Putting Out the Vibe

May 23, 2014

Too Many Girls

Gumpa reading Too Many Girls

Gumpa Rod reading Too Many Girls by Jonty Lees to Camille – the 14th of 16 straight girls in the extended family

There’s a running joke in my fiancé’s family that having boys is impossible – they’ve gone 16 tries without one. It’s clear there’s something weird going on with the Metternichs – they’re pretty good at making wine (my brother-in-laws-to-be and I visited the vineyard this past fall in The Rhine River Valley and Dave made gang symbols during wine tasting) and not so good at making boys. So is it impossible for them to have a male? Is the old wives’ tale that you are 30% or even 70% more likely to keep having the same gender child valid (this post attempts to debunk it)? I’m pretty sure the answer is no – if you consider each child’s birth to be an independent event determined by the male (like this geneticist does), the odds of each girl are roughly 50%, suggesting that the Metternich phenomenon is just really really unlikely. I attempt to estimate just how unlikely this is in the below calculations.

Metternich Female Tree

Fn = Pr(nth female)
Mn = Pr(nth male)

Probability of 16 same-gender-children in a row
(gender of first child doesn’t matter)
→ Pr(F16 | [M1∪F1]∩F2∩F3∩F4∩F5∩F6∩F7∩F8∩F9∩F10∩F11∩F12∩F13∩F14∩F15)

→[M1+F1]*F2*F3*F4*F5*F6*F7*F8*F9*F10*F11*F12*F13*F14*F15*F16

→.5+.5]*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5

= 1*(1/2)15 0.000030517578125 3 times out of 100,000
Probability of 16 girls in a row → Pr(F16 | F1∩F2∩F3∩F4∩F5∩F6∩F7∩F8∩F9∩F10∩F11∩F12∩F13∩F14∩F15)

→ F1*F2*F3*F4*F5*F6*F7*F8*F9*F10*F11*F12*F13*F14*F15*F16

→ .5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5

= (1/2)16 0.0000152587890625 1.5 times out of 100,000
Probability of a 17th girl (F17) → Pr(F17 | F1∩F2∩F3∩F4∩F5∩F6∩F7∩F8∩F9∩F10∩F11∩F12∩F13∩F14∩F15∩F16)

→F1*F2*F3*F4*F5*F6*F7*F8*F9*F10*F11*F12*F13*F14*F15*F16*F17

→.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5*.5

= (1/2)17 0.00000762939453125 8 times out of 1,000,000

Some of you are probably thinking “but aren’t there more men in the world than women?” The short answer is that since this sample size only consists of 16 babies, a fraction of a percentage won’t really skew the result. If you insist, however, the long answer is that a 2002 study found that the natural sex ratio at birth is estimated to be 1.06 males/female (there are likely evolutionary reasons for this that I won’t discuss here). In other words, they found the probability of having a male to be 53/103 ≈ 0.515. This means they found the probability of a female to be 50/103 ≈ 0.485. Changing the probabilities used in our calculations from 0.5 to 50/103, the odds of the Metternich phenomenon become even less likely.

Probability of 16 same-gender-children in a row
(first child is male)
[50/103+53/103]*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103*53/103 = 1*(53/103)15 0.0000469439547385414 4.7 times out of 100,000
Probability of 16 same-gender-children in a row
(first child is female)
[50/103+53/103]*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103 = 1*(50/103)15 0.000019588072125144 2 times out of 100,000
Probability of 16 girls in a row 50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103 = (50/103)16 0.00000950877287628348 1 time out of 100,000
Probability of a 17th girl (F17) 50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103*50/103 = (50/103)17 0.00000461590916324441 5 times out of 1,000,000

That means that if future Metternich generations tried to replicate the above scenario 100,000 times, 16 girls in a row is only likely to happen once.

So where do I fit in to this crazy anomaly? I’m marrying F9. She’s pretty great at a lot of things but from the looks of the above diagram, having boys may not be one of them. Fortunately for us, her sister Jane may debunk this for us since she does have Pez in the dispenser (I’m going to trademark that). With Jane and Al’s Baby B to be (F17 or M1) comes another chance to break this ridiculous trend (taking the pressure off Ann and I). What’s your vote for the chances of it being female? Mine is exactly 50%.

October 7, 2013

Why do i get so tired flying every week?

