Football tickets are here; magazines purchased…

Way back in “the day” I’d use summer to prepare for football season. Ok, ultimately it didn’t work out for me; I lacked the speed and the power to play beyond high school. But I remained a fan and I always looked forward to the magazines coming out.

Well, now I have mine. :-) Ok, I also bought an autobiography of Justice Sotomayor which I am planning on reading. But of course, i’ve been reading my football magazine and I have a few comments:

Professional: I follow the Bears and the Rams and I expect a 10 win season…for both teams! COMBINED, that is. They’ll be terrible. But I think that I should be able to make the Rams vs. Lions and Buccaneers late in the season; perhaps one other. Maybe I’ll even make a Colts game; they have a late season game against the Texans.


Illinois: good news: the home schedule should be entertaining with games against Kent State, Western Illinois, Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Ohio State. The latter 3 could well be ranked in the top 25; Ohio State is currently ranked no. 1. Bad new: I see the Illini winning exactly 3 of these (guess which ones). There are road games against North Carolina, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State, Iowa and a Chicago “home game” versus Northwestern (they couldn’t get anyone to show up for the Thanksgiving weekend game at Champaign)

I am not sure that I see three road wins there; to go 6-6 they will have to score a couple of upsets along the way. I see anywhere between 3-9 (worst case) to 7-5 (best case); I think that 4-8 or 5-7 are the most likely. 6-6 or better would please me greatly. This will probably be the coach’s last year.

Oh yes, the quarterback got a lot of hype, but he threw for big yards …against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State.

Navy First year in the American Athletic Conference. There are teams that Navy can compete with. But conference play will be a new experience.
I see: 6-6 (worst) to 9-3 best; 7-5 to 8-4 would be most likely, in my opinion. Notre Dame and Houston will be tough road tests. Now will I be able to make it to their bowl game, if there is one?

Texas The non-conference slate features a game at Notre Dame, and home games against California and Rice. The Longhorns also travel to Baylor and TCU and have the annual affair against Oklahoma. Well, you can’t accuse Texas of having an easy schedule. My guess: 5-7 to 8-4 are possible, with 6-6 to 7-5 being the most likely. Maybe this year, make a bowl game and actually compete?

Notre Dame Probably the best of “my” teams and they play Navy and Texas. That should make for interesting watching. The schedule: manageable. They have some tough games: at Clemson and Stanford; at home against Georgia Tech and USC. Texas is down this year and Navy can’t match ND in talent. So I’d say: 7-5 to 10-2 with 8-4 to 9-3 being the most plausible.

One beef: my two football magazines have ND ranked 9’th or 10’th. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What in the heck is this based on?

Yes, I went to the Music City Bowl and enjoyed it immensely. But the reality: they got a lucky call (end of the first half) and a last second field goal to beat a 6-6 LSU team. It was a great game, but it featured two mediocre teams with big names, period. There is no reason to rank ND this highly; I might understand 20-25, but even that would be a stretch.

August 5, 2015 Posted by | college football, football, NFL | , | Leave a comment

Snow shoveling and engineering…

Ok, this will ramble a bit.

Workout this morning: swimming. 5 x 100 on 2:10, 5 x 100 on 2:05, 5 x 200 on 4:00 (3:35, 3:37, 3:33, 3:31, 3:32), 200 back with fins to cool down.

Then I got home; the snow plows had buried our walk and sidewalk as usual..but this time it was an icy mix (chunks).
I found out that I could get the shovel down between the still warmer pavement and the colder ice and lift….this cracked the ice.
This reminded me a bit of the engineering course I had when we discussed the various thermal stresses placed on metal that was exposed to different temperatures on different sides. We had the snow, then the cold came in and so the snow served to insulate the warmer pavement/ground.

So my shoveling mostly consisted of lifting large chunks of icy snow with the shovel. Hint: break into smaller chunks, bend the knees…and use a high quality shovel.

The down side: I was dressed to walk to school and the shoveling got me into a sweaty mess. Hey, I’ve got the goat smell going!

Last night Great game. Seattle took a 24-14 lead on New England, and the Patriots came back to lead 28-24 with 2 minutes to go.
The Seahawks, aided by a spectacular juggling “on his back” catch,

and later moved it down and ended with 2n’d and goal from about the 2. They had a time out remaining and a strong running attack. But they tried a risky over the middle pass which was intercepted.

What an outstanding game.

And the commercials: featured goats and butts!






February 2, 2015 Posted by | big butts, football, NFL, spandex, swimming | , , , | Leave a comment

Yucky snow….:-P

Today: right around freezing…rain which changed to heavy snow. It isn’t that cold right now but the roads are very sloppy.

So, I’ll blog for a while then walk to the university gym (if it is open) at 9 am; lift and use the treadmill.

Right now, I am listening to an old Fleetwood Mac album Mirage.

Science and the public
Yes, scientists and “the public” at large disagree on many key issues. Of course, the scientists are right, except for one issue. The scientists seem to think that better science education will narrow the divide. But I disagree for two reasons.

1. Religion is still a huge factor in determining what people think.

2. Science is hard and frankly many (most?) people simply don’t have the ability to master it or at least obtain an “educated layperson’s knowledge” of it. Accepting something that sounds counter-intuitive seems like going against “common sense” and it takes some intellectual ability to distinguish between what is nonsense and what is…well…true.

