Redesign/NBA Finals

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Life Comes at You Fast

...  But that's no excuse for such a long layoff from posting here.  First off, meet Iggy!  Allie and I adopted this half-Corgi half-Heeler in April.  Her full name is Andrea Iguodogla and she loves socks, miniature tennis balls, and dryer sheets.

Sidenote: Wifey cut a deal with me where I get to name all of our dogs, and she gets the final say on the names all of our children. I know, I win this pretty easily here.  Not only do I get more artistic license with dog names, but we will definitely have more dogs than kids.

In other news (why I wasn't writing): decided to buy a house, re-injured my neck (I learned my lesson: never rush a workout and always focus on form), played at churches for 10 straight weekends, decided to not buy a house, and had work send me all over our territory from Imperial, CA to Morenci, AZ...  You get the picture.

Takes

Phoenix Suns

I'm not as pessimistic about losing the lottery as the rest of the fanbase seems to be. Sure we didn't get a top 3 pick, but the three teams ahead of us (Celtics, Lakers, and Sixers) all need point guards.  So we might get our choice of impact small forwards!  I am a Jayson Tatum guy, but I'd be happy with Josh Jackson too.

On the bright side of tanking: we kept two extremely injury-prone players in Bledsoe and Chandler from getting hurt, while getting to see what Len and Ulis can do in expanded roles.  

Politics

... Never mind.

Music

Paramore's new album is out now, and sadly it is without one of my favorite bassists Jeremy Davis.  His playing style was something I tried to emulate in my late teens/early 2o's, and he had some beautiful Gibson G3s.

Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, the bassist for MUTEMATH, announced that he will no longer be touring with the band. Roy is one of my favorite bassists of all time, so I was sad at first.  But I have so much respect for him because he is taking a step back so that he can be a more present dad to his 3 kids.

Fidget Spinners

... Also never mind.

Housing and Perspective

I am not a very knowledgeable person as far as how the housing market and tax breaks are intertwined with poverty on a macroeconomic level. How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality by Matthew Desmond of the New York Times is really eye opening piece with a cool historical note at the end.

And yet over the course of our history, there have been times when Americans embraced a politics of sacrifice. During World War II, families volunteered to pay more taxes, ration food and give blood to serve a higher purpose. And even today, in what can feel like an age of insecurity and self-preservation, some Americans have shown a willingness to take a personal financial hit to promote social mobility and equality. Take the people of Seattle: For 36 years, they have agreed to be taxed more to raise revenue for affordable-housing programs. Last August, 70 percent of Seattle voters agreed to the largest housing levy yet, one expected to raise $290 million over the next seven years. Contributions to the levy are based on home values; a family living in a $480,000 home (the city’s median value in 2015) pays an additional $122 a year in taxes. With that money, Seattle will fund emergency rental assistance, loans to first-time home buyers and the construction of housing units that must remain affordable for at least 50 years. Previous housing levies have generated over 13,000 affordable apartment units and enabled 900 low-income families to buy homes. The 2016 Housing Levy will do more because the residents of Seattle decided to invest in economic diversity and residential stability, sacrificing a pinch to help those in need.

Politics are so divisive right now, it feels like we are constantly at each other's throats.  This made me feel a little better knowing that, as a whole, we still want to make progress as a society, even at our own expense.  If you have the time, please take a few minutes and read the whole article.  I promise it will be worth your time.

Eating- Tuck Shop

Wifey took me here for my birthday meal, so this recommendation is coming late.  This was easily one of the best and most unique meals I have had in a long time.  The menu is constantly changing (usually a good/fresh sign) and their cocktails are to die for.  I had two different drinks with Japanese whisky, and citrus-brined chicken with a cheddar waffle.  Take me back!

Drinking- Whistlepig 10 Year Rye and Del Bac

I recently tried Whistlepig 10 Year Rye at House of Tricks and I think I am looking to get myself a bottle.

Del Bac Classic (and Unsmoked) have always held a special place in my heart.  Great price, local (Tucson, AZ), hints of vanilla and butterscotch...  It's everything I would want in a whiskey.

