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Archive for November, 2007

So, winter is nearing and it’s that time of year again – sponge hockey season!

At the end of last year, my team captain basically told me to shape up or ship out.  Either I do some off-season training or he would kick me off the team.  I thought that was a little unfair since all that is required to get on the team is my check has to clear.

Since September, I’ve been heading to the gym three times a week and I believe that I have gotten into pretty good shape.  I was ready, for the first time, heading into spongee season.  Yet, I show up for the first day of practice and my manager informs me that I have been kicked off the team!  Can you believe that?  He told me he was banning me – me, and my children, and my children’s children… for three months.

Apparently I wasn’t committed enough to the team to show up to the games this year and my contract was null and void.  What a mean guy.

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One year onwards

It’s been exactly one year since I had my accident in Fiji.  I thought I would take some time to reflect on status since then.

  • Right after my accident, I started suffering from short-term memory loss.  This lasted quite a while, perhaps six months.  But since then, I have regained just about everything back to normal.  I no longer forget things in the short term and I find that I can remember things just as sharply as I could before.  As evidence of this, right after my accident I could not remember people’s names right after they told them to me.  Now, I can easily do it with a minimal amount of effort just like before.
  • All of my bruises to soft tissue healed perfectly.  I have a very light scar on my right lower back but it isn’t really noticeable.
  • The deeper tissue problems still linger.  I started experiencing a pain in my upper inner leg in January.  It has definitely gotten better but it most certainly has not gone away.  I still experience significant discomfort rotating my left to the left and especially to the right.

The only one that matters to me is the memory loss.  The leg injury is annoying but I can get over that.  So I think I have recovered quite nicely, other than the stuff that still hurts.

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One of the things that really annoys me about football commentators is when they talk about this thing called momentum.

"Oh, Winnipeg just scored a touchdown.  Now they have the momentum!"

"Now Saskatchewan has scored.  The momentum has flipped to their side!"

Momentum, as best as I can define it, is when a team scores a major score (like a touchdown) or generates a big play (like a key interception or a huge gain), the flow of the game is in their favor.  This implies that things will continue to flow in their favor and they will score more points based on the momentum being on their side.

Momentum is a physical force which says that things in motion tend to stay in the same motion unless an opposite force is applied to it.  In football, the concept of momentum is ridiculous.  Whenever a team scores, the other team gets a chance to score.  They can reverse the momentum simply by doing what they do well.  The act of scoring one big play does not further imply that a team will score another big play.  Teams that do things well have a tendency to do them more frequently than weaker teams.  This is statistics, not physics.

Consider a team that scores 60 touchdowns over a season and allows only 45.  This means that over the course of a season, they will score a touchdown 1.32 times more often than their opponents.  Statistically speaking, they have to score touchdowns consecutively.  This is not because they have this mythical force called momentum, but because teams that score more often than their opponents statistically have to score consecutive times.

Scoring is not serially correlated.  The next time you hear a team get the momentum during a game, wait how long it takes the commentator to announce that now the other team has it.  Scoring points are not serially correlated, they are statistically distributed.

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It turns out I was right, unfortunately.  Last week, I wrote the following:


Ordinarily, I think I would have picked Winnipeg to win it all, but this time I think I have to go with Saskatchewan.


Winnipeg put up a good fight (I guess), but they simply didn’t have enough big plays on offense.  Here are my game notes:

  1. They won the special teams battle.  The Bomber return game was better and their punting game was superior.
  2. They won the defensive battle, mostly.  The Bomber defense had one or at most two bad drives.  They definitely held the Saskatchewan offence in check for most of the games.
  3. They didn’t really win the battle on the offensive line.  While the Bomber QB had some time, they could have done more to give him protection and open up more holes for Charles Roberts, which brings me to my next point.
  4. They definitely did not win the running game.  Charles Roberts was not used enough, and the Saskatchewan QB Kerry Joseph won the running game all by himself. 

So, overall, I think that the Bombers had a slight edge on special teams, a slight edge on defense but Saskatchewan had a definite edge on offence.  One thing I forgot to comment on last week was the turnover battle.  Winnipeg’s rookie QB threw three interceptions (something you definitely don’t want to do in a championship game) and coughed up a fumble on the 15-yard line (another you thing you absolutely don’t want to do in a championship game).

Still, the Bombers got to the dance and put themselves in a position to win, but came up short.  Maybe next year.

I’m more disappointed in the game results than I am with Walmart.