Every time I fly (which over the last three years has been nearly twice a week), I get tired.  Not debilitatingly tired but enough that I just feel ‘off’ and less productive.  Many people would simply chalk this up to jet lag but the reality over the past three years is that I’ve found that this happens to me even if my flight spans only a single timezone or even within the same timezone.  Also, the rule of thumb that it takes one day to recover for every hour of time difference that you fly seems ridiculous.  If this were the case, it would take me the entire work week to recover from my Monday morning flight across the country (in reality, I’m probably productive by Tuesday) or the entire duration of my trip to Europe to recover.  Evidently this can be true for people with extremely rigid sleep schedules (also not me).  So here’s what I’m chalking my weekly flight fatigue up to…

1.  Dehydration

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that air cabins pressurized to 8,000 feet lower oxygen in the blood, making passengers feel uncomfortable and dehydrated (source).  Cabins are also very low in humidity, typically ranging between 10-20%.  This is much lower than a comfortable typical indoor humidity of 30-65% and even the lowest humidity cities in the US average around 30%.  Low humidity increases the risk of catching a respiratory virus, such as a cold since the moisture in the air keeps your airways moist so the lining can help trap germs trying to enter your body.

  • Solution:  Obviously, hydrating but it doesn’t help that drinks in airports cost more than a Qdoba burrito and bubblers (yes, bubblers) are hard to come by.  I didn’t realize this until I had traveled for a while but flight attendants will bring you additional water even if their big beverage show is over.  Don’t be afraid to be “that guy” and order a water AND an orange juice or even ask for additional water after the beverage road show.  It’s probably worth the extra trips to the gross plane bathroom even if you’re in a window seat and the guy next to you thinks you have a growing problem.  I’ve also been told to avoid caffeine and alcohol while flying but I’ve decided that I like coffee and Jack & Gingers too much.

2.  Poor Air Quality

In addition to the low humidity on planes described above, the overall quality of air on planes isn’t ideal.  Surprisingly, this is less a result of recycled air but more likely the cause of being in extreme proximity of already sick people.  Cabin air on planes is completely refreshed 20 times per hour (compared with just 12 times per hour in an office building) (source), only about 50% of the air in the cabin is likely to be recycled, and the oxygen level on aircraft remains pretty constant (source).  Also, most aircraft air is circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.97 percent of bacteria, as well as the airborne particles that viruses use for transport (unfortunately, many regional jets lack these filters).  Additionally, cabins are divided into separate ventilation sections about every seven rows of seats (source).  There have been reports of infections (including TB) being transmitted during flights but there is disagreement whether this is due to the the very fine filters not working or simply because the victim is seated close to someone with an infectious disease (source).  This is most likely due to either close proximity to a sick person or a result of the poorer air quality circulated through the cabin at the gate (air circulation is greatly reduced when the engines aren’t on).

  • Solution:  I suppose you could ask to be moved if the person next to you shares that they are ridiculously sick but on a full plane this isn’t realistic.  Otherwise, hope you have an immune system of steel and get a flu shot.

3.  Dozing off while taxiing on the runway

Something about the comfortable (sometimes) seat, the constant subtle vibration, and the ambient white noise always causes me to fall asleep while planes are taxiing.  Evidently, I’m not alone but few discuss this phenomenon in a scientific way.  It does make sense, however, since the brain naturally craves sensory input (people in sensory deprivation tanks hallucinate) and constant white noise, gives the brain a tonic signal that dampens its own internal systems (source).  I suppose the reasons that the low vibrations of taxiing cause me to sleep are also similar.  The problem, however, is that short naps for me are a crapshoot – sometimes refreshing me and sometimes making me more tired.  On a plane, I often don’t reach the 10-15 minutes required for a refreshing “power nap” and as a result just wake up more tired than when I started.

4.  Nutrition

Have you ever tried to eat healthy in an airport?  It will cost you twice as much as shopping at Whole Foods.  As a result, I always eat garbage while traveling and I believe this compounds my fatigue on my travel days.

  • Solution: Pay more for healthier food if you can afford it.  Otherwise, keep eating double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and enjoy the 10-15 minutes of happiness.

5.  Jet Lag

I just got back from a vacation to Europe where I experienced many of the classic jet lag symptoms (especially insomnia on my second night there due to circadian rhythm disruption).  Although it’s on a much smaller scale, I suppose this does affect my shorter weekly flights.

(Mondays)

Trying to fit a normal life in to the three days that I’m actually home on the weekends probably doesn’t help the issue.  Over each weekend, I typically relax my sleep schedule so by Monday morning, even if I weren’t flying, I would likely feel a mini jet lag due to slight changes in my circadian rhythms (aka a case of the Mondays).

Let me know your thoughts and if any of you have any that I should add.

December 5, 2012

To Cable or not to Cable: The historical cost of cable and the benefits of cutting the cord

I recently dropped ridiculously expensive cable and opted for a combination of a free over-the-air antennae, streaming Netflix, and downloading via a Newsgroup.  Having paid internet with no paid TV service is called “cord cutting” and is a major trend among Generation Y.  More specifically, non-subscribers fall into two categories – “evaders” (those who have never purchased subscription-based pay TV) or “defectors” (former subscribers who have cut the cord) – and evidently I’m a “defector” (says the middle aged woman who wrote that article).

