Saturday, November 29, 2008

Publix Likes Green

(On location in Jacksonville, FL.)

While in Jacksonville, we made the customary trip to Publix. Even though Publix's prices are higher than they used to be, and Publix isn't really that much different than Harris Teeter (which generally has even higher prices), they still have really good chocolate chip cookies, among other things.

But I did notice that Publix seems to be pushing the color green more than they have in the past. Green has always been Publix's color, but only now do all of the employees wear green polo shirts. When I worked there, we had gray shirts with blue trim. But now we're in a world where "green" is "trendy", so I guess Publix is trying to market themselves as a "green" supermarket. For instance, in front of the store, they have recycle bins for you to return your used grocery bags (paper and plastic) from last time. So, good for them. And, they still have really good chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interstate 99 Is Going ALL THE WAY

I criticize PennDOT a lot - pretty much every time I drive through Pennsylvania - but evidently, they got something done. Interstate 99 is now all-the-way complete. Hooray! If I still lived there, no doubt, I would have already taken the new road by now. (Well, if the roads have been plowed since yesterday's snow. That's never a guarantee in Centre County.) While I was at Penn State, a completion prediction of 2008 seemed realistic. It's nice to know that PennDOT can match my pessimistic expectations.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me until now, the "Lewistown Narrows" construction project (US-22/322 east of Lewistown) was completed almost a year ago. That was another project I for which I expected a 2008 completion, so they actually did it "ahead of schedule". We've been to State College twice since then, and thus missed two opportunities to take that road. Maybe next time... (It's possible somebody told me it was complete, and that I forgot, or something. I apologize if that's the case.)

So, how long before they have to close a lane or two on the new I-99 for repaving?

Nights By County, 2008 Final: Jumping the Gun

I think we know where we're spending the holiday season, and how long we're going to be there. And since I don't have much other blog material today, let's see what we have!

Here are the projected year-end totals:
Wake NC - 326
Lucas OH - 11
Duval FL - 8
Centre PA - 4
Others - 17 (See By the Numbers for the complete list.)

If the projections hold, then both Lucas (Toledo) and Duval (Jacksonville) will have exactly the same counts as they did last year. Weird. Centre went down from 17 to 4, and Wake just about made up the difference, increasing from 314 to 326. That's what happens when your love interest moves in with you. The "Others" count also stayed about the same, increasing from 15 to 17. (Remember that this year was a leap year.)

This will be the "last hurrah" for Wake County, since our new house is in Durham County. At the end of 2008, I'll have spent a total of 805 nights in Wake County; the grand total will be between 820 and 840 depending on when we move our "essentials" into the house. Where does that rank Wake County on the all-time list? Let's find out!

With a grossly estimated total of between 6,500 and 7,000 nights, Duval County, FL is far and away in first place. Centre County, PA has between 550 and 600 nights (including weekend trips after I moved out) and is in fourth. But how does Wake County compare to Leon County, FL (Tallahassee)?

Speaking in start-to-finish terms, I was at Florida State (45 months) longer than I will have lived in Wake County (31 months). BUT, during my time at FSU, I spent every summer, winter break, and spring break, in addition to every third or fourth weekend, somewhere other than Tallahassee. That's a big chunk of time - probably about 4½ months per year. That leaves 7½ months in Tallahassee for each year at FSU, and that comes out to between 900 and 925 nights spent in Leon County in my life. So, there you have it: Leon County is second and Wake County is third, but only by about three months.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's Refuel America: Revisited

Hey, remember that "lock in your gas price at $2.99/gal" promotion that Chrysler had over the summer? How's that working out for everyone?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jack Is Back

Remember that show "24"? It's back! Tonight! Well, sort of. Does tonight's two-hour "prequel" count as part of the series? Or is it a separate entity - a "made-for-TV movie", if you will? Given that it has its own title ("Redemption"), I'm going with "separate made-for-TV movie".

Either way, I'm highly looking forward to it. The DVR has been set. And I know a little bit about what to expect, but not much. With "24", I find that the less I know going in, the more I enjoy the show. So, I don't know the plot besides what's shown in the commercials - something about Africa and a female president, or something. I also don't know if this is going to be in real-time over two hours, or if it'll be over 24 hours with portions in real-time, or another time frame entirely. I'm sure this information can all be obtained online, but what's the fun in that?

Either way, once the season starts, I'll be resurrecting the "Random Thoughts on '24'" feature that I used to have waaaaaay back when this show was last on the air, except this time they'll be separate posts, complete with its own tag.

Curling Recap: 11/21/08

End............ 12345678 TTL
Our team....... 30001200 06
Their team..... 01330052 14

Our team's usual skip had a prior obligation last Friday, so that means skip-hood falls to the next guy in line: me. Being the skip means calling all of the shots and the strategy. Obviously, I didn't do so well, but at least we did better than last week. I did not expect to win. Maybe that was the problem?

Actually, the problem was that I had trouble lining up the shots, particularly the take-outs. If the skip doesn't know where to put the broom (which the shooter uses as his/her target), then most of the time, the take-out isn't going to work. And when you miss a lot of take-outs, that means the other team can keep throwing rocks into the house while you keep throwing rocks out of play. That's how the other team managed to put up two 3-enders and a 5-ender. ("X-ender" simply means "scoring X points in an end", with an "8-ender" being the ultimate.)

One who isn't that familiar with curling might say, "Well, if you want to hit another stone, why not just aim for it? Duh." Not so in curling. As implied by the name of the game/sport, the stones don't go straight. Under normal conditions, you place the broom (e.g. target) anywhere from one to several feet away from where you actually want to the stone to go, and then instruct the shooter to give the stone an "in turn" or "out turn" to make the stone curl. Thing is, a stone with draw weight will curl a lot more than a stone with take-out weight, so it's not always going to curl the same amount each time. Add to that the zamboni-induced valleys, and it's not easy. And I'm not good at it. Yet. More often than not, I gave "too much ice" (allowing for too much curl).

But we did have some success. Amber's two shots in the first end, including a perfectly-executed hit-and-roll, were outstanding. My best shot of the night was the last shot of the 5th end, which went something like this: (our team = red)

There wasn't any room to draw to the button, so my call was to raise our best rock (#1) just enough to beat out the best yellow rock (#2). It was pretty sweet. As the skip, it's my responsibility to at least make some good throws, seeing as how I'm the last person to shoot for our team. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly a Pontiac Game-Changing Performance (TM).

Calling the strategy was a lot of fun, though. As implied by the unusually long length of this curling recap, I enjoyed being the skip. (Amber also enjoyed being my vice-skip.) If I stick with this curling thing for a while, I think I have a future as a skip. But not for a few years. For now, I'll stick with being a substitute skip.

Friday, November 21, 2008

College Football Saturday: 11/22/08

I guess college football season is almost over, isn't it? Well, for some teams, it is. Why does the Big Ten insist on finishing its season two weeks before the other conferences? Maybe that's why they keep losing BCS bowl games.

By the way, some may call this "Rivalry Week", but it's only "Rivalry Week" for some teams. Many rivalry games are either next weekend or the weekend after. There is no such thing as "Rivalry Week" anymore.

