# How I picked my bracket

My March Madness bracket fails too early too frequently. After hearing about Nick Dopuch’s CoinFlipBets as a way to determine which teams would win football games, I decided to try my hand at creating a bracket with random selections.

Flipping a coin 63 times isn’t difficult. However, it is error-prone, as it may depend on if you start the coin as heads-up or tails-up and other issues.

So I used the =rand() function in Excel.

The drawback of =rand() is that every time Excel does anything afterward, the cells that contain =rand() produce a new random number.

I decided to run all 63 at once and then copy and paste values.

Because these operations made me lose the first number, I jotted that one down.

I then made an A or B formula where if the random number is great than 0.5 on the 0-to-1 range, show a B; otherwise show an A.

A’s represented the team written physically above its opponent in the bracket. The B’s represented the team written physically below its opponent in the bracket.

The random A or B would determine how I would mark my bracket.

For the championship game between 15 Iona and 8 Loyola Chicago, I divined Loyola Chicago’s score of 72 over Iona’s 68.

As of Friday afternoon, this hasn’t worked perfectly. But there’s a ton of basketball left to play!

# More on the Cabooses in Cle Elum

In Thursday’s Spelling Bee post I wrote about the the cabooses in Cle Elum, Washington.

I decided to try to see if the cabooses are still there. I couldn’t imagine that they weren’t there, but it’s been about six years, and I was hoping that there would be more. Especially because the Cascade Rail Foundation states that they intend to acquire more rolling stock as it becomes available.

I looked at Google Maps and finally found the cluster of cabooses that are behind me in those pictures. In December of 2014, I had tried the doors of these cabooses with the hopes that I would get to see inside. I had been in a caboose as a child, and it was pretty cool.

I also learned that cabooses are shaped the way they are so those riding in the caboose can see the entire train in when there’s a curve in the track.

But back to these cabooses in the Cascades.

The stairs leading to the platforms next to the doors led me to believe that they were preserved or restored cabooses. I had wanted to look inside, but the doors were locked. Figuring it was a museum that likely operated only in summer months, I was content to observe them from the outside, but that didn’t stop me from try the doors.

But on Friday I saw that the there were photos on google maps of not just the outsides of the cabooses but also dots that were inside them! So I finally got a tour!

But it wasn’t at all what I’d expected.

I saw newer-looking beds with clean bedspreads. I saw television sets. I saw minifridges.

As I progressed through the first caboose, I realized that these were not true-to-the-era caboose interiors but hotel rooms!

I hadn’t been trying the doors of the temporary homes of people! And they most certainly rent those out in December.

My initial horror has turned into glee, and I’m proud to share this story. It’s one of those that gets the response: “Oh, man. Classic Matt.”

# NYT Spelling Bee 9-13-20 final

I crossed the plane with TUTTI.

That reminds me of a story from college:

My college roommate Darren and I were walking from our dorm to the dining commons across campus for late night food, as that was the only one open for a meal close to midnight.

As we walked on the path past the lagoon on the UCSB campus, Darren seemingly out of nowhere said, “Tutti frutti.”

This seemed out of character because I had not heard Darren say that before, talkative as he might be.

I asked for clarification. He gestured to a cardboard box.

“Tutti Frutti,” he repeated.

“Oh,” I said, having only then seen the packages label.

To our disappointment, the box was empty. But we continued on to dine on soft serve, grilled cheese, fries, etc.

That led to our investigation into the name of the flavor. It was brief. It just means all fruits.

Final score: 25 words for 117 points.

Next puzzle starts in a minute.

# NYT Spelling Bee 9-13-20

That TAURI isn’t an acceptable word is a lot of bulls!

With ULTRA in there, it would seem like possibilities are endless. But they’re not.

I’m at 20 words for 104 points.

The smoke from the fires is getting to me. My eyes hurt. My head aches. I gotta power through this one, but it’s so much tougher than it should be.

# NYT Spelling Bee 9-6-20 final

So much angry at this one. Normal words omitted and countries, demonyms, and languages galore.

Really frustrating was that they rejected ALII and ALIA.

Ineligible proper nouns included: LATIN, LATINA, ITALY, ITALIAN, ALBANIA, ALBANIAN, ATLANTA, ATLANTAN, BALI, LIBYA, LIBYAN.

Final score: 39 words for 171 points.

# NYT Spelling Bee 9-6-20

How is this one so hard? Oh yeah! Because words don’t mean anything when we’re talking about the NYT Spelling Bee.

BITTY no dice

ITTYBITTY forget it

NITTY is a lousy omission.

NIBBLY for anything to work, but this word doesn’t.

# Termites! Termites! Termites in LA!

I’ve seen them flying around today in Los Angeles. I know they usually litter my sukkah, but I don’t remember them this early.

If this turns out to be a daily thing, I’ll keep this topic alive, but I really, really hope it goes away.

Has anyone else seen the termites around?

# NYT Spelling Bee 9-5-20

Wow what a stupid-easy puzzle. With this mix of letters, it shouldn’t be too hard to get all the way there, but I’m a few points away after like 10 minutes into it. They really have got to figure out September.

# NYT Spelling Bee 8-29-20 final

I got there. My final word was NANNY. New puzzle starts shortly but at least this one is done.

I don’t really care for puzzles like today’s. I mean 18 words for 85 points? There’s so much wasted space. I think I Prefer puzzles where it’s like 37 words for 134 points.

What will we get tomorrow?!

# NYT Spelling Bee 8-29-20

Yikes this one is tough. With a Y in the middle and no L.

I’m at 15 words for 70 points, but I can’t believe they’re a refusing to accept NITTY! That is a lousy thing to do.

I’m not too far off, so I’ll post an update later because I think I’ll get there.