage first. An exception to this "rule" is if the meal is large enough where I feel I may not finish the entire thing. In these cases, I normally don't eat all of the fries first, because it's a higher priority to finish 100% of the main course. If I leave behind a few fries, no big deal. But if I leave behind a whole chicken finger, that's a tragedy.

This applies to a variety of main courses and side items, not just a burger and fries. But it doesn't necessarily apply to meals that I cook myself. When I cook my own meals, I generally eat food as soon as it's ready. Usually, this means I eat the burger before the fries. A meals at home isn't as much of an "event" as a meal at a restaurant, so I don't try to make it all formal and such. Sometimes, I don't even use a plate. And when I cook my own meals, I know I'm going to finish the whole thing. Also, the "fries first" pattern doesn't always apply to lunch. Most lunches consist of a sandwich and an apple. You would think I'd eat the apple first, being the side item, but nope - it's usually the sandwich first. Maybe that's because the apple doesn't necessarily have to be part of lunch - it can wait until later in the day. But with regards to the "crackers + hot pocket" lunch combo, it's always the crackers first, because I have to wait for the hot pocket to cool.

Even my restaurant meals aren't much more complicated than my home meals, with the general lack of vegetables and all. What about more complicated meals? Let's talk about my favorite - the Bojangles' 3-piece dinner. It comes with three pieces of chicken (a leg and two thighs, I think), plus a "fixin" (which, for me, is always fries) and a biscuit. The presence of two side items changes things. And, the fact that I have three pieces of chicken allows me to spread it out a bit. So, while I do normally eat all of the fries first, I often save the biscuit for later, either for between the first and second piece, or between the second and third piece. (I think I usually eat it between the first and second.) The biscuits are so good, I think they deserve to be part of the "headline act". After all, it's called "Bojangles' Chicken and Biscuits". (I think the "biscuits" part of that actually refers more to their breakfast sandwiches, not the chicken side items, but it's all the same stuff, right?) As for the chicken, I usually eat the leg first, followed by the thighs. The thighs are my favorite, so of course, I eat them last. That's what this is really all about - it's about saving the best food for last. Actually, when it comes to Bojangles', I don't pay much attention to the order of the food - I just want to eat it. But I'm pretty sure I eat all of the fries first. And for the record, I have never failed to finish a 3-piece dinner.

While I'm not 100% sure on the Bojangles' food order, I am pretty sure about the Waffle Shop food order. My most-commonly ordered item is eggs + pancakes + sausage. Here, I eat the eggs first, followed by the sausage, and then the pancakes, with no overlap. The pancakes go last because they're the main course, and I think the eggs go first just because they take so little time to eat. At Courtney's in Raleigh (Cary), there's a similar type of "breakfast combo", except that it also comes with grits. (I don't remember if it comes with a bacon/sausage option. I think it does.) In that case, the grits go first, even before the eggs. This is very important, because the texture of grits changes with temperature. So if you want to get the optimal grits experience, you have to eat them first while they're still hot. Wait too long, and they begin to solidify and/or gelatinate, and you don't want that.

Hmm...I think it's time for breakfast.

Today's random thought:

- I've been trying to collect all of the commemorative state quarters since the US Mint began issuing them in 1999. With only this year and next remaining, we've almost made it all the way from Delaware to Hawaii. So far, I've been able to keep up with my collection (mostly thanks to my grandmother, who usually sends me the latest state quarter along with birthday/Christmas cards). I have every quarter from Delaware (the first one) to Montana (the 41st one; the first of 2007), except for one - Iowa. Iowa came out in 2004, and I have been unable to find one since. If you have an Iowa quarter and are willing to part with it, or if you find one by chance, let me know - I will be very grateful. (No, I am not willing to trade my Canadian curling quarter.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"The Drive To 200,005"

Skip to the random thoughts on "24" (Spoilers!)

Now that I have my car back, and I've spent a lot of money on it, I feel obligated to keep my car running for a while. I admit, part of me was disappointed that the insurance didn't total my car. I was excited about the prospects of getting a new car. Oh well - I'll be able to get a nicer car later. Until then, now that my car has a bunch of new parts, I'm going to drive it as long as I can. The ultimate goal: 200,000 miles. "The Drive To 200,000" doesn't rhyme, so I'm officially calling this "The Drive To 200,005."

Right now, my car isn't even up to 150,000 miles. Is 200,000 a realistic goal? Maybe, maybe not. Is it even worth it? Well, that depends on how much money I have to pour into it between now and then. For example, if the transmission breaks, whether or not I want to pour another $1,500 into the car will depend on when it happens. If it happens tomorrow, I may not have a choice. If it happens at 180,000 miles, I'll probably just get the new car. But at least for now, the plan is to keep it running. After all, since the car repairs, the car almost feels good as new. (They vacuumed the car! They even fixed the gas door! Unsolicited! That almost makes it worth the trouble.)

Along the way, I'm going to keep a mileage log. Up until now, I've been keeping track of monthly mileage totals that go back to May 2004. But now what I'm going to do is to chronicle when I reach every 1,000th mile, and where I was when it happened. For example, I reached 149,000 miles on Sunday, April 15th, while driving south on US-522 near Berkeley Springs, WV, on my way from State College to Raleigh (Cary). I should have been keeping this log all along. I was going to start it once I got a new car and chronicle it from the start, but why not start it now?

