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:







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






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 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 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


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

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

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’ 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:


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.



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

Football weekend: Illinois vs. Nebraska and Illinois State vs. Indiana State

workout notes: easy 4 mile walk after we got back from Champaign. Yes, I lifted weights on Friday morning (got 190 x 4 on the bench; pull ups, and even some goblet squats)

The Illinois vs. Nebraska game (Friday night)

Though Nebraska was a 6.5 point favorite (and ESPN gave them a 60 percent chance of winning the game), based on previous results, I really thought this was a matchup of equals that Illinois was going to win. After all, both teams had gotten blown out on the road by ranked teams (Oregon, South Florida) and Illinois won their MAC team game (Nebraska narrowly lost). I thought that the talent level was equal, though Nebraska had more experienced players.

I could not have been more wrong. Nebraska had stronger, faster and more experienced players.

Nebraska scored touchdowns on its first (and only) 3 possessions of the first half, and were to punt twice and turn it over on a fumble once; their final possession ended with the “victory formation” deep in Illinois territory; they passed on trying for “style points”

It was 21-3 at the half and ended 28-6. Illinois drive in the first half ended up stalling inside the 10, and a short field in the second half (from a short punt) also ended in a field goal to cut the lead to 21-6. But after getting the fumble, Illinois went backwards (got sacked) and had to punt; that appeared to take the wind out of the sails.

Total yards: 411 to 199 in Nebraska’s favor. Nebraska had 8 possessions: 4 ended with touchdowns, 2 ended with punts, 1 with a fumble, 1 with a victory formation.


Illinois State 24 Indiana State 13
Though Illinois State came in 3-0 and Indiana State was 0-3, one of ISU-blue’s losses was to Tennessee; the other two losses were a 2 point loss to Eastern Illinois and a 1 point loss to no. 19 ranked (FCS) Liberty.

The first quarter saw most of the offense come from long passes; ISU-B did not get close enough for a field goal, ISU-R did. A strip fumble on a punt return set up the Redbirds, but eventually they failed on a 4’th and 2 from the 4. But never mind; the defense got strip sack in the endzone for the touchdown.

The second quarter saw the Redbirds score on two long passes where they got 1 on 1 coverage on one of their best receivers; it was 24-0 at the half. One touchdown got away when the Redbird runner fumbled while going into the endzone.

The Redbirds had over 300 yards of total offense in the first half.

But then came the second half; ISU-b got a pick 6 and then a drive for a touchdown to cut the lead to 24-13. The Redbirds still had a couple of drives; one ended with a fumble on a bad shotgun snap; the other was a plain old fumble. But the Redbirds got just enough out of a key 4’th quarter drive to flip field position, and the defense played pretty well the entire time. Total yards finished 401-197 Redbirds.


Illinois vs. Nebraska

Pregame band music included the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Pregame jump

Lots of good seats left, especially in the upper deck.

Some game action shots. From the Champaign Room gallery (lots more here)

Barbara was good company.

Decent lower deck crowd at first

Fans gave up.

Illinois State vs. Indiana State

ISU pregame

First half action. Good crowd: a sell out (over 13K)

Strip Sack for a TD. (from here)

Pretty sunset.

Fans left a bit early; there was some drama in the 4’th quarter to be watched.

October 1, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, walking, weight training | , | 1 Comment

Drinking the Blue and Orange Kool Aid by the gallon

Yes, the Illini are 2-0. How often does that happen? Well, it depends on when the first “game against a power 5 team” is scheduled….

2011: wins over Arkansas State and South Dakota State (2-0…4-6 the rest)
2012: Western Michigan first, then Arizona State…ooops 1-1 (1-9 the rest)
2013: Southern Illinois and Cincinnati (latter WAS an impressive upset) (2-8 the rest
2014: Youngstown State and Western Kentucky (4-6 the rest..but did finish 2-0)
2015: Kent State and Western Illinois (3-7 the rest)
2016: Murray State and…ooops…North Carolina at home (1-1, 2-8 the rest)
2017: Ball State and Western Kentucky: 2-0…the rest?

Oh, what about road wins: 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1: 5, count them, 5 road wins over the previous 6 seasons.

Maybe I won’t book Big Ten Championship tickets just yet…

Workout notes: yesterday, weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, toe raises, 5 sets of 10 pull ups, incline presses: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 7 x 150, military (dumbbell) 10 x 50, 10 x 45 (standing) 10 x 90 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine, rope skips:55, 86. 4 mile walk; yoga later that night.
today: 6 mile walk, 4.2 segment in 53:41 (27:09, 26:32) Had a hard time getting going.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Illinois smothers sloppy Western Kentucky

Yes, I did get a 16 mile walk first; 5.1 mile course (Bradley Park) plus a 10.05 (to the River plus goose loop) plus a bit more than 1. It was 4:11 or thereabouts.

And this morning, I got in a 4.2 walk, untimed.

Now about the game

The short: the Illini were 7.5 point underdogs and ended up winning 20-7, winning total yards 300 to 244; WKU was held to 6 rushing yards.

The defense could not have played much better. The line got 2 sacks (and a big strip sack), multiple hurries (including forcing a pick-6) and drew multiple “offensive holding” penalties. The linebackers and defensive backs tackled very well in the open field; WKU had few “yards after catch”. WKU had one modest drive end up dying “on downs” while in field goal range (1’st quarter) and one drive assisted by a questionable (IMHO) “targeting penalty” and one late hit (IMHO, justified penalty call) that ended with the big strip sack.

WKU’s only TD came in the 4’th when they got the ball at the Illni 29 after an interception.

The caveat: WKU did not appear to be well coached; they dropped multiple passes (even early in the game), had trouble lining up in the correct spot; were downright confused at times. They also had an “unexpected snap”; they reminded me of a team doing a preseason scrimmage, not of a team playing its second game.

WKU also had two punts travel less than 30 yards.

The Illini offense: not great. The first field goal was set up by field position following short punts (2x yards each) on WKU’s first two possessions. There was a decent 2’nd quarter drive for a field goal and the first drive of the second half WAS impressive; that made it 20-0. That drive took almost 7 minutes.

BUT: the illini figured out that WKU’s only chance would be for the Illini to turn it over, hence they played it very close to the vest, especially in the second half. That was the right strategy, for THIS game.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment