A First Look At Basketball

December 6, 2017

Basketball season is about a month old. All the teams I follow are doing reasonably well.

The Kentucky men had somewhat of a “slow start” in that they did not look impressive against weak competition early. But the new freshmen have already improved a lot, and the Cats are 7-1. The only blemish on the record is a 4-point loss to Kansas. For the first time in many years, I made it to Rupp Arena for a game the other day, as UK blew out Illinois-Chicago 107-73.

The Ohio State men have looked much better under new coach Chris Holtmann. They lost two of three games at the PK80 tournament in Portland, Oregon. The Bucks were no match for perennial-power Gonzaga. In the fifth-place game, OSU fell to Butler (Chris Holtmann’s old school) in overtime. Then in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Ohio State lost at home to a good Clemson team.

But the start of the Big Ten season gave us a pleasant surprise. There were two conference games in early December. The Buckeyes opened by routing Wisconsin in Madison. Monday night in Columbus, the Bucks were behind Michigan by 20 in the first half. Then OSU mounted an incredible run and won 71-62.

The OSU women are 8-2 and nationally ranked, with losses to Louisville and Duke. The Kentucky women haven’t had quite as tough a schedule but are 8-1 and also nationally ranked, having only lost at Baylor.

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On The Outside Looking In

December 6, 2017

Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game put the College Football Playoff Committee is a tough spot. Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma were pretty obvious picks for the first three spots. For the fourth spot, they had to choose between Alabama, a one loss team that did not win its conference, and Ohio State which did win its conference, but has two losses.

Am I disappointed that they took Alabama? Not really. Ohio State suffered a blow-out loss at Iowa that really demonstrated the Buckeyes’ inconsistency this year. Alabama is still Alabama. Their only loss this year was at Auburn, a good team in its own right.

If the Iowa loss had never happened the Bucks would have been in the playoffs.

Kentucky finished the season 7-5. Not surprisingly, they were no match for Georgia. Then they turned out to be no match for Louisville either, despite having a team of similar quality.

The Blue Jackets are one point behind New Jersey at the top of the Metropolitan division standings. Columbus has looked pretty good in most phases of the game, except for the power play, where they rank dead last in the league at a miserable 8.6%.

Last night in Nationwide Arena, the Devils and Blue Jackets met for the first time this season. New Jersey came away with a 4-1 win. The teams meet in New Jersey Friday night. Columbus needs to at least make a game of it.

A Roller Coaster

November 6, 2017

With a 9-4-1 record, the Columbus Blue Jackets are tied with New Jersey at the top of the Metropolitan division. No real complaints about their performance. If I had to single out something, they collected only 4 standings points in a 4-game home stand in the last half of October. But the boys are getting a lot of shots on net. In fact, they have one of the longest streaks of games with 30 or more shots in NHL history. Saturday night they came from two goals down in Tampa to send the game into overtime. They lost a shoot out but I’ll take a point on the road about anytime.

Football has been a bit of a roller coaster. Ohio State folks were demoralized after the home loss to Oklahoma early in the season. But then the Buckeyes rallied from 18-points down to beat previously unbeaten and #2 ranked Penn State. But this past Saturday, OSU was destroyed in Iowa City 55-24.

Kentucky fans started the season hopefully (as they always do) given a relatively favorable schedule. The usual loss to Florida (31st straight) has become even more disappointing as the Gators have turned out to be a sub-.500 team this year. Saturday, Ole Miss came to town with a sub-.500 record and won 37-34, scoring a touchdown with 5 seconds left. A 6-3 record is not bad in the history of UK football. But the “woulda coulda shouldas” make the season still somewhat disappointing.

FT8

October 8, 2017

I’ve made lots of references to the ham radio digital mode called JT65 in this blog. But over the summer, it pretty much got replaced by a new mode called FT8.

Operationally, it is very similar to JT65, but four times faster. So, instead of a one-minute transmission cycle, it is 15 seconds. Activity has been brisk. It seems as if a lot of inactive hams are getting back active with FT8, and there are a lot of new hams on the mode as well.

The software for FT8 is WSJT-X. WSJT-X has been around awhile, but you have to get the latest “development” version to get support for FT8. I have not found any issues with the latest release whatsoever.

Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) has been around for awhile. But I had never played with it until recently. WSJT-X supports it, so I thought I would give it a try. I’m running 5 watts into a Gap Eagle vertical that handles all the bands 40 meters through 10 meters. My station is typically running WSPR when not being used for something else.

