|All 2013 Farside Pool Weekly Files||The Main Farside Page||Current NFL Weather Conditions|
I have compiled the season's results emails, along with some other materials and comments, into this chronicle of the 2013 Farside Season. I have made some minor corrections and edits, and changed references to web links into actual hyperlinks, but this otherwise should give a decent idea of how the NFL season went from a Farside point of view.
It's that time of year again, the Back to School stuff is in cooking along, Minnesota braces itself for the onset of the State Fair, and the Vikings have lost their first pre-season games...Are You Ready for Some Football Pool!?!
You're getting this email because you've been in the Farside before and know how it works. Entry will be online, just like previous years. With Thursday games nearly every week, I do now allow you to enter early online for just one (or three, on Thanksgiving) games and come back and do the full entry later. Now you can pick the Thursday game Thursday afternoon and then come back and do the Sunday schedule on the weekend, before gametime. Note that you will have to accurately re-enter your early pick(s) on the full entry or I will ruthlessly reject it. This worked pretty well last season. The Early Entry link is on the main Farside page whenever there’s an early game in the week. As always, I highly recommend that you bookmark the main Farside Football Pool page and if your bookmark says Farside Football Pool 2007 it doesn’t matter, each year it’s the same address and you’ll get the current stuff.
The Family Pool ran close to capacity last season and is once again likely to be close to or at its limit of 51 participants in each pool. If you want to return, please let me know. If you are disinterested, please let me know that as well, as there are 7 billion people on Earth not in the pool, many of them panting to get in.
If you're in and you're in the Family Pool, send me $22, preferably before the season actually starts (first real game is Thursday September 5, three days after Labor Day). Checks can be mailed to me at:
968 Larpenteur Ave W
Saint Paul, MN 55113-6550
When I get your payment I will sent you a confirming email.
As you know, I like it when people enter their picks online. It makes life easy for me and it works from anywhere on the internets, and we've had entries from England, France, Italy, Australia, Canada and Aruba in the past. Better Living Through Technology, baby. When I started the online entry thing, this seemed pretty amazing, but now that remote villages in the interior of Irian Jaya have internet it doesn’t seem quite as startling. However, sometimes systems are down etc. or you are desperate or my $%#&@! hosting service renames the #%@$*&^ directories and doesn’t $#%@^&! tell me (Week 17 of 2009 season, panic ensued) and suddenly the online entry stuff blows up and in those cases I will take called-in entries. Our home number is 651 487-0273 and you may well get our answering machine since we'll be off howling away at church choir most Sunday mornings.
Let me know one way or another and start girding your loins for the onset of the season! I know mine are girded!
Matt "The Commissioner" Cole
PS I just discovered that I’m “Internet Famous”. If you do a Google Images search for “bicycle touring”, the first image in the big block of pictures, the black and white one, is me! It’s in Mingo, Iowa on June 10, 1980 and was picked up from one of my web pages, Bike Touring Circa 1980. I don’t know how long this has been the case, I just happened to stumble into it a couple of days ago after camping last week for Perseid meteor shower watching with Farsider Paul Salamon (and Farsider Geneva Cole and ex-Farsider Karl Salamon, Paul’s son) who is also pictured on my web page, about to head off to Boston on a tandem with Mark Preston, father of Farsider Tom Preston. You can click on the photos on the page to get bigger versions, and towards the end of it you can see a photo of me, only with hair!
Great! Welcome back!
I sent out the High Stakes invitations with some references to the Family Pool in them. Here I apologize to Leslie Lundt about it, with an explanation
It is $44 for the High Stakes, that’s what you’re all in. I noticed that I left a Family pool reference in the High Stakes email, which can be confusing. Sorry! I was (and this sounds really unlikely but is actually true) hurrying to catch a train. Yeah, our one eastbound train a day. By the time Henry got done loading the car with all his college shit there was no room for anyone else, so Karla and I took the train to Winona (the Portland/Seattle to Chicago train) and brought the car back.
Then I emailed all the High Stakes Pool participants.
I’ve had a question about the pricing on the High Stakes Pool. It’s $44 for the season, as always. My email yesterday had a confusing sentence in the middle referencing the Family Pool and $44 and I’ve had a handful of questions about it.
Want to hear an unlikely excuse? As I sent the emails I was in a rush to catch a train. Considering that there’s only one Amtrak a day through the Twin Cities each way (one eastbound, one westbound, both the Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland/Seattle (the train splits in two in Spokane)), it’s strange to rush for a train here. Henry went off to Winona State yesterday and filled our Toyota Avalon to the gills so that nobody else would fit, so Karla and I took the Amtrak down to Winona, two hours away, and brought the car back, wandering back up the Mississippi and stopping for dinner at the Harbor View in Pepin, highly recommended. The train was 2 hours late yesterday, so I decided to do some stuff like send the Farside invites, and missed changing that Family Pool reference. Sorry!
Matt “Choo Choo” Cole
"The timeline looks interesting", said the accountant [referring to my Handy Timeline for the End of Capitalism]. Perhaps I need more hobbies, but I will sit down and read that one day. Over the course of the great meltdown I frequently had to swallow hard and tell myself that if I really believe that I am a long-term, buy and hold investor, blah, blah.blah that I will do nothing and ride it out. I did in fact just ride it out, though that may be as simple as I am lazy and did not want to bother changing my allocations.
Laurie has a state pension and sometimes I worry whether I should roll the cash value into an IRA in the event the state defaults on the pension. Possible, but not likely I tell myself.
Along the way with the market collapse there have been some great stories. Before, or at about the time it happened, the big collapse This American Life did a piece on how this guy with minimal income was able to continually obtain larger and larger amounts of credit. This American Life also did a great piece on a hedge fund which not only saw it coming, but also fueled the collapse and made money by shorting the market. You can read the transcript at Inside Job. I wish I were that smart.
I work with someone who is convinced the US will go through a major devaluation in the dollar in our lifetimes. He wishes we would go back to the gold standard and has all his 401K money in a money market. To me it seems extreme, not that it can't happen, but that if it does happen, what you really need are canned goods and bullets to protect your canned goods. A 401K at that point is worthless regardless of the investments.
Yeah, the This American Life shows are great. They did a second Giant Pool of Money show later as well. [The Giant Pool of Money episodes, which are wonderfully done, are at The Giant Pool of Money (5/2008) and Return to the Giant Pool of Money (9/2009). TAL also ruminated on the nature of money itself in The Invention of Money].
It is always possible that the currency will see a big devaluation. It goes up and down already. Money is a funny thing, since it is absolutely the case that it is a big con game, where the only real reason the dollar has any value is because everyone pretends that it does, and as long as everyone pretends, it’s ok. Back in the ‘80s there was some cereal that gave away real money in every box. Normally you’d get a Thai baht (it was always bills, so maybe it was 100 baht) or Ecuadoran whatever-the-hell-their-currency-is-called, and you’d consult the small print bits of the Wall Street Journal and find that it was worth $0.14 or something. At the time, I was doing a Junior Achievement stint at a high school in Des Moines (went in once a week, bored some teenagers for an hour) and took in some of this money and also a 20 British pound note. I held them up; what’s this worth, starting with a $20 bill. Then 100 baht, and a 10-Ecuadoran whatever, etc., then the British 20 quid. Students got used to the $0.14 values, so when I said the 20 quid was worth about $34 they were amazed. Thing is, it’s only worth that in the UK, not here, because we haven’t agreed to pretend that it’s worth anything. By any quantitative measure, it was superior to the $20 bill (larger, nicer printing, silver thread, same sort of nice paper) but our whole country fervently believes the $20 bill is worth something while a different country pretends that the 20 quid was worth something. It’s all pretty bizarre when you think of it that way, but it is way handier than hauling around bushels of grain or herds of goats or trying to exchange some vague set of advanced Excel skills for a Snickers bar.
The season always kicks off with great hopes all around. Appropriately enough, after the delay from the power outage at the Super Bowl, the opening game, Baltimore at Denver, is delayed 45 minutes due to lightning 20 miles from Denver, where in the actual stadium it is sunny with the faintest veil of rain. The Vikings' star running back Adrian Peterson, named League MVP last season, predicted he'd run for 2,500 yards this year. On the Vike's first play from scrimmage, he goes up the middle for 79 yards and a touchdown! This is going to be great! I can tell you from the perspective of hindsight! that it wasn't going to be great. The Vikes went on to lose the game. In national news, Sports Illustrated's Peter King announced that he would no longer refer to the Redskins for the Washington DC team. This would be an ongoing discussion all season. The Onion of course ran a headline that the Washington Redskins were changing their name to the District of Columbia Redskins. Elsewhere, Jacksonville lost to last year's worst team, Kansas City, 28-2. Their only score was a safety!
Week One is largely complete. There are two Monday Night Football games this week, so there are more outcomes still possible at this point than usual for late Sunday. In the Family Pool, it comes down to the Houston/San Diego game; if Houston wins, Dennis Reopelle will take the week, if San Diego wins, it’ll be Teri Carr. I’m guessing it’ll be San Diego simply because Teri has a knack of winning Week 1s. In the 14 years 1999 through 2012, Teri has won Week 1 four times. Nobody else has won twice. [Note: Houston would win this game, and the next, then lose the next 14 straight. San Diego would make the playoffs, barely. Given this, it's amazing Teri didn't win this Week 1 as well!] I think it was the first time she won I mentioned in the email that Week 1 tends to be a real crapshoot and so she was lucky, to which she took offense. Maybe Houston will win and spare me her aloof sense of superiority when I pay off the winner!
In the High Stakes Pool, there are a couple of potential ties. First, if San Diego wins, Jim Wheeler will win the week outright. If Philly and Houston win, it will be a tie between Rolf Krogstad and Kevin Cellini. If Washington and Houston win, it will be a tie between Rolf and Trent Riter, for whom this is the first Farside week ever. We won’t know the outcome until quite late, since the second game doesn’t even kick off until 9:20 Central time, and I’m not going to hang around some bar watching it, so I wouldn’t expect final results until Tuesday morning sometime.
Among the things I adore in football are ties and safeties. It was a good day for safeties, particularly Jacksonville’s, the team too good to take hometown hero Tim Tebow off waivers. They fought to 177 yards of total offense in a 28-2 drubbing by Kansas City, the worst team in the league last year. The Jaguars blocked a KC punt through the end zone early for the safety and their 2 points and then only got past their own 36-yard line once the rest of the game. It’s nice to know there’s someone worse than the Vikes. In other safety news, that’s how the Tennessee Titans started their season. Their kick returner took the opening kickoff at the ½ yard line or so, then knelt down in the endzone. Everyone figured it was a touchback, Titans offense comes out, but wait, the refs noticed, and with 3 seconds elapsed in the season the Titans were down 2-0 and free-kicking to the Steelers. Sometimes football stupidity costs you dearly, sometimes you get away scot-free. In this case, Tennessee went on to beat Pittsburgh 16-9 so the kick returner was a lucky guy. And finally, the New York Jets’ unlikely penalty-enabled last-second field goal to win 18-17 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was only made possible by the early safety they scored against Tampa Bay when the Buc’s QB mishandled a snap which flopped into the end zone and then got kicked out to give the Jets 2 points in a game they’d win by 1.
I didn’t happen to see the Vikings’ game, which may have been fortunate by the sound of things. It was the opening of the program year at church, the first time since last June that choir has robed up and sang, and was followed by a brunch produced in our new kitchen. There’s been a lot of work going on at church (seasoned Farsiders might recall that last year when the football season kicked off Farsiders me, Paul Salamon and Wanda Copeland, plus another guy, had just got done reassembling an organ we’d moved from Detroit the prior April) and the kitchen has been completely remodeled and re-equipped to actual code-compliant food prep standards. It’s great. It’s the first church kitchen I’ve been in where the big honkin’ dishwasher actually worked. At St. Mary’s (home to a handful of Farsiders) the commercial dishwasher actually started smoking and caught fire when we tried to use it. Fortunately it was a small fire and went out as soon as we cut the power. Potential winner Jim Wheeler might have been in attendance for this episode, I don’t recall exactly. At St. Lukes’s, the church after that, you had to beat on the pump with a wooden staff kept close by and it would quickly exhaust the tiny water heater. Now, at St. Christopher’s, it’s a brand new unit all properly plumbed in and supported with a 100-gallon water heater and big huge vent fan. One guy in church who has done some Cordon Bleu training did the brunch of scratch-made blinis and bacon with a side of fruit, and it was delicious. Even the folding chairs are new and remarkably comfortable. (there are several new people in the Farside this year, and don’t worry, we’re not super-religious and about to preach at you all season, but my wife and Farsider Karla is a church musician and I sing in choir as does our daughter (and Farsider) Geneva, so church is a big thing in our household).
Once done with that, we went off to a pet adoption place (Wags'n'Whiskers, though we met them at a dog training facility's open house). Our household is currently consumed with one of its periodic bouts of Dog Fever. We went and met a pit bull terrier-based mutt named Skittles who is so adorably cute that you pretty much collapse in a giggling heap when you see her. We bonded with her for a couple of hours and checked off the various defects prior dogs of ours have had, and how she compared to those defects, and what horrible traits her winsome personality and dangerous levels of cuteness might be hiding, then retreated to think about it. This is a more considered approach to getting a dog than the time we, say, went out to get cat food and came home with George, who turned out to be a burgeoning giant boxer/Great Dane mix who struggled with young Henry for supremacy in the pack so much that for a couple of years after George was gone many of Henry’s t-shirts had tooth holes in them. We fostered George while he went back up for adoption, and he lasted a week at his new people’s house before chewing his way out of his crate, through a bunch of drywall and several square feet of new Pergo flooring, and then we fostered him again for a bit until he found a suitable home. Let’s just say we are aware of our weaknesses as dog owners and don’t want to take on some emotionally damaged special-needs pooch, we want a blank slate of a puppy exhibiting the right combination of interest in food, self-confidence, curiosity, good health, glimpses of intelligence and a cuteness force field that will melt asphalt. So, spending a bunch of the afternoon with Skittles and one of her sisters (the foster lady had adopted another one, something they refer to as Foster Failure, because you’re not supposed to fall in love with and adopt the foster pooches) was preferable to watching the Vikings in their limp effort against the Lions. There will plenty of Sunday afternoons this season to lay on the couch and take the Lord’s name in vain while watching the Vikes.
I watched quite a lot of the Packers/49ers game, which was pretty chippy, with the 49ers winning in the end, not a big surprise, as they’ve got over 1,000 yards of offense against the Pack in their last two meetings, and the start and finish of the Cowboys win over the turnover-prone Giants (6 turnovers!) with about a 2-hour break to watch Episode 3 of Silk on Masterpiece Theatre. It takes me a few weeks to really get into a football season, and I don’t really settle in to full couch-potato mode until late in the season when the weather turns cold. The next couple of months are too nice to spend lolling around the living room sleeping through football games.
Enjoy tomorrow’s contests! Especially enjoy them if you have a chance to win! I have attached the score sheets for the week so you can consider where you went wrong.
Have a great Monday!
Remember there’s a Thursday game this week. There is one for the first 15 weeks, actually, so I won't put this reminder at the top of the results every week any longer.
Week 1 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Dennis Reopelle won the week with 115 points followed by Laurie Sherman with 113 points and Katie Kostman, Nancy Hofer and my nephew Andrew Kendell with 111. Last place went to my son Henry Cole with 38 points. Dennis is on a good run: he won Week 17 last year, so this is two weeks in a row for him! This being Week 1 and all, the seasonal rankings are of course identical to the week's.
In the High Stakes Pool, Rolf Krogstad and Kevin Cellini tied the week with 115 points but Rolf won based on the tiebreaker. He’d picked 49 points, Kevin took 43, and the game score was 31-28 for 59 points. Those tiebreakers can make a difference. These guys were followed by seasoned football guru and prognosticator Matt Cole (me) and Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong with 111 points and then five guys tied for third: Dave Reimer, Paul Salamon, Neeraj Udeshi, Mick Sheedy and new Farsider Trent Riter with 108 each. Last place went to Devin Ward with 76 points, a score shared by my sister Elizabeth Cole and Jean Tyler, who got the early game entries in but didn’t get in the rest of their picks. That’s the hazard of the early entry option.
We open the season with 50 people in the Family Pool and 47 in the High Stakes Pool. This means the weekly prizes are $50 and $94 for the moment. I will take mid-season joiners up to 51 people in each pool so the prize could change is someone else joins, but for the moment this is what you’re playing for.
I didn’t see any of the Monday night games but was listening to some ESPN sports talk show which was guys watching the Philadelphia/Washington game, so I sort of meta-watched it. Philly got Chip Kelly as a new coach, who left The University of Oregon just ahead of the NCAA recruiting violations posse, and has introduced the same fast-paced offense he used at Oregon which led him to, uh, zero national championships. Apparently it worked really well to start with, especially when combined with Washington miscues (including another safety! What a weekend!) and they cracked off 53 plays in the first half, the most in the NFL since 1991. At halftime, Philly had outgained Washington 322 yards to 75, 21 first downs to 3, and Washington hadn’t run a play in Philadelphia territory. Washington did mount a furious comeback late in the game and the score ended up 33-27, closer than I expected after hearing the first half comments. Apparently players on both sides were pretty gassed, it’s more up-tempo that your usual NFL or college game pace.
One of the coaches in the league I find annoying is San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh. He is a caricature of the super-intense foaming-at-the-mouth football coach and looks like a bad spot on third down might induce a heart attack. I was pretty happy that his mild-mannered brother John beat him in the Super Bowl last February. Anyway, because I was listening to this sports talk radio (one of my usual things when I’m working on mindless tasks, in this case weeding the garden and then cleaning one of the bedrooms) I heard Harbaugh at a press conference needling Green Bay Packers’ defensive player Clay Matthews for a dirty late hit in the game Sunday, including apparently a punch and slap to one of the 49ers players during a brief fight after the play. Harbaugh said if you’re going to hit someone, bring some knuckles, slapping wouldn’t make you a tough guy, inferring it was kind of girly. What he failed to note is that when he was the Colts quarterback in 1997, he took offense to broadcaster (and ex-Bills QB) Jim Kelly saying he thought Harbaugh was a bit of a baby who overdramatized his injuries on a pregame show. The following week, they were both in San Diego for the Colts’ next game, and Harbaugh asked Kelly into a room and took a swing at him. The fisticuffs were short-lived and the upshot was that Jim Kelly was unhurt and Harbaugh had a cracked bone in his hand and missed the next four games without pay ($147,000 a game at that time) due to his non-football injury. So, yeah, smart guy, you go ahead and be intense.
Have a great week!
What was Matt's Market again?
and I respond...
It’s the weighted consensus picks from everyone in the pool. It is called Matt’s Market because originally there was a second version called Sue’s market done slightly different and designed by Sue Reiss, Al Reiss’s wife. The trouble with Sue’s was that it would sometimes have duplicate weightings. Mine always has unique weightings, at least once half a dozen people or so are in. It’s been so long since I wrote it I’d have to go back through the macro but it has something to do with the total points allocated to the contest and the ratio of points given to each team.
I also wrote the fourth Ross sister, Megan Clark, who joined for the season, and wondered about the fifth, Michelle Ross, who would join after Week 1. Jennifer refers to Jennifer Weddell, née Ross, in her 16th Farside season this year.
So, does the 5th sister hate America? Why is she not in?
Those are fun kid ages. As you will probably gather over time, my wife Karla is in the pool as are our children Henry (21) who is at Winona State doing elementary education and my daughter Geneva (19, 20 in about 5 weeks) who is at the U of M doing English and Political Science. I’m actually unemployed at the moment but am a quantitative guy who worked at an insurance company (Jennifer and I overlapped there) and faced the choice of moving to Bloomington, IL last fall or taking early retirement. I did the latter, am about to start seriously looking for work after having enjoyed a summer off for the first time in decades. I run the pool out of Excel for the fun of it, yeah, it’s a bit pathetic. I grew up in Des Moines so wasn’t heavily attached to any pro team, but always liked the Vikes and we’ve been here 19 years now so am a Purple fan as much as anything.
Welcome to the pool!
As Week 2 looms there is some of the early season confusion. Leslie Lundt wondered about her daughter's entry, which seemed to be missing.
You need to have The Talk with your daughter. I think she submitted under your name inadvertently. The password isn’t your usual one and Jenny’s picks are missing. I’ll move them to her name and set yours to 6 on New England (was that right?). I’ll double-check. Your name and Jenny’s are adjacent and I expect it was a bit of sloppy mousing. It happens from time to time during the season.
Apparently she doesn't hate America.
Welcome to the Farside Pool. This email will run you through the basics of participating in the pool, not that it’s all that difficult. This is the 18th season of the Farside Pool and we’ve got some participants, my offspring among them, who’ve been in for more than half their lives. Three of your sisters have been in quite a while, Megan just joined at the beginning of the season, and a couple of their children are now in as well (and both Hayden and Lauren won a week last season). One feature of the pool is I run a Family Unit report after each week is complete showing how all the related parties are doing. Since you’re joining mid-season, you wouldn’t normally be in here. I have a way around this for this season, which I’ll talk about later, it’s a minor point.
OK, the first thing you should do is bookmark the Farside page in your browser. You won’t remember the URL, so add this bookmark: www.uscoles.com/farside.shtml. This page will serve all your Farside needs, with links to the current printable entry sheet, the current online entry forms, and the results pages. Those are the main things people require, but there’s also links to pages telling who everybody is, tracking the Family Units (we have a lot of Farside-inspired familial warfare during the season) and even checking the weather in all the NFL Cities. Feel free to check out these links at your leisure.
The Short Story:
You look at the week’s games, pick the winners, weight your picks, pick a tiebreaker, and then enter online and settle back to count your winnings.
The Long Story:
I recommend that you start with the printable Entry Sheet. This lists the week’s games and the teams’ records. The Week 1 form is at www.uscoles.com/week1.pdf if you want to take a look. I recommend that you print it out to help you work out your picks on paper before entering. When you look at this, you’ll see all the games for the weeks listed. Go through the list and decide who you think is going to win each game. You’re picking an outright win, not beating the spread or anything. I circle my choices on my way down the page. Done with that? Now for the hard part.
You have to weight your picks. In a full week, there are 16 games (there will 15, 14 and 13-game weeks this season). You are going to assign weights to each game from 16 down to 1 (or 15, 14 or 13 down to 1). Now, and this is a critical point, the 16 (not the 1!) goes on the game about which you are most certain!! I’ve had participants sheepishly admit to doing this backwards, putting 1 on their favorite game rather than 16, sometimes for one game, sometimes for half a season, before realizing that their crummy Farside scores were the result of weighting backwards! Anyway, use each number once; 16 on the game you’re most certain about, 15 on the next-most-certain game, 14 on the next, right down to 1 on the one that looks most like a toss-up to you. There, now your crummy scores will be all due to your own poor choices, not bad methodology!
There’s also a tiebreaker to be chosen. It’s the total points scored in the last game of the week (always specified on the entry sheet, virtually always Monday Night Football, but sometimes there’s two MNF games and sometimes there’s none). If you can’t make up your mind, 42 is a safe bet. Some games are total scorefests (how about 44-41, from last season) and some boring slogs (6-3, who could stay awake?, from 2009). Tiebreakers usually come into play once or twice a season, and the attached Results Explanation shows a week where the win was on the tiebreaker from among three people with identical scores.