Time slot 1

Game 1 - NC State at North Carolina, 1200p, Raycom: This game is often played earlier in the season, but maybe they've moved it back to late November in order to be part of that mythical "Rivalry Week"?
Game 2 - Clemson at Virginia, 1200p, Raycom: The first Raycom game is on WRAL; the second is on the previously mentioned over-the-air 5.2. Unlike with other local channels such as ABC, NBC, and FOX, My apartment has a hard time picking up the WRAL over-the-air feed, making these games rather unwatchable. Oh well.
Game 3 - West Virginia at Louisville, 1200p, ESPN: The Big East plays until the very last week of the season, possibly in order to get more games on television.
Game 4 - Michigan at Ohio State, 1200p, ABC: You know, I really don't care this year. But I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't at least keep tabs on it.
Game 5 - Indiana at Purdue, 1200p, ESPN2: Rivalry games are fun, but rivalry games between bottom-feeding teams are even better. But it gets even better later in the day.
Game 6 - Colorado State at Wyoming, 200p, the mtn
Game 7 - Army at Rutgers, 1200p, SNY: Is this considered a rivalry?

Time slot 2

Game 1 - Michigan State at Penn State, 330p, ESPN: You better win this game, Lions.
Game 2 - Washington at Washington State, 300p, FSN: Yes! I am looking forward to this game more than I should. Washington has no wins; Washington State has one win (against Portland State, which doesn't really count in my book). But the only thing worse than all of that would be if you also lost to your fiercest rival, a rival who is just as bad as you are. Think about it. How would you feel if ythe only team your rival beat all season was you? That would have to hurt. This is what college football is all about.
Game 3 - Boston College at Wake Forest, 330p, ABC: I'm sick of both teams. Can they both lose?
Game 4 - Boise State at Nevada, 400p, ESPN2: Haven't seen Boise State yet this year.
Game 5 - Air Force at TCU, 330p, Versus
Game 6 - Ole Miss at LSU, 330p, CBS: Honestly, the SEC hasn't been as interesting this year. It's been too "top heavy". This game really doesn't matter a whole lot.
Game 7 - Syracuse at Notre Dame, 230p, NBC: Amber hasn't been watching or caring about Notre Dame that much lately. Maybe she won't feel like it this week, either? Please?
Game 8 - Illinois at Northwestern, 330p, BTN
Game 9 - Iowa State at Kansas State, 330p, FCS
Game 10 - Marshall at Rice, 330p, CBS College
Game 11 - Cal Poly at Wisconsin, 330p, BTN: Not only does the Big Ten end their season too early, but one team - either Wisconsin, Iowa, or Minnesota - has to end one week earlier than everybody else. This year, Wisconsin gets the short straw.
Game 12 - Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State, 400p, MASN

Time slot 3

Game 1 - Florida State at Maryland, 745p, ESPN: FSU's season has been rather frustrating. As soon as I feel like we're back in the swing of things, and ready to win conference championships again, we lose to Wake Forest. Or Georgia Tech. Or Boston College. Ugh. So much for the Gator Bowl.
Game 2 - BYU at Utah, 600p, the mtn: HUGE game in the Mountain West. Too bad most of you won't be able to watch.
Game 3 - Texas Tech at Oklahoma, 800p, ABC: "Game 3?! This is the game of the weekend! And you're only putting it as the 3rd most interesting game in its own time slot?" Yup. Yes, it's a big game, but I'll be watching FSU first. And Utah is playing for a probable BCS berth. The thing that bothers me about this game is that if Oklahoma wins, then what? We have a three-way tie in the Big XII South, at which point it will become a popularity contest (BCS standings) to determine who goes to the Big XII championship game, followed by the national championship game. If only there was a better way...
Game 4 - Oregon State at Arizona, 700p, Versus: When Penn State blew away Oregon State earlier this season, was anyone thinking "Rose Bowl preview"?
Game 5 - Duke at Virginia Tech, 530p, ESPNU: I think the ACC is better than people think. Just look at Duke. They had a fairly productive non-conference schedule, including a win at Vanderbilt. Yet, they only have one ACC win. Could the argument be made that Duke would have more wins playing in any conference other than the ACC, including the SEC and Big XII? I think so.
Game 6 - Iowa at Minnesota, 700p, BTN: Playing for a pig makes a rivalry game even better.
Game 7 - Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 715p, ESPN2: Big game in the Big East. I think.
Game 8 - UNLV at San Diego State, 800p, CBS College: By the way, "the mtn" has long has the exclusive rights to broadcast BYU/Utah for some time now. I'm sure these other networks would rather broadcast that game than UNLV and San Diego State, but sorry! Those are the breaks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

At a Time When Others Don't, This Blog Delivers

A widely circulated Nissan commercial starts out like this: "At a time when others don't, Nissan delivers." Who are these others, exactly? Who's not delivering? Who are you talking about, Nissan? If you're talking about the financial struggles of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, then that's just in bad taste, especially considering that these commercials are airing in America. People are losing their jobs, you know.

My mom had a 1985 Nissan Sentra, and it didn't work out so well. Amber has also known people who have had poor experiences with Nissan automobiles. So, I think it's safe to say that we're done with Nissan and never going back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Something About Hockey

The NHL season started well over a month ago, and I haven't said anything about it yet. Does that mean I didn't renew my NHL Center Ice subscription? Does that mean I don't care about hockey anymore? No, and no. I just haven't found much blog-noteworthy hockey stuff to discuss. I still haven't, actually; it just happens to be a "slow week". So, here is a bunch of random hockey thoughts.

Last year, I attended one Carolina Hurricanes home game. I feel that if I live 15 minutes away from the home arena of my favorite team, it's my responsibility to attend at least one game. But this year, the plan is to attend three...for the price of one! The curling club took advantage of a two-for-one group ticket deal for groups of 20 or more, so that's two. The third game will apparently be on Amber's employer's dime as part of a 25th anniversary celebration or something. (Financially speaking, Amber's employer appears to be much better off than a lot of companies.)

On NHL Center Ice package, Carolina Hurricanes games are blacked out. BUT, when the game is not being televised locally, which happens between 15 and 20 times a year, the blackout is usually lifted. This was true on Time Warner Cable, and it's also true on DirecTV. I had the pleasure of watching a Hurricanes game in French for the second straight year. Good stuff. Compare that to the NBA and MLB, where all local-team games are blacked out whether you can get them or not, to my knowledge. (In the NHL, this is actually a network and/or team decision, not a league decision. It's up to Fox Sports Carolinas to lift blackouts of games they don't televise, which they almost always do.)

One of the reasons I got NHL Center Ice last year was for Hockey Night in Canada. This year, HNiC is broadcast on the NHL Network. So is my Center Ice purchase still worth it? Time well tell, but I think so. It's nice to have hockey on television every night of the week, and it's also nice to get those 15-20 untelevised Hurricanes games, in addition to Florida Panthers games, Canadian broadcasts, and so forth.

