Update on the future of Da Blog

Of the three total responses I’ve received, I received two requests for more information on my “grandiose projects”, one of which actually contrasted it to mere coverage of sports, as though covering projects precluded covering sports.

Getting grandiose projects is a given no matter which topic gets chosen. It isn’t really a topic in itself, and I don’t know that I’m confident enough to simply lay them all on you, not to mention that I wouldn’t know where to start or what to put on or anything. (By September at the latest, you’ll have a very good view on just how grandiose my projects can get, regardless of final topic.)

So what I think I’m going to do is extend this another 24 hours, looking for some clarification as to what projects I would want to post. But I’m also instituting a new poll. Below is a list of just some projects I have and are working on. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but it’s intended to provide a list of options and provide a feel for what I mean. Tell me if you want to see any of these projects or any similar ones you want to suggest in an area of your interest.

  • Ranking the presidential candidates (see the post immediately below)
  • Whether Sports Watcher should continue
  • Ranking America’s professional sports leagues
  • A different, maybe insane, method of determining champions in certain team sports, closer to the methods used in combat sports like boxing and wrestling
  • Determining the greatest movies of all time from a composite of other similar lists (I can also come up with other “greatest lists” even if they’re limited to my own opinion. Inquire within!)
  • Any kind of simulated tournament, or any kind of simulated game.
  • Or you can help me iron out the rules for a new sport I’m developing.
  • I actually have already written some short poems and stories.
  • And the proverbial much, much more!

I’m setting the deadline for this new poll for Friday night at midnight Pacific, with an option to extend if I get another dearth of replies.

Ranking the Presidential Candidates… not!

I’m not really a political junkie, but I do pay a lot of attention when election season rolls around. We’re just two years away from a unique election cycle, when neither a sitting president nor vice-president will be running for president.

As with most of the things I’m intensely interested in, I have a project I’m working on for it. In this case, it’s a ranking of the potential nominees from each party based on their chances of winning the nomination. Positions on the issues play no role in this; I base it entirely on polls and fundraising.

And right now, both are failing me. The FEC’s web site doesn’t yet contain any financial data for the current election cycle. As for polling, it works very well near the top but is worthless at the very bottom.

Consider this ABC-Washington Post poll. Note that there are six Republican candidates that got 1% in the poll and three that got 0%. The sample size of Republicans is 344, so 1.72 would be the number of respondents that represents .5% of the poll, anything below which shows up here as 0%. How am I supposed to separate those three at 0% when they either got 0 or 1 person saying their name?

It gets worse. The threshhold for 1.5% would be 5.16 respondents. Therefore all those people at 1% got 2, 3, 4, or 5 respondents saying their name. I am left to assume that the poll results are sub-sorted by how many respondents said a name, but ties still exist, and worse, if they’re in alphabetical order, I don’t know which comparisons of two back-to-back candidates represent ties and which represent a different number of respondents! And it all reflects the luck of the draw! I’m ignoring margin of error in my rankings but even I can’t ignore this!

This poll was conducted on a national sample of 1000 adults. That’s how many should be polled from each party. The poll’s total sample should be closer to 2500.

Then I got an idea. Perhaps we could combine the results from several polls, thus adding to the sample size and lowering the margin of error. The chances of two polls contacting the same person are astronomical, so it’s like taking one big poll. For example, there are three similar polls from this month in the same field: the Gallup Poll has 412 Republican respondents, and the Zogby Poll has 301 Republican respondents. All have, ultimately, the same problem, but when you add their sample size together you get 344+412+301=1057 respondents in the sample. That means 5.285 respondents represent .5%, enough for some separation, weak though it may seem; meanwhile, 15.855 respondents represent 1.5%, enough to rest easy that six candidates would have at least some separation.

I would love to be the person to create this “superpoll”, which would be important far beyond this context, but unfortunately, the sort of raw data of pure numbers of respondents is treated as fairly proprietary. Either I have to get into a subscription service to get them (always for a fee) or they don’t offer it at all. Why, I’m not sure. I could guesstimate it by weighting the results of the various polls, but it’s an inexact science to say the least.

