Wednesday, January 17, 2018

iPhone X

I upgraded my phone recently. I've had an iPhone 6s for s couple of years, but now, I have the iPhone X.

When they announced the iPhone X -- it's pronounced "ten" as in the Roman numeral, and only silly people call it the "ecks" -- I decided against getting one. The reason? Well, the $1000 price was part of it, but so was the size. Or what I thought was the size.

You see, I used to have an iPhone 6, which was an upgrade from the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s had a 4-inch screen. It took a little getting used to the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6. When I went from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 6s, there was no adjustment period, as I was comfortable with that size phone.

I never got any of the "Plus" series phones, which had a 5½-inch screen. My daughter, son-in-law, and ex-wife all had a "Plus" series iPhone, so I had the opportunity to put hands on the device. I didn't like it. It was a little too big. Maybe I would have become used to it, as I did the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, but I didn't want to.

When the iPhone X was announced, I found out it had a 5.8-inch screen. So, in my mind, it was even larger than the "Plus" series, and if the 5½-inch "Plus" was too big, the 5.8-inch iPhone X would certainly be too big, right?

Wrong.

It turns out that while the screen has a larger diagonal measure, the overall phone is smaller. The iPhone X is 5.3% wider than the iPhone 8/7/6s devices, while the "Plus" series is 10.1% wider than the iPhone X. The iPhone X is 3.8% taller than the iPhone 8/7/6s while the "Plus" series is 10.3% taller than the iPhone X.

The iPhone X screen covers nearly the entire front of the phone, meaning there is more screen per total phone size on it than on other iPhone devices. So, after I put hands on an iPhone X and realized it was not noticeably larger than my current phone, one of my objections was removed.

That $1000 price, though. How to get around that?

Well, I found a way. Or, more properly, the way was always there. You see, I have an old Verizon plan. It's a 30 GB plan, and I have a pretty good price on it.

Some years ago, when I went back to Verizon (long story for another time) they were running specials. How special? Half price, that's how special. You could get a 6 GB plan for the price of a 3 GB plan. Or 10 GB plan for the price of a 5 GB plan. Or, the one I got, a 30 GB plan for the price of a 15 GB plan. Add to that, the fact that I get 19% off my data plan because of an agreement with the company where I work, I'm paying only 40.5% of the cost of the 30 GB plan.



By the way, they stopped that offer after a couple of weeks when they realized what they were doing.

Now, I am paying $40/month to connect each device. For their Unlimited Plan, it would drop to $20/month to connect, but the cost of the plan (Unlimited vs 30 GB) would increase, and the overall bill would be higher.

Now, there's one other thing, and it makes all the difference. As part of the Verizon Edge plan (told you my plan was old) I get a discount for financing devices. The $40/month drops to $15/month, which is less than $20.

There's another way of looking at it, though. If I play down enough to leave $600 owing on the phone, my monthly payments for the phone will be $25/month. That's the amount of the discount. It's like getting $600 off the cost of the phone. Meaning I can buy an iPhone X for $400.

Heck, you'd buy an iPhone X for $400 if you could.

Now, every time I go into a Verizon store for anything, they try to get me off the plan I'm on and onto an Unlimited Plan. I'm not budging. You see, that 19% work discount isn't applicable on an Unlimited Plan. So, I'd lose that. I'd also pay more for the plan. And I'd pay more for a phone, about $120/device. ($40/month becomes $20/month, but no Edge discount, meaning a higher net cost per phone.) The total cost would be more.

I'm staying on the plan I'm on.

Oh, I was planning on writing about the iPhone X and what I thought of it. Then I got sidetracked.

So, here's what I think of it: I like it.

See, I can be succinct if I try.

Monday, January 1, 2018

37 years

Did you watch the Rose Bowl? Are you missing the Sugar Bowl? Yeah, I'm a fan of college football, and you know that I am watching the Rose Bowl (overtime). I wanted to watch Georgia get a chance to play for the national championship, so, after spending the weekend fighting a cold, I watched the Rose Bowl.

Why did I care about Georgia winning? Maybe being from Georgia has a little to do with it. I haven't been allot to go to a lot of college games involving the Bulldogs over the years, but 37 years ago, I managed to make it to two games. I mentioned back in November about the 1980 Georgia-Florida game, the first UGA game I went to. The second? The 1981 Sugar Bowl, which was at the end that Georgia's magical 1980 season.

I lucked out and got four tickets. I took my girlfriend, her brother, and some chaperone her folks sent along. Stayed at a cousin's apartment in New Orleans, went to the game, and had a good time.

Wow. 37 years ago.


[The YouTube]

I am so ready for that 37 year drought to end.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Quantum Leap

©1993, 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
I used to enjoy watching Quantum Leap. The only reason I stopped was because the show ended. When I went to Korea in 1993, I missed a bit of the last season. However, as you'll see in a minute, I really didn't miss much.

I'm not saying I no longer like the show, but I'd forgotten how stupid it was at times, particularly there towards the end.

