Saturday, April 26, 2008

Profound and Beautiful

Hey all.
Don't know how many of you have heard of Shane Claiborne.
He was featured on a program on NPR not too long ago, so I was perusing through the web and came across this video that has the most beautiful and profound image of love and compassion. It's posted on my blog-- click on the link to your left when you have some time.

Peace!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Why?!!!

Why can't this man just leave school and start his NBA career already? His draft stock only drops with each year he stays, and the chances of winning a national championship are so small every year. There's too much luck and tons of variables involved.

Of course, if he was at Duke, I'd be thrilled, but unfortunately, he's at that other school. I thought we were the school that got the unathletic white boys that just worked really hard and stayed for 4 years. Isn't UNC supposed to have all the super-athletes that stay 1-2 years and then get picked in the 1st round of the draft?

Well, at least I can hope that Lawson and Ellington go pro, although I can't quite see that happening with their questionable draft forecasts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Thoughts


Brian is so great about keeping us posted about ncconnection posts that I wanted to contribute to give him a shout out and to say thanks for being so earnest in keeping us connected. I admit that I have absolutely no interest in the basketball posts since NC State is never a part of the conversation although even if they were, I would probably still show little or no interest. The days when I enjoyed watching the same sports center multiple times with you guys on ESPN is alas a thing of the past---Still enjoy watching games from time to time, but more b/c I’m jumping on the bandwagon and rooting for the Lakers or the Angels, so won’t post about that. However, I can make comments about American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. I’ll save Dancing with the Stars for another time, but a brief rundown of my opinions re:Idol. Last night Mariah Carey guided them—so funny to see her try to make nice comments about the contestants whom she clearly felt were mediocre or even bad---“ they are making this song their own, singing from their heart”….what does that mean? The judges ended up saying that this night was all about the boys, but I totally disagree.


David Archuleta: Okay, I adored his rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, even if Paula’s comments and hysterical crying almost ruined it, but am I alone in thinking that every song he sings sounds almost exactly the same? I think he’s a cutie, but clearly too young to handle the pizzazz of being a polished performer. He is starting to bore me.

Carly: Gotta love that Ihy-rish accent, and her voice reminds me of Hart—definitely a great singer with great potential—the camera seems to love showing shots of her husband with his nose-ring and many tattoos---they scare me a little, but I can deal with it.

Syesha: Syesha, Syesha…I actually thought her “Vanishing” was really, really good, though she only changes her version from Mariah’s by stretching out the “vaaaaaaaannnnnnishing” instead of the “yoooooooouuuuuuu'rrrrrrrrrreee” which is in the original. Have to admit that I got suckered into buying Mariah’s first CD off Itunes after the show and listening again to the original definitely makes Syesha’s look “ehhhh.”

David Cook: O dude, I know he is everyone’s favorite, but while the judges’ opinion was that his interpretation of the song was so original and “haunting”, I just thought it was weird. Maybe I am too much of a pop queen to appreciate his “artistry.” Whatever, I so don’t believe that.

Brooke White: I felt bad she had to miss her sister’s wedding, but I bet she felt worse that she missed it for that performance. Why does she always have to have those sad, pleading puppy dog eyes when she sings? Is she really that unhappy or is she convinced that this is what saves her each week?

Kristy Lee Cook
: This girl in my opinion should have been booted a long time ago, don’t even let me get started on Micahel Johns leaving last week when it should have been her. Lucky (or clever) girl—b/c she appeals to the mass of squealing little girls (whom I think are so cute, but what do they know? They love Miley Cyrus and have made her a superstar). I know, her voice isn’t that bad, but come on, I could sound better on Karaoke.

Jason Castro
: Ahhh, I save the best for last. The judges love him. I don’t get it. The dreadlocks. I don’t get it. Doesn’t he realize that this works for black hair which doesn’t need to be washed, but once a week? As far as I know, white people’s hair don’t work that way. I find his appeal so odd.

So I confess that when American Idol first aired, I had a dream that I was in the final six. No joke. I remember being backstage, with the lights glaring, I got on stage, sang, and got voted off that day. It was terrifying and heartbreaking, so maybe I should ease up and be more sensitive… :)

Oh and another big “thank you” to Sandra for putting the slideshow for the NCKPC together. It was great and I know it took a lot of time and effort to pull it all together. It looked great, though seeing some of those old photos of me gave me a little bit of the shivahs…made me very thankful to have grown older. ….enjoy the day folks and peace.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Clueless but incensed over matching yellow t-shirts......

