Illinois retains Coach Beckman: the right call.

Workout notes: easy untimed 5 mile walk (cornstalk course).

Football: Illinois has announced that Tim Beckman will be retained as head coach.

Yes, Illinois finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the Big Ten; yes in 2011, Ron Zook was fired with a 6-6 record (2-4 Big Ten).
But this team has played a bit better than Zook’s final team, as the best 2011 wins came against two 6-7 teams: Northwestern and Arizona State. Note: Illinois did beat Hugh Freeze’s Arkansas State squad in the opener; ASU won the Sun Belt that year. (Hugh Freeze is the current Mississippi coach).

This 6-6 team beat Minnesota and Penn State and a decent conference USA team (Western Kentucky).

Yes, I know; such a performance would get him fired at a higher profile program. But we are NOT Nebraska, Ohio State or Alabama…not in football.

As far as dwindling fan support: yes that is a problem.


The 2015 home schedule features Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Northwestern… that should mask some of the attendance issues.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

Illinois breaks even; whips Northwestern 47-33

Allow me to quote myself after Illinois beat FCS Youngstown State and Sun Belt Western Kentucky:

So, attempting to be realistic:

Illinois should be favored against Texas State and Purdue.

Based on ON THE FIELD PERFORMANCE in 2014 and NOT “reputation”:

Illinois should be “in the hunt” in the Washington, Iowa and Northwestern games. (say, 1 or 2 of these)

I think Illinois has a valid “upset possibility” against Minnesota, Penn State and Nebraska. (1 of these)

The “forget about it” games: Wisconsin and Ohio State.

So, I think that 6-7 wins is a realistic possibility, though so is 4-5 wins.

So, The got 1 “in the hunt” game, 2 of the “upset possibility” games, but lost to Purdue.

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I watched this one on television and completely enjoyed it. Yes, I know, NW played without their starting quarterback, but Illinois used the quarterback who was the back up at the start of the season.

Bottom line: Illinois outgained Northwestern 438 to 372 yards and got 5 turn overs and stayed in control of this game pretty much the whole way.

How it happened: Illinois played field position after exchanging some punts and eventually drove it 56 yards for the first touchdown. Then they got an interception and drove it for a second touchdown. A missed extra point kept it at 13-0.

Then in the second quarter: on three consecutive drives, NW had a fumble, interception and fumble. But that only needed Illinois 6 points and a missed field goal.

Then NW returned a kickoff for a touchdown to cut it to 19-7.

But Illinois responded with an 82 yard touchdown drive to go up 26-7.

The Illini got great running (291 yards!) from their quarterback (147 yards) and from both running backs (95 and 51 yards) and passed just enough to keep NW off balance.

The second half: more nervousness as Illinois threw an interception which NW converted into a field goal. But Illinois responded with a 75 yard touchdown drive to get it to 33-10. But NW got their first good drive (75 yards) to pull to within 33-17, which was the score going into the 4’th.

NW got a stop and then another touchdown drive with 2 point conversion; it was now 33-25 with a ton of time left in the 4’th.

But then the offense stepped it up and responded beautifully with a long drive. It was now 40-25.

Then the defense stepped up. They forced a punt.

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Illinois punted and on the ensuing NW possession, the star Illinois linebacker intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown. It was now 47-25 with just over 6 minutes to go.

NW still had one drive left and scored with 1:28 left in the game and hit a 2 point conversion. But Illinois recovered the onside kick.

What a way to end the season: two Big Ten wins in a row. Illinois opened the Big Ten season with 3 discouraging losses (Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue) and went went 3-2 the rest of the way.

Other games
Navy broke open a close game against South Alabama to take a 42-27 lead and then barely held on to win 42-40 when USA’s had TWO consecutive two point scores nullified by penalties.


Notre Dame: bombed by USC 49-14; they were down 35-7 at the half. ND just doesn’t have the depth to recover from injuries; they are like an FCS team that has good starters but not much after that.

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Notre Dame is 7-5, Texas is 6-6, Illinois is 6-6, Navy is 6-5 with Army coming up in two weeks.
Frankly: right now, AT THIS point in the season, I’d rank them: Illinois, Texas, (yes, I saw the TCU game), Notre Dame and Navy (latter two are close). Two months ago, I’d never dreamed that I’d be saying that.

