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Archive for October, 2010

Bumgarner’s Heat is Orange and Black!!!

Giants Win Game 4;  Shutout in Texas 4 to 0!!! One Win To Go!!

Giants Win Game 4; Shutout in Texas 4 to 0!!! One Win To Go!!

The Giants won Game 4 of the 2010 World Series the way they’ve been winning all post-season – dominating pitching, excellent defense and timely big hits.  Tonight’s game was only the second Ranger shutout at home this season!!
Yesterday I posed the question – do you go for broke and pitch Lee with short rest and take a chance he’s still ready for another short rest to end the World Series if it gets to Game 7?  The Rangers decision was NO.  Lee will start Game 5 and face Lincecum.  The problem is, now you are down 3 games to 1 and you have to win ’em all to take the title.
The flip side to this question is the assumption Lee would have won tonight’s game.  Given Bumgarner’s performance, that is not a very strong assumption.  It’s likely Lee would have lost anyway and his aura of invincibility would be completely shattered.
Leaving aside the Lee issue as something now lost to the vagaries of baseball’s “what-if’s”, the more pressing issue for the Rangers is now who they will use in their middle-inning relief role.  They have been using Alexi Ogando, but he appeared to injure himself (his left side) on his sixth batter.  Up to then, he had retired the first five batters faced with little problem.  If Ogando is now out for the remainder of the Series, it seems even a more remote a possibility the Rangers can hold off the Giants for three straight games.  Time will tell…
What we’ve learned after four: Our 1 pitcher is as good as theirs.  Our 2 and 4 pitchers are much better than theirs.  Our 3 pitcher is not that much worse than theirs.  Our fielding/defense is as good as theirs.  Our hitting is as good as theirs.  Our base running doesn’t seem any worse than theirs.  They may be faster, but they don’t get on as much and don’t get hits with men in scoring positions.  All in all, big advantage to the Giants.
It’s hard not to count the chickens before they’re hatched, but I can’t see how the Rangers can pull this back without one of the biggest collapse’s in modern sports history.
Prediction: Giants in 5.
Go Giants!!! I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!!
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This morning I read another of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians books.  This wasn’t one of the series novels.  It was only a filler of three short stories.  The book is titled: “The Demigod Files” and is written by Rick Riordan (2009©).  The three stories are background stories meant to add friends and further establish the “hero” status of Percy amongst his peers.
Again, the book is a very fast read and a fun read.  I still feel the series is targeted for youth and therefore lacks a “gravitas” some coming of age stories have, but they are fun.  And if you’re going to target the kids to youth market, fun will sell a lot better than gravitas.  I continue to highly recommend the series.
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Bad week for the diet, the scale and the workouts!!
World Series week so I took two days off from the gym (and working out) to start work early and get home for the games early.
Tuesday, I had my best times in the 2 miles in multiple years.  I finished the first mile at 12 minutes 9 seconds and the two miles at 23 minutes 34 seconds.  So, not only was I under 12 minutes for both miles (my goal), I was under 11 minutes and 30 seconds for the second mile!!
Needless to say, I was shattered, but it was nice to finally hit a goal.
Today, (Saturday) I went out for my first jog at home in ages (well, weeks).  I did my normal 70 minutes, a little over 4 miles.  I watched the sunrise and listened to the birds calling for breakfast.  The sky was very cloudy, dark and gray.  Very picturesque.
Hil’s birthday was yesterday and we went out to eat, but I felt like doing a little more so after my shower I made her breakfast in bed.  Later in the day, she said the breakfast in bed was worth more to her than the card and meal out.
Sometimes, it is the millions of little things you do for each other which really show your love…
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It goes without saying that at World Series level of play, it is VERY difficult to beat any other team three times in a row.  This is demonstrated by the rarity of sweeps (winning 4 games in a row) – primarily because you’ve got to win three before you can get to the fourth successive win.  Up two games to nil, the Giants didn’t get it done today and the Rangers are now back in the Series.
The Rangers get a single and a walk early and then one BIG home run by Moreland to go up early 3 to 0 in the 3rd inning.  They held that for another two innings until their best hitter (Hamilton) added an insurance HR in the 5th inning – 4 – 0 Rangers.  The Giants made a push with two solo home runs by Ross and Torres in the 7th and 8th innings (respectively).  But, for SF, it was too little, too late.  Game ends, Rangers 4, Giants 2 – Rangers win.
The good news is that although Sanchez did not have a particularly good game, he only gave up two big hits (out of 6 total hits), the Rangers still did not touch him a lot – and certainly did not demonstrate they were the “feared” dominating hitting and running machine they were purported to be prior to the start of the Series.
The big question now is whether despite today’s win, will the Ranger throw Lee back out for Game 4 tomorrow?  Had they lost Game 3, it is almost certain the decision would have been yes.  But are they in any different position?  If they don’t give it to their best pitcher and lose Game 4, they will be down 3 games to 1 and need to win EVERY game – THREE IN A ROW.  (Remember the lead paragraph to this post?)  If they use Lee and win, they have breathing room to lose one of the last three, but they will almost certainly need to use Lee again (certainly in Game 7) and again it will be on short rest.  Will Lee be effective on short rest?  Will he be effective on short rest twice?
Do you have faith in your whole staff?  Do you believe you can win a critical game without your best playing?  Do you save your best for a potential Game 6 or 7 which you may not reach if you don’t use Lee in Game 4?  And so, you roll the dice – play for the Game or play for the Series…
We’ll know the Rangers’ decision and the results in about 24 hours from now…
GO GIANTS!!! I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!!
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Today I completed a book recommended to me by my son.  The book is: “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan (2005©).  The book is a coming of age story for a young man who discovers he is actually the son of the Greek god Poseidon.  As such, Percy has some super powers, mostly to do with water.  As part of his growing up, Percy must choose to become a hero and in order to be a hero he must complete a quest.
The book is basically a children’s (young teens) book.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyed by others.  I found it quite interesting to learn so much about Greek mythology while being entertained by a good story.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who still reads kids or action books and to anyone who reads books to kids.  They will enjoy it and learn from it too.  It does contain scenes which may be too intense for very young (under 10 years of age) kids, particularly those with vivid imaginations, but I think most could handle it.
My son says the first book was turned into an unsuccessful movie.  I look forward to reading the remaining 4 novels in the series and to seeing the movie.
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Yesterday was the pitching duel that wasn’t. Tonight was the pitching duel we expected yesterday – until the dam burst.  And then it wasn’t!!

Giants Win Game 2 In 9 - 0 Shutout of Rangers!!

Giants Win Game 2 In 9 – 0 Shutout of Rangers!!

The game was decided in the 5th inning.  A sure-thing, Ranger home run hit the top of the outfield fence and bounced back into the field of play.  It was caught on the rebound and the runner was held at second base with a double.  This is what is commonly referred to as an “Act of God”.  When something this unusual happens, it almost always means the Baseball gods are smiling on the “lucky” team – that day if not for the series.  I was feelin’ the ORANGE and Rally Dog was shakin’.
In the bottom of the 5th, a solo HR by the Giants Renteria broke the goose-eggs.  It remained a close 1 to 0 game with an “anything can happen” feel until Uribe got a double in the 7th to add insurance.  It seemed then as if 2 runs would be enough to end the game and all the Giants had to do was hang on.
Instead of a defensive closer, Giant fans were treated to a Texas Nightmare/California Dream.  C.J. Wilson, (the Ranger starting pitcher), burst the blister on his throwing hand and was reduced to physically only being able to throw a curve ball without pain.  The Rangers began substituting pitchers.  With two outs in the bottom of the eight inning, the Giant’s got 7 runs.  Three of them were forced runs on bases loaded walks.  “Fear the Beard” Brian Wilson is sent back to the bench and Guillermo Mota finishes the game.  Shutout!!
What did we learn?  The Giants are hot!!  The Rangers – particularly the pitchers seem to be on a stage too high.  They are matching up well – which tells me it won’t be a sweep, but they are not getting very many breaks.  After all, how many times does a HR lip off a fence and fall back into play?  So far, the Giants 1st and 2nd pitcher are better than the Rangers 1st and 2nd.  The Cain vs Wilson match-up, in particular, seems to favor SF.  This means if the Series goes to 6 or 7 games, the Giants will have a big edge.  The collapse of the Ranger bullpen in the 8th is particularly troubling for any Texas fans.  The Series now goes to Texas where the Rangers should get a bit of rejuvenation.  It’s hard to imagine them winning three in a row, though.  That means they’ll have to come back to AT&T and win both games to win the series.  While nothing is impossible – again, it seems very unlikely at this point.
At the moment, the Giants need to win 2 games out of the remaining 5 to win the Series.  They only need to play 400 ball.  The Rangers, on the other hand, need to win 4 out of the remaining 5 games to take the Series.  What are the odds of the Rangers playing 800 ball to win the Series?  My revised prediction – it’s looking more like a 4-1 Giants Series than a 4-2 Series.  Fingers crossed!!!
Go Giants!!!  I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!!
PS: I’ve decided to call Rally Dog “Bingo” from now on.  Only a nerd baseball fan will know why.
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Game 1 of the 2010 World Series was not the game anyone expected.  The final was SF Giants 11, the Texas Rangers 7, but the score fails to tell the depth or breadth of the victory.

