blueollie

Random thoughts (all over the map)

I am nearing the end of summer break and am going over the diagrams for a paper that I’ll be submitting in 3 week’s time. This means: finishing research, starting on my next project, preparing for class, taking a look at search committee stuff, etc.

Though I have been paying attention to politics, I find much of the discussion to be depressing.

On one hand, the Republicans have gotten their people, including those conservatives that do not like Trump, to trust only conservative media sources (e. g., Fox News). So many really believe, say, that Trump is doing better than any past POTUS over the past 40 years (in terms of GDP growth) ..and this is based on, well, one strong quarter of growth being extrapolated. Of course, the growth might well have been due to businesses preparing for the trade wars and a one-time bump.

But try getting them to even read a graph, much less accept that it is a true one.

But being “sure” is not limited to “their team.” I know that issues are complicated and have many facets to them. Nevertheless, so many, including those who vote the way that I do, are just so “SURE” of things.
When one wants to “speak the truth” one has to actually KNOW “the truth” and few are experts on ANYTHING much less experts on everything.

I just find it astonishing that I have so many doubts about things that I’ve thought hard about, and so many others appear to have no doubts at all.

Sports: I still am in “baseball” mode but I just made my annual purchase of football magazines. I’ll be coming up with predictions soon and, of course, I plan to make a few games. I have season tickets for Illinois but hope to make a few Illinois State games, and perhaps a couple of Bears and 3-4 Colts games.

I did read about Texas football getting ready to make a 175 million dollar renovation to their football stadium. Yes, no tuition funds or tax payer funds will be used..and yes, the University of Texas has that kind of fund raising power. This means that, well…the kind of win/loss records we have seen over the past 5 years is unacceptable: 8-5, 6-7, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 = 31-32. Contrast that with, say, Iowa: 8-5, 7-6, 12-2, 8-5, 8-5 = 43-23.

But doesn’t Texas have more money, a bigger stadium, bigger following and bigger drawing power than Iowa? Well, it might just be that the money might actually be counter productive at times. After all, big donors EXPECT to have some say in the program right? But said donors don’t necessarily know all that much about football. Big money can be a two edged sword.

Well, more on football later.

And there is still quite a bit of baseball to play and, who knows..perhaps some Cornbelter playoff ball too?

Workout notes: weights then 5 miles of walking.

weights: 15-15-10-10 pull ups, incline: 10 x 135, 6 x 150, decline: 6 x 170, military (standing dumbbell) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, Hammer machine: 10 x 140, rows: dumbbell: 2 sets of 10 x 50, 10 x 110 machine. Then the walk: 5K on the track 1 easy (13:36, 13:01, 12:15 (38:52), 40:41 for 25 laps.The faster miles were 1 on, 1 off, but the last 2 laps of mile 3 were done hard. Then 2 more outside.

Later: yoga, got 2:15 of plank before class. Did abs; this was one of Vickie’s harder routines.

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August 9, 2018 Posted by | baseball, college football, economy, NFL, political/social, politics, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

My 2017 in review

This is my 2017 in review. I did this for 2015 and again in 2016.

Of note: my daughter graduated college (her accomplishment, not mine) and I completed my first year at a new rank. Athletically the year was a bit of a bust (no 5K under 27 minutes, only one marathon or beyond finish, best bench press was 200 lbs.) but I was active throughout and I did take some local trips. Of most note: I had a good time with friends, a “tl;dr” collage is here:

January

February

March


April

May

June


I am getting lapped by Jason (1:01:22)

July

August

September

October

November

Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State waits for play to resume against Illinois State during their football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Normal, Ill.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

December


December 31, 2017 Posted by | baseball, basketball, college football, football, Friends, NFL, Peoria, running, travel, walking, yoga | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Football weekend: Illini overwhelmed by Northwestern, Colts can’t finish vs. Titans.

It was another “double” football weekend: this time I got a college game on Saturday and a NFL game on Sunday.