Look at the wins:
Illinois: Minnesota, Penn State, Northwestern, Western Kentucky, Texas State, Youngstown State (FCS)
Notre Dame: Stanford, North Carolina, Navy, Michigan, Rice, Syracuse, Purdue
Texas: West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Iowa State, North Texas
Navy: Georgia Southern, Temple, San Jose State, Texas State, South Alabama, VMI (FCS)

Note: Northwestern beat Notre Dame, Western Kentucky beat Navy, Purdue beat Illinois

Photos: Navy vs. USA: Rest:

November 30, 2014 Posted by | college football, football, Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

FOLEPI 2014 (Festival of Lycra, East Peoria)

Ok, it is actually “Festival of Lights, East Peoria” but…:-)

I did this in 2008 and 2011.

This time: Olivia and Barbara went with me and walked the 2 mile which started 30 minutes earlier. It took them 33 minutes.

Just the facts:

8:13/7:55/8:04 (24:13)/8:18 (32:31) (32:36, but 5 seconds to the start). This was my slowest one ever, but I was feeling the effects of my 3 mile race on Thursday (two days ago). I wasn’t quite recovered.

Place: 130/368, 8 of 11 in M 55-59.

I took the bus and and sat with Bill Holmes; we chatted about our various ailments. I had time to stretch the back and jog a couple of miles; I noticed that there was still frost on parts of the shaded blacktop…which was seal coated. But it wasn’t really slick for the race.

I lined up with Mardi and got ahead of her; it turns out that I accidentally bumped the “socks lady” I apologized and she didn’t seem too disturbed.

I weaved in and out…8:13 was a bit slower than I had hoped. I picked it up slightly at mile 2 but most of these folks got me back. That was 7:55. The crowd started to leave me close to mile 3 and I got into this “just finish steadily” mode; I wasn’t dogging it but it was a bit of a struggle. I was working.

But no walking this time…I finally saw mile 3 (8:04) and told myself: “don’t fade”. Last mile: I got passed a few times; couldn’t stay with the socks lady or a couple of others; one lady caught me at the finish line (I was warned.). Both of us chuckled a bit. What bothered me more is that some grey beards got me too.

Afterward, ..I saw Mardi finish and then saw T take a few minutes off her recent times; she is coming back strong. I know that Crystal was pumped about her sub 30 finish.

We ate (pizza, sandwiches) and I am now watching the Northwestern vs. Illinois slugfest.

November 29, 2014 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

“Diminishing Returns”: different uses of the word..

Workout notes Weights only.

pull ups: 5 sets of 10, with hip hikes and Achilles
bench presses: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 3 x 180, 9 x 160 (not as good as last time)
rotator cuff and weightless squats
seated military presses: 3 sets of 12 x 50 seated, supported (dumbbells) super set with
one armed rows: 3 sets of 10 x 65
pull downs: 3 sets of (7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low) super set with
Hammer rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200.

That’s pretty much it.

I read Paul Krugman’s blog; here he critiques a paper. The quantity in question is the area between the linear approximation of a function by its derivative (the linearization of a function) and the function itself in the case where the function is concave (concave down; e. g. has negative second derivative).


The phrase “diminishing returns” is used; in this case, it appears to mean the region over which the function’s second derivative is “sufficiently negative”.

I’ve always reserved this term for the point at which the function switches from being convex to concave, as it does in the logistic function:


The concept isn’t that hard to master. Consider the case of a runner training for a 5K race. The initial amount of training brings the most improvement. But as one approaches one’s genetic limitation, one must train more in order to make even small improvements. Example: when I was in my 30’s, moving from 15 to 25 miles a week got me from 24 to 21 minutes in the 5K, but moving from 21 to barely under 20 took me doing 40-50 miles per week. The faster I got, the more I had to run just to improve a small amount.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | economics, running, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

TCU 48, Texas 10

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Yes, it was a beat down, though TCU was up 20-3 going into the 4’th quarter. 31 points came off of 6 Texas turnovers (2 interceptions, 4 lost fumbles); included was a fumble return, pick-6, and a touchdown set up off of a muffed punt.

Total yards: 368 to 290 for the Frogs.

Make no mistake: it was a beat down and TCU simply had more talent than Texas does.

