Friday, May 31, 2019

Game One - Raptors Win Game One

The history of the Toronto Raptors is defined by one coincidence: the franchise's futility in Game Ones. Playing the opening contest at home hasn't been a remedy for the Raptors' ills. Game One of the Raptors' first NBA Final;s appearance took place in Toronto against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.Though the Warriors were missing their leading scorer and MVP of the past two Finals, Kevin Durant, and endured a long layoff, the Raptors still faced an uphill battle.

Toronto started off well as the Warriors offense was a bit flat. Golden State's defense struggled to rotate and Toronto got some open shots. While Kyle Lowry, who had endured all of Toronto's playoff heartbreak over the past seven seasons, and Kawhi Leonard struggled, Marc Gasol flourished, recapturing his old magic. Gasol ended with 20 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out.

The Raptors spread the wealth in the first half. Role players Danny Green and Serge Ibaka played solid minutes. Fred Van Vleet scored 15 off the bench exploiting the Warriors' sluggish defense. Toronto went into halftime with a ten point lead.

Pascal Siakim carried the Canadians the rest of the way. He poured in 32 points, barely missing.Only three of his 17 field goals missed their mark. He added 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Leonard got to the line a lot to salvage his performance. He scored 23 by making 10 out of 12 free throws. Lowry added 9 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Warriors hung in thanks largely to Stephen Curry. When the Warriors' offense stalled int he third, he forced his way to the line. He knocked down threes after exquisite off-the-ball movement. He scored 34 points. But he didn't get much help in the scoring department. Klay Thompson contributed 21 points, but only Draymond Green, who finished with a triple double was the only other Warrior to score in double figures. Green's triple double was straight tens. He committed six turnovers though.

Steve Kerr used 11 guys, but the bench didn't rise to the occasion. Four players scored six points: Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook, Jonas Jerebko, and the only Golden State player with a positive plus-minus ratio, the seldom used Alfonso McKinney. Centers Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney didn't influence the game much. And the veteran making his first ever Finals appearance after a long layoff due to injury, DeMarcus Cousins, was noticeably rusty.

Toronto is very balanced with super-stardom on the roster. After a 118-109 victory in Game 1 they look tough to beat. However, if Durant can return healthy, the entire narrative of the series shifts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

World Leader Power Rankings

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on April 30.

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 4
5Ali Khamenei Iran Not Ranked
6Narendra ModiIndia Not Ranked
7Carlos Alvarado Costa Rica Not Ranked
8Abiy AhmedEthiopia 6
9 Shinzo Abe Japan Not Ranked
10Peter Pellegrini Slovakia Not Ranked

1. In the latest trade battle, Hu and China dominated the U.S. America is about to discover the economic pain of tariffs, which China didn't get to watch the series finale of Game of Thrones. I've never watched the show, but I understand fans were disappointed with the ending. China is racing to 5G while America's president doesn't even know what 5G is.

2. U.S. President Donald Trump sided with Kim Jong-un in a dispute with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Somehow Kim has manipulated a U.S. president to express more loyalty to Kim than his own country. That's impressive considering Trump isn't planning on building a hotel in Pyongyang any time soon.

3. The Mueller Report was great for Putin. The U.S. President tried to make it all about him, but really it was about the underhandedness of Russia. yet, the story has been swept under the rug. Putin has been able to manipulate world affairs, such as occupying Crimea, Brexit and Trump's election with little consequence.

4. Ardern has been the pillar of positive leadership in the world. Real change was affected after the horrible tragedy at Christchurch. Her country is one of the least corrupt. She's becoming a real world star in an era dominated by strongmen.

5. The U.S.'s ill-advised provocations in Iran simply embolden Khamenei and the hardliners. Sympathy towards the Iranian regime increases as the U.S. continues to pick a fight. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has always wanted to invade Iran, so don't be fooled by his claims that Iran has done something more malevolent recently. If anything, this is a time to help the moderates as a successor for ageing Khamenei may be needed soon.

6. Riding the ideology of Hindu nationalism, Modi's party did better than in the last election despite India's disappointing growth under his tenure. While the marginalization of Muslims may hurt the country in the long run, in the short term, Modi is riding high.

