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Thursday, April 30, 2020

My thoughts on COVID 19

These last few weeks have been some of the weirdest weeks I have ever experienced. A complete shutdown of local restaurants (other than pickup or drive thru), bars, clubs, sports stadiums, concerts, churches, and probably a few other things I am missing.

I'm not going to get political and talk about the governments response to the virus because that's all stuff out of my control. Instead I will mention just a few of my thoughts and concerns are during this crazy time.

First of all, I have really been thinking about those that work in the service industry. Retail, food, and other services that I can't think of at the moment. There have been massive layoffs that have affected these peoples lives no doubt. For all of those people applying to unemployment offices for aid. Hell the price of oil has even tanked and people in that industry are really hurting including a few friends of mine. Consumption of oil has dropped way down with things shut down so the price has plummeted. As sad as the medical facts are and the deaths that have occurred, we can't forget that people who are out of work and struggling to get by each day.

Now onto the medical side of things. For me, the general media narrative has shifted radically. What started out as nothing more than a "seasonal flu", its now being reported as like "Super AIDS" or something and we all need to avoid everyone and stay inside. That's obviously an exaggeration but still, these 24 hour news networks (CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC) with the constant ticker on the side showing the number of cases and deaths is really driving a lot of fear in this country. Most people that catch COVID 19 do recover, the death rate is low. But you probably wouldn't know that watching some of these networks. I'm not trying to minimize the deaths that have occurred. Each death is a travesty and we should collectively mourn as a nation. Hoping a vaccine develops soon because it looks like this virus will be a seasonal thing. Its not that easy though because clinical trials will need to be done first before any type of deployment.

The main point I am trying to get across I suppose is the delicate balance between the economy and public health that the city/state/national governments need to make decisions on. I don't envy the position of any of these people during this trying time.

As far as how I'm doing, I'm one of the few lucky ones that have been able to work remotely from home. Work has been really slow but I feel fortunate that my company did not let me go. My main challenge has been self motivation. Keeping myself busy when work is not. I've been playing my guitar a lot and got some really good practice sessions in. I have also been walking more in the park near my apartment just to get out of the apartment and get a change of scenery. I've been visiting my parents more often and that's been good too.

With that said, for anyone out there struggling either financially, physically, mentally, or all of the above. I hope that things will turn around soon, for all of us. God Bless and stay strong.

Friday, February 21, 2020

On the Astros and cheating...

I've gone through a range of emotions on this scandal with the Astros and after critically thinking about the whole situation I think I am finally ready to comment about it.

First off, it sucks. The whole thing sucks. This is the first off-season in quite a long time where I was not looking forward to the next season. Astros players are going to be targets. Players will be booed. Pitchers are going to hit them. Fans will probably throw things (probably at Yankee Stadium). It's really a no win situation for all involved. First I will comment on the report itself because I think its important to sort out the facts from conspiracies and focus on what we know.

We know that the Astros had a sign stealing scheme in place for the 2017 season and part of the 2018 season. We know that it involved the center field camera which had a signal feed fed to a monitor in the dugout or the clubhouse. We also know that once the sign was decoded, a player or Astros employee would bang on a trashcan to signify to the hitter that an off-speed pitch (curve, slider, change-up) was coming. If a fastball was signaled, no noise was made. We know that on atleast 2 occasions the manager (A.J. Hinch) destroyed the monitor out of frustration. He was unhappy with the scheme but never explicitly conveyed that to the players. We know that the GM Jeff Luhnow received a memo following the suspension of the Red Sox and Yankees that involved using Apple Watches and replay cameras and the he failed to forward it to others in the organization. We know that the primary "ringleaders" of the scheme were bench coach Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran.

I think that about covers all the facts from the report. You can read the full report here

When the news first came down, I thought about abandoning the team. The team I have cheered for as a child. All those games that I have been to and for what? In particular the joy of going to the 2 playoff games during the 2017 run, I felt cheated as a fan. Yes we won but at what cost? I consider myself a moral person and I don't believe in "cheating" of any sort. Does our title mean nothing now? Do I have to go back to just cheering for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fuck, kill me now. That team is in dire need of new leadership and a long way from even being competitive. Do I do something that I once thought was unthinkable, do I become a Texas Rangers fan? Again, fuck me.

The hardest part of the whole situation is you can't really quantify how much help the batter gets by knowing what pitch is coming. I know that these are professional athletes that have to react in a split second to a ball thrown usually 95 + mph at them, so any advantage does help. But they still have to know if its high, or low, or inside or outside. It's not a complete easy mode advantage. After reading more and reading Tony Adams's excellent work over at signstealingscandal.com, I've come to some more conclusions. (1) Not all players used the scheme and (2) The degree of effectiveness is debatable.

The biggest beneficiary of the trash can bangs seems to be Marwin Gonzalez. He had 147 bangs on 807 pitches (18.2%). He had a career year in '17. Hitting .303 with homers and 93 RBI in the regular season. However, any edge he seemed to have gained in the regular season seemed to disappear in the postseason. He hit .200/.136/.208 in the divisional, league championship, and World Series. Only had 1 home run all postseason but it was arguably the biggest hit in team history. Game 2 in the ninth with the Dodgers looking to go up 2 games to 0, his solo shot tied it and sent the game to extras where the Astros were able to win it and tie the series at 1 game apiece. Did he know what was coming? Maybe we will never know.

Jose Altuve won the 2017 MVP award edging out a rookie by the name of Aaron Judge. According to the information available, Altuve only had 24 bangs out of 886 pitches, a measley 2.7%. Let's look at his postseason numbers. .533/.320/.194 in the divisional. ALCS, and World Series. He started out red hot but tapered off in the World Series. He did have 2 home runs in the World Series but struggled overall. The Dodgers were a great team, let's not undersell them. You would expect a decline in performance when you are facing stiffer competition. Overall I would say any advantage gained by Altuve in the regular season was extremely minor. He had a terrific year. Judge can cry all he wants to about being "cheated" out of the award but I can't agree with that point of view I'm sorry. Jose Altuve is a generational talent and is an extremely great baseball player.

Lets look at 1 more player, George Springer. He had 140 bangs out of 972 pitches in the regular season for 14.4% (keep in mind these are home games, which is the only place they could use it.) He had a stellar 2017 campaign hitting .283 with 34 homeruns and 85 RBI. His postseaseon numbers were wildly streaky. He hit .412/.115/.379 in the divisional, ALCS, and World Series. That ALCS series really stands out. The Yankees seemed to have him solved and he was largely ineffective. Averaging out his numbers for that entire postseason he did well hitting .390 overall. In the World Series, he was transcendental. He won the World Series MVP that year hitting 5 home runs and 7 RBI over the 7 gamnes with a .379 average. There's no question these are great numbers. One does wonder though why he struggled so mightily in the series before. Afterall, if he was "cheating", why didn't it work in that series? Maybe he just got hot as players tend to do after being ice cold?

What I'm hoping to illustrate by these 3 examples are that any advantage gained over this method to me seems small. I can't outright claim it gave no advantage but I don't see a clear correlation to inflated numbers across the board for Astros hitters when they bat at home. With that being said, what they did was wrong and the commissioner came down with punishments. Manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were both suspended for a year with no pay and were barred from any Major League Baseball facilities. The organization lost its 2019 draft picks and was fined $5 million which is the largest allowable under the current CBA agreement. Many claim this was not enough. There had been a large outcry and big markets like NY that they should have to forfeit their title too. To me though, that just seems silly. Firstly, you can't just give it to LA. They walked off the field having just lost Game 7. Winning it now would seem weird and their players and fans wouldn't be able to adequately celebrate it. Secondly, vacating a title and just saying no winner seems even dumber. So you're telling me I didn't experience what I saw? If the year had no championship, lets just throw out everyone's stats of every team and player since it was a moot point right? You play to win the championship. With no winner, what was the point of the season? This differs from 1994 where there was no postseason due to the players going on strike to protest.

So where does this leave me? Well I'm still an Astros fan. I am saddened by decisions made by players and staff members but it wasn't me that cheated. I shouldn't have to feel remorseful for anything but yet I do because I know that it was wrong. I think over time it will be better. Right now we are the heels of MLB. I wanted to hate the Red Sox and Yankees, not become them. Ultimately it doesn't matter what I think. I'm just 1 fan. I will say that I am not quite as passionate about the team currently. Maybe that will change when the playoffs come, I don't know. I think once this core group of players grow old and move on to other teams it will be easier for me to like the team then it is at the moment. I still love Jose Altuve. If anything this just proves that good people can let you down and make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Let's play ball.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


Have not updated in quite awhile.



Lots going on in my life. Looking for a new job has kept me busy. Though that is probably on hold until next year, nobody hiring for the last few months of 2019 it seems.

