Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween

Today is Halloween. Some people call it "Samhain." I have no idea why.

When I was a kid, Halloween was great, of course. Used to come home with a large paper grocery bag full of candy. And then get sick eating it. It was glorious.

These days, even adults get into the spirit of Halloween with parties and other excuses to drink alcohol. I don't drink alcohol much, so I stay home and hand out the candy. One sad thing (to me) is there are fewer kids coming to the door and exploring neighborhoods. This is likely because places like malls and stores and even schools will have trick or treating inside. For parents, this is great. It's well-lit, it's safer (no kids running into the street). But for those of us at home, it's sad. I always enjoy the interaction with the kids.

But people worry about poisoned candy or razor blades in apples. Even though that has almost never happened.

When I was a kid living in Idaho (at 4,500 feet above sea level), it usually snowed on or about Halloween. Then the snow didn't leave until late April. I remember thinking one October 31st: "It's snowing, it must be Halloween."

Well, I hope you all have a happy Halloween, or Samhain. I'll be waiting to give candy to the kids.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Upset Weekend

Since the Huskies had a bye this weekend, let's look at how other teams did, especially in the Pac-12 conference.

There were some surprising upsets this weekend.

TCU beat #15 Texas.

Oklahoma State beat #23 Iowa State

#19 Michigan beat #8 Notre Dame

And #2 LSU barely got by #9 Auburn. It'll be interesting to see if LSU drops in the AP poll a bit.

In the Pac-12, #23 Arizona State was upset by UCLA, 42-32. UCLA has been improving through the season. I'm sure this will bump Arizona State out of the Top 25. I doubt it will bump UCLA into the Top 25.

So there were some upsets this week.

In the Pac-12, pretty much every other game went as expected. The WSU Cougars barely lost to
Oregon. Utah shut out California.

In the standings, Oregon is still on top of the Pac-12 North. WSU is in last place. My beloved Huskies are still at 2-3 in conference (5-3 overall) and in 4th place (out of six).

In the Pac-12 South, Utah and USC are tied at 4-1 in conference record. Utah has more overall wins at 7-1 while USC is 5-3. UCLA is third in the Pac-12 South. Which is amazing the way their season started.

The Polls

Well, I was totally wrong. LSU moved up to #1 after beating Auburn. Auburn dropped to #11. Notre Dame dropped from #8 to #16. But Michigan only went from #19 to #14.

Oregon moved into the top 10 to #7. Utah also is in the top ten at #9. They are the only two Pac-12 teams now ranked. At one time (week 4) there were six Pac-12 teams in the tip 25. That's half the conference.

Washington is still not ranked in the top 25, of course, but they did move up to #29.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Huskies have a Bye

The University of Washington Huskies have a bye this weekend. That means they don't play. This will be a chance for their running back squad to heal up and take some pressure off of Salvon Ahmed.

It's also an excuse to look at the rest of the season.

Right now the Huskies are 5-3 overall (2-3 in conference). They need six wins to be bowl eligible. The more wins they have, the better bowl they'll go to. So what does the rest of the season look like?

Next week, on November 2nd, we play Utah. The Utes are 3-1 in conference and 6-1 overall. They are tied for first place in the Pac-12 South with USC (3-1 in conference, 4-3 overall). We play Utah at home but they are still going to be a tough team to beat. Sort of like the Ducks.

Then on Friday, November 8th, we play the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers are having one of their best years and are 2-2 in conference (3-4 overall). This is an away game for the Huskies but I think we can easily win this one.

On November 16th, the Huskies have their second bye of the season.

The Huskies travel to Boulder, Colorado on November 23rd to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffs are 1-3 in conference play (3-4 overall) so I don't think, even on their home turf, the Huskies will have much of a problem. But I said that about California. The Buffs are currently in last place in the Pac-12 South.

Then, on Friday November 29th (the day after Thanksgiving) the Huskies host the Washington State
Cougars for the Apple Cup. The Cougars are in last place in the Pac-12 North with a 1-3 record (they beat the Buffaloes last week). Obviously, last season's success for the Cougars was mostly if not all quarterback Garner Minchew. But, it's the Apple Cup and anything can happen. It'll help that it will be held in Husky Stadium. And Husky coach Chris Petersen has never lost an Apple Cup.

