Monday, August 06, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Third Round Preview

That went very well! How well? The 2.625 points Scotland have picked up so far this year is second only to Serbia. I fell compelled to point out that the giants are Europe are just starting to enter and will inevitably pass Scotland, but among those not in the top 15, it's hard to top this performance!

Second-Round Review

I said a good second round would have one Europa League team advance, and a total of 1.375 points. They got 1.25 points, but with two sides advancing! And Celtic staying in the Champions League.

Pour one out for Aberdeen, who took Burnley to extra time. When you're in a situation where one goal falling differently would have knocked out a Premier League team, you have to give respect to Derek McInnes and his squad. Still, Aberdeen bows out with only having contributed 0.125 to the coefficient this year. That's the first time in their five-year streak of qualification that they've contributed less than 0.625.

Hibs started out with a 3-2 win at home over Asteras. That result was not entirely surprising; the real triumph came with the 1-1 draw on the return leg. They actually probably should have picked up more points, since they held a one-goal first-half lead against a 10-man side.

Rangers won 1-0 on the road in Croatia. That put them in command when Osijek visited Ibrox last week. A 1-1 draw was enough to advance, but would have produced more points if not for a late own-goal.

If we celebrate Aberdeen for being one goal from advancing, we should note that Hibs and Rangers were each one goal from going out. But those are the breaks, and for once Scotland got them.

One Scottish side not in need of breaks was Celtic, which cruised to a 3-1 win at home before settling for a 0-0 draw for a relatively easy dispatching of Rosenborg.

Third-Round Preview

Hibs, whose Elo is up to 1325, faces Norwegian side Molde (Elo 1423). So Neil Lennon's side has about the same chance (33.2%) as they had against Asteras. Given the way Hibs (and Scotland in general) have been overperforming this year, I wouldn't count them out.

Similarly, Rangers has an Elo which has risen to 1385, and they take on Slovenia's Maribor (Elo 1499). So Clubelo.com gives them a 31.8% chance of advancing.

Again, if we look at the probability that at least one of the two advance, we're better than 50/50. But the chance that both do is 10%, unless we believe that Clubelo is underestimating Scotland this year.

Celtic (Elo 1548) faces another tough road against Greek champions AEK Athens (Elo 1605). The mismatch is not quite as severe here, giving Celtic a 42.6% chance of advancing.

So let's say a good round has Celtic advancing in the Champions, and one of the two Europa League sides continuing on, and I'll not be too greedy in asking for half of the possible 1.5 points towards the coefficient.

A bad round would have Celtic be the lone survivor, in the Europa League, and I could see Scotland picking up as few as 0.25 points.

Playoff-Round Sneak Peek

It bothers me that this is not just the fourth round.

If Celtic can get past AEK, they face either Swedish champions Malmo (Elo 1502) or Hungarian champions Vidi (Elo 1435). Celtic would be clear favorites to advance to the group stage against either.

If they can't, they are pretty much a shoo-in for the Europa League group stage, as they face the winner of the tie between Latvian champs Spartaks Jumula (Elo 1138) and Lithuanian champs Suduva (Elo 1264).

If Rangers advances, they face either FC Ufa (Elo 1569) or Niederkorn (Elo 1104). So that doesn't look good for making the group stages.

If Hibs wins, they get either Zenit (Elo 1724) or Dinamo Minsk (Elo 1442).

Unless there are some major upsets, I don't see anyone but Celtic being in the group stage, which is a shame.

Where We Stand

They started out in 25th; now they're 24th. That's progress. The two nations ahead of them (Sweden and Azerbaijan) only have one representative each, so 22nd is not out of the question by the end of the third round. (It is theoretically possible they'll jump to 19th, but it's not going to happen.) On the other side of the coin, Israel and Kazakhstan have a reasonable chance to catch Scotland. (Norway has an unreasonable chance.)

It's more important, I think, to lay a groundwork for advancing in future years (although letting the Cup winner skip the first round in 2020/21 is a bonus). I think 5 points needs to be the goal, and they're over halfway there. If we look at the preliminary 2021 rankings, which includes that last two good years along with this year's results so far, Scotland is 20th. While that shows progress, it also shows that a consistent 5 point is needed to get back into the teens.

