Monday, December 23, 2019

Skating penguins

Even though I didn't win (or even place) in my neighborhood competition, I'm still pretty happy with how this worked out.

I have my 4 penguins, and I can mix and match as I want to.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

How I would have made Star Wars

The last Star Wars movie comes out next week, and by and large, Disney missed the mark with the whole franchise.  From Episodes 7,8, and 9 to the Solo movie, it just is lacking some of the gravitas of the Lucas films.  Sure, the Rogue One movie was decent, but it was the rare shining light.

It could have gone so much better.  IMHO, the sequels could have gone something like this:

Episode 7 should have been about what happened after the Empire fell.  There should have been some insights into their downfall, and the struggles of the imperial senate to regain control.  There could have been a first order that was rising from the ashes.

The story could have focused on a character like Rey who is finding herself, and growing in power and is ready to stake out on her own.  You don't need Finn showing up.

As far as original trilogy characters, Leia could have been in the senate and fighting for a greater good. They could have had her intersect at some point.  Perhaps Rey could have met Han and Chewie at a Cantina or something and left with him - not unlike Luke in that sense....Luke should come later.  The whole Starkiller base could have been cut. They could have still met Maz and learned about the light saber, and gotten a little more backstory there.  The hook is that the force is still working with characters, and they are going to build into something.  A force vision would have been nice - maybe some past, some present, and some future.  But don't forget to include them later.

Episode 8 should have carried the story forward - Rey finally meets Luke.  But rather than crotchety, he is more pragmatic. We learn that Luke has been using the force to meet other jedi in hiding, but who have more recently come out.  And he's learned that the jedi order wasn't quite what it seemed.  They could use the "point of view" that Obi Wan talks about in Empire - they were guardians of peace, but same were corruptible, like Dooku was.  Or Anakin.  And they caused more harm.  And he asks Rey to join him on a quest to right the wrongs.

Maybe we could meet a conflicted son of Han, who has been tempted by the dark side and is working for this first order as it rises to power - and they are trying to take over the galaxy.  No need for a superweapon! They could have been offering peace and protection to the galaxy against the backdrop of an inept senate.  Sure there could have been an element of peace through superior firepower, but that could have been part of their strong arming tactics.

Leia could have taken a faction of the senate to fight for good - but they don't have to come out of the resistance, nor do they have to be small and wimpy.

We're clearly heading for a showdown.

Episode 9 - it all comes together.  The new jedi order has also been working to also restore order and peace while finding a new way.  This could be a cool way to reintroduce them as something good.  Luke should be the central figure, but should move more to the yoda role as more of a mentor but still can kick ass.  The senate / republic joins them.  This first order fights them.  And we have some cool battle.

The Kylo character could resolve his conflict.  We could use elements like the wealthy financiers (from Disney's episode 8) who were equipping both sides to enrich themselves.  We could learn more about the jedi and where they failed.  While we don't need lengthy soliloquies about the inner workings of the senate - perhaps a little time spent on why they were inept would help; Sidious made them so...but what happened after?  And Rey could be the leader of the new jedi order - maybe make herself a light saber...would be nice to learn how that works a little.

I mean these are just things off the top of my head.  But professional writers thought "hold my beer.  I can screw this up and make things pointless and stupid."

Orange Bowl (3/3)

From the air, you get a sense of how they used the real estate.

For reference, the letters that "fell off" are on the east side (under the open window) while on the orange bowl they were on the west side. But hey! It's abstract art!

You can see how they moved the footprint about two blocks south (to the right in the picture)

Orange Bowl (2/3)

The view from the east end zone of the orange bowl always looked toward downtown Miami.

When they designed marlins park, they wanted to have a retractable roof and a big window that could be opened.

As a further bit of homage to the old tenant, they oriented it so the window is in left field; the view is the same - looking toward the city in what was the east end zone.

Orange Bowl (1/3)

When the initial designs were drawn up to re-use the Orange Bowl site for Marlins Park, there was an effort to pay homage to the original tenant.