Watching- Master of None

Late to the party, but we finally started Master of None.  I finally understand the hype!  The perfect combination of feeling real, being so funny, short episodes, and the great H. Jon Benjamin.

Final Thoughts- NBA Finals

It's like the end of a vacation.  You're finally in your groove, getting used to a life of luxury, not having a care in the world, and then you get the reminder to check in for your flight.  You start thinking about having to pack your bags, the long flight, the lines, the terrible airport food...

This is exactly how I feel about the end of the NBA season.  There is going to be a large NBA/NFL sized hole in my heart until September (late October for NBA).  So far my plans include watching all of the Lethal Weapon and Christopher Nolan Batman movies, and maybe going through HBO's The Night Of. 

Anyway

The Finals start tonight and it's the match-up everyone expected to see all season.  No big surprises, just two super teams fighting for the Larry O'Brien trophy for the 3rd tim in 3 years.

One thought I can't shake is how 2015 LeBron put up 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists with a lineup of Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, and JR Smith...  and they managed to get 2 games from the Warriors (2 more wins than the Spurs, Jazz, and Trailblazers could get through this entire postseason).

Everyone knows that I am rooting for the Cavs.  Biases aside, I don't think that the Warriors will be able to roll to a 4 game sweep or a 5 game gentleman's sweep.  The safest bet, in my opinion, is Warriors in 6, but I am going to put my rooting interest in my pick and say Cavs in 6.  

  1. The Cavs best 7 match up almost evenly with the Warriors best 7.  Irving/Curry, LeBron/KD, Love/Green, Smith/Klay, Tristan/Zaza(or Iguodala).
  2. If both teams go into a switch-heavy defense (and they will), I think that we will have to see how well the Warriors avoid foul trouble.  Both teams will set picks until they get the most desirable match-up.  I would expect LeBron to try to get KD/Curry in the post and try to draw fouls to get them out of rhythm.  LeBron is usually pretty good about avoiding foul trouble, let's see if KD and Draymond can stay on the court while still being able to contest LeBron's drives.
  3. I still think that the Warriors bench with Livingston, Iggy, and JaVale will have success against the Cavs.  Livingston will make a point to attack Deron Williams, and the Cavs have no answer for JaVale rolling to the rim if Tristan Thompson is off the floor.  
  4. As an obvious statement, the series will be better if everyone gets/stays healthy.  Kyrie and Iguodala have the most recent injuries, and we don't know what is causing Klay Thompson's slump.  Let's just hope for the best here
  5. Lastly, Ty Lue and Mike Brown are coaching in the Finals.  Take that for data.

Ball is life.  Hopefully, I will have time in the next week or so to do some more thoughts on how the games played out.  As always, thanks for reading!

T

At Sea

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Things of Note

After a long layoff involving two weeks of vacation, traffic school, birthday(s?), weddings, etc I am back. 

Virgin Islands

I was invited to sail around one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the British and US Virgin Islands, with my wife and some of my closest friends. Not many people get the opportunity to go on a trip like this, so here are the main highlights of a sailing trip:

Sail-Sail-SAIL-EAT-SAIL-SAIL-SNORKEL-HAPPY HOUR- ICE CREAM-SAIL-SAIL-EAT MORE-SAIL-PLAY GAMES-REPEAT

Really.  

Oh yeah, and gain almost 10 pounds in 10 days.

On a serious note, I would like to sincerely thank my best friend and my second family the Hicoks for allowing us to tag along on this amazing trip.  Some highlights include the Baths at Virgin Gorda, grabbing rum from an actual distillery, and snorkeling at The Indians.

Picks (Home Team in CAPS):

To finish up the football season I went 1-1 with my Superbowl picks.  Now I get to try my luck at NBA lines (yeah, I don't watch ANY college basketball, so no bracket here).

Brooklyn Nets +9 at the BOSTON CELTICS- Isaiah Thomas is out, the Nets always play their division rivals tough.  Also, they will do anything to spoil their unprotected pick.  I am going against the grain on this one.