So...how much time are we talking here? Well, on a pace of 2,000 miles per month, I'll get to 200,000 in two years. I'll also get to 175,000 in one year. 175,000 is really the primary goal. If I can't get the car to 175,000, I'll be disappointed. If it breaks down at 190,000, then I guess that's okay. But if it breaks down at 199,994...man, won't that suck.

Through the help of Google Docs & Spreadsheets, I'll be publishing my car mileage log as part of "The Drive To 200,005". You'll see a static link to it (entitled "Car mileage log") in the right margin of my blog page, so you'll always have access to my mileage log. The best part is that my primary copy of the log is the Google Document, so that when I update my log, you'll see it instantly. (And, trust me, I'll be eager to update it upon reaching every 1,000th mile.) I'll also be posting updates in my AOL Instant Messenger profile (SN: cai311), for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Today's random thoughts on "24": (Spoilers!)

- I wasn't very impressed with this week's episode, so I'm mostly going to be complaining here. For one thing, Jack's plot to get Audrey back wasn't really advanced all that much. (Then again, things take time - that was just one hour.) But really, my biggest problem with this episode is how predictable Wayne Palmer's "health failure" was. Giving a speech, with the vice president waiting in the wings with his resignation...you had to know that was coming. My question is this - given the president's uncertain health condition, why did they let him go on live national television? (That was televised live, right?) Does it really benefit the American people to watch their president fall down on stage? Keep in mind, he was just attacked as recently as 7 hours ago. I admit, I'm rather pessimistic about where the rest of the season is going. Now that the terrorist threat is done, I'm afraid this is going to be like the last 8 hours of Season 2, which I feel are the least interesting episodes in the show's history. Oh well, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised next week. The more they focus on Jack, the better, and next week's episode has the potential to be very Jack-heavy. I'm saying that without seeing the previews, so really, I don't know what to expect.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"The Ambermobile"

Skip to the random thought

To make a long story short: icy roads in Maine on March 17th --> car hits guard rail --> my car gets repaired in State College because I didn't want to drive it all the way back home --> Amber let me take her car back to Raleigh (Cary) --> I just got my car back this past weekend, and it's about time, too. But in the meantime, I got to drive Amber's car for four weeks. It was really nice of her to let me take her car while mine was being repaired. But hopefully she won't mind if I talk about her car in my blog. (Actually, I asked her.)

Amber's car is a 1991 Dodge Stealth. It certainly qualifies as a "sports car". And, it also counts as an "old car" - 184,000 miles and counting. (I have some catching up to do, don't I?) I had driven it once or twice before, and it was a lot of fun. Maybe I was just happy to be driving a car with more than 25 horsepower for once. Wee! (I don't know exactly how much horsepower my car has, but it's not many. It's probably more than 25.) Extra horsepower is nice, but I wouldn't call it a necessity - my car gets me where I need to go just fine (most of the time). But it was fun to be able to pull out on a busy road, "gun it", and not force the guy behind me to hit the brakes. Wahoo!

Then again, more horsepower usually means less fuel mileage. My cars wonderful gas mileage - typically in the mid 30s. Amber's car gets in the upper 20s, which still isn't bad, but the car makes up for it with its larger gas tank - 18 gallons instead of 13. It was nice to be able to go well over 400 miles on a tank of gas. Then again, that leads to some expensive gas stops - almost $50 at one stop if you wait until it's near-empty. But that's okay. I wish my car had a larger gas tank, because I'd like to be able to make the Raleigh (Cary) <--> State College trip on a single tank. Maybe when I get a new car, I'll look for a car with a 22-gallon tank. That would be sweet. SUVs have large gas tanks, but they need them, otherwise you wouldn't even be able to make to the supermarket and back without stopping for gas. (That's another exaggeration, of course. And since I mentioned getting a new car, when I do, it won't be an SUV, I guarantee you.)

There appears to be a discrepancy between my speedometer and Amber's speedometer. As I may have mentioned on occasion, I time how long it takes to get from Raleigh (Cary) to State College, and split it up into segments. I do 5 mph over the limit almost exclusively, so with my car, the segment times are often very consistent. But with Amber's car, doing 5 mph over the limit, I couldn't match the same segment times - I was always slower. Therefore, there must be a discrepancy in speedometer accuracy. But which is correct? Is my speedometer too low, or is Amber's speedometer too high? Well, I did some "calibration" last weekend with the aid of interstate mile markers. Amber's car went 7 miles in 6m10s for an average speed of 68.1 mph, even though the cruise control was set at 71 mph (which I did not have to disengage during the 7-mile stretch). My car went 7 miles in 5m56s (70.8 mph) while set at 70 mph. So, it's a little of both, but mostly, Amber's speedometer is a little high. That would explain why it took me 46 minutes to get from I-70 to I-66 in Amber's car instead of 44 minutes. (Not a big deal? Hey, 2 extra minutes per 3/4 hour adds up - that's 20 extra minutes extra per trip. Still not a big deal? Well...that's your opinion.)

The most annoying thing about Amber's car was the alarm system. It has an automatic alarm system that turns on...well, automatically. It came with the car, and Amber doesn't know how to disable it, so there wasn't anything I could do about it. I just didn't like making a scene every time I got in my car. "BEEEUUUP!" Ugh. It's like I'm saying, "Look at me and nice fancy car!" (At least the car isn't European. Then I really would have been a snob.) And it made things interesting when I got an oil change with the car. I had to tell the people who worked on it about the alarm system so they wouldn't accidentally set it off and make a scene. (They didn't. Hooray!) But the alarm system did allow for some fun games. For example - can I run out of the car, get my mail, and get back to the car before the alarm system engages? (Sometimes.) Or, can I unload my groceries into the car, put the cart back in the "put carts here" place in the parking lot, and run back to the car befort the alarm system engages? (Usually, no. But that's my fault for not parking close enough to the "put carts here" place.)

