managing

I’m going to go ahead and change the number to a post-surgery day so I have a better idea what is going on. Surgery happened on Day 52 so if you want to calculate days since injury, just add that number.

Day 13 PS (see what I did there?)

Before surgery, I greedily read up all the blogs I could find on the internet about people commenting about ACL surgery. Well, that’s a lie. I greedily read up around 5-6 blogs before tiring and thinking that I’d be some sort of unique scientific case to whom all the common symptoms/recovery processes wouldn’t apply. Of course, this wasn’t true. But it was nice to think about it.

Anyhow, I’m digressing.

The common theme that I think should have been prevalent in all the blogs but wasn’t, possibly because of the attitude the writers were trying to present, is that at some point or another, you’re going to feel sorry for yourself. It’s inevitable. And the reason I say this is because I think the vast majority of people who tear their ACL and actually elect to have surgery are active. My (unscientific) thinking behind this is that:

(a) It’s kind of hard to tear your ACL while being non-active. It’s not something that you just pull. Considerable force must be at play.
(b) Surgery is recommended only if there are additional tears that have long-term effects (such as meniscii) or with people who are young and don’t want to change their lifestyle.

An ACL surgery makes you go from some amount of activeness to no amount of activeness. It sucks.

Personally, in the weeks following my injury I laid low from a fitness perspective. When I got injured, I was in the best shape of my life (which is not a huge compliment to my fitness regime, by the way, because there was still lots to improve). I was playing basketball about 3 times a week and running about 3 times a week. My vertical had improved by at least a few inches in the past few months and I was about an inch or 2 from touching rim… which, for a guy who barely hits 5’6″, was pretty exciting. All that changed in the matter of seconds.

Following my injury, my leg didn’t really permit me to engage in any form of exercise. Thankfully, the initial swelling finally subsided and I had the chance to dedicate some much needed time to my upper body. I swapped out my fitness regiment to basically lifting 3 times a week and additionally alternating between shoulder sets and arms sets on those days. Once my legs became stronger, I added some stationary bike and leg presses. I was losing lower body muscle but I was still relatively fit since my metabolism was higher whatwith all the resistance training.

In the two weeks since surgery, my only exercise has been my rehab exercises. And. It. Sucks. As a person who was trying to get more active and actually enjoys it, ACL tears and surgery sucks. It doesn’t make you depressed but it makes you pretty damn annoyed. I went from exercising 5-6 days a week to working out my upper body 3 times a week to spending most of my day with my leg raised on a couch watching TV. The metamorphosis is unreal. My body hasn’t caught up with me yet, but I’ve lost most of the muscle mass I gained over the last few weeks in the form of fat. I’m afraid if this continue for a few more weeks, I’ll start actually putting on pounds on top of those pounds I already need to lose.

Anyhow, the rambly nature of this post is basically trying to say: if you are going to get ACL surgery, prepare yourself for at least some point in time where you feel really shitty about the situation you are in. For me, I have so far experienced this in the lack of an active lifestyle. But I know that when basketball season starts, I’ll be absolutely aching to get back on the court to play the sport I love. And it’s going to kill me to know that I can’t play until I’ve healed up well enough. It sucks.

Okay, back to regularly scheduled programming. Today marked the third straight day of going to work for a full day and it was also the first day since I got prescribed the new painkillers that I didn’t take any. My appointment with the PT also went well and I was cleared to walk without crutches at home. The walking is still a little rickety but I have good gait. New exercises at PT included balancing on one leg (both my good leg and my bad leg) and walking on the treadmill at a very slow speed for about 5 minutes (no crutches). It’s definitely nice to see concrete progress. My unknown-units measure went up from about 74 last time to 120 today. So that was a huge leap.

I’m guessing I’ll be allowed to walk without crutches, but with the brace, sometime next week. The criteria for having to walk without a brace is to do a perfect straight leg raise. Right now, I’d say my knee has about 3-4 degrees of flexion when it’s the straightest I can get it. I need to get that to 0. Apparently the only way to do this is to do a lot of straight leg raises.

Today, I also found out that the thing I thought was a nail in my leg is actually a pin that will eventually dissolve away. This is good to hear because it would be pretty annoying to have a nail in my bone for the rest of my life. I have provided photos below for people who are not Facebook friends with me.

Anyhow, that’s it for this long, rambling post. The gist of it is that I’m struggling to come to grips with my temporarily new lifestyle. But the progress has been positive and hopefully I can get back to the way things were sooner rather than later.

mmmbop

It has been a while since I posted my depressingly pessimistic piece, huh? Well, thankfully the air has cleared, the weather has become better and I almost feel the springiness of the supposed current season. A lot has happened in the last few weeks and a lot is gonna happen in the next few, so I decided to take a step back and deliver smorgasbord of updates.

Getting Swoll

Let’s start with the most recent updates. Just this Sunday I ran the Capitol 10K, which is Texas’ largest 10K (and possibly largest race?). The longest distance I’ve run competitively before is — 0 km. Yep, this was the first somewhat competitive race I’ve done. My previous runs in a non-competitive environment were a 7K in the first ever Mumbai Marathon and about 13 km to raise money for orangutans when I was back in Middle School. I’ve always wanted to get into running and when a buddy brought up 10K, I decided to make the leap. Armed with a fresh new pair of shoes, I couldn’t be stopped.