But what was obscured is that Texas DID make a credible effort on defense; they stayed in the game far longer than the putrid play on offense and special teams entitled them to.

Note: our NFL games (34-17 Lions over Bears, 33-10 Eagles over Cowboys) were not competitive either. Talk about a Thanksgiving blowout.

Personally: I hope that the Frogs make the final 4.
About the Longhorns: remember that the defense did play reasonably well; I think that Coach Strong has them going in the right direction. They’ll have to catch up on talent though.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | college football, football | , | Leave a comment

Fun Snickers Commercial

From the first 2 seconds

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November 27, 2014 Posted by | big butts, butt, spandex | 3 Comments

I am not slowing down with age…and the globe isn’t warming either.

No, I am not slowing down with age.


1. Tracy Trot 4 miler: 2013: 33:07. 2014: 32:59.
2. Turkey Trot 3 miler: 2013: 24:56. 2014: 24:53
3. River Run: (Certified course) 2011: 26:56. 2012: 25:03 2013: 24:56 2014: 24:42
4. Race for the Cure: 2012: 25:13. 2013: 25:48. 2014: 25:27
5. Run to Remember: 2012: 24:34. 2014: 24:17
6. Best 4 5K runs: 2011: 25:43. 2012: 25:01 2013: 25:04 2014: 24:56

So, by all but one metric (Race for the Cure), I am getting faster with age!

Is that absurd?

Of course it is; in 1998 I ran a few 5Ks under 20 minutes; from 1997 to 1999 I was typically under 21 and my last sub 21 was in 2001; last 7 minutes a mile pace or faster was 2002.

What the mild “local improvement” represents is my improving after knee surgery in 2010; in 2009 I was running mostly 24:00 to 24:20 or so.

Why I bring this up: you see similar absurdities in climate change denial.


November 27, 2014 Posted by | climate change, environment, science, statistics | , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Turkey 3 mile (4.8 km)

The facts: 28 F (-2 C); dry course, overcast day; slight breeze.

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Splits: 8:21, 8:01, 8:29 (24:53 by my watch) This was 3 seconds faster than I did last year.

I parked by the Riverplex and got in just over 2 miles of easy running; when it is this cold I need to get warm. I lined up in the upper 1/4’th of the pack as that is where I usually finish in a race of this size.

While warming up, I saw some of the eventual leaders warming up….different league entirely. The top 4 or so were under 15 minutes; the top two were under 14. They had some talent here. 🙂

At the start, I had only a little bit of broken field running; we go up a small hill and I was working oh-so-slightly too hard at first. I knew that I needed to relax a bit.

While there was the usual assortment of shiny spandex and VPLs, I kept looking for familiar targets…and then I saw the red shirt and swinging blonde hair; I decided to aim at Mardi.


I caught her at mile 1; it turns out that she was in “participation mode” today so I moved on. She has whipped me more than once this season. I was surprised at how good I felt; then the 8:21 time revealed why I felt ok.

The second mile leaves the city street and moves to the path by the river; this allows for you to go down the hill that you climbed and I managed to make up some time. I also passed many; I was to see a few of these people later. Perhaps 8:01 was a bit too enthusiastic for me today. But I had to try.

Then came the long stretch to the finish. I was tiring. I kept telling me that Mardi was on my shoulder; she wasn’t but others were. That kept me going. I just have no finishing kick at all; but I have to remember that I am less than 3 weeks removed from a 30 mile trail walk and I haven’t done much beyond tempo running in training.

So, given where I am, I’ll have to call this a success. This wasn’t as good as the Tracy Trot 4 miler (that equates to 24:20 for 3 miles) but that was a day when it was 15 degrees warmer. And that was before the 30 miler.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | running | , , | 3 Comments

A few (of many) reasons an honest discussion of race in the US is very difficult

Workout notes: easy untimed 5 mile walk (Cornstalk)

I remembered Attorney General Holder saying this:

In his first major speech since being confirmed, the nation’s first black attorney general told an overflow crowd celebrating Black History Month at the Justice Department the nation remains “voluntarily socially segregated.”

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder declared.

Holder urged Americans of all races to use Black History Month as a time to have a forthright national conversation between blacks and whites to discuss aspects of race which are ignored because they are uncomfortable.

The attorney general said employees across the country “have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace,” but he noted that “certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.”