Hey all. I am posting to hopefully get all of your insights regarding a topic that is sort of fuzzy to me: the US economy. I have to begin by confessing that I don’t know a lot (probably the main reason for writing to you guys). I tend to leave financial “issues” (like where to invest our money) to my husband, and my part is basically just to make sure the bills get paid on time.
Although I like to think of myself as a fairly well educated woman, I confess that I lack good knowledge about economics, and what sort of things drive the market to go up and down. But I CAN say, that I am feeling the pinch at the grocery store, which of course is concerning. And all this news regarding the state of affairs of the housing market was sort of background noise to me for a while, but as I paid more and more attention to it, I found myself feeling strangely angry about it all. That festering sort of came to a peak after the Bear-Stearns fallout. I was watching the news one afternoon and they were showing a bunch of people in matching yellow t-shirts picketing inside the Bear-Stearns building. The picketers were angry that the government had bailed out Bear-Stearns instead of bailing them out…….these were individuals who were knee deep in the mortgage crisis, and wanted to be bailed out.
Now I may not know much, and again, I underscore that I REALLY don’t understand a lot about money and finances, but I was really upset at these picketers! Putting aside the government’s $30 billion bail-out of Bear-Stearns……my thought was, if these people have the time to get matching t-shirts made and make signs and plan to put together that sort of “rally,” don’t they have the time to go out and WORK to try to help themselves out of their situation somehow?
And of course, in the midst of this all, it is an election year. There is a good chance that Senator Obama may be the next president. Hearing his plans for what he would do about the housing crisis upsets me too! Is it selfish and mean-spirited that I don’t want my (or rather, my husband’s) hard earned dollars (tax money) to go toward bailing out those yellow-t-shirted picketers and others who chose to live beyond their means?
Anyway, I’d really like to hear all of your opinions, especially since I’ve probably over simplified the whole situation based the little knowledge I have. Maybe I don’t know enough, so I shouldn’t be upset? Maybe all of these thoughts are so obvious and you all are sort of thinking, “so what?” I don’t know. What have you all been thinking or asking or questioning about the state of economics these days? Please comment, or write a new post so I can learn more!

Monday, March 24, 2008

season recap

Well, I'm still getting over our 2nd round exit from the tournament, but at least I was more emotionally prepared for it this year. After last year's debacle and our showing against Belmont, I wasn't surprised that we fell to W. Virginia. Plus, finding out that half our team had the flu made it easier to accept.

Coming into the season, we all knew that we had no real post presence and would struggle at times. Still, we had a remarkable run through the first 2/3 of our schedule, knocking off some really good teams like Wisconsin, Marquette, and Davidson. Not only that, we split with UNC in a year that they were vastly superior to us, talent-wise.

Of course, it's hard to end the season like we did - losing at home on senior night to the Heels, then leaving both the ACC and NCAA tourneys early. But overall, it was still a fun team to watch. I think we probably got the most out of our roster this year, and we were clearly better than last year. Once the NCAA starts, anything can happen to anyone. We weren't the only 2 seed that struggled - Georgetown lost to a 10 seed and Tennessee could have easily lost their game. Even UCLA could have lost in the 2nd round. Only UNC seems to be truly dominating, a bit of a sore spot for Duke fans, I know.

For me, I can accept the season we had. The hard part is looking to the future of the program. I don't see us getting much better next year barring some unforeseen events. Losing only one player and returning a lot of good players will help. And our 2 recruits seem solid, but I don't know if we have the really special player(s) that we need to return to the glory days. Where are the Grant Hills and Jason Williams and Carlos Boozers? I know we won't get most of the Mayos and Beasleys out there, but we used to be able to find those rare guys that were good students and also very smart and athletic ballers. I don't know. Maybe Singler or Gerald will develop into special players, but most of our guys seem to have fatal flaws in their game. Demarcus was a great Dukie - committed, athletic, well-mannered, but he never developed a consistent stroke, a must for a 6-4 guard. And Scheyer and Paulus are McDonald's AAs and good players, but they'll never be the superior athletes that they have to guard all the time.

Maybe it's just all a cycle and we have to be patient. We have certainly been spoiled over the years as Duke fans, but I can't help wonder when and if we'll ever return to being a perennial powerhouse. UNC's doing a good job of it right now. How the heck do you get a guy like Psycho-T who wants to play for 4 years? He's the kind of guy we need to start finding again.

Sorry this is so long, y'all. I just needed to get it all of my chest.
Go UCLA! Go Davidson! Go Texas!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Good Read for DUKE Fans

I'm ashamed to admit it, but this article was written for me. Yes, I have been complaining bitterly all month about our team. I needed this slap in the face.

http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/articles/?p=24637

Monday, March 17, 2008

NCAA Chatter

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the way the bracket shook out. Duke actually has a decent chance to reach the Elite 8, where beating UCLA would be quite the feat, although it's possible. I know UCLA has a great big man in Love, but they really struggle to score at times, esp. from the perimeter.

