Sunday, July 28, 2013

Drum Corps 2013 Season, Scores

Today DCI's Southeast Regional Championship takes place in Atlanta. As normal, with two more weeks to go in the season, the placements of how 21 of the Corps will finish is playing out more or less as expected. They are falling in line with the predictions that took place prior to the first performances of the season.

The Southwestern Championship again solidifies wha will be the final placements. A few Corps may improve their placement by a placement or two, but for the most part where Corps finish at the Championship will mirror what occurs in Indianapolis three weeks later. Atlanta and Allentown will set up the drama and hint of the drama the judges have in store for the semi-finals and finals.

Baring a surprise in Atlanta the judges set a week ago the twelve finalists. Unlike most years, in 2013 there will not be the normal battle for 12th coming out of the Eastern Championship. The Blue Stars will return to the finals, and likely be in 11th. The placements within the top 15 are set.

The only questions outstanding are,
      - will the judges concede that Blue Devils do not have a championship calibre show as do Carolina Crown and the Cadets. Will the judges allow Crown to win? Expect DCI officiating to use Allentown to hint of the finals night drama. Do not expect BD to be third or even fourth, politically that cannot happen. The DCI script is designed for Crown to overtake BD on finals night to win their first championship, leaving Cadets third and with Vanguards on their heals in 4th.
      - will the judges move the Cavaliers who have their third poor show in a row, allow this G7 Corps to finish below 7th? They should be 9th or 10th but politically a predestined G7 cannot fall that low without is undermining the claims and plans of the powerful G7 to have their special tour and events.
      - will Boston Crusaders or Blue Knights be 9th leaving the 10th to the other.

I'm not enamored by DCI scoring, haven't been for many years. It is too predicable and is therefore suspect. If DCI's scoring was the stock market, the market would more or less be flat every day for a decade. DCI leadership and the top Corps claim that scoring is strictly objective and their objectivity negates subjectivity that creates score fluctuations. Ah, but either explanation overlooks that humans are not machines that do much the same again and again and again. Inconsistency of human behavior is a factor that by its nature creates randomness. The human element does not lead to predictability and provides a significant degree of randomness that is not evidenced in DCI scores.

Sports teams and other musical groups do not perform consistently night to night. Because of the human variable a top team can be beaten by a bottom team. I cannot agree that every Corps is on every night in the same manner as the scores would suggest. One night a stronger Corps could be less focused and another who is a lower very sharp, meaning the one should drop, and the other rise, but this is not evidenced in the scoring. Also, where one judge focuses on a given night will be the same as a judge the next night viewing the same element and Corps.  One will see some mistakes or issues that another does not...again causing a higher or lower evaluation than another judge. As what they noticed varies from judge to judge, and night to night, this would add to some score fluctuations and placements. Lack of such placement fluctuations is highly suspect.

That little placement and scoring fluctuations undermines DCI's claims of impartiality and objectivity. They are arguing against in the real world human experience, where human consistency does not occur in their scoring suggests every year. To put it another way, the predictability of DCI scoring is like watching a pitcher who averages a strike out per inning getting from the umpires exactly that, a strikeout every single inning, and a batter who hits .250, always get a hit every 4 times at bat.

DCI is not unlike the state of world figure skating of the 70s through the 90s, an enjoyable entertaining activity to watch, but as the scoring is too political, to scripted, and has to be ignored.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review of Collapsable Water Hoses

After 14 years of use, by RV hose was starting to show the burden of years of service. It was relegated to deep storage as a backup as I purchased a set of collapsable water hoses. These are the hoses that when the water is turned off shrink to a fraction of their size. For RVs where storage is limited and folding 25ft stiff hoses can be bothersome, I thought these collapsible hoses are just the thing for RVs to use to connect to city water systems. After my experience using the hose, I cannot recommend them. They are not a good investment.

The hose connected nicely enough. It expanded when filed with water. It collapsed as promised when the water was turned off. It fold up nicely for storage, taking little storage space. The issue is durability. Simply put this hose didn't last is a 100 meter sprinter that does not have the endurance to run even a kilometer.

Our recent RV trip last nine days over three different campgrounds. We deployed the hose in three campgrounds. On the eighth day the hose leaked in multiple places across a three foot section at such a rate the no water was coming out the other end. At most the hose was in service for 152 hours before its lining ruptured.

Utilization in an RV, it does not hold up to the demands. While it may last a little longer in a house deployment where you water the garden and lawn for a few hours at a time several times a week, 200 hours would mean it may last two season, and possibly part of a third.

I'm sticking to the standard rubber and plastic hoses.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Driving a Hybrid

For three weeks I’ve been enjoying driving a Toyota Camry Hybrid that has the right plates. By the right plates I mean, that it has the Virginia’s “Clean Special Plates” which qualify me to drive in the I-66 HOV lanes without the second person. Being able to drive I-66 inside the beltway during the morning and afternoon is commuting my drive to and from the office by a third to a half. The other day it took me 19 minutes to get to the office.

I love how far it stretches a gallon of gas. So far the mileage is just over 38 mpg to just under 40, which gives me a driving range of about 530 miles. One of my goals is to achieve an average of 40.2 mpg over at least 400 miles. By watching the data feedback I suspect that I may well achieve that goal, as well has surpassing the 550 mile driving range.

The first thought many people have about a hybrid is that it lacks power. For every day driving I have not lacked the power I’ve needed. The pick-up is a little slower, but not unduly so, particularly when one is already at cruising speed. If the vehicle was well loaded with passengers or heavy boxes and it was going up a steep hill, I could have a different view of its power at that moment. Due to the batteries the trunk is clearly small, but that is not a significant concern for me.

With a standard 21st century vehicle, when we start the car we rarely have our foot on the gas and therefore we do not feel the engine start. But for a hybrid on feels the engine starting as one moves from running on battery alone to gas. As the engine shuts down whenever one comes to a stop, such as at lights, stop signs, in traffic, one frequently feels the engine start and while at times it feels like the engine is hesitating and about to stall, it is not about to stall. For some feeling the engine start could be unnerving, but I do not find it so.

Today I learned another little thing about my hybrid, is to make sure that the gas cap is tightly closed. On the last fill I did not turn the cap fully closed. Apparently if it is not tightly closed the pressure in the tank is lost which will impact mileage and the check engine light will glare. Fortunately the Toyota dealer did not charge me for the lesson.

Overall, I love driving the hybrid and would buy one.