|All 2014 Farside Pool Weekly Files||The Main Farside Page||The 2013 Farside emails|
I am compiling the season's results emails, along with some other materials and comments, into this chronicle of the 2014 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 is going from a Farside point of view.
It's that time of year again, the Back to School stuff crowds the aisles at Target, Minnesota braces itself for the onset of the State Fair, and the Vikings have won their first pre-season game...Are You Ready for Some Football Pool!?!
If you’re in, drop me an email at Farside@uscoles.com and send me $44 at the address noted below. If you want out, please also drop me an email (though read on before making such a rash decision). If you’re doubtful, read all about the exciting All New Farside Pick Six feature meant to make your life easier AND give you whiter whites, smoother skin and improved gas mileage, all with fewer calories and a more buttery taste*.
You've been in the Farside before and know how this works. Entry will be online, just like previous years. There is a new Thursday feature I think you’ll like. With Thursday games nearly every week, the Farside can feel a bit like, you know, work. I eased this somewhat with the early entry form, allowing you to just pick that one game rather than the whole week’s slate of games. Now it’s even easier. If you don’t want to be bothered with entering Thursday, or if you forget, you’ll get the All New Farside Pick Six! I’ll put 6 points on one of the teams using a top secret sophisticated selection algorithm (team with better record; if same record, home team**). You’ll need to use that pick when you do your full set for that Sunday’s games, but it means you can get by without worrying on Thursdays if you so choose. Then doing the rest of the picks once again becomes the pleasurable weekend leisure activity the Farside is meant to be. Note that the All New Farside Pick Six isn’t mandatory; you can still do your own Thursday pick or your full set of weekly picks on Thursday, it’s just the default if you don’t get a pick in.
Also note that whether you pick your own Thursday game or take the All New Farside Pick Six, you will have to accurately re-enter that early pick on the full entry before Sunday’s games or I will ruthlessly reject it. This worked pretty well last season.
As always, I highly recommend that you bookmark the main Farside Football Pool page (Farside Football Pool) and if your bookmark says Farside Football Pool 2007 it doesn’t matter, each year it’s the same URL and you’ll get the current stuff.
Both Pools ran close to capacity last season and are once again likely to be close to or at their limits of 51 participants each. 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, some of them panting to get in. If you have a heap of people who want in, there may be an opportunity. I started a new job in June at Travelers and am sending out an invite to a whole heap o’ people there I don’t know. If I get at least 30 positive responses, I’ll start a third version of the Farside (same Excel workbook, new worksheet) to take them in. It would be identical to the High Stakes Pool ($44 for the season). We’ll see how responses go.
If you're in and you're in the Family Pool, send me $44, preferably before the season actually starts (first real game is Thursday September 4, 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.
There may be rare emergency situations where you need to call in your picks. I get this from 0-2 times a season total between both pools, which is about the right volume. If you need to call it in, our home number is 651 487-0273 and you may well get our answering machine since we'll be off singing away at church choir most Sunday mornings. Do not make a habit of this or you will find your email inbox strangely empty the following August when Farside invites go out.
Let me know one way or another and start girding your loins for the onset of the season! I know my loins are girded! (ouch)
Matt "The Commissioner" Cole
*Caution: not all claims not verified by government testing
**so you’d get Seattle for 6 in Week 1
When I send the mass invitation out I get a couple of different types of messages back: undeliverable emails, and ones like this:
Life is worth living again now that the pool is starting!
The first game is done and Seattle easily handled the Packers, winning 36-16 including a safety, one of my favorite ways to score. In the Family Pool, Mary Ross and Seattle resident Mike Sedwick both had 16 on the Seahawks so take the early lead while Jeff Arvold came out the worst, with 13 on the Pack. Oh well.
In the High Stakes Pool, Blaine Lundt, Mike Devine, Jim Wheeler and Alan Wenker all came out of the gate with 16 points (Seattle residents Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong and Scott Miller only put 15 on the 'hawks, o ye of little faith!) while my own sister Liz Cole put 14 on the Packers.
I’ve still got one person who I’m not sure is in or not, I haven’t heard from them and gave them the Thursday Pick Six, but if he is, we’ll be at 51 participants in the Family Pool and 52 in the High Stakes. If he’s not, it’ll be 51/51, right where I like it.
I’ve attached the scoresheets showing the results after the first game. The long writeup comes later this week, in the meantime, have a great Friday and weekend! The weather here should be spectacular after a Miami-like bout of humidity today.
Welcome back to the Farside!
Matt “The Commissioner” Cole
Week 1 is over and the final results are finally in. In the Family Pool, Mary Ross won the week with 105 points followed by Paul Meillier with 103 points and Mary’s sister Megan Clark with 102. Last place went to Mary and Megan’s niece Lauren Swanson with 37 points, a score shared by my own daughter Geneva Cole, my niece Sarah Kendell and Kerry Vnuk. I’m actually still trying to verify Sarah and Kerry’s participation. Sarah at least entered her early pick, Kerry took the Thursday Pick Six (overwritten here by taking the worst score for the week by someone who actually entered, the standard outcome for not getting an entry in) so I haven’t actually seen any contact from her.
In the High Stakes Pool, Kathy Sandhofer wins the week with 104 points followed by Chase Johnson with 102 points and Sharon Exel with 101. Last place went to Eric Benson with 57 points. Everyone’s in on this pool, which sets our weekly prize: $104 (52 participants X $2 a week).
Have a great week!
The NFL is probably pretty aggravated that the big story this week isn't the resumption of the football season but rather the misdeeds of Ray Rice, a Baltimore Ravens running back, and the tone deaf incompetence with which the league has handled his situation. For those just catching up, Rice and his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, were visiting the Revel Casino in Atlantic City last February. They got on an elevator, and when they got out, Janay was unconscious and Rice dragged her out across the floor. There was a video of it. He'd hit her. There were mutual arrests for assault, though charges were dropped against her, and his were changed to some sort of probation where they get dropped from his record if he behaves himself for a year. Rumors also emerge of more video, only from inside the elevator, but nobody sees it. Also, the hotel employee who leaked the video of Rice dragging Palmer out of the elevator is fired. Also, the casino closed September 2, having declared bankruptcy twice.
Fast forward to this summer. After carefully considering the situation, and after someone in the NFL office almost certainly watched the inside-the-elevator video, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed a two-game suspension on Rice, announced in late July. Outrage ensues. Violate the NFL Drug policy and smoke some weed, which is actually legal in a couple of places now, and you get a four week suspension. Punch your fiancée out and drag her out of an elevator unconscious and you get two weeks. Beating up a woman is only half as bad as smoking a joint.
Various talking points emerge. Some Janay Palmer character assassination ensues, with suggestions from Rice’s weasley lawyer that, just suppose Lanay had attacked Ray, and suppose he didn't mean to knock her unconscious while he was defending himself against, you know, possibly a crazed woman. Rice’s attorney had seen the video, he knew exactly what was on it. Multiple very-inside sources, like virtual NFL mouthpieces Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Adam Shefter of ESPN among them, reported that Goodell saw the inside-the-elevator video and weighed those circumstances in determining the two week suspension, the suggestion hanging heavily in the air that Janay started things, which mitigated the being-dragged-out-unconscious thing, so two weeks was fine. And the Ravens, proving as tone deaf as everyone else in this situation, tweeted on behalf of Janay:
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.
More cover, an implication that somehow Janay was culpable. That tweet was up for three months. The Ravens just finally took that tweet down Monday. Notable also is that Janay went ahead and married Ray anyway. If I'd decked Karla when we were engaged we not only would not have gotten married, but some combination of her dad and my mom would have come over and kicked my ass, and rightfully so.
So anyway, the fuss began to die down, as fusses do. Goodell actually kind of admitted a mistake, and said that the NFL policy on domestic abuse would be more stringent in future. It would be six games suspension for a first offence, indefinite for a second. Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said it was a good lesson for the kids, that actions have consequences. The Onion did one of their inimitable headlines: Roger Goodell To NFL Players: 'Murdering Your Wife Will Result In Automatic 4-Game Suspension'
The preseason started, with all the false hopes it usually brings, the fantasy football nerds studied their draft tables, and Week One kicked off, with great hopes for some teams, early and probably lasting disappointment for others. We got down the serious business of watching highly-paid athletes inflict concussions on each other for our amusement.
And then the video broke. TMZ, loathsome TMZ, who broadcast on the local sports talk radio station all summer from 11 to midnight and which I can't bear to listen to because of all the yelling, posted the video online Monday from inside the elevator. There's no accompanying audio, but they chat back and forth and suddenly Ray punches Lanay and she's out. The dark implications of the attorney are completely belied. She didn't start it. All of a sudden, the two week suspension looks even more inadequate; when she was being dragged out unconscious you could at least rationalize that she tripped or that she started it, you know those crazy bitches. And all of a sudden, the knowledge that the NFL had looked at this video made the the NFL look so much worse, not Lanay.
The backpedalling going on has been so extreme that I wonder if we'll see whiplash injuries this next week. The NFL protests that this is the first that they've seen of it, and that they're shocked, shocked that this sort of thing has happened. This is pretty clearly a lie. The Ravens, perhaps they should be known as the Cravens, say it's the first glimpse of it they've seen, and take appropriate measures like removing the Lanay tweet and also removing Ray Rice. His teammates are disappointed that he lied to them and are no longer behind him. The NFL suspends him indefinitely.
The hacks who reported that the NFL had seen the elevator video when it was convenient for the "blame Lanay" storyline are all suddenly standing there with their dicks in their hands and boy, are they pissed. Peter King wrote an apology and I hope he's on suicide watch. He also hopes someone gets to the bottom of the story, the real truth, in such a way that it’s pretty clear it’s not going to be him. Got to protect the sources who hung him out to dry. Schefter's been going around ESPN raging about the situation. These are the League's biggest sock puppets. The NFL looks terrible in all of this, and they should be ashamed. They go on about 'protecting the shield' like it's some holy relic, but this whole episode top to bottom has been incompetently handled. One of their big hopes is to win more female fans yet through this entire episode all they've done is show an utter disregard for women.
I started writing this Monday, and noted that the one party who remained unheard from in all of this is Lanay herself. She's the one who got knocked out and dragged off the elevator, then married Ray Rice anyway. Her voice is not heard from. Does she love him? Is she some calculating gold digger who will now dump him that he's lost his income? Did she find herself attracted to some diamond in the rough she wanted to change? We don't know, and we may not, because it's not actually our business, and because it's difficult to express private, heartfelt feelings in the glare of publicity. Their young marriage is undergoing a test that we should be grateful never to have felt, and for their sake, I hope there's real love and affection between them to help them through this episode. It must be excruciating to from being people to becoming symbols.
The NFL and Goodell look like complete weasels in all of this. When the elevator video came out, the Ravens dropped Rice like he was a rabid ferret and the NFL suspended him indefinitely despite the video showing exactly what was described in the police reports. In a weird, backward way, this starts to make Rice look like a sympathetic character and Goodell even worse. Goodell just announced the sweeping change of a six-game suspension for the first instance of domestic abuse and indefinite suspension for the second. This was Rice’s first instance. By your own guideline, shouldn’t he just get six weeks? Or is that just for League-approved domestic abuse? Or that happens off-camera? When it’s on video that you claim not to have seen, and the video gets seen by the public, you feign righteous indignance and ignore your own policy just to show the American public how upstanding you are and help erase the memory of your own earlier incompetence? He may well be trying to save his own job, a $44 million dollar a year position as head of a non-profit (yeah, the NFL is a tax-exempt nonprofit). Ray Rice will never again earn money like he did in the NFL, and it would be true of Goodell as well.
Hey, but at least the Vikings won! And Brady lost his first season opener ever! And Baltimore, deprived of the services of Rice, lost! Maybe the NFL will get back to being fun and entertaining. In the meantime, I think I’ll cheer myself up by watching this Frontline special on the Ebola outbreak.
Have a great week, everyone!
The Ravens don’t seem to missing running back Ray Rice too much. They just pounded the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-6 in Baltimore. The Steelers have been 8-8 the last couple of seasons and are in a down cycle on talent so this may be the way their season goes.
I wrote quite a lot earlier in the week about the Ray Rice story, and about the NFL’s handling of the whole incident. The NFL’s fumbling, contradictory and graceless response has become a much bigger story than the original punch. I won’t bring the whole story up to date, it didn’t die out like I thought it might and new angles keep coming along. One of my faves can be read about on Deadspin at Something Very Weird Just Happened During ESPN's Interview with Bill Polian, perhaps inadvertently showing how hard the League is trying to control the messaging. There are many others, and I’ll let the interested read for themselves.
One story, though, I think everyone should read. It’s by a woman named Diana Moscovitz and is called The Only Thing Unusual About Ray And Janay Rice Is That Anyone Noticed. She recalls her time as a crime reporter and how common beatings and murders of wives/girlfriends were, and are. She notes the statistic that, although women are less likely to be murdered than men, in 2010 nearly 40% of women murdered were killed by their spouse or someone they were dating. For men, the statistic is around 2-3%. Give the article a read. In a weird way, Ray and Lanay may have done us all a favor by showing exactly what domestic violence looks like. When Vikings cornerback Chris Cook hit his girlfriend so hard it tore her eardrum and choked her so much she couldn’t breathe and had bloodshot eyes, he was crafty enough to do it in the privacy of his own home and not on video. Read Moscovitz’s story and the contemporary reports about Cook’s incident and you can pretty much check off the list; blame the victim? Yep. Victim pressured to recant statements? Yep. Enough doubt introduced between aggressive defence and reluctant victim to acquit attacker? Got it. Cook’s now with the 49ers.
It’s the video, isn’t it? The Onion once again gets it spot on: NFL Announces New Zero-Tolerance Policy on Videotaped Violence I remember Cook’s story but it was just another tale with conflicting reports of an athlete behaving badly and no film. With Ray and Lanay you see exactly what a pro football player hitting a woman looks like (and I imagine Cook’s episode would have looked much worse) and you can’t help but react. Sometimes in life somebody’s got to be made an example of, and it is Ray Rice’s misfortune to be that somebody. With luck, Roger Goodell will also be made an example of, but his bosses, the NFL team owners, include some pretty unsavory grifters, and with all the money Goodell’s made them I expect they’ll put on a noisy “independent” investigation and hope the story dies as our national attention moves on and Goodell will keep his $44 million a year job running the nonprofit.
Perhaps it will dawn on other players, in the pros and in college, and on other men generally, that there can be a real personal cost to domestic violence. A stupid moment of unchecked anger can cost a career and millions of dollars. Perhaps this will be an inflection point. Perhaps.
As for me, I am going to make this solemn pledge right here in front of all of you: As God is my witness, I swear that I will never again pick my nose on an elevator. Man, you don’t know who’s going to get ahold of that footage.
I’ll be in Boston this weekend. I’m actually going whale watching out of Gloucester, Massachusetts with the Hartford Travelers Employee Group on Saturday. Catching a bus here in Hartford Saturday morning, spending the afternoon barfing over the lee rail 15 miles offshore, then having them leave me there to shakily make my way to Boston and a couple of days of looking around. I just read The Perfect Storm to see what I’m in for on this whale trip. I haven’t been to Boston as a tourist since I was about 7 so this ought to be interesting. Farside-wise, it does mean that reminders, scoring and updates may be even less timely than usual, so try and get your entries in wicked early.
Have a great Friday everyone!
It’s a bit early in the season to call this an Upset Week but it kind of felt like it. New Orleans loses to Cleveland, leaving the Saints 0-2? Last week’s powerful Lions turn cowardly and lose to Carolina? Seattle drops one to San Diego? Anyway, the Farside results were clear even before the Sunday Night game; all four Outcomes had Neil and Pierce no matter who won the game.
In the Family Pool, Neil Arvold won the week with 97 points followed by Chris Weddell and his niece Lauren Swanson with 85 points each and Teri Carr with 83. Last place went to Mary DeHate with 36 points. Seasonally, Neil Arvold also leads the Family Pool with 187 points followed by Mary Ross with 179 and John Hylle with 173. Coming in last at this point is Donald Mullen with 95 points. Also in the Family Pool, I still haven’t heard anything from Kerry Vnuk and have received no entries from her, so I’m dropping her from the roster and we’re calling the Family Pool 50 participants. This makes a difference to you if you win, because it’s $50 instead of $51 each week. If I do hear from Kerry I can always add her as a mid-season participant.
In the High Stakes Pool, Pierce Lundt wins the week with 92 points followed by Neeraj Udeshi with 82 points and Sharon Exel and Larry Daniels with 76 each. Last place went to Pierce’s brother Blaine Lundt with 36 points, a score shared by Jim Wheeler and my niece Sarah Kendell, who didn’t get entries in. Sarah’s new at Iowa State this year and so may have been celebrating excessively (see below).
Seasonally, Sharon Exel leads with 177 points followed by this week’s winner Pierce Lundt with 176 and Kathy Sandhofer with 175. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 97 points.
Have a great week!
I didn’t see any of the game but heard a part of it on the radio. It doesn’t sound like I missed much as Atlanta dismembered Tampa Bay 56-14. It wasn’t really that close. I’ve attached the interim results so you can see how you did. The Thursday Pick Six was Atlanta so the smattering of you who didn’t get an entry in are good for six points this week.
Have a great Friday!
It’s a competitive Farside week. If Chicago wins the Monday Night Football game, Amy Driscoll will win the Family Pool and Randy Davis will win the High Stakes Pool. If the New York Jets win, it’ll be Neil Arvold (again) in the Family Pool and Mike Devine in the High Stakes Pool. No tiebreakers needed this time around.
Pittsburgh pounded Carolina last night on Sunday Night Football but I was too uninterested to watch more than about 10 minutes of it. The rest of the day’s action I mostly missed due to Evensong, tea and flower-show related activities. At one point, having just got in with some last-minute grocery needs, Geneva said ‘I’m not sure who Teddy is but he’s getting a lot of tweets. All from guys.’ Teddy is Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings’ QB drafted last May, who went in when regular QB Matt Cassell got hurt. The Vikings still lost. Losers they may be, but I at least am a winner, taking First Place in my age group (old buggers) in St. Christopher’s Flower Show with my Green Man-themed arrangement, a display notable mostly for the lack of planning or foresight. Maybe I’ll write more about this later, but I’ve got to get going.
Have a great Monday!
Week 3 is over with Chicago beating the error-prone Jets. When I sent out the interim results, I’d reversed the potential Family Pool winners, so in fact Neil Arvold needed Chicago to win and Amy Driscoll wanted the Jets. Fortunately, a couple of people including Amy herself noticed this and didn’t spend the whole game cheering for the wrong side.
In the Family Pool, Neil Arvold won the week again (for those with short memories, Neil won last week too) with 125 points followed by Amy Driscoll with 123 points and Teri Carr with 116. Last place went to my lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 52 points, a score shared by her cousin Sarah Kendell who once again didn’t get an entry in. Look, Sarah, I know Iowa State is fun and all, but Jeez, take a couple of minutes to submit a Farside entry!
Seasonally, Neil Arvold leads the Family Pool with 312 points followed by Teri Carr with 278 and Megan Clark with 270. Coming in last at this point is my daughter Geneva with 149 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Randy Davis wins the week with 116 points followed by Paul Vigliaturo and Eric Benson with 114 points each and Neeraj Udeshi with 112. Last place went to my Kentucky sister Liz Cole with 60 points.
Seasonally, Pierce Lundt leads the High Stakes Pool with 287 points followed by Neeraj Udeshi with 277 and Chase Johnson and Kathy Sandhofer with 275 each. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sis Liz with 157 points.
One of the fun, if unsuccessful, plays of the week was Cleveland’s trick play where they sent QB Johnny Manziel (“Johnny Football”, also one of the few NFL players whose family has a breed of fighting chickens named after them) to the sidelines where he pretended to argue with a coach, all while never leaving the field of play, then, at the snap, took off downfield as a receiver. The play was called back because of an offensive penalty, and it turns out it would have been illegal anyway, but I adore this sort of trick play. I remember reading once about a high school team (different rules than current NFL) who pulled a trick play where they had 12 men in the huddle, all got set, then sent a guy in motion. A defender followed him to cover, but the man in motion just ran off the field. As soon as he was on the sidelines, the team snapped the ball with one of the defensive players uselessly deployed by the sideline. Needless to say, 12 men in the huddle is a penalty in the pros (as we Vikings remember all too well from 2009’s NFC Championship game) but at the high school level, in upstate New York, it made for a brilliant play.
Have a great week!
I attached a photo of my Award Winning Flower Arrangement from the St. Christopher’s Evensong and Flower Show, “The Green Man”. The theme for this show was Fairy Tales and Fantasies. I went with a centerpiece of it is a reproduction of a carving from the end of one of the choir stalls in Winchester cathedral in Britain representing a Green Man, a more or less pagan deity pre-dating Christianity but which was widely adopted as a motif in Medieval churches. A quick look at Wikipedia, fount of all knowledge, shows that an early example of Green Man imagery exists in the church of St. Abre in St. Hilaire-le-grand, dating to 400 AD. In 2009, in York Minster, I was surprised and kind of tickled to find the monk’s chapter house decorated with variations of Green Men carved into the lintels.
I love this old imagery, the mysterious man of the gloomy and frightening yet verdant forest, representing springtime and rebirth. The name is carried even unto this day in Greene King beer, from Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, England, midway between Cambridge and Ipswich. You’ll find the occasional pub named ‘The Green Man’ in Britain. This aligns with my fondness for the Mexican Dios de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) dancing skeletons*. A switchplate with Day of the Dead imagery covers the light switch here in the office at the Farside Global HQ**. And I just spent part of my time in Boston photographing the Angel of Death imagery off the tombstones dating back to the 1600s and 1700s. For most of man’s conscious history we have struggled to figure out life and death and their relationship, and I find much of this imagery very intriguing. It’s part of the reason I like Halloween so much, hearkening back to the thin times between life and death, and recognized in the Christian church as All Souls and, the next day, All Saints.
Our Deacon bit on all this. The crew judging the anonymous entries included my lovely wife Karla (the Music Director at St. Christophers and instigator of this event), the Deacon Janet and Father John. Deacon Janet did some advanced study at Old Sarum, near Salisbury, and immediately caught on to the Green Man imagery, and thus my entry garnered some credit for its back story moreso than the pretty lame arrangement of flowers. Add a basket from Michael’s at 50% off and a couple of hosta blooms from out front of The Manor and I was all set.
I did have an email asking if Flower Shows usually have age categories. I don’t know if they usually do, but we decided to so that the average 7 year old wouldn’t be going up directly against the 73 year old retired Master Gardeners. I suggested at dinner that perhaps next year we do it by weight, like wrestlers, so that you had people trying to sweat down to the 126lb category for their flower show entry. With the success of this year’s event, I expect we’ll do it again next year and the competition will be somewhat fiercer. Pulling a reproduction Green Man off the staircase where he usually hangs and slapping some flowers around him probably ain’t going to cut it.
