Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009-10 UCLA Basketball Update

Just a little post on UCLA basketball:

The season has started! 3 'official' games so far (2-1). We lost 4 starters from last year (and the remaining starter has already been suspended for 2 games for legal reasons) so a lot of new faces are getting playing time. The starting lineup last night against Pepperdine (Victory!) looked like this:

PG Jerime Anderson (So.)
SG Malcolm Lee (So.)
SF Michael Roll (Sr.)
PF James Keefe (Sr.)
C Drew Gordon (So.)

Coming off the bench senior walk-on Mustafa Abdul-Hamid got a lot of minutes (25ish) at guard. True freshman Reeves Nelson, Mike Moser, and Brendan Lane each got 8/9 minutes. Notable in their absence were Tyler Honeycutt (injury), Bobo Morgon (is not very good), and Anthony Stover (true freshman who might redshirt).

I have watched most of the games and my first impression is that we are VERY raw. Coach Ben Howland likes to ride his starters and usually rotates about 3 bench players, especially during Pac-10 play, so most of these guys played very little last year. Dragovic's suspension will actually help Nelson and Lane a lot as they will get a lot more playing time than they would have otherwise. If Dragovic comes back I expect their minutes to decrease significantly. Howland should really think about redshirting two or three of his bigs (Morgan/Stover/Lane).

We have very little depth in the back court, and Honeycutt's return from injury will be key. Moser has been getting a little playing time but our ball handlers need to get a lot better at facing pressure (Anderson and Hamid both looked pretty bad when they had defenders in their respective faces).

Overall we should actually be okay - middle of the road in the Pac-10 assuming our guys make improvements between now and January. No-one looks like they will make enough of a leap to jump ship early to the Pros but someone (like Lee or Honeycutt) could pull a Westbrook and make significant in-season improvement. We can only hope.

Anyway, you can read a lot more about this season at BruinsNation, Bruin Basketball Report Online, Jon Gold's blog , or Scout.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The New 'The Wire' Post

I have a secret. There is no best episode of The Wire. This flies in the face of my post on the Wire. Initially I wrote this post because I had just gotten into the show because of Bill Simmons (who is known primarily as a sportswriter for ESPN but also writes a lot about pop culture and media). He encouraged everyone to watch the show and like a good little Simmons lemming I did. I started during season 4, watched through to the finale, and then Netflixed seasons 1-3. It was brilliant. I'm sorry I didn't watch in order but I'm glad I watched. While most TV is simple entertainment and escape, this was TV with a purpose.

So why am I writing about this now? Well an interesting phenomenon about this blog is that for whatever SEO reason the Wire Post generates the most random hits from Google. When I first started the blog, I wanted to learn how this whole blogging process worked so I also installed some StatCounter html to track where people come to the blog from, what they're reading, etc. In fact, here's a map of my latest user activity (Hello Singapore!):

As I have thought about the phenomenon of the show in general, and the phenomenon of the stats for my blog post in particular it dawned on me: trying to decide a best episode is a monumental exercise in futility. It does the series a grave injustice. You can't just watch one episode and distill the entire essence - you really need to sit down with season 1, episode 1 and continue from there until the finale. And then think about what everything means. A lot. And then come to the realization that the concept of a 'best episode' for something so groundbreaking is really just a myth.

(And thanks to Matthew Yglesias for posting this and giving me a reason/excuse for this post).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

9 Big Ideas from Marci Alboher

In my constant quest for self discovery, I've been reading a lot lately. My first "Big Ideas" post was about Randy's Pausch's book 'The Last Lecture' (and mustaches). The latest book I finished was Marci Alboher's 'One Person/Multiple Careers: How the "Slash Effect" Can Work For You: A New Model For Work/Life Success' (Full disclosure: I actually started reading 'Your Money or Your Life' but felt like their ideas were too rigid for me and returned it to the library).

So unlike 'Your Money or Your Life', I finished 'One Person/Multiple Careers'. I'm glad I did because it was informative and inspiring to read about many different people who were able to find much more fulfillment in life by blending different types of jobs, volunteer activities, or interests. Which is basically where I (and many people I know) are at right now. At least the cool ones.

Part I: A Slash Career: Getting Started

Interesting side note: Marci spends no time defining the "slash effect" or addressing the idea that EVERYONE has multiple facets to their personality, including what the do for money, for joy, or for other people. For me, this book was about realizing that the different slashes of a person don't necessarily have to be compartmentalized. Or that everyone is beholden to the system of being defined by a job or needing to work a 40 hour/week job to have a career or be 'successful'. Or even having a stock answer to the question "So what do you do?"

Chapter 1: Begin, Improve, Reinvent. Repeat

Slashes are usually entrepreneurial, are required to constantly tinker and adapt to changes and new beginnings, and generally follow a different path.

Chapter 2: Slash Breeding Grounds: Starter Professions, Volunteering, Passions, and Detours

It isn't bad to have learned something and then decide that you want to do less of it, or none of it. Even unrelated slashes you try later can benefit from your starter profession

Chapter 3: Thinking Like a Modern Moonlighter

There are many different ways of incorporating slashes depending on how you want to structure your life. I'm working on the "job plus entrepreneur" model to work part-time and do something else part-time.

Chapter 4: Writing, Teaching, Thinking, and Consulting: Four Slashes That Go With Anything

I think teaching would be super fun.

Chapter 5: Anatomy of a Slash Combination: An Exercise

Thinking about anchors and orbiters is an interesting way of changing what you do so that different activities are balanced. For instance, my job is an anchor to me because I am paying back a 401k loan and get health insurance. But it could become an orbiter if I could get external insurance and pay back the loan.

Part II: Succeeding in a Slash Life

Chapter 6: Presenting Yourself: Introductions, Resumes, Business Cards, and More

A slash identity should be actively cultivated.

Chapter 7: Synergies, Leveraging, and the Power of Incongruous Combinations

"Always work to turn anything that could be a handicap into an advantage."

Chapter 8: Working the Twenty-First-Century Workplace

There are a plethora of flexible work options - both on the company books and customizations, but it is imperative that your supervisor is on board. Being a high performer doesn't hurt.

Chapter 9: Overcoming Overload, Naysayers, and Other Slash Stumbling Blocks

Developing systems to keep yourself focused and responsible is the key to creating a work/life balance such that work doesn't feel like work.

Chapter 10: Special Considerations of Parent Slashes

Why only 9 ideas? Because I didn't even read this section.