Actually, there was one more thing I didn't like about Amber's car. I couldn't pick up Oldies 106.9 (Fayetteville!) on her car radio. I thought that was due to a weaker antenna or something, but the last two mornings, I haven't been able to pick up Oldies 106.9 very well in my car either. So apparently during my vacation, their signal got weaker or something. Now I'm stuck with 102.9 FM and their blatantly bootlegged "Impossible Trivia". You know, I bet they're the ones behind this. They're squashing the competition not with better radio or more creative morning routines, but by weakening their competition's signal. I hate 102.9 FM more and more every day. And, yes, they still have Robert Hill doing traffic. He's not as annoying as he used to be, but he's still no Brian LeBlanc. (To be fair, the last few "Impossible Trivia" questions haven't been recycled from Oldies 106.9. So at least they have that going for them.)

Regardless, it's good to have my car back, and Amber is happy to have her car back as well. I tried to keep good care of it. And as a token of my appreciation, I even gave her a complementary coating of Rain-X! (On both sides of the windshield, too!)

Today's random thought:

- I had never heard of Don Imus until he got fired from his radio show, but apparently his show was broadcast on Sports Radio 850 The Buzz (or whatever it's called). I never listened to it. But I was curious to know what would take his place. Would the syndicator just stick some temporary guy in his place? So far, that's what it sounds like - the Imus show was based in New York (I think), and the brief snippet of the replacement I listened to yesterday morning was very New York-centric. Because, you know, a couple of New Yorkers complaining about the latest Yankees loss is exactly what I want to hear in the morning. I was hoping 850 would switch to something a little more local. Oh well, there's still time.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Catholic Mass: By The Numbers"

Skip to the random thought

Religion is an "out of bounds" topic in my blog, so I'm not here to discuss Catholic doctrine or beliefs. Instead, I'm going to discuss what you would expect me to discuss regarding Catholic mass. These days, I only go to church twice a year. But during my childhood, I went every week. If I were to resume my weekly church-going, and combine that with my obsession for useless statistics, what could I come up with? (I realize that's not really the point of going to church. I guess that's why I only go twice a year now.)

Well, the easiest statistic to keep track of would be the duration of the mass. The timer starts when the cross enters, and the timer stops when the cross leaves. (I never did this, by the way.) We always went to the 530p Saturday mass - the mass for people who didn't feel like waking up early, dressing up too much, or staying for longer than an hour. I expect the average mass length for these Saturday masses would be less than an hour, as opposed to Sunday morning masses, where they tend to make more of a performance out of the service, and the musical performances take longer. At the Saturday masses, there was rarely a large choir, it was usually either the old woman at the organ, the guitar player, or the piano player. It would have been fun to see what kind of correlation there was between the mass durations and the musical performer, because the organist was usually quick and short with her hymns, as opposed to the guitar player.

Not only that, I could keep "splits" and time individual segments of the masses, like I do with my drives. I could split it up into four segments: The beginning (cross enters church) to the end of the gospel ("praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ"); the end of the gospel to the end of the sermon (possibly signaled by the start of "We believe in one God, the Father the Almighty..."), the end of the sermon to the shake-hands segment (which follows the Lord's Prayer), and then that point to the end. It would be most interesting to compare this between priests, because at the church I attended in Jacksonville, there were two regular priests. Another thing I noticed between priests was that one usually started on time, while the other did not. Starting times would be an interesting statistic. (But I'd have to keep my watch synchronized with official time in order for that to be accurate. That wouldn't be a problem, though.)

Here's another stat. During the "peace be with you" segment, where you shake hands with everyone in close vicinity, how many people do you shake hands with in any given mass? At Easter mass, I counted 9. Of course, one would expect that the more crowded the service is, the more people you shake hands with, because there are more people sitting closer to you. Another factor may be the "friendliness" of the crowd. I don't know how this works at churches of other denominations, but I bet at some of those...umm..."extra friendly" churches, the "peace be with you" segment goes on for quite a while, and you may shake hands with dozens of people, not just everybody within arm's length.

And, given that most Catholic churches conduct the same style of mass, it would be interesting to compare different churches as well.

Even if I did start attending church on a weekly basis once again (which will probably happen some day), I probably wouldn't keep all these stats. That's not why you go to church, and that's not why I would go to church. Although, I admit, it would be fun.

Today's random thought:

- This is something I've always wondered about interstate exit numbers. Exit numbers always reset at state lines. But what would happen if an interstate left a state and re-entered the same state later? Would the exit numbers start over at 1? Would they pick up where they left off? Would they not reset at all, counting the miles/exits in the "in-between" state? I don't know, because except for loop interstates (which usually don't reset at state lines), there are no such instances in the United States.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"The 2nd Chris Allen Disc Tournament: Preview"

Skip to the random thought

Already? Yep. Once I finished the 1st Chris Allen Disc Tournament, it didn't take me long to start the 2nd tournament. In fact, it took all of three days. After work on Friday, March 30th, I drove out to the Cedarock Open course south of Burlington and began the tournament.