Personal Coolness

October 8, 2017

It had been a number of years since I had been on any kind of “vacation” lasting as much as a week. But my girlfriend and I had a wonderful time in Indian Beach, North Carolina on the Outer Banks for a week in August. All three of her daughters were in attendance, as well as her 3-year-old granddaughter. I didn’t have to drive, cook, or do laundry. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My 1998 Chevrolet has basically been running OK but needs some work. So, I had been considering a replacement. I got really interested in this new company, Carvana. I have always wanted to own a Camry, and I bought one from them. They delivered it on the last day of August. If you are in the market for a late-model used car, I highly recommend that you consider Carvana. You buy the car online, and they bring it to you. You have seven days to try it out, and can get your money back if not satisfied. Sure beat the heck out of car lots and sales people.

Hockey Underway

October 8, 2017

There has been lots of goal scoring in the young NHL season. I’ve already seen a 10-1 game and an 8-5 game.

The Blue Jackets opened at home Friday night with a 5-0 win over the Islanders. Sergei Bobrovsky got his 20th shutout in a Columbus uniform, which sets a new team record. Two kids got their first NHL goal, one of whom was playing in his first NHL game with his parents in attendance.

Columbus had a tough time of it in Chicago last night. Losing 5-1. Jonas Korpisalo was in goal, and will need to get better to be an effective backup to Bob.

Next up for the Jackets is a trip to Raleigh on Tuesday.

Football

October 8, 2017

It’s hard to believe that the college football regular season is already half over. Ohio State and Kentucky are both 5-1.

All UK’s games have been close. After getting by Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky, the Cats went to South Carolina and won 23-13. I believe that is four wins in a row over the Gamecocks. The following Saturday back in Lexington, the Cats lost a heartbreaker to Florida 28-27, after leading 27-14. That makes 31 wins in a row for Florida over Kentucky. 1986 was the last UK win, and the teams play every year. The Cats then hung on for a 4-point win over Eastern Michigan, and a 6-point win over Missouri last night.

Georgia has looked impressive in running up a 6-0 record, and is easily the class of the SEC East right now.

Ohio State’s five wins have all been blowouts, but the second game of the season was a 31-16 loss to Oklahoma in Ohio Stadium. The Bucks have issues in several phases of the game. Right now, I don’t think we are a good match for either Penn State or Michigan (although the Wolves lost to Michigan State last night).

Alabama and Clemson have played for the national championship the last two years, and there is an excellent chance they’ll do it again this season.

WordPress Problems

October 4, 2017

For a couple months now I have been unable to make a post here from my computer. But I am able to post from my phone. So, in the very near future I will make a “catch up” post to cover the last couple months.

July Wrapup

August 1, 2017

We haven’t had excessive heat so far this summer but it’s been plenty warm. Things should start cooling off a bit as we head into August. Hard to believe that Ohio State’s first football game is less than one month away.

One of my projects recently has been to gather up old railroad videos I made starting in the early 1990s and putting them on YouTube. You can see these at the link below, and more will be added. These were shot with a VHS camcorder and sure look bad compared to today’s high definition video :-). https://www.youtube.com/user/ku4a

June Wrapup

July 2, 2017

June is the best month of the year for Sporadic-E propagation, which is the primary skip mode for the six-meter band (50 MHz). I’ve managed to catch a number of openings this month, and have worked new Maidenhead grid squares and even some new countries. Sporadic-E occurs when the E-layer of the ionosphere becomes highly ionized, and begins refracting signals at much higher frequencies than normal.

The biggest weekend of the year in amateur radio is the fourth weekend in June which is Field Day, which is both a national contest and emergency preparedness exercise. Again this year I operated from home, but restricted myself to battery operation (as might be the case in an emergency) and low power (5 watts). I made about 180 contacts before my antenna developed a problem.

There was an excellent article in the May issue of QST magazine about installing Ubuntu-MATE on old computers. I had a bunch of old laptops running Windows XP, and have converted them to Ubuntu-MATE. Although I used Linux extensively while working at IBM I have not done much with it at home. I plan to explore ham radio and other applications on Linux in the near future.

On Memorial Day, a couple of us went out and visited a bunch of other Little Free Libraries in Lexington. I finally got the video assembled, and it can be found here: https://youtu.be/s4Vw8cccWjQ