(Northwestern Student Newspaper)

Illinois got overwhelmed by Northwestern 42-7. But the Illini came out and played hard and were actually up 7-0. They stopped NW’s first drive, drove it for a touchdown (quarterback keep did the damage), and then got a spectacular interception to stop NW on drive 2; I thought “hey, maybe…”

But reality took over: the next 3 quarters saw NW put up 14 and the Illini 0: still it was only 14-7 at the half. A strip sack recover pushed it to 21-7 in the 3’rd and then a pretty 79 yard run (to the Illini 1) followed by a TD plunge put the last nail in the coffin. The last quarter saw more dominance and the game ended with NW inside the Illini 10 (after another interception and return); they handed the ball off to a defensive tackle for the final 2 plays of the game.

I feel bad for the players; they really are trying but our best players are young, and even most of the young ones (not all) are those who might play in, say, Conference USA. We do have a few that will probably develop into front line Big Ten players though; we need to add to those via recruiting. I’d say that we are 2 seasons away from reaching, say, 6-6.

Northwestern at Illinois highlights:

Illini good plays:

My photos:

Fall foliage as the Illini band parades by (shot from the upper deck)

Barbara and I took Jacob. It was cool before the sun went down, then it became cold.

Pregame: Illinois band.

Shot from the press box: it was kind of empty. If you look at the left hand 30 yard line and then move up to the entrance just below the upper deck overhang then move right a tiny bit: there we are!

Early action.

Pretty sunset..as the sun went down on the Illini’s chances in this game.

It was very sparse toward the end. Few stayed the entire time.

Titans at Colts

Via: ESPN

Here, early on, it was a battle of field goals; the Titans got the first two, and then the Colts. Interceptions kept the game close; the Colts got a TD to take a 13-6 lead.

Second half, the Colts got the ball and kept it for 9 minutes and kicked a field goal; it was now 16-6 and looking good.

But the momentum shifted when the Colts fumbled a bad pitchout in their own end of the field; that set up a Titan touchdown. Then a 70 plus drive by the Titans put them in the lead 20-16 and, though it was only a 4 point lead, the Colts became punchless. That is how it ended.

Titans at Colts highlights:

My photos:

This ramp leads toward the Verizon entrance at Lucas Oil Stadium. A year ago, Barbara entered this ramp (not thinking anything about it) and was allowed in. I tried to enter and was told to go around the corner (perhaps 100-200 more yards) and go up the steps. I was puzzled..and the person at the entrance said that this entrance was for club seat ticket holders and for the “elderly and handicapped!” (he let Barbara through but not me).

I almost collapsed from laughter …and every since Barbara has taken the ramp and left me to trudge to the steps.

So, this time, I gave Barbara a hard time and this is how she responded…

Jacob, his roommate Bryan and Babs read for the game.

The roof was open (first game there when it was); I was worried that I might be underdressed. But it was warmer in the stands that I thought it would be.

Yes, I bought a Colts stocking cap.

The Colts enter the field.

That is one large flag.

There were quite a few empty seats early: (not usually the case at Lucas)

It was only 20-16 with 2:50, but the Colts have not finished games all season long. The fans were gone though, in my mind, the game’s outcome was still in doubt.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, NFL | , | Leave a comment

A bizarre Illinois State vs. North Dakota State game

When I saw that North Dakota State (seeded 2 in the FCS playoffs) was coming to play Illinois State, I wanted to go. NDSU had won 5 of the 6 past FCS National Championships and Illinois State has been a playoff team for several years in a row, making it to the finals in 2015. But this year, they were 6-5 going into this game and needed a win to make the play offs.

They didn’t get it; they lost 20-7 in a game that saw them have some chances. Oh, NDSU is better but..for this game, ISU made it interesting but made some key mistakes that cost them dearly.

But what I will remember is the weather: first it was a cold, driving rain (Mat and I were ready for it). Then..and I was unaware (ISU was prepared) came the sleet then came blowing, driving snow..all in the first half! It snowed for half of the second half and then the weather got a bit better.