Win #1 - Giants 11, Rangers 7

Win #1 – Giants 11, Rangers 7

Neither team’s aces had very good outings, but Texas’ Lee was chased from the mound.  SF’s Lincecum was merely pulled.
The start of the game definitely favored the Ranger’s.  So far this post-season, most of the Giants pitchers have started slow and then settled in to good to great outings.  Today was another slow start for Lincecum who faced seven batters before getting his first strike out.  At the end of two innings, the Giants were down 2 to 0 and it looked like the Rangers might run away with the game without any major hits.
The worm turned and the Giants got two runs in the 3rd inning.
Game tied, the Giants and the crowd seem restored.  Suddenly, the Giants exploded with 6 runs in the 5th inning and they seized control of the game – 8 to 2.  Lee is chased off the mound by the Giants bats and actually appears to run from the field to the bench.  I was left wondering, if I’d actually seen that or if it was some other player.  No one comments, so I’m left feeling it must have been a coach or assistant trotting off the field to the dugout.
Meanwhile, Tim settled down and lasted through most the 6th inning giving up another two runs before being shown to the bench.  Still, unless the highly improbable happens, Lincecum knows he’s going to get the “W” in this game.
The improbable does NOT happen.  The Rangers threaten with two runs in the 6th inning to make it 8 to 4 Giants.  The Giants respond with 3 insurance runs in the 8th inning – making it 11 to 4 Giants.  The Rangers threaten again with 3 more runs in the 9th inning, but it’s far too little, far too late.  Final – Giants 11, Rangers 7.
What did we learn??  The Giants can hit.  The Rangers can hit.  Neither one of the number 1 pitchers are infallible.  That’s a tougher lesson for the Rangers who had Lee with a “walk on water” playoff record of 7 wins and 0 losses before tonight.  It’s an encouraging lesson for the Giants who will almost certainly have to face Lee again.  The Rangers are not going to quit. Down 8 to 2 and 11 to 4 they continued to fight right through the last out of the 9th.  The Giants don’t panic.  At the end of 2, the Rangers looked like a steamroller and Lincecum looked badly touchable.  Another Giants team might have folded up their tent to go home.  This year’s Giants re-tied their shoelaces, pulled their caps down lower and went back after the Rangers.  The Giants got 5 runs off of Lee, but they got 6 off of the Rangers bullpen.  This means once we get by their starter on any given day, we’re going to be in a good position to do more.  The Rangers, on the other hand, got 4 runs off of Tim but only 3 off of our bullpen.  While just one game is too small a sample for a real solid opinion, it looks like our quality depth and variety will mean the difference, the longer each starter goes and the longer the series goes.
As a Giants fan, I want a sweep.  As a realist, I’m expecting another 4 to 2 series win for the Giants – based mostly on the fact that our best faced their best and we won round one.  These two will probably go head to head again in either game 6 or game 7.  I’m expecting game 6.  But the home field advantage is with the Giants.  As long as the Giants hold serve tomorrow and go back to Texas up two-nil, it’s unlikely Texas will win all three back there.  That means we’ll come home with two games to win one and the Giants have shown (repeatedly) they can get the job done.
As a fan of baseball and sports in general – history shows that great teams play great series.  That means you either dominate and sweep or the series goes to seven games and you manage to win.  Strangely enough, (in my humble opinion,) most sweeps are NOT remembered as great series.  It’s the seven game series which are remembered across the decades.  Strangely enough, even the losing teams find history (and glory) in a seven game series.  Is it blasphemy to want the Giants to win in a sweep, but hope they win in seven (as opposed to 5 or 6)?
Go Giants!!  I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!
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Fear the Beard!!!  Go GIANTS!!!
Have you seen this man?  The newest member of the San Francisco Giants Pitchers Witness Protection Program.
I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!!
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This weekend, I upgraded some of my Giants kit to go along with our advancing into the 2010 World Series.  I also got shirts for Hil and the kids.
You’ll notice I’ve dyed my beard black (FEAR THE BEARD!!) for the Series!!!
Go GIANTS!!!  I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!!