But enough about television coverage of hockey. What about the game itself? Well...uhh...I don't know. It's fun to watch. I try not to think to much when I watch it. It's mindless entertainment. When I watch football, I'm always thinking something like, "Well, why would you call that play?", or, "What the hell are you doing? You're supposed to be over there!" Meanwhile, with hockey, I don't know the strategy. Sure, I know the rules and everything, but I wouldn't recognize the neutral zone trap if I saw it. Like most poor athletes who never played the sport for real, I've gained most of my football knowledge through video games. But with hockey video games, it's pretty much "set up a one-timer in front of the net" on offense, and "hit the guy with the puck" on defense. And that's as complicated as it gets, because that's as complicated as you need to get to win a typical hockey video game. It's actually kind of nice to be able to just watch something without automatically dissecting what is happening and getting frustrated when my favorite team does something dumb. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

One more hockey random thought. If a team has a record of 5-5-2, most hockey analysts will call that team a ".500" team. But are they really? 5-5-2 means 5 wins, 5 regulation losses, and 2 overtime losses. So they actually have two more losses than wins, which in every other sport means "two games below .500". Even though it's technically correct to call a 5-5-2 team ".500", since they have half of the possible points in the standings, but it's misleading, because a ".500" team is not necessarily a middle-of-the-pack team. Last season in the NHL, 24 out of 30 teams finished "above .500". That bothers me a little, especially since most people on television continue to use ".500" as a standard, as if to imply that ".500" is a sufficient condition for being "above average", which it clearly is not. I'm not sure what to do about it, though, other than stop using the term ".500" in the NHL.

November Flurries

Weathermen sometimes throw around the words "summer-like" and "winter-like" when it's not appropriate, but yesterday qualified as "winter-like" in Raleigh (Cary): a high of 44°F, and flurries! Certainly somewhat unusual for November in these parts. And that's fine with me; I'd rather get unseasonably cold weather in November than in March.

Fortunately, the flurries did not cause any traffic problems. They shouldn't, but in a town where a half inch of snow results in citywide gridlock, you never know.

But now, some perspective. Canadian television, in Raleigh last night to broadcast a hockey game on TSN, called it "chilly". That's about right. If it's above freezing, I can't really call it "cold". "Chilly" works for me. Leave it up to the Canadians to provide a true perspective on what "cold" is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


According to some signs I saw on I-40 last weekend, Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q is rebranding themselves as "S.C.N.B." Now, I'm going to rip them apart for it.

I know "Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q" is a long name. But what's so bad about just calling it "Smithfield's"? Bojangles' is really Bojangles' Chicken and Biscuits, but everyone calls it Bojangles', just like everyone should be calling it Smithfield's, instead of some awkward four-letter acronym. It's not even a good acronym. Society has proven that three letters is the optimal length for an acronym. Several government agencies, companies that employ both Amber and me, and at least one other fast food chain use three-letter acronyms successfully. Four is just too many. If you're going to use a four-letter acronym, it better have at least one vowel in it so that you can sound it out instead of having to spell it. "S.C.N.B" is awful. And it's not like Smithfield's is that well known. It's a local chain. People coming from out of town see "S.C.N.B" and think, "What the hell is that?" Maybe that's why the new signs still say "Chicken N' Bar-B-Q" on them, along with "S.C.N.B." What's the point of using an acronym if you're still going to write out what three of the four letters stand for anyway? In doing so, you're admitting that nobody knows what you are, which means you have no right to be changing to an acronym in the first place. What are they trying to accomplish here, anyway? Do they really think they'll be better known by an awkward four letter abbreviation than by just "Smithfield's"?

And on top of all that, they put cole slaw on their sandwiches, which is just disgusting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Curling Recap: 11/14/08

End............ 12345678 |TTL
Our team....... 00000001 | 01
Their team..... 11113310 | 11

So...where do I begin? Well, really, the other team was just better than us. A lot better than us. It's just that simple.

That, and I forgot to change into long pants before we left home, meaning I curled in shorts for the first time ever. It's possible, and it probably didn't affect my game that much, but I wouldn't advise it. My right knee has a nice little bruise now. That knee isn't really supposed to be sliding on the ice anyway; ideal curling form would have only my right ankle/foot on the ice with my left foot acting as the slider. But I haven't really figured out the "ideal curling form" yet. More experienced curlers in the club have worked with me in the past, but I'm not flexible enough to pick it up right away. I'd like to work on it during a game, but then I'd basically be throwing my shots away, and I'm too competitive for that. Last Friday's game might have been a good opportunity for that, except that we couldn't let ourselves live with a shutout. I can totally understand why a football team would want to kick a field goal when losing 49-0. It's a matter of pride.

Apparently, this week, I'm going to be the skip. Speaking of not getting shut out...

4,000 Holes of Disc Golf

I played my 4,000th recorded hole of disc golf on Sunday. Yippee! And as luck would have it, it was my very last hole of the round, so 4,000 is my current total.

4,000 is not divisible by 18, but not every course is 18 holes, and circumstances (e.g. darkness, rain, crowds) sometimes prevent me from playing all the holes at a given course. Also, competitive rounds may require an extra hole or two to break a tie. All of the courses near the top of my hole count list have a count that is not divisible by 18; I have to go down to my 7th-most-played course (Cedar Hills) to find a hole count that is divisible by 18.

Since we plan to move 20 miles north and west soon, I've decided to only play courses that are closer to home now than they will be after we move. So, that's why I drove down to Jacksonville (NC) yesterday. Trips to Zebulon and Greenville (NC) won't be far behind. Then, after we move, I'll go back to playing the Durham and Chapel Hill courses.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wedding Photos

I know the wedding was seven weeks ago. Chances are, most of you are probably over it by now. But that's not going to stop me from advertising our wedding photos!

Click here to see lots of pictures of a beautiful bride and a surprisingly adequate groom.

College Football Saturday: 11/15/08

Yeah, so, last Saturday wasn't so good for Penn State fans. The first loss of the season always hurts. It doesn't matter how good or bad the team is. It always hurts.

As soon as Brad Nessler was revealed as ABC's play-by-play announcer for the Penn State v. Iowa game, I knew they might be in trouble. Between Florida State and Penn State, Brad Nessler has been part of way too many excruciating defeats. For instance:

October 12, 2002: "HE MISSED IT! WIDE LEFT!!"

Ugh. At least last week, Brad Nessler did not give us a particularly memorable call that will perpetually echo in my head.