Hulu has the show. I've been watching the episodes from the beginning. There have been a couple that I didn't remember, so I may have missed them along the way. I've still missed one episode. Season 2's "Disco Inferno" isn't available from Hulu. I don't know why. Maybe something to do with the music from the episode and difficulty in getting streaming rights. On the other hand, it's available for streaming through Amazon, so that may not be the reason.

Anyway, I managed to watch 94-96 of the 95-97 episodes. It depends on how you count them. You see, the first episode was a TV movie that was broken into two episodes for reruns and syndication. Season 5 opened with the two hour episode about Lee Harvey Oswald. So, if you count them as two episodes each, there were 97 episodes. If you count each two-hour episode as a single episode, there were 95 episodes. Either way, I've missed one, the aforementioned "Disco Inferno."

Oh, and I'm not even attempting to count the Season 3 two-parter "The Leap Home Parts 1 & 2" as a single episode, since it aired on two separate nights. The episodes aired as separate episodes. Neither am I counting Trilogy as three, or even two, episodes. They had separate o -screen credits, and separate production codes, so I'm counting them as separate episodes. The pilot and Oswald actually double-length episodes that were broken out in reruns and syndication. The other multi-part episodes were not broken apart after airing. They were always as they were.

Anyway, the whole concept of traveling through time has always been fascinating. The show was well written -- for the most part -- and well acted -- for the most part. And, I've enjoyed the episodes. For the most part.

Sure, there's the suspension of disbelief with any science fiction show. But some episodes were just too much. I did enjoy most, though. The pilot, where he leapt into a pilot and broke Mach 3, was an enjoyable episode. The one based on Driving Miss Daisy was good, even though it wasn't based on movie Driving Miss Daisy. The episode "The Color of Truth" first aired on 3 May 1989, and Driving Miss Daisy didn't hit theaters until 15 December 1989. It could have been based on the play, which opened off-Broadway in April 1987 and was on nation tour in 1988. Those episodes were the ones that grabbed me as a fan and didn't let go.

Season 2 was when things first hinted at the things I didn't like. Remember the one where the housekeeper turned out to be a ghost? Yeah, I didn't care for that one. If they hadn't shown her fading out, but had her leave and then had the drowning victim turn out to greatly resemble her, that would have been fine. But, no, they showed her fading out, meaning she was a ghost. I'm willing to accept junk science. I'm not willing to accept ghosts.

The episode "The Boogieman," where Sam inspired a young Stephen King, was another that crossed the line. The evil Al and the evil disappearing goat ruined it for me. The one where he leapt into the chimpanzee? Not a fan. The one where the lady he ran over in the cab was an angel? Too much. Just like the one where he found the mummy in Egypt. Old Ptah-Hotep coming to life and killing the bad guy? Yeah, not a fan of that.

The last season featured Evil Leaper was kinda hokey. It seemed like one of those plotlines that they added to spice up the show. Like when The Time Tunnel added the silver aliens, taking the show away from its time travel roots. Jumping the shark, so to speak. The final season also had the one where Sam's character being taken off by the aliens in the flying saucer. Oh, and the one where the guy ended up actually being a vampire. And the one where Bigfoot helped out.

All that, plus they changed the theme song to an arrangement that seemed better fit for The A-Team, meant that, to me, the final season wasn't that great. I did like the final episode, though, even though it was a bit odd. Al got a happy ending, even if Sam never made it home.

Yeah, I'm complaining a lot about some episodes of the show, but overall, I enjoyed the show. I don't know if it would do for there to be a reboot of the show or bring it back in any way. It was a product of its time, and I enjoyed. Well, most of it. It's over and done. But, with Hulu, I can watch it again any time I want. And, I did. But I'm done now.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2

  1. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
  2. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  3. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
  4. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  5. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
  6. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  7. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  8. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
  9. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  10. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
  11. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017

How the 2017 College Football Playoffs should be

The college football season has concluded and the playoffs begin. Okay, there's still the Army-Navy game (Go Black Knights) but they play it way too late. But that's another rant for another day.

Division III, Division II, and Division 1-AA playoffs are underway. But Division 1-A regular season and conference title games are now done -- except the aforementioned Army-Navy game -- and we know who the conference champs are and who's in the playoffs. What we don't know yet us who should be in the playoffs. But we're about to fix that.

Here's how the playoffs should work. We've covered this before, regularly since 2006 in fact. But, here's a recap of how the Division 1-A playoffs should be.

There should be a 16-team tournament. The field would be the 10 conference champions, and the six best teams that didn't win a conference. This allows the conference championship to actually mean something. In college football, winning the conference should mean something. Whether it's the Southeastern Conference or the Sun Belt Conference, whether the Big Ten or the Mountain West, winning your conference should be important. Win it, and you're in it. As for really good teams that didn't win their conference, or independents that aren't in a conference, the best of those fill out the field, much like the "Wild Card" teams do in other leagues and other sports.