In not an economist but I do find the cable industry to be a bizarre playing field.  Although not a monopoly at the federal level, many areas of the country operate as such because consumers are left with only a single viable option for cable service (I’ve written about one such monopoly in the past).  However, unlike other near monopolies, there is a free alternative to cable which provides (almost) similar quality (although much fewer channels).  Imagine if DeBeers, in their monopoly of the diamond market, began giving grade “S” diamonds to the public for free.  Would anyone pay egregious amount of money for grade D diamonds?  How much better would a diamond need to be for anyone to decide to pay anything for it?  Similarly, how much better does MTV need to be for me to pay $70 a month versus settling with HD quality NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and PBS for free?

Yet cable didn’t used to cost three times more than a utility bill.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lists average costs of cable dating back to 1995 (unfortunately I couldn’t find consistent earlier data):

Average Cable Prices by Year Graph

Year Basic
Service
Expanded Basic Service
Price # Channels Price/Channel
1995 - $22.35 44 $0.60
1996 - $24.28 47 $0.61
1997 - $26.31 49 $0.63
1998 $12.06 $27.88 50 $0.65
1999 $12.58 $28.94 51 $0.65
2000 $12.84 $31.22 55 $0.66
2001 $12.84 $33.75 59 $0.60
2002 $14.45 $36.47 63 $0.66
2003 $13.45 $38.95 68 $0.65
2004 $13.80 $41.04 70 $0.66
2005 $14.30 $43.04 71 $0.62
2006 $14.59 $45.26 71 $0.65
2007 $15.33 $47.27 73 $0.67
2008 $16.11 $49.65 73 $0.68
2009 $17.65 $52.37 78 $0.71
2010 $17.93 $54.44 117 $0.56
2011 $19.33 $57.46 124 $0.57

 

A few definitions according to the FCC:

  • Basic Service:  The local broadcast stations; public, educational, and governmental access channels; and typically a few additional channels that may be of local, regional, national, or international origin.  (required by the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992)
  • Expanded Basic Service:  The combined price of basic service and the most subscribed cable programming service tier excluding taxes, fees and equipment charges

Comparing these prices to inflation of the US Dollar shows that although “Basic Service” (which I don’t believe anyone actually uses) trends similarly with inflation, “Expanded Basic Service” has gotten ridiculous:

Cable Price Increases Since 1995 Graph

A few issues with these prices:

  • All of the prices above exclude taxes, fees, and equipment charges.  In my experience, these are usually ridiculous so the true cost of cable TV (and its difference from US inflation) is really underrepresented above.
  • Although the cost of Expanded Cable has increased at a rate far exceeding cable, the average number of channels available in Expanded Cable has also increased.  As a result, the average cost per channel has actually decreased in recent years.  In my opinion, however, the percentage of channels actually watched must be at an all time low.

October 12, 2012

Where the Beer Flows like Wine: breakdown by state

I have a lot of pride in my Wisconsin roots – especially when it comes to beer. Although, the quality of WI beer (and beer drinkers) is hard to rival, since moving to Colorado, I’ve felt conflicted whenever I hear Coloradans bragging about the number of breweries in this state. Then, a couple of weeks ago I was discussing this point with some coworkers – one from CA and one from WA – who both thought their states had “a lot” of breweries too. When it comes to beer, this isn’t my first rodeo (or my first map) so I feel pretty qualified to get to the bottom of this issue…
 
Number of Breweries by State

Number of Breweries by State
From brewersassocation.org as of 10/8/12
California 512
Colorado 259
Washington 214
Texas 171
Oregon 168
New York 164
Pennsylvania 160
Michigan 150
Illinois 138
Wisconsin 119
North Carolina 105
Florida 104
Ohio 93
Virginia 89
Massachusetts 83
Minnesota 81
Missouri 73
Arizona 68
Indiana 66
Georgia 59
New Jersey 54
Tennessee 54
Iowa 49
Maryland 47
Montana 47
Maine 45
Idaho 38
Connecticut 37
New Mexico 35
Nevada 33
Nebraska 31
New Hampshire 30
Vermont 30
Alaska 29
South Carolina 29
Utah 27
Louisiana 25
Alabama 23
Kansas 21
Wyoming 20
Delaware 19
Kentucky 18
Hawaii 16
Oklahoma 16
South Dakota 15
Arkansas 13
District of Columbia 13
Rhode Island 10
West Virginia 10
North Dakota 8
Mississippi 7
Total US Breweries: 3,725

A table of all of this data is displayed to the right.
 
