Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RIP 2016

A data analytics view on why so many important people seem to be dying:

1) Because they are. As we get older the population increases. Statistically more people are born this year than the previous year. Along with record number of births comes record number of deaths. As baby boomers pass away you'll see this number increase as well.

2) Our access to information and social media connectivity is higher than ever. In less-connected times we discovered deaths much later. "Did you hear so and so died?" "Really? When? No way!" That's a conversation of the past. Now I know within hours of the person passing. Earlier this year I heard about an earthquake on social media before I actually felt it.

3) The number of celebrities we care about and how much we care about people increases as we get older. As we mature and go through self-discovery we think more and more people are important to our lives and attribute them to our identity. Celebrities died when we were children but we cared less. We didn't know who they were and they didn't matter to us. I bet you do remember when a family member passed away though.

My point on this is not that you are dumb for caring about celebrity deaths. I'm just looking at it in an analytical way. From a pure math perspective, 2017 will have even more important-people-deaths. What I want to talk about next is how you can try to mitigate the feeling of loss by controlling the variables above.

#1 is basically uncontrollable. Population control is something China tried out and it's not gonna happen..

#2 can be minimized by limiting social media. Being less plugged-in and paying more attention to living in the moment. Remember what life was like before social media? Yeah. It's like that.

#3 Stop caring so much about celebrities. Maybe the loss of Prince, Robin Williams, or Ali really effected your life. It's nice to remember the accomplishments, impact, achievements, and the message they wanted to leave to this world.

Lastly I want to leave you with the message to remember to appreciate people while they are still alive. How many times did you reach out to Carrie Fisher? Did you send her fan mail to talk about how her performance in movies really effected your life? Or maybe you took time out of your day to attend a talk she had about mental health. Chances are, you didn't. I don't know why people pretend to care about things they don't. Maybe to fit in or maybe for attention. If you didn't care enough to interact and show appreciation while they were alive then why do you suddenly care now that they are dead? If there is someone in your life that you will miss when they die, don't wait until they die to show your appreciation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My thoughts on the current state of the NFL

  • COWBOYS BABY. I've been a Cowboy fan my entire adult life and I can't imagine how I would feel if they won the Super Bowl. I've been a happier person in my day to day. Just thinking about their success brings a smile to my face.
  • Viewership is down and I think it's because of officiating. Flags suck. Every primetime game seems riddled with blown calls or ticky tack fouls that leave the game hard to understand.
    1. What is pass interference? Illegal contact, Offensive PI, and Defensive PI are all inconsistent. Instead of saying, "Awesome crossing route, great pick." I'm instead worried, "Oh god I hope they don't call OPI."
    2. False Start vs Neutral Zone Infraction chicken. Gruden went off last night about how lineman are taught to jump and try to get calls. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It shouldn't be a part of the game. Fix the rule so players are doing chintzy shit.
    3. Catches that are sometimes catches but other times they aren't catches and if it's in the end zone then who fucking knows.
    4. Roughing the Passer. Cam Newton isn't getting the same calls as other quarterbacks. Look at tape. It's true.
  • Injuries are awful. They have tried to make players safer but the nature of the sport is that every week guys are going down. Not sure what they can do about this but living in San Diego and seeing the Chargers season get ravaged by injuries was pretty lame.
  • Excessive Celebration and Taunting penalties. The NFL (No Fun League) has discouraged players from showboating or having any type of meaningful rivalry between two players. If everyone were emotionless robots then where are the storylines?
  • The NFL knows it has me by the balls. I had a conversation with a coworker about what the NFL would have to do in order for me to stop watching and I'm not sure if anything could. Maybe if I found out it was rigged or something that would be the last straw. Even with all of the flaws in the NFL I continue to watch because I love sports and I love my team.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Clown Fiesta that is our Presidential Election

So let me get this out of the way: It is important to vote. You should register and you should vote if you're eligible. Even if you're disenchanted with democracy or our current candidates it's important that your demographic is represented in polls. If you want politicians to appeal to your desires then they must feel like you vote. Think about it, if you're a politician and you see that demographic X isn't voting... why would I appeal to their needs? I'm going to appeal to the people that are voting. Go vote.

The nominations are done and the debates are done. Plenty of gifs and quotes to nitpick but I want to talk about the election holistically. I guess my general sentiment throughout this entire process is, "How is it possible Trump has gotten this far?" I didn't take him seriously when he began running and then he won a couple states. Then he won the nomination. I hope I'm not sitting here a couple months later and wondering how he won the Presidency.