I didn’t train too hard but did run 4.5, 5 and 6.2 miles in the three Sundays leading up to the race, thus building my endurance up. Race day was surprisingly refreshing, despite the extremely hot weather. I managed to complete the 6.2 miles without stopping once and actually setting and resetting my 1-mile record with every split (except the last one). Maybe it was the adrenaline or the runner’s gel, but the run was relatively easy and I think I could have gone on for at least a couple more miles without too much struggle (I even sprinted the last half mile or so). The half-marathon is next in my sights.

The running of Cap 10K also coincided with the beginning of basketball season. While the hoops at NI leave a lot to be desired, the team I put together this season seems pretty legitimate. We’ve got two legitimate post threats, two defensive-minded forwards and me handling the ball. We dominated in the first game of the season to win 20-8. Our league is pretty tough, but I’m hoping we drop a maximum of 2 games and head to the winner’s bracket come tournament time.

Yeah, so I’m not really getting swoll… yet.

Laughing at all sorts of shit

I missed The Hunger Games screening because my friends decided to buy tickets when I was 10,000 miles away (thanks, guys!) but I did end up watching 21 Jump Street this week. The movie is freaaaaaking amazing. I got an abdominal workout watching it. My head was sweating from laughter. I didn’t even know it was possible for head sweating to occur from laughing. I feel enlightened. Now, I’m looking forward to the slapstick crass humor marathon that should be The Dictator. After all, Sacha Baron Cohen has a name to uphold (and I hope I spelled it correctly).

Also, this isn’t quite laughing, but I’m super-excited for Childish Gambino in about a week’s time! He was awesome when he did stand-up/performed last year at Emo’s. I’m pumped to watch him at a real venue (Stubb’s). I’m hoping to be celebrating a basketball domination next Thursday (we play a game at 5.15pm). Next week is going to be pretty much dedicated to listening to Camp over and over again.

That’s all for now. I know all 4 of my readers are itching for some videos, so I should have some up soon. Look forward to some Madeon. He’s fucking legit.

houston rockets 2010-2011

I’m going to go ahead and take a premature look at the Houston Rockets outfit for the upcoming NBA season. Premature because Morey may still have a few aces up his sleeve. If so, these will probably have to be sign-and-trades since it appears that we have used up our salary cap while renewing the contracts of Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola.

Starters

#0 Aaron Brooks (PG)

Aaron Brooks will come back as starting point guard after a stellar year last season, where he won the Most Improved Player honor from the NBA. Brooks led the NBA in three pointers made last season and took on the role of our primary scoring option (at least for the beginning of the season) as the Trevor Ariza experiment kind of failed and Kevin Martin was finding his feet.

This season, Yao is back which means that our guards should get even more open shots as teams try to crowd the middle and double Yao. This should mean more open looks for Aaron Brooks and as long as he keeps up the performances, more points. With several scoring options on the team now, with Yao back and Kevin Martin having the summer to work his way into Adelman’s offense, Brooks will have to tone down his shooting game a bit and look for his teammates. Let’s see if he’s up for the challenge!

#12 Kevin Martin (SG)

When the rockets pulled off the blockbuster deal earlier this year, signing Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill and a couple of other guys, they were making an investment in a young shooting guard who could become our primary scoring option after Tracy McGrady moved on. Kevin Martin took some time to find his feet in Adelman’s offense and although his final season numbers left a bit to be desired (about 21 PPG), he did miss a significant portion of the end of our season, due to injury (and the fact that we were probably not going to qualify to the playoffs).

Here’s hoping that Martin has worked his way into Adelman’s offense over the summer and that he is less of a ball-hog. That stuff worked in Sacramento where apart from Tyreke Evans, he was the only dependable scorer, but the Rockets are looking at several scorers on the roster now, so Martin will need to share the ball a bit. He’s got to be our go-to guy, though!

#1 Trevor Ariza (SF)

Trevor Ariza was our main pickup last offseason after being a pretty clutch player down the stretch for the Lakers in their 2009 NBA championship. With Artest leaving for the Lakers, it was effectively a trade. Artest had been okay for us–his defense had been good but his offense left a lot to be desired.

Unfortunately, Ariza has struggled with more of the same problems during his year at the Rockets. Of course, it was unfair to ask a player coming off the bench to start and be our primary scorer, but I do think Ariza’s talents were overrated a bit.

Ariza contributed 15 points a game last year, but what he was best at was his defense. He’s not as strong as Artest by any stretch of the imagination, but he plays the passing lanes really well and he can finish strong on fast breaks. His nearly 2 steals a game was good enough for #6 in the league. His defensive contribution is inarguable but he definitely needs to improve his shot selection to continue to justify his place in the starting line-up (although we don’t really have much in the bank to replace him with).

#4 Luis Scola (PF)

Luis Scola just signed a huge contract with the Rockets. Although it has not yet been confirmed, the contract is rumored to be worth $47 million over 5 years. Considering that Scola made a little over $3 million last year, that can be considered quite a huge upgrade. And he’s worth it, too.

Scola is an absolute workhorse and probably cannot be matched in the league for hustle. He’s new to the league but he’s shown that good talent can succeed in any league. With Yao out for all of last season, Scola had to step up and help the undersized Chuck Hayes guard the paint. His offense wasn’t bad, either, putting up 16 points a game along with 2 assists. His stat line was certainly impressive.

