A Landing a Day

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My Strange Journey to 150

Posted by graywacke on October 7, 2013

This is a special explanatory edition of A Landing a Day.  Normally, in this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

 But today there is no landing; I’ll be presenting an explanation of what’s in the first paragraph of my posts, like what’s the story with states that are oversubscribed  (OS) and undersubscribed (US)?  And what is the “Score” and what is it about my obsession with the Score finally reaching (making its way down to) 150?.

Dan –  This is a break from my normal landing posts, occasioned by the fact that my Score, after flirting with 150 for months (years, actually) finally broke through, all the way down to 149.9.  I’m sure that most of my readers don’t understand how I could devote an entire post to such an event, but read on . . .

 I’d like to start by inviting readers who are unfamiliar with the terms oversubscribed (OS) and undersubscribed (US), to read “About Landing,” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.  You’ll also learn what my “Score” is all about.

 However, for those not inclined to read “About Landing,” here’s a quick synopsis:  An OS state is one where I’ve landed more often than I should, based on the size of the state (more accurately, based on the ratio of the area of a particular state to the area of the lower 48).  It is intuitively obvious that if, for example, Texas constitutes about 9% of the area of the Lower 48 (which is does), then I should land in Texas about 9% of the time.  Of course, a similar statement can be made about each of the states.

 Inevitably, I have landed in some states more often than I “should”.  These states are oversubscribed (OS).  Conversely, I also have landed in some states less often than I “should,” resulting in a state being undersubscribed (US).

 For reasons most likely explained by my quirky personality, I decided to come up with a mathematical formula that expressed how “out of balance” my landings are.  When I land in an oversubscribed state, that state becomes even more oversubscribed, and my overall landings are a little more out of balance.  Such an event makes my Score increase.  When I land in an undersubscribed state, that state becomes better balanced, more towards the number of landings it should have based on its area (and the Score decreases).  If you really care about how my Score is calculated, you have to read “About Landing.”

 Anyway, when a state is in balance, I call it “perfectly subscribed,” or PS.  If all the states were PS, my Score would be zero.

 I’m no statistician, but it turns out that the more landings I do, it is inevitable that my Score will decrease, ever working its way down towards (but never reaching) zero.

 Though the years, I found myself rooting for landings in US states, so that my Score would continue its long march towards zero.  But, inevitably, I often land in OS states – after all, I have a about a 50/50 chance.  (Note:  My score goes down more with a USer than it goes up with an OSer, thus explaining my Score’s inevitable march downward.)

 Here’s the graph of my score since the beginning of landing.  You can see that I’m currently right at 150:

 150 - 1

Here’s part of the same graph, minus the extremely high numbers when I first began landing.  You can see better how I’ve been flirting with 150 for a while.

 150 - 2

So, what’s the big deal about my Score reaching 150?  Well, actually, it’s no big deal at all, it’s just something I noticed.  It all started back on September 23, 2009.  My Score was 150.3.  All I needed was a USer (remember, about a 50/50 chance), and my score would be below 150.  However, ‘twas not to be as I landed in an OSer, Montana.

 I went on a OSer tear, and my Score went as high as 155.8.  Finally, a year and half later in May 2010 (and 87 landings later), I had worked my way back down to 150 even.  But once again, I was foiled by an OSer – this time North Dakota.  The very next landing I had another chance to go below 150, but landed in yet another OSer, this time Oregon.

This happened again, and again, and again, and again and again and again and again.  Ten times in all.  OSer after OSer, when all I needed was a USer landing to get my Score below 150.  Here’s a graph of my Score where you can clearly see the struggle:

150 - 4

Of course, I prepared a spreadsheet to summarize my painful journey to 150:

 150 - 3

Check it out!!!  It was like flipping a coin ten times, and coming up tails every time!!!  The odds are one in 1024 that this happened!!  And note that every OSer was out west.  Strange, indeed.  How could this happen?

 Let me introduce my son, Jordan (now 25 years old).  Jordan’s favorite part of landing and A Landing A Day is, in fact, the very USer/OSer drama I’ve been talking about.  After three or four opportunities to get my Score below 150, Jordan and I had a conversation about my problem with 150.  He, of course, thought it was hilarious.  The next time I was poised to break 150, I made the mistake of talking to Jordan about it.  He formally placed a jinx on my next landing.  My next landing was, of course, an OSer.

 Jordan and I agreed that I would alert him each time a 150 Score was pending, to allow him to place his jinx.  Again and again, his jinx worked.  Again and again, until that fateful late July day when he must have lost his focus.  For on that day, I landed in Idaho, a long-time USer.  And my Score was 149.9.

 What’s next?  Becoming firmly entrenched in the 140s or slipping back up into the 150s?  Time will tell.  Just keep up with A Landing A Day, and pay attention to the first paragraph . . .

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

10 Responses to “My Strange Journey to 150”

  1. […] Dan –  I could have scripted this.  As soon as I broke 150 (thanks to a run of 5 USers), I get three OSers in a row, the latest being my landing in . . . IA; 44/38; 5/10; 5; 151.1.  (Confused about this paragraph?  Check out my recent post on the subject – click HERE. […]

  2. […] you haven’t a clue what the previous sentence is about, click HERE for an explanatory […]

  3. […] you haven’t a clue what the previous paragraph is about, click HERE for an explanatory […]

  4. […] Here’s my usual disclaimer:  “If you don’t have a clue what the above sentence is about, click HERE.” […]

  5. […] you’re curious about the above paragraph, but don’t have a clue?  Click HERE to live and learn.  IF you’re not at all curious (except to wonder why in the heck do I bother […]

  6. […] by landing in this OSer state . . . WV; 20/16; 4/10; 150.5.  This is a familiar pattern; click HERE to read the post that explains what I’m talking about . . […]

  7. […] 5/10; 149.9.  And note the 38/38.  That’s right, Illinois is PS (perfectly subscribed).  Click HERE to see what 149.9, 38/38 & PS are […]

  8. […] Dan –  This is actually getting serious.  Yet another OSer (six of my last seven landings), and my Score is back up to 150!  This is my 10th landing since originally breaking the 150 barrier.  Haven’t a clue what I’m talking about?  Click HERE. […]

  9. […] about, my apologies for taking up your time.  If you do care but aren’t up to speed, click HERE and then […]

  10. […] my!  This was my infamous 150 landing.  Click HERE to learn more about a Score of […]

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