Thursday, April 22, 2021

Obligatory political post

    Wanted to vent a few things about our current political climate and the rise of "woke" and "cancel" culture.  So be warned you may not agree with my opinion and that fine.  I value diversity of thought and others opinions on matters.  If we all thought the same we would be robots and life would be dull.  Anyways, onto my soap box.

    The way the media in this country and others are so quick to immediately brand people as racists in this country needs to stop.  Yes Derek Chauvin was a terrible cop and his actions were reprehensible that day he arrested George Floyd.  I think the verdict was correct in the jury finding him guilty.  He will get a chance to appeal just like every citizen has but I believe the charges will stand.  The main question to me here is were his actions overtly racist or just inept?  Would he have acted the same way had George Floyd been another color? Ultimately it doesn't matter.  A life has been lost.  It's a tragedy.  The only person that can answer the racist question is Derek Chauvin himself.  Even then, many will not accept his answer and have already made up their mind that he is a racist.  In my nearly 40 years alive on this planet, I feel that the racial divide in America is as far apart now as I have ever witnessed it.  I wasn't alive in the Jim Crow days in the South and am sure it was much worse then.  But if you just turn on CNN or listen to elected officials in Washington talk, you would think that Jim Crow is alive and well today.

   To be clear, I am not denying the existence of racism today.  There are racist people today just as there were in the past.  I think there will always be people with hate in their heart that discriminate against people who are different than them.  No matter if its race, religion, sexuality, etc.  The difference is our culture has changed such that these people are more demonized now then ever before in our county's history.  This is a good thing.  But to have the media and other leaders automatically assign "racism" as the root cause of everything in society is not helping.

   In fact the very same day of the Chauvin trial verdict, there was an incident in Columbus Ohio where an officer killed a black female.  Many people were quick to jump on the "racism" train again here without bothering to learn about the "facts".  The facts were that she had a knife in her hand and was attacking another black female.  We can discuss police reform and taser use etc.  But to assign "racism" as a cause is ridiculous.  They saved the other girl who was black from being stabbed.  I feel for the girl's family, but cops have to make these types of in the moment decisions frequently.  I'm sure if the cop had just stayed back and did nothing and the other girl died from being stabbed, they would be angry that they had not taken any action.

   I think as a whole, our country needs to just take a deep breath and not be so quick to assign blame and judge others.  This may sound hopelessly idealistic but I do think change may come.  Living in "cancel culture" is not possible.  Its only a matter of time before cancel culture will come for you on some mistake that you make.  None of us are perfect humans.  We must have hearts of forgiveness.  Otherwise our differences will continue to divide us and we all will become more bitter.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Good friends and Mental Health

 Friendship is a funny thing at times.  All of us through our lives have met hundreds or more people.  Sometimes they develop into friendships, other times that don't.  I definitely have more people that I have fallen out of touch with who were friends at one period of time of my life and I am sure this is very common.

Some things like social media are there to help you "reconnect" with these people should you ever choose to.  My personal opinion is that social media is toxic but I can't deny there is still some semblance of good about it.

Platonic friendship is defined as a type of love that is not sexual. It is named after the Greek philosopher Plato though he never actually used the word himself.  Platonic love as devised by Plato concerns rising through levels of closeness to wisdom and true beauty from carnal attraction to individual bodies to attraction to souls, and eventually, union with the truth.  (I may or may not have ripped those last sentences from Wikipedia lol)

Anyways, I feel platonic love like sisterhood and brotherhood is becoming more and more rare these days.  Drama usually ensues where 1 or sometimes both parties are at fault and they just cut ties and move on.  I'm very fortunate that I still have close friends that I have kept in contact with for decades.  Even though disagreements arise from time to time over things, the bottom line is that because our friendship has been going on for so long, we both realize that these are just trivial things.  We don't just stop talking to each other. Or if we do, maybe just a day or so.