If Celtic can manage a comparable run to last year, Scotland should exceed 5 points even without contributions from the other sides. If the Scottish draw hadn't been so rough this year, I think the quality they've shown would have even more promise.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Second Round Preview

Well, good news for Scotland. They picked up over 90% of the available points in the first round, which is better than anyone else in their "neighborhood" (which I've been defining as nations within two points). Kazakhstan and Serbia got more total points, but they had four teams in the first round.

First-Round Review


Hibernian beat Runavik 6-1 and 6-4. I'm sure Neil Lennon isn't thrilled with giving up 4 goals in the away match (and I bet the Faroese player with the hat trick will be dining out on that performance for years), but they got the job done.

Rangers beat Shkupi 2-0 at home, then held on for a goalless draw to win the tie. I was convinced somebody was going to drop some points somewhere, and this is not the worst place to do so.

Celtic won 3-0 and 3-0 against Alashkert.

Shkupi was clearly the fiercest competition there, so this makes sense.

Second-Round Preview

Up next for Hibernian (ELO 1305) is Asteras Tripolis (ELO 1424). Clubelo.com gives that a 69.5% chance to go to the Greeks, and I don't see any reason to doubt them.

Rangers (ELO 1357) faces Osijek (ELO 1442). Clubelo gives the Croatians 63.9% chance of advancing. (Before you ask, their is no overlap between the mostly-homegrown Osijek squad and the recent World Cup finalists.)

Aberdeen (ELO 1380) faces Burnley (ELO 1684). The Clubelo odds only give Burnley an 88.1% chance of advancing. I'm surprised.

In the Champions League, Celtic (ELO 1517) have a rematch of last year's clash against Rosenborg (ELO 1512). Clubelo ever-so-slightly favors Celtic, with 50.6% odds.

That means there's a more than 60% chance of one of the three Europa League teams advancing.

So I'll say a good second round has Celtic and one of Hibs or Rangers advancing. Let's say that's with 1.375 total points.

A bad second round would have Celtic dropping to the Europa League, and nobody else surviving. Only picking up 0.5 points is realistic.

Third-Round Sneak Peak


Celtic is the one club guaranteed to particpate in the third round of one of the two competitions. If they win, they face AEK Athens (ELO 1597), so the odds will not favor the Scottish champions. If they lose, they face Cork City (ELO 1212), so the coefficient points should flow in the Europa League.

If Hibs wins, they face either Molde (ELO 1427) or Laci (ELO 1228).

If Rangers gets by Osijek, they have the winner of Chikura (ELO 1202) and Maribor (1499).

If Aberdeen someone makes it past Burnley, they face Başakşehir (ELO 1650).

I guess it looks pretty bleak for any Scottish side but Celtic to advance past the third round.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Alexander Cairns' 1909 Trip to the West

My great-great-grandfather, Alexander Cairns (1843-1921) of Mt. Hope, Wisconsin, led an interesting life.

In the Fennimore Times of August 4, 1909, there is a note:
Later issues of the Fennimore Times printed letters from him describing their trip. I discovered the existence of the letters in the mid-1990s during a visit to the DAR library in DC. Only upon visiting the Wisconsin Historical Society in 2018 was I able to get my hands on copies of the letters.

On August 9, 1909, he wrote a dispatch from Wallace, Idaho entitled "The Far West". It began, "We are away out here in a queer country, but interesting nonetheless. It mostly describes the train journey from Prairie du Chien. He seemed to evaluate the scenery mostly based on its suitability for farming. They stopped in Wallace to visit Alex's brother (my great-great-grand uncle), Henry E. Howes.

On August 22, 1909, he wrote a dispatch from Lewiston, Idaho, which the paper titled "Cairns' Western Trip." He described the mining operations in Wallace in fairly great detail, and their trip from Wallace to Lewiston via Coeur d'Alene and Spokane.

His third dispatch was from Seattle. Undated, it was published a week after the second, in the September 15 Fennimore Times. It was also titled "Cairns' Western Trip." Here, he catches the reader up on Lewiston, Idaho, specifically how the farming is done around there, and which former residents of the Mt. Hope area he visited. I had always assumed he visited his nephews on this trip, but now I see that they were in the southern part of Idaho, which is not a convenient detour, even 109 years later.

Towards the end of that third letter, he writes, "One thing for sure, it is a hot spot, 105 in the shade. Don't think they go to church much here. In fact there is no need of it. If they can stand the heat here they need fear nothing anywhere else."

