Thank you!

Thanks to those who visited this blog in September, it was the most-visited month on record  . . . by far. Driven by the tens of thousands of people who clicked through to read about the stand for faith taken by Oneida High School’s cheerleading squad, this month more than doubled the next highest month on record. 

Florida: The biggest game of the Butch Jones era

BynuWpoIMAEMfEC

It’s officially Gator Hater week in East Tennessee.

Except, this year, Gator Hater week is true to its name. For most of the last decade, this week — which traditionally has fallen in the third week of September before being moved to October this season — could have been more aptly called Preparing for a Butt-Kicking week. But for perhaps the first time since Urban Meyer arrived on the scene in Gainesville nine years ago, Tennessee fans can legitimately walk into Saturday’s game against Florida at Neyland Stadium with a little swagger, with a bonafide expectation that their team will emerge victorious from the SEC East’s most bitter rivalry.

Entering the season, most Tennessee fans felt the Vols would be 2-2 after the first four games of the season, with wins over Utah State and Arkansas State and losses to Oklahoma and Georgia. That’s exactly where UT sits. Yet, polled today, most Tennessee fans would be more confident than they were at the first of the season.

Why? Much of it is the way the Vols have played in defeat. The 34-10 outcome in Norman earlier this month wasn’t close on paper, but Tennessee fought to the end. A pick-six in the fourth quarter made the game appear much more lopsided than it actually was, and UT fans will quickly point to three or four other plays that would have made the game even closer had the outcome been different.

Still, one never really got the feeling that Tennessee could seriously threaten the Sooners while watching that Sept. 13 game on ABC. This past Saturday, when the Vols came up on the short end of a 35-32 score against Georgia, the feeling was different. Against the Dawgs, Tennessee could have won…maybe should have won. In the end, Tennessee had two costly fumbles — one in the end zone for a Georgia touchdown, the other in the red zone to negate at least a field goal opportunity — that determined the outcome. But, even still, Tennessee’s coaches, players and fans alike will long wonder just what the outcome might have been if quarterback Justin Worley hadn’t missed most of the third quarter with an elbow injury.

What has been consistent during the two losses since Tennessee last played at home has been the play of the Vols’ defense and youngsters. More than a few Tennessee fans — including yours truly — wondered out loud during the off-season whether Jon Jancek might be the weak link in Tennessee’s coaching staff. Instead, the second year defensive coordinator is making a strong case for himself as one of the SEC’s best. With an infusion of young talent — Derek Barnett is one of the league’s best defensive linemen as a true freshman and Todd Kelly Jr. is coming on strong in the secondary, to name but a couple — the Vols are a completely different team on defense. 

After being pummeled by opposing offenses in 2013, Tennessee’s defense is currently first in the nation on third down, allowing their opponents to convert just 20 percent of their third down tries. That stat is especially impressive when you pause to consider that the Vols have played the current No. 5 team and the current No. 13 team, both on the road, along with two mid-major teams that are fairly decent, as mid-major teams go.

Worley, meanwhile, continues to make a name for himself as one of the gutsiest signal-callers in Tennessee football history. More and more Vols fans are drawing comparisons with Andy Kelly, who led a supremely talented Tennessee team to a pair of SEC championships as the 1980s turned to the ’90s. And consider this: Worley played with gritty success against Oklahoma and Georgia despite being without two of his top three targets. Von Pearson showed against Utah State and against Arkansas State before going down with an ankle sprain that he’s not far behind Marquez North in his ability to make big plays, and Josh Smith might be the most underrated receiver in the SEC, the only Tennessee receiver who can get open consistently.

Of course, it isn’t fair to cherry-pick the good without also mentioning the bad: Tennessee’s running game leaves plenty to be desired, despite the breakout freshman campaign that Jalen Hurd is putting together. And the Vols’ offensive line is giving up way too much. Without some rapid improvement, it’s not hard to envision a scenario in which Worley fails to make it to the end of the season due to injury. It almost happened against Georgia, after all. And, let’s be honest: Florida’s defensive front is much better than Georgia’s.

Still, forgive Tennessee fans for being optimistic. They’ve watched the youngest team in the SEC play with a swagger that has been missing for a long time. As one UT alumnus messaged me today, “They may be young and they may get out-manned and even make mistakes, but by gosh they will fight!” 

