Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Ultimate NC Road Trip: Raleigh (Cary) to Morganton"

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On to segment 2! I didn't have high expectations for this stretch, driving through mid-sized to small towns across the Piedmont towards the mountains. But as we moved along, I concluded that every one of these cities might be a better place to live than Raleigh/Durham (at least for us). Why couldn't EPA build a campus in Davie County? (Then again, if they did, Davie County might become just like Cary, only without a curling club. So, nevermind.)

US-64 doesn't exactly take the straight line path across this portion of the state:

How many times does US-64 cross I-40 in North Carolina? Counting the Raleigh exchange, five times. I think it's always fun to cross an interstate when you're staying on a US highway. No particular reason why, other than because I'm a road geek.

I think the best way to tackle this segment is to take it city-by-city:

Pittsboro: US-64 takes a bypass around Pittsboro, so I didn't see the city on this drive. But to answer a previously-posed question from a prior visit: yes, there is a courthouse in the center of the downtown traffic circle.

Siler City: I heard on the news (I think) that Siler City had less than 100 days worth of water supply remaining. Hopefully last week's rain helped. The town's growth probably isn't helping matters, either.

Ramseur: I wouldn't have even mentioned this small town if not for one little sign on the side of the road for "Matlab, Inc". Are these the makers of MATLAB? Sadly, no - MATLAB is the product of MathWorks, a Massachusetts-based company. Matlab, Inc provides "top quality electro-mechanical assembly and materials consulting services for the computer industry". I guess I won't be moving to Ramseur after all.

Asheboro: From what I know, Asheboro is a popular "kind of far away but not too far away" commuter city for people living in Greensboro. It looks fine to me.

Lexington: Given the route US-64 takes around the city, I didn't see much of Lexington. But the two-lane stretch of US-64 between Asheboro and Lexington was the most congested rural portion of segment 2. (Relatively speaking. The traffic flow was generally in the 50-55 mph range. So, nothing terrible. Still, this stretch could probably use two extra lanes.)

Sidebar, to follow up on this post, where I said it takes 1h31m to get from Raleigh (Cary) to Lexington via I-40/85. How long does it take via US-64? Approximately 1h35m. So, I-40/85 is the way to go, at least to Lexington.

Mocksville: Not to be confused with Knoxville, Mocksville is the county seat of (and only sizeable town in) Davie County. I thought it would be a dump, but I was impressed. It was fairly new, clean, and looked like a great place to live. Mocksville was my favorite city in segment 2. Maybe Mocksville is to Winston-Salem as Asheboro is to Greensboro.

Statesville: Statesville is the largest city in segment 2 (excluding Cary, which US-64 doesn't really go "through"). I've been there before, so this visit didn't really change my opinion of it. It's average. My only problem with it is that US-64 wasn't marked very well in some areas, making it hard to follow at times. But we managed to make all the right turns. ("Right" as in "correct", not "90° clockwise".)

Lenoir: Pronounced "len-ORE", Lenoir is pretty close to the Blue Ridge, and the mountains are in sight. That would make it another desirable place to live - probably my second-favorite city in this segment behind Mocksville. (My least-favorite? Well, just for the sake of choosing one, Lexington.)

Morganton: The somewhat-arbitrarily-chosen end point of segment 2. Upon entering the town, I had a choice: Business US-64, or Bypass US-64? Neither one is labeled as plain-old US-64. Given this choice, my policy was to choose the bypass, particularly since we were in a race against time to get to Murphy before sunset.

Segment 2 statistics
Total driving time: 3 hours, 52 minutes
Total distance: 192.0 miles
Average speed: 50 mph

Tomorrow: "Ultimate NC Road Trip: Morganton to Tennessee border". If you're lucky, this post might even have pictures!

Today's random thought:

- Happy Halloween! Last year, my apartment did not get any visitors looking for candy. Will we get any this year? This year might be different, because we are now in a more family-oriented section of the complex, instead of being next to a bunch of one-bedroom apartments with no children. Either way, we'll be prepared.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Ultimate NC Road Trip: Outer Banks to Raleigh (Cary)"

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As I sort of alluded to yesterday, I'm going to separate a recap of last weekend's "Ultimate North Carolina Road Trip" into three posts. Why? Well, why not?

Just to recap the idea behind this trip, we took US-64 from one end of North Carolina to the other, all in one day, starting in the east. The idea is to see all that North Carolina has to offer in a single day, from the beaches on one end to the mountains on the other. Total trip length: 608.2 miles, not counting the extra driving time to hotels (approximately 30 minutes total). We could have accomplished the same feat by taking interstates part of the way, but where's the fun in that? Road trips geared towards staying on a single US highway can be quite fun. Two such trips I'd really like to take someday are US-1 from Florida to Maine, and US-50 from Maryland to California.

Now, here's the first segment:

US-64 starts/ends at the same place that US-158 starts/ends, at an intersection on the Outer Banks. (US-264 used to end here as well, but now officially ends at its intersection with US-64 on the mainland.) Our hotel was about 10 miles north of there in Kill Devil Hills. It was an oceanfront hotel, which we didn't really need considering the purpose of this trip, but that's all we saw in the AAA TourBook. While we were there, we walked out to the beach and looked at it, just to do it. The beach has a really distinctive smell. Ah, memories...

We got to the Outer Banks after sunset (at approximately 900p on Friday), and left before sunrise (at 600a on Saturday). So, we never saw it in daylight. The reason we left so early is because we wanted to save the daylight for the mountains. I've been to the Outer Banks before, so I had no strong desire to spend more time there, at least on this trip.

Speaking of the sunlight, if we wished to maximize our daylight, driving east-to-west is the way to go. It made me wonder - how much later are sunrise and sunset where our drive ended (Blue Ridge, GA) compared to where it started (Kill Devil Hills, NC)? Here are the sunrise/sunset times for those two towns: (source)
- Kill Devil Hills, NC: 720a/613p
- Blue Ridge, GA: 753a/649p
So, about 35 minutes. Blue Ridge has three extra minutes of daylight due to its more southern location.

The "trendy" abbreviation for the Outer Banks is "OBX". So, if you see an "OBX" sticker on someone's car, it means they're "representing" the Outer Banks. Word.

The Outer Banks have really strange city names. Kill Devil Hills? Nags Head? Kitty Hawk? Duck? I wonder what the deal is there.

Now, how about the drive from there to Raleigh (Cary)? Well, as you might expect, there isn't a whole lot to it. The portion from the Outer Banks to Plymouth is extremely desolate. Included in that stretch is the least-populated county in North Carolina, Tyrrell County (2000 census population: 4,149). The next-least-populated county is Hyde County, just south of Tyrrell County, just south of Tyrrell on US-264. We took US-264 out to the Outer Banks on Friday, and US-264 might have been even more desolate. It was actually kind of spooky, especially at night.

How was the weather? There were intermittent rain showers both on the Friday drive to the Outer Banks, and the start of the drive on Saturday. But once we got west of I-95, it was clear sailing the rest of the trip.

(In case you haven't noticed, these recap posts are going to be fairly random-thought oriented, with little to no attempt at organization.)

Along US-264 and US-64, we saw many signs promoting this web site: NO OLF. The OLF is a proposed Outlying Landing Field to be built in Eastern North Carolina to serve as a practice airstrip for U.S. Navy pilots. The locals are opposed due (in part) to the environmental impact. From a human standpoint, it's a good place to build one, because the land is very flat, and there isn't much civilization out there. (In fact, they already have a bombing range out there.) But what about the wildlife? Due to my policy of leaving political opinions out of this blog, I'll refrain from giving my views on this matter.

A lot of this stretch of US-64 is expressway, with speed limit 70. It made the drive quite fast, and not very interesting. But it is nice to know that the Outer Banks are only three hours away. Once we got to Raleigh (Cary), since we were so close to home, we stopped at the apartment and said "hi" to the cat.

Segment 1 statistics
Total driving time: 3 hours, 2 minutes
Total distance: 203.1 miles
Average speed: 67 mph

Tomorrow: "Ultimate NC Road Trip: Raleigh (Cary) to Morganton". Just so you don't get your hopes up, the only segment for which we have pictures is the third segment. But that's better than nothing, right?

Today's random thought:

- What happens if you get tires for your car that are either too big or too small? Won't that throw off the speedometer and odometer readings?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Last Year: 10/29/07"

So, that "change in format" I mentioned on Friday, that I was going to experiment with this week? Not going to happen - I'm going to stick with the "schedule" format. But I might still have an occasional "two-post" day.

Mon 10/30/06: "Country Roads, Part 1".
Tue 10/31/06: "Halloween".
Wed 11/1/06: "Country Roads, Part 2".
Thu 11/2/06: "Telescopes and Corn Mazes". See, my practice of stretching out one weekend trip into three or more separate posts is nothing new.
Fri 11/3/06: "State Highest Points". Realistically, my "goal" of getting to all of the highest points east of the Mississippi probably won't be reached in my lifetime. It was just something to write about that day.
Sat 11/4/06: "College Football Saturday #6".

Friday, October 26, 2007

"What's a Meme?"

Just kidding! This morning's post was not the last post of the week, because I have some business to attend to. This is also the first time I've ever posted twice in one day; this is a precursor to yet another change in format that I'm going to experiment with next week.