Time slot 1

Game 1 - Indiana at Penn State, 1200p, BTN: Fortunately, this week, Penn State gets to unleash their frustration on the worst team in the Big Ten.
Game 2 - Duke at Clemson, 1200p, Raycom: Let's go Duke! Bowl eligibility is still within reach!
Game 3 - Notre Dame vs Navy, 1200p, CBS: Here's something kind of funny. The local station that broadcasts Raycom ACC games, WRAL, is also the local CBS affiliate. Normally, there's no conflict, because CBS rarely broadcats a national game at noon. But this week, they're broadcasting Notre Dame and Navy at noon. So what happens? Duke and Clemson get priority, while Notre Dame and Navy get shipped off to WRAL's alternate channel (over-the-air 5.2, digital cable 256). So in other words, if I didn't buy that digital convertor box a few weeks ago, Amber wouldn't get to watch Notre Dame this week. See, Amber? It was worth it. UPDATE 11/15 12:06p: In order to provide ongoing news coverage of a tornado that happened hours ago, Duke/Clemson was bumped to 5.2, and Notre Dame/Navy was bumped completely off the air. Whoops!
Game 4 - Rutgers at South Florida, 1200p, MASN: It would be nice to see South Florida win a conference game against someone besides Syracuse.
Game 5 - Texas at Kansas, 1230p, FSN: I know this isn't likely to happen, but if what the Big XII South winner loses in the Big XII Championship? Then another Big XII South team will probably back into the national championship game, which I wouldn't be too fond of. My biggest complaint about the BCS is that you don't have to win your conference to win the national championship. I know college basketball is like that, but here's the difference. In college basketball, there are more playoff spots (64) than conferences (31), so you have to let in non-conference-champions. In football, there are 11 conferences, but only two playoff spots. Conferences are already pseudo-playoffs as is, so why not use their results as pseudo-semifinals?
Game 6 - Ohio State at Illinois, 1200p, ESPN: And now, the other Big Ten games...
Game 7 - Northwestern at Michigan, 1200p, ESPN2
Game 8 - Purdue at Iowa, 1200p, BTN overflow

Time slot 2

Game 1 - North Carolina at Maryland, 330p, ABC: Every week, I have to check the ACC conference standings to see who's leading, and how important each game is. It's actually been fun to follow.
Game 2 - Wake Forest at NC State, 330p, ESPNU: Florida State still needs a Wake Forest loss to have a chance to reach the ACC Championship game. Come on, Pack!
Game 3 - South Carolina at Florida, 330p, CBS: I'm thinking, "Over at halftime".
Game 4 - Minnesota at Wisconsin, 330p, ESPN: The Paul Bunyan's Axe game usually does not disappoint.
Game 5 - BYU at Air Force, 330p, CBS College: Responding to a comment from James last week: does the Mountain West have more BCS credentials than the Big East? Maybe this year, but on a year-to-year basis, probably not. When you consider the entire conference top-to-bottom, even though the Mountain West has three ranked teams, the two conferences are probably about equal. But I don't think anyone can debate that the Mountain West is, by far, the best "non-BCS" conference. If the Mountain West continues to find success out of conference (6-1 against the Pac-10 this season), I think an argument could be made to make it the 7th BCS conference.
Game 6 - New Mexico at Colorado State, 200p, the mtn: The 200p games usually go in "time slot 1", but since there's far more intrigue with the early slot than the middle slot this week, I'm putting the 200p games here. In situations where the games overlap "time slots", I go with "in which time slot am I more likely to watch the game?"
Game 7 - Toledo at Western Michigan, 200p, FS Detroit
Game 8 - New Mexico State at Fresno State, 500p, Altitude: Do they get the Altitude channel in New Mexico?

Time slot 3

Game 1 - Boston College at Florida State, 800p, ABC: You know it's a slow week in college football when an ACC game is ABC's headlining game of the week. Meanwhile, I believe Florida State will be wearing black uniforms in this game. Ugh. Teams that do not have black as one of their official colors should NOT have black uniforms. End of story.
Game 2 - Utah at San Diego State, 800p, the mtn: Hey, thanks to FSU, I'll probably stay awake for the entire Utah game, for once.
Game 3 - Mississippi State at Alabama, 745p, ESPN: I think Alabama can absorb a regular-season loss and still be okay in terms of the national championship.
Game 4 - USC at Stanford, 700p, Versus: I bet Versus was thrilled about last year's game. How often does anything important in college football happen on Versus?
Game 5 - Missouri at Iowa State, 630p, FSN: All of these other games will only serve as "flip to during the commercials" games.
Game 6 - Arizona at Oregon, 630p, FS Arizona
Game 7 - Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 800p, ESPN2
Game 8 - UCLA at Washington, 1015p, FSN
Game 9 - Connecticut at Syracuse, 700p, ESPNU
Game 10 - Tulsa at Houston, 800p, CBS College: Yeah, I know Tulsa is supposed to be "kind of good", but I still can't get interested in Conference USA.

There's also some college basketball on television this weekend, including a Penn State game tonight (wahoo, Big Ten Network!), but I don't think I'm quite ready for college basketball yet. Its time will come.

I Saved a Bunch of Money On My Car Insurance By Getting Married

Geico says that you can save up to 15% on your car insurance by switching to Geico. But I have a better idea. If you want to save lots of money on car insurance, get married! Our combined premiums dropped by over 25% after we combined our policies. Sweet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Trade Proposal?

Major college football does not have a playoff, and fans complain. Meanwhile, NASCAR does have a playoff, and fans complain. Hey - why don't they trade?

Yeah, it sounds good, but here's how I see it on the college football side. As long as college football is still as popular as it is today, including the BCS bowl games themselves, we'll never have a playoff. There needs to be an impetus , and that impetus has to be empty seats in the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and so on. Only when the BCS games begin to have trouble selling tickets, and TV ratings start to decline, will a change to a playoff system be considered by the people in charge. Everyone makes too much money under the current system. What incentive is there for college presidents and conference commissioners to want to change? Every year, sports talk radio, newspaper columnists, and now bloggers (I guess I'm part of that crowd) go through the same routine. When are we going to have a playoff? Huh? Huh? I guess what I'm saying is, if you really want a college football playoff, don't buy bowl game tickets.

(NOTE: If you don't care about NASCAR, you can skip the rest of this post.)

As for NASCAR, fan complaints aren't so much about the current "playoff" system as they are about just about everything else. Let me address all of these complaints...

"The races are boring!" Let me clue you in on something: the races have always been boring. I think what you really mean is, "They don't crash as much as they used to!" I don't have the data to back it up, but I think that is true. (Caution flags are not a reliable surrogate for crashes, because debris cautions are far more prevalent than they used to be. Also, back in the day, not every crash brought out the caution flag.)

Actually, here's my take on this perception. The races aren't any more boring now than they used to be. The problem is - and I really hate to criticize this guy - ABC/ESPN play-by-play announcer Dr. Jerry Punch makes the races seem boring. His monotone, non-dramatic announcing style makes the races seem exceedingly uninteresting. Put him back on pit road and stick someone in the broadcast booth who actually gets excited when something happens on the track, and the race is instantly more exciting. It doesn't matter what sport you're talking about, an energetic (or at least dramatic) play-by-play announcer is essential to making the event appear exciting on television.

"The races are too long!" I agree, which is why I DVR the races, and then fast-forward through the commercials, caution flags, and mid-race periods where Carl Edwards has a 7-second lead. (Of course, recording the race in advance only works if the network broadcasting the race doesn't switch to America's Funniest Home Videos before the end of the race, as happened last week. While the race started on ABC, the last 30 laps were bumped to ESPN2, unbeknownst to my DVR. Fortunately, I don't think I missed anything.)

