Thursday, January 21, 2016

2015 Stay-At-Home Bowl: No Winner

Hey, remember when I said, "In fact, no team beat top 2 seeds from both conferences, so one of the 3-6 seeds would need to make it through on at least one side to ensure a winner." Well, the top 2 seeds all made it through to the conference championships, so we have no winner this year. Also, with the Chiefs' exit, the record is 7 of 18 previous winners making the conference championship game. See you next year!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Countries Visited: In Pictures

I was thinking about my 31 countries visited, and I got the idea to create a collage of pictures of me in these countries. Without too much trouble, I came up with pictures in 23 of them.








Puerto Rico
United States

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bowie Restaurant Project: (94) Auntie Anne's

Auntie Anne's, circa 2011
For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Auntie Anne's,
15606 Emerald Way,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 1/14/2016
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 4 (2 for a "meal")
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Not sure
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

There was a time when this was the best thing about the food court. But with the opening of Yamon!, Wesley's, and maybe Tamo Smoothies, that's not true any more. But I never considered it a place to get meals...until Christina let me know that they serve pretzel dogs. Hot dogs are meals (barely), pretzel dogs are hot dogs, ergo Auntie Anne's serves meals. If it serves meals and it has seating, it's a restaurant. Not much of a restaurant, but on the same level as the late, not-so-great Dairy Queen/Orange Julius combo across the food court.

Anyway, I don't think you should get pretzel dogs here. Get hot dogs at Five Guys or get something else at Yamon! or Wesley's.

Two restaurants to go!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Books: 2014 in Review

When I went over the books I read in 2015, I noticed that I had forgotten to review 2014. But it's a review, so it's not too late!

Looking back, it was a pretty good year -- 4 5-star novels! -- but a lot of tiresome short fiction. Maybe I should stay out of the Hugo voting business.

Anne Leckie (4)

Brandon Sanderson (3)

Aliette de Bodard (2)

Steven Brust (2)

Lester del Rey (2)

Max Gladstone (2)

  • Three Parts Dead 4 stars
  • Two Serpents Rise 4 stars

Benjanun Sriduangkaew (2)

Saladin Ahmed (1)

  • Engraved on the Eye 3 stars

 Louis Bates Ames (1)

 Ray Bradbury (1)

 Lois McMaster Bujold (1)

  • Diplomatic Immunity 4 stars

Ted Chiang (1)

  • The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling 4 stars "The future story is really affecting, and the past story is thought-provoking."

John Chu (1)

Vox Day (1)

L. Sprauge De Camp (1)

Samuel R. Delaney (1)

Andy Duncan (1)

Adele Faber (1)

  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk 4 stars

Neil Gaiman (1)

Daniel Gray (1)

Thomas Olde Heuvelt (1)

  • The Ink Readers of Doi Saket 2 stars

Iain Hyslop (1)

Mary Robinette Kowal (1)

Ursula K. Le Guin (1)

Michael Lewis (1)

George R.R. Martin (1)

  • The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones 4 stars

Jack McDevitt (1)

Richard K. Morgan (1)

Sofia Samatar (1)

  • A Stranger in Olondria 3 stars

Veronica Schanoes (1)

Kenneth Schneyer (1)

Lawrence M. Schoen (1)

Ellen Shaw (1)

  • Keep Kids Safe: A Parent's Guide to Child Safety

Allen Steele (1)

  • V-S Day: A Novel of Alternate History 4 stars

Charles Stross (1)

Brad R. Torgerson (1)

  • The Chaplain's Legacy 2 stars

Catherynne M. Valente (1)

  • Six-Gun Snow White 2 stars

David Weber (1)

Andy Weir (1)

  • The Martian 5 stars

Dan Wells (1)

  • The Butcher of Khardov 2 stars 

Ben H. Winters (1)

  • World of Trouble 5 stars

Friday, January 15, 2016

Bowie Restaurant Project: (93) Tamo Smoothies

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Tamo Smoothies,
3878 Town Center Blvd.,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 1/12/2016
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

My review is based on the food here, not the smoothies. Which is good, because I don't know how to review smoothies. They taste really good, and they are really expensive. But that's true of all smoothies as far as I can tell. Also, they give me an ice cream headache, but I don't think that belongs in my review.