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A couple of weeks ago I picked up a floor lamp for free.  I got it off of Craigslist.  When I picked it up, the owner showed me that it worked perfectly fine by plugging it in and showing me.  "Sweet!" I thought, a free working lamp.

Well, when I got home, I found out it wasn’t completely working.  There were two things wrong with it:

  1. It comes apart in three parts and it "screws" on, that is, it is threaded and you rotate it on to get it together.  It turns out that the threads are stripped and don’t tighten, so it hangs on there loose.  I knew that when I picked it up, though, and I can fix that.
  2. It doesn’t turn off.  The on/off switch is broken, so the only way to turn it off is to unplug it.

Those are things I can live with.  It’s still a decent lamp.

Well, this past week, the light burned out so I have to go and buy a new one.  That’s when two dumb things happened to me.

For some reason which I cannot explain, I pulled the lamp toward me to take a look at the bulb.  I have three lamps and each one has a different bulb.  I reached in towards the bulb and touched it only a few moments after it has been lit for a long time.  I was trying to examine it because it was a weird looking bulb, narrow and rippled.  Unfortunately, it was very hot.  I ended up slightly burning my index finger.  I jumped back in pain, wondering why I did like that without thinking through the consequences.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, I decided to unplug from the power bar on the floor.  I did not disable the power to the power bar because my cable modem is plugged into there.  I have unplugged that lamp from the power bar many times in the past, but this time my left hand did the unplugging.  As I did, I touched the prongs on the plug and got a good jolt running through my hand.  Ouch!  That also hurt!

Two sources of sharp pain to my hands in less than 30 seconds.  Not a good day.  Hopefully I learned my lesson.

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So I am currently watching Heroes (Monday, Nov 20, 2007) and while I am not going to spoil it, I am going to make a comment.

In this episode, one of the main characters died.  I definitely did not see it coming.  I thought that they foreshadowed the character’s death and then changed the future, which logically led me to believe that said character was going to survive.

But, then the twist occurred; it turns out that this person did die.  That threw me for a loop.  Nicely done.

Update: Nope, turns out they pulled a bait-and-switch.  I don’t know about that, it’s a bit too much of a double twist.

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Badminton resurrection

Today, for the first time in about five months, I played badminton again.

Overall, I wasn’t happy with my performance but it could have been worse.  I played six doubles games and my record was 2-4.  Not great, but respectable.  Here are my game notes:

  1. I am rusty.  There were a whole bunch of times where I wanted to smash the birdie but when I went for it, the birdie “flubbed” to the left.  What’s that all about?
  2. I can return some smashes.  Returning smashes and good defense is one of the keys to my game.  It’s not something I am great at but I did it a few times and I think once I get it down, it will turn things around for me.
  3. There are some really good players there.  I played against some very good players, though I am not sure if they are the best I have ever seen.  Playing against good players is how to improve.
  4. My short game didn’t work as well.  I normally have a great short game with drop shots, but corresponding to point 3, the good players managed to move quickly to return them.  That was frustrating.
  5. I hurt my foot.  Somebody made a short shot and I tried to lunge forward to get it.  It didn’t work, though, and somehow I hurt my foot.  Not badly, but enough to slow me down a bit.

So, my game is a work in progress but I will slowly improve and my game will get better.

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Well, my beloved Blue Bombers have managed to get to the 2007 Grey Cup.  And they are playing the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in the first all-prairie Grey Cup.

The problem is that while the Blue Bombers have advanced for the first time since 2001 and the second time since 1993, they lost their starting quarterback to injury.  To quote Allan Roy, this is not good.

Ordinarily, I think I would have picked Winnipeg to win it all, but this time I think I have to go with Saskatchewan.  Backup quarterbacks never win championships, at least not in the CFL.  So while it pains me to say it, I think that the Riders are going to take it all.

However, I don’t think the Bombers will go down without a fight.  While some fans are throwing in the towel, the bottom line is that you can’t win if you don’t play.  In other words, the Bombers will still have to show up to the game and fight for everything they’re worth.  If they are going to win, they have to put themselves in a position to win.  Here’s what I think are their keys to the game:

  1. They have to win the special teams battle.  This has been their sore spot all year long, but has improved greatly in the past three weeks.
  2. They need to win the defensive battle.  Their defense is ranked second in the league.  I think they have the edge here.
  3. They need to win the battle on the offensive line.  Their backup QB is going to need protection.
  4. They need to win the running game.  Charles Roberts is the best running back in the league.  He is going to have to have a huge game.

