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Personal reflections after the Armed Forces Bowl

I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1981
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It seems like a lifetime ago. I ok academically, even after a sort-of rough start (upper 1/3 in academic rank at a highly competitive place, even with a sub 3 freshman GPA). But military wise, I was a misfit. I don’t have a military personality (I am more of the “absent minded professor” type) and, AT THAT TIME, I was too immature. I didn’t know how and when to subordinate my own interests and when to quit seeking personal attention. I didn’t know how to be “team first” at that time.

And, this was my first Navy game as a civilian; I had watched Navy vs. Notre Dame in 1984 (Giants Stadium; a heart breaking 18-17 last second loss), Navy vs. Virginia in 1983 (a loss) and Navy vs. Air Force in 1983 (another loss….see a pattern here?). I didn’t know how I’d react.

After all, most Naval Academy graduates are super duper “money” conservatives; I’d describe them as being “very corporate”. On the other hand, I am well to the left of most of the country.

I have facial hair (bushy white beard) and dress very “absent minded professor like”; I am an atheist (an outspoken one at that) who is more in line with academia than I am with the military.

Yet….this was a bit of a homecoming for me.

I almost teared up twice; one time is when they did the national anthem. It was reported that there was legislation that allowed for military veterans to give the flag a hand salute and I was surprised at how quickly that came back.

Then there was the Navy Blue and Gold song at the end; my voice kind of cracked when we sang it.

So, misfit that I am; the Navy and the Naval Academy IS still part of me.

Kudos to Barbara for being such a good sport and putting up with the long trip, the cold, and the football. I was happy that I got to share some of my Navy stuff with her.

Yes, I had debated on whether to see this game or the Texas vs. Oregon game (Alamo Bowl tonight, in San Antonio). The latter: yes, I watched 9 seasons of Texas football and got my Ph. D. there, and it is my hometown team.

But I made the right choice.

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December 30, 2013 Posted by | family, Navel Staring, travel | , | Leave a comment

Armed Forces Bowl: Navy 24, Middle Tennessee 6. A game worth attending

Workout notes
Yes, I worked out first; 15 minutes on the elliptical (1.5 miles, whatever that means) followed by a 5K run (31:50) on the treadmill. I did 22 minutes of hills (21:40 for 2 miles) (0-1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1-0.5..2 min at each level), then I sped up every so often.

The breakfast place was full of fans; Middle Tennessee had a couple of busloads and there were lots of Navy people as well.

The drive from the Holiday Inn express was easy; however I highly recommend scouting out parking first and getting directions to the lot. Barbara used her wheel chair (still can’t walk but very short distances) so they gave us handicapped access parking right near the front of the stadium.

There were some guys tailgaiting next to us: good thing too since I left our keys on the roof of the car. They gave them to us when we got back! OMG, what a disaster that would have been. I am a complete idiot, especially when I am “out of routine”.

Thank you football fans!

We went around the outside of the stadium; we picked up a few things here and there.

The game: we were seated at the 10 yard line, fairly close to the field (top of the lower part of the first tier). Amon G. Carter stadium holds 45,000 and has a very intimate feel; it has been newly renovated and is downright lovely.

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Though the stadium was pretty empty during warm ups (sunny day, 35 F (2 C) and windy), the Navy side had a lot of people. The other side: upper deck and expensive chair back sections were very sparsely populated; the lower tier had a lot of fans and the end zone did as well.

We were bundled up; I ended up removing my gloves and sweat shirt.

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There was a small march on. I noticed that the Midshipmen have a different kind of coat (not the heavy coat with shoulder boards we wore in cold weather); they had insignia on their shoulders.

Barbara was a great sport and was ready.

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The game itself
I had predicted Navy winning 24-20 and I was half right, so to speak. Navy moved the ball well but the Midshipman defense was excellent.

Navy out gained Middle Tennessee 384-309 and played excellent red zone defense.

Summary: It was a tight game until Navy wore down Middle Tennessee in the 4’th quarter. It appeared that Navy was used to hard games and expected to have to play all the way through; Middle Tennessee got discouraged when things didn’t work out and lost their cool a couple of times.

Navy lost a couple of fumbles (both in the red zone) and that kept the score down a bit; Middle Tennessee lost a red zone interception at the end; an earlier interception lead to a Navy touchdown.