Which leaves nothing for me to work with, at least in the back of the field, but the analysis of others. I know it’s early and a lot can change, but predicting the future isn’t my priority so much as determining what’s going on right now, despite my emphasis on fundraising. Judging by polls from 2004, the sample size of polls won’t be increasing from here, though it might see a little more separation. It probably won’t get there very quickly, though – not with a field of this size.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 1/20-21

This is an experiment that, should the topic of Da Blog ultimately fit it (and maybe even if it doesn’t), will become a regular feature every Friday. I’ll hand out my picks for the go-to sports to watch for the weekend. I choose only one game between competing games, and choose as many sports as possible within those parameters. All times PST.

Saturday
12:30-3 AM: Tennis, Australian Open, 3rd round play (ESPN). Assuming you don’t need too much sleep, of course.

9-11 AM: College Basketball, Louisville @ DePaul (ESPN). Combine for a 5-4 conference record. Really just a warmup for the next two parts of the tripleheader.

11 AM-1 PM: College Basketball, Wisconsin @ Illinois (ESPN). What the hell is Wisconsin doing with a power basketball program? This is their best record in over ninety years.

1-3 PM: College Basketball, Arizona @ UCLA (FSN). Arizona’s Marcus Williams not only is a Seattle product, he went to my high school. I never saw a game, only heard of him secondhand before last year, don’t like the idea of being a fan of whatever school you went to, and loathe many of my old high school traditions with a passion, yet I still find myself following the Wildcats. (Did I mention that this is a matchup of the top two RPI teams in the country?)

4-7 PM: College Football, East-West Shrine Game (ESPN2). One of college football’s many all-star games. What exactly is it? I don’t have a clue.

7-10 PM: Tennis, Australian Open, octofinal play (ESPN2). If tennis was as huge in this country as it is in some others, networks would be falling over themselves to put this in primetime. Especially with the new and improved Andy Roddick and Serena Williams likely to show up either here or in the insomniac session.

Sunday
12:30-3:30 AM: Tennis, Australian Open, octofinal play (ESPN2). Insomniac Special time!

10-11:30 AM: PBA Bowling, Dick Weber Open (ESPN). The football just barely overlaps with the basketball, so why not watch people roll really heavy balls around? Here’s one thing I might say about the PBA: When 9-spare is considered heartbreaking, maybe the competition is too good. That’s the problem with the pro versions of stuff a significant number of ordinary people do.

12-3:30 PM: NFL Football, New Orleans @ Chicago (FOX). Clearly the same teams go to the Super Bowl year after year in the NFL. Sure, 3 of the last 4 NFC champions were going into their first Super Bowls ever, but these two teams combine for a whopping 1 Super Bowl appearances. Yeah, I know, but that one appearance was only, oh, 20 years ago.

3:30-7 PM: NFL Football, New England at Indianapolis (CBS). Yes, the Colts under Manning have never been to the Super Bowl, yes, they’ve never beaten the Patriots in the playoffs, and yes, Peyton Manning is not the Manning we’re used to in these playoffs. But they’re at home!

After Football: Let two weeks of unending Super Bowl hype begin…

Well, this is embarassing…

I was going to make a final decision on the topic of Da Blog on Friday (today, as most of you read this), but I’m instituting an extension because I just recently advertised my prior posts on the topic in the “About me” section on the right sidebar, which in turn was because 43 visitors to Da Blog have added up to one comment so far. You can now make comments until 9 PM PT (midnight ET, since New York Is The Center Of The Universe) on Sunday. (I might not collect the votes until later, though.)

You can also comment on what you want Da Blog to be about to this post. I will post a preview of what will happen if you don’t comment later on Friday. If it lines up with what you want, comment on it anyway, because I will only institute it if I get 0 acceptable comments, so even a tie only means I’ll probably institute both.

(Note that, as they say on Wikipedia, “this is not a vote”. I am ultimately the final arbiter of what I post on, and I will always dip into fields different from my primary focus. As time passes that sharp focus may fade as Da Blog becomes more general and I begin to dip into a wide variety of fields on a regular basis.)