One thing they did was to design a kind of public art. They wanted it too look as if the letters on the façade of the old orange bowl fell off into the concrete; in an abstract way, they wanted us to imagine they lifted up the orange bowl in one corner and these letters slid off.

I think that's pretty clever!

Why editing matters

In a recent issue of Ad Age, there was an article about how AI needs to evolve when dealing with social media, so that people get more relevant information, rather than it being packaged for financial reasons. The person being interviewed says that we shouldn't assume technology will solve the problem.

Later in the issue, there's another article about facial recognition and all the patents that are out there. They talk about how they can directly reach out to consumers and include some items that clearly suggest that technology will solve the problem.

Ummmm. Maybe they should hire an editor.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Anchors aweigh!

Capitalism rules

Never forget this important fact: its always about money.  And when it comes to companies, its always about profit.

With that in mind, I heard earlier that Mike Hukabee was going on about how he lost respect for for the fil-a chicken shop.  The reason was because they "always stood on principle" and their faith come first.  But blah, blah, they are kowtowing and no longer give to certain charities, and blah, blah, blah, and maybe they'll even open on Sundays! The horror.

He wants to make it about something its not. This is about money.

With the exception of a few single-owner companies, *every* company will do what's in their financial best interests.  Maybe their beliefs can fit within the profit motive, but that can't last if they if there are others (particularly shareholders) involved.

In a changing world, evolving (pun intended since this relates back to religion) and adapting is a part of business.  If there is more money to be made by changing something about the business, a company will go all in.

As I said, never forget, its always about money. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Star Wars. Social issues. Bad films.

I hear people talking about how disney destroyed star wars through social justice.

I find it funny. Disney didn't destroy Star Wars that way, rather they destroyed it through a lack of vision and bad story telling.

But I did want to talk about the social piece for a moment. Back in 1977, when Star Wars came out, we didn't have this constantly connected society. We didn't have 24 hour tv. So one thing you could do for entertainment was to see a movie. It was pretty cheap, and the studios put out a lot of fare, some of it downright terrible and forgettable. But we would go a lot as a means to have an outing. As a middle schooler, some friends and I would go every Saturday to see a movie.

Anyway, Star Wars was different. It was fun. It was good. So we saw it many times. I can distinctly remember talking with friends about how many times we saw it. 6? 10? More?

So we *knew* the film.

And then there was a conversation my mom was having with her sister about the film that stuck with me, and made me look at the film a little differently.

The characters in that first episode were all white men, and nearly all British. With the exception of princess Leah of course, and the occasional background character.

My mom is Hispanic. She noted there were no Hispanics, Asians, people of color, etc.

To me in 1977, I filed this away. It didn't matter who was in it then, just that it was good. But I've thought about it pretty much every time I've seen it since then.

It was what happened at the time. That was HOLLYWOOD.

So you have to keep in mind that there was no public outcry. It was talked about in small circles, but it never became a thing.

Heck until Sally Field portrayed a strong female lead in Norma Rae a few years later, this kind of thing just didn't come up. Besides, you had Princess Leia who had a prominent role.

And as for other ethnicities? Through a lot of the 70s you had "blaxploitation films" and there was a revival of Charlie Chan played by a white man. So there was still work to do.

Lucas added Lando in the next episode, and broadened the array of characters in subsequent films. Amidala was a central character, and more was made about her stiff acting than the role she played. Heck, more was made of jar jar being a goofy guy who sounded like he was from the Caribbean and that this was somehow racist, than anything else.

And then along comes disney, and everyone looks for an excuse for what's wrong with their films.

This is a symptom of a changing HOLLYWOOD, and of a changing society. We see women, and minorities, getting bigger parts - and getting noticed.

For the first time, a year or so ago, we saw a movie about Asians played by Asians.

We've seen stronger female leads. More people of diverse backgrounds coming in to play leading roles. More movies about life that are written, directed, and acted by people who live that life.

But there is a problem, and it is bigger: Hollywood keeps remaking movies. Putting out drivel. Bad writing is an epidemic. There's too much CGI and simulations. And so the movies are generally bad.

