On kids today

I'm the founding (and so far only) member of Astronomers for Side-Out Scoring (it's ASOS, thank you very much, I use the O in Out in my acronym).

When I started playing volleyball, the game was played with side-out scoring, which means that only the team with serve can score points. If the team without serve sides-out, then they don't get a point, they win serve, and then have the opportunity to score. I *think* it started with the '96 olympics, but one of the silly volleyball governing bodies decided that to make volleyball more TV friendly, they needed to switch to rally scoring, which means each team can score on every serve, regardless of who holds serve. This was a major change in the sport, it's akin to baseball deciding that the fielding team can score, not just the team at bat. As you can imagine, a change of this magnitude changed the game substantially. National Champion Coach Russ Rose talks all the time about how his recruiting philosophy completely changed in the "Rally Score Era" (his term). We could argue (and many have) that rally scoring actually makes the game less suspenseful, which actually isn't very TV friendly. But that's a post for another time (and probably another author, because my argument is more visceral than statistics based).

I hate rally scoring. I would like nothing more to abolish it. Thankfully, most of us old timers still play side-out scoring when we play pickup games, and in our local league, we play side-out scoring.

So, why is the title of this "kids today"? Well, just like vinyl LPs and owning landline phones tethered to the wall in your house, side-out scoring apparently dates you.

We were playing the other night during a very crowded time at IM Building's volleyball courts. We were playing winner stays, and as us old-timers got tired and the more talented PSU students showed up, most of the teams of 30 to 50 somethings lost their courts. My team was the last to get knocked off, and our court went to two teams of undergrads, who I overheard saying, "great -- can we play rally now?"

So apparently, side-out scoring = dinosaur-aged.


On the great towel controversy of '08

So I tried one more time.

I hung my bathmat on the shower curtain rod, and I hung my bathtowel on the towel rod. I took the little sign that says "a towel on the rack means I'll reuse it" and hung it right next to my towel. I thought that surely when they saw this sign right next to my towel, they would know I was trying to convey some message.

I got back to my room and the sign is still there, but my towel is not. Instead, I have yet another freshly laundered towel back on the pile.


On Deja Vu all over again

So there was a press release at the AAS meeting that has been blogged about by others who are posting the ongoing results from this meeting:

Blue blobs in the M81 group.

I don't want this to seem like sour grapes, but I am trying to point out in various places where I've seen this pop up that not only was this *exact same* result presented during the 2003 AAS meeting, but there was a press release then, too:

2003 AAS abstract on these same blue blobs

Press release issued prior to 2003 AAS meeting.

A quick comparison of the images suggests that the 2008 blue blobs are not the exact same ones as the 2003 blue blobs, but still it seems to be pretty bad form to announce this startling new discovery that does not seem to be startling nor new.

On My Professional Society, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Last year, like most years, I attended the January AAS meeting. Last year, the meeting ended with the famous Fiasco in Seattle. I suppose I should have learned my lesson, but instead, I paid $325 to register, $400 or so in airfare, and $160 or so a night at a hotel to attend this January's AAS. Today, while chatting with some folks in the main exhibit hall in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, the Austin Convention Center staff turned the lights out on us. A friendly woman walked over and told us we had to leave. Apparently, they had some "exhibitor appreciation" food set up somewhere, and didn't want the riff raff in the exhibit hall while the exhibitors were chowing down. They also gave us some excuse about needing to set up the afternoon coffee break. They were originally intending to lock us out of the hall for 2 hours, but I guess got enough grief from enough people that they let folks back in early. I decided that I was better off going back to the hotel and doing work on my laptop rather than standing around and reinforcing my annoyance by griping with everyone else.

So once again, a large convention center has decided that even though our meeting schedule tells us that the exhibit hall is open from 9:30am - 6:30pm, they can arbitrarily tell us to leave and too bad to everyone who spent all that money to come here to attend a meeting. After last year's fiasco, I expect nothing less of the AAS but for them to pretend this never happened. I do hope that next year when they see yet another dip in the attendance rate, they wonder why people stayed away. I think I've gone to something like 10 January AAS meetings in a row, and I can tell you now that unless someone comes up with an incredibly compelling reason for me to go in 2009, I will not be making it 11 in a row. It seems to me that I haven't renewed my membership for 2008, yet, either. I wonder if I'll be in any hurry to send them a check.


On Hotel promises

The sign in my bathroom here in Austin tells me that if I want to reuse my towel and save humanity from excess water usage, that I should hang it up on a rack, but if I want my towel laundered, I should put it on the floor.

I put two washcloths on the floor, but hung up my handtowel and bathtowel, prepared to use them again. Tonight, I find that all my towels have been replaced with fresh ones, including the ones I tried to keep and use again.

So, why do hotels hang these signs up if they don't intend for their staff to actually follow those instructions? It reminds me of the infamous email forward (and probable urban legend) about the guy who wound up with 8245682741 mini-bars of soap instead of his 1 full-size bar.

I'll try again tomorrow, but don't expect to be able to keep any of my towels then, either.

Update: The next day (that is today, Wed), I hung my bathmat on the shower curtain rod and my bath towel on the towel rack. Once again, all towels were replaced with fresh ones. In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty minor point, but it just seems so ridiculous to me when hotels put out these signs suggesting that they are environmentally conscious and want to save water and detergent and then don't follow through.


On those blazingly fast Wolverines

Wow. The SEC just can't match Big Ten speed. Michigan 41 Florida 35.

I guess it's time for those stodgy, slow, plodding SEC teams to start trying to recruit some speed to matchup with the faster-than-humanly-possible Big Ten players.

Even though Tennessee won (which is only because they didn't play Penn State), I have to laud Phil Fulmer. His quote, according to the broadcasters, was, "We're still trying to catch Tony Hunt from last year." At least one SEC coach is willing to admit that the so-called SEC dominance over the Big Ten is a bunch of bunk (they had a stat line up that said the SEC / Big Ten head to head bowl record over the past N years is 11-11).

So, everyone, please repeat after me -- "I will not claim the Big Ten can't beat the SEC when all the evidence proves they can."

By the way, as long as I am on yet another college football rant, Joe Paterno is now 6-2 in Bowl games since 1997 and 3-0 since 2006. Of course, the trolls waited until 8am Sunday before posting their usual vitriol about firing all of our coaches. I suppose beating yet another favored team in a post season bowl is something that any guy off the street could do.

My tolerance for college football is at probably its lowest ebb ever, but it is nice to see Penn State ending yet another season with 9 wins and a bowl victory.