But before I did that, I had to set up the tournament bracket. (After all...that's the fun!) The long-range drivers didn't perform too well in the 1st tournament because it was held at a short course with only two of nine holes longer than 200 feet. But at the Cedarock Open course, I think every hole is longer than 200 feet. Thus, I expected the drivers to perform a little better, so I seeded them accordingly. But I wanted to make the results of the 1st tournament mean something, too. So, I thought the best thing to do was to alternate seedings between drivers and non-drivers. I have all of the drivers odd seeds, starting with #1: (By the way, I wrote this preview before I started the tournament, hence the occasional awkward use of future tense.)

(1) Wraith. The longest of my distance drivers, I consider this disc the favorite, despite its last-place finish in the 1st tournament.
(3) Beast. A seldom-used driver, but it had the best showing of any driver in the 1st tournament, so I think that made it deserving of a first-round bye.
(5) Valkyrie. The second-most used of my drivers, behind the Wraith. It's also the oldest driver I have (I think). (But it's made out of Champion plastic!)
(7) Dragon. My two remaining drivers are the Dragon and the Starfire. These two discs matched up in the first tournament, and the Dragon won. Thus, the Dragon gets the #7 seed.
(9) Starfire. I don't know if the Starfire is actually my worst driver, but I guess it has to be something.

The purpose of giving all of the drivers odd seeds is to prevent first-round matchups between "like discs". For example, in the 1st tournament, I had a first-round matchup between the Valkyrie and the Beast, two virtually identical discs. I wanted to try and avoid that this time around. I won't do this in future tournaments (if there will be any future tournaments). Between the 1st tournament and the 2nd tournament, I'll base all future seedings purely on results.

Now, the remaining seeds:
(2) Shark. The winner of the 1st tournament.
(4) Whippet. The runner-up of the 1st tournament.
(6) Bulldog. The disc I considered to be the favorite in the 1st tournament.
(8) Roc. I was going to give the Hydra the #8 seed, but I wanted to avoid the potential for another Roc/Shark quarterfinal matchup, since those discs are so much alike. Thus, the Roc gets the #8 seed.
(10) Hydra. I think the Hydra is grossly underseeded, but then again, it didn't win a match in the 1st tournament. The downside of making the Hydra the #10 seed is that the potential exists for a Bulldog/Hydra semifinal matchup, and I've been trying to place "like" discs on opposite sides of the bracket. But I think the chances of both the Bulldog and the Hydra winning their first two matches are slim.
(11) Rhyno. Two discs remain - the short-range Rhyno and Birdie. Unlike the Birdie, the Rhyno won its first-round match, so it gets the more beneficial seed (and a much easier first round matchup).
(12) Birdie. If the Birdie couldn't compete at a short course, how is it going to do at a long course?

So, here's what we're looking at for first-round and quarterfinal matchups:

(8) Roc v. (9) Starfire. The Roc is supposed to be a great disc, but can it compete with a driver at a longer course? No matter which disc wins, it should be an interesting matchup for the (1) Wraith in the quarterfinals. The idea behind the alternating seedings was to get a bunch of driver/non-driver matchups early. If this course is really suited for the drivers, we'll see all drivers in the semifinals. Or, we may see all non-drivers in the semifinals. Or we'll see a mix, and that would be even more interesting.
(5) Valkyrie v. (12) Birdie. I don't expect this match to be close at all. I consider the Valkyrie to be my 2nd-best driver, and my Birdie doesn't go far. By the way - on a 20-hole course such as Cedarock Open, the worst-possible beating is 11 and 9. The winner gets the (4) Whippet. I'd be very interested in a Valkyrie v. Whippet matchup. (And just so you know, I don't play favorites. Since I am in direct control of who wins, it's important for you to know that I am as objective as I can be when playing the matches. If I fixed the results, then why bother?)
(6) Bulldog v. (11) Rhyno. The only first-round matchup not featuring a driver. But there is a discrepancy between the disc's distances. The Bulldog is certainly longer than the Rhyno, and it might even be a better putter. So does the Rhyno stand a chance? The winner gets the (3) Beast, the surprise of the 1st tournament.
(7) Dragon v. (10) Hydra. The Hydra may be underseeded, but that doesn't mean it can beat the fourth-best driver. Then again, the Dragon is quite understable, so anything can happen. The winner gets the (2) Shark in what could be a tough quarterfinal matchup for either disc.

Here's the bracket:

One more thing to look for. While the Scottish Hills course (the site of the 1st tournament) is short and easy, more potential exists for lost discs at Cedarock Open. It's hard enough to keep track of where one disc landed - try keeping track of two at the same time! Thus, in the event that I lose a disc, the lost disc will forfeit the match, and I'll buy a replacement. (It may not be the same disc, though. For example, I don't think I would buy a new Rhyno or a new Beast.)

I'll post the results when I finish the tournament. So far, I've completed 2 of 11 matches.

Today's random thought:

- Alltel's contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars must have run out, because it's no longer called "Alltel Stadium" - now it's back to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Yeah, that's a really boring name. Maybe another company will pony up by the start of the season. Just as long as they don't go back to calling it the "Gator Bowl".

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Florida State Baseball: Are You In?"

Skip to the random thought

The Florida State football team didn't have a very good season. Neither did the basketball team. But that's okay, because as we all know, the only college sport that really matters is baseball. And not only does Florida State have an excellent baseball team this season, but we can almost be assured that unlike in those other irrelevant sports, the Florida Gators will not be winning the national championship in baseball. (I hope.)

The Seminoles are one of those teams that always seems to have a good baseball team. Then again, there are a lot of those teams in the southeast, because there isn't a whole lot of competition from the north. It isn't really fair, considering schools like Penn State have to play the first 1½ months of the season on the road. And it's probably a little tougher for northern schools to recruit, too - who would want to play baseball in the cold north when they can play for Florida State and have home games in February?