OK, your winners are all picked, your weights are assigned, your tiebreaker is chosen. Did this take more than 5 minutes? Well, you’re new. For most experienced participants, 5 minutes is about it, although I do know a couple of people who spent over an hour on their choices.
Now it’s time to actually enter these picks. You do this online. There’s a link from the main Farside page (it’s www.uscoles.com/week1form.shtml) but don’t fret, it will be in the prior week’s results email and in the periodic reminders I send out. Click on the link, and up comes the online entry form. Note that, starting in 2012, the League started scheduling early games (usually Thursdays) nearly every week. To accommodate this, I now allow you to enter just the early game to start with, then do the full week’s games before gametime Sunday. The main Farside page has the links to these early entry forms.
You pick your name from the list (alphabetical by last name), enter a password (more on that in a minute), then go through and put your weights next to your winners. At the end, enter your tiebreaker. You can print it out from your browser at this point, or just hit Submit. If you print it, don’t forget to Submit!! It’s happened. You should get a message right away saying you’ve entered successfully, although you might get a message saying that you’ve used some weight twice or forgot the tiebreaker or something, in which case you need to fix it and try again, and don’t forget to reenter a password. Try Submitting again.
Travelling somewhere this season? Note that you can enter from anywhere with Internet access. I will also take entries early, so that you can enter ahead of time (all weekly files are accessible here, which is linked to from the main Farside page) if you plan not to think about the Farside during an absence. I’ve had entries from around the country and the world and have even scored and run the pool from Europe for a couple of weeks, so there’s no reason to fret if you have travel plans.
Your entry comes to me as an email. At some point, I’ll enter it into the spreadsheet and at that point you will get a confirming email with your picks listed. You’re in for the week. It is worthwhile checking this confirming email to make sure it’s what you meant to do. If you notice some egregious error and you want to fix it, you can just enter again, but get it in before the games start.
The scoring is straightforward. If the team you picked to win actually wins, you get the points you allocated to it. If they lose, you get nothing for that game. If they tie, and it happens sometimes, including to the Super Bowl participants San Francisco last season, everybody gets zero points. The weekly winner is the person whose point total after all the games are played is the highest, with the tiebreaker sometimes coming into play. And twice in the past 17 seasons we’ve had a tie even after the tiebreaker, and split the prize.
The weekly prize is $1 per participant in the Family Pool and $2 per participant in the High Stakes Pool. The final numbers aren’t in yet, but it will be about $50 each week in the Family Pool and $100 in the High Stakes Pool, depending on how many people commit to participating. These winnings are paid out each week.
There’s also a season-end pot for the highest 3 cumulative scores, $5/$10 per participant split 50/30/20. Again, the exact amount will depend on how many finally commit to being in, but the total pot to be split for this part will be roughly $250 (Family Pool)/$500 (High Stakes Pool). This of course is only paid once the regular NFL season is concluded. There is a page on the site which is updated each week showing who has won how much money. There of course aren’t any winnings yet this year, but last season’s winnings are shown at The 2012 Family Pool Money and The 2012 High Stakes Money if you want to see how this is reported.
On gamedays, I enter the game scores as they are finished and publish the results. Typically, I do this at teatime (between 3 and 4 local time, when the early games are finishing off) and run an Outcomes routine to figure out who has a chance to win, given their picks so far and weights on unplayed games. The Outcomes thing is somewhat dependent on what else I’m doing that day, which tends to be raking leaves, riding bicycles or rewiring my attic.
I usually publish interim results Sunday night/Monday morning once all the Sunday games are complete, then final results and links to the subsequent week come out Tuesday (morning if I stayed up Monday night, Tuesday evening if I didn’t).
There are a bunch of niggly little rules you shouldn’t have to worry about; they can be summed up as Enter before Gametime. If you miss a week, or if you’re in late, you get stuck with the worst score anyone gets who actually entered (it’s better than zero!). If you miss a Thursday game, you can still enter for the rest of the weekend but will be compelled to take the worst outcome anyone got on that Thursday game. Entering on time avoids these complications. If you really want to read all the fine print, I have it at Farside Pool: The Gory Details.
My final emails each week have the final scoresheet for the week and the printable entry sheet attached, and links to the entry form. A lot of people enjoy my emails, which tend to be very long on what Matt and the family are doing and not a lot of detailed game analysis. Probably some people find this annoying, but that’s ok, my blather can be safely ignored.
I have attached last year's Week 17 scoresheet (called fresult1712, meaning Family Pool (the f), Week 17, 2012). It may look at first blush like an incomprehensible tangle of numbers, but what it shows is each person’s selections and weights vertically, and then the actual game scores at the left. The outlines running across the sheet show who got points, and how many, and the totals are at the bottom. There’s even a little W by the weekly winner, and the top three seasonal rankings are shown in red along the bottom. The display order of the names is highest score on the left to the lowest on the right—the farther over you have to go to find your name, the more disheartening it is! This all makes it pretty obvious what picks people made, where they were right and wrong, and how it all worked out. Get over the initial shock of all those numbers and it’s actually pretty informative.
Finally, those passwords. At one point, some high-spirited participants with side bets on the outcomes of the pool noticed that they could enter on each other’s behalf. Some friskiness ensued. I then stuck in the password requirements so I could tell which were the correct entries and that put an end to that bit of nonsense. Now, occasionally people inadvertently click on the name adjacent to theirs in the dropdown list and the password can be handy to figure out whose entry it really is. I’d recommend that you just use your name or initials or something, it doesn’t have to be some high security 7bYT3#4xR4 type password. If you don’t want to bother, just enter “none”.
Whew, this all sounds like a lot of complicated work! Really, this is less work and more fun than that all sounds! I enjoy running the pool, the people still in it seem to enjoy participating, and it’s basically good fun all around. I’m glad you’re in, and hope you have fun with it as well.
Welcome to the Farside, and good luck!
PPS The Farside name does not have to do with Gary Larson’s excellent comics; I wrote the spreadsheet that runs this pool in the summer of 1996 whilst working at Norwest Document Custody in Northeast Minneapolis in a room on the far end of the building. The room was known as the Farside Room because it was so far from the entrance, so this was the Farside Pool, and I’ve never seen fit to change it. The spreadsheet has grown a lot in complexity and capabilities and the NFL has even expanded since then, but the earliest macro still in use was recorded in October 1996.
Not a ton of football insight this weekend. I volunteered at a Saint Paul Open Streets event, which mostly consisted of lurking around the intersection of University and Grotto in Saint Paul redirecting confused motorists, chatting up passers-by, moving sandbags around to weigh down some barricades that kept blowing around and taking photos of people. University, the major surface street between downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul, has had a light rail line built down the middle of it over the last couple of years. The major construction phases are largely complete, although the trains won’t start running until next year sometime, and University for a couple of miles was closed to motorized traffic and instead opened to cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians. It was a bit of a slow day, between being cool, overlapping the Vikings and some confusion among the immigrant communities about the business opportunity this might present. At my intersection there is a Vietnamese bakery that does lovely croissants, a legacy of the French colonization of Viet Nam, but when they heard there’d be no cars, they had no interest in opening for the afternoon. Oh well. With all this noble volunteer service, I didn’t see or hear any of the Vikings game (described on the news as a “painful one point loss”) at all and didn’t make it home until the late games were getting close to being finished.
One game was running late. The New Orleans/Tampa Bay game was delayed due to lightning, much like the first game of the season. Then, when I settled in to watch the Sunday Night game, it got partway through the first quarter and then went on hold for about an hour while some lightning storms passed by Seattle. Is this new? I sure don’t recall many weather delays in the past, and in fact one of the appealing things about football is how it goes on no matter what the conditions. We’ve all seen games in heavy snow, driving rain, baking heat and even heavy fog. There was a Vikings game delayed a day a couple of years ago when there was a blizzard in Philadelphia and they stalled the Monday game to Tuesday night, which the Vikings won. But I don’t remember lightning delays. Maybe it’s the better detection available now. Anyway, by the time the first half got done on Sunday night, it had taken 2 hours 29 minutes and the score was 5-0 Seattle.
With the Sunday games complete (well, as I write this, Seattle is pounding San Francisco but it’s not quite over yet) we can tell who the winners might be. If Pittsburgh wins Monday night, Dave Mullen will win the Family Pool. If Cincinnati wins, Dave will win with a low combined game score (39 points or fewer), John Hylle will win with a score of 41-44, and Nathan Reopelle will win with a score of 45 or greater. If the score ends up at 40, it’ll be a tie between Dave and John. Got all that?
In the High Stakes Pool, Eric Benson wins if Pittsburgh prevails and Mick Sheedy wins if Cincy beats the Steelers.
Regarding Cute Doggie Pics:
Among the attachments are a couple of cute puppy photos. Can’t resist those, and when you run the Pool you get to inflict cuteness on others. The first is Skittles at the Medicinal Chemistry department picnic Friday night. A distinguished group of academics, grad students and researchers has declared Skittles cute (Geneva is a student worker in the Med Chem department office at the University of Minnesota, and family were invited, hence my appearance with Skittles). The second is from Saturday, Geneva and Skittles lying in Geneva’s lovely sunny bedroom reading. At least Geneva was reading. Skittles mostly seemed to be reveling in the attention and stretching out and wagging her tail.
Some 9/11 stuff:
Last week was the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and there were the usual remembrances. Longtime Farsiders may remember that we were actually overseas at the time, and planned not to score the first two weeks of that season (it was only $20 that year rather than $22), though we had to make a bit of a change when Week 2, the first week after the attacks, was moved to the weekend after Week 17. I happened to be a bit primed on 9/11 because Geneva had taken a Conspiracies class at Luther College and one of the books, based on Popular Mechanic’s article debunking the various 9/11 conspiracies, was lying around and I read it a month or two ago. We happen to own a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report as well, and I went back to refer to that to get some of the timeline straight. This reminded me of an interesting local angle on 9/11 that I’ve never seen reported on.
It involves two of the 9/11 flights. The first was American 77, the Pentagon plane. It turned off its transponder and turned and Indianapolis Center lost contact at about 9:00. Unaware of what had happened in New York, Indianapolis noted that the plane might have crashed and notified the FAA. They searched for a primary radar contact but never saw it before it returned to Washington Center. Just after 9:30, several Dulles (Washington) controllers noticed the primary radar return. They notified the Secret Service. Then, and I quote: “Reagan National [airport] controller then vectored an unarmed National Guard C130H cargo aircraft, which had just taken off en route to Minnesota, to identify and follow the suspicious aircraft. The C130H pilot spotted it, identified it as a Boeing 757, attempted to follow its path [the C130 is a turboprop and much slower than the pure jet 757] and, at 9:38, seconds after the impact, reported to the control tower: ‘looks like that aircraft crashed into the Pentagon sir.’”
OK, that’s a bit strange. The National Guard down at MSP, our airport, flies C130Hs and here one of them saw American 11 crash into the Pentagon. There’s more.
United 93, the Shanksville, Pennsylvania aircraft, was hijacked right about 9:30. At 9:32 the hijackers inadvertently broadcast on the radio rather than the intercom that there was a bomb on board. At 9:41, Cleveland Center lost the transponder but continued to track the aircraft on primary radar. This is the plane where the passengers attempted to retake the aircraft, and it crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03, 125 miles from Washington. Quoting again:
“Five minutes later, the Command Center forwarded this update to headquarters:
Command Center: OK. Uh, there is now on that United 93.
FAA Headquarters: Yes
Command Center: There is a report of black smoke in the last position I gave you, fifteen miles south of Johnstown.
FAA Headquarters: From the airplane or from the ground?
Command Center: They’re speculating it’s from the aircraft.
FAA Headquarters: Okay.
Command Center: Uh, who, it hit the ground. That’s what they’re speculating, that’s speculation only.
The aircraft that spotted the “black smoke” was the same Air National Guard cargo plane that had seen American 77 crash into the Pentagon 27 minutes earlier. It had resumed its flight to Minnesota and saw the smoke from the crash of United 93 less than two minutes after the plane went down.”
Those quoted passages are from the 9/11 Commission Report. This is what strikes me as so remarkable: that here in Minnesota, or perhaps even the Twin Cities, there are some aircrew who saw two of the four 9/11 aircraft in the course of a flight from DC to Minnesota. I’ve always wondered if this was reported locally. I never saw it. It might have happened right away, before we got home, or it may have taken until the 9/11 Commission Report was published, in July 2004. The Minnesota ANG does have a report on it, at the Northstar Guardian online, but it’s from 2006, the fifth anniversary. It seems to have taken a while to filter into the public consciousness. It’s funny how you can be going about your business, flying a cargo plane back to Minnesota on a lovely autumn morning and then happen to stumble into being a witness to history. Twice.
Have a great Monday!
Week 2 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Dave Mullen, John Hylle and Nathan Reopelle tied for first with 120 points and with Dave winning based on the tiebreaker. He had taken 36 points and there were 30 in Cincinnati’s lackluster 20-10 win over Pittsburgh. They were followed by first-year Farsider Kerry Vnuk with 119 points and Katie Kostman with 117. Last place went to Lauren Swanson with 32 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 228 points followed by Nathan Reopelle, his dad Dennis and Nancy Hofer all with 226 and Teri Carr with 224. Coming in last at this point is my own handsome son Henry Cole with 103 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Mick Sheedy wins the week with 122 points followed by Eric Benson with 121 points and Carol Musser with 117. Last place went to Mick’s brother Blaine Lundt with 72 points. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini leads with 231 points followed by Mick Sheedy with 230 and Week 1 winner Rolf Krogstad with 227. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 165 points.
We wandered over to Ol’ Mexico last night to see if they had maybe reinstated their free taco bar during Monday Night Football. Nope. Not a surprise, really, as it must be five years now since those halcyon days of free tacos. They do run the taco bar on weekdays from 3 ‘til 6, but that doesn’t help with Monday Night Football. We ate a meal of unrelenting mediocrity, had a beer, watched the game for a while, then came home. Ol’ Mexico isn’t much of a deal these days. I need to find a better venue. Maybe I’ll try Ted’s.
Have a great week!
The Sunday night game is over with a solid Chicago win over Pittsburgh, 40-23, leaving Pittsburgh 0-3. They're off to London this week, as are the Vikes, where these two 0-3 teams will meet in Wembley Stadium next Sunday. Talk about a resistable force meeting a moveable object! I'm not sure that promoting two winless teams in the UK is a way to sell the English on the merits of American football. Still, maybe it'll be a compelling game since both teams have so many issues.
The Vikes coughed up this hairball of a game against the Cleveland Browns who, earlier this week, traded away their star running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first round draft choice next year. Richardson was the third pick in the 2012 draft and Cleveland had traded up to get it, so they're giving up on him early. I was walking the pooch the night the trade was announced and listening to sports talk radio and for the entire 45 minute walk the hosts of the show and callers were foaming at the mouth about this trade, including lots of folks who weren't even Cleveland Browns fans. "I'm a Broncos fan, so I shouldn't care, but if I were a Browns fan, I'd be totally pissed off!" they would say. The level of passion about a seemingly crappy trade by a perennially crappy team was amazing. You'd think we'd bombed Syria or something, only people might not get so worked up about that. Anyway, with this sort of organizational turmoil in a lame team at the last Vikings home opener in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Cleveland was assumed to be an easy win for the Purple. Nope. I watched a bit of the game while eating lunch and then listened to the rest on the radio while puttering around. I figured we were in trouble when they pulled the fake punt and then fake field goal. It wasn't just the unpreparedness of the Vikings for this sort of thing, it was the Browns' attitude. They thought they could win this game. And they did.
I was on my way to dump brush trimmings at the county compost place when the game ended. The postgame shows were filled with near-rage, calls for the coach's head, calls for a new quarterback. That sort of organizational turmoil isn't likely to happen when the team is off on the plane to London tomorrow, but something might happen when they come back and go into their Bye week. Again, the seriousness with which fans take this is pretty amazing. They really hated losing to Cleveland's third string quarterback, "something called Brian Hoyer" as they said on the radio. We'll see what happens next week; from what I saw and heard of Pittsburgh (listened to some of that whilst walking pooch too), they sound like they execute better than the Vikes.
Meanwhile, ex-Cleveland Brown RB Trent Richardson, main character in the week's passing sports news squall, scored a touchdown for Indianapolis in their win over the 49ers in San Francisco. I had an email from one participant saying he was going heavy on Indy due to the poor weather report in San Francisco. The highlights I saw, it looked beautiful, just like here.
Anyway, with just the Monday Night game left, the High Stakes Pool will be won by first-year Farsider Trent Riter no matter what happens in the MNF game. In the Family Pool, the winner will be Caitlin Hogan if Denver wins the Monday Night game or Laurie Sherman if Oakland wins. I'd be feeling pretty confident if I were Caitlin, about as confident as most Vikings fans were of the easy win over Cleveland.
Have a great Monday!
Week 3 is over and the final results are finally in. In the Family Pool, Caitlin Hogan won the week with 113 points followed by Laurie Sherman with 110 points and my niece Sarah Kendell and Donald Mullen with 107. Last place went to Jeff Carlson with 52 points. Seasonally, Nathan Reopelle leads the Family Pool with 322 points followed by Katie Kostman with 320 and Nancy Hofer with 316. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 177 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, first-year Farsider Trent Riter wins the week with 102 points followed by happy Cleveland fan Larry Daniels with 101 points and Dan Musser, Leslie Lundt and Dawn Miller with 99 points each. Last place went to Devin Ward with 62 points, a score shared by my sister Liz Cole who never got her full entry in. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini leads the High Stakes Pool with 320 points followed by Carol Musser and Rolf Krogstad with 317 each and this week's winner Trent Riter with 316. Last place for the season so far is held down by Devin Ward with 231 points.
Due to the tardiness of my final results write-up, I can note a couple of things. For one, the Detroit win over the Washington Redskins in Washington (or Maryland, actually, where they play) was the first Lions win against the Redskins since 1935. The Portsmouth Spartans beat the (then) Boston Redskins in 1933. Portsmouth then became the Detroit Lions and beat the Boston Redskins at Fenway Park in 1935. The Redskins moved to Washington and in the time since Detroit never ever even once beat them there, an 0-21 streak. The win Sunday was the first for the Lions against the Redskins since before World War II.
In Vikings news, the Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning had a good day, throwing for a touchdown pass, punting and kicking an extra point (after the Cleveland place kicker Billy Cundiff was hurt) and becoming the first player since 1968 to do all three in a game. With a passing record of 1 pass, 1 TD and no INTs or incompletions, Lanning has a Quarterback rating of 152.1.
This weekend the Vikings play the Steelers in London. Both teams are 0-3. On the plus side, they have six Super Bowl wins between them. Sadly, they're all for Pittsburgh. There is another London game later this season, San Francisco and Jacksonville in Week 8. So, as of now, the combined records of the four teams playing in London this season is 1-11. Yep, that's the way to sell the NFL to a global audience!
Have a great week!
Filled with shame after losing to the Cleveland Browns, the Vikes slink off to London to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
San Francisco got a solid 35-11 win in Saint Louis Thursday night. The Rams were a troublesome club for the 49ers last year, with the teams playing five quarters to the NFL's only tie last season in one game and the Rams winning in overtime in the other. The bits I heard on the radio while walking the dog sounded like a walkover for San Francisco with a lot of injuries on the field. Most of the pool participants went for San Francisco, and those that didn't were generally lightly weighted.
There's been a lot of London talk about. The Vikes play in London this weekend, so there is the usual coverage of that in the papers and the wide-eyed coverage as the local radio guy (and Vikings play by play announcer) broadcasts from London, or Watford anyway. Some of this shows an unfamiliarity with travelling overseas, as a couple of the guys were bitching about having only one outlet and needing a converter. No, actually, virtually all current electronic device chargers work with 220V or 110V power. All you need is a small power strip and an adapter. Modern life, and particularly modern travel, is all about battery states, so I'm surprised they hadn't thought about this. He also had an insouciant attitude to his cellphone data plan on the first day, cheerfully saying he was going to just tweet and read blogs and post pictures. This kind of attitude can land you mutli-thousand dollar data roaming charges. On day 2, a chastised radio guy was saying AT&T had called about his charges and they were working something out. The key thing here is, if you have a GSM phone (and if you have AT&T, you do), just get a European SIM card and use a local number and dirt cheap data. Thirty bucks and you can get your iPad going for 30 days up to 3 gig of data. Again, it doesn't seem like they thought those logistics through very well. It's a Clear Channel station, you'd figure that a company that size would have some international travel expertise they could share with the on-air talent. I wrote him an email, told him where his nearest Carphone Warehouse and 3 shops were and noted that, for what he was in danger of running up in data charges, they could have taken me over as phone and pub consultant.
In some parts of the NFL there are dreams of having a team in London. The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars just bought an English soccer team and things are a bit rough in Jacksonville, so maybe that'll be the franchise. It's even East Coasty, closer to Europe (6 hour flight vs 8 from here in Minneapolis or 10+ from Los Angeles). There would be a lot of issues in having a London team playing a regular NFL schedule. There is an article on Grantland looking at NFL London expansion and examining the issues and how challenging it would be.
Then, we watch the season premiere of Parks and Recreation tonight, an hour-long special, and in the episode, several of the main characters go to London. It was the big sights; Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, that sort of thing, and an excuse for the same sort of jokes that have been plaguing the local sports talk station all week. The one difference is that it was sunny in all the scenes in Parks and Rec but it always seems to rain for the NFL games. This Sunday, though, the BBC Weather site is saying Sunny on Sunday. The game isn't until 6:00PM there so it'll be mostly at night, but perhaps it won't be raining. You can actually read the BBC's NFL coverage online.
If you just got your early entry in, make sure to get the rest of your picks in by gametime Sunday.
Have a great weekend everyone!
PS One of our regular Christmas events is going to the British Television Advertising Awards movie, basically an hour or more of solid English commercials. Some of these are really clever. We really like the Yeo Valley yogurt ads, one done as a rap and the other as a boy band. You can see both the Rap Version and the Boy Band Version on YouTube. When they refer to the West Country, they mean the west of England (I actually love the highway signs on the Motorways as you leave Heathrow that say just The West or The North, they seem so open to possibilities). These things are pretty long form for ads, running about 2 minutes. Still, that's as nothing compared to the Johnnie Walker scotch whisky spot which runs 5½ minutes, plus credits. If you've ever done film or video, you might be astonished at the single take, clever staging and camera work. You can watch the Johnnie Walker ad in case the games get boring. I also like that, while the guy is speaking English, his accent is Scottish enough that they subtitle the ad [only on some versions, I see. The link is un-subtitled]. If you've ever been to Scotland, you'll understand that a lot of those folks could use subtitles. Meanwhile, after re-watching this 2009 ad I went out and bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker. I'm just putty in the advertisers' hands.
New England just hung on to beat Atlanta. Normally I wouldn't watch this game with much interest, if at all, but in this case an Atlanta win would put my daughter Geneva in position to have a chance to win the week tomorrow night. It came right down to the end, with a 4th down throw by the Falcons falling incomplete in the endzone, ensuring New England's victory and Geneva's defeat.