"The season is too long!" I don't think this is really a fan complaint - why would a true NASCAR fan complain about there being too many races? - but perhaps an argument as to why fan enthusiasm is down. The season is so long, fans kind of take NASCAR for granted, because it's on pretty much every week. And once it's over, it's only three months before it starts right back up again.

"The 'Chase' is stupid!" I agree, and I'd rather do without it, but I still think it's good for the sport. If we're going to have a 36-race season, there needs to be some structure to it in order to make the entire season as interesting as possible. Otherwise, it's just one long season. And I think the existence of the Chase actually makes the pre-Chase races more exciting, because drivers are willing to take more chances and go for the win.

NASCAR's economic problems have been making a lot of news lately. Teams are going out of business and/or merging with other teams, sponsors and manufacturers maybe be pulling out of the sport, and so on. From my perspective, it's actually fun to watch which teams will bite the dust and which ones don't. It wouldn't bother me one bit if there are only 38 cars in any given race, 10 of which are exceedingly under-funded. Hey, it would be just like the old days! And that's what most fans want, right?


Here's another sign that little ol' Chris is growing up: I'm eating yogurt now. WOW! How very grown-up of me.

(But not just any yogurt; only eat the kind without chunks of fruit in it. Unfortunately, they don't really advertise this on the label, so it's a matter of trial and error.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Getting Those "Dr. Allen" Emails

I've talked about this before, but that was a long time ago, and I still get the occasional email addressing me as "Dr. Allen" and relating to journal articles from my Penn State days. Last week, for instance, I got a request to help review an article for the Journal of Computers. I declined. I'm assuming they don't want lowly non-PhDs such as myself reviewing journal articles.

I guess those journal articles I wrote and co-wrote must have been pretty good if people automatically assume I have a Ph.D., eh?

Cash or Credit

Back in the day (i.e. before I started driving), I think the price of gas was different depending on whether you used cash or credit. That stopped, but I've seen it reappear at a few stations around the country. For instance, the station where we filled up in Columbia, SC was $1.979 for cash, $2.039 for credit. Of course, this wasn't advertised on the big sign you can see from the interstate.

I'm guessing the reason stations have started doing this again is because they have to pay a little extra for credit card transactions. In the past they've been able to absorb this cost for the sake of customer convenience, but as the price of gas skyrocketed and demand decreased, profits shrunk, prompting some stations to "penny pinch" more than they used to. (Note: most gas stations make the majority of their profit from convenience store sales, not from the sale of gas; they use cheap gas to get you in the store.)

We had cash, so we just paid "the old fashioned way". But is debit also considered cash? I didn't notice this before prepaying, but the pump says "cash/debit different price than credit". So, I think I can get the cash price if I use debit. I'll have to try that next time this comes up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Benefits of Living Closer to Work

I think the house buying process is far enough along now that I can point you to the house we're on our way to purchasing.

Regardless of whether or not all (i.e. the home inspection) goes well with that house, or if we end up buying some other house in the neighborhood, one of the things I'm most excited about is how much closer to work we'll be after we move. Instead of a 19-mile commute with traffic jams in both directions, I'll have a 3.5-mile commute with virtually no traffic issues. Amber's commute will also be shorter and easier, but by a smaller margin (reduced from 14 miles to 9 miles). I might even start working 8:00 to 4:00 like normal people do! (I currently work 7:00 to 3:00 in order to beat peak rushhour, which won't be an issue after we move.)

In addition to the time and the hassle we save by not sitting in traffic for 20-25 minutes every day, we'll save car mileage and gas money, too! I'll save 8,000 miles per year, which comes out to $625/year in gas savings. Amber's savings will be less, but still noteworthy (2,500 miles/year and $220/year in gas). Aside from work, the nearest Kroger is about the same distance from home, and curling is slightly farther but is a much easier (and possibly more fuel-efficient) drive. We're also 15 minutes farther away from the beach and from Jacksonville, but we're that much closer to the mountains and to Toledo, so it balances out. Wahoo!

And yes, I realize that the cost of house upkeep, along with higher electric bills associated with a larger living area, will more than counter the $70/month we'll save on gas by living closer to work. But that's okay.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Travelogue: 11/9/08

When gas prices approached $4/gallon, we cut back on our "random weekend drives". But now, gas is back down to around $2/gallon, and my car odometer is much lower than the 25,000 I was planning on after year one. So, let's go for a Sunday drive, shall we?

We were considering two destinations, both in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach (which neither of us have been to), or a disc golf course in Chapin, SC, which I have ranked 3rd overall out of over 50 courses, but haven't played since August 2004. We chose the disc golf course. It was a nice day for it, too: sunny and in the 60s. That's about as good as it gets. I'll talk more about the disc golf in a separate post.

Aside from disc golf, a goal of the trip was to pick up two "holes" in my county map: Lee and Lancaster counties in South Carolina.

Lee County is right along I-20, so that one was easy. Lancaster County required a bit of an alternate route, although it still provided a somewhat direct, non-interstate route back home. Now I only have seven counties left to visit in South Carolina, so I think it's only a matter of time...

Disc Golf Report: Chapin, SC

First off, this is not a course review.

Over four years ago, on our way back from a camping trip in the Asheville area, we played disc golf at Crooked Creek Park in Chapin, SC. I really liked the course, so I ranked it #1 on my course rankings. Since then, I've only had the mustard to rank two courses ahead of Crooked Creek in my rankings. But I don't hold courses to the same standards now as I did back then, when I only had a few months of disc golf experience to draw from. So is this course really the third best course I've ever played?

Well, maybe. I think I do know why I ranked it so high the first time, though. The course is very well marked, all holes have tee signs and multiple concrete tee pads, and the targets are in good shape. One target is situated on an artificial mound, and one is on sort of an "island green", which I thought was really neat at the time, hence the top ranking.

But what about now? Well, it's still a good course, and I've decided to keep the ranking at #3. There's a big drop-off from #2 to #3, and there isn't much difference between the #3 course and, say, #15. Ranking these courses is like splitting hairs, really. So, congratulations, Crooked Creek: you've been "grandfathered" into a high ranking.

Curling Recap: 11/7/08

End............ 12345678 |TTL
Their team..... 00100000 | 01
My team........ 11013111 | 09

This was our team's "bye week" in the league, so Amber and I substituted on other teams, based on who asked for a substitute first. And it just so happened that the first-place team asked first, and that they were playing against the last-place team this week. So, I'm not surprised that the game wasn't close. Meanwhile, the team Amber was substituting on won 8-6, although they almost came from ahead to lose (7-0 after the 5th end, 7-6 after the 7th end).

Friday, November 07, 2008

College Football Saturday: 11/8/08

It must be November, because now I find myself rooting for all of the top-ranked teams (except Penn State, of course) to lose. It's an annual ritual of mine.