Florida State's record is 32-4 (10-2 in the ACC). I went to one of the games last weekend (Florida State at NC State), and of course, that was one of the losses. But despite two losses last week, the overall record is still good enough for a national ranking of anywhere between #1 and #3, depending on which poll you look at. There are a bunch of college baseball polls, and I don't know which ones to trust. Not that it really matters anyway - what matters is the NCAA tournament.

For those unfamiliar with the NCAA baseball tournament, here's how it works. It's a lot like the basketball tournament - 64 teams (no play-in game nonsense), with automatic bids going to conference champions and so forth. But unlike the basketball tournament, it's not single-elimination. But it's not really double-elimination, either. In fact, you can lose up to four games in the tournament and still win the national championship. (That would be a nice trivia question, I think.) The tournament is split into four parts:
- The regionals. The 64 teams are split into 16 four-team regionals. Each regional is its own double-elimination tournament. It's possible to lose one game in the regional and still advance, but you'll still have to win three or four games besides that. (Three games if you win the winners' bracket; four games if you don't.) The winners of each regional advance to...
- The super-regionals. At this point, 16 teams remain, and each plays in a best-of-three weekend series against one other team. (This is usually where FSU gets eliminated. If they even make it this far.) Thus, you can lose another game in the super-regionals and still be one of the 8 teams to advance to...
- The College World Series, part 1. Eight teams make it this far, and they are split into two groups of four, each of which has a double-elimination tournament in the same style as the regionals. When that's done, two teams remain, and that gets us to...
- The College World Series, part 2. The two remaining teams have a best-of-three championship series. Last year's championship series (Oregon State v. North Carolina) took place between June 24th and June 26th, and was one of the first things I watched on my Tivo-like device upon moving to Raleigh (Cary). In the end, the champion will have 10 to 12 wins in the tournament, combined with 0 to 4 losses. (Last year's champion Oregon State finished with a tournament record of 11-2.)

Why isn't college baseball more popular than it is? Baseball is a popular sport, and people love college athletics. So why isn't college baseball as prominent as football and basketball? Is it because it's more of a regional sport? (I think the same could be said for football, so that can't be it.) Is the national tournament format too confusing? (You can't do a simple office pool with the baseball tournament like you can with the basketball tournament.) It's too bad, because I really like college baseball. I like the "ping" of the aluminum bats, and I like that it's not overrun with performance-enhancing drugs. But the best thing about college baseball is that, to my knowledge, there are no players named Daisuke. (I'm really tired of hearing about that guy, by the way.)

Today's random thought:

- Since today is Friday the 13th, I'll take this opportunity to say that superstitions are really silly and arbitrary. What's so unlucky about the number 13, anyway? It's just a number. (And a prime number at that.) I like what Amber did - she decided 13 would be her lucky number. Take that, superstition! Really, though, I think superstitions are just things people have to make them feel like they're in control. For example, that "lucky shirt" you wear on game day - does it really help your favorite team win? Or did you just happen to be wearing it on the day when your team won a big game?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"More Stupid State Rankings"

Skip to the random thought

When I wrote that Rhode Island post, it gave me an idea. Which states have I spent the most time in during my life? To make this list, obviously, I'm going to have to make some guess work and try to guess how many days I spent in certain states during those family vacations, and how many hours I spent in each state just driving through. But this is the list I came up with. The first three are easy:

#1: Florida
#2: Pennsylvania
#3: North Carolina
#4: Virginia. Of the states I have never lived in, Virginia tops the list, on the strength of all of those trips to see family for Christmas. Driving through every time I drive up or down the East Coast doesn't hurt, either.
#5: South Carolina
#6: Georgia. It was hard to figure out how much time I've spent in Georgia. A lot of the trips I've made, I don't remember. And exactly how many times have I been on I-95 in Georgia? Sure, each drive is only 1½ hours, but all of those trips add up.
#7: West Virginia. The only state between Florida and Pennsylvania that hasn't made the list yet. (Maryland doesn't really count, because most drive-throughs last 10 minutes or less.)
#8: Utah
#9: Tennessee. We used to go here for Christmas, but how many times did we do that?
#10: Hawaii. When you spend an entire two-week vacation in one state, that helps. Most of the states in this range were the focal points of various vacations.
#11: California
#12: Washington
#13: Michigan. Another state that was hard to place, because I'm not sure how many times I've been here. (To help rank the states, I guessed a number of days for each.)
#14: Ohio
#15: Montana
#16: Maine. The Nova Scotia trip contributed two days to Maine, and that probably moved it up 6 or 7 spots in the rankings.
#17: New York. I'm not very confident with this one.
#18: New Jersey
#19: Arizona
#20: Vermont. If it wasn't for the 2003 Spring Break trip, this state would be down there with the rest of the small New England states.
#21: South Dakota
#22: Missouri
#23: Nevada
#24: Wyoming. Sure, we spent a lot of time at Yellowstone, but our hotel was in Montana.
#25: Colorado
#26: New Mexico
#27: Kentucky
#28: Oregon
#29: Minnesota
#30: Arkansas
#31: Illinois
#32: Maryland. Of the states in which I have never stayed overnight, I ranked this one the highest. (It's possible I have stayed overnight here, but I don't remember for sure.)
#33: Mississippi. I have spent one night in Mississippi, but according to my calculations, I've still spent more time in Maryland. (I've also stayed overnight in the next four states on the list.)
#34: Kansas
#35: North Dakota
#36: Indiana
#37: Texas
#38: Alabama
#39: Oklahoma
#40: Delaware. It didn't take long to visit all three counties in Delaware, did it?
#41: Connecticut
#42: Massachusetts
#43: Louisiana
#44: Wisconsin. More time in Connecticut and Massachusetts than Wisconsin? I think so - I've driven through those states three times each (one way in 1992; both ways this year), but I've only driven through Wisconsin once (1994). Again...these are estimates.
#45: Iowa
#46: New Hampshire
#47: Idaho. When I previously declared Rhode Island to rank 48th on this list, I had to think hard about Idaho, since all I've done is drive through the "chimney" on I-90. But we did that twice, and I've only driven through Rhode Island once. Thus:
#48: Rhode Island
#49 (tie): Nebraska and Alaska. Some day...

