Saturday, December 31, 2016

Closing out 2016

2016- it's a cliche that people have been saying how awful 2016 was.  A lot of famous people died, and the election was both draining and caused a lot of friction between people.  In five years, I have no idea if people will blow off 2016 as "just one of those things" or it really was a portent for a worse future.

On a personal level- we lost our cat Smokey to cancer.  She will always be missed.  We have two new kittens- Dashiell and Mystery- joining Pippen in our household.  

Dashiell (left) and Mystery


Pippen

Meanwhile, Katie and I both started working as Detectives for the Dinner Detective show in Cleveland.  It's a fantastic show with great people that I'm thrilled to be a part of.

And Sports-wise...  Cleveland won their first title since 1964.  The Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908.  I wasn't sure I'd ever see either in my lifetime.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe New Year's Eve and a wonderful 2017.  




Saturday, December 10, 2016

Conversations with Lucifer

When most people think of the devil, they picture a large red-skinned fanged demon with a pitchfork.    The balding, chunky middle-aged man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and smelling like stale coffee didn’t match the image.  And yet…

“Why are we having this conversation?”  I asked.  “I’m not selling you my soul.”  I don’t remember how we met, or how we ended up at the beverage station of some local Barnes and Noble bookstore in Ohio- just that it was May of 2015. 

“Your soul?”  Lucifer chuckled.  “Nah, nah.  You’re a middle-aged white male American engineer.  In terms of souls, you’re pretty much a blue light special at K-Mart.  Not worth the effort.”

“Umm.. thanks?”  I said.  OK, not the most brilliant of responses- but what the hel… heck SHOULD I have said.

“Besides, I’m swamped.  Got plans for David Bowie, Muhammed Ali, Prince, Alice Rickman, Florence Henderson… no time to go trolling, I’m afraid.”

I raised an eyebrow.  “Wait a second… all of those people are still alive.  You mean next year…”

He interrupted and waved his hand in front of my face.  “Ah-ah.  No telling.  In fact, after this conversation you’re going to forget everything about this.  It won’t last forever- maybe a year and a half.”

I didn’t feel any different.  Maybe he was lying.  Of course, all this just came back to me now, so…  “OK- if you’re not trolling for souls, why are we talking?” 

He grinned.  “Cause I feel like BRAGGING, son.  2016 is definitely MY YEAR!”  He punctuated the last two words by pointing at himself.  “I mean, not only do a get a plethora of riches in terms of souls in 2016.  But then the election… ah, the election…”

I sighed and rolled my eyes.  “Yeah, yeah- Clinton and Bush.  Sequels are all the rage.”

His grin was ear