This isn't meant to be a brag.  I feel extremely fortunate to be in this situation.  In fact, the opposite side of this is by far more common.  I feel like most people maybe have 1 or 2 really close friends that they discuss their life with, excluding family of course.

The crazy thing about all of this is the depression has robbed me of this before for a period of time.  I would isolate myself and by doing so, friends most likely either assume I am busy or they are busy themselves.  At those low moments, I feel like I am too much of a bother to contact them.  Let them live their lives, I'm insignificant.  This is clearly wrong and I recognize this now but there are several times where I did not see so clearly.

A snowball effect would emerge.  I would increasingly become more and more lonely the longer I would isolate.  Honestly if it wasn't for my parents, who knows how bad it would have got because they would be the only contact I would have with anyone other than limited stuff at work with co-workers.

One particular person has greatly helped me see this more clear. Jordan Peterson.  He's been maligned as an alt-right whack job by some but honestly, he is one of the more brilliant minds around today.  Taking out the political side and focusing on the human side of things, he is absolutely amazing.  

I know many people don't read books these days, some listen to them.  But his book the "12 rules for life" and his new sequel "Beyond Order" (Which I still haven't read yet) describe stuff like the human experience and the quest to find self worth.  I highly recommend to anyone out there interested to pick up a copy of either.  

Anyways, that's the gist of the point that I am trying to get across.  Friendship should be cherished. Take care fam.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Goals and projects

     So a lot has happened since my last post.  I may be moving soon.  Back to my childhood home in Sugar Land.  My dad has offered to gift me the house that he is currently renting out.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I do like the freedom of a house compared to an apartment.  Having my own driveway and yard.  Not worrying about loud neighbors above or next to me.  These are all good things.  But it is an older house, my commute to work will be much longer, and oddly enough it feels like kind of a step back.  When I look at this house, it reminds me of my childhood obviously.  I feel I'm at the point of my life where I want to forge my own future and start my life elsewhere.  What I probably will end up doing is staying in the house for a year or 2, and then renting or selling it and moving to my own house somewhere.  I am tired of apartment life though so I think overall I am excited for the move.  My lease doesn't expire until November at my place now so I won't me moving until end of the year or beginning of next year if I extend month to month at my apartment.

        I'm down 22 pounds since I started my diet in December.  But lately I have plateaued and even feel like I may have gained slightly.  I've gotten lazy in logging my daily calories on the app I use.  I've also had some cheat days and weekends that probably haven't helped either.  I'm hoping with the spring coming, I'll be able to add exercise and walk or jog at the park near my place.  I don't want to lose all the progress I have made.  I need to remain strong.

        I've also started a podcast with some friends of mine.  I've toyed with the idea in the past and now that its off the ground, I am very excited.  Even if no one listens, I think it will be fun just to hang out and discuss different topics.  

        My guitar playing has improved a little I think.  Currently I am focusing on power chords and switching between them easily.  Trying to learn some Nirvana songs.  It's also rekindled my interest in Kurt Cobain.  I remember watching MTV as a kid and seeing his funeral procession but not really knowing who he was.  I really didn't start listening to Nirvana until late high school like 98 or 99.  The longer its been the more interest I have in the band and in Kurt.  I got a book on my kindle written by one of his old managers that I have started reading and its pretty enlightening.

        I hope that this year will be better than 2020 with the pandemic seeming to improve slowly.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  Take care guys.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

New leadership

    It's been a minute since I last updated. Thought I would just give a few thoughts I have on the inauguration and swearing in of our new president. 

