Saturday, April 13, 2019

2019 NBA Playoff Predictions

East
1 Mil over 8 Det 4-1
2 Tor over 7 Orl 4-0
3 Phi over 6 Brk 4-1
4 Bos over 5 Ind 4-1

Bos over Mil 4-2
Tor over Phi 4-3

Tor over Bos 4-3

West
1 GS over 8 LAC 4-0
2 Den over 7 SA 4-3
6 OKC over 3 Por 4-2
4 Hou over 5 Uth 4-2

GS over Hou 4-1
Den over OKC 4-3

GS over Den 4-1

NBA Finals
GS over Tor 4-1

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Top Ten Pound-For-Pound

Here's my pound-for-pound list. I take into account ability and accomplishment. The previous list was posted on December 31, 2018.

1. Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) [1]
2. Saul Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) [2]
3. Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) [3]
4. Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) [4]
5. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KOs) [5]
6. Naoya Inoue (17-0, 16 KOs) [6]
7. Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs) [7]
8. Olexandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) [8]
9. Errol Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) [9]
10. Mikey Garcia (38-1, 30 KOs) [10]

1. Lomachenko has a fight with Anthony Crolla in 10 days. Though Crolla is better than his record Lomachenko does need an impressive win to keep his top spot.

2. Canelo fights the best and he's doing it again with the Jacobs fight on May 4.

4. Crawford fights Amir Khan on April 20. This is his best opponent since 2016 when he beat Viktor Postol. Since then, Crawford has fought second rate guys. He potentially has the skills, but he doesn't have the resume of the guys ahead of him.

5. SSR faces Juan Francisco Estrada again on April 26.

6. Inoue faces Emmanuel Rodriguez on May 18 in the World Boxing Super Series.

9. Spence just dominated a small Mikey Garcia. He showed the skills to vault up the list, but doesn't have the resume. Hopefully, he fights the Crawford-Khan winner next.

10. Despite Garcia's embarrassing loss to Spence, he stays at 10. Garcia was the naturally smaller man. The other fighters in contention for a top ten spot don't yet have the resume. There are a lot of candidates: Anthony Joshua, Olexandr Gvozdyk, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Luis Nery, Daniel Jacobs, Dmitry Bivol, Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor, and Gervonta Davis just to name a few contenders.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

World Leader Power Rankings

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on March 3.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Kim Jong-un North Korea 2
3 Vladimir Putin Russia 3
4 Jacinda Ardern New Zealand 8
5Leo Varadkar Ireland Not Ranked
6Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia 5
7Sauli Niinisto Finland Not Ranked
8Lars Lokke RasmussenDenmark 7
9 Mokgweetsi Masisi Botswana Not Ranked
10Donald Trump United States Not Ranked

1. Xi and China continue to replace American influence as the latter's foreign policy becomes increasingly insular and erratic.

2. In his recent summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Kim again came away looking like the proper statesman. Trump later eased some sanctions on North Korea. It's quite the feat to make the homicidal Kim look dignified.

3. The true winner of the Mueller Report was Vladimir Putin. He influenced an American election and suffered virtually no consequences. His influence over Trump contnues to leave Americans to scratch their proverbial heads.

4. Ardern showed how a real leader is supposed to act int he face of tragedy. She stood with the victims and stood up to the murderer.

5. Varadkar didn't do what most world leaders do when in meeting with other world leader with whom they may disagree. Varadkar, who is gay, recently met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is anti-gay, and delivered a pointed message about tolerance to the bigoted veep without being rude.

6. Ahmed continues to reform his country economically and politically. There is talk among pundits that Ethiopia could be Africa's new powerhouse if Abiy's reforms are allowed to take hold.

7. Niinisto heads the happiest country in the world. His citizens don't really agree, but that's only because they don't realize how depressed everyone else is.

8. Rasmussen not only leads one of the least corrupt countries in the world, but also one of the happiest. This despite depressingly cold and dark winters.

9. Masisi has broken with his mentor, Ian Khama, the son of Botswana's founding father. Masisi had been Khama's chosen successor. A little dissension within the ranks never hurt no one as long as it's int he best interest of the country.