And since our Devils probably won't win the whole thing, I'm glad that UNC has a pretty tough road to the title. Getting through Indiana, ND/Wazzu, then Louisville/TN will be a challenge.

As for how our team actually looks right now, I'd say that we're in much better shape than last year. We're fairly healthy, most of our players have improved considerably from a year ago, and we're pretty deep. Of course, the biggest key will be our 3-point shooting. We can't really afford to have a cold night once we start seeing the better teams.

Personnel-wise, Zoubek has definitely improved, but he still hurts us more than he helps. He has hands of stone and can't move his feet for the life of him. The best thing he does for us is gives us a few minutes and fouls to protect Singler from all the banging down low. And as I've said all year long, we're better off with Mcclure playing as an undersized big. At least he's active and quick and smart.

I'm not too worried about Singler. I think he'll get his legs back under him with a few days off and perform well. I do wish we had worked Nolan Smith into a bigger role, though. We're going to really need him to stop quick point guards like Lavender and Collison. Paulus is tough-minded and a competitor, but he can't stop people.

Well, hope everyone enjoys the tournament. It's probably my favorite 3 weeks of the sports year. And by the way, if anyone wants to join a pool, I'm running one for $5/entry on espn.com under group name brianpaik, password duke, and Eric is running his free one under NC Connection, password bracket.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Seattle Trip

Joyce and I enjoyed a wonderful weekend alone in Seattle. We figured it would be our last chance to go anywhere alone for a while. So Josh stayed with grandma while we ate our way through Seattle.
I seriously think Joyce stopped at every bakery we saw. At least she's eating for two. :)

This was one of only 2 pics I got to take because we broke our camera. At least we have a funny story to go along with it. While Joyce was posing near the fresh fish stand at Pike Market, one of the workers moved a monkfish that had been tied to a string. Joyce jumped, screamed, and grabbed me so hard that our camera went flying. Never had a chance.

By the way, Gary is alive and well as you can see. It seems the Pacific Northwest agrees with their family. Thanks for breakfast, Gary!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Madness!

I wasn't really surprised by our loss to the Heels last Saturday. At full-strength, it's hard to argue that we're better than UNC. But I am encouraged by our play in the 2nd half. I came away thinking that we can play with anyone, even teams with strong post players. Zoubek is even starting to look like a decent player.

Were it not for a horrendous shooting display in the 1st half and Demarcus's worst game of the year, I think we would have won the game. I hope we get another crack at UNC in the ACC tourney, not just because I know we can beat them, but because it makes us better/more prepared for the NCAA.

As for seeding and regions, I don't really think it matters too much anymore. I don't even know who would be easier or harder to beat. We just have to play our best game every game in the tourney. We can beat anyone. Almost anyone can beat us. But at least, we have the potential to make a run. We'll see how it all unfolds.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thoughts on NCAA seeding

As the tourney approaches, I'm beginning to think that it's really not that important to get a #1 seed. There's probably 6-7 teams in the running for #1 seeds - Duke, UNC, UCLA, Kansas, TX, TN, and Memphis. I think what's really important for us is getting favorable matchups. We really don't want to face athletic teams with a low-post scoring threat. The worst matchup for us would probably be UCLA, then Kansas. We can't face UNC in the regionals, thanks God. Even if we were a 1-seed, it would be tough if we had to face teams like this.
On the other hand, being a 2-seed wouldn't be so bad if we drew a team like TN or TX. I think we can match up with certain teams that look and play like us, more guard-oriented teams.
Of course being a 1-seed, staying in NC, and drawing a really weak 2-seed would be ideal. But the 1-seed with a bad draw might be worse than a 2-seed in a easier region. Besides, we've failed to take advantage of 1-seeds plenty of times lately.

Is that confusing enough for everyone?

Josh has started his training to earn an athletic scholarship to Duke. I don't see how he can go there otherwise. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hopes and Expectations

The loss to Wake shouldn't be too much of a surprise to anyone. It's been obvious for a while that we have certain glaring weaknesses on this year's team. Unfortunately, they all seemed to merge in this particular game. An off-shooting night, esp. from the free throw line by DeMarcus, lack of interior size, and inability to stop quick, athletic guards are the Achilles' heel of this team. And I also think Zoubek is a huge liability. Who cares if he's 7 ft? He can't play.

Of course, sooner or later, we'll have to play a team similar to Wake in the tournament, and we'll likely struggle. While I still think we have a chance to beat anyone on a given night, it's highly unlikely that we'll be able to reel off 6 in a row and claim the title.

Having admitted as much, I think my hopes for the season are now to just beat Carolina at home and win the ACC regular season crown. Anything more would be gravy. If we do manage to beat UNC at home, it'll probably give us the #1 East seed and the best possible road to the Final Four. And it will give UNC a pretty tough road in the NCAAs. And then we'll just see what happens.

Last thoughts - keep Zoubek planted on the bench and play Smith more. He's clearly our best PG. Paulus is basically a SG now.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Prayer

I couldn't help but notice what Betty said about prayer and its impact on her life in her blog. That was really encouraging, Betty.

I just happened to finish reading this book on the subject of prayer. It didn't necessarily answer all my questions about prayer, but it was a pretty good discussion about the topic.

One of the main points I took from the book was how prayer can really change us, not necessarily our circumstances. I won't give away the whole book, but check it out if you're looking for a good book on prayer.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Duke-Carolina!!!

I never thought we would be up on UNC in the ACC standings or national rankings coming into this game, but what a pleasant surprise this team has been so far.
I did anticipate better overall team play than last year. And I knew our freshmen could all play. But I've been surprised by our ability to fight bigger, athletic teams. And Paulus has been really locked in the past few games.
Our depth and balance have been key as well. In the games when we've lost DeMarcus or Singler's in foul trouble, we don't seem to lose much going to our bench. We're legitimately 9 deep.
I am concerned about a few things, however. DeMarcus and Gerald are bricking too many free throws, and considering how often they get to the line, this could come back to haunt us. And I still don't know if we can handle a legit post man like Kevin Love or Hibbert or even Psycho-T. I guess we'll find out this Wednesday. I don't know how bad his ankle is, but I sure wouldn't mind if Lawson missed this game. I would love nothing more than to grab the 1 seed in the East and send UNC to another region to deal with UCLA or Kansas.
Game on!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

more b-ball thoughts


Saturday was one of those rare, precious days when my 2 favorite teams both won - Duke and whoever's playing Carolina. :) And I know it doesn't really matter much right now, but it sure is nice to see Duke ranked higher than UNC for a change. I readily admit that we aren't as talented as UNC or about 10 other schools for that matter. And I know we shouldn't even be considered a favorite for the final 4.
But we sure are playing well as a team. Obviously, we're getting killed on the boards by bigger, physical teams. But we seem to make up for it with defense, hustle, and smart play. Coach K is really getting the most out of his roster this year. I do think that our best lineup has McClure playing center, allowing Singler to play PF. And Singler reminds of Laettner in some ways. Smart, well-rounded, nice shot. He presents a difficult matchup for a lot of teams. Plus, he's gaining confidence.
As for UNC, what's up?! This team seems to have all the pieces - a great PG, a great SG, a great C, depth, athletes, etc. Is it the coaching? I know Roy won a title a few years ago, but is he really a great coach? Shouldn't he have won at least one title at Kansas? At the least, he's a great recruiter. UNC seems to be signing players left and right lately.
What do y'all think?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cruise Review

Hey everyone!
I just wanted to recap our little 3-day cruise that we went on. We rode the Carnival Paradise out of Long Beach to Ensenada(Mexico) and back. Unfortunately, we picked the stormiest weekend of the past year to go. The first couple days out at sea were pretty rocky. Joyce got really seasick. I could feel it, but never got sick.

Well, as you would expect, there was non-stop eating. As soon as we boarded the ship(around 2PM) there was a buffet waiting for us. There was a 24 hour pizzeria, fancy restaurants, buffets, grills, anything you can imagine. And despite hitting the gym each day on board, I'm sure we both put on a few pounds.
There were jacuzzis, pools, mini-golf, a casino, shopping, live shows, and several nightclubs. Poor Josh wanted to jump into every pool and jacuzzi he saw, but it was too cold. I did try the slide once, but had to run straight into the jacuzzi after hitting the water.

I also played poker one night, winning enough money to cover all our tips. :)

Josh loved seeing the ocean and the birds. We pretty much had a great view whenever we ate. Josh was always pressing up against the windows or trying to run for the doors. :)

Our room was small but had everything we needed. Our stewards were so nice and even helped tape up a bedsheet so that Josh couldn't see us from his crib. We're used to sleeping in our own rooms at home, so we figured we had to create the illusion of separate spaces. At night, we would basically put him down, wait outside the room until he was asleep, and then go eat a nice dinner in the formal restaurant. Are we horrible parents for leaving him alone in the room?
We got the idea from other parents who also did the same thing. We figured once he's asleep, he's pretty much out until the morning.