I acknowledge this map has limitations. For example:

  • Texas is ginormous – so 171 breweries really isn’t that impressive.  Actually, looking at breweries per capita by state may be more indicative of quality beer culture.  The Brewers Association does just that and found Vermont to be number one.  Wisconsin was an unfortunate number nine in 2011.
  • This data is from the Brewers Association’s Find US Brewery page and was retrieved on 10/8/12.  While I believe this list to be pretty comprehensive,
    1. Breweries throughout the US are constantly changing from year to year
    2. The list includes both “breweries in planning” and chains, such as BJ’s (counting multiple BJ’s locations in one state seems like cheating)
  • The Beer Mapping Project takes breweries in each state a step further and plots actual location. It’s very interesting to look at density of breweries in certain regions of the country. For example, while the above map shows that Illinois has 138 breweries, almost all of these are located in the Chicago area.

Regardless of Wisconsin’s rank, either by total breweries or breweries per capita, there is one thing that Wisconsin has that no other state does:
 
Spotted Cow Logo

December 29, 2011

Wedding Season

Weddings got real this year.  Real real.  So I plotted out my wedding attendance (to the best of my memory).  Check out that exponential growth (directly proportional to the amount of money I spent on wedding presents)!

 My Wedding Attendance Graph

 

1996

  • Laurie & Stan*

2003

2005

2008

2010

2011

2012

2013

*Ring bearer *Crashed, not really invited

Why did my friends take a break in 2009?

October 28, 2011

The Packers Season Ticket Waitlist: Only a lifetime away

During the month of October, a lot of people (9,786 in Oct 2010) read my blog because of my blog post about possible Halloween costumes.  Throughout the rest of the year, my brother is pretty much the only reader.  So Dave, this one’s for you.  Towards the end of my High School career (not sure exactly when), I did what everyone else in the state of Wisconsin does – I added Dave and I to the Green Bay Packers Season Ticket Waitlist.  Ironically, in the days before stubhub and ebay, our Dad had a chance at some Packers tickets while he and our Mom lived in California for a few years.  If he found a way to pick them up, today I’d probably be sitting in section 120, row 10.  Roughly 30 years later, Dave and I got in on the ground floor of a 70,000 story building (which increased to 83,881 in 2010, 88,595 in 2011, 96,000 in 2012, and 105,000 in 2013).

Every year, the Packers send Waitlist members a postcard to let you know where you stand on the list.  I haven’t always tracked my progress but in wading through facebook posts and old e-mails to Dave about our status, I was able to dig up the following data.
 

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Season Ticket Waitlist Number 65,959 Data
unavailable
64,276 Data
unavailable
62,556 62,139 61,656 61,206 55,995
Estimated Year of Receiving Tickets   2082.5 2089.1 2095.2 2101.2 2069.6
2094.6 (assuming no other seating expansions)

 
Packers Season Ticket Waitlist Graph
 
In fitting a linear trendline to this data, I yielded the following:  y = -989.58x + 67483.  This means a couple of things:

  1. It would seem that we’re moving up an average of 989.58 spots each year, however, this is largely inflated because in 2013 ≈5,000 season ticket holders were awarded tickets in the new expansion seating. Assuming this will never happen again, it’s probably more accurate to exclude 2013 from the slope, giving us an average decrease of 686.58 spots per year.
  2. Finding the x-intercept shows that our name will come up in ≈56.6 years (the year 2069.6). However, as I mention above, it’s probably more accurate to exclude 2013, in which case, our name will likely not come up for ≈81.6 years (the year 2094.6). I guess I’ll hope for another expansion but this seems near impossible.
  3. Winning clearly doesn’t help our cause. Unfortunately, an exponential trendline may provide a better fit but it’s just too depressing. I’m hoping that fluctuations in the Packers’ performance will smooth this out over time, making the linear trendline a better estimate. As a fan, however, I’m not sure I can handle fluctuations in their performance.

I’ll be sure to update this graph each year for the rest of my life…then pass it on to my grandchildren.

And for the record, I’m one spot ahead of Dave on the list.

October 7, 2011

The Box Car Rentals

Filed under: Products, Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Matthew @ 1:31 pm

In no way related to The Boxcar Children, The Box Car Rentals are the genre of cars that I hope on a weekly basis will not be given to me.  I became intimately familiar with the Chevy HHR when Avis “randomly” assigned them to me for three straight weeks.  In actuality they probably had me flagged in their system as “our only customer who will not refuse the HHR.”  I simply didn’t have time and found it funny how much my coworkers loathed my rental.  Do rental car companies get some sort of industry discount on these undesirable cars?  Literally all of the cars below are very common among the mid-size SUV category.  Coming in with the most Street Cred in this group is probably the Kia Soul (at least their commercials are coolthis one too).