The Vikings actually won a game as well, although, in typical Viking fashion, they offered Pittsburgh the opportunity to steal a win right at the end of the game. I was walking the pooch this morning and the local sports yak shows were speculating that what we really need to do is tank the season so that we get a good draft choice and draft a new quarterback. The Vikings had a series of used quarterbacks from other teams, some of whom worked out, many of whom didn't. They decide to get a young guy and make him the franchise quarterback, a move I agreed with, and so drafted Christian Ponder. I didn't have much opinion one way or the other on Ponder, since I really don't follow college football at all, but was hopeful. He seems like a nice guy, and I guess he's pretty smart, but he doesn't have that spark that the really good quarterbacks do, and I think at this point the Christian Ponder era is mostly over. He was excused from the game with a cracked rib although that's widely thought to be an excuse to gracefully have him step down, and was replaced by Matt Cassell, who used to be backup at New England despite never starting in college, and then was in Kansas City for a couple of years. I don't know that he's the answer, either, but he got them a win today in London. The Vikings have next weekend off, as do the Steelers after their London sojourn.
I didn't actually see much of the Vikes. We had various adventures going on, including moving two old radiators out of the basement, they're amazingly heavy and Henry (up for the weekend) and I ended up disassembling them rather than trying to move them intact. We stuck all the bits in the pickup and I'll haul it off to the scrap metal dealers in north Minneapolis where the meth addicts sell their copper piping stripped out of foreclosed homes and see what cast iron is worth these days. Between that and dealing with a car whose brand new battery is dead already, most likely victim of a bad alternator, I saw a bit of the first half and the end of the game on tv. It was tense there at the end.
Anyway, we've got Miami and New Orleans on tomorrow night. If Miami wins, it'll be Marianne Arvold winning the Family Pool and Cleveland fan Larry Daniels in the High Stakes Pool. It's easy to snicker at Cleveland, but they've got two wins to the Vikings' one and their third-string quarterback turned in another good performance today. If New Orleans wins Monday night, Kevin Hyland will win the Family Pool and Kathy Sandhofer will win the High Stakes Pool.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Week 4 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Colorado resident Kevin Hyland won the week with 98 points followed by my lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 95 points and Dave Mullen and Shannon Swanson with 94 each. Last place went to my niece Sarah Kendell in Bellevue, Iowa, with 70 points, a score shared by Neil Arvold and Dale Williams, who didn't get entries in. Seasonally, Katie Kostman down in Kansas leads the Family Pool with 411 points followed by Nathan Reopelle with 406 and Nancy Hofer with 405. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 255 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Kathy Sandhofer wins the week with 97 points followed by Jean Tyler out in San Diego with 96 points and Larry Daniels in Cleveland with 95. Last place went to Wanda Copeland in Horseheads, New York, with 53 points. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini leads with 408 points followed by Larry Daniels and Carol Musser with 406 and Rolf Krogstad with 405. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt in Santa Barbara with 303 points.
Got nothing on Friday night? Here's something to do: The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet is performing at our church, Saint Christopher's Episcopal Church in Roseville, Minnesota, at 7:00PM on Friday October 4th. It's not a religious service or concert, it's classical and modern guitar in our church sanctuary, which has good acoustics for groups like this, and is the first concert of St. Christopher's 3rd Gift of Music season, something Karla puts together. I've attached a PDF of the postcards we did for publicity, and which look great. I did them, and I'm quite immodest about them. Of course, I didn't come up with the graphic design, I plagiarized the idea of the layout from a church in Chicago and their music series, but there is some level of skill in knowing what to copy, right? Two of the photos are ours as well; the Christmas ornament is one of ours, though the real skill there lies with the Honduran peasant who painted it, and the organ pipes are from when Farsiders Paul Salamon and Wanda Copeland and myself were in Detroit disassembling and packing this puppy. Karla found the gift logo, and using Adobe Illustrator I converted that to vector graphics and we have a banner outside church this week with the big logo and 500 of these cards which we've been handing out right and left. I used Illustrator to do the layout of the card as well, and learned all about bleeds and color printing and stuff. Anyway, if you're in the area, stop by Friday night and hear these guys, they're really good.
I did my metal scrapping yesterday. I first had to get our car with what looked like a dead alternator to a mechanic, so took the battery which had been charging overnight in the garage, slapped it back in the car and drove it to the mechanic. It took them about 30 seconds to diagnose; yep, alternator's bad, not charging at all. I'd put in a new battery a couple of weeks ago and, impressively, it had worked all this time without getting any more charge from the car. I walked back to church (quite nearby), got my truck, and the pooch and I went to north Minneapolis. I picked a likely-looking scrap dealer near the river and pulled in. A guy in a yellow vest came up and asked what I had. A couple of radiators. He pulled out a magnet and checked the metal; yep, it was magnetic. Well, he says, here's the thing. We don't deal in ferrous metal. We do stainless, aluminum, copper, brass. How much do you have? He asked. I'm not sure. He tells me, that yard across the street, with the yellow crane, they'll but it from you but they have a 500 pound minimum. If you have 496 pounds, they won't pay you anything but will take it for free. Same with the guys a block down the street. I looked in my truck bed, laden with radiator bits. Those things were heavy as hell, but were they 500 pounds? The guy tells me, I've got a scale in there, you could weigh it. So, I took in one segment of the 5-channel radiator and one of the 3-channel radiator and weighed them. They were 18 pounds and 32 pounds, and I had 12 and 6 of each, for a total of 408 pounds. Back at the truck, he asked me, whattya got? 400 pounds, I said. Any more at home? We have radiators all over the house, but they're used for heat. Let's see, there's a length of iron pipe in the attic that a plumber cut out last year, I've got some old window weights. Maybe, I said, I'll go look. Hate to give away my radiators for free! Especially to someone who'd refuse to pay if I came up 4 pounds short.
So, home we go. I pull into the driveway and right there's the answer to my scrap-iron needs: our wrought-iron table! Earlier this summer, during a storm with amazing sustained winds, we'd lost a massive branch off one of our elderly silver maples. With remarkable precision, this enormous branch fell right across a bunch of our outdoor possessions, including this wrought iron table, an old rusty wheelbarrow I'd filled with dirt and planted with flowers, two watering cans, my month-old fancy ass charcoal grill and two vehicles, the '99 Altima with the bad alternator and my truck. I'd labored away within the limits of my chainsaw to clean up, carting off the whole crown of the branch and as much of the main trunk as I could, but the iron table was still wedged into the ground on one end. I'd already cut through the branch at that end, and some quick work with a wrecking bar and I had my table free. Onto the bathroom scale: 80 pounds. A quick scavenge around for the attic pipe and window weights and a couple of other items and I figured I was up to 540 pounds or so.
Quickly becoming savvier as a scrapper, and looking the part with the dented pickup truck and wearing my dirt-colored Carhartts and a t-shirt, both with some grease stains on them from moving the car battery around, I sat down to make some calls. The guy with the yellow crane who wouldn't pay for 496 pounds was paying $155 a ton. I called a couple of other spots and found a yard in south Minneapolis along Hiawatha, which is partly scrap yards, foundries and grain elevators and partly all brand-new condos along the light rail from downtown to the airport, and they were paying $180 a ton with a 500 pound minimum but if it was a little short, that'd be ok, they'd still buy it. I liked this attitude, so off I went.
My weight calculations were right; I was on the scale, empty the truck, back on the scale, and it was 540 pounds difference. Emptying the truck was cool; the guy tells me to stand back and a crane with a big huge electromagnet swings over and the stuff clings to the magnet and he swings it over to a pile and drops it. The table went first, the heaviest thing, then clots of 18- and 32-pound radiator segments. I was glad I had my phone in my pocket; it would be the world's greatest disk eraser. To get my $48.60 check I had to show my drivers license and get photographed, all by state law, and there was a big list of stuff they wouldn't take, like highway guardrails, railroad track segments, signs, manhole covers, large quantities of new merchandise, or material whose ownership they were doubtful about. And so I was done with my scrapping career. The money wasn't the main point, the point was to get these disused radiators out of my basement and out of my way, but the scrapping part of it was an interesting brush with a part of the economy I otherwise never deal with.
Later that afternoon the car was done and I went to get it, and paid. The gas gauge was on E, as it often is then the kids mostly drive it, and so I filled it up. It took every bit of what I'd got for my 540 pounds of radiators to fill it.
Speaking of scrapping, I see that Slate has an article saying we're in the Golden Age of Copper Thievery.
In other news, I had an email from a participant who clicked through to the Yeo Valley yoghurt ads from Britain and decided the thing to do was abandon his family, quit his job and move to England to take up with the girl in the ads. It didn't take much searching to discover that she's 24-year-old Alexandra Evans, voted Britain's Next Top Model a few years ago, but apparently not currently in a relationship, so, hey, you know, follow your dreams. What's a 30-year difference in age between to yoghurt enthusiasts?
Have a great week!
I got an email from Farsider Caitlin "The Intern" Hogan:
My other email won't let me attach a photo so here you go! Finnegan (Finn) Seamus Hogan was born at 835pm on 10-2-13. 7 lbs 11 oz and 19.5 in long.
Caitlin is no longer our intern, but she interned at COUNTRY one year and then worked there for a while. Now she and her husband live up in Big Lake, where the train photo at the top of this novel was taken. It's a long time ago now, but I remember those tumultuous first days when Henry arrived. I wrote back:
Congratulations! He looks awfully cute. I can almost smell that new baby smell. Did you find yourself anxiously counting fingers and toes to make sure they were all there with no extras? It won't be long now and you'll creep into his room when he's asleep to make sure he's still breathing. I think every parent does that at least once.
I'll save him a spot in the 2021 Farside Pool.
At the end of a very busy weekend, having just pulled in from Winona and dropping off Henry, I sat down to do the Sunday night scoring as the San Francisco mopping of the floor with Houston was concluding when I noticed, to my surprise, that there is a game that just started at 10:35PM Central time. It's San Diego at Oakland, and the Oakland As are in the baseball playoffs, and the As and the Raiders share the shabby, sewage-plagued and weirdly-named O.co Coliseum, and they have to wait until the As are finished before they can change over and play the Raiders game. I guess it's on the NFL Network nationally with the CBS crew calling the game, but a quick scan of the local tv schedule doesn't show it being on locally. Wouldn't want to displace outdoorsman Ron Schara with his dog Raven on Minnesota Bound as they feature the Root River fishing yet again ("Fall in Minnesota. Crisp autumn days, pumpkins at the roadside stands, and smallmouth biting on the Root River for the 312th time in this program's history. Join Raven and I as we once again explore Minnesota's Great Outdoors with this dopey background music."), plus, speaking of Minnesota Bound, a recipe for rabbit and cheese enchiladas. Not that I'd have stayed up to watch it in any case, but it's kind of novel to have Monday Morning Football (the game will end at around 1:30AM local time, 2:30AM in the Eastern Time Zone) and then Monday Night Football.
I didn't see much football, snoozing through the Packers/Lions, then off to Winona with Henry and three young ladies (all from the Winona State Ballroom Dancing Club, up here for some Swing Dance festival so that we had eight college students sleeping around the place wrapped around a Friday night concert at church and a Sunday Early Morning Dire Plumbing Emergency, I was in need of a nap) and I only actually saw a chunk of the second quarter of the 49ers/Texans in the Reads Landing Brewing Company near Wabasha with my fish tacos, American Pale Ale and classic rock soundtrack. I kind of regret missing the Denver/Dallas game, which I figured would be a walkover, but which instead featured over 1,000 yards of offense, 99 points (51-48) and a late Tony Romo INT leading to the time-expiring Denver field goal to win the game. In other news I heard on the radio on the rainy drive home, New England lost to Cincinnati and Tom Brady scored no touchdowns, breaking off his streak at 52 games straight with at least one TD. It was also his first career loss to the Bengals. I'm not entirely surprised as the Patriots receiving corps, as far as I can tell, is made up of volunteers from the stands, and poor old Tom must look with envy at the smorgasbord of talent Peyton Manning has out in Denver.
The Vikings were safely on their Bye week and so did no damage to their record.
I'm too lazy and tired to list all the potential outcomes, just take a look at http://www.uscoles.com/outcomes.html for the Family Pool or http://www.uscoles.com/hsoutcomes.html for the High Stakes Pool. I'm not on either one and you probably aren't either, but you might want to sneak a peek just in case.
We'll know more in the morning.
Have a great Monday!
PS if you're now dying to know all about the Root River or the North Shore, take a look at the Minnesota Bound website.
Week 5 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Kevin Hyland won the week again (he won last week too) with 88 points followed by Kerry Vnuk with 84 points and Kathy Haskin with 81. Last place went to Jennifer Weddell with 40 points, a score shared by my offspring Henry and Geneva and niece Sarah Kendell, all of whom didn't get entries in. C'mon kids! Seasonally, Nathan Reopelle leads the Family Pool with 480 points followed by Katie Kostman with 476 and Kerry Vnuk with 467. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 296 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Eric Benson wins the week with 87 points followed by Scott Miller with 79 points and Jean Tyler with 78. Last place went to Blaine Lundt with 31 points. Seasonally, Larry Daniels leads with 475 points followed by Carol Musser with 472 and Kevin Cellini with 471. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 334 points.
This week brings us the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) at the smokin' hot Denver Broncos (5-0) along with the largest spread since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, 28 points. Hard to read how this game will get played; if Denver is quickly up to a safe lead, do they pull Peyton Manning and let the backup quarterback get some playing time? Or do they pile on and run up the score? Something in between? In any case, the gambling industry thinks of this as the most unbalanced matchup in decades.
It's a big week here in the Twin Cities. We're getting our first Chick-fil-As! Sort of. There is one in the Union at the University of Minnesota, but it's a pain to get to and is only open for lunch on weekdays. There is one in the airport, too, but it's behind security and so you have to be coming or going (or brazen: a 9-year-old with a history of pesky behavior just got through security, hung around the gate and trailed a family boarding a plane and flew to Las Vegas.) The stores open Thursday and you can win a year's worth of free Chick-fil-A if you're one of the first in line, with the line starting to form at 6AM Wednesday. Not that there's likely to be anything spectacular about Chick-fil-A, but it's something new, and now we can find out what lies behind the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the ads they run. It'll be the biggest thing since Krispy Kreme doughnuts!
There's some interesting reading about the NFL coming out these days. One is an article in The Atlantic Magazine titled "How the NFL Fleeces the Public" by Gregg Easterbrook, who writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column I like. The article details how the League uses public money to enrich itself* and the team owners. Minnesota is mentioned early on, as us generous taxpayers are coughing up half a billion dollars to build the new stadium, about $150 million from the City of Minneapolis and the other $350 million from the state, e.g., us. The owners of the Vikings, the Wilfs, are to put up the rest, about $475 million. In reality, this breaks down as a $50 million grant from the NFL, a $150 million loan from the NFL, $100 million from the sale of "personal seat licenses" (charging fans money for the right to purchase season tickets, there's already been stories of retired schoolteachers who've had season tickets since 1961 and have patiently worked their way up to the 45 yard line, and now it's $10,000 per PSL for the tickets), and something approaching $100 million for 20 years of stadium naming rights. The rest will have to come from the Wilfs themselves. A wrinkle in this aspect is that they have just been found liable for an $84.5 million dollar judgment in a lawsuit in New Jersey of arbitrarily reducing payouts to a business partner because "they got too good a deal". This lawsuit took 21 years to wend its way through the legal system and in the ruling the judge noted that the Wilfs had committed fraud and violated racketeering laws. Remember, this is in New Jersey, setting for The Sopranos and a place where they know their racketeering and fraud. So, yeah, we're ponying up half a billion dollars to help out some racketeering fraudsters from out of state who won't disclose their actual net worth (a hasty due diligence process slapped together when news of the judgment broke came up with 700 different entities in the Wilf's business empire so it's all a bit complicated) and who renege on deals if they think the other party got too good a deal. On the whole, maybe it would have been better to let them move to Los Angeles and join the ex-Minneapolis Lakers.
In other local stadium news, the state's funding source for this was supposed to be revenue from electronic pull tabs. Pull tabs are these little tickets you buy in bars and pull three little tabs and if you uncover, say, three shamrocks, you win $5 or something. Do they have this elsewhere? I don't remember ever seeing it in Iowa. Usually there's a little booth off in the corner with a bored volunteer sitting there and the money raised goes to Vadnais Heights Youth Hockey or some other worthy local charity. The must raise some significant money because every three or four years there'll be a story where the treasurer of the local fire department auxiliary or parks association has embezzled $60,000 over five years and everyone will be shocked that such a nice person did such a thing but on the other hand I guess that explains the Mercedes and the cruise vacations. There's almost certainly someone doing it right now that we'll read about in 2017. In the desperate bi-partisan attempts to slap together a stadium deal in May 2012, our Democratic governor who didn't want to lose the Vikings on his watch and Republican-controlled House who didn't want to raise any taxes finally came up with the gimmicky electronic pull tab idea. The pull tab thing would be on an iPad (or something similar) and increase pull tab sales a huge amount and the incremental revenue would fund the stadium. Well, the uptake by bars was low (300 bars had this in the first year rather than the projected 2,500) and usage amongst bar patrons was low as well so that the sales of pull tabs are now projected to be $1.7 million for 2013 instead of the expected $35 million. In the first 12 months, between low sales and high payouts the net contribution to stadium funding was…zero. There were plenty of callers to sports talk radio at the time the deal was done saying that the projections on this funding were ridiculous, but I guess the important thing was to get something done and let the project develop its own inevitability and momentum and then figure out something else later.
All this is happening against a backdrop of growing concern about the physical effects of playing football, particularly in relation to cumulative brain injuries. The book and Frontline episode League of Denial (see NPR's interview or the Frontline site) are just being released detailing the NFL's attempts to deny or minimize the effects of concussions and multiple sub-concussion impacts on players' brains. There was a big settlement between the league and ex-players late this summer relating to concussions and there are new protocols for dealing with concussions now for active players, so the NFL would like to move forward. What could happen, though, is that concussion lawsuits extend down to college, high school and youth football leagues. The NFL players are at least adults who are making a presumably informed choice about the balance of high pay and fame versus likelihood of physical or mental incapacitation later in life. Some college and all high school and lower players are minors and not able to weigh those tradeoffs and for the vast majority of college players on down, there is no big monetary payoff in the future.
It's a troubling thing as a fan. I've followed football since college, when I was assigned to photograph it for the ISU Daily and started to pay attention so that I'd know where to be to get the picture. I was astonished at the speed and size of the players compared to ones from high school, universally smaller, slower and less-skilled. I was amazed that they played on basically a carpet on concrete**. And at first when I saw the NFL I wondered if some of those hits were faked, like pro wrestling, and then when it dawned on me that they were all for real, I wasn't surprised to find that ex-players often had lots of physical difficulties once retired. On the whole, if these guys wanted to beat themselves up for our amusement, that was ok, there are a lot of intriguing aspects to a well-played game and we can root for the local team. Once you find out it's not just wonky knees, but brain damage, depression and suicide, and that the damage starts before you reach the upper levels of the sport, and that young brains are more susceptible than mature ones, then the ongoing fandom becomes more troubling.
The League is working to address this with rule changes and better equipment. It's not the first time. In 1905 there was a movement afoot to ban football altogether after 18 college and amateur players died in games***. Teddy Roosevelt got together the powers in football (colleges at the time, no pro leagues around then) and they came up with a bunch of rule changes to make the game safer (ten yards for a first down instead of five, the forward pass, things like that) and the outright ban was averted. Now it's the most popular sport in the United States. Of course, these things can evolve, as past wildly-popular sports include boxing and horse racing, both of which have faded dramatically from their glory days. There would be an undeniable irony if the state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis were ponying up this half billion dollars to support professional football right at the moment when it peaks in popularity. The lease for the Vikes at the new stadium is for 30 years; I wonder where football will be by then. It seems a long way off, but this is already the 18th season of the Farside Pool.
In the meantime, though, there are games to be played! And the Vikings, in their off week, have picked up Tampa Bay's used Quarterback Josh Freeman. Gotta stay in the news you know.
Have a great week!
*despite being a non-profit. Yep, the National Football League is legally a non-profit and doesn't pay taxes. The teams are for-profit entities, but the League isn't.
**The playing field at Iowa State went from Astroturf to natural grass in 1996 so it's nicer now.
***this didn't stop football deaths. When I photographed those Iowa State games, it was at Jack Trice Field in Cyclone Stadium. Jack Trice was an Iowa State player who died after playing the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1923. The night before the game he had to stay in a segregated hotel in Minneapolis (that wasn't strictly a southern thing). The next day, he broke his collar bone early in the game, but chose to continue playing. After a tackle later in the game, three U of M players intentionally trampled and stomped on him while he was on the ground. He was sent to a local hospital, declared fine by the doctors, and died two days later from internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. Iowa State cancelled further games with the U and wouldn't play the Minnesota again until 1989. Iowa State finally did the right thing and renamed Cyclone Stadium to Jack Trice Stadium in 1997. It remains the only Division 1 stadium named after an African-American.
For U of M fans, it is interesting to note that Floyd of Rosedale, the football trophy contested between the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota each year, also arose from U of M players brutalizing (but not in this case killing) a black player, this time for the Hawkeyes in 1934.
The Dallas/Washington game just ground to an end and, with just the Monday Night Football game remaining, the potential winners have been narrowed down. In the Family Pool, a San Diego win will give the week to Nancy Hofer while an Indianapolis win would give it to Steve Benson. In the High Stakes Pool, it's a bit more nuanced. Carol Musser wins the week if either a) Indianapolis wins or b) San Diego wins with a total game score of 48 or more points. If it's a San Diego win with 35 or fewer points, Sharon Exel will win the week, where if it's a Chargers win with 37 to 46 points, Jim Wheeler will win. If San Diego wins and the point total is either 36 or 47, Jim Wheeler will tie with Sharon or Carol and they'll split the week's winnings. It's rare, but it happens.
Those threesomes (or worse) in the tiebreakers can make you cheer for really specific scores, especially if the teams are about to score for points outside of your prize band. There's a certain pathetic resignation when your only hope is that the visitors score a safety and that's it for the rest of the game and there's still 11:43 left in the third quarter. I've been there.
Didn't see much football today. Spectacular day out, wasn't about to waste it lying around on the couch watching tv, so instead Karla and I took Skittles to the airport dog park. We got a late start because I did my first stint as a counter at church today, but then spent a glorious afternoon with the pooch and a lotta other pooches too. I've visited a couple of dog parks in the area and knew of this one because it's a great spot to take pictures of airplanes landing on Runway 12R and I did that once when Geneva came back from England (see photo at right to see her coming in in 2010, the day before her senior year in high school started, she's in Row 40 on this 767-400*, towards the back in the window seat on this side, though you can't see her). I noted at the time that the park seemed big, but we never went there with a dog. Now with Skittles, off we go. It's fun to watch the doggies at this place, as they form little groups and play and romp and of course there's lots of nose touching and butt sniffing, and pooches from little 7 pound yip dogs up to major German Shepherds and everything in between, and they all seem amazingly well-behaved. Skittles the Wonder Dog actually stays with us even though she could just take off as there's a big part of the park with no fence. Prior dogs we've had would have either run off out of the park, into the terminal and boarded a flight for Reno or would have cowered in a hole out of fright from planes/other dogs/blowing leaves, but Skittles happily romps with the other pooches and then follows along while we walk. It was a glorious day, leaves ablaze with yellow in the sun, dry reeds in Mother Lake on the western edge, intense blue sky and cool airplanes flying by, everything from private jets to a 777. It beat the hell out of watching the Vikings lose to Carolina. As I write this, they news guys say this game was a failure in every aspect of the game except maybe punting, and they're foaming at the mouth about what the Vikes need to do, but they're 1-4 and are going nowhere this season. Yeah, bummer I missed that and instead picked up a bit of sun and windburn and now a dog snoring away on the floor.