The dinners were amazing, lobster, steaks, fancy appetizers that I couldn't even spell. For $200/person the food alone was worth the price of the trip. The buffet food was hit and miss, but I did enjoy the frozen yogurt about 5 times a day. And Joyce couldn't stay away from the hot pizza for more than a couple hours.

All in all, it was a fun time. I have to scratch my travel itch every once in a while and it was Joyce and Josh's first cruise. We'll probably go again with our parents in a couple years. It'll really be sweet once the kids are old enough for kids' club(starts at 2yo).
Well, sorry it ran a little long. Just thought it might be helpful for anyone else thinking about a family cruise.









Sunday, December 30, 2007

X-mas in Northern Virginia

Here are some Christmas pics of the Parks - Rachel is 6 now and Samuel is 2 1/2. (Sorry, although I am Asian, I've messed up the whole text/picure layout.)

You can see that little Samuel is quite the stylish fellow sporting his sweater/turtleneck combo. 80's in December?Brian, you should know better than to tease the rest of us suffering through a cold winter! Man, I miss Southern California!



Joyce, you look fabulous! You should model for Fit Pregnancy magazine, or something. I think Joyce looks more fit pregnant than me! Again, congrats to Baby Girl Paik - it'll be nice for Josh to have a little sister to protect.
It's nice seeing all these nice postings with all these pics of some good-looking kids - thank God that they don't look like their parents!
Although I realize that most bloggers are Dukies, let's try to keep the B-ball postings to less than 10 paragraphs - please, the ACC regular season hasn't even started yet - let's not get too excited too fast. I know last season was pretty miserable for the Dukies, and the team does look good - BUT come on, wait until Feb/March or so before we all get too wound up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

X-mas in SoCal

Well, the Paiks got ourselves bikes for X-mas this year. And thanks to the nice weather, we were able to ride this week. It must have gotten up to 80 degrees.
Plenty of homes for sale in our neighborhod, y'all. :)

Josh likes to put his feet up. Might be time for a mini-lazyboy.

bloodying tyler's nose...




yes... if i was a duke fan and had to endure many many images such as this, since tyler's freshman year, i too would be bitter... :)

BTW... the pic of the asian kid in the OSU uniform is pascal rhee. as you know rich and i have the unique relationship of being rivals of college football and basketball... the "bet" we had on football was that winner would the loser's kids clothing. the loser would have to dress their kid up and take a digital pic of them.... hence........ the picture of pascal in an ohio state uniform.. :)

needless to say, it has been good 7 yrs to be a buckeye......... :)

i'll post more later... :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Duke bball: thoughts on non-conf play

I entered the college basketball season with fairly high hopes and our team so far has not disapppointed me. There's a lot to like, in particular, the shooting, the depth, and the defense. I think Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler can become big time players, and even our fifth, sixth, and seventh best players are huge offensive weapons. I absolutely love the depth on this team as we can go ten deep. Significant injuires, which almost always must be dealt with mid-season, should not affect this team too much. If Paulus goes down, we don't lose much (if anything) with Nolan Smith. If Gerald or DeMarcus goes down, we don't lose much with Scheyer. The only real injury possibility that worries me is Singler as he is probably irreplaceable. With so much depth, I am disappointed that Coach K has not committed to going ten deep (like he did earlier in the season) and play everyone between 15-25 minutes. I think with our second team so talented (in effect, not losing that much offensively), we should be applying full court pressure and really wear down teams that only use seven or eight players. Coach K has a tendency to fall in love with a seven man rotation and give it huge minutes. I think with this team, that is a mistake.

Our non-conference play so far has been pretty strong. In addition to the cupcakes we usually play early, we have quality wins over New Mexico St., Illinois, Marquette, Davidson, Wisconsin, and Albany (all were NCAA qualifying teams last year). I thought Pitt would be not only a huge test for us, but would reveal a lot in terms of how good we are or can be this year. Overall, I would say our first half play was good (though probably it was more that Pitt's offense was just horrible) and that the second half exposed our weaknesses and in the end, we could not secure the win. I'm not overly upset as Pitt is a very, very good team and I'd rather have a loss early than go 15-0 and foster some unrealistic expectations for a team that is very good but not quite in the top tier.