 

Chevy HHR
Chevy HHR
Kia Soul
Kia Soul
Nissan Cube
Nissan Cube
PT Cruiser
PT Cruiser
Scion Xb
Scion Xb
Cardboard Box
Cardboard Box

 

To be honest, the PT Cruiser (and all of these cars I suppose) has always reminded me of this:

March 26, 2011

The history of NCAA Tournament upsets

Every year I hear people say “the upsets this year destroyed my bracket.” While some years this is probably valid, most years these people (who are probably just trying to justify the hundreds of hours they spent filling out their bracket) are just making excuses. Nonetheless, I’ve always wondered what the real upset history in the NCAA Basketball actually is. Unfortunately, since the modern 64 team bracket structure just began in 1985, it really only makes sense to go back that far. So on my flight last Thursday, I did just that (and throughout the process felt a lot like Douglass Bates)…

A lot of people focus most of their bracket destruction excuses on the first round upsets. While this is perhaps the most memorable round of upsets, I will also consider the subsequent rounds and the total upsets in the entire tournament to evaluate just how prevalent upsets are from year to year. Additionally, since a nine seed defeating an eight seed is technically an upset, albeit not a large one, I will also consider the magnitude of the upsets in a given year by summing the total upset differential of all of the upsets which occurred.
 

 
1st Round
2nd Round
Sweet 16
Elite 8
Final 4
Championship
 
TOTAL
 
Average
Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
#
Upsets
Total Upset
Differential
1985
7
33
6
37
1
3
2
7
1
6
1
7
18
93
5.17
1986
6
38
8
43
2
13
1
10
0
0
1
1
18
105
5.83
1987
9
45
5
23
2
11
2
6
0
0
0
0
18
85
4.72
1988
5
29
6
26
2
7
2
3
1
4
1
3
17
72
4.24
1989
12
54
1
1
4
9
1
1
2
3
0
0
20
68
3.40
1990
7
35
9
53
4
15
2
8
0
0
0
0
22
111
5.05
1991
9
57
0
0
4
12
1
2
2
3
0
0
16
74
4.63
1992
8
36
3
16
1
4
2
6
1
2
0
0
15
64
4.27
1993
6
36
4
12
1
4
1
1
0
0
0
0
12
53
4.42
1994
9
29
5
28
2
5
2
2
0
0
0
0
18
64
3.56
1995
8
48
2
4
2
6
2
3
0
0
0
0
14
61
4.36
1996
9
37
3
18
1
4
2
5
0
0
0
0
15
64
4.27
1997
7
39
6
26
1
3
0
0
1
3
1
3
16
74
4.63
1998
9
47
5
21
1
1
2
3
1
2
0
0
18
74
4.11
1999
12
50
7
44
3
8
1
1
0
0
0
0
23
103
4.48
2000
3
11
9
45
4
13
3
5
0
0
0
0
19
74
3.89
2001
13
65
3
16
2
8
2
3
1
1
0
0
21
93
4.43
2002
7
43
5
34
3
15
0
0
1
3
0
0
16
95
5.94
2003
8
30
6
26
2
2
3
5
1
2
1
1
21
66
3.14
2004
4
18
7
33
2
7
2
3
2
2
0
0
17
63
3.71
2005
8
38
6
28
3
8
1
3
0
0
0
0
18
77
4.28
2006
9
51
5
27
2
7
4
15
0
0
1
1
21
101
4.81
2007
5
13
5
10
0
0
2
2
0
0
0
0
12
25
2.08
2008
8
42
3
14
2
8
0
0
0
0
0
0
13
64
4.92
2009
10
46
1
1
2
2
2
3
1
1
0
0
16
53
3.31
2010
10
48
4
25
2
8
2
4
0
0
1
4
19
89
4.68
2011
6
30
4
31
5
13
3
18
0
0
0
0
18
92
5.11
 
Total
214
1048
128
642
55
183
44
101
15
32
7
20
463
2026
Average
7.93
38.81
4.74
23.78
2.22
7.26
1.74
4.41
0.56
1.19
0.26
0.74
17.44
76.19
 
Average Upset Differential
4.90
5.02
3.27
2.53
2.13
2.86
4.37

NCAA Tournament Graph

NCAA Tournament Graph

NCAA Tournament Graph

 

My Qualitative Observations:

