23 June 2009

Living By The Numbers

The current issue of Wired Magazine (17-07) is all about the importance of data collection.  Data collection is a great way to measure progress.  A major step to personal finance is finding out what you spend where.  Most homes have a scale in them.  This tool is wasted space unless you are tracking what you weigh.  My father works in Excel and Access all day.  It is not the numbers that make the difference.  It is and has always been the data.  But not just the data, the analysis of the data. Knowing what the numbers are telling you.

Knowing you weigh 200 lbs is meaningless unless you can analyze the data.  Basketball players at 200 lbs are usually skinny considering there are a number of 7 foot tall players.  Football linemen weighing 200 lbs don’t get drafted.  A 200 lb 4 year old likely has a medical condition.  Using that 200 lbs to get your Body Mass Index is much more useful.

One article in the magazine talks about cyclist Kristin Armstrong’s use of data to train for the Olympics and help earn the gold medal.  Another talks about why Weight Watchers works.  There is one on the Nike+ running system.  You can learn the principles that make Volumetrics work.  One data analysis tool i have been using for a while is The Daily Plate.  They were bought by LiveStrong.  You can track your food consumption, weight, exercise, body measurements and more.  I also use it to save recipes.  The power to the site is not in tracking but the analysis it will do of your data and the social interaction with others on the site.

 

What do you think?  What data do you track?

01 June 2009

NBA Finals

LA Lakers vs Orlando Magic.  Lakers in 4.  Why?  Because i’ve always been a Laker fan.  Beyond that they made this their goal all year.  One of the “Most Valuable Puppets” commercials has puppet Kobe looking for his “3 championship rings”.  He tells puppet LeBron that you have to be hungry.  That is what the Lakers are.  Hungry.

After being decimated last year by Boston the Lakers have been on a mission.  Sasha would not wear green.  Kobe no longer had to be the star.  Sure he still wants it.  But the ring is more important.  LA has multiple big men.  None will match up to Howard.  But there are 2 of them.  Who can match the one not guarding Howard.  So Howard has to guard 2 big men.  Denver had trouble in game 5 doubling on Pau.  Howard won’t be able to contain Bynum, Odom, and Gasol by himself.  Orlando has good outside presence.  LA has to keep them from rolling in 3’s to win.

In game 4 of the WCF something turned on for LA.  They could smell the trophy.  They were struggling with Denver until they realized the championship was in their grasp.  If you watched the presentation of the trophy for winning the West; it was a chore.  None of the Lakers cared about that.  Last year they were glad to make it to the Finals.  This year getting to the finals is just another task on their campaign.

29 May 2009

Card Game Review : Fluxx

To accompany Hard Work = Money’s Reduce Gaming Costs i am highlighting some of my favorite games.  Today’s game is Fluxx by Looney Labs.  The game of ever changing rules.  The changing nature can make this a hard game to describe.  Watch a round and it is fairly easy to pick up.  My first Fluxx box described the game this way. “FLUXX: A Perfectly Simple Game for 2-6 Players”  The game is simple in a way.  It takes about as long as a hand of Uno to play.

This game was recommended to my by someone that had never even played it.  I went to a game shop and said i was looking for a new game.  The guy working suggested this game because people were buying it in German if English was out of stock and were coming into the store just to ask for this game.  They had had it about 2 months and he knew people loved it.

How to play the game

This is much easier to show.  The rules in the box even tell you to jump right in.  At first the game had 5 card types.

  • Basic Rules – The starting point of every game
  • New Rules – Change how you play the game
  • Goals – Complete these to win the game
  • Keepers – Cards that help you win
  • Actions – Things you do once.

Since i found this game in 1999 there are new card types, rules, decks, etc

  • Ungoals – Complete these and everyone loses
  • Meta rules – Mix between a Basic Rule and New Rule
  • Creepers – Undesirable cards that make it harder to win

Basic Strategy

The box used to tell you how to win. “The goal of the game? Oh, I’m terribly sorry. No one has played one yet.”  The best way to win this game is figure out how to change the goal and complete the new goal.  Some parts to the game have no strategy.  In Monty Python Fluxx The Outrageous Accent can be used to get you extra cards or to annoy others.  Paired with I Just Want To Sing and sing in that outrageous accent.  So how do you strategize?  With luck. Or skill.  The game is a blast to play.

Expansions

Every game has expansions and this one is not any different.  There are different decks, expansion packs, promo cards, wooden boxes, flowers, blank cards and who knows what else will come in the future.  There is even one card that is only valid if signed by the games creator.  I recommend not trying to get everything for this game.  If you get all the decks, expansions, and everything else there will just be too much.  Games will take too long and people will get bored.  To start you need one deck is all.  I recommend 4.0, Zombie or Monty Python. Not all card types are in every version and by version 4.1 the rules will likely have changed again.