That’s why, heading into Saturday’s game against the hated Gators, Tennessee fans are chomping at the bit. Butch Jones already has his first “signature” win at Tennessee; that came against No. 11 South Carolina last October. But that Tennessee team still failed to make a bowl game, going on to get boat-raced in most of their remaining SEC games before losing to Vanderbilt on a bitterly cold night at Neyland Stadium. 

A win over Florida this weekend, on the other hand, could be the catalyst for this program’s return to its SEC glory days. This program and its fans are desperate for a big win over any high-caliber team . . . and Florida, a long-time and bitter rival, would be the perfect opportunity. As one fan posted on a message board today, “If we don’t beat UF this weekend I will be devastated. I’m desperate for a win over UF.” 

Of course any SEC football historian can point to at least a half-dozen reasons why Tennessee fans shouldn’t be counting chickens before they’ve hatched. Start with 2012, which was supposed to be when Derek Dooley’s UT team finally turned the corner. Then 2006, when the Vols had just finished boat-racing Cal and were yearning to reassert themselves as the SEC’s most dominant team. Then 2002. Then 1999. Then 1997. Then 1996, or 1995. Historically, when Tennessee has seemed to have an edge on Florida, the Gators have proven to have the Vols’ number.

But all those disappointments just make Tennessee fans want this one Saturday all the more.

That’s why Neyland Stadium is likely to be the loudest stadium in the SEC — perhaps the country — on Saturday afternoon. With Florida and Tennessee both down, this game has lost its luster and was passed over by CBS, ESPN (and ESPN’s SEC Network) for prime spots, winding up stuck in the noon position. Noon games aren’t conducive to loud stadiums, contrasted with night games that have given fans an entire day to get lathered up. But this one will be different. A couple of enterprising fans have undertaken an effort to transform Neyland Stadium into a giant checkerboard in a move that has been endorsed by the athletic department (you can see the Photoshop rendition of what it might look like above), the weather should be perfect (rain moving out late Friday with highs hovering near 70 degrees on Saturday), and Florida will be greeted by 102,000-plus fans making a constant roar that wells up from somewhere in the pits of their stomach in a desperate attempt to will their team to victory.

And if the Vols should win? This fan base has a lot of pent-up frustration waiting to be unleashed. Is a win over an unranked Florida team bigger than a win over Steve Spurrier’s Gators? I say yes. And, unlike 2012, when Florida visited Neyland for a night game during Derek Dooley’s final season in Knoxville, fans are expecting not merely hoping for a win. 

Obviously it should be pointed out that Florida, which opened as a one-point favorite in Vegas (the Vols are currently a 1-2 point favorite, depending on which service you subscribe to), has a talent advantage at almost every position over the field. The Gators actually looked outstanding against a directional Michigan team to open the season, and didn’t play at all poorly against Alabama until the second half, when Lane Kiffin’s offense (yes, I held my nose when I typed that) wore down the Gator defense. 

But two areas where the Vols seem to have an advantage are desire and coaching. Lose this game, my friends in Florida say, and Will Muschamp might as well pack his bags and put his Gainesville home on the market. Butch Jones, on the other hand, is so revered in Tennessee that some orange-clad fans are already starting to turn a nervous eye toward Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines’ Brady Hoke is planted firmly in the hot seat (Jones is a native of Michigan). 

As for desire, there’s no doubt that Florida wants this game. Bad. Not only do they want it for their coach, but a win against Tennessee keeps the Gators very much alive in the hunt for the SEC East championship. But if 102,000 checkered Tennessee fans have anything to do with it, Saturday’s game will be a wakeup call for the rest of the nation: Here comes Butch Jones and a stable full of talented freshmen…get out of the way, or get run over.

How important is this game? Lose this one and Tennessee can still make it to a bowl game in 2014, though the road will begin to get rough. There’s still another Top 10 recruiting class headed to Knoxville in February, and the program is still moving in the right direction. But win it, and Jones will fully unite this fan base behind him, sending a message to the rest of the SEC that the circa-2005 Tennessee program is already back…and here to stay.

UT at Georgia: 10 points

1.) Did you ever think we would talk about 2015 and say, “Yeah, but we’re losing Worley…”? With so much young talent being infused into the program, 2015 is supposed to be the season that Tennessee once again becomes a serious contender in the SEC East. Now, all of a sudden, we’re facing the reality that we’re going to take a step back at the quarterback position in 2015. (P.S.: Thanks, Derek Dooley, for burning Worley’s redshirt so he could hand off in a single game in 2011. You’re the gift that keeps on giving.)