Houston Rockets -4.5 over the NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

PHOENIX SUNS -2.5 over the Orlando Magic- The Magic are playing on back to back nights coming off of a beat down by the Warriors.  

My bets this year: 6-7

What I'm Eating (again):  Mora Italian

I told you I would be back with a good review!  The opening night for Mora was a huge success, and we even got to meet Chef Scott Conant in person!  Excuse the blurryness:

They have a good cocktail menu (Rosé snow cone, what??), bottled wine and on tap, and great food for sharing.  

I would recommend all of the following: Grilled Scollipine of Beef Short Rib, Riccotta Fritters with Spiced Honey, and of course the Bread Cart and Salted Caramel Budino.

What I'm Reading: Escape to Another World and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

I finished a book I have been waiting to read for a long time, John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.  This book has quickly become one of my favorite fictional novels of all time.  If anyone is into spy thrillers, this is one of the classics from the author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Escape to Another World by Ryan Avent looks at, among other things, a trend in young males (and females) who are happily taking jobs that would be considered underemployment...  so that they can play video games.  This piece is eye-opening for anyone who thinks this situation I just described is ridiculous.  

Here is the (very well written) final paragraph, I think it gives just enough to entice:

"A life spent buried in video games, scraping by on meagre pay from irregular work or dependent on others, might seem empty and sad. Whether it is emptier and sadder than one spent buried in finance, accumulating points during long hours at the office while neglecting other aspects of life, is a matter of perspective. But what does seem clear is that the choices we make in life are shaped by the options available to us. A society that dislikes the idea of young men gaming their days away should perhaps invest in more dynamic difficulty adjustment in real life. And a society which regards such adjustments as fundamentally unfair should be more tolerant of those who choose to spend their time in an alternate reality, enjoying the distractions and the succour it provides to those who feel that the outside world is more rigged than the game."

What I'm Watching: This is Us and Logan

First, I still think This Is Us unabashedly panders to the most emotional segment of TV watchers.  There's nothing wrong with that.  I am learning to love the moments where I find myself laughing at the predictable plot turn and Wifey is fighting back tears.

BUT.

The uncut shot of Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore (Jack and Rebecca) fighting after a long quiet car ride home was incredible.  The range of emotion felt so real! Well, until they cut from screaming at each other to a completely calm and controlled goodnight.  Still, bravo to the actors and crew that put that brief masterpiece together.

One last thing: Jack absolutely deserves a beating when he plays one hand of poker and then bails after he takes the mobster's money.  You don't pull that move in casinos, friend's houses, and ESPECIALLY mob games in the back of a pub.  

Rating 0/10 tears shed for that guy.

logan

9/10.  Great movie.  A little gory (better to go with fans than significant others who can be squeamish with R-rated violence). This was the best (and hopefully final) X-Men movie in the current franchise.  

It really captured the character's innate violence and the sadness that comes with it.  It gets into what has haunted Wolverine for his extremely long life.  Major props to Hugh Jackman's range from Broadway to superhero:

He is awesome.

What I'm Drinking: Tuck Shop Kitchen & Bar Cocktails

Wifey and I had 3 equally amazing cocktails last night for my birthday dinner:

  1. No. 17 nikka coffey malt whiskey (love this, I wrote about loving this whisky here),  st george nola, dolin rouge & soy sauce
  2. No. 25 tito’s vodka, el silencio mezcal, maraschino, lemon & pomegranate rosemary syrup (*drooling on my keyboard)
  3. No. 27 kikori japanese whiskey, plum wine, kina l’aero apertif & saffron bitters

The deeper I dive into the Japanese whisky, the more I fall in love. For anybody looking for a great cocktail lounge, this place is absolutely worth checking out. 

What I'm Listening to: i by Kendrick Lamar

It was just one of those weeks where I have to put this song on at some point every day.  The single is great, but the live version on the album To Pimp a Butterfly is also worth checking out because of the unexpected turn at the end of the song.  

Final thoughts

I missed doing this.  I like stretching myself, and this is definitely something that I am still not comfortable doing.  