I know that I have that trouble with regards to things like “learning disabilities”: what is quackery and what is solid? Of course this area will be difficult for a while as it isn’t as if we can open up people’s brains and examine them.

What isn’t difficult to accept is that vaccines work. Sure, the uninitiated might read a list of ingredients and say “yuck”, but the fact is that some preventible diseases are coming back and some are fighting back. It has gotten to the point that some doctors won’t see “anti-vaccine” patients:

With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won’t get them vaccinated.

“Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they’re not just putting their kids at risk, but they’re also putting other kids at risk — especially kids in my waiting room,” the Los Angeles pediatrician said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by a small number of doctors who in recent years have “fired” patients who continue to believe debunked research linking vaccines to autism. They hope the strategy will lead parents to change their minds; if that fails, they hope it will at least reduce the risk to other children in the office.

The tough-love approach — which comes amid the nation’s second-biggest measles outbreak in at least 15 years, with at least 98 cases reported since last month — raises questions about doctors’ ethical responsibilities. Most of the measles cases have been traced directly or indirectly to Disneyland in Southern California.

I haven’t thought this through, though part of me wants to cheer this.

I admit that I am disgusted by this “hey, I am a MOM therefore I know best” attitude that I sometimes hear. Hey, aren’t there moms in 3’rd world countries which have high child mortality rates? Weren’t there moms 100 years ago when the childhood mortality rate was roughly 50 percent?

In *some* quarters, there is quite a bit of anger over the basketball team’s demise:

Losing to last-place Drake, at home, is yet another colossal disaster for the Bradley men’s basketball team.

Last week, I was tempted to write a letter alluding to the fact that I, and many of my friends and acquaintances, no longer even care about Bradley basketball. But, after this latest debacle, I, and others, now have attitudes much closer to furious than to apathy.

The utter ineptitude of the people responsible for this once proud program is staggering; President Joanne Glasser, athletic director Michael Cross, and head coach Geno Ford have all had a hand in ravaging the Bradley men’s basketball program. Together, they have wrought destruction upon Bradley basketball, embarrassed the city of Peoria and made Bradley athletics a laughingstock within the Missouri Valley Conference and throughout the region. Plus, they haveshamelessly increased ticket prices, alienated countless fans and driven away loyal supporters in droves. […]

Click on the link to read the rest, if you are interested. Note: the team, minus three suspended players, lost to Indiana State on the road yesterday. But they played very hard, which was good to see. And the women won two road games in a row, albeit against the two last place teams. Each time, they came up with key defensive stops down the stretch.

Now you might ask “what does it matter?” And, well, what can I say? I enjoy following the teams but that is really it. I show up whether they are 5-25 or 25-5; in some sense I am the worst possible kind of fan. I go “awww” if they lose and “yay!” if they win. I admit that I get a type of entertainment watching the drama on the fan boards.

Some BU fans are upset that the previous coach (who was a top BU player and lead BU to one Sweet 16) was fired. His current team (California-Davis) is doing well.

Screen shot 2015-02-01 at 7.59.34 AM

They drew 5317 fans for their 81-78 win over Cal-Poly. They are 16-4.

In all honesty, I reluctantly agree with the university’s decision on this coach.

Now about that Super Bowl
Screen shot 2015-02-01 at 7.11.24 AM

Yeah, I’ll watch the game BECAUSE I AM A FOOTBALL FAN and these really are the best two teams in the NFL, as far as I am concerned. I watched the Patriots a bit back when I lived in Connecticut in 1983-1984. They played in Foxboro Stadium (sometimes called Sullivan Stadium) which was very plain; not at all like the new jewels.

February 1, 2015 Posted by | basketball, Illinois, NFL, politics, politics/social, science, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

No. 75, Jethro Pugh. RIP


We both played football in Texas. We both wore no. 75. We both played defensive tackle.
That is where the resemblance ended.

On Sundays I’d watch the Cowboys play and watch the line play; I always imagined playing like he did. I never did. :-)

Ironically, I wore no. 64 in my first JV year as that was Jerry Kramer’s number; he was blocking Pugh during that Ice Bowl game. Yes, the high is forecast to be -7 in Green Bay this coming Sunday.

January 8, 2015 Posted by | football, NFL | | Leave a comment

Various Football Stadiums (and why is the Jones Dome a bad stadium for the Rams?)

This discussion started when it came out that the owner of the St. Louis Rams is planning on building a brand new NFL caliber stadium in Los Angeles (Inglewood actually). So the discussion started: “Are the Rams moving, or is the owner thinking “Chargers” or “Raiders” instead?

Then the St. Louis media started in on “what can St. Louis do to remain an NFL city”, even if the Rams leave?

Much of the topic centered on the “need” for a new stadium:

4. Still … what if Peacock, Blitz and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon can indeed formulate and present a legitimate new-stadium plan to the NFL? They’ve made progress, and Peacock has kept the NFL informed on what’s being done behind the scenes here. And as of two weeks ago, the NFL office was impressed by the efforts being made to address the stadium issue in St. Louis.

Obviously nothing has been presented (let alone finalized) and the plans here could easily fall apart. The realistic possibility of a new stadium — especially for the divisive and unpopular Kroenke — would set off a contentious debate. One that could easily escalate into a battle royale that blows up the entire project.