Also, I’m switching Da Counter to show unique visitors rather than hits (which have reached the 70’s), because hits by now are a given – I’ll probably hit 100 by this time next week. I’ve gotten at least two hits for at least the past seven days and have been stabilizing at 4 a day recently. Unless the counter is misinterpreting people without cookies as separate people, which can’t be the whole truth, most of these people appear to be first timers. Which, you know, is good for a number of reasons, but it is also kinda bad, because now only 40% of my hits over the life of Da Blog are repeat customers. Which makes me worried that people are stopping by but aren’t intrigued enough to come back! Which comes back to my blog topic poll, where you can give them a reason to come back.

Alone, alone, alone…

You might think someone as abrasive as me wouldn’t last ten seconds with a roommate, and certainly I tried to get a room to myself when I signed up. But Seattle University has a bit of a crunch for space throughout the campus, and no matter how strong a case I might have had, I didn’t stand a chance. So I’ve had a roommate for the course of this year.

It’s gone fairly well, but the roommate just left Saturday. I don’t think I drove him away; I think there’s a lot of reassignment going on. For now, though, I have a room to myself.

Perhaps not all that interesting, but I do intend to add the latest updates in my own life to Da Blog when events warrant…

How much is that team in the window?

This will probably seem completely swerve-y compared to the posts so far, but it could look completely in place compared to what could come later, even if the topic eventually chosen has nothing to do with sports. (Keep commenting on the post below this one!) If your eyes completely glaze over at this stuff, please skip past it to the posts below.

ESPN has an intriguing story on Portland, Oregon’s efforts to land a major league baseball team, namely, the Florida Marlins, who are currently engaged in stadium woes. The case is compelling, with a stadium deal on the table, and one of the largest markets without an MLB team. Of the four traditional major sports, Portland holds only one, the NBA’s Trail Blazers; it’s the largest metropolitan area in the 2000 Census with but one team from the traditional four major sports, and ranked behind only San Diego for having two or fewer. (The Census has since broadened its definition of a metro area, splitting Baltimore from Washington and nonsensically splitting Riverside and San Bernardino counties from the LA area into its own metro area that tops all three.) According to the article, one research group ranked Portland behind only New York and LA for having the highest ratio of population to traditional big four teams.

On both ratio and being the largest market with either only an NBA team or no baseball team, Portland is behind Orlando and Sacramento on Nielsen’s list of TV markets. But both those markets are far closer to their natural alternative alliegiance (Tampa Bay and the SF Bay Area, respectively) than Portland is to Seattle, the nearest MLB team.

Las Vegas, Charlotte, and San Antonio are also mentioned as expressing interest, and Northern New Jersey (which would make MLB join the NHL as the only even remotely prominent leagues with three teams in one market), Orlando, and Norfolk/Hampton Roads are also flirted with. Under the old Census definition, Hampton Roads is the largest metro area without any traditional major league team, with Las Vegas right behind, but both have their problems (in Vegas’ case, the whole gambling thing). Connecticut leads the list of Nielsen markets, though it does have the WNBA’s Sun, followed by West Palm Beach, Grand Rapids (who have the Arena Football League’s Rampage), Birmingham AL, Harrisburg PA, Hampton Roads, and Las Vegas.

The Marlins are not the only team with stadium woes. The NHL’s Penguins are also haggling over stadiums and may be out of Pittsburgh next year. Kansas City is considered the front-runner, but Houston is the States’ largest old-definition metro area and largest Nielsen market without an NHL team (and have reportedly expressed interest), though it’s very south and the league’s southern movement is seen as to blame for its recent woes. Seattle follows close behind in both; though there’s theoretically an attraction with the Vancouver Canucks, being a Seattleite myself I don’t see it, though one difference with baseball in Portland is we don’t get the Canucks on TV. Quebec City and ex-NHL city Winnepeg are Canadian metro areas 7 and 8; the Canadian NHL teams line up with the top 6 metro areas exactly.