* I swear, if someone doesn’t get around to making colorful Dios des los Muertos ties, I’m going to have to do it myself and make my millions. Painted Day of the Dead imagery on silk would make for some spectacular neckwear.
** our house
The New York Giants pounded the Washington Indigenous Persons last night 45-14. I saw not a whit of the game so don’t know how that went, except I heard afterwards that Washington turned the ball over six times. To the extent I can rustle up any emotion about this game, this makes me happy. I think Washington owner Dan Snyder is the most distasteful owner in the league, a pretty fine distinction amongst the motley crew making up that that fine pantheon. Four years ago a local paper published The Cranky Redskins Fans Guide to Dan Snyder which was biting enough to draw a lawsuit, though that doesn’t take much with Dan. The Guide makes for a diverting read, though I wish someone would bring it up to date. There’ve been a couple of head coaches since then, the failing RGIII experiment and now Snyder’s rumblings about needing a new stadium because the old one is, you know, 17 years old.
Whatever we may think of Snyder and the team, most of us picked them last night and most of us were wrong. They were also the Thursday Pick Six (both teams had the same record going in, Washington was the home team), so the smattering of you who didn’t have entries in got Washington for 6 and lost, but you probably would have done about that pick anyway.
Enjoy Friday and the rest of your weekend! It looks to be a spectacular fall weekend here and I hope it is where you are too.
Dallas pounded New Orleans on Sunday Night Football leaving us with the Monday game to determine the Farside winner. In the Family Pool, Mary DeHate will win if New England wins tonight and my own lovely daughter Geneva Cole will win if Kansas City is the victor. In the High Stakes Pool, a New England victory gives the week to Wanda Copeland out in the attractively-named Horseheads, New York while a KC win gives it to Paul Merwin, who lives about 5 blocks from me.
Geneva came in and asked if she was still up for a win (I actually sent an Outcomes email after the early games). I said yes, assuming Dallas held on and KC won Monday. That’s funny, she said, I don’t remember picking Kansas City. You didn’t, I told her, you just need them to win.
Outcomes can be funny that way, where you need teams to win you didn’t choose to win a specific week. Sometimes an unlikely combination of upsets will vault someone out of 31st place to 1st. This is the agony of the Outcomes page, seeing that you need a bunch of putrid teams to come through with wins. I’m not sure if KC is putrid, but New England is favored, so poor Geneva may well watch victory slip through her fingers.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Week 4 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, my own lovely daughter Geneva Cole won the week with 70 points followed by Mary DeHate with 69 points and Jenny Mullen with 66. Last place went to Michelle Ross with 23 points. Funnily enough, just last week, when Geneva came in dead last for the week, the reading at church included Matthew 20:16, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” (King James version, which is why it sounds a bit piratey). Sure enough, she went from last to first. It’s not her first win; she’s had a couple in the past, including in 2004, her first season, when she was 11. Geneva is in her senior year at the University of Minnesota in the honors program in English and Political Science but is also a first year grad student in the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Policy. They had some obscure early entry program she qualified for, took the GRE in a hurry in late August, and is now a graduate student before she’s even turned 21. That happens in a couple of weeks. There’s a little armpit of a bar* about a quarter mile from us (Ted’s, for you locals) and Geneva’s birthday is the 18th, a Saturday. Our plan is walk down as a family at midnight as Friday the 17th turns to Saturdy the 18th and buy her her first legal beer in Minnesota just after midnight. If you happen to be around, you could pop in. She’ll be relieved because her fellow Humphrey grad students keep going out for Happy Hours and root beers are getting old.
Seasonally, Neil Arvold leads the Family Pool with 364 points followed by Teri Carr with 337 and John Hylle with 331. Coming in last at this point is Teri’s sister Kathy Haskin with 208 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Paul Merwin wins the week with 63 points followed by Jim Wheeler with 61 points and Kathy Sandhofer, Kent Musser, Leslie Lundt and Neil Tobiason with 60. Last place went to Scott Kaminski with 28 points, a score shared by Eric Benson and Tom Preston, who didn’t get entries in. Seasonally, Kathy Sandhofer leads with 335 points followed by Sharon Exel and Chase Johnson with 328 and Kent Musser with 327. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 189 points.
Have a great week!
Tons of blather. Longest Farside writeup in ages:
It was a big football weekend around here this past couple of days. It started Saturday when the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and won. This has been pretty rare in recent decades. How rare? In 1967, the year I came the United States (from Canada), between fourth and fifth grades, a wee 9 year old, Minnesota beat Michigan and won the Big 10 title that year, their last. The Gophers had won 5 of the last 7 meetings between the two rivals and had been pretty good at football historically. Just last season, as Alabama was hoping to get their third national championship in a row only to be thwarted by Auburn who beat them by returning a failed field goal attempt for a touchdown after time had expired, an episode I noted with glee, I pointed out that the last team to three-peat as college football champions was the U of M Gophers in 1934/35/36.
Those days of glory are long gone. Most of them happened in black and white. After 1967, the Gophers beat the Wolverines in 1977, 1986 and 2005. That’s it. Otherwise, it’s been an (almost) annual exercise in futility and the Gopher’s shame has been witnessed by 100,000+ at a time when they play in Ann Arbor.
Oddly enough, as a non-Minnesota native, I clearly recall that 1977 game. Farsider emeritus Paul Salamon (he’s sitting this year out) had gone to England that year to go to college but discovered it cost much more than he’d figured. It’s hard now to recall how difficult it was to get information in those days, it was laborious correspondence across the Atlantic and the occasional very expensive overseas phone call. Had Paul been of Commonwealth or ex-Empire stock, he might have gotten aid there of some type, but as a rich Yank there was no real assistance, and he’d returned to the U.S. to come back to Iowa State after Thanksgiving (ISU was on quarters in those days, winter quarter started the week after Thansgiving). He had a sister in Minneapolis, and was staying with her. My parents, sisters and I all came up for one of our occasional Minneapolis Guthrie Theatre weekends and I took the car and collected Paul and we hung out. He was born up here, and grew up in Mound, one of the western suburbs, and we drove out to see his old house. While looking around out there we stopped in some local bar (Three Points Tap? Something like that), real old Minnesota, with Hamm’s Beer signs hanging out non-ironically, and a gravel parking lot, and had a beer and a bowl of chili and on the tv the University of Minnesota, known to be a crappy team, were beating #1 ranked Michigan. The old codgers at the bar didn’t seem all that excited about it, perhaps reflecting the beaten-down attitude of Minnesota sports fans, who the Vikings had only just finished taking to four Super Bowl losses. I remarked on their lack of engagement as the Gophers went on to beat the Wolverines 16-0. I could tell you it was October of 1977 but had to look on the web to find out it was October 22.
The Gophers won again in 1986. I have no memory of this game but would have been a month away from proposing to Karla. Time flies. We’ll celebrate our 27th anniversary Friday. The Gophers then won again in 2005, well within Farside history, (thanks to the superb Farside website, and noting that the Gophers’ win was on 10/8/2005, I can see that it was the Vikings’ Bye Week and they celebrated their week off with the Sex Cruise out on Lake Minnetonka (right by Mound, as it happens), and that Vickie Hyland won the Family Pool that week while husband Patrick Hyland won the then-brand-new High Stakes Pool) but I must not have been paying that much attention. And then they won Saturday.
The Big Ten (or fourteen? What’s Maryland doing in there?) is in a down cycle overall, and Michigan is at a nadir. They’ve been playing football since 1879 and this is the first time that they’ve had three losses by the end of September. Minnesota is showing glimmers of competence. Overcoming years, decades even, of poor quality football takes time, but they seem to be making a go of it. Michigan meanwhile is trying to keep their streak of 100,000+ people at their games by such dodges as giving away 2 $75 tickets to the game with a purchase of a six-pack of Coca-cola last week. College football attendance by students is trending down and a lot of the traditional rivalries are being dissolved in conference realignments as the universities engage in a shameless ploy for more money. I don’t follow Michigan football, particularly, but they played Notre Dame this year for the last time, and the Big Ten’s breaking into two divisions means they won’t play Minnesota every year going forward (they missed an occasional year historically, too, it should be noted, playing 1919-1998 missing only 1928, but playing twice in 1926, then skipping 1999/2000 and 2009/2010). Nebraska, a big Iowa State rival when I was there (and we beat ‘em twice!) is now in the Big Ten. The whole enterprise is becoming slicker and more businesslike and more television driven every year and it gets away from the simpler charms of autumn days strolling across leafy campuses in your raccoon coat (ok, I’m not THAT old!) to cheer on State against the big rival.
The Sunday the Vikings played the Atlanta Falcons at the U of M stadium (they’re there this season and next, playing outside while the new Vikings stadium is built about a mile away) and started new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. This kid’s 21 years old, right between Henry and Geneva in age, and played really well. The Vikes got up early, Atlanta caught back up and took the lead, and this is the part where the Purple stumbles and loses the game. But no, the self-assured young man and some players nobody’s ever heard of scored again, retook the lead and beat the Falcons. The quarterback has been a real weakness here for years and now Vikings fans are torn between the excitement that maybe we have something special here and the years of experience with the Vikings breaking our hearts, like the quiet patrons of that bar in Mound back in 1977. It was a good first outing, but Atlanta’s not a great team, their offensive line was decimated and nobody’s got any film on Bridgewater or the other who-dat players to fully prepare to play Minnesota. We’ll see how future outings go, but Bridgewater did look pretty good out there and it’s hard for Vikings fans not to yearn for competent play at the position and get excited by promising glimpses.
We’ll find out more soon enough. Minnesota plays at Green Bay on Thursday, making for a quick turnaround.
In other Farside news, I provided a link after the Thursday game to The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder. One of the items in there relates how they sold stale packets of year-old peanuts from bankrupt Independence Air in Redskins Park. They're still at it. There were tweets from last Thursday’s game showing the Bud Light they were selling during the game. It’s cans marked “Brasil 2014” for the World Cup and, because Bud puts a freshness code on each can, you could enter the code online and find out that your beer was past its prime.
The NFL keeps trying to get Europe interested in football. This year they are having three games in the UK rather than just two. The first one was this past weekend when the Miami Dolphins took on and clobbered the Oakland Raiders in what may have been the worst matchup of the weekend. This is no way to get other countries interested! The Raiders did so badly that they fired their coach today, once he’d gotten back from London.
The Minnesota Twins season ground to a halt with a final loss, to Detroit, making it 92 for the year. This is after 96, 96 and 99 losses the prior three years. Longtime (13 year) manager Ron Gardenhire was fired Monday. The new Twins Stadium (er, Target Field) opened in 2010 and was supposed to be the start of something great for the Twinkies, but they’ve been terrible for four years straight now. Ticket sales have dropped by 30% over that time due to the product on the field and I guess ownership decided something had to be done. I don’t care a lot about baseball but this summer went to my first Twins game in the new stadium. It was a Travelers outing and we took the light rail train from downtown St Paul right to the stadium in Minneapolis and the Twins won. It is a pretty nice stadium, outdoors, not under the Teflon sky like in the unlamented Metrodome. Get a decent team out on that field and it would be a good outing.
I haven’t paid any attention to the Monday Night Football game, but as I sit down as 10:00 draws near Kansas City is winning 34-7 and it doesn’t sound like New England is going to make any miraculous comebacks. It’s looking good for Geneva!
Part of the reason I haven’t paid much attention is because I’ve been working on the house. We’re in the late stages of a pretty major construction project and it’s been a disrupted summer. Our house, a 1927 structure, had an addition put on some point. This thing was two stories, poorly conceived, badly designed and cheaply built. It was also a slightly weird size, 10 feet by 20, so 200 square feet on each level. This sounds better than it felt. Downstairs was all glass, not nice Anderson high-e argon filled windows, but single pane windows that sat skewed in their frames because this whole thing had sunk due to poor footings, leaving a porch that was too cold for anything in the winter and too hot in the summer. Upstairs was usable, but the 10 foot width was narrowed down by the radiators. We used it for years as the tv room, but since about 2010 we’d basically stopped using the upstairs room, in part because the roof began to leak.
We’d been planning to replace this addition for a long time. Way back in 2004, when we were painting the whole house, we carefully stripped the whole house down to bare wood and primed and painted it. The house, but not the addition, which we just power washed and painted because the plan even then was to replace it. In by 2011 it was leaking when it rained, so I was up one day and found a surprisingly large hole in the roof. I patched it with wood and black goopy tar roof patch, then nailed down with furring strips a blue tarp which I also glued to the sloping roof with extravagant amounts of caulk. At the moment, if you look up 968 Larpenteur Ave W on google maps, you’ll see the blue tarp. I think I wrote about this in a Farside writeup, being up on the roof when the wind blew the ladder down. It’s 21 feet to the eaves, 28 up into the peak, so I have a big heavy 28 foot fiberglass ladder, and I called Karla on the cellphone and had her come out back where I instructed her on collapsing the ladder, standing it up, getting it in place, then extending it up to the roof. We figured this tarp would just have to last a winter, then we’d deal with the porch (as we called it).
And we planned to. In 2012 we (mostly Karla, actually) contacted some design/build firms and got a couple to come visit. We liked a place called White Crane and retained them. That summer we worked with them on the design, reining in the wilder dreams and settling on a design that would achieve what we wanted. To a great extent, what we wanted was to get rid of the sinking, smelly, leaky porch we had and replace it with something with storage, a bathroom on the first floor and more public space. The design was, in rough outline, more or less what I’d envisioned, but the design process added a lot of value in terms of the actual layout and practicalities. That September 2012 they had the contractors through to quote the pricing. Karla and I went off to England and France for 3 weeks, getting back in late October. It was then that I learned that COUNTRY was looking to sell the building we worked in and it was uncertain what the future held, so we put the project on hold. Didn’t want to spend a ton of money on this addition, then immediately have to turn around and sell it.
As many Farsiders will know, I was offered the opportunity to retain my position but move to Bloomington, Illinois, COUNTRY’s headquarters. This wasn’t viable for several reasons, and we could reach no accommodation on me spending part of my time in Illinois, and I left COUNTRY, leaving the addition project on hold. I started with Travelers in June and one of the first things we did was call White Crane back up and restart the project. There were no real design changes, but of course the contractors had to requote the work, and it was now more expensive. Fortunately, the money to pay for this was in mutual funds which went up about as much as the construction quotes, and at the end of June, construction (or demolition) started.
It’s been a filthy summer. In the house, there was demolition. We had to move things away from the south side of the house, both upstairs and down, meaning the other rooms are crowded with excess furniture. There was the demolition of the two-story addition, then excavation of the foundation for the new addition. As part of all this, we also reroofed the main house. We had the rare and long-lived asbestos shingles, installed probably in the mid-1950s. Say what you will about asbestos, it does last well! It also costs a lot to remove (mitigate) and has to be disposed of in some special asbestos dump and be transported only by certified asbestos transporters. This all added a few thousand bucks to the cost. To everyone’s surprise, the original cedar shingle layer was still there, the removal of which was our first cost overrun. Construction wasn’t too filthy, but we did tend to track in mud. In recent weeks, drywalling and sanding the hardwood floors have brought in more layers of dust. To make sure there was no respite, the county also spent the summer replacing joints on the street out front, starting with big huge concrete saws that kicked up massive clouds of dust and ending with some railroad car-sized piece of gear which evened up all the surfaces by grinding them down a quarter inch with resulting clouds of dust that looked like that Japanese volcano eruption. With clouds of dust from the outside and the insidious drywall powder and sanding dust from the inside settling on rooms with furniture crowding all the space it’s gotten pretty squalid.
We’re almost done. A week ago Thursday the final coat of polyurethane went on the hardwood floors in the music room. A week ago Friday the electricity got hooked up and the radiators installed. A week ago Saturday the plumber showed up and installed and hooked up the toilet, sink and shower. Today, Monday, we passed electrical and plumbing inspections and the Porta-Potty next to the driveway that’s been a feature of the house all summer was taken away. There remains a final inspection by the city and final cleanup into the dumpster that’s blocked the garage all summer, but we’re almost there.
One thing we’re doing ourselves is interior painting. It was going to cost $7,500 and that just sounded like a lot of money. I’ve painted the rest of the house interior, I could do this too. We had one furiously busy weekend where we painted all the ceilings and color on the walls in the sweet spot between the drywall getting done and the floors getting installed. Painting with no trim and no worries about having to avoid splooshing paint on the floor (plywood, at that point) is fast moving. Now it’s the trim, and this is going to take a while. It’s what I was doing tonight rather than going to the local bar to watch this football game.
It’s exciting for us. We are unduly happy to have somewhere to store the vacuum cleaner. We finally have a first floor bathroom. We have the plumbing in place to hook up a washer and dryer on the first floor. One design objective was to make it so we can live on a single floor if we need to, due to some incapacity or creaky old age. We are working out now what to do outside, the sidewalk and patio. Right now it’s a big dirt- and mud- pit, looking like a World War I memorial, including a muddy trench where we had the detached garage wired with an underground wire and eliminated the overhead cable. The path from the back door is currently sheets of dirty plywood. Still, for the first time in ages, we can imagine having people over again. The reality of the house will finally come close to matching the impression it first makes when people see it. In the meantime, we have a major cleaning project to do, cleaning, tidying, painting, sorting, throwing out, finalizing things. Our aim is to have the house in order and tidy and welcoming by Thanksgiving. The Music Room, through a set of French doors from the living room, and then another set of French doors into our yard, will be delightful. A year from now, we’ll probably host a Farside Open House in Week 1 or 2. It should be delightful. At the moment, it’s heaps of work in the next few weeks. We can hardly wait.
Have a great week everyone!
* not that there’s anything wrong with Ted’s. I identify with them because their roof used to leak too and they also had buckets set out on the floor to catch the drips, but now they have a new roof and a tile floor and a gravel driveway (ours is partly gravel at the moment, where the heavy trucks pretty much crushed the old asphalt). Karla thinks of Ted's as a bug, I see it as a feature.
Well, that was brutal. The Packers just clobbered the Vikings 42-10, continuing the trend of crappy one-sided Thursday night football games. I only listened to part of the game, being occupied in final-stages-of-construction tasks. The last of a series of dumpsters that have choked up our driveway since early July is supposed to go tomorrow or Monday so we went out and cleaned the stuff out of our garage. Some of the doors removed during demolition were lovingly stored in Karla’s garage bay. After thinking about these for three months, into the dumpster! A musty wicker shelf we bought in about 1989 and which lived for years on our smelly lower back porch? Cut it up with a reciprocating saw and into the dumpster! Half a sheet of fiberglass wallboard leftover from the 2008 kitchen redo? Into the dumpster!
I also slapped a coat of paint around a new archway that has materialized in our living room. I still had some of the Yellow Quartz paint from about 12-15 years ago, and the paint shop put it in a fresh can and shook it up, and the color matches still! I painted the wall around the arch and only then discovered that the paint smells bad. I first thought maybe Skittles the Wonder Dog had peed on the floor somewhere, a rare but not unheard-of event, but there were no telltale puddles. It finally dawned on me that my paint kind of smelled bad. Oh well, it looks nice. Except the sheen isn’t quite the same as the original paint. I foresee a living room repaint in our future, though probably not until after Christmas. Might be a good thing to do when the playoffs are on. I have a feeling the Vikings won’t be in them.
We started to unclog the living room. Painting the one corner and around the arch with the smelly paint allowed us to move a bookshelf back into place, dirtying several dustcloths and wiping down all the books as we put them back, then we unsealed the piano which had been covered in blankets and wrapped in plastic all summer and trundled it back into its temporary position. It’s going in the Music Room (part of the new addition) and we’ll do it this weekend. Henry is up from Winona State with a crowd of his chums going to some weekend-long swing dance event. They’ll be sleeping all over our floors and we’ll get them all around the piano and move it into the Music Room, including lifting it over the threshold. We’ll have some fun rearranging the living room once they’ve bustled back out of here on Sunday.
If you just picked the one game, remember to get the rest of your picks in. A few of you got the Thursday Pick Six, which was Green Bay. Also, your full set of picks will have to have the same early game pick you had tonight or it’ll be ruthlessly rejected! I’ll send out the usual reminders on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Have a great Friday and wonderful weekend!
Matt “The Commissioner” Cole
I write this up with the Patriots pretty much having their way with the Bengals. The announcers noted that the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the last undefeated team in the NFL, would be chilling their champagne to celebrate holding onto that distinction for another year. The Bengals were undefeated coming into this game and Boston has been abuzz all week wondering about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after they got clobbered last week. The Patriots look good tonight and the Bengals will pick up their first loss. With them and Arizona losing today, there’ll be no more undefeated teams this season.
OK, game’s over, Patriots win 43-17. Tomorrow it’s Seattle against Washington. If Washington wins, Kathy Haskin will win the Family Pool and newcomer Chris Olson will win the High Stakes Pool. If Seattle wins, it’ll be Steve Benson in the Family Pool and either Chris Olson or pretty-happy Cleveland resident Larry Daniels. Larry wants 43 or fewer total points with a Seattle win, Chris wants 45 or more and if there are 44 exactly the two will tie. Cleveland came back from 28-3 down today to win, the third largest regular season comeback in NFL history, my radio tells me, which is why Larry would be happy. How do I know someone in Cleveland? Larry was a high school classmate of mine and has been instrumental in putting together reunions over the years, so I see him about twice a decade.
I sent a message out to everyone this morning after discovering, to my distress, that my usual dependable input macro was rejecting lots of (but not all) valid entries. It’s a pretty straightforward routine; it looks at what you entered for your early pick(s), if you did those, and makes sure that your full entry has the same picks and weights. If not, it sends you an email pointing out that you had 12 on the Vikings and now have 11 on the Packers and that the full entry needs to have the same early game pick as the early entry.
I’d inadvertently overwritten a formula with an input figure and this is what triggered the errant rejections. People would get emails saying “you put 8 on the Packers in the early entry. You put 8 on the Packers in your full entry. The entries need to be identical for the early game.” When both picks WERE the same, this was disconcerting.
Normally I’d notice this sort of thing pretty early on (to keep track of problems, I get copied on all those rejection emails) but with Henry showing up with another 11 Winona State kids to stay at the house the same day that the plumbers came and finalized their work (cutting out plugs in vent pipes, there from installation to do pressure tests of some sort, and extending our legacy front vent to address a plumbing inspection concern) we were in furious cleaning mode. Every surface in the house is going to have to wiped down before we’re done, but for the kids we were concerned with getting the floors clean enough to sleep on. We also fed them all dinner (Karla made enchiladas for the masses) on Friday night, then breakfast Saturday and Sunday. In between was lots more cleaning and with all this activity on I didn’t even read emails Saturday. Sunday morning I ran the input routine and saw I had 58 emails in my Inbox and thought, that’s weird, there aren’t that many outstanding entries, and in the Inbox I saw dozens of Entry Rejected emails. There were also some emails from mystified Farsiders rightfully wondering what was going on. Oh no! I took the computer to church and looked through things while warming up. I decided the easiest thing was to send a mass email and sort it out later.