Time slot 1

Game 1 - Georgia Tech at North Carolina, 1200p, Raycom (Local TV): The biggest game of the week in the ACC, and yet, it's not on ABC or ESPN. Why is that? Oh, that ESPN could air Notre Dame v. Boston College in primetime.
Game 2 - Purdue at Michigan State, 1200p, BTN
Game 3 - Michigan at Minnesota, 1200p, ESPN: I don't think I've watched a Minnesota home game yet this year.
Game 4 - Ohio State at Northwestern, 1200p, ESPN2: I suppose Ohio State success slightly increases Penn State's BCS championship game chances...but still, I can't root for them against Northwestern.
Game 5 - Louisville at Pittsburgh, 1200p, MASN: And now...the early time slot's "irrelevant" games. And there are a lot of them.
Game 6 - Wisconsin at Indiana, 1200p, BTN overflow
Game 7 - Baylor at Texas, 1200p, FSN
Game 8 - San Diego State at BYU, 200p, the mtn
Game 9 - Iowa State at Colorado, 130p, Versus
Game 10 - Syracuse at Rutgers, 1200p, ESPNU

Time slot 2

Game 1A - Clemson at Florida State, 330p, ABC: Today, I'm glad I can watch two games at once. Well, maybe. Last week's Florida State game was brutal.
Game 1B - Penn State at Iowa, 330p, ESPN: I'm also very happy for the "reverse mirror" that ABC/ESPN does for the 330p Big Ten games.
Game 3 - Alabama at LSU, 330p, CBS: As they say (or spell) down there, "Geaux Tigers!"
Game 4 - Virginia at Wake Forest, 330p, ESPNU: For Florida State to still have a chance to reach the ACC Championship game, Wake Forest needs another loss. Of course, Florida State also needs three more wins, which is probably far less likely to happen.
Game 5 - Marshall at East Carolina, 330p, CBS College: Hey, remember ECU? From earlier this year?
Game 6 - Stanford at Oregon, 330p, FSN

Time slot 3

Game 1 - Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 800p, ABC: I admit, I did not stay awake for the end of last week's Texas/Texas Tech game. Maybe this week?
Game 2 - Notre Dame at Boston College, 800p, ESPN: Maybe it's just me, maybe Amber is losing interest, I don't know - but there seems to be no buzz whatsoever surrounding Notre Dame football this year. (Not that I'm complaining; just making an observation.)
Game 3 - Florida at Vanderbilt, 800p, ESPN2: I'm worried that if Florida wins out and beats Alabama in the SEC Championship, that they'll jump an undefeated Penn State in the BCS, even with one loss. As if I needed another reason to root against the Gators... (And, yes, I realize that Penn State still has three games left. The season is not over.)
Game 4 - Arizona State at Washington, 700p, FSN Arizona: The top three games are the only ones I'll probably follow during the late time slot; all these others are just "flip to during commercials or halftime" games.
Game 5 - Oregon State at UCLA, 600p, FS Prime Ticket: I think I put the 600p games in "time slot 2" sometimes, but this week they go in "time slot 3", because there is basically zero chance of me watching this game before 7.
Game 6 - Kansas State at Missouri, 700p, FSN: The Big XII North isn't very good this year, is it?
Game 7 - Colorado State at Air Force, 600p, the mtn: When "the mtn" advertises upcoming games and programs, they do so in Mountain Time. Makes sense to me.
Game 8 - Cincinnati at West Virginia, 700p, ESPNU: Now that South Florida has basically no chance of winning the Big East this year, I am officially considering the Big East to be "less interesting than the Mountain West", and "only slightly more interesting than Conference USA".
Game 9 - Tulane at Houston, 800p, CBS College
Game 10 - New Mexico at UNLV, 1000p, the mtn
Game 11 - UTEP at Louisiana-Lafayette, 700p, MASN: MASN airs the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles; the rest of the year, they scrounge for as much "sports filler" as they can. MASN: your home for Sun Belt Conference football!

Taxes By the Mile

Most states, including North Carolina, use proceeds from the state gasoline tax to fund roads and highways. Problem is, the ever-increasing price of gas has decreased gasoline consumption, and so state DOTs across the country are now receiving far less revenue from the gas tax than they used to. So, now what?

The University of Iowa is conducting a field experiment to investigate an alternative to the gas tax: a mileage-based road tax. Instead of including a highway tax in the price of gasoline, you pay a tax proprtional to how far you drive. In this field experiment, several volunteers in a few metropolitan areas across the country, including the Research Triangle, will install GPS units on their cars. These GPS units will send data regarding which state, county, or municipality you're driving in, and how many miles you drive. Then, you'll get a bill in the mail showing how much you owe in highway taxes, and where that money will go (e.g. North Carolina, Virginia, the city of Durham, Wake County, and so forth). So, basically, it's a way to make every road a toll road.

I am assuming that most people will oppose this idea. I oppose it as well, but probably not for the same reason. The "big brother" nature of it all doesn't bother me. What bothers me the most is that unlike the gas tax, a flat mileage-based tax does not encourage the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles, nor does it help decrease demand. I think the people who drive gas guzzlers should pay more in highway taxes than the people who drive responsible vehicles. If we're ever going to get rid of that dreaded "dependence on foreign oil", we should continue to tax gasoline consumption, and tax it aggressively. This is coming from a guy who likes to drive a lot.

But how do we make up for the recent gas tax revenue deficit? That's easy - increase the gas tax! Duh. Yes, North Carolina already has the highest gas tax in the southeast, and already high gas prices will be even higher. But we're going to have to pay for our roads somehow, and we might as well help decrease demand for oil while we're at it. And instead of that money going to an oil company or to Saudi Arabia, the money goes right back to the state to fund our highways. Why is it so hard for people to figure this out? (And yes, I know about the gas tax cap. The cap can be rescinded as easily as it was implemented.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Day's Drive Away

Here's something I've been wondering. How much of the country is within a day's drive from home?

Here are the ground rules:
- For the purposes of this exercise, a "day's drive" is a 15-hour drive, so I'll be determining which parts of the country are less than 15 hours away from home. I'll also be considering which parts of the country are within a day's round-trip drive, which will mean anything less than 7½ hours from home.
- I used Microsoft Streets and Trips 2007 for this exercise, which has a "Drivetime Zone" feature that makes this really easy! Beforehand, I calibrated S&T using known no-delay trip times (e.g. 6:30 to Jacksonville, 9:30 to Toledo).
- Since we expect to move to south Durham soon, I'll consider south Durham to be home, not our current residence (which we used for calibrating purposes). This will shift the drive-time window 20 minutes northwest of what it would be starting from Raleigh (Cary).
- I'll be doing this at the county level so that I can make a nifty county map. I'm including a county within the "drivetime zone" if we can get to a centrally-located area in that county in 15 hours (or 7½ hours), not necessarily any location in that county.

So, without further ado, here's the map I came up with. Dark yellow counties are within a day's round-trip drive, while light yellow counties are within a day's one-way drive:

The one-day region also includes southern Ontario and southern Qu├ębec.

Since this is approximate, don't put too much stock into the exact boundaries. (You know, kind of like with those geographical centers.) This just gives us a general idea for next time we plan a quick weekend getaway. It's nice to know that we can get to places like Key West, New Orleans, or Bar Harbor in one day - if we really wanted to, of course.