I see that Denver didn't clobber Jacksonville anywhere near as badly as expected. Kansas City remains unbeaten. Pittsburgh finally won one. It's hard to pay attention when the weather's so beautiful. As mid-October looms and the days get shorter, there will be plenty of cold blustery wet days ahead for watching football. That's what November is for. In a state with consistently shitty weather, glorious autumn days aren't to be wasted.
Have a great Monday! It's supposed to rain here!
*in the Great Circle of Farside Life, Farsider Paul Salamon worked on the EICAS system (electronic engine controls) for this model of plane, the Boeing 767-400, while working for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids. In the end, Boeing only sold 40 of this particular model (the -400 is the lengthened version, Boeing sold hundreds of the regular non-extended models), half to Delta and half to Continental. When Delta and Northwest merged, the London route went from the Airbus A-330 to the 767-400 plane. The Delta and Northwest merger made a surviving airline with perhaps the most diverse fleet of any airline, between them they seem to own some of everything. If you like airplanes, we get to see quite a diversity here now, though no more 747s. The last route from here with 747s was the direct flight to Tokyo, but it's now done with a 777.
In more Great Farside Circle of Life, Geneva was out with Farsider Cindy James to celebrate Geneva's imminent 20th birthday and to see a musical about the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping (I know, but they said it was good and kept singing some song from the show) and saw Farsiders Dale Williams and Amy and Molly Driscoll as well, and ex-Farsider Christopher Williams, now in 6th grade, and who is in the Minnesota Boychoir which will be singing at our church in March, as shown on the postcard for the Gift of Music Series a couple of weeks ago. There are a lot of you I've never even met, but there are many we run into in regular life.
Finally, in another bit of Great Circle of Lifery, in all of my fussing over the Vikings Stadium last week, I neglected to note that Farsider Caitlin Hogan gave birth Wednesday October 2nd at 8:35PM, about the time choir rehearsal at St Christopher's is wrapping up, to her first child, son Finnegan Seamus Hogan, 19 ½ inches long and 7 lbs 11 oz. Our Henry started out smaller than that and is now a bit taller than I am plus he has hair. Caitlin was an intern at COUNTRY in 2009. These kids, they all grow up so fast. Congratulations to Caitlin and husband Zachary. Fun Caitlin fact: she has a comforter made of those little Crown Royal bags. I was astounded; how could this young lady get through THAT much whiskey? Turns out she worked her way through college as a waitress and bartender and collected the bags.
Paul Vigliaturo was interested in knowing where the dog park was, exactly. I wrote back:
Here’s a map link: Airport Dog Park
We park at South 28th Avenue just barely north of East 62nd Street. There’s a 28th Street exit off Highway 62 just east of Highway 77, so it’s in the northwest corner of the airport land and actually kind of between the runways (zoom out on the map and you’ll see these). I’m not entirely sure it’s an official dog park, to tell you the truth, I didn’t see signage and there are no garbage cans or poop bags, but it’s used as a dog park in any case. The dog park is all the green space over to Mother Lake (you may have to hide all the menu stuff on google maps to see all of this, including a plane coming in to land) and north up to those houses. You can go west about to the line of the landing lights for the runway. The lake is surrounded by reeds and cattails but some labs were happily prancing around in the muddy water. We’re not sure if Skittles is going to be much of a water dog but didn’t want her getting all muddy so discouraged that activity!
I guess the dog park at Minnehaha Park is also good, according to Farsider Amy Driscoll. We haven’t been over yet but I guess you can go down to the Mississippi. Here’s Sidewalk Dog’s listing for it. Weirdly, Sidewalk Dog doesn’t list the Airport dog park but they also are missing at least one St. Paul spot near us.
This is slight correction to the prior email. For some reason, the spreadsheet was running very slowly yesterday (and email was giving me fits) (hence the lateness of the hour for the results email to come out) and I had to restart it partway through the results compilation. As a result, my results email yesterday had the correct weekly scores but the incorrect seasonal totals (well, they were correct through Week 5, but not Week 6). Also, it still had final Week 5 links on the main Farside page rather than Week 6s. I think everything’s fixed now. Thanks to the eagle-eyed Katie Kostman for noticing this, though she’s in first place in the family pool and I’d be looking carefully too. The text should have read:
In the Family Pool, Nancy Hofer won the week with 103 points followed by Shannon Swanson with 101 points and Jon Haskin with 100. Last place went to Lauren Swanson with 64 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 575 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 569 and Nathan Reopelle with 568. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 360 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Sharon Exel, Carol Musser and Jim Wheeler tied the week with 106 points and Sharon won based on the tiebreaker, where she took 27 and the 19-9 game yielded 28 points total. They were followed by Paul Salamon with 104 points and Scott Paluska and Rolf Krogstad with 101. Last place went to Jenny Lundt with 69 points. Seasonally, Carol Musser leads with 578 points followed by Kevin Cellini with 571 and Rolf Krogstad with 568. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 422 points.
(Sorry if it shocks you to know that that paragraph is pretty much compiled automatically by the program! The ones about dog parks and airplanes and kids are not, though)
If you ever notice anything that looks funny, inquire. When everything works properly, which is about 99% of the time, the only real source of error is me putting in game scores backwards, otherwise the spreadsheet and macros take care of all the tedious drudge work of tracking things. I’m always happy to double-check and make sure everything’s right, and occasionally, like this week, they weren’t.
Thanks Katie, good luck to everyone!
The Sunday night game finally finished well after 11 last night with Denver suffering their first loss. This wasn’t all bad, as it was Peyton Manning’s return to the Indianapolis RCA Dome, and it was ok to see the unstoppable Denver offense stopped. There were a bunch of tributes to Manning that I didn’t pay attention to, then on to the game which the Colts played with vigor. It remained close right to the end with Indy hanging on to a close lead but in the end Denver lost. Now only Kansas City, yep, that Kansas City that went 2-14 last season, remains undefeated.
Tonight’s contest pits the 1-4 Vikings against the 0-6 Giants and the other Manning brother. The Onion, as usual, gets it right: “OSN’s Pick: Giants – As consistent as Eli Manning has been this year, he hasn’t run into anything like Minnesota’s defense yet.” These are two teams already dreaming of next year’s draft. This game is as meaningless as it gets mid-season, and a Monday night game choice the League and network must regret, but they’re stuck with it and so is the nation. It might at least be entertaining. With my disenchantment with Ol’ Mexico as a game-watching venue, we’re going to try something new: Grumpy’s. They have a pretty awful website. Grumpy’s is at 2801 Snelling Ave N, Roseville MN and it’s worth looking at their Maps and Directions page because you can’t get to it directly off Snelling Avenue. Grumpy’s started off as KFAN The Restaurant, a co-branding effort with KFAN radio, the main local sports talk station. They put in lots of big flat screen tvs back when these were still pretty extravagantly expensive, but then the KFAN concept didn’t seem to have legs, and it sold a couple of times, and now is Grumpy’s. Although it was pretty close to work, we didn’t go all that often. One thing that makes me suspicious is the huge, comprehensive menu. I’m always dubious when a restaurant specializes in everything. However, I was in a few months back after church (they do brunch Sundays and a bunch of the fogeys were going and, as an aspiring fogey myself, I went along) and noted that they had a lot of local brews on tap. Tonight is Minnesota Mondays, where Minnesota beers are $2.00 and it’s $1.00 off Minnesota Foods, including Walleye Fingers and Tater Tot Hot Dish. The beer thing sounds good, the hot dish sounds like the Friley Feed Service back at Iowa State. Kickoff’s at 7:40, so I figure to be there 7:15 or so. Come and join us and we’ll see how much of the Vikings we can endure.
In the meantime, if you are Patrick Hyland or Jay Steffenhagen, you’ll be rooting loudly for the Vikings because that means you’ll win the Family and High Stakes Pools respectively. If you are Dave Mullen or Dave Reimer, you’ll be cheering for the Giants, because that’ll win you the week in the Family and High Stakes Pools. Me, I think I’ll load the Benny Hill Yakety Sax song on my iPod because that’s likely to be the appropriate soundtrack for this contest.
Have a great Monday!
Matt “Let The Josh Freeman Era Begin” Cole
Week 7 is over and the final results are finally in. In the Family Pool, Dave Mullen won the week with 89 points followed by Patrick Hyland with 87 points and Steve Ruzek with 85. Last place went to Hayden Weddell with 39 points, a score shared by my own lovely now-20-year-old daughter and also Dale Williams, who didn’t get full entries in. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 657 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 650 and Kerry Vnuk with 645. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 414 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Dave Reimer wins the week with 93 points followed by Jay Steffenhagen and Leslie Lundt with 88 points each and Kevin Cellini with 87. Last place went to my sister Liz Cole and Jim Wheeler, who didn’t get an entry in, with 50 points. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini and Carol Musser are tied in first place with 658 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 650 and Kent Musser with 640. Last place for the season so far is held down by young Blaine Lundt with 480 points.
I’d have to say Grumpy’s for Monday Night Football wasn’t a complete success. It is a bar and a sports bar, too, with tons of big tvs. Sadly, the bar part was already full of Vikings fans ready for four quarters of self-flaggelation, but that’s cool, we’ll sit in the dining area, which also has televisions tuned to the game. Here are my Grumpy’s Gripes:
Grumpy’s is an appropriate name. The waiter was also kind of indifferent and that’s been our experience before when we went after church with the fogies. Even the fogies got irritated and shifted their fickle post-church affections elsewhere. I don’t know how to run a restaurant, particularly, but I know what I like when I’m there, and Grumpy’s has a ways to go but shows no desire to improve itself. (Twin Cities residents can try Republic at Seven Corners, down by the U, to see a restaurant/bar that pretty much ticks all my boxes and also has great sidewalk seating, though it’s getting late in the season for that, and a great Happy Hour, 4-6 including on weekends. They don’t show football games, though, no televisions, and it costs money to park a car. I usually ride my bicycle there.)
Anyway, the search continues for a new venue. Maybe we’ll try Stout’s at Snelling and Larpenteur. It’s been our After Choir Drinking Club (ACDC) venue for a couple of years but, oddly enough, we’re getting frustrated with it because now it does Wednesday Night Trivia and it’s super-crowded and noisy. You want your restaurants to hit that sweet spot where they’re good food and a good deal but not very popular yet. Stout’s popularity has increased, but the noise and relentless tv screens wouldn’t be as bad for football as they are for chatting about medieval music.
I’ll also apologize about the slow results. All of a sudden, my pool spreadsheet has become deathly slow on one sheet in the workbook. I’ve never seen anything quite like this in all my years of Excelling. Usually everything’s peachy or everything’s screwed. All the other sheets work at full speed with no issue, but click into the Participants page and it freezes for about 5 minutes. One of the things this affects is producing the participant ranking pages, which you’ll see have just the titles at the moment. The macro that produces these keeps referring back to the Participants page to pick up name and rank data, and it just absolutely stalls out, even letting it run overnight. I have a backup version of the Pool Spreadsheet from four weeks ago that I’m going to revert to (it runs at full speed on all sheets) but have been sitting here scratching my head at this issue. I run the pool in Excel (and Outlook) 2010 running in Windows 7 under Parallels 8 on a Mac with OS X 10.8.5, with the core coding for things like scoring and the Market calculations dating back to 1996, so it’s quite a software stack that could be the source of this, but the fact that the older sheet runs perfectly but the current one lodges in this page tells me it’s something in the workbook itself, but I’ll be damned if I (or Google) can figure it out.
Back in Grumpy’s dining room the sound was turned off so we couldn’t hear audio of the game, just watch the Vikes and Giants as each tried to hand the other the win. The Vikings proved more generous in the end, their only scoring on a dramatic kick return, and the previously-winless Giants got their first victory. The Vikings may not be the worst team in football at the moment, but a tournament with them, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars would be a thing to behold. And, speaking of terrible teams, the still-winless Jags are in London this week, taking on San Francisco as the NFL inflicts yet another horrid game on the English. I don’t think we’re convincing the Brits to love American Football with these kinds of matchups. Then the Vikings and Packers are the featured game this Sunday night, just to show that the League/network prognosticators don’t know any more than you or I about who will be good next season. Those of you around the country can tune in and empathize with the Agony of the Vikings Fan. This might be the last national broadcast from the Metrodome, which will begin to be dismantled once this season limps to a close.
Have a great week!
A quick update on the pool: with all the Sunday games done, including the Vikings hosting the Packers in the Metrodome for the last time ever, and very gracious hosts they were, too, the week’s outcomes are set. In the Family Pool, the winner will be Brian Driscoll if St. Louis wins or Jenny Mullen if Seattle wins. In the High Stakes Pool, Jim Biller will win the week if Saint Louis wins AND the score total is 46 points or fewer, otherwise, it’ll be Ed Whetham.
It was a beautiful day here so I didn’t watch any football during the day, instead spending a lovely charming beautiful fall day up on my roof cleaning gutters and trimming trees and listening to the 49ers and Jaguras* on the radio. Why oh why they chose to broadcast this game is beyond me, maybe it was because it was from London, but eventually it came to an end and then I heard the end of the Detroit/Dallas game, which was pretty exciting. It says a lot about Detroit that they can have a receiver get the second-highest receiving yards ever, and generate 623 yards in total offense, and have to win at the last second. It says as much about Dallas that they can get four turnovers come their way, have a nice lead, and blow the game late. I don’t know that either of these teams goes all the way through the playoffs, but they are at least entertaining.
I did watch the Vikings and Packers on Sunday night. This was the Pack’s final appearance in the Dome and I believe it was the last nationally-broadcast game from there as well. Once the season is over, and it will not be extending into January, they start tearing the Dome down. The new stadium is going in starting next to the Dome and will about half-sit where the current Metrodome sits. Once this season is over, the Vikes will spent two years playing in the University of Minnesota’s stadium, which was just built about 5 years ago, before moving into the new Vikings Palace.
Saint Louis is the center of the American Sports Universe tonight with the Seattle Seahawks there to play the Rams and the Boston Red Sox in town to play the Cardinals. I don’t expect to pay much attention to either one.
Have a great Monday!
*At Wembley Stadium at halftime a bunch of cheerleaders came running out carrying flags with letters that spelt J A G U R A S. Maybe that’s the British pronunciation. Gotta make sure your people are lined up right before you run them out on the field! I think the 94ers flags were ok.
Week 8 is over with an ill-attended Monday Night Football game in Saint Louis resulting in a Seattle victory over the Rams. The game was ill-attended because the Saint Louis Cardinals were busy losing to the Boston Red Sox in the baseball World Series a few blocks down the street, and that must have seemed more compelling to your average Saint Louis sports fan than a mid-season NFL game, especially one that ended up 14-9 although I gather that Saint Louis came close to scoring at the very end. Anyway, in the Family Pool, Jenny Mullen won the week with 88 points followed by Shannon Swanson with 87 points and Katie Kostman and Nathan Reopelle with 86 apiece. Last place went to Mary DeHate with 62 points, a score shared by Sarah Kendell and Chad Hofer, who didn’t get complete entries in. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 743 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 734 and Nathan Reopelle with 729. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 492 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Ed Whetham wins the week with 91 points followed by Jay Steffenhagen and Neil Tobiason with 88 points and Kent & Dan Musser, Rom Deo-Campo Vuong and Alan Wenker in third place, all with 87. Last place went to Blaine Lundt with 71 points. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini leads with 744 points followed by Carol Musser with 741 and Rolf Krogstad with 733. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 551 points.
The season’s half over for a lot of teams, depending on their Bye week schedule. Already the Vikings sports talk stuff is about what to do about quarterbacks and how juicy a pick is our pathetic record likely to yield in the draft and can we flog any big players before the trade deadline to improve our draft position next year. It doesn’t take long for the hope to die in an NFL season, and the last two losses against the Giants and Packers have driven a stake through the heart of any Vikings’ hopes for the year.
I noted in the early results that I’d been listening to the 49ers/Jaguras game, coming to us from London. This was in part because my usual working-around-the-house-on-a-Sunday-afternoon fare, the Fox Sports Radio app on my iPhone, wasn’t working. Their app has only become worse over time. It used to annoy me because if it lost wifi signal, it not only wouldn’t automatically reconnect, but you’d actually have to close out of the app completely and then restart it and reconnect. This would annoy me because while blowing snow or mowing grass I am likely to walk out of and back into wifi range. Well, that’s been solved, because now it won’t connect at all. Thus, I was listening to my iPod nano which has FM radio but not AM, and San Fran/Jacksonville was the best on offer. I think this game was picked because it was from London, like the Vikings were about a month ago (their only win!). Farsider Scott Paluska emailed me an article saying that the NFL is playing 3 games in London next year rather than this year’s two or last year’s one. They’re still having Jacksonville, hosting Dallas, because the Jaguars have put, you know, such a compelling product on the field. Seriously, will they win a game between now and then? Atlanta is going to “host” Detroit and Oakland will “host” Miami. For the “visiting” team, it’s no big deal, they’re away anyway and they get their Bye week the week after appearing in London, but the “home” team misses a home date in their regular stadium along with whatever parking, concession and gate revenue they would have had. Maybe this isn’t so bad if you play in some armpit of a stadium like Oakland, but it’s got to be depressing for all their rabid fans wearing aluminum foil spikes and silver face paint. I think the League makes some of this up to the teams, but it’s not clear to me why they are pushing so hard to build an NFL fan base in the UK. It’s also not clear to me why they had the Vikings play in London this year when the next two years they’ll be homeless.
In other NFL messing with the schedule news, there is also talk of another slate of Thursday night games. Ugh. It’s bad enough that we have a Thursday game nearly every week now, soon it could be two. The League is discussing selling this batch of games to another network. In general, the games haven’t been brilliant (it’s a short week for the players, for one thing) and the thing that irks me is that it takes the Farside Pool from being a nice leisurely thing to do on Saturdays or Sunday mornings and turns it into a quick! quick! hurry up! obligation, like we don’t all have enough deadlines in our lives already. At least they’re not talking about Wednesday games (don’t mention it to them!), so it won’t hurry things up any more than they already are.
Have a great week!
For Excel nerds only:
I’d mentioned last week that my spreadsheet was giving me troubles. I got it figured out, and it was obscure even for someone like me. The main manifestation of this problem was that one particular worksheet in the overall Farside workbook suddenly got extremely slow. It was the Participants tab, and it’s not an ambitious piece of spreadsheet work. It has all the Participant names, emails, email options, where you live, which Pool you’re in, number of years in the pool, stuff like that. With 105 slots and only the simplest of formulas, it hardly seemed like a candidate for a slow sloggy spreadsheet.
I spent some time on this on Saturday. One hint at what might be the problem is that this one sheet in the overall Excel workbook, for some reason, exhibits the slightly odd behavior that, when I select a cell with the mouse, it often instead pops up a box, from Drawing Tools. I’d Delete, but it would stay there, then Esc, and it would go away, and I could carry on about my appointed tasks. This pop up a box in Drawing Tools rather than select a cell behavior is already an obscure problem, hardly mentioned in the Google searches that usually lead me to enlightenment. I wanted to see how many of these little Drawing Objects there were, and finally found out how to get a listing of them, and there were hundreds. When I hit Esc, it didn’t erase them, it just hid them, but the computer must have been rendering the (invisible) boxes anyway, and it all finally got to be too much. Some more Googling and I found a script to delete all the text boxes in the active worksheet, tried that, it took about 10 minutes to slog its way through, and suddenly life is good once again. I checked the other tabs in my workbook (there are about 20 altogether) and on no other sheet did I have anything like this.
I still don’t know why that sheet is prone to popping up drawing boxes. The one reference to it I could find online was bemoaning a lack of response from Microsoft tech support. Maybe it’ll clear up now. However, this was perhaps the most obscure Excel issue I’ve had to track down. On the other hand, if you ever want to sabotage your evil adversary’s Excel spreadsheet, dropping a couple of hundred invisible boxes into it wouldn’t hurt any calculations but would slow the thing down to a crawl they’d have difficulties figuring out!
Yeah, pretty pathetic that I do this sort of stuff for fun, isn’t it? I then went on to revise the Sort routine to have multiple levels so that sorted results, particularly after just the Thursday game, have a more rational order to them. In doing this, I was revising a macro first recorded into this spreadsheet in November 1996, when I was but a macro newbie. Old code can live for a long time.
The next nagging issue is why the page layout on the results pages keeps going off Legal size.
Just a quick note on yesterday’s results. Once the Sunday night game was finished, the results became clear. Jim Biller is going to win the High Stakes Pool no matter what the outcome of tonight’s game. In the Family Pool, Mary DeHate will win if Chicago wins tonight and Megan Clark will win if it’s Green Bay. It’s all posted at the Farside site as usual.
I catch you late tonight or tomorrow. Enjoy the game!
Week 9 is over with the Bears’ win over the Packers, and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Mary DeHate won the week with 74 points. This is Mary’s sixth Farside season and her first win, so she’s at least a decade faster than I was! Mary was followed by my lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 68 points and my lovely wife Karla Cole with 65. Last place went to Neil Arvold with 44 points, a score shared with a smattering of others who didn’t get their picks in. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 802 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 795 and Kerry Vnuk with 791. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 539 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Jim Biller wins the week with 71 points followed by Neil Tobiason and Scott Miller tied at 66 points and Daryl Ackerman with 65. Last place went to Eric Benson with 36 points, a score shared by and Tom Preston and Jim Wheeler. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini leads with 803 points followed by Carol Musser with 801 and Rolf Krogstad with 796. Last place for the season so far is held down by young Blaine Lundt with 606 points.
I saw nothing of the Vikings game or even the news later about it. I guess we missed a point after touchdown and our porous defense allowed a long late Dallas drive for a winning touchdown. The local sports yak callers are openly hoping not to win any more games so that we can get a better draft position next spring, and winced when Tampa Bay blew it and lost to Seattle in overtime at home, keeping them winless, and thus in a better draft position than us. The Steelers got pounded for 55 points by New England, whose receiver corps seems to be made mostly of hot dog vendors they pulled out of the stands, and is the most points the Steelers have ever given up, ever. That’s the one team we’ve beaten. Philly’s backup quarterback Nick Foles went in to Oakland and scorched them for 7 passing touchdowns. Peyton Manning also did this in Week 1 of this season, but before then it was Joe Kapp of the Minnesota Vikings in September 1969 who’d been the last person to throw for 7 TDs in a game. Congratulations to Nick Foles, the Philly backup on his 7 TD throws in one game, but shame on the Vikings, who as a team only have 6 passing TDs ALL SEASON.