I have tried hard to stay objective about Trump as much as possible. I watched a documentary on his businessman history. From what I can tell he appeals to the masses for a variety of reasons:
  1. He is not a politician. People are tired of politicians and he symbolizes the american dream for some people.
  2. He is racist/sexist/brash. People who are also racist or sexist or brash want to see people like themselves winning the election.
  3. He is not Hillary. This is probably the strongest reason. Basically every Trump supporter starts their argument with "Well he's not..."

For the record I love Bernie Sanders and would have voted for him. After a hard fought campaign I've been saddled with the task of trying to come around on Hillary. I don't love her. Here are the top 3 reasons I think people support Hillary:
  1. Her last name is Clinton. The masses remember the good old days of Bill and want to chase that high.
  2. She's qualified. Career politician. Knows how to pander, debate, and do her job.
  3. She's not Trump. Also the strongest reason people gravitate to her. If you haven't been offended by Trump then you haven't been paying attention.
People always talk about the "lesser of two evils" and I feel like this election exemplifies this the most. Both candidates have historically low approval ratings. Both candidates are shrouded in corruption and shade. Both candidates leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I usually try and stay informed and do my research but this year I have turned my attention to local props. This year more than ever I have become disenchanted with democracy, the electoral college, and the election process. Either way I still have to go vote because it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dirty Thirty

I turned 30 today and for some reason I'm feeling really reflective.

What I've realized while re-reading some old entries is that I used to spend a lot of time worrying about the future. That's something I don't do too much of today. Maybe I'm more caught up in the grind. Maybe I just don't care as much and try to spend my free time living in the moment and enjoying myself in the short term.

Which brings me to the dirty thirty. If you've read any of my other entries about New Years Resolutions or placing significance on arbitrary days then you probably know that I don't care that much about my birthday. I spoke with a coworker at length about celebrating as much as possible and finding any reason to celebrate and be happy. I think I'm willing to change my outlook on birthdays and holidays. I'll try not to let the arbitrariness of it all get to me anymore. Any reason to be happy should be a good one. Like my previous entry about Pokemon Go: if it makes you happy and you aren't hurting people then who cares what people think? Go for it. Own it. Roll around in it. Get dirty.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

How should I feel about Pokemon Go?

The biggest buzz on your Facebook feed is probably about a alternate reality game that has taken the world by storm. Pokemon Go. Nintendo teamed up with Niantic to create the most successful phone game ever. Within the first day it had more users than Tinder. In three days it passed Candy Crush to become the most successful mobile game in history. As of today the app has more daily users than Twitter. Huh? What? Why? How?

If you've been living under a rock here's your fire-hose explanation of Pokemon. It's a video game franchise that spawned a TV show. Both were enormous hits. The original game was first created twenty years ago and Nintendo still pumps out new iterations of the game for eager audiences. The basic concept is highlighted by the tagline "Catch Em All" which is indeed the linear goal of the game. It appeals to the human desires of collecting things and owning pets. If either of these things appeal to you then there's a chance you might like Pokemon. Why everyone seems to be up in arms about this particular version of the game is that it's doing something ground breaking: It's getting people to go outside.

That was a lot of preamble for what I want to really talk about which is why it seems to be so polarizing. That is, people seem to either love it (and can't shut up about it) or hate it (with an unusual vigor). Below are some actual posts from my Facebook feed.

Missing from these are the actual posts from the enthusiasts which read something like a foreign language: "Fellow Valor I've captured a gym with my Dragonite and I can't wait for Saturday to go to a triple Pokestop to pop my Lures and Lucky Eggs." While I've done some mild posting about it I can't say I fall into either group. I play it and like it for the nostalgia factor but I realize the novelty will probably wear off at some point. I do love that the game is succeeding where the WiiFit and Kinect failed in that it is getting people to be active and social while gaming.

My message to Anti-Pokemon people: 

Pick a reason: It's too childish. I'm too edgy to like something popular. I've got better things to do. Maybe I even gave it a try and I just don't like it. Whatever the reason is for not liking or hating the game... that's perfectly fine, it's not meant for everyone.

My advice is to just wait it out. People will bore of it or people will get tired of walking around and they'll go back to being lion hunting experts, or ape captivity experts, or Robin Williams fans, or Muhammad Ali fans, or Michael Jackson fans, or Prince fans, or making my profile picture french or rainbow, or whatever cause I care about or color of dress I think it is. ...I'll save this rant for another time. If you're impatient to have it leave your feed there are actually apps and browser-plugins that can remove posts by keyword (say I don't want to see anything with "Kardashian" or "Trump" or "Pokemon" or "God" in it. I can filter that!). The Chrome extension I currently use is called Facebook Filter. It's one of Facebook's most requested features and it will most likely be released as a built in feature in an upcoming version.