The biggest shortcomings of this team are: size/rebounding, poor free throw shooting, and the tendencies of both DeMarcus and Gerald to play too much 1-on-1 down the stretch in close games and to hoist up some very low % shots. Granted they were both able to make a few, including Gerald's fadeaway turnaround jumper from the corner at the end of regulation (I think Eric Lim would agree with me that that shot was very Kobe-esque) or DeMarcus' reverse lay-up in OT that fouled out Blair. But honestly, were those good shots? How often do they fall? I'm thinking maybe 30-40%. Definitely not the type of shot I want deciding the game. Down the stretch and in OT, it seemed like both Gerald and DeMarcus were playing a bit too much like individuals, a tendency that we had seen glimpses of in earlier games. Don't get me wrong, I like the ball in their hands, and I absolutely love it when they slash and penetrate to get easy dunks or lay-ups. But when they penetrate and there is nothing there, I would rather they not force a low % shot. Usually when they penetrate, they draw a double team and someone should be open. If they kick it back out and we're able to move the ball around quickly to find an open perimeter shooter, I would much rather have Scheyer or Paulus or Singler squaring up for a wide open three. But overall, I think our inablitiy to keep Pitt off the offensive glass and our continuing struggles from the charity stripe cost us the game. Pitt out-rebounded us by 15 and we continue to shoot just over 50% from the line. Scheyer uncharacteristically missed one late, Singler missed one late in OT, and DeMarcus missed his usual handful from the line. If any one of those drops, we escape with a win. Rebounding, there's not a whole lot we can do to compensate for our lack of size. Against a big Wisconsin team, the size differential didn't really matter because we were shootingg so well. And I imagine that the size differential really wouldn't have mattered against Pitt if we had shot better in the second half. But in close ACC games or in the post-season against better teams, our lack of size and poor free-throw shooting may ultimately cost us.

Despite the loss at Pitt, I really like our team. They are fun to watch, they put up points, and they are team players (with the occasional tendencies of DeMarcus and Gerald to go solo). I love that Singler can finish the Albany game with only eight points but be happy on the bench at the end of the game, joking around and congratulating Scheyer on his performance. I love that Taylor King can not play at all against Marquette but be our most vocal cheerleader from the bench. I love how we have so many offensive weapons and that we also play tough D and usually keep opponents to a pretty low FG shooting %. My only wishes are that Coach K go deeper on the bench, that Taylor King loses some weight and plays better defense so he can be on the floor more (is it just me, or is that kid built like a middle linebacker and not an off-guard?), and that Brian Zoubek would develop more as a low-post presence. I think he is reasonably skilled for a 7 footer and I think developing him would be a huge asset for the stretch run and for his final two years. I also wish Coach K would focus more on recruiting big, physical post players. I would love to have Pitt's DeJuan Blair starting for us instead of Lance Thomas. We lost Patrick Patterson, a similar type player to Kentucky at the end of recruiting season in May and we already lost prized high school senior Greg Monroe, a 6-10 monster to Georgetown. We were finalists for both those guys but weren't able to close the deal. I can't really complain about recruiting as I think Coach K is the best in the biz in that dept, but I think we stockpile too many Hendersons, Scheyers, Nelsons, Kings, and Smiths who all play essentially the same position, and don't do enough to recruit the obviously more scarce skilled big men.

Anywayz, should be an exciting season. I think about 28 wins and an elite eight type of year is reasonable. And hopefully one (or more) sweet, sweet victory against Tyler Hansbrough and Carolina. I say we retire Henderson's number if he can bloody Tyler's nose one more time. Just kidding! Happy holidays everyone.

Intern


Hey guys,


one of my colleagues just wrote a book about life as a medical intern. It is our modern day version of House of God.


It should be a good read.


Check out his website sandeepjauhar.com


Hope all is well,


Joe

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thoughts on Duke-Pitt


Even though we lost the game, I was encouraged by several things I saw. We missed too many free throws, layups, and open 3s, but we were still leading for most of the game, and it took a fadeaway 3 to put us away. There were also too many silly freshman turnovers and very little interior defense/rebounding.
But I liked how we dominated the first half. I liked the big shots by Henderson, Singler, and DeMarcus near the end. Those guys didn't look timid at all.
There won't be too many nights when we miss as many free throws or threes as last night. And our freshman will get better. At least they're all talented and fairly basketball-savvy. Obviously, we need to get tougher inside, but I still like our chances against most teams, esp. come March.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

X-mas '07

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Let's see those x-mas pics, y'all. :)



Visit with Sunny

Sunny's back! Yeah!!!
So, when are the rest of you going to move out here?

it's a girl!

We just found out we're having a girl, everyone. I keep hearing it's good to have a girl b/c they're more likely to take care of you when you're older. We'll see. :)
At least we'll have one of each now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Early Season Thoughts

Not to toot my own horn, but I think my preseason predictions were pretty close. We're clearly deeper, more athletic, and have better flow as a team than last year. Singler is a polished, complete player. We don't miss McRoberts much, although rebounding can be an issue at times.
And unfortunately, I was right about Zoubek so far, too. Although he'll get some rebounds and blocks, I just cringe every time he tries to make any kind of move. I'd much rather see the team play small and run.

