Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Life of An NBA Player is not easy (just ask Jeremy Lin)

I haven't been blogging too much recently but watching Jeremy Lin bouncing from team to team in recent weeks gave me a topic to discuss.

There are probably many young basketball players / athletes / kids  out there who look up to the various NBA players and dream they could be out there.  However, I would be willing to bet that most of the players young athletes idolize are the stars:  Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, etc, etc.

There's nothing wrong with idolizing stars but their lifestyle and basketball careers are remarkably different than fringe / borderline NBA players like Jeremy Lin.  Stars don't have to worry about where they will play for or if they will make money.  Teams will pony up a ton of cash and sign a star at a moment's notice.

What most young athletes don't see is that mid to lower level NBA players have to work really hard and even then there is not a guarantee they will play in the league.  It's perfectly fine for young athletes to dream about playing in the NBA but the reality is STAYING in the NBA takes a lot of work for players who are not stars.  Plus there is a ton of uncertainty to deal with.   But if a young athlete has some ability and the dedication to improve, they might be able to make it.

How does this relate to Jeremy Lin?  Well, Jeremy is a player on the fringe at this point of his career.  He is now with the Knicks after being cut by the Warriors and the Rockets.  He hasn't gotten a ton of opportunity to show what he can do and it remains to be seen what will happen with the Knicks.

No matter what happens to Jeremy in the future, I hope Asian parents will take note of Jeremy's example and not other Asian NBA players like Yao Ming.  While there is nothing wrong with Yao as an example, Yao is/was a star much like the Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.  Jeremy's career path is much more realistic (if not as interesting) path that the MAJORITY of NBA players have to go through.

Unfortunately, Jeremy's current career path may actually cause parents to discourage Asian parents from letting their kids from playing sports.  They might say "Look at Jeremy, he's jumping from team to team and doesn't know where he might be a few weeks from now".

All of this is true but nothing in life is ever set in stone.  Just having a good education these days is no guarantee that you will get a job.  These days, experience and connections matter more than just pure education.  The flip side is that Jeremy loves basketball and wants to prove he can play in the NBA.   He is more than willing to put the work in.

I'm a believer in pursuing whatever you're passionate about.  That's why I support independent Asian-American movies, musicians and artists.  They might not be big names but there is stuff I like.  I support Jeremy Lin not just because he is Asian but because he is basically a "regular guy" that people can relate to.  I hope that Asians (and others) take note of Jeremy's example.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Holiday Tradition: DONATE!

Some years ago, the company I was working for at the time had a Christmas / Holiday toy donation program.   Employees would donate toys and the company would give them to local charities or programs like Toys For Tots.  I really took to this program because less fortunate families and/or kids struggle just to have a home, food or other basic necessities.  Families can't just afford to purchase toys or other fun things for their kids.

That year, I made an effort to purchase some toys for donation.  As I was shopping, another idea came to mind.  Rather than purchase ONE toy, I purchased two toys.  One toy for a boy and one toy for a girl.  I figured it would be fair to purchase one of both genders.

I continued this tradition until I left the company a few years later.  My last couple of companies don't have any official toy donation programs.  So for a couple of years, I purchased toys and donated them at malls or other locations that need donations.  Last year, I just made a monetary donation to the local Toys For Tots programs.   This year, as I was at a mall, I saw a Toys For Tots donation both, I went back to purchasing two toys again.

It's a small way to contribute back to the community during a time where there are many families that are struggling.  When kids are happy, I believe that will help the family feel better overall even if their circumstances haven't completely changed.

For those who want to make a difference this and any other holiday season, consider making a donation to a charity that you support.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things To Be Thankful For - 2011 Turkey Day Edition

Some years ago, I wrote a list of things I was thankful for and emailed them to my friends.  Since we have the power of Facebook and blogs, I am going to note a list of things to be thankful for in 2011!

In no particular order:

  1. Family:  Mom/Dad primarily, but to all my cousins that are out there.  I don't see them a ton but thankful when I do see them. 
  2. Friends:  Too many to name, but thanks to everyone I come into contact with.  You all have been a blessing to me, especially in times of need. 
  3. Job:  Yes, I've been laid off twice from my current position and still chose to come back once again.  But I am not complaining.  I am thankful to have a job during a tough time in the economy. 
  4. Basketball:  Many reasons I put this down.  One, I love being involved in the sport.   Two, it's good exercise.  Three, it brings together friends whether it's the Saturday guys I play with or the leagues I play with.
To conclude, it's easy for a lot of people to look at what we don't have (me included!).  However, try to remember that we are blessed with many things if we stop to take a look.  It may be as simple as the air we breathe or the fact that we have a roof over our heads.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Coach vs Player-Coach

Being a basketball (or any sport) coach is a challenging task, even for the professionals.   In my years of involvement of basketball, I've been lucky to have been a player, coach and referee.   If being just a coach itself is tough, imagine being a player-coach.

I coached kids basketball for 14 years and the challenges were running practices, skill development, motivation and preparing the kids for the games.  Coaching during the game was not always easy but probably the best part of being just a coach.  However, my best skill as a coach was identifying a kid's best talent and putting it to the best use for the team.  After all, five Michael Jordan's or Lebron James' do not make a team.   You need the Rodman's and Paxson's too.

As I went away from coaching kids and playing myself more, I eventually started being a captain / coach to some of my adult league teams.  With the adult leagues I play in, there isn't practices.  I might have say in the players if the league was a draft league but this wasn't always the case.   Season by season, the challenge was you had a changing set of players with varying skill sets.

As time went on though, I realized the hardest past WASN'T figuring out the players on my teams.  That was actually the easy part.  The hard part was figuring out how much I SHOULD PLAY, especially if you're not having a great night.  You see, some of the other team captains are talented and highly skilled.  For myself, I am the jack of all trades and fit into a team in many different ways.   If I'm on my game, I'll play more for sure.  If my game is off, I might play myself more to see if I can work through things.  Otherwise, the hard choice is to sit yourself.

Coaching at any level is tough and it's even harder when you have to "coach yourself".  But I wouldn't keep doing it if it weren't enjoyable at some level.  :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Changing Nature of Halloween

Where I live, I've noticed a trend the past two to three years.   When I was younger, every Halloween, there would be a stream of kids coming by with their parents to get candy.  But I started noticing fewer and fewer kids stopping a few years ago and then the past two to three years, there has been ZERO kids stopping by.

I had heard that parents had decided to take their kids to the local malls where the stores were passing out candy.  Being at the mall tonight, I saw it was true.  There were a ton of families and kids there including someone I knew.  I guess I can understand why parents have been doing this.  Safety at night is an issue though I can't say that my neighborhood is all that bad.

The funny thing is that I talked to a co-worker in Virginia today and he was still taking his kids out to the neighborhood.  I'm not sure why parents in my area are not taking their kids out to the neighborhood but it is an interesting trend I don't think will change anytime soon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Writing For Dollars

A couple of weeks ago, I made a tough decision to take a leave of absence from high school basketball officiating.  The reasons for this are plenty but nothing I really want to discuss at this point in time. However, the decision was not made without having some plans in mind.

Some weeks ago, I felt I had an inkling to start writing more again.  I do various blogs throughout the year. I write a monthly column on Apple II and other retro video games.  A couple of years ago, I had embarked on freelance writing covering high school sports.

The reason for freelance writing was that high school sports coverage is pretty sparse in the area I live in.  Since I was unemployed at the time, it was a good idea to try and I did it for the better part of a year.  The issues I ran into was that I was a freelance operation and I had to do everything myself.  When I returned to work a few months later, I continued to write as much as I could but it proved difficult to juggle freelancing with my job.  Eventually, I stopped my freelance writing.

However, another enterprising person saw the same gaps in high school sports coverage I did and started up his own website and got a staff of writers to work with him.  In fact, I was asked at one point to contribute to this site.  I declined as I was busy with work, officiating and other stuff.

Alas, as I had an inkling to write again, I asked the website if I could potentially contribute to their site as a writer.  The owner/editor noted that he would love it if I could help out.  At this point, there is nothing formalized but I do plan to contribute as much as I am available to watch games.

It was time for a change and I am fortunate to be given an opportunity to try and do something different.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Being in shape is not quite the same as basketball shape...plus misc topics

Typically, a group of guys I know play pick up basketball on Saturday afternoons.  For as long as I have known and played with these guys, we have hardly played full court basketball.  I'd say 99.99% of time we have played half court games with the rare exception of playing full court.   Most of the guys are in the mid 30's and some are older than that, so running full court isn't always optimal.

In the past few years, we have hardly missed many weeks.  Of the 52 weeks in a year, I'd say we play 80 to 85% of the time.  Obviously some guys come and go due to various thing but we usually get enough to play regardless.

Alas, the past three weeks, we have not played.  There were several reasons for that.  One, several guys were out of town.  Two, the gym we normally play at was closed for gym floor maintenance.  Since we have grown to love playing indoors, the remaining guys decided to just skip playing.