There’s a long way to go here. But what if Peacock and company defy the cynical expectations and come through? Then what? Would the NFL turn its back on St. Louis?

How could the league reward a guy, Kroenke, who helped take this team out of Los Angeles to cash in on a new stadium in St. Louis — and now may be trying to pull a reverse some 20 years later by yanking the same team from St. Louis to cash in on the Los Angeles market? The LA market that Kroenke and Rams majority owner Georgia Frontiere abandoned in 1995?

5. From the St. Louis standpoint, a new stadium still represents the only real play for maintaining an NFL presence here. A new stadium could compel Kroenke to stay. A new stadium could compel the NFL to turn down the Rams’ request to move. And even if the Rams go, a secure commitment to fund a new stadium could entice a franchise that got shoved out of the way (in LA) by Kroenke. Or a franchise such as Jacksonville, which seemingly faces long-term issues in its home market.

It soon will be time to make a decision. After being burned by the Rams, does St. Louis and the state want to play the NFL stadium game again? Or is it time to take a principled stand and reject NFL greed — even if it means losing an NFL franchise for a second time and foreclosing on the possibility of attracting another franchise?

Since 1960, this town has been pounded by horrendous ownership, stadium imbroglios, and only 16 winning records and eight playoff teams in 48 NFL seasons.

Or does the city day “adios” to the NFL for good, along with a “good riddance”.

It does matter to me…a little. I live in Peoria and the Jones Dome is 2:40 away by car, and there is a nice hotel right across the street from the Jones Dome, and I’ve grown a little bit attached to the Rams. But Lucas Oil Stadium is only 3:20 away (40 more minutes, each way), so if the Rams do leave, Colts, here we come. And Lucas is a bit less than 2 hours away from Champaign, IL, which might make for easier “Illinois football/Colts football” weekends. Bears? Well, parking is horrendous and my wife doesn’t do cold weather games outdoors. But for early season games, who knows?

But this gets me to the topic: what is so bad about the Jones Dome? Now some tailgate loving fans told me that there isn’t adequate space for pregame tailgate parties, and I can understand that, though I am not a tail gate party person. My pregame ritual is usually a run in the hotel treadmill or a very long drive from home.

But what about the Jones Dome itself? Most lists of NFL stadiums rank it low (here and here) rank it in the bottom 3 or 4 stadiums. So do the Yelp users (Jones Dome reviews on Yelp)

So what am I not getting?

My guess: it is a few factors.

1. I am a football fan in that I go to a game to WATCH THE GAME. The other stuff: mostly superficial. I want a comfortable seat and a good view of the action; the Jones Dome delivers both. And there are adequate enough food choices for my celiac disease wife (she can’t have anything with wheat in it).

2. I’ve been going to games for a very long time (first that I remember was in 1969; my dad took me to Kezar Stadium in 1962 to watch the 49’ers play the Browns but I don’t remember it vividly.


So, let’s just say that as someone who is old enough to see an aluminum bench as an “upgrade” from the old wooden benches that the old stadiums had…individual chairs were “OMG, how foo-foo” and some of the now-demolished stadiums appeared to be “state of the art” to me. I am very “unspoiled”. I also don’t care about gourmet food, internet access and the like, though I like the replay boards and the running statistics that some stadiums have.

So, this got me nostalgic for stadiums and I’ll list them, in some semblance of order.

I’ll start with stadiums of teams I regularly follow (season tickets or several games a year) in reverse chronological order.

Jones Dome (St. Louis Rams)



I saw one game in 2009, then 2-4 games per year there every since (3 this year, 4 last year, 2 the year prior to that, etc.). My favorite seats are the first row of the upper deck. But you have a nice view of the game from just about anywhere.

You can find reasonable 10 dollar parking within walking distance.

Illinois Memorial Stadium
I saw a few games here and there from 1991 to 2010, then had season tickets from the 2011 season onward. My first year: end zone. 2012-2014: section 109 which is on the side, behind the back of the end zone line. But I pay “horseshoe” prices for these seats. The seats are aluminum benches, though I pay an extra 40 dollars a yaar (80 for a pair of seats) for these attached chair backs. It is worth it to me.



It is one of those old “character” stadiums; the side I sit on is old but the opposite side is modern. The big problem is that the fans have been disappointed and the stands were REALLY empty for the last home game, which was a stirring come from behind victory over Penn State.

The large scoreboard behind the horseshoe features replays and sometimes game statistics; I really love those (yes, that is modern).

Texas Memorial Stadium (now Darryl Royal Memorial Stadium)

My first visit was as a kid in 1969; Texas was playing Rice. It was announced that there were extra “knot-hole” tickets available in the end zone grandstand and my mother took me. Dad was in Vietnam at the time. Texas was to win the national championship that year; what was odd is there was exactly one black player on the field, and he played for Rice! (and later the Dallas Cowboys).

At that time, there was no upper deck and the stadium featured wooden benches and looked like this: (this photo doesn’t have the temporary bleachers in the “open” end zone; that is where we sat). Note: during the times I attended regularly, there was a track between the stands and the field; in the newest renovation the track has been removed and the field lowered to add closer stands.