If you think the game is a waste of time, I want to point out the irony of going to a time wasting website (Facebook) and wasting time expressing how much you hate that the game is wasting peoples time and that they should be doing something more constructive. If you are still bothered by it all, just step back and think about why it's bothering you. Something that helped me in the past for situations like this is realizing that: You can't change how people act. You can only change how you react.

My message to Pokemon-Go enthusiasts:

If you like it... Fuck. The. Haters. Don't let what other people think effect how much you enjoy something. Own it. Get dirty in it. Roll around in it. Who cares what people think about you if you're doing something you love?

This next part doesn't apply to all of you... but please remember to be respectful of others. Don't impede someones business, hold up traffic, or walk into a stroller because you are playing your game. You are a liaison of the gaming community now. Do us proud. Take a shower. Be polite. Learn some social skills. If the situation calls for you to be present to the moment then put away your phone.

Remember that you're never "too old" to play a video game. Shaw said it best: We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Be a man. Do the right thing!

Try to read the above title in your best Russel Peters voice. Just saw his stand up which was fantastic!

About a year ago when I was getting over my ex I was subscribed to a bunch of cheesy Instagram accounts. I'm talking about the ones that post motivational quotes over pictures of clouds and shit. Don't judge me... or do... whatever, it's the internet. Anyways, I'm not the type to post that stuff to Facebook or force my "discoveries" on other people... but I do think there was something therapeutic about reading them and trying to squeeze some meaning from it all. A coworker is going through a breakup and that was the first piece of advice I gave. Getting wisdom/inspiration/whatever-you-can from these quotes worked for me. Not everything will be super-impactful but maybe one or two can really resonate with your situation.

I've since unsubscribed from that stuff but I guess Instagram has an algorithm for suggesting pages and one of those quote-over-picture things came up on my feed. It was applicable to a situation that I'm in. The quote was “Your right actions might hurt someone, so if required apologize for your right actions, but don't stop taking right actions.” 

This quote resonates with me as a poker player because a lot about the game is about being okay with the results with the information given. The concept of "getting your money in good" is something I've learned to be happy with. Sure a bad beat stings... but as long as I made the right decision with the information in front of me then I can live with the results.

I think the context of the quote was about making progress in politics but similar to the relationship quotes - I was able to take it out of context to meld it to my situation. (I did this previously with a quote about Squeezing Oranges). I think the right actions quote is powerful and is about sticking to your convictions when you feel your course of action is correct. It doesn't feel good to hurt someone. It doesn't feel good being hurt. However, those bad feelings shouldn't stop you from taking the right course of action.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Golden State in 5

My yearly NBA Finals thread. Since I've been doing predictions I have been 2 for 2!

Last Year NBA Finals
Superbowl Earlier this Year

I've got Golden State winning in 5-6 Games. I'll be bold and say 5 games. Yes Cleveland is healthy this year. Yes Irving has been having a tremendous post-season. They just don't have enough. The Warriors are battle tested and the home court advantage goes to the team that was able to go 73-9 in the regular season. If it's possible, Steph Curry is better than last year and should put in an NBA Finals MVP performance.

No one can deny LeBron's greatness - 6 straight finals is amazing. If I had to craft the best all-around NBA player it would look exactly like LeBron. The problem is that the way the game is evolving it's no longer required for you to be an all-around great. As it stands right now, it might be better to be a specialist. If you can be freakishly good at draining 3's, have extreme handles, and play underrated defense... you might be "more valuable" than a person who can play every position at an elite level. This is what makes this series interesting to me. You have the epitome of old-school ball led by a once-in-a-generation talent against a crafty new-era way of playing led by a talent that drives coaches crazy because he takes bad shots regularly and makes them.

Coaching - Advantage GSW. While Lue has had a great takeover from the Blatt Era.... watching Kerr make adjustments in the OKC series was masterful. He was able to figure out how the help-defense was shredding his Steph/Green high screen pick-and-roll and got significant minutes out of his bigs (especially Bogut) in the close-out games. The same coach that figured out how to turn a bench player (Iggy) into a Finals MVP can be counted on to materialize his immense advantage in talent.