2.) I noted during the season opener against Utah State that the 2014 Justin Worley is night-and-day compared to the 2013 Justin Worley. And I was comfortable with the coaches’ statement that Worley was the Vols’ best option. But I feared he still couldn’t throw the ball down the field well enough to win SEC games. I stand corrected. Worley can do more than manage games…he can win games for Tennessee. At some point this season, Tennessee is going to win a game it isn’t supposed to win, and Justin Worley is going to be a big reason why. 

3.) If Justin Worley doesn’t get hurt and miss the third quarter, does Tennessee win? I say yes. The Vols’ defense was dialed in, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was being an idiot (if you have Todd Gurley in your backfield and Mason Hudson is your quarterback, why wouldn’t you hand off to Gurley until his legs fall off?), and Tennessee was in a good position to win. Every time your team loses, you start playing the ifs-and-buts game, but it’s a point worth pondering. 

4.) How many of us halfway expected that late fourth quarter fumble in the end zone? I did. Tennessee has been so beaten up over the last decade that you just sort of expect it. It’s like you’re sitting around waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today, it dropped. Last year, it dropped (Pig Howard’s fumble in overtime). Is Tennessee football cursed? Of course not. Reasonable folks know there’s no such thing as curses. But this program surely is building up a lot of positive karma.

5.) The offensive line was much improved against Georgia. There were plenty of breakdowns, but if the progression continues from week to week moving forward, this can be a serviceable offensive line by the end of the season.

6.) Jalen Hurd, the fumble in the end zone not withstanding, is a beast. Today he became the first UT true freshman running back to rush for 100 yards in a game since Jamal Lewis did it in the 1997 SEC Championship Game. That’s pretty good company. 

7.) Nate Peterman is not a serviceable quarterback. Look, I wanted him to earn redemption today. I wanted it for him badly. He was thrown into a tough situation at Florida last year. To be fair, he was also thrown into a rough situation today in Athens. And, to be fair, his offensive line wasn’t doing him many favors. Credit Georgia for pinning their ears back and coming after him, expecting him to crumple under pressure. They did and he did. His offensive coordinator didn’t do him many favors, either. But at this point, Tennessee’s hopes of competing in the SEC East in 2015 are going to depend on improvement from Josh Dobbs or a true freshman quarterback.

8.) Jason Croom finally began to play up to his potential. Croom had a rough first three games of the season, culminated by that should-have-been-touchdown that got away from him and turned into an interception at Oklahoma two weeks ago. He had a huge touchdown catch today and finished with four catches. Josh Malone also continues to make improvements. He got open plenty today. Unfortunately, he isn’t doing enough to help out his quarterback right now, so he still must get better.

9.) Butch Jones continues to not be shy about getting in the ear of officials. I’ve long maintained that SEC officiating leaves plenty to be desired, and I dare say Butch Jones agrees with me. We still don’t know exactly what drew the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of the first half, but Jones’ words to the referee were clear: “That was bullshit.” Jones was also very demonstrative after the Georgia fair catch at the five-yard-line in the third quarter. We do know what happened there, and it was a terrible no-call by the officials. Throw in a blown replay for a second consecutive week (Gurley’s touchdown that wasn’t really), and the officials had plenty of boneheaded moments. Obviously none of those plays made a difference in the game. Tennessee’s second half kickoff after the 15-yard penalty still backed Georgia up to its own 30. The fair catch penalty would’ve netted only 2.5 yards. And Gurley would have only been a couple inches shy of the touchdown, which would probably have come on the next play. 

10.) Ask yourself this: If Tennessee just went on the road and lost by a field goal to the No. 12 team in the nation despite being without its starting quarterback for a quarter, why can’t the Vols legitimately hope for an opportunity to represent the SEC East in Atlanta come December? I’m not saying it’s going to happen, because playing at a high level week-in and week-out in the SEC is a tough thing to do. I’m simply saying that the East is wide open this year. Who’s better than Georgia? A South Carolina team that has huge issues on defense? A Florida team that appears to be crumbling? A Missouri team that lost to Indiana? Let’s also point out the obvious: Tennessee won’t face a better back this year than Todd Gurley. (Of course, to be fair, Tennessee won’t face many quarterbacks as ineffective as Mason Hudson, so it balances itself somewhat.)