Later: an upper deck was added. As a high school student I attended very home game from 1975-1976, then all but one home game in 1981 (on duty in San Antonio) and then all but one home game from 1985-1991 and a few assorted games after that. The stadium now had aluminum benches (and chairs in some sections) looked more or less like this in those days:


That upper deck is WAY up there; it is the tallest one I’ve seen. It held 76,000 people without the bleachers and 81,000 with the bleachers. The stadium now holds 100K plus and looks like this: (note the upper deck that goes from the opposite side and around the horseshoe)


Foxboro Stadium (Patriots, 1983-1984)
This stadium is now long gone; the Patriots play at Gillette Stadium.

But I saw several games here during the 1983 and 1984 season. Sometimes I had a sideline (high up) seat; sometimes I had a seat right new the end zone (CLOSE). This stadium was very simply constructed but held over 60K people.


From one of my games: (Dolphins, 1983)


and from the end zone (Dolphins, 1984)


Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
When I attended the Naval Academy, we had to go to home games. No matter; I would have gone anyway. In fact, I also made some away games: Notre Dame in 1979, Notre Dame in 1980 (Meadowlands: Giants Stadium), Air Force in 1980 and the Garden State Bowl in 1980 (Meadowlands; vs. University of Houston)

This is what the stadium looked like in those days: (the shot was from the Navy vs. Air Force game in 1982)


And from a distance:


It now looks like this (extensive renovations; it even hosts the Military Bowl)


Not a season, but several games nevertheless: Cotton Bowl, Dallas Texas
I watched the Cotton Bowl from 1986-1991, again in 1995, 1998 and the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2014 (December). I also saw Oklahoma vs. Texas in 1988-1989.

For all but the latest game (Heart of Dallas), the Cotton Bowl was in the following configuration:


Now, it has an upper deck and goes all the way around; the concourse and bathrooms have also been redone.



Many of the sideline seats have chairbacks, but there is very little leg room.

So, those are the stadiums in which I have regularly attended games. I’d have to say that, among these, the Jones Dome is the best! Seriously. But that reflects the era in which I attended games.

Now, of course, I’ve seen games in many other stadiums and I’ll remark on those:

Multiple Games in these stadiums
Old Giants Stadium: Navy vs. Notre Dame 1980, 1984; Texas vs. Penn State in 1984, Navy vs. Houston (Garden State Bowl) in December 1980. This stadium opened in 1976 and lasted to 2009; I saw it as rather plush, as stadiums go. But it has been demolished!



One had a good view of the game from just about everywhere (close to the field) and…individual chairs! I remember a Texas fan at the 1984 Penn State game saying that Texas needed a fancy stadium like this one.

JFK (Kennedy), Philadelphia (Army-Navy game: 1977-1979)

Old concrete structure with wooden benches. Yes, the track kept you away from the field.


Ross Ade stadium: (Purdue vs. Notre Dame 1991, 1995) Purdue campus. very simple stadium, with seats close to the field.


Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor (Baylor vs. Texas 1988, 1990). Very simple design, simple benches, close to the field. Now demolished and Baylor has a brand new, state of the art stadium.



Tampa Stadium (aka “Old Sombrero): Washington vs. Tampa Bay in 1982, Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Baltimore Stars (USFL) 1985. This too was a simple, every seat close to the field stadium. It too has been demolished.



The above: I took at the 1985 USFL game; no I didn’t notice the lucky guy on the far left when I took the shot. :-) At half time I moved to the empty end zone section to get some close up shots on my own: here is a short yardage touchdown:


Yes, I was that close. :-)

Baltimore Memorial Stadium: Broncos vs. Colts in 1983, White Sox vs. Orioles (baseball: 1977)



For the football game, I had field level seats in the end zone. It was the second game of the season and it was John Elway’s rookie year. Elway had refused to play for the Colts (threatening to play baseball instead) so his rights were traded to Denver. Hence the fans hated him:


See the signs hanging from the upper deck? Here is one of them:


Oh, the stadium: very old, even when I attended this game. Oh, by the way, the Broncos won 17-10 when, after the Colts had knocked Elway out of the game with some vicious hits, his backup hit a long bomb.

Astrodome: Texas vs. Houston 1989, Astros vs. Cardinals (baseball) 1976
I can’t remember what the seats were like, but the view of the football game was reasonably close up. It was posh for its day, and still a better facility than some that I’ve seen.


Note: the dome is still there; it isn’t being used at the moment.

One time visits I’ve visited a few stadiums a single time; I’ll go in reverse chronological order.

2015: Lucas Oil Stadium. Colts vs. Bengals playoff game, January 2015 Frankly: breathtaking; the best I’ve seen.



One has great sight lines, though that upper part is WAY up there. Concession stands and bathrooms were plentiful; short lines everywhere.

Yelp Lucas Oil Stadium

2014: LP Field (Music City Bowl, December 2014: LSU vs. Notre Dame) Very pretty location along the Cumberland River in Nashville. Clean, modern, good sight lines and close to the field.

Bears Titans Football


The above was taken by me at the 2014 Music City Bowl. I was sitting in the loge section (good leg room!)

Yelp LP field

2013: Amon Carter Stadium (TCU): Armed Forces Bowl between Navy and Middle Tennessee This is the best college stadium I’ve visited and I’d rank it just below the Lucas Oil Stadium as the best. You are right on top of the field! Facilities are modern, concessions are plentiful and the under the stadium area was roomy.


I took the above from our seats during the Navy march on.