Today's random thought:

A bunch of people up at Penn State Meteorology (including Amber) are having/have had their Master's defenses this week. My question is this - when was the last time somebody "failed" their defense? It seems like a formality to me, really - the "test" is in the preparation for the defense. It's not like the students are working by themselves for two years and then reveal their work to the department for the first time on "defense day".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"This Just In: The NHL Playoffs Begin Tonight"

Skip to the random thoughts on "24" (Spoilers!)

The NHL Playoffs are among my favorite sporting events to watch, and the tension associated with an NHL playoff overtime can't be beat. I don't know how much overtime hockey I'm going to be watching this season, now that I have a job that usually puts me to sleep around 1000p, but hey - I can always take a nap the next afternoon, right? Actually, I'm just glad I actually get to watch the playoffs at home this year.

Remember last year, when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup? That was pretty sweet. Of course, now that I actually live in North Carolina and can watch all of their games, the Hurricanes didn't even make the playoffs this year. (But hey, at least they finished ahead of the Panthers.) So, it's time to renew an annual tradition - I need to find other teams to root for in the playoffs. (I became quite accustomed to this as a Panthers fan.)

So now I present to you, in reverse order, the teams I will be rooting for to win the Stanley Cup:

#16 - New Jersey Devils. Sorry, Walter, but you guys have already won enough Stanley Cups.

#15 - New York Rangers. I don't know what it is, I just can't bring myself to root for these guys. I think that generally applies to all of the "primary" New York teams (Yankees, Giants, Knicks).

#14 - Dallas Stars. No hockey team should ever move from Minnesota to Texas.

#13 - Nashville Predators. If the Stanley Cup is going to go to a southern team again, I'd rather it go to the Southeast Division. (Again. Domination!)

#12 - Detroit Red Wings. Sorry, Jeff, but you guys have also already won enough Stanley Cups. But the reason the Red Wings aren't ranked lower on this list is because I do see a plus side to the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup. With the last two Stanley Cups going to Tampa Bay and Carolina, it might be good for the NHL if one of the "original six" were to win the Cup, as if to restore some kind of order to the league. (But I'd rather it not be the Rangers.)

#11 - New York Islanders. The Islanders kept another Canadian team out of the playoffs, so boo them.

#10 - San Jose Sharks; #9 - Anaheim Ducks. It's a tough call between the Sharks and the Ducks, but the Ducks win the tie-breaker based on the fact that they have a player named Teemu. (He's pretty good, too.)

#8 - Minnesota Wild. I am generally opposed to the use of non-plural team nicknames.

#7 - Ottawa Senators. When in doubt, go with Canada. Canadian teams take up the next three spots, because I'd rather see a Canadian team win the Cup than an American team in which I have no rooting interest.

#6 - Vancouver Canucks. That was a nice trade they pulled off in the offeseason - they got rid of that jerk Todd Bertuzzi, and they got one of the best goalies in the NHL in return! What team would be stupid enough to make that trade? The Florida Panthers, of course. (For those keeping score, that's the third time I've insulted the Panthers so far in this post.)

#5 - Calgary Flames. I've always considered the Flames to be my "favorite Western Conference team". It was pretty sweet when the Flames played the Lightning in the 2004 Finals.

#4 - Atlanta Thrashers. In most playoff years, I would put the Southeast Division teams at the top. But this is Atlanta we're talking about.

#3 - Tampa Bay Lightning. I know they just won the Cup in 2004, but don't hate on the Lightning. They sell out the arena every night (source). (Well, every night when there's a game.)

Normally, I would put a Southeast Division team #1. However, there are a couple of northern teams I'd rather see win this year.

#2 - Pittsburgh Penguins. I've always considered the Penguins to be one of the "trademark" franchises in the NHL, so I'm glad to see they'll be staying in Pittsburgh instead of going to Kansas City. And besides, I think it would be rather appropriate for Pittsburgh to win the Cup now that I live in North Carolina, one year after Carolina won the Cup while I lived in Pennsylvania. But while that would be sort of interesting, I can't help but root for this team:

#1 - Buffalo Sabres. I don't like their uniforms (as popular as the old uniforms are, why won't they bring them back full time?), but I will be pulling for the Sabres to win the Cup this year. Buffalo fans have suffered long enough, and they support the team as well as any American NHL fans.

I'm disappointed that I won't get to see the Hurricanes defend the Cup this year, but maybe it won't be so bad if the Sabres can win it instead. Go Sabres!

Today's random thoughts on "24": (Spoilers!)