Tonight’s scores of interest

Scott 42, Union County 7: Last year, Union County jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, forcing Scott to play catchup all night. The Highlanders ultimately prevailed, 28-27, but it wasn’t easy. This year, Scott scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game and never looked back. It was 28-0 at halftime and 42-0 before Union County scored a garbage touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Alcoa 52, Heritage 35: In this inner-Blount County matchup, Alcoa’s lead was only three (38-35) at one point in the fourth quarter, but the Tornadoes scored the last two touchdowns of the game to make the final score look a little more lopsided than it actually was. Heritage gave Alcoa all it could handle. 

CAK 21, Grace Christian 7: It’s tough to get a handle on this Grace Christian team, which is the favorite to represent the east side of the state in the Class 2A state championship game. At times the Rams have looked “down” from the last couple of years. At other times, like last night’s game against CAK, they’ve looked beastly. This is a CAK team that some might consider down by CAK standards, but the Warriors did jump to a 41-0 lead over a solid Scott team last week before winning 41-21.

Catholic 38, Hardin Valley 0: Last week, Hardin Valley limited Maryville to 16 points and only lost by a couple of scores. The fact that Catholic dominated this game isn’t too surprising. This is, after all, the same Irish team that put 70 on the board against CAK earlier this season. If there’s a 4A team in the state that can challenge Fulton for the state championship, it’s Catholic. Those two teams appear to be on a quarterfinals collision course, and it should be a dandy.

Lenoir City 28, Kingston 21: The Yellow Jackets thought this would be an opportunity to earn their second win of the season, and it was nip-and-tuck the whole way. But Lenoir City scored last, breaking a 21-21 tie and earning the win.

Maryville 38, Sevier County 3: While Maryville entered tonight’s game as the No. 1 Class 6A team in the state, Sevier County was the No. 10 team in 6A. While no one expected an upset, most would have probably expected this game to be a little closer than it was.

Campbell County 42, Halls 7: Team Price bounced has bounced back nicely from an earlier setback against Anderson County. But tonight’s game was significant for what happened afterwards. A Campbell County player suffered an apparent concussion during the game. After the game, he reportedly collapsed, and was airlifted from the field. LaFollettePress.com has all the coverage.

Rockwood 48, Oakdale 0: Not many people thought Oakdale could spring an upset in this one, but probably very few thought it would be as lopsided as it was. Rockwood, which suffered an embarrassing 42-14 district loss to Meigs County last week, bounced back nicely and dominated this one from the outset. In the process, the Tigers ended the Eagles’ magical, 5-0 start to the season. There isn’t much time for Oakdale to lick its wounds, however. Next week, the Eagles have to head north to face an equally impressive Oneida team.

Sunbright 41, Midway 25: If you were waiting for Sunbright to wake up, it would appear that has happened. After three losses to start the season, the Tigers have won three straight. And while last week’s win over district foe Jellico was a pedestrian effort, tonight’s win over Midway was much more impressive. The Green Wave were undefeated coming into tonight’s game, although their only real test was a 38-28 win over Tellico Plains last week. Sunbright also defeated Tri-Cities Christian 47-22 two weeks ago. That might be considered a ho-hum affair, until you consider that TCC only lost to Cloudland by four (21-17) tonight. The Highlanders are undefeated and were on cruise control coming into tonight’s game against TCC, and ranked No. 2 in the state in the latest Associated Press poll for Class 1A. (Midway also dominated TCC earlier in the season.) 

Pickett County 41, Jellico 34: For the first time in Tennessee high school football history, a woman coached her team to a win tonight, as Pickett County defeated Jellico. Brittany Garner was named head coach at Pickett County two weeks ago, after the school fired its previous coach. Last week, Pickett County played Class 4A Stone Memorial tough, but came up short of the win. Garner is the first female head coach in Tennessee high school football history.

Other scores worth noting:
Anderson County 42, Powell 7
Clinton 35, Karns 17
Gatlinburg-Pittman 56, Cumberland Gap 7
Hampton 30, Johnson County 22
Harriman 40, Wartburg 0
Fulton 71, Central 7
DCA 21, Boyd Buchanan 6
Gallatin 27, Trousdale County 9
Watertown 32, Cannon County 12
York Institute 27, Cumberland County 6 

Brock’s unfortunate mishap

Plane crash

Tense moments at Scott County Airport (Oneida, Tenn.) this afternoon, when Stan Brock — former host of TV’s Wild Kingdom — had to make a quick landing after his engine failed and veered off the runway. His plane was totaled but the 78-year-old philanthropist was able to walk away unscathed.  Complete details here.