I've been tagged! I think that means I have to make a contribution to the "meme"...whatever that is. I've never heard of the word "meme" until now. So, I did a little research, and decided that "meme" is just another term for "chain letter", except that people are more likely to respond to a "meme" than a "chain letter". Why? Let's do a little word associaton:

- "chain letter": hate! delete! evil! go away!
- "meme": What's a meme?

So, it's kind of like when ValuJet changed their name to AirTran after one of their planes crashed. But Jacob sold me by comparing the "meme" to a genetic algorithm. Everybody likes genetic algorithms, right?

First, the rules:

===

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

* You can leave them exactly as is.

* You can delete any one question.

* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.

* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.

* You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

===

Second, a disclaimer. I am really bad at movie and music history, and thus, my "answers" to these questions aren't going to be very insightful. In fact, upon reading them, you'll probably think I'm a moron. (That is, if you don't think that already.) So, don't get your hopes up. Please, please, please don't get your hopes up.

Third, the questions themselves, and my answers: (Questions are in bold; my rule-mandated modifications are underlined.)
1) The best romantic movie in independent film is: I don't know independent film that well, nor do I know what qualifies as "independent". Wasn't Donnie Darko an independent film? Let's go with that. I know it wasn't very romantic, but I don't care.
2) The best inspirationally dramatic song from 80s hard rock is: I can't top Jacob's answer of "Europe - The Final Countdown". The rules don't say I have to change the answers if I think the previous ones were better than anything I could possibly come up with, right? And since I'm only allowed two modifications, I can't touch this question if I want to be able to add a new one. (See why I was so adamant that you lower your expectations?)
3) The best anti-war song in ska-punk is: I don't know if it's the best, but the first one that came to mind is "Unity" by Operation Ivy.
4) The best educational TV show on science while growing up was: Bill Nye, The Science Guy. (Yeah, I know. Heresy! But I'm pretty sure I watched Bill Nye more than I watched Mr. Wizard.)
5) (new question!) The best two-ply brand of toilet paper is: Angel Soft.

Fourth, some commentary on the process. I think there's a flaw in the rules. The rules dictate that if you change only the "medium" or "genre" in one question, that counts as one of your alloted two changes. But in some questions, you can't just change one thing and still have the sentence make sense. For example, in #1, if I change "movie", I also have to change "independent film" for the sentence to make sense. (Same goes for #5, unless you can think of something other than toilet paper that can be considered "two-ply".) At that point, I might as well delete the question and add a new one, right?

Fifth, who to pass this along to? Well, I'll tag Amber, for two reasons: 1) Her "circle of friends" has a tremendous reach. Far more so than mine. 2) I'm curious to see how she'll answer #5.

Sixth, the geneology:
Great(x8)-grandparent: Pharyngula
Great(x7)-grandparents: The Flying Trilobite; Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Great(x6)-grandparents: Flying Trilobite; Leslie's Blog (Apparently, there was some back-and-forth going on at the higher levels.)
Great(x5)-grandparents: A Blog Around the Clock; The Meming of Life
Great(x4)-grandparents: From Archaea to Zeaxanthol; The Primate Diaries
Great(x3)-grandparent: The Other 95%
Great(x2)-grandparent: Tangled Up in Blue Guy
Great-grandparent: Greg Laden
Grandparent: Migrations
Parent: Reflections, Ideas, and Dreams

Seventh, did I completely ruin this? Have I steered my thread towards extinction? Well, probably, but that's for Amber to decide.

"Laws of the Crown"

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Within the past few years, Burger King has rebranded themselves in a way, inserting a sense of humor into all of their promotions. It seems to have worked; I used to never go to Burger King, but now it's as valid an option as anything while road tripping.

Last weekend while at a Burger King, I picked up one of those paper crowns, only to find a bunch of stuff written on the back. What, exactly? Why, the "Laws of the Crown", of course! I will present them to you now:

LAWS OF THE CROWN

Game Play

A) Adjust size and be the first to place on head.
B) Whoever places the Crown on his or her head first, then in a loud voice proclaims "I am the King" is from that moment forward, in charge. Rule ends if Crown is removed (see Coup d'etat). Crownings can happen anywhere, at anytime.

Advanced Play

1) There can only be one King.
2) The King always gets his/her way.
3) The King must speak with some kind of cool accent.
4) The King makes all the important decisions governing selection of TV channels, movies, radio stations, as well as popular activities like snowboarding, pool hopping and cow tipping. The King also determines who gets the remote, who rides "shotgun" and, of course, who pays.
5) Rule ends when Crown is removed for more than 3 seconds (see Three Second Law).
6) Disagreement with the King results in a "penalty". This is decided by the King. Common penalties include: forteiture of fries, surrender of video game controller and banishment from office cubicle.

Three Second Law: The King's rule ends when the Crown is removed from their head for any reason, accidental or otherwise. The first person to explain, "One...Two...Three...King" may claim the Crown. [Anyone else catch the incorrect grammar?]

In the Event of a Tie: If two people Crown themselves King simultaneously, the person whose birth date is closest to December 4, 1954 (date the first BURGER KING® restaurant opened) is King. [This is my favorite rule.]

Coup d'Etat: If everyone agrees you completely stink as King, your rule may be renounced. This constitutes a Coup d'etat. A new King may be Crowned if the group can reach a unanimous decision. If not, the Three Second Law applies.

Kingdom: If you are eating in a BURGER KING® restaurant, your rule extends all the way to the edge of the parking lot. Off restaurant grounds, your rule extends to a radius of 10 feet around you in any direction.

WARNING: This BURGER KING® Crown is made of paper. Your rule may end prematurely if Crown is exposed to water or flame.

Maybe I should just leave this crown in Walker Building somewhere and see what happens. (Actually, if I were to do that, I think the more interesting question would be: how long before someone throws it in the trash?)

This Weekend: This is the last post of the week. Today, we'll be starting the long-anticipated Ultimate North Carolina Road Trip, which means we'll be gone all weekend. After work, we drive out to the Outer Banks. Saturday, we cross the entire length of the state on US-64, and spend the night near the Georgia/North Carolina/Tennessee triple point. Sunday, we go home. I'll try to get three posts out of the trip, so that will be Tuesday through Thursday. Amber says she's bringing her camera, so we might actually have pictures, too!

Today's random thought:

- When I was in Jacksonville last weekend, I raided my parents' map archives (with their permission) looking for official state transportation maps to put up in the map room. And, I found 9 new maps! We now have official maps for 39 of the 50 states, plus two Canadian provinces. We now have only 11 states remaining: Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, and Utah.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"The Greater Tampa Bay Area"

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I've been to the Tampa area a bunch of times. What are my impressions of it? Well, let's start with a map:

James went to the University of South Florida (1), so I've seen the campus. It's not small. Of all state unversities in Florida, USF has the second-largest campus, behind only the University of Florida. It's also a fairly new - the university is only 50 years old. I imagine that when it was built, the campus was located on the outskirts of Tampa, where there was plenty of room to be had. Now, predictably, suburbia has caught up to it. I really don't have any opinion of the campus, except that it's convenient that it's right near Busch Gardens (2), which I have ranked as my 3rd-favorite theme park. Busch Gardens is my favorite thing about Tampa. Ybor City (3; pronounced EE-bore) has renowned nightlife, but I've never been there.

I'm actually more familiar with Pinellas County (St. Petersburg) than with Hillsborough County (Tampa). Pinellas County isn't just St. Petersburg, it's several cities that have all melded into one absurdly large city. Places like Clearwater and Dunedin used to stand on their own, but now the whole county is one continuous development. And it's practically all new, it seems.

Pinellas County isn't very convenient to get to, either. From the north, you have US-19 (4), which is not exactly a quick way to get there. From the south, you have the Sunshine Skyway (5), which is actually a pretty neat bridge, although I don't have much use for it, since I'm always coming from the north or east. Instead, I'm usually driving through Tampa, which means my options are (from north-to-south) FL-580, FL-60, and I-275 (6). FL-580 is a slow surface road, while to get to FL-60 and I-275, you have to go around downtown Tampa, which can be slow. On a good day, I can get to the USF campus from Jacksonville in 3:15, but it takes at least another 45 minutes to get to the meat of Pinellas County. And, it's a pain to get around Pinellas County, too. They've done a good job with US-19 - many major interchanges are expressway-grade - but on any other road, forget it. The civilization just goes on and on. (You knew I couldn't resist weaving road geek stuff in here.)

What does Pinellas County have to offer? Most notably, they have nice beaches. I think the southern beaches (7) are a little more preferable than places like Clearwater Beach (8), which doesn't have public overnight parking as I found out early last year. (These other places might not either, but for now, they get the benefit of the doubt.) Unfortunately, all of these beaches are crowded. If I were to go to a Gulf Coast beach, it wouldn't be in Pinellas County - I'd opt for something further north or south. In terms of beach quality, water quality, and crowds, I think the panhandle actually has the best beaches in the state. But that's just my opinion, one that is probably not shared by many other people.

Pinellas County is also home to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who play at Tropicana Field (9). "The Trop" has a bad reputation, but I've been there, and I don't have a problem with it. While outdoor baseball is preferable to indoor baseball, a dome is more practical in a place where it rains almost every day during the summer. A retractable roof would be ideal, but I think "The Trop" was built before they became the rage of Major League Baseball. (Tampa Bay's other two pro sports teams play in Hillsborough County.) The streets of St. Petersburg (10) also host an Indy Racing League event, which is pretty cool. Take that, Orlando! (And, just to document last weekend: our hotel was at #11, and the baptism was at #12.)

