Monday, March 01, 2021

Geocaching: Winter 2020/21

Well, 14 caches is better than the 12 I found last fall.

In December, I was doing a pre-Christmas Target run and ended up at one of Alexandria's 2 Targets. But not the one I was supposed to do a pickup at. I left with a consolation cache.

Shortly after Christmas, I did a Subway pickup order in Montgomery County that allowed me to find a nearby cache. This got me the "Last 2020" souvenir (Souvenir 74).

January passed cache-less.

February started with one in Loudoun County. As I recall, I pulled over to get some steps for my Fitbit. 

Soon after, my family visited Manassas Battlefield Park, and we claimed a virtual cache there. (Answers cropped out.)

So, mid-February left me at four caches. It was turning out to be a pretty slow winter for geocaching, but I was able to find a few hours one day to make things more exciting.

I started off by finding three caches near the Fairfax County Parkway. One of them saw me use the trick of "take a picture before you stick your hand someplace you can't see."

And one of them had the final "world wonder" I needed to complete the second "Wonders of the World" challenge and earn the "Ancient Wonders of the World" souvenir (Souvenir 76) as well as the "World Explorer" one (Souvenir 77) for completing both Wonders of the World sets. (Two new sets of Wonders have been introduced since then.) One of them had been placed in December 2020 (Month 214).

I seem to have neglected to mention my two Fall souvenirs in last season's post -- they were both from the Memory Lane promotion, which is now over.

After the three nearby ones, I was motivated by the fact that Clarke County, Virginia wasn't very far away, and I didn't have any cache finds there. Just across the border was a cache under a bridge that was my first in Clarke County (County 112), my first from April 2005 (Month 215) and my first in 77°53' (Minute 56 for the W77 challenge). Heading along Route 50, I found my first in 77°59' (Minute 57). I have almost finished that challenge, unbelievably.

Continuing westward, I found my first in 39°09' (Minute 32 for the N39 challenge) and then my first in 39°10' (Minute 33).

Sunset was approaching, so I decided to concentrate on knocking out a few more counties. I went to Winchester City (County 113), Frederick County (County 114), and Shenandoah County (County 115). The one in Shenandoah County was also my first from August 2011 (Month 214).

I have a nice collection of counties in the northern part of the state now.

What a day! And in fact my day with the second-most finds ever.

That leaves me at 599 finds. I should plan something exciting for the 600th, but I probably won't.

Three months found while three months have passed means no net progress. If I refer to my categorization of months from last year, however, I can see some progress. At the end of January 2020, I had 8 missing "ancient" months -- that is still the same. I had 11 missing "old" months -- this month knocked off one of those. I had 10 missing "middle-aged" months -- I found one last February and one this February. I had 3 "young" I'm at 8. I think this counts as progress.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Geocaching: Fall 2020

Well, I'm glad I'm doing meteorological fall (so it consists of exactly three months), but I don't have a lot to report.

I found 12 caches in this season, none of them far afield, given the state of the world.

In September, I started out with a relatively new one in Maryland, near a Target pickup I did. Then I did a couple within biking distance of home. One of them was my first August 2020 cache (though it was archived in November) -- that's Month 212.

I got one near a drive-through CVS while I waited for a prescription to be filled, and then a couple of more in Maryland.

October was even slower. I got three near home, and one in Maryland shortly after it was placed to give me October 2020 (Month 213).

I only got two in November, one on a bike ride, and another "waiting" find.

At 110, I likely won't exceed my all-time record of 134 from 2016, but I have a good chance of beating my second-place total of 119 in 2018.

I'll count this as 34 missing months, since December was not available in Fall. Still, that's up 1 from Summer, and I suspect I won't make much progress on most of my geocaching goals until travel is possible again.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Where's Jon? Surprise Non-Virtual Canadian Edition


Jon giving a talk
Pictures are now on-line from a conference I went to last year in Waterloo.