The other interesting news story involves the Miami Dolphins. They didn’t get to savor Thursday’s sweet sweet safety-in-overtime win very long when the news stories started breaking about the bullying and abuse on their team. The central characters are Jonathon Martin, a 6-6, 330 lb second-year offensive lineman, and Richie Incognito, a 6-4, 325-lb veteran lineman who has been dropped or cut off from every football program he’s been in dating back to his freshman year at Nebraska. Martin walked out on the Dolphin’s due to hazing and abuse from teammates. The Dolphins played Thursday, then the story started getting pieced together, with Incognito the central character. He sounds like a real head case, was voted the League’s Dirtiest Player (by other NFL players) in 2009, and has a history of taunting and abuse. This being the modern age, Incognito (great name, by the way) Tweeted a bunch of messages to Martin that, er, won’t be helpful in his case. There are voice mails as well, and postings from his Dad done anonymously, incognito, you might say, on the Dolphin’s message boards. Deadspin has been all over this story. Most of those tweets and messages have come down, but those things get screenshotted and saved and distributed, and of course when Dad goes to bat for you on the message boards in a profanity-laced insulting post, he doesn’t know how to cover his digital tracks and is quickly smoked out. TMZ has video of Incognito ranting shirtless in some bar. Richie has been suspended from the team, will almost certainly never play for the Dolphins again and the NFL is investigating this whole episode. The Dolphins are down two offensive lineman all of a sudden. Of all the sub-units in football, this might be the one where cohesiveness and teamwork matter the most, so that hurts, although it doesn’t sound like they were all that cohesive going into all this.
It does seem weird that a 6-6, 330-lb guy can get bullied. I mean, those of you who’ve met me know I’m pretty tall, and I weigh in right around 200. This guy has another inch on me plus 130 pounds. If I tried to bully him he could pick me up, tie me in a square knot and dump me in a garbage can. On the other hand, when your tormentors are also that size, and there’s a half-dozen or more of them, I suppose it can all be a bit much. I think anyone, any male anyway, who’s done organized activities with a bunch of other young males, has been through hazing at some level. It seems to be a deeply built-in part of male psyche, but is usually harmless and is a way of including people in the group. Heck, even church has Baptism. Every once in a while, though, it goes beyond that, and results in college kids dead of being force fed liquor or, in this case, of a case of harassment, abuse and possible extortion. In a good situation, the group keeps things from going too far, but football players aren’t necessarily the most perceptive and sensitive about interpersonal relationships, and there weren’t limits in this situation. It will be interesting to see how this story continues to develop.
In the meantime, it’s weird that Florida, college football powerhouse state and huge recruiting destination for college teams around the country, has such crappy pro teams. Jacksonville and Tampa Bay are both winless and now Miami, at 4-4, has this going on.
Have a great week!
Large amount of non-football blather:
Part of the reason I have so little to say about the Vikings this weekend is that I saw so little. One of the advantages of living in the Twin Cities is an active theater scene, and one of our basses from church choir, AJ, was appearing in A New Brain over in Minneapolis. We like AJ, he’s got a great voice, and, although we had never heard of this particular musical, lots of other people have (apparently, it first appeared off-Broadway in 1998). So we went Sunday afternoon. One of the disadvantages of the active Twin Cities theater scene is that the quality of productions is more or less normally distributed, and unfortunately, this show was on the wrong tail of the distribution. I will say up front, AJ was really good. He hasn’t been in a musical or play in years, but he had by far the best singing voice up on stage and sold the acting well. That said, I didn’t like the play’s writing very much, the music was largely forgettable, the main character was unsympathetic and kind of an ass even after recovering from his supposedly life-changing near-death experience, the whole production ran long (they, or the writer, could have cut out about a dozen songs and made it less interminable). Leave ‘em wanting more, Karla always says, and we were delighted after a long slog that it came to an end and the lights came up, only to find it was the intermission and there were a dozen more songs to come including a couple by annoying and superfluous characters. But, as I say, AJ was good, and that was the final performance, so you can’t go see him in this, and it’ll look good on his performance resume to anyone who wasn’t actually there to endure it. There were a couple of other decent talents up on stage as well, and it’s in these sorts of productions that people who later achieve stardom and fame cut their teeth. Maybe one day one of these actors will be famous and I can say, yeah, I was there, I missed the Vikings losing a close one to the Cowboys to see it and, unlike SOME OTHER FARSIDERS I COULD MENTION (cough *Geneva*, cough), heroically remained awake for the entire thing*. On the whole, though, you’d get a similar story line with better writing and wittier songs by watching the musical episode of Scrubs.
Another advantage of living in the Twin Cities is the excellent music scene, and this Friday night at St. Christopher’s at 7:00 is appearing Bato Bato! As Karla puts it, they are an eclectic and highly energetic group of students from Breck School in Golden Valley. They bring nine marimbas of varying sizes and all sorts of percussion instruments; they play Latin and African-influenced music, as well as pop, jazz, r&b and hiphop tunes specially arranged for their group. This is part of our Gift of Music Series, which you can read about at www.uscoles.com/giftofmusic.html. The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, who nearly but not quite all of you missed, was excellent. I slapped a photo on the web page from during their concert at church. If you’ve got nothing else on Friday, the concert’s free and promises to be pretty fun.
Even more irrelevant theatre item: Matt’s Brush with Fame, aka Great Moments in Matt Obliviousness
Way back when I was a wee lad of 10, I went to see a Shakespeare play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. My parents had sent me over to England for a few weeks to see the family. Dad flew to Chicago with me (on a United Airlines Sud Aviation Caravelle! (Obscure plane alert!) and saw me off on a Pan Am 707. I was met in London by Uncle Peter the ship’s captain and handed around from grandparent to uncle to aunt. For about a week I was sent to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s home town, to stay with my three Great Aunts. They’d been bombed out of Coventry during the Blitz, bought a house in Tiddington Road in Stratford and opened a fancy women’s clothing store in Bridge Street which, in 1968, was still running* (It’s now half of an Orange mobile phone shop). So adorable red-headed freckle-faced Matt hung around the store, making merchandising suggestions and chatting up the American customers. I was unspeakably cute. I also hung around the lock by the river longing to rent a rowboat and go for a paddle, pestering passing barges, and one night we went to the theatre. Here Matt dials up the obliviousness:
I didn’t make this discovery until the summer before last when we’d all gone down to the Great River Shakespeare Festival at Winona and saw, amongst other things, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Unabridged), a hilarious romp through all the plays first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Troilus and Cressida was on the list but is among the most obscure of Will’s plays, and I mentioned that 10-year-old me had seen this play, and later, in a quiet moment, looked up the production only to be amazed at what I must have seen. My main actual personal recollection of the play was that they were really thin on sets and so pretended to get off horses and open tent flaps and me, being very literal, asked my great aunt about it. She was probably relieved I wasn’t asking why those guys were hugging each other. In the foggy memory from all those years ago it seems like maybe they used coconuts for the horsey sounds too but I may be confusing Troilus and Creffida with Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Not that I’m immune to obliviousness in my later years. In 1992, at the interval of an excellent production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona featuring the songs of Cole Porter, also in Stratford, my Auntie Margaret excused herself to powder her nose and Karla and I wandered into a room and were offered free glasses of wine and some hors d’ouvres. Gosh, we thought, this is VERY civilized, so we hung out eatin’ and drinkin’ and talkin’ real American-like until the chime went to go back in and we ran back into Margaret, who’d been looking for us, and discovered that we’d wandered into a private party but everyone had been too polite to tell us.
Have a great week everyone! Perhaps we’ll see you at Bato Bato!
* probably the closest we’ve come to a semi-famous performer is a woman named Rita Harvey. Down in her bio she mentions studying at Simpson College, in Indianola, Iowa. Karla taught piano there for 7 years and Rita, then an undergraduate from Dubuque, was one of her students. She was over to our house for a big spaghetti dinner for all Karla’s students at least once in those days (around 1990) where I essentially played the pleasant role of faculty husband. Rita went on to grad school and good career. When we first moved here, I got some tickets to Phantom of the Opera in Minneapolis, a big touring production, and Karla and I went. A little slip of paper in the program noted that the lead female role of Christine Daae would be played today by the understudy Rita Harvey. Sure enough, out comes Rita, who not five years before was eatin’ spaghetti in our house in Des Moines! She was a superb singer, but there were a lot of superb singers at Simpson (they were big on opera, Karla mostly taught piano proficiency and accompanied just about everyone’s recitals) and it’s a tough business to make a go at. It’s cool to know somebody who did. Anyway, maybe one day AJ will be stage of star and screen and we can remember when he was singing in our church choir and show pictures of him at the end of season choir picnic in our back garden.
** Auntie Margaret mentioned that on one occasion the Aunties had seen a dress they liked and ordered one each for three of their customers, two of whom were Auntie Margaret and Diana Rigg, who was a regular customer of the shop while appearing in Stratford.
Megan Clark's Week 10 early entry came in about a half hour after the game started. Normally I frown on this sort of thing, but who can resist a classic Minnesota excuse?
Sorry! My husband has curling tonight and I've been solo w/the kids and just got them to bed. Haven't heard/seen anything!
Ahh, yes, the old "my husband has curling tonight" excuse!
Apparently I didn't do an early results for Week 10. Sometimes a guy gets busy.
Week 10 is over and the final results are finally in. In the Family Pool, Mary Ross won the week with 76 points followed by Chris Mullen with 72 points and Steve Benson with 71. Last place went to my own lovely wife Karla Cole with 27 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 860 points followed by Kerry Vnuk with 852 and Nathan Reopelle with 851. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 602 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Trent Riter wins the week with 73 points. This is Trent’s second win for the season so he’s having a good first year. He was followed by Paul Vigliaturo with 67 points and Kent Musser with 64. Last place went to Kevin Foote with 33 points. Seasonally, Kevin Cellini leads with 855 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 854 and Kent Musser Carol Musser with 852. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 652 points.
It was an upsetty week, with the Vikings kicking off things by beating the Washington Redskins and then Jacksonville and Tampa Bay both getting their first wins of the season. Carolina smothered San Francisco 10-9 at Candlestick as well. This made for some brutal outcomes for people; young Hayden Carter and my own offspring Henry Cole both managed 10 games wrong out of the 14 played for the weekend, although neither was quite the low score for the week.
I didn’t see much in the way of football, having listened to the Vikings on Thursday whilst cleaning my basement and idly listening to various bits of games Sunday while doing other things. I did see a couple of highlights, particularly the impressive Cincinnati Bengals Hail Mary at the end of regulation to tie the game with the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. It had everything a classic Hail Mary should have, 2 seconds on the clock at the snap, time expires with the 50-yard pass in the air, batted around by defenders in the end zone and snagged by a Bengal for a touchdown. Cincy kicked the PAT to tie the game and then lost in OT. Having just demoralized the Ravens with the long pass, this might have been a good moment to go for two and an outright win. Even so, it was fun to see a long pass like that actually work for once.
Speaking of Hail Marys and football I didn’t see, this sounds like an even more impressive game ending. How about 156 yards gained and three scoring plays in three seconds? Read on, with me quoting extensively from Tuesday Morning Quarterback: With the annual Colby Mules at Bowdoin Polar Bears game tied at 20, the clock ticked toward all-naughts, ball at midfield, Bowdoin's Hail Mary bounced into the hands of a Polar Bear, touchdown with three seconds showing. Bowdoin leads 26-20. The PAT attempt was blocked and returned by Colby for a defensive deuce, making the score 26-22. It’s not widely known that a blocked PAT run back the other way is only good for two points. The broadcast graphics were wrong, showing it 27-20 (the graphics guy must have assumed that the PAT would be good) but the announcer at least knew better. Then, though Colby had just scored, Bowdoin kicked off. The Mules attempted a Stanford Band return. The clock expired, but the play remained live. After several laterals, a Bowdoin player scooped up a Colby fumble and ran for a touchdown. Final: Bowdoin 32, Colby 22. You can see the video of this and it’s kind of charming, small New England college football is a whole different thing than big football factory school football. I have to say, it’s not clear to me why the score ended up 32-22. This means they didn’t attempt the PAT on the final touchdown. This would be right in overtime, but I would have thought they would have at least attempted it since this play started in regulation.
Because the first touchdown occurred with three seconds remaining, the PAT return was on an untimed play and the final touchdown occurred untimed -- that's three scoring plays in three seconds! Also, 156 yards gained in three seconds. That is one of the fun things about games like this, you play enough of them and eventually all kinds of weird outcomes will happen.
Have a great week!
The Thursday night game ended with an Indianapolis win over hapless Tennessee. I say hapless because the Titans had lost to previously winless Tampa Bay last week. Indy had been brutalized by Saint Louis, so both teams were coming off bad Sundays. I neither saw nor heard anything of the game, but it ended 30-27 so I guess they were at least evenly matched.
A smattering of you didn’t get picks in. You will compelled to take Tennessee for 4 in the Family Pool and 10 in the High Stakes Pool, matching the worst picks by anyone who was in on time. You’ll have to make up your scoring on the rest of the week.
Have a great Friday and weekend, and good luck with the rest of your picks!
Good morning all!
Kansas City, the last undefeated team left this season, lost last night in Denver. With the Sunday schedule wrapped up, the outcome for the week becomes clear: in the Family Pool, the winner will be John Hylle regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game. In the High Stakes Pool, it will be either Jay Steffenhagen if the Carolina Panthers win or Julie Johnson if the New England Patriots win.
I was leaving church yesterday and turned on the radio in the car and they said they were emptying Soldier Field in Chicago because of a tornado watch. What?, I thought, a tornado watch? Are these people a bunch of weenies or what? Then I saw the actual weather there, part of a front moving along at 60 mph which spawned 70 tornadoes across several states, killed half a dozen people and had Chicago skies looking utterly black. We have seen some game starts delayed this year, including the one in Denver early in the season when it looked beautiful out and there was sporadic lightning 40 miles away, but I don’t recall ever seeing a delay like this (113 minutes, press reports say) mid-game. Also, they emptied the stands; in other games, like that Denver one, all the precious football players are hustled off the field and into the locker rooms while the fans are left sitting in the stadium to endure whatever comes. The local news had video from around the Midwest; howling winds in St. Louis; towns in central Illinois clobbered, as towns in central Illinois are wont to be; a tornado in Indiana captured on a police car dash camera; 6 dead from the weather. None of this is foreign to the Midwest, we expect that kind of weather from time to time. It’s just very weird that it’s happening in mid-November and not mid-May.
This weather all happened south and east of us. On the backside of this system it was chilly and windy and I snoozed away part of the afternoon half-watching the Vikings lose to Seattle. I didn’t have great expectations going into the game, so it wasn’t a shock to anyone when the Purple lost. I also had the KC/Denver game on Sunday evening, to see what happens when a top offense and top defense run into each other. Neither team could do a lot, and the game ended 27-17 Denver. They play again in two weeks, at Kansas City this time.
I printed out one of my printable entry sheets to work out my picks yesterday morning, and was enchanted by the New York Jets’ sparklines. Those are the little tick marks showing wins and losses, so you can see the patterns. They convey a bit more information than strictly win/loss records. The Jets have been alternating all season, win, loss, win, loss, win. I looked at the game against Buffalo and figured there was no way they could lose to the Bills, pity, it was going to mess up that lovely sparkline pattern, so I took the Jets for 11. They lost. I may be in 45th place for the week going into the Monday night game but at least I can console myself knowing that tomorrow’s Jets sparklines will be pleasing to the eye.
Speaking of sparklines, in one of the least-visited spots in the Farside site I have the Opponent Record Explanations, a page for each team. You can look at the Jets’ Opponent Record page. You can see their own W-L-W etc pattern right under their name. You can also see each of their opponents’ sparkline sets off to the right. And, in a fit of boredom one rainy afternoon during a dull game a few years ago, I even changed the macro so that in the opponents’ sparklines the game against the Jets is done with a red tickmark! Yes! New frontiers in sparklines! You can now do sparklines directly in Excel (starting in Excel 2007 I believe) but these ones long pre-date that and are done with a macro I first wrote in 2003.
Although I am unlikely to see it, the Monday Night game this evening ought to be interesting. New England is still a power, based largely on quarterback play and smart coaching, although they haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught cheating, and Carolina is quietly putting together a solid season.
Have a great Monday!
Week 11 is finished, ending on a disputed pass interference non-call that left Carolina the winner over New England. With that, John Hylle won the Family Pool for the week with 106 points followed by Paul Meillier and Donald Mullen with 103 points each and Katie Kostman with 99. Last place went to Chad Hofer and Sarah Kendell with 60 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 959 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 945 and Kerry Vnuk with 934. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 689 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Jay Steffenhagen wins the week with 103 points followed by Rolf Krogstad and Dan Johnson with 101 points each and Kent Musser with 100. Last place went to Larry Daniels and Tom Preston with 54 points. Seasonally, Rolf Krogstad leads with 955 points followed by Kent Musser with 952 and Carol Musser with 944. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 718 points.
Remember that there’s a Thursday game again. New Orleans and Atlanta. Sheesh. That probably seemed like a hot late-season matchup when they scheduled it.
Have a great week!
I paid a couple of winners with a newish service called Square Cash. You can see the Square website or read Walt Mossberg’s review. Square has been around; if you’ve been to craft fairs you’ve probably seen the little white square card reader than plugs into an iPhone or iPad earphone plug (or Android devices too, I gather). It allows anyone to accept credit cards. I have one, just because I’m curious about these things; Square will send you the reader for free, otherwise it’s $10 at Target or Best Buy) and you link a bank account to it and can accept credit cards from people.
Square cash allows you to email people money. It is extremely easy to use. You address the email to the recipient, but firstname.lastname@example.org in the cc address line, put the dollar amount in the Subject line, and write a message if you want in the body. Click Send, and off it goes. The first time you do it, you have to provide a debit card number. The recipient has to do the same when they get the money (I first tried this with Mary Ross, whose permission to experiment on I obtained first). Then, after 1-2 business days, the money shows up in the account their debit card is associated with.
Pretty easy, right? The handy thing is how amazingly easy it is to transfer small amounts. Owe Dan $8 for lunch? Email it to him. It’s especially handy if your portion of the check is $11.53 or some other really specific amount; just email it.
The one slightly alarming thing is how easy it would be for others to find your phone or laptop (there is an iPhone app to do this, though I did it from my laptop using email) and start distributing money willy nilly! Square has some methods to catch this, including transfer limits per day and week. However, it does mean that you probably want to keep your phone and email locked down.
I did recommend to Mary, who has a gmail account, that she turn on two factor authentication for more security on the gmail account. She must be a clever woman, because she had already done this. Anyone else out there with gmail, I’d think pretty hard about doing this as well. As a practical matter, it means that you put in your gmail password and then Google texts you a 6-digit code you have to enter as well. This means that just your password isn’t good enough to get into your account; you also need your phone with you. You get 10 single-use codes to use for when you aren’t in texting range (I used on in Amsterdam airport last fall, for instance, so have 9 left) and some application-specific codes for your home machine so you don’t have to do this over and over. I have enabled two-factor authentication on all my online accounts, including Evernote, Outlook, Dropbox, Yahoo! and Wells Fargo. And I’ve been redoing some passwords since my Adobe Online account was one of the at least 38 million hacked a few weeks ago. You want to be careful about using a single password across multiple accounts in case one does get stolen.
Anyway, that’s the conflicted feeling about something like Square Cash, isn’t it? It’s wonderfully convenient to be able to do a frictionless, cost-free transfer of small amounts to people but also a bit startling at just how easy it is. That seems to be the tension in many aspects of our modern technological lives.
Have a great week everyone!
My talking about Square Cash triggered some conversations. First, from Alan Wenker:
so how do the square cash folks make money?
I wrote back:
On the credit card ones, there’s a charge per transaction as with most credit cards. On the cash thing, I don’t think they do at the moment. The plan is to have some higher-service plans, so that infrequent users like you and I don’t pay anything but if we become frequent or want higher limits or something, there’s a monthly subscription. There’s a first-mover advantage here, get your product out and accepted and get a lot of penetration, figure out how to make money on it later, all under the cover of the earnings from the credit card swiping thing. It’s easier than Paypal, who’d be the natural competitor on this.
Longtime Farsider Eric Benson noted that his seasonal score wasn't correct. It would eventually turn out that my macro would only reject some of the later entries if they didn't match the early entry, but I hadn't tracked this down yet. Eric wrote:
Matt, Would you please double check my weekly score as relates to the Indy game. Thx! -E
I did some checking, discovered the mistake and wrote Eric back:
I did check. The short story is, you picked Indy in the early entry, then put Tennessee in the full entry, and I scored off the Tennessee. What should have happened is that I should have rejected your full entry because it was different than the early pick, making you re-enter your picks correctly. I’ve spent some time poring over my way of doing this (it’s supposed to be automatic) and realize that it’s defective (clearly, since it allowed in your non-compliant full pick set).
You know my policy, I’ll fix my mistakes but you have to live with yours. In this case, I see this as my mistake, since I anticipated that the spreadsheet and VBA code would catch non-matching entries (where the full entry’s early game(s) didn’t match the early entry picks after the game(s) were played) but it didn’t.
Here’s what I’ll do:
Thanks for letting me know on this. It’s funny how complexity winds its way into an undertaking like this and how quickly-written code can have some defects (the error checking for early entries versus full was only put in last season when I first allowed online early entries). I’ll get it fixed to catch any entry anomalies like this and can go back to not fretting about running the pool!
The Lesson? If you have a question, ask me. The pool is at the point where technical issues are likely to be pretty obscure, but it never hurts to check things out if something looks funny.
Meanwhile, winner John Hylle hearkened back to the Farside days of yore:
I am happy for the win but where is the comment that I got into this league due to roger and the table dancer:)
Roger Friedman used to work at MSI Insurance with me, then went to Federated Insurance down in Owatonna. I don't throw people out when they leave the company, and welcome new football enthusiasts. Roger recruited John, who started with the 2002 Farside season, then Roger dropped out after 2004. Roger's claim to fame was that he had an ex-sister-in-law who was a stripper in Las Vegas. She'd used to be a stripper locally, and Roger said it made for some odd holiday dinners, as she'd eat lightly at Thanksgiving, then to off to work. One day I will go to Deja Vu or Dreamgirls on Christmas Day just to see what kind of losers hang out there then. Anyway, she dumped Roger's wife's brother and moved to Vegas and the big time. Last I heard, and it might be close to a decade ago now, she was working on workers' rights issues for strippers, as they'd get injured on the job (pole dancing and such) but as independent contractors, wouldn't be covered by Workers Comp, or something like that. In those days, hardly a mention of Roger would go by without my noting that he had an ex-sister-in-law who was a stripper in Vegas. I wrote back:
I think hardly anyone remembers Roger any longer. Still, that’s never stopped me from mentioning it before, you’re just going to have to win again.
Speaking of which, you want some money? Do you still have a Wells Fargo account ending in xxxx? If so, I can do a more or less instant transfer.
That problem I had with Eric's entry in Week 11? I fixed it. Sort of. Initially it send out a bunch of bogus rejections. Here Jenny Mullen experiences the result:
In reference to Farside entry for Jenny Mullen
Your full Week 12 Farside entry has been rejected.
This is the early pick you made:
New Orleans Saints 14 at Atlanta Falcons
This is the corresponding pick you made on your full entry:
Atlanta Falcons 14 over New Orleans Saints
The entries you make for the full week must agree with the early selection you made.
To be fair, she wasn't the only one, but I had to choose someone!
Well, most of us came away from that game smelling like a rose. We nearly all expected New Orleans to clobber Atlanta but instead it was 17-13 with Atlanta having 5 seconds at the end of the game to try a Hail Mary. They completed a pass but in the series of laterals that followed, and which almost never work, did an illegal forward pass. The flags fluttered to the ground, the clock expired, the penalty was refused, and the game ended. In the Family Pool, only Lauren Swanson took the Falcons for 1; in the High Stakes Pool, the worst result was the Saints for 8. In both pools, heaps of us have 14s on New Orleans and so are off to a good start.