10. Trump reenters the list because the Mueller Report turned out to be the best thing that has happened during his presidency. Not a great sign when the best part of your reign is that you didn't corrupt the the American government by conspiring to steal the presidential election with the aid of an adversary. And the report didn't draw a conclusion on the president obstructing justice. Trump's gloating shows how hard wins have come by since he took office. But it looks like he'll stay in charge longer than Theresa May in Great Britain and who would've though that a few months ago.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

World Leader Power Rankings

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on December 16.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Kim Jong-un North Korea 2
3 Vladimir Putin Russia 7
4 Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey Not Ranked
5Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia 5
6Ivan Duque Marquez Colombia Nor Ranked
7Lars Lokke Rsamussen Denmark Not Ranked
8Jacinda ArdernNew Zealand Not Ranked
9 King Mohammed VI Morocco Not Ranked
10Sultan Qaboos Oman Not Ranked

1. China will determine the fate of our planet. Responsible for building Asia's and Africa's infrastructure, China will decide if climate change wipes us all out or if we can somehow stem the tide (literally). China is fast becoming the leader in electric cars as well.

2. Kim came out the winner of another summit with disgraced U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump was convinced of Kim's sincerity by a flowery letter he wrote to Trump and not by U.S. intelligence assessments of Kim's deceit in nuclear negotiations.

3. This is certainly the age of the strong man. Putin at least pretends to have elections even as he meddles in those of other countries. The U.S. stymied a Russian attempt to hack the 2018 midterm election. But Putin still has his puppet in the White House, so it's not all bad.

4. Erdogan has single-handedly managed to turn Turkey from a European-looking bastion of democracy in the Middle East to an economically-failing autocracy. But Erdogan has called out Saudi Crown prince MBS and Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi recently for their human rights abuses. So there's at least something redeeming about Erdogan.

5. Ahmed continues to reform Ethiopia. Recently, he has tried to open up the economy and make it easier to run a business. Previously surviving assassination attempts, Abiy is one of the few leaders in the world putting his life on the line and making the tough choices to help his country's future.

6. President Marquez comes out looking good in the Venezuela crisis. Trying to help usher in food to their collapsing neighbor, Venezuelan (ex-?)president Nicolas Maduro shut down the border with Colombia. You have to be terrible to make Colombia look like the stable nation in the region.

7. Prime Minister Rasmussen oversees the least corrupt country in the world. Apparently it's too cold for officials to ask for bribes. They're too busy rushing inside to sip some hot cocoa by the fire under a blanket.

8. Prime Minister Ardern is a rising star on the international stage and heads the second least corrupt country in the world. Northern Europe shouldn't even count, they always dominate lists like these, so let's go ahead and say Prime Minister Ardern heads the least corrupt country in the world.

9. King Mohammed VI met with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently and Markle curtsied appropriately. I can't believe I even know anything about this shit. It just goes to show you how big these reality show characters are. And the king gets a boost by proxy.

10. Sultan Qaboos led Oman to the biggest increase in decreasing corruption from 2017 to 2018 if that makes any sense. My mom once sailed on his yacht. He was not aboard, so the sultan better not leave any mama jokes in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Top 5 QBs, RBs, WRs Now

This list takes more into account than one pass, one game, or even one season. But it's not a list one the best who happen to be active. It also isn't a prediction of what will happen either. Injuries are not ignored. The previous list was posted on February 23, 2018.

Quarterbacks
RankPlayer(Previous Rank)
1Tom Brady(1)
2Drew Brees(2)
3Aaron Rodgers(4)
4Russell Wilson(NR)

5Pat Mahomes(NR)



Running Backs
RankPlayer(Previous Rank)

1Todd Gurley(3)

2Ezekiel Elliot(5)

3Alvin Kamara(NR)

4Saquon Barkley(NR)

5Joe Mixon(NR)



Wide Receivers
RankPlayer(Previous Rank)

1Julio Jones(2)

2Antonio Brown(1)

3DeAndre Hopkins(4)

4Tyreek Hill(5)

5Michael Thomas(NR)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Curacao to DC... Eventually

It rained the day we left.