7. Costa Rica has made a goal to become carbon neutral by 2021. Spending political capital on big ideas and future goals- that's the sign of a thriving country.

8. Ahmed continues to reform Ethiopia, one of the true reformers going right now.

9. Abe tried to play nice with Trump and continues to do so while he prepares Japan for a post-American world. He made a huge trade deal with the European Union as Trump throws up tariffs.

10. It was reported that Slovakia was one of the foreign governments leasing space in Trump Tower. That's a shrewd way to bump up the clout fo the central European country.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Keys to the 2019 NBA Finals

For Golden State, the key is obvious. They'll be hard to beat if Kevin Durant can walk onto the court in any reasonable facsimile of his usual self. Without Durant, the Warriors are in for a tough series. Curry and Thompson will need to shoot well and they'll need to manufacture a third scorer in each game.

For Toronto, Marc Gasol is the key... assuming Durant is able to play. The Warriors don't really have an answer for a prime Gasol, but Marc has faded this year. If the offense runs through him, the Warriors will struggle to stop the other Raptor weapons. If he disappears as he'd done from time to time during the playoffs, the Warriors can focus their defense on stopping Pascal Siakim or Kyle Lowry. Kawhi Leonard won't be stopped no matter what.

If Durant is out, strong play from Gasol would be a bonus. They'll need good games from Lowry though. He won't need to score like the he did int he old days, but he he'll need to have a big series in other areas and have a a few big scoring games.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Spoiled Brats and Baguettes

We walked to La Fontaine Park. On the way we stopped at a grocery store. Candace and the babies waited outside because there was a step to get in. I rushed around so they wouldn't just be waiting there . The only diapers they had were way more than I needed. So I bought only a little bit of food for the babies, a couple of drinks, and candy.

When I got outside, Candace told me a crazy man and walked by, gotten into the babies faces and yelled, "I hate spoiled brats!" A man walking the other way saw the entire thing, apologized, and said, "No, they are beautiful." The babies are definitely not spoiled brats. They are very appreciative of every little thing in life.

I got diapers and more gummies from the pharmacy next door. This time I brought the babies in, which didn't make things easier. People here will come out of the woodwork to hold a door open for you though.

The park was underwhelming amd my feet and legs were really feeling the miles and miles I've walked this vacation. The stroller's front wheels keep locking. I don't understand the purpose of the lock, because the wheels still roll, you just can't turn them. It's made things more difficult.

I was very sore this morning, so we had limited plans. We walked to a metro station and bought a baggette and a croissant from a bakery. I got the book Nanette's Baggette from the library not too long ago, so the babies loved kracking into baggette and eating it.

Then we walked to an inaccessible Middle Eastern restaurant. My feet were tired and Candace's wheelchair was almost dead because I didn't plug it in properly last night. I was going to get the food and we'd eat back at the hotel. Candace was looking forward to this for a while. Yelp said the place opened at 11, but a worker said it was closed and would open at 4.

We went to a sandwich place across from the hotel instead. It was a convenience store that also made sandwiches. But the clerk said they only accepted Canadian debit. He took American dollars for a fee. We went back tothe hotel room, but they had just started cleaning, even though they had called us about cleaning an hour and a half before.

I read the Montreal Gazette during the babies' nap. It's kind of astonishing how much the English-French divide impacts Quebec. We walked to Mt Royal which was an extreme incline. Candace's wheelchair was struggling and so were my calves. So we made the kids walk some of the way. We found a lake and a playground. This is what I hope hoping La Fontaine Park would be. It was fun playing with Tali and Abie at the playground.

Then we went to the Middle Eastern restaurant that we tried earlier. Sadly, Candace felt it was underwhelming. Candace was excited to habesome good falafel in Montreal, but she wasn't able to find some. We ate it in the hotel room. Tali and Abie said they had a great time in Montreal.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Underground City, Desserts, Le Taj

The babies were cranky when they woke up and so was Candace. We went to Valentine, a Canadian fast food place in the Underground City. The food was not good. The Underground City is just a long string of malls underground, but it was still cool. It apparently poured for the 20 minutes we were there.