Don’t forget to get the rest of your picks in by gametime Sunday. I’ll send out the usual rounds of reminders for those of you whose entries aren’t complete. Next week, as I’m sure you are aware, is Thanksgiving and there are three games on Thursday rather than just 1. Since a lot of people travel for the week, I’ll mention now that you can enter early if you want. I have the full season’s entry sheets posted and you can just go to Week 13 and enter now if that’s more convenient than trying to do it with the in-law’s dial up next week. That remains an option for the rest of the year as well, should your future holiday plans include travel. In the meantime, have a great weekend!
The best non-football story of the day was the Boeing Dreamlifter that landed at the wrong airport in Wichita. The Dreamlifter is an already-large 747-400 which has been dramatically enlarged through the middle of the fuselage to carry around the fuselage bits of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The fuselage bits are made in Kansas and flown up to Seattle for final assembly in this aircraft. So, this plane’s on final into McConnell Air Force base, on which the plant that makes the 787 is located, but it’s dark out, and there’s a couple of other airports on the run into McConnell, and the pilots plop this Dreamlifter down on something called Jabara airfield with it’s 6,101 X 100 foot runway (by comparison, the long runway at Saint Paul’s Holman Field, where a lot of corporate jets fly, is 6,491 X 150 feet), eight miles north of McConnell’s pair of 12,000 X 150 foot runways.
Buzzfeed published the recording of the Air Traffic Control tape and it’s hilarious. The plane realizes that they’ve landed at the wrong airport but are not sure which one. There’s actually a couple of possibilities. The plane thinks maybe it landed at the Beech Aviation airport, about 4 miles north of McConnell. But no, that’s not it. There’s some back and forth on latitude/longitude. The pilot reads off his coordinates and the tower finally, about 6 minutes after landing, suggests that he’s at Jabara. Say again, says the pilot. Jabara airfield. There’s a gentleman outside the airplane, says the pilot, and on it goes. I wonder about the gentleman. Was he some private pilot down vacuuming out the Cessna when suddenly a bloated 747 plops down on the runway?
All was well in the end. Nobody was hurt, through sheer dumb luck as much as anything. Jabara airport was closed down temporarily due to, ahem, a runway obstruction. Boeing sent over an airplane tug to move the Dreamlifter around because it couldn’t turn or taxi. It got a police escort on the way over because top speed is 13 mph, and then broke down on the trip, adding to the hilarity. I have no idea how the aircrew got out of the Dreamlifter since your average private aviation airfield isn’t going to have a set of 747 airstairs lying around. Anyway, they got the plane turned around and it took off during the day Monday for the short flight over to McConnell to pick up its 787 bits. Early reports called the airport ‘tiny’ and suggested that the 747 needs 9 or 10,000 feet to take off, but that’s fully loaded. Empty, with a light fuel load and 2 crew on board, it didn’t have any real trouble getting out, although authorities closed down nearby roads just outside the airfield perimeter just in case things went badly.
Landing at the wrong airport isn’t unprecedented, but it’s pretty funny when cutting-edge major airplane company aircraft equipped with the most modern navigation systems manage to plop down several miles from the correct spot and then sit around trying to figure out where they are. I’d have just turned on my iPhone and opened Google Maps to see where I was, then wondered how I was going to explain this to the company.
I’ll bet your weekend is better than that aircrew’s!
First, the outcomes. In the High Stakes Pool, young Pierce Lundt will win regardless of the outcome of the Monday Night Football game. In the Family Pool, it will be Marianne Arvold if Washington wins or if San Francisco wins and the total score is 40 points or more. If San Francisco wins and the combined score is 39 or fewer, Steve Benson will win the week. No matter who wins, their score will be pretty crappy.
There’s a guy on the local sports talk radio station called The Common Man, although his actual name is Dan Cole (no relation). He can be amusing, and I’ve listened to him on and off over the years, dating back well before Jesse “The Body” Ventura went from the same radio station to running for and winning the governorship of Minnesota. After Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, got injured, Common (as he’s generally known) said the Packers without Aaron Rodgers were basically the Vikings. This raised the ire of the local Packers fans, of whom there are enough that the same radio station that carries The Common Man and the Vikings radio broadcast also carries, on Sunday mornings, a Packer Preview show. Pretty weird, hosting a show for the main rival in your home market. Noooo, said the Packers fans, the Pack is waaay superior to the dysfunctional Vikings. Well, today the two teams played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau in Green Bay and they fought their way through five quarters and ended in a tie. Common must be right, they are the same team!
The Vikes hadn’t played to a tie since 1978, 35 years ago, also against the Pack. Whole NFL seasons go by without ties. Since the Farside Pool started in 1996, there was one tie game each in 1997, 2002 and 2012, and two in 2008. As you can see, years go by between ties. Usually somebody manages to score and win in the extra period. Last season’s tie was between Saint Louis and San Francisco, and Saint Louis sucked but the 49ers went to the Super Bowl. I adore ties in the same way I love safeties. I’ve always adored them from afar, since the last Vikes tie was when my interest in football was first blooming and I wasn’t following them very closely. The futility of playing five quarters against one of your main rivals and then ending up in a draw seems suitable for this Vikings season, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have managed 3 wins and even Jacksonville now has as many victories as the Vikes.
The last Packers tie was against John Elway and the Denver Broncos playing in Milwaukee’s County Stadium on September 20, 1987. This was just two weeks before Karla and I got married, but the season went awry as the NFL players went on strike. The following week, Week 3, the games were cancelled (perhaps in honor of the upcoming wedding?) and Weeks 4 and 5 were played with replacement players. I’d like to tell you I’m reciting all these events off the top of my head, but in fact I have no recollection at all of what was happening in the NFL that fall. We got back off honeymoon and the first Monday back, October 19th, I took the morning off to oversee the move of Karla’s stuff, including the Steinway, to my apartment, and the stock market dropped 22%. That would be like a 3,600 point drop on the Dow Jones 30 Industrials now, in one day. This must have been one of the last years when I ran a college bowl pool before switching to running NFL pools like the Farside, only in Lotus 1-2-3. Anyway, the Pack’s tie slipped by me unnoticed amidst all the other life events.
It was also an early warning of Matt vacations: 1987, Matt goes on honeymoon, stock market crashes; 1990, Matt and Karla go on holiday, Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait; 2001, Matt and family go to England on vacation, 9/11 attacks happen; 2009, Matt and family go to England again, worldwide bird flu pandemic breaks out. People should pay me to stay home.
Since we had a tie last year, most of you will be familiar with the Farside scoring implications: Nobody gets any points for that game. We’re picking winners, and every last one of us failed, since there was no winner.
I didn’t see the game. I’ve been painting the center hallway in our house, which isn’t all that big but which has vast expanses of wall space up the staircase. I listened to the Vikings on the radio and had a tv on in another room so that in theory I could pop in and see replays, but in fact I didn’t and instead just listened as I patiently rolled my way through another gallon of paint. I don’t know if anyone sits there hitting Refresh to see the mid-afternoon results, but I didn’t get around to posting them until the Vikings game was concluded, so, sorry about that.
And, while I’m apologizing, heartfelt apologies to all who received Your Entry Has Been Rejected emails. Last week, one entry came in with a different Thursday game pick than originally submitted and my spreadsheet didn’t catch it. That’s not good! I did some work on fixing this and made it a tad too tight, so that several participants sent in entries that were just fine but which my macros ruthlessly rejected in error. This is one of the risks of doing ongoing development on the live spreadsheet. I’ve done further tweaking and think things are fixed but we’ll see. I’m paying particular attention to Entry Rejected emails (I get copied on these so I can take a look) to ensure that things are working appropriately.
I’ve had the New England/Denver game on while writing up most of the stuff above, sitting here eating soup and a roll and cheese, and baking some bread. The game has been pretty good, with New England coming back from a huge deficit. I’ve always found Peyton Manning kind of annoying, and have quietly reveled in New England’s failure to win the Big One since getting caught for cheating, so would like to see another tie*.
Have a great Monday!
*close but no cigar. It was down to about 2.30 left if overtime when a New England punt hit a Broncos player and the Patriots recovered in field goal range. A couple of plays to position the ball and with 2 minutes left in OT New England kicked the FG and won. Had that punt not hit the Denver player there’s a chance this game would have gone to a tie as well.
Week 12 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Steve Benson and Marianne Arvold tied for the week with 69 points each and Steve won based on his tiebreaker of 37. San Francisco beat Washington 27-6, so there were 33 points in the game. They were followed by Chris Mullen with 63 points and Jeff Carlson with 61. Last place went to Kathy Haskin and Lee Arvold with 28 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 1,001 points (the first participant in either pool to hit 1,000) followed by Nancy Hofer with 989 and Nathan Reopelle with 981. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 727 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, young Pierce Lundt wins the week with 73 points followed by his brother Mick Sheedy with 62 points and Jay Steffenhagen with 61. Last place went to Scott Miller with 29 points. Seasonally, Kent Musser leads with 998 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 996 and Carol Musser with 991. Last place for the season so far is held down by another brother of this week’s winner, Blaine Lundt with 758 points.
It used to be that Thanksgiving week was an outlier for the Farside Pool, with its Thursday games. Now of course we have these accursed Thursday games every week, so the routine is no different than the rest of the season. You can do either your full set of picks or just pick the early games by gametime Thursday. If you just pick the early ones, you’ll need to do the rest of your picks by Sunday gametime as usual. The only slight difference is that there are three games Thursday instead of just one. Make sure you get those picks in on time!
A couple of minor notes from the weekend. The Vikings/Packers tie I noted was the first this season. There was just one last year, and in many years there aren’t any ties. Peter King noted in his Monday Morning Quarterback column that the last seven NFL tie games, dating back to 1989, have all happened in November. We were actually darn close to having another one Sunday night in the Patriots/Broncos game and might have, had it not been for a blown punt reception late in OT. That would have been the first two-tie day in 40 years. Speaking of ties, it seems that several Green Bay Packers players didn’t know that an NFL game could end in a tie. They thought there was going to be another Overtime, like there is in college. That would be true if this had been a playoff game, but ties are allowed in regular season. They’re not the first to labor under this misapprehension; players on both San Francisco and Saint Louis last year were surprised to find out the game was over when they tied, and Donovan McNabb, most recently quarterback for the Vikings (sorry to remind you), famously said he didn’t know they could tie when Philly played to a draw in 2008.
Speaking of less well-known NFL rules, there was some fuss about the Vikings endgame in regulation Sunday. The Packers punted to the Vikings with 1 second left in the game and the Vikings tried some nondescript play as time expired. This would have been a perfect spot to try a fair catch kick. There is an NFL (and high school, but not college) rule that allows the receiving team on a kick, if they fair catch the ball, to try a field goal from the spot of the fair catch. It’s a free kick, meaning no rush. The opposing team has to line up 10 yards back from the ball and can’t rush until the ball is kicked. Long field goal attempts have to be kicked at a lower trajectory than short ones and thus are more prone to being blocked, so the no rush thing is good. This isn’t the even more bizarre drop kick*, where you bounce the ball off the ground and kick it. The ball is held (no tee allowed but also no snap required) and the kicker gets a run at it. On Sunday, with one second left, the Vikings had the ball on the 34 yard line, so, yeah, ok, this is going to be a beastly long attempt, but with no rush and nothing to lose, what the hell? It’s possible the coaches didn’t know about the rule; it’s happened more than once that teams who would have been eligible to try one have left the field thinking the half or the game was over (you can make the attempt even if the clock has expired, and the refs have no duty to inform you that you can take a crack at this if you want). San Francisco tried, and missed, against Saint Louis earlier this season, from 71 yards. Before that, there were two attempts in 2008, one in 2005 and then it’s back to 1984 for the last attempt. They all missed. It’s no wonder nobody knows about these things. The last one that actually worked was kicked in November 1976. So, yeah, it’s desperation time, but I’ve seen kickers** booting balls through the goalposts from immense distances when playing around, e.g., no rush, and it would have been quite a talker versus ending up in a stinkin’ tie with the Pack.
Have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving!
*the drop kick is still an active rule in the NFL. You can kick extra points or field goals by dropping the ball to the ground and kicking it through the goalposts. No long snap to the holder. This was really common in the 1920s and 1930s, when the football wasn’t so pointy and didn’t bounce so irregularly. A drop kick hadn’t been used in literally decades when the Patriots’ Doug Flutie tried the Point After Touchdown and made it on January 1, 2006 against the Miami Dolphins. You can almost see Bill Belichick, holed up in his bunker, poring over the NFL Rulebook looking for quirks, cackling after reading Rule 3, Section 8, then rubbing his hands together saying, we’ll show those fishies a thing or two! Prior to Flutie’s kick, the last PAT dropkick was in the NFL Championship Game played December 21, 1941, two weeks after Pearl Harbor, and the last drop kicked field goal was in 1937.
**back in my Iowa State days we used to play Oklahoma. One year they had this kicker named Uwe Von Schamann who had immense range, though the Sooners didn’t really need it since they ran their wishbone offense through the Iowa State secondary like a hot knife through butter. Uwe was booting through the goalposts from beyond midfield in warmups, though, to be fair, not from the 34. He was featured in an article in Sports Illustrated (which, along with Newsweek and Playboy, the house subscribed to) and I followed his career with interest since he looked like an awesome kicker. He went on to a middling career with the Dolphins and was out of the league after six years.
Week 13 is over and the final results are finally in. In the Family Pool, Steve Benson won the week again (he won last week too) with 126 points followed by Kerry Vnuk with 118 points and longest-serving non-family Farsider Paul Meillier with 117. Last place went to my lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 68 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 1,112 points followed by Kerry Vnuk and Nancy Hofer with 1,092 each and Nathan Reopelle with 1,091. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 838 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Neil Tobiason wins the week with 120 points followed by Scott Miller with 118 points and Jay Steffenhagen with 115. Last place went to Devin Ward and Tom Preston with 68 points each. Seasonally, Kent Musser leads with 1,107 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 1,105 and Jay Steffenhagen and Carol Musser with 1,100. Last place for the season so far is held down by young Blaine Lundt with 844 points.
Have a great week!
I trust everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Ours was the usual; Henry home by train, Macy’s parade with breathless reports about how balloons would be deployed despite 9 mph winds, like it was the D-Day invasion or something, football games, a sunny cold afternoon, a fire in the fireplace, tea, dog pooped from Henry’s taking her for a walk and then throwing Frisbee much farther than I do for Fetch!, then the buildup to dinner, turkey, mashed potatoes, squeaky beans, gravy, cranberry glop, quinoa and fruit salad, pumpkin rolls, wines both red and white, pumpkin pie, apple pie, vintage port (1980, and bought before we were married, dustily retrieved from the cellar (basement)), coffee, a fire, Christmas carols, dozing away as the dishwasher runs, and finally happily to bed. I expect it’s the same in most households, at least those with small families, just the four of us.
I think back; there must have been something notable about those games on Thursday, right? Mike Tomlin’s impeding a Baltimore kick returner? Who else played? Football games are mostly pretty transient things, aren’t they?
Here’s something for nearly all of us to be thankful for: our houses are still intact. A couple of weeks ago the Chicago/Baltimore game was delayed a couple of hours due to bad weather, a grim, grey thunderstorm front that rattled through Chicago. It was more serious in downstate Illinois, particularly in the town of Washington, just to the east of Peoria. Farsider Scott Paluska lives in Washington. In his own words, from an email the day before Thanksgiving:
“The tornado hit the house and I was in it with my wife and dogs and bird. We were in the basement and all got out healthy. The house was pretty much a total loss. The roof was blown off and turned 90 degrees so the south end of the house was over the north lawn and neighbor's lawn. The garage walls and family room walls collapsed. The front wall was pulled out about 30 degrees and the other wall outer walls were standing. The pantry walls over the stairs fell over, but we were able to climb out of the house. Got most our personal property back, but it still may be sent to the trash, but got to sort and document. We have been living with my parents and her parents while we look for temporary housing and contractors to rebuild. All three cars are totaled, I have a replacement already and we are looking to get her one (maybe today).
Been an interesting last 9 days.”
As I mentioned at the time, weather like this isn’t unprecedented for central Illinois or much of the Midwest, but it’s very weird to have it happen in November. The tornade was rated an EF-4, stayed on the ground for more than 45 miles and killed seven people. Like I said, most of us have lots to be thankful for.
Saturday afternoon there was one for the ages, in college ball, the Auburn/Alabama matchup known as the Iron Bowl. I didn’t watch this, but was kept up to date by sports talk radio, to which I was listening as I worked on our front entryway. I was going to caulk around the sidelights, so pulled out all the coats/gloves/hats/boots/panniers/rain capes/sandals/umbrellas/rubber duckies (damn dog)/floormats/etc and then noticed how dingy it all looked. Our entire house interior was painted a shade of off-white bordering on Breath Rite Nasal Strip when we bought it nearly 20 years ago. Over time, I’ve painted virtually the entire interior and also the exterior, the latter in an epic 3-week effort with Farsider Paul Salamon in 2004. Early on we painted the center hallway an unfortunate shade of pastelly pink so loathsome we left it there for 15 years. In the last couple of weeks I repainted this in a sagey color that looks quite nice despite its unfortunate name (Fossil) and it suddenly looks waaay more elegant. Now the front entry/closet, still in Breath Rite white, looked horrid, though nobody would ever notice since the overhead light had never ever worked, though with a flashlight you could admire our heaps of seasonal clothing and also the underside of our bathroom plumbing above, for which a hole had been knocked in both the false ceiling and the plaster ceiling above. Fortunately, hardly anyone ever comes in the front door, since anyone who knows us comes to the back door and anyone who doesn’t gets discouraged by the lack of response to the doorbell, which doesn’t work.
So, in a fit of unseemly ambition, seeing as I had the contents of the closet strewn all over the living room and half a gallon of Eggshell Fossil left, I decided to paint. First I ripped out the remaining false ceiling and removed the lame and non-functional light fixture. I’ll sort that out shortly, but for the moment it was enough to tidy up that mess and paint the closet. I’d forgotten just how thirsty for paint those walls were and was soon on my way to Home Depot for another gallon. Now, in the olden days (before about 2008), I’d have one of our crappy little portable televisions plugged in nearby and have the game on there. I had a 12” black and white portable set much like the one I had in college except this one didn’t need needlenose pliers to change channels, and a 9” color set that used to be in the kitchen. Nowadays, people don’t seem to make dirt cheap small TVs meant for this sort of watching. I could use one of the old ones (still have the 9” inch set up in the attic) but they need the adapter boxes to make the digital signal work with the old tuners, it’s just kind of a hassle. So I listen to the radio instead, and kind of virtually watched the games as the announcers would update on the Michigan/Ohio State game and the Auburn/Alabama game, among others. The bad part of this is when you get back from Home Depot and the announcers are breathless with disbelief with how Auburn/Alabama ended; it sounded like it was about to go to overtime when I went into Home Depot, yet now seemed to be over. Fortunately, what I lack in crappy old black and white tvs is made up for with the Internet.
Watching just the highlights misses some of the sense of narrative of seeing it evolve in real time, but it came down to Alabama arguing that there should be 00:01 left on the clock at the end of regulation with the score tied, this after a pretty epic fourth quarter of action. The refs agreed and ‘bama decided, with their 00:01, to try a looong field goal. Their regular guy had missed three already that day, so they sent in freshman backup guy whose longest FG on the year was 20 yards, and he tried the 59-yarder. Make it, you win; miss it, and it’s overtime, right? Auburn called timeout, pulled all the big guys out and send in the fast guys. To a supposedly seasoned coach like Alabama’s Nick Saban, this should have been like the aa-oo-ggaaa horn in submarines when they’re about to dive; Auburn’s got a return on. He didn’t notice. The kick fell short, but Auburn had a guy in the end zone. He caught the ball and brought it out. Sure, time had expired, but it’s still a live ball. Alabama and weaselly coach Nick Saban hadn’t considered this, for the Auburn guy took it all the way the length of the field for a touchdown and won the game for the Tigers. It was an extremely unlikely end to a football game, nevermind one between two highly-ranked college teams on national tv.
You see this play in the NFL from time to time. Devon Hester from Chicago has done it, and if memory serves, the San Diego Chargers did it to the Vikings on the day Adrian Peterson set the NFL rushing record, but it tends to be at the end of the half as time expires when one team decides to try a recklessly long FG because the opponent won’t get the ball back anyway, then everyone starts wandering off the field not realizing the ball is still live and the returner goes the distance to score. However, in the NFL, it’s always been some run of the mill mid-season game. Having it happen to polish off an already pretty epic matchup, with defending two-time national champ the loser*, was delicious.
I didn’t see much Sunday, either. The first Sunday of the month I am one of the counters at church, counting the money and doing the weekly deposit. This was unexciting but I wasn’t home until nearly 2:00 and Henry and I left shortly therafter to take him back to Winona for school. We listened to the Vikes on the radio. They were playing Chicago and neither team seemed to want to win. The game went into overtime, just like last week when we tied the Packers, the Vikings’ first tie since 1978, and as overtime bungled along it looked like there was a chance they might tie again. It isn’t unprecedented for a team to have ties in two consecutive weeks, but the last time it happened was to the Oakland Raiders in 1971. Yeah, I don’t remember it either. I was rooting for the tie when the Vikes lined up for a field goal and with 1:43 left in OT scored the winning field goal. Oh well. A 2-8-2 record would have been nicely symmetric.
Once Henry was back in place, I drove home digging around for a radio station to pick up a game. In the shadow of the bluffs along the Mississippi the FM reception is a bit dodgy, so I tried the AM band. I’m guessing kids these days don’t have the pleasure of scanning the AM band at night for stations, which come and go randomly and sometimes from great distances. I got a Des Moines station for a couple of minutes, then something else crackly with Cincy/San Diego on it, who other than Cincinnati or San Diego would broadcast that?, which faded into static, then a few minutes of Kansas City losing to Denver. Between these were news and people yelling about stuff and polka music. I stopped in Red Wing for dinner and posted the late afternoon results off the brewery wifi, then carried on home.
Some of the delay in getting the results out tonight has been me being pre-occupied in performing experiments in the kitchen. We have our Festival of Lessons and Carols coming up next Sunday (December 9, 4:00PM, it’ll be great, you can hear me sing and also declaim in Middle English) and I make mulled wine for this. In the past, I’d just buy a tin of Williams Sonoma mulling spices, buy the second-cheapest jug wine, and life was good. Williams Sonoma has stopped doing the tin of mulling spices, and now does an attractive jar, appropriate for hostess gifts or other gift giving needs!, but which has half the stuff in it for slightly more money that it used to cost. I have a longtime suspicion anyway of recipes which depend on packaged products, they’re always disappearing, making the recipes difficult to replicate, and this made me decide to do my own mulled wine recipe using actual spices, not some vendor’s mix. As experiments go, these ones smell great. Sadly, the first batch I made, with sliced orange, shaved ginger and anise stars in the mix, wasn’t very good. I had some misgivings about the anise, the base flavor of licorice, and these proved to be prescient. The house smelled great, but the actual drink was astringent and bitter. I added a bunch of sugar, but now it was sweet and astringent and bitter. I wasn’t going to serve this slop.