This isn't a Disney problem. It's a big movie problem. People have to pay a lot to go, and the quality isn't always there.

Movies are competing with streaming, online activities, and a generally higher expectation.

And when they fail, but manage to get good reviews in spite of that failure, it reflects on the bigger problem.

This isn't about an agenda. This is about turning out crap, rather than storytelling.

For Disney, you want to make Rey? Make Rey! But don't just ignore what was there in this franchise before. Connect it in some way. If you told a great story and it carried on the storyline then you could have had a success. Instead of just calling something Star Wars and putting a few recognizable pieces in it and passing it off as something great.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Monday, September 9, 2019

Those whacky dolphins

I don't follow them anymore, but I felt the need to say something about the state of the franchise.

First, you have the owner, who cares not about the team, the city, or anything other than being an owner. He's a friend of the trump and "speaks to him regularly"... his decision to step down from the committee on relations after it was found out he was hosting a fundraiser for trump was predictable. As was the trade of Kenny Stills - an outspoken critic of the owner.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say he gets none of my support or my money. Because F- that.

Then, you have this idea of "tanking" (which is actually a funny way to say it since dolphins are in tanks at the seaquarium, and there was one in the end zone in the early days of the team). You're expecting people to support you (either in investing time, money, or whatever) in spite of the crap you're putting out there? Suckers if they do, I guess. But how rude of you as a team.

And I'd just like to remind you that this "churn" has been going on for two decades. They've replaced coaches, GMs, players, had huge roster changes, and wound up with the first overall pick and the second overall pick in that time...and have thus far been unsuccessful at rebuilding the team.

And the nfl historically has not worked this way. I can't imagine it will be much different this time around. Insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting a different result. Yeah. Good luck.

And for people to buy into Suckers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Tour

This week makes it 26 years since I saw what might very well be the single greatest concert ever conceived. I admit I was skeptical going in, but it was nothing short of phenomenal and I still think about it from time to time.

You can get a sense of what it was like from his site.

But the one part of the performance, the song that sticks with me, is “In Your Eyes” which had this amazing sort of energy.  It had (and still has) a sort of lose-yourself-in-the-moment appeal.

See for yourself...

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Nick Buonuconti

Sadly, we heard about another member of the 72 dolphins team passing away. Nick Buoniconti goes to Valhalla to meet the football gods.

I have a Nick story of my own. It was a random encounter in the 90s. I was flying home with my-then fiancée from NY to Ft Lauderdale. My wife was a frequent flier and had tons of free upgrades, so she bumped us both to first class.

We're waiting for the boarding process to start when there's a stir by the desk. Nick was on that same flight. I hear everyone chatting with him. Then I hear someone say "no problem Mr Buonicoti, we're happy to move you to first class!"

And maybe a minute later I hear "mr kennedy please come to the podium." I know what this means. He's getting *my* seat.

And of course they tell me that they can't accommodate my request and will be refunding the upgrade to my wife's account.

Cue the Seinfeld moment where jerry is in first class, hanging out with a model and eating sundaes, while Elaine is in coach squeezed between two "bad passengers" with nothing to eat.

That was pretty much it.

I had wanted to interview him at one point for my dolphins podcast, but I wasn't able to work it out. I surely would have asked him about this...

....I guess now I can let the grudge go. (Haha)

It’s a hoax!

In honor of the 1969 moon landing, and the persistent (yet ludicrous) claims that it's a hoax, I decided to create my own conspiracy theory:

The 1972 Miami Dolphins perfect season is a hoax. It never happened. It's fake news!

I mean a guy with glasses comes on and miraculously leads his team?! A bunch of no name guys playing top-notch defense?! It's impossible!

The "season" was played out on a soundstage in California. Ed Sabol, Director of nfl films was brought in to make it look real! Those miraculous plays we see were to make it more compelling. And the blunder by Garo Yepremian in the super bowl was a joke inserted to make us really believe it.