With Yao back in the starting line-up, Scola will be even more effective in offense on the weak side. Defensively, he’ll probably allow Yao to play smaller minutes and help out a guy like Jordan Hill or Chuck Hayes coming off the bench at the center position. Scola is on the wrong side of youth, though, so his 5-year contract may well see him finish off his career in the Rockets uniform. Let’s hope he can continue contributing as he did last year. Oh, and let’s also hope that he stops flopping so much.

#11 Yao Ming (C)

For a team that was missing it’s starting center (and such a huge one at that), the Rockets did pretty well to finish as the only team in the league with a winning record but no playoff berth. Of course, Adelman tweaked our offense quite a bit to have us run more and play smaller, especially with our 3-guard line-ups and with Chuck Hayes starting at center.

Our offense this year is going to be a lot different with Yao coming  back, and especially a ginger-footed Yao coming back (one who cannot really run the court, if he even had that ability before–luckily we have Scola for that!). However, it will not hurt to have a shot-blocking presence in the paint once again.

At his peak, Yao was getting 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. He’s going to be a lot less than that statistically speaking, but I think he’s going to have a huge effect on the intangibles. With Brooks, Martin and Ariza all able 3-point shooters, we should be able to work an inside-outside game into our offense. We just need to keep Yao healthy, which means he’s probably going to have low minutes. I sure hope Jack Sikma has been working Jordan Hill into NBA shape!

Bench

The Rockets have the luxury of having one of the deeper benches in the league, although some of that advantage is wiped out by not having an incandescent (I’m stealing a word from NBA 2K10, here) starting line-up. Let’s take a look at our bench:

Centers

Our back-up centers list consists of David Anderson and Chuck Hayes with Jordan Hill filling in sometimes. Certainly not an impressive list, but one that is capable. David Anderson is a different kind of center in that he has almost no post game but has a really good outside shot. However, towards the end of last season he was showing off a few post moves, so hopefully an offseason with Sikma will have done him wonders. The Chuckwagon is… well… the Chuckwagon. He’s not going to blow anyone away, but he’s had a few good games.

Power Forwards

Our power forwards list consists of Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries and Patrick Patterson. Of this bunch, I think Hill is probably the biggest prospect because he’s young, tall and athletic. Recent press from Sikma suggests that Hill hasn’t developed as quickly as desired. I’m hoping that they are just being tight-lipped about it! Jeffries is a decent back-up forward. He gets a lot of offensive boards and doesn’t like dunking. He’s more in the team to fill up minutes and I suppose clear cap space next season when his contract expires. Patrick Patterson is our first round draft pick but I unfortunately did not follow enough NCAA basketball to comment on him.

Small Forwards

Our backup small forwards come in the form of Chase Budinger, Shane Battier and Mike Harris (if he get’s re-signed from the D-League). Budinger could be more accurately classified as a shooting guard given how much of a scorer he is, but he’s usually not playing that position when he’s in the rotation. Budinger remains one of our shinier prospects off the bench next year. Battier used to be our defensive backbone but his performances have fallen off a bit. I personally think his best basketball is past him, but he could still be useful, given that most of our current line-up is all offense and not so much defense. Harris came from Rice (woot!) and has been dominating the D-League without managing to secure a long-term NBA contract. He’s around more for backup due to injury.

Guards

The final two players off the bench are Kyle Lowry, who recently signed a 4-year deal worth $24 million, and Jermaine Taylor. Taylor is a scrub, so not much to talk about him (apart from his great athletic ability). Lowry if a player who is coming into his own in the NBA, as our 3-guard rotations demonstrated last year. He’s great at running the fast-break and drawing fouls and he’s also worked a hell of a lot on his 3-point shot. Lowry is a pass-first point guard so he would be useful in situations where Brooks is not shooting well. Definitely a good guy to hang on to, although I foresee him being traded away towards the end of his contract.

So that’s basically it! I’m pumped for the NBA season although there are still several months to go!


playoffs, round 2

Round 2 of the NBA playoffs have now begun with a couple of teams I was supporting having crashed out. To start off with, let’s see how I did with my predictions:

Eastern Conference
Cleveland (1) vs. Chicago (8): Cavs 4-1 (Prediction: Cavs 4-0)
Orlando (2) vs. Charlotte (7): Magic 4-0 (Prediction: Magic 4-1)
Atlanta (3) vs. Milwaukee (6): Series tied 3-3 (Prediction: Hawks 4-2)
Boston (4) vs. Miami (5): Celtics 4-1 (Prediction: Celtics 4-2)

So I’ve got 3 of the 4 series winners right (and could get the Hawks-Bucks match-up as well). Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of the scorelines right! Apart from the Hawks-Bucks tussle, everything really went as planned. Which is not really a surprise since the East was pretty segmented in terms of strong teams and weak teams.