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Last Monday (18 October 2010), I finished reading: “Confessions of a Tax Collector, by Richard Yancey (2004©).  The book is an autobiographical telling of the author’s first couple of years working for the Internal Revenue Service between 1990 and 2003.  His IRS office was based in Florida.  The book is a coming-of-age story and is a fast and interesting read.  I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a better understanding of the people hired to collect taxes for the Federal Government.
I found it brought back a lot of old memories.  I also was a commissioned Revenue Officer for the IRS.  I served from 1986 to the middle of 1988 (only two and a half years), before moving into the information technology field (still with the IRS) and then leaving the Service altogether in December of 1992.
The book stirred up a lot of old memories about the confusion of the job (and Federal employment) and the emotional toll it takes on you when you are constantly seen as the bad guy.  You quickly learn who your real friends are when people find out you actually collect taxes for the IRS.  You literally are “The Man“.  The line I used to explain the job to my friends was: “Knock, knock… I’m here.  It’s time.”
Most of my friends thought it was amusing that a liberal, easy going guy like me was collecting taxes.  I thought it was “different” too – certainly unexpected.  But it was also interesting and I was good at it.  The average Revenue Officer (RO), when I was in the Service, collect $20 for each dollar of salary.  I collected $40.  The average RO secured one tax return per week.  I averaged three.
The author’s personal story was interesting, too – certainly more than I thought it would be.  I feel very lucky to have been married to my wife as I could very easily see how the author let the job become his life.
I certainly never did any of the more egregious things the author did (and claims was common practice) and I never felt the way he purports to feel about the “deadbeats” and other “unsavory” characters he had to deal with in the book.  For me, it was a job.  I did it to the best of my ability – organized, timely and effective; but it was never personal.  The taxpayers didn’t just owe me the money, they owed “us” (as in all of the United States) the money, and it was my job to get the money which was owed.  Like I said, nothing personal.  Just business.
Anyway, the author seems to have been much better at the job than me and he was obviously better at coping with it because he lasted over thirteen years (to my two and two-thirds).
One of the most interesting – and troubling – aspects of the book is the author states the job is essentially gone now.  RO’s don’t go after missed payments the way they used to.  They also work with (ie “allow to stay in business”) businesses which are pyramiding their tax liability while the RO attempts to get them back into full compliance.  I can’t believe this is true as it was absolutely essential we shut down businesses who could not stay current while they were making payments on past due liabilities.  If this is true today, it’s a wonder any business pays any taxes!!
All in all, a fast read and an entertaining story.  I highly recommend it!!  And of course, this was one of the many books I found (and read) not really looking for anything in particular – serendipity and chaos, again.  I guess I needed a reminder of my past…
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Another awesome 1 run victory by the San Francisco Giants. Heavy underdogs to the Phillies, the Giants go to PA and take Game 1 on a off night for our star pitcher (Tim Lincecum) and a great 2 home run performance by Cody Ross (a mid-year acquisition).
Tomorrow is game 2 and if the Giants win that one, folks are going to go NUTS around here!!!
I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!
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I’ve been on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) more in the last two weeks than I have been in years…
Last week, I had a three day training session on Critical Thinking, in Oakland, and this week I’ve been attending a four day session on Microsoft Access 2007, in S.F.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve enjoyed both and learned quite a bit as well.
I seem to go to management analyst training about every 4 years or so, and it’s hard to get up for what always seems to be a re-hash.  There was a lot of that this time as well, but the instructor was very entertaining.  He was “acting” as much as educating and his performance and enthusiasm were infectious.  His name is Michael Sigman and his company is CommCore Consulting Group.  I highly recommend Mike if you ever feel you need this kind of training.