Ladd Peebles (Mobil Alabama: Go Daddy Bowl, January 2012: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois A stadium from an era gone by. Primitive (save the turf and two smallish replay screens which showed the ESPN feed); the steps were steep (one step per level) and lacked handrails. That wasn’t a problem for me, but the elderly might have trouble. But you are close to the field and have a good view to watch the game.



The Big House: Michigan (Michigan vs. Penn State, 2002

At that time: nothing fancy; very simple, close to the field, no bad seats. What I noticed: with one exception, very polite, cooperative fans who supported their team in a classy manner. I can see why one might get hooked.

Alamo Dome: Alamo Bowl, 2000 (Northwestern vs. Nebraska) This is a lovely indoor stadium; UTSA plays there now-a-days. Great views; from my memory I’d call is posh. It is a nice location and a great place to see a game.


Northeastern State RiverHawks @ UTSA Roadrunners Football

Soldier Field: 1993: Bears vs. Buccaneers This was the old, refurbished configuration. Very simple; people were allowed to smoke at their seats in this era.


The stadium looks nothing like this now. Here is a view of its current configuration (and I’ve yet to watch a game there):


Kinnick Field, University of Iowa (Iowa vs. Miami, 1992) Simple, clean, close to the field.



Texas Stadium: Dallas Cowboys, Cowboys vs. 49’ers 1989. It was considered posh when it opened in 1971 and it was closed in 2008 and demolished in 2010. Frankly, I thought it was cramped and, while it featured good views of the game from everywhere, well, it was cramped and sort of..well…cheap looking in person? (looked great on television) It was McDonalds-ish.



Byrd Stadium (University of Maryland) USFL Baltimore Stars vs. Portland Breakers This was a smallish stadium at this time (45,000) capacity.



I took the above at the USFL game as well as this photo of the “bored fan” below:


Now Byrd Stadium is quite a bit bigger (51,802)

Byrd Stadium_new

Scott Stadim (Virginia; Navy vs. Virginia 1983 At the time I went to this game, this smallish stadium had one small upper deck on each side. That is where our seats were. Lovely area; simple stadium.


It now has been renovated.


RFK stadium: USFL Washington Federals vs. Philadelphia Stars 1983 mostly known as the old home of the Washington NFL team, this also hosted the USFL Washington Federals. I saw a 1982 game there. It was aged by the time I saw this game; it was one of those generic “doughnut” stadiums.


Angel Stadium: Rams vs. Falcons, 1984 This was a baseball stadium converted to football use. The Rams drew 47,800 for this game (and under 50K for many others) despite being a perpetual playoff team and having Eric Dickerson, who rushed for 2105 yards.



I bought an upper deck ticket but then went down to the empty field level end zone seats at the half so I could get some photos. It was a very mellow crowd.


Veterans Field, Philadelphia, Army-Navy 1980. State of the art at the time; this was one of those “doughnut” stadiums that hosted baseball and football. These were in fashion during the 1970s. The views were decent enough.


Falcon Stadium, US Air Force Academy, Air Force vs. Navy 1980. In those days, it seated about 45,000 but it has been enlarged. It was a very simple stadium with a lovely view and a good view of the game.


Notre Dame Stadium (Navy vs. Notre Dame, 1979). Old. Iconic. The pitch was steep and you were right on top of the field, no matter where you were. It was like a “mini-Big House”, so to speak. But one was struck at how darned…well…small ….puny even…it looked.


It has since been enlarged by adding seats at the top all of the way around.


The game experience was something. We were treated politely and had a good time, though our team lost the game.

January 7, 2015 Posted by | college football, football, NFL, travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL playoff game: Colts 26, Bengals 10

We are holed up for the night near the Indiana-Illinois state line off of I-74. It was dark and the road was getting slick…I said “I don’t need this”.

Hey: we have a free breakfast and a workout room; so I’ll run on the treadmill prior to our getting on the road tomorrow morning.

As far as the experience itself: I got a parking spot for 5 dollars that was about a 15 minute walk away from the stadium (one of the EZ-Park spots).

The stadium: beautiful; one of the prettiest I’ve seen. We were high up in the end zone upper deck is a steep climb.


After the game: We were high up in the upper deck in the background.


Barbara with her nephew Jacob at the game.


This is the flag for the National Anthem. Note the large window in the background.


Yes, we were near the top of the upper deck. Binoculars were useful.


Some of the action in the middle of the field.


One thing I’ve noticed: the end zone crowd was a bit rowdier (more standing, loud cheering) than the lower part of the upper deck (corner/sideline) sections usually are. I noticed that our section stood more than the upper side sections.

Note: I was surprised at how easy it was to drive away from the game; there was a full house at the game.

I can say that I’d do this again sometime. It won’t replace the Rams games for me, but I can see why many are down on the Jones Dome by comparison.

Sure, I happen to like the Jones Dome just fine: it is a clean, comfortable place to watch a game. But it is less flashy and glitzy (aesthetics). Personally, I don’t care about the aesthetics but evidently many do.

About the game itself: The Colts dominated the game outgaining the Bengals 482 to 254. The Bengals did have one good long drive in the first quarter (74 yards for a touchdown) and a 20 yard drive after a Colt fumble that resulted in a 57 yard field goal just before halftime; that was their scoring.


The Colts started out with a 71 yard touchdown drive. Most of the damage was done by short “checkdown” passes; the Colt offensive line gave the quarterback quite a bit of time to find secondary receivers.