Oakdale’s dream season

oakdale

Oakdale High School’s football team thought they had a chance to be good in 2014. But nobody expected this.

The Eagles are the story of 2014 in Class 1A football as the season hits the halfway mark. The school — nestled in the tiny town of Oakdale (pop. 212) along the Morgan-Roane county line — is having a season that is truly historic. And the team has captivated a football audience that extends well beyond rural Morgan County.

When Oakdale began the season with wins over Sale Creek and Pickett County, that wasn’t too surprising; not even unexpected. But, in the third week of the season, the Eagles defeated Class 2A Oliver Springs. And they didn’t just beat them — they put 50 points on the board in a 50-27 victory over the Bobcats. After a mundane game against Middle Tennessee Christian, the Eagles returned to district play and demolished another Class 2A team, defeating Wartburg 38-12 last week.

At the midway point of the season, Oakdale is sitting undefeated at 5-0.

The last time Oakdale started a season 5-0? 1930. For perspective, 1930 was just about the time that many high schools in Tennessee were gearing up for football.

In other words, you have to go back to the very beginning to find the last time Oakdale started a season 5-0.

“Oakdale is definitely the feel-good story for the season,” says Morgan County sports magnate Brian Langley. “I’m tickled to death for that program.”

For many years, success in Oakdale was measured by whether the Eagles could get a mark in the win column with a win over a district opponent — usually the likes of Jellico. Some years, success in Oakdale was measured by whether the Eagles could even field enough players for a full 11-on-11 scrimmage in practice.

Not that there’s any shame in that. Oakdale is one of the tiniest high schools in the state, with an enrollment of just 181. It’s one of the 10 smallest schools that actually field a football team. The town of Oakdale consists of a couple of churches, a couple of stores, and not much else. A former railroad town that once saw its population swell to 2,500, Oakdale has been a ghost of its former self since the sounds of steam locomotives stopped echoing off the banks of the Emory River. There’s no easy way to get there; Highways 299 and 328 are both filled with curves and can become treacherous in the winter-time.

To say that this old railroad town is dying a slow death probably wouldn’t be unfair. Its population dropped from 244 at the 2000 Census to 212 at the 2010 Census. The entire town encompasses just nine-tenths of a square mile.

But there, on the banks of the Emory, are a group of people proud of their heritage and proud of their school. You see it in the gray-haired man whose loud roar fills the school’s tiny gym at basketball games. Mel Steinmetz has been leading the students in a chanting cheer (“Oak-Dale Eag-Les”) for years. He still has a nephew on the team.

You see it in Fred Snow, the dean of District 4-A women’s basketball coaches. Snow has won more basketball games than just about anyone can count, and he’s still at it. He’s at it during football seasons, too. Snow is a staple at the concession stand, manning the grill and serving up hamburgers that everyone calls “Fred Snow Burgers.” There are no fast-food restaurants in Oakdale, Tenn., but the concession stand serves up meals that are hard to beat.

This year, though, the Eagles have a few wins to go with all that tradition and pride. Halfway through the season, Oakdale sits atop District 4-A with a 2-0 record in league play.

So what’s changed?

For one, folks from Oakdale say, there is finally some stability at the top. The revolving door of coaches has stopped — at least for now. J.R. Voyles — who is also the Oakdale town mayor — has been the coach for five seasons. He has 14 starters back this season, along with a talented freshman class. You have to go back a few years to find the last time the Eagles enjoyed the returning experience and depth that they had entering this season.

Langley has covered Oakdale for years as sports editor and editor of the Morgan County News and now as founder of Morgan County Media (morgancountymedia.com).

“Oakdale is improved and playing some good football,” Langley says. “They have several good athletes and for the first time in a long time they have linemen that can be physical and have a mean streak.”

At least one opposing coach isn’t a bit surprised by Oakdale’s success.

“I’ve been telling everyone for two years: It’s coming,” says Tony Lambert, whose Oneida team will face Oakdale next week. “They’re a good football team. This didn’t happen overnight.”

For a little perspective, in the five years before Voyles arrived as coach, Oakdale won a total of four football games — one less than the Eagles have won this season alone. Coming into this season, the Eagles’ four years under Voyles was the school’s best era of football in almost two decades . . . and in those four years, they still had a combined record of just 9-31.

