New World Cup rules

We’ve had an interesting thing going on with Virgin Mobile for a week or so. We purchased 300 mbytes about 20 days ago which expires when we would either use all the mbytes or reach 30 days. About 10 days into it, their byte counter stopped counting so, according to their count, we used zero mbytes from then on. What we wondered was whether they were actually counting someplace and not updating the info they provide the customer or had the counter actually gone on vacation. I halfway expected that at some point we would see a giant drop in available mbytes when the system caught up. Well it started counting again today and started from exactly where it left off. So I guess we have beau coup time for the next 10 days. Another Virgin Mobile factoid – I ran a speed test and the download speed was 1.3 mbits/sec. I’ll check it again randomly a few more times this month while we’re in the surplus capacity mode bit that’s about 60 times faster than the dial-up we had when we had it at all. It’s also in line with the speeds I’ve been quoted for Hughes net and Wild Mountain – satellite providers. With both of those there would be a dish installation, a 2 year contract, and 3-4 times the cost per month. All in all I think we lucked into the right solution for us.

One thing I haven’t tested yet is taking it on the road to see what kind of reception we get riding in the car. If it’s as good on the road as it is in the house, it will be great taking the laptop on any long trips where we have instant access to Google Maps, Priceline, and other handy traveler web sites. We’ve never been able to take advantage of Priceline because we travel in a totally unplanned fashion. That is we travel until we want to stop and never really fix an itinerary in advance. The way Tom explained it, we could wait until we were ready to hang it up and then work the Priceline deal.

This having a journalist grandson is working out great. He’s covering a water ski event in Missouri and there were a few points I had always questioned regarding how they actually score the competition. I had the answers in a few microseconds after emailing him. He was actually at the event and I could hear the loudspeakers in the background. I had figured that somehow you accumulated points by making the slalom buoys in faster time. Turns out it’s a semi timed event in that you get points for each slalom buoy you successfully navigate and the number of points is set by the speed of the boat. But in addition, they shorten or lengthen the rope so the shorter the rope, the more points you get on each buoy. That makes sense. So now when I’m down on the dock watching the skiers practice, I will have just a bit more understanding of what’s going on. Kind of funny that a rookie reporter gets to do a water skiing event with all those bikini clad bunnies sunning. I would have guessed he would get the curling gig.

One conclusion I’ve come to is that all teams playing World Cup soccer are about equal. With only one point separating the winner from the loser in most contests, there’s a reasonable likelihood that the match was decided by a random event rather than one team being superior. A bad call, a slip, a lucky carom shot are as big a factor in the end as the team play. That’s very unsatisfying to me. The game needs something analogous to the three point shot in basketball or the two point conversion in football. I don’t think it needs 100 point kind of games but something on the order of 10 points being scored cumulatively would make the one point decisive random occurrence less likely and when you won 7-3 or something, you’d feel like your team really was better and not just a lucky squeak thru. How about breaking the game into 10 minute periods. The first period is played with both teams at full strength. In the next period team A plays with one less player; that advantage is reversed in the next period. Then a 2 person advantage etc etc. In the last period it’s the best 5 on each side going at it. Or maybe PJ O’Rourke’s idea makes sense – “use your hands, dummies”. I can see now why there’s all the violence in the stands at big soccer matches – watching 90 minutes of back and forth with too few outlets for cheering or jeering. The frustration has to build up since the score doesn’t.

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