The teams exchanged punts and the Bengals got their only touchdown drive of the day.

Next came two Colt possessions; drives of 71 and 53 yards which ended in field goals.

Then came a Colt drive, fumble which lead to a Bengal field goal (57 yards) and a 13-10 half time lead.


The second half started with an exchange of punts. The Colts then got a 61 yard drive capped by a spectacular 36 yard touchdown pass; the quarterback scrambled and was going down when he released the ball and the receiver made an over the shoulder catch in the end zone.

It was now 20-10 Colts.

When the Bengals got the ball back, they tried a flea flicker. The receiver appeared to have a step but the ball was slightly underthrown and the play was broken up.

The Colts added another field goal.

The subsequent kick off had the Bengals end up in poor field position. The Bengals punted and the Colts started near midfield. A long field goal ended the scoring; one potential Bengal comeback drive ended with a fumble.

January 5, 2015 Posted by | football, NFL, travel | , , | Leave a comment

Giants beat Rams 37-27 in a sloppy brawl of a game…

Yes, I got in a 5K run on the treadmill; 10:4x first mile, 28:4x for 3 miles and 29:4x for 5K; I did run a 9:20 pace from 2.5 to 2.75 but averaged sub 9 from 1.5 on.

The game was at 3:05 and I was ready early. Prior to the game, Barbara and I walked to the local Schnuck’s grocery store to eat a..well…decent lunch.

Oh, the game. Yes, the Giants won 37-27, out gaining the Rams 514 to 387 and capitalizing on 3 turn overs, 2 in the first quarter. The Rams missed blown coverages by the Giants, failed to down a punt that they apparently had corralled at the Giant 1, had key penalties, kicked an onside kick out of bounds and blew coverages. They looked in “preseason mode”. But the Giants were far from perfect; the got an “insurance” field goal blocked toward the end of the game…of course the Rams fumbled it away on the next play via a bad shotgun snap…and the Giants had two HUGE blown coverages, one which went unnoticed and one was cashed in for a touchdown.

It was this kind of day.


And there was a late hit/subsequent brawl combination that lead to 3 penalties and some ejections.

Going into the game, the Rams had three “no touchdown” games in a row, routing the Raiders and Redskins and getting outslugged by the Cardinals 12-6. So I expected the Rams to win.

The game started out with the Giants driving for a field goal.

The Rams fumbled the subsequent kick off…an unforced fumble (no one around the runner when he lost the ball). The Giants cashed in via a touchdown..10-0 before the Rams offense could even take the field.


The Rams drove for a field goal and then forced a punt. LIFE! Then a good play…then a pass…tipped ball (off of the receiver’s hands)…INTERCEPTION.

Two turnovers in the first quarter alone, and both were unforced.

Second quarter: Giants get a field goal off of the interception..13-3. Giants.

Rams go nowhere…then an 80 yard touchdown drive by the Giants. 20-3.

The Rams come to life and respond with a long drive of their own to cut it to 20-10.

The Giants get the ball back…then the simple outside pass leads to this brawl:



So, eventually the Giants have to punt. The Rams drive it and end up with 3’rd down and goal from the 2…but 10 seconds are left and the Rams have no time outs. So the quarterback rolls out..and throws the ball away not seeing a receiver break wide open at the last second. There just wasn’t enough time.

The Rams get the field goal and it is 20-13 at the half…even though the Rams had played horribly.

The first two series of the second half set the tone. Rams get it, go nowhere, punt.
Giants get it…break a 45 yard run (beautiful blocking)


Giants punch it in and it is 27-13.

Still, the Rams show some life; they respond with a beautiful 90 yard drive to cut the lead to 27-20. We have hope.

No worries for the Giants though; two plays net zero yards and then…

Yep, 80 yard touchdown pass…I saw the receiver break open right in front of me.

34-20 Giants.

Rams go nowhere, Giants get it and drive it but are stopped on 3’rd down. So it is 4’th and 1 on the Ram 46 with 10:30 to go. The Giants line up to go for it, call time out and then line up in punt formation. BUT THE RAMS JUMP OFFSIDE. Seriously. Giants get it and drive for a field goal. It is 37-20 with just over 8 minutes to go. Fans leave in masse.

More leave when the Rams have to punt, but they get the ball back. The Giants blow a coverage…touchdown Rams and it is now 37-27 with 3:56 to go.

Rams try an onside kick…and KICK THE ONSIDE KICK OUT OF BOUNDS. Seriously. Giants drive it for an insurance field goal attempt with just over 2 minutes to go.

BLOCKED KICK! Rams don’t run it back very far…but there is life!


On the first play from scrimmage, the Rams center snaps the shotgun snap over the head of the quarterback. Giants recover and run out the block.

So: two unforced fumbles. One unforced interception. Blown coverage. Several late hit penalties. This was a breakdown.

This is the worst I’ve seen them over the past 3 years.

Curious note: The left tackle for both the Giants got 3 holding calls. The rookie Ram left tackle got 2 holding calls and one false start call. The pass rushers must have been a handful.

December 22, 2014 Posted by | football, NFL, running | | Leave a comment

stats, oz effects, and observant football players….

In the discussions about poverty and racism, I’ve been very vocal about parents being the ones responsible for feeding their kids. (here and here) Don’t have kids that you can’t afford to raise properly! Yes, this attitude draws the ire of many, including those who vote the same way that I do.