As someone who typically plays a lot of basketball, I realized how much I have missed playing the past few Saturdays.  First, since I didn't really play Saturdays for a few weeks, I lost a little bit of stamina and feel on my jump shot.  That affected me in the first three games on my Thursday night basketball league. I was getting up and down but not as well as I normally do.  Plus, my usually reliable shot was just not going in.  When my shot is going, it's pretty automatic.  But the past three Thursdays, I felt I was pushing my shot.

Today, the Saturday basketball crew finally got back together and played.  Just about everyone was a little out of sync early because your body hasn't really moved that much in a while.  I struggled with my shot quite a bit today.  Because I played in league, I was in ok shape so I could rebound and hustle a little but my shot was way off.

Playing basketball today made me realize how everything works together.  Lots of young kids just like to run and play full court basketball.   Those pick up games end up being run and gun affairs with minimal defense played.  Our guys play hard and we have to keep moving.  I think playing with the Saturday crew actually has helped me get my shot more consistent during my league games.   I personally don't mind playing full court pick up sometimes but it gets harder as you get older and have to run against young kids.

Lastly, even I haven't played a ton of basketball lately, I did work out at the gym a bit.  There is a major difference being in decent (and healthy) shape versus being in basketball shape.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sports As A Social Exercise

The past couple of weeks have been interesting for me.  Two of my best friends went away on vacation at the same with their respective families.  At the same time,  I had been expecting to play basketball about three times a week (Monday & Thursday leagues + Saturday get together).  However, the Monday and Thursday leagues were merged due to lack of players on both days.   My usual Saturday basketball group also did not play in the last couple of weeks with some people away and the gym being closed for remodeling.

All of this forced me to become more adaptable.  I hung out with some of my other guy friends (who are usually busy with kids but we had a get together a couple of weeks ago).  I reached out to some others I hadn't seen or talked to in a while.  Some folks I hadn't talked to in a while actually called me too.

But the toughest challenge proved to be finding an activity to substitute for playing basketball.  A few of my friends always say I should play "less basketball" as it's an activity that consumes my time at the expense of other things.   Alas, I disagree with the assessment.  Basketball is an activity I enjoy and it's exercise.  Exercise is always good for the body.

However, as I learned in these past two weeks, if basketball were JUST exercise, I could easily replace it.  I could play basketball elsewhere, play another sport or just work out in the gym.  In fact, I did do some cardio work AND played basketball at my local gym.  While the exercise was nice, I really realized why I was missing some my basketball that I was expecting.

I realized that part of my enjoyment from playing basketball (or other sports) is the socializing.   My current Thursday night basketball is competitive but I know a lot of the guys too.  While we all try to win, it is also a chance to catch up and talk to folks.  The Saturday basketball crew is also like that as well.  I was introduced to my Saturday crew from one of my friends I mentioned above.   It's been only in the past 2 or 3 years that I have been showing up consistently.  It's always good to play but talk to the guys.  While I don't share a long history with them, I've become a part of their circle.  We have birthday gatherings and other things we do together.

Simply just doing cardio or playing pick up ball with random strangers is good and I've done that plenty of times in the past.  However, I don't usually work out with others.  Playing ball with random strangers is cool if you want to just play ball.  While my basketball playing style is adaptable, sometimes it's just good to play with people you know.

All in all, As I get older, I am realizing the social aspect of sports is become just as important as playing the sport itself.  In fact, I see this applying to other activities such as officiating.  I was officiating a tournament this weekend.  My partner today wanted to have breakfast so we met up early, had breakfast, talked and watched some football before working our games.  I plan to socialize more with my fellow officials as my high school season rolls around in the next few months.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Gift Of friends

In my younger days during middle school and high school, I was a pretty shy and quiet (believe it or not) person.    I would interact with people but never really had a friend or group of friends that I consistently hung out with.

That changed in my senior year of high school as I got to know a person that would become my "best friend" for many years into college and beyond.  Through this "best friend", I met others that also became long term friends as well.  

These people became my default group I hung out with for many years.  I personally liked having a stable group of people to hang out with.   Through this group of friends, I met a few other people including one person I still talk to regularly.

As I have gone through college and into the workforce, I have opened up to the point where my friends are surprised when I DON'T talk.  Alas, as I have matured, I have realized that I am somewhat of an open book.  I don't like holding things in and have to get my feelings out.

That is why I am thankful for my friends who have listened to me talk about various things over the years.    Obviously, these friendships are not one sided.   One thing people really don't know about me is that I listen well and I think my friends appreciate this.

However, I am fortunate to have other friends beyond the ones I talk to.  I may not talk to some of these people as much as my older friends but we have common interests.   I definitely enjoy the times I spend with all of my friends whether it is talking, playing basketball or doing some other activity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day Off in San Francisco

Since I returned to work back in late May, I have only taken one day off + one sick day. Thus, I topped out on the number of vacation days I could accumulate. As I had a Groupon for a photography class, I decided to take today off and redeem my Groupon and do the class at Fisherman's Wharf / Pier 39.

It was a great choice all the way around. First, the weather was absolutely lovely I'm San Francisco. Unlike the usual fog, we had plenty of sun. Second, I was the only person who signed up for the class today. So, I got a chance to work with my instructor Kelly one-on-one. She was a nice gal with plenty of knowledge to pass on.

I learned quite a bit about the art of manual photography. Kelly's philosophy was to get students away from shooting in automatic modes. I had tried reading about manual photography but nothing beats practice and having someone talk you through things. I took quite a few shots today for practice. Some turned out well and some didn't but that's ok. It takes a little time to grasp everything.

To cap the day, I went and got a massage and hung out at the bookstore for a little while. All in all, a lovely way to spend a day away from work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Championship To Remember and Cherish

Monday night, my team (Black - #1 seed) took on the Green team (#3 seed) in the championship game of our Summer Basketball League.  My team was undefeated though hadn't played well the past few weeks and barely beat Grey (#4 seed) 59-52 last week to make the championship game.  On the other hand, Green was a mix of young and old guys and they had upset the Gold team (#2 seed) to make the championship.

There was no consolation game prior so I did not expect too many fans and potentially a low key championship game.  However, the Green team's young guys brought a bevy of friends and family along.    In addition, several of Green's players who had missed a few weeks due to other things, decided to return.  Instead of focusing on just a couple of guys on the Green team, my team had to contend with two others (a older big guy and a younger guard).  I don't know how my teammates were feeling prior to the game.  I was pretty relaxed and actually liked having the crowd there.  That usually makes me focus and play better.

Safe to say the championship game was NOT low key and both teams played at a very high level.  Both teams had opportunities to win but at the end my team played off a thrilling 73-72 OVERTIME win over the Green team.   The win finished off an undefeated (10-0) season.  For me personally, I tallied a game high 24 points (12-17 FT's) to lead my team.   My teammate Paul added 19 while another teammate Duane scored 15.

I could write a dozen pages on all the happenings during the game but I won't do that.   I'll just say that our team had plenty of miscues late in the game, all of which could have lost the game for us.  Yet we hung together, stayed mentally tough and withstood Green's challenge to win.

I do give credit to Green though.  They were incredibly tough and both teams deserved to win.  It was a shame that someone had to lose.  There was some obvious disappointment from some of the young kids but they will have plenty of years ahead of them still.

For me, I absolutely loved our team.  It's a rare thing to get a team of guys that all get along but we did.   Even though we finished undefeated, we had our ups and downs but the chemistry helped us stick together.  

Including Monday's game, this was my 12th championship game that I have played in.  Monday's game ranks as the best and most memorable.   I will remember this game due to the drama, the overtime and all the miscues we had to overcome.  Plus, my 24 points was the most I've ever scored in a championship game.   All of my teammates agreed that Monday's game will be something they will remember for years to come.

Wrapping up, I am thankful for being given the Most Inspirational Player award for my team.  Winning the championship was a GREAT bonus.  Thanks to the league coordinators, my teammates and the other teams were a terrific summer.  I hope to see a lot of the folks again soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Most Inspirational Player / Inspiring Others

Last night, my Monday night summer basketball league kicked off it's playoffs with an exciting evening of action.  The Green team (3rd seed) led most of the game before a furious rally by Orange (2nd seed) in the 4th quarter to take a 1 point lead.  Alas, Orange could not hang on as Green eventually won by 4 points.   Playing the second game, My team (Black - 1st seed) led pretty much the whole way but Grey (4th seed) battled hard.  My team barely pulled away for a 7 point win to join Green in next's week championship game.

In between the two games, the league passed out some awards.  The awards were for the Most Inspiration Player for each of the five teams that participated during the summer.   In a bit of a surprise, I was given the award for my team.  

I've had some personal things I've been dealing with for a few months now.  I've had my good days and some not so good days.   Basketball was a good get away, whether I was playing on my Monday / Tuesday night leagues (during the summer) for my Saturday pick up games with some friends.

However, getting the award this particular summer was special.   I needed a "pick me up" and the award made me feel good.  It's not that I needed something external to make me feel better.  In fact, the trophy I got isn't a big deal.   It was the fact that the trophy made me reflect and clarified some things I need to improve on for the future.