So, there you have it. Really, this post was just an excuse to play around with Microsoft Streets & Trips for a few minutes.

Tomorrow: "Laws of the Crown".

Today's random thought:

- The problem with getting a big jar of peanut butter is that once you start to run out, it's hard to scoop, and you get peanut butter all over your hand. Or is that just me?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"The Godfather, Part IV"

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Why did we go to Jacksonville last weekend, anyway? Well, it was really just an overnight stop on the way to Tampa. Not counting sleeping time, we only spent 3 to 4 hours in Jacksonville last weekend. The purpose of the trip was to be in Tampa for my niece (Paige)'s baptism. (It wasn't really "Tampa", but more on that tomorrow.) My attendance was important because I am Paige's "godfather". Wahoo!

What are the responsibilities of a "godfather"? In terms of the ceremony, my job was to stand behind the parents (along with the godmother) and recite some lines on Paige's behalf (since she's unable to talk at this point). You know, the usual stuff - "I reject Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises". It wasn't too difficult. Now, from what I understand it, my job as the "godfather" is to make sure Paige becomes and stays a good Christian. The way I see it, that won't be too difficult until she becomes a teenager, because that's about when children start to develop their own ideals and beliefs, and start to question everything. Religion is easy when you're a kid. God is great! I love Jesus! Yay! -- I'm going to stop this thought here, because religion is supposed to be "out of bounds" in this blog.

Now, a little more about baptisms in general. What is the "standard age" for a baptism? Paige is three months old, which is a little earlier than I would have originally guessed, but what do I know? I would have guessed 6-to-9 months. But having never been part of a baptism prior to Sunday (other than my own), that would have been a complete guess. Glancing at Wikipedia, it appears this varies by Christian denomination. 80% of Christians practice "infant baptism", including the Episcopalians (this baptism was Episcopalian). (The Catholics actually encourage baptism within the first few weeks of life. As a Catholic, shouldn't I know these things already?) Other denominations, like Baptists, require the child to fully understand the faith and commitment involved before they are baptized.

I don't remember my baptism. Most people don't, at least if they were born into a Christian family. Maybe that's why they do it at such an early age. I can imagine that for a baby, getting water poured on your head can be a terrifying experience.

And, finally: why was the baptism last Sunday? From what I understand, the baptism was originally scheduled for the previous Sunday, but was rescheduled because it conflicted with a Jacksonville Jaguars home game. Last weekend was a good time for a baptism, because the Jaguars played on Monday night, giving the Allens plenty of time to make it back home for the game. In the Allen family, we have our priorities in order.

Tomorrow: "The Greater Tampa Bay Area".


Today's random thought:

- In the parking lot at work this week, I saw another car with an "I'm Stickin' With The Pig" bumper sticker, promoting Piggly Wiggly. It was a completely different design altogether, but still, I don't have the only car with a Piggly Wiggly bumper sticker at work. But, I'm pretty sure my car is the only one with a Piggly Wiggly bumper sticker and a curling bumper sticker.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Speeders Beware"

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If you're driving on US-301 between Ocala and Jacksonville, you may come across a billboard or two like this one:

The towns of Waldo and Lawtey along US-301 in northeast Florida are notorious "speed traps". What makes these two towns different than any other small towns with speed limit reductions? According to various internet research, Waldo and Lawtey are the only cities in the country officially designated by AAA as such. AAA has always held a vendetta against these two towns, claiming that they are writing speeding tickets more for profit than for safety, citing that traffic tickets are the leading source of revenue in both towns. Are they?

Both towns are in pretty vulnerable locations for speeding. US-301 is a four-lane highway with a rural speed limit of 65 mph. Inside the town limits, the speed limit drops to 35 mph. (Lawtey might be 45; I forget.) With that in mind, it's easy to see why these towns can write so many tickets, given human driving tendencies. To help motorists heed the warnings, the Florida DOT put bright yellow reflectors on the "reduced speed ahead" and "speed limit" signs, in addition to the "speed strictly enforced" signs. Also, AAA bought multiple billboards like the one pictured above, for both Waldo and Lawtey. Isn't that nice of them?

Where do I stand on this issue? Well, actually, I'm not strongly against these speed traps. This road is a major thoroughfare for University of Florida students driving from Jacksonville to Gainesville, meaning there are probably lots of people driving very fast through these towns, especially when there's a home football game. They see an opportunity for profit, and they act on it. Isn't that the "American Way"? So while I wouldn't put these speed traps in the same category of "law-supported evil" as RIAA-sponsored lawsuits, it's still pretty cheap. Sure, these towns can claim "we're just trying to enforce safety", but in Lawtey's case, I don't think the speed limit is justified. Lawtey is a one traffic light town that barely has anything in it at all. I think a speed limit of 55 mph would suffice. There is an elementary school nearby, but that's what school zones are for, right?

Here's something that may increase the "evil" rating of these towns. I heard that when Waldo started losing speeding ticket revenue because of all those warnings heading into town, they started parking police cars on the side of the road, and then pulling people over if they weren't in the left lane as they passed. Now that's cheap. I don't know if that's true or not - it may just be a rumor. The urban legend of Waldo has likely spawned many stories like this. So, I don't know what to believe.

Still, if you're ever driving through Lawtey or Waldo, you should probably slow down to the posted speed limit. They mean business - I know someone who got two speeding tickets within five minutes of each other in the same town. (I forget which town, but it was one of those two.) This goes for all rural highways, too. Whenever you're on a US highway or state highway, it's important to pay attention to the posted speed limit.

(Just to clear the air: Did I write this post because I got a speeding ticket? Nope. After 9½ years of driving, I am still speeding-ticket-free.)

Tomorrow: "The Godfather, Part IV".

Today's random thought:

- Happy Mole Day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Last Year: 10/22/07"

This week's posts from last year: (That's a mouthful, isn't it?)

Mon 10/23/07: "The Demolition Derby". Maybe next year... (Just to rehash random thought #1: it's called Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time.)
Tue 10/24/07: "Piggly Wiggly History". I think a trip to Piggly Wiggly is long overdue.
Wed 10/25/07: "A Generic Post About Road Trips, Part 1". Tomorrow's post is related to the stretch of US-301 between Jacksonville and Ocala.
Thu 10/26/07: "A Generic Post About Road Trips, Part 2".
Fri 10/27/07: "Lost: Season 1". As far as television is concerned, January ("24") and February ("Lost") can't come soon enough.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Don't Blow It, Lewis"

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On location in Jacksonville, FL.
That's why this isn't a "College Football Saturday" post, even if my parents do get the mythical Big Ten Network. Before I go any further, a few thoughts on this week's games: 1) In reference to Thursday night's South Florida USF game, I could just feel that everything was setting up perfectly for USF to crash and burn. They were #2 in the BCS, people were talking about national championships, and they had a Thursday night nationally-televised showcase on the road to "prove their worth" against a team perfectly capable of beating them. So, I can't say I'm surprised with the result. (Disappointed? Yes.) USF deserved to be ranked where they were - if you base it on "body of work", they should have actually been #1 - but that doesn't necessarily mean they were the 2nd best team in the country. Actually, though, I think USF would beat Ohio State on a neutral field. If Ohio State runs the table and goes to the national championship (again), they'll get trounced, no matter who the opponent is (again). 2) Florida State plays Miami (FL) this weekend. At least if FSU loses, it won't be a devastating loss like it has been so many years gone by. I don't think I'm even going to watch the game; we'll likely be on the road to Tampa. Maybe I can have Gene Deckerhoff (the radio voice of the Seminoles) show me the way.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about Formula One. It's been a while since I've had a post about auto racing, hasn't it? So, without further ado...

This weekend is the Formula One season finale. Formula One doesn't have a made-for-TV "chase for the cup" like NASCAR does. Instead, they add up points from the season opener to the season finale, and whoever has the most wins. And the way Formula One works, coupled with the points system's tendency to allow for a runaway champion, there is rarely much doubt heading into the season finale regarding who's going to win the championship. But this year, you have three drivers with a chance to win the championship entering the final race, the first time that's happened in 21 years. Wahoo!

Lewis Hamilton leads by 4 points over Fernando Alonso and 7 points over Kimi Raikkonen. The top 8 drivers in each race earn points like this: 10-8-6-4-3-2-1. So, Raikkonen is probably the long shot - just as well, considering I think he's the most boring person in Formula One. Hamilton could have actually clinched the championship last week, but screwed up entering the pits and parked it in the gravel trap (a.k.a. the "kitty litter"). Oops! A rare rookie mistake from Lewis Hamilton, one that might cost him the championship, but only if he has another such fault. Given how much better McLaren and Ferrari are than the other cars, if they don't have trouble during the race, they're almost guaranteed to sweep the top 4 spots.

"Hey, what about that 100 million dollar fine I heard about? Wasn't that McLaren?" Yep, sure was. So how can Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso (McLaren's drivers) still compete for the championship? Well, the ruling was to only exclude the team from the team championship (a.k.a. the constructors championship), not its drivers from the drivers championship. The constructors championship is a big deal in Formula One, so I guess that was a big penalty. But $100 million makes those $100,000 NASCAR fines seem pretty pathetic, doesn't it?

