Things we do in the dark

My dog and I are meandering down our usual path for his evening rituals when we run across a first for both of us. It isn’t the creepy Halloween scene our neighbor set up more than a month ahead of time across the street. It is the dilapidated house at the end of the dead-end road with a white windowless van; a van that looks prime to be full of candy and posters of missing puppies. We usually end up here to take a look at the overflowing mailbox and the unkempt yard. I often wonder if the owners left and just never came back, but there are always three vehicles in the driveway, albeit only one without flat tires. Sniffing the air for the acridity of death, my thoughts often wander to places I’d rather them not.

But tonight, as we head in that direction, I hear an odd sound that I can’t place since it is 9:30 at night. Does someone have a generator running? Everyone’s lights are on, so that doesn’t seem likely. It sounds like a lawnmower, but that doesn’t make sense. As we get closer, there is a man pushing a mower, wearing jeans, a long sleeve flannel shirt, a covid mask, a ball cap, and sunglasses. I wanted to just stand there watching him mow his lawn by the light of his outdoor floodlight. Fear keeps me moving. I envision him suddenly whipping his head in my direction, catching me in my voyeuristic ways. My mind travels through the different outcomes, while I tug my dog to head back home in hopes that he wouldn’t catch sight of the late-night yard man and start howling his displeasure. As we scamper home down the unlit neighborhood street, at least I could now put my unanswered question to rest.

Match Oracle – First Week with Friends and Family

Matt and I have been working hard and are at a place where Match Oracle (https://matchoracle.com) works for what we want. It has a lot of bugs so it isn’t working as smoothly as we’d like, but we always know what to do to fix it. We decided to ask a few friends and family to try it out to hear their thoughts and while people think it is cool, it didn’t work well. First, we automatically grab data from a soccer site that provides data to users. We use an API (Application Programming Interface) which lets websites talk to each other and share data. I’m using Google Sheets to then take this information and apply different formulas to the data to get a match rating. Unfortunately, the API failed when we tried to get too much information at the same time (there are limitations to what is allowed with using an add-on in Google Sheets). While I really like Google Sheets, some of these limitations are pretty annoying. Because of this error, all the games were showing up as a 0-0 draw, so our app was then recommending skipping all of the matches! Obviously, that wasn’t right. The other major problem was that I was out of cell range so I wasn’t able to make the changes necessary to get it up and running, so we had to wait hours to be able to fix it. We learned a lot from our first attempt and hope to have more success with each progressive week.

Match Oracle – How did it start?

In the words of Dani Rojas from Ted Lasso, “Football is life.” Matt (my brother) and I have always enjoyed soccer. We both grew up playing as kids and continued into adulthood. We followed the EPL in the 90s when Man U was the best team by far and even though I’ve parted ways (LFC!), Matt is still a Manchester United supporter. I remember recording all the 1994 World Cup games on VHS and spending the summer watching all of them. Remember when Roberto Baggio missed the PK for Italy in the Finals? I do.

I love watching soccer (especially the Premier League these days) but there are a few aspects I could do without. Diving and the dramatics of getting fouled gets very old very quickly. I really hate watching an entire match and it ending in a 0-0 draw. That’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back… Our lives have also gotten busier and busier as we started to have kids. Weekends are often filling up family activities and although I’d love to sit around and watch Premier League matches all day, I find myself recording as many matches as possible and watching one or two in the evening.

But I don’t want to watch a bad match, so I often would text Matt and ask him “Is the Liverpool match worth watching?” He’s about the only person in the world I can ask that question of because I don’t want any information about the match. All I want to know is should I use my limited time to watch it. Most people aren’t able to only say yes or no, but instead interject a phrase like “Yes, just stick with it,” or “Best. Goal. Ever.” or “You’ll love that match.” Nope. I don’t want to hear anything. Nothing. Nada. Honestly, the only thing I want to know is does it end in a 0-0 tie? That makes it unwatchable (in my book).

A little over a month ago, Matt said, “I have an idea for an app, and I think you’ll like it!” We’ve been working ever since and are getting closer day by day to having a finished product. You can check out where we currently are in our project at https://matchoracle.com. My next post will tell more about it, but feel free to sign up to receive the app once we publish it.