They say that there are three parts to the game – Offense, Defense and Special Teams.  If you can win two out of three, you can normally win the game.  I think offensively the best the Bombers can do is maybe draw.  You can still win a Grey Cup with a mediocre offense (see Winnipeg 1988 and 1990) but you generally can’t win with a lousy defense.  If these two parts of the Bombers game steps up, perhaps they can pull it off.

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A trip to serendipity

Last week (Nov 6-9) I was in New York for a few days on business.  While I was there, something pretty cool happened.

If you look on the links side of my web page, you’ll see that one of them is WallStrip.  WallStrip is a video blog where stock culture meets pop culture.  It’s shot in New York (Manhattan), and the actress who does the reporting is named Lindsay Campbell.  I started going to the site about a year ago.  It’s a pretty good site, lots of good information.  It’s what gave me the idea to buy shares in Nintendo.

Anyways, me and two co-workers were in New York in the evening wandering around town.  We decided to go to Rockefeller Plaza, which is where NBC shoots a lot of national news reports.  We wanted to go up to the top of the tower to view the skyline of New York.  So, the three of us were walking down the street, chatting.

We were walking and I saw a couple coming toward us.  I looked a bit closer and a flash of familiarity came to me.  “Hey,” I said to myself, “that’s Lindsay Campbell!”  Now, you know normally how when you see someone on the street, you might give it a glance and leave it at that?  Well, I didn’t do that.  I continued to look, just to make sure as we were walking closer together.  It definitely was not at all subtle.

We passed by each other and I got a closer look, and sure enough it was her.  We passed each other and I turned around, doing a double-take.  Now, again, at this point I could have played Mr. Cool and let it go, but heck, I had just seen a celebrity!  I whirled around as they passed, stopped my co-worker and nudged him on the shoulder.  “Hey!” I said to him, “that’s Lindsay Campbell.  From WallStrip!”  My co-worker doesn’t know what WallStrip is, but I do.  He stopped and asked me what I said, so I repeated it.

At this point I was no longer walking on the street, I had turned around and looking at the couple.  Then, to confirm my identification, she turned around and looked back at us.  She clearly had heard me mention her name and that she was on WallStrip.  Her glance back was definitely one of recognition and acknowledgement, thus confirming that I had, indeed, seen Lindsay Campbell on the street.  Just out of pure luck.

As she looked back, I cursed my forgetfulness at not having brought my camera.  If I had it, I definitely would have run back and asked for a picture.  It was a couple of minutes later I realized that my cell phone had a camera.  Drat!

That was the highlight of my trip to New York.

image

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Trips to somewhere

Back in April, I opined about where I wanted to go this summer for vacation.  I had a number of options including Eastern Canada, China, Scotland, Las Vegas and short trips here and there.  Well, it’s now nearing the end of 2007 so I don’t have much more time to do anything.

When I moved down to Microsoft Seattle from Canada in September, I had around 28 vacation days saved up.  But when I moved, I’m not allowed to carry over any days from Canada to the US so they cashed them out and paid me for them.  So I had to start my vacation days all over again from scratch.  I was quite disappointed in this because whereas before I had the time but not the money, now I have the money but not the time.  Between Sept and Dec 2007, I can only save up 5 days.  At the moment I have just under 3 days banked.

However, it turns out that my fifth option that I listed (short trips here and there) was what actually happened.  I managed to do a lot of business travel and mix in quick trips.  Here’s a rundown:

  1. San Francisco, January 2007 – I went down to San Fran for a job interview and saw a little bit of the city.
  2. Vancouver, April 2007 – I went down to Seattle for work and on the way back, me and a co-worker spent a bit of time wandering around Vancouver.
  3. Minneapolis, June 2007 – I went down to Minneapolis for a magician’s convention, and on the day before I left I spent some time wandering around the Mall of America and the downtown area.
  4. San Francisco/San Jose/Las Vegas, August 2007 – I went to a conference for work in San Jose and met up with a friend and toured San Francisco.  I then went on a quick three-day trip to Las Vegas.
  5. New York City, November 2007 – I just came back from a trip to New York this week.  That was for work but I did get to see quite a bit of the city.

So, while I haven’t taken any official holidays (other than 1 day I took off for Vegas… the other day-of-the-week I took off was a public holiday in Canada), I have managed to see a number places in a short period of time.  I’ve been lucky this year to be able to travel on a regular basis, about once every two months.

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Return to blogging

It’s been ages since I last posted to this blog.  The reason is two-fold:

  1. My neighbor’s free wireless went down and I couldn’t get online.
  2. My laptop died.

I’ve now got a different laptop, and I finally got internet access installed this weekend so I shall return to regular blogging.

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