Thursday, November 29, 2007

Basketball Team Takes A Beating, Drops to 4-1

The good news is the Warriors played well enough in the fourth quarter to squeak by the Sacramento Kings last night in a game on their schedule that they 'should' win. The bad news is my church league team that was undefeated fell hard in the second half last night after trailing by just four at halftime.

I'll spare you the details of the game, other than that one of the members of our team dramatically dislocated his finger in the first two minutes of play. Since he didn't drive to the game, another player from our seven man roster had to leave with him to drive him to the emergency room. As a result, we played basically the entire game with five players. Here is the email that our injured player sent to the team this morning:

"My right pinky was dislocated at the knuckle above the first/bottom finger segment. The doctor said there might be a minor fracture, but couldn't really tell from the X-ray image. Either way I'll be wearing a splint for a month, so I won't be able to play for the rest of the season. I hope you guys have better luck in the next game and the playoffs."

We are still in fine shape standings-wise at 4-1, but now have to play the rest of the season without our most scrappy player and one of our best rebounders. He was one of the big reasons we were so improved defensively from last season.

I'll be sure to let you know what happens.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bosco After Haircut...

As promised, here are after photos from Bosco's grooming appointment today. They did a great job, and I'm sure Bosco is happy to no longer be carrying along all that extra hair with him.

He can see much better with the hair out of his eyes, and he still smells like the shampoo they used. Unfortunately, Bosco's eyes turned out green in this otherwise great picture.

These pictures still don't do justice to how petite and skinny he really looks now that his hair is so short.

You can bet Bosco will be back at the groomers in the late February/early March time frame to do it all over again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bosco Before Haircut...

Bosco will be getting groomed tomorrow (or today if you're reading this on Tuesday). It's been since August since his last haircut, and he needs another one badly. I know tomorrow it will look so good that I'll want to put pictures up on here, so I figure I'd better show a 'before' picture to give you some contrast.

So, here it is...

The Finished Fence

From Darcy's earlier post you saw that Mike Baker and I built a fence on Friday. It was Mike's vision, and he was the project leader, but I definitely did my part to help with its construction. I must say it turned out great!

I started helping when Darcy and I got back from lunch with Shonna Rose at about 2:30. Mike had already destroyed the rotted fence, and installed two of the three posts on the new one when I volunteered to help. Despite the fact that Mike estimated it would take us just an hour, we worked tirelessly until after 5pm as it was getting dark.

It turned out to be a great experience and I am happy with what I was able to learn. It was also very rewarding when we finished. I realized at that point that I will take pride in looking at it for many years to come.

Thanksgiving Festivities

This year it was my parent's turn to have us over for Thanksgiving...which would be held at their house with the Carvalho side (my mom's side) of the family. Jeff, Bosco and I drove to Ceres on Wednesday night, chatted with the family a bit, and then set up the Wii which would prove to be a huge part of our Thanksgiving festivities.

Mom and Meghan playing Wii tennis

Our Turkey Day was a lot of fun. The younger cousins enjoyed playing Guitar Hero III on the Wii all day. They only came out to eat dinner and dessert.

My cousin Rachel playing Guitar Hero.

Along with "virtual" guitar, there was also some real guitar playing going on.
Meghan and Jeff teaching Anthony the "real" guitar (he wasn't a big fan of Guitar Hero)

We got to see a lot of the new puppy Cooper who is getting big. Bosco still doesn't like him, but is becoming a little more tolerant when Cooper wants to play.

Cooper at 15 weeks

Thursday night after the family left, our newlywed friends Melissa and Shannon came over and we played the Wii (Guitar Hero and a little tennis) until 1am.

Friday, after a typical La Morenita lunch (we got there everytime we go to see my folks), Jeff got put to work helping my dad build a new section of fence. I didn't get a picture of the finished product, but it looked a lot better when they were done.

Friday evening Melissa and Shannon came over again, along with Jennifer, Jeff and Shonna. We played the wii for a couple hours and then headed to downtown Modesto. Luckily, we stopped at the Speakeasy first, where my favorite local guitarist Neil Buettner was playing. We ended up staying there almost until closing time.

Overall, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving and a much needed four days off from work. Next year we'll be spending it with the Narduzzis in Santa Rosa.