And yes, it is true. In my *opinion*, the reasons are many.

For one: when the subject is highly emotional, it is easy to forget to both speak and reason carefully. For another: quite frankly, many don’t have strong logical and reasoning skills. They know how they feel, but they often don’t articulate clearly or precisely.

So, typically, one of two things happens:

1. People, often white people, say what is on their minds and, to be blunt, much of what they think is obviously true is either erroneous or a grossly incomplete understanding of what is going on. But instead of being engaged in a respectful manner, they are shouted down (often by while liberals) as being racist and ignorant. So they leave thinking that what they believe is actually true, but too…well…uncomfortable to say in polite company.

2. People, often racial minorities, deny uncomfortable truths (e. g. that violence occurs at higher rates in poor, minority communities, or that college entrance tests have predictive power, at least on a statistical level) than it does elsewhere.

So, attempts to have a “dialogue” often end up with white liberals pontificating about how non-racist they are and people politely listening to minorities griping …and then leaving without a thing being changed.

My guess: this is an unfortunate side effect of humans being hard wired to reason inductively. Example: you watch a major college basketball team and notice that most teams are predominately black. So the mind forms the erroneous conclusion: “blacks are good at basketball”.

As far as books that discuss race issues honestly, I can recommend:

Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature; this isn’t about race but about human violence. It gives a detailed discussion of why violence rates in poor black communities are so high.

Andrew Hacker’s Two Nations Though the book is over 20 years old, it has plenty to say about what is going on today.

William Julius Wilson’s When Work Disappears: this book discusses some of the reasons social pathologies arise and made accurate predictions about the rise of social pathologies in white blue collar communities.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | books, social/political | | Leave a comment

Bradley Basketball steps up and some Thanksgiving Football…

I didn’t see all of yesterday’s Bradley Basketball game; Bradley beat a decent Texas A&M CC team 52-38 (not a misprint). Bradley was up 22-15 at the half after a 3 point heave went in.

I left at half time as my daughter was arriving at the airport; I did listen to some of the game on the drive to the airport.

The opponent came in with a 2-1 record, with a win over Saint Louis and a loss to Georgetown …they lead that game at the half.

But Bradley played an excellent defensive game; they shut down penetration to the basket and forced TACC into low percentage 3 point shots, most of which they missed.

This WAS a genuine improvement; that was nice to see.

I had thought about checking out an FCS play-off game only 45 minutes away from where I live (on 6 December) but that day, the BU women’s basketball team plays SEC opponent Missouri and I don’t want to miss that.

But there will be some interesting games this Thanksgiving/weekend.

Thanksgiving: TCU travels to Austin to take on the Longhorns who are now playing much better. TCU IS the better team, but a Texas upset is a possibility. Not a high probability possibility, but this game isn’t one of those that is “over before it starts”. Can the Texas defense step up once again?

Navy travels to Mobile, Alabama to take on South Alabama. South Alabama is 6-5 and won’t be a pushover; they hung with South Carolina for a little while. Both teams played Georgia Southern (Navy won big, SA lost) and Texas State (both teams beat Texas State). Though this is a home game for USA, the proximity of navy bases (e. g. Pensacola) should mean that Navy should have a decent crowd.


Notre Dame travels to play USC in a battle of 7-4 squads. Yes, it is easy to say “no game” as Notre Dame has been terrible as of late, especially on defense. But USC hasn’t been overly impressive either. Both teams lost to Arizona State and both teams beat Stanford.
USC will probably win, but it might not be the blowout that some expect.

Illinois travels to Northwestern (Evanston, near Chicago) to play in what amounts to a bowl play off game. The winner goest to 6-6 and goes to a bowl; the loser goes to 5-7 and stays home. Both teams are playing better toward the end of the season, and both teams laid eggs in various games. Which team(s) will show up?

Though I am rooting for the Illini, I think that NW has the short passing game that will loosen UI’s defense and will open up the running game. So if “good” NW shows up, I’ll have to say that they should win. But they’ve laid eggs before. Sadly, I am picking NW. I hope that I am wrong. If my family weren’t hear, I’d travel to this game.

Professional: The Rams play the Raiders at home. That should be a win, but with this Rams team, you never know.

November 26, 2014 Posted by | basketball, college football, football | , , , | Leave a comment