So, anyway, Lewis Hamilton just has to keep Alonso from finishing two spots ahead of him, and Kimi Raikkonen from finishing four spots ahead of him, and he'll be fine. Will Lewis Hamilton emerge triumphant, or will he buckle under the pressure like USF did on Thursday night? (It wasn't my original intent to interweave those two thoughts, but it worked out well, didn't it?)

Tuesday: "Speeders Beware".

Today's random thought:

- I think Roman Numerals have only three practical uses today: 1) Super Bowls, 2) copyright dates on old cartoons, and 3) Simpsons Halloween specials (e.g. "Treehouse of Horror XVII"). Am I missing any obvious ones?

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Ohio Counties"

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This post is kind of like this one about counties in Georgia, but not quite. With that post, the goal is to memorize where all of the counties in Georgia are located. With today's trip to Florida, I'll likely see several Georgia license plates, so we'll see how far along I am. With Ohio, the goal isn't to memorize the locations - I can't really move on to Ohio without mastering Georgia first - it's something different.

At some point in recent memory, I had a "random thought" about how Ohio now puts a sticker with the county name and a number on it instead of putting the county name on the plate itself. The county names aren't legible unless you're looking up-close at the sticker, but the numbers are (generally), so whenever I see such a sticker, I look up what county that is, and where it's located. Recently, I set a goal for myself: see stickers for all 88 counties in Ohio. I started this after my most recent trip to Ohio, so I'm only up to 6, which isn't bad, considering I'm in North Carolina. Next time we go to Ohio, however, I expect to accumulate a landslide of new stickers. I did a similar sort of thing with Florida counties on license plates a few years ago while at Florida State, checking them off one-by-one. Eventually, I got all 67 counties, even though the only way I could find a Glades County license plate was to drive there myself. Might I have to do the same thing with some obscure Ohio county? Possibly.

The numbers on the license plate stickers correspond to each county's place in alphabetical order. To help me in this cause, I put together a list of the counties, and put the numbers on a map:

The six counties I've seen so far are Cuyahoga (#18), Franklin (#25), Geauga (#28), Lorain (#47), Lucas (#48), and Trumbull (#78). Most of those counties are highly-populated. Ranking counties by population, my six counties rank 1st, 2nd, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 29th. I might have a little more trouble finding the counties towards the bottom of the list. (Vinton County, #82, is the least-populous county in Ohio.)

How long will it take to find all 88 stickers? I think it's more likely that Ohio will discontinue the county stickers before I find all 88. Oh well.

Tomorrow: "Don't Blow It, Lewis".

Today's random thought:

- You know those Chevrolet commercials featuring the now-annoying song "Our Country"? Well, by watching Canadian hockey games on NHL Center Ice, I've learned that they have those commercials in Canada too. I guess the song isn't just about our country at all, is it? How generic. Go to hell, Chevrolet, and take John Mellencamp with you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"We're Not Going To The Fair Again For One Full Year"

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I'll be honest - I actually felt some pressure to go out and try to "enjoy" the North Carolina State Fair this year. It only comes around once a year! It's right down the street! Everybody's doing it! It's the thing to do in Raleigh (Cary)! If you don't go to the fair, you're a loser! Whenever someone asks you if you went to the fair, if you don't say "yes", you're a loser! Or something like that. Really, though, it's not like we had anything better to do on Sunday.

My opinion of county and state fairs has always been this: fairs are huge ripoffs. You're much better off going to a permanent amusement park. The rides are better. And, since you don't have to pay by-the-ride at an amusement park, a trip to an amusement park might actually be cheaper. And, judging from the crowd at the State Fair, amusement parks are actually less crowded than fairs. Why even bother going to the fair? Oh well - we might as well try it. Maybe a State Fair will be better than the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair.

Going into the fair, I brought a lot of money, and I figured that if we're going to be there, we might as well spend money and enjoy it. That was the wrong approach. By the time we left the fair, Amber and I had spent a total of $75 between us. And we weren't even there for six hours! How'd that happen? Well...let's go through the day.

We got to the fair between 1000a and 1030a. Admission was $7 each. (We could have saved $1 by buying advance tickets online. I don't know why we didn't do that. We will next time.) The tractor pull started at 100p. So, we had some time to ride some rides. As with most fairs, you enjoy rides with tickets, and you purchase tickets for money. I thought a reasonable amount of money to spend on tickets was $20, so we got 20 tickets for that. Ride #1 - a classic tilt-a-whirl, three tickets each. Not bad, for fair standards. Ride #2 - a classic ferris wheel. Nice and relaxing, even if it was five tickets. Was that ride really worth $5? Not really. At this point, we only had four tickets remaining, not enough for one more ride between the two of us. We saw a "pirate ship" ride down the way that was four tickets each, so we decided to purchase four more tickets later in the day and come back after the tractor pull. For now, let's take advantage of the wide selection of unhealthy fair food.

Fair food is something else. There are a few things you only commonly find at fairs. Sure, I could have gotten chicken fingers, but what's the fun in that? Instead, I got a corn dog, and Amber got a regular hot dog. $3 each. (On a side note, Amber's hot dog was unusually red - almost ketchup-colored. Is that typical of fair dogs?) Then, how about some dessert? One option was deep-fried candy bar. I've never had one. It seems totally unnecessary, if you ask me. But who am I to judge without trying one myself? My deep-fried 3 Musketeers really wasn't any better than a regular 3 Musketeers. (Sadly, they did not have deep-fried Fast Breaks.) I'm pretty sure that will be the only deep-fried candy bar I will ever have in my life. Besides that, during the course of the day, the two of us also purchased a $2 popcorn, $3 ice cream, a $5 elephant ear, and two $2 drinks (mostly so we would have water bottles to be able to refill at water fountains). Total amount of money spent on food: $23. Was it worth it? Well...no.

I already talked about the tractor pull yesterday. (Tractor pull tickets were $7 each.) After that, we left early to catch "pig racing" at the "Hogway Speedway". Sounds like fun, right? Except by the time we got there (15 minutes before it started), the stands were all full, and there were enough people standing around the thing where it was impossible to see much of anything. So, we bailed out. They had a "show" every two hours, but I had a feeling we wouldn't still be at the fair then. Let's just ride the pirate ship and go home. The walk back to the pirate ship was much longer than it should have been, because they had one passageway labeled "exit only" for no apparent reason, forcing us back through an already-overcrowded passageway. Ugh. Alright, let's just buy four more tickets and get out of here.

Well, that would have been all good and well, except that during the course of the day, they increased the price of the pirate shop from four to five tickets. What the hell? We pretty much had enough at this point. So, instead, we ran another tilt-a-whirl variant for four tickets, and went home. Sum total of money spent: $14 for tickets, $14 for the tractor pull, $24 for ride tickets, and $23 for food = $75 total. And all we did was ride three crappy rides, go to a stupid tractor pull, and eat regrettable food. Take out the "unnecessary" food (everything but the dogs and drinks), and we still spent $62. And we didn't even play any of the carnival games or see any of the "freak shows". ("Behold, the rarest of the rare, the mythological two-headed hound...born with only one head. Ooh, and here, out of the mists of history, the legendary esquilax, a horse with the head of a rabbit...and the body of a rabbit.")

So, yes - the fair is expensive. How much does a family of four spend at one of these things? $200? Some fairs have wristbands that grant you unlimited ride access for a day, but this fair did not. Lame. Instead, it's one big exercise in price gouging. I guess I was willing to be price gouged for one day, but next year, we'll probably just go for the demolition derby.

Tomorrow: "Ohio Counties".

Today's random thought:

- There are a couple of regularly dirty cars in the work parking lot. Sometimes, one of them will have a message written in the dirt on the rear windshield, like this one: "I LIVE ON A DIRT ROAD LOL". I suppose that would explain the mess.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Yes, We Went To A Tractor Pull"

Last year, I went to the demolition derby at the North Carolina State Fair. The idea was to do the same thing again this year, but sadly, the timing didn't work out. All of the demolition derbys (derbies?) are this coming weekend, and we'll be out of town. Darn.

But hey - it's not a total lost cause. This past weekend, they had a tractor pull. What is a tractor pull, exactly? Neither Amber nor myself had any idea. Well, there's only one way to find out! (Actually, I suppose there are multiple ways to find out. But we decided to actually attend one in person.) We could have done some research beforehand so we knew what to expect, but instead, we decided we might be better off going in with a clean slate. Beforehand, I didn't even know whether the tractors were the ones doing the pulling, or if they were the ones being pulled. (In fact, the tractors do the pulling.)

Alright, so what is a tractor pull? Well, without doing any additional research, here's what I gathered. You have a bunch of tractors and trucks and such. You also have a large "weight transfer machine" that you hook up to the rear. Then, they say "go", and the truck/tractor tries to pull the "weight transfer machine" as far as it can, before it becomes too heavy, drags against the ground, and the truck/tractor cannot move any further. (The "weight transfer machine" is a vehicle-type thing with two rear wheels and a large weight that starts in the rear, and then gets sprung towards the front as it gets pulled. In effect, it gets harder and harder to pull as you head down the track. From Wikipedia: "Today's sleds use a complex system of gears to move weights up to 65 000 pounds/29 000 kilograms. Upon starting all the weights are over the sled's rear axles, to give an effective weight of the sled plus zero. As the tractor travels the course the weights are pushed forward of the sled's axles, pushing the front of the sled into the ground, synthetically creating a gain in weight until the tractor is no longer able to overcome the force of friction.")

