Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's talk about boring

Straight up, I love the World Cup. FIFA's premier tournament played every four years. Unfortunately there are others who don't. And of course they have to come out with the obligatory "Why I'm not watching the World Cup" post. Most of the time they talk about how boring soccer is. So in response, let's talk about sports and boring:

One of the posts I read last week talked about how you could go away, make a sandwich and come back with nothing of importance happening. Ok, name me another sport in the US where that doesn't happen? NFL? you might miss two plays that go for 2 yards. NBA? You might miss a three pointer (not to mention that everyone knows the game isn't really on until the last two minutes). NHL? A couple of rushes (and really what's the big difference between hockey and soccer?). MLB? A couple of batters.

The fact is that all sports can be "boring". They are even more boring when you don't understand the concepts behind the play. Once you "understand" the game, it goes from boring to exciting. Once you understand the various situations in a game you gain an appreciation for what happens during play.

Unfortunately too many people won't take the time to understand the game. They do however take the time to describe how much they find the game they don't understand boring. Kind of silly if you think about it. I guess they are just looking for their 15 minutes of fame...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

World Cup Fever

TWO DAYS! Yes I had to scream that out loud. The World Cup starts in two days. Last December I made my picks for the group stages and gave a list of the five teams that I thought would win it all this year.

I have since made bracket picks and looking at those I have the following winners from the groups:
  • Group A
    • Winner: Brazil
    • 2nd: Croatia
  • Group B
    • Winner: Spain
    • 2nd: Holland
  • Group C
    • Winner: Colombia
    • 2nd: Japan
  • Group D
    • Winner: Italy
    • 2nd: England
  • Group E
    • Winner: France (although no Ribery could derail this one)
    • 2nd: Switzerland
  • Group F
    • Winner: Argentina
    • 2nd: Nigeria
  • Group G
    • Winner: Germany (although no Reus could allow for a first round exit)
    • 2nd: USA
I did pick a second bracket, but not a lot of differences. I have either Germany or Brazil winning it all in the bracket. However, my December picks didn't have Germany as one of my top 5 to win it all.

The madness (to borrow the term from NCAA March) begins on Thursday and we will see how things pan out. I'm sure I'll be tweeting about the matches and what's happening all along. I mean after all, I am kind of obsessed.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

US Mens National Team World Cup Roster

Disbelief. Yes, US Men's Soccer fans, disbelief is the emotion of the moment. Juergen Klinsman announced his 23 man roster for the 2014 World Cup next month in Brazil. Here's how it breaks down:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (N├╝rnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia M├Ânchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Anyone else see a glaring omission? There has to be a mistake! What in the world is Juergen thinking?

In case it didn't slap you across the face (or you didn't this trending on Twitter), Landon Donovan was left off the roster! Let me repeat that, LANDON DONOVAN WAS LEFT OFF THE ROSTER! Perhaps one of the most influential players in the past decade for the men's team has been left off. His goal in the first round against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup saved the US from exiting the tournament early and actually got them to the top of the group. Arguably one of the best players on the team has been left off the roster.

Who should have been left home instead of Landon? Well in my opinion these two:
  • Kyle Beckerman - He's good, but he's not Landon good and I would take Landon in the midfield over him right now
  • Julian Green - Like his last name he is "green" to the team. Recently "allowed" by FIFA to play for the US
Ok, so now I'm over the shock. Ok maybe not. The big question remains what will the reaction be if the team doesn't get out of the group of death with Donovan at home?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SB 1062 Needed? I think not

There is a lot of talk about a bill that has passed the Arizona Legislature. The bill known as SB 1062 was written to protect religious freedom. There has been a lot of back and forth over this one as to whether or not it is needed or even if it was really written to protect religious freedom. Me? I don't think it is needed. My reasoning however is not the same as what I hear coming from the proponents and opponents.

SB 1062 is not needed in my opinion because I just don't think that people are as vindictive as both sides are making them out to be. I believe that people are good. Call me optimistic, call me naive, but that's how I feel about it. I don't believe that people of a certain orientation are going to go out and target groups who don't believe in their orientation just to get them sued. I don't believe that people of a certain religion are going to go out of their way to exclude people who don't believe in their religion. I know, call me crazy.

I believe that we are better than that. I believe that people are good in general. Are there extremists who can ruin it for everybody? Of course there are, that's why they are called extremists. They are few and far between.


Again, I believe in people. I believe that we are good in general. I believe that no matter our orientations or beliefs we can work together, live together and serve together. That's what we are as a society and race. That is why we don't need SB 1062.