And while I don't think we have as much size or pure talent as a UCLA or UNC, I think we can hang with anyone and win on a given night. Team play, defense, hustle, and decision-making are so important in college sports. Plus, 3-point shooting is a great equalizer. All of these factors will play to our strengths this year.

It's been fun watching the Devils so far this year. Let's hope they keep building and improving, then peaking at the right time. Go Duke!

Any UNC thoughts out there?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Yoos and Ahns Visit

So I finally got my own little reunion out on the West coast.

From left to right are Joyce, me, Josh(15 mo), Joe, Kailar(16 mo), Ramee, Dave, Alex (4 mo), and Julie.

Kailar actually cried when Josh went to bed. He cries just like his daddy. :)

Poker, Faith, and Randomness in Life

Brian recently encouraged me to contribute to the nc-op blog, which by the way, is very fun to follow when people write. Initially, I was hesitant as I am pretty much a private person and I didn't really think there was anything worth sharing. But several weeks ago, I was watching ESPN as I usually do for a handful of hours a day and came across the World Series of Poker Main Event final table.

The WSOP Main Event is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. In my opinion, it is up there with electricity, cars, airplanes, mapquest, youtube, tivo, fantasy football... you get the point. Poker tournaments are run pretty much everyday in probably all fifty states and unless a deal is made, only one person emerges victorious. That's the beauty of tournament poker: whether it's a ten person home game tournament, a decent sized tournament in a local casino with several hundred entrants, or a major World Series of Poker or WPT tournament with a field of 500-600 of the toughest poker pros in the world, only one person emerges victorious. For everyone else, whether you are the first one out, or the dreaded bubble boy, or runner-up, when you are eliminated with that fateful river card, all your hopes and dreams are cruelly vanished. But until that time, if you are alive with even one chip, there is a certain sense of hope, that maybe this will be the tournament when all the stars align, the cards will break your way, and you will be the last entrant standing. Tournament poker has flourished in the last four years (since Chris Moneymaker splashed onto the scene) because it fosters a dream that maybe, just maybe, YOU might be the last player standing.

I've played in the Main Event the past two years and I don't think I'm overselling it when I say that there is nothing like it in the world. It is the Super Bowl of poker and ANYONE can enter. Immediately before the cards go in the air on the first day, there is tangible electricity in the air. As players are knocked out and you see the field shrink, that fantasy or dream that tournament poker fosters begins to grow. Perhaps I could be the next world champion of poker. And if you can in fact navigate your way through the largest poker field of the year, then you can try to figure out how to spend a sick amount of money. It's not quite as much as the Powerball, but it's certainly enough to live comfortably for the rest of your life. In 2006, I was able to last four days in the Main Event before busting out 286th out of a field of almost 9000. Unfortunately, Jamie Gold took home the first place prize of $12 million, not yours truly. This year, I barely lasted one level as I got all my chips into the middle with a set of jacks against a guy who had unimproved pocket aces and the winner of the massive pot who held a ten high flush. Tough beat.

The winner this year was a social worker from Temecula, California by the name of Jerry Yang. The Main Event final table was televised several weeks ago and Yang utterly ran over the table. I believe he eliminated all but one of the final table players and unlike last year, when Jamie Gold held a dizzying number of hands, I think Yang actually outplayed his opponents for the most part. Granted, if you look at Yang's poker resume, you'll see that he is a relative novice, and he did commit a number of big mistakes (though fortunately for him, his opponents made even bigger mistakes on the hands he played poorly), but all in all, he absolutely steamrolled the final table.

What I wanted to discuss was something that I saw repeatedly during the final table. It was pretty clear that Yang is a devout Christian and his convictions came across on television. I actually saw the final table live on pay-per-view back in July and Yang not only prayed during hands but it seemed like he was speaking tongues while waiting for the turn and river cards in key pots. Now, I don't have a problem with faith and hoping for the best possible outcome, but Yang's convictions were unique and thought-provoking. He actually thought that it was God's will for him to win the main event. In the middle of an all-in hand, he even said something along the lines of, "Lord, I know that you have a purpose for me in this tournament; so please, let me win this one."

