Archive for January, 2014

Scale Improvement

The scale has gone through many iterations through the years.

First, the balance:

image of balance scales

No, not that balance – the balance for weighing a person:

image of balance scales

Next, the dial:

Genre Football

Now that the NFL is about done for the year, all those fantasy football leagues are but a memory.

I have not participated in any fantasy football leagues, but I think I should have, because fantasy is one of my favorite literary genres. Septimus Heap, Percy Jackson, Narnia, etc.

And that got me to thinking – why are none of the other literary genres involved?

We have fantasy football:

image of fantasy football - wizards and dragons on a football field

Why not sci-fi football?

Winter Book Thingy, 2013

I don’t normally try to read a bunch of books anytime but during summer vacation, but for some reason I got on a roll during Christmas break and had time to read a few. Here are my thoughts on them.

Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

I remember when my brother rented the movie Napoleon Dynamite for a few of us to watch, he warned me “don’t expect any plot in this movie, just enjoy each scene as its own.” And that is what this book is like.

It is the literary equivalent of Napoleon Dynamite.

Put another way: it is a collection of short stories related to human travels to Mars. Many of the stories are related or share certain characters, but others don’t.

It was a fairly quick read, or maybe it just seemed that way because I could stop reading and restart whenever I wanted because there is no flow to the whole book.

I didn’t get this book with my kids in mind; I just wanted to grab a book for myself. But, in case you are wondering about kid-appropriateness, I would certainly let a high-schooler read it, but not my elementary-schoolers.

And I don’t know that I would recommend the book to anyone. I’m not recommending against it, just that there are better books out there. Unless you’re a fan of short stories set on Mars.

Seven Wonders – The Colossus Rises, by Peter Lerangis

This book seems like it is trying to capitalize on the popularity of other books involving the historic supernatural (I’m looking at you, Percy Jackson).

The book was fine. If you want to know what the book is about, there are plenty of recaps available elsewhere. My review is going to stick to the reason I was reading the book – to see if my kids would like it.

They might.

The imagery and situations were less intense than the Percy Jackson series, plus there’s no romance, so it is appropriate for a younger audience than Percy Jackson is. I’d say 3rd grade and up for this series, but 6th grade and up for the Olympians. But I read only the first book of this series, so I can’t say for sure that all of them are like this.

Warriors – Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter

We were staying at a friend’s house, and they had this whole series, which they offered to let us borrow. We said yes, and then I read the first book (Into the Wild) after we got home.

The story was more compelling than I had expected. It is about life in a cat clan. There are descriptions of cats fighting, nothing graphic, but if your child doesn’t like animals being harmed or killed, then pass on this series. A 1st grader might enjoy these books, but I’ll go with a recommendation of 2nd grade on up.

Frazz, by Jef Mallet

Great book. A collection of Frazz comic strips. Fun for all ages – almost. There were a couple of instances of something you wouldn’t want your pre-schooler to say. The only one I can remember right now is one of the more famous quotes from Macbeth.

Fallout, by Todd Strasser

Interesting premise, but I stopped partway through. Once I discovered that the book was not appropriate for grade-schoolers, there was no need to keep reading.

The premise is there is only one family on the block who built a bomb shelter, and a nuclear bomb does go off. The book is centered around this Lifeboat scenario (Steve Taylor reference) as more people get into the shelter than it is meant to support, but the also delves into other lessons on racism and other social issues. My main objection has to do with some of the lessons that the neighbor boy teaches the main character, also a young boy. The protagonist is young and therefore naive, and he learns some things. The things he learns from the neighbor are not things I want other people putting into my child’s head.

Note: there are several books with the title of Fallout. If you are writing or thinking about a book, please choose a different title.

Iron Giant, by Ted Hughes

We watched this movie (animated, from the 1990s) for the first time last month. Everyone liked it so much, we thought we would read the book.


If you liked the movie, leave it at that. The book is nothing like the movie. The movie is exciting. The book is simple. It reads like a See Spot Run book.

I guess it hinges on your expectations. If you read the book to kids at a young enough age, they might enjoy it. If you see the movie first though, they probably won’t.

Rush Revere, by Rush Limbaugh

A stylized account of William Bradford’s settling of the Pilgrims in 1620. Alpha got this for Christmas from his grandparents. Since I trust his grandparents not to corrupt him with inappropriate media, I wasn’t going to check or read this book. But I noticed him laughing at a few parts of the book, so I got curious.

The book was both entertaining and informative. It is, at its heart, a history lesson, albeit enhanced with additional characters so that kids will want to read it.

Nothing objectionable.

Sidekicks, by Dan Santat

My 2nd grader picked this out of the library. I wasn’t planning on reading it, but one afternoon my pre-schooler picked it as the book he wanted me to read to him.

It’s a fun little comic book, or short graphic novel if you will, about an aging superhero and his pets. Those pets happen to be his sidekicks, hence the title.

I’d have no problem letting any of my kids read this one.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

Benefits of Winter

While it might be nice to live in someplace warm and sunny all year, there are some benefits to living in the north where we get a good winter.

Like this, for instance:

benefit of having winter is that your garage turns into a walk-in freezer

For at least a couple months each year, we don’t need to worry about how full our fridge or freezer are. Just toss the food into the garage and it stays good until April.