Bosco felt left out, so I had to add a picture of him (and Jeff making a silly face)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lake Nacimiento

This weekend Darcy and I headed south to Lake Nacimiento, which is a man-made lake that is a winding 30 minute drive northwest of Paso Robles, CA. We hung out with 5 friends from college, one of whose parents own the lake house. Here is the view of the lake from the house's back deck:

We arrived Friday night at about 8pm, just before everyone else. Luckily for us, Rex brought his Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero complete with two guitars. It was great having two guitars so everyone could get to play more.

We proceeded to jam into the 'Wii hours', Rex and I staying up the latest until 2 o'clock in the morning. Guitar Hero is fun, challenging, and addicting. Had it not been sold out Sunday night at Costco, Best Buy, and Target, Darcy and I would already own it. We'll be going back to Target Tuesday night to hopefully get one from their next shipment. Guitar Hero is a must have for any Nintendo Wii owner!

Mike and Darcy's turn:

Saturday we ventured out to a couple of wineries: Tablas Creek and Justin. At Tablas Creek we stood around and tasted. We got an extensive tasting because Chelsea, who is Mandi's brother Trevor's girlfriend, works there. At Justin we got a picnic table, snacked on cheese and crackers, and enjoyed the beautiful November Central Coast weather:

Saturday evening back at the house, we went for a walk down to the lake. When we got back from our walk we cooked a great meal, and played more Guitar Hero. Before it got dark, we gathered for a group photo out on the deck, taking advantage of the timer feature on our cameras.

left to right: Jeff (with Bosco), Darcy, Eric, Mandi (parents own house), Mike, Rex, Kelsey

The last thing worth noting is that we finally opened up our large B.R. Cohn bottle of wine on Saturday night. It was a wedding gift from my good friend Brent Piekny's mom Paula. She works at B.R. Cohn, a great winery in Glen Ellen, CA. We had considered cracking it open numerous times, but never did until 14 months after receiving it. We knew we had to wait for a momentous occasion and this one seemed like it. The wine bottle has "September 16th, 2006" written on it in Paula's handwriting, and to immortalize the event of finally opening it, we decided to take a picture with it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mark Messier at Open Gym at Saratoga High

Last night I went to Saratoga High School in Saratoga, CA to play pick-up basketball. I met four other guys from my Wednesday night church league team. We haven't played a game in two weeks and don't play again until Nov. 28th, so want to stay fit for our next game. The word from my teammates is that our next opponent will be our most difficult.

At the open gym, there were two games running side by side, and about 30 guys were there. It's 'winner stays' and the brand of basketball was pretty good. There was ball movement, not an over abundance of fouling, and good attitudes all around. Everyone was expected to pay $3 to play.

Interestingly enough, hockey great Mark Messier was there! He seemed to there by himself, but may have been there with another guy I saw him talking to. When I first saw him he seemed familiar to me, but I didn't outright identify him. I didn't know it was him until I got to talking to a former colleague of mine from Synnex named Allen who happened to be there. Allen randomly said to me, "Hey, did you know that's Mark Messier, he comes to this open gym a lot", as he pointed to him dribbling the ball on the sideline.
Taken straight from Wikipedia: Mark Messier is widely considered among the best NHL players of all time. He is second on the all-time career lists for regular season points (1887), playoff points (295) and regular season games played (1756). He won six Stanley Cups with the Oilers and Rangers, and is the only professional athlete to captain two different teams to championships. In 2007 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Full Wikipedia HERE.

I am not a devoted hockey fan, but you don't have to be to have heard of Mark Messier. He is a legendary sports figure who played much of his career in New York City's Madison Square Garden. Thursday night, it was neat to see him as a regular guy who just wanted to play some basketball. He seems to be a decent basketball player and I could tell he is fierce competitor.
Whether he lives in Saratoga, CA these days I don't know. But the fact that he was described as a 'regular' at this open gym would indicate that at least one of his houses is there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Warrior Game Exciting, But Ends In Disappointing Loss

Last night (Wednesday night) Darcy and I drove out to The Oracle Arena in Oakland for the second time in five days. Saturday night it was Billy Joel, but this time it was to see the Warriors take on the Detroit Pistons. This game is Detroit's only visit to Oakland this season, and is one of only two regular season meetings between the two teams.

The Warriors were desperate for their first win of the season and this game seemed like the game to make it happen. They were well rested having not played a game since last Thursday when they played well but lost to Dallas at home, the Pistons were missing two starters, and were coming off a hard fought loss in Portland the night before.

The first half went as hoped, with the Warriors scoring 40 points in the opening quarter. They lead by as many as 22 points when the score was 59-37 in the second quarter. They were the Warriors of last year - draining 3's and getting steals. Unfortunately, the Pistons cut the lead to 13 by draining a 3 with only 1.5 seconds left in the half.