Western Conference:
L.A. (1) vs. Oklahama City (8): Lakers 4-2 (Prediction: Lakers 4-1)
Dallas (2) vs. San Antonio (7): Spurs 4-2 (Prediction: Spurs 4-3)
Phoenix (3) vs. Portland (6): Suns 4-2 (Prediction: Suns 4-2)
Denver (4) vs. Utah (5): Jazz 4-2 (Prediction: Nuggets 4-1)

My predictions here were kind of all over the place. While I nailed down 3 of the series winners and even one scoreline, I predicted pretty badly on the Nuggets-Jazz match up. To my credit, the 4-5 seed match-up is always a bit harder to predict! But seriously, the Jazz surprised me with their performance. Boozer looked unstoppable and Nuggets were missing George Karl a lot more than I expected. Not particularly happy, either, since I hate the Jazz (and the Spurs).

Let’s take a look at Round 2, now, the conference semi-finals. These are a lot harder to predict, but I’ll take a swing, anyway.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Boston Celtics (4) — Cleveland leads 1-0

Game 1 was pretty hotly contested with the Celtics leading most of the way before the Cavs took over down the stretch. LeBron had another good performance and the Cavs have taken the lead and maintained home-court advantage. This series is difficult to call because you never know how well the Celtics’ veterans are going to play. Ray Allen had an okay night and has had only an okay playoffs with bursts. LeBron, the regular-season MVP, has being gunning at full power. I think the Cavs will win this one and it won’t go the stretch, but I’m not sure how many games it will take.

PREDICTION: Cavaliers 4-2

Orlando Magic (2) vs. Atlanta Hawks (3)/Milwaukee Bucks (4) — TBD

Hard to call a series that hasn’t even had the opponents determined yet! The Bucks are challenging the Hawks well, and it seems that Atlanta has been suffering from at least some level of complacency. Brandon Jennings is aiming for a fairy-tale finish in his rookie playoff series. I think Orlando will win the series to set up an EC final clash with the Cavaliers, but the scoreline depends on who they are facing.

PREDICTION: Magic 4-2 (vs. Hawks); Magic 4-1 (vs. Bucks)

Now, the Western Conference…

Western Conference

L.A. Lakers (1) vs. Utah Jazz (5)

The Lakers are coming off a harder-than-expected battle against the inspiring Oklahoma City Thunder whereas the Jazz have polished up the Nuggets in the first round pretty easily. The Lakers bench has finally began to show signs of life, punching in 30 points in Game 6 against the Thunder. However, they are still dependent on their starters and with Bynum injured for potentially a few games, they could be in a bit of a hole. The Jazz have learned to play well without a few of their regulars, but I think the Lakers play far too good team basketball to be outdone in similar fashion to the Nuggets. Boozer will find it harder to score against the likes of Gasol and Bynum (provided he’s back). Deron Williams is likely to draw Artest as his defender and we all saw how poorly KD shot during the first-round match-up. I’m going with the Lakers in 6.

PREDICTION: Lakers 4-2

Phoenix Suns (3) vs. San Antonio Spurs (7)

The Suns will be happy to have landed home-court advantage here, since at the beginning of the playoffs they would have undoubtedly been preparing for a second-round match-up with the hot Dallas Mavericks. The Suns ended up cleaning the heavily-injured Trailblazers in 6, probably a game or two longer than they would have liked. Phoenix cannot afford to lose home-court advantage to the Spurs in this series, especially not as early as the Mavericks lost it. The Spurs are playing some really hot basketball right now with George Hill on absolute fire. The big three of Ginobili, Parker and Duncan haven’t really been firing on all cylinders, either, so it would be scary to think of the possibilities if all four of those guys are playing well. I’m supporting the Suns, as usual, but I think the Spurs will take this. I will be very disappointed if they do so, since they would effectively have taken out 3 of the teams I do support in the West (Houston couldn’t make a playoff spot, Dallas in the first round and now, Phoenix).

PREDICTION: Spurs 4-3

Bring on the second round!

it’s playoff time

Finally the only playoffs I actually care about have started–the NBA Playoffs. This weekend featured 8 games in two sets of quadruple-header action. Interestingly, there were no upsets whatsoever, with all the higher seeds getting the victory except for Phoenix. It will be interesting to see if this will continue being the case as we progress through the playoffs. I’m going to take a look at each of the series and give a slight prediction as to what I expect to happen, as well as who I’d rather see winning:

Eastern Conference

Cleveland (1) vs. Chicago (8) — Cleveland leads 1-0

This one’s a no-brainer for me. The Cavs have far too much offense for the Bulls to be anything more than a blip on their radar. This showed in Game 1, where Derrick Rose was the only guy who could really put up points for the Bulls, and even he scored 28 points off 28 shot attempts. The Bulls will need Hinrich to score to cause any upsets in this series. Personally, I want to see the Cavaliers win because I think a Kobe vs. LeBron final would be interesting.

PREDICTION: Cavaliers 4-0

Orlando (2) vs. Charlotte (7) — Orlando leads 1-0

Again, this seems to be a competition between high-powered versus low-octane offense. In Game 1, Orlando got off to a huge lead before Charlotte clawed back. The Magic hung on for the win, however. I’m pretty neutral about this match-up–I don’t care for either team. Charlotte is a mix between young, inexperienced players (like Gerald Wallace) and veterans (like Stephen Jackson). Jackson sat out a portion of the game due to injury, though, so it’s probably going to be a Magic roll. I’ll go ahead and give the Bobcats a game, but that is a very optimistic prediction.