I spent some time finding a couple of images of me in the audience before stumbling across this one of me giving my talk.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2020/21 Group-Stage Preview

We have group stage! For two clubs!
Just like last year! And the year before that!

The Coefficient

What I take from this is that Scotland is firmly entrenched with two Champions League spots for 2022/23. In other words, to drop below 15th, they would need to be caught not only by Denmark and Cyprus (difficult when each nation only has 1 team left in Europe), but one other nation would need to make up more than 4.5 points in the group stage and beyond.

In fact, let us set aside anything even as unlikely as Scotland being caught by Denmark or themselves catching Austria. What is at stake for the coefficient in the group stage?

Scotland, by holding on to 13th, would have their champion enter the Champions League no earlier than the third qualifying round, and likely the playoff round. If they could make it to 12th, they would guarantee that playoff round slot, and one of their Europa Conference League teams would get to enter into that competition's third qualifying round, instead of the second. If they make it to 11th, they would likely (but not guaranteed) go straight into the Champions League group stages.

(The "likely"s in the above are if the Champions League winner qualifies for the Champions League group stages another way -- that was true of seven of this year's quarterfinalists, including the eventual winner. There are other weird things that could happen, because UEFA.)

Using Fivethirtyeight's match predictions, we expect Scotland to gain 3 points in the group stage, while Turkey gets 1 point, and Ukraine gets 2.5. That would put Scotland barely ahead of Ukraine, and probably not settle things if some clubs go on to the knockout rounds. I guess my summary would be, expect Turkey to fade, and despite Ukraine's three teams, two of them being in the Champions League means more losses are expected there.


Saturday, October 03, 2020

Where's Jon? Virtually Québec City Edition


These online conference photos are easier, because my name is generally on my picture. I forgot to turn on my camera for this one, so it's my profile picture. That's fine, I suppose, as I was in a bike shop at the time, trying to use a virtual background. This one is from the Québec-Maine Number Theory Conference last weekend. I still really want to go to Québec City. Maybe 2022 or 2024.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2020/21 Third-Round Preview

All four made it through to the Europa League third round (Motherwell barely), so let's preview where the third round and possible playoff round have us headed.

The Coefficient

Still the same 10-16 neighborhood within 4 points of Scotland. They gained a little bit on Ukraine in the race for 12th.

There's not a lot of movement this year, because of the reduced maximum points (0.75 instead of 1) for a club winning and a guaranteed parting gift of at least 0.25 for clubs that lose.

In order to keep rising, Scotland needs both halves of the Old Firm to progress to the group stage. In order to tread water, they need one half. If either of the other sides makes it through to the playoff round, I consider that a bonus.


Celtic (ELO 1629), as expected, return to action against Riga (ELO 1203). That should be an easy win, but away matches are tricky, especially in this weird year. If they make it through, they face the winners between Bosnian champions Sarajevo (ELO 1272) and Montenegrin champions Budućnost Podgorica (ELO 1098). It's a clear path if they can take advantage of it, but they will be away again.


Rangers (ELO 1607) blasted Lincoln Red Imps 5-0, to set up a showdown with Willem II (ELO 1468). They should win, but it probably won't be easy. If they take care of business in the Netherlands, they host the winner of Galatasaray (ELO 1522) and Hadjuk Split (ELO 1460). Definitely possible, but not as easy of a path as Celtic.


Motherwell (ELO 1303) needed penalties to see off Coleraine, which meant they missed out on 0.125 for the coefficient in the process. They now face Hapoel Be'er Sheva (ELO 1382). It's not a definite loss, but it is likely. If they sneak through, they host the winner of APOEL (ELO 1590) and Zrinjiski Mostar (ELO 1276). That doesn't make group stage likely, but again, this is a weird year.


Aberdeen (ELO 1422) took care of Viking FK, but face another road match at Sporting CP (ELO 1614). A win there means they face either LASK (ELO 1636) or  Dunajská (ELO 1363). The Aberdonians definitely face the hardest path of any Scottish side.