We were told that everywhere takes a credit card in Curacao. Not so. At Mambo Beach, the ATMs only take MasterCard debit card. Candace managed to pay the burger place in a mixture of Netherlands Antillean Guilder and U.S. dollars. The taxi driver to the airport stopped at a Visa ATM and we were able to pay him. Supposedly there is a government rate to each destination, but it was $5 more to the airport than it had been to the hotel.

We were very early to the airport. We had to wait an hour before people even showed up at the counter to check us in. Security had problems with Candace's scooter"if it doesn't fit [through the scanner] it's not coming on the plane!" declared the agent. Once we took apart the pieces and lifted it up on the belt, it fit. The stroller however wasn't close. "That won't fit; just push it through," said the agent with a tone one would use with a dumb toddler. At the gate, there were the biggest fans I've ever seen. The brand was called Big Ass Fans.

We had our last taste of Curacao's indigenous sodas including Gosa Fria and its weird bubble gum flavor. And we were off to Miami. Well, almost. Abie was randomly selected for additional screening at the gate. Candace and I openly expressed our bemusement. A woman at the gate asked, "Does he have any bags?" I answered, "No." Candace added, "He's a baby!" The woman was unmoved and stared back at us blankly. This led to a discussion between two gate agents in Papiamentu in which I learned that the Papiamentu word for infant is "infant."

We arrived at Miami with fewer than two hours until our connecting flight. Two people assured me we'd make it. The wheelchair aid was wonderful. She tried to get us in every quicker line conceivable, but luck didn't break her way. Whenever we left a line, it started to move.

I didn't have high hopes for Miami's airport after our Miami Mover fiasco. The line for wheelchair users with a connecting flight was slower than an octogenarian driving with his left turn signal perpetually blinking. It seems like that should be the quickest line, but maybe that's just me and common sense. The passport agent told me all about his offer to join the secret service, but he ultimately declined because the cost of living was too high.

We finally made it through, got our bags and dumped them into the connecting flight baggage area. Then we hit security and we hot Congress's desire to fund Trump's wall. We were going nowhere. Then we realized Candace's sister had left her carry one bag back in customs and she wasn't able to retrieve it. On the bright side, we had one less bag to carry, but on the dark side, we lost a bag.

Our helper eventually pushed her way through everyone in the security line and we rushed to throw everything on the belt. In the process, I nearly lost my belt. Whoever got the stuff ran to the gate. My belt was hanging loose, my pants falling, Abie in my arms screaming, and my backpack unknowingly open. Stuff fell out, and I crumbled to the ground in despair.

"David?" I heard. Our wheelchair helper gallantly came up behind me and said, "Get in," as if it were a movie. I sat down int he chair as she pushed. It helped as I was able to get my belt on, put my stuff in the backpack and make Abie happy as he felt the breeze int he process. But that momentary aid proved more a deterrent than anything. She was wheezing from strain and I knew I could've out run her even while holding Abie. But she turned down my repeated requests to run myself.

Candace and her sister missed the closing of the gate by one minute. Then we went to rebooking. A tall man was about to leave when he announced, "I'm going to help these people," meaning us. He was very helpful but also extremely self-important, which evoked mixed feelings in me. He said at least five times it wasn't the airline's fault, but he would help us anyway.

We were put on stand-by. I've never been on stand-by before. Tali and Abie were playing around the sign that tells you how big the carry on and personal item can be when Tali fell. She bonked her head and sloped in my arms. Everyone was scared, but I knew it was just how I was holding her. I asked the self-important man what happens if we don't make the stand-by and our flight int he morning is canceled due to a coming storm in DC. He gave an optimistic answer, but the truth was, he didn't know.

The wheelchair helped tried to get Candace's sister her bag back, but it was a dead-end. The babies were exhausted. Abie hadn't napped and Tali barely had. It was well past their bedtime not including the extra hour from the time change between Curacao and the East Coast. Candace made the decision that we should try to get the babies home even if it meant splitting up. I was called and brought Abie aboard at the last minute. Candace's sister was called and brought Tali aboard at the last second.