PREDICTION: Orlando 4-1

Atlanta (3) vs. Milwaukee (6) — Atlanta leads 1-0

This is a match-up that I think could get really close, especially if Brandon Jennings gets some help from his team. Both these teams are young and inexperienced, relatively speaking. If Andrew Bogut wasn’t injured, I wouldn’t be surprised if this went down to 7 games. Atlanta has secured their highest playoff seed in the last few seasons (right?) so they can consider themselves a tad unlucky for drawing a relatively hot Bucks team. I think the Hawks will hang on, though. I’m supporting them.

PREDICTION: Atlanta 4-2

Boston (4) vs. Miami (5) — Boston leads 1-0

The 4-5 match-up is always the one most likely to throw up an upset, but it seems Miami’s offense has been a bit stagnant of late. This is probably going to be a pretty low-scoring series, with an emphasis on defense. Ray Allen continued to struggle in Game 1 as the Celtics hung on to a scrappy victory. D-Wade was sublime and questionable in equal measures in the first game. For example, I couldn’t understand why he picked up his dribble outside the three point line over and over again in the 4th quarter whereas he had been getting to the hoop at will in the previous 3 periods. With Garnett’s suspension, Miami has a chance to steal one on the road. I want to see this series go down to 7 and for Miami to win, but I think Boston will hold on–as they’ve managed to in the last couple of seasons.

PREDICTION: Boston 4-2

Now for the conference that matters… the Western Conference. 🙂

Western Conference

L.A. Lakers (1) vs. Oklahoma City (8) — Lakers lead 1-0

OkC would be disappointed with falling to the 8th seed in the West after having such a strong season and drawing a match-up with the Lakers. Luckily for them, the Lakers have been in questionable form for the last month or so. In their first playoff appearance, the Thunder, led by Kevin Durant, seemed overawed by the occasion. KD never really got going and the Thunder followed suit. They pulled close to the Lakers a couple of time, but even with Bryant shooting horribly, weren’t able to pull out the rare win in Lakerland. The Lakers will benefit mightily from having Bynum back and Odom will bolster up a very shallow and weak bench. If a Laker starter gets injured over the course of this series, I think the Thunder may get close, but as it stands, I think L.A.’s post presence is going to be enough to pull off the win. I’ll give the Thunder 1 win at home. I’m supporting the Lakers in this one.

PREDICTION: Los Angeles 4-1

Dallas (2) vs. San Antonio (7) — Mavericks lead 1-0

The Spurs are playing with their worst playoff seed since the 90’s or something like that. With many of their key players injured this season, I suppose they’ll take a low playoff spot rather than none. In Game 1, the game stayed tight for a long time but the Mavericks managed to hold on. Dirk Nowitzki was nearly perfect, yesterday, missing just 3 shots from the field and making all his free throws. Caron Butler provided a spark that was much-needed given Jason Terry’s lackluster performance off the bench (though Terry did nail some clutch jumpers at the end). The Mavericks have had a propensity to choke in the playoffs, though. Parker is still working his way into the rotation (he’s lost his starting job to Ginobili) and Duncan is still consistent but not phenomenal. I’m going to predict an upset here and say San Antonio will win in 7. I hope to hell that I’m wrong because there isn’t a team I despise more than the Spurs.

PREDICTION: San Antonio 4-3

Phoenix (3) vs. Portland (6) — Blazers lead 1-0

Phoenix were the only home team to lose on opening weekend and hence squandered their homecourt advantage to the perennially-injured Trail Blazers. With Brandon Roy recovering from injury for at least 2 weeks, the Suns were probably expecting a first round walkover. The Blazers have learned to play without their best players throughout the season, though, going through a bizarre sequence of injuries that affected everyone from Greg Oden to Pryzbilla to Aldridge to Roy over the regular season. They managed to get healthy to secure up a playoff spot, but lost Roy almost immediately. Andre Miller has played some inspired basketball of late, and the Blazers have snapped up the homecourt advantage to set up an intriguing contest. I’m supporting Phoenix in this match-up and I think Nash and Amare will eventually be able to get the away game back. In fact, unless Roy returns earlier than scheduled, I think the Suns will win with a game to spare.

PREDICTION: Phoenix 4-2

Denver (4) vs. Utah (5) — Nuggets lead 1-0

Denver would be disappointed at falling down to the fourth seed and possibly meeting the Lakers as early as the 2nd round. However, they’ve got to concentrate on the series at hand. Unfortunately for the Jazz, it looks like they’ve been hit by the injury bug at the worst possible time. Their offense has been severely dented by the loss of Kirilenko leading into the playoffs and now Okur, whose out of the rest of the postseason following Game 1. Boozer is not at 100% either, so that puts the burden of offense squarely on the shoulders of Deron Williams, with some help from the likes of Korver and Brewer. The Nuggets looked pretty strong on Saturday night, with Carmelo looking in great rhythm. I actually think that the Nuggs will take this series pretty easily. If the Jazz had been a bit healthier, my money was on them causing the upset, but this is just too many chips to overcome.

PREDICTION: Nuggets 4-1

traveling on the job and my life’s shortest flight

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago and Wisconsin for National Instruments’ LabVIEW Developer Education Days. This is basically an event that NI holds throughout the country in several different locations to spread awareness of a few new features in the LabVIEW environment and how users may use it. There are two tracks–an intermediate track and an advanced track. This is usually an event put together by the regional sales staff, and they usually fly out an R&D Engineer to head up the advanced track sessions. This is not only because R&D works on the features being demonstrated on a day-to-day basis, but because it offers an awesome opportunity for R&D to see how customers actually react to their product.