The Pistons, led by Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince continued to cut into the Warriors lead in the second half, but still trailed 94-84 with only 8 minutes remaining in the contest. This is when the Warriors decided stop scoring and let the Pistons go on a 17-3 run, taking the lead 101-97. Detroit never looked back, eventually winning 111-104 and leaving Warrior fans with a bitter taste in our mouths for our now 0-6 team.

Despite the disappointing finish we had a great time and enjoyed very good seats. I sure hope the Warriors can start winning though!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Billy Joel Is A Great Entertainer

The title of this post says it all! Billy Joel is not only a great musician, but he is a fantastic entertainer! Beyond singing many good songs and several great ones at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Saturday night, he mixed in lots of dialogue - and was quite funny! Darcy and I, along with thousands of fans, may have paid to see Billy Joel play his most popular music, but we were given much more. Beyond hearing him along with his band sound great, we got to know him a little bit. Between songs he would crack jokes or tell a story, and was very captivating to listen to. I kept thinking that if he wasn't a musician he could have gone into stand-up. We never once got the feeling that this was just another stop on tour him. From what we could tell, he was having a great time, and consequently, so did we.
Our seats were on the floor, 25 rows from the stage. This would be near half court if it were a Warriors game. As a result, we were required to stand for most of the night to see the stage, since those in front of us were on their feet. Even though there were times that sitting may have been nice, I think being forced to stand ultimately made the whole experience more fun. In addition, just being on the floor near more of the passionate fans allowed us to feed off of their energy and love for the music. Billy Joel has been around since well before either Darcy and I were born, so you can imagine we were much younger than the majority of the crowd.

Here is the set list:
Angry Young Man
My Life
Everybody Loves You Now
The Entertainer
White Rabbit (partial version)
The Downeaster 'Alexa
New York State of Mind
Root Beer Rag
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
An Innocent Man
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Always a Woman
Keeping the Faith
The River of Dreams
Highway to Hell
We Didn't Start the Fire
Big Shot
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
Only the Good Die Young
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (partial)
Piano Man

The music all sounded great, with some mesmerizing piano solos, but if I had to pick one highlight, it would be singing along to 'We Didn't Start the Fire'. I know every word to this long-winded song, and have had a lot of fun singing along with it over the years with the cassette, radio, MTV, CD, and iPod. It was even more fun to sing it along with Billy himself!

Although I have always been a fan of Billy Joel, after seeing him live this weekend, I am now a bigger fan. He delivered in every way; as a person, as an entertainer, and as a musician. Darcy was skeptical about how much she would enjoy herself because she isn't too familiar with his music, and ended up having a great time as well. I'd say this concert ranks in the top ten of all the concerts I've ever been to. And since I've been to more concerts than I can count, that's saying a lot!

For a little Billy Joel history (Born May 9th, 1949), check out what Wikipedia has on him HERE:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Social Networking Not For Me... I Prefer Email.

I started Myspace a few years ago. At first it was fun finding old friends from college, high school, even elementary school to be "Myspace friends", along with current friends and work colleagues. I was able to reconnect with a lot of people from my past that I otherwise would not have. I updated my profile with pictures, let everyone know my favorites musical artists, movies, books, and what I did for a living. There was a fun period of about six months where I would constantly be receiving email alerts that somebody new wanted to be my friend, or that somebody sent me a message to my Myspace inbox or left me a comment. At this point in time, the Myspace phenomenon was in full swing, and although I was a small part of it and by no means a fanatic user, I was definitely a part of it.

As time went by I started receiving fewer new friend invites and fewer comments. Additionally, I became disinterested in navigating my Myspace friend's pages to then look at their friends to find people I knew and wanted to invite to be my friend. I had built up about 100 or so friends at this point with no motivation to find more. Pretty soon, I started abandoning Myspace altogether, keeping my profile only so that people who wanted to look me up had the means to do so if they were resourceful enough to turn to Myspace for help.

Then, fairly recently Facebook emerged as the darling social networking site. It had been around for awhile but was only a fraction the size of Myspace. Drawing a parallel to a real life scenario everyone knows, Myspace is the famous high school quarterback that falls into obscurity after high school, while Facebook is the unpopular smart kid who grows up to win the Nobel Prize. As I had done with Myspace, I started adding friends to Facebook and looking around for people I knew. Many of my new 'Facebook friends' were people I was already friends with on Myspace who were following the trend of many social networkers (like me) and giving Facebook a whirl. Although Facebook has some cool features and user friendliness that Myspace doesn't, for my purposes they are essentially the same; glorified address books.