But when discussing irresponsible parenting, poverty, social pathologies and the like, we need data and we need to analyze it honestly. So, the headlines go: “unwed motherhood is up” and you read:

Census demographers said that single motherhood, while on a steady uptick since the 1940s, has accelerated in recent years. The birth rate for unmarried women in 2007 was up 80 percent in the almost three decades since 1980, the report said. But in the previous five years alone, between 2002 and 2007, it was up 20 percent.

Echoing the findings of many academic studies, the Census Bureau report said women with college degrees and higher household incomes are far less likely to be single mothers than are women who have lower household incomes and less education. […]

Overall, 36 percent of all births in the United States were to unmarried mothers in 2011, the year that the census analyzed from answers provided in the American Community Survey.

In the Washington region, 28 percent of births are to unmarried women. In the District, more than half of all births, 51 percent, were to unwed mothers. Maryland also had a higher rate than the national average, with 39 percent of all births out of wedlock. Virginia, in contrast, had a lower rate than the national average, with 31 percent of births to women who are not married.

The census also found that Asian mothers were the least likely to be unmarried, with just 11 percent of new Asian mothers being single. White single mothers also were below the national average, at 29 percent. Among Hispanics, 43 percent of all new mothers were unmarried, as were 68 percent of all African American women who had recently given birth.

Yep….the percent of births to unwed mothers is up! So, it follows that unwed women (especially black women) are having more kids than before? Uh…no.

Remember: “percent” is a type of fraction and it is: \frac{unwed mom births}{total births} So if the numerator (the top) goes up, the percent goes up. But…if the bottom goes down by more than the top goes down, then the fraction, and hence the percentage, goes up! And we see:

(via the sometimes preachy, finger wagging Tim Wise)

Looking first at the broader issue of so-called “illegitimate children” in the black community, those who forward this argument simply do not understand how to read or interpret basic statistical information. They claim, for instance that the “out-of-wedlock birth rate” for black females has skyrocketed; but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, actual birth rates for unmarried black women (which means the number of live births per 1000 such women) has dropped dramatically. From 1970-2010, the birth rate for unmarried black women fell by nearly a third, from 95.5 births per 1000 unmarried black women to only 65.3 births per 1000 such women. In other words, unmarried black women are already doing exactly what conservatives would have them do: namely, having fewer children. This means that even if we were to accept the absurd argument that out-of-wedlock childbearing is evidence of cultural pathology, black culture must then be steadily getting healthier and less pathological, rather than more so. In a given year, for every 100 single black females, between ninety-three and ninety four of them will not have a baby—hardly evidence that out-of-wedlock childbearing is a normative experience for black women.
The common confusion on this issue seems to stem from the fact that although unmarried birth rates have fallen considerably, the share of children born in the black community who are born out of wedlock has indeed doubled since the early 1970s. It sounds like a big deal perhaps, but what does that statistic really signify? If unmarried black women are cutting back on childbearing — and remember, that’s what the data says — the increase in the percentage of black births that are births to single moms can’t possibly be the result of those moms’ increasing “irresponsibility.” Rather, this statistical phenomenon must be due to an entirely different factor, and indeed it is: namely, married black couples have cut back even further on childbearing than single moms have. If married black couples are having far fewer children than before, and are cutting back even faster than single women, the overall percentage of births that are out-of-wedlock will rise, owing nothing to the supposedly irresponsible behaviors of single black folks. If black married couples suddenly reverted to their family size norms of fifty years ago, the share of black births to unmarried moms would plummet, even if there were no further drop in the birth rates for single black women at all.

Moral: when talking about “percentage of”, remember that you are dealing with a ratio, which has both a numerator and a denominator.

Now of course, this requires actually knowing some mathematics (albeit at an elementary level) and while this makes you smarter and more likely to engage in disciplined thinking, it is unlikely to make you popular. Paul Krugman (speaking about Dr. Oz) explains:

Simon Wren-Lewis had an interesting piece on why the financial sector buys into really bad macroeconomics; he suggested that financial firms aren’t really interested in anything but very short-term forecasting, and that

economists working for financial institutions spend rather more time talking to their institution’s clients than to market traders. They earn their money by telling stories that interest and impress their clients. To do that it helps if they have the same worldview as their clients.

Thinking about Dr. Oz also, I’d suggest, helps explain a related puzzle: even if you grant that the right wants alleged experts who toe the ideological line, why can’t it get guys who are at least competent? Why do they recruit and continue to employ people who can’t do basic job calculations, or read their own tables and notice that they’re making ridiculous unemployment projections, and so on?

My answer has been that anyone competent enough to avoid these mistakes would also be unreliable — he or she might at some point actually take a stand on principle, or at least balk at completely abandoning professional ethics. And I still think that’s part of the story.

But I now also suspect that the personality traits you need to be an effective entertainer on inherently not-so-much-fun subjects like health or monetary policy are inherently at odds with the traits you need to be even halfway competent. If Dr. Oz were the kind of guy who pores over medical evidence to be sure he knows what he’s talking about, he probably couldn’t project the persona that wins him such a large audience. Similarly, a hired-gun economist who actually knows how to download charts from FRED probably wouldn’t have the kind of blithe certainty in right-wing dogma his employers want.