Just look at the hilights. Why is there no actual game film?! Because it was faked!

—- now, see how stupid this sounds?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

It’s all about perspective

Stephenopolous interviews trump. Trump comes off exactly as he is.  See if you can guess which headline came from which source:

Stephonopolous filets trump
Trump calls stephonopolous a little wise guy

Isn’t it amusing how his base just doesn’t care what he says or does.  He is some kind of messiah. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Raspberry Pi garage door, part 2

In case I forgot to put it in the last post, here is how to setup the camera to take pictures at regular intervals.

Now on to setting up the webserver.  This was more painful than I thought it would be.  But, it finally worked.  I went to /var/www/html and did this:
npm init to use the node package manager (NPM) to setup a new node project. You can press enter to accept the default settings, but when you get to entry point type in webserver.js
Now, do this:
sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

npm install --save

npm install express --save

npm install onoff
A quick note here - some of these were added as I tested various methods for making this work.  I am not 100% positive that all of them are needed, but it can't hurt to have some extra code installed that's unused.

There are two files you will need:

sudo nano /public/index.html
<!DOCTYPE html>
<!--<p><input type="checkbox" id="light"></p> -->
<input type="image" id="light" src="http://yoursever/opener.jpg">
<script src=""></script> 
var socket = io(); //load and connect to the host that serves $
window.addEventListener("load", function(){ //when page loads
  var lightbox = document.getElementById("light");
  lightbox.addEventListener("click", function() {
    socket.emit("light", Number(this.checked)); //send button status to server
socket.on('light', function (data) { //get button status from client
  document.getElementById("light").checked = data; //change checkbox accordin$
  socket.emit("light", data); //send push button status to back to server



<img src='yourserver/doorpic.jpg'>


And sudo nano webserver.js

var http = require('http').createServer(handler); //require http server
var fs = require('fs'); //require filesystem module
var io = require('')(http) //require module and pass the http server
var Gpio = require('onoff/').Gpio; //include onoff 
var sensor = new Gpio(17, 'out'); //use GPIO pin 17, to check reed sensor 
var pushButton = new Gpio(4, 'high'); //use GPIO pin 4 as input, set to 1/high (off)
var mycounter=0;

http.listen(8080); //listen to port 8080

function handler (req, res) { //create server
  fs.readFile(__dirname + '/public/index.html', function(err, data) { 
    if (err) {

      res.writeHead(404, {'Content-Type': 'text/html'}); //display 404 if needed
   return res.end("404 Not Found");
    res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/html'}); //write HTML
    res.write(data); //write data from index.html
       if (sensor.readSync()==0) { res.write ("<h2>Garage sensor sez: Open!</h2>")}
       if (sensor.readSync()==1) { res.write ("<h2>Garage sensor sez: Closed.</h2>")}

    return res.end();

io.sockets.on('connection', function (socket) {// WebSocket Connection
socket.on('light', function(data) { //get light switch status from client
console.log("Engage! " + mycounter);

// Turn off after 3 seconds
setTimeout(_ => {
}, 3000);


process.on('SIGINT', function () { //on ctrl+c
  sensor.writeSync(0); // Turn LED off
  sensor.unexport(); // Unexport LED GPIO to free resources
  pushButton.unexport(); // Unexport Button GPIO to free resources
  process.exit(); //exit completely

Doorpic is the picture the camera takes
Opener is a picture of the opener that I want to display in the app.
--put both in the folder noted above

Run node webserver.js and you are ready to go!

Now all you have to do is point to the IP address of your Pi and with the port 8080 (ie, and you should be good to go!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Raspberry Pi Garage Door opener

I wanted to repurpose my raspberry pi to be a garage door opener.  I tried several different methods to make this work, but wasn’t happy with how it was coming out, so I came up with more-or-less my own easy custom solution that I wanted to share.

Of course, you have to start by setting up Raspian on the Pi.

Then, enable VNC, SSH, and the camera in the settings.

VNC makes it a heck of a lot easier to log in once you've put the pi in the garage.