In the 21st Century, the Eagles had won just 20 games coming into the 2014 season.

Now, the program is on the verge of something it hasn’t experienced in many of the current players’ lifetime: a playoff berth.

Goose Lindsay, long-time sports editor of the Roane County News just across the mountain, lives in Oakdale. He says the stability helps.

“Before (Voyles) they had four different coaches in four years and all tried different things,” he said.

It goes without saying that the road gets much rockier for Oakdale the rest of the way. Most will expect their unbeaten streak to come to an end this week against Rockwood. The Tigers are 3-2, and handed No. 9 Oneida — which just knocked off No. 2 Greenback — its only loss of the season.

Then there’s district foes Oneida and Coalfield — ranked No. 7 in Class 1A — lurking on the schedule.

But Oakdale could go winless the rest of the way, finishing 5-5, and probably still earn a wildcard berth in the Class 1A state playoffs. One more win — and a hapless Jellico team is still on the schedule, along with Sunbright, which Oakdale may be favored to beat — would virtually assure the Eagles of a playoff berth.

And if that happens, it’ll be Oakdale’s first playoff berth since 1996.

But don’t go anywhere when the playoffs end, because several of those Oakdale players will go straight from the gridiron to the hardwood. And here’s a secret that a lot of folks around District 4-A haven’t caught onto just yet: With a horde of returning talent, Coach Travis Nelson’s Oakdale squad should be one of the favorites for the district basketball crown.

And if that happens, you will likely hear Mel Steinmetz’s chant (“Oak-Dale Eag-Les”) echo across the Cumberland Plateau.

Kiffin sued

From the tongue-in-cheek “It Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Guy” category comes this story:

Baucham claims he suffered ”cardiopulmonary damage” and ”brain injury with neurocognitive deficits” after he played against California at the Coliseum on Sept. 22, 2012. Baucham’s lawsuit claims he was ill and dehydrated before the game, but was ”forced” to play by Kiffin.

”USC and head coach Kiffin were clearly negligent and acted with conscious disregard for Brian’s welfare and safety by forcing him to play … despite his verified medical history and seriously ill condition,” said Bruce M. Brusavich, Baucham’s attorney.

Baucham, who had sustained a concussion two months earlier, collapsed on the field in the fourth quarter against Cal. He was taken to a hospital by ambulance and spent several days on a ventilator.

Models begin to hint at real cold

I mentioned yesterday that NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-average temperatures for East Tennessee for the next two weeks and for the fall season as a whole. 

But, at the same time, the GFS computer model is beginning to flirt with some serious cold air arriving for the first time this season. 

We’ve already seen a return of the 40s for the first time since spring…now how about the 30s? 

That’s what today’s 12z run of the GFS model suggested. At the very end of its run — 15 days out, around Oct. 10 — the GFS shows temperatures here on the northern Cumberland Plateau plummeting all the way into the mid 30s.

The usual disclaimer applies: it’s one run of one model, which means the probability that it verifies is close to zero. Still, though, leaf-peepers and heat gremlins in general will be happy that the first signals of much cooler weather are starting to pop up in the long range.

Not surprisingly, the 18z run of the GFS which ran a little later this afternoon scoffed at the idea of its 12z predecessor, painting nighttime lows in the 50s during that general timeframe. However, the 18z run of the model did paint a short-lived cold shot a few days earlier — around Oct. 6 — with nighttime lows bottoming out near 40 degrees. 

So, the general takeaway is that some signals for the next step in the gradual step-down to winter are beginning to show up. We’ve already taken the first step; temperatures getting much over 80 appear to be a thing of the past. We’ve topped out in the 70s the last few days, and although a return to around 80 or maybe even the low 80s appears to be in store for this weekend, models are fairly consistent with keeping daytime highs in the 70s as a general rule over the next couple of weeks. 

Paypal founder Peter Thiel wants to cure dying

I’ve been seeing more and more of this cropping up in the news lately. It’s a noble cause, certainly, but some well-heeled investor types seem to be approaching this subject with quite the confidence…like Paypal founder Peter Thiel:

[W]hat he calls ‘the problem of death’ is a topic that he returns to often. ‘I think there are probably three main modes of approaching it,’ he says. ‘You can accept it, you can deny it or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.’

Forgive my skepticism, but isn’t the idea of curing death pretty much in line with this historic failure?