But back to the game: NDSU drove the ball well (mostly on running but, when they got close to the red zone, got sacked. NDSU punted from the 32 (or so). Remember, it was raining hard; field position would be a factor. They got another drive but the same thing happened; they got close, got sacked, had to punt. So that was the first quarter (NDSU ran and ate up clock). Total yards were about 80-20, but it was 0-0.

Then the defenses more or less took over in the second quarter (as the sleet, then snow came) and the mercifully quick first half ended 0-0.

The second half: Illinois State stalled and had to punt into a stiff wind on a snowy field. The defense got a stop..but a roughing the punter penalty gave NDSU new life and they scored off of running.

Next possession; ISU gets intercepted and the defender made a highlight worthy run back to set up the NDSU offense. They punch it in but miss the point; 13-0. I figure it is over.

Not much happens on the snow covered field until the it stops snowing. Finally, with the wind, the ISU offense mixes up some running (had some minor success) with passing and drives for a touchdown. It is 13-7 and ISU starts to use time outs to get the ball back. But two quarter back keeps; the second one works up the middle..the qb was caught from behind, fumbled but NDSU recovers at the 1. They punch it in..and ISU’s game attempt to get back in runs out of steam with just over 1 minute to go in NDSU territory.

Still, it was an interesting ball game between an elite FCS team and a good FCS team.

Mat and I were ready.

Early action.

Then came the snow during the second quarter. They did open up Redbird arena for fans who wanted to watch on TV.

Half time was eerie.

NDSU played better in the 3’rd quarter and built their game winning lead.

Offenses traded touchdown drives in the 4’th quarter, but NDSU had their lead.

Professional photos: (more here)

Jabril Cox of North Dakota State intercepts an Illinois State pass during their football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Normal, Ill.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State waits for play to resume against Illinois State during their football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Normal, Ill.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

November 20, 2017 Posted by | college football, football | , | Leave a comment

Indiana 24, Illinois 14: an awesome first play of the second half.

Ok, at the end of the first half, it was 14-0, Indiana. They hod out gained the Illini 266-72, but mistakes and a dropped “potential pick 6” kept the score down.

Then came the second half.

Wow…14-7 and for the rest of the period, Illinois appeared to sort-of control play.

Indiana got a field goal but Illinois answered.

Look at this one handed catch:

And the touchdown to cut it to 17-14.

But Indiana rallied to get an insurance TD and two turnovers (fumble, interception) sealed the deal.

How the game went: early, the Illini defender fell down leaving the Indiana receiver wide open. The ball hit him in the hands..and he dropped it. It was that kind of game.

Note: the Illinois quarterback was sacked 7 times.

Most of my photos are of the bands; Indiana brought theirs (and a few fans…there weren’t many fans there)

Yes, technically, I am in the photo, on the left side, 32 yard line or so, right under the overhang of the upper deck.

Late arriving crowd; it did get a bit more filled than this…

Armed Forces medley by both bands at the same time.

Cold, discouraged fans leave with 4 minutes to go after Illinois turns it over.

It was Big Ten Football weather.

Before the game: the Illini Band marching to the game.

Oh yes, I did 4 treadmill miles (running) in 45:30 prior to the game.

November 12, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, running, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Trip to Iowa vs. Ohio State: wow!

My friend Tracy is an Ohio State graduate (Woody Hayes days). She wanted to see Ohio State play this year and when I saw that they were going to be playing at Iowa, I got tickets.

(tip: I paid face value for end zone tickets via the school; row 31 of section 215. I could have gotten sideline seats for the same price (with fees) the week of the game via the secondary market)

I’ll post my photos below. The game: it ended 55-24, Iowa; I sure did not expect that. It was a combination of big plays (4 interceptions by the Iowa defense, including a one-handed interception at the Iowa one; see the highlights at 10:50, a big trick play (polecat) off of a field goal formation (see 7:30 of the video) and domination of the line of scrimmage. Iowa running backs had huge holes to run through for most of the game.

