Archive for January, 2011


Friday, January 28th, 2011

Two years ago I did a statistical analysis to determine if the concept of momentum has any impact on pro hockey games.  Despite lots of blather to the contrary, I could find no evidence that teams that just scored a goal or won their previous game performed any better in the near future.

It turns out that 25 years ago, a study was published that found essentially the same thing with respect to basketball shooting.

(I was tipped off to this by the buzz generated by this week’s release of Scorecasting, the latest Freakonomics-style book that investigates popular sports conceptions in a what-if-we-actually-look-at-some-data kind of way.)


Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Drinking Game

Football a year later

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

A follow-up on last year’s football announcer manual

During the pre/half/post game show when there are five (five!) men sitting around a table pontificating about important things, try muting the sound and watch their hand gestures as they speak.  It looks like they went through mandatory training at Hand Talking School.  James Brown is, apparently, the only man allowed to talk without moving his hands at the same time.  When the network makes them sit outside in below-freezing temperatures, they are provided with matching gloves so they can continue to point and make forceful gestures while they talk about the football game.

International Signs

Friday, January 21st, 2011

So this a sign at a Mexican playa.  The wording and punctuation of the English translation is more puzzling than the Second Amendment.

“Do not enter in the ocean with clothes, intoxicated or naked, any attempt against moral decency will be punished.”


I like the other message too.  ”Any person with any health problem must inform the lifeguard before get in the ocean.”  If people took this literally, there would be a long line waiting to talk to the lifeguard.

Allright, back to the U.S.  This is on the customs declaration form.  They don’t want us bringing wild animals into the country, but I am curious as to why they single out “birds” and “snails” as examples of “animals”.  Are these really the most popular smuggled animals?  I kind of get the concern about the avian flu, but snails?  Also, is Customs concerned about the thousands of migratory birds that cross the border on their own?


Finally, here is a sign from an airplane toilet.  They clearly do not want you to empty your suitcase down the toilet.  I love the specific examples they show: soap, underwear, laundry detergent caps, and paper airplanes.


Microsoft’s Ad Department Does It Again

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Great!  I can use Windows 7 to create my own Awkward Family Photos!

The Story about the Zamboni

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Continuing backwards through my personal archives, I present a story transcribed in a notebook from when I was ~5.  At the time, I attended hockey games to watch the zamboni and watch the clock, which will become obvious as the story progresses.


The cover artwork depicts two zambonis advertising the 1988 Minnesota State Fair.  From this we can deduce that the story takes place at the Fairgrounds Coliseum during the winter of 1987-88, since the Coliseum zamboni always displayed the dates of the following summer’s state fair.  The dates are accurate.  September 5, 1988 was the first Monday of September, traditionally the last day of the fair.  To confirm this, I ended up at this mildly disturbing site.

The Story about the Zamboni

One day as we were driving to a hockey arena to see a hockey game, some light flashed from something in front of us.  It flashed on and off and on and off.  It was a nice white, bright light.  We kept following the flashing light.  As a big light was over it, we could see it was a Zamboni.

We knew where that thing was going.  Well finally we got in the parking lot and the light went in, too.  But the light did not park.  It went into the back of the arena and backed in.  But that was certainly not part of the parking lot.  The parking lot was in front.  Well, there we were.  We sat down like that.

The clock was at 15:00.  And down below was one.  That meant the first period.  Then soon the game started.  The clock got down to 0:00; there was a Bzzz.  The bzzz told the hockey players to skate off the ice.  It also meant it was the end of the first period.  The score was 6-2.  The clock went back to 15:00.

High school games at the time had 15-minute periods.

Then they put up the second period.  Also, after that there was a boom-ba-boom-ba-boom.  Most children wondered what it was.  But I knew right away what that was.  It was a motor starting.  Well, you know what it was?  It was that Zamboni that raced down the street.  It had number 88 on it and it went right out on the ice.

Then the hockey players came out on the ice again.  Oh-oh.  Some player took his body and stick and broke the glass.  Oh-oh.  Penalty!  Well they started skating again.

And then someone put his stick up in the air and another penalty.  They let the other person out of his because there was six more seconds.

Not sure why the other player got out early.  Apparently the ref though six seconds was a trivial amount.  The story is heavy on events which can show up on the scoreboard, namely goals and penalties.  Almost every page has a depiction of the current clock configuration, as below.


Well the clock started going back again.  When the clock came back to 5:33 there was goal number 11 scored.  When it got to the other team, they scored their 6th goal when there was 4:00 left in the period.  Then – crash – the clock came down to the ice and broke.  But they solved their problem.  They picked up the pieces.

But they still had a problem.  They had to make a new clock, but still there was no fear.  They dropped the puck when a minute had gone by.  Then in the 4 minutes, the referee looked at his watch and saw that it was 4 minutes from when he dropped the puck and he blew his whistle.  Ba-boom-ba-boom-ba-boom there was again.

That zamboni was coming again.  It backed out and then forward.  This is how it drove.


What we see in the illustration on the top half of the page is not meant to be a scribble but a depiction of the “standard pattern” most zambonis make when resurfacing the ice – that is, backing out to the side boards, two full clockwise loops around the outside, then a stripe down the middle, continuing until complete.

However, the more curious development is that the clock has magically reappeared.  No explanation is given for this seemingly significant plot event.

Then the clock started at 15:00 again.  Then someone threw a ball out on the ice.  Then the referee picked it up and threw it over the fence and the ball ran down the gate, ran down the hall to where the zamboni dumps the snow.