Now, only a few months into the adoption of Facebook as my social network of choice, I've already found that I have little to no use for it. Everyone I would want to check in with on either of these sites I have the email address of and would prefer to just email or call them. All the applications and geeky stuff the developers love Facebook for doesn't mean much to me since I'm not a programmer (I find that most of the applications are a waste of time anyway), and I'm not interested in updating my page to tell my friends what I'm currently doing or what my current state of mind is.

In conclusion, social networking just isn't for me. I feel the growth of Myspace and Facebook has been more about people signing up to try it out than about people actually becoming hardcore users. When I use the web, I want to sign in to as few places as possible. Google provides me with a one-stop-shop for email, photos, instant messaging, and news feeds, while social networking - although a neat toy - adds no value beyond Google to compel me to open up a new window and sign in. I will keep my Myspace and Facebook accounts for the reason that I gave above, but see myself checking in less and less as time goes by. And if a "cooler" social networking site emerges, I'll do everything I can to resist signing up.

My advice for Mr. Zuckerberg at Facebook would be to strike while the iron is hot and sell - which will soon become yesterday if he waits too long.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Are The Warriors A Bad Team?

How we derive expectations has lot to do with momentum (i.e. recent results). We had expectations the 49ers would be a competitive team this year based on last year, and similarly, we have expectations for the Warriors to have a good - if not great - season on the heals of their exciting playoff run last season.

Were we wrong to have these expectations? If the answer is based on last season's performance, then clearly the answer is no. Both teams played very well to finish their seasons, leaving us with hope based on the logic that they are on an upward trend that will continue.

In the case of the 49ers, we have seen enough to know that this upward trend of last year did not continue. They are playing almost as poorly as they did in the throwaway season of 2005, which was Mike Nolan and Alex Smith's first season. The 8-8 season that I hoped for is not possible, and the way it looks now, they'll be lucky to win another game! If they can't beat Joey Harrington and the Atlanta Falcons, who can they beat?

This moves us to the Golden State Warriors, who a week into their 2007-2008 campaign have yet to win. They have lost to the Utah Jazz twice, the LA Clippers, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In these four games they've played from behind the majority of the time, and in the two games they actually had a chance to win (vs. LA and Cleveland) they stumbled in crunch time to get it done. Instead of a Warrior player making the big play and taking over the game in the fourth quarter, it was a player on the other team making the big play. The scary thing now is that this could snowball. Their next opponents are Dallas and Detroit, two very tough teams. Then they have the Clippers again who always play them tough. Right now any team in the NBA would pose a tough challenge for the Warriors and if they aren't careful their hopes of another trip to the playoffs will start to dim. They can't count on another 19-6 run to finish the season to squeak into the playoffs this year can they?

This negativity and lack of confidence is quite contrary to how Warrior fans felt last March-April-May when the Warriors could seemingly beat anybody. Whether it was the Suns, Mavericks, Kings, Nuggets, Clippers, Blazers, Lakers, Rockets, Spurs, or any team in the Eastern Conference, we knew going into the game that we were going to win, and in many cases - win convincingly! Our style of play was to outscore you, run you in the ground, pick your pocket, and have you wondering what hit you. Opposing teams feared our explosiveness! The Warriors 0-4 start has essentially removed this fear from the opposition.

Ok, I know it's only been four games and there is plenty of time for things to turn around. We don't have Stephen Jackson yet (who is serving a seven game suspension), and the team is still figuring out how to gel in the post-Jason Richardson era.

However, I think I've seen enough to have some legitimate concerns. Did we underestimate how valuable Jason Richardson's contributions were to this team? Was trading him for a younger player who won't have value until future seasons a mistake when the Warriors window of opportunity is NOW? Can the Warriors truly compete without a dominant physical big man? Now that Matt Barnes got paid and is more of a proven entity is he not going to play as well? Will their defense that generated 9.2 steals per game last season get better? Will their 3-point shooting get better since they rely on it so much for not only scoring but building the momentum/energy in which they thrive on? What if Baron Davis gets hurt and has to miss a bunch of games? Why can't Andris Biedrins get more loft on his free-throws!?