    I'll start off by saying I did not vote for Biden. Some would say that makes me a racist. I think Joe is a decent family man and person. Definitely a better person than Trump. But I'm not voting for who I think is the better person. This is probably the first election where I am voting on policy instead of whether or not I would want to have a beer with them. I've voted Obama twice also so I'm not a strict republican. I consider myself a moderate that leans right, or more of a libertarian. I do hope for the sake of the country and my family and friends, that Biden leads well. I just have many questions. For instance, the slew of executive orders he signed on his first day. Stopping the Keystone pipeline. Stopping ICE enforcement. Lifting the ban on immigration from a few countries (aka the Muslim ban). First and foremost, the immigration stuff will probably increase the spread of the pandemic. I'm all for people starting a better life but not at the expense of increasing COVID deaths here. Second, I worry about the oil and gas industry. I have many friends in the industry and Houston is known as the energy capital of the world. I worry that their industry might suffer in the short term which would potentially affect their employment. Biden also joined the Paris Climate accords again. I think its largely a symbolic move. I think Climate Change is real first of all, I just don't know how much of an effect CO2 emissions plays into it. Do we damage and restrict our industry to help the planet? If we do, what about other countries that don't? 

    Trump was far from perfect. I have many friends who loved him almost to the point of worship which I thought was ridiculous. Politicians should not be worshipped. Only God should be worshipped. Trump was also not a true politician. I still think the only reason he won was because Hillary was so corrupt and flawed. 

    I'm hoping that wasn't too political and gets me cancelled. That's another worry I have. Big tech censorship. For those who cheered Trump being suspended from Twitter, what will you do when your voice becomes censored? I'm not saying it was a bad mood necessarily, but I think it opens Pandora's box in that these big Tech companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter) have so much control over the free exchange of thoughts and ideas on their platforms. They essentially control the narrative of the country. Media I think already has a general narrative that they promote so social media has become a popular counter to it. But now even that is being restricted. I just hope Congress passes some kind of first amendment protection clause on these platforms so that speech is protected. As far as hate speech goes, I don't believe it will ever truly go away. Ban it from platforms is fine but it will just recede to the dark web and other forums. You can't completely eradicate hate speech, its a losing battle. 
    Here's to a new year and hopefully a better one than the dumpster fire that 2020 was. God bless ya'll and God bless America. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

My thoughts on COVID 19

These last few weeks have been some of the weirdest weeks I have ever experienced. A complete shutdown of local restaurants (other than pickup or drive thru), bars, clubs, sports stadiums, concerts, churches, and probably a few other things I am missing.

I'm not going to get political and talk about the governments response to the virus because that's all stuff out of my control. Instead I will mention just a few of my thoughts and concerns are during this crazy time.

First of all, I have really been thinking about those that work in the service industry. Retail, food, and other services that I can't think of at the moment. There have been massive layoffs that have affected these peoples lives no doubt. For all of those people applying to unemployment offices for aid. Hell the price of oil has even tanked and people in that industry are really hurting including a few friends of mine. Consumption of oil has dropped way down with things shut down so the price has plummeted. As sad as the medical facts are and the deaths that have occurred, we can't forget that people who are out of work and struggling to get by each day.

Now onto the medical side of things. For me, the general media narrative has shifted radically. What started out as nothing more than a "seasonal flu", its now being reported as like "Super AIDS" or something and we all need to avoid everyone and stay inside. That's obviously an exaggeration but still, these 24 hour news networks (CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC) with the constant ticker on the side showing the number of cases and deaths is really driving a lot of fear in this country. Most people that catch COVID 19 do recover, the death rate is low. But you probably wouldn't know that watching some of these networks. I'm not trying to minimize the deaths that have occurred. Each death is a travesty and we should collectively mourn as a nation. Hoping a vaccine develops soon because it looks like this virus will be a seasonal thing. Its not that easy though because clinical trials will need to be done first before any type of deployment.

The main point I am trying to get across I suppose is the delicate balance between the economy and public health that the city/state/national governments need to make decisions on. I don't envy the position of any of these people during this trying time.

As far as how I'm doing, I'm one of the few lucky ones that have been able to work remotely from home. Work has been really slow but I feel fortunate that my company did not let me go. My main challenge has been self motivation. Keeping myself busy when work is not. I've been playing my guitar a lot and got some really good practice sessions in. I have also been walking more in the park near my apartment just to get out of the apartment and get a change of scenery. I've been visiting my parents more often and that's been good too.