The first half was rock-em, sock-em. Navy returned a short kickoff (vs. a stiff headwind) to their own 40 and drove the ball with running and got the first score of the day; 7-0 Mids. The Blue Raiders started from about their 20 and threw three passes in a row; their short passing game worked well between the 20’s. They mixed in some runs and bogged down in the red zone, getting sacked on 3’rd down. But they got a field goal. 7-3.

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Navy got their second score on a long drive; this time a short field goal.

Though MTSU didn’t get a score on their next drive, they gained field position prior to punting and bottled Navy deep in their own territory. So the exchange of punts got MTSU a short field and they cashed in with a field goal. It was now 10-6.

Navy answered with a long, time consuming drive and got down to the MTSU 16 yard line, but the MTSU defense forced a fumble, which they recovered. MTSU tried to get a last minute score, but a holding penalty stalled a drive and time ran out.

So at the half it was 10-6 Navy; there was more offensive action than the score would indicate.

In the second half, a long drive by MTSU ended with 4’th and 2 on the Navy 7. MTSU went for it and got stuffed; I was sure that they would kick another field goal.

Navy went on a time consuming drive to the MTSU 14 and on what appeared to be a successful running play, fumbled the ball at the MTSU 8 yard line; their linebacker got his second fumble recovery of the day.

MTSU drove the ball to Navy 45 and had to punt. So that is how the quarter ended; it was still 10-6.

But Navy’s ball control offense wore MTSU down. An 80 yard drive saw Navy run it in to take a 17-6 lead with with just under 12 minutes left in the game.

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MTSU tried to rally with passing and threw an interception. Navy had the ball on the Blue Raider 43 and on the second play, broke a long run (pitchout) for a touchdown. 24-6 Navy with 10 minutes to go, and MTSU got very discouraged.

There was an exchange of punts, then a MTSU drive, which started on their own 22 yard line, reached the Navy 24, before a goal line interception ended the threat. A return plus a personal foul set Navy in business at their own 41 and Navy kept it on the ground, reaching the MTSU 17 before letting the clock run out.

Post game
Interestingly enough, Middle Tennessee appeared that to be happy to be competitive with Navy, at least for a while:

”It hurts to lose this game, but I was really proud of how we played out there,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill said. ”It’s hard to simulate on a scout team what Navy does.”

[…]

Even though Reynolds lost two fumbles, matching his total during the regular season, the Blue Raiders (8-5) failed to convert into points either of the miscues. Both fumbles were recovered by linebacker T.T. Barber, the game’s defensive MVP after Navy had driving inside the 20.

”After the first couple drives there we kind of settled in. We got acclimated to the speed of the game,” Stockstill said. ”After that, I thought the defense played fast, they played physical.”

Navy (9-4), which won for only the second time in its last seven bowl games, still piled up 366 yards rushing.

[…]

Logan Kilgore, the quarterback already with an MBA and a school-record 53 TD passes, was 19-for-33 passing for 218 yards with two interceptions in his final game for Middle Tennessee.

”I couldn’t be more proud to be the quarterback the past four years at this university. We’ve been through a lot,” Kilgore said. ”The reason why I think this senior class is so special is because we came in, we were at the top going to the bowl games, we had a tough season and nobody pointed fingers. We’ve come back these last two seasons, back-to-back eight-win seasons, and I just think that we’re making this a habit.”

[…]

Middle Tennessee played in a bowl a year after getting snubbed with the same 8-4 record in the regular season. That was in the Sun Belt Conference before moving to Conference USA this season.

”Well, last season we didn’t get a bowl game. We had something to prove,” said Barber, a sophomore. ”Having another eight-win season this year was a great accomplishment.”

Barber forced the first fumble late in the first half, jumping over the quarterback to pounce on the ball. The other came late in the third quarter when the Midshipmen drove from their own 6 to the MTSU 14 after stopping Middle Tennessee short on a fourth-and-2.

And yes, there was one moment on a running play where the Navy defender and the MTSU runner collided violently and both young men were knocked out. Both got up and jogged off of the field and got a hand from the crowd.

Note: there was some dirty play (lots of personal fouls); most of it was MTSU. There was the (bogus) targeting foul on Navy (even ESPN disagreed) but there was this:

Navy defeated Middle Tennessee State in the Armed Forces Bowl, overcoming dirty play from their opponents to win 24-6.