After a trip to the store to buy some new cinnamon sticks (we had some of indeterminate age, they smelled like nothing, this wouldn’t do), I tried another batch. Lots of citrus zest in this one, more cinnamon and cloves, no anise or ginger, and the result was pretty satisfying. I’m going to tweak the recipe a bit, add some cardamom and up the cinnamon, and then make gallons of the stuff.
Some of it is for gifts. If you can be there, I’d highly recommend this Lessons and Carols. We’re doing a Medieval Lessons and Carols, so the music we’re doing is likely to be unfamiliar. It’s not Gregorian chant, either, some of it’s pretty raucous. Among the music there are several recorder pieces, and Karla has recorder players coming from prior churches St. Mary’s and St. Luke’s to perform. We’re doing mulled wine in nice bottles as thank you gifts for this lot, and then of course we’ll be doing a big batch for the reception after the service. It’s going to be really cold here Sunday, so a cup of lovely hot mulled wine (or cider, I do that too, no alcohol in that one) will be very welcome. Also, come to this service and you get to see your football pool Commissioner sing (only briefly, one verse in Latin, in a trio, otherwise as part of the choir), play both Bundt pan and hurdy gurdy, and recite the final dismissal in Middle English. You can see my own lovely daughter sing and ring bells, and my pretty amazing wife Karla run the whole thing. She’s put heaps of work into this service, and, as I mentioned above, it’s going to very different from your usual Christmas musical offerings. And there’s mulled wine afterwards!
Have a great week everyone!
*the last team to win three national championships in a row? Anyone? Yep! The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, 1934/35/36!
Happy Saint Nicholas Day everyone!
Last night’s Houston at Jacksonville matchup must have sounded like a good idea at the time the League drew up this season’s schedule. Jacksonville, who early on looked likely to crack off an 0-16 season, won their 3rd game in a row (don’t look now, but that’s currently the longest winning streak in the AFC) while Houston, many experts’ pre-season Super Bowl pick, probably against Atlanta, notched up their 11th straight loss. Neither team has much to do with the Vikings, except that now at least we’re probably ahead of Jacksonville in the draft order next spring! Houston is likely to have that first pick.
If you’re Dutch, yesterday was the big present-exchanging day of the season. The Dutch, educated, amazingly multilingual, on average taller and longer-lived than us, have somewhat different Christmas traditions than we do, and they involve Sinterklaas (like Santa Claus, from Turkish bishop Saint Nicholas) and his helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). Zwarte Piet has traditionally, up until the 1950s, been characterized as Sinterklaas’s slave; now he’s a helper, and one of several (“six to eight”, as David Sedaris notes in this article and is portrayed by wearing blackface and wigs. Traditionally, if children are bad, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet and his other blackface helpers would come around on horseback kick and beat the children; if they were really naughty, they’d get bundled up in a sack and hauled back to Spain, where Sinterklaas lives. I know, weird, right? The tale has eased a bit, Zwarte Piet is now a helper, and now Sinterklaas just pretends to kick you. If you’re good, he and Zwarte Piet leave presents.
Apparently the pretty blatant embedded racism of the blackface slave from Africa is a touchy subject in the Netherlands, though most of their colonial posessions were in the Far East, like Indonesia*. Some people in Holland have objected and they get threatened and arrested. You can read about this on Slate. It all seems pretty bizarre, but our treasured Christmas traditions are an odd mélange of Christianity/paganism/folk tales/Dickens/It’s A Wonderful Life/Macy’s and elements from the many countries Americans have come from. This particular Dutch version is not really a lot stranger than the Austrian version where Santa’s helpers (non-black, more demons in this case) either cast bad children directly into hell (that’s Krampus) or, if they’re not quite as bad, disembowel them (Perchta); or Iceland’s Jó lakötturinn the Yule Cat, who’ll eat the lazy children, whom he can recognize because they don’t have any new clothing; or the Swedes, who, in a more recent tradition, gather around the television every Christmas Eve at 3:00PM to watch “Kalle Anka och hans vä nner önskar God Jul”, that is, “Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas”, from a 1958 Disney special that got broadcast on Swedish national television and somehow imprinted itself on the collective national consciousness. Still, the Dutch get things going early in blackface, so I thought I’d note it so you can mark it in next year’s calendar and also give you an idea for an outfit for the company holiday party.
Skittles the dog has discovered snow. She quite likes it, zooming around with her nose in it in sheer joy. Skittles is many things, but a graceful runner isn’t one of them, and running in the snow is even more comical. She’s also discovered cold; the high today is supposed to be 8F, and tomorrow it’s supposed to be 1. She doesn’t like it much. She figured out that peeing in the snow means lowering her bottom into the white stuff, whereas peeing on the driveway, which I’ve cleared, keeps her bottom out of the snow. Now we’re starting to accumulate frozen yellow discs around the driveway. I fully expect it to look like Monet’s Water Lilies, only in yellow, by the end of the winter.
One more reminder: A Medieval Lessons and Carols, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Highway 36 and Hamline in Roseville, Minnesota, Sunday at 4:00! Hear me sing! And read a bit of middle English! Hear Geneva sing! (she’s really good) It’ll be cold, but we’ll have some excellent music and tasty warm mulled wine!
Meanwhile, if you just picked the early game, make sure to get the rest of your picks in by gametime Sunday. If you missed it, you have to take a 10 on Houston in the Family Pool or a 16 in the High Stakes Pool. I’ve actually put those in for you, as you’ll see in the attached early results.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Keep your bottoms out of the snow!
*did you know, for instance, that early on in the Pacific fighting in World War II there were naval battles involving the Japanese on one side and combined U.S., Australian and Dutch forces on the other? Sadly, this was when the Japanese were still feeling their oats and we were discovering how adept they were at night fighting and torpedo warfare and things didn’t go well for our side.
With only the Monday night game to go, the winner in the Family Pool will be Neil Arvold if Chicago wins tonight or Scott Sherman if Dallas wins. In the High Stakes Pool, it will be Kathy Sandhofer if Dallas wins or if Chicago wins and the point total is 44 or fewer, or Kent Musser if Chicago wins with 45 points or more scored. There is no tie possibility between the two with their tiebreakers.
With the preparation for, celebration of and reception after the Festival of Lessons and Carols occupying the entire day, and much of Saturday, and chunks of Thursday and Friday too, I didn’t see squat for football. Which was a pity. Yesterday was my ideal football watching kind of Sunday; the Ramsey County compost dropoff is closed now for the season so there is no moral imperative to go out and do yard work and haul it off; the weather outside is frightful, but the football is so delightful, so it’s a great day to laze about on the couch and snooze through a game or two; the weather across most of the eastern half of the nation was cold and/or snowy, so lots of games involved snow and sleet and frosty winds, the kinds of conditions that make the game so fun to watch; and lots of teams are still competing, unlike the last couple of weeks of the season, when the guaranteed playoff teams are coasting in with second-stringers on the field and the dogs, like, ahem, the Vikes, are marking time and trying not to get hurt as the disappointing season draws to a close. However, other tasks were at hand and so I saw nothing. This was too bad, because apparently Minnesota and Baltimore scored 5 touchdowns in an elapsed 2 minutes and 1 second (in the final 2 minutes and 5 seconds of the game), setting a new record for speed of scoring, and in Denver their kicker nailed a 64-yard field goal, also a new NFL record. Weirdly, on a weekend with bad weather in many contests, you’d expect scoring to be suppressed, with some 6-3 slogs in the murk, but in fact there were 88 touchdowns in 14 games, the most ever on a single day in the NFL’s 94-year history.
In Lessons and Carols news, things went really well. We did all medieval music, and the ninth lesson was read in Saxon (spoken in England prior to the Norman invasion of 1066, after which the language evolved towards what we have now) with the Dismissal in Middle English, which I read. Between all the old language in the songs and the texts, Word’s spell check was going apeshit, underlining stuff right and left. The music was also pretty old, the newest from around 1400. It is a characteristic of the language that the many ancient words and tunes seem to have come down through carols, nursery rhymes and curse words. We avoided the latter two, but were all over the first. Some of the music was deeply unfamiliar to the audience, but you can something as familiar as O Come, O Come Emmanuel and have a tune that dates back to the 800s. With a recorder consort, guitars, cello, handbells, random other bells (for driving spirits out of church, in those days the pagan practices* were incorporated into Christian worship), shruti, hurdy-gurdy and organ for drones, children’s choir, adult choir and small groups and solos, it made for quite a service. It went off to rave reviews from those who braved the snow to come.
Enjoy tonight’s game in Chicago. It’ll be cold with a snappy wind out of the west in Soldier Field, so, pretty nippy. No snow, though.
*another area where pagan things persist is our day names. Sunday is from Old English Sunnandæg, meaning Sun’s Day. Monday is from Mōnandæg, Moon’s Day. Tuesday is from Tiw’s Day, Tīwesdæg, Tiw being the one-handed Norse god of single combat. Wednesday is Wōdnesdæg, Wodan’s Day, after the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon god. Thursday is from Thor’s Day, he being a Nordic god. Friday is Frig’s Day, from Frigge, a Nordic goddess. Saturday is Roman rather than Norse or Saxon; Saturn’s day. Funny that our years are numbered from the presumed birth of Christ but the days are named after pagan gods.
Week 14 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Neil Arvold won the week with 126 points followed by Paul Meillier and Scott Sherman tied for second at 125 points and Jenny Mullen in third with 124. Conratulations to Neil, who last won in 2001! Last place went to Brian Driscoll with 67 points, a score shared by several other participants including my daughter Geneva. Sure, she’s got all kinds of time for studying, writing papers, doing labs, getting internships, etc, but does she make time for Dad’s football pool? Gotta learn some priorities.
Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 1,231 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 1,211 and Nathan Reopelle with 1,201. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 950 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Kent Musser and Kathy Sandhofer tied for the week with 128 points with Kent winning on the tiebreaker. He chose 47 points and Kathy took 42; there were 73 total in the game, so they were both lousy guesses, but Kent’s was slightly less lousy, so he wins. They were followed by Kent’s adult son Dan Musser with 124 points and Neil Tobiason and Alan Wenker tied for third with 121 points. Last place went to Jay Steffenhagen with 84 points.
Seasonally, Kent Musser leads with 1,235 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 1,222 and Kent’s wife Carol Musser with 1,215. Last place for the season so far is held down by Blaine Lundt with 942 points.
I didn’t see the Monday Night game. Karla and I went out in the -4F weather to funky uptown Minneapolis to see the move ‘The Armstrong Lie’ (you can read a Boston Globe review here). It’s a documentary which started out with the filmmaker guy documenting Lance Armstrong’s return from retirement to compete in the 2009 Tour de France. He’d won seven Tours de France previously, in 1999-2005, and had been dogged by unproven allegations of using performance enhancing drugs. He came back to race in 2009 and placed third overall, but was suspected to have used blood transfusions and the resulting investigations, including by a federal prosecutor, brought many witnesses to testify under oath about his doping over the years and resulted in Armstrong’s banishment from competitive cycling and being stripped of his 7 Tour wins. If that were all there was to it, it would be mildly interesting, and if titles and awards in cycling are taken away for performance enhancing drug use they’ve have to dig pretty deep into the peloton to find someone who rode clean in those years, if they could. However, the further wrinkle is how big a bastard he was to former friends and teammates over the years while defending his assertions that he rode cleanly. So the filmmaker guy takes his 2009 footage and re-interviews Armstrong after he came cleanish to Oprah Winfrey and intercuts his interview now with footage documenting Armstrong’s career and various assertions of cleanliness.
I like cycling quite a lot but more for getting around and touring than racing. I never raced (I’d be hopeless at it due to my high weight/power ratio) and don’t follow racing at all except for the Tour de France because the three-week extravaganza is so beautifully produced and documented and has excellent commentary. You can get a full access iPad app for $15 and follow the whole race live with no commercials and France is just freakin’ gorgeous from one end to the other, and we’ve done this the last couple of years. We also wrapped up our big 2009 family trip to Europe by being in Paris at the end of July for the final day of the Tour and saw winner Alberto Contador and the whole peloton, including Lance Armstrong, go zooming by into the closing circuit around Les Tuilleries. This is the race this documentary started out to cover. That day in Paris I called Farsider and old chum Paul Salamon back in Iowa to try and figure out what the heck was going on, as out on the streets we had no idea. Paul had it on tv on Versus, a lesser cable channel which carries bike racing, bass fishing, the National Hockey League and other fringe sports. It was when Paul mentioned the helicopter shots that I figured out that when the race drew near there’d be helicopters overhead for all those gorgeous tv shots, and that worked great. The helicopters approached, then the bicycle racers. They went by in a few seconds, slightly slower in front of us than along some random road in the countryside as they were about to turn onto a bridge across the Seine, but still pretty quick. Tonight, I was hoping that maybe I’d see us in the crowd in the movie*, but, although they had several shots at the end of the movie from the closing circuit, there weren’t any from the lead in to the circuit, so, no dice. I burrowed my way through the crowds to get onto the circuit course and watched the racers go by several times until there was cheering from the other side and the race was over.
Paul and I also met Lance in 2008 (see photo on right). We had gone out to Portland, Oregon in February that year to attend the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (total bike nerdfest) and Lance was there. Paul and I did a bunch of volunteer work while we were there and the grateful coordinator arranged an introduction to Lance. I have a picture of the four of us (coordinator guy, Lance, Paul and I) looking slightly dopey. I also saw Robin Williams at this event, he’s an enthusiastic cyclist, but I didn’t pester him or get our photo together.
With all this, the film holds more interest to me than it might to others. However, it’s not about the bike, as Lance might say, but about power and money and betrayal and justice and revenge, about remorse and forgiveness and grudges, all themes that have driven human events since time immemorial. I don’t know how wide a theatrical release the movie will get, but expect it’ll show up on Netflix eventually if it doesn’t end up in your local multiplex. (and tonight it was Karla and I and one other guy in the theatre)
In other non-football news, among the attachments this week is our newly worked-out recipe for mulled wine. We used to make this for both ourselves and the Lessons and Carols receptions using Williams Sonoma mulled wine spices, but they got too expensive, and I am generally leery of using very specific packaged products or mixes in a recipe since they can disappear or change at any time, so we worked out our own recipe. I made 12 litres of this stuff Sunday, and about half of it went (probably would have had more takers if not snowing, which suppressed the crowd somewhat). We’re very pleased with the recipe and Farsider Cindy James, who has tasted more batches of our wine over the years than anyone, thought it was the best we’d ever done. If you like this sort of swill, give the recipe a try. If you don’t (and a young Filipino lady at a party on Friday night seemed somewhat alarmed that the wine was warm), don’t waste your time.
Have a great week!
*we would have been easy to spot as we were four of the only five people in all of Paris to wear the official yellow Tour de France t-shirts. Karla and Geneva bought them for all of us, we all put them on to show our, you know, espirit de Tour!, and in all the throngs of thousands of people we saw only one other person, almost certainly another clueless tourist, similarly garbed.
Ouch, that one hurt! Mary DeHate is the only person in either pool to take San Diego, for 12, while the rest of us went for Denver, usually for big points, and the Broncos lost. I didn’t see the game at all, just checked in a couple of minutes ago to score the pool, and was surprised to see that the Chargers had won, in Denver even. Maybe this is going to be one of those weeks. Well, we’re all chasing Mary at this point.
Oh, here’s some good news. There’s no Thursday game next week or Week 17! No mid-week rush to figure out your selections! A nice leisurely Saturday morning making your picks and weighting them! It’ll be like the Farside of yore, a lovely languid weekend avocation rather than a harried midweek duty!
If you didn’t get an entry in, I slapped 16 on Denver for you. You’re welcome. Have a great weekend, and get your entry in for the rest of the games by gametime Sunday. I’ll send out reminders tomorrow which will include the pick you made just to rub it in to remind you of your excellent selection.
Hey, the Vikes won! Beat hot Philadelphia, too, at the penultimate game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. We were off doing other things, but I did see parts of the first 3 quarters of the game before we headed out and the Purple were looking pretty competitive. I also saw quite a bit of the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game Sunday night. When we first got back from our various doings I scored the early and late afternoon games and posted Potential Outcomes. Unfortunately, these proved to be misleading as I put Washington/Atlanta in as a tie initially rather than the 27-26 Falcons win that it was. That skewed pool scoring (nobody gets points when there’s a tie, as we all found out when the Pack and Vikes tied earlier this season) and gave misleading outcomes. Sorry about that. Hope you haven’t blown the winnings already!
If you’re planning on blowing some winnings, you’d be best off being Dale Williams (who’ll win the Family Pool if Detroit wins Monday night), Marianne Arvold (who wins if Baltimore prevails Monday night), Eric Benson (takes the High Stakes Pool if Baltimore wins) or John Petek (High Stakes win with a Detroit victory).
Have a great Monday!
Week 15 is over, with Baltimore kicking 6 field goals, including a 61-yarder with 00:31 on the clock, to beat Detroit 18-16. As a result, Marianne Arvold won the week in the Family Pool with 106 points followed by Jennifer Weddell with 98 points and Vickie Hyland with 97. Last place went to Donald Mullen and my niece Sarah Kendell with 54 points. Seasonally, Katie Kostman leads the Family Pool with 1,302 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 1,288 and Nathan Reopelle with 1,281. Coming in last at this point is my niece Sarah Kendell with 1,012 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Eric Benson wins the week, his second this season, with 95 points followed by John Petek with 87 points and Kathy Sandhofer and Dawn Murphy with 86. Last place went to Larry Daniels with 53 points, a score shared by several Farsiders who didn’t get entries in. Seasonally, Kent Musser leads with 1,312 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 1,301 and Carol Musser with 1,291. Last place for the season so far is held down by Tom Preston with 1,007 points.
Now, for the first time this season, you can really relax; there are no early games this week. The next NFL football is next Sunday at noon Central, just like the old days, so there’s no panic to get that early pick in. This is true in Week 17 as well, and that week there’s not even a Monday night game. So enjoy the quiet Farside week and the astonishing lack of Farside reminder emails this week!
And keep entering! Most seasons I get several people who lose hope and don’t submit entries the last couple of weeks. Actually, this is great for those of us who do enter, because it lessens the competition! For most of us, hopes of a seasonal win faded some time ago and is now out of reach, but anyone can win an individual week. The last couple of weeks can also be a bit goofy, with some teams playing for keeps, some resting starters for their playoff run and others marking time until they can go play golf. Anyone can win any week (Any Given Sunday, etc.), but you do have to enter.
Have a great week!
Monday night’s game is of no consequence to us. The older of my two younger sisters, Ann Kendell, will win the Family Pool and Alan Wenker will win the High Stakes Pool no matter what the outcome of the MNF game. It is the final game in Candlestick Park in San Francisco, so, big nostalgia if you like The Stick, but personally I don’t care much.
I spent the afternoon wiring in our new bathroom exhaust fan. This is the sort of thing that should take 30 minutes and ends up taking days. I originally installed a Panasonic fan several years ago that has a light, exhaust fan, nightlight and heater. The last item is a coil of nichrome wire, like a toaster, with its own little fan, and after a few months, it burned out. Something must have gone badly wrong, because it would blow the circuit breaker. I dutifully unhooked it so the breaker wouldn’t trigger, then left it for several years.
Well, in a fit of enthusiasm this past summer, we redid the bathroom. There was no one major thing, just a bunch of stuff (new toilet, sink, faucets, mirror, etc) that helped rectify what had become a shockingly shoddy looking room. As part of this, the periodic whining from the womenfolk about how cold the bathroom was eventually got to me so that I decided to fix the fan. I was faced with a choice: fix the existing unit, or replace it. The risk of fixing it, speaking as an ex-Sears Parts Department staff member, is that you get in some cycle of replacing parts one by one as you try to track down the problem. The heating element itself was $152. The whole new fan was $225. I decided to go with the fan.
The problem here was that mine was (some long complicated number)-VH1, since discontinued, and replaced with the (some long complicated number)-VH2. OK, whatever, but the –VH2 was a different size, smaller than the –VH1. I was hoping for a drop-in replacement. After scouring the Internet, I found a vendor on Amazon with one –VH1 left, so I ordered it. Box shows up, and it’s a –VH2, and the vendor is all like “we did you a favor and sent you the new unit”. If I wanted the new unit, I would have ordered it from someone who was $50 cheaper. I send it back.
Further scouring revealed no –VH1s anywhere, even from the shady dealers in Florida, so I gave up and ordered a –VH2. Henry was coming home for Christmas and this sounded like a way to keep ourselves busy. We indeed spent an amazing large amount of time unwiring the old fan, removing it, which reveals a major hole in the ceiling through which I dropped my old iPhone 4 into the screwdriver section of my toolbag, cracking the screen, then made some bits of 2X4 and carefully jigsawed plywood to fill in most of the hole, which I then joint compounded into the surrounding ceiling, sanding it down in a cascade of white dust into my hair and sleeves, then we carefully trimmed things back until the VH2 would just snugly fit into the spot, then removed it, painted a couple of coats of ceiling paint, and finally fixed the new fan in position. One disadvantage of the smaller form factor is that the space where the wiring comes in is even more cramped than it was on the –VH1, and it was through a chunk of the Packers/Steelers game that I spent with my arms above my head carefully wiring in the new fan. Finally, we were ready for the Smoke Test (from college days electronics projects, where you get done and then plug it in and see if it smokes) and I despatched Henry to the basement to flip the breaker on circuit 19 with instructions not to hold it in position if it immediately clicked off. Fortunately, there was no smoke, the breaker was fine, and at least part of the wiring was done.
The toaster-like heating element is going on a different circuit, a 20 amp one, so as not to overload the 15 amp circuit already in place for the fan. I haven’t done that yet. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, at least the fan, light and nightlight work. It’s an amazing amount of work just to replace the stinking fan.
Old houses are like this. I got some Angies List deal on a new hot water heater, and of course our existing 3” vent piping was no longer up to code, it had to go to 4”, for an upcharge. The same plumber quoted me a price to install our new toilet and sink, and ended up spending hours longer than expected to do the work, having to send off his helper to get some oddball part. Years ago, Qwest offered a second phone line for $3.50 installed. Nowadays, as people drop landlines altogether, wanting a second one seems remarkable, but this is back in dial-up modem times. In modern homes, this is flipping a switch because the wire to house has 6 conductors. In our house, the wiring was so old that the $3.50 install ended up taking 5 guys half a day to install, running a whole new drop line from the pole 150 feet off the property to the house. I look at the work on our bathroom fan and wonder what a real electrician would do; you’d still have the fiddly work to resize the hole, though presumably they’d be quicker on the wiring in the cramped box on the fan unit. I like doing electrical work, there’s some satisfaction to the combination of overall planning process down to the fiddly detail work of twisting wires together and then doing the wire nuts nice and tidy, but I would starve if I tried to make a living at it at the speed I work.
I do have an old tv in the attic, one that needs a converter box, and I had it on for some of the Vikes, Denver and then Green Bay/Pittsburgh games. It is astounding how crappy old tvs look compared to new HD sets. I did see Peyton Manning’s record setting 51st touchdown throw for the season. And was disappointed that Green Bay wasn’t snowing like crazy, I had high hopes.