Whoever can pull the "weight transfer machine" the farthest wins. A "full pull" is 300 feet. There are multiple classifications, and I think each one has a different "weight transfer machine", all designed to have the maximum-pull-distance be approximately 300 feet.

Sounds like fun? Well...no. It doesn't even compare to a demolition derby. At first, I thought two tractors might compete head-to-head at a time, but nope - one at a time. Boring. Watching tractors pull some arbitrary machine isn't terribly exciting. It's also quite loud - these tractors have very powerful engines. One classification (according to the announcer) had engines akin to the ones you'd find in an NHRA Top Fuel dragster, with over 2,500 horsepower. That means, come with earplugs, or prepare to hold your ears shut. It seems like a total waste to me - if I want to see powerful engines, I'd go to a drag racing event and see cars go over 300 mph, not this crap.

As you would expect, the crowd at the tractor pull was...well, full of rednecks. Shocker! But judging from the , tractor pulling is actually more of a Midwestern thing than a Southern thing. North Carolina was well-represented at the competition, as was West Virginia, but there were also some people from Ohio and Wisconsin, and none from areas in the Deep South. How do I know? Because they introduced all 50-something drivers one at a time before the event. Boring. Get on with the damn thing, already! Then, after that, they had an invocation, and sang Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A" and the national anthem. Speaking of that Lee Greenwood song, if I never have to hear that song again in my life, I'll be a happy man. Nothing against this country, but come on - the song is annoying. I bet that song doesn't get much play in Canada. Besides, I think we go a little overboard with our patriotism sometimes. All of this delayed the actual start of tractor pulling from the announced start of 100p to well after 130p. And, I don't think we stayed more than an hour. Even when we left the fair at 400p, it was still going on. How could anyone possibly watch this for three full hours?

I think there's a good chance that will be the only tractor pull Amber and I ever attend. Hopefully I've saved you the trouble as well.

Tomorrow: "We're Not Going To The Fair Again For One Full Year". As it turns out, we didn't particuarly enjoy the rest of the fair either.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Curling Recap #9"

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This week's curling match was the first of the league to come down to the final throw. (Well, sort of.) The final score was a 7-5 loss, dropping our record to 2-2. My play was somewhere between good and bad - unlike last week, my release felt "natural" this week. But by the end of the match, the ice was as fast as I can remember. That, and I made some colossal mistakes.

But instead of talking more about the match, I'm going to go straight to the final throw. I'm even going to attempt to diagram it! Our team had last stone, and we were down by three with one stone remaining. At the time, we only had one stone in the house, but we had a few "guards" (a.k.a. stones that weren't thrown far enough) in front, so our only chance to tie was to try to knock two stones into the house with tihe final throw. If memory serves me right, here was the setup, along with our plan: (Yellow = our team)

(I don't remember for sure if there were any red stones in the house, but I don't think there were.)
The plan was to have the shooter hit #3 slightly right-of-center, then ricochet off red stone #5 and into the house. The shooter would then hit #2 into the house as well. I don't think the plan was to have the shooter itself enter the house, but I suppose if we got the right bounces, it could sneak in left of red stone #4. But would it stop? Given the amount of weight we needed to give it, probably not. So, our best chance was to try to get #2 and #3 in there. Obviously, this is really hard to pull off, even without red stone #4 sitting there, but we had to try it. I'm not sure if the physics even made this throw possible (my diagram is not to scale), but we didn't have time to get out a protractor.

What happened? I don't think we hit #3 at all. We did hit #2, but we didn't hit it head-on enough to get it in the house; instead we peeled it off and left it short. So, we only got one point. Oh well; it was worth a try. No regrets. Except that if I hadn't thrown one through the house earlier in that end, maybe we wouldn't have had to go to such drastic measures on the last throw. Things would have been much different if we only had to get one more stone in the house on the last throw instead of two.

We've been playing long enough now that I've started to notice some stones' "personalities". Not all stones are created equal. In fact, far from it. Many stones are identifiable by a two or three initials (possibly corresponding to the person who "adopted" the stone - or something), so that's how we refer to the stones. Last week, I played with "RAW" and "BMC". "RAW" was very fast for me last week, and I had a hard time with it. This week, I kept "BMC" and also went with "KK", which seemed to work out well. Amber had "RAW" and "LOL", which I've nicknamed "notorious LOL", because it's one of the fastest rocks of the bunch. That thing just doesn't stop! I started out with RAW but offered to give it to Amber, because RAW behaves similarly to LOL (although not quite as slow). Since everybody throws twice, the key is to play with two similar stones and use the same stones in each end, so that you can be more consistent with your approach. Amber had a hard time with RAW and LOL, but in all fairness, she got the proverbial shaft by having to play with them. Plus, the ice was very fast towards the end, and that made it even more difficult. Generally, the worst stones get played by the lead. That doesn't make sense considering that the leads are often the most inexperienced players and may have the most trouble with the fast rocks (which we call the "butterballs" - not sure why), but it does make sense when you consider that the most important throws are later in the end, so you want to save your best (i.e. most predictable) stones for then.

Well, now our team is 2-2 with three regular-season matches remaining, so we have some work to do if we want to assure ourselves anything but a last-place finish. (That's just my goal, not necessarily the team goal.) But first, a two-week break, which we will almost assuredly use to take road trips.

Tomorrow: "Yes, We Went To A Tractor Pull".

Today's random thought:

- If you watched any college football at all on ABC and ESPN on Saturday, you were probably bombarded with commercials promoting that night's NASCAR race. Even I was getting sick of them. Why are you talking about the NASCAR points standings during a football game?

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Last Year: 10/15/07"

Just to rehash what I said at the end of yesterday's post: Talking with Walter (the only person who came out in support of the "Last Year" segment), I decided that instead of doing the "Last Year" segment every day like I had been, I'll use my "off day" (Monday) to post links to all of last year's posts from the coming week. I think it might be better this way - some of last year's posts aren't worthy of a mention all by itself, but when you lump them all together, then maybe we have something.

So, here we are: (I'll even go back to the first day I stopped doing "Last Year".)
Tue 10/10/06: "The Rest of Last Weekend".
Wed 10/11/06: "It's In The Game?" I haven't bought an EA Sports video game since then! Aren't you proud of me?
Thu 10/12/06: "Impossible Trivia". One morning on Oldies 106.9 (which I don't listen to in the morning much anymore), they asked a repeat question for which I already knew the answer. Dammit! Why didn't I call in?
Fri 10/13/06: "Hardee's vs. Carl's Jr".
Sat 10/14/06: "College Football Saturday #4".
Mon 10/16/06: "The 'Learn To Curl' Session". We've come a long way since then, haven't we?
Tue 10/17/06: "The Walking Trip".
Wed 10/18/06: "Eye Exams". This year's exam is coming up a week from tomorrow.
Thu 10/19/06: "Oil Change History". The best thing about this post is the discussion in the random thoughts and comments about what exactly constitutes "Upstate New York".
Fri 10/20/06: "Formula One". The F-1 season ends this coming weekend; I'll write about it on Saturday. (No "College Football Saturday" post this weekend - I'll be out of town.)
Sat 10/21/06: "College Football Saturday #5".

So, how was that? Hopefully I haven't offended anybody.

Tomorrow: "Curling Recap #9".

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Morning Commute Statistics"

Every work day, I time how long it takes me to get to work. I've accumulated quite a bit of statistics, so I thought I'd publish them. I've done this before, but that was over a year ago,. and used a different route than I use now. And besides, it's Sunday, so why not?

I categorize each morning's commute based on when I leave, in order to see how much the commute times depend on when I leave. I also keep commutes on weekends or holidays separate. (My HTML savvy is lacking, so instead of giving you a nice little table, I'm going to just publish this in text form.)

departure time [# of occurrences]: minimum time / median time / maximum time

605a-610a [1]: 18m53s
610a-615a [1]: 20m23s
625a-630a [2]: 20m10s/20m28s/20m45s
630a-635a [5]: 19m06s/19m38s/21m26s
635a-640a [13]: 19m11s/20m14s/22m02s
640a-645a [22]: 18m53s/20m41s/22m06s
645a-650a [57]: 19m01s/21m10s/24m50s
650a-655a [57]: 19m12s/20m56s/50m02s
655a-700a [22]: 19m01s/21m18s/23m38s
700a-705a [10]: 19m55s/21m47s/23m07s
705a-710a [3]: 19m28s/20m28s/20m45s
710a-715a [1]: 23m42s
Saturday [3]: 19m13s/19m21s/20m07s
Sunday [3]: 18m48s/19m41s/19m53s
Holiday [3]: 19m01s/21m11s/21m29s

So, there is a general upward trend, but not really a strong one. I need more commute times before 640a and after 700a to really have anything definitive. And, it's not surprising that my record time (18m48s) was on a Sunday. The long record (50m02s) was due to an accident. That's the only commute time I've had that's longer than 28 minutes since I started taking this route. (This route is Cary Parkway to US-1 to I-40.)

Now, some overall statistics, based on all 203 commute times:
minimum - 18m48s
1st quartile - 20m10s
median - 20m53s
3rd quartile - 21m35s
maximum - 50m02s

Are the commute times normally distributed? Well, the mean is 21:09.13, with a standard deviation of 2:26.20. The mean is higher than the median, so I expect the distrubution to be skewed to the right. Is it? Let's find out, with our friend the histogram: (The 5 longest commute times were excluded from this graph.)