Seattle itself is the center of stadium woes in the NBA, as the Sonics have gotten fed up with their stadium, a decade old and made antique by the replacement of the Kingdome with new baseball and football stadiums. Spice was added to the fire when a group of investors from Oklahoma City bought the team; the New Orleans Hornets have done amazingly well in exile in the OKC, and the city has been angling for an NBA team (and the Penguins if they can’t get it). A move out of Seattle, the largest market with stadium woes I’ve talked about so far and with much more fan loyalty than in South Beach, would be a “Cleveland Browns” situation if there ever was one. The NBA has a history of being the only game in town; Orlando, Sacramento, Portland, and San Antonio boast NBA teams as their only traditional major league teams. But it doesn’t have more teams than those others, so they have to come from somewhere: San Diego and St. Louis are the largest old-definition metro areas without NBA teams, and in St. Louis’ case it’s the only traditional major league they’re missing. The STL ranks only behind Tampa Bay (another market with everything but the NBA) in Nielsen markets, followed by yet another MLB-NFL-NHL market, Pittsburgh (though that may not be for long, of course!), and finally Baltimore.

The NFL, of course, has the “LA Gap”, and like baseball, by the old definition Portland is the largest metro area without a team other than LA. Also like baseball, the NFL has Orlando and Sacramento as the only Nielsen markets ahead of Portland. The NFL, though, has teams in curiously small markets like Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Green Bay; they make up for it with a lack of a team in Milwaukee, no team in LA, and only one team in Chicago (baseball is the only traditional major league with two Chicago teams).

State of Da Blog moving forward, and a way to affect its history!

I have a few things I’d like to catch up with at this moment.

First, the counter. No, there have not been 34 visitors to Da Blog over the last week. I could set it to display the number of unique users, but I think the number of 13 that would appear is a little low. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Second and more importantly, I’m starting to worry that my lengthy third post is obscuring the first post for all of the people who are discovering Da Blog suddenly. That means missing the backbone of that third post, but it also obscures something else. The posts I have now aren’t really emblematic of me (obviously), or of what I envision Da Blog becoming. While some blogs are little more than diaries and only a few blogs go beyond personal, a lot of blogs comment not only on happenings in life, but in whatever else interests the person who posts them. People often talk about their thoughts on whatever they feel like saving space on their blog for, and sometimes dedicate their entire blog to a single subject.

I want to talk about me, of course, but I also want to talk about more than me. And while I have no shortage of things I’m already interested in, I’d like to hear your suggestions. Is there something out there that’s going unblogged? Something you’d like to hear my thoughts on? Considering the likelihood that I may have something insanely complex that would constitute a radical new idea, maybe you’d like to see that, and gain a new perspective? Or maybe I’m just begging for something that would hook the most people into making Da Blog a destination. Or, since there’s a positive spin for anything, maybe I’m trying to gauge the interests of my audience so I can tailor what I write to them.

What are you interested in? While you’re here, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. If you don’t have a Google/Blogger account and “Other” doesn’t work for you for some reason, post anonymously; you can still identify yourself in the body of the post.

18 years of experience described in, what, an hour?

The other day I got an assignment from one of my teachers inviting me to submit a brief one-paragraph autobiography of sorts to introduce myself to the class.

My first thought: Great! A chance to plug Da Blog! For you see, at the time Da Blog still registered as having zero visitors happening by. (That seems to have changed this weekend, though. Congrats to all six of the visitors who have happened by since Friday! What led you here, though?)

As I do with almost everything, though, I procrastinated until this evening, planning on doing something I never got around to doing. As I sat down to write it, though, I realized that in my first post I presented to you a portrait of me frozen in time. I haven’t given the backstory behind my life that would add a palpable, possibly essential, dimension of context to what I say here. I gave you where I was on one day in December 2006, but not where I was in the eighteen and a half years before then.

So, then: a brief version of the story of my life.

I was born in Seattle… well, technically I was born in a suburb of Seattle, but my parents lived in Seattle so I lived in Seattle for my first five or so years of life. During this time we lived in a living space in the basement of another house. (It sounds more dirt-poor than it is. It was actually fully furnished and lit and everything.)