  • 1985: As a number eight seed, the 1985 Villanova Wildcats remain the lowest seeded team to ever win the tournament. They also caused the largest Final Four upset in tournament history over number two seeded Memphis (upset differential of six) and the largest championship upset in tournament history over number one Georgetown (upset differential of seven).
  • 1985–1987: At the onset of the 64 team structure, Navy was good at basketball. Weird. Since these first three years, they have never made it back to the big dance. The highlight of these appearances was 1986 when Navy advanced to the Elite Eight.
  • 1986: The largest Cinderella team in tournament history (by inflicting the most total upset differential on its opponents) was number 11 seeded LSU in 1986. LSU defeated number six Purdue, number three Memphis, number two Georgia Tech, and number one Kentucky, on its way to the Final Four. LSU’s defeat of Georgia Tech was also the largest sweet 16 upset in tournament history. In this year, number 14 Cleveland State had a memorable run in the fairly new 64 team tournament structure, defeating number three Indiana and number six Saint Joseph’s. Little Rock had a memorable first round win over number three Notre Dame. This was also the season that the NCAA officially adopted the 19’9” three point line.
  • 1987: A memorable run from number 14 seed Austin Peay, who defeated number three Illinois in the opening round.
  • 1990: The year with the most severe overall upsets in tournament history was 1990, when the total seed differential of all upsets totaled 111. In 1990, the total number of upsets (22) was only one upset shy of the all time high, which occurred in 1999. 1990 also saw the most second round upsets (9) in tournament history. Although this number of second round upsets also occurred in 2000, the total second round upset differential in 1990, 53, makes this the most severe second round of upsets in tournament history.
  • 1992–1993: Michigan’s Fab Five made unsuccessful runs at two championships prior to ruining Michigan’s basketball program and Weber’s timeout. Who knows what would have come from a third Fab Five season, rather than a sort-of-fab four in 1994.
  • 1993: The total number of upsets in 1993 (12) is tied for the least all time. This number also occurred in 2007.
  • 1997: During my freshman year at the University of Minnesota, I tried to be a gopher fan. I really did. However, their underperforming football and basketball teams made being a Minnesota sports fan exhausting. During my review, it was strange to see Minnesota (1) make a run to the 1990 Elite Eight, (2) make a run all the way to the 1997 Final Four, and (3) be a 1997 one seed. I realize that it recently became “tubby time” up north, but I don’t expect to see this ever happen again in my lifetime. Perhaps this is like my name coming up in the Green Bay Packers season ticket waiting list (currently 62,139th) and my kids can expect to see it happen in their lifetime.
  • 1999: The most upsets in tournament history (not factoring in seed differential) occurred in 1999 with a total of 23 upsets.
  • 1999–2001: From 1999 to 2001, Gonzaga busted brackets like it was their job, defeating six teams for a total upset differential (difference in seeds) of 33.
  • 2000: The fewest first round upsets in tournament history occurred in 2000, with only three. In this year, the smallest first round total upset differential, 11, also occurred and Wisconsin, the greatest team in the history of college basketball, advanced to the final four.
  • 2001: The most first round upsets in tournament history occurred in 2001. That year, 13 upsets occurred in the first round for a total upset differential of 65 (this is also the largest first round upset differential in tournament history). The average seed differential in these 13 first round upsets was 5.0.
  • 2002: The largest average upset differential in tournament history occurred in 2002. Each upset this year averaged a seed difference of 5.94.
  • 2006: Davidson’s 2006 Final Four run was the second largest infliction of upset differential on its opponents in tournament history (a total seed difference of 27), behind only 1986 LSU. This was also the year that the NBA began requiring high school players to wait one year after graduation before being eligible for the draft, encouraging more players to pursue one-and-done college careers.
  • 2007: The least upsets in tournament history occurred in 2007, with only 12 (12 upsets also occurred in 1993, however, they were more severe). This year also yielded the least severe upsets in tournament history, when the total upset differential (difference in seeds) was a mere 25 and the average upset was by a seed difference of only 2.08.
  • 2008: The only year that all number one seeds made it to the Final Four.
  • 2009: The three point line was officially lengthened from 19’9” to 20’9.”
  • 2011: The most severe round of elite eight upsets in tournament history occured (considering total seed differential). Both VCU and Butler’s cinderella runs were memorable, but are still not as large of a seed differential as occured during LSU’s 1986 run and Davidson’s 2006 run.
     
  • 1985–1991: Although known today mainly for its buffets and Celine Dion concerts, Las Vegas used to have a basketball team. I was merely a young warthog at the time, so I don’t remember these years, but UNLV appeared in every tournament from 1985 through 1991 and advanced to the final four in 1987, 1990, and 1991.
  • 1991, 1993, 1997, 2001: The largest upsets in tournament history occurred four times in the first round 15 seed versus the two seed matchup (upset differential of 13). The games included Richmond over Syracuse (1991), Santa Clara over Arizona (1993), Coppin State over South Carolina (1997), and Hampton over Iowa State (2001). In tournament history, no 16 seed has ever defeated a one seed in the first round.
  • 1986, 1988, 1990, 2000, 2004: More second round upsets occurred in these years than first round upsets.
  • 1986 and 2006: The largest Elite Eight upsets in tournament history (both 11 seeds over one seeds for an upset differential of 10), occurred. The games included George Mason over Connecticut (2006) and LSU over Kentucky (1986).
  • 1986–2000: While Bob Knight wasn’t throwing chairs at Indiana, he was making an impressive run of tournament appearances. These included a 1987 National Championship, three Sweet Sixteens (1989, 1991, and 1994), a 1992 appearance in the National Semifinals, and a 1993 Elite Eight appearance. Later, while coaching Texas Tech, knight made four more appearances in the tournament in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007.
  • 2001-Present: Bo Ryan, the winningest coach in Big Ten history (among coaches with more than 5 years experience) with a 71.4% winning percentage, hasn’t missed the tournament since becoming the head coach at Wisconsin 10 years ago. Prior to Ryan, the badgers had only been to the tournament seven times in their history.
     