So, I was flown in to Chicago on Monday morning as part of this effort. On Monday I met one of our customers in the Chicago area, DMC, and had an opportunity to see what sorts of things they are working on. I also gave a short presentation and demo of the feature I’ve been working on, which is basically the ability to add third party licensing & activation to users developing extensions to LabVIEW.

Tuesday was the first developer education day, in Chicago, hosted at Harper College. Harper is a community college but it had a pretty large campus. In fact, they even had a lake! Their convention center was very slick, and had an amphitheater. Anyhow, the developer day itself went pretty well. In the morning, I presented Graphical Scripting, which is a LabVIEW feature that allows users to generate LabVIEW code from LabVIEW programs. This may not make a lot of sense, and unfortunately I cannot think of any analogies outside of the programming domain. Think of it as similar to writing Java code that generates Java code. This basically allows you to automate certain repetitive code patterns.

The afternoon session that I presented was on Advanced Control and PID. I will confess that this is not a topic that I am very familiar with, but the presentation gave me the opportunity to learn about the topic. As software engineers (especially a new one like myself), I don’t really have the opportunity of seeing a real world usage of LabVIEW. The control presentation and a few chats with the attendees afterwards showed me how LabVIEW users use the various parts of the LabVIEW system in their work. It was pretty cool.

After the event on Tuesday, we packed up and shipped our presentation materials to Milwaukee. Ended up having dinner at an Asian restaurant near our hotel (I think it was called Big Bowl or something like that). Since there was nothing else to really do, we ended up catching a movie at a nearby theater–She’s Out Of My League. It was a pretty funny movie… not on the level of The Hangover or Hot Tub Time Machine, though!

On Wednesday, unfortunately the customer visit I had scheduled got cancelled. In the morning I went with the Chicago sales engineers to a company called EcoloCap, which has apparently been developing a high-efficiency, low-cost, environmentally-friendly fuel called “M-Fuel”. They have a bunch of information published, if anyone wants to read more about it. In the afternoon, I visited the public section of Fermi Particle Acceleration Lab. Fermi can be considered as the precursor to CERN. It was a pretty interesting outlook, and gave me an idea as to how NI technology can be used in big physics. Unfortunately, we had no visits scheduled there so I couldn’t get a deeper understanding of how everything worked.

We then drove to Milwaukee (or maybe it was a place called Waukesha… I don’t know) where our Wisconsin Dev Day was going to be held. Luckily we could set up at any time (at Chicago we had to set up at 6:30am on the day of the conference). After checking into our rooms, we waited for all the sales engineers to arrive before setting up. It did not take that long to set up, luckily. We rounded the day off by having dinner at a nearby seafood grill. The food was quite delicious!

Thursday followed much of the same schedule as the Tuesday Developer Day. The turnout was a bit smaller, but higher than the normal Milwaukee Dev Day, I was told. Nothing spectacular/unique to report on that day. After the event we packed up, said good bye to the Chicago sales engineers and relaxed for most of the rest of the evening (except for dinner, of course).

Friday, the last day of my trip, featured three customer visits. I visited Dyne Systems in the morning, FasTek over lunch and Soliton after lunch. Each of the three customers gave me an idea of what they did with their products and with NI technology and then I gave them a short presentation and demo of how the feature I was working on could help them make some moolah. After all that was done, I was dropped off at the Milwaukee General airport (MKE), where I took the shortest flight of my life.

The flight was between Milwaukee and Chicago O’Hare. Our plane left the ground at 4:07pm and touched down at O’Hare at 4:25pm. An 18 minute flight. I don’t want to think about how much that cost! Unfortunately, the wait at Chicago was a little more than 3 hours. I spent the time in one of the restaurants where I had a leisurely-paced dinner with a couple of beers while watching some baseball. Probably the only baseball I’ll watch all year!

I touched down in Austin at around 10:30pm and got a SuperShuttle pretty quickly (which is weird, kinda, usually the wait is around 20 minutes). Got back home at around 11:15pm and was very tired but ended up watching the Tuesday episode of Lost. Still have to catch up with HIMYM, Modern Family and 24, though.

Anyways, after two back-to-back 9-hour sleeping nights, I feel good again! Unfortunately for my health, the NBA Playoffs began this weekend which means 20 hours of basketball (a quadruple-header each day)!

time to build a run

The four new Rockets have now been dressed for two games, and half of them have seen playing time. Kevin Martin came off the bench in both our losses whereas Jeffries had his debut in the ketchup-mustard alternate today, against the Hornets. So far, the signs have been encouraging, but unfortunately the “W” has been in the wrong column for the Rockets, on both days.

Yesterday’s loss to Indiana stung particularly hard, especially since these are the teams that the Rockets have to beat to make it to the playoffs. Indiana is currently the second-worst team in the Eastern conference, and considering that the worst team are the lowly New Jersey Nets (who will probably end the season with a single figured number of wins), this was a harsh loss. What was worse was that the Rockets lost despite scoring 115 points. I think Indiana average in the mid-90s this year, but yesterday they put 125 on us.