When I was five, my parents moved to Los Angeles and lived in an apartment in the Venice neighborhood (as in Venice Beach) south of Santa Monica. My dad, heretofore an aspiring stand-up comedian, got jobs as extras in TV shows (some episodes of Babylon 5) and movies (Forrest Gump). After a year, the market research firm my mom had worked at became desperate, and she moved back to the Seattle area, taking me with her. We lived with her parents just outside Issaquah, another Seattle suburb.

After another year my dad came back up as well, and we rented a house in the same neighborhood as the house we first lived in when I was born. I would have been about seven, so this would be in 1995. It was during this time that I first got a computer for full-time use (as opposed to mooching off ones in Mom’s office, just in time for Windows 95 to be on it. I quickly became addicted, especially after discovering the Internet.

It was also during this time that I took a stand against a teacher I really didn’t like by basically not doing anything all day at school. I finished up second grade being home-schooled by my dad. That summer our landlords decided to either sell the house or rent it to someone else (I forget which) and we had to move again, this time staying in Seattle but moving across the freeway. After having never lived in any house for more than a year since I was five, I would stay in this house all the way up to college, and my mom still lives there.

I was put in another school, but was taken out again after one or two months. In late November I was put in a special-ed room at yet another school and started riding in those small buses you probably have associated with special-ed at some time or another.

My dad, having had a taste of acting, directed and starred in a super-low budget film that looks like it was shot on a camcorder and not on film around 1998. Filmmaking has been his life’s calling since then, and he plans to move back to LA later this year. After getting rave reviews with his first film, he decided to make another film with a higher budget, planning to shoot some scenes in the high school I would ultimately attend early in my freshman year. That film has yet to move very far beyond the point it was then since then, and in 2006 he ultimately made another incredibly low-budget film. He has taken much ribbing from me about that movie, and it has become our family’s equivalent of the sitcom dad who always stakes fame and fortune on hitting the winning lottery ticket.

After elementary school I went to middle school, in a place right across the street from my preschool home, and at first spent basically all my time in the special ed room again. The effort to “mainstream” (the move to verb every unverbed word strikes again!) me began almost immediately, and by the end of sixth grade instead of having all but one period in the special ed room I was spending all but one period out of it, which would be the pattern throughout middle and high school.

Meanwhile my parents got divorced, which at first seemed like a divorce on paper only, but it eventually led to Dad moving out of the house. Mom got tired of the “Dilbert“-like course of business at the market research firm and started training for network certification. Once she was done with that, she took a job as a technical support worker at Seattle University, which had the added side effect of making tuition for me when it was time for me to go there absoultely free. Which, in turn, made it possible for me to even consider it in the first place. While waiting for the Ever-Absent Movie Contract, Dad took jobs as a cook, working at one area pizza place first as a delivery guy and then a pizzeria cook for many years, until last year, when he left to become a manager at another pizza place. (Why not the place he’d been working for for years? For the same reason Mom left the market research firm.)

After middle school I went to high school, and after high school I went to college, and I’m really skipping over a lot of things that happened along the way. I’m sure some of those things will trickle out over the course of Da Blog. For example, two of the five colleges I applied to were in LA, so I accompanied Dad on a trip down there in late 2005, which he spent trying to grease the movie wheels and I spent rediscovering the place I hadn’t been in for over a decade.

So, that’s my life. On an unrelated, and yet somehow not, note, expect me to have a lot of trouble ending blog posts, but hey…

Woo, second post!

I feel obligated to post that I added a counter to the right side of Da Blog yesterday, since I was unable to find out if anyone other than me has been here. Blogger keeps track of how many people have viewed my profile but not who’s viewed my blog. Strange.

Since I suspect no one was here between the 22nd and now, the below post is far more important than this one, and this one can be safely ignored. Move along, move right along!

In the beginning…

…there was a little blog.

With this, I officially do not think there is anyone left in my age group without a blog, MySpace, Facebook, full-fledged web site, or other centralized place of expression and/or networking. I’d certainly be surprised to find anyone in that category.