With upsets seeming fairly consistent since the inception of the 64 team tournament structure, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t seem as though the selection committee has gotten worse at their job (although they stiffed Colorado pretty badly in 2011).

In all the years that I’ve finished last in my own pool, I think the less time I spend trying to predict upsets the better I do. These people will probably always beat me anyway.

My data and graphs spreadsheet is available here.

November 11, 2010

A not so original Halloween

I really thought I was on to something.  Something big.  Something that would rival the great Halloween of 2007 – David Bowie from The Labyrinth (which recently yielded 793 hits from procrastinators on October 29).  I even felt like I was doing Halloween right this year and not just going through the motions.  I taught Liam about the Great Pumpkin, carved a sweet Top Gun pumpkin in honor of the recent Top Gun 2 announcement, and we even had a The League style “Adult Halloween.”  Although I liked Dustin’s idea - to go as BP, spilling everyone’s drink, apologize profusely, but wait a few months to clean it up - I thought my idea was better.  My big idea: a Chilean Miner.  Slightly culturally insensitive, but I figured enough time had passed and who doesn’t love a good Chilean Miner Soap Opera.  So I went on Amazon and picked up the needed supplies (i.e. a hard hat and a Chile 2010 World Cup t-shirt).

Hard Hat on Amazon

The cheapest hard hat Amazon had to offer

Customers who bought this item also bought

Should have been a clear sign that my costume was in no way original

It turns out the Amazon was on to something – everyone in the world went as a Chilean Miner this year.  Nonetheless, I did my best:

Chilean Miner

October 20, 2010

O.X. – Outdoor Excursions or Outrageous eXcuses?

I freely classified the five month period between Grad School and the start of my career as my “Pre-Employment” phase.  There were many highlights throughout this period – including a month of traveling Europe, working a week at a Middle School Leadership Camp, camping and rafting for my brother’s bachelor party in Colorado, the Scorpion’s Tail, and watching all 6 seasons of Lost.  However, the highlight of this period had to have been the way in which I moved to Colorado.  I could have driven a car (or a moving van of my stuff) but instead chose a route with stops in Antigua, Guatemala  for my brother’s wedding and Las Vegas to watch the Badgers play UNLV.  To be honest, I was a bit skeptical when my brother and future sister in law chose to have a destination wedding in Antigua.  However, the experience proved to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable weeks of my life and their wedding experience was by far the most beautiful that I have ever attended.  We met some remarkable people, including our guide David who took our group to Lake Atitlan, a wonderful guide in Tikal, and the wedding planners, Diana and Romie of weddingsinguatemala.com (their blog includes pics of the wedding), who did an absolutely impeccable job planning my brother’s wedding.  In fact, the only negative aspect of the Guatemala wedding was our experience with O.X. Outdoor Excursions in Antigua and its head guide, Victor.  I’m writing this post to assist future visitors to Antigua, Guatemala, who may be considering a tour with O.X.

O.X. Outdoor Excursions (which by the way is not at all a unique name and this post is solely describing the the O.X. Adventure Tours in Antigua, Guatemala at www.oxexpeditions.com) promised the following to us in an e-mail description of our hike-zip-bike tour:

Victor “LaBlanc” Ferrell - Head-Guide at O.X. Outdoor Excursions

Victor Ferrell, Head-Guide at O.X. Outdoor Excursions

“We exit the cobble stone streets of Antigua and head into the picturesque hills on a small foot-path above the Panchoy Valley through small village and coffee farms snaking our way up a ridge line until finally after about 2 hours we come face to face with the longest Zip-Line in all of Guatemala!!  The Zip-Line is designed for the adventure lover who enjoys the thrill of connecting up to the double line and cruising for almost 1700ft and over the canyon floor, 500ft below! Once across the canyon, you climb to another zip tower and do it again, back across the canyon.  After the Zip we hike 10 minutes to Earth Lodge, an eco-hostel located in the hills above Antigua and the Panchoy valley.  Enjoy lunch and the beverage of your choice taking in the excellent views of Volcanoes Agua, Acatenango and Fuego.  After lunch, we hop on the bikes and take in a leisurely ride down the road ending at The Cross monument that watches over Antigua.  A great way to take in the beauty with a little bit of exercise and a whole lot of fun!!”