After church, and after counting (I count the offerings on the first Sunday each month), and after lunch, I settled into the now-spacious living room (we took advantage of a dozen college kids being here to pick up and move the piano into the Music Room, part of the new addition. I’d measured the door ahead of time, like last May, and knew the piano would fit, but it didn’t quite with the doors blocked from fully opening, and I had to remove the lid and one of the doors to get it through) and worked my way through the macro to see what was blowing up. I traced down the formula overwrite issue and then began bringing in peoples’ entries in small batches to make sure they worked. You may have received your entry confirmation well into the Dallas/Houston game. I also started working out a way of correcting bad entries, fixing that early pick and re-weighting if needed, but I probably won’t introduce that until I’m sure everything is stable. I might also add an email alert that you got the Thursday Pick Six when that’s the case. A couple of the actually valid rejections were people who didn’t seem to notice they’d got the Pick Six. I just fixed those for those folks.
Anyway, about the time the early games wound down everything was entered and back to normal. I scored the early games (two OT games!) and posted Outcomes. I think things are all fixed on that front. I’m sorry about that, I try to make this a pleasant pastime for my Participants and straightforward to run for me and this weekend neither one of those were true. Fortunately, episodes like this are rare and I aim to keep them that way*.
A Tech Question:
Is anyone having trouble seeing the Outcomes pages? Participant Leslie Lundt and her household is finding that the links from both the Farside page and emails to the High Stakes Outcomes keeps taking her to the Family Outcomes. I can’t reproduce this problem here and am stumped as to what’s happening. The URLs are simple and distinct. They’re static pages, no scripts of server-side processing going on. I’ve seen problems in the past where servers cache a page and serve up the old version when people click in, but that’s not the issue here. Leslie’s had this problem over multiple weeks but I haven’t heard of anyone else having difficulties. I would love to hear about it if you do.
And actually, I’m always interested in people’s difficulties and problems. It’s not unheard of to develop a lovely-looking page on my computer then to see it on some other machine with different OS, screen size and browser and find it hideously ugly. I try to fix things as I become aware of them, and keep in mind my experience running a pool for a hundred people in mind when I think about the job facing the IT department at work servicing thousands of agents and policyholders.
It’s nice having the flock of kids here (they were out a lot at the Swing du Nord swing dancing event in Minneapolis) and they’re grateful and polite but it’s nice now that it’s quiet, too, and the cleaning that had us frantically working away to get ready for them has left us with the house in the best shape it’s been in for months. It is amazing how dirty things get with demolition/construction/drywalling/floor finishing and we still have heaps of work to do, but in a week it’s gone from construction zone with Zipwall and cardboard on the floor and pipes sticking out of walls to fully-functional bathroom (got a workout, too, with all those kids) and an unobstructed view and open floorspace. Sitting in a chair in the much more spacious and reasonanly clean living room and puttering my way through a Farside problem with a game on the tv was actually a pretty pleasant way to pass the afternoon.
Have a great Monday everyone!
* Longtime Farsiders might recall the 2009 Week 17 Panic, when my hosting service moved my site to a new server and broke my cgi scripts, so that the Entry pages wouldn’t work. With games looming, I resorted to sending out Excel spreadsheets for people to fill in and return (there’s actually an old macro in here that can still do this, dating back to the late 1990s) and having people just email or call in picks. This got me through the final week and gave me enough breathing room to get things sorted out on the hosting service side. I hate it when that kind of stuff happens.
Week 5 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Steve Benson won the week with 115 points followed by Lee Arvold with 113 points and Teri Carr with 110. Last place went to Amy Driscoll with 60 points, a score shared by Kevin Hyland and Henry Cole, who didn’t get full entries in. Sheesh, Henry was here at home and everything! Seasonally, Neil Arvold, who has already won two weeks this season, leads the Family Pool with 364 points followed by Teri Carr with 337 and John Hylle with 331. Coming in last at this point is Teri’s sister Kathy Haskin with 208 points.
Some Farsiders I know extremely well, like my sisters, wife and kids. Some I know very well from working with them for years and going through various corporate upheavals together. Then there are those who I’ve never met. This week’s winner Steve Benson is one of these. He’s a friend of Farsider John Hylle, who I have also never met. John was a co-worker of a guy named Roger Friedman, who worked at MSI Insurance with me and then went to work at Federated Insurance down in Owatonna where he met John and had him join the Pool. Roger (and his son) were in the Farside Pool and stayed in for a while after going to Federated, but then dropped out. It may have been my inability to mention Roger without noting that he had an ex-sister-in-law who was a stripper in Las Vegas. Maybe it was boredom with hearing about my house. Anyway, I don’t throw people out and so this is John’s 13th season and Steve’s 7th. Steve’s having a good Farside career, winning an average of one week a season.
I noted in the Interim Results that there could be a tie in the High Stakes Pool. It would take a Seattle win with exactly 44 points. Well, Seattle won with a final score of 27-17, which adds up to, hey, look at that!, padded out with a late Seattle field goal. As a result, Larry Daniels and Chris Olson tied the week with 112 points each, followed by young Chase Johnson and his cousin Chad Musser with 109 points and their grandmother Carol Musser and unrelated Alan Wenker with 108. Last place went to first year participant Scott Kaminski with 71 points, a score shared with first year Farsider Andrew DeFrank, longtime Farsider Eric Benson and my sister Liz Cole, who didn’t get entries in. Seasonally, Kathy Sandhofer leads with 335 points followed by Chase Johnson and Sharon Exel with 328 and Kent Musser with 327. Last place for the season so far is held down by Liz Cole with 189 points.
What do we do in a tie? Split the prize. Rather than the usual $104 weekly prize for the High Stakes Pool, it’ll be $52 each. That puts both guys ahead for the season versus the $44 entry fee for the High Stakes Pool but a solo win does feel better. Or so I’m told.
It’s kind of a novelty that we have a tie but it’s not unprecedented. We’ve had ties for seasonal ranks from time to time and twice in Farside history have had ties in a week, where the tiebreaker selections still end in a tie. In 2008 longtime Farsider Eric Benson tied Dan Dziekciowski* in Week 11. In 2000, Eric (who seems to have a knack for this) tied the longest-tenured non-Cole family member Farsider Paul Meillier in Week 2. Paul is the only participant who was around in 1996 when I started the pool in the Farside Room at Norwest Document Custody over on East Hennepin running it week to week for a bunch of stinkin’ temps (like myself). The following year I started at MSI Insurance and invited a bunch of people to join as a way of networking. That’s there the 18-year tenured Farsiders like Dan Johnson, Teri Carr, Steve Ruzek, Eric Benson et al come from. I tried this at Travelers by inviting a pile of actuaries, thinking that if I picked up 30 or more I’d start a third instance of the pool, but the uptake was kind of low and also my using the company email addresses was frowned upon, so I just wedged the handful of newcomers into the High Stakes Pool. This week both pool co-winner Chris Olson and last place Scott Kaminski are newcomers from Travelers.
I didn’t watch the game (no cable) but did hear quite a bit of it while sitting in the office here at Farside Global HQ. It must have been agonizing to watch for these guys as Seattle had three scores taken off the board by penalties, including two TDs in the first half, and then, right when victory looked within Chris’s grasp (he wanted the lower-than-44 score) and things looked dire for Larry (looking for more than 44), probably still basking in the glow of the Brown’s biggest road comeback in NFL history, Seattle kicks a needless field goal with 00:27 left BUT only after calling a timeout just as he kicked the first attempt as if to ‘freeze’ their own kicker, a kick where the radio announcers couldn’t agree if it would have been good or not, so they re-kick the unneeded Figgie and get the score to 44 total points and it’s a tie in the Pool.
I’ve written about our house addition and how nice it is compared to the drafty leaky old addition we had. Yesterday I discovered one disadvantage of a nice snug insulated weathertight addition. We are having a coldish bit of winter (it won’t last long, not much past April) and I made the season’s first batch of chili. We consumed some for dinner but there was quite a bit left over. Suddenly I realized, darn, I have to put this in the fridge! Last year, and before, I’d just put the pot out on the back porch. With the walls made mostly of ill-fitting windows, it would get cold out there when it was cold outside and made a handy walk-in cooler, so I’d just put stuff out there. In the dead of winter, it would freeze beer, so you had to be careful, but it was mostly vermin-proof (though one time I put a trifle out there so the custard would set and an enterprising squirrel forced his way in and had a taste) and was very useful when putting together a lot of food you had to keep cold. Now I have to clear room in the fridge. I hadn’t thought about that particular bit of utility**. (unlike the downstairs part of the old addition, the upstairs part was heated with an extravagant helping of radiators which kept it piping hot and impinged on the usable floorspace. We had one of the radiators sandblasted and painted and it’s in the new Music Room on the new single-level addition).
Have a great week!
* The only Farsider whose name I can’t spell without looking
** our house in Des Moines, a 1914 structure, also had a handy cooler, in that case the coal room, a small dark cold room in the basement which had a metal door about 20X30 inches that would open so that in days of yore the coal man could dump a load in. That must have been filthy. We no longer burned coal, but the cool room with the uninsulated metal door proved useful for keeping platters of hors d’oeuvres cool from time to time and the door even worked the time I loaded 17 cases of beer into the coal room to store it before taking it to a bar and restaurant trade show where a brewery we were invested in and I was temporarily running was an exhibitor. Few things make you more popular at a trade show than giving away free beer. Anyway, for the first time since the late 1980s, our house doesn’t have a secure cold spot to temporarily keep food in the winter.
The Thursday game wasn’t a blowout for a change. Houston mounted a spirited comeback against Indy but a late fumble allowed the Colts to run out the clock and hang on for a 33-28 win. I’ve attached the scoresheets showing our ranks after this game. Most of us took Indy and are doing fine.
If you just did an early entry, make sure to get the rest of your picks in by gametime Sunday. I’ll do my best not to reject them this week!
Have a great Friday!
Philly beat the Giants last night for the Eagles’ first shutout since 1996, wrapping up Sunday’s action. With that game in, the Farside situation becomes clear: in the Family Pool, a San Francisco win means Amy Driscoll wins the week while a Saint Louis win means a tie between Amy and Chad Hofer. Amy wants 38 points or fewer, Chad 39 or more if the Rams prevail. In the High Stakes Pool, a San Francisco win will be a tie between my sister Liz Cole and new Farsider Randee Dow while a Saint Louis win would give the week to Rom Deo Campo-Vuong out in Seattle.
The Liz/Randee tie is one of the extremely rare ones where they’ve both taken the same tiebreaker: 42. They can either let this sit and split the weekly prize if the 49ers win (still a winning outcome for the season, though not the deluge of riches Farsiders dream of…after idling away your days dreaming of what you’d do if you ever actually won $104, a Maserati perhaps, or a Lamborghini?, a mere $52 seems a disappointment, you’d have to scale back those dreams) or both choose a new, non-42 tiebreaker and go for the uncontested win. I haven’t had to ask participants to do this in many many seasons. If one doesn’t choose a new one, both hang on to 42. If they both choose the same new tiebreaker (say, 43), then we just go with the tie scenario.
It seems an appropriate week for it. We had another NFL tie, this time the Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals, 37-37 after five quarters of action. This is the third season in a row there’s been a tie in the League (last year it was the Vikings and Packers, the year before tonight’s Saint Louis and San Francisco). I do love a tie, and had I been aware of it as a developing story I might have turned it on to see if it would hold (I actually spent the afternoon up on my garage roof clearing away overgrown bushes and rolling out a rubber membrane left over from our re-roofing over the summer over the leakier bits as a temporary fix while listening to the Vikings’ limp effort against Detroit). While I delight in the futility of a draw, I can tell you who doesn’t: Seattle fans. I guess the NFL/tv contract rules meant that poor Seattle had to watch every last excruciating second of the Panthers/Bengals game before they started showing the Dallas/Seahawks game, by which time they were five minutes into the second quarter. In the old days people would have reacted privately, throwing things at the television and kicking the dog, but now of course everyone gets on Twitter and deluges the local tv affiliate with abuse. The local television stations have no say in this matter, they even had to show the post-game commercials before going to the Cowboys/Seahawks.
From a Farside perspective, a tie means that nobody gets any points for the game. Everyone’s a Loser! We’re picking winners, you see, and nobody won. Although this hasn’t happened yet, a tie in the late games would also throw off the Outcomes report, which assumes that somebody wins every game. It could happen that I run Outcomes, then there’s a tie (or two, or more), and somebody not on the list wins the week. I’m content to accept this, since NFL ties have happened on average less than once a season over time, but don’t say I didn’t warn you if this situation arises.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Week 6 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, VA nurse Amy Driscoll won the week with 113 points followed by Chad Hofer and Chris Mullen tied for second with 111 points and my handsome son Henry Cole with 106. Last place went to young Lauren Swanson with 60 points. Seasonally, Neil Arvold leads the Family Pool with 542 points followed by Teri Carr with 536 and Chad Hofer with 525. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 374 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, newcomer Randee Dow and my sister Liz Cole tied the week with 105 points. This is the second tie in a row in the High Stakes pool. Last week, it was the more common case where the tiebreaker ended up exactly in between the two participants’ picks, something that happens from time to time. This one was the much rarer case when both participants had the same tiebreaker. I gave them the option of both picking new tiebreakers (they both had 42, 48 was the correct answer as it turned out due to a late Pick Six by the 49ers to pad the score) but Randee and Liz corresponded and I think they kind of bonded and decided just to split the prize if they won, also perhaps to go on vacation together. I haven’t actually met Randee yet but will tomorrow when I pay off the week’s win. Anyway, they were followed by Paul Merwin who live about five blocks from me and Rom Deo Campo-Vuong out in Seattle with 101 points each and first year-Farsider and Colgate freshman Andrew DeFrank and Blaine Lundt tied for third with 99. Last place went to Blaine’s brother Mick Sheedy with 67 points, distracted no doubt by going through the white coat ceremony in med school meaning he gets to stop pestering cadavers and go see still-living patients. I had a big chest operation at the University of Iowa hospitals when I was a kid and I remember being surrounded by scared-looking med students while Dr. Ehrenraft, the chief of thorasic surgery, asked probing questions (“Eez eet safe?”) in his thick German accent. The abuse he heaped on them between adjusting his monocle and slapping their faces with his white elkskin gloves made them quake in their boots (it’s possible that a couple of those last details aren’t quite right, painkillers can do funny things to your mind, like make you think F Troop is the best comedy ever on tv). I expect Mick will be one of those quaking med students timorously offering up answers ("Pectus excavatum?") Anyway, Kathy Sandhofer leads the season with 526 points followed by Chase Johnson with 523 and Blaine and Mick’s brother Pierce Lundt with 518. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister and this week’s co-winner Liz Cole with 365 points.
The people most bummed this week? Chris Mullen and Randee Dow would have had outright wins had Cincinnati made that last-second field goal at the end of overtime. Chad Hofer and my sister Liz would have had outright wins had the pesky Panthers managed to prevail. That tie game, with no scoring on either side, set up the win for Amy and compelled Randee and Liz to settle for the tie.
Have a great week!
Friday was a milestone for us because they took away the dumpster that had been in front of our garage. We’ve had at least one dumpster in front of the garage since early July to take in the extravagant amount of waste a project like this produces. When they initially demolished the original back porch they didn’t even bother with dumpsters, going straight into dump trucks. Same with the pile of dirt from excavating the foundation, where the pile of dirt we had out back for about a week seemed much larger and more imposing than the hole it came out of. Then came a special dumpster for tearing off the rare and expensive (to remove) asbestos shingles, which got wrapped up in thick plastic and had to be taken away under a special hazardous waste permit. The first normal construction dumpster showed up plus one for the tearoff of the original cedar shingles, which the roofers were surprised to find under the asbestos ones, and a roof deck layer. The roofing filled a big dumpster on its own. During much of this time we didn’t even park in the driveway since big huge trucks kept coming in and doing things to the house or delivering shingles to the rooftop or lumber or cinder blocks or doors. Once the roofer dumpster left we just had the big construction dumpster for everyone else to use. I’d check it out each day, see what had been thrown out, and retrieve some of it. A bunch of hardwood trimmings from the floor? Heck, that’s nice dry white oak, it’ll burn great! Our last dumpster was brand new, nice’n’clean, and I could actually open up the entire end of it to rummage around until it began to really fill up. As the project drew to a close we tossed in some of our own stuff, like empty paint cans and a smelly wicker shelf that had been on the lower back porch and which I had to dismantle with my reciprocating saw, and then on Friday they came and got that and our driveway is once again our own. Between that and removing the Porta-Potty a couple of weeks ago, we no longer look quite so much like a construction zone.
We still await final inspection. Among other things, the foundation is a crawlspace with a four foot clearance. We were admonished to not store anything in there until after the final inspection or the inspector would make us drywall it. We’ve been holding back, but in a basement littered with stuff (we had to clear away from the south wall of the basement as well, so they could get at plumbing, heating and electrical plus knock an access door into the alluring crawlspace) a nice 22 X 16 piece of flat clean concrete floor in a completely empty room exerts an almost magnetic pull. First thing in there is going to be my creeper, so I can sit on it and wheel around on the concrete floor. After that, who knows. We swear that we’re going to be discerning about what we keep and what we chuck but also fall quick victims to the “oh, remember this?” syndrome about three items in, so we’ll see.
I also want to fiddle with some switches. We have our front porch light on a timer. It screws on over the regular wall switch and is an actual mechanical device that physically moves the regular light switch, making lots of noise while doing so which alarms visitors. Also it’s ugly. I used this for several reasons; the old electrical box didn’t have room for an in-wall timer, the battery-operated device was impervious to power outages, and electronic timers ten years ago wouldn’t run CFLs in any case, and I often used them in lights that were on a lot. Now I’ve rewired the circuits through that box and there’s a nice modern wall box in there, they make timers that switch CFLs and LED bulbs and have a battery backup. Also, current ones are pretty slick in that you put in your latitude and longitude (93W 45N is about right, that’s in Maplewood, we’re half a mile south and maybe five miles west) and they automatically adjust for Daylight Savings AND for sunset and sunrise times. I want to replace the noisy ugly one for the front porch and also replace the brand new but boring on/off switches for our lights on the addition. When I do things like this, I like to have then all be the same device so that I just have to know how to program one thing. I’ve ordered my switches and am itching to install the things. I’d rather wait until the final inspection is over with so there’s no question of the switches not matching the plans or anything stupid like that.
One thing the house isn’t is mouseproof. While out at dinner Sunday night Karla and I both got a text from Geneva who saw a mouse in the kitchen. The text was in all caps. Both cats were outside. Maybe the mouse thought it would be safer indoors. Monday evening Karla saw it run from the dining room into the kitchen right past Skittles the startled dog and under the fridge. We typically get a mouse or two this time of year and the cats relentlessly track them down, kill them and eat them. I think the mice have come to move in and discovered a solid foundation and doors and windows that all close properly. I saw one running around outside one day like maybe he’d bumped into the block foundation and was going to try somewhere else. I suspect the electrical service hole. Anyway, this mouse is inside. The dog has seen it but is unproven as a hunter. Her main skill seems to be chasing squirrels at top speed across the lawn and then standing around just absolutely mystified wondering where they went after they charge up the trees. Sophie the main cat is a relentless hunter who one night many years ago caught a mouse in our bedroom and then ate it, loudly crunching up the bones, so that not a trace was left by morning. Lucy the auxillary cat has her way with chipmunks who occasionally think moving here would be a good idea. Both cats enjoy the Bunny Buffet in the spring when the baby rabbits are abundant, at least for a while. I tell ya, it’s like our own little National Geographic special on Ruthless Predators and The Great Circle of Life around here. Anyway, I need to set some traps and foam up the electrical entrance and see if there are any other mouse entrances still open. We’ll see if the cats beat me to the mousie.
Although I didn’t watch it, the New York Jets took the New England Patriots down to the last 5 seconds when a long (58 yard) field goal attempt was blocked by the Patriots to preserve a 27-25 win. I think everyone was pretty surprised at the competitiveness of this game, and in the pool lots of us had it as our 15 weighted pick. We did get the points, but it was a close thing.
You remember that mousie I wrote about Monday? It didn’t see Tuesday, or at least much of it. I found a bit of tail and some guts on the living room floor Tuesday morning. Sophie the main cat was in that night and despite us having had her 15 years she still has it. If you’re of a certain age you might remember B. Kliban’s guitar-playing cat, singing:
Love to eat them mousies Mousies what I love to eat Bite they little heads off Nibble on they tiny feet.
If Sophie could sing, that would be her song. She’d switch mousies to bunnies in the spring.
If you just have an early entry in, remember to get in your full picks by gametime Sunday. A couple of people didn’t get entries in and got the Thursday Pick Six, which was New England, so they’re doing fine. I’ll send out usual reminders tomorrow and Sunday morning.
It’s a big weekend around here as Geneva turns 21 on Saturday. Anyone in the neighborhood is welcome to stop by Ted’s just east of Larpenteur and Lexington at midnight Friday/Saturday when we’ll get Geneva her first legal beer. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it looks. It is unlikely to be a long evening, probably one beer and back home for us. Henry’s even coming up from Winona State for the celebration! The cool thing about Winona State is that he can take the train home. It seems real old school. Pity they don’t use steam engines. Also, it’ll be our first real usage of the new Amtrak location at Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul, which has been beautifully restored to its former glory after decades of being used for storage for the U.S. Postal Service. It’s not quite as handy as the utilitarian depot out in the middle of the industrial area that Amtrak has used here for decades, but it’s way more attractive. It would sure be nice if we had more than two trains a day.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Not much time this morning! There won’t be a Farside tie this week. In the Family Pool, Mary Ross Mortenson will win the week if Houston wins and Vickie Hyland will win if it’s Pittsburgh. In the High Stakes Pool, it’ll be Jim Biller with Houston or Sharon Exel with Pittsburgh. Not sure Houston/Pittsburgh is a premier matchup at this point but the teams are probably reasonably evenly matched.
Have a great Monday!
Week 7 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Vickie Hyland won the week with 99 points followed by Mary Ross with 94 points and a horde of people (Katie Kostman, her dad Steve Ruzek, John Hylle and brothers-in-law Jon Haskin and Dave Mullen) with 92. Last place went to Jenny Mullen with 59 points. Seasonally, Teri Carr leads the Family Pool with 624 points followed by Neil Arvold with 610 and Katie Kostman with 602. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 445 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Sharon Exel wins the week with 93 points followed by Kevin Cellini and Scott Paluska and Dan Johnson with 90 points and then another horde of people (Kent Musser, Larry Daniels, Rolf Krogstad, me, Neil Tobiason and Dan Dziekciowski) with 89. Last place went to Trent Riter and Eric Benson with 57 points. Seasonally, Kathy Sandhofer leads with 612 points followed by Sharon Exel with 608 and Chase Johnson with 607. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 438 points.
Sunday has a novelty: a morning game! The Detroit Lions are taking on the Atlanta Falcons at 8:30AM Central Time Sunday morning. That’s 2:30PM London time, which is where the game is being played (second of three this season) and the League is trying this to give fans time to get home at a timely hour. So far, the London games have been at noon Central time/6:00PM London time, which means the game isn’t done until 9:30 at night and then people have to slog home. This should be way handier for the English NFL fans.
Have a great week!
It was a happy weekend. We did indeed walk down to Ted’s Friday at midnight for Geneva’s birthday. The attached photo was at 12:04AM. The bartender lady was reluctant to serve Geneva even though it was the 18th but some other patrons at the bar started lobbying on our behalf and besides, she was with parents and brother and a friend named Maxine recently returned from Germany so how much trouble can she get into? A pitcher of Lake Superior Oktoberfest was a glass each and newly-21 Geneva’s had her first legal drink in a bar in Minnesota*. Geneva (and Henry, who’d come up on Amtrak from Winona, and Maxine) went tailgating in the morning, then to the exciting U of M football game, where the U managed to beat Purdue, a game they made unduly challenging, then home for a quick nap and then off to La Belle Vie, possibly the bestest restaurant in the Twin Cities, for the chef’s tasting menu with wine flights, extravagant, impeccably prepared and served, delicious. Knowing ahead of time how that wine kind of adds up, even though it’s served over a couple of hours in modest amounts to match each course, we took the bus there and then a taxi home. Once back, happily full and glowing with warmth and happy familial feeling, we came in the house to discover that Skittles the dog** had pooped in her crate. Grrrr. So much of living the high life; I went downstairs to clean out the crate while the others took Skittles upstairs for a bath. Sunday was more subdued, laying around the house, marveling at how nice it feels now, noticing how this tends to want to make us laze around and read and have tea and snooze in the sun rather than install towel racks or paint trim or tidy up the yard.
I do have a few things to tend to. Our final inspection is Tuesday and on Friday our contractor guy asked if we were in compliance with smoke/CO detectors? No, as it turns out. We had wired smoke detectors in the basement, first floor hallway and upstairs hall when we bought the house. I switched out the main floor one for a combination CO/smoke detector last year. Well, we need one upstairs, too, so I changed that Saturday and ordered up some tiny battery-operated smoke-detectors because we need them in each room too, which I installed whilst listening to Pittsburgh/Houston on the radio. There’s a new one in the Music Room as well so we ought to be pretty alarmed if the place catches fire. We also ordered our 42” of cupboards and cabinets to go in our mudroom. Our main exit and egress is through the back door in normal life and this will be more valuable storage, always a rare commodity in an old house, and a lovely inviting flat surface on which to land groceries etc. when we come in. It wasn’t in the scope of the overall project, we just left a spot for it, so this represents really the last big thing we needed to get going to finish things off on the building side of things. They should look lovely, we’re matching the kitchen cabinet work from when we redid that in 2008 (fortunately mostly outside of football season so you didn’t have to hear all about it!) and will look, if the kitchen is any guide, fabulous for about five minutes after which we’ll start piling stuff on the inviting gleaming horizontal surfaces.
I went up in the attic for really the first time since we’ve been re-roofed. Our attic was amazingly clean because it had a thin layer of vile black papery insulation which I tore out a while ago so I could re-wire (to get rid of old knob and tube wiring, which can’t be buried in insulation). I’d vacuumed up the mess that made and puttered away up there enough that it was cleaner than one might think for the attic of a house approaching 90 years old. No more. I expected six messy bits, where they’d cut through the deck to install six attic vents, but it was much worse than that. When they did the roof tearoff they left the final layer of planking but took off everything above that. There was pretty much a cascade of cedar shingle fragments, bits of tar paper, nails and filth through the gaps between the planks and now the whole attic is dirty again. I was up there because the electrician (a long time ago, not ours) had done such a sleazy job installing the upstairs smoke detector electrical box, such as having no cable clamp leading into it, and I wanted to rectify this. I had to crawl through the mess to insert and hold the clamp from above while Karla put on the ring and tightened it with a screwdriver and hammer from below. In the overall scheme of things, a clean attic isn’t a high priority, but it was nice and I’ve got work to do sealing air leaks before we can finally bury the thing in insulation. I’ll even be removing the pretty spacious flooring we have up there which has been handy for storing things like suitcases, which will shortly be able to move into our new crawlspace.
I don’t particularly want the inspector up in the attic, because the wiring I’ve done hasn’t all been properly affixed to protective wire runs yet, so we’re going to take the ladder that gets us access out of Geneva’s closet and stash it in the garage so as not invite curiosity. I’m hoping he doesn’t find anything notable in his inspection. If you have an interest in house things, it is fun to look at This Old House’s Home Inspection Nightmares features. I just hope we’re not in there next month!
It’s getting late and I need to get some beauty sleep.
Have a great week everyone!
* I say “in Minnesota” because in Wisconsin children can drink alcohol with their parents in restaurants and bars, and we’ve split a bottle of wine at the Harborview in Pepin before. As far as I know, Wisconsin is the only state with this enlightened attitude.
**Skittles is a lovely doggie, eager to please, friendly, happy, easy to look after, but she has a tender tummy. I’m used to dogs eating most anything from dead raccoons to live mice to hairbrushes with no issue, but Skittles is prone to getting the trots if she eats anything unconventional.
WARNING: FIRST GAME SUNDAY IS 8:30AM CENTRAL TIME, 6:30AM PACIFIC. GET YOUR FULL ENTRY IN BY THEN!!!
OK, now that I’ve got that off my chest, and it relates only to those with just early picks in, Denver beat San Diego tonight 35-21. I was half watching the game whilst reading, doing laundry, etc and it seemed like whenever the Chargers showed some life Denver would score again.
My lack of interest may have been a result of my mild case of Eclipse Fever. There was a partial solar eclipse tonight and I stayed late at work to watch it, since I’m nice and elevated on the 7th floor with a conference room 10 feet away offering a great view to the west. It peaked at 5:36PM here in Saint Paul. Now, partial solar eclipses are not as thrilling as total solar eclipses, but one has to make do. The last total solar eclipse in North America was in 1979 and I went to see it (along with my sister and Farsider Ann Kendell, Farsider Emeritus Paul Salamon and Dave Dahms, who’s never played the Farside but who wrote the cgi script which tells you each week that you forgot your Password). This meant that, while everyone else at Iowa State headed off to Fort Lauderdale or South Padre Island for spring break, we went to Winnepeg. A few weeks before the eclipse (February 26, 1979) the high in Winnepeg was -56F. We’re going to die, we thought, so some of us bought long underwear. You can see a few snaps at The History of Photography - 1979 including a shot of me looking at the developing eclipse through a piece of #14 welders glass and showing off my efforts in the Pearson House Winter Quarter Beard Growing Contest. I wasn’t much of a contender. Anyway, I still have that exact same piece of welders glass and took it to work today to observe the eclipse developing. It was cool. There’s a major sunspot going on at the moment, basically a zit on the sun’s face only much bigger than Earth, and that was clearly visible too. A few late actuaries hanging around had a look as well since they’re basically as big a bunch of nerds as the engineers who made up half the 1979 trip.
As the 1979 eclipse wrapped up (and it was a comparatively balmly 10F out on the windblown Manitoba prairies) we decided to reconvene for the next North American total eclipse in…2017. At the time, 2017 seemed unspeakably distant (the same as 2052 sounds now) but here we are getting close. That eclipse’s path is handy for us Midwesterners, its path crossing Saint Louis and Kansas City, and it’s in August so we’ll need bug spray and sunscreen (albeit at a lower SPF than usual!) rather than union suits and woolen socks. I think maybe we all converge on Farsider Katie Kostman’s place near KC and make a party of it. I can’t insist that you all go and see that eclipse, but I have to tell you that total solar eclipses are unbelievably cool and you really really should plan on seeing it, whether at Katie’s or somewhere else.
I have a yellow file folder labelled Eclipse File in which I keep the glass and some materials and the fabulous provincial map that Manitoba did showing the eclipse path, centerline and timings (this was all long before the Internet and it was much harder to get this material together) and some possibly soon-to-be-priceless original documentation, like the gas purchases. My 1972 Plymouth Valiant had all the sporty agility of a shopping cart, but it did have a 318 cubic inch V-8 and a small gas tank (thanks in part to sister Ann Kendell backing it into something while full of giggling girls and knocking a hole in the original one, and the dealer installed a small 14 gallon tank instead) so between awesome power and small fuel capacity we stopped a lot for gas. The list starts off…Ames….Burnsville…..God knows where…Fargo (even worse). Poor Fargo. We did 1,597 miles and burned 98.5 gallons of gas for a spectacular 16.2 mpg. Gas was running 65-70 cents a gallon and that seemed kind of pricey. The Valiant may have done somewhat better than that but we left it idling out at the viewing site so we could warm up in it. The 1972 VW Super Beetle*, which Dave still has, doesn’t have a blower on the heater so you can’t use it as a warming house.
It’s about time for me to go to bed. I may send more frequent reminders tomorrow and Saturday since gametime Sunday is 8:30 Central rather than noon. Don’t make me give you the worst score!
Have a great Friday and weekend!
* Dave emailed me one day several years ago to tell me his Beetle had just gone over one light second. That’s 186,282 miles for those of you keeping score at home
Sunday’s games are finally over. The Lions and Falcons kicked off just after 8:30AM Central, playing at 2:30 London time over in England, and the Saints wrapped up their demolishing of the Packers just after 10:30PM Central. I was personally bummed that the Packers lost because going into the Sunday night game I had a chance to win, needing the Packers and then the Washington Redskins to win. The latter outcome didn’t look promising for me and meant I’d have to cheer for the loathsome Dan Snyder’s team, but now I’m spared that moral quandary.
In the Family Pool, Cindy James will win if the Dallas Cowboys win Monday night and Lee Arvold will win the week if Washington prevails. In the High Stakes Pool, Alan Wenker will win it either way.
A handful of entrants aren’t in yet. They entered after the early game was well under way or even finished. As I mentioned in reminders for the week, late entries get the worst result for the week. We’re just waiting to find out what the worst result is now. Happily, this is the only game this early all season. It was in fact the earliest NFL start ever. There is another game in London later this season but it will be at the more traditional 6PM London time/noon Central.
I watched the first part of the Lions/Falcons game. On novelty was that they had a fetching young lass, who looked perhaps a little chilly, sing God Save The Queen. She did a remarkably good job, as well, and it turns out that she (Laura Wright is her name, and she’s 24) has some CDs out under her own name as well as with some other lassies as a group called All Angels. I like God Save The Queen. When I was a young lad, up through fourth grade, I lived in Toronto and we sang God Save The Queen and O Canada at school. As long ago as that was, it’s still the same Queen. Her picture hung up on the wall back at G. B. Little Elementary in Scarborough. I still have my doubts about the logistics of having an NFL franchise in London but singing God Save The Queen each week would be pretty cool.
It’s a pity though that Laura didn’t sing the second verse:
O Lord our God arise
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks
On Thee our hopes we fix
God save us all
I’ve always like “confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks”.
I have sung O Canada at a baseball game. Farsider Emeritus Paul Salamon (and his wife) and I went to the home opener for the Kansas City Royals in 1986. They’d won the World Series the year before, hence the 29-year gap they keep going on about, and opened at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. Paul, who lived in Olathe at the time, got cheapo tickets in Row EE (the topmost row) (I think you could see Olathe from there) (also maybe Des Moines) and they played O Canada as well as the Star Spangled Banner. I’d like to tell how I sang lustily along but in fact I think I’d forgotten the words. I am terrible at remembering the words to songs unless they’re dirty, so I’m all over Barnacle Balls the Sailor but need a reference sheet for, say, Silent Night.
The UK finally got a game worth watching. Atlanta has been less than impressive this year (they even got beaten by the Vikings, a telling measure of their quality) and Detroit has a stout defense, but Atlanta zoomed out to an early lead. At this point I went off to sing in choir. Apparently the Lions mounted a furious comeback and won 22-21 with a field goal with no time left. I don’t know how well the Europeans comprehend the intricacies of NFL football, but at least this was an exciting game.
It was another lovely day here in Minnesota and I puttered the afternoon away removing, cleaning and storing window air units. Our house has radiator heat, therefore no ductwork, so central air is problematic We are considering a central air installation and will be looking at alternatives over the winter. There are things called mini-splits which put a compressor outside and a small, pretty unobtrusive cooling unit up on the wall in the rooms you want, or there are normal central air that blow through small tubes, more like vacuum hoses than big heating ducts. Those hoses are small enough that you can feed them down through walls or the corners of closets, things like that. As I’m out there hosing off the window airs and then lugging them into the garage for the winter the prospect of built-in AC sounds pretty appealing. I was listening to the Vikes during this and they went from flipping the coin for overtime as I carried an AC downstairs, pulled out my earbud to chat with Karla for a minute, maybe have her open the back door, and then I put it back in and the Vikings had won. They forced a fumble and ran it back for a winning TD in on the first snap in overtime. I was sort of disappointed not to have the frission of hoping for an outright tie but it was nice to see the Purple win a close one on the road.
Have a great Monday and enjoy the game!
Week 8 is over, actually, it was over yesterday, and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Lee Arvold won the week with 100 points followed by his brother Neil Arvold and Cindy James tied in second place with 98 points and Matthew Cole (hey! That’s me!) and Dennis Reopelle in third tied at 94. Last place went to last week’s winner Vickie Hyland with 50 points, a score shared with a smattering of people who didn’t get entries in by that 8:30Am game Sunday. That’s the earliest NFL start ever and thank goodness it won’t be happening again this season, though it was novel to watch football before church. Seasonally, Teri Carr leads the Family Pool with 624 points followed by Neil Arvold with 610 and Katie Kostman with 602. Coming in last at this point is young Lauren Swanson with 445 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Alan Wenker wins the week with 99 points followed by Daryl Ackerman with 94 points and Jay Steffenhagen with 93. Last place went to first year Farsider Melissa Villnow with 60 points, a score she graciously shared with a couple of late entries. Seasonally, Kathy Sandhofer leads with 612 points followed by Sharon Exel with 608 and Chase Johnson with 607. Last place for the season so far is held down by official Farside Sister #2 Liz Cole with 438 points.
I’m really annoyed with the Packers now. Going into the Sunday night game, I had a chance to win if Green Bay and Washington won. Green Bay lost. Oh well, I figured, Dallas should clobber Washington tomorrow so it doesn’t really matter. It mattered. Washington beat the Cowboys in the Jerry Jones Palace near Dalllas. I really don’t like Dan Snyder, the Redskins’ owner, and Jerry Jones is a bit slimy too, so it’s hard to choose who to cheer against. A fifth quarter ending in a tie would have been ideal, but Dallas losing at home on a nationally broadcast game wasn’t a bad consolation prize.
It’s a short week, only 13 games this time around. This is the time of the season I really like. The dreams are dying for a lot of teams (including Vikings, happy about an OT win but with no realistic prospect of going to the playoffs) and the weather is turning. Normally I keep myself engaged outside until the weather goes cold and raw, then I settle in to actually watch some games. With all the house interior work remaining to be done, I probably won’t have entirely lazy Sundays snoozing on the couch with some random game on until near Christmas.
For those of you in the Twin Cities seeking a perfect lunch for gamedays, I recommend Potter’s Pasties. I first had one of their pasties at a concert Geneva helped organize to attract students to register to vote back in August. Their food truck came to the concert and I had a pastie then. They have a store, too, it’s in the basement of Joe’s Market on Como Avenue, with the door round the back. I would say that these are very much like actual English pasties but I don’t think that would be accurate. Potter’s ingredients seem much fresher and the pastry better than most pasties I’ve had in Britain. The best thing is, they sell them uncooked if you want, so you can buy a bunch and keep them in the fridge or freezer. When Henry was up for Geneva’s birthday we sent him home with three of the large pasties. For those with more delicate constitutions, they also make small ones. Our fancy oven has a delay-start feature, so I can set it to turn on about the time church is done on Sunday and come home and slap a pastie in the oven. It makes a great lunch to enjoy while watching the Vikings losing to Washington. The only bummer? Not open on Sundays. You gotta go on Saturday and stock up.
You can find pasties in odd places in the Midwest. They are popular in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in southwestern Wisconsin. I’ve had one at Mineral Point, for instance. The common denominator is that the places were big mining towns (copper in Michigan, lead in Wisconsin) and attracted a lot of Cornish miners back in the day. It is of course impossible to know with certainty, but my guess is that Potter’s pasties are better than what your average Cornish ex-pat was getting in Mineral Point in 1820.
Have a great week!
New Orleans clobbered Carolina last night 28-10. I didn’t see any of it so can’t relate any tales of football heroism or pathos. A lot of people didn’t get entries in due to some technical issues on my end which buggered up my email reminders. Happily for them, the Saints were the Thursday Pick Six based on a slightly superior record (3-4 vs 3-4-1 going into the game) and they have six points going into the weekend. I carefully did my Family Pool entry and neglected to enter my High Stakes entry so I am actually a Thursday Pick-Sixer myself! In the Family Pool, I only put 4 on the Saints so the Pick Six is actually ahead of my active chosen weight.
Happily, I’ve sorted out the issues and reminders should be back on schedule. There seem to be hiccups when you upgrade things and I just this week upgraded to the new Mac OS (Mavericks) and also to the new Parallels 10 (the virtual machine that lets me run Windows 7 on the Mac so I can use Office 2010). Upgrades always have the potential for surprises and that can be a hazard mid-season. At least the one aspect of all this that remains valuable is the tiny window it gives me into the problems IT departments have; I’m using standard software running plain-vanilla html pages with 102 users. Companies support thousands or millions of users and upgrade hiccups, even if quickly sorted out, annoy tons of customers.
The rest of the week is uneventful. There’s only 13 games total due to the Bye weeks, it’s getting cold out, and the Washington Redskins are coming to play the Vikings. Apparently there are protests scheduled down by TCF Bank Stadium over the team name. I don’t think slimy Washington owner Daniel Snyder is going to change his mind on the team name based on a bunch of earnest Minnesotans. He’s going to hold it hostage to a new stadium deal instead. They’re rolling star QB RGIII out to play the Vikes, so there will be some national interest in the game.
Enjoy Halloween tonight! Going to be cold here for the first time in years, it’ll be a good night to dress as the Michelin Man.
Pittsburgh beat Baltimore pretty solidly leaving the situation clear for Monday. In the Family Pool, a New York Giants win will give the week to Jenny Mullen while an Indianapolis win will result in a win for Scott Sherman. In the High Stakes Pool, it’s Rom Deo Campo-Vuong rooting for New York and Jay Steffenhagen cheering for Indy.
I saw a bit of the Vikings game, part of the first half where they were behind and unable to do much with the ball. Once I stopped watching they suddenly sprang to life and ended up winning the game beating the Washington Redskins. There was a protest about the Washington team nickname before the game. I was amused to see that two of the buses carrying the Redskins ran into each other on the way to the game. They were about to miss the exit off the Interstate they needed. Ironically enough, the exit is for Huron Street, named after an Indian tribe. Ho ho.
I also watched a stretch of the Patriots/Broncos game. New England was having its way with Denver. If I had been Tom Brady, I would have started calling out Omaha! Omaha! audibles at the line just to taunt Peyton Manning.
I hope you had a good Halloween weekend. It’s pretty handy, having Halloween on Friday night. Next year it’s Saturday night, which will be pretty awesome too, then it goes to Monday night and we’re stuck with school night Halloweens for a few years. One option of course it to move it. I grew up mostly in Des Moines, Iowa, where they have a separate Beggar’s Night when the trick-or-treating occurs. This year it was on Thursday. This struck me as stupid when I moved there (in the summer between fourth and fifth grade) and seems stupid now. It’s a hallowed tradition there. Apparently in the 1930s the fear was that young children out trick or treating would be terrorized by older ruffians looking to make mischief on Halloween, so they sent the kiddies out on a different night so they’d be safe. Something like that. Apparently the ruffians were clueless because if I’d been, say, a ninth-grader in 1937 looking to terrorize third-graders and steal their Oh Henry! bars, I’d think, cool, we can terrorize third graders on Beggars Night AND then egg houses on actual Halloween! As it happened, I never terrorized third graders (other than maybe my sisters) and never egged a house, although I thought about it one year after moving here when someone back on the street behind us gave out poems (yes, freakin’ poems!) instead of candy. Henry was, well, probably in about third grade, and was probably less bitter about the poem thing than I was, and I remember wondering if he was too young to introduce to the concept of egging a house and decided he was, and the following year the stinking poets had moved on and the residents of the house gave out proper sugar- and fat-laden treats.
Halloween was fun. I have always liked Halloween anyway, and this year was no different. We have to lure people up through the back yard and do so with luminaries of brown paper lunch bags with some used cat litter in the bottom for ballast and candles for light. Two pumpkins go by the back gate, one by the back door and one by the front door in the unlikely event someone comes to the front of the house.
I cleaned the pumpkins out on Thursday night with my electric drill and pumpkin gutter and then Geneva and I carved them on Friday. Karla had bought the pumpkins early in the week and it’s a good thing, too. The Presbyterians across the street always have a big pumpkin sale but they packed up last Monday. Even Flowerama down past Ted’s was out by mid-week, when you can usually depend on finding the slightly mushy remnants rejected by weeks of discerning pumpkin buyers. Three of Karla’s pumpkins were pretty normal, but one had something like warts on it. She thought it would be good for a witch. What she didn’t realize is that it was some variety of armor-plated pumpkin. I couldn’t get the knife through it at all and had to cut out the face using a jig saw after hammering a straight-bladed screwdriver through it for a starting spot. Not that I’m against power tools, mind you, and my jigsaw still had brownish residue from carving last year’s pumpkins, but it was a surprise nonetheless.
We stayed inside this year rather than sitting around a fire outside. It was cold, going to 21 overnight though still in the upper 30s at sunset. With the impending first real hard freeze, I was at dusk out with a flashlight rooting around in the raspberry patch trying to get the last of the surprising late-season bumper crop of berries before they all froze. The first trick or treaters came through the yard and I directed them to the back door. One of the dads asked me if that’s where I buried the bodies, out behind the garage under the spooky moon and bare branches. I said yep, that’s why the raspberries grew so well and tasted so good, then cackled evilly.
We had sort of an impromptu party. Farsider Cindy James was over along with a couple of other couples. The young attractive couple live over in Minneapolis in a nice old condo on south Bryant but they’re upstairs and the porch light in the building has never worked so they never ever get trick or treaters. As a result of this unfortunate deprivation, Dan (the husband) more or less took over giving out candy at the back door, being charming and chatting up the kids and recognizing all the superhero costumes and generally having a great time. I think some of the regulars figured maybe the strange old people who lived in the horrid wreck of a house had sold it to this nice young couple who had fixed it up and it seemed like a real upgrade to the neighborhood. Boy, will they be disappointed!
As I have done since I first had my own apartment, we gave away full-sized candy bars. Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups I got at Costco, but I also ordered a box (36 bars) of Mounds, my favorite U.S. candy, from Amazon. I like dark chocolate and adore coconut, the combo is terrific (Farsider Vickie Hyland disagrees, I discovered last week as we went to get coffee. She doesn’t like dark chocolate and can’t bear the texture of coconut. There’s no accounting for some people). Sometimes you feel like a nut, as they say, sometimes you don’t. Almond Joy’s got nuts. Mounds don’t. I magnanimously put some in the basket and to my chagrin the youngsters Dan was entertaining at the door didn’t shy away from them in fear and loathing but instead kept taking them so I had to refill. My Mounds hoard is decimated. I am desolated.
We actually got someone to the front door, only the third or fourth time in our 20 years here, as far as we know. When we sat out back with the fire we’d just put a basket out there with a sign saying ‘Please take just one’ and it never seemed to go down too much. There’s no sidewalk on our side of the street and it’s kind of busy so there’s not much foot traffic out there. I didn’t serve the front door people either but am guessing they took stinkin’ Mounds bars.
It was lovely to have people over, a fire crackling in the fireplace, the happy distractions of the doorbell ringing and the scramble to restrain Skittles who initially would always run to the front door rather than the back, snacks and wine laid out in the Music Room, the living room suddenly spacious with the piano in its own space. Geneva was around for a while and looked very frightening due to an ingenious makeup job to make her look like a skull and skeleton which left her unrecognizable. She was off to a Halloween party later in the evening but for a while she helped Dan with distributing my Mounds bars freely to the teeming masses.
Then this morning was gratifying. It’s All Saints Day, the pairing with All Souls which has become Halloween, one of those pastiches of Christian and ancient pagan worship. We sing a lot of music across a wide range of styles in church choir. Some of it is really fun, some of it you kind of mail in, most of the time it’s a satisfying mix. This morning we sang absolutely lovely music, at Offertory and Communion, along with a sung Gospel (the Beatitudes) with handbells, and it was a tour de force (in a contemplative sort of way) and gratifying and beautiful. One song, The Road Home, is from the American Southern Harmony, a source of many wonderful tunes, arranged by a Minnesota guy named Stephen Paulus who died recently, and the third verse had Geneva (without skull makeup) singing a soprano descant over the choir that brought tears to people’s eyes. Sometimes this stuff really comes together, and this morning was one of those days. I know Pride is a sin and all, it goeth before the fall, but occasionally you wish more people were around to hear this because it’s such a beautiful moment.
I haven’t written much about the football. It’s because I didn’t watch much. This was one of those delightful weekends where I basically didn’t do shit. It’s the first one in ages. I mean, we went out and did some shopping, got some spices for all the cooking coming up, looked at lights, wandered through the Apple store, decided to try our first brined bird (a chicken, and an experiment for Thanksgiving and a larger fowl), and lay around like a bunch of lazy bums reading and having tea and doing, actually, I’m not sure what we did. Nothing much. A spring and summer full of deadlines and obligations has kept us hopping and so a leisurely squandering of a weekend has been a treat. More obligations await; later this week we’re getting a new roof on the garage and have to move a bunch of stuff out of there (lawn tractor that only goes in reverse, motorcycle that hasn’t moved since 2002 and even then had to run on full choke due to varnish buildup in the carburetors, an unknown but large number of bicycles, most of which are ours, that sort of thing)(having a detached 3 car garage with extra-deep bays is a mixed blessing)(our house was built by the original Cadillac dealer in St. Paul which explains the 3-car garage on a 1927 house). I should feel regret about not having got more done but instead I am looking forward to the roast chicken and the Pittsburgh/Baltimore game and will deal with the garage tomorrow.
Hey, the Steelers aren’t wearing those stripey bumblebee throwback uniforms this week. That’s a relief. Those may be the ugliest uniforms in professional sports.
Well, we ate the chicken. It was good. The brining thing (the bird sits in a plastic bag full of a brine solution, salt and herbs in water, for a day or so, in the fridge) makes the meat really tender though a bit salty. We’re going to try it again. Karla also roasted some pineapple to go with it, along with some spicy rice and a bottle of red Bordeaux. I should be sitting here now watching football intently so I could report on the game but instead am listening to LPs of 1970s jazz I really like.
I think of the year as divided into six 60-day periods, more or less, and we’re just switching, from Autumn (September/October) to the Holidays (Halloween through New Year’s). Football season pretty much goes with these months. I love this time of year, and the quiet afternoon and evening of leisure has been a great way to spend it. I hope you all had a great weekend as well, and enjoy the ones to come.
Week 9 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Scott Sherman won the week with 79 points followed by my own lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 78 points and Mike Sedwick, Paul Meillier, Ann Kendell and Vickie Hyland tied for third with 77. Last place went to Jennifer Weddell with 48 points. Seasonally, Teri Carr leads the Family Pool with 779 points followed by Neil Arvold with 774 and Cindy James with 768. Coming in last at this point is Lauren Swanson with 559 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Jay Steffenhagen wins the week with 76 points followed by Rom Deo-Campo Vuong, Alan Wenked and Chad Musser with 75 points and then Chase Johnson and Neeraj Udeshi with 74. Last place went to Neil Tobiason with 52 points. Seasonally, Chase Johnson and Kathy Sandhofer are tied in the lead with 771 points followed by Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong with 759 and John Petek & Kent Musser with 756. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 550 points.
Sorry about the delayed results. I can’t always stay up until midnight Monday sending them out but do usually manage to run and post the final results either late Monday or first thing Tuesday morning. It was a bit rushed this morning as I wanted to stop and vote on the way to work. I was in and out very quickly but Karla took more like half an hour when she voted later in the day. I only became a citizen in 1999 (in a country at peace with budget surpluses that were paying down the national debt, seems a long time ago now) and have to say I was disappointed that the voting around here doesn’t use the booths with the curtains and levers. It’s fill in the ovals on a big card and then feed it into a machine. Anyway, I did my bit for democracy.
Football-wise, it’s the mid-season doldrums. It’s another 13 game week. The third game of the season in London happens this week as well. It’s Dallas (6-3) “at” Jacksonville (1-8), wrapping up the eighth year of regular-season games in London. In all eight years, there has never been a game where both teams were above .500 at kickoff. That’s no way to convert the English!
Have a great week!
Cleveland clobbered Cincinnati 24-3 last night. I didn’t see it. The NFL Network had CBS broadcast eight Thursday games this fall so everyone could watch and develop a deep hunger for Thursday night football, then it went back to the NFL Network only on cable. The NFLN has been trying to get cable companies to pay up to carry it as a non-optional channel (like ESPN does) and putting on its own Thursday games was supposed to be an irresistible draw. These CBS games were like the drug dealer down at the schoolyard handing out samples (“Gather around, kiddies, the man with the goodies is here” was the line used in some anti-drug film I was subjected to in about 7th grade) knowing that shortly the youngsters would be toothless emaciated desperate addicts forking over their milk money for a fix. I think the drug dealer would at least know to give out some really quality product and then sell the users the stuff cut with flour, drain cleaner and tea leaves later. The NFL hasn’t figured this out, and gives us the Browns 24-3 over the Bengals with Cincy apparently looking like a JV team. I’m not hooked.
If you’ve just done your early entry, get your full entry in by gametime Sunday. There is a London game again this week (Dallas “at” Jacksonville, the NFL is handing out bad drugs in the UK as well, they’ll never get them hooked with that crap) but it is at 6:00 London time, noon here in Minnesota, like regular NFL games, so no panic. It’s also the last of this season’s 3 UK games. Several of you got the Thursday Pick Six, 6 on the Bengals. Sorry. Still, it kept you from giving them 11 or something so maybe I did you a favor. Whatever, use your correct Thursday pick when entering your full set.
Have a great weekend! It’s about to get cold around here.
I write as the Packers/Bears game winds down to 00:00 with the Pack winning 55-14. With that game done, Monday’s results are clear: Dan Johnson will win the High Stakes Pool regardless of the Monday Night Game winner while the Family Pool will go to either Hayden Weddell (11 years old, 6th grade) if Philadelphia wins or Mike Sedwick out in Seattle if Carolina wins.
I didn’t have much Pool time today. We’ve just had our garage re-roofed starting Wednesday and finishing today about 3:30 when they got done with the gutters. The tearoff resulted in the usual cascade of debris, grit, filth and nails into the space below and with our first major snowfall of the season already impending I went to work cleaning out spaces to park some of the cars and to unearth the snowblowers. I personally would have been content with another month before significant snow. Cleaning the garage is a dirty task at the best of times and was particularly wretched today but I got two bays (of three*) habitable for the first time in months. They had previously been used as a staging area for materials for the addition and the last of that just left last week. We also had bunches of furniture that had been stashed in there for the last three years. It was Karla’s mom’s stuff and we figured we’d wait until we had the addition sorted out and then decide what to keep. We are keeping only a little of it, with the rest off to Goodwill or the church auction.
We also had to prepare for the snow. Mostly this meant switching lawn mowers for snowblowers but we also had to sweep up the driveway where there’d been a couple of impressive piles of gravel stashed all summer to repair our driveway as the construction trucks wreaked their havoc on our aged asphalt all summer long. We only just got done with that, scraping and sweeping away in the dark like we’re some fastidious Dutch people and not the slovenly wretches we really are.
I mentioned Potter’s Pasties in my Farside writeup last week or maybe the week before. Karla and I were in Home Depot buying wood to do shelves in our new coat closet and stopped at Potter’s on the way back. It was right at 11:00 and they hadn’t quite opened yet but one of the dissolute youth outside snuffed out his cigarette and went down the stairs to the basement to serve me. I bought my pasties (to cook later, we had some for lunch today) and as I was leaving who did I see coming down the stairs but Farsider and old chum Cindy James. She’d taken my recommendation to heart and was stopping in to buy half a dozen, some for herself, some for her mom in Duluth. I think this shows the awesome power of a celebrity endorsement! I’ll be interested to see what she thought.
Anyway, time for bed. Have a good Monday and enjoy our 7-12” of snow!
* Our house was built in 1927 by the original Cadillac dealer in Saint Paul and as a result has a detached 3 car garage with really deep bays. The roof isn’t flat, but it’s not far from it, and we just replaced the aged bitumen with a big rubber membrane. This ought to alleviate the leaks we’d had previously. Between this and the underground wiring we had run to it last summer I should feel pleased but some house on the way to church is building the Garaj Majal, 2 ½ bays with what looks to be a full living space above and possibly an enclosed walkway from the house. I am filled with unseemly feelings of lust and envy.
Week 10 ended last night with the Mark Sanchez-led Eagles dominating the Carolina Panthers and so the final Farside results are in. In the Family Pool, young Hayden Weddell, 11 years old and in 6th grade if I’ve kept accurate track, which isn’t always the case, won the week with 86 points followed by his mom Jennifer Weddell and Mike Sedwick tied for second with 80 points and Donald Mullen in third with 79. Last place went to Kathy Haskin and my niece Sarah Kendell with 47 points. Seasonally, Teri Carr leads the Family Pool with 845 points followed by Cindy James with 839 and Neil Arvold with 837. Coming in last at this point is Sarah Kendell with 613 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, longtime Farsider Dan Johnson wins the week with 81 points followed by his father-in-law Kent Musser with 80 points and Paul Vigliaturo with 78. Last place went to Pierce Lundt with 46 points. Seasonally, Dan’s son Chase Johnson and Kathy Sandhofer lead with 840 points followed by aforementioned father-in-law Kent Musser with 836 and Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong with 831. Last place for the season so far is held down by my Kentucky sister Liz Cole with 626 points.
I think Teri Carr’s lead in the Family Pool seasonal point totals is due to her firsthand inside NFL knowledge. Teri went to the Green Bay thumping of Chicago on Sunday night, and reports from Lambeau:
I was at the Packer game along with several of my siblings Sunday night. Oh my, I haven't seen that many totally blasted people since college!! Chris [Mullen, Teri’s brother and Farsider] and his wife had seats in the first row of the end zone. They had plenty of opportunity for a Lambeau Leap but the closest they got was about 8 seats away. They were on television though, cool! Jenny [Mullen, Teri’s sister and Farsider] and I had row 19 seats right by the tunnel. It was such a blowout that they pulled Aaron Rodgers [not in Farside. Yet.] during the 3rd quarter, people started leaving. So, Jenny and I grabbed seats in the first row next to Chris, what an awesome view!! The Bears left the field right by our seats and one of the Packer fans yelled a nasty comment at [Chicago QB Jay] Cutler. I know he gets paid millions and don't like him myself but what a classless thing to do after a bad loss. Too much alcohol flowing at late games and especially in WI.
Teri, Teri, Teri, you’ve been living in Minnesota too long. Too much alcohol? In Wisconsin? Next thing you know you’ll be complaining about too many cheese curds.
I heard some of the Sunday night game while hurriedly preparing for the early onset of winter but wasn’t paying enough attention to the game to notice how bad a thrashing it was. The score was 55-14 for the Pack and, as our correspondent Teri Carr noted, that was after Green Bay pulled Aaron Rodgers. His arm was probably sore from throwing all those touchdowns, six in the first half. The Bears haven’t won at home this season and have given up 106 points in the last two games. This is relevant locally because the Bears are the Vikings’ next opponent, in Chicago, and the Vikes haven’t won there since 2007. It looks hopeful! The danger is of course that the Bears are so humiliated that they pull themselves together and beat the Vikings out of sheer pride. They are probably looking forward to the Vikes and penciling in a win. We’ll see.
Have a great week!
Matt blathers on about Armistice Day and World War I and stuff
This day, November 11, used to be Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I, which ground to a halt on November 11, 1918 at 11 minutes past 11 o’clock in the morning. This year is the centenary of the start of World War I, which got going in a slow multi-party reaction to the shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife, Sophie. They weren’t particularly popular and had survived an attempted assassination that June morning and were in fact going to the hospital in Sarajevo to visit those wounded in that earlier attempt. A wrong turn, the car stopped in front of Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip and he shot and killed the two. Wait, did I say June? I did. That happened on June 28, 1914. The Austro-Hungarians were pissed and wanted to invade Serbia and probably, had they done so right away, everyone in Europe would have thought that was reasonable since nearly everyone else was a monarchy, too, and shooting the royals (and Presidents) was a bad if not unheard-of precedent. A lot of dithering went on for the next few weeks while people checked with each other to see who was in and who was out and what was an acceptable response, blah blah blah. It’s amazingly convoluted. Books have been written about this.
August is when the fighting kicked off. When I was a kid up through young adult, the United States and Russia co-existed under a doctrine known as Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD for short. Both countries had massive nuclear arsenals deployed in bombers, submarines and in land missile silos. The idea was that if one side launched an attack, the other would respond in kind and the result would be a smoking radioactive wasteland in both countries. The risk of this was that one side launched an attack and the other didn’t notice in time and their missiles and bombers were destroyed before they could be used. Their ability to respond would be degraded, in the language of the time. So, we built a massive set of radars called the Distant Early Warning line (DEW line) to detect a launch early, and stationed fighters armed with nuclear-tipped air to air missiles to fire into formations of incoming Russian bombers over Canada before they got here. We kept nuclear-armed B-52s in the air 24 hours a day for decades, only standing down once the Soviet Union fell. You know the opening scenes from Doctor Strangelove? That’s one of the planes, and there’s a guy at church who used to fly those missions. These efforts were designed to keep from being caught by surprise, to keep from having our capabilities degraded.
World War I opened up with the same calculus. It wasn’t nuclear bombs and missiles (though the resulting war would introduce many aspects of modern warfare, including aerial bombing of civilian populations) but rather mobilizing armies and getting them to the frontiers, the borders. This was done by railroads. Thousands of miles of railways had been built in the decades leading up to the war and the armies had recognized the value of being able to rapidly move troops up to the frontiers. Railways were laid up to the borders and otherwise quiet little towns had half-mile long platforms designed to unload battalions of troops. Huge amounts of staff time were devoted to working out troop mobilization and train movement schedules. In the war between Germany and France in 1870 the French had found that the trains all ended up at the wrong place. This is before computers, and took a lot of brainpower and a lot of time.
The risk here was that your adversary declared mobilization and in a week’s time their forces were all at the border armed to the teeth and ready to invade. If you started your mobilization later, even by a day or two, your troops would be caught out of position, in transit and disorganized. Declaring a mobilization, even if you said it was for defensive purposes, was considered a hostile act and tantamount to declaring war. Being late to respond meant that your ability to respond would be degraded.
It was early August 1914 when Russia was the first to mobilize, worried about the Austrians and the Germans. The Germans responded, the French responded to them, the English prepared to aid the French. Then the fighting broke out*.
The Germans had a plan called the Schlieffen Plan, a design for a quick victory in a short war, the bare essentials of which were to fend off the Russians in the east, invade the French in the west through neutral Belgium and Holland and take Paris in forty days. With the French defeated, they’d then move the mass of troops east and beat the Russians.
When people think of World War I now, which isn’t a lot I don’t think, the image is of the static trenches, barbed wire and mud and shelling. You even see it in the excellent Peanuts Halloween special when Snoopy has his Sopwith Camel fantasy. That’s a pretty accurate picture for the time from November 1914 until things came to a finish four years later, but in the early weeks it was a pretty fluid conflict. The Germans went through Belgium, making quick work of the Belgian forts by rolling in huge artillery pieces. The French, hoping to get Alsace Lorraine back, having lost it in 1870, marched across those borders, to be later repelled. The English sent over their army, the smallest army of the combatants but also the most experienced from decades of fighting in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan and the northern frontier (now the tribal parts of Pakistan).
For all the modernity of the trains to the frontiers, once they got there advances fell back on the feet of the soldiers involved, 20 miles a day marching with 60 pound packs, the standard foot soldiers capacity since Roman times, fighting when necessary, slogging along the rural road nets. The Germans got to within 30 miles of Paris and the situation looked desperate, the French sending city buses full of men to the front, but the Schlieffen Plan hadn’t worked. Forty days came and went and the German armies were separated and exposed and so they pulled back. Withdrawing, they got to pick the ground to dig in, and took to the heights. By late September they were digging in and the front was congealing. From the Champagne country to the Swiss border was unpromising terrain for major army movements, though they would be bitterly fought over by smaller units, and the Germans and Allies tried to outflank each other towards the English Channel. The Belgians held the seacoast, and flooded inland for ten miles, the front hardened and ended with the first battle of Ypres, a market town in the unpromising flat country of Flanders. In late October into mid-November the final early battles were fought. These proved memorable to both the British, whose standing army was decimated, and to the Germans, who flung into battle divisions of college students who hastily joined up at the outbreak of war in a fever of nationalism like that gripping most of Europe at the time. The quickly-trained students came up against the British regulars, rifleman trained to get off 15 aimed shots a minute, and were slaughtered by the thousands. The Germans remember them as the Kindermord bei Ypren, the massacre of the Innocents at Ypres, and there’s 25,000 of them buried in a mass grave near Langemarck. The battles around Ypres faded out by November 22 and at that point the trench warfare that came to mark the First World War took over.
The losses are pretty staggering in just these opening sequences. The French had lost 306,000 dead of 2,000,000 mobilized soldiers at the opening of hostilities. The population of France was about 40,000,000 at the time. We are about 320,000,000 now, so that would be the equivalent of 2.4 million dead since the first pre-season NFL game in August. And there were still four years to go. Germany had lost 241,000 dead out of a population of around 64 million. The British had lost around 30,000 killed but that represented a large proportion of their regular Army troops, for she had only ever had a small army to complement her large navy. All the armies were short of guns and nearly out of artillery ammunition, everyone having underestimated the extravagant amounts of ammunition needed. The front solidified into a trench line 475 miles long from the Swiss border to the English Channel and neither side had the strength to force their way through. With those kind of losses, seeking peace seemed unacceptable. Better to hunker down and get more troops trained and then resume offensives once the weather improved.
By the time it was over, the French would have lost 1,700,000 dead. Many were never found. There is at Verdun, site of a colossal attritional struggle between the Germans and French, an ossuary containing the bones of 180,000 unidentified soldiers. The British lost 1,000,000 dead (compared to 200,000 British and another 100,000 Commonwealth in World War II). The Germans lost 2,000,000, the Habsburg Empire 1,500,000, the Russians 1,700,000, the Italians, 460,000. In Britain and France, boys born in 1892-1895, who were 19-22 when war broke out, were reduced in number by 35-37 percent. By comparison, the United States in World War II lost around 300,000 dead. It was about 56,000 dead in Viet Nam. It’s been about 6,800 so far in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve become less accepting of military deaths. I hope that trend continues.
The First World War ended that November 11 four years later not in victory so much as exhaustion. Germany mounted a final offensive in 1918 which was beaten back after making some big initial gains. By that point the French and British were running short of men for the armies. Czarist Russia had collapsed in revolution to become the USSR and the freed German troops from that front came to the western front. The United States joined the battle in 1917 and the first American troops showed up, a disheartening prospect for the Germans. Revolution was in the air as defeat looked imminent. Country after country asked for a ceasefire until only Germany was left, and then the Kaiser had to abdicate, the Armistice was signed and the German Army marched back to its frontiers and disarmed. The gunfire ceased that November morning, thus the date for Armistice Day. It wasn’t, as was hoped for at the time, The War To End All Wars, so now we celebrate Veterans Day to take into account all those who have fought in all our various conflicts, not just the Great War.
A hundred years later and the last of the Great War veterans have died off. The battlefields have mostly been plowed under and gone back to farming and towns. I saw a tv show once on unearthing a soldier found while some builders were digging the foundation for a strip mall in Belgium. The archeologists lovingly dug out the remains and artifacts of a British soldier who died alone fighting over some nondescript bit of land where now an auto parts store was going in. I look at Google Maps at the road from Ypres to Menen, bitterly fought over those last couple of weeks in November 1914 and now there’s a restaurant, a car dealer, a garden center and a pet hostel. A lot of old battlefields are like that, you look at them and wonder how it was governments and men could be persuaded to spend their treasure and their lives there. Even at Verdun, where some French villages were shelled into dust and left as a memorial to the unspeakable horrors of war, a century of weathering has softened the landscape, the mud and gore have grown over with grass and wildflowers and trees, the barbed wire has rusted away, and now it seems like a pleasant, quiet spot for a picnic, if kind of a weirdly shaped terrain (overlapping shellholes), enough so that there are signs asking that you don’t eat and drink there.
World War I led to World War II a generation later. The Soviet Union arose in the latter stages of the first war, absorbed the bulk of the Wermacht’s effort in the second, then stood nose to nose against us for decades in the Mutual Assured Destruction thing before evolving into whatever it is Russia is now. We are fortunate that at no point did anyone screw that up and start World War III, and that we have backed down from that confrontation and voluntarily rid ourselves of much of the nuclear arsenal. We are lucky, too, when you read that the officers who man our missile silos up in the high plains have been routinely cheating on their proficiency tests, that nothing went wrong there. We should remember, but we probably won’t, how easy it is to get into wars and how hard it is to get out of them. We should remember that things don’t always go as you plan. We should remember all those soldiers who have died for us, whether in causes noble or misguided. We should think very hard about when it is worth putting someone’s life on the line on our behalf. We should wonder if in 50 or 100 years someone’s going to be standing at the battlefield, baffled and wondering, What was this all about again? The answer should be clear.
Happy Veteran’s Day!
* My grandfather, my dad’s dad, was arrested and briefly held as a suspected spy in France at the outbreak of hostilities. He was very fond of France and liked to go there quite a lot at a time when not a lot of people travelled out of the country. Most of the photos of my father as a young lad are actually from France when they would travel there during the summer between the wars (granddad was a school headmaster, so had summer holidays.) Apparently the Coles didn’t have a camera, but the family they often traveled with did, so the photos come from them.
The Patriots just finished beating Indianapolis yet again and there remains only the Monday Night Football game to be played. The winners will be Chris Weddell in the Family Pool regardless of who wins Monday night. Chris is father to Hayden Weddell, who won last week. Apparently football brilliance runs in the family. In the High Stakes Pool, it’ll one of the first-year Farsiders at Travelers, Randee Dow (co-winner with my sister Liz in Week 6) if Pittsburgh wins or Scott Kaminski if Tennessee wins.
Speaking of Farsiders at Travelers, longtime Farsider Paul Vigliaturo (16th year) joins Travelers here in St Paul starting tomorrow. I’ve never actually met Paul, so maybe now I will. The uptake to my invitation to join the Farside here at Travelers had a really low uptake, so I’ve resorted to bringing Farsiders in to work here!
Have a great Monday!
Week 11 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Chris Weddell, father of last week’s winner Hayden, won the week with 79 points followed by his sister-in-law Mary Ross and my own handsome son Henry Cole tied in second place with 72 points and then young Hayden Weddell with 71. Last place went to Brian Driscoll with an unprecedented 8 points, a score shared by my niece Sarah Kendell, who only got her early entry in. Seasonally, Teri Carr still leads the Family Pool with 907 points followed by Lee Arvold with 892 and Cindy James with 891. Coming in last at this point is Sarah Kendell with 621 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Randee Dow wins the week with 82 points followed by Scott Kaminski with 79 points and Pierce Lundt with 77. Last place went to Chad Musser and Jim Wheeler with 41 points. Seasonally, Kathy Sandhofer leads with 897 points followed by Chase Johnson with 893 and Kent Musser with 891. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 681 points.
Brian Driscoll’s performance in the Family Pool this week is impressive. I have maintained week by week accounts of the Pool since 2002 and the prior low score was Laurie Sherman’s 20 of 105 possible points in Week 10 of 2007. Brian’s score first came to my notice when I ran the Outcomes after the late Sunday afternoon games and his entry sorted in order below Sarah Kendell’s, who had only a 6 in for her Thursday Pick. I looked in puzzlement, thinking something must be wrong with my macro, then noticed that, no, in fact, Brian had scored 2 points at that point with an impressive 11 of 12 games wrong. He got Sunday night wrong as well, missing out on a 14 weight he had on Indianapolis, and then barely squeaked out a win in Monday’s game when Pittsburgh came from behind to win late, getting him 6 more points for 8 total. Now, I’ve also had the experience of blowing more than 10 games in a week but this is a new low in terms of points scored and represents a pretty impressive accomplishment. Picking 12 of 14 losers is essentially just as difficult as picking 12 of 14 winners (which Randee Dow did, for the win in the High Stakes Pool, while my son Henry Cole did the best in Brian’s Family Pool with 3 games wrong, one fewer than winner Chris Weddell’s 4 wrong). Being sensitive to people’s feelings on such matters, I of course emailed Brian and his sisters Amy Driscoll and ex-Farsider Molly Driscoll. He was good-natured about it, having thrown up his hands and picked the opposite of what he thought. Maybe he should have gone with those ideas this week! Anyway, I salute this achievement and defy anyone to score fewer than 8 points (or 7.62% of available points) in a week! (a score of 10 or fewer points in a full 16-game week would be slightly worse, so you can always strive for that)
Last week I wrote about World War I, how it started off a fluid war of movement and only settled down into the static trench warfare when the German advance was eventually brought to a stop near Paris and then pushed back, with the Germans digging in on ground of their choosing for what turned out to be a four year slog. I noted how heavy the casualties were, a shock to all parties, who went off to war as if it were to be some glorious game, go and biff some Huns, teach them a lesson, home by Christmas. I noted how offensive operations between the two sides ground to halt about this time of year a century ago, with the soaking, freezing winter settling in. As the Armies settled into their trenches to rebuild their strength, the first Christmas came along. There were some scattered instances along the line where the two sides essentially declared a local ceasefire and fraternized on Christmas Day. It would start with singing in the trenches, joined in by the other side, then tentative communication, and in some places ended up with soccer games, shared dinners, all sorts of un-martial things.
Commanders were livid. The ceasefires didn’t last past Christmas when the armies got back to killing each other. Officers and men were sternly reprimanded for this activity and it didn’t happen again. By Christmas 1915 the killing had dug in deeper and the shocked and bewildered novelty of the autumn of 1914 had dissipated. The authorities were also worried about Communists and revolutionaries. Communism was new at the time and there was some thought that populations would split along class lines rather than national ones. Remember, Russia hadn’t gone Communist yet, that lay three years ahead still and was a surprise, everyone thought it would be a more developed country. Having the troops fraternizing along class lines was considered a real threat.
The Christmas Truce has been noted and celebrated as a tiny bright spot in an unremittingly pointless and murderous war, and the English grocery chain Sainsbury’s has risked using it as the basis for their Christmas commercial. English ads have a different form than American ones and the best can have quite involved narratives. This one runs 3 ½ minutes. You can see it here and I recommend watching it. Actually, the weather depicted in there looks a lot like what we’re having right now!
Speaking of British tv ads, I highly recommend the British Arrow Awards (their best tv ad awards) at the Walker Art Museum. Screenings start December 5th and run through about New Year’s and I just booked our tickets for the 5:00PM show on December 26th right before I told you and you guys bought all the seats! The British generally have a higher level of verbal wit and it comes through in the ads. The show is basically an hour and a bit of one commercial after another, but these are the best of British tv ads, not Nigel’s Used Car Lot. Some are hilarious, some are sobering (their PSAs are more in-your-face than ours), some are just mystifying because they make references we don’t get for products we don’t have using stars we don’t know, but the show is always enjoyable. You can read about it and book seats at the Walker Art Museum if you have an interest.
Have a great week!
Here are some samples of British ads. Some of these I’ve linked to in the past, some I haven’t:
John Lewis’s 2011 Christmas Ad, with a kid itching for Christmas to come. John Lewis is a nice department store.
The awesome Johnny Walker single shot narrative. I am deeply impressed with the staging on this one, which includes subtitles for those who can't hear Scottish. I do wonder, at six minutes, where this got shown. Anyone can do CGI special effects, this continuous take is cool. After seeing this, I bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker, so advertising apparently works on the feeble-minded.
A T-Mobile Royal Wedding spot, somewhat less formal than the actual event, but with some pretty good characterizations.
Orange Mobile’s TSA movie phone security spot. I like Cookie the dog. One of my cousins has a dog named Cookie. She ate Geneva’s USB drive when she was over a few summers ago.
The acid Aldi commercials for tea, more tea and, speaking of gin, this one with the well-sated spokesman enjoying an after-dinner drink. The PG Tips tea the lady is comparing to Aldi’s store brand in the ads is our daily brew here in the Farside Global HQ.
And a Christmas tree fire PSA. Rather than hectoring about safety, an ironic overlay of Silent Night. I think the footage is actually American.
Last night’s game looked like your typical wretched Thursday night matchup, the 0-10 Oakland Raiders against the 7-3 Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a lame enough game I’m surprised they didn’t send it to London. Anyway, although I saw not a whit of it, apparently it was pretty good. Oakland got up early, KC fought back to 17-17 and about the time I went to bed I heard a reference to it on the radio, saying KC was driving. That’s it, I figured, they’d win, and drifted off to sleep. Nope. Oakland came back and won it 24-20. Thus the dream dies of a season with no wins, to match the Lions, thusfar the only 0-16 team in League history. Oh well, you know what they say, that’s why the play the game, Any Given Thursday, these teams don’t like each other, blah blah blah.
Poolwise, most of us got slaughtered. Dawn Murphy put a solid 5 on Oakland and rules at the moment. The smattering of people who got Thursday Pick Sixes did ok only because most people putting a conscious weight on the game went much heavier than that for Kansas City and lost.
There’s a Bonus Monday Night Game this week, although I don’t think we get to see it unless you have the NFL Ticket cable package. The six feet of snow that have fallen in the Buffalo area this week, including on their football stadium, have blocked up traffic and buried houses, so the Sunday game has been moved to Monday night in Detroit. The Vikings played a “home” game in Detroit in late 2010 after the Metrodome roof collapsed from snow (a measly 17”) so maybe that’s the favored destination nowadays for homeless teams. San Diego played away from home once, too, due to wildfires in the area, but they only went to Phoenix.
If you’re off all next week and want to get your burdensome Farside duties over with, you can do so by printing out the Week 13 printable sheet to work out your picks and entering them for either the Three Thursday Games (it is Thanksgiving next week, you know) or the full Week 13 slate. Note that we’re back to 16 games, the Bye Weeks are done with for the season. Also note that the game records in there (for KC and Oakland) haven’t updated; that just happens once the week is all done with.
THURSDAY PICK SIX NOTE: Thanksgiving there will not be a Thursday Pick Six, because there’s three games. Get yer entry in or suffer the consequences, which could be a score of 8 for the week if you’re unlucky!
Have a great weekend everyone! And get those entries in by Gametime!
Dallas just barely held off the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, setting up the end game for the week. Or should I say, End Games? There’s two on Monday night, the regular MNF game between Baltimore and New Orleans and the game moved to Detroit between Buffalo and the New York Jets after it snowed 6 feet in Buffalo last week. I guess some players were taken to the airport by snowmobile to make their way out of town. I would tell you all the people and game winning combinations but I’m too lazy and about to go to bed but you may wish to check the Family Pool Outcomes (especially if your name is Megan Clark, Lee Arvold, Steve Ruzek or John Hylle, though John has the unenviable middle position in a tie, needing Buffalo and New Orleans to win with the Saints game totaling 43-45 points for a clean win, 42-46 for a tie) or the High Stakes Outcomes (particularly if your name is Sharon Exel, John Petek, Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong, Curtis Lucky or Neil Tobiason) to see how you’re doing. If your name isn’t in those brackets, and mine is notably absent yet again, then, well, better luck next week!
I guess the Vikings lost in manly fashion to the Packers, holding them to under 50 points for a change. I heard bits of it. There were some tight games this afternoon where the outcomes came right down to the final play, but I mostly spent the day in the closet. By which I mean the coat closet in our addition. The quote for painting the interior of this addition was like $7,500 so I said, forget it, I can do that, it’s not like plumbing or electricity where an error floods the basement or burns the house down, it just leaves a splot on the floor. The vast expanses of bare wallboard we painted back in August on that one magical weekend when the wallboard was done but the floors weren’t in yet, there was just plywood. That went really fast. This trim is taking forever. The closet came to us as a closet with unfinished trim and no rod or shelves or anything, and before we can move in I had to outfit it. I put in the rod last week (heavy duty stainless steel rod, 89 7/8” long, now I own a big pipe cutter because this one was 1/8” larger diameter than my normal pipe cutter can handle) and now I’m working on the shelves. I also painted the trim and the inside of the unfinished doors. Fortunately, we have the brightest closet in Christendom thanks to a four foot long LED fixture mounted above the door, so it’s simple enough to see what’s going on, but painting fiddly trim and vast expanses of doors and raw wood shelving takes a while.
I also had a nervous time installing the rod. As originally framed up, the south wall of the closet was a foot out from the north wall of the shower to allow room for all the shower plumbing. The plumber did a very tidy job and all the pipes fit inside the stud wall, so I had the builders remove the dummy wall that cut a foot off our closet length. Why needlessly encase perfectly good square footage? Especially when I figured out what a square foot of this structure was costing us? So now our closet is a foot longer than originally designed but it also meant that I spent literally 90 minutes measuring, stud-sensing, rolling around my crawlspace on my creeper seeing where the supply pipes went up in relation to the shower drain and gingerly drilling exploratory holes through the wallboard before I finally screwed in my closet rod supports. Great were the chances that I’d blithely drill a pointy drywall screw right into my supply line and get a cascade of water into the crawlspace. With my luck, I’d hit the hot water line, too, just to make it that much more expensive. Fortunately, all my fretting paid off and no cascades ensued. Karla asked what the professional builders did, certainly they didn’t spent 90 minutes installing one end of a closet rod. I mulled this over then realized what the professionals did; they build handy walls a foot away from the plumbing so they didn’t have to worry about it and trusted that the customer wouldn’t notice or get annoyed. Now we have the deep nether regions of the south end of the closet (still real bright!) to store our dining room table leaves when we aren’t entertaining the masses.
In the old days I’d have a ratty tv or two around that I could stick in the closet with me and have the game on. Nobody seems to make ratty tvs anymore, with 12” screens, possibly black and white, and built-in rabbit ears. So nowadays I mostly listen on the radio when I’m doing stuff like painting the closet and building the shelves. (It’s a shelf above the rod, like usual, but then a second shelf set off by a few 1X6 dividers, to give us all a nook to keep our gloves and hats in. Pretty straightforward, but then I’ve routed the nose of all these shelves and had to prime and paint them). If I’m in the attic I do have a tv up there that used to be in the kitchen a long time ago but it has separate rabbit ears and a converter box and just sits at one end so that if there’s an exciting play I can squint at the replay on the low-def 9” screen from 30 feet away. Watching football from the couch on the big-screen HDTV is a pretty good experience, good enough that the League is trying to make the in-stadium experience better because why bother?, but it is more firmly rooted in one spot than the old days with a black and white set out in the garage.
That’s why I’ve watched so little football this season, there’s always more trim that needs painting or a shelf that needs building or other tasks that are more pressing than lounging around on the couch snoozing through a game on a Sunday afternoon. It will all be worth it as the features of the addition come into service (we had the cabinets just inside the back door installed last week, now await countertop) but the work we’re putting in even after major construction operations are done is taking away from my leisure time! Oh well, the Vikes are 4-7 at this point, all hope is gone for the season, so it’s been a good year not to pay attention.
Have a great Monday everyone!
THANKSGIVING IS THURSDAY! THERE ARE THREE GAMES THAT DAY!! GET YOUR ENTRY IN!!!
Week 12 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, 2nd year Farsider Megan Clark won the week with 111 points followed by Cindy James with 110 points and Dave Money with 109. Last place went to Megan’s neice Lauren Swanson with 78 points. Seasonally, Teri Carr leads the Family Pool with 1,009 points followed by Cindy James with 1,001 and Lee Arvold with 995. Coming in last at this point is my neive Sarah Kendell with 717 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Seattle resident and longtime Farsider Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong wins the week with 110 points followed by Jim Biller with 109 points and Neeraj Udeshi and Dan Johnson with 107 each. Last place went to Eric Benson with 66 points, a score several people shared. Seasonally, Rom & Kathy Sandhofer lead with 995 points followed by Kent Musser with 994 and Chase Johnson with 993. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 776 points.
Nothing to report game-wise. I was diligently laboring away in my closet, which now has its shelves and rod installed, is all cleaned up and has two coats hanging in it! We’re going to have to scavenge for coat hangers until we get to Target as we’ve been hanging our coats on hooks in the front entry for years. It is of course only a temporary triumph, as plenty of other work lies ahead, but it sure feels nice to get that major feature of our addition functional (yeah, I know, pathetic to be excited about closet space, but you old house people know whereof I speak).
I had the sad news tonight that my auntie Pat Pickett died. Pat was not actually an aunt, she was my Dad’s cousin. Given that Dad’s parents were pretty devout Catholics and there were several siblings, it’s amazing that he had only one cousin. Anyway, Pat and her husband Ken had three kids named Michael, Ann and Elizabeth who are roughly the same ages as my parents’ Matthew, Ann and Elizabeth, all of us Farsiders now. I’ve always thought of them as sort of our doppelgangers in the UK. Their educational achievement is similar to ours, above that of my mom’s largely working class family, below that of the multiple doctors and PhDs of my Cole cousins, and had we grown up in the UK our lives would have probably have been much like theirs. It was a quirk of fate that had me grow up in North America rather than England. When Karla and I were over in the autumn of 2012 we went to see Pat who was pretty frail physically and delighted to see us although I don’t know that she was completely sure who Karla was. She had some of the simultaneously sad and funny memory failings that one can get and kept fondly recounting an incident in a park with Auntie Margaret, my dad’s sister. Her own father had memory problems and once thought I was my dad back from the Navy after the war and went on in great detail about Coventry City football teams of the late 1930s. More recently, I fondly recall that final glorious Saturday September 8th of 2001, the last weekend before 9/11 and the world changing so dramatically, when we had a big family gathering in Pat’s garden in Coventry, tea and cake and cousins and kids. The Picketts were always very welcoming to us and it’s another one gone from that generation. May she rest in peace.
Have a great week! Make sure you eat too much!
The three Thanksgiving games are done with and the Lions, Eagles and Seahawks won their games. The Lions have now won two in a row on Thanksgiving after having lost nine in a row. A few people got no games wrong, one person missed all three so far, and I don’t run Outcomes with 13 games left to play so we’ll just have to wait until Sunday for things to further resolve themselves. Some Seahawks are parading around with a turkey after having defeated the 49ers. They can settle down now to eat. Weirdly, I kind of miss John Madden’s 6-legged turkey. Seems like a Thanksgiving Tradition.
I hope everyone has had a great day. Ours started off with the kids running a 10k Turkey Trot run. This would be ambitious enough on its own, but it was also 0 degrees Fahrenheit at 7:00 when we rolled out to drop them off at the race. I figured with the low temperatures maybe there’d be a lot of no-shows, but if there were you sure couldn’t tell. Henry and Geneva and a chum of theirs named Cecilia ran the event while I waited near the finish line with a camera and their warm coats. It wasn’t as cold as it could have been as it was brilliantly sunny and clear and there was no real wind. Also the temperature went to 4. The kids rolled in either side of an hour and we walked back to the car to go home and resume normal activities like eating and drinking and lying around like slugs. I have attached a photo of the three of them after the race. They’re starting to thaw a bit here but you can still see the frost of Cecilia’s eyelids, Geneva’s neck Buff and Henry’s goatee.
Karla had to play a 10:00 service after which Geneva made a batch of French 75s (basically champagne and gin and bitters*) and we watched the dog show on the television. Skittles the Wonder Dog took exception to this and kept barking at the tv when the dogs were on. Cheese and crackers, a beer, a fire that would run 12 hours crackling away in the fireplace, a brilliant clear day with the sun pouring in despite the frigid temps outside, football on quietly in the background as we tidied up and had tea and a nap, then eventually dinner. You know the menu. Dessert included the traditional pumpkin pie and also an exquisite chocolate pie in filo dough Karla made as an experiment. Now the football is over and the fire is dying down and the dishwasher is running and there remain three days off before work resumes. It may be cold out, and apparently it’s starting to snow again, but it makes for a great day and a wonderful weekend. I hope you’ve all enjoyed your day as much as we’ve relished ours.
If you did just the early entries, make sure to get the rest of your picks in by gametime Sunday. In the meantime, enjoy your days off, and travel safely if that’s what you’re doing this weekend.
* another World War I reference in this centenary year of the outbreak. The French 75 was the standard French field artillery piece throughout the conflict and they even supplied a couple of thousand to the U.S. when it entered the war because we had little armaments production capacity, weird as that is to think of now. The drink was created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1915, later a haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, Knute Rockne and Rita Hayworth. The powerful drink was said to hit like a French 75 and took on the name. We’ve been to Paris but never to the bar. We like French 75s because they taste good but rarely make them because we don’t usually open a whole bottle of champagne to make them.
Week 13 is over and the final results are in. In the Family Pool, Megan Clark won the week again (she won last week, too) with 114 points followed by Kevin Hyland with 108 points and Megan’s sister Mary Ross with 106. After the early games Sunday there were four contests left to play and at that point Megan and Mary were the only contenders. I emailed the five Ross sisters in the Pool (Jennifer Weddell is the original member, Shannon Swanson, Mary Ross, Megan Clark and Michelle Ross, plus Jennifer’s husband Chris Weddell and son Hayden and Shannon’s daughter Lauren) to let them know so they could engage in some familial trash talking. Last place this week went to Patrick Hyland and Sarah Kendell with 67 points.
Seasonally, Megan’s two consecutive weekly wins put her in the lead for the Family Pool with 1,107 points followed by Cindy James with 1,101 and Teri Carr with 1,098. Coming in last at this point is my niece Sarah Kendell with 784 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Eric Benson wins the week with 108 points followed by Pierce Lundt with 106 points and Mick Sheedy with 105. Last place went to Andrew DeFrank with 68 points, a score shared by a handful of others who missed getting entries in. Seasonally, Kent Musser leads with 1,096 points followed by Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong with 1,091 and Rolf Krogstad with 1,088. Last place for the season so far is held down by my sister Liz Cole with 864 points.
I trust everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I love the four day weekend aspect of Thanksgiving and we’ll have much the same with Christmas this year. Sunday after church I took Henry back down to Winona State. I drove on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi all the way down and it was a beautiful sunny day, if cold. The Mississippi is a working river used to transport a lot of bulk goods and they had a short and troubled navigation season this year. The river unfroze late last spring, rain caused sandbars to build up mid-season which had to be dredged to get barges through and then now has frozen a bit early. The last barge locked through headed downstream at Hastings on November 28th and already, driving down, Lake Pepin (a 20 mile long wide spot in the river) was pretty much frozen over. Maybe the ice isn’t very thick. There were occasional bits of open water, but south of Wabasha the main channel was frozen and the Coast Guard navigation lights were forlornly blinking on buoys locked in ice. One side-effect of this has been a shortage of concrete in Minnesota. The cement used to bind aggregates to make concrete comes upstream in barges and between a constrained season and lots of construction activity in the state it’s hard to get concrete poured. The state DOT had to close down a couple of projects because of this and our priest at church, where there is some drainage and foundation work going on, actually made a plea that if anyone had contacts in the cement business to please get in touch. I’ve also heard that the Vikings stadium, which is rapidly growing in downtown Minneapolis, is also vacuuming up lots of concrete.
In any case, the lovely drive down the river showed the river at this transition point. Because of all driving down and back, I didn’t see the Vikings at all. Henry and I had them on the radio and were delighted to hear them block two punts and run them in for touchdowns. The Vikings hadn’t blocked a punt for a TD since 1986, 453 games ago, and if I recall correctly, nobody had done two in a game since 1990, so it was unusual and fun to hear that. I did worry about the offense getting cold, as they had nothing to do as the defense stopped Carolina, the special teams blocked the punts and scored, kicked off and the defense took over again. The Purple did come up short on time of possession but managed to win the game.
Driving home I stopped briefly in Minneista [I'd originally written Minnetrista, but that's a different place altogether], a small burg nestled under the bluffs but raised up from the river, to take a couple of photos after dusk. There was a cosy bar & café there with the Packers and Patriots on and I was sorely tempted to stop in and watch for a while, but it’s still 80 miles or something like that from home, so I took my pix and headed on home.
Have a great week!
I call them Interim Results but really the outcome is pre-ordained. It’ll be young Lauren Swanson in the Family Pool and my Kentucky sister Liz Cole in the High Stakes Pool. Liz is dead last in that pool but has already tied for a win one week (with Randee Dow, who also went on to win her own week solo). Lauren spent a few weeks in last place but has lately been displaced by my niece Sarah Kendell, who actually had a chance to win the week until tonight’s game went New England’s way. The wins by Oakland over San Francisco and Carolina over New Orleans (and, to a lesser extent, the Giants over the Titans) all cost most of us a lot of foregone points. Lauren was the only person to take Oakland in the Family Pool (Devin Ward picked them in the High Stakes Pool, to no avail) and only lost a point in New Orleans’ dire effort. She only has three games wrong so far as opposed to the six or seven most of us have. Lauren is, if my records are correct, 9 years old and in 4th grade and thus the youngest current Farside participant, just beating out her cousin (and also a winner this season) Hayden Weddell at 11 and 6th grade.
Anyway, congratulations to both prospective winners. They may be last or near to it on the season, but both have weekly wins. This is way better than my position (mid-pack 22nd place, no wins). And let it be a lesson to you; even though the seasonal 1st/2nd/3rd place ranks are out of reach for most of us, anybody can win a week right up to the end of the season. Don’t lose heart!
Monday Night’s game is Atlanta at Green Bay and another chance to see Aaron Rodgers put on a clinic. As for winning, for all but two of us there is always next week.
Have a great Monday!
Week 14 is over and the final results are finally in. In the Family Pool, 10-year-old Lauren Swanson, who turns 11 on Saturday, won the week with 120 points followed by my niece Sarah Kendell with 111 points and my nephew Andrew Kendell with 110. Last place went to Vickie Hyland with 75 points. There’s a couple of notable things there. One is the seasonal rankings of the top three weekly participants who, even after accounting for their glistening scores this week, are ranked 49th, 50th (last place) and 46th on the season. Your seasonal ranking has nothing to do with your chances week to week, and Lauren is kicking off her Lauren Days birthday week nicely with this win. The other notable thing is the season the Running Ross Sisters are having. The hook into this group is Jennifer Weddell, with whom I worked around the turn of the century (that sounds a long time ago!) and who eventually got the other four sisters (Shannon Swanson, Mary Ross, Michelle Ross and Megan Clark) plus her husband (Christopher Weddell), son (Hayden) and Shannon’s daughter Lauren into the Pool. Well, this group has won the last five weeks straight in the Family Pool: Hayden (also 11), Chris, Megan, Megan again and now Lauren. Mary also picked off Week 1, so the Ross Sisters have so far won 6 of the 14 weeks. That’s a heck of a season for one family grouping! Not that it’s unprecedented; in 2012, cousins Hayden and Lauren, then both 9 years old, also both won a week.
Megan Clark also leads the Family Pool with 1,204 points followed by Cindy James with 1,197 and Teri Carr with 1,196. Coming in last at this point is my niece Sarah Kendell with 895 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, my sister Liz Cole wins the week with 111 points followed by Pierce Lundt with 109 points and Ed Whetham with 107. Last place went to Pierce’s brother and young med student Mick Sheedy and Jim Wheeler with 61 points. You might remember that Liz and Randee Dow tied for Week 6 and split the prize. Now they’ve both won individual weeks of their own, with Randee taking Week 11 and now Liz getting week 14. Again, stressing that your seasonal ranking has nothing to do your chances of a weekly win, Liz picked off Week 14 despite being in 50th place (of 52) seasonally, and it’s only her win this week that’s dragged her up from last place.
Seasonally, it’s extremely crowded at the top in the High Stakes Pool. John Petek, Chase Johnson and Chase’s granddad Kent Musser are tied for first with 1,187 points each followed one point back by Kevin Cellini with 1,186 and two more points behind by Rolf Krogstad with 1,184. Last place for the season so far is held down by Jim Wheeler with 930 points. It’s a nerve-wracking time of the season for those in competition for the top three spots. Kent had sole lead last week but gave up 11 points to John and Chase to allow them to tie this week. It can be agonizing to look at your, say, 3 on Philly, and wonder, what was I thinking? The very worst part of the season for the top contenders is the last couple of weeks when the playoff-bound teams, depending on their status relative to weeks off and home field, can start coasting and playing their second-stringers while other teams dutifully mark time waiting for the coach to be fired. This week a lot of teams are still playing hard, though, and it’s going to be a tricky one in terms of setting weights. There’s a lot of evenly-matched contests, all the way from Jets at Titans (both 2-11) to Broncos at Chargers (10-3, 8-5).
Have a great week!
The Arizona Cardinals won last night over the Saint Louis Rams 12-6 in the first NFL game since late 2012 to have no touchdowns. I saw none of it, but apparently it was a defensive struggle. I heard on the radio this morning that Saint Louis hasn’t allowed an opposing touchdown in three games. They’re also the only team to have beaten both Super Bowl teams from last year, but they’re still 6-8. Arizona is now 11-3, the best record in the League*.
A lot of people didn’t get entries in yesterday and got the Thursday Pick Six, on the Cardinals. This is largely my fault. There’s a Travelers Choir at work and we sang at an old folks home last night. Had to be there at 6:15 to warm up for 6:30, so I came home, made a pot of tea, had a cup, got out the computer to do my Pool Administration and discovered that there had been a big Windows update. My computer went into a cycle of shutdown Windows, restart, Do Not Turn Off Computer During Update messages, excruciatingly slow as 6:05 rolled by, then 6:10. I started Excel and Outlook and fired off the import macro, 6:12, damn, I’ve got to get going, 6:14, still not done, man this thing is running slowly, run upstairs and plug it in, out the door. I’d violated one of Matt’s Rules for Life: Never Let A Machine Know You’re In A Hurry. Anyway, I didn’t send my normal Thursday reminder message (got to import the 41 emails out of Outlook first so I don’t send reminders to people already in). I was pretty sure that the Rams would win and entered my picks on them from my iPhone and kind of felt bad about anyone stuck with the Pick Six, but hey, they all have six points now and I have zero.
Fortunately, the Hamline High Rise isn’t too far away and I rolled in as the small brass group was finishing off, and then we sang some of our music to the appreciative crowd. The choir is pretty good, there’s more than 40 people in it (not last night, but at full strength) and there’s a lot of actuaries because apparently plenty of math people are also good at music. We’ve worked up music that lasts the better part of an hour and are singing the big Holiday Concert at work next Wednesday, then at the homeless place you walk by on the way to the parking ramp on Thursday. It’s kind of a novelty to have a choir at work but we have a couple of thousand employees downtown which is a big enough population to support one. I guess it used to be even larger, and would rent out the Ordway Theatre a block away for the Holiday** Concert, but we don’t do that any longer.
Enjoy your Friday! Get your picks in by gametime Sunday!
* If you really want to get into the statistical weeds, apparently this is the first game the Cardinals have won on the road without scoring a touchdown since 1935. Ok then.
** I woke up early and turned on sports talk radio as I am wont to do when I want to be lulled back to sleep. It was the Fox Sports Network national feed, a couple of guys yelling at each other about Jay Cutler, then they went to break and the first spot was from everyone at Fox Sports Network wishing us Happy Holidays. Wait, I thought Fox liked to foam at the mouth every year about the War On Christmas! What’s this Happy Holidays crap? Don’t let Bill O’Reilly find out!
WARNING: THERE ARE TWO SATURDAY GAMES THIS WEEK IN ADDITION TO THE THURSDAY GAME! YOU NEED TO AT LEAST ENTER EARLY AND PICK ALL THREE OF THOSE GAMES!!!
Note: I will do the Pick Six for Thursday’s game still but there is no equivalent for the Saturday games. Ugh, sorry, I just looked to see what the game is. The NFL is featuring Tennessee at Jacksonville, both teams are 2-12, so you’ll get 6 on the Jaguars since they’re the home team. You might seriously want to think about doing your own entry!
Anyway, Week 15 is over and the final results are finally, at long last, in. In the Family Pool, Marianne Arvold won the week with 125 points followed by her son Lee Arvold with 124 points and Katie Kostman with 122. Marianne’s win breaks the five-week streak of Ross Sister Clan wins although it was close since going into the Sunday Night game young Hayden Weddell had a chance though he needed a Philly win, which didn’t happen. Still, it’s the season of familial wins as Marianne’s sons Neil and Lee have won three weeks between them. So, between the Arvold and Ross clans, they’ve won 10 of 15 weeks. Last place went to Brian Driscoll with 58 points, a score he graciously shared with a handful of lazy sods like my son Henry and nephew Andrew. Seasonally, Megan Clark (of the Ross Sisters) leads the Family Pool with 1,321 points followed by Cindy James with 1,311 and Katie Kostman & Teri Carr with 1,305 each. Coming in last at this point is my neice Sarah Kendell with 1,003 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Kathy Sandhofer, my sister Liz Cole and first year Farsider Scott Kaminski tied the week with 122 points each and Kathy won based on her tiebreaker of 48. The Saints beat Chicago 31-15 for 46 total points, so Kathy evaded a tie by one point; had it been 45 total points, she and Liz (with a tiebreaker of 42) would have tied. Scott had high hopes for a scorefest and took a tiebreaker of 55 which was undermined when Chicago was sacked 7 times and turned the ball over 3 times as well. Kathy won Week 1 too, so is having a good season and now leads the money stakes in the High Stakes Pool. Anyway, those three were followed by Leslie Lundt and Daryl Ackerman with 120 points each in second place and Dan Johnson and Melody Chilson with 118 each in third. Last place went to Devin Ward with 79 points. Seasonally, Kathy Sandhofer & Chase Johnson are tied for first with 1,304 points followed by Kevin Cellini with 1,299 and John Petek with 1,298. Last place for the season so far is held down by Jim Wheeler with 1,014 points.
On Monday I met longtime Farsider Paul Vigliaturo. He’s in his 16th year in the Pool, brought in as a friend of Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong’s back when Rom worked at MSI. Rom’s only been in 15 years but that’s because he sat out a season where Paul’s been in all along. Unlike several Farsiders who live far away from here, Paul is a Twin Cities guy but our paths never crossed. He started working at Travelers about a month ago, one floor down from me, after stints at Target and Home Depot (and no, he wasn’t in charge of credit card security!). We had a nice lunch and a chat. Farsiders who read the emails know all about my kids and house and lawnmower and whatever enthusiasms have caught my attention week to week but in many cases I don’t know a lot about you. Paul has a high school freshman and a senior at Trinity School, so is peering down the prospect of college coming along soon. We had a good chat and will probably see each other reasonably regularly, on the elevator if nowhere else.
Paul may actually see me Wednesday. It’s the Travelers Holiday Concert(s), at 10:00 and 1:00. There’s a choir at work, and I joined, and first year Farsider Chris Westermeyer does most of the directing, and another first year Farsider and ex-Marine Corps band member Curtiss Lucky will be playing trumpet on some pieces. We sing in the Jackson Room at Travelers in downtown Saint Paul. The official address is 385 North Washington Street, St. Paul, but that’s the front door of the North Building (in which I actually work, in the round bit known colloquially as The Beer Can) and what you want to do if you want to come see me and about 45 other people sing and also about 15 instrumentalists and a couple of pianists, is come to the west entrance in South Building. I attached a Google Map snippet with an arrow pointing to the entrance using my highly professional image editing skills. Just come in, say you’re there for the Travelers Choir in the Jackson Room, and you’ll be directed to the right spot.
I’ve droned on about the house on and off all autumn. Major construction operations came to a close at the beginning of October and we’ve been doing other bits of work. I am very slowly painting my way around the trim and got the windows in the Music Room this past weekend and just tonight, Tuesday, installed at long last the window hardware. The windows in there are casement windows, hinged at the top and they crank open. All summer (once the windows were in) and up until about 7PM tonight we just had one crank out and would move it from window to window to open or close. Tonight all the trim pieces went on and the locking levers to lock the windows closed. Between that and the fresh paint it looks pretty civilized.
We also got our countertop in the Mudroom. We did cabinets just inside the rear entry door. These weren’t part of The Project so we ordered them, after long consultation with a very helpful designer named Penny Ross at the Quarry Home Depot, in mid-October. Given that there’s only 42” of cabinets we took a long time talking them over. Even though they weren’t part of the design we had the contractors do, we marked out on the floor where they were going to go so the heat wouldn’t go under them, and had the electric fixtures set at above-kitchen-counter height. Well, the cabinets came in mid-November, at which time we got measured for the countertop, a piece of granite to match the kitchen countertops. I also measured then for textured water glass for the upper cupboards and ordered that and bought and cut to size a piece of perforated brass for one of the lower units, which has a door and two roll-outs, but no panel in the door. Instead, we did this metal mesh and that’s where the potatoes, onions, garlic and whatever root vegetables have caught Matt’s fancy go (“Hey honey, look, I bought some turnips!”). Cool, dark, air circulation, just what a tuber wants. Penny was impressed that we wanted this. We’re only the third people she’s had want a potato cabinet, and the other two were gourmet cooks. Yeah, we just wanted the spuds not to be on display*, like they have been for years along with other items of which we are inordinately proud, like our vacuum cleaner, ironing board and two loads of clean laundry with cats sleeping on them. Anyway, I got the brass in, the glass came last week and I installed that, and today the granite came to replace the slightly askew piece of plywood I had temporarily put in place so we could stack piles of crap on it, something we’re definitely certainly surely not going to do now that It’s granite (cough cough). That brings the house up as far as it’s getting for Christmas. Projects like this are never really finished, they just kind of taper off. Trim painting will go on all winter, I just got the swinging kitchen door back from being stripped of paint** and need to rehang that, there’s window trim in the kitchen needs installing, it never ends.
The warm weather locally (highs in the 50s) we had last week really stunk. Our landscaping won’t be done until spring, and the heatwave melted off all the snow and exposed the mudpit once more. I know we call the entrance the Mudroom, but still, this was disgusting. The only good news is that we happened to be having the chimney tuck pointed and they sheathed it in scaffolding and plastic and ran a heater in it to help the mortar set correctly, but then the temps came up to where they needed to be anyway. Karla says it looks nice but I haven’t seen it in daylight yet. For all our cursing at the mud, the warmth was welcome for chimney purposes. It got cold again overnight with a bit of snow, enough to freeze up the mud and then cover it in a thin coating of white. The tuck pointing guy was a bit cavalier with driving his truck through our mud so now his tire tracks will be frozen and preserved like the tracks of some long-extinct species. I personally hope it stays cold and snow-covered through March when we’ll suck it up and deal with the Big Melt. It ain’t going to be pretty.
Have a great week! Happy Hanukkah!
* although just tonight Karla was reading me a recipe for duck fat roasted potatoes, which sound really good. We own a jar of duck fat for popcorn-making purposes and are wondering about other things to do with it.
** I had visions of just finishing the kitchen side natural wood rather than white paint, but it turns out the original owners had a dog who apparently didn’t like being locked in the kitchen and scratched and clawed at the door and they filled the damage with spackle and paint. It can be fixed to paint nicely, but a big plain wood finish door ain’t happening. Dogs.
NO THURSDAY GAME THIS WEEK!!! EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN ONE BIG SPASM OF FOOTBALL ON SUNDAY!!! SO HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS AND TAKE YOUR TIME ENTERING!!!
My schedule shows no Sunday Night game but in fact the Bengals are at the Steelers at 7:30 Central for the final regular season game of 2014.
Week 16 is over and the final results are finally in. Sorry about the delays over the weekend, it was a disjointed couple of days. Anyway, in the Family Pool, Kathy Haskin won the week with 90 points followed by her sister-in-law and brother-in-law Jenny Mullen and Chris Mullen with 87 points each and Lee Arvold with 86. Last place went to Mary Ross of the winning Ross Sisters clan, who had a bit of a rough time this week, with 38 points. Some other people including for instance my son Henry didn’t get entries in on time and share this score. Seasonally, Mary’s sister Megan Clark of the Ross Clan (they should get a tartan) leads the Family Pool with 1,402 points followed by Cindy James with 1,391 and Lee Arvold with 1,390. Coming in last at this point is my neice Sarah Kendell with 1,041 points.
In the High Stakes Pool, Pierce Lundt wins the week with 106 points. Pierce has appeared in these pages before, winning Week 2 this season, back when teams all still had high hopes. Pierce was followed by Dan Dziekciowski with 99 points and Rolf Krogstad and Neil Tobiason with 96 each. Last place went to my sister Liz Cole with 60 points. I’d ruthlessly mock her for this (she’s sitting right here in the living room drinking tea with me) except she’s won 1.5 times and I haven’t. Seasonally, Rolf Krogstad leads with 1,393 points followed by John Petek and Kevin Cellini in second with 1,384 each and Chase Johnson with 1,379. Last place for the season so far is held down by Jim Wheeler with 1,074 points.
I have yet to watch a game all the way through with all this house stuff we’ve been doing but did see a chunk of the Vikings’ game on Sunday. They kept committing stupid penalties. They had a bad call go against them when a brilliant catch on the sideline for an apparent touchdown (even Mike Perreira, former head of NFL officials thought it was a TD) was ruled out on the 2 and they ended up settling for a field goal rather than a TD. Great, I thought, that’s a four point swing, I wonder how that’ll bite them in the ass. Vikings fans learn to think this way. It bit them pretty hard when with under a minute to go they had a bad snap on a punt out of their endzone make for a blocked punt and a safety, usually one of my favorite scores. So they lost 37-35. Those four points would sure have come in handy! Not that it mattered. The Vikes weren’t getting in the playoffs no matter what and Miami, who beat them, was knocked out with a Pittsburgh win later.
It seemed that most games had some playoff implication or other, getting people in or out, home field advantage, bye weeks, whatever. A lot of the Week 17 games do too, and it makes for an awkward week for those in the running for the Top 3 spots. How hard is New England going to play? They have home field through the playoffs. But Buffalo is out, so how hard will they try? Some teams, like the Jets, are just watching the clock until they can clean out their lockers and go play golf after their coach gets fired, others are wanting to fight their way into the playoffs. It makes for an unpredictable week. It is also your last chance to win no matter what your position; the number of people grabbing for the seasonal first/second/third rankings is pretty tiny, but anybody can crack off a win for the week. So get your entries in!
Have a great week! And Merry Christmas!!
Congratulations to Farsiders Wanda Copeland and Melody Chilson, who got married this past weekend up in Duluth. This was part of the disrupted few days, as Karla played the service and I took pictures and we went up Friday to catch the rehearsal and dinner and then the actual ceremony on Saturday. Wanda is in her third season in the Farside, Melody in her first. Wanda was associate priest at St. Christopher’s when Karla started there and when we arrived her husband Tom had just died after a long battle with cancer. I think his funeral might have been the first week we were there. I got to know Wanda more when she, Farsider Emeritus Paul Salamon, a guy named Bill and I moved the organ that is now in church from Detroit. Moving organs is kind of expensive so I said, well, Paul and I could probably do it*, and Wanda and Bill came along, and we disassembled it, packed it up, trucked it back to the Cities and later reassembled it. Wanda got a job in Horseheads, New York and has been there a couple of years. Melody was an old friend of hers and Tom’s and I guess romance blossomed. This is the first actual same-sex wedding I’ve been to. There was quite a lot of family there, Wanda’s stepchildren (in their 30s and 40s now I’m guessing) and Melody’s mom, sister, brother and some friends. They’d come to Duluth from San Diego and Louisiana and Houston and Ohio (I think) as well as the Twin Cities. Everyone in attendance really enjoyed themselves, Karla played the music, I took photos, the reception dinner was delicious, everyone had a dance to the oldies afterwards. Best wishes to the happy couple as they make their life together!
The families were darn lucky the weather was safe. Duluth at the Solstice can be a dark and frigid place. Instead, it was dark but grey and warmish, like mid-20s. After the biting cold at Thanksgiving I thought maybe we were in for another tough winter but instead around here it’s been mid-30s, cloudy, foggy, drippy and, in the immediate vicinity of our house, muddy. You know, if I wanted to live in Seattle, I’d move there. I even bought a Starbucks today to get the full Seattle experience. I was kind of counting on our mudpit of a lawn freezing for the winter and staying frozen instead of melting and making it so that we have to wipe the dog down every time she’s out to pee. I know the addition has a room we call the Mudroom, but I didn’t mean to be so literal about it. In any case, nobody had any trouble getting to or from Duluth due to weather.
We stayed in the South Pier Inn, right on the Duluth Ship Canal, and on Saturday morning the lift bridge rattled up and a big huge laker (ship that operates only on the Great Lakes) came cruising through. It was the American Century, 1,000 feet long and making its living carrying low-sulfur coal down to the lower Lakes. There were some ice floes in the channel but the Captain must not have seen Titanic because he just plowed right through them. That was the only ship coming in during the day**. The night before the last ocean-going ship (salties, they call them) of the season had headed out. The lakers operate until mid-January and I think the locks between some of the lakes freeze up and bring a halt to operations. Although the salt water ships are smaller (they have to fit through the Welland Canal around Niagara Falls) they carry some cool cargoes. When they dug the tunnels under the airport for the light rail tracks they used some gargantuan German tunneling machine (a Herrenknecht dual-mode, if you want to get one cheap in the post-Christmas sales) and it was delivered to Duluth by ship, then trundled down to the Cities in the middle of the night on massive trucks with lots of wheels to distribute the weight. It’s handy to bring that kind of stuff 1,200 miles inland by ship and only have to cover the last 150 on the ground. By comparison, the larger lakers are usually full of boring bulk cargoes like salt, coal, iron ore, limestone or grain. There are times when it must be glorious to be out on those vessels but by now, 35 trips in for the year, out on the freezing lake running between Superior, Wisconsin and Gary, Indiana it might be getting a bit old. I’d still love to do a trip on one sometime, though!
Now we’re prepping for Christmas. We usually invite a bunch of people and they’re usually otherwise occupied but this time they weren’t, and we’ll be ten for dinner! This should be good fun as the guests are mostly good singers and I can foresee some fine caroling in here now that the piano’s tuned and once the dinner wine has had its way with everyone. I did notice a rental upholstery stapler out in the kitchen so it looks like the rest of this evening after sending this email and maybe some of tomorrow too will be spent in a panic re-upholstering of the dining room chairs***.
Have a great Christmas everyone! Enjoy your gifts and meals and especially your families!
Matt “The Commissioner” Cole
* probably preceded by the phrase that I first learned back at Iowa State, “All you gotta do…” to which the correct response is “How hard can it be?”
** there must be bigger shipping nerds than me out there because this hotel offers a ship alert service that calls you at, say, 3:00AM if a ship is coming through in the middle of the night
*** here, try it: “How hard can it be?”
Week 17 is over, as is the Farside season, and the final results are in.
In the Family Pool, Steve Ruzek won the week with 118 points followed by Dennis Reopelle with 117 points and Steve’s daughter Katie Kostman & Ross Clan member Shannon Swanson with 116. Last place went to my own lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 80 points, a score a couple of others got as well.
With the final week under our belts it is worth remembering that the seasonal results I’ve been so assiduously tracking since early September pay out for the top three spots (not just first, like the weekly winners). With that in mind, Megan Clark of the Ross Clan won the Family Pool with 1,512 points (that’s worth $125). Megan had a great year, winning weeks 12 and 13 and then 1st place. Megan was followed by Cindy James ($75) with 1,505 points and Katie Kostman ($50) with 1,504. Last place went to my niece Sarah Kendell ($0) (hah hah hah, man I’m hilarious!) with 1,121 points on the season. You can see how achingly close these top seasonal places can be; Cindy and Katie are one point apart. Lee Arvold is in the hot seat, 4th place and no seasonal winnings, at 1,499 points, 5 back of Katie, but Lee won Week 8 along the way and can console himself with those winnings.
In the High Stakes Pool, Scott Paluska won the week with 120 points followed by a five-place tie for second place 2 points back between John Petek, Neeraj Udeshi, Jay Steffenhagen, Sharon Exel and Chad Musser with 118 points and then Rolf Krogstad and Kevin Cellini tied for third with 117. Last place for the week went to Blaine Lundt with 62 points, a score shared by several non-entrants.
I’ve mentioned before how you don’t need to a win a week to win the season. This year in the High Stakes Pool, none of the top three placers won a week! Rolf Krogstad ($260) came in first with 1,510 points followed by John Petek ($156) with 1,502 and Kevin Cellini ($104) with 1,501. Last place goes to Jim Wheeler, who works with Rolf at Pace Labs, with 1,165 points. It looks to me like one of you is spending too much time on work tasks! The hot seat in the High Stakes Pool goes to this week’s winner Scott Paluska and he’s a solid 11 points back of Kevin (with whom he works) so it’s not an agonizingly close miss.
I do a big write-up at year end, and am going to, but I figured I’d get out these results right away. I’d expect the writeup tomorrow or Wednesday* followed shortly by your usual Farside Report Card for the season. If you’re one of these aforementioned winners, you can expect to hear from me shortly about payment arrangements if I don’t already have your data. In the meantime, all the usual scoresheets etc. can be found at the Farside site where you can find answers to all your Farside questions
Have a great week!
* We’ve been invited to dinner tomorrow evening at someone’s house and I may thus be delayed in getting the final writeup done, hence my interest in getting this short version out.
Just as a useful Farside advisory, if you ever invite me to dinner, please don't make it beef stroganoff. I was of course was polite and employed my Auntie Gwen's rule of polite eating, A Little Would Be Lovely, then camouflaged my modest helping with a heap of salad.
Time for the Big Writeup! I’m starting this New Year’s Eve, we’ve got another fire crackling in the grate, the womenfolk are bustling around the kitchen making a Shepherd’s Pie out of leftover Christmas Roast while watching Downton Abbey, Season Four, Episode One. Me, I’m hanging on to Christmas as long as possible and have jazz Christmas carols on the stereo as I look back at the 2014 Farside Season. First of all, I’m going to start by reiterating the Week 17 results and the final Seasonal Results that are part and parcel of that.
In the Family Pool, Steve Ruzek won the week with 118 points followed by Dennis Reopelle with 117 points and Steve’s daughter Katie Kostman & Ross Clan member Shannon Swanson with 116 each. Last place went to my own lovely daughter Geneva Cole with 80 points, a score a couple of others got as well.
Remembering that the seasonal results I’ve been so assiduously tracking since early September pay out for the top three spots, not just first like the weekly winners. With that in mind, Megan Clark of the Ross Clan won the Family Pool with 1,512 points (that’s worth $125). Megan had a great year, winning weeks 12 and 13 and then 1st place. She was followed by Cindy James ($75) with 1,505 points and Katie Kostman ($50) with 1,504. Last place went to my niece Sarah Kendell ($0) (hah hah hah, man I’m hilarious!) with 1,121 points on the season. You can see how achingly close these top seasonal places can be; Cindy and Katie are one point apart. Lee Arvold is in the hot seat, 4th place and no seasonal winnings, at 1,499 points, 5 back of Katie, but at least Lee won Week 8 along the way and can console himself with those winnings.
In the High Stakes Pool, Scott Paluska won the week with 120 points followed by a five-place tie for second place between John Petek, Neeraj Udeshi, Jay Steffenhagen, Sharon Exel and Chad Musser with 118 points and then Rolf Krogstad and Kevin Cellini tied for third with 117. Last place for the week went to Blaine Lundt with 62 points, a score shared by several non-entrants.
I’ve mentioned before how you don’t need to a win a week to win the season. Once again this year in the High Stakes Pool, none of the top three placers won a week! Rolf Krogstad ($260) came in first with 1,510 points followed by John Petek ($156) with 1,502 and Kevin Cellini ($104) with 1,501. Last place goes to Jim Wheeler, who works with Rolf at Pace Labs, with 1,165 points. [er, correction, Rolf left and is now Manager for Software Development at Ultima Bank Minnesota]. The hot seat in the High Stakes Pool goes to this week’s winner Scott Paluska and he’s a solid 11 points back of Kevin (with whom he works) so it’s not an agonizingly close miss.
You might remember Scott Paluska’s name. He works at COUNTRY in Bloomington, Illinois but lives in Washington, IL, on the outskirts of Peoria. On November 16, 2013, the Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field was suspended for a time due to heavy thunderstorms and extremely forbidding black clouds in the Chicago area. I initially thought the NFL was going soft, as they’d opened the season delaying the start of a game in Denver due to light rain showers 40 miles to the west. However, the Bears delay was prudent because the storms were more like mid-May than mid-November and spawned tornadoes across the Midwest, including downstate Illinois, killed 8 people. One of them also ran across Washington including Scott’s house. Fortunately, neither he nor his family were hurt, but the house was very badly damaged. Aware of this, I wanted to confirm his mailing address before sending him his winnings, and emailed about it, and expressed some wonder at how involved it must be totally rebuilding given our experience this past summer in just doing an addition. Scott replied:
It is the same location that was destroyed by the tornado. We moved back in about 2 months ago.
The house was totaled and we removed everything down to the footings of the foundation and started over. The house was a ranch, now is a 2 story and we put the basement rooms in the upstairs, and the basement now is unfinished. I agree about the amount of work needed to be done to get the house fully functional. It was very involved getting all the decisions done. There is still a little more, we still need a yard and fence.
It is going well, happy not to be renters anymore.
Sounds like Scott and I will be doing lots of yard work this spring and summer! It’s good to hear that things are largely back together. A passing storm that merits a few comments on the broadcast and gets a little coverage in papers ends up being a year or more’s large dislocation in the lives of those affected.
There’s a couple of things I like to look at once the season is finished. For one thing, I like to see how many winners there are. I keep the pools at around 51 people (it was 52 in the High Stakes Pool, 50 in the Family Pool this season) so that there is about a 1 in 3 chance of winning a week if this were completely random. It’s not completely random, of course, there is some element of skill mixed in with the pure dumb luck. In each pool there are 20 prizes paid out, the 17 weekly ones plus the 3 seasonals. In the Family Pool, we had 17 distinct winners. The story of this season is the success met by the Ross Clan. Megan Clark won Weeks 12 and 13 AND also got first place on the season. That means she won $225 total. She thanks you and, well, me, who didn’t win squat and so once again funded other peoples’ winnings. D’Oh! Megan’s sister Mary Ross picked off Week 1, always a tough one, her 11-year-old nephew Hayden Weddell got Week 10, Hayden’s dad (and Megan’s brother-in-law) Chris Weddell got Week 11, Megan got 12 and 13 and then Lauren Swanson, Megan’s niece, ten years old at the time, got Week 14. Whew! They won 6 of the 17 weeks and also got 1st place. There’s five of these sisters altogether, plus a husband and two children, so the rest of us had better hope they don’t all catch on or I’ll just start having you mail your checks to them! I particularly like Hayden’s performance; this concludes his fifth season and he’s got his third weekly win. And he’s still 11! I’ve also got three weekly wins in my Farside career, but I’ve got 19 seasons under my belt, and many years in other peoples’ pools prior to that. I wish I knew his secret. (Lauren’s on pace as well, with 2 wins in her 3 seasons, what can she say, she started late in life).
The Arvold Family did well this year as well, with Neil winning two weeks (2 and 3, both of our two-weekly winners won consecutive weeks this season) and his brother Lee and mom Marianne getting a week each. I like Lee’s education experience, visible on the History of Winning page for the Family Pool; he played 2001-2007 without winning a week, sat out 2008 for his first year at college (a Farside redshirt), then came back in 2009, since when he’s won an average of a week a year. Never doubt the value of education!
Another interesting performance is Katie Kostman’s. She came in third on the Family Pool this season without winning an individual week. This concludes Katie’s 7th season and this is the third time she’s won a seasonal prize (3rd twice, 1st last year). What’s interesting is that she’s only won two weeks, both in 2011, and didn’t place for the season that year. Katie is a perfect example of what I mean when I say you don’t need to win a week to win a seasonal prize.
I like to look at the Money Winnings as well. Megan came out best here in the Family Pool, with her $225. Neil Arvold was 2nd, with $100 for his two weekly wins (the Family Pool paid $50 per week, $1 per participant). Cindy James didn’t win any weeks but put up 2nd place on the season for $75. Then 14 people won $50 each; Mary Ross, my own lovely daughter Geneva Cole, Steve Benson, Amy Driscoll, Vickie Hyland, Lee Arvold, Scott Sherman, Hayden Weddell, his dad Chris Weddell, his cousin Lauren Swanson, Marianne Arvold, Kathy Haskin and Steve Ruzek all winning a week and Steve’s daughter Katie Kostman winning 3rd place on the season. Lauren won a week while ranked 49th on the season, the lowest winning rank on the year. My daughter Geneva won a week while ranked 47th. Both ended up mired deep in the 40s but a weekly win helps assuage the embarrassment. Me, I ended up ranked 34th for the season with no wins. Lee Arvold had a close one; he won a week and ended up 4th. Most weekly winners were ranked below 20th at the time of their win, only 2 fell between 11th and 20th. Most winners got worse after winning, but some of that is an artifact of early-season luck. Mary Ross won Week 1 and so was ranked #1 seasonally as well that week, but ended up 15th. Neil Arvold was 1st seasonally in Week 3, his last win, and ended up 6th, still pretty good and within shouting distance of seasonal prizes, but a decline in any case.
The High Stakes Pool had 52 participants all year and ended up with 18 distinct winners. You can see this in the High Stakes Money Winnings page. This was affected in part by a couple of ties. Ties in the pool are unusual yet we had them in two consecutive weeks, 5 & 6. Larry Daniels and Farside newcomer Christopher Olson had the worst of it, getting $52 each after their Week 5 tie. This clears their $44 entry fee but isn’t exactly Take-This-Job-And-Shove-It money, not like a full $104 weekly win. My sister Liz Cole and Farside newcomer Randee Dow then tied the following week and also got $52 each, but then each later went on to win a week on their own just to show it wasn’t a fluke.
Just as a refresher, the two ties were slightly different; Larry and Chris had different tiebreakers and the total Monday Night Football game score fell exactly between them for the tie where Liz and Randee had the same tiebreaker and declined the standard option to both pick new ones, guaranteeing the tie. Both (or all, if more than two, though that’s not happened yet) parties have to agree to choose new tiebreakers or I just let it ride. In any case, unbroken ties in the pool are pretty rare so it is weird to have two in a row. Funny thing is, in Week 6 there was also a tie in the League when Cincinnati and Carolina played five quarters to a 37-37 tie. Both teams are in the playoffs, though Carolina’s kind of an embarrassment, hosting a playoff game as a division winner despite their 7-8-1 record while teams like, oh, 10-6 Philly watch at home from the couch. Carolina did get hot late (and Philly got cold) and while it’s kind of annoying that they’re in the playoffs with that record it would also now be completely awesome if they ran the table and won the Super Bowl. Ties in the NFL are generally uncommon but on the other hand this is the third year in a row they’ve had one.
Rolf Krogstad was the big money winner in the High Stakes Pool with $260 for his first place on the season. None of the High Stakes seasonal placers won a week this year (and only Megan did in the Family Pool). Kathy Sandhofer and Pierce Lundt both won widely separated weeks (1 & 15, 2 & 16 respectively) for $208 each. Randee Dow, Liz Cole and John Petek all won $156, Randee and Liz through splitting a tie and also winning a week each, John by placing 2nd for the season in the High Stakes Pool. Ten people each won $104; Randy Davis, Paul Merwin, Sharon Exel, Alan Wenker, Jay Steffenhagen, Dan Johnson, Romulo Deo-Campo Vuong, Eric Benson and Scott Paluska all won weeks and Kevin Cellini won 3rd place seasonally. Then there was poor Larry and Chris splitting a week for $52 each.
There’s nothing that unusual about the win patterns except maybe Alan Wenker, who in his Farside career has won weeks 4, 16, 16, 16, and 8. It must be something about multiples of 4. (You can see these in the High Stakes History of Winning). John Petek’s seasonal 2nd is also notable; concluding his 7th season, he’s won 1st twice and now 2nd twice, but only two individual weeks. That’s the mark of a participant who scores consistently well while a motley bunch of ruffians pick off the weekly wins just ahead of him. Sometimes unexpected participants pull off a seasonal top three placement, but John’s done it four times. Among the likely group of ruffians scoring badly is Eric Benson, who once again won a week. Eric epitomizes the “swing for the fences” theory of Farside participation, picking lots of upsets knowing his seasonal score will suffer but content with a weekly win (Week 13 this year) and a crappy ranking (47th at the end of the season). Not that he was the worst-ranked winner; my sister Liz ended at 49th even with her 1.5 weekly wins. Randy Davis was a model of consistency; ranked 31st when he won Week 3, ended the season ranked 31st as well. Randy is in Internal Audit so it’s reassuring to see this kind of steadiness. In this Pool as well most winners came from the top ten or those ranked below 20th. That 11th to 20th spot had two winners. I was 20th. I wasn’t one of them :(.
I publish a page showing all the Family Units and how they’re doing. The Coles constitute 9 participants (although I’m in there twice, playing both pools). My High Stakes Pool 20th place score of 1,437 was the best in the group while my niece Sarah Kendell’s 1,121 was the worst in the not only our family but in the whole Farside across both pools. The big money winner was my sister Liz (1,248 pts, 49th in the High Stakes Pool) and my daughter Geneva (1,244 pts, 46th in the Family Pool). My wife Karla, who enters without much thought given to her entry and does it early so as not to be pestered by reminders, was just 2 points back of my High Stakes score at 1,435 but she did it in the Family Pool where it was good for 11th place and well ahead of my Family score of 1,351.
Speaking of the two pools, it is generally true that the Family Pool has a lower average score but with greater variability than the High Stakes Pool. That was the case this year as well, where the Family Pool showed an average final seasonal score of 1,374 with a standard deviation of 81.5 versus the High Stakes Pool with an average of 1,406 and a standard deviation of 72.1. Once again, though, the actual winning score in the Family Pool was higher, Megan Clark’s 1,512 versus Rolf Krogstad’s 1,510.
I also calculate a Market Entry for each Pool each week. It’s the composite of everyone’s picks for the week and takes into account the teams chosen, weights assigned to each team and overall weights assigned to the game relative to other games using some frightfully clever logic I worked out in 1996 and haven’t revisited since. In the Family Pool, the Market scored 1,454 points, which is right between 9th-ranked John Haskin and 10th-ranked Chad Hofer. In the High Stakes Pool, it was 1,458 points, the same as 14th-ranked Curtis Lucky.
The Johnson clan, all in the High Stakes Pool, was led by Kent Musser (1,489 pts, 5th place) and his grandson Chase Johnson (1,487 pts, 6th place) but the only winner this season was Dan Johnson, one point ahead of me in the High Stakes Pool at 1,438 and 19th place.
The Arvolds had a good year. Lee led in points (1,499pts, 4th place) but the bigger story was that three of the four members won, Lee and mom Marianne once each, Neil twice. Only Dad Jeff didn’t win a week this year, though he can console himself by noting that he beat Marianne by a point, in 36th place to her 37th.
As I noted above, the eight members of the Ross Clan (five sisters, assorted others) had a sparkling year. Megan Clark got first in the Family Pool plus two weeks for $225, Mary Ross, Hayden Weddell, Chris Weddell, and Lauren Swanson all won a week each for $50 apiece, leaving Shannon Swanson, Jennifer Weddell (the original connection to this lot, just finished her 17th Farside season) and Michelle Ross without winnings. At one point these guys won five weeks in a row, so it was a good year for them.
Teri Carr and the Mullens (her maiden name) had an off year with only Teri’s sister Kathy Haskin pulling off a weekly win despite having the worst score among the family group. Teri (just finished 18th Farside season) won the Family Unit contest with 1,488 pts in 5th place. My understanding is that the other siblings have to buy the winner some wine, so pay up you lot! They have some at Trader Joe’s for $2.99 a bottle if you want to express passive aggressive sibling resentment.
The Hofers, Nancy and Chad, had an off year, with no wins, but Nancy as usual beat Chad. Nancy is one of the Farside’s most consistent winners over the years but placed 6th this year without any weekly victories. The Reopelles, Nathan and dad Dennis, were also winless this season. In contrast, the Ruzeks (Steve and daughter Katie Kostman) both won, Katie picking up 3rd place at 1,504 points while Steve won a week and ended up in 8th at 1,470. Other Family Units saw single wins; Amy Driscoll had the best score of the Driscolls and won a week. A moment of respect here for Amy’s husband and Australian person Dale Williams who joined the Farside in 2005, won his very first week ever, probably thought, blimey, this is easy money mate!, and just wrapped up his 10th season without having won another week (You can see this in the Family version of A History of Winning). The other notable Driscoll performance was Brian Driscoll’s Week 11 all-time Farside low score of 8 of 105 possible points. Scott Sherman outscored his wife Laurie and won a week while Vickie Hyland came in behind Patrick and Kevin in score but won a week for the money. Pierce Lundt came in second in points to mom Leslie but won two weeks, beating brothers Mick and Blaine in scores and money.
And now the regular season is over, 256 games done, just 11 left to play culminating in the Super Bowl. I have hardly watched any football this season due in part to the work on our house that I’ve been laboring away on, but will watch some today (the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers are about to take on the University of Missouri Tigers in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida) and some of the remaining NFL games, which tend to be high-quality contests this time of year. I think it’s fair to say that my interest in football isn’t what it used to be. The NFL hasn’t done itself any favors this year with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson situations. Beating your wife or child is never a good situation and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inept handling of the situations belied his supposed position as most powerful man in sports. It also served as a stark reminder that the NFL, for all it’s posturing as some standup group providing patriotic moral guidance for us all, is instead an amoral entertainment group (and non-profit!) set up to earn money for a motley collection of grifters and scam artists through the promotion of a corrosive but crowd-pleasing form of sanctioned violence, usually staged in venues substantially paid for by our tax dollars. At least we have the purity of college football to fall back on. Oh, wait…
A primeval precursor to the Farside Pool was the college bowl pools I ran in Lotus 123 in the 1980s. In those days there were 16 or 17 bowls (there was usually some marginal bowl which came or went, like the Copper Bowl, Bluebonnet Bowl or the California Raisin Advisory Board’s California Bowl) and the New Year’s Day bowl games meant something. For one thing, they were on actual broadcast television. Even after moving here (20 years ago now) New Year’s Day was full of over-the-air broadcast football games and we’d have Junk Food Day and watch hours of football between teams about which we didn’t care a whit, feasting on Cheetos and Doritos and other foodlike substances whose name ended in –os. Today the only local broadcast game not on cable is Minnesota/Missouri and that’s only because Minnesota is the home town team. Nearly every game is on ESPN, for whom Bowl Games make nice easy 3-4 hour chunks of original cross-platform programming content. The Gophers are in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl up against
Big Eight Big Twelve SEC stalwart Missouri. It’s the Gophers’ first New Year’s Day Bowl game in 53 years. They keep touting this, not noting that in 1961 there were 11 bowl games total rather than 39.
Breaking news: I watched the Gophers and they lost 33-17. They suffered from special teams failures; bad punting and allowing a fake punt and an onside kick. The defense looked pretty stout until the fourth quarter then allowed about a 75 yard run for a TD. Three offensive turnovers didn’t help. It’s the Gophers’ 7th straight bowl loss. In the postgame yammering the sports guys were going about how good it was that the Gophers were in a New Years Day bowl game and how great that would be for recruiting. More than half the eligible teams are in bowl games, there’s a bunch of teams without winning records in bowl games, it’s not that special.
I spent part of the Gophers game looking over the new Thursday Pick Six feature for the Farside Pool. This is the first year I offered this. When the NFL went to at least one Thursday game every week (except the last one) it took the nice leisurely cycle of Farside weeks and made it feel like an obligation. I introduced the option to pick just the Thursday game but it still felt like work, especially when I often don’t get the results out until after work on Tuesdays. A couple of people left the Pool because of it. So this year, I opened up the option of the Thursday Pick Six; don’t make an entry before gametime Thursday? Fine. I’ll give you one. It’s 6 points on the team with the better record or, if the records are the same, the home team. The first week it’s always the home team since everyone’s at 0-0. In the remaining fifteen weeks (Week 17 had no Thursday game, so no Pick Six needed), the Pick Six chose teams by record 9 times and used the home team 6 times in Weeks 2 through 16. You’d think the records would be dominant late in the season but Week 16 was Jacksonville versus Tennessee, a Thursday matchup the NFL schedulers in their wisdom must have thought would be compelling but saw both teams at 2-12. The Pick Six correctly picked the hometown Jaguars. Anyway, the Thursday Pick Six was right 10 of 16 times (it got Seattle over Green Bay correct in Week 1 as well), so it was better than a coin flip. Keep that in mind for next season.
What else is there to say about the Farside? I like running the Pool and we’ll be back again next year for the 20th season. You’ll be invited back early next August as hopes once more run high throughout the League. I will update the Farside Weekly Summary after each playoff round through the Super Bowl but won’t be emailing anything out about it. I will be sending out your individual Farside Report Cards shortly as well, then that’ll be it on the Farside front. If you’re deeply nostalgic for your Farside email experience, I’ve compiled them in the 2014 Farside emails page which also includes photos. You can actually see a few snaps of the construction project on the Farside Global HQ that has dominated the season. Assuming we get the yard whipped into some sort of shape this summer we might even do a Farside Open House next autumn for the first time ever. I can pull that 9” tv out of the attic and we can watch the game out in the back yard!
Have a great offseason everyone!
Matt “The Commissioner” Cole
PS I hope I don’t need to remind you, but you can find all the Farside materials on the superb excellent Farside Home Page at http://www.uscoles.com/farside.shtml. You do have it bookmarked, don’t you?
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