While I am generally cool headed on the court and don't take things personally when someone makes a mistake, I am MUCH harder on myself both on the court and in personal things.   I realized I need to take a step back in some of my personal things and be more understanding when things don't go right.

The other thing I realized that I am very blessed in many ways though I haven't been feeling that way a lot lately.   I realized that I need to use some of my gifts to (no pun intended) INSPIRE others.

The reason I thought I needed to inspire others is that this was NOT my first Most Inspirational Player award.   I've gotten a few awards over the years and I detected there may be a trend.  Life may be telling me that I need be more of a good example to others ON and OFF the court.

Friday, August 05, 2011

It's a Wrap: Looking back at my 20th season of summer basketball

As I mentioned early in June, I was playing in my 20th season for one of my summer basketball leagues.  That particular team had a very GOOD season.  Despite some close calls (including two OT games), the team played well and finished undefeated (7-0) in the regular season.

In our particular division, there are 16 teams divided into two brackets (let's call them Bracket A and Bracket B).  The top two teams from each bracket would make the playoffs.   My team was in Bracket A and so we would play the #2 team from Bracket B in the playoffs.   However, the #2 team from Bracket B was probably better than the majority of the teams we played in the regular season and we lost 56-45.   While the score didn't look that great, it was due to free throws at the end.  We were well within striking distance throughout but missed shots hurt us quite a bit.

My team was obviously disappointed as we had a chance to win the game.  Yet, as I look back, I hope the young guys are proud of how they hung in there throughout the season.   The team won games in all sorts of ways this season.  We played one game without our star, fell behind by 10, but managed to win in overtime.  We played one game with six players (meaning I played A LOT) and won by double digits.  Plus these guys are still improving and with more experience, they will be a lot better next season.

For myself, I look at things in two ways.  As a coach, I think I did alright.  I mainly ran subs and focused on defensive strategy rather than offensive.  I've never been much of an offensive coach so I was content to let the guys just play.  Of course, if there were things I saw that could be improved, I mentioned them. If I wasn't playing, I probably would have been in a better position to coach.

As a player, I didn't do too well.  I admittedly had some personal things I was working through and that affected me a bit during the games.  But the fact is I was an old guy playing in a young player's league.  The teams were quick and fast and I was a little outmatched.  I hit a few shots here and there, got some rebounds and tried to fill in where I could.   But for the most part, I was a bit player letting the young guys do their thing.

For me personally, while it would have a nice present to celebrate my 20th season in the league to make the championship (and even win it), I was quite happy to just have an undefeated regular season.   Yes, we did end up losing our playoff game, but a 7-1 record is still pretty darn good.

To illustrate how good the record was, I have played 20 years in the league.  In those 20 seasons, my teams have made the playoffs 9 times.  Out of those 9 times, I have been in the championship game 4 times (winning two / losing two).   My two championship teams were 10-0 and 8-1 overall.  All the rest of the teams had 3 or more losses.  Essentially, short of winning the championship, my 2011 team finished with the 3rd best record out of the 20 seasons I have been playing.

All in all, I am proud of my team and was happy I got a chance to play with a different set of guys.  I think the young guys have a bright future and my hope is they stick around and grow together.  As for my future, nothing is set in stone.  I'll still be playing somewhere and if need be, I could play again next summer in 2012.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Borders Books: The End Of An Era

I was surprised to hear this week that Borders Books was unable to find someone to buy the company and ultimately decided to liquidate and go out of business after 40 years in business.   I learned from my dad to love books and spent many hours at older bookstore chains like B-Dalton and Waldenbooks when I was young.

When the older bookstore chains closed down in the Bay Area, I started buying books online from Amazon and other locations.  It was quick and convenient to just order.  However, I soon realized that ordering online had it's pitfalls.  You couldn't really read the book and you had to wait a few days for the book to arrive.

Within the past five years or so, I began going to Borders (and Barnes and Noble to a certain extent) to read various books and magazines in my spare time.  Borders became a home away from home.  It was great to peruse through various books, magazines and comics.  I admit that I didn't always buy stuff while I was at the store.  I think a lot of people did the same and that is perhaps why Borders struggled in recent years.

In addition, the rise of electronics books was probably most damaging.   People were able to buy e-books much more quicker than buying from Amazon and that hurt stores like Borders.  In fact, up until the past three weeks or so, I was never an e-book reader.  However, due to circumstances, I wanted to pick up a few books to read.  There was no bookstore around AND I had some online credit from Apple.  I ended up buying a few e-books and now reading some things from my phone.

All in all, it is a sad time that Borders is closing.  I guess I'll have to go to Barnes and Noble and perhaps my local library instead.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trust is letting go of the need to control all aspects of our lives and letting God take care of the details.

For the non-religious, another version of the quote in the title is:
"Trust is desiring an outcome while giving up control of the process."

As I noted in some other postings, I hit a fairly prolonged period of worry, stress and anxiety recently.   All of the worry, stress and anxiety added up to restlessness, worried thoughts and plenty of sleepless nights.   Fortunately, I've had plenty of support as I worked through this period.  It certainly hasn't been easy by any means and I think I still have a few things to work out.

The one thing I realized that stressed me out was my over worry about a situation and trying to control as many aspects of the situation as I could.   I think most people can relate to this.  When you are worried about something, it's because you feel you don't quite have control over every aspect of the potential outcome.

Coming from a sports background, I think the best example would be a coach worrying about how his particular team will do during a game.  The coach can have his own team practice and prepare for the next game perfectly.  Yet, the coach can't control how each player will actually perform during the game.  The coach can't control how the OTHER team will perform during the game.  That is why in sports, even so called "bad teams" win games too.  Teams with chemistry and talent will prevail the majority of the time over weaker teams.  However, even good teams have bad nights and weaker teams have good nights.  It is a fact of life.

Alas, even though I understand that from a sport perspective, it's been difficult to accept on the particular situation I've been dealing with.  Yet as I as struggled with my stress and trying to come to terms with things, I realized I had to do something about it.  I ultimately decided to put some faith (or trust if you must) into God.  I realized life is too precious too continually worry about future outcomes where there is so much to do TODAY.

I will say that trust and/or faith in life is not easy to come by sometime.  About 14 years ago, while I was in college, I enrolled in a class that was part of a community involvement center program at the school.   As part of the program, we went on a weekend retreat to bond together at a camp.  One of the lessons taught was to trust and have faith in all of us that worked in the program.  The lesson was taught by having people pair off.  One person was to leave the second person.  The catch was the second person was to have their eyes closed.

I remember I had difficulty keeping my eyes closed.  A lot of "What If's" went through my mind.  Yet, after the retreat had concluded, the lesson stuck with me.  I remember thinking that I finally understood the nature of faith in God.  Even though we spend all of waking hours with our eyes open, we are blind to what will happen in the future.  You have to trust and have faith that God will not steer you wrong.   Alas, it has taken me even more year than that to really understand the impact of it all.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sleeping Is NOT Overrated

One of the unfortunate side effects of my stress recently is the lack of sleep.  For a few years now, I usually made do on about 6 to 6 1/2 hours of sleep on weekdays and more on the weekends.  Alas, with the stress around me and my mind all over the place, I had difficult even getting my 6 hours of sleep for the better part of two weeks, even on weekends.

As I've gotten a handle on the stress and settled my mind down a little lately, sleep is slowly getting better though it's inconsistent.   Some nights are ok while some nights are not quite so good.  In reading something online, I think having my sleep disrupted as it did got me to "worrying" about getting to sleep.      If you've ever tried to do anything while feeling pressured, you'll know that it's not easy and sleep is one of these things.    Now that I know what has been going on, I need to step back a bit and be more positive about sleeping rather than worrying.

With all of this, I realized sleep is definitely not overrated, especially when you've been disrupted like I have been.  Alas, I do think there is an interesting learning lesson here.  I've definitely been thrown out of my comfort zone in recent weeks and I've been trying to get back into it.   However,  I realized that if I ever get married and/or have kids, then life will be all about adjustments, including sleep.

These last few weeks have not been easy by any means.  I can't even say I have enjoyed the experience as I have gone through it.  Yet, if I step back a little, the experience is a necessary for me to move on to the next stage of my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid......but eventually you have to......

For those of us who grew up in the 1980's, there are plenty of commercial and other catch phrases that we remember:

Wendy's - "Where's The Beef?"
McDonald's - "You Deserve a Break Today"
Grey Poupon Mustard - "Pardon Me, Would You Have Any Grey Poupon?"
Nike - "Just Do It"
Toys R Us - "I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid......."

In the past few weeks, I ran into some personal struggles.  In thinking about those struggles, the first thing that came to my mind was that I was a "Toys R Us Kid".   Read on to see why......

Some of my struggles may have been indirectly due to the following things happening all within the span of a few weeks in April:

Job Lay Off / Pondering the future for jobs / school
Traffic Ticket
Owed IRS Taxes

But most importantly,  I believe the one that had the greatest impact on me was when my mom got Bell's Palsy.  While Bell's Palsy is not a serious thing (fortunately),  my mom was scared and I think it scared me too.  For the first time, I realized that my parents will not always be there.  I think that affected me more than I realized and unintentionally caused myself some undue stress as I pondered an uncertain future.