- Is Tom Lennox a future president? Or is he simply the next Mike Novick?
- Wayne Palmer is married, by the way. I say it again - where the hell is his wife?
- Jack was at his finest in this episode. The torture, their clever idea (even if it didn't exactly go as planned), and the eventual death of Fayed - epic. But I expected him to get captured by Fayed et al. I thought he was due for a capture. I was wondering how we were going to spend the last 7 hours of the season...now we know. I was thinking, either, one of the bombs wasn't there (someone ran off with it). Or, as soon as Doyle showed up, I suspected maybe he was "one of them". But instead, we're going to get Jack doing whatever Mr. Chinese Guy tells him to save his love. Hmm...what does Mr. Chinese Guy want from Jack anyway?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Morrisville, NC"

Skip to the random thought

Not to be confused with Mooresville, Morrisville is a town located between Raleigh and Durham:

I pass through it often on my way home from work, but I've never really stopped to check it out and "soak it in". So, during one of those weekends where I didn't have anything better to do, I thought I'd drive around.

From my previous pass-throughs, my impression of Morrisville was an upper-class suburb. Now that I've actually driven through the "heart of Morrisville", has my impression changed? Not really. Just about everything in Morrisville is new. And when they build new things these days, they don't exactly build them to cater to the lower-middle class. When I was originally shopping around for apartments last June, I considered Morrisville. It would be a 10-15 minute commute to work (as opposed to the 20-25 minutes it takes me now). However, Morrisville apartment rent is more expensive than even Cary. And, I'm not exactly sure why I didn't investigate the Morrisville apartments on my list when I went apartment shopping, but it just didn't work out.

Besides, I'm glad I don't live in Morrisville. It's not really near anything. Morrisville doesn't have any of their own major shopping areas - you have to go to Cary or Apex for that. And Morrisville's "downtown"? Well, I wouldn't call it a downtown. It's just the part of Morrisville that existed before the region started experiencing rapid growth. And, it's quite pathetic. The town hall is nice, because that's new, but everything else at what's left of the original Morrisville...well, it isn't much, just a bunch of old houses. I guess that's what Morrisville used to be before Raleigh spilled over into its city limits.

However, Morrisville is really nice to drive through. It hasn't been completely overrun with urban sprawl yet. The civilization is still fairly sparse, and that gives many of the roads a "rural" feel. But it doesn't have the small-town feel of a town like Fuquay-Varina, mostly because Morrisville is not centrally located. The "downtown" of which I spoke isn't the center of Morrisville; it's just in the way. The growth of Morrisville is really quite random - they're just building stuff wherever. And because of that, Morrisville is not well organized as a town. It may not even qualify as a town - it's just "spillover". And, there isn't a distinct separation between Morrisville and Cary. At least with Fuquay-Varina, all of the civilization surrounding the town is centralized on the "downtown" (or at least adjacent to it), and there is a significant gap between Fuquay-Varina and other towns.
So...I don't think I'll ever be living in Morrisville.

Today's random thought:

- M&Ms are one of the few solid foods (other than powders) that list serving sizes by the cup. For example, the bag of M&Ms I have lists the serving size (in addition to the weight in grams) as "about 1/4 cup". Other than powders such as sugar, what other solid foods give serving sizes by volume? I can't think of any.

Monday, April 09, 2007

"The Last Meaningful Birthday For A While"

Skip to the random thought

So...yesterday was Easter. Yesterday was also my birthday. Happy birthday to me! In 2012, my birthday will once again coincide with Easter. I don't think I like that, actually. Oh well, there's nothing I can do about it.

What do birthdays mean, anyway? Well, the event which they celebrate is obvious. But birthdays are nice because as long as people know it's your birthday, they almost have to be nice to you. I think everybody deserves that for at least one day per year. For me, I don't really like to make a big deal out of it. And that's why I waited until after my birthday to post this. But the fact that both Amber and my parents came to Raleigh (Cary) to see me this weekend was enough.

But the reason I titled this post my "last meaningful birthday for a while" is because, well, it is. At age 25, you get various discounts on things. You may get a discount on your car insurance - I would have if I still lived in Florida, but North Carolina already gave me the equivalent of the age 25 discount. It's also much easier to rent a car at age 25. Those things were really all that was left on my progression towards "adulthood". My 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays were obviously quite noteworthy - more so than the 25th. So, what's left? Well, I guess that now that my "adulthood" is completel, all that's left are senior citizen discounts, and I won't get those for a while. I won't get any privileges by turning 30, 35, or 40. So, this is pretty much the way it's going to be until at least age 50. And that's a ways away - I'm only halfway there. Birthdays are exciting when you're growing up, because at that time, you want to get older. But once you hit 25, that's pretty much the climax. It's all downhill from here. But that's okay - I'm looking forward to the second 25 years of my life.


Today's random thought:

- I turned on the 102.9 FM "morning show" the other day, and I was greeted to a new contest called Impossible Trivia. Wait a second...they stole it from Oldies 106.9 (Fayetteville)! Those little bastards. Not only do they have the worst traffic guy ever, but they steal morning routines from other stations. It wouldn't be so bad, except that I recognized the question from the previous week on Oldies 106.9! Hey, maybe I should call in and win.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"The 1st Chris Allen Disc Tournament: Results"

Skip to the random thought

Before I get into the the results of the 1st Chris Allen Disc Tournament, some words on the format. In the Bulldog v. Hydra "exhibition match" from a few weeks ago, I did stroke play (i.e. comparing final scores). For this competition, I decided to do match play. In match play, the disc that wins the most holes wins, regardless of the final score. I did this for two reasons - to make it easier to keep score, and to speed up the matches. In match play, it isn't always necessary to play every hole. For example, of a disc is three holes ahead of its opponent with two holes to play, the match is over, and you don't have to play the final two holes. Also, if a disc has already scored a birdie and its opponent has just missed its birdie putt, you can end that hole right then, because the first disc has already won the hole.