Abie slept most of the flight, but cried when woken up in the middle of the flight and at the end. A man in my row asked a flight attendant for extra headphones and gave them to me so I could watch tv.

On the plane, I kept crying, partly a release, mostly worry for Candace. I would've been more comfortable if she had her wheelchair instead of the travel scooter. We got off the plane and things were mostly smooth from there. Tali was very good-natured and calm, but Abie was very upset, almost inconsolably. He wanted me to hold him, but we had too much stuff. We got a taxi and made it home. Abie and Tali went right to sleep.

I stayed up worrying. A snowstorm was coming, so I couldn't just drive and pick up Candace from the airport if she made it.  She made it today and took the metro with no problem. I drove her van through the snow and picked her up from the metro. So we finally got all the people and all but one bag home.

Monday, February 18, 2019

A Bookstore Journey and the Aquarium

I woke up, found a bathroom outside of oir room as not to wake the babies and I was off on my arduous journey to the bookstore. Candace inspected the sole of my left foot and deduced that something has been stuck in it for long enough the new skin swallowed it. It only jurt when I put pressure on that spot. Then it was a sharp stabbing pain.

I left at around 8:15 as the sun isn't boiling yet. The temperature suggests that it only gets to 80 degrees here, but it's an unforgiving 80 in the heat of the day. I used awkward steps to avoid land on that spot on my left foot. I felt my tendons felt sore as a result.

There doesn't seem to be much city planning outside of downtown. There's a nice gated apartment complex named after some ferocious fish next to a rundown mini strip mall complex next to a pristine McDonald's. The sidewalks are equally as diverse. Every once in a while there was a Dutch colonial house, a sight seeing destination. Those houses and the banks were surrounded by artificial grass, since not much grows on the island. Curacao mostly exports petroleum products and agriculture makes up only 1% of the economy.

The sun was angry at me as I marched and then plodded onward. People on the street in Curacao honk or call out when they know someone, otherwise they act like East Coast Americans and mostly ignore you.

Finally I made it to the bookstore. It was it's own building and looked cool. I was excited. The lights were on and people were inside. The internet had said it was closed on Sundays but open on Mondays. And then, a sign. Closed for stock filing. My heart dropped. I was overheated, tired, and thirsty. I sank to the steps. I witnessed several others yank on the door, stop, read the "closed" sign, look around, and wander off befuddled.

I knew there was another bookstore nearby. It wa  in a fancy mall by a wooden makeshift bridge that allowed to cross over an open sewer. The bookstore was clearly catered to Dutch speakers. The English section featured mostly grocery store novels. But I found a local section that had some English books. Almost all were created by some well connected tourist who documented their trip, published a not quite professional looking book and hoped to make a little money off of it. There really aren't many books English books aboit Curacao.

I stopped by a grocery store and got sodas, gummies, and fruit. I learned what an English drop gummy is and I don't think I like it. I passed by a traffic stop in Spanish and an abandoned wig on the way back. My foot had gone numb.

Then it was time to go to the sea aquarium. Abie loved going on a boat. It didn't move, but we went underneath and some fish, sharks, and sting rays swimming about. We saw dolphins and lionfish also. We've seen the sealions while walking to or from our hotel. Whoever names these animals isn't very creative. I half expect to see a lionbird and lionlizard too. The babies seemed to have a good time. Time to rest for me. This time of day, the glare from the sun's reflection off the water hurts my eyes. I like when the sun is down but there's still some light.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Aquarium, A Freeish Burger, and Cigarette Machines

I wanted to go to the aquarium yesterday, but Candace didn't want to go spur of the moment so we were planning on going this morning. It's next door from our hotel. Candace wasn't feeling well this morning, so I took the babies to a playground on Mambo Beach. They were proud to have played with "big kids" although the Dutch 4 year olds pretty much ignored my nearly 2 year old little Jew babies.

I got the babies down for a nap at their normal time for the first time on the trip. They woke up and I was trying to rush us out the door. We saw a dolphin jumping up by a boat on the sea outside our hotel room's balconyand that slowed our progress. On the way to the aquarium next door we stopped to watch some of the sea lion show from a bridge outside the complex. We made it over to the ticket booth, but it was closed. They close at 4 and it was 4:05.