So where does that leave us. Worst case (lose to Utah, lose to Washington State) would make us 7-5. Best case we "win out" will make us 9-3. Likely case, we lost to Utah and then win the rest for 8-4.

Then we see how next year looks. Rumor has it that Husky quarterback Jacob Eason is going to go into the draft despite being a junior. So we'll be on the lookout for yet another QB.

But let's get through this season, first.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

NaNoWriMo is Coming

In just over two weeks it'll be November. And for a lot of writers, that means National Novel Writing Month, or "NaNoWriMo."

NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November.

I haven't done NaNoWriMo since 2015, mostly because I wrote novels that didn't correspond with November. I've written three still unreleased novels and some short things in the past 4 years. The last thing I wrote for NaNoWriMo was Treasure of the Rogue Moon. Which was published in May of 2017.

You might be wondering why it took more than a year for me to publish Treasure of the Rogue Moon.  And the answer is simple: I spent a lot of time polishing the novel before I published it.

One issue there has always been with NaNoWriMo are people who hammer out a 50,000 word (or more) first draft, and then upload it to Kindle. Even NaNoWriMo has discovered this problem and have been encouraging people to edit and revise their novels. In 2015, they had an achievement in which you promised to edit and revise your novel.

But there are good things about NaNoWriMo. The frantic pace of writing required (1,666 words per
day) means you can't have writer's block. You have to just keep writing. You can't worry if it's no good or if you're not writing it right, you have to "just keep writing" (as I say). So it helps writers actually produce words, which should be the goals of all writers.

I have an idea for a new novel. I might write part of it (at least the first 50,000 words or so) during this years NaNoWriMo. Or maybe I won't. I haven't decided.

Do you do NaNoWriMo? Do you find it useful. Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Huskies are 5-3

Is was a great game. I just didn't like the outcome.

Yesterday the University of Washington Huskies took on the University of Oregon Ducks. The Ducks were favored going into this game because they were undefeated in conference play and their only loss was to Auburn, a very good and highly-ranked team.

On their first possession after receiving the kickoff, the Ducks marched down the field and scored a touchdown. I thought that meant we were going to lose and lose badly. But then the Huskies pretty much did the same thing. It was a hard-fought game for almost all of its 60 minutes of play. At one point the Huskies led 31-21. But in the fourth quarter, the Huskies' young defense was bushed. You could tell they were moving at about 8/10ths speed. And the Ducks were able to pull into the lead. The Husky offense was also tired and couldn't score, giving up the ball on downs which ended the game. There were no turnovers by either team. A Husky scoop and score or pick six would have helped a lot.

There is an adage that the toughest team wins the game. In this case, it was the Ducks.  The final score was 35-31.

But, no one since Auburn had scored a touchdown against the Ducks this season.  The Huskies scored four. And that was without running back McGrew and Newton, leaving Ahmed to do all the ground carrying. Ahmed ran for 140 yards.

And, frankly, there should have been a pass interference call on the fourth down which would have given the Huskies a first down. But the officials apparently missed it or didn't care.

And the crowd of 70,867 was in the game the entire time, despite early rain.

Next week the Huskies have a bye so maybe their team can heal up a bit. Then on November 2nd, they play Utah at home. The time and network for that game has not been determined yet.

I still love my Huskies. They fought hard for most of the game.

This game put the Ducks firmly in first place in the Pac-12 North with a 4-0 conference record (6-1 overall). The Huskies drop to fourth place (behind the Oregon State Beavers!)(and Stanford) with a 2-3 conference record, 5-3 over all.

Maybe we can go to a nice bowl game and win it (I think Husky coach Chris Petersen has only won one bowl game at UW). But, of course, that means we have to win one more game to be "bowl eligible." Maybe we can beat the Beavers.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

Speaking of the Beavers, they beat California. That is amazing.  Well, maybe not, California has been
doing pretty bad. The Beavers now have a 2-2 conference record, 3-4 overall.