Backcourt - Advantage GSW. I could copy paste what I have from last year but I won't. Splash bros have somehow gotten better than last year and even off the bench I feel like Livingston/Barbosa/Iggy will contribute big time. Irving/JR have improved as well and Irving is sneakily having an amazing post-season but if you look at the teams they've beaten... there hasn't been too much talent on those teams to drain them on the defensive end. If Toronto can steal 2 games from this team, they're in trouble against what is basically a super-upgraded version of Toronto.

Frontcourt - Advantage CLE. Like every matchup they've been in so far... Golden State is probably going to get out rebounded. Tristan Thompson's knack for offensive rebounding has been something to marvel at this season. In general, Cleveland will probably dominate the paint. They have to. If there is a recipe to winning this series, step 1 probably involves getting so psychical in the paint that Draymon kicks someone in the nuts. Getting Draymon suspended (or at least in foul trouble) will force minutes out of the slower and less-skilled bigs who can get abused by the slashers in Cleveland.

Late game execution - Advantage GSW. Simply put: if Golden State is ahead they will stay ahead. If they are behind, no lead is safe, they can catch up at any time. Cleveland has to really torch them hard and come out of the gates firing. I think they can get fired up for Game 3 and be up 20+ points at the start of the 4th. That's what it's going to take. Other than that I have Golden State destroying them in Games 1, 2, 4, and 5.

Personally I'll be rooting for Cleveland as I think the narrative of getting a championship to The Land is too good to pass up. It may be now or never for LeBron. I think his chance to be the GOAT has dwindled since he's 2-7 in Finals appearances but I think he can really cement himself as a top 10 player of all time if he can bring down this GSW team. Hopefully my prediction is wrong and we can get 7 competitive games!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Great Day in the NBA - 4/13/2015

Last night was an awesome day for NBA fans. Warriors set the record. Lakers sent Kobe out with a bang.

Watching the first half of the Warriors game was awesome. Steph came out firing and put up 20 points in the 1st quarter! He was gunning for a multitude of records and ended up smashing them all (getting over 400 3's, being in the exclusive 50-40-90 club, and breaking the 72 win record set by Michael Jordan and the Bulls). After watching him put up his 8th 3 of the night we looked along the bottom and saw that Kobe was doing something special on the other channel. We switched over when he had 35 points and watching the rest of that game was magical.

It was all Kobe all the time, and the Jazz were leading for most of the game. Everyone in the arena and in my house erupted for each shot he made. When they took the lead with under a minute left it was quite the classic Kobe performance. 60 points on some not-so-great efficiency just chucking shot after shot. Flashing to pictures of celebs in the crowd between each shot. It was almost surreal what we were watching.

So watching a legend retire and Michael Jordan's Bulls record be broken is a reminder that the NBA is changing. While I've always been a fan of the old school players and unselfish teams... Kobe and Steph remind us that sometimes it's remarkable to watch the once-in-a-generation talent players do their thing.

I've never known an NBA without Kobe, thank you for the many years of entertainment!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Two Greatest Fears

Fear A) The fear of being alone. I'm talking about the long term stuff. Like dying alone or not having someone to love me as I grow older. This fear pushes me into being in a relationship even when I shouldn't be in one.

Fear B) The fear of commitment. I don't buy the first thing I see. I don't like the idea of not being able to change my mind or grow apart. I've lived my whole life with a strong desire for complete independence. This fear pushes me to be single, even when I have an awesome and understanding partner.

The struggle between these two fears can be best described as an intense case of "the grass is greener" which leaves me in a really bad place when it comes to relationships. In mathematics, events are called mutually exclusive if they cannot exist at the same time. This is problematic if while in Status A you yearn for Status B and in Status B you yearn for Status A.

Mutually Exclusive Statuses
Presented with the above problem there are a couple solutions.

1) Find a way where both fears can coexist (an overlap in the Venn Diagram).

The overlap between Status A and Status B
Exploring this further, I've previously defined Status A and Status B as mutually exclusive but is it possible that they're not. What would an overlap look like? I can't picture it. I think this search for an overlap is why I've sought partners that give me maximum independence while still giving me the positive things in a relationship. I don't think that's what the overlap truly is. I find myself wanting complete independence but because I understand what it takes to be a good boyfriend/partner/husband I find myself catering to my significant other subconsciously. Thinking about "we" and "us" as opposed to being selfish. I feel the strings of commitment and my fear of being alone pulling me down the relationship path and when I feel controlled by this I push the other person away. So does the overlap exist? I'm not so sure... which brings me to my next solution...