There were three things I needed to add to my Pi:
A camera
A relay switch
and a reed switch

Next, there are 4 pieces of software to install:

1. Apache (will allow you to create a web page to control the pi from a phone)

2. Webcam (so you can look and see what state the garage door is in, as a visual check)

3.Node.js (allows for the algorithms to be written in javascript, my language of choice)
This one is a little tricky!  You have to follow the directions to get the exact right copy of the file for your Pi.  The full listing of available zip files is here

Note: You may also have to install sudo apt-get install npm and sudo npm install

4. OnOff (this is the javascript tool that allows you to check the GPIO pin conditions)

And then comes the wiring.  Your Pi has 40 GPIO pins to control external devices.

In short, you are going to use Java to look at the pins and either turn them on and off, or to evaluate whether the circuit is complete.

First the relay.  I pinned it to GPIO4, Ground, and a 5V

Pi Pin .  Relay input
2            VCC
 6            GND
7             IN2

(Note: in a previous version of this post, I noted the ground as pin 4; the picture was correct. I made a typo)

Then, I created a javascript that looks like this:
'use strict';

const Gpio = require('../onoff').Gpio; // Gpio class
const led = new Gpio(4, 'out');       // Export GPIO4 as an output


// Turn off after 3 seconds
setTimeout(_ => {
  led.unexport();    // Unexport GPIO and free resources
}, 3000);

Save it, and call it whatever you want - by running node yourfilename.js you will cause the relay to turn on and then off again 3 seconds later.

On the relay end, you want to attach two wires, which will open a circuit when the relay comes on.  The other ends of the wire attach to the opener itself, in my case to the left most screws.  When the circuit opens, the connection is shorted and the door opens or closes.  

Cool right?

For the reed switch, I pinned it to GPIO17 and a 3.3v

Note: I connected the wires to longer wires so I could run it across my garage.  Doesn't matter which is which on this end.

Then, I created a javascript that looks like this:
'use strict';

const Gpio = require('../onoff').Gpio; // Gpio class
const led = new Gpio(17, 'out');       // Export GPIO17 as an output

console.log (led.readSync());
if (led.readSync()==0) { console.log ("open")};
if (led.readSync()==1) { console.log ("closed")};

Save it, and call it whatever you want - by running node yourfilename2.js you will to see if the reed switch is closed or not - closed would indicate the door is closed.

And that is 99% of the work.

Next up is the html so that it will look like you want it to, and allow for "remote control"

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Classic kid reaction at the science center

Last year, we visited the franklin institute in Philadelphia. Fun and interactive place.

We watch a demo by a museum worker about liquid nitrogen. The kids were enthused and the persons patter was good.

One young boy (maybe about 10) was more thrilled than the rest. He was excited by it and kept shouting things back when she'd talk.

Toward the end she told everyone she had something we could all take home. The kid yells out "she's giving us liquid nitrogen!" And I can hear him telling his friends that he was planning to have fun at home.

The show ends and she tells us that we are going to take home nitrogen - and before she can finish he gives her a "see I told you!"

...and then she tells us to take a deep breath. We now have nitrogen in our lungs that we take home.

The kid stands up, points, and, at the top of his lungs, yells "she lied!"

Silence for a moment and then laughter among the adults.

I talked with the experimenter and had a good laugh. She has a good story to tell!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

My silly Starbucks story

I got an offer that if I made a purchase using my rewards account, I would get a free drink to use within 7 days.

I made the purchase ... but never got the drink. So I contacted customer support.

They advised me that I did get it, but that it wouldn't appear under rewards in the app, but rather on the card. I follow the directions and find it. Great.

Now I also get an instruction that the cashier has to enter a code at the time of purchase. Fine.

I go to use the award, tell the cashier, and....she redeems stars that I have on my account.

Well, it is what it is. I still have the other award. But I decide to reach out to customer service to let them know that it's hard to find and harder to use.

The person I contacted was very nice and apologized, and returned the stars. And I still had the award. Sweet.