Friday, December 6, 2013

World Cup 2014 Brazil Groups My Take

So the draw took place today and the teams I really want to see do well had mixed results. I'll explain as I tackle the groups and predict what will happen in the group stage.  Overall history states that a South American team will win the World Cup this year since it is being played in this hemisphere. However, I have a feeling this will not hold. My top 5 picks to win the world cup (in no particular order) are:

  • Holland
  • Brazil
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Argentina
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are my group analysis and picks:
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon

The host team is always in the first group and gets to play the first game. Most times if the host is a team that is highly ranked, the drawing is very favorable for an easy path to the round of 16. In this case it isn't as easy as hoped. Brazil will advance, but they will get a test from at least Croatia and Mexico. Cameroon could play spoiler to Croatia and Mexico's chances of making the round of 16. In the end here's how I see it:

Winner: Brazil
2nd Place: Croatia (by either one point or goal differential)
3rd Place: Mexico
4th Place: Cameroon 

Group B: Spain, Holland, Chile and Australia

Once Chile and Australia came up Spain's path to the round of 16 was clear. The best match will be the rematch  of the World Cup Final between Spain and Holland. Chile could prove tough for the European teams, however I don't think it will matter in the end. The group should fall into a neat order as follows:

Winner: Spain (by either one point or goal differential)
2nd Place: Holland
3rd Place: Chile
4th Place: Australia  

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Cote D'Ivoire and Japan

Colombia should have easy sailing through this group. However, Greece is unpredictable and Japan plays hard. Not sure if Cote D'Ivoire will make a splash or not. We should see our first non South American/non European round of 16 qualifier from this group. My take:

Winner: Colombia
2nd Place: Japan (by beating Greece and Cote D'Ivoire)
3rd Place: Greece
4th Place: Cote D'Ivoire  

Group D Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

As the draw was happening, I had this pegged as the Group of Death. I'm calling it the "Group of Death'" (Group of Death Prime for those not mathematically inclined). Costa Rica is the real loser here and should expect to play the role of spoiler as the other three teams will be too much for them. England was one of the teams I was hoping to get a good draw. They did not and a battle awaits them in this group. The group will provide for lots of commentary and second guessing, but at the end of the day I think it will fall as follows:

Winner: Italy (by virtue of beating 2 of the three teams and drawing the other)
2nd Place: England (goal differential over Uruguay)
3rd Place: Uruguay
4th Place: Costa Rica 

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

This group should be easy for the European teams. The question is which one will take the group? Looking at it I believe that it will come down to goal differential to determine the group winner. This will also be the first group where a South American team finishes last. My picks:

Winner: France (by goal differential and I hate saying it)
2nd Place: Switzerland
3rd Place: Honduras (by goal differential)
4th Place: Ecuador  

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Could it be any easier for Argentina? Yes, they could have been the top seed in Group H. Messi is going to have a field day with this group and may secure the golden boot after the group stage. The battle for second should be interesting and I think that Nigeria has the edge. Picks:

Winner: Argentina
2nd Place: Nigeria (by beating Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran)
3rd Place: Bosnia-Herzegovina
4th Place: Iran  

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

The real Group of Death. Any of these teams could win the group and any of them come in last place. This is really a poor draw for the winners of the CONCACAF region. FIFA should look at it's "1st Pot" rules and let the winners of the conference be in that group. Seems only fair, but I digress. The group has some very interesting story lines. When Germany plays Ghana we will see brothers play against each other (Boatengs). The USA beat Portugal in the 2002 World Cup and essentially denied them access to the round of 16. Ghana beat the USA in the 2010 World Cup round of 16. This is going to be a tough group to call. Here goes:

Winner: Germany (win, draw, draw - goal differential)
2nd Place: USA (win, draw, draw)
3rd Place: Ghana (draw, loss, loss - goal differential)
4th Place: Portugal (draw, loss, loss) 
 
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea

By far the easiest of the groups. Hand Belgium a place in the round of 16. The other three will put up good fights against each other, but in the end whoever ends in second place can thank the draw for getting to the next round. Picks:

Winner: Belgium
2nd Place: Korea
3rd Place: Russia
4th Place: Algeria

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Should Government Look Like?

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

- Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America (emphasis added)

So let's take each of the words/phrases in bold above and see what government should look like.

1. Perfect Union - A union is a coming together. This means that we should be unified. Government has a responsibility to unite the country. This doesn't mean we agree on everything, it doesn't mean we shouldn't debate. It does mean that we should work together. It does mean that we should be respectful of others and not resort to childish tactics such as name calling and bullying. If our government cannot unite us, then we need new representatives.