California is in last place in the Pac-12 North with a 1-3 conference record (4-3 overall), their only win that game where they beat the Huskies late at night.

Washington State got their first in-conference win by beating Colorado.

UCLA beat Stanford. And Utah beat Arizona State. Utah is on top of the Pac-12 South but USC is right on their heels (USC beat Arizona yesterday).

The Polls

The College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings will first be announced on November 5th (which is a Tuesday). I'm sure Washington won't be ranked in the CFP, anyway.

The AP Top 25 College Football poll today has the Ducks moving to up one to #11

Utah also moves up one to #12

And Arizona State, after its loss to Utah, dropped to #24.

Finally, as I feared, Washington dropped off the top 25. If you want to get technical, we're #30. I suspect we won't be in the top 25 again this season.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Pluck the Ducks

Tomorrow the University of Washington Huskies take on the University of Oregon Ducks. The game is at 12:30 PDT on your local ABC station.

The Huskies have two main rivals (and a few lesser rivals). Those are the Washington State Cougars and the Ducks. The cross-state WSU rivalry is almost friendly compared to the Washington-Oregon rivalry. As a Husky fan, I am required to loath the Ducks. And I do. I hate when we lose to them (such as last year's overtime loss) and I love when we beat them (like 2016's beat down of the Ducks and 2017's victory).

Going into this game, the Ducks are on top of the Pac-12 North with a 3-0 in conference record (5-1 over all but that loss was to Auburn). The Huskies are 2-2 in conference and 5-2 overall, putting them in second place in the Pac-12 North. Just looking at those numbers, it appears the Ducks have the advantage going into the game. And they do. But the Huskies have a few things in their favor. One: it's a home game and home field advantage is huge in Husky Stadium with the crowd noise. And, two: we really hate the Ducks.

If the Huskies play like they did against Stanford, we'll lose. If we play like we did in the second half of the Arizona game, we can win.

Question is, which Husky team will show up. This is one issue I have with Husky head coach Chris Petersen. His teams aren't consistent. Even the 2016 team that went to the CFP lost to USC. So I'm hoping the team that beat Arizona shows up. Then we have a chance.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for heavy rain. That may dampen the crowd noise some as people seek shelter. Or maybe not: it is the Oregon game.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tire Tread Depth

Last week I talked about why you shouldn't buy studded snow tires. This week I'm going to talk about why you might need new snow tires.

Tread depth is very important to tire performance. In racing, you want as little tread depth as possible. Which is why most race car tires don't have tread as all. In Europe, they drive in the rain and have tires with tread for that purpose. In the U.S., we don't race in the rain. Tread makes a tire wobble in corners, which means you have to go slower in corners. Thus, the effort to avoid tread in racing.

But we aren't racing. We're driving on the street. Legally, you have to have at least 2/32nds of an inch of tread depth. Anything less than that is illegal.

You can test this with a penny (hey, they are useful for something).  Put the penny in the tread with Lincoln's head down, touching the bottom of the groove. If all of Lincoln's head is visible, you need to replace those tires because you have less than 2/32nds of an inch of tread.

But, to be practical, if you're planning on driving in rain and/or snow, I personally recommend at least 6/32nds of an inch for a snow tire or a regular tire in the winter. I base that on advice from Tire Rack. Yes, Tire Rack wants to sell tires. But they have always been very honest with me.

So, before winter hits, measure your tread depth. If you don't have a tread depth measuring tool, any tire store will likely measure your tread depth for you for free. Yes, they want to sell you tires.

I measured mine and they are at 9/32nds. So they will last one more winter.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Huskies are 5-2

Going into last nights University of Washington Huskies game, I was a bit wary. The Dawgs hadn't won a night game this year and have always had trouble beating University of Arizona at home. I guess I didn't need to worry.

The first quarter was very defensive and only field goals were kicked. The only Husky touchdown in the second quarter was by the Huskies' defense when the Wildcat's vaunted quarterback, Khalil Tate, tried to throw the ball away as he was being sacked. He ended up throwing a lateral pass, which, even after it hits the ground, is a live ball. And a Husky defensive play picked it up and ran it in for a TD.