Housing Update: 11/6/08

When I last posted, we had found some houses we would consider buying. And since all of those houses were listed by a Realtor(R), we were about to hire a buyer's agent to help us out. But that was 2½ weeks ago. What's happened since then?

First, after doing some Googling (it's what I do best), I found an agent who actually lives in the neighborhood we're looking to move into. From what I've heard, it's good to have an agent who knows the neighborhood well. So, I gave Dawn a call, and we met in person later that week. Memo to Realtors(R) out there: it pays to be on the internet!

If you're a first-time home buyer, it's probably a good idea to hire an agent, because searching for and buying a house is a lot of work. We'd probably be completely lost and overwhelmed otherwise. Instead, Dawn does most of the work, and since we're likely going to be buying a listed house (i.e. not by owner) anyway, it doesn't cost us any extra money! So, why not? (When both buyer and seller have an agent, each agent gets 3%, for a total of 6%. When only the seller has an agent, that agent takes 6%, because legally he/she represents the buyer as well. That's called "dual agency", which generally isn't preferred.)

On a few occasions over the last two weeks, we met after work and toured the houses we had considered on our drive-through and internet search. This allowed us to narrow the search further. The internet is nice, but there's no substitute for actually being in the house. And, in some cases, smelling the house. One house we went to, it was obvious the owners had tried really hard to clean before we went there. The entire house - especially the bathroom - smelled like bleach, or Scrubbing Bubbles, or some generic cleaner. Were they trying to hide something? They must be having trouble selling the house, because there's a sign in the front yard that says "Make Offer". A little desperate, are we?
So, what happens when you see a house you like? You make an offer! And, you fill out a bunch of paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. I'll go into the details of the offer, including the house we're looking at, later on. Don't want to compromise the negotiations, you know.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Canadian Football League

While in Canada, I watched a little bit of Canadian professional football. For reasons, I'm not really sure about, they do it a little differently than they do down here. But why? Why can't we consolidate the rules of football and standardize the sport across North America at all levels?

The biggest difference is that in Canada, you only get three downs, not four. After being accustomed to four-down football for so many years, three doesn't seem like enough. Run for four yards, incompletion, time to punt. That doesn't seem right, does it? That said, it actually made three-down football entertaining, perhaps even more so than the four-down version they play down here, albeit probably only because of the novelty.

The Canadian field is also 10 yards longer, so that there is such a thing as the "55 yard line", which is just weird. I assume (perhaps incorrectly?) that the reason they use a 110-yard field is because 110 yards = 100 metres. (Since we're talking about Canada, I'm going to use the Canadian spelling of "metre".) But then, they still use "yard lines". If they're going to still use yards, why not just have a 100-yard field? Or, use metre lines instead? But one thing I do like is the extra-long end zones: they're twice as deep! This means there's still plenty of room to air it out at the goal line, rather than line up in that boring goal line formation, give the ball to a fat guy, and budge forward. I also like that the goal posts are on the goal line, rather than behind the back of the end zone. This is how American football used to be, then they wussed out and took them out of the field of play. Someone must have gotten hurt.

Then, there's the the "rouge" or "single". Miss a field goal? That's okay - if it goes into the end zone, you get a consolation point! It's quirky, yes, but it doesn't seem right to be able to win a game by missing a field goal.

There are actually many more differences between American and Canadian football, but those are the ones that affect play the most. I think I like the American rules better. Canadian football is fun to watch, and I wish it was televised more prominently in the United States (an obscure over-the-air network called America One owns the rights). It might even be more fun to watch than American football, at least until the novelty wears off.

An Historic

I watched a lot of election coverage last night, but one thing is bothering me: the use of the article "an" before the word "historic", as in "an historic election". Shouldn't it be "a historic election"? The word "historic" starts with a consonant sound, right?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cooperative Voting

This just in: tomorrow is Election Day. And it's about freaking time, because I am getting quite irritated by all of those negative political ads and John McCain robocalls.

When Amber and I voted in the primary back in May, we often voted for different people, and thus canceled out each other's votes. This time around, we decided we should cooperate and complement each other's votes, instead of cancelling them out. If we're going to vote for different people, and thus have no net impact on the results, why vote at all? Instead, let's make our votes count double.

So, we went through the entire ballot and came to a consensus on who to vote for in each race. This took a very long time. I don't remember if it was like this in Florida (I didn't take voting quite as seriously back then), but North Carolina wants you to vote for all kinds of public officials. Here's the list of all contested races on my ballot: US President/Vice President, US Senate, US House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Labor, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Treasurer, NC Senate, NC House, County Commissioner (x3), NC Supreme Court Associate Justice, Court of Appeals Judge (x5), District Court Judge (x3), and Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. (Here is the full ballot.) Voting is a lot of work, isn't it?

There is an option on the ballot for a "Straight Party" vote, where you can select Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian and all - except the US President, and except the judges (who are non-partisan). How many people will select "Straight Party" thinking it counts for US President, turn their ballot in, and end up not voting for President? That's actually a bit of concern down here, so they're trying to get the word out that you still have to vote for president, even if you a Straight Party vote. From what I've read, the reason a Straight Party vote doesn't count for President is because the local Democrats didn't want to be associated with the Democratic candidates for US President, since the Republican candidate almost always wins the state (nine of the last ten elections; Carter in 1976 the lone exception). Ah, but could that backfire on the Democrats this year, costing Barack Obama some votes?

Amber was one of many who voted early - she had to in order to change her voter registration from "Amber Loucks" to "Amber Allen" - but I'll be voting tomorrow. And I'm not listing who we're voting for, because I'm not going to be swayed by blog comments this time around. This time, it's serious.

By the way, North Carolina doesn't give you much choice in terms of third-party presidential candidates. Your choices are Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Write-In. That's it. Apparently, it's a lot easier to get your third-party on the presidential ballot in Florida, where in addition to the above three choices, you can also vote for the Green Party, Constitution Party, Objectivist Party, American Independent Party, Socialist Worker Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Boston Tea Party (not a joke), or Ralph Nader.

Chapel Hill Thinks They're Better Than You

Every year, a bunch of people go to downtown Chapel Hill (more commonly known as Franklin Street) for an impromptu street party on Halloween night. Sometimes, it gets a little out of hand, prompting some of the local business to complain and urge Chapel Hill officials to "scale down" the party a little bit.

So, here's what Chapel Hill did this year. First, the stopped all park-and-ride shuttle services, so that there's basically no way to get there if you don't live there. Then, the Chapel Hill mayor posted a YouTube video urging non-residents to stay away.

Now, there's nothing wrong with trying to scale down the party for the purposes of safety. But there has to be a better way to do that than to basically blame everyone who doesn't live in Chapel Hill for all of the problems. To me, it comes across as, "We're better than you. Go away. This is our town, and we don't want you here."

Hmm. I'll keep that in mind next time I think about supporting a Chapel Hill small business.

Honeymoon Day #16: Raleigh (Cary) to the Grocery Store

Now, to put a wrap on all of those honeymoon posts...