So the food is fairly minimal -- tuna salad, chicken salad or shrimp salad, with the option to get each on a croissant (which I did). It's pretty good, and the serving size is generous. But, honestly, this is barely a restaurant, and the 2.5 stars reflects that.

Three restaurants left to go!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Stay-At-Home Bowl Update: And Then There Were Five

After last weekend's Wild Card action, there are five teams alive in the 2015 Stay-At-Home Bowl. With four teams left alive in each conference, there are sixteen possible Super Bowl matchups. Only four give us a Stay-At-Home Bowl winner, but one would give us our first triple winner, and another the rare double winner.
  • Chicago wins with a Kansas City-Green Bay Super Bowl.
  • Cincinnati wins with either Kansas City-Seattle or Pittsburgh-Seattle.
  • Denver wins with either Kansas City-Green Bay or New England-Green Bay.
  • Green Bay wins with Kansas City-Seattle.
  • Minnesota wins with Kansas City-Green Bay.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Geocaching: Two More Minutes, One More County

This past weekend, I had an errand in Baltimore County, and I realized I had a chance to add it to my list of Maryland counties in which I've cached. I was meeting Ben, who agreed to join me for the nearby excursion to an Earthcache. This particular Earthcache was at Greenspring Quarry, which I learned is the deepest body of water in Maryland. Cool. So that's my 11th county. The other counties are a bit farther, though honestly the Eastern Shore is closer than I think.

It's also at Minute 41 of 76 degrees West, so that's my 15th minute of that challenge. And it's Minute 23 of 39 North, so that's my 14th minute for that degree.

It's my first find of 2016. How did 2015 turn out? Well, just like the previous six years, I found between one and three caches. Not exactly burning up the trails, but at least it isn't zero.

This find reminded me of why I usually prefer Earthcaches and other "virtual" caches. In gathering one piece of information, I noticed that there was a physical cache nearby. I thought it would be easy to add to my total, but there was a photographer camped out right on top of where it had to be. I really didn't want to bother him, so, well, at least I found the one I was looking for.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Books: 2015 in Review

I wrote a couple of years ago about the books I read in 2013. I liked it enough that I wanted to do it again. (Apparently, I didn't like it enough to remember to do it for 2014, though.)

For 2013, I said, "The total is more impressive than it should be, because Goodreads allows you to review many pieces of short fiction, especially those nominated for awards. Since I voted on the Hugo awards this year, I read a lot of that type of work." Well, in 2015, there was an annoying controversy that caused me to skip voting on the Hugo awards. Instead, my total was padded by starting to read graphic novels, which are quicker reads.

Again, I will list them by author and quote from/link to my Goodreads reviews, when I wrote them.

Brian Michael Bendis (7)

G. Willow Wilson (4)

Ursula K. Le Guin (3)

Lev Grossman (2)

  • The Magicians 3 stars
  • The Magician King 2 stars

Mark Millar (2)

Ryan North (2)

Brandon Sanderson (2)

Charles Soule (2)

Jason Aaron (1) 

  • Thor, Vol. 1: The Goddess of Thunder 3 stars

Katherine Addison (1)

 Louis Ames Bates (1)

  • Your Five-Year-Old: Sunny and Serene 3 stars

Katherine Mary Barrow (1)

 Robert Bennett Jackson (1)

Lois McMaster Bujold (1)

  • Cryoburn 4 stars

Delilah S. Dawson (1)

Conrad Glass (1)

Rachel Hartman (1)

Kevin Hearne (1)

  • Heir to the Jedi 3 stars "Meh."

Ann Leckie (1)

  • Ancillary Mercy 3 stars

Laura Markham (1)

  • Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting 4 stars

George R. R. Martin (1)

  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms 5 stars

Jack McDevitt (1)

  • The Hercules Text 3 stars

Naomi Novik (1)

M. Rickert (1)

  • The Mothers of Voorhisville 3 stars

Kim Stanley Robinson (1)

John Scalzi (1)

Neal Stephenson (1)

  • Seveneves 2 stars 

Jeff VanderMeer (1)

Chuck Wendig (1)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bowie Restaurant Project: (92) America's Best Wings (Collington Plaza)

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

America's Best Wings,
3440 Crain Hwy,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 1/4/2016
Total Foursquare Check-ins:1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It's an America's Best Wings! Don't we already have one of those in Bowie? Yes, we do. And I've dubbed them "Bowie's Best Wings," so I don't know how to feel about the addition of a second location. On the one hand, more of a good thing is good. On the other, does it make the "original" location less exciting? I think "more of a good thing" is the correct reaction. And, hey, did I only give it 3.5 stars? That doesn't match up with how often I've been visiting it. Let's upgrade it to four!