But Arizona managed to score 17 points in the second quarter and halftime came with the Wildcats up 17-13. The announcers, who spend the whole game bashing the Huskies, pointed out that Washington hadn't won a game that they were behind at the half since 2015.

After halftime, a different Husky team emerged. They quickly started running up the points and held Arizona to no points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Arizona did manage to get ten points, but the Huskies scored 24. The Wildcats tried an on-side kick after a touchdown but the Huskies recovered it and that ended the game. The final score was 51-27.

It was an all-around team effort, which seems to be what the Huskies need to do to win. Sean McGrew ran for 106 yards while Salvon Ahmed ran for 95. The top receiver for the game was Puka Nacua with 97 yards. "Who?" you're saying. This was apparently the first time the freshman played.

This makes the Huskies 5-2 overall, 2-2 in conference. That puts them tied for second place (with Stanford) in the Pac-12 North Division. The Oregon Ducks are in first place.

Next Week

The Huskies return home next week to take on the Oregon Ducks. The game is at 12:30 PM and on ABC, so not a night game. Oregon is 5-1, their loss being to Auburn. They are 3-0 in conference. This week they destroyed Colorado 3-45 in Eugene.

That it's a home came will help the Huskies. The stadium is sold out so there should be a lot of crowd noise. But Phil Knight's money buy a good team and it will be a challenge for the Huskies to prevail. Although I'm feeling better about it after this win over Arizona.

Elsewhere in the Pac 12

As I predicted WSU didn't do very well, losing to Arizona State 34-38. This puts WSU 0-3 in
conference and in last place in the Pac-12 North. I watched part of the game and WSU played well, just not well enough to beat ASU. The close score reflects that it was a good, exciting game.

Also, as I predicted, USC lost to Notre Dame. But it was a close game with the score 27-30. I didn't watch that game. I watched Serenity instead on Blu-Ray.

Utah destroyed Oregon State, 52-7. Utah is still on top of the Pac-12 South, tied with USC.

The Polls

(I don't know why I say "polls" because I'm only talking about the AP poll at this point in the season. Later the CFP rankings will come out. Which, technically, isn't a poll, either.)

Last week the Huskies were technically #29 (in the top 25 poll). This week (week 8) we're ranked again but at a lowly #25.

Arizona State is at #17 after beating WSU. Utah is at #13 and Oregon is at #12.

So we'll see who wins, loses, and is ranked next week.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Pac-12 This Weekend

This weekend there are five games slated for the Pac-12

Tonight at 7:00 PM PDT, Colorado plays Oregon. Oregon will likely win.

Then tomorrow at 12:30 PM PDT on Pac-12 Networks, Washington State plays Arizona State. I'm thinking ASU will win with the problems the Cougars are having on defense.

At 4:30 PM PDT, USC plays Notre Dame in a non-conference game. I'm sure Notre Dame will win.

At 5:00 PM PDT, Utah plays Oregon State on Pac-12 Networks. I'm sure Utah will win.

Then at the ungodly hour of 8:00 PM PDT, University of Washington plays University of Arizona in Tuscon. The Dawgs haven't won a night game yet this year, including last week's loss to Stanford. If we lose this game, I'm worried about winning the six games needed to be bowl eligible. And we're 50% for away games, having beat BYU on the road but, again, lost to Stanford. And we've always had trouble int he desert playing either Arizona or Arizona State. If the Huskies can overcome their lost to Stanford and beat Arizona, that would be great. But if not, this season will be over with still five games to play.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Don't Buy Studded Snow Tires, Please

Studded Snow Tire
Winter is coming.

I was talking to my tire guy the other day and asked if he had Nokian snow tires. I'd read those were the best snow tires available. He said they only have studded Nokian tires. So I said I'd stick with the Blizzaks or try the Michelin snow tires (if I need new snow tires; I've yet to determine that by measuring the tread depth on the ones I have).

A lot of people where I live swear by studded snow tires. These tires have steel studs in the tread to, supposedly, increase traction in snow and ice.