Yes, the trip was a lot of fun, and we experienced no problems whatsoever on the trip. No car problems, no accidentally-canceled reservations, no robberies, no lost luggage, no anything. I left some soda in the Wasagaming cabin refrigerator, but that's about it. It wasn't even that good anyway.

I've woven my recommendations and such into the various posts, but here's a closing recommendation. If you're going to go on a long trip, it's a good idea to take a day off at home after you get back before returning to work. We spent that day grocery shopping, doing laundry, and sleeping. If we had to go back to work immediately, it might have taken a full week to catch up on errands and sleep.

I'm done talking about the honeymoon unless I think of something I left out of the earlier post. (For example, the grocery store in The Pas did not have any pretzels for sale cheaper than $4/bag. Insanity!) But, we will post wedding pictures...once we get them. Let this be a lesson to anyone getting married soon. If you choose to get a cheap, not-quite-professional photographer, you might not get the pictures for over five weeks after the wedding. Supposedly, they were mailed to us over a week ago, but chances are, the not-quite-professional went frugal on the postage and mailed it super-cheap, "non-priority" USPS mail. My experience with "non-priority" USPS mail is that such packages might sit around in a post office for a week or longer. Oh well; we brought this on ourselves.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Honeymoon Day #15: Sheboygan to Raleigh (Cary)

The last day! But the last day was all driving, and we have no pictures - only the obligatory map:

It took about 14 hours, 20 minutes (driving time only) to make the 950 mile drive from Sheboygan, WI to Raleigh (Cary). Not too bad, even if we did "lose an hour" crossing from Central to Eastern. We left at about 6:00a Central, and made it home around 10:00p Eastern.

I hadn't been to either Illinois or Indiana in 14 years, so the first part of the drive was semi-interesting. We drove straight through Chicago, thinking that traffic wouldn't be a problem on a Sunday morning. And, despite the "glim outlook" the construction signs gave us, we were right! Wahoo! And yes, Gary, Indiana is all it's cracked up to be - a giant polluted industrial mess. But it was so completely over-the-top industrial that I actually consider it "scenic". If you're passing through Gary, I highly recommend taking the IN-912 freeway (Cline Ave). It's nice. (I guess it's actually "East Chicago" where Cline Ave goes, but all of urban northwestern Indiana is "Gary" to me.)

I remember one thing from the last time I traveled I-65 through Indiana: the smell. It was the worst smelling stretch of interstate ever, which prompted me to call Indiana the worst smelling state ever. Well, I am happy to report that this time, Indiana did not smell like cow manure, prompting me to remove Indiana's status as the worst smelling state. I'm not sure what would take its place, though...

Once we got to Dayton, it was the same old routes we've taken many times before. Oh well. We had to get back home sometime. We had originally considered stopping somewhere in Kentucky or Tennessee (e.g. Mammoth Cave) on our return trip, but we decided not to. We can theoretically make a weekend trip to Mammoth Cave anytime we want. So, rather than use up a day of the honeymoon on that, we decided to stay over 1,000 miles away from home as long as possible.

Anyway, this has me thinking. If 15 hours is the most we can reasonably drive in one day, how much of the country are less than one day away from home? Hmm, sounds like a county map to me! I'll work on that one.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

College Football Saturday: 11/1/08

Wahoo, now I can watch two games at once again! Well, if one of them is on over-the-air television.

Time slot 1

Game 1 - Miami (FL) at Virginia, 1200p, Raycom: This game is on the local CBS affiliate, meaning I can watch it over-the-air...if I choose.
Game 2 - Wisconsin at Michigan State, 1200p, ESPN: Remember when Wisconsin was ranked in the top 10? Was that this season?
Game 3 - Michigan at Purdue, 1200p, BTN: Time Warner Cable in North Carolina carries the Big Ten Network now, meaning I could watch this game either way, if I am so inclined. But...
Game 4 - Central Michigan at Indiana, 1200p, BTN overflow: ...I wouldn't be able to watch the overflow game. Darn! (NOTE: This game is NOT the 4th game on my priority list, but I'm listing it here because it flows naturally after the Michigan/Purdue game.
Game 5 - Kansas State at Kansas, 1230p, FSN
Game 6 - West Virginia at Connecticut, 1200p, MASN: Speaking of the Big East, what happened to South Florida? Do they get too "amped up" in their non-conference schedule by getting all of their "rivals" (UCF) and "big games" (Kansas) out of the way early, only to lose interest by the time Louisville and Cincinnati are on the schedule?
Game 7 - Northwestern at Minnesota, 1200p, ESPN2
Game 8 - Air Force at Army, 1200p, ESPNU
Game 9 - San Diego State at Wyoming, 200p, the mtn: I was excited when I first got "the mtn", but other than when Utah is playing, I haven't really watched any of it.

Time slot 2

Game 1 - Florida State at Georgia Tech, 330p, ABC: While Florida State does "control their own destiny" with respect to the ACC Championship, I think they've benefited from a weak schedule. So, we'll see. As they say, "the jury is still out."
Game 2 - Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, 230p, NBC: I like the Notre Dame 230p starts intead of the 330p starts. That means the game is over sooner!
Game 3 - Florida v. Georgia, 330p, CBS: Let's go 'Dawgs!
Game 4 - Clemson at Boston College, 330p, ESPNU: I think Boston College and South Florida should switch conferences. It would be best for both schools. Nobody in the ACC cares about Boston College.
Game 5 - Iowa at Illinois, 330p, ESPN: It must be a slow week in the Big Ten if this is the ABC game. ("Slow week" means Penn State and Ohio State are both idle.)
Game 6 - BYU at Colorado State, 600p, the mtn
Game 7 - Temple at Navy, 330p, CBS College
Game 8 - North Texas at Western Kentucky, 430p, MASN: I remember in one of those NCAA Football EA Sports games from a few years ago, North Texas would always dominate the Sun Belt conference and become of those annual "BCS Busters", often going undefeated and achieving a top 15 ranking. Reality hasn't quite worked out that way.

Time slot 3

Game 1 - Texas at Texas Tech, 800p, ABC: Let's go Red Raiders! I know both teams are undefeated, and Penn State will still be ranked #3 in the BCS behind the winner of this game and Alabama no matter who wins, but I think Texas Tech has a better chance to lose after this game than Texas does.
Game 2 - Utah at New Mexico, 930p, the mtn: It'd be nice if this game was on earlier.
Game 3 - Nebraska at Oklahoma, 800p, ESPN: If I were an Oklahoma fan, I'd probably have to get ESPN GamePlan. It seems like ABC puts Oklahoma on regional coverage more often than not. Not this week, though.
Game 4 - Tennessee at South Carolina, 700p, ESPN2: Well, somebody has to win.
Game 5 - Washington at USC, 630p, FSN: I don't know what the point spread is, but whatever it is, I'm guessing USC will cover.
Game 6 - Arizona State at Oregon State, 1015p, FSN: Probably won't stay awake for this one.
Game 7 - TCU at UNLV, 800p, CBS College
Game 8 - Louisville at Syracuse, 700p, ESPNU