Why i love this game

The rules change.  There is a Monty Python version.  Zombies.  Martians coming soon.  One version is called Stoner Fluxx.  Family Fluxx or Eco Fluxx might be more your style.  The game is simple enough that my nieces and nephews like to play.  It has enough variations that it changes frequently.  Inside all the silliness there is some actual strategy to win.  It is by a company called Looney Labs.  If you do buy everything keep the playing deck to 100-200 cards.

27 May 2009

Board Game Review : Last Night on Earth

To accompany Hard Work = Money’s Reduce Gaming Costs i am highlighting some of my favorite games.  The first game is “Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game” by Flying Frog Productions.  This game has been described to my as a board game for board game players.  I tell people the game is Clue with Zombies where you are trying to survive.  It takes about an hour to play a game.  According to Flying Frog

Last Night on Earth, The Zombie Game is a fast-paced game of brain-eating Zombies, small town Heroes, and horror movie action. Players take on the role of either the Heroes, working together to make it through the night; or the Zombies, unending waves of undead spreading over the town like a plague. Featuring a modular board, eight Heroes to choose from, and several different Scenarios to play that drastically change the game, Last Night on Earth is designed to create a cinematic feel as the story and game unfolds.”

How the game works

This game is designed with a “modular board” that has 1440 different board layouts.  First you randomly create or select the board layout and the mission for this game.  Then you determine who is going to be a zombie and who are heroes.  You can play with 2-6 players and i recommend 3+.  Each round has the zombies move and attack then the heroes move and attack.  You have different strategies depending if you are on the Zombie or Hero team.

Basic Strategy

If you are playing as a hero the strategy is complete the mission.  Missions include survive, save townsfolk, kill x zombies, get out of town.  Complete the mission and the Hero team wins.  The mission determines if you want to run and hide, fight, or search the town.  As a Zombie you are trying to stop the heroes.  Winning usually includes kill x heroes or stop the heroes from completing their mission.  On either team the cards you get to play can change the game in your favor.

Expansion Packs

Most games will try to make extra money by creating different versions (Risk, Monopoly, Scene It) or by creating expansion packs.  This game has expansions.  There are 3 expansions so far.  Two are additional missions with additional cards.  There is the Growing Hunger expansion with additional cards, board game pieces and characters.  There is a second expansion pack coming out soon as well.

Why i love this game

It has zombies.  This might be enough for some.  I like how every game plays different.  You can be a Zombie or a Hero.  It actually comes with 16 dice so there will be enough to play the game.  The game comes with an original soundtrack on CD.  There are fan scenarios and character that can expand your game.  The game was well planned and designed making it fun to play.

20 May 2009

19 May 2009

Conference Finals

The Conference Final are finally here.  A long way coming.  The Cavs vs the Magic and the Lakers vs the Nuggets.  The Magic are finally coming together.  They had a hard fought series vs the Celtics.  They are better for the battle.  The Cavs have not had any competition in getting here.  They won’t have much competition with the Magic.  They Cavs in 5.  The Magic will not pull a win in Cleveland.  The Cavs will win one in Olrando and finish them off at home.

The Lakers have not shown up to some games vs Houston.  Denver with their big wins will come looking for blood.  The Lakers and Phil Jackson know the importance of the Conference Finals.  Phil has a Conference Finals record of 11-1.  The Lakers will move on after a hard fought semifinal round.  After their last round the Lakers will look to make a statement early.  Lakers in 5 but a much harder 5 games then the Cavs.

03 May 2009

Conference Semifinals

Round one is done and round two mach-ups are set.  We have the Los Angeles Lakers vs the Houston Rockets; Dallas Mavericks vs Denver Nuggets; Atlanta Hawks vs Cleveland Cavaliers; and the Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics.  My predictions are Lakers over Rockets in 5 games; Nuggets over Mavericks in 5 games; Cavaliers over Hawks in 5 games; and Magic over Boston in 6 games.

Boston will be tired after their long battle with the Bulls.  This will give the Magic a win in Boston.  The Cavaliers are too much for Atlanta.  They are rested and were already better than their competition.  Denver is energized off their destruction of New Orleans.  They will come out hot and fast.

