Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Random Stat Updates: 5/19/15

Here are various statistical updates from the past...oh, two or three months? I've got some catching up to do.

Restaurant serving times

Last weekend, it took Red Robin of Raleigh 45 minutes, 40 seconds - from when I order to when the food arrives - to serve my dinner. Going back 20 years, that's the 5th slowest of all-time, and the slowest time anywhere since our wedding rehearsal dinner in 2008. And I was one of the lucky ones: other people in our party got the wrong order, or didn't get their food at all. Overall it was the most putrid performance by a restaurant in quite some time, and one for the record books for sure. (Our three prior Red Robin visits all clocked in under 20 minutes, however, so I haven't written them off forever...just for a while.)

With a 3-year-old and a 0-year-old, it's hard to go out to dinner these days. If we do go out, it's either fast food or fast casual (e.g. Boston Market) - neither of which is eligible for timing. Or, we go early enough to beat the crowds - as in, 4 or 4:30 for dinner, in order to minimize the amount of time we have to sit there waiting with two impatient and/or tired children, not to mention get the kids to bed on time. So, 2015 will likely be my first year with fewer than 20 eligible restaurant visits. (Last year's total was 21.)

But, I do still have to go to Lexington BBQ and Ideal Hot Dog this year. Between them, they've won "fastest time of the year" for each of the last four years. The fastest of 2015 so far is Danny's BBQ, at 9:35 - that's fast, but that likely won't stand for the rest of the year.

County visitation

Last weekend, my roadgeek friends and I drove US 360 from (almost) end to (almost) end: (Didn't have time for the whole thing, but we did most of it.)

Except for some, well, downtrodden parts of Richmond, it wasn't the most interesting of drives. But, combined with the drive up into Virginia, I got two new counties out of it! Only six more Virginia counties to go! Also, I've now visited every county within a 200-mile radius of home. Charles City and Essex counties were the two counties closest to home I had yet to visit; now the closest is Bath County, VA.

As a family, we haven't done many road trips this year. I've been to Louisiana and San Diego this year, but the rest of the family has only left North Carolina once in 2015, and that was for a funeral. The year after our second child was born always figured to be our least-traveled year, so it's alright, but I think it's time we start doing family road trips again. We're staying home for Memorial Day, but we have several trips planned for the summer and fall.

Since I don't publish my "by the numbers" page anymore, here are our current county totals:
- Chris: 1,731 (55.1%)
- Marla: 533 (17.0%)
- Bruce: 89 (2.8%)
- Subaru: 114 (3.6%)

Bruce is nearly 9 months old now; by the time Marla was 9 months old, she had already visited 173 counties. You've got some catching up to do, Bruce!


My fictional "Bicycling Trip in Asia" is now in a place I will almost certainly never visit, let alone bike in: Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the most desolate section of the entire Singapore-to-Gibraltar route, in terms of points of interest and landmarks that can help keep me motivated to ride a little extra each weekend. But, it can't be any more desolate than Adelaide to Perth was, right?

Our weekends at home often revolve around our exercise schedules: Amber gets time for a run, and I get time for a bike ride. Once you add in curling (Amber curls Sunday afternoons), church (every 2-3 weeks on average), a family outing of some kind, and errands like the weekly Publix trip, the whole weekend is pretty much gone. Staying motivated to maintain our exercise routine is harder than it's ever been, but we've been able to do it to this point.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Curling Recaps: 5/3-5/12/15

The Triangle Curling Club has its own building now. Have you heard? This week is the third week of our first set of leagues on dedicated ice, and it's been a learning experience. Everything I learned about curling strategy on arena ice? Throw it out the window! Watching hours upon hours of championship curling helps some, but it's no substitute for experience.

Let's start with something extremely simple. You're the yellow team, and you have one rock in the house, and that's it. What do you do?

On arena ice, your options were really limited. If that yellow rock was on a "predictable line" that was easy to hit, you'd pretty much have to throw a guard along that line. Alternatively, you could throw another one in the house, depending on the ice conditions and "zamboni lines". Really, those were your two and only two options, and often, the ice conditions told you which play was the better play, and whether or not you had hammer really didn't affect the strategy much. But on real curling ice...you can make pretty much any shot you want! More importantly, the other team can also make pretty much any shot they want. Sure, you can still guard or split the house, but if the guard's not perfect, the other team could still reach your rock, depending on how good they are. But if your team is struggling with weight, there are more "plan B" shots available if you throw one on the same line, but then maybe you set up a double take-out. Aaahhh! And this is with just one rock in play! On top of that, you had better know where to put the broom, because that rock will curl, and if you're a few inches off (or the shooter is a few inches off the broom), that makes a big difference! That's what I've been struggling with the most so far. That and, of course, making my own shots, which when you're the Skip is kind of important. We can talk strategy all we want, but I still have to hit the broom...

As of today I have still only Skipped a total of 15 games on dedicated curling ice. My opponents have Skipped hundreds, maybe even thousands. So, I am a long, long way from having figured it out yet. There are SO many variables; I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at a situation and immediately know the optimal call. Arena ice was "the great equalizer" - I could occasionally beat some of the club's best and most experienced curlers head-to-head on arena ice. On dedicated ice, though, it's a lot harder to make up that gap, both in terms of strategy and shot-making. So far, we're 0-2. Also, we haven't scored more than one point in an end yet. Something to shoot for tonight!

Monday League: May 4, 2015

End.........12345678 |TTL
Allen.......01010011 | 04
Hunneyman...10104000 | 06

Monday League: May 11, 2015

End.........12345678 |TTL
M. Jackson..31311011 | 11
Allen.......00000100 | 01

But, I did win a pickup game as Skip earlier in the month:

Sunday Pickup: May 3, 2015

End.........123456 |TTL
Feinson.....020001 | 03
Allen.......302130 | 09

But in the Tuesday league, where I play Vice - probably my best position - and don't have to worry about strategy or anything other than shot-making and occasional sweeping, we're 2-0:

Tuesday League: May 5, 2015
(my team: Jaun)

End.........12345678 |TTL
K. Jackson..20101100 | 05
Jaun........01040023 | 10

Tuesday League: May 12, 2015
(my team: Jaun)

End.........12345678 |TTL
Jaun........01500010 | 07
Mitchell....10001202 | 06

I curl again tonight, and tomorrow night, and twice next week, and twice the week after that...I mean, isn't this great? Better yet, this building is permanent, and I have DECADES of this to look forward to!

(By the way, we won't always be curling in May and June. We are this year because that's how long it took to open the building. October through April or May will be the curling schedule most years.)