Hmm...looks "skewed to the right" to me. I would put a "best fit line" on the graph, but I don't know how to do that incorporating "skewness". I'll stop here.

Tomorrow: "Last Year: 10/15/07". Talking with Walter (the only person who came out in support of the "Last Year" segment), I decided that instead of doing the "Last Year" segment every day like I had been, I'll use my "off day" (Monday) to post links to all of last year's posts from the coming week. It can't hurt, right?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"College Football Saturday: 10/13/07"

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The North Carolina State Fair is going on this weekend, and since we'll be out of town next weekend, this weekend is our only chance to check it out. But we're going tomorrow, not today. Today is College Football Saturday!

Time slot 1
Game 1 - Central Florida at South Florida, 1200p, ESPNU: It's the War On I-4! Or something like that.
Game 2 - Georgia Tech at Miami (FL), 1200p, ESPN: Remember early in the season, when Georgia Tech beat Notre Dame 33-3 on the road? That looked impressive at the time, huh? It got Georgia Tech in the Top 25, and people were touting them as early ACC favorites. That win doesn't look quite as impressive now, does it? Now, we see Georgia Tech as the ACC also-rans that they are.
Game 3 - Virginia Tech at Duke, 1200p, Local TV (Lincoln Financial): Does Jefferson Pilot Lincoln Financial have it as part of their agreement that they have to show X number of Duke games each season?
Game 4 - Illinois at Iowa, 1200p, ESPN2: I'm surprised that ESPN2 opted for this game instead of Purdue/Michigan. Are they going with this game just because Illinois is the "hot story" of the Big Ten?
Game 5 - Texas at Iowa State, 1230p, FSN
Game 6 - Baylor at Kansas, 1230p, FCS Central

Time slot 2
Game 1 - Wisconsin at Penn State, 330p, ESPN: This is just a theory, but I think the reason ESPN has been showing one ABC regional telecast on ESPN each week is because they might not be able to put any Big Ten games on ESPN GamePlan, due to the Big Ten Network. That's just speculation on my part.
Game 2 - Boston College at Notre Dame, 330p, NBC: Assuming that most of you didn't see last week's Notre Dame game (or even read about it), here's how they won. First, they recovered a UCLA fumble at the UCLA 1 yard line, and - surprise! - could only get a field goal. Then, they injured UCLA's starting quarterback. UCLA's second-string QB was already injured, so they had to go with their 3rd-string, a freshman with little-to-no experience. The result: four interceptions and another fumble. One of those interceptions was returned to the UCLA 2, which Notre Dame converted into a touchdown (!). Meanwhile, the fumble was returned all the way for another touchdown. Add to that another field goal after a 29-yard drive (their longest scoring drive of the game!), and that's how Notre Dame scored 20 points. So, don't kid yourself: the offense still sucks.
Game 3 - LSU at Kentucky, 330p, CBS: Remember that "Bluegrass Miracle" a few years back, when LSU won on a last-second "Hail Mary" pass? I watched that game live. It was pretty sweet.
Game 4 - South Carolina at North Carolina, 330p, ABC: They've been talking about this game for a long time around here. No, really, they have. But after some of the upsets we've seen this year, I'm not going to say North Carolina doesn't have a chance.
Game 5 - Connecticut at Virginia, 330p, ESPNU: This game is very important for ACC bragging rights. Virginia has looked great in-conference, but has been awful out of conference, losing to Wyoming, and barely beating Middle Tennessee State last week. Now, in comes undefeated UConn. I'm pulling for you guys, Virginia...
Game 6 - Rice at Houston, 330p, CSTV

Time slot 3
Game 1 - Missouri at Oklahoma, 630p, FCS Central: This game is on plain old FSN in most of the country. But why not here? So that FSN South can bring us the Carolina Hurricanes. Wahoo! (More on those other sports later.)
Game 2 - Auburn at Arkansas, 745p, ESPN: Auburn's loss to South Florida actually looks like a "good loss" now (if there is such a thing). But don't forget - they also lost to Mississippi State.
Game 3 - Louisville at Cincinnati, 700p, ESPNU: When this is the #3 game, you know this week's primetime lineup isn't quite as loaded.
Game 4 - Oregon State at California, 700p, Versus: Could we have major Pac-10 upsets in two consecutive weeks? Both on Versus? Stanford/USC last week bumped all games like this up on my "interest rankings", showing that you could have an upset almost anywhere.
Game 5 - Georgia at Vanderbilt, 600p, ESPN2: It must be a slow week in the SEC for this game to be on. Yeah, I know Vanderbilt beat Georgia last year, but still.
Game 6 - Colorado at Kansas State, 915p, ESPN2: That Florida State/Colorado game a few weeks ago got almost no buzz, but now, both teams are ranked. (Well, at least until tomorrow.)
Game 7 - Washington at Arizona State, 1015p, FSN: I would pay more attention to this game if it wasn't on so late.
Game 8 - SMU at Southern Miss, 730p, CSTV: It's SMU v. USM! That's the only interesting thing I can say about this game.

Other sports during time slot 3
- NASCAR Nextel Cup at Charlotte, 700p, ABC: This is why there is no primetime college football game on ABC this week. Personally, I wish NASCAR would stick with Sundays. I'm sure many of you agree. The plan is to record the race today and watch it tomorrow.
- NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens, 700p, FSN South: FSN South doesn't show every Hurricanes game, but they do show a lot of them.
- NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 700p, NHL Center Ice: This is CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada". Wahoo! I looked at the season schedule, and the Maple Leafs are part of Hockey Night In Canada every week for the entire season. Every single one. (Some weeks have regional coverage, but Toronto is always a part of it.)
- ALCS Game 2: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox, 800p, FOX: If this wasn't just Game 2, I would probably pay more attention to it. But speaking of the baseball playoffs, now that the World Series is starting a few days later, why don't they make the Divisional Series 7 games instead of 5? A 5-game series in baseball just isn't that meaningful.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Tomorrow: "Morning Commute Statistics".

Today's random thought:

- At work last week, we had a fire drill. When did fire drills become commonplace? About the time "duck and cover" was introduced? The whole concept does seem pretty old-fashioned. I mean, how difficult is it? When the fire alarm goes off, get out of the building in a timely and orderly fashion. (Or, more realistically, do nothing because they're testing it.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Something Not Related To Sports"

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If you consider posts about recreational activities like curling and disc golf to be sports-related, then eight of my last nine posts have been about sports. So, it's about time I go away from that, at least for one day (especially since tomorrow is College Football Saturday).

Well, what else is there? What do I watch on TV other than sports? Well, right now, it's pretty simple: "The Simpsons", and that's about it. The local "CW" affiliate (formerly the WB?) airs syndicated "Simpsons" episodes twice a day, and my DVR automatically records them. The CW usually goes through full seasons (or, almost full seasons) in specific time slots. For example, until the beginning of last week, the 600p slot was showing Season 10, and the 700p slot was showing Season 13. (Or maybe it was the other way around?) Now, 600p is doing Season 4, and 700p is doing Season 3. Sandwiched around the "Simpsons" are two episodes of Family Guy, which I only sometimes watch. I've also been watching the new "Simpsons" episodes on Sundays, which aren't all that bad, actually.

Note that in the last paragraph, I called it a DVR, dropping my self-appointed designation TLD (Tivo-like device). Why? Well, I think non-Tivo brand DVRs are becoming commonplace enough - many cable and satellite companies offer them as part of their package - that the term DVR is becoming more commonly used than Tivo. How many people out there actually have a name-brand Tivo anymore? You can tell they're struggling for business, because Tivo's commercials of late have been trying to tell you, "Why go with a generic DVR? Get a Tivo HD!" So, Tivo was the first (as far as I know), but now I think it's time to drop "TLD" and start using "DVR", because most people know what I'm talking about when I say "DVR" these days.

Getting back on the television thread, it's really unfortunate that "24" and "Lost" only run for four months a year, and the same four months at that. Meanwhile, Amber's been watching "House" (another DVR auto-record special), which is an okay show...but I've never really been a big fan of those medical shows. I'm also not a fan of most sitcoms, either. Watching college football and NASCAR on ABC last weekend, I saw plenty of commercials for two of their new sitcoms (I will not mention their names, because if I do, then they win). They wanted us all to "make a man date" and watch them back-to-back. What the hell is a "man date"? Are they trying to appeal to the kind of people who watch college football, or not? What horrible marketing by ABC.

Hmm...what else? Well, there was a civic election in Raleigh (Cary) this week, including (but not limited to) the Mayor of Cary. Leading up to the election, incumbent Ernie "Captain" McAlister (that's not his real nickname, I just like it) littered our mailbox with flyers (no fewer than five!) and populated our answering machine with messages (at least two), so that made me not want to vote for him. But the opponent (Harold Weinbrecht) is opposed to toll roads, so I didn't want to vote for him either. The two things cancelled each other out, and thus, I didn't vote at all. Weinbrecht won the election, which just goes to show you: littering your voters' mailboxes with flyers day after day is counterproductive. One flyer would have been enough, Captain. Yarr, matee! (Clearly, I have been watching too much of "The Simpsons".)