This only leaves the Lakers vs Rockets.  The Lakers have 3 match-ups to worry about.  Yao Ming will face Bynum, Odom, and Gasol.  Yao will be too much for Bynum.  The Lakers will switch that matchup to Gasol or Odom.  With 3 defenders to face, You will tire.  Bryant will face Battier or Artest.  In either match-up Bryant is the superior player.  Battier can’t compete with Bryant so Artest will face him.   This will leave Battier to face Fisher / Brown.  Battier will outplay Fisher.  He is skilled and experienced but Battier has the energy and speed to out play him.  As Shannon Brown comes in he will give a new look against Battier.  This will give Brown the advantage until Battier adjusts.  Advantage goes to Battier.  Over all the Lakers are still too much for Houston.

27 April 2009

Return to the Ultimate Fields

Saturday marked the first time for a game of pickup Ultimate this year.  The first game back can be bittersweet.  Not having played any outdoor ultimate since Thanksgiving’s Turkey Bowl makes the ultimate muscles soft.  Sure i participated in an indoor winter league.  Indoor ultimate muscles seemed to mach basketball muscles.  So like the start of every year of ultimate the first day back is slow and winded.  I see this as a good thing.  This is how i know i’m playing hard.

15 April 2009

NBA Postseason

The NBA postseason is finally here. This is the real season now. Not to say that the regular season is meaningless. Just that the regular season is now meaningless. The match-ups are set. In the West are the Lakers(1) vs the Jazz(8); Denver(2) vs New Orleans(7); San Antonio(3) vs Dallas(6); Portland(4) vs Houston(5). The East has Cleveland(1) vs Detroit(8); Boston(2) vs Chicago(7); Orlando(3) vs Philadelphia(6); and Atlanta(4) vs Miami(5).

Being a Lakers fan for life (i was born in southern California) i'm taking the Lakers over the Jazz. I've lived in Utah but never cared for the Jazz. I even went to a few Jazz games and like them even less. I heard a great Jazz chant "Boozer is a loser and Kirilenko's gay". To give an objective analysis they have the best player in the game in Kobe Bryant. Andrew Bynum is back. Pau Gasol is better than anyone the Jazz can match against him. Lamar Odom coming off the bench vastly improves the Lakers already good depth chart. And Derek Fisher knows this game extremely well. The Jazz have Williams that will outplay Ariza. Beyond that they are outmatched. Lakers in 4.

So what about the other games. I have Potland in 4, Dallas in 5, and Denver in 6 moving on. In the East i'll be watching the Orlando, Boston, Cleveland series. I'm also taking Atlanta over Miami in 5. I want a short Orlando series and long 7 game Boston and Cleveland series but expect Orlando in 5, Boston in 6 and Cleveland in 4. For the second round series come back later.

02 April 2009

Indoor Ultimate Winter League

Getting married, moving to a new city, and winter put a damper on playing Ultimate. Two months ago i found an indoor ultimate league. I had never played indoor ultimate before so i did not know what to expect. I ended up on the Red team. The 4 teams were Red, Blue, Black, and Green. Our 1st game was to be against the Blue team. After 6 weeks with one bye week we ended the season with a record of 3-1-1. We beat Green twice, Blue once, Tied Black and lost to Blue. We played well together and had a lot of fun.

There are some differences to those looking to play indoor ultimate. Since you are indoor there is no wind. You sub on the fly (hockey style). The field is smaller so the end zones are also smaller. Due to the size of the court we had we played with 4 people on the court at a time. You do more cutting, or you should do more cutting. Since there are fewer players on the court you have to hustle more. Where ultimate i often describe as similar to football in layout and soccer in play; indoor ultimate is defiantly closer in play to basketball or disc hoops. There are still no picks. From how Red played and what i saw of the other teams play there were way to many full court hucks to score in one throw. Some were successful, some were not. Having no previous indoor experience i don't know if that is common or not. All in all indoor ultimate was really fun. I think i prefer ultimate to indoor but indoor is a good variation.

31 March 2009

An Introduction

Play is hard work. To be more precise fitness is hard work. Being good at a sport is hard work. Staying in shape is hard work. This blog is my random musings on sports and fitness. What i do. How my efforts work. I am endeavoring to lose weight and decrease my percentage of body fat. Reducing the body fat percentage is the more important of the two goals. I have had little accountability in my efforts and this is one attempt to change that.

To start off i am only a few years removed from college. My graduating year i was one of two captains of the Men's Ultimate team. Like most Ultimate teams we were not recognized by the school but the governing body of Ultimate (the UPA) did not care and would recognize us as the team from said school. I now live somewhere with limited opportunities to play ultimate. The main consistent group plays during church. I have taken to playing basketball twice a week and this has helped stop my health and fitness free fall. The goal now is to start improving.