I've experimented with going sober for an extended time and it has gone well. I've come to the conclusion that I am "thankfully" not an alcoholic. I just need to control my spending. Keeping less credit cards on me in my wallet so I don't buy dumb shit while drunk. I will be drinking less also but won't stop all together. I need to re-commit myself to my health for 2020. Ideally would like to drop around 50-75 pounds which will not be easy.

I've also realized that I have been holding myself to a higher standard. Which is good but I have always been my worst critic and a bit of a perfectionist. I've been getting better at forgiving myself which is a huge improvement. I would spiral for days after a bad purchase and not want to leave my apartment. But this has been going better.

Still as single as a slice of cheese though but hopefully that will change shortly. I know that to have a relationship with someone I have to first love myself which I have not been doing. I'm learning to love myself more and grow my relationship with God. I have a lot of improvement that I need to do in the next few years. Wish me luck.

And of course, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Listening

I've been doing more listening than talking lately and its been a blessing. As divided as we are politically, we all really are much closer than we think.

Don't let the haters out there rule your world. Be open and show compassion to your fellow man.

Just some self reflection I've been thinking about lately.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Been a while

I am still alive!!

I know it's been a hard minute since I've last updated. Been way too long.

I've been getting better at the guitar. Good enough to be able to play rhythm chords to some songs. I love my electric but there's just something about an acoustic that I really dig.

Work is up and down. I really need to build my resume and move on. There's no promotion chance for me at work. I need to spread my wings and fly.

There will be a follow up post soon.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Finally found my Haven

Its been too long since I have updated my blog. 2018 is almost over and I can't believe it. I know every year we say "This year has gone by so fast" but it really has. There's been a lot of changes recently at my office. People leaving and moving on. Luckily I am still employed but I am also thinking about moving on myself. I feel like my earning potential is greater than what I am currently receiving now. I have finally moved out from my parents to get my own place. I had been saving for a house but I got impatient and just decided to get an apartment. I needed the independence. I'm closer to my office now and I'm close enough to my parents that I can visit and check on them whenever I need to.

My guitar lessons have been going fantastic. I busted my first string on my electric but I'm told that is a common occurrence. I got that replaced and I'm back to practicing. I can actually strum along to different songs now which is awesome. I'm also learning to sing while playing which is another trial altogether. You basically have to have the playing down to muscle memory and just think about the next verse. Or have the verse down to memory and just think about playing. So that's something I am currently working on a few songs. I want to eventually write some original songs myself but that is much further down the road. Regardless, I am overjoyed with the progress that I have made in playing in just 2 short years.

I'm also trying to re-dedicate myself to a healthier lifestyle. I have been seeing a chiropractor for lower back pain. Its been improving but I also realize that I need to lose weight and treat my body better. I am going to cut out sugar and lower the amount of carbs I take in. Also going to give up alcohol which will not be easy. I will probably just end up scaling that way back to 1 drink a week. But I will try to give it up all together. I'm not waiting to make a New Years Resolution because that just BS. I need to start now. I'm getting older and my metabolism is slowing down. And sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day isn't helping me either.

I also plan to get more involved at my church. I live across the street now from my church so I am very close. I want to find some different ministries to assist in and grow closer to God. My spiritual journey hasn't always been a smooth one but I do believe that God has a plan for me. I just need to figure out what exactly that is and trust his guidance.

Wishing everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gun Control in America


I've been weighing whether or not to write a post on this particular topic for quite some time. Immediately after the Parkland shooting I felt tempers were too hot on both sides so I waited. This won't be long but just wanted voice my personal opinion with all the others.

First off, I am not a gun person. As weird as that sounds being a white male living in Texas, I am not. I have several friends who are though and I did go to a shooting range once for a friend's bachelor party. I can remember firing a higher caliber handgun and shaking afterwards. I remember thinking to myself, "How the hell is this fun? My nerves are shot!" I think I fired 1 more clip and that was enough for me. Now, with that being said, I think as Americans, we have a right to bear arms. I mean, that pesky 2nd amendment states it right there. So I don't take any issue with my friends who go to the range and shoot. If that's what they want to spend their money on, more power to them.

The particular tricky bit about the 2nd amendment however is the part about the "well regulated militia".  WTF does that mean? In 2018, the only type of "well regulated militias" that I know of are the armed forces. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard.

I guess all that I'm trying to say is that it's a tricky issue.  I understand that you should be able to protect your family with a gun. But is the family unit similar to a militia? Hmm...