Dave Dahms isn’t a Farsider, exactly, not having any interest in football, but he is an old chum of mine from Iowa State who introduced me to electronics projects and The Smoke Test and wrote the cgi script which underlies the Farside online entry, including the mods to allow early game entry. You know how you get error messages saying “Duplicate Entry” or “Missing Password”? That’s Dave’s work, and I’m immensely indebted to him for it, because it means that by the time your entry gets through to me it is all valid data. Anyway, I got an email from Dave last week. He had a mailing from the ISU Foundation, hitting him up for money no doubt, but someone had been playing around with the mailing database and it was addressed to “Mr. Dave Dahms and Ms. Olga Fokyrcelf”. Dave isn’t married, and certainly not to a Russian mail order bride, and if you read his supposed companion’s name out loud you’ll see that there is an, ahem, anomaly in the database.
I can imagine how this happens. Years ago, when we were first at Saint Mary’s, I took over the church newsletter, which was astoundingly bad, as so many church newsletters are. I completely redid it into the best damn church newsletter in the entire Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota (just imagine your usual church newsletter written in Farside write-up style, with photos). The inside cover of Fish Tales, the St Mary’s newsletter, was always the ministries and readings for the month. Some months have four Sundays, some have five, and I set up landscape format Word documents with four and five columns for this page. To space things out I put in dummy data, including, in the Readings line, “Who the hell knows?” Can you see what’s coming? The very first month I did the newsletter was a five-Sunday month, and I carefully entered the readings for the first 4 Sundays, all Ezekiel 1:4-12 and that sort of thing, but inadvertently left the fifth Sunday untouched. I went to press, mailed out a couple of hundred newsletters and only then noticed that it still said “Who the hell knows?” for the fifth Sunday reading. Of course, this page was read by only the most devout and worthy parishioners, oh my, who had to fan themselves to keep from fainting when they read my indiscretion. Yeah, welcome to Matt the Editor*. It’s not hard to imagine some programmer entering Ms. Fokyrcelf’s name as dummy data and then having it go out to alumni. I just wonder if female households got “& Mr. Hugh G. Rection” on their labels.
I should be watching the Sunday Night Game but we’re all decorated for Christmas, we have a lovely smelly balsalm tree set up, a fire crackling in the fireplace, Geneva’s baking up a storm in the kitchen, the dog is assiduously chewing Santa’s face off some squeaky toy, carols are playing, and I just can’t bring myself to care. The Vikings lost solidly, the Packers lost despite a valiant last-minute effort, Detroit lost of course, and Chicago’s looking pretty bad (I turned it on just long enough to see Philly score a few of their many points, then switched back off). We may be last in the division, but the whole division pretty much stinks. And next week, in a fitting farewell to the Metrodome, the Vikings and Lions will play a meaningless game with no playoff ramifications whatsoever.
Have a great Monday!
*the key here is to brazen your way through it. I just told people I wanted to see who was reading that page. It’s like when you fart in church, you just stare at the person next to you like it was them.
Week 16 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, my sister Ann Kendell won the week with 112 points followed by Chris Weddell with 103 points and Teri Carr with 100. Last place went to Dale Williams with 59 points, a score shared by a smattering of people who didn’t get entries in. Seasonally, Katie Kostman still leads the Family Pool, always an anxious position going into the final week, with 1,394 points followed by Nathan Reopelle and Nancy Hofer with 1,380 each and Kerry Vnuk with 1,366. Coming in last at this point is my neice, Ann’s daughter, Sarah Kendell with 1,071 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Alan Wenker wins the week with 111 points followed by Kevin Foote with 104 points and Matthew Cole (hey, that’s me!) with 101. Last place went to Larry Daniels with 64 points, again, a score he generously shared with some non-entrants. Seasonally, Kent Musser leads with 1,401 points followed by Rolf Krogstad with 1,392 and Carol Musser with 1,381. Last place for the season so far is held down by my other sister Liz Cole with 1,082 points.
Sometimes people show a knack for a particular aspect of the pool. Teri Carr, for instance, has won Week 1 four times over the years, mostly to show me what for after I referred to it as a crapshoot and blind dumb luck or something like that. Perhaps even more remarkable is Alan Wenker’s Week 16 win. This is Alan’s fifth season and his third Week 16 win. Fear him next December!
Late results this morning. My sister Liz (last place, both in birth order and seasonally in the High Stakes Pool) arrived from Kentucky on Amtrak overnight. The Empire Builder from Chicago is supposed to get in at around 10:30PM but there were mechanical delays before departure and the train was delayed. Facing a night of disrupted sleep, I went to bed at 9, set my alarm for 12:15 and got up to find the train expected in at 12:49AM. It was actually 1:11AM when it rolled into the Saint Paul Midway station. This station is pretty cheesy, located between freight spurs behind an old warehouse in a light industrial area. However, handily, it has very sleazy security arrangements, so that when Liz said she was in the last car on the train, I could park in an adjacent parking lot behind a grain car and walk out on the platform to get her and spare her having to walk through the -3F weather through the station. If there hadn’t been a railroad crew pickup truck right there, I could have driven right out onto the platform. This is damn handy, but by next Christmas our light rail will have opened with its terminus in the old Saint Paul Union Station, used as storage for years by the Post Office and now re-habbed to its former glory and soon to be the Amtrak stop. It’ll be lovely and historic and all, but there’ll be no lurking around behind grain cars at the right end of the train to pick up incoming passengers! Oh well.
Having retrieved Liz, and rolled out the garbage on a spectacularly clear and cold night (-11 overnight, the lowest since I replaced the batteries in my indoor/outdoor thermometer), I went to bed and listened to my usual put-me-to-sleep programming, sports talk radio. At 2:30AM on Christmas Eve it’s the second-stringers or worse, and there was lots of blather about the 49ers/Falcons game on Monday night and about Dallas’s Tony Romo’s back injury and who might get called in to serve as the Cowboy’s backup. Wide awake after my three-hour nap earlier, this proved uncommonly riveting and it took a while to get back to sleep. I suppose I could have scored the pool then, but I waited until now. We went out first thing to do our grocery shopping. The grocery store wasn’t as crowded as I expected, and we were out in time to catch the live broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Cambridge. Live in England is a 3:00PM start and extending into early dusk in a location where sunset is 3:51 today; it’s 9:00AM here. It was a good broadcast this year; the boys (choristers who sing the high parts) were nailing their notes, the music selection was good and the hymns and carols moved right along despite the danger of bogging down in those big old medieval churches. They’re rebroadcasting here in the Twin Cities on 99.5 at 5:00PM but we’ll be busy. I don’t see that they have the broadcast available online, so if you miss it today you may be out of luck.
In other music news, I like this graph, from the xkcd site.
I've attached the printable PDF form for the Week 17 entries so you can make your picks before entering them online. Next week is like this one, no Thursday game. In fact, there’s not even a Monday night game, it’s one big spasm of football on Sunday. It’ll be the Vikings’ final game in the Metrodome*, taking on the Detroit Lions, both teams out of the playoffs, waiting to fire their coaches, no larger implications to the outcome of the game, it ought to be riveting. If you’re safely ensconced in 23rd place you can at least feel a bit of schadenfreude for Katie Kostman and Kent Musser, trying to hang on to seasonal first place in a week where teams’ motivations vary wildly and lots of players have their tee times booked for early January. This can make it hard to figure who’s going to prevail in many of these contests.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a great week!
Matt “ho ho ho” Cole
*Some haiku I wrote years ago, still relevant:
Nineteen eighty two
Vikes move into Metrodome
No Super Bowls since
Here’s how compelling this upcoming Vikings game will be: not only are both teams out of playoff contention, but since 1991 every National Football Conference team except for the Vikings and Lions has appeared in the Super Bowl. I can hear you thinking now, what about those lame teams? Tampa Bay? Arizona? St. Louis? Carolina? Yep, they’ve all cycled through a good period where they’ve appeared in the final game, but not the Vikings or Lions. So, this Week 17 is not unusual for these clubs.
As usual at Christmas, we went to the Arrow Awards (formerly the British Television Advertising Awards) right after Christmas. I didn't actually email about these, but here are a couple of ads we liked from this year:
Week 17 is over, as is the NFL regular season and the 2013 edition of the Farside Football Pool, and the final results are in. The NFL 2013 season ended with the highest average scoring per team per game, at 23.4, besting the 23.2 figure set in…1948. Yes, offences rule. Still, since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, none of the top eight scoring teams have won the Super Bowl, including, ahem, the 1998 Vikings.
The Minnesota/Detroit game, perhaps the worst matchup of the weekend, got off to a start indicative of the quality of the teams when Detroit committed a neutral zone infraction with no time elapsed at all. Adrian Peterson of the Vikings was out with an injury, as was Detroit’s star receiver Megatron (not his real name). In the pre-season froth of high expectations, Adrian Peterson had said his goal was to run for 2,500 yards this year; he’s ending the season with just over half that, at 1,266 yards. The Vikings and Lions played a lackluster game which the Vikings ended up winning 14-13. Fittingly, the Vikes ended their 32 years in the Metrodome by taking a knee, and the game was done early at 2:52 Central, so Fox cut away to the closing minutes of Carolina/Atlanta. Also fittingly, both coaches were fired Monday morning*, two of a swath of firings typical after the final regular season Sunday.
Here in Vikingland we, as usual, enter the offseason with lots of uncertainty. No head coach now, not clear who our quarterback with be, eighth place in the draft order next May, just far enough back to miss the star QBs coming up in the draft. Sunday’s game was the final one in the Metrodome, which will start being torn down in January. The next two seasons will be played in the University of Minnesota’s relatively new football stadium. The Vikings have played there before, once, in 2010, after the Metrodome’s roof fell in from a historically heavy snowfall. The naming rights for the U of M stadium were bought by a local bank called TCF (used to be Twin Cities Federal Savings and Loan many years ago) and so is variously called The Bank (it’s on the East Bank of the U of M campus, which is split in two by the Mississippi River) or The Vault. I think the Vikes are adding seats to one end zone since they sell more season tickets than The Bank has seats. There are other complications; the Vikes have granted exclusive drink concessions to Pepsi and the NFL has an agreement with Pepsi-owned Gatorade, while the U of M has an exclusive arrangement with Coke. The field was unheated, so would be like concrete once the temperature went below freezing. The U doesn’t play much past early November; the Vikes play until now and even later if they get home field advantage in the playoffs (ha!). I guess they’re installing heated pipes under the grass so it doesn’t become the Frozen Tundra. This will all actually be kind of fun. We’re having a bitter cold spell at the moment (it hit -13F overnight Sunday/Monday), and it’ll be cool to see Vikings fans in full long underwear and snowmobile suit garb at games in this weather. Assuming they own all that stuff. Current Vikings fans may have no collective memory of attending freezing-cold outdoor games. It will be fun to see it from the toasty comfort of my couch!
In the Family Pool, Mary DeHate and my own lovely wife Karla Cole tied the week with 131 points each, with Mary winning based on the tiebreaker. Mary took 46 points, Karla 48, and the score was 24-22. It was a bit ticklish there at the end, as Karla (from Fort Worth, next to Dallas) had to cheer for a Philly win with 47 or more points total (not that she was actually paying any attention—she and Geneva were mired in Downton Abbey Season 3, getting refreshed before Season 4 starts up in January). Dallas was threatening late, but the additional scoring for the Cowboys would have won the game and then Karla would have lost the week. Sadly, when the Eagles intercepted Dallas late (a common occurrence), the defender wisely went to his knees rather than run it back for a TD the other way, which would have been unnecessarily showy, unsportsmanlike, and useful for Karla’s purposes. As a result, Mary wins. These guys were followed by Katie Kostman, Teri Carr, Steve Benson, Cindy James and Jeff Carlson each one point back with 130 points and then Nancy Hofer and Jon Haskin with 129. Some tight scoring there. Last place went to my son Henry Cole with 100 points, a season-high low score, and shared by a smattering of others who didn’t get entries in.
Seasonally, Katie Kostman wins the competition in the Family Pool with 1,524 points followed by Nancy Hofer with 1,509 and Nathan Reopelle with 1,504. Coming in last at this point is my niece Sarah Kendell with 1,186 points, her low score partially a result of a loss of interest late in the season. This is Katie’s sixth season and her first seasonal win. She did place 3rd in 2010 and won a couple of weeks in 2011. This was a pretty solid win, too; we’ve had 1st and 2nd places separated by a single point after the 17-week campaign, but Katie won by 15 points. Congratulations to Katie! Nancy Hofer, in second place, is a longtime Farsider and a pretty consistent winner. Three times over the years she’s placed 1st and three other times she’s placed 3rd; this is her first 2nd place, since 1999 anyway, before which Farside history disappears into the mists of time. Nancy also won a week, and the combination of a second place seasonal win ($75) and a single week’s win ($51) means she got $1 more than Katie’s first place prize ($125), so that should help assuage the pain of placing second on the season. Nathan Reopelle came in third, a scant 5 points behind Nancy. Nathan joined in 2004 and has won a couple of weeks over the years, but this is his first seasonal placement. The Hot Seat, 4th place, a good score but out of the money and a position I have personally known before, goes this year to Teri Carr (Queen of Week 1s). It can be excruciating to find oneself 2 points out of the money at season’s end, but Teri is well out, at 1,483 points, so at least is spared that bit of agony. Me? Your Commissioner, Fount of Football Knowledge, placed a solid 27th with 1,373 points. I usually aim for 19th, so this was worse than usual!
High scoring ran rampant in the High Stakes Pool as well. Double congratulations to Neeraj Udeshi, who not only won the week but did so with a perfect score of 136 points. Perfect scores aren’t unprecedented (Ed Whetham scored perfectly in this year’s 13-game Week 8), but seasons go by without a perfect score on a 16 game week. When you don’t miss any games, the weights you put on your picks don’t matter! And it can be a close thing; there was an overtime game where San Diego beat Kansas City. Had a penalty been properly called on the missed KC field goal attempt late in the game, KC probably would have won in regulation. The Vikings and Packers wins were close, Philly over Dallas was in doubt until late, and I thought San Francisco and Atlanta might go to OT as well. All those chips fell Neeraj’s way. He was followed by Devin Ward with 135 points, one of four people to miss only a single game, and then Wanda Copeland with 133. Last place went to Alan Wenker with 106 points, a score he kindly shared with a couple of people who didn’t get entries in.
Seasonally, Kent Musser won first place with 1,526 points. This was tight scoring, as Kent was followed by Rolf Krogstad in 2nd place with 1,521, just 5 points behind. Rolf was anxious going into Week 17 as he was going to be out of the country and therefore perhaps not privy to, oh, the Tony Romo back surgery situation and how that might affect things**. He submitted from Fribourg, Switzerland, our first entry from Switzerland to my knowledge, and missed two games for 7 points (he would have won the season had he put his 6 on the Jets rather than the Dolphins, but we almost all took the Dolphins so that would have been a bit counter-intuitive at a point where the situation demands utter conventionality, and picked up 4 points on Kent this week in any case). Kent’s wife Carol Musser took third place with 1,508 points. The Hot Seat in this pool goes to Kevin Cellini with 1,506 points, just 2 out of the money. Reverse that 3 on the Dolphins to the Jets and he’d place ahead of Carol, but, again, that wasn’t an obvious pick. Last place for the season was won (?) by Tom Preston with 1,195 points. Tom had missed a couple of entries in the later weeks, a good way to crater one’s score. Me? I did somewhat better in this pool, placing 6th with 1,495 points. I had a pretty brutal Week 17 (gotta stop using formulaic selections in this pool in the final week) missing 5 games and getting just 116 points. Oh well.
The Farside Pool is a wealth redistribution mechanism. I collect money from around 50 people and expect to distribute it to around 17. In the Family Pool, I collected money from 51 people and redistributed it to 15. Recall that the full-season entry fee is $22 ($1 for each of the 17 weeks plus $5 for the season-end pot). Nancy Hofer did best, Week 6 and 2nd place for $126. Katie Kostman was second, with 1st place for $125. David Mullen, Kevin Hyland, Steve Benson and Mary DeHate each won 2 weeks for $102 on the season. Caitlin Hogan, in the throes of new motherhood at the time, Jenny Mullen, Mary Ross, John Hylle, Neil Arvold and his mom Marianne, and my Iowa sister Ann Kendell all won single weeks for $51. Nathan Reopelle also won $51, for his 3rd place finish on the season, and his father Dennis won $50 by winning Week 1, before our mid-season joiner Megan Clark, last of the Ross sisters, joined up and bumped the prize up by a buck. Jenny Mullen had the honor of having the lowest seasonal ranking at the time of her win, 36th place, just nosing out Neil Arvold, who was 35th when he won.
In the High Stakes Pool the mechanism is the same but the money is twice as much, a $44 buy-in for the whole season. In this case, I got money from 47 participants and redistributed it to 16 winners. Kent Musser was the big winner, $329 from a Week 14 win plus seasonal 1st place. Rolf Krogstad was second in winnings, $235 from Week 1 and then 2nd place. Both Trent Riter, in his first season, and Eric Benson, in his 17th, won two weeks each for $188. Mick Sheedy, Kathy Sandhofer, Sharon Exel, Dave Reimer, Ed Whetham, Jim Biller, Jay Steffenhagen, Pierce Lundt, Neil Tobiason, Alan Wenker nd Neeraj Udeshi all won single weeks, and Carol Musser got 3rd place on the season, each for $94. Young Pierce Lundt managed his Week 12 win while ranking 41st on the season, and Eric Benson won two weeks while ending up 27th.
There are a couple of diametrically opposed approaches to pool entries, which I characterize as The Line Out of the Paper and Swinging For The Fences. Nancy Hofer characterizes the first, spending (according to her husband and Farsider Chad, with whom I used to work) a lot of time each week carefully crafting her Farside entry. Her participation dates back to 1999, the onset of the History of Winning pages, and she’s got 12 weekly wins and 7 seasonal placements in that time, including this year’s 2nd place in the Family Pool. Eric Benson, winning two weeks this season while placing 27th, also dates back to 1999 (and before), and tends to Swing For The Fences, trying to pick the upsets. He’ll often include a comment (“going big against KC this week”) in his entry. Week after week he gets wretched placements (last place in Week 9 this season, for instance), then suddenly wins one. He did get 1st in 2006, but the other 16 times he’s won something since 1999 have been weekly wins. Eric is content with a mid-pack seasonal placement and some money from a win or two. Weirdly, there have only been two occasions when we’ve had a tie for a week, where two people scored the same and were equidistant from the actual tiebreaker score, one in 2000 and one in 2008, and Eric was one of the participants in both of them.
Another useful approach is the Oh Crap It’s Almost GameTime I’d Better Get My Entry In and do it on Dad’s phone right before church with no forethought whatsoever. Geneva did that once, and won. Henry, my other offspring, when 8 years old, used the I Like Kitties And I Think Grandma Liked The Dolphins approach to win in only his third week ever in the Pool. There’s also the I’ll Inadvertently Put My 16 On The Lamest Underdog Due To Poor Typing Skills And Inattention To My Confirmation Email And Then There Will Be A Remarkable Upset approach, which has been used by Randy Davis, among others.
One of the things I hope the Farside Pool fosters is bitter arguments amongst families. This works best when there’s a big family group involved. In our own family, I had the satisfaction of leading the scoring with my High Stakes entry at 1,495 points, but my sister Ann Kendell won some actual money, $51, despite getting only 1,416 points on the season. My own lovely wife Karla came third, at 1,374, showing her superiority over my Family Pool entry at 1,373 by a single point. After that came nephew Andrew at 1,325, daughter Geneva at 1,234, son Henry close behind at 1,217, sister Liz at an even 1,200 and disinterested niece Sarah at 1,186.
The next big family unit is that related to Dan Johnson, with whom I used to work. His father-in-law of course won the High Stakes Pool with 1,526 points and won $329; mother-in-law Carol was close behind at 1,508 and $94 in winnings. After that it’s brother-in-law Dan Musser with 1,443 points, Dan Johnson himself at 1,437, Dan Musser’s son Chad at 1,424, Dan Johnson’s son Chase at 1,420 and his wife Julie at 1,415. I sometimes wonder if Dan (Johnson, it’s confusing to have two Dans in this lot) regrets inviting in the in-laws, who have done well over the years while Dan’s winnings have fallen silent.
I think I’ve finally lured in all of the Running Ross Sisters. The original connection here was Jennifer Weddell. Her sister Shannon Swanson (who shared a name for one season with a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader) won the points competition with 1,450; another sister Mary Ross came next, with 1,430 and the glory of winning an actual $51; another sister Megan Clark, in her first year, got 1,405, followed by original Farside sister Jennifer at 1,344, Jennifer’s husband Chris at 1,326, and her son Hayden at 1,232, Shannon’s daughter Lauren at 1,231 and final Ross sister Michelle Ross, our mid-season joiner who upped the prize but didn’t play the entire season, so has no seasonal total. If my sources are correct, that’s the last of the sisters.
Teri Carr (Queen of Week 1s) was top in the Mullen clan with 1,483 points but no money. I gather that the Mullens bet some wine on the outcome of the intra-family scoring and that Teri has mentioned that not all the siblings are timely in ponying up her winnings, ahem. Teri’s brother-in-law Jon Haskin was next, with 1,454 points but also no money. Dave Mullen won twice for $102 despite only getting 1,443 points, Chris Mullen was close with 1,435 points and then it was Jenny Mullen with 1,327 points but also a weekly win for $51. Sister Kathy Haskin had 1,314 points with father of this lot Donald Mullen coming in last at 1,298 points.
The Arvolds are an old-time Farside family. Mom Marianne won the point total with 1,455 and a weekly win for $51. Son Neil was next in points at 1,344 and also won $51. Dad Jeff, with whom I used to work, scored 1,339 points and no money, and other son Lee came in last at 1,294 points and also won nothing.
An old friend of mine, Holmes Lundt, doesn’t participate in the Pool, but his wife does, and Leslie had top score in their family unit at 1,479 points. Son Mick Sheedy was next at 1,443 and a weekly win for $94, followed by another son Pierce Lundt at 1,319 and another $94 win, then daughter Jenny Lundt at 1,314 and another son Blaine a hundred points back at 1,214.
The Hylands were closely grouped; Patrick Hyland got 1,432 points, wife Vickie got 1,425 and brother Kevin got 1,418. He could take comfort in winning $102 with two weekly wins, though.
There are a number of smaller family units. I won’t walk you through them all, but you can see them all on the overall report.
And now the Farside packs up its tent and steals away into the night. I will update the scores and comments in the Weekly Summary as the postseason progresses, but there’s no more entries or prizes. Thanks for participating in the pool. I'll be back in touch in August as the next season draws near and football hopes once again run high throughout the land. I've attached several of the PDF files I generate each week, all of which are always linked from the excellent superb Farside Page . In the meantime, enjoy the rest of winter (the days are getting almost imperceptibly longer already, you know), read some books, drink only good beer and make sure to hug the kids and spouse.
Have a great year!
PS You winners, I’ll be in contact about settling up and getting you your winnings.
I've attached the final results pages. You can look at other stuff as well, but rather than include it all, here are the links:
I forgot who came in third in Week 7. How would I find this out? Why, you would take a look at the 2013 Weekly Summary, which covers both pools.
All this stuff is of course linked from the main Farside Page. You do have it bookmarked, don't you?
*Vikes General Manager Rick Speilman, in early November: 'Leslie Frazier is not going anywhere. I am telling you that we are very committed to Leslie Frazier and this coaching staff.' I guess we should have known then that Frazier was toast.
**one thing it affected was old quarterback Jon Kitna, called in as a potential sub, and must have been on the roster as a backup, for he got a $53,000 game check, which he donated to the school where he works.
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