So how do those of us who aren’t so glib respond? With ridicule, obviously. It’s not cruelty; it’s strategy.

Oh, how I see this. Krugman wrote about a famous incident in which a popular trader was confronted with the fact that every bit of advice he gave was completely wrong, and how anyone who listened to him would have lost money. But hey, he really knows how to yell and draw applause:

So, there was a fun moment on CNBC: Rick Santelli went on a rant about inflation and the Fed, and CNBC analyst Steve Liesman went medieval on him:

It’s impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the US economy to rebound. Rick, it’s impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick. Lost people money, Rick. Every single bit of advice. There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. Not a single one. Not a single one, Rick. The higher interest rates never came, the inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened, the dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn’t a single one that’s worked for you.

Of course, he got applause because he shares the same world view of those applauding him.

And my goodness, I think that I’ve seen some of this locally. When one looks at the leaders of some local institutions, it is easy to tell from watching what moves they make that they really don’t know what they are doing. But they are sure good at getting the “right” type of people to like them. I’ve seen this in the Navy as well. Remember when the US Submarine Greenville sank a Japanese ship because it did a risky surfacing exercise to impress some civilians and didn’t follow proper procedures?

The commander of the submarine was a classmate of mine at Annapolis and I went to Nuclear Power school with him. Even then, he was an expert at cutting corners when no one was looking, but telling the superior officers what they wanted to hear when they were around; he convinced them that he “was one of them”. It was a type of “affinity fraud”.

Now of course, Paul Krumgan is an economist and he talked about losing weight. He never looked fat to me; in fact he looks like many mathematicians in the sense that most of us appear to be normal sized. You notice that at conferences, though my mind’s eye detects that, as a group, we are starting to get fatter.

Well, as far as us being more slender than normal:


Now this spread surprises me; I’d guess that firefighters and police officers would be required to stay physically fit. I’d guess wrong, unless this figure is “inflated” by things like private security guards.

Note: I can recommend the article, as it is about the employer’s interest in helping employees with their weight problems.

Football players
I can recommend this Jon Stewart video; it is a short clip that attacks the attack on the “don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” protests. If nothing else, listen to the last minute in which a pro football player explains that “a call for justice should threaten no one”.

December 21, 2014 Posted by | mathematics, NFL, politics, poverty, social/political, statistics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Police: respect, deference, and all that…

I’ll be upfront: for the most part, I’ve had good experiences with police, even when they’ve given me a ticket. I’ve always been treated well by City Police. So, my experience says that most police do a fine job.

I understand that not everyone can be a police officer, and qualifying to be one is an accomplishment worthy of respect. Doing that job well is an excellent life accomplishment.

However, our society does have some problems with regards to law enforcement serving *all* of its citizens and the police are NOT entitled to be protected from speech that they might not like:


I fully support the players doing things like this. Yes, I see this as more of a statement about society than about *all* police, but even if some see this as a criticism of police, we have free speech. So while the police union has the right to criticize this, I think that their demanding an “apology” (apology for what?) is terrible PR.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | NFL, social/political | , , | 1 Comment

Cardinals out Defense Rams (barely)

Workout notes: untimed 4 mile walk (to top of Cornstalk hill and back) over lunch.

Yesterday, I gave a final exam from 9-11 and then drove with Barbara to St. Louis to watch the Rams vs. Cardinals. Then we drove back this morning.


I with my vitals of: 6 feet, 180 pounds, 200 pound bench press, 7:04 mile and probably…what…a 7 second 40 yard dash(? ran 5.9 in HS) was ready. :-)

The game: brutal 12-6 defensive battle, where neither team scored a touchdown. Yes, that is 3 games in a row that the Rams didn’t allow a touchdown.


The Cardinals got the ball first and punted, and the Rams got a drive (one of two) to strike first blood with a field goal. The Rams forced a punt, but then promptly fumbled it away (running back near no one when he fumbled) and the Cardinals converted it into a field goal. Yes, it was already into the second quarter.

The Cardinals dominated play in the second quarter and got one of their three drives that ended in a 44 yard field goal; and that is how it ended.


In the second half, the Rams got nowhere but gave up a 42 yard punt return. The Rams held and forced a punt but were backed up deep in their own territory. The Cardinal defense bottled up the Rams and put merciless pressure on the Rams quarterback.

On the next series the Cardinal quarterback was hurt on a sack and the back up was brought in. The Cardinals drove it close enough to hit a 51 yard field goal and take a 9-3 lead going into the last quarter.

Later, in the 4’th quarter, another Cardinal drive lead to a 46 yard field goal and a 12-3 lead.

The Rams responded with a 66 yard drive which ended up with 4’th and goal on the Cardinal 1; the Rams kicked the field goal to cut it to 12-6 with 6 minutes to go.

The Rams got the ball back, but turned it over on downs with 1:47 left. They got it back again after a punt, but ended up failing on a Hail Mary; the last gasp pass was intercepted.

Overall the Rams actually had 280 total yards to 274 for the Cardinals.


This was a brutal hitting game, where the difference was made by one fumble and a punt return which tilted the field position in favor on the Cardinals.

We sat in the lower part of the stadium, and the fans were more animated (standing, flag waving) there; the first row of the upper deck is more about the football itself.

Still, I had a decent view of the game.

(photos via ESPN)

December 13, 2014 Posted by | football, NFL, walking | | Leave a comment


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