The answers to these questions remains to be seen and I'll definitely be watching and looking for answers. Despite being frustrated watching them lose, their style of play is still entertaining and they still have some great talent and a lot of potential. Nevertheless, I am starting to wonder if they are merely off to a bad start or if they are really a bad team losing to better teams. My fingers are crossed that it's the former.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Weekend Recap, And Me As Tiger

Weekend Recap -

This weekend flew by as weekends usually do when we leave town. We went to Modesto/Ceres for the weekend for Darcy's good friend Melissa's wedding reception. She got married in Hawaii three weeks ago, but had a reception this weekend so more of their family and friends could be there. The event started with a video of their wedding ceremony on the beach in Hawaii on a large projection screen. We watched the 20 minute video from our tables, and when it ended, Melissa and Shannon (her new husband) entered the party as we all cheered them. Melissa was dressed in white, there was a cake, a first dance, and a money dance, just like there would be as if it was the "real" wedding.

Here is Darcy and I at the event Saturday night:

Sunday was dedicated to relaxation, playing the guitar, and watching football. Due to daylight savings we got an extra hour, and took full advantage of it. Mike (Darcy's dad) taught me a few bar chords, so now I'm on a mission to master them, which is a whole new challenge. I also jammed it up a little on his electric guitar, which was so much fun that now I'm itching to buy one!

The Niner's played the lowly Atlanta Falcons at 10am, and lost, making them even more lowly than Atlanta! It's pretty sad. Alex Smith is looking more and more like a bust as he continues to overthrow wide open receivers. Great (even good) quarterbacks make those plays and it seems like 'Mr. $24 million guaranteed' just doesn't have ice in his veins when the opportunities arise to show that he is capable of making big-time plays. Following the 49ers disappointing loss, we watched the game of the day, which was the undefeated Patriots against the undefeated Colts. The game was full of excitement, as the Patriots came back from 10 down with 8 minutes left to win 24-20. The entire game had the feel of a Colts win, but it wasn't to be for Peyton Manning and the city of Indianapolis. I was rooting for the Pats so am happy with the result, but am glad the game lived up to the hype. The game ended at 4:30pm, and this is when Darcy, Bosco and I packed up our things and headed back to the Silicon Valley. We had to drop Meghan (Darcy's sister) off at the Pleasanton BART station, and got home at 6:20. We didn't have any severe traffic, but the roads were definitely crowded.

Darcy' parents have a 12 week old beagle named Cooper that is very cute. He got cozy with Mike during the game yesterday. They sat like this for nearly an hour, most of the time with their eyes closed:

Me As Tiger -
My company is fairly festive for Halloween and I got into the spirits last Wednesday and dressed up. When it comes to Halloween, I don't go overboard, but I usually do something. I don't want to be uncomfortable all day or spend too much money on a costume, but I also don't want to be the guy who doesn't do anything. This year I decided to be Tiger Woods. I have golf shoes and the necessary accessories already. I have black pants, and I have a red shirt. As most of you probably know, Tiger is known for wearing red on Sunday's. All I had to do was buy a TW hat, so Tuesday after work I drove to The Sports Authority and found the TW hat I needed to complete my costume. I also brought my putter and sand wedge into work, along with a few golf balls. My manager then went into the back warehouse and brought out a practice putting green for the day, which was a lot of fun. Here's how looked (this picture was taken as I was leaving and had changed out of my golf shoes):

I also competed in a company sponsored pie eating contest at lunch. 30 or so people were gathered around the table to watch as me and three other colleagues stuffed our faces with pie. I didn't end up winning, but nearly finished a pumpkin pie (minus the crust) in two minutes. The contest was good entertainment for everyone though, and despite losing, it was a lot of fun. It was my first time ever competing in 'speed-eating', and maybe my last.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

4-0 After Forfeit

Last night was a bummer. I drove out to far east San Jose for my 9pm basketball game to find the other team only had four players, and of those four, only two of them had any skills. We played anyway, but it wasn't competitive or as good of a workout as usual. About ten minutes into the game a fifth guy showed up for them and started playing, which gave them an automatic forfeit (not that it mattered because they were going to lose anyways).

We played until they called a timeout in the second half with seven minutes left. Instead of playing the rest of the game, they decided that since it was already 10pm at that point to just call it a game in order to let the next game start on time. We happily agreed with their idea to end the game early and get on our way. The score at that point was a lop-sided 70-28.

Last night's game was an anomaly in an otherwise competitive league. Perhaps it was a blessing to have this happen last night of all nights since we were down to five players ourselves. One of our guys was out with a damaged hand for the second week in a row and another was trick-or-treating with his daughter. Next week there is no games, but we'll be back on the hardwood on November 14th looking to stay undefeated.