It started with a pick 6 on the first play of the game. But 2 minutes later, Ohio State completed an easy long drive; receivers were wide open on almost every play. So, I settled in for a shoot out at 7-7. And so it went; the teams matched drives, field goals and touchdowns until Iowa took the lead at 24-17. With 1:4x to go, Ohio State started their drive, only to throw their second interception. Iowa cashed in with a last second touchdown to take a 31-17 lead into the half; both teams had a ton of yards.

So I figured it was still a competitive game.

Second half: Ohio State kicked off; pinned Iowa inside their own 10 and kept them bottled up. But the Iowa defense stopped them and wouldn’t let OSU take advantage of their field position. Then with 6 minutes to go, Iowa mounted a drive, mixing running and passing; that made it 38-17 and OSU was in trouble.

Another stop and Iowa was driving again and scored just into the 4’th quarter to make it 45-17. Another interception set up a field goal to make it 48-17.

Then Ohio State tried to rally; an interception (one handed) ended an OSU drive at the Iowa 1. A bizarre call (fake punt with 4’th and 9 at the Iowa 12) was stopped and gave Ohio State a touchdown. But an onside kick failed, and Iowa completed the rout with another drive (running up the middle) to complete the scoring at 55-24.

Now about the trip:

Tracy and me on the Hawkeye Express train from a remote lot to the stadium (15 dollars each way; kind of fun..and yes, this was an honest train on train track)

Tracy and me at the stadium; note that Iowa fans get there early.

The “hospital wave” between the first and second quarter.

Ohio State participated in the wave.

Early action

Toward the end of the game; the empties you see in the opposite end zone were where some Ohio State fans were.

Bedlam. Fans storm the field.

Yes, I got in a 4 mile Bradley Park run prior to making the trip. I got in a 15 mile walk this morning too.

November 5, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, Friends, running, travel, walking | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Freezes Illinois 24-10

First things first: I did get in a 4 mile run before the game, and a 16 mile walk this morning; did 4.3 first, then 11.5 plus a bit more. I did throw a mini tantrum when I thought that I had lost my glove (first bathroom stop); my course was the Cornstalk 4.3 followed by to the Heights Tower and back. Sunny and chilly; my pace was uninspiring.

The game:

Ok, yes, Wisconsin has a solid team. But Illinois played them by stacking 7-8 men near the line of scrimmage and dared them to throw..and they couldn’t..at least not consistently. But they do have better players, and, as usual, Illinois made key mistakes (12 man on the field on 4’th down kept a Wisconsin TD drive alive, and two rather bad interceptions) and ended up losing 24-10. Illinois did have a touchdown in the final minute to make the score closer than the game really was.

Neither team did much early, though the Illinois defense stopped the Badgers after they got an interception. But the aforementioned penalty kept a 92 yard Wisconsin drive alive for a 7-0 lead; eventually it was pushed to a 14-0 lead. Illinois got a field goal near the end of the half, but Wisconsin got a good drive with less than a minute to go and kicked a 52 yard field goal as time expired in the half. Illinois tried to “ice” the kicker with 3 time outs, but as cold as it was, it did not work.

The last Wisconsin drive featured a nifty 3x yard run by the backup running back (see it at 45 seconds into the Wisconsin highlight video from Wisconsin) and ended with a trick play: a backwards pass to a tackle for a 4 yard touchdown.

Big Ten highlights

Illinois did have some highlight plays and the backup quarterback did some good running. But the quarterbacks were sacked too many times.

Full game:

Photos:

Yes, there were some snow showers/drizzle.

I must be nuts.

Few fans lasted the whole way.

42K was the official attendance. Guesses: maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of that.

October 30, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, running, walking | | Leave a comment

Confusing the individual with the aggregate

One of the things that fascinated me was radioactive decay. If you were given a certain amount of a radioactive isotope, you can deduce how much will be left (not decayed) after a certain amount of time. In fact, you can do this so accurately that you can base a precision clock on it.

However, it is impossible to determine WHICH atom will decay, no matter how much information you have about it. I don’t mean that it is practically impossible but rather that it is literally impossible. And the individual atoms will decay at different times.

In short, you have information about the aggregate but not about the individual. Of course, in this example, we are in the range of quantum phenomena.