With that said, for anyone out there struggling either financially, physically, mentally, or all of the above. I hope that things will turn around soon, for all of us. God Bless and stay strong.

Friday, February 21, 2020

On the Astros and cheating...

I've gone through a range of emotions on this scandal with the Astros and after critically thinking about the whole situation I think I am finally ready to comment about it.

First off, it sucks. The whole thing sucks. This is the first off-season in quite a long time where I was not looking forward to the next season. Astros players are going to be targets. Players will be booed. Pitchers are going to hit them. Fans will probably throw things (probably at Yankee Stadium). It's really a no win situation for all involved. First I will comment on the report itself because I think its important to sort out the facts from conspiracies and focus on what we know.

We know that the Astros had a sign stealing scheme in place for the 2017 season and part of the 2018 season. We know that it involved the center field camera which had a signal feed fed to a monitor in the dugout or the clubhouse. We also know that once the sign was decoded, a player or Astros employee would bang on a trashcan to signify to the hitter that an off-speed pitch (curve, slider, change-up) was coming. If a fastball was signaled, no noise was made. We know that on atleast 2 occasions the manager (A.J. Hinch) destroyed the monitor out of frustration. He was unhappy with the scheme but never explicitly conveyed that to the players. We know that the GM Jeff Luhnow received a memo following the suspension of the Red Sox and Yankees that involved using Apple Watches and replay cameras and the he failed to forward it to others in the organization. We know that the primary "ringleaders" of the scheme were bench coach Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran.

I think that about covers all the facts from the report. You can read the full report here

When the news first came down, I thought about abandoning the team. The team I have cheered for as a child. All those games that I have been to and for what? In particular the joy of going to the 2 playoff games during the 2017 run, I felt cheated as a fan. Yes we won but at what cost? I consider myself a moral person and I don't believe in "cheating" of any sort. Does our title mean nothing now? Do I have to go back to just cheering for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fuck, kill me now. That team is in dire need of new leadership and a long way from even being competitive. Do I do something that I once thought was unthinkable, do I become a Texas Rangers fan? Again, fuck me.

The hardest part of the whole situation is you can't really quantify how much help the batter gets by knowing what pitch is coming. I know that these are professional athletes that have to react in a split second to a ball thrown usually 95 + mph at them, so any advantage does help. But they still have to know if its high, or low, or inside or outside. It's not a complete easy mode advantage. After reading more and reading Tony Adams's excellent work over at signstealingscandal.com, I've come to some more conclusions. (1) Not all players used the scheme and (2) The degree of effectiveness is debatable.

The biggest beneficiary of the trash can bangs seems to be Marwin Gonzalez. He had 147 bangs on 807 pitches (18.2%). He had a career year in '17. Hitting .303 with homers and 93 RBI in the regular season. However, any edge he seemed to have gained in the regular season seemed to disappear in the postseason. He hit .200/.136/.208 in the divisional, league championship, and World Series. Only had 1 home run all postseason but it was arguably the biggest hit in team history. Game 2 in the ninth with the Dodgers looking to go up 2 games to 0, his solo shot tied it and sent the game to extras where the Astros were able to win it and tie the series at 1 game apiece. Did he know what was coming? Maybe we will never know.

Jose Altuve won the 2017 MVP award edging out a rookie by the name of Aaron Judge. According to the information available, Altuve only had 24 bangs out of 886 pitches, a measley 2.7%. Let's look at his postseason numbers. .533/.320/.194 in the divisional. ALCS, and World Series. He started out red hot but tapered off in the World Series. He did have 2 home runs in the World Series but struggled overall. The Dodgers were a great team, let's not undersell them. You would expect a decline in performance when you are facing stiffer competition. Overall I would say any advantage gained by Altuve in the regular season was extremely minor. He had a terrific year. Judge can cry all he wants to about being "cheated" out of the award but I can't agree with that point of view I'm sorry. Jose Altuve is a generational talent and is an extremely great baseball player.

