Live From Utah

Posted on June 26, 2008 by


Before the NBA Playoffs began, Henry Abbott – of TrueHoop – invited me to participate in the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown.  Last year – in the inaugural year of the contest – I managed to place third.  This year, though, I turned down the opportunity to improve upon my third place finish.  At the time I backed out of this year’s contest I shared with Henry my reason for not participating, but for everyone else I just gave the standard “I’m too busy” explanation. 

Today, though, I am going to offer a bit more explanation.   Before I get to this, though, I will offer this warning:  The explanation is not very interesting.  At least, I don’t think it will be too interesting to anyone outside my family and friends.  That being said, here is the story:

Leaving the Streets of Bakersfield

Seven years ago my family and I moved from Iowa to Bakersfield, California.  At the time, this move appeared to be a clear step forward.  Having lived most of my life in the Midwest, I have an appreciation for that part of the country.  Nevertheless, I found Bakersfield – despite the intense heat – to be a better place to live (at least for us).  Unlike Iowa, Bakersfield doesn’t suffer from winter, humidity, or tornadoes.  And given my dislike of winter, humidity, and tornadoes, I was thrilled to move to California.

Unfortunately, unlike Iowa, Bakersfield does suffer from very poor air quality.  Initially this wasn’t much of a problem.  Unfortunately, in the past year or so, my family began to develop problems that we believe are related to the air pollution that plagues the Central Valley of California.  As a consequence, we decided we had to leave Bakersfield.

Having decided to leave the Streets of Bakersfield (a very cool song by Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam), we now needed to choose a destination.  My wife is from Trinidad, Colorado and she hoped to move closer to her family.  She also wished to avoid any place with air pollution and/or a high cost of living.  Given this list, our choices were meager.  Every place East of the Mississippi we scratched off our list (too far from Trinidad).  We also eliminated the Midwest (been there, done that) and the Pacific Coast (too expensive).  When you put it all together, our list of places to consider included Colorado, Wyoming, Utah (and maybe West Texas and Northern Arizona).  In other words, our choices were meager.

Nevertheless, last March – after a few months of interviews and such – I was offered a tenured position (at the rank of Associate Professor) at Southern Utah University, which we accepted.  My specific position is the Gardner Assisted Professorship, which simply means I now have access to a generous research fund.  SUU has also reduced my teaching load (relative to Cal-State Bakersfield).  On possible drawback is that I was scheduled to be chair of the Economics Department at CSUB and that position is filled at SUU.  But I think I can live without being chair (in fact, some people at CSUB think I am leaving to avoid being chair). 

So professionally, the move to SUU is very good.  But that’s not the most important reason driving our choice.  SUU is located in Cedar City, Utah.  Cedar City does not have air pollution or a high cost of living.  It does have snow (which I still don’t like), but it’s quite close to places that don’t have much winter at all (so we can leave winter for awhile when it gets to be a drag).   In addition – and this is the most important factor – Cedar City is just a beautiful place to live.  Not that Bakersfield isn’t (I will definitely miss seeing palm trees around my house and I really like The Streets of Bakersfield), but Cedar City – where we arrived on Tuesday — is truly spectacular.

The Smackdown

Okay, what does all this have to do with the Smackdown?  To participate in the Smackdown you not only have to submit picks at the beginning of each round, but Henry also likes some coherent explanation for your choice.  Given the move (and our work on the second book), I just didn’t think I could guarantee that I could offer coherent thoughts throughout the playoffs. And this is a shame, since I was one of the few stat geeks to pick Boston in the Finals.

But that is all water under the bridge (or some such phrase).  As of now our move is complete.  From now on I will be working out of my office at Southern Utah University. 

Now what does this mean for readers of this forum? Hmmm….nothing.  The Internet seems to work the same in Utah and California.  Nevertheless, I thought I should tell everyone why I didn’t participate in the Smackdown.  I also wanted to let everyone know who is interested that my contact information is different.  At the moment my website at SUU has not been created. But my website at CSUB does report my new e-mail address and phone number at Southern Utah.

Going forward – despite working very hard on Book II – I hope to continue offering columns in this forum.  And I will continue to police the comments (although I am going to do my best to avoid offering any additional comments).  By the way, Book II should be finished this fall and should appear in book stores sometime in the early part of 2009.  At least, that’s the plan today.

– DJ