My recent struggles has woken me up to how much of a comfortable and even maybe sheltered life I have lived.   For all intensive purposes, I have almost been living the "Toys R Us Kid" lifestyle.  I go to work, go have fun and come home with parents around to take care of everything at home.

My recent stress had come with the realization that this lifestyle will not always be there and that eventually I will have to grow up.   In many ways, this is an uncomfortable feeling.   It is very difficult to change how you've lived for so many years.

Fortunately for me, I've had plenty of support as I go through this and it has been suggested that I draw up some daily, short term and long term plans for my future.  I have put together a short list with some immediate things I want to do.  I've begun some of these things and begin the self improvement plan that will eventually change me from a "kid" (figuratively) into a more "mature adult".

As I write this, there is a some sadness in me.  I think it's because it feels like a graduation of sorts.  When we've graduated at every level of school, there is happiness at the accomplishment.  However, there is also sadness as you leave behind the school, friends and other memories of your years.   I am sad because I've enjoyed my life for many years and it's tough to change.  Yet, it is a necessary change that will lead to bigger and better things.

This is definitely an unusual blog post for me but I appreciate people reading.   In many ways, it is a way to let out a bit of the struggles I have been facing in recent weeks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adapting To Change

While I can't speak for everyone, I would guess that just about every human being on the planet Earth is a creature of habit in one way or another.  There are dozens of things in our daily lives that we do without thinking.  It might range from brushing our teeth or to how we shoot a basketball.  

However, there are wide differences to different people in how they adapt to changes in their lives, especially when it affects their daily habits and routines.   There changes could be as simple as having to travel to another country or something more involved such as having a new baby in the family.   Some people are very adaptable and adjust to changes without missing a beat.  Some people are very slow and any changes throw them out of sync.  

In thinking about myself recently, I believe I am on the slow end of the scale when it comes to adapting to changes which affect my habits and routines.   While I am not 100% sure why I am like this, a part of the answer lies with why people stick to habits and routines. 

For some, habits and routines bring a sense of comfort and familiarity during stressful times.  With the uncertainty with the economy, jobs and other things in recent years, having something to fall back to is a great benefit to many. 

Alas, for the slow changers like me, getting your habits and routines disrupted can be disconcerting.   I've had that happen before and trying to get back to a normal routing sometimes can be a challenge.  This made me think that I need to open myself more to change and be more adaptable.  

How to do that?  That is the $64,000 question.  If anyone had any answers, let me know!  

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

20 Years / Seasons of Basketball

On a nice sunny evening here in the Bay Area,  my summer basketball team open it's league season tonight with a victory.   Tonight's game signaled a changing of the guard.  A good number of my regular friends and teammates for much of the past 6 years / seasons were all absent.  The majority of the guys who chose not to play are over 30 years old with family obligation so this was understandable.

In the place of my friends were a stable of young bucks.  Tonight we had ten players present with nine out of the ten being under 30 years old.   The only person over 30?  ME!   I originally wasn't going to play as most of my older friends were not playing.  However, at the behest of one of my other teammates (whom I've played with since 2007), I decided to assume "player / coach" duties for the team.

I wasn't planning to play too much (if at all) this season and just remain a coach.  Alas, the opportunity to squeeze in a few minutes proved too much of a temptation tonight.  We were able to get a lead and I felt I could squeeze in a few minutes (about 15 or so) without affecting the outcome of the game too much.  Overall, all the young bucks played about 20 to 25 minutes overall which was good.  I hadn't seen them play much so it was good to get a feel of the team.

By playing in my team's game tonight, I have officially participated in this particular basketball league for 20 years / seasons.  I first played in this league during the Summer of 1992.  In total, I have played in 19 seasons with one season where I didn't play at all due to injury.  I did not realize this until I got home tonight from the game.

In thinking about my participation in this league, I've seen this league grow and play in many different gyms through the years.

My first season in the league, there were only two divisions ("A - Competitive" and "B - Non Competitive") .  The "A" league were primarily men while the "B" league had a mix of men, boys, women and girls.   There were around 20 teams total (10 in each league) in 1992.  As the league grew in the next 20 years, more men's divisions were added ("A - Platinum, "BB - Gold", "B - Silver", "C- Bronze") along with divisions for women and youths.    This season, there is almost 70 total teams.

While the league has grown, it has also played in many different facilities over the years, each with their own quirks and charm.

Salvation Army 1992 to 1994 (SF Chinatown) - The gym was not regulation.  The court had decent length but the 3 point line was cut off in the corners.  Despite the size of the gym, "A" league games were still played in there.  There was plenty of space for fans as well and it made for a great atmosphere for games.  I played in my first CCU championship game here in 1994 (we lost).

Francisco Middle School 1992 to 1994 (SF North Beach) - I don't quite know if the court was high school regulation but it was pretty close.  It was definitely longer and wider than Salvation Army so real basketball could be played.   My best memory from this gym was when one of my then teammates hit a buzzer beating three pointer to win a game for us (45-43).

Cameron House 1994 (SF Chinatown) - Cameron House is a historic place in Chinatown.  On the site of Cameron House, there are a couple of basketball courts, one downstairs and another upstairs.  So while there is technically a ceiling to the lower basketball court,  the court is basically outdoors as there is nothing to seal off the elements (wind / rain / etc).   During 1994, the basketball league was forced to move some games to Cameron House.  It was an interesting experience as there is a staircase exposed plus the court was slippery.

Washington High School 1995 (SF) - We only played one season at Washington and I don't recall anything super memorable from any of the games.   The only challenge in playing at Washington was that the league was playing games side by side on two courts.  Whistles from the other court could stop play on the other court.

Star Of The Sea 1995 (SF) - Like Washington, we only played one season here.  Nothing particularly memorable except it was good to play on a court that I coached and officiated so many CYO games over the years.

Ben Franklin Middle School 1996 - 2004 (SF) - With two courts, Ben Franklin ably served the summer basketball league for 8 years.  As a public middle school, the courts weren't particular well maintained.  The courts weren't high school regulation as well but it was better than Salvation Army.   I have too many memories over the years to easily share here.  I was sad when the summer basketball league was forced to move away from Ben Franklin after the summer of 2004.

El Camino High School 2004 - Present (SSF) - El Camino High is like Ben Franklin with two courts.  However, the courts are high school regulation and well maintained.   This is easily the best facility the league has had in the years I have played.   Again, there are too many memories that I can easily share here.

Lincoln High School 2005 / Holy Trinity Church 2010 - Present (SF) - A couple of other courts that were used that I don't have a lot of experience with.  But the courts are regulation and the facilities are very nice.

Overall, the past 20 years / seasons have certainly gone by fast.  I certainly did not remember it was my 20th year when I arrived at the gym tonight  I don't know what the future holds for me in terms of playing in this particular basketball league.   However, I am certainly thankful and grateful to my friends and other teammates that have allowed me to play with them over the years.  Win or lose, it has always been fun.  Here's to 20 more years!!!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Appreciating My Friends

I won't elaborate too much right now but I had a rough week last week.  A few of my friends know what happened to me but I don't feel ready to share with the public quite yet.  I'm still trying to figure things out on my end as well.

However, I do feel I owe a shout out to a few of my friends who know they are.  These friends listened me to talk about my issue, offered suggestions and were there for me when I needed reassurance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reflections on St. Mary's Class of 2003 (and college Class of 2011 & beyond)

In 1998, I embarked on a new journey.  For the first time in my youth basketball coaching career, I was working with a 3rd grade girls basketball team.  Prior to this, I had worked with boys and girls from 6th to 8th grade.  Coaching a 3rd grade team was both an exciting challenge and a daunting challenge as well.  Exciting in the sense that I got to mold the kids skills when they were young.  Challenging in that I didn't feel I had all the necessary experience to work with the younger kids.

Well, I did the best I could for three seasons (1998 to 2000) and compiled a 21-13 overall record including spending the 1999 and 2000 seasons competing in the top division of the basketball league we were playing in.   As the 2000 season completed, I stepped down from coaching as I had spent over 12 years as a volunteer coach with 7 different teams (boys/girls) in both assistant and head coaching capacities.   The team also broke apart as several of the kids left St. Mary's for other schools.  Another coach took over the next season as my former team merged with the kids from the upper grades for two seasons (plus their 8th grade season as an individual team again) and led them to several deserved championship runs.

My most enduring memory with this particular team is back during their first season in 1998.  The team compiled an 8-0 league record but unfortunately another team had also finished 8-0.  Instead of the usual 9 teams, there were ten teams and the schedule did not have my team play the other team.   With both teams tied, we had to play a tiebreaker which my team lost 14-9.  That send the other team to the championship game while my team was dropped into second place and awaited the winner of the 3rd/4th place playoff winner.