We went to a dessert restaurant that was not accessible. We left the wheelchair and stroller on the street and went in. While the Underground City was nearly deserted because it was Sunday evening, the dessert place was hopping. It offered assorted Asian dessertess. The babies were so excited for bingsoo. They ate it all, but made a mess. Candace loved her brown sugar bubble tea. It became late, so we went back to the hotel.

Today is a holiday. It's Victoria Day, known as Patriots Day in Quebec. We went to Tim Hortons for breakfast. Candace hates the iced coffee though. Then we walked to Quartier des Spectacles. The babies loved the artificial geass with benches and sculptures of dogs. They posed by one of the giant chessboards. Then we got on the musical swings, which never seemed to play music when I swung on them.

We went to a bookstore and I got a book on Canadian history so I can fill in a huge hole in my knowledge base. I got two books for the babies, one on Canada and then other on animals in French. The babies loved thestuff animals at the store, but we don't have room to take it back home. They handled the disappointment really well.

Then we ate at Le Taj, a fancy Indian buffet. The baboes did well. They wostly had naan, rice, vegetables, and fruit. Tali had a rare accident while on the chair. The food was disappointing for such a well rated restaurant. It would be average at best at home. They had beef curry,   rarity in an Indian restaurant in my experience. It was tough.

Then we went back to the hotel. It was supposed to rain all morning, but it was nice out.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sushi, Trains, and Friends

We  went to a sushi place near the hotel. It was pretty fancy, but the babies did well. Then we went for a very long walk to Old Town, Old Port, and Chinatown. We were very close to a train. Tali was about to cry, because the engine was loud, but Candace convinced her not to, so she didn't. Abie put his hands on his face and peeked through his fingers. I think he was too excited.

Walking along the water was nice. Old buildings to the left with green space in between. The water to the right wasn't the nicest view because there are a few museums along the.way. We came to a very touristy spot. Candace surprisingly wanted to check it out more, but it was late.

In Chinatown, there were also Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants, which was weird. Almost none of the stores and restaurants were handicap accessible.

We mad  the long journey to the hotel stumbling on some sculptures and other cool things. We were hungry, so we got Five Guys and I learned that I could just touch the credit card to the machine. Everything in Five Guys was in French as it is everywhere. There's a French-English political divide in Montreal that has a contentious recent past. So I feel like I'm unwittingly taking sides when I speak English. But I speak English because I don't speak French.

There's also the smell of marijuana here, which is legal. Apparently where you can smoke it is complicated, but out in public as long as it's 9 meters from certain places is legal. I haven't seen anybody with tape measurers though.

This morning we met my friend Kristen, her husband, and her two year old daughter who all came up from Vermont. We went to the Fine Arts Museum because we're all classy and cultured like that. The special exhibit had so many dresses. The babies seemed to like it. Then they got to dress up their own dolls.

We ate at a Middle Eastern place. The staff was so friendly. We next found a playground and Tali showed off her climbing skills while Abie showed off his woodchip eating skills (and his climbing skills too).

We were very behind on their nap when it was time to leave. Tali missed her new friends as we walked back to the hotel. It was supposed rain, but it turned out to be perfect weather.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

More Fffood

When Abie and Tali ask for more food, it's not a stutter. They elongate the f sound until in explodes into the rest of the word. We ate at one of the Reuben's, which are near each other on the same street, serve similar foods, was founded by the same group, and now have nothing to do with each other.

Being as it was Friday night, it was busy. The smoked beef was amazing. The babies shared some smoked beef poutine. Tali scarfed it down. Abie liked my fries, especially with mistard or ketchup- a rare treat for him- and bread. We walked a little around the neighborhood and went back to the hotel room or as Abie says it, "My hotel room!"

This morning I had a little trouble getting the babies out of the room. Candace only had her conference until 1 today. I walked a little over a mile for a bagel restaurant that the babies and I thoroughly enjoyed. Tali was scarfing down he  cream cheese bagel with turkey because she wants to be an astronaut and she knows you have to eat healthy to be one.