Navy took the lead early in the first quarter, when quarterback Keenan Reynolds was able to run into the end zone for a three-yard score. The two teams then went into field goal mode, with Middle Tennessee State kicking two and Navy kicking one, making the score 10-6 heading into the second half.

It was a chippy game, with multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, a targeting ejection, an ugly incident in which a Blue Raiders player attempted to stick his fingers inside Reynolds’ facemask, and a nasty collision just before the end of the first half that left players from both teams down on the field. Much of the dirtiness of the game fell on the side of Middle Tennessee State, which saw Roderic Blunt (the aforementioned finger-jammer) ejected after two unsportsmanlike penalties.

That was a shame, since most of the MTSU players just played hard.

(action photos: yahoo college football)

December 30, 2013 Posted by | college football, football, travel | , | 2 Comments

In Fort Worth….Armed Forces Bowl tomorrow

We are seeing fans arrive for tomorrow’s bowl game. The cold weather arrived as well; right at freezing for kickoff (like a Big Ten game!) But at least it should be dry.

Fortunately I got to see my daughter prior to leaving Austin. IH-35 was still bad (on that 40 mile stretch which contains Waco in the middle).

Note: Barbara and I were interviewed at the rest stop off of US 69 near the Oklahoma/Texas border. You can see it here:

Nothing earth shattering and you can have a complete life without seeing it. 😉

December 30, 2013 Posted by | travel | , | Leave a comment

Around the Hike and Bike one more time…

Town-Lake-Hike-and-Bike

(click for a larger photo)

Today’s workout: 4+ mile walk (not timed) and pull ups: 5-5-10-10-10-5-5; I walked just over .25 miles, did the pull ups and then finished the walk. The pull ups were a struggle until I warmed up.

It was clear, hilly (35 F at first) and the trail was, while not crowded, well populated with runners.

The pink cinder colored trail crunched beneath my “too slow” footsteps and, as I was walking, I frequently heard the quick crunching of runners coming up behind me and passing. Many had dogs (mostly on leashes) and there were a lot of women, mostly in the uniform of black running tights.

Most where 8-10 minute per mile runners; here and there you had some university cross country runners with their thin bodies, erect postures and quick cadence. There were a few walkers and a few beginners.

There were a couple of crazy people too; one yelled BITCH very loudly as a runner (a male!) came by; I wasn’t sure if he was yelling at that runner or fighting some internal mental battle. Then there was someone yelling at the runners from a bridge.

There were also a few crew teams rowing on Lady Bird Lake (the “little” Colorado River).

The saddest part: as I drove back from the trail to the hotel, there was a collection of young men standing around at the entrance to a Home Depot parking lot. They were looking to be picked up for work; they aren’t lazy; the WANT to work. So they come and take their chances with contractors. So they stand out on the cold, taking their chances.

The only good news is that Austin seems to be a perpetual construction capital; there are things going up all over the place.

December 29, 2013 Posted by | walking | , | Leave a comment

Another Austin day….

This trip, Barbara and I had some good food. One of the places: New Indian Cuisine (on South Congress, green building not far from Oltorf). Meals: 10-15 dollars for most dishes; they have gluten free and vegan dishes. The food and service is very good.

We also had some Mexican food at Taqueria Arandas (on South First, close to Oltorf); very quick, inexpensive and delicious. Little Mexico (also on South First; a bit closer to downtown) is good too.

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This Christmas display is up on one of the walls in Little Mexico. You can see the influence that the local culture has on religion in this region.

I also rediscovered the Zilker Garden. Here is one photo I took of it:

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Here is one of Barbara’s:

zilkergarden

Since Barbara can only walk a short distance, I wheeled her around. Then we went and got Mom (who is 87 and frail) and I wheeled her around too. Though the whole park is not ADA certified accessible, MUCH of it is and I can recommend it to the mobility impaired. A reasonably fit, non-elderly male should be able to wheel a normal sized person up those hills. It is cheap too; 2 dollars per adult and 1 dollar for someone 62 years old or older.

This is not a park to hike or run in, but it is very peaceful to walk around in and perfect for those who love botany.

Mom is suffering from dementia but found enough in the garden to be entertained.

December 29, 2013 Posted by | travel | , | Leave a comment

Embarrassment on the Hike and Bike trail

The good news: I enjoyed my run. I did have to stop once to smooth the tongue in my shoe (it was bunching and putting pressure on my instep) and I had a rock.