So is this location more of the same? Yes and no. It's the same basic thing, but there were some menu differences. They don't have a "medium" wing flavor (they directed me to "mild" as the same thing). They don't charge 50 cents per refill on sodas (probably because they're not in walking distance from Bowie High). And they have a kids' menu. (My kids got along fine at the other location, however.) I'll declare it an upgrade.

The service, however, seemed more brusque. The servers at the other location had been very nice. Here, when I asked whether my wings came with blue cheese (I knew they did, but it wasn't offered to me), the guy said, "I give you one."

So...I think your choice of location is determined by where you are in Bowie, but I'll stick with the Free State location as my favorite.

Still four reviews to go!

Bowie Restaurant News

Uno Chicago Grill is now closed.

The Bowie Marketplace is coming along. I think the Firehouse Subs, Chick-fil-A and Chipotle had been announced, but this is the first I've heard of the MOD Pizza.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

2015 Stay-At-Home Bowl Preview

Welcome to the Android's Dungeon first ever Stay-At-Home Bowl preview. Let me start by reminding you what the Stay-At-Home Bowl is. It's awarded to the team or teams who defeat both Super Bowl participants. Needless to say, some years the award is vacant.
The Chiefs rode a 10-game win streak to an 11-5 record and the playoffs, so we are now at 11 of 18 Stay-At-Home winners making it to the playoffs.

But before the playoffs start this year, which teams are eligible? And which teams should be considered favorites?

The way I am thinking about this is that there are 36 possible Super Bowl matchups at this point, since there are 6 teams left in each conference. Let's consider the total number of possible Super Bowl matchups that will make each team a "winner."

Under this scenario, Denver is the favorite, given that they are the only team to defeat multiple playoff teams from both conferences. They win the title if the Super Bowl matchup is Green Bay-Cincinnati, Green Bay-Kansas City, Green Bay-New England, Minnesota-Cincinnati, Minnesota-Kansas City or Minnesota-New England.

Three teams have three possibilities: Arizona, Carolina and New England.

Five teams have two possibilities: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Miami and Minnesota.

Three teams have one possibility: Chicago, the Jets and Seattle.

So only four out of the twelve teams in contention didn't make the playoffs: Atlanta, Miami, Chicago and the Jets.

Conversely, only four of the twelve playoff teams aren't in contention: Houston, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Washington. (Washington is the only playoff team not to have defeated any other playoff team.)

While on three previous occasions we have had double winners (1980, 2000, 2008), we have never had triple winners. A Washington-Houston Super Bowl would guarantee a quadruple winner, as both teams lost to Atlanta, Carolina, Miami and New England. A Kansas City-Green Bay Super Bowl would produce a triple winner, with Chicago, Denver and Minnesota sharing the title.

Having either Denver or Arizona in the Super Bowl would mean zero winners, since neither team lost to a team which also beat a playoff team from the other conference. In fact, no team beat top 2 seeds from both conferences, so one of the 3-6 seeds would need to make it through on at least one side to ensure a winner.

Winners are possible with 16 of the 36 potential Super Bowls. After this weekend, the number of possible Super Bowls will drop to 16, so the field will be narrowed considerably. I'll try to update you when that happens.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Travelers' Century Club: Not at this Rate

A little over five years ago, I noted that I had made it up to 31 countries visited. Here "country" is a very loose term, but I am using the list maintained by the Travelers' Century Club, an organization open to those who hit 100. Since then, I have more countries. So I'm still at 31. What to do? Maybe visit more countries, yes, but in the mean time, let's make some graphs.

Above you can see the rapid growth I had in countries visited in the last decade, and the leveling off since. Below, you can see my countries/year. I start just before I add my third country (Canada) in 1987, or else it would look pretty silly (my average of 2 countries/year for my first year was hard to keep up with).