Even though my team was the second seed, we traveled to the opposing team's gym and engaged in a classic battle.  With my team up 10-8 in the closing seconds, the other team banked home a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.   My team battled hard in overtime but ultimately lost a 13-12 heartbreaker to end our season.

Why would a loss be an enduring memory?  The reason is that my team was always resilient and it showed in the next two seasons.  We played against the best teams the league had to offer and we competed well.   Some of the other teams in the league had players that ultimately played varsity for some Catholic high schools out here and I believe one even played college basketball.

This reflection comes as I noticed on Facebook that a few of the nine players that played under me are GRADUATING from college in the coming weeks.   CONGRATULATIONS to all of the ones who are graduating this year.  For the others who may graduating later on or even on different track from school, best of luck!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Your Perception Is Not My Reality And Vice Versa (Personal Edition)

In the last few days, a double murder and suicide at San Jose State University (SJSU) has attracted a lot of comments and speculation.  Read the articles below for more information on the situation:

San Jose State killings blamed on domestic dispute

SJSU students killed in shooting to get posthumous diplomas

The comments and speculation surrounded on two items:

Why a 54 year old man and a 25 year old woman be married? Love?  Money?  Green Card?

Was the 25 year old woman and the 26 year old friend that were killed having an affair or were they just friends?  They were both married though the man had separated from his wife (at least for a time).

I'm not going to comment directly on either of the questions because I don't have the answers.  I'll leave that to the police / investigators to figure out.  However, what I can say is this case teaches us that "Perception vs. Reality" in friendships / relationships is an important thing to consider.

For me, it is perfectly normal to just be friends with people of the opposite sex.  I have plenty of friends of the female persuasion both single, attached and married (don't think I know any divorced female friends).  While having friends of the opposite sex is a good thing in my mind, I've learned that things change when they are attached and especially when they are married.

The main thing is that my female friend's significant other's take priority.   I don't take it personally because every other friend is probably treated the same way.  However, with me being a GUY, there is additional significance that I didn't think about in my younger days.

In MY REALITY (and all of my female friends realities), there is NOTHING going on between us.  That stuff we can control.  What we can't control?  The PERCEPTION of their significant others.  Therefore, when associating with your attached/married female friends, you have to tread carefully and not give any wrong ideas that something is going on.   There is no one right way to proceed as every couple of different.  My female friends let me know where the lines / boundaries are and I don't ever get close to crossing them!   The good news is that I know the husbands pretty well and that helps me out!

This "Perception vs Reality" issue could have been one of the things (among many others) at play here in the SJSU situation.  The husband's perception was of infidelity and affair.  The two young people indeed may have been just friends.  However, their actions (being in a car together at 8:30 PM in the evening) may not have portrayed reality and that caused the husband to lose his mind.

The husband definitely should not have done what he did.  It is unfortunate what has happened and that has caused the loss of three lives.  Best wishes to the families involved in this time of grief.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

I Am Not Young Anymore..........

As much as I like to think I am young, the fact is age is slowly creeping up on me.  The reason I say that is that my knees are screaming out at the punishment I put it through today:

1.  Officiated three basketball games from 9 AM until 12:30 PM
2.  Played pick up basketball with friends from 2 PM until 5 PM

In fact, this past Spring, I have put my body through some punishment:

Officiated a JV basketball game at 4:30 PM, played an adult league basketball game at 8 PM at one gym,  and played another game at 10 PM at another gym.

Played in TWO tournaments this past Spring plus played in a Monday night league.  That equated to playing FOUR games in 3 Days after the first tournament and playing FIVE games in 3 days after the second tournament.

I used to officiate and play basketball afterwards on Saturday frequently but I don't do it as much anymore.  My legs have trouble taking the punishment and eventually I'll have to figure out what I'm going to do in the future.

For now, I'll ice down my knees and get some rest.  :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Enjoying The Simple Things.....

Today was a great day and not because of anything super special I did.  Firstly, I met up an old friend for lunch and we caught up on our happenings over the past couple of months.  My friend had been busy with work and went on vacation while I had been busy with my various things so we hadn't talked on the phone or met in person in a while.   It didn't really bother me as my friend will always reach out to me when time permits and it was just a matter of time we met up again.

After lunch, I had to go home to take care of some personal business for a short while.  After that, I left my car at home and took a walk around my neighborhood.  I had planned to take a walk to the shopping center (2 miles away) but thought it might be too much effort to hit the mall.  Instead, I took a pit stop at a local strip mall.  There were some chairs so I sat down and just enjoyed the sun and the small breeze.

After a little while, I walked back home and got a call from another friend.  I chatted with my friend for a while before having dinner.

While I didn't really do anything particularly special, I loved catching up with my friends and having some solo time to myself.  :)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Some Days You WIll Never Forget / Osama Bin Laded Killed

There are some days in your life you never forget.  For me, a couple of days stand out:

October 17th, 1989 - The Day of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.   I was at the Polo Fields at Golden Gate Park in SF for a cross country meet when the earthquake struck at 5:04 PM.    Not being close to buildings, I wasn't aware at how large the earthquake was until my team and I left the park and saw the power out.  It took me several hours to get home due to buses getting delayed with power all over the City.

September 11th, 2001 - This day began as any other day for me.  I was up at about 4:30 AM and got on a commuter train to go to work at 5 AM or so.  I spent an hour on the train and another 30 to 45 minutes on a shuttle to get to my office.  Obviously, as I was commuting to work, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York had started but I had no idea.

I arrived at the office to a co-worker telling me that a plane had hit the Twin Towers in New York.  My co-worker thought it was a small plane.  As I tried to get onto CNN's website to see what was going on, I COULD NOT.  I tried a few other news sites and had the same problem.  Obviously something major had happened.  It would be a few hours later when the news finally broke.  My co-workers and I spent most of the day in disbelief.

May 1st, 2011 - Let's add May 1st, 2011 to the list of days you never forget.  On this day, President Barack Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden (leader of Al Queda and person who plotted 9/11 attacks) was killed in a US Military operation.  I'll save the whole political discussion about this news for a later time, but it definitely is a historic day.

The Introverted Extrovert

Recently, I received an email from an author.  The author had written a couple of books that I had read.  The subject was interesting enough that I took a class from the author about a year or so ago and he keeps in touch every now and then with folks who have taken his class.

In reading the author's email, I stumbled upon an interesting article published in the Boston Globe:

The Power Of Lonely (may require registration to read the article)

In this article, the author surmises that certain tasks and though processes are better done ALONE than other people around.  In fact, the article suggests that the most developed personalities and leaders are the people who devote the appropriate time to taking some solitude for themselves.

How this applies to myself?  I was a pretty shy and introverted kid during my early school years though I improved as I went through high school and college.   It wasn't that I didn't talk to anyone.  It's just that I talked to people I felt comfortable with but I didn't particularly branch out much.  Especially during my years leading into high school, I didn't have a lot of hang out friends.

Thanks to an old friend from high school, I broke the mold and she became one of my early friends that I hung out with and talked to a lot (though that friendship has since faded into the sunset).   It was from this friend that I met some people that are still my friends today.  With a few of the friends, we don't hang out as much as we used to because they have families and other things to concern themselves with.

The thing that has changed is that I am now much more of an extrovert.   I find myself curious about everyone I meet and I could hold a conversation on just about anything if given a chance.  So while some of my older friends are busy, I have simply branched out to other folks and life goes on.   The best example was during my birthday a few weeks ago.  I was out with no less than three groups of friends (with some friends crossing over into more than one group).  

I've got a reputation among some friends that I like to talk a lot.  It's a reputation that I've earned because in the past I have spent a ton of time with my friends on the phone (and still do with some people).   But as I have gotten older, I don't feel I need to talk to my friends as much.

I also need that ALONE TIME that is mentioned in the article above.    With this alone time, I do a great many things.  I read, I mediate, I write/blog, I take photos or just do whatever comes to mind.   I think this may surprise people for my reputation among my more recent friends is being a talker, basketball / sports person and or just a very socially active person.  All of this is true to a certain extent.

However, I am easily comfortable with being alone and going off to do whatever I want to do myself.   It's been a while since I've done so but I have seen movies alone previously.  Since I am currently unemployed, I may hit up some movies that have come out recently.

Everyone should take some away time for themselves.  I understand this more than I did when I was younger.  It's very beneficial and something you should work into your life schedule.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bell's Palsy / Watching Over Our Parents

About two weeks ago, I was home and my mom complained to me that her face was a little distorted and that she was having trouble swallowing food and spitting things out of mouth.   Upon taking a look at her, my mom's face was indeed a little "distorted".  But beyond those symptoms, she seemed to be fine.  She was walking, talking and otherwise moving around without any problems.   Alas, she had told me relatively late in the day so it was too late to call the doctor to schedule an appointment.   My mom didn't think it was serious so she initially wanted to just rest and let things heal on it's own.