It sounded great.  It wasn’t.  So what went wrong?  There are many US based standards organizations providing customer service guidelines, however, since our experience occured in Guatemala, I find it only fitting to adapt international guidelines (just in case our own customer service standards don’t translate well into other cultures).  ISO 9004-2: 1991 Introduction to quality service includes the following guidelines:

A quality service system is one that:

  • Ensures that customer needs are met.

We started the morning by telling O.X. that we had already eaten breakfast and therefore didn’t want to have to buy another one at Victor’s buddy’s restaurant – “The Earth Lodge.”  They told us that this was not an option.  As a wedding party member, I also needed to be back for pictures by 2:00 pm and O.X. seemed unconcerned.

  • Receives regular feedback from customers.

It would have been tough for our guide to receive feedback from us throughout the hike because she stayed in the back of our group, chatting with the other guide in Spanish.  As a result, we frequently had to stop and wait for her to catch up so that she could let us know which way to go.  This is less than ideal in a country with one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America.

  • Respects customer perceptions and opinions. 

My brother and I were told by Victor that many people in our group (“especially the women”) had bad attitudes.  He also called one of his employees a lesbian in front of us.

  • Pays attention to cultural values and perceptions.

We received absolutely no cultural information throughout our hike.  At our request, we visited Antigua’s famous Cerro de la Cruz, however, our guide didn’t know when the cross was constructed.  Also, thinking that we had become “bros” in the one day that we interacted, Victor shared with me how crazy Antigua was and how he couldn’t wait to get out of the country to their other business location in Colombia.  This instilled in me a great impression of the Antiguan tourism industry that I assume Victor relies heavily on.

  • Improves service performance and productivity.

The Zip Line company that was hired by Victor (because O.X. doesn’t provide that service), required all of us to wear helmets for the zip line.  Which is an interesting safety feature when you’re dangling a thousand feet above the canopy floor because a plastic helmet probably wouldn’t get you very far.  However, later in the trip, during the bike portion, although it was raining and we were descending thousands of feet down switch back roads through the mountains, O.X. did not provide helmets.  After the trip, a member of our party brought up to Victor that he felt very unsafe biking the mountain roads without a helmet and Victor later recounted this to my brother and I as an instance of our group “complaining” during the trip.

  • Encourages personnel to improve quality.

When we provided feedback to our guide that she trailed our group and we constantly had to wait for her to guide us on the trail, she claimed it was because we were already such a friendly and close knit group.  We also cited her complete lack of any knowledge of the surrounding area and its culture and in response, she told us that she was trained in preventing hypothermia (it was 85° and humid) and not as a tour guide.

  • Controls costs and improves efficiency.

O.X. doesn’t take credit cards!  This would of course require O.X. to pay 1-3% merchant fees to credit card companies.  There are many benefits to merchants who accept credit cards and O.X. is evidently not interesting in them.  Instead, O.X. forced my brother to pay thousands of dollars to them via PayPal and personally incur PayPal’s transaction fees.  After our initial hike-zip-bike tour went so poorly, we decided to cancel our Volcan Acatenango trip for the subsequent day.  As a result, Victor was completely unwilling to work with us on a discount after our initial customer experience went so poorly.  At this point, my brother’s PayPal transaction for thousands of dollars had still not gone through and Victor was visibly (and audibly) concerned.  However, we requested that prior to O.X. pushing an incorrect transaction amount through PayPal that they first provide us with the details of the exact refund that they were willing to provide for our pre-paid Acatenango trip.  At that, Victor began threatening to instead escalate the transaction to small claims court or a collection agency.  We complied and as a result of not adjusting the incorrect balance prior to the transaction going through, once my brother actually did receive a refund, he was forced to again endure more PayPal transaction fees to withdraw the money.

Unanimously, everyone’s favorite part of the trip was the zip line that we did high over the canopy of the jungle.  However, this was the only part of the tour that O.X. had nothing to do with because they purchased our zip lining from another company.  Afterwards, a couple of us thought that perhaps our overwhelmingly negative experience with O.X. was an anomaly.  Perhaps their customer service actually is impeccable and Victor, the owner, is actually a sincere and caring person.  Then we found this review:

“The owner Victor, an American guy, is very pushy and money orientated.  Try not to deal with him – he is very in your face.  The website says they supply all your camping gear, but then when we asked Victor for things on the day he refused to supply us with a torch for no apparent reason.  He could have told us that at the time of booking and we could have got one for the trip.  Even local/ex-pat cafe owners we spoke to said the locals do not like him because he is obsessed with money!  Make sure whatever you do, he does not go on your trip as a guide as he will spoil it with his bad attitude…  If we didn’t have to deal with Victor it would have been the best experience but his aggressive and unfriendly attitude at the start was the only issue.”



My advice: book your zip line tour through the company that actually operates the zip line and avoid Victor like the streets of Guatemala City after dark.

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