But this principle, (aggregate vs. the individual) applies when one attempts to make inferences about what will happen with a population in which there is a high level of variance within the said population, and people often get confused.

Example: suppose you have two groups of students who are, say, starting a program of study in engineering. One group is the group of students whose math ACT scores are 22, and the other group has math ACT scores of 30. The harsh reality is that the group of students with a score of 22 will have very little success; there may well be a few individuals who make it, but the vast majority won’t. And yes, the group with a score of 30 will have some failures, but they will have many more successes.

So, the ACT score matters and has predictive value. But if you bring this up, someone will remember the person with a 30 who flunked out, and someone with a 22 who made it and claim that means that the “ACT is meaningless”. Psst: that isn’t true.

So yes, there are smokers who live a long time, there are those who drive while texting who don’t get into accidents, etc. But smoking does harm longevity and driving while texting increases one’s risk of having an accident.

Application to Illinois Football Illinois football is starting MANY true freshmen and, well, the record so far is grim (2 wins over weaker non-conference opposition, followed by 5 straight losses against “power 5” caliber opposition (USF isn’t “power 5” but they are an undefeated, ranked team). And prospects for another win this season are grim, with 2 Top 10 teams (Wisconsin, Ohio State) and 3 improved teams (Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern) left to play.

So the PR department is playing this “the future is bright” angle:

And yes, the team is playing a lot of freshmen.

But: how good is that class? I went on ESPN and looked at how the Big Ten 2017 recruiting classes were ranked:

Top 10: Ohio State, Michigan
10-25: Penn State, Maryland, Nebraska
26-39: Michigan State
40-49: Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern
50-59: Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue.

So, based on talent, we *might* be able to hang with Rutgers, Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue, youth or no youth.

Now yes, measuring recruiting is tough to do, and there is always that individual “lightly regarded” recruit who blossoms into an NFL player. It does happen..individually. But a team composed of lightly regarded recruits is rarely, if ever, successful.

Workout notes: yesterday, wet 10K walk (untimed). today: weights. Pull ups were a struggle, so I did a couple of 5-5 sets then 2 sets of 10, one of 7-3 (50 total). (switched grip), usual PT, incline presses: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 6 x 150, military (dumbbell: 10 x 50, 10 x 45) 10 x 180 machine (90 each arm), rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. Then a chilly 5K walk outside.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | college football, education, football, science, statistics, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Has Illinois Football hit rock bottom? Lose at home to Rutgers 35-24

Ok, my 4 mile training run prior to the game went ok. But in terms of college football: Illinois State got stomped 42-7 at Southern Illinois, Texas lost 29-24 to Oklahoma (but came back valiantly) and Navy’s rally came up short against a strong Memphis team 30-27. I saw the last quarter of the latter on TV and the last couple of minutes of the Texas vs. OU game.

But I was there for the Illinois vs. Rutgers debacle.

This is the kind of game it was: 54 yard field goal attempt hits the upright:
We had a fluky interception while the game was still competitive (sort of)
We also had a boneheded play on a punt.

But I suppose this blog post summed it up

Ok, how did it go, really?

Well, in terms of stats, Illinois had a slight edge, due to Rutgers sitting on the ball in the 4’th quarter and a couple of late touchdown drives to make the score slightly more respectable. But Rutgers rushed for 274 yards, including 106 in the first 17 minutes of the game.

The game started with an exchange of punts, then Rutgers fumbled the ball away at the 30. The offense managed to lose 7 yards on their drive and Illinois 54 yard field goal attempt hit the upright.

From then on: mostly Rutgers. A long drive (mostly running) lead to the 7-0 score; Illinois countered with a nice drive to cut the lead to 7-3, but then another long drive put Rutgers up 14-3.

The Illini hit some passes to get it down close, then on 4’th and goal, well, upon review..Illinois was given the touchdown..oh-so-close.

No problem..Rutgers with another long drive and they are up 21-10 at the half.

Illinois opening drive in the second half ended with a fluke interception.