Kevin Martin came off the bench and Ariza moved to the small forward position, as expected. He had a particularly nondescript shooting night, scoring 14 points going 3-16 from the field. Today wasn’t much better, as he went 5-12 against the Hornets. He’s yet to hit a three pointer in a Rockets uniform, too. However, he seems to be getting into the rhythm, especially late in the game today. It’ll be up to Adelman and his staff to get these new additions to get into the system asap. The Rockets commentators suggested that this may take as many as 10-15 games. Unfortunately, with 27 games remaining in our season as of now, that may be a bit too many.

Jared Jeffries played his first minutes today and he was pretty impressive, especially on defense. The 6’11” length that he brings us is definitely going to help us. The Rockets are already a pretty good offensive rebounding team, from what I remember, and if Jeffries can repeat performances like today’s, where he grabbed 6 offensive boards, we’ll be in good shape. Jeffries did miss a couple of easy lay-ups and for some reason he abhors the dunk. Late in the fourth quarter, Jeffries took drop in lay-ups with no one at the rim instead of flushing it down. Perhaps he’s just playing it a bit easy until he gets comfortable with his team and the coaching staff.

Jordan Hill and Hilton Armstrong are yet to see minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how many opportunities they will get to earn a spot in the rotation, going late into the season.

Our schedule next week is rough–we play Orlando, who dealt the Cavs their third straight loss today, on Wednesday, followed by back-to-back games against San Antonio and Utah on Friday and Saturday. So if we think it’s going to get easier for our new players to adjust, we’ve got another thing coming! Let’s see if Kevin Martin and JJ can prove that they are a proper replacement to Landry (who had 18 points in the Kings’ loss to the Suns tonight).

One more off-topic point. I saw T-Mac play yesterday for the Knicks against the extremely hot Oklahoma Thunder and he certainly impressed. Now, one game is not enough to judge anyone, but I think one can safely conclude that no one expected McGrady to put these sorts of numbers up any game this season, let alone the first one. He had 19 points at the first half, and what was particularly encouraging for him was the fact that most of these points came from layups. As usual, though, he missed a pair of clutch free throws that could’ve earned him his first Knicks victory, allowing KD to tie up the game with a deep three and beat the Knicks in OT. T-Mac’s performance was impressive, and he is a player I will follow closely this season (I already added the Knicks to my League Pass). Let’s see if he has the legs and conditioning to come back and play his best basketball night after night.

the customer ain’t king

This is a rant directed towards NBA League Pass.

A few weeks ago I complained about ridiculous blackout restrictions that prevented me from watching the Rockets here in Austin, just about 200 miles away. Since people had been complaining for ages without the NBA or anyone who could do anything giving a shit, I decided to stifle my voice and instead purchase a pricey NBA League Pass package. I bought the cheapest one available–that allows me to watch games that are not blacked out by regional restrictions for any 7 teams. It came out to something like $90 for regular season, which isn’t all that bad since that’s equivalent approximately a month and a half of cable for me (which I’ll be downgrading as soon as I can, since the only reason I bought this, more expensive, package is because it has the regional Fox Sports channels, which I found out later they blackout for NBA).

My experience with League Pass has been decent. I’ve been annoyed at the fact that they use a proprietary Flash player which means that I cannot do anything to change the ratio (they output 4:3 whereas my TV is a widescreen 16:9), the scores that take up about half the screen and the fact that they don’t show actual half-time shows. These issues I can understand because (a) they wouldn’t want to provide free advertising to the half-time show sponsors and (b) the entire system was designed by UI dimwits.

What I cannot accept, though, is the fact that sometimes games will just not show. And the reason is that whoever is behind their intricate UI setting up the streams has messed up what channel outputs what game. I had this occur sometime a few weeks back when the Rockets were playing a no-name team. That didn’t matter so much. Tonight, we’re playing the Cavs and were playing them pretty well. Of course, League Pass decided to output the Hornets-Timberwolves game. It went down to the last second–but I don’t give a crap about either of those teams. I was hopeful that the problem would be fixed after the Hornets game was finished and the pivotal fourth quarter began in the Rockets game, but now I have a blank screen staring at me that says “NBA League Pass Broadband Channel 1”. Googling a few forums, I found that the Rockets game is actually playing on the Spurs-Kings channel (who knows what channel that game is being played on?). Of course, the awesome part about this is since Austin is in the Spurs’ hometown sphere of influence, its blacked out on my League Pass. So my options for watching the game are basically down to one: watch an illegal stream from some site (justin.tv, ustream.tv, myp2p.eu pop into mind immediately).

Argh.

But wait, there’s more! The last time, in my frustration, I sent the folks at League Pass an angry email. I got a response about a week later saying sorry because of technical difficulties. Today their chat line happened to be open so I logged in to that. After waiting for about half an hour and posing my query, the representative, “Rebecca” told me that it was a technical issue that they had been notified of and that they couldn’t do anything. I guess their chat line is open for far more pressing issues such as “OMG I can’t install Flash”, which can be solved by using the great Google.

Thank god myp2p pointed me to a Chinese stream. Too bad I can’t understand the commentary…

enjoying the hot heat

It has been a while since I updated this blog, but that does not mean I have not been eating mangoes in plentiful proportions (not that there is any direct connection between those two events). The last few days have been quite “busy” where business contains large expanses of time where I’m lazing around doing nothing in front of the television.

