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Bicycling Trip in Africa: Part 2

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Since October 2009, I've been tracking my bicycling distance on Google Maps as if I were riding my bike around the world. So far I've ridden across four continents, and am halfway done with the fifth:

North America: Durham to Alaska, 10/8/09 - 2/21/12, 4,629 miles
Australia: Sydney to Perth, 2/23/12 - 4/27/13, 2,473 miles
Asia, Part 1: Singapore to New Delhi, 5/21/13 - 1/3/15, 3,902 miles
Asia, Part 2: New Delhi to Istanbul, 1/3/15 - 7/26/16, 3,586 miles
Europe: Istanbul to Tarifa, 7/26/16 - 8/28/17, 2,576 miles
Africa, Part 1: Tangier to Lagos, 8/30/17 - 5/27/19, 4,049 miles
Africa, Part 2: Lagos to Cape Town, 4,551 miles
South America, Part 1: Ushuaia to Iquique, approx 3,200 miles
South America, Part 2: Iquique to Turbo, approx 3,000 miles
North America return: Yaviza to Durham, approx 4,200 miles

That's 21,049 miles completed so far, with about 15,000 miles remaining. If I keep my pace up, my fake circumnavigation of the world will be finished in ano…

Youth Soccer

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As has been mentioned previously (probably...when was the last time I posted here?), Bruce loves sports, especially soccer. We have two soccer nets in the backyard, and over the course of the summer, we collectively killed at least 90% of the grass in our backyard.


(This was taken at the beginning of the summer. All that grass you see in the picture? It's gone.)

Bruce's old day care had a program called Soccer Shots that you could pay into and give your child a little extra soccer-focused fun once a week. We took advantage of that, but Bruce is now in Kindergarten, where there is no such thing. So we signed him up for a youth soccer program instead, through the closest YMCA to our house. It was a 7 week league and it just ended last weekend.

When I signed Bruce up, one of the questions was something like, "How much experience does your child have with soccer?" The options were Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. I guess they were just trying to balance the teams. I …

Bar Harbor Trip

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Amber and I are fall foliage dorks, and we make it a point to travel somewhere with mountains and/or fall foliage in the fall every year. Late September / Early October vacations - it's one of the main perks of having kids in year-round schools! How far we go depends on time and money. Sometimes we just go somewhere relatively close - the mountains in North Carolina, Virginia, or West Virginia. Sometimes we go farther, to northern New England or Canada. This year we went to Maine. It was the only state east of the Mississippi that the kids had yet to visit, so it seemed like a logical place to go. I had been to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park - Maine's #1 travel destination, probably - once before, 27 years ago as a spry 10-year-old. Amber had never been at all. Let's do it!

Coastal Maine

We stayed in an Airbnb in the woods - not deep in the woods, but on a gravel road in a rural area - about 45 minutes from Bar Harbor, on the mainland. Having accommodations with separa…

School Closure Statistics

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I thought the long Labor Day weekend was a good time to start a new project, especially with Hurricane Dorian approaching. Since our kids started attending school, I've been obsessed with tracking when schools close for weather. Disruption of school schedules - and therefore child care - is normally the #1 impact we personally see from any winter weather event or hurricane. Maybe power will be out for a bit, but school closings can last for days! I like to be prepared, plan ahead, and try to know ahead of time when to expect schools to be closed, and for long. Best way to do that is to gather data and look at the trends.

For instance, here are the stats for Durham Public Schools going back to the 2013-14 school year:



(That includes closures and delays for weather only, not for things like organized teacher protests.)

That's just one county and school district, of course. I'm particularly fascinated in how the closure decisions are made in different areas. For any weather e…

High School Football

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Last week, Bruce asked me if we could go to a football game that weekend. I'm definitely not shelling out the big bucks to take the kids to see the local major college football teams - except for Duke, because their tickets are very affordable, but they were away last weekend - so instead I figured I'd take him to a high school game instead. But which one? Thirteen years of living here and I have paid basically zero attention to the local high school football scene.

First, a little research. Who are the good local high school teams? A quick glance at some state-wide rankings, and it looks like the top local teams are Wake Forest, Cardinal Gibbons, and Leesville Road. Alright, so we are definitely not going to their stadiums. I'm not looking for an ultra competitive atmosphere where the fans care an awful lot. But I don't want to go to a smaller school that has zero atmosphere, either. I considered going to a Carrboro game based on their logo, but Carrboro is in a muc…

Curling Night in America 2019: Preview

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I'm going to take a guess and say that if you clicked on this link, you are probably a fan of curling and already know what "Curling Night In America" is. But in case you don't...here are the basics. It's a curling tournament organized by NBCSN and USA Curling, taped in August (usually), and broadcast over a 9-week period in Winter. The idea is to provide NBCSN with regular curling programming in the Winter. This is a relatively inexpensive way to do it: Invite the USA's top teams and a few other teams from other countries, hold lots of games over a short period of time (three days in this case), and then, boom - you've already got 9 weeks of curling programming ready to air. It's way cheaper and more practical than traveling to this tournament or that tournament throughout the curling season and broadcasting the occasional USA-featured game from those events live. Well, they could just buy the rights to the Canadian productions of Grand Slams that fe…

Buc-ee's

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Last summer, we drove through Texas on our way to Arizona. Along the way, we passed by this monstrosity. I had never seen so many gas pumps in one place.



I didn't recognize the logo or anything about this place, but it seemed like something I should know. After all, they didn't put their name on that giant sign. Just the logo. As if to say, "we're such a big deal, we don't need to put our name on the sign". Afterwards I did some research: This place is called Buc-ee's, they are only in Texas (at least they were at the time), and we should have definitely stopped there. We did not see another one the rest of the trip.

Fast forward: one year later, I'm on a business trip to Dallas. All of the people I talked to there agreed, there is not much to do in Dallas. There are some museums downtown, but the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is basically a hot wasteland of concrete. So on one of my evenings there, I rented a car and drove as far south and west from D…