But in this quarter, Illinois mostly stopped Rutgers…EXCEPT for this dreadful play on a Rutgers punt (what was the Illinois guy thinking?)

Rutgers punched it in and it was now 28-10 and the fans started to leave in droves.

Some nice passing put Illinois within 11 at 28-17 with about 8 minutes to go…no worries…another long drive put the game away at 35-17, though we did have one garbage time TD with just over a minute to go.

Highlights:

Photos:

Our seats (white box)

The band.

Not a huge crowd at kick off.

Barbara was a good sport.

Click to see the larger panoramic photo of the emptying stadium..

October 15, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, running, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

The Illinois “oh no…I’ve been drinking the orange kool-aid game”

I started getting season tickets for Illinois football in 2011. Every season, they have that one home game where they lay an egg..or rather, get exposed. Ok, this season, I think it was the Nebraska game; Nebraska was a 6.5 point favorite but many Illinois fans (myself included) smelled “upset”. Nebraska dominated 28-6 in a game that wasn’t even that close; Nebraska had 8 possessions: 4 touchdowns, “victory formation” at the end of the game (passing up a final score), a fumble and 2 punts.

Today, Illinois played a good first half, but killed themselves with drive stopping penalties and a end zone interception, and fell asleep on a fake punt.

Photo from the Illinois Football photo gallery.

Still, it was a good game at the half (17-13, Hawkeyes). Second half: 28-3 Iowa, which included a pick-6 and another interception return to set up a touchdown toward the end.

It finished 45-16, though Illinois had a slight edge in total yards.

It is going to be a long season as Lovie Smith builds the program from the ground up. And, to be bunt: yes, some of the current freshman starters will emerge into stars, but some (many) will be displaced by more talented players in the future.
You can’t really call this “rebuilding”; this is “building from scratch”.

Past “oh s*it” Illinois home games:

2011: Illini start with 6 straight wins: Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Arizona State (ranked at the time, finished 6-7), Western Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana (road).

But then came Ohio State and a 17-7 loss at home that let the air out of the balloon. Who knew that Ohio State, Michigan, wisconsin and Penn State would be a step up in competition?

2012: Illinois was 2-1 though they had gotten hammered by a strong Arizona State team on the road..and hosted Louisiana Tech…it ended up 52-24, but that was because of an Illinois garbage time touchdown at the end. No more wins the rest of the way.

2013: Illinois was 3-2 with a respectable “Chicago home field” loss to a ranked Washington team and one hammering at Nebraska and a very nice home win vs. Cincinnati. Still, a bowl seemed reachable..and Illinois hosted Wisconsin after a bye week. Night game…and early in the first quarter Wisconsin was up 21-0. It ended up 56-32 with Illinois getting a garbage time TD.

2014: This bowl season had a couple of lows. Illinois came into the Purdue game 3-2, albeit with some blowout losses on the road. But winless Purdue seemed to be beatable…and Purdue hit repeated long runs for touchdowns. The fans almost openly rebelled (booing).

Illinois rebounded for a nice win vs. Minnesota (who had a good team) and was 4-5 going into the Iowa game. That was a time for the team to make a statement…and Iowa blew Illinois away 30-14 which drove the fans into open rebellion (boos, and an empty stadium the next week vs. Penn State).

But Illinois rallied to beat Penn State and Northwestern and make a bowl.

2015: This was even keeled, sort of. There was a bad loss to North Carolina and a tough, hard fought loss to Iowa (on the road), plus a nice upset of Nebraska. Illinois was 4-2 when Wisconsin came visiting. When Wisconsin left, Illinois was 4-3, and was to win only one more game the rest of the year.

2016: well, this season ended 3-9 but Illinois was 1-1 after an easy win over an FCS program and a big loss (48-23) to a strong North Carolina team (sell out!). A good Western Michigan team visited (still a MAC team) and pounded Illinois 34-10, passing on a “style points” touchdown toward the end. That made it clear what was going to happen the rest of the way (though Illinois managed a couple of Big Ten wins along the way).

October 7, 2017 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment