July 21, 2012

College Football By The Numbers

Floyd Casey 2It's almost college football time again and never really too early to start thinking about how the season is going to go.

As announced recently, the BCS is going away along with its magical poll-oriented formula for determining the champions, to be replaced by a committee to determine the finalists in the two semifinal bowl games going forward (though not yet this year).  To that end, though, I still fall on the side of computer rankings in some regards to take the subjectivity out of it completely - using stats, not polls, as input.  Anyway, I've got my nifty-difty database that I use to determine rankings, and I've actually found a way to modify it to make predictions (with some confidence metrics that I had to add given some of the initial outputs) for the outcomes of games.  So, using either 2010 or 2011 as input, I can predict what would be the outcome of any two teams going up against one another (and determine whether or not that prediction is any good).

Trying to figure out how and if I can utilize this predictor throughout the year (and see if it is any good from accuracy's sake).  While I figure that out - for your enjoyment, here are the top 25 teams the past 2 years as calculated statistically from postseason results using my magic formula and not really caring who won the BCS National Championship (and the final AP place for that team in parentheses):


  1. Auburn (1)
  2. TCU (2)
  3. Oregon (3)
  4. Boise St. (9)
  5. Ohio St. (5)
  6. Stanford (4)
  7. Oklahoma (6)
  8. Oklahoma St. (13)
  9. Arkansas (12)
  10. Nevada (11)
  11. Alabama (10)
  12. Virginia Tech (16)
  13. Wisconsin (7)
  14. LSU (8)
  15. Texas A&M (19)
  16. Missouri (18)
  17. Michigan St. (14)
  18. Northern Ill. (29)
  19. Florida St. (17)
  20. Utah (26)
  21. UCF (21)
  22. Nebraska (20)
  23. Tulsa (24) 
  24. Mississippi St. (15)
  25. South Carolina (22)
  1. LSU (2)
  2. Alabama (1)
  3. Oklahoma St. (3)
  4. Boise St. (8)
  5. Houston (18)
  6. Oregon (4)
  7. Wisconsin (10)
  8. Michigan (12)
  9. Stanford (7)
  10. Oklahoma (16)
  11. TCU (14)
  12. South Carolina (9)
  13. Arkansas (5)
  14. Southern California (6)
  15. Southern Miss. (20)
  16. Michigan St. (11)
  17. Baylor (13)
  18. Kansas St. (15)
  19. West Virginia (17)
  20. Georgia (19)
  21. Clemson (22)
  22. Virginia Tech (21)
  23. Cincinnati (25)
  24. Toledo (NR)
  25. Arkansas St. (NR)
So look, it's not 100% in line with the polls, but it is directionally there (and some may say less susceptible to bias).  Now, how in the world to do pre-season rankings or predictions.  Hmmmm.  Guess we'll leave that to the subjective.

Though I might try to see what the results of week 1 might be based on 2011 team results...

July 20, 2012

Travel the 50 states

Blank USA, w territoriesSo, somewhere in my life I decided that I would like to visit the fifty states (and maybe throw the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. into the mix), and so far, I'm doing pretty well, with over 60+% under the belt so far.  I'm missing the middle section of the Canadian border, Alaska, Maine, the Caribbean territories, and a few select others that I have to find a way to get to to check that off the bucket list.  While at it, though, I thought it might be a good idea to start figuring out "what there is to see" in the various states, so that if I planned a trip there, I would know what exactly I would want to go see or do.  That being the case, I decided to start a list here of just a couple of things to see or do when visiting the various states.  Some of them, I'm clearly drawing a blank.  If you have ideas for any of these (if you live there or you've been there or know someone who has), throw them in the comments for me and I will try to augment the list.  Also know, this is a subjective list entirely based on whether it would interest me to visit that area or perform that activity, so I might not use your suggestion, but still appreciate it :).  Oh, and those in bold are still on my list to visit.  Thanks!

  • Alabama
    • Civil Rights Museum - Birmingham
    • Vulcan - Birmingham
    • U.S.S. Alabama - Mobile
  • Alaska
    • added - Historic Downtown Juneau
    • added - Mendenhall Glacier (via helicopter)
    • added - Mount Roberts - viewing bald eagle nests
    • added - Travel to Alaska via cruise
  • Arizona
    • The Grand Canyon - Grand Canyon National Park
  • Arkansas
  • California
    • Wine Country - Napa
    • Hollywood - Los Angeles
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
    • Walt Disney World - Orlando
    • Emerald Coast - Destin
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
    • Pearl Harbor - Honolulu (Oahu)
    • Haleakala - (Maui)
    • Hanauma Bay - Honolulu (Oahu)
  • Idaho
    • Boise State University - Boise
  • Illinois
    • Wrigley Field - Chicago
    • The Sears Tower - Chicago
    • Shedd Aquarium - Chicago
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
    • Churchill Downs - Louisville
  • Louisiana
    • French Quarter - New Orleans
    • Shreveport Casinos - Shreveport
  • Maine
    • added -  Mt. Katahdin
    • added -  Bar Harbor
    • added - Lighthouses
  • Maryland
  • Massachussetts
    • Old North Church - Boston
    • Fenway Park - Boston
    • Cape Cod
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
    • Las Vegas
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
    • Empire State Building - New York
    • Statue of Liberty - New York
    • World Trade Center Memorial - New York
    • The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York
  • North Carolina
    • Cherokee - Cherokee
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
    • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum - Cleveland
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
    • Craft breweries (Rogue, Deschutes, Hopworks, Bridgeport) - Portland
  • Pennsylvania
    • Liberty Bell - Philadelphia
    • Independence Hall - Philadelphia
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
    • Mount Rushmore - Mount Rushmore
    • Crazy Horse Memorial - Crazy Horse
  • Tennessee
    • Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga
    • Grand Ole Opry - Nashville
    • Beale Street - Memphis
    • Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Gatlinburg
  • Texas
    • JFK Museum - Dallas
    • Dallas Cowboys Stadium - Arlington
    • Alamo - San Antonio
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
    • Space Needle - Seattle
  • West Virginia
    • added -  Black Water Falls State Park
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
    • Old Faithful - Yellowstone National Park
    • Devil's Tower National Monument - Devil's Tower
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Washington, D.C.
    • The White House
    • The Lincoln Memorial
    • The Washington Monument
    • The Capitol
    • The Smithsonian Institute
    • Arlington Cemetary
    • The Vietnam Memorial
Anything else I'm missing?  What do you do in North Dakota?  Montana?  Maine?

July 6, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: How to Make Simple Syrup

OK, this isn't a cocktail, but something you need to MAKE cocktails.  See that mason jar sitting over there right in front of that (delicious) bottle of Balvenie Single Barrel 15?  No, it is not moonshine.  Though it does look like it.

It's simple syrup - a fairly common addition to all sorts of mixology-driven cocktail libations.

While I do think there are some commercially available simple syrups, there is really no reason whatsoever to buy this stuff when you can make it in under 20 minutes at home.

What you need:
1 part water
2 parts regular white sugar
A small saucepan
Something to keep it in (mason jar, olive oil bottle, etc.)
A funnel if you are pouring into something with a small mouth

That's it.  I have also found that this makes surprisingly more volume of simple syrup than you might expect, so start small (maybe 1/2 cup water and a cup of sugar) as you can always make more.

So here's how you do it.  Get yourself a small saucepan and pour in the water, to bring it to a boil.  Don't let it boil too much or you'll lose volume.  Really you're just trying to get it to boiling and then you can move on with adding the sugar.

Two ways to add the sugar here - one is to remove completely from heat, the other is to just stir constantly.  Either way, you dump the sugar in, and you stir, stir, stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Once the sugar is all absorbed, remove from heat and let the mixture cool before transferring it to your storage container.

That's it.  I've heard that you can add a little vodka to it to help preserve it, but I've never tried it.  If you have, let me know how that works.  Otherwise, you now have a fine clear sweetener to add a little sugar to your cocktail concoctions.

July 2, 2012

Tech Talk: Google Glass

Image from Google Project Glass Google+ page (linked)
Forget tablets.  While I had been debating Android versus iPad for a while as to what tech "toy" to pick up next (yes, I have a Kindle Fire, a Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket Android phone, and an iPad 3 for the family, but there's always another toy you can buy), I really came to a conclusion not too long ago that none of those make a sufficient laptop or computer replacement (particularly in terms of writing capabilities, etc.), and that if I were to head down a "PC replacement" path, I might start saving my pennies for an Ultrabook.

That said, there's still a market for "web toys" where I classify all of the tablets, etc., so I still may want to have something to play with.

But Google has now made the decision for me.

Forget 10 inch versus 7 inch.  Forget Android vs. iOS (well, don't forget it because Android's going to win here).  Google Glass has changed the entire game with a completely different device footprint altogether.

With a tiny eyes up display, you can augment your world with the web.  OK, maybe not entirely, but that's the concept.  Overlay information on reality.  It's all futuristic.

With development pre-versions selling for $1500 next year, it will be a while before I grab this little toy, but I definitely want one - wave of the future, wave of the future.

Check out this video that Google released to demonstrate (and potentially oversell, but we will see) the capabilities.

 And then this video from Google I/O just shows some of the capabilities from a video capture format. Enjoy!