May 10, 2009

1,000 Visitor Extravaganza Post!

I've noticed that Sportscenter doesn't tend to show Cincinnati Reds highlights, probably because either (a) they haven't made the playoffs since 1995 or (b) they share a name with Communists. However, a few mornings ago I noticed that they were in the Sportscenter lineup, so I had to stick around and watch.

When Stan Verrett came on the air to read the highlight, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Following a lengthy alliterative introduction using more words that begin with 'v' than I ever knew existed, I then learned that in the history of major league baseball, no two pitchers whose last names begin with the letters v-o-l had ever faced one another (as Edinson Volquez and Chris Volstad did). In fact, not since the early 1900's has a Major League Baseball pitcher's last name begun with v-o-l. But that's not all. Joey Votto of the Reds is the only big league player to ever have a last name beginning with v-o-t, therefore making the Volstad-Votto matchup the first ever v-o-l vs. v-o-t pitcher-batter matchup ever.

Why am I telling you all this? One reason: to show that no matter how crazy I am bound to get in keeping statistics on the trip, it can get worse. So with that, welcome to our special...

1,000 Visitor Extravaganza Post!

Zhou and I (minus Zhou) thought long and hard about how to give back to you, our loyal readers for accidentally clicking on our blog every now and then. We considered having Zhou write the blog (your prize would be avoiding my nonsensical rambling for a week), but we thought that was giving back a little too much. We've already posted pictures of Evangeline Lilly and Jennifer Aniston, so that wasn't an option. So we decided to do what we do best: make a contest!

Since Puzzles for Postcards has been going so well, we've decided to make a whole new contest, with bigger stakes, and a longer wait for the winner. This contest will consist of five questions, each with a numerical answer. Each question will be graded individually, from first place to last place. For example, if 1,324 people answer question one, and you are 176th closest, then you get 176 points. Then we add your rankings on each of the five questions, and the person with the lowest total score wins! Also, as an added bonus, if you get a question exactly right you get a five point deduction from your total score. So if only two people respond, then that almost guarantees you the victory!

Make sense?

Please note that in all questions, you're not trying to guess the combined total for me and Zhou, but rather the total for just one of us.

(1) How many miles will Kevin and Zhou fly? You could definitely look this up given our itinerary, but (a) you'd be wrong since there are hidden flights and layovers, and (b) I would hope y'all have better things to do with your time than calculate our plane mileage. However, I do know that there are bigger wastes of time.

(2) How many hours will Kevin and Zhou spend on buses, trains and the Eurail combined? Here's an initial guess to help out: we'll be gone for 324 days, or 7,776 hours. I have built it up in my head that we'll be spending 80% of our trip on buses, which equates to 6,221 hours.

(3) How many pictures will Kevin and Zhou take? We stole this statistic from thirteenmonths, which is, as previously mentioned, a big inspiration for us on this trip. One caveat when guessing: yes, this will include the copious amounts of pictures Zhou takes of baby animals and Kevin takes of all the McDonald's he plans on eating.

(4) How many games of Scrabble will Kevin and Zhou play? As you know, our plan is to play near every landmark, big and small, and take a picture of us doing so. In addition, we will be spending up to 6,221 hours on buses, so there's plenty of time for more games.

(5) How many new foods will Kevin eat? As much as I want to count French McDonald's french fries, Zhou won't let me. So new foods means actual new foods - not variations on an old favorite (like the "Chile" dog). Since this is a little subjective, Zhou will be the official "food-keeper."

We haven't decided what a good prize would be for the winner yet, so for now consider this something that's extremely fun and a way to make our trip more competitive than it is (and before you start complaining, I promise we'll actually think of a real prize). If you respond with answers, even our boring posts from the road will be fun, as you'll be anxious to see if we've played another game of Scrabble, or spent another few hours on a bus. And ever since I've become addicted to centsports, I've learned that even someone else's dime on the line makes everything in life much more interesting.

As you respond with your guesses, we'll be keeping track of the statistics here. Just for future reference, we will not accept any responses after we take off for London on September 10.

Good luck!


In other news this week, we learned another lesson about attention to detail in planning our trip. One would think that for something of this magnitude we'd be extra careful in booking flights and setting dates. We've already mentioned our first screw-up, when we booked our flight from London to Nairobi a couple days after our safari is supposed to begin. Fortunately, we lucked out there, because we lost less on the $125 per person change fee than we gained on the exchange rate in re-booking the flight. This time though, we have lost the Bolivia and Salar de Uyuni part of the trip. Why, you ask?

When setting up the round-the-world ticket, you can do "surface sector" legs, or segments where you don't take a flight (they still count against your 16 segments though). If you declare that you're taking a flight, you must take the flight. If you declare a surface sector, you cannot take a flight. For instance, we are doing a surface sector from Nairobi to Johannesburg. We will be flying into Nairobi and out of Johannesburg, but we're using trucks to get from one place to the other.

As our stupidity would have it, we accidentally booked Santiago to Lima as a flight, and not a surface sector. Therefore, we will not be taking a bus up through Bolivia to Peru from the southern tip of South America, but rather we will be taking that bus to Santiago and flying into Peru. I guess in the end that's a lot less bus-riding, which is a good thing, unless your contest guess ends up falling a ways short.

[Zhou: I still maintain that this may have been the agent's fault when we initially booked it. Plus, this makes no sense to me! Why would they charge us $250 to NOT fly a segment? Can't they make money selling those two seats to someone else? I just don't get it. Sigh. At least this means we get to spend more time in Southeast Asia, land of mango sticky rice.]

Puzzles for Postcards (list of winners):

Gettin' Jiggy Wit' A Statistical Sample Anagram:

N prefers Ali before Hitch

Scrabble Games: 41 (full log)
Zhou WPLB: 23; 368; 383; DOPIEST, DoTTIER
Kevin WPLB: 18; 363; 351; bLOUSES


  1. 1) 36,422 miles
    2) 563 hrs
    3) 2,374 pics
    4) 102
    5) 8

  2. Studying, so I"ll guess the other stuff later, but...

    The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

    Wow, surprised it was still up 12 hours later, I've been too busy to get to these at the correct time. Y'all are awesome