The babies got antsy on the walk to Candace's conference. So we ran around in front of the architecture museum. Then we walked around the Bell Centre. Finally we caught up with Candace amd went back to the hotel room.

A lot of people are enamored with the babies as I walk around. Many tell me so in French. There are a lot of smokers here in Montreal. It feels like 20-30 years ago. There are also a ton of interesting looking buildings where you walk. The old mixes with the new. There's a lot of construction going on.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Magic Poutine, a Surprise, and a Long Stroll

We got something called magic poutine from a Lebanese restaurant near the hotel. Abie, Tali, and I shared it. I couldn't believe how much Tali ate. Abie didn't want to sit still. They are very good in highchairs, but not so great in regular chairs.

I realized we were near the building in which Candace's conference was taking place, but we were too early. So we sat in Place du Canada and watched the skateboarders do tricks that I'm sure are very hard, but looked like intermediate level ones. I can't even stand on a skateboard though. Abie waved at one guy, who waved back and then felt a little foolish for doing so, but Abie appreciated it.

Candace was very surprised to see us waiting for her. We walked to tbe Notre Dame Basilica. The square had a lot of great architecture. We walked more up Notre Dame street to St Denis street. There were some cool views along the way. St. Denis street had lots of restaurants, almost none were accessible unless you wanted to eat in 57° weather.

This morning Abie, Tali and I went to a bagel place up a flight of stairs. They walked up and I carried the stroller. We got a wooden letter with our order to place on the table. I asked the babies what letter it was and the woman behind the counter said, "K!" Tali knew it. Abie usually knows K, but not this time. The woman said sometimes customers don't know the letters- because they're stylized in a fancy way. When she realized I was talking to the babies, she said, "Oh shit! Sorry!"

Tali loves cream cheese on a bagel. They ate most of their lox, but they don't like sliced tomato for some reason, only grape tomatoes. I don't like any tomatoes, so who knows. Another worker at the restaurant held the door open and carried the babies down the stairs. They liked him. Tali went right to him. Usually she's shy.

I walked a ways past the bookstore I was searching for, so the babies ate olives by an art museum for a bit until we turned around. I found the bookstore, but there were lots of French books. I disscovered the English books upstairs. The problem was I saw the elevator too late, so we left the stroller and walked up the stairs. The babies wanted to grab every book, so the bookstore wasn't fun. Tali really wanted a book called something like Morality and Ethics in Politics. It had the blandest cover too. So I didn't get to buy any books, but now I know how to go upstairs with the stroller.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mt Royal in the Morning

Candace has an all-day conference, so I took the babies to Tim Horton's. I've heard the name so much, but never been to one. I was picturing Waffle House but it's more like a nicer Dunkin Donuts. Abie and Tali enjoy restaurants and thus was no exception.

We walked up the meandering paths on Mt. Royal. It wasn't easy pushing the stroller up the hills. Getting to the park on Peel street was even tougher. I was trying to go as high as I could but we stumbled onto some kind of field day for hundreds of kids, so we went down another hill.

At one point, a basket fell off a bike and Abie cried. He doesn't like when people get hurt. I told him what happened with the bike's basket and he calmed down. The guy passed us 10 minutes later and Abie pointed and smiled.

The curb cuts suck in Montreal thus far. They're not too bad with the stroller, but I think Candace must be having a hard time. The grocery store I went to was very narrow. I couldn't get the stroller past the first aisle. So I grabbed some le soda and le fruit. A couple of weird candy bars and some gummies have been my lunch as a result.

The babies napped well and are still sleeping. I was really worried that Abie would jump out of the travel crib and not want to stay in, which would make things much tougher. So far, so good.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

DC to Montreal

Dulles was easier than usual. Our gate got switched and Abie freaked out as usual after clearing security with Tali and me but before Candace was clear. He also freaked on the plane whwn he and Tali went on first. Tali was sitting in first class and staring out  snow when I came on the plane.

Abie sat next to me. He kept wanting to get to my auntie Anne's frozen drink. He didn't want to watch his kindle at first but eventually he did. He fell asleep for a few minutes  on the drive to the airport, but that's it. Tali didn't nap at all. Abie ripped up the airline's magazine.