Now, I may be over-stating this a bit, but it was clear throughout the final table that Yang sincerely believed that God was on his side. Watching all this unfold, I was intrigued. I thought, man, this guy Yang really believes that God is on his side and conversely that God is not on the other nine players' side. While his play was certainly aggressive right from the start and he benefited by making his opponents uncomfortably play huge pots against him, I thought that if Kravchenko or Lam or Watkinson got ahold of some chips, he wouldn't be able to overcome their experience and superior play. But in the end, Yang emerged as the victor. Without a doubt in my mind, he believed that God had anointed him to win the 2007 WSOP Main Event. While this is certainly possible, I am of the opinion that the Main Event developed totally randomly, just like I believe that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series randomly (meaning without God's intervention). It is possible that God interacts in a more hands-on way (I'm referring specifically to sporting events and other competitions), but I am skeptical. I think that it is much more likely that every hand that was dealt in the Main Event was totally random and that every player in the hand had decisions to make and that the results developed without God's intervention. Decisions were made, outcomes dealt with, and most players tried to learn from their experiences. Yang obviously felt very differently about his experience.

This exploration of God's interaction with human activity is something that I think about often. I know that a lot of people, Christians especially, believe that everything happens for a reason. I don't necessarily share this sentiment. I am a big believer in the randomness of life: the recent fires in Southern California, Hurricane Katrina, the fatal earthquakes in India (2001), the outcome of Super Bowls, World Series, Final Fours, and the Main Event of the World Series of Poker are totally random. I believe that it's a part of the human experience to actively participate in life's events and to learn from them. I think that trying to discern God's specific will in human activity is sort of over-reaching.

I hope you don't think I have a negative opinion of Jerry Yang. I'm actually happy that he won as he seems to be a very, very genuine and humble person. He has pledged 10% of his winnings to three charities and I think he will do a lot of good with the Main Event winnings and title. I thought he was very, very lucky to win the Main Event (but no more so than previous winners like Varkonyi, Moneymaker, Raymer, and Gold) but most significantly, I thought his perspective on God's will regarding Yang and the outcome of the Main Event was very, very interesting and thought-provoking.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sequioa trip


Hey guys,
Here are a few pics from our trip to Sequoia Nat'l Park this past weekend. It was really fun and relaxing, exactly what we needed.
And an extra pic from Halloween. :)

















Beachwalk Recap

Hey y'all. We just wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the Beachwalk. Your generosity helped us surpass our personal goal of $1500, and the clinic as a whole raised 82K. It was a beautiful day, a great event, and a fun time!

If anyone still wants to contribute, you can do so at http://www.tccbeachwalk.kintera.org

Thanks again!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Duke Basketball Preview

http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/articles/?p=23661

This is a nice season preview, but I wanted to add my own thoughts and start the discussion. :)

First off, although it pains me to admit that Carolina is probably better than Duke starting off this season, there is a silver lining to being ranked #11 while UNC is #1. It'll be that much sweeter if and when UNC falters somewhere in the NCAA tournament and also if we can knock them off the #1 ranking during the season. There's something more fun about being a relative underdog. Let UNC and their fans deal with the pressure and weight of expectation.

As for our team, I think we'll actually be quite a bit better than last year, maybe even capable of a final 4 run. Paulus is healthier starting off the season and showed some flashes last year. I still think he's going to end up being an excellent point guard. He has good vision, a nice stroke, and toughness. Henderson and Scheyer will only improve. And our freshmen are all nice additions. We'll miss McRoberts rebounding and size, but I think our offensive flow will improve without him. Too often, we would look to him to score or create in the half-court sets, and it was just awkward.
I don't Zoubek is really the answer at center, but I think we can go with 3 guards and 2 big forwards most of the time. Besides, how many really good centers are there in college basketball? Singler and King can play on the perimeter but still help on the boards. I think Singler in particular will be a star. He has a much better feel for the game and all-around skills than McRoberts.
One thing that will be fun to watch will be more running and better transition. We've got a lot of guys who can pressure the ball and a lot of good shooters. I'm predicting runner-up in the ACC, beating UNC at least once, and at least an Elite 8 appearance.
What do y'all think? Is anyone else excited to get this season started?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Funny picture.



It's even funnier if you think of John Malkovich's character from Rounders saying the caption.


Vote Ron Paul. If anyone wants a Ron Paul button, I'll mail you one. Brian and Joe, yours are coming with us to LA.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Beachwalk 2007







Hey everyone.
As some of you know, I work at a non-profit clinic serving uninsured and underinsured patients in LA County. Every year, we have a 5K fundraiser to raise money for the clinic. If anyone would like to donate to the cause, go to the website below and you can find my webpage.
Joyce and Josh will be walking with me this year(at least as much as Josh can walk). :)

Thanks for the support.



http://www.tccbeachwalk.kintera.org/

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm like a virus. . .


The contagious aspect, not the whole parasite thing.