Lets look at 1 more player, George Springer. He had 140 bangs out of 972 pitches in the regular season for 14.4% (keep in mind these are home games, which is the only place they could use it.) He had a stellar 2017 campaign hitting .283 with 34 homeruns and 85 RBI. His postseaseon numbers were wildly streaky. He hit .412/.115/.379 in the divisional, ALCS, and World Series. That ALCS series really stands out. The Yankees seemed to have him solved and he was largely ineffective. Averaging out his numbers for that entire postseason he did well hitting .390 overall. In the World Series, he was transcendental. He won the World Series MVP that year hitting 5 home runs and 7 RBI over the 7 gamnes with a .379 average. There's no question these are great numbers. One does wonder though why he struggled so mightily in the series before. Afterall, if he was "cheating", why didn't it work in that series? Maybe he just got hot as players tend to do after being ice cold?

What I'm hoping to illustrate by these 3 examples are that any advantage gained over this method to me seems small. I can't outright claim it gave no advantage but I don't see a clear correlation to inflated numbers across the board for Astros hitters when they bat at home. With that being said, what they did was wrong and the commissioner came down with punishments. Manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were both suspended for a year with no pay and were barred from any Major League Baseball facilities. The organization lost its 2019 draft picks and was fined $5 million which is the largest allowable under the current CBA agreement. Many claim this was not enough. There had been a large outcry and big markets like NY that they should have to forfeit their title too. To me though, that just seems silly. Firstly, you can't just give it to LA. They walked off the field having just lost Game 7. Winning it now would seem weird and their players and fans wouldn't be able to adequately celebrate it. Secondly, vacating a title and just saying no winner seems even dumber. So you're telling me I didn't experience what I saw? If the year had no championship, lets just throw out everyone's stats of every team and player since it was a moot point right? You play to win the championship. With no winner, what was the point of the season? This differs from 1994 where there was no postseason due to the players going on strike to protest.

So where does this leave me? Well I'm still an Astros fan. I am saddened by decisions made by players and staff members but it wasn't me that cheated. I shouldn't have to feel remorseful for anything but yet I do because I know that it was wrong. I think over time it will be better. Right now we are the heels of MLB. I wanted to hate the Red Sox and Yankees, not become them. Ultimately it doesn't matter what I think. I'm just 1 fan. I will say that I am not quite as passionate about the team currently. Maybe that will change when the playoffs come, I don't know. I think once this core group of players grow old and move on to other teams it will be easier for me to like the team then it is at the moment. I still love Jose Altuve. If anything this just proves that good people can let you down and make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Let's play ball.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Have not updated in quite awhile.

Lots going on in my life. Looking for a new job has kept me busy. Though that is probably on hold until next year, nobody hiring for the last few months of 2019 it seems.

I've experimented with going sober for an extended time and it has gone well. I've come to the conclusion that I am "thankfully" not an alcoholic. I just need to control my spending. Keeping less credit cards on me in my wallet so I don't buy dumb shit while drunk. I will be drinking less also but won't stop all together. I need to re-commit myself to my health for 2020. Ideally would like to drop around 50-75 pounds which will not be easy.

I've also realized that I have been holding myself to a higher standard. Which is good but I have always been my worst critic and a bit of a perfectionist. I've been getting better at forgiving myself which is a huge improvement. I would spiral for days after a bad purchase and not want to leave my apartment. But this has been going better.

Still as single as a slice of cheese though but hopefully that will change shortly. I know that to have a relationship with someone I have to first love myself which I have not been doing. I'm learning to love myself more and grow my relationship with God. I have a lot of improvement that I need to do in the next few years. Wish me luck.

And of course, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.