The only trouble we had was getting off the plane. Everything was slow. Virtually the entire flight was in the gate's tunnel waiting for theor checked bag. The wheelchair came first but I couldn't bring it past everyone waiting for their bag to the plane. The stroller came last. Then Candace realized United broke the wheelchair. The battery was hanging out in the front. It was operable, but stabbed Candace in the back if the leg as she drove it.

We cleared customs in the diplomat line. I couldn't figure out the ticket machine for the 747 bus downtown, but Candace did. The bus was clearly marked and we got on. We were told our stop was the fourth stop, but it turned out to be th  third because the busbonly stopped when a request was made.

Candace surprisingly led us right to the hotel. We got to our room and those poor overtired babies went crazy. Silly crazy. The skipped around the room naked screaming. Tali fell off the table and got a slightly bloody nose. They soon went to sleep.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Chris Myers is a Terrible Boxing Announcer

I wrote a post last July arguing that Mark Kriegel was an annoying boxing announcer, and shortly after ESPN thankfully booted him from ringside. Kriegel now gives his thoughts in a brief snippet once or twice a fight and also does those heart pieces before the fights that I fast forward right through (I have small children, so I go to sleep early, and watch almost all of my sports the day after.) Kriegel doesn't add anything in these snippets, but I can deal with them.

Mark Kriegel is a gift from the boxing gods compared to Chris Myers. Kriegel at least follows boxing and seems to enjoy the sport. The same cannot be said for Chris Myers.

I've known of Chris Myers since his days on SportsCenter, and I have nothing against him as a broadcaster. He's a solid NFL play-by-play announcer and sideline reporter. But he is way out of his element when it comes to boxing.

Myers seems to have done virtually no research on boxing beyond finding some rudimentary information. He is a complete novice when it comes to the sport. Sometimes that can add a fresh perspective. A neophyte can challenge assumptions that more seasoned followers and participants may have. Myers, however, doesn't add anything to a broadcast.

Myers doesn't know the terminology. Sometimes it comes out in funny and even cute ways like when he probably looked up a boxer on BoxRec, saw MD, and figured it stood for "Mixed Decision" as opposed to "Majority Decision." In boxing lingo, a majority decision is when two judges saw the fight for one guy and the third judge saw the bout as a draw.

Mostly, Myers doesn't know a left hook from a jab. He doesn't really understand how the scoring works in boxing. He doesn't know what the judges are looking for when scoring. He doesn't know that judges don't determine if a knockdown occurred, the referee does and the judges have to score based on the referee's decision. Myers treats "effective punches" as if it's a real category in boxing like "power punches." Power punches are a category that includes any punch that isn't a jab. Effective punches aren't a category akin to power punches. It's just a subjective description of blows.

He only references fights he has called. When he mentions other fights, it's usually incomplete results. Often he doesn't put those results in any context. That a fighter is coming off of a loss doesn't tell you much. Was that loss to Gennady Golovkin or a journeyman? Has that journeyman faced a bunch of prospects from Philadelphia at a heavier weight or is he from Mississippi and has a built up record? There's a strain of boxing announcer that loved boxing as a kid when Muhammad Ali was active, separated from the sport 40 years, and now references Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard in every current fight. Myers doesn't even do that. I don't think he likes boxing at all.

In the most recent fight on Fox, Myers declared that Jarrett Hurd is a great defensive fighter because he hadn't been knocked down since becoming "champ" until last Saturday's fight against Julian Williams. The absence of getting knocked down doesn't speak much to fighter's defensive abilities. Incidentally, Hurd isn't a good defensive fighter. He wins because he has a good chin and heavy hands.

My biggest issue with Myers is that he has no problem arguing with his analysts, who, for all their faults as broadcasters, actually know boxing. He's not arguing with them about the weather or football; he argues about the tenor of the fight they are witnessing even though Myers has no idea what he's talking about. Kenny Albert isn't an expert on boxing, but he knows that. He calls it as he sees it and lets his analysts take care of the analysis.

Albert should be he lead blow-by-blow guy on Fox until a suitable replacement is found, preferably a boxing guy, not a tv guy new to boxing.