Unfortunately, they don't work. Studded snow tires are less safe than a good winter (snow) tire in dry and wet conditions. They are also less safe on snow and ice, what they are supposed to be best for. That is because the studs lower the size of the contact patch of each tire down to the size of a postage stamp. (The contact patch is the area that your tire touches the road.) This reduces traction, not increases it.

In addition, Washington State estimates (PDF file) that studded tires cause
Ruts repaired in a road
between $12 million and $18 million in damage every year in the state alone. You can see this on interstate, or other busy, highways where there are ruts worn in the pavement. Ruts that fill with water that can cause hydroplaning or, if the water freezes, slides. The roads then have to be expensively  repaired.

I, frankly, wish the state would just ban them. Buy a good set of stud-less snow tires. I personally recommend Blizzaks.

But don't buy studded tires. Please.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Huskies are 4-2

What is it about night games?

What is it about Palo Alto?

Well, maybe we can go to a nice bowl this year.

All those thoughts went through my head last night as the University of Washington Huskies lost to the Stanford University Cardinal (it's a color). The game started at 7:30 PM PDT. Our only other loss was also a game that started at 7:30 (the California game) The Huskies haven't beaten Stanford at Palo Alto since 2007. And losing this game means we have nearly zero hope of being Pac-12 North Champions. Unless someone beats Oregon (not likely) and we beat Oregon (looking less likely).

From the beginning, the Huskies played as if they were wading in molasses. Quarterback Jacob Eason couldn't hit his receivers and, when they did, the receivers couldn't hang on to the ball. Of course, I have to give credit to Stanford's secondary who did a great job keeping our receivers from catching passes. Even Salvon Ahmed, who didn't play much for some reason, couldn't move the ball.

Meanwhile Stanford had almost no problem with their third-string quarterback and beat up offensive line moving the ball up the field. The Husky defense did stop them, holding them to a field goal, more than once. But it didn't help. The final score was 13-23.

We'll be lucky to still be ranked in the AP Poll after this (see below)

More bad news: we play Arizona in Tuscon next week. That game starts at 8:00 PM PDT. And we've always had trouble playing in the desert, for some reason. That game is on FS1 which, right now, I don't get because Dish and Fox are fighting. I might have to go to my father's house to watch it.

Arizona is on top of the Pac-12 South Division right now.

Do I sound discouraged? You bet I am.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

California was up on Oregon for the entire first half of the game, 7-0. Thought maybe California
might beat Oregon, but the Ducks came back in the second half to win it 17-7.

The two worst teams in the Pac-12, Oregon State and UCLA, played each other. And Oregon State won 48-31. (Too bad we don't play UCLA this year.)

And Arizona beat Colorado in Boulder 35-30. I guess everyone else had a bye this week.

The Polls:

And...we're not ranked. Washington dropped off the AP Top 25 College Football poll.

Oregon stayed at 13. Utah moved up to 15 (and they had a bye, I'm pretty sure), and Arizona State moved up to 18. And that's it for the Pac-12.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Manspreading Mansplained

New Chair
Some say that "manspreading" (the fact that men tend to sit with their legs apart) is an aggressive posture to take up more space and assert dominance.

I think it's just to be comfortable.

Let me explain. I go to Starbucks nearly every day. The Starbucks I go to recently remodeled and changed their "comfy chairs." The old chairs were plush and the seat was farther from the floor.  The new chairs (see picture) have their seats lower to the floor. While sitting in the new chairs, I find myself "manspreading." Why? Because my legs are too long to sit with my feet flat on the floor and my legs together. This isn't comfortable. So I either spread my legs or put my feet out with just the heels of my feet on the floor. Either way, it's not to assert dominance, it's to be comfortable. And a lot of chairs, such as in subways, buses, etc. have low chairs that are comfortable for most women and shorter people, but too low for most men.
Old Chair

Woman tend to have shorter legs. My wife says she likes these new chairs because her feet touch the floor. So women don't need to spread their legs to be comfortable, generally. And yes, there are cultural taboos against women having their legs spread in public for any reason.

But I think it's mostly chair design, not some cultural plot for male dominance.

So there ya go: manspreading mansplained.

Agree? Disagree? Think I'm nuts? Let me know in the comments below.