I haven't had many "road geek" posts lately, either. But that's because we haven't really gone anywhere since the Carowinds trip four weeks ago. Since that trip, I've only been outside of Wake and Durham Counties once, to play disc golf in Sanford. (Actually, I think that was the weekend before Carowinds. So never mind.) Next weekend, we're going to Florida, so maybe something will come out of that. As for tomorrow...well, you know what to expect.

Tomorrow: "College Football Saturday: 10/13/07".

Today's random thought:

- This is probably just another case of bad perception, but it always seems like my packages of Starburst have more lemon-flavored pieces than other flavors. That's lame, because lemon is, by far, the worst of the four standard flavors. With my latest pack, I've been trying to ration it out, eating exactly two lemons per eight-piece serving. And now, at the end, I have a bunch of lemons left over. Next time I buy a pack of Starburst, I'm counting.

- I've found the best time to shave is right after a shower, in terms of shaving ease and least pain. Unfortunately, due to my 5-day shaving schedule and 2-day shower schedule, the two events only coincide once every 10 days.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Chris Allen: NHL Aficionado?"

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I used to be a pretty big hockey fan. Then, I went to college and got completely immersed in college football and basketball. After that, the NHL cancelled a full season, and when they came back, they signed a television deal with a network my television provider didn't carry. Things were looking pretty bleak on the NHL front.

Then, I moved to a city with its own NHL team, a team that just won the Stanley Cup. So not only could I watch their games on local television, but I could watch all of the "nationally televised" games as well. And now that I've developed an appreciation for Canadian culture, I'm ready to re-establish myself as a "big time hockey fan". So, I made the splurge: I purchased NHL Center Ice. In the remainder of this post, I will (attempt to) justify making this $149 purchase.

I have a hard time convincing myself to buy anything that costs more than $100. That's why I don't have a digital camera or a GPS device. But since I'm significantly under-budget this month, I figured I had some money to spare. Besides, last year, I bought ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court, which combined cost more than $149. This year, I didn't get GamePlan (saving $109), and probably won't get Full Court either (saving $99).

What about the games themselves? I won't get to see any additional Carolina Hurricanes games on Center Ice. (The season opener was an exception.) So what's the point? Well, if I want to watch any other games, I'm stuck with whatever Versus decides to show me. And, their broadcasts are only on two nights a week (at most), and often only feature the most popular American teams. What if I want to watch a crucial Southeast Division matchup between the Lightning and Capitals? (Hey, don't sleep on the Capitals; this might be their breakout year. Plus, I like their new uniforms.) What if I want to watch Hockey Night In Canada? What if I want to watch any game on a Thursday night, and the Hurricanes aren't playing? Center Ice gives me that privilege. I watched a few Canadian games during last week's free preview (which, I admit, kind of got me hooked). And, during last Saturday night's college football games, I even took the time to catch Don Cherry's segment on Hockey Night In Canada. It's great stuff. Watching a game on Versus just isn't the same as watching it on CBC or TSN. Plus, I get the Canadian commercials too! After visiting Canada this year, and joining the local curling club, I guess I'm ready to immerse myself in "All Things Canadian".

Sure, this is all well and good now. But it's a long season. Will I still be as excited about hockey in February? We'll see. If I'm not, and I don't watch that many games anymore towards the end of the season, then I'll consider that when deciding whether or not to purchase premium sports packages in the future. Another potential problem is that the NHL's most active nights are Friday and Saturday, which aren't really the best nights to be sitting at home watching hockey. I might be curling, on a road trip, or watching college football. But, generally speaking, there will be at least one game on every night. And when the playoffs start, I'll be able to watch all of the playoff games, not just the ones Versus wants me to watch.

So, if I'm going to become a "true hockey fan" once again, I'll need to become familiar with all of the players, and what teams they play for. Watching the playoffs last season, there were a lot of players I didn't recognize. What's the best way to learn the players' names and teams? Well, based on past experience, it's to play the video game. So, I bought NHL 2K8 for $20. The game is full of bugs (video game companies have basically "mailed it in" regarding new PS2 games), but it does have updated rosters. I didn't even recognize the guy on the cover (quick - who's #19 for Ottawa?), so I obviously have a long way to go. I already know the Hurricanes' roster; now it's time to learn the rest of the league. (Or at the least the Eastern Conference.)

Tomorrow: "Something Not Related To Sports".

Today's random thought:

- You may hear this in a commercial: "Try it out, risk free!" What does "risk free" mean, anyway? There's always risk. Nothing you do is "risk free", even your new, revolutionary blender. (Especially your new, revolutionary blender.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Yes, I Still Play Disc Golf"

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When was the last time I had a post strictly about disc golf? Well, if the Google blog search served me right, it's this one from May 15th. Disc golf has been mentioned several times since then, most recently regarding my total-holes-played count, but I thought this "slow news week" was a good opportunity to give a general "disc golf update".

I still play disc golf, but not as frequently as I did when I first moved here. It used to be a weekly thing. One day each week (often Tuesday or Wednesday), I would drive to Durham or Chapel Hill after work and play a round. Then, if I had spare time over the weekend, I would play another round. Then, I moved "disc golf day" to Friday, since I didn't have to wake up early the next day, and had more time to relax a little. (Work takes a surprising amount of energy out of me, it seems.) Then, once Amber moved here and we started curling on Friday nights, that was pretty much the end of weekday disc golf. Now, I only play on weekends, and not every weekend - it's usually as part of my self-imposed requirement for weekly physical and/or outdoor activity. And now, curling takes care of the weekly physical activity (sweeping is a lot of work!), so I'm less motivated to play disc golf at all. I've only played three times in the last five weeks, and one of those was at the crappy 9-hole course in Cary. (The course condition is even worse now - it's almost unplayable.)

Recall yesterday's discussion regarding golf and curling. In short: the more I play, the worse I do, and vice versa (at least in the short term). Does the same apply for disc golf? You betcha. To set this up, let's go way back here in the blog archives, when I talk about my first experience playing at Cedar Hills in North Raleigh. "This course is much tougher [than Kentwood]...it's tight and much longer. I shot/threw a 77, which leaves much to be desired. I'm sure I'll go back and play here more, if nothing else because I have a score to settle with this course. Breaking 72 here would make me happy." I went over a year without going back, but over the summer, I went back and shot a 69. Then, last weekend, I went back again and shot 67, which I think is a spectacular score given my skill level. The keys to "victory"? For one thing, I didn't really care how I did. Expectations bring pressure. But because I wasn't overconfident, I didn't try to do too much. For the most part, I kept my drivers in the bag, and went with mid-range and approach discs (Shark, Roc, and Stingray) most of the way. And I tried not to throw them too hard; I took a little off and tried to stay in the fairway. Apparently, that's a winning strategy when playing a course like this. Cedar Hills is heavily wooded, but the fairways are wide enough such that good, straight throws are rewarded. (Not every wooded course is like that. Some courses are a crapshoot. In fact, most wooded courses are.)

Cedar Hills was actually a "backup plan"; I actually first drove out to Zebulon, anticipating a small crowd given the weather (overcast and drizzly). I was wrong - the parking lot was full of cars displaying disc golf stickers, there was a three-some on the first tee, and another three-some that just came from #18 heading back for the first tee. Apparently there was a tournament going on there. That's the second straight time a tournament has taken place at that course when I wanted to play there. What gives? I thought I did a sufficient amount of research to check for that, but I wouldn't have thought that the announcement for an October 6th tournament would be posted on September 15th, with nothing since. The Zebulon course doesn't appear to have its own web site either, outside of the Raleigh Area Disc League site, which is independent from that tournament, apparently, and has no mention of this tournament. I think they need to reorganize these web sites a little. But I'm not bitter. (By the way, here are the results from that tournament. I've played Zebulon twice, and posted scores of 80 and 72, which would have been good enough for next-to-last place, even in the Beginner division. See why I don't play in any disc golf leagues or tournaments?) Meanwhile, there was no wait at Cedar Hills. It's good that there are so many courses around here.

Given the trend, it's probably only a matter of time before I'm done with disc golf for good. But that probably won't be for at least 5 more years. At least, I hope not.

Last Year: As of today, I'm not doing the "Last Year" links anymore. It always seemed kind of self-serving, as if to say, "Look at me, I'm so awesome, I've been doing a blog now for over a year, look at all the great work I've done!" Or, perhaps, "My blog may suck now, but it was pretty good last year! Why not check out last year's post instead?" As true as that may be, that wasn't the idea behind it - it just gave me an opportunity to elaborate further on things I've written about before. Regardless, I think I'll follow Hope Solo's advice and stop living in the past. (I'll bring it back if I get enough supportive feedback. Somehow, I doubt the "Last Year" segment had a strong following.)

Tomorrow: "Chris Allen: NHL Aficionado?"

Today's random thought:

- I forget if I've mentioned this in this blog before (I know I didn't in this post), but in the elementary school cafeteria, they used to have a "traffic light" that would monitor the noise. If the room got too loud, the light turned yellow and beeped. Then, if the noise level didn't drop off soon enough, or got even louder, the light turned red, accompanied by a loud Family Feud-esque buzzer (not quite the same sound, but you get the idea). Once the light turned red, everyone had to stop talking until the light turned green. In retrospect, it was actually pretty cool. Your tax dollars at work!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Curling Recap #8"

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Time to get out that humble pie! This week, our team lost 10-5. How'd it happen? Well...