2. Domestic Tranquility - To me this means that we should be able to live our lives without fear of upheaval. That in general we should expect that we can go about our daily business without being wrongfully impeded. This means that we need to have a set of laws that protect us and help to deter wrong behavior. It also means that the laws that are created need to be enforced in a manner that is just but yet showing mercy where warranted. Now I know that's a simplistic thing to say, but sometimes the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) method is the best.

3. Common Defense - Do we have enemies? Are there people who want what we have? Yes to both counts. Therefore we need to have the ability to defend ourselves. This means a military. This does NOT mean we have to involve ourselves everywhere and anywhere. We need to be smart and understand what areas we need to focus on to ensure our safety. This also includes funds to foreign nations when it is deemed that without said funds our safety will be compromised. Notice I said "will" and not "could", these are different. "Will" implies that we have the necessary data to back it up. "Could" implies that the data we have is fuzzy and that there is a chance.

4. General Welfare - To me this means that we need certain laws to keep things in check. Our government today is based on checks and balances. We need to do the same with laws that apply to the private sector. This does mean regulations on certain things. It also means we should have the ability to "audit" certain areas to ensure that in general things are going well. Audit does not mean run however. It means that there are certain standards that apply to areas (say education for example) that must be met. Auditing allows for improvement as well as demonstration of what works and what doesn't. This also allows for certain freedoms from a States Rights standpoint. There are several areas in our lives where we would benefit from this "auditing" instead of having a Federal agency "run" the area.

5. Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity - This means that we are a people who are free. Free to become who we want to become. Free from oppression. Free from financial burdens. Free so that our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on will have the same freedoms. Government is there to ensure that burdens are as light as possible and removed where not needed. Government should NOT create unnecessary burdens and should get out of the way as much as possible.

At the end of the day if the government can provide these five things it should be:
  • Right sized - Not too big, not too small
  • Efficient
  • Trusted
  • Helping, not impeding
  • Financially responsible - after all it is the citizens money it is dealing with
  • Civil
To me, it currently does not meet this test. It can, but there are changes that need to be made. That can be done, but only if we hold true to the framework setup by our forefathers.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Making Family Home Evening More Fun

Every week (mostly on Monday nights) we hold Family Home Evening (FHE). It's a time for all of us (and there are 7 of us not counting the cat) to spend some time together as a family without electronics. Recently Cheryl and I have discussed making FHE more like Mutual Night. For those that don't know, Mutual Night is when the youth (ages 12 - 18) of our church get together for various activities. Some of these are just fun and some are more spiritual in nature.

So yesterday as I was thinking about what we would do for FHE it hit me: Minute To Win It. This activity is:

  1. Quick - games last only a minute and everyone can try them
  2. Purposeful - You have to think quickly how you're going to complete the task in a minute. 
  3. Entertaining - The activities can lead to much laughter
  4. Encouraging - The activities allow the non-players to root on the player and show support for completing the task.
Now if you have children with short attention spans (that should be about 99.999% of you, and yes if you're keeping track that is "five 9's") this is a perfect way to keep them attentive without "dragging on". So we implemented the plan and had two Minute to Win It activities last night.

The first was "Spoon Frog". This involves flipping a spoon into a cup. The layout is easy. You need 3 cups and 6 spoons. You lay the spoons so that the stems are on top of each other (two spoons per cup) and then once the time starts you catapult a spoon towards a cup and try to get it to land in the cup. Hilarity ensues when the spoons start flying. For example, Grace flipped a spoon and landed it in a cup that was next to the one the spoons were lined up for. As for myself, I'm so good I got the spoon to land so that it was balanced on the cup.

The second activity was "Cup Stack". Normally you would start with 36 plastic cups, start with one stack (all 36 together), then separate them into a pyramid (base of 8 followed by 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1), then stack them all together in one pile to finish. Now we had to improvise and changed the number from 36 to 10 in order to make it easier for the younger kids. This game also produced hilarity. It also produced creativity. Sam showed an easier way to go from the pyramid to the single stack by sliding the cups together from top to bottom. Levi showed that the perfect pyramid wasn't in the rules and so his pyramid wasn't triangular. Again fun had by all.

Of course after the activities we had to have a treat. Cheryl had made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies earlier in the day (you can ask her for the recipe). We broke those out and of course in my infinite knowledge of all things pumpkin had to break out the whipped cream to top the cookies. For some strange reason all but Grace (age 6) and Lia (age 6) were the only ones who thought that was a good idea.

Anyways, it was one of the more enjoyable FHEs that we have ever had. Even our almost teenager appeared to enjoy it and that is saying something.