I mean, if I’m joining some craze it must have legs of some sort. I’m normally a severe nonconformist: if some fad is all the rage with my peers, that deters me from joining it. You won’t see me get a MySpace or Facebook account. But, you know, I’ve always thought about getting a web site some day, and maybe spouting off on there on whatever is going on or is in the news, which is basically what a blog is for, and I don’t consider myself quite ready to go “all the way” yet, and the drive to begin spouting off… it’s been strong recently.

So I’ve started this. What can you expect? Well, I’m not sure (more on that later), but you’ll get my opinions. Sometimes they’ll be offbeat, sometimes colorful, sometimes even mainstream. You’ll probably also hear what’s going on in my life. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more than my opinions or life story. You’ll get other stuff, some of it quite informative.

But wait, you say – who the heck am I? Well, that’s a good question. My name is Morgan Wick, I’m 18 years old and I’m a freshman at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington, USA, North America, Earth, Sol, Milky Way. Except for a one-year interregnum in Los Angeles I’ve lived in Seattle or thereabouts my entire life, and I’ve never left the Pacific time zone at all. My interests are too numerous to mention, as are my hobbies. I hope, one day, to be notorious enough that this blog will become rather closely watched by media types, or at least I hope not to be dirt poor and needing to sneak in time at libraries to post when I grow up. This blog will serve as a journal of my quest from muddled confusion and procrastination to some sort of success.

I have zero friends, zero chance of making friends, and less than zero desire to make friends. I’m abrasive, crusty, self-centered, and prone to temper, at least in person – just like humanity.
That’s because I have (or at least have been diagnosed with) Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of “high functioning autism” (to quote one of my teachers who probably quoted someone else) that’s not as debilitating as might come to mind when you hear the word. Describing its core is probably impossible in a few short sentences, but one leading scholar in the field (or so I’ve heard – man, I’ve really been reduced to repeating this teacher!) defined it as “the pursuit of knowledge and truth” with “alternative priorities and perceptions”.

If it weren’t for the necessities of life I’d probably live completely alone and spend my days eating, drinking, sleeping, and playing games on my computer. I often start grandiose projects I have no chance of finishing and tire of them, many involving an elaborate alternate universe (or several!) with no bearing on my real life. Those and the strong desire to have fun often distract me from my schoolwork. I often think in very logical terms. I often think of grandiose questions of philosophy (human nature is a favorite) and also think of far more vulgar things. I am incredibly shy and rarely converse. Sometimes when I’m stressed out I’ll pound on a table, a book, and anything else nearby, and you’ll probably think I’m on the verge of flipping out (and believe me, I CAN flip out) when in reality doing all that took me off of that verge and doing anything based on that assumption will succeed only in driving me back to that verge.

I’m a perfectionist and have little tolerance for mistakes, especially stupid ones. I don’t care whether something is a small issue – small issues get too little love! I don’t intend to fix my warts because I don’t want to become like everyone else. If you met me and you heard all my thoughts and saw what I do in certain situations you might think I was insane.

I’ll post more about me as we go along.

But you know, I don’t want to post just about me. I have a lot of interests and I like to study them intently. Anything I’m interested in, I’m probably keeping something that deeply explores it. I’d like to share my opinions, and I’d like for this to be a source for more than my ramblings. I’d like people to come here for some reason. I’d like this blog to have a topic that’s not just me, though I will post plenty about me and I will branch out into other fields as we go along. And because I have so many interests, some of which my parents don’t know about and which I hope they don’t know about (I don’t spend all my time staring at porn or smoking dope!), I’d like to turn it over to you. What do YOU want this blog to be about? You can choose just about anything. If you want some ideas, some of my interests are on my Wikipedia user page, though that’s far from a complete list, and you don’t have to choose something I’m interested in. Maybe I can be introduced to a new interest for me to get incredibly wrapped up in. Go ahead! Sound off by leaving a comment on this first entry.

2007 will come with a new blog on the scene, and it will be the start of a journey for me and… (looks around, hears crickets chirping) well, probably just me for now, but as we go along this train, I hope, is going to pick up some passengers and start being read by some people, and maybe even a significant number.

Which will probably compound my embarrasment in my later years looking back on some of the stuff I’ve posted, but…