2) Solution two for mutually exclusive events is not wanting the other status while in the other. The simplest way to do that would be to overcome one of the fears. If at any point Fear A or Fear B dissolves - it makes the choice of a preferred status trivial.

So let's get down to it. Fear A. Being okay with being alone. I think with enough time I'll reach a point where I no longer desire relationships or I'll just straight up become undesirable. It might sound like I'm throwing a pity party for one... but I do think this is a viable option because it's one of the options that kind of just works itself out with time. Bill Burr has a fantastic set where he's says, "I've just been single too long. You reach a point where you used to not say things to women in order to be nice and sleep with them. But then you reach a point where your brain just says Fuck It. Say It."

Fear B. Being okay with commitment. I had a previous relationship that showed me the power of commitment. It's nice having a person to take care of and do nice things for. It's nice having unconditional support. Unfortunately the looming questions of commitment and labels start to fill my head and I start thinking to myself, "The rest of my life is a pretty long time." I start playing the terrible What If Game: What if I don't love that person anymore? What if I agreed that I'd love them for better or worse but they just morphed into a toxic cheating child abuser? What if my life grows to have other priorities? What if I take effort away from being a good husband and put it into being a good father? What if my career takes me half way around the world?

Maybe my particular life view has put me in a spot where I no longer view marriage as a sacred institution. All my uncles have gone through ugly divorces with custody battles. My mother has been married three times. I see commitment and specifically marriage as a status where you're constantly faced with: "Is the hassle of divorce worse than being with this person for the rest of my life."


I've rewritten this entry now a few times to try and sound less jaded and a little more hopeful. I've appropriately settled on this iteration that is fittingly hazy and inconclusive. Maybe I'll revisit this again someday once I've faced one of my fears or found a peaceful overlap where the fears exist together.

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Superbowl 50 Prediction

I have Denver covering the spread (which is currently +6). I nailed my Warriors prediction last year. I think this game plays out one of two ways: Carolina blows Denver out. Or... Denver plays a very close game and wins or loses by a single score.

Because I'm an analytical guy I have a few advanced stats on the matchup that I think will prevent the Panthers from blowing Denver out. First and foremost: Cam Newton's average time to throw is 2.83 seconds. QBs facing the Denver defense this season have averaged 2.51 sec. Secondly: Cam Newton's passer rating is a 71.1 under pressure this season (6TD/6INT). He is has been forced to scramble 58 times, rushing 29 times for 222 yards and passing 9/29 for 1 TD and 1 INT.

This doesn't mean Cam is going to get sacked every play. This doesn't mean Cam is particularly terrible under pressure. I think all this means is that Denver is good at rushing/pressuring the quarterback and Cam Newton is fairly pedestrian when under that type of pressure. However this is just one match up. What about the coverage on the tight ends and receivers? What about the other side of the ball and special teams? How about the coaching and the game plan going into the game? How about leadership, preparation, experience, or nerves? Yeah I'm ignoring those things...

The NFL is not a perfect science - in fact, I think I'm betting a little more with my heart than with my head on this one. I really want to see long-time-Cowboy DeMarcus Ware win a ring before he retires. Not only that but the riding off into the sunset championship for Peyton Manning is too good of a narrative to pass up. Carolina will be the favorites to win and I think have had more overall support... but I think the game will play out in a close match between two defensive juggernauts.

Good luck to all the gamblers out there that will have bets on this game. Overall I hope it's an entertaining game to watch!

Monday, January 4, 2016

My Love Affair with the Chargers

I've explained in the past why I love the NFL and watching sports of all kinds. I've also explained why I, a San Diego native, absolutely love the Dallas Cowboys.

The Chargers have always been my "side-chick" team. This year I went to 4 different games including two away games. I watched them do battle on the road and finish the season a meager 4-12. I've always watched the Chargers since I was young and even was a season ticket holder a few years ago. The reason I'm finally posting about them now is that they might have played their last game as the San Diego Chargers. The latest rumors in the NFL have them moving to LA and part of me will be sad to see San Diego without a professional football team.

I've seen the Chargers go through a lot. From firing a coach after going 14-2 to keeping a coach after going 1-15. Watching Eli Manning reject them in the draft to wishing Ryan Leaf had. My lone tribute will be to the players that actually made them enjoyable to watch. From the legends like Seau and LT to the lesser known people who put in work like Mike Scifres and Lorenzo Neal. It's been a pleasure to watch those players and this team. Thanks for the memories Chargers players!