So we watched the rest of the sea lion show from the outside bridge. The the babies checked out some abandoned- for the moment- construction trucks an  the babies were thrilled.

At night, we got a burger for Candace's sister after finishing our meal. When the burger came the man said we had to pay in cash because they had opened a month ago and it was taking a long time to get a card reader. Well, we didn't have cash, so we were embarrassed. I've had trouble with my debit card, so I couldn't go to an ATM. Candace has a working card, but for anaccount that she doesn't use and isn't easily accessible. The man said we could pay tomorrow.

Though neither Candace nor I smoke, we spent the rest of the night trying to figure our how to use a cigarette machine since we didn't have cash. We got as far as to get an "age coin" to ensure that we're over 18.

When we got back to the room, the burger and cigarettes run proved moot as Candace's sister was asleep.

The sea is rough, which is why there's no ferry to Aruba evidently. Though the temperature is the same balmy 80 degrees every day, it is windy. It's nice when the sun is out, but annoyin  when trying to eat outside and keep your napkin near you.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Iguanas and a Minimart

I spent the afternoon yesterday walking to a minimart about a mile from the hotel. I had become tired of spending$3 for a 20oz soda. Some parts of the Willemstad area are really built up and a few feet away they're not. Very quickly I left the resorts behind, trudged along a dirt path on the side of the road as cars whipped by me.

The minimart was run by a man of Chinese heritage. It was a hole in the wall with much of the inventory visible in piles in the back. I thought about either flying to the sun or visiting hell to experience some relief from the swelter of the store's bowels.

I marched past the mostly Dutch vacationers at Mambo Beach proid that I had 8 drinks, cookies, cassava chips, and gummies for only $16. There have been Americans here, but we're outnumbered by the Dutch. There are lots of Dutch children here which makes me wonder about the school schedule in the Netherlands.

Today was a lowkey day: all you can eat tacos and a trip to the resort's fake beach. The beach is extremely rocky and my feet are raw as a result. I went swimming in the sea and both babies started crying hysterically because they thought I was swimming away forever.

We've seen a lot of iguanas on the island. It had been my goal to eat iguana, but so far I've only heard of one restaurant that serves them and it's in Westpunt. The iguanas have tended to be a little skiddish, maybe because they keep getting eaten, but some are more social.

In Curacao, the word dushi is very popular. My kids have been called dushi. It's pronounced like douchey, so I call Candace it all the time. Even when I mean it like douchey, I have cover. It's cathartic and yet sweet at the same time.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Otrobanda: A Bridge too Far

The babies, Candace, and I took a shuttle into Punda this morning. The famous Queen Emma Bridge was our drop-off spot. The bridge had been swung open to let boats cross, so we decided to walk around and go back on the bridge before it was time to leave.

We first walked to the Mikveh Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. It is the oldest synagogue in use in the Western Hemisphere. The synagogue is in the Sephardic style with the him a in the middle and the seats facing it. The floor is sand. It was fun to be there with the next generation of Jews but Abie and Tali were grumpy and just want to get at the Torah platform which was off limits.

We left and fed them plantain chips before coming back to visit the museum. There was a Torah scroll smuggled out during the Inquisition and the yellow star or a Dutch Jew during the Holocaust, among many other items. Bake wanted to be a Daddy hat, meaning sitting on my shoulders, so we couldn't see it as thoroulhly as we would have liked.

We then went to the old market for some food. A woman shoved a menu in our face after we circlee around and wen  to the upper level via a ramp. It worked and we blew most of our cash on the local meal. Tali stuffed herself with mashed potatoes and Abie ate rice and polenta. A woman from the shuttle over ran into us and had purchased shirts for the twins that were in their favorite colors this week : Abie yellow and Tali blue.

We next saw the floating market. Venezuelan merchant dock their boats and set up stands on land to sell their fruit. We found the bridge again just in time to hear the alarm and see the gates close. We never made it to the bridge, but we got to see it swing open. It rests on floats and at least one is motorized. So we spent out last 25 minutes staring at the iconic colorful houses from across the St. Anna Bay.