First off, the other team had 100% attendance this week. That's the first full team we've played this year. I figured the goings might not be so easy once we had to face a complete team. I forget if I mentioned this last week, but the team we played last week was actually missing their top two players.

Well, besides the fact that the other team came to play (literally and figuratively) and played well, we didn't as much. Personally, I had a hard time keeping my rocks in play. Every time, I thought I was throwing the rock just a little bit lighter, and every time, it flew right on through the house. Suffice it to say, I couldn't keep up with the ice conditions. That, and something just didn't "feel right". When I threw my first rock of the match, the release didn't feel as natural as it had the last two weeks. It's kind of hard to explain, and it's not like releasing a curling stone is really that "natural" to begin with, but I've experienced similar feelings playing golf. Sometimes, the swing just doesn't feel right. Other times, you go out there and there's no problem. I think it might be a function of playing the last two weeks. Continuing with the golf analogy, the more I played golf, the less comfortable my golf swing felt. Of course, I had to play every so often to keep up my skill level, but my best rounds of golf have come when I hadn't played for a week or two. Now that I've been curling for three straight weeks, am I experiencing the same phemonenon? Perhaps. There's a match again this Friday, and then the league takes two weeks off. If I struggle again this week, but play well three weeks after that, then maybe I'm on to something.

But the more you play, the better you'll get, right? Well, yes. But here's how I think it works, continuing with the golf analogy. In Summer 2005, I played a lot of golf - often twice a week. If I played a second time in a week, a day or two after a previous round, I usually didn't do that well. However, I think it was helping me in the long run. Playing multiple times in a week may not result in good rounds at the time, but if I take a couple of weeks off and then go back to it later, I'll usually have a good round then. So, maybe that means I'll curl well after the two week break. But I won't get overconfident, of course. Maybe that's part of it too. With frequent play comes expectations and pressure, neither of which helps your play. Trying "too hard" has never really worked out for me. I didn't feel like I was trying too hard last Friday, but... (Evidently, I didn't feel like ending that sentence when I wrote this post.)

That's not to say that I (or the team in general) played horribly. We actually had a chance to win the match. We picked up two in the 1st end, then gave up four, then picked up two more. So, it was tied 4-4 after the 3rd end. And, I think it was 6-5 after the 6th end. So, we were definitely in the game. But it was 8-5 after the 7th end, and the 8th end was a complete disaster. If the other team wasn't playing defense in that end, the final score could have been a lot worse than 10-5. (That's one thing we had problems with. The other team executed their take-outs very well. We had some good throws, but they usually didn't stick around long.)

Now, a general curling comment. In Olympic curling, as soon as one team realizes they can't win, that team will concede the match, shake hands, and the match is over. This may happen as soon as it's mathematically impossible for one team to win - for example, down by five in the final end, with one stone in play and three stones left to throw. But it might happen earlier than that if it's a huge blowout. If I remember correctly, in the gold medal match in 2006, the losing team conceded in the next-to-last end, down big, realizing they had basically no chance of coming back, even though it wasn't mathematically impossible. Does this happen in the Triangle Curling Club? Nope - we play all our matches to the bitter end. (Or at least until our ice time is up.)

So, with the loss, our record is 2-1, and we sit 4th in the league standings. Remember now: the goal is still 7th or better.

Last Year: "Eastern North Carolina". I labeled this post as "Unproofread", something I haven't done again since, I don't think. Does that mean I've proofread all of my posts since then? Obviously, the answer to that is "no". Generally speaking, I don't proofread any of my posts anymore

Tomorrow: "Yes, I Still Play Disc Golf".

Today's random thought:

- Yesterday was my "half-birthday". My birthday is April 8th, so that makes October 8th my half-birthday, meaning I am now 25½ years old. But that sounds silly, doesn't it? Many kids, if you ask them how old they are, may give you a mixed number. "I'm 5½ years old!" It think they do it to make themselves sound older. (That's probably why I did it. Or, maybe I just liked fractions.) At what age do kids drop the fractions and stick with whole numbers?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"College Football Saturday: 10/6/07"

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Perhaps the most notable thing about this week's slate of games: it doesn't include Notre Dame! Notre Dame is playing at UCLA, and ABC put the game in regional coverage against Ohio State at Purdue, which most of the nation is getting instead. So, most Notre Dame fans across the country need to get ESPN GamePlan to watch. I mentioned this to Amber (a Notre Dame fan by family inheritance), along with the fact that we could purchase GamePlan just for today for $21.95, but she declined. (Have Notre Dame fans basically had enough at this point?) If Penn State was also lumped into the GamePlan package, then I would have followed through with the daily GamePlan purchase. But...nope!

Now, on with this week's games: (There may be some inaccuracies or omissions - the program guide was having some trouble on Thursday night. For example, it said the noon ESPN game was "Missouri State at Illinois".)

Time slot 1
Game 1 - Miami (FL) at North Carolina, 1200p, ESPN2: The opening slate of games isn't overly impressive. Maybe we'll use this part of the day as "outdoor recreation time".
Game 2 - Wisconsin at Illinois, 1200p, ESPN: In my opinion, the Big Ten is "dog piss" this year. Top to bottom, they're no better than the lowly ACC. Who needs the Big Ten Network, anyway?
Game 3 - Georgia Tech at Maryland, 1200p, Local TV: I get four ACC games today (plus one out-of-conference game), but I'm quite interested in one that isn't on TV today: Wake Forest at Duke, 100p. This was my "biggest ACC upset of the year" pick back when I made my season predictions. Then again, if I was really that interested in the game, I would just go watch it in person. Plenty of good seats available!
Game 4 - Bowling Green at Boston College, 1200p, ESPNU: Upset alert! Don't sleep on this game.
Game 5 - Kansas at Kansas State, 1200p, FSN South: Speaking of "dog piss", how about that Big XII? You know, outside of the SEC and the Pac-10, every BCS conference is about on the same level. So get off the ACC's back, everybody.

Time slot 2
Game 1 - NC State at Florida State, 330p, ABC: I don't like to use the phrase "must-win game" - it's pretty absurd. What happens if you don't win a "must-win game"? That said, I'm calling this a "you guys better win" game for FSU. Given how bad NC State has been this year, if the Seminoles can't win this one (at home, no less), then that's just bad. I'm not saying it can't happen, though. Xavier Lee (FSU's "new" QB, again) had a good second half against Alabama last week, but he's had brief moments like that before, only to ultimately flame out. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if he throws three first half interceptions, fumbles once, and NC State is leading 17-0 at halftime.
Game 2 - Iowa at Penn State, 330p, ESPN2: Penn State's season may not be going as planned so far, but the good news is, they play in the Big Ten! There are plenty of winnable games yet to be played.
Game 3 - Georgia at Tennessee, 330p, CBS: This game rarely disappoints for entertainment value.
Game 4 - South Florida at Florida Atlantic, 330p, ESPNU: Upset alert! At 3-2, FAU isn't the pushover you may think.
Game 5 - Arizona State at Washington State, 400p, FCS Pacific
Not televised (ESPN GamePlan) - Oklahoma vs Texas, 330p: I voiced my displeasure with not being able to see California/Oregon last week, but this doesn't bother me as much this week. That game would only get #4 priority in this time slot anyway. Clearly, by putting this game and Notre Dame on GamePlan, they're really desperate to get people to buy it. I'm sure they lost a lot of customers this year (including me) due to the Big Ten Network. Outside of ABC regional telecasts and the ACC/SEC Jefferson Pilot Lincoln Financial games, they don't really have much to offer this year. (That is, unless you really, really like the WAC.)

Time slot 3
Game 1 - Florida at LSU, 800p, CBS: This is easily the most interesting time slot of the day. Hopefully I can stay up to the end this week.
Game 2 - Virginia Tech at Clemson, 600p, ESPN: The biggest ACC game of the day. Virginia Tech may not have looked that good so far, but they can still win their division.
Game 3 - Ohio State at Purdue, 800p, ABC: I'm rooting for Ohio State to lose. Who's with me? (Don't confuse that with a prediction, though. Purdue may be undefeated, but to apply a college football cliché, "they haven't played anybody".)
Game 4 - Cincinnati at Rutgers, 800p, ESPN2: How did all of these Big East teams get "good" all of a sudden? Or is it just perception?
Game 5 - Nebraska at Missouri, 915p, ESPN: Since when could ESPN show Big XII games?
Game 6 - Central Florida at East Carolina, 730p, CSTV: A prominent C-USA matchup! I wish this game was earlier in the day, though. At this time slot, it's going to get lost in the mix.
Game 7 - Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, 730p, FCS Central: This game is joined in progress on FSN South at 1000p, after the Hurricanes/Capitals game. Speaking of which, I really like the "new" Capitals uniforms and logo. The recent trend of NHL teams going back to more traditional team colors is a good one.
Game 8 - Stanford at USC, 700p, Versus: I'm not about to call "upset alert" here.
Game 9 - Tulane at Army, 700p, ESPNU

Enjoy your Saturday!

Last Year: "The Chris Allen Football League". The league is now in its 2nd season, ant from the looks of it, it's going to take just as long to finish season 2 as it did season 1.

Tuesday: "Curling Recap #8".

Today's random thought:

- You see a decent number of personalized license plates in North Carolina. You can do so much more with personalized plates here, because they give you up to 8 letters, and they let you use punctuation! I don't think I'll ever get one, though, because I'm a fan of the classic plates.