The 10 conference champions get the top 10 seeds. May people who otherwise like my plan really don't like this. But, it's how the "Wild Card" system works in most leagues. In the NFL, in 2010, the 7-9 Seahawks won their division and, as a result, were a 4th seed and hosted the 5th seed wild card 11-5 Saints. In 2014, the 7-8-1 division champion Panthers were 4th seed and hosted 5th seed wild card 11-5 Cardinals. This goes back to the conference championship being important. You not only get an automatic spot, you get a higher seeding.

The higher seeds host the lower seeds in the first round, which would be played the week after the championship (December 9 this year). The losers of those matchups would be bowl-eligible. These should be eight good teams, and most bowls would love to get those consolation bowls.

The second round would be the weekend before Christmas (December 23 this year). The eight surviving teams would square off, again higher seeds hosting the lower seeds.

The third round has the four remaining teams, who would meet on New Year's Day, much as the current CFP currently does it.

The National Championship would be the following weekend, much as is done currently.

That's a workable plan. There is no perfect plan, but this is the best plan.

This Year's Field of 16


First, let's look at the ten conference champions (Conference, Team, Overall record, CPF or Coaches ranking):

Atlantic Coast Conference: Clemson (12-1) (1)

Big 12 Conference: Oklahoma (12-1) (2)

Southeastern Conference: Georgia (12-1) (3)

Big Ten Conference: Ohio State (11-2) (5)

Pac-12 Conference: Southern California (11-2) (8)

American Athletic Conference: Central Florida (12-0) (12)

Mountain West Conference: Boise State (10-3) (25)

Conference USA: Florida Atlantic (10-3) (28 C)

Mid-American Conference: Toledo (11-1) (29 C)

Sun Belt Conference: Troy (10-2) (30 C) / Arkansas State (7-4) (Unranked)
Note: Troy and Arkansas State are co-champions, and none of the tie-breakers prior to coin-flip apply.

Next, let's look at the six highest-ranked teams that did not win a conference title:

Southeastern Conference: Alabama (11-1) (4)

Big Ten Conference: Wisconsin (12-1) (6)

Southeastern Conference: Auburn (10-3) (7)

Big Ten Conference: Penn State (10-2) (9)

Atlantic Coast Conference: Miami (10-2) (10)

Pac-12 Conference: Washington (10-2) (11)

The First Round Games


Washington at Clemson
Miami at Oklahoma
Penn State at Georgia
Auburn at Ohio State
Wisconsin at Southern California
Alabama at Central Florida
Troy/Arkansas State at Boise State
Toledo at Florida Atlantic

Summary


All of these should be good games with the possible exception of the Alabama/Central Florida game. But, UCF is the only undefeated team left standing. And who better to get the chance to prove they deserve a spot other than against Alabama. I didn't plan that matchup, but that's how it worked out. And maybe UCF is really deserving. This would answer that question, wouldn't it?

The SEC and the Big Ten would each have three teams making an appearance. The ACC and Pac-12 would have two. All the other conferences have one.

As always, there will be some who don't like it. They're wrong. This playoff system handles all the concerns. If your team didn't make it, you should have won your conference. Or taken one of the six slots if they didn't. This has the best teams, and makes the conference championships mean something.

It would work.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Memory

The occasion came up recently where I recalled one of my earliest memories. It came about in a roundabout way, as things often do. Let me tell you what the memory was first, then I'll tell you about how it came about to be thought of recently.

I remember riding in the car, in the back seat, of course, with my mother driving and my father in the passenger seat, and her getting pulled over by a policeman.

Now, my mother didn't often drive if it was both my parents going somewhere. I don't recall thinking anything about it, because I had ridden with her driving many times, but, thinking about it later, she was the only parent in the car. Her driving this time, though, was because my father was ill. I don't recall what happened, but he took ill why we were off visiting family in Liberty County or Bryan County or somewhere. I got family all over southeast Georgia, but this particular visit was to either Liberty or Bryan County.

Anyway, I was in the back seat -- don't remember who else might have been there but nobody stands out -- with my father in the passenger seat, leaning over to his right, trying to rest on the door or window. Maybe he had a pillow, I don't know.

Somewhere along the way, maybe on US-17 or US-82, a policeman pulled us over. I don't remember much about the policeman at all. Maybe he wore brown, which would have made him a deputy sheriff, not a policeman. I'm really not clear, because this was years ago. I don't recall what BS reason he gave for pulling my mother over, but we figured it was because a woman driving with a man slumped over in the passenger seat probably meant an easy arrest for public drunkenness or something. He didn't seem to do anything other than check out the situation, realize there was no money in it, and let us go.

I've never spoken with anyone about that, although I've thought about it many times over the years. Recently, a conversation came up about that situation, and I had my first conversation with others about it.

My Big Sister, who's 5'4", mentioned remembering it, too. And she remembers it pretty much just like I do. We had never talked about it in the decades since it happened. Not avoiding it, just never came up.

Only, it turns out we don't really remember it at all.

You see, my mother was telling us about something that happened in 1955, before I was born. And before my older sister was born. We weren't there. Well, I certainly wasn't. She was still a month or two from making her debut into the world.

It's a really odd feeling to find out that something you remember is something you couldn't remember because not only were you not there, you didn't even exist. Odd indeed.