So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it.

Exodus 16:24

Football Guesser Results – 2013

It is time once again to update Some Blog Site readers on the results of my Some Fun Site project to create a more accurate football prediction method.

The 2013 NFL season is over, and here are the most accurate methods for predicting regular-season game results:

  • ITP: 61%
  • MPW: 61%
  • HTW: 60%

ITP is listed first because it was one game better than MPW – the first year that MPW or MYW did not win.

This year saw the addition of YPP to the prediction methods. “YPP” stands for Yards Per Point and contends that the team that will win is the team that is most efficient at converting yards into points. It fared okay, not good but not bad either. (For the ideas behind the methods, please visit the Some Fun Site page.)

Do not envy a man of violence And do not choose any of his ways.

Proverbs 3:31

Christmas Card 2013

Those of you who received a Christmas card from us can skip this post. Everyone has probably already received the Christmas letter (not everyone everyone, just those on our list), so if you have the letter there is no point in viewing the image below.

If you haven’t received our letter yet, then either you’re not on our list or the post office has some explaining to do. If you’re not on our list, the best way to get on our list is to send us a Christmas card or letter. Then we will feel compelled to return the favor.

For those of you interested in what our Christmas letter looks like this year but don’t want to involve the post office, here it is:

photo of 2013 Christmas card in inforgraphic format

This is the copy of the letter which Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues the officials, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king.

Ezra 5:6

All-Haiku Bowl Results, 2013

Okay, okay, it is 2014 at this point, but the results are headlines as 2013 because they match with the 2013 predictions made in 2013 for the 2013 season. Also, the results are not all-haiku, just the predictions were. A more accurate title would be “Results for the All-Haiku Predictions made in 2013”.

Before the bowl games commenced for this past college football season, I made some predictions. Here, for your reading enjoyment, is the tally of those predictions. Note that the results are not in haiku form, in contrast to the predictions.


Here is the list (correct predictions in green, incorrect in red):

Washington. St. over Colorado St.

USC over Fresno St.

San Diego St. over Buffalo

Tulane over ULL

East Carolina over Ohio

Oregon St. over Boise St.

Bowling Green over Pitt

Northern Illinois over Utah St.

Marshall over Maryland

Minnesota over Syracuse

Washington over BYU

Notre Dame over Rutgers

Cincinnati over UNC

Louisville over Miami

Michigan over Kansas St.

Navy over Middle Tennessee St.

Georgia Tech over Ole Miss

Oregon over Texas

Arizona St. over Texas Tech

Boston College over Arizona

UCLA over Virginia Tech

Mississippi St. over Rice

Texas A&M over Duke

Georgia over Nebraska

UNLV over N. Texas

South Carolina over Wisconsin

LSU over Iowa

Michigan St. over Stanford

Baylor over Central Florida

Alabama over Oklahoma

Missouri over Oklahoma St.

Clemson over Ohio St.

Vanderbilt over Houston

Ball St. over Arkansas St.

Florida St. over Auburn

And here are the results of the various forecasting methodologies (see the first year for description of the methodologies) (also, use the word methodologies if you want to sound important; methods would work just as well and is shorter) :

  • Some Blog Site picks were 20-15 (better than last year)
  • CBS120 picks were 20-15
  • HTW was 20-15 for the official Home Team Wins (HTW)
  • HTW was 20-15 for the Geographical Home Team (GHT)
  • Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate (ITP) was 18-17 if using HTW
  • ITP was 18-17 if using GHT

I won’t analyze the results as much as I did last year, mainly because I had more time and more sleep last year. But it was a good year all predictors – every method was over 50%. I just need to figure how to better predict outcomes. Especially against the spread.

Thoughts on the season’s results

  1. That was a nice playoff round. Now let’s have the championship game between Michigan State and Florida State. I know the BCS has Auburn as the number 2 team, but it’s the playoffs – lose and you’re out. Too bad we’ll never know…
  2. Remember what I said about the SEC last year? No? Good. Never mind.


Since the strength of the conference has something to do with the results, I thought I would tally each conference’s bowl game record for the 2013 (and the first bit of 2014) season.

  • AAC: 4-3
  • ACC: 3-6
  • Big 10: 2-5
  • Big 12: 3-3
  • Independent: 2-1
  • MAC: 0-5
  • MW: 3-3
  • PAC12: 6-3
  • SEC: 7-3
  • Sun Belt: 3-1
  • USA: 2-2

So the best conference was the Sun Belt (they won 75% of their bowl games) and the worst was the MAC (at 0%).

Or maybe the Sun Belt and Conf USA are the worst conferences because they sent the fewest teams to bowl games again this year.

Perhaps you could say that the SEC was the best because they had 10 teams go to bowls. Or you could say they were just the most popular conference.

Perhaps you could say that the ACC was the best because they won the championship. Or maybe the SEC is the best because they won the most bowls (at 7).

I don’t know what happened to the MAC. It’s hard to lose all 5 bowl games. At least they have company with the Big Ten and their 5 losses.

Next year: playoffs! Maybe I’ll get to put a bracket together. Don’t worry – there will still be plenty of meaningless bowl games to predict too.

But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.

2 Chronicles 15:7