Then they took that old puck, dropped it on the ice and away that home team ran after the puck to put it in the net.  Suddenly, bounce-bounce-bounce.  There was another ball.

So the referee picked up the ball, threw it over the fence again and away the ball ran down the hall.  The ball ran down the hall to the same place the other one went.  Anyway, the home team scored their 12th goal.

Then someone took the net in their hand and threw it across the ice.  The referee finally blew his whistle and took the net and put it back on the other side in the right spot.  Then they pushed that person into the penalty box.  Anyhow, that person was feeling angry.

Somehow, kind of like magic, the home team got their 13th goal.  Then the other team picked up the other net and threw it across the ice.  The referee blew the whistle again.  They pushed him in the penalty box, too.

The score is now 13-7.  Sounds like some definite frustration coming from the losing team.

Then the other team picked up the net in their hands and threw it up at the clock.  The referee tried to blow the whistle.  But that sound did not come out.  The referee tried blowing a little harder, but that did not work either.

Then he tried something else.  He clapped his hands three fast times.  But that still did not work.  He tried two times a little slower but that still did not work.

Then a player jumped up in the air.  He jumped and crash – he broke a light.  Something told the player to land in the penalty box.  He did not like the idea but he did it anyhow.  Crash!  A mailbox came through the ceiling.  Bzzz went the clock.

Things seem to be getting a little out of hand.  This appears to be an example of a child’s imagination exploring the question of ‘what would happen if things don’t work as planned?’ and the particular enjoyment of young boys and many adult men in watching things break or get fubar.

But the bzzz came way too early.  There were twelve more minutes left in the period.

The referee blew his whistle and stopped the bzzz.  Then the 17th goal was scored by Michael James Collins on the team of Hill-Murray.

I suppose it was implied from the beginning that the winning team was Hill-Murray.  But now we have proof.  Also, I looked up the ‘88 roster, and there is a Mike Collins.  Several increasingly exotic names are mentioned below, but they do not match actual players.

Then a bird flew in and onto the ice.  But the bird was afraid he would get hurt.  He flew right away.  But the bird did not fly far enough and – ouch! – he thought he got ran over, but not quite.

Then smoke came through the ceiling but nobody saw it.  Then the 18th goal was scored by Michael Daniel Dapper on the Hill-Murray team.  Then Michael Daniel Dapper took the puck down to his own net and put it in.

But they did not put the goal up because he did not get it in the right net.  Then Michael Daniel Dapper took the puck on his stick and flew up into the penalty box.  Then the hockey players gathered in a space and cluck-cluck.


The ice started to crack a little but the referee blew the whistle to stop the clock.  Then he threw out a rope for the hockey players to hold.  And do you know what happened?

They skated off the ice.  And the Zamboni came out early.

Aha! This plot development appears to be an excuse for drawing another picture of the zamboni’s path around the rink.  However, this is not unprecedented; in actual games the intermission has been moved to the middle of a period, usually due to a broken glass panel, but once because a chunk of ice along the boards melted and exposed the concrete below.  The players did not need to be rescued by a rope, but hey, this isn’t too far off base.

After that the 20th goal fell in the net by Hill-Murray.  The 8th was scored by Hill-Roseville by John Marvin.  John Marvin loved to score goals.  In fact, he clapped for himself when he did.

The visiting team is identified!  A classic contest between Hill-Murray and Hill-Roseville!  In fact, Hill-Murray did play Roseville on January 30, 1988, at the Coliseum and won 6-3.  Based on a true story!

Then Tony the zamboni driver jumped over the hockey arena.  Then the hockey players skated into the boards on the side.  Tony went through the air but did not go far enough and landed right on top of them.  Then he jumped over the gate.

Then Hill-Murray’s Mike Toot-Toot scored two times.  First the puck went in one time and then came out real fast and he shot again.  But no goal was scored by Hill-Roseville.

Well, the 24th goal was scored by Michael Daniels on Hill-Murray.  The 10th goal was scored by Michael Michelle on Hill-Roseville.

While watching games, I wanted as many goals as possible to see how high the numbers could get on the scoreboard.  Evidently I hadn’t yet been to an arena that displayed shots on goal.

Mailbox Embers scored the 25th goal for Hill-Murray.  Hill Daniel scored the 11th goal for Hill-Roseville.  The clock was at 5:00.  No penalty but just some fun.  Then Michael Daniel Dapper took the puck in his hand and threw it across the ice.

According to rules, someone scored the 26th goal for Hill-Murray but we don’t know who scored it.  Then Hill-Roseville, someone by the name of Ohz scored the 12th goal.  Then Hill-Roseville also got a penalty for high sticking.  Then it was the end of the game.

They shook hands, moved the net and ran off the ice.  Then the boom-ba-boom-ba-boom came again.  It was another motor starting.  The end of the penalty was over, too.

The End of the First Game

The Beginning of the Second Game


It was a doubleheader that night.  However, there is very little narrative of the second game.  Instead, about half of a three subject notebook is literally taken up by clock illustrations.  The home team at one instant leads 36-16, but the visiting team makes a stunning comeback to tie the game at 42, only to lose 43-42 in overtime.


This is even more remarkable because the visitors are assessed a 45 minute penalty early in the game, which is more or less accurately counted down as time progresses.  It is not clear whether the team plays shorthanded the entire time, or if this was just a game misconduct.  However, the reader is informed that the cause of the infraction is that “#19 said something bad to the referee and the referee put him in the penalty box.”