On other hand, while she seemed OK, I insisted she call and schedule an appointment with her doctor the next day.  During the evening, I did some research online and discovered something called Bell's Palsy.  Bell's Palsy is inflammation of some facial nerves which cause partial paralysis on one side of the face.  That is why my mom's face looked a little distorted because the facial muscles were locked into place.  There is no direct correlation with Bell's Palsy and getting a stroke.   The good news is that the majority of the paralysis eventually goes away over time though some medication is involved.  

At the doctor's office the next day, it was confirmed that my mom had gotten Bell's Palsy (which could occur for many reasons) and not a stroke.  In thinking about things, it was silly to not have my mom checked up earlier though.  

Unfortunately, as all our parents age, we have to keep an eye on them for sometimes they don't know what is going on.  While my mom seems OK now, I am keeping a close eye on her just in case.  It's good that I am unemployed and have time to be at home.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Appreciate Every Moment, For It Will Never Come Again......

Last night, in my Monday Night Open Division spring basketball league, my team (Red) defeated our opponents (White) 64-48 to advance to the league championship game next week.    My team led the game from beginning to end and there was not a lot of drama.   It was a stark contrast to the Fall season, when my team (who was also Red) had to rally from a 10 point deficit to win and make it to the championship game.

Having made it to the championship and winning it last season, I didn't put any particular importance to my team's win last night.  However, one of my teammates and I were talking afterward and he pointed out that he would now be playing in his fourth consecutive championship game in the league.   I thought that was interesting and it got me to remember that I myself would be playing in my THIRD consecutive championship game in the league as well (all on the same team as the guy I was talking to).  That made me appreciate our win last night a lot more!

The other interesting thing I did yesterday was to hang out with my friend.  We didn't do anything super noteworthy.  We had lunch, talked and collected points that got us some rewards.  I should mention I used those rewards to buy something today!  While my friend and I didn't do anything crazy, it was definitely a unique experience that I appreciated a lot.

The point in all of this?  Even in moments of life that you don't necessarily think is important, they are all unique and should be appreciated.   For someone who didn't win my first championship in this particular league until last fall, it surprises me that I am now playing in my third consecutive championship game.

If I were to somehow were to repeat playing in three consecutive basketball league championship games again in the future, it would be under different circumstances and an entirely new experience.

Remember to appreciate every moment (good or bad) in life for once it passes, you'll never get a chance to experience it exactly the same again!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Love Vegetables!!

It's a bit of an odd topic tonight but I can be pretty random sometimes!   In thinking of my diet these days, I can't imagine NOT eating vegetables.  I eat bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas, corn and just about any vegetable out there.  There is one minor exception.  I've never been a fan of eggplant.

In thinking about my life, I don't if I always had vegetables.  In my younger days, my mom usually cooked vegetables at home but I didn't make a point to eat vegetables outside of home.  In fact, when I was grammar and middle school, I eat a LOT of McDonald's fast food for lunch.

When I got to high school, I started to learn a little more about a healthy diet.  Because I ran cross country (and was a fencer), our coach encouraged us to get more carbohydrates.  That's when I started eating a ton of pasta.  In fact, since my layoff, my default lunch at home is usually a bowl of pasta.

In recent years, as I got older,  I realized eating healthy was important.  I'll still get some occasional fast food but for the most part, I try to get vegetables in my diet as much as possible.   If I brought in lunch to work, I'd make sure there would be some vegetables (left overs or frozen).  If I went out to buy lunch, I'd usually pick meals with some sort of vegetable present even if it was fast food.

When eating dinner at home, my mom still makes a ton of vegetables which I gladly consume.  The funny thing is that I am not really a salad person.  I'll eat one every now and then (Fresh Choice is good) but I don't out of my way to eat a salad.

While American culture is typically a meat and potatoes one (and I let meat and potatoes), vegetables are also an important part.  If you don't eat vegetables frequently, you should try.  They are quite good for you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2.99 GPA And Some Old College Memories.........

It's been a couple of weeks since my layoff and all is good in my world.  There's been a few job leads but I am not overly concerned about how they turn out.  I've taken my time to finish up my final paperwork to complete my departure from my company, clean up the house a bit and just relax a bit.

One other thing I've been doing is researching information on graduate school.  There's one program that I had looked at during my last layoff back in April 2009.  However, when I got rehired at my old job in September of 2009, I didn't look at the graduate school program again.  With the layoff hitting me again though, I am seriously looking at graduate school again.

In doing my research yesterday, I found out that the graduate program I was considering requires a 3.0 GPA.  That was a bit of a downer as I knew my overall GPA from college was around 2.86.  In digging a little further, I found out that the graduate program was just looking at my last 60 semester units.  That made feel a little better as I had done better in the last couple of years before I graduate than my earlier years.

I had pull up my old transcripts from college and upon doing the math, my overall GPA from my last 62 units was.........2.99!  That was pretty frustrating and got me to think "What if I had done better in this one class or another class?"  Alas, those thoughts didn't stick around long as there's nothing I can do about it now.

However, in reviewing my old college transcript, it did bring up an old memory I hadn't thought about in a while (and it could have made a difference in my last 62 unit GPA).   There was a class that I had received a grade of C in that I should have gotten at least a B instead.

What had happened was the lecturer graded the class on a curve.  Usually, when a class is graded on a curve, it's to help the students on the lower end of the grading scale to pass.   I think most of my fellow classmates thought the same.  However, when the final grades were distributed after our final, I was given a C grade despite scoring 85% (or somewhere around there) in the class.  Basically, our lecturer had went on a curve and RAISED the standards since the class was not terribly difficult.

I wasn't the only one who got stuck with a C in the 85% range.  A bunch of classmates tried to complain but it didn't get us anywhere as the lecturer had warned us upfront he was grading on a curve.  Who would have though that class could have implications over 13 years later?

All complaining aside though, with a 2.99 GPA, it looks like I will have to take a class, get an A, and get my GPA about 3.0 to apply for the graduate program I was looking at.   While this is a little frustrating, it is also a benefit.  I haven't been in school in a while so taking a class to boost my GPA will also get me back into school mode.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opening Up To Different Perspectives.......

From my youth through my high school days, I didn't really have a lot of close friends.  I had some buddies I hung out with but not being with the popular crowd, I didn't really have someone I talked to consistently about "life issues".

Toward the end of my high school years, I finally found one really good friend and we remained close for many years. I talked to this particular friend about most (if not all) of my life issues for the duration of our friendship.   Alas, as this friend lived in the East Coast, distance and life in general spelled the end of this particular friendship.

Unlike my younger days, I had met some other friends throughout my college years and many of them remain my friends today.  These friends are usually the first ones I go to and discuss my life issues with.   As I have grown up and matured, I realized I don't need to talk to my friends about "every thing" that happens in my life.  

However, as I have matured, I have realized that I don't have to just rely on my "close friends" for perspective on things.  I am fortunate to have a HUGE circle of people to draw from.   I can draw on my fellow basketball players or officials for perspective on things.  In fact, tonight I officiated some basketball games with a fellow official who had been laid off in January.   That was definitely a topic of discussion because of my recent layoff.

Last night, I spent a good amount of time talking to the girlfriend of one of the guys I play basketball with.  She's quite a few years younger than me but awfully mature and we had some nice discussions over a few different topics.

My friends like to make fun of me in the fact that I "talk a lot".  There is some element of truth to this as I do like talking to my friends on the phone.  What some of my friends haven't seen is that I just don't talk to "shoot the breeze".  I have realized I have a natural curiosity over many things and I can discuss almost any topic under the sun.

So while my close friends will remain my close friends, I am 100% open to talking to others about anything they want to talk about or if something catches my fancy.  It's actually quite refreshing!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Different Level Of Basketball......

Today concluded a super busy weekend for me.  I formed a team to play in a Easter basketball tournament and we played two games Saturday and two games Sunday.  In addition, I met up some friends for dinner after the tournament Saturday and I attended an NBA game after the tournament on Sunday.

Overall, I felt the tournament was a success.  My team consisted of two separate groups of people who I played with previously and we meshed together pretty well.  We won two games and lost two games to finish in 3rd place.

My team was really a middle of the road team in this tourney and it was reflected in the games we won, the games we lost and how we finished.   My team had plenty of guys who have played league basketball before but not at a super high level.  We also had a couple of guys who didn't play much organized basketball before but we were able to make up for it.

In first game we won Saturday, we beat an older but somewhat inexperienced team.   This team was pretty tough inside but struggled with their shots and our team played solidly enough to pull off the win.  In the second game we won today, we played a young and inexperienced team.   My team didn't play particularly well but had enough in the tank to knock off the young kids.

However, the two losses reflected many of my team's weaknesses.  In our first loss on Saturday, we played some early to mid 20's guys who just ran circles around my team offensively and defensively.   Their youth and athleticism was just too much of our team to overcome.

In our second loss this afternoon, we played a mixed team with vets (over 35), guys in their prime (25 to 30) and young kids.  The story of this game?  Defense.  The mixed team came out in their man to man defense and suffocated my team.  We were just not used to the level of defense that was being played.   The older guys used their experience to clog all our passing lanes and contested all of our shots.   The younger guys took advantage of our tired legs on offense.   This was a tough game and showed why defense is so important in basketball.