First and foremost, I want to give a shout out to the gym here at my parent’s new apartment. It is quite possibly better than the gym at Rice, though probably containing a fewer number of equipment. This is probably because the gym just opened and hence all the equipment is in mint condition! Anyhow, what this means is that I’m working out pretty much 4-5 days a week (the gym is closed on Mondays). What this also means is that I’m waking up at an unreasonable hour for a vacation (between 8.30am and 9.30am). Oops. Need to work on that and maybe workout in the evening.

I also played basketball at school last Tuesday, and am planning to go tomorrow, as well. ASB has changed a hell of a lot, but my performance in the MPH was torrid as usual. I don’t think I scoerd a single point on offense, although I did have the most number of layup opportunities (and I missed all of them). My jump shooting was poor. I’m hoping it’ll have improved by tomorrow! Not only was I playing basketball after a couple of weeks, but the conditions were alien as well (shut up, Shulmith!). Hopefully I’ll cab it tomorrow so I can stay later.

Another thing I have been doing the last few days is trying to get a decent grounding on the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). One of those summer-projects of mine is a cricket simulator for an online cricket community I’m a part of, and I’m trying to work the UI through WPF instead of WinForms, since I have limited knowledge of both. It has been a steep learning curve, especially compared to the fun world of web UI programming. I’ve managed to find a few solid resources, though, so hopefully I should have a first version of the UI up later this week.

Our family went through the 2 dozen mangoes we purchased in little under a week, and we then purchased something like 2-3 dozen more. So there are a plethora of mangoes available for efficient consumption from the fridge. I’ve taken a few photos, but the camera and all the supportive cabling is too far away so that’ll have to wait for another day. Meanwhile, you can just trust me for telling you that the mangoes are, indeed, deliciously tasty.

Oh, I also watched a lot of the Indian Premier League (IPL) including the semifinals and finals. I didn’t really support any team after the Mumbai Indians crashed out, but I didn’t mind the Deccan Chargers, the eventual winners of the tournament. The thing that concerned me, though, is the fact that throughout the finals weekend, it was evident that the teams/players haven’t adjusted to playing after losing early wickets, yet. In all three games, the team batting first lost a few early wickets and then went into their shell and set substandard targets. In the semis, Deccan and Bangalore made short work of the targets set by their superior opponents, but in the final, Deccan managed to defend a small target thanks to a bit of luck. In the second semifinal, MS Dhoni was the key culprit after slowing down the scoring in the middle overs and being unable to accelerate towards the end. The man will have to do some thinking before going into the Twenty20 World Cup in a couple of weeks.

Also, a note on the NBA Playoffs–what the hell is going on? The commisioner must be in a frenzy as his Kobe-LeBron championship appears to be in jeopardy at the moment as the Magic have stepped it up. Although the Cavs still have homecourt advantage, the Magic look pretty good. Of course, the NBA Eastern Conference finals are not important enough to be screened on ESPN/Star here. The Western Conference games are shown… live. Go figure? Sure the Eastern Conference is usually boring thanks to teams like Detroit (=P) but still… Kobe and the Lakers have wrested back homecourt advantage after the Nuggets stole one in L.A. Game 4 is tomorrow and I’m contemplating waking up at 7AM to watch it.

I think that’s all for now. I’m just going to go back to my WPF self-training. Cheerios.

power to drive

Today, I finally achieved my New Year’s goal of obtaining a Texas Driver’s License, approximately 2-3 months after I had originally planned to. Oh well, I will not gripe about the delay as I have finally got it! The ZipCar has stood by as a good friend (although a somewhat expensive one). I was able to pass my road test this morning but had to come back later in the day to complete the license process since the computers at the DPS were down. However, I made it back at around 4pm courtesy of Johanna and the process took only about 10-15 minutes. I was actually surprised by the speed and friendliness of the staff.

The rest of the day was kind of stretched out because of traffic on both the road as well as the KFC where I had dinner. Ended up watching the newest episode of Lost at J&J’s place. I felt kind of meh about it. It seems to be dragging on the story very slowly and the whole time travel past-future nonsense is seriously making my head hurt a bit.

To ease the pain I focused in on the Rockets-Lakers game. Kobe came out fired up and shooting the lights out. The Lakers hit almost 40 points in the first quarter itself but only managed 18 in the second and at half-time the score was tied up at 57-57. Then the second-half blues hit the Rockets (again) and Kobe kept it going in a dirty, rough game with ample help from Gasol’s uncontested shots and Odom’s rebounding. Our defense in the paint has left a bit to be desired, although I suppose that comes from having to defend several long players (Gasol, Bynum, Odom) concurrently. The Rockets ended up losing but they still have the home-court advantage at the moment.

I spent the evening concurrently packing my belongings. I have managed to pack all my old textbooks away (hopefully the first step in the process of selling them off on eBay or Amazon). I also packed up my printer, so hopefully I won’t need anything from that soon… It appears that I do not have that much to pack. Packing clothes will take a long time, obviously, but I cannot really do that immediately. I hope to wake up tomorrow at around 10am and pack the rest of my non-cloth belongings away into my boxes. I have booked the ZipCar at a bit after noon tomorrow (since we have a Baker seniors lunch) and hope to sign up for my room and transfer a fair few boxes, then. It will also be my first time driving alone!

That’s all for now. Going to continue packing (or at least mentally organizing the packing).