This week’s training is being provided by Dan McAllister with LearnIt! in San Francisco.  As I said, the class is on MS-Access.  This is probably my fourth time attending Access training since 1992, and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to get out of the training.  I was hoping for at least a re-familiarization with some basic concepts and tools.  Instead, it’s been a very interesting (and fast paced) class covering a lot more database theory than I remember in any of my other class sessions.  I’m not sure why, (maybe it’s Dan,) but the three days so far have flown by.  I’m sure I’ll be able to use a lot of this when I get back to my desk and I’m also confident the other three folks we’ve got scheduled to attend will get a great introduction to databases in general and Access in particular.
On the BART rides in (and out) I’ve been re-reading Malcom Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point“.  I originally read the book a couple of years ago and it lead me to read his other two books: “Outliers” and “Blink“, as well.
The book is about social behaviour and what makes some things explode into massive social shifts / fads / epidemics and what stops them and/or prevents them.
Basically, there are three critical factors for a tipping point: the law of the few (a powerful combination of three critical actors – connectors, mavens and salesmen), an idea or action with “stickiness”, and an environmental context (a cultural acceptance).  Given these three factors, a small change in the social equilibrium will produce a radical (enormous) change in society.
The author cites numerous examples of crime, cigarette smoking, and suicides to support his claims (observations).
The results (the radical societal changes) seem counter-intuitive, but I am emotionally (and experientially) drawn to the “Law of the Few” and the “Stickiness Factor”.  I do believe that social connectors and mavens move the world.  I’m not entirely convinced about the salesman.  That is not my experience…
The re-reading has led me to change my behavior.  I recently signed up for the Hunch web site.  It’s a site I read about in Wired magazine which promises to offer you recommendations about everything based on the “likes” of people who are similar to yourself.  It’s kind of like a Facebook, but with out as much background chatter about what you’re doing right this very minute (“status”).
I’ve yet to receive any phenomenal “recs” yet, but I think it is a more comfortable place (than Facebook) to post thoughts (“likes” and “faves”).  I am hoping the site will ultimately lead me to communicating with social connectors and mavens.  This seems like a mildly selfish goal to me – ethically speaking. It also seems to be “anti-socially” social – that is, trying to “make friends” without knowing/engaging them.  Philosophically, I’m not even sure it’s possible. Still, it seems an interesting experiment.
So far, I’ve exchanged messages with folks from Africa, South America, Europe and several parts of the US.
I’m starting off by randomly “following” folks; looking for specific folks who say something interesting (about anything); and, then sending them messages (called “flecks”).  I’m planning to try this in a couple of rounds over the next couple of months to see what happens.
Ideally, I’ll connect with a number (150) of super-connectors and mavens as described in Gladwell’s book.  At that point, I would have a pipeline into multiple societal waves as a source for thought (my own personal growth) and observation on this blog!
On a more personal note, I’m smiling more…  Yesterday, a lady came up to me and asked how to get to Mission Street in SF.  I advised of which train to catch.  As I was getting off, I approached her and told her there were four more stops to Mission.  She was surprised as I approached her and then broke out in a tremendous smile when she realized I was still trying to help her.
Today, I sat next to an elderly man who asked me for directions to the Oakland Airport. He said he didn’t speak English.  He showed me his electronic air-pass.  I let him know when we came to his transfer point (MacArthur Station) and told him where to meet his train (the Fremont train).  He was Middle-Eastern and bowed to me repeatedly, smiling as he shuffled off the train with his two suitcases.
As he walked off, smiling, it reminded me of the thousands of little things Hil does for me – and that made me smile (more).
Perhaps a small change can have a major impact on the world…
PS: It has just been announced that BING will be integrating with Facebook.  This will offer Facebook users the ability to “see/search” the faves of their Facebook friends and Hotmail contacts.  It sounds like someone is trying to steal Hunch’s lunchbox…
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