Friday, January 9, 2009

Can Obama Rescue College Football?

I have always been a much bigger fan of NCAA Division I Basketball than I am of NCAA Football (this has nothing to do with the fact that my Syracuse Orange finished 5-19 the past two seasons).  The main reason is the terrible system of bowl games that serve as the "postseason" in college football.  In college basketball, the National Champs are decided on the court in an epic 64-team throwdown.  In football, a bunch of nerds that love to write (hey wait a minute....) and some computer programs get together and rank the teams based on a complicated formula to determine who had the best season.  

Several coaches and sports figures have clamored for some sort of postseason format in lieu of the BCS rankings.  The bowl system could still be utilized to play out the games and would without a doubt prove which team is the most deserving champion.  Proponents of the current screwy BCS system claim that the format makes for the most exciting regular season in sports.  Oh really??  Is it exciting to watch your team lose their first game of the season and realize in September that the rest of the season is meaningless and that you pretty much just threw away any chance at a championship in game one!??  With a playoff system in place, many more schools would be interested in the regular season and it would give mid-major schools like Utah and Boise State a chance to dream for a title.

Well my next President and champion of hope, Barack Obama, has thrown his hat into the ring and agrees with revamping the BCS to produce a postseason playoff tournament.  He reiterated his sentiments today after Florida claimed the "title" and Utah was left in the number two spot in the rankings after being the only team without a loss this season.  While I do think that fixing the BCS is issue number #256 or #257 on the list of things he needs to accomplish while in office, I'm glad he's voicing his opinion on the matter.  

Hopefully all the pig-headed athletic directors and bowl chairmans across the country decide to take some of the "Change" Barack is bringing to Washington and sprinkle it on the college football postseason.  Until then, I'll be glued to the TV for March Madness and asleep during the bowl season in December and January.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just Drink a Lot of Wine Instead

Note:  Meat Pie Update posted here

For those of us who enjoy the taste of a fine Merlot or Chardonnay but want to get wasted in half the time, this brand of Vodka is just the ticket. duē Vodka features a line of Chardonnay and Merlot flavored Vodka selections. Check out more information at their website. Apparently duē started producing this ridiculous product in 2001 but I just read about it here.

This idea sounds terrible to me. Every now and then I enjoy the fine taste of a glass of wine but I prefer Vodka as my spirit of choice and do not wish to taste wine when I am drinking it. The edgiest I'll get when it comes to Vodka is the delicious Double Espresso Vodka from Van Gogh. I say leave the grape flavor at Total Wine and far away from ABC.

Google Analytics

Like nearly everything else on the net, Google has turned a common online tool into a turbocharged easy-to-use juggernaut of a web application that is (of course) FREE to everyone. After using Stat Counter for years to track usage statistics for small websites I've put together, I stumbled upon Google Analytics. I set up a FREE account the other day to start tracking usage on my blog. After pasting the tracking Javascript code in the source code of your website (with Blogger this is insanely easy and I'm betting even my Mom could do it), your site is ready to be tracked by Analytics.

Once data starts coming in you'll be able to track all the basic usage categories including referring pages, geographical regions, visit length, etc... On day two of tracking this blog, I saw that someone in Forrest Hills, NY accessed the site. I don't know of anyone living in Forrest Hills so I checked the type of visit and it was from a link on Google. The user had searched for "Syracuse suspension" on Google. If you do this search yourself, you'll see a very familiar site in the number two spot in the page rankings. I have no idea how that post became so highly ranked, but I'll take the extra exposure. If I ever decided to put Ad Words on this blog (no practical need right now actually I'm giving it a whirl), Google Analytics would be the perfect companion as you can easily track which keywords are being used to find your site from Google.

The only drawback to the tool is that it only updates usage stats once every 24 hours. That's hardly a limitation that would keep me from continuing to use this site. The free account is limited to 5 million page views a month. There's a 100% chance this will never happen for this blog and most sites out there but if it does, Google will wave that limitation if you sign up for an Ad Words account.

If you have a blog or other website out there and you want to see the who, where and why related to usage statistics, set up an account. This is another piece of evidence to back my claim that Google is the best company in the world.

NOTE: as of 12:45 PM, the link in question is now #1 on the Google search results!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

BaR2D2 - Automated Mobile Bar

Always wanted your own personal beer-and-liquor-dispensing droid? Look no further than BaR2D2, a creation dreamed up by this guy over at BaR2D2 is a radio-controlled, mobile bar that possesses the following amazing capabilities:

- motorized beer elevator
- motorized ice/mixer drawer
- six-bottle shot dispenser
- sound activated neon lighting
- radio controlled through a wireless remote transmitter

The coolest part about it is the guy built this thing himself using parts assembled in his garage. The website gives you complete instructions on how to build it yourself if you are A: smart, B: good with electronics and woodworking and C: have a few solid months of free time to be able to build it.

The creator mentions that he has plans for improvements on the original model early this year including linking the device via Bluetooth to a laptop with an extensive drink database to be able to send drink recipe commands to BaR2D2 for mixed drinks made to order. This is all sorts of bad-ass and I wish I had one living at my house. Maybe I will in the year two-thousand.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Assembly Lines are Fascinating

I'm curious to know if anyone else out there shares the same fascination that I do when it comes to assembly lines. Two shows that I try to catch from time to time are Unwrapped on Food Network (hosted by none other than Double Dare's Mark Summers) and How It's Made on the Science Channel. I mostly watch Unwrapped to find out about cool new food products. I am a total sucker for wanting to sample new food items (and new products in general). I also like to try to catch Mark Summers eating a piece of food on the show. He rarely does so due to his OCD issues so it's like finding a needle in a haystack to witness Summers actually consuming food on-camera. How It's Made showcases how a wide variety of products and structures are made from the planning stages to completion.

Both of these shows feature an awful lot of automated assembly line footage. The process of making/packaging something in an automated mechanical contraption is extremely intriguing to me. I can actually just zone out watching this stuff. The amount of ingenuity and effort that goes into building these assembly systems is amazing. Equally astonishing are the numbers and figures that Mark Summers throws at you on Unwrapped. Some crazy stats like "The Hershey's factory runs through 30,000 tons of butter per day to produce 3 million Hershey bars daily." (I just made that up but there are some really mind-blowing numbers thrown around)

Now there are some pretty disgusting side effects to the assembly line process when it comes to food production. The chief offender is the legendary extruder. An extruder takes a high volume of some sort of substance and pushes it through a hole or die of the desired cross-section. This is how most food-type material gets dropped (or plopped) onto a conveyor belt. Unfortunately, sometimes the material coming out of the extruder looks like the picture above and instantly a once-delicious product looks like an intense bowel movement. Fortunately, these types of extrusions are few and far between to fully dampen the marvels of assembly line footage.

While I do love me some scripted TV dramas, reality TV and sporting events, sometimes all I need is a quality show featuring assembly line footage to make me bask in the wonders and advancements of technology. I think there's a certain synergy or rhythm to these assembly lines that actually calms and relaxes me. Wow I just had a zen moment thanks to the Food Network.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Does your bowling alley have 116 lanes?!?

Saw this video earlier today.  For anyone that bowls or has bowled, take a look at the world's largest bowling alley in Aichi, Japan.  The long pan shot from end-to-end is amazing.  And it looks like the alley is decently full too.  Those crazy Japanese!