The ok news: 45 F, and the 8 miles took me 1:20:05.

The bad news: this run was work…not a race effort, but work. And my goodness, I must have gotten passed scores of times. 15 years ago (or longer), I only got passed by “team” members. Then..it was the fitter looking guys passing me. Then it was the fitter looking men and women. Then it was average looking men. Now: it is average looking men and women; it is as if I am running in place. And you see the trajectory…

But there is an interesting mathematical modeling thing going on. Imagine the pace of the runners being plotted on a normal density curve; faster paces to the right, slower to the left. Also remember that, given that people start at different places on the trail, run in different directions and start at different times, you’ll neither be passed by nor pass most of the runners out there. So, I’ll have to work on this and see how one might model this. But what I do know is that I get passed by runners far more than I pass other runners. Does this mean that my pace is slower than the mean pace? My first guess is yes, but I have to think about this one.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | running, statistics | | Leave a comment

How to try on spandex workout gear

Great advice is given here. It is a pretty good demonstration too. 🙂

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Click on the small photo to see the big one at the website.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | big butts, spandex, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Armed Forces Bowl…Navy vs. Middle Tennessee

Navy versus Middle Tennessee.

On paper, Navy should be favored. The Sagarin ratings: Navy 72.16, Middle Tennessee 62.68. You can see the schedules:

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Navy has played a harder schedule and boasts a win over Pitt. Middle Tennessee’s best win was over Marshall.

Both teams won by running the ball; Middle Tennessee won 6 games in a row at the end of the season.

Due to this being the Armed Forces Bowl, Navy will probably have more fans.

Nevertheless: this is a trap. Middle Tennessee IS capable of beating Navy, and Navy has lost to Toledo and to Western Kentucky. And, when this game was announced, some Navy fans expressed disappointment that the opponent wasn’t a higher profile opponent.

If the Navy team has that attitude, it might be in for a rude awakening. If Navy shows up, it should win a hard fought game.

I’ll be optimistic and assume that Navy shows up. The running will make the clock wind down very quickly and that might keep the score down. I call it 28-24 Navy.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | college football, football | , , | 1 Comment

Austin Hike and Bike: improvements…and not being able to go home again

This morning’s run: 55 minutes (about 5 miles) on the Hike and Bike; I entered next Krieg Field, ran across Longhorn Dam and did some out and back.

But finding the entrance is an adventure. The Hike and Bike is undergoing a revision; there is a boardwalk being constructed that will enable runners to make the whole circle without running on the sidewalks, crossing streets, etc.

But this construction has closed up stuff and I couldn’t access the trail in the usual way.

So I drove to Travis High School (where I graduated) to use the track. But that has been fenced off and locked up (that is relatively new).

So I followed Riverside drive until I could find an access…that process took almost an hour!

December 27, 2013 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

Fundies and woo-woos and bees….

Right now, I am hoping to run outside but I might have to deal with some chilly rain. It might be a good “go to the track” day?

I was scanning Facebook and I saw this:

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You sometimes see this meme repeated by creationists.

Now, of course, what happened is that somewhere, some scientist or engineer did a calculation using an oversimplified model (back of the envelope calculation?) that said that the bee shouldn’t be able to fly; perhaps it was done in an informal setting or perhaps it was done to show that a model was inadequate in certain cases.

Anyone who understands science and engineering knows that. Here is a longer history of this misconception.

So why does such nonsense have so much power? My guesses:

Often, the statement is made in a distinctly disparaging tone aimed at putting down those know-it-all scientists and engineers who are so smart yet can’t manage to understand something that’s apparent to everyone else.

And the morals drawn from the tale are many, including the notion of persisting with a new idea in the face of dogmatic adherence to old standards and maxims.

So, when a scientist points out that much of what a fundie believes is impossible, they can counter with this “see, science doesn’t know everything!”. A woo-woo probably likes this for the same reason.

Of course, these people share such memes via the internet, on computers, via radio, television (transmitted via satellite)…blissfully unaware of the unintended irony.

But hey, remember this: science says that YOU can’t fly, so you can always prove those scientists wrong by going to the top of a very tall bridge…and taking the “leap of faith”. Just make sure no one is under you, ok? 😉

December 27, 2013 Posted by | religion, science | , | Leave a comment