When Allie asked me what I want to do in 2017 I thought of all of the normal things: work out, play bass better, save more money, blahblahblah.  Then I thought about writing and trying to generate meaningful content.  This is one of my bigger goals that I'll be focusing on for the next year.  

At some point in the near future, I am going to attempt posting a few deep dives.  A couple of ideas right now include local politics, a recap of the Suns season, maybe even a few bass covers.

As always, thank you for caring enough to read to this point.  Feel free to reach out with any thoughts or recommendations.

T

As Good as it Gets

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THINGS OF NOTE

And we're back.  Last week was a bit nuts:

I was pulled over for the first time for speeding, half of our household was sick (not me of course, I followed the hallowed advice of Tony Kornheiser and ate a massive amount of fast food to kill the germs), it is officially tax season (wah wahhhh), #DeleteUber started trending (more on that later), and we had some of the most beautiful weather Arizona will get all year.  

If you are able, get outside and enjoy it while it lasts.  T-minus 4 months until 113 degrees is back!  I'll be in Usery soaking up all of the beautiful weather that I can.

Quick hitters that I thought were important: Queen B is having twins (we're the best, trust me), our nation's capital was thrown into chaos by a super chill bobcat named Ollie, and Winona Ryder looks like she had a brief moment of delirium at the SAG Awards.

Picks:

Recap!  I said I wasn't confident in my picks last week and went a gut-wrenching 0-3, bringing my record to 5-6.  I didn't lose any money, but I may have lost some credibility.

Superbowl!  My gambling nightmare.  I have whiffed on the big game for the last 4 years, so please don't bet with me this week.  

I am taking the New England Patriots -3, and I am taking the Under on 59 total points scored for the game.  I am really just hoping for a super awkward experience with Brady and Goodell if that Pats win it.  

What I'm Drinking: Sand Reckoner "2"

The beautiful Allison Osugi aka "Wifey".

I had to drive to Bisbee for work this week, and it was FREEZING.  Note to self: a Zara bomber jacket looks cool, but its primary function is not to keep you warm.  

I felt like I had to get this wine at Olive and Ivy for date night, since it is a local one from that general area in Cochise County. 70% Sangiovese and 30% Syrah.  Amazing.  A little cherry and tobacco smokiness in there.  

What I'm Eating: Mora Italian

New section!  Scott Conant, my favorite celebrity chef, is opening a brand new restaurant in Phoenix this week!  

I've been lucky enough to visit three of his restaurants in Las Vegas and LA, and now we are getting one in our own backyard.  I'll report back next week on my experience, and I am expecting nothing but excellence.  Riccotta Fritters here I come!

 

 

What I'm Listening To: HONNE Warm On A Cold Night

Not a new album, but a great album.  Thanks Bryce Hicok for sending that my way.  It's amazing all of the way through.  

 

 

Final Thoughts

This is a direct quote from an Instagram post that has since been deleted:

#deleteuber Looks like I'm riding in a Lyft today, drinking Starbucks and staying in an Airbnb for my next vacation.

#frownyface

This is my personal stance: Please do not commercialize yourself politically.  Your voice and opinions matter, but they matter less when your statement is riding in a Lyft and drinking Starbucks.  

I am going to guess this person was probably going to go get that coffee anyway.  There is nothing real at stake in this case, and those actions don't help shape the political landscape.  

To be clear, I am glad that this #deleteuber movement influenced Travis Kalanick to step down from the Trump advisory board, even if the #deleteuber hashtag was only a part of the decision.  

If you actually care about the refugee crisis you can donate to the International Rescue Commission or the American Refugee Committee.  Write to your Senators.  If you want some historical context, this story has been floating around this week, and finally, a quick piece on why you shouldn't tell journalists to "stick to sports" because you don't agree with them politically (I'll save you a click: they're humans with opinions and consciences too!).  

Lastly, I'd like to sincerely thank everyone for taking the time to read these posts.  I have really enjoyed learning how to generate meaningful content, and I appreciate the interactions I am getting both on the site and on my different social media accounts.  Have a great weekend.

T