In both cases, if my team had played more together and got more time to gel, we might have a better chance against the more organized teams.  Alas, my team was just playing on the fly and that was why we struggled against the better teams.    As it turned out, the two teams we lost to this weekend ended up playing the championship with the mixed team beating the young kids in overtime.

My days of competitive basketball are winding down but it was fun play in the tournament with my team.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"If you're on the path you're meant to be on, everything falls into place; the Universe is telling you that. If you are not on the right path, you will experience roadblocks all along the way, and this is also the Universe telling you to stop, look, and ask if this is where you are supposed to be."

— James Van Praagh

This quote was something I shared with a friend a while back.   With my layoff, I was thinking about this a bit.  The layoff is obviously a rather large roadblock.  So while I am poking around for job leads related to what I've been doing, I am taking some time to think about the distant future and see if the "Universe" / "God" / "Whatever suits you" has plans for me. 

I'll let you know when I figure out what my plans are! 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Layoff Aftermath

It's a late Wednesday evening / Thursday morning as I write this.  It will be a week since I unexpectedly got laid off from my job.   While the title of this posting makes it sound like something bad or bad happened after my layoff, in reality NOTHING earth shattering happened.

I didn't jump off a cliff, bang my head against a wall or curse out my luck, bosses or anything else for that matter.    I talked about things with a few people last Thursday.  I wasn't too emotional and was pretty rational trying to figure out what exactly happened.

The next day was my birthday and I spent my day relaxing.  I had lunch with my parents and went shopping at the local mall for a while before going home to rest for a bit.  I then headed out to dinner / dessert with friends and had a good time.  While my layoff was discussed, I didn't express my bitterness and actually was my normal jovial self.

Saturday, I spent the day officiating basketball before going to dinner with another group of friends for another birthday celebration.  This time, the celebration was for two other folks plus me.  Once again the layoff was discussed but not too long.

Monday, I replied back to a ton of emails from my former co-workers who expressed disbelief at my layoff and gave me some best wishes.  I also took care of submitting my unemployment papers as well.   Though I was not intending to job hunt, I ran across some job postings so I reviewed them as well.

Tuesday, I spent time reviewing my severance papers and understanding what I was signing.  I have to return the papers in the next couple of days to complete from departure from my company.

Wednesday, I actually started the job hunt by talking to a recruiter.  The recruiter actually had two leads for jobs and I got another email later with another lead.  Whether they will come to fruition is another story but it's good to see I have some options.

As Thursday dawns, everything is all positive on my end.   I left my job last week in a state of disbelief.   In the week sense, I've gotten over it and moved on.  Sometimes when these roadblocks occur, it is life telling you that you should going another direction.  What that direction is I don't know 100% yet.

However, I am in the process of figuring it out and will take everyone once I decide which way I am going.  :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

In Sales, It's All About The "Numbers"

In just about any job, you generally have a set of general company goals and employee specific goals that you are evaluated against.  These evaluations will determine many things such as raises or even if you KEEP your job (for those that do their jobs poorly).

Salespeople likely have these same things but there is ONE overriding factor above all else:  The dreaded QUOTA.  What is a quota?  The amount of revenue (aka "dollars") that is required to be brought in by a salesperson over a given time period (monthly, quarterly, etc).

If you've ever wondered why salespeople are so pushy when it comes to homes, cars or other things they sell, the quota is the reason why.  If salespeople don't meet their quota consistently, they don't have a job.  Sales is a tough job and I've asked various salespeople why they work in the industry.  The respond that they like the challenge of selling and the excitement of closing a large deal.

The flip side of this is that even if the salesperson does everything 100% correctly, their jobs and livelihood could depend on the consumer signing the contract.   Imagine if all your jobs were dependent on others??  The only other job I can think of that could even be close if Project Managers.  Project Manager have to depend on other people to get their jobs without being their direct manager.  That poses challenges in of itself.

Prior to my time as a Sales Engineer, I didn't really understand the sales process and what salespeople went through.   As I've been supporting a sales team for the past few years, I've gotten a great understanding of what the salespeople go through on a daily basis and they have earned my respect.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life has a way of repeating itself

This morning, I was informed by HR and my team VP that my job position was being eliminated due to budget cuts. This was not pleasant for several reasons.

One, I had already gone through his once before two years ago to the day. The reasons in 2009 were the same as they were today. It was about the budget and not about my performance.

Two, as with two years ago, tomorrow is my birthday. Of course with the end of the month and quarter coming, there is nothing that could be done with the timing.

I leave with my head held high. I had my struggles last year but worked through them as best as I could. Many people in my office and team were surprised that I was let go.

What's next? In the short term, going to enjoy my birthday the next few days as I have some dinners. Beyond that, we will see. I will take some time off and focus on some hobbies (not basketball as I do that enough). I may jump into photography more and get back into sportswriting a bit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Enjoying the simple things in life

Up in Tahoe this weekend and having a food time. My friends and I are keeping things simple. While most of us have experience skiing and snowboarding, it was bypassed this time die to logistics. There'd were kids and elders where they wouldn't able to participate much in skiing and snowboarding.

While there wasn't adrenaline based activities, we did have fun in the snow and just hanging playing pool and board games.

This goes to show that hang out activities do not have to be extreme to have a good time. That is the general attitude I take with my friends. Let's enjoy ourselves whether we are hanging out or just talking on the phone. After all, as long as we enjoy what we are doing, it doesn't matter what the actual activity is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shoveling Snow In Lake Tahoe

In Tahoe with friends and the house we are staying at is full of snow. We are shoveling away to clear the driveway so we can park our cars.

How do people do this constantly in the east coast do this?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Five Years And Four Months Ago......

Five Years and Four Months is a long time.  That would put things around the month of December in the year 2005.

Looking back at December of 2005, I was still employed at SBC Internet though unknown to me at that time, I would leave about 5 months later for a job at a startup.  I was still officiating high school basketball at that time as well.

But looking back at that time there was going to be a significant change in life for me.  During December of that year, I had went to Las Vegas to hang out with a old school friend who had flown in from the East Coast on a work assignment.   That would also be the LAST time I would hang out with my friend.  It was a few weeks later when I lost my cool and put a chill on our long time friendship.

In looking back, the situation should not have been unexpected.  My friend and I had gotten into a disagreement a few years prior.  Though we had settled the issue, I had personally grown a bit disenchanted with my friend.   The distance between us was great and I put in a lot of effort into the friendship which I didn't think my friend reciprocated.

Five years and four months later, I can see clearly now that the break in this particular friendship needed to happen.  There are a few reasons for this.

One, I had become too dependent on my high school friend over the years.  I had made them my best friend.  I talked to this person about everything and asked for advice.  Alas, my friend didn't look at me this way.  I knew this but still treated them in a slightly one sided fashion.  While I had a few other friends, I had neglected developing them very well.

Two, I wasn't a very mature person and perhaps I was being selfish in expecting a lot from my old friend.  Plus, I was narrow minded and didn't consider other alternatives in the form of other communication methods or just talking to other friends.

In looking back at how this broken friendship benefitted me, I can see a few things:

One, I expanded my myself from ONE best friend to several groups of friends.  There's a few different groups of people I hang out with.  They may be groups of old friends, basketball buddies or just other folks I have met over time.  I have a couple of old friends I talk to the most on the phone.

Two, with experience comes wisdom and with wisdom comes maturity.  With maturity comes the realization that life isn't just about YOU!  I was a little selfish with my friend back in 2005.  I've realized that for a while now.  It just didn't occur to me how much!

In the old days, I would call my old friend every couple of days just to jabber about stuff and ask advice. These days, if I am lucky, I'll talk to my two old friends once a week.  In fact, one of my old friends and I haven't talked in about a MONTH recently due to work.  Yet, I've emailed and texted them to say hi.

This particular friend of mine is great about calling back and when they don't call back, it usually means they are pretty busy.  I've been mature enough to accept this and continue on with life until we touch base again.

I could go on all night but let me summarize.  Things in life do happen for a reason.  The broken friendship was NOT fun at all.   Yet as I look back at the friendships I built and some maturity I've gained in recent years, it was a required process that I had to go through.

Though I probably hurt my old friend and may need to make amends one day, the learning process was definitely something I needed to go through.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weird Night At The Gym / Career Night #2

The sports of basketball can bring you the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.   Tonight, I think my team went through both the highs and the lows all in one night in our Thursday Night Friendship Basketball League against Team Blue.

For whatever reason, my team came out frigid offensively.  It didn't matter if we were shooting jump shots or layups, nothing was falling.  Team Blue also took advantage of some defensive match ups and took an early 14-0 lead.   My team called timeout with 14 minutes left and zero points on the board.

I knew the team was struggling and tried to get myself going.  I wasn't exactly scorching hot but ended scoring my team's first 6 points (8 points overall in the first half) of the game to keep us afloat.  The rest of the team finally followed suit.  Despite falling behind 14-0 to Team Blue, we were only down 33-21 at halftime.   My team even pulled a Chris Webber moment to add to the weirdness in the first half.  We called timeout when we had none and that cost us a point and possession as well.