Now, the results:

First Round

(9) Dragon def. (8) Starfire, 1 up. The first match of the touranment sees the straighter-flying Dragon defeat the Starfire.

(12) Roc def. (5) Birdie, 3 and 2. (In match play notation, "3 and 2" means "3 up with 2 holes to play". In a 9 hole match, the most lopsided result possible is "5 and 4".) Despite the seedings, this doesn't surprise me. The Birdie isn't really good for anything other than putting, and it had some problems in this tournament. But to its credit, it did manage to win one hole.

(11) Rhyno def. (6) Wraith, 3 and 2. None of the holes at this particular course are long enough to require use of the Wraith, so this isn't the type of course where the Wraith would excel.

(10) Beast def. (7) Valkyrie, 11 holes. These discs are virtually identical, so it doesn't surprise me that it took extra holes to decide the match. This means the "underdog" won all four first round matches, which isn't really surprising considering that the "favorites" were composed of the Birdie and three drivers, none of which are really suited for this competition.

Quarterfinals

(1) Bulldog def. (9) Dragon, 12 holes. I expected the Bulldog to win, but I didn't expect it to take extra holes. The Bulldog caught some bad breaks along the way - in fact, if we were doing stroke play instead of match play, the Dragon would have won by two strokes. That's another advantage of match play - those unfortunate breaks where a disc rolls down an adjacent hill or takes a bad bounce don't entirely decide the match.

(4) Shark def. (12) Roc, 3 and 2. I'm disappointed in the Roc. I don't know what happened. These discs are almost identical, so I expected a closer competition. Maybe the Roc just hasn't been "broken in" yet.

(3) Whippet def. (11) Rhyno, 2 and 1. I almost lost the Rhyno in this match - I threw it over a fence. I had to get creative to get it back. If I were to lose the disc, that would obviously mean a forfeit.

(10) Beast def. (2) Hydra, 10 holes. The only upset of the quarterfinals. The Hydra had an almost-gimme putt on #9 to win, and missed it. Both discs held the lead at one time during the match. (Even in the other extra-hole matches, the eventual winner never trailed.)

The First Round and Quarterfinals were conducted on Saturday, March 24th, and took about 2½ hours to complete. The original intent was to do the entire tournament in one day, but I was developing a blister on my finger, and two other groups showed up to the course, so I called it a day after the quarterfinals. I came back three days later for the final three matches:

Semifinals

(4) Shark def. (1) Bulldog, 10 holes. This match easily could have gone either way. The Bulldog got absolutely screwed on the 10th hole. Some of the targets at this course can be rather prone to a "bounce back" (the disc hits the target dead center and bounces out), and that's what happened to the Bulldog on a rather short putt. It's not fair, but that's the way it goes, and one disc had to lose. This match was probably the "defacto championship".

(3) Whippet def. (10) Beast, 3 and 2. If I had conducted the entire tournament on the first day, the Beast might have had a chance, because I was really throwing it well that day. But I just wasn't throwing it well when I came back three days later.

Championship

(4) Shark def. (3) Whippet, 3 and 2. The Shark saved what was probably its best effort of the tournament for the championship match. Even through the match was over with two holes remaining, I played out the last two holes just to see what score the Shark could get, and it posted a 22 - 5 birdies, 4 pars. That's absolutely ridiculous. I've never scored that low at this course before, even with the whole bag of discs. Then again, I've been getting a lot of practice. And, the Shark is great for shorter drives that need to be straight, and that's mostly what you'll find at this course. It's not so good for longer shots (too unstable), and that's probably why I stopped using it, but I'm going to introduce it back into my repertoire.

Here's the final bracket:
So...now what? The implication of the post title is that there is going to be another tournament. Well, that's the plan. I'd like to see what would happen if I conducted a similar tournament at a "real course". Would the drivers take over, or would discs like the Shark, Bulldog, and Roc stand a chance? And how bad would the Birdie lose? I've decided to conduct another tournament over a longer period of time at the Cedarock Open course near Burlington (my favorite area course). Since the holes at this course are longer, and there are many more holes (20), it will take me a while longer to do this tournament. The current plan is to spread it out over 6 trips, where I do two matches each trip.

Why don't I just play normal disc golf? Well, here's why I'm interested in this. 1) I like competitions. 2) When it's two discs competing against each other, I am far less likely to get pissed off than I am if I'm just playing for my own personal glory. If I miss a short putt, instead of "dammit", it's "oh well, too bad for that disc". 3) I need to get outside more, and this tournament will motivate me to do so. Disc golf is fun, but playing "just for fun" hasn't really motivated me to get out there so much.

Today's random thought:

- At grocery stores, you'll often see an item on sale for "buy one, get one free". In my experience, that means you have to buy two in order to get the discount - if you just buy one, you get it for the normal price. (As opposed to something like "3 for $6" - in those cases, the discount is usually evenly split among the items, and you can experience the full discount by just buying one.) But I'm not so sure about Kroger. When I take advantage of a "buy one, get one free" sale, I notice on my receipt that the discount was evenly split between the two items, as if to suggest the sale is really "half off". Did I really need to buy the second item to get a discount, or is that just how they print the receipt? Maybe I'll try just buying one next time. If that works, then that would be a first among grocery stores that I have experienced.