That was the last letter in the index. On a hunch, I checked subsequent issues of the Times, and found a September 7 letter from Thomas, Washington, entitled "Cairns at the Coast". Here he describes his impressions of Spokane, Yakima and Seattle, and the World's Fair. I was struck by the fact that he compared it to the Chicago World's Fair -- of course he had been to that one, too. They were headed to Portland as their last stop on the West Coast.

Unfortunately, I have no further letters. Whether he didn't write again, the Times failed to publish them, or they didn't show up in the index, I don't know.

We know that he and "Lizzie" did not go home directly from Portland, however, due to this note from the Frankfort (Ky.) Index on September 29: “Mr. and Mrs. Alex. Cairns, who were guests of their old friend Herman Johnson, left this noon for their home in Mt. Hope, Michigan. [sic] They are on their way home from a trip to the coast.”

The October 6 Fennimore Times reports, "Alex. Cairns and wife got back from their trip to the coast Saturday. They had a fine time but are glad to be home again."

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"The Land of Burns" by Alexander Cairns


My great-great-grandfather, Alexander Cairns (1843-1921) of Mt. Hope, Wisconsin, wrote an article entitled "The Land of Burns" for the Fennimore Times on January 31, 1906. In it, he describes his trip to the birthplace of Robert Burns and writes about the poem "The Brigs of Ayr".

As far as I know, he never had any higher education, but he seems to have been quite the self-educated individual. In 1884, he received Patent 308,463 for a “new and Improved Churning Device”.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Herndon Restaurant Project: (1) Wendy's

Wendy's,
2160 Centreville Rd.,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 7/1/2018
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 7
Inside Town Limits: No
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

It's a Wendy's. Just like my review of the Bowie Wendy's, I can't find much exciting to say about it. Like most Wendy's, they often mess up some but not all of my order. Unlike the Bowie Wendy's, they participate in the recent "4 for $4" promotion, which is, uh, a lot of food for only $4.

It's somewhat annoyingly situated; no matter how you approach, you have to cut through a lot of unrelated parking lot to get there.

I can't really justify why I'm giving it half a star more than the Bowie Wendy's; I just am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Geocaching: Spring 2018

This Spring, I found 37 caches in 3 states and DC.

As Spring began in late March, Geocaching started a promotion where you could earn points depending on what sorts of geocaches you found, and once you earned a certain number of points, you would get planet-themed souvenirs. So I started out by finding a geocache and earning my 41st souvenir.
The next day, I was in the Crofton area and I was first-to-find on a cache there. First, I failed to find it, and then left a message about the description (which indicated it wasn't at the actual coordinates -- which is a no-no). The cache owner left me a hint and changed the difficulty/terrain rating to 4/1, so I got my 15th FTF, my first in Anne Arundel County, my 32nd difficulty/terrain combo...and my 42nd souvenir.
After those two in Maryland, I found one in DC and one in Virginia to snag my 43rd souvenir.
The day after that, I found a couple with the kids for my 169th month (January 2018) and my 44th souvenir.
A few days later, we were in North Carolina and found my first in Forsyth County (67th county), and my first from March 2013 (170th month).
After another in Forsyth County, we found a virtual in Stokes County (68th county) that earned me my 45th souvenir. That capped off a March with 27 counties found, the most I have ever done.
I found another on our way out of North Carolina, then a few more in Maryland and Virginia, including one from September 2017 (Month 171).

The "Planetary Pursuit" promotion was extended, allowing me to nab one last souvenir (#46).
Also in April, I nabbed another FTF (Number 17), which was Month 172. That got me all of the months from February 2015 forward.

The period ending April 20th represented the fastest I had found 100 caches (210 days). That should not be too hard to break, but I have never put together more than 3 months in a row with 10 or more caches.

In May, a trip to the Williamsburg area got me James City County (County 69) and York County (County 70), but frustratingly, not Williamsburg itself.

In late May, I finally found a challenge cache that required me to find caches 100 degrees of longitude apart (I have 179). It was a tiny cache in the woods; I gave up on finding a similar one nearby. Anyway, that was D/T combination #33.

Later that day, I was FTF on my 17th cache, which also marked four consecutive months with an FTF (doesn't look like I'll make it 5) and Month 174.

After all that excitement, I found just one more cache before the solstice -- I had messed up the hours of a business, and needed to kill some time. Still that brings me to 375 caches total. It took me almost 9 years to hit 100, so finding 275 more in a little over two years definitely feels like a lot.