The second half was a bit of a blur.   I remembered trying to get going early and missing.  However, the shots that weren't falling for me early finally starting going as I got into the zone and my team slowly clawed back into the game.  I scored 21 of my career high 29 points in the second half.

I know we eventually tied the game but immediately fell back behind the next possession. Both teams went back and forth a bit as Team Blue held on to a slim lead.   With about 30 seconds or so left, there was controversy.  My team was down two and got the steal and was cruising for the layup but the referee called a tough traveling call.   That definitely hurt and put us into a tough situation.   Team Blue got the ball and we had to foul them to let them shoot free throws.   Fortunately Team Blue made only 1 free throw and my team had a chance as we were only down 3 points at 52-49.

I dribbled the ball up the court and with several teammates setting screens, I was left wide open for a three pointer from the left wing and nailed it with 10 seconds left to tie the game.  Team Blue had a chance for a final shot but fortunately missed and that sent the game into overtime.

In the overtime, both teams went cold as no one could score for the first 1 1/2 minutes of overtime.  I personally rushed a couple of jumpers which frustrated me.  However, with about 25 seconds left, I finally got the ball again and knocked down the only shot for both teams in overtime for the 55-53 win.  Team Blue tried to tie but was unable to and my team pulled out the victory.

As you can see, this was a weird game but I am glad we won.  As for my career high 29 points, it was great to be able to score a lot AND help the team win.   There weren't stats kept so not exactly how well I shot.  My guesstimate is I shot around 50% or maybe a little below as I did take quite a few shots tonight.

Adding to the statistical weirdness, my teammates were consistent tonight.  My 7 other teammates combined for 13 points in both the first half and the second half.

All in all, it was a fun evening trying to carry my team and being the hero.  I'm normally a role player but for one night, i got to be the star.  My legs and body are paying for it a little bit but I'll enjoy it the next few days.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

CIF NorCal State Division I Boys Basketball Playoff: Washington (SF) vs. Santa Teresa (San Jose)

I was working in Santa Clara today and realized that the Washington High Eagles boys basketball team would be playing in San Jose tonight against Santa Teresa at 7 PM in a CIF State Playoff game.  Since I was in the area (sort of, it was estimated to be some 19 miles + 30 minutes away), I decided to head over to the game.   Some thoughts......

The drive to Santa Teresa High School took about 40 minutes as I ran into rush hour traffic.  As I pulled into the school's parking lot, I was surprised to see a lot of cars already there.  As I walked to the gym, I saw a short line out the door.  It was then I knew I would be walking into hostile territory.

The environment was crazy.  Both sides of the gym were packed with fans (the majority of them Santa Teresa).  There was a student cheering section as well as cheerleaders.   The entire gym was loud, especially since Santa Teresa played well and eventually beat Washington 70-60.   I don't know if Santa Teresa is like this every game they play, but it was definitely a boost to their team and hostile to the visiting Washington team.

The Santa Teresa team deserves some credit too.   I haven't watched a ton of varsity basketball games this year but Santa Teresa was one of the better teams I have seen.  Santa Teresa shot the lights out from three point land, had great fundamentals,  played hard defense and crashed the boards.  In my opinion, Santa Teresa was probably the best team Washington had seen in recent weeks.   I don't think Washington had seen such a balanced team in a while and that proved frustrating.  Washington's defense couldn't lay back as Santa Teresa would hit the three's.  If Washington played tight, Santa Teresa was able to blow by the defenders.

The Washington team wasn't bad though.  While I am not a graduate of Washington, I had officiated one of their games during this past season and knew the coach personally.  After winning the San Francisco AAA championship against Mission last week (first championship since 1982), I was curious how Washington would do in the bright lights of the CIF State Playoffs.

Some of the things I had noticed during the AAA championship game came to light against Santa Teresa.  Washington and Mission both thrive on up tempo games as evidenced by the 75-72 final score in the championship.   I thought it was interesting that Washington didn't hit a lot of outside jumpers.  Most of their shots were put backs or layups.

This proved to be a key against Santa Teresa.  With Santa Teresa hitting their shots, Washington was forced to play half court and had trouble generating offense.  They went through a cold streak from halfway through the first quarter into the second quarter and allowed Santa Teresa to pull away to a 20 point lead.  Washington never really challenged after that.

While it was a tough night for Washington, they should keep their heads high for making a great effort.  Good luck to Santa Teresa as they travel to Sacramento for their next game.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Focal Point of the Defense

Tonight was game #2 for my team (Red) in our Monday night basketball league.  It was just a week ago I dropped home a career high 23 points in a 64-54 loss.   My performance was still the talk of the other players as our game was going to tip off tonight against the Gold team.  

Having played so many years, I didn't worry too much of trying too hard to replicate my performance from last week.  The Gold team knew my game pretty well and I was sure they were going to focus their defense on getting me off of my sweet spots.

The Gold team did pretty well in the first half as I only hit one shot for 2 points as my team was down 11 points at halftime.  We hung tough in the second half to keep the game close.  Unfortunately, my team also only had five guys so we were noticeably tired as the half went on.

I got loose to hit two jumpers and two layups to total 10 points for the game though I didn't shoot as well as last week (5-12 FG).   It was a week our team needed some more but it wasn't meant to be.

From my experience the past two weeks, I have to say that the sport of basketball is a fun game but difficult to master even with years of experience.    I was able to score 23 points last week because I have developed a solid mid-range jump shot in recent years.  Alas, at this point in my life, my game isn't as diversified enough to score more without jump shots.  I don't drive as much or grab a ton of offensive rebounds as I used to when I was younger.

All in all, you have to appreciate the special talents that play NBA, college, high school and even your local recreational basketball league.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting Away

Work was especially stressful this week with the end of the month approaching and our sales team trying to close up deals. As someone who supports these efforts, I typically remain calm, cool and collected. Alas the strain did finally get to me and I felt some of the effects. It did not help I was busy with my after work activities.

So, after being asked, I am out of town with friends on a church retreat. I'm not that far from home (1 1/2 hours). However, It is welcome respite from work.

The point is that work isn't always everything. Good to get some me time which I will try this weekend.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Career Night On The Court

There some things that occur during your lifetime that cannot be easily explained.   There might some weird coincidence that happens which causes you to meet your future wife, get a job or something else.

Tonight, something weird happened tonight which I cannot easily explain.  Take a look at the following stat line from my adult league basketball game tonight:

23 Points (11-19 FG's, 1-1 FT)
7 Rebounds
1 Assist
1 Steal
1 Turnover

That stat line was MINE tonight.  There was a considerable buzz around the gym as I put up my 23 points tonight.  The reason was that I am not usually the main scorer for any of the teams I play on.  Secondly, while I am known as a decent mid-range (15 foot and in) shooter,  I can be streaky at times.
Plus, I've only scored 20 points in a game less than 10 times in all the years I played in league basketball (probably more like 3 to 5 times, though I don't remember exactly).

However, if I were to try and explain why I shot so well tonight, here's some possibly explanations....


We were missing our center (injury) and our young guard (illness) tonight.  Between those two guys, they probably would have gobbled up the majority of my 19 shots.  With the two guys missing, the remaining six guys had a chance to get more shots up.  Of course, with more opportunities, you still have to make the shots.  Fortunately, they were going in for me tonight!


I played in a weekend basketball tournament with some other guys.  My team didn't do too well as we lost all three games.  However,  I played quite a few minutes and got a lot of running in.  So that definitely helped me get in shape.

But the other thing was that I was hitting my shots during the tournament.  My overall shooting percentage wasn't that great because I forced some bad shots during the games.  However, when I was open and shot the ball in rhythm, the shots were going down with good frequency.  In fact, during the second game of our weekend tournament, I hit my first four shots of the game!  Overall, I averaged 10 points a game during the tournament which was solid.


My knees had been aching the past several week while playing basketball.  I thought it was just due to old age.  However, it never occurred to me that it was my basketball shoes.  The shoes I had been using looked great on the outside.  However, I wondered if I had overused it the past year or so with the number of league games I had played.

For my weekend tournament, I decided to break in my Li-Ning BD Doom shoes (Baron Davis's signature shoe with Chinese company Li-Ning).   Surprisingly, the shoes were comfortable and held up well over the weekend.  Of course, I played reasonably well and the trend continued into tonight.  I might need to order up another pair for backup!


It was great to have today off.  I got in plenty of sleep and didn't do a lot during the day.  I went to the mall and CostCo with my mom to get some shopping in.  Other than that, I just chilled and showed up at the gym pretty laid back.

One underestimates how much work stress can have on you for the other activities in your life.  Too bad I can't take days off every time I play basketball!


I could throw out my possible explanations.  But hey, it could have just been one of those crazy evenings.  Assuming our other two guys come back healthy, I'll probably settle back into my role as a bench player.

I should mention that it would have been nice if my team had won (we lost 64-54).  Career nights are great but not so if the team loses.  However, it was a fun evening and definitely one to remember.