I go to use the award again today. I explain it to the cashier, and she nods and says she's got this. And...proceeds to remove stars.

Ugh. I'm like "wait..." but it's too late. Stars are gone. So I explain it again, she apologizes and calls over who I assume is the manager. He tells me it was a mistake, and proceeds to refund me the cost of the drink to my card, which is more or less the equivalent of the stars, I guess.

Then he starts a new order and manages to enter the code and it works! Yay. He then tells the barista to only make one of them, not two.

But she's already made the first one, and thus only sees one and proceeds to make it.

So on this trip I have two drinks. They tell me to keep the other one, which isn't a bad play.

And in all, my free drink based on purchase resulted in 3 drinks and 125 stars converting to $5 in cash on my account.

So uhhhh. Yeah. #winning I guess.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Dumb comment of the day

Trump (or one of surrogates) said that we need to teach "both sides of science" in school.


I'm pretty sure there's only one side. The other point of view is called bull shit.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

NYTimes: One More Time, With Big Data: Measles Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Autism

If there was any doubt whatsoever. 

A 10-year look at more than 600,000 children comes at a time when anti-vaccine suspicion is on the rise again.

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone. 

Anti-vaxers' adult son gets measles; now, he has this message for the world - CNN

A message to anti-vaxxers: gent bent

This is real. And serious.

And a message to the stupid folks who say "hey we got antibiotics"... get a clue.

Friday, February 15, 2019

JFK declassified

I just finished watching the 6-part series on the assassination of JFK that aired on the History Channel.

I thought it was quite well done.  A fresh perspective on the assassination that followed a number of leads and challenged what we know, and what we think. 

For those of who grew up in and around Miami in the late 60s/early 70s, (minor spoiler alert) the notion of Alpha 66 being engaged in various activities related to Cuba was well known - the connection to Oswald is .... I'd go with unsurprising.  But I suspect there is a lot more to that connection.

I'd encourage everyone to watch the show.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The AAF and it’s app

The alliance of American football debuted last night. We were shown the Orlando team, with spurrier as the coach. What did I think? I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it.

He ran a wide open offense and had some trick plays...they scored a lot of points. But the other team didn't. And in the other contest that was on, it was also low scoring. So I'm not sure how exciting it will be over time.

I'm intrigued by the rules: no kickoffs, and no onside kicks - and you must always go for 2, and a 5 man rush is the max.

The players were somewhat recognizable which was also a plus.

Now let's get to the thing that interested me the most: the app.

In theory, you get real time stats, can play little games (like predicting the next play), and can wager on certain things - for real money if you live in a state that allows for it - or just for fun.

So I opened the app and it seemed cool. Players were shown on the field, moving so it was a nice addition to the game - you could find a guy who wasn't in the camera view.

But that's where the fun stopped. I would say that not a single feature worked. Couldn't see stats. Couldn't predict plays. Couldn't wager.

And at some point the screen went blank and there were no players.

When we did see them, it was hard to figure out what was happening.

In the times that it worked, the game clock was between 20-30 seconds ahead of what was broadcast on my tv, using an antenna - so it should have been much closer to correct.

And every once in a while the time remaining in the game in the app said "32:54"

Yeah, it wasn't ready for prime time.

Assuming it was that they didn't plan for usage, shame on them...and they might get one week to correct it before viewers just give up and don't care.

“Listen to your fans”

Good piece about the falcons and their concession pricing.

On a personal note, I can’t remember the last time I went to a sporting event and spent money on concessions (well, when I was at home anyway; sometimes on the road you have to, but it is always a tough choice because it’s expensive)....

On a related note, consider this: is it better to sell 100 seats at $10 or 200 seats at $5?  Hint: it’s the same, but the $5 might encourage people to spend on concessions, and want to come back.

Monday, February 4, 2019

That was dreadful (Superbowl edition)

The game was awful.

About as boring as talking to my aunt Jeanie about her last trip in the RV.

There was no offense, and its not like either defense was playing terrific.  It was just a pathetic performance by both teams.  16 total points scored?  And 10 of them after the midway point of the 4th quarter?  No thanks.

The officiating was its usual suspect version of itself.  A call that can go either way? Advantage Patriots.  Every time. 

I was honestly hoping at some point the Rams punter would win the MVP.  And come to think of it, I have no idea who did, and don't really care after that snoozer....

And so, I started doing other things sometime after halftime and didn't watch much football-like-substance after that.

The commercials were pretty bad.  Most had already been released.  A few were cute, but not memorable.  It was not great from that standpoint, either.

And that halftime show?  At some point, I turned down the volume and turned on "Up With People" and wondered aloud if this was any better or worse than the LIII version of a halftime show?

Hint: they were both pretty bad, but at least "UP" had some production quality.

And we also watched some frisbee dog halftime shows we found online since the halftime went on for hours.  And those dogs were MUCH better than whatever was on my tv...

This morning, I was reminded of the movie from the same timeframe as "UP" - "Heaven Can Wait" which was about a QB for the Rams who dies and then is put into a new body and takes the team to the Superbowl.  Yeah, that movie for all its 70s campiness would have been a better use of several hours.

Thanks for the hype for a bad game, NFL.  You proved again why football is just a waste of time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The NFL is dumb and can’t get out of its own way.

This weekends NFL games summed up my opinion about the league: it can be fun to watch for pure entertainment. But don't live and die by the outcomes and don't actively root for a team - you will always be disappointed.

Unless you're a fan of the patriots, of course. Nearly 2 decades of winning; honestly its embarrassing - for the rest of the league. New players, new coaches year after year and yet having Bellicheat and Brady is enough.

Some day, we may learn how they continue to win. Maybe there's a system of cheating or bending the rules. But maybe not. In the meantime, the one thing we know is that Bellicheat understands the rules better than anyone. He plays just to them, and gets his players to take advantage of the little things that are quirks or not well defined. And, he gets in the officials ears and as a result, they are less likely to call things on him. And rather, favor him.

Back in the 80s, the dolphins had a string of seasons where they were the least-penalized team. Shula had everything to do with that: he stayed in officials ears, kept his team disciplined, and used rules to his advantage. I think it's fair to say that they did actually commit infractions, but they were just this side of legal, and not called on plays. I see Bellicheat as Shula 2.0 in that way.

And then there's the rules themselves. On Sunday, we saw on full display how confusing it is to call almost anything. Pass interference. Roughing the passer. Holding anywhere on the field. Whether a ball was touched. Helmet to helmet hits. First downs. And what's a catch, anyway?

And there's some older guy making a determination at game speed on a call. It's silly. You have technology. It would be easy to implement some solutions to solve for some of this. Tennis can decide if a ball is in our out. Soccer can decide if it's a goal. First downs touchdowns should be simple matters.

For catches, it would seem they could come up with a simpler rule and augment the ball to decide if it's being gripped and/or hits the ground. Done and done. No decisions to be made by observation.

Helmet collisions could be monitored by devices in the helmets themselves. If there's a collision, and two helmets show a sudden impact it's contact. Penalty, and the guy making contact is ejected. No judgement calls.

You could also use it to see if a guy makes contact with players head using a hand, eliminating questions about whether he hit the helmet.

The notion that they want to make a passer interference penalty reviewable is laughable. Allowing plays to be reviewed which are or aren't penalties is going to create more chaos and not help the game.

Instead, they need to come up with a simpler rule for what constitutes interference or holding, and have a referee in a booth who can radio down if the ones on the field missed something. And they can confer with him/her much like they do on the field. And use replay in those conferences. Get it right rather than leaving it to simple judgement.

And then there's overtime. In one game the system mostly worked. Both teams touched the ball. In the other, it most certainly did not.

The rules are more-or-less the same in the regular season.

And you saw coaches opt to go for two at end game in the regular season, because the odds of getting the two are something like 60% success rate. While the coin flip is 50% that you'll get the ball and then you have to drive the field or stop the other team. Overall, there's a 55% chance if you win the coin toss you win the game.

You are better off going for the win in regulation.

In our situation, New England wins the toss and Kansas City never saw the ball.

Why not implement either a full quarter of overtime to play it out and give an opportunity to both teams. Or allow for the college rule to come to the nfl. Both teams get a possession and have an opportunity to win.

It's not perfect but it's better than what we saw, and certainly would help generate interest.

And in the 48 hours since the game, people cite an obscure rule that allows the commissioner to replay the game, the quarter, the situation, or simply change the outcome. It's silly that this would come up - and just when would a rematch happen?

It was wrong. And silly. The fact that the nfl got it wrong just sums up the absurdity of the sport.

So as I've said before, the nfl can keep its product. I'll watch a little and enjoy the entertainment. But I am not getting too worked up about it. They love that the ratings were through the roof. They love that now there's a storyline.

And so in their own way they keep winning.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

DIY penguin decorations

I had this crazy idea to make a skating penguin for my annual holiday display.  I searched for ideas, but really couldn't find anything close to what I was looking for - either ready made, or a DIY thing that worked.

My grand plan was to have a skating rink with several penguins.  And that sort of thing just didn't exist.

After much thought, I decided to make the penguins with papier-mache, with an internal chicken wire structure.  I would then "somehow" light them....

I started with a roll of chicken wire.  I got a balloon penguin that stood at about 2 feet to use as a shape guide, and to help me best determine how it would look in 3 dimensional space.  Since the wire was about 2 feet wide, I needed to cut enough to make it get the full effect.

So I cut off about 3 feet and set about bending, shaping, and folding.  I now had a rough penguin shape that would serve as my base.

Since he was going to be standing on skates, and standing upright, I needed to create a way to help him stand solidly.  So I came up with a PVC pipe skeleton.  It provides that structural support and allows for an easy way to attach the wings, which were going to be a cardboard.  Also the skates could easily be attached to the frame giving the illusion of the penguin standing.

I have a second one more complete in the background of the photo.

Skates were another matter.  They needed to be constructed somehow.  I thought about more chicken wire, but decided that it was easier to cut and shape some foam tubing I had leftover from another project.  I made them shoe-shaped and added a blade out of cardboard.

Then it was time for papier-mache.  I first inserted a piece of the foam tubing at beak height, and then proceeded to do the flour-water-newspaper process.  

I did some re-shaping as I sent along, as I wanted it to look "right."  I covered the skates as well.

I used a screw through the pvc at wing-height to attach the cardboard wing, and put the mache all around it to both hold and cover it.  

 Once covered, it looked like this.  Hey! Its nearly a penguin!

Alright, now it was time to consider how to light it.  I realized that LED lights produce very little heat, and could be affixed to the surface without worrying about whether it might be a fire hazard.

One thought I had along the way was to put lights on the cage before the mache, but I wasn't sure how that would come out.  So instead, I wrapped the entire structure in an LED strand of lights.  I selected a bright white light.

I also wanted to be sure the eyes would work.  For those, I decided to put part of the strand inside the structure, and poke them out.  Then I would put a plastic lens on top to complete the eye.

Two things I did to improve the effect.  The first was to build up what amounts to an eye socket that would give enough room to have the bulb and keep the lens in place.  The second was to color the bulb. From a quick search, I learned a very simple and very effective technique: use a sharpie.  

Next up was to put a top cover to make it look like a penguin.  For this, I decided on tissue paper and crepe paper.  Again, I used the papier-mache technique, but added glue to the mx to give it a little rigidity and to further protect against the potential for heat to simply burn the paper.

For the skates, I used tin foil to give them the look of metal.

And voila.  I have what looks like a skating penguin.  Now lets turn the lights on and see how he looks.

I like it.  I think it will be fine as an outdoor display that will still be supervised.  I don't want to have a problem. 

One last thing I did was to coat it with a clear water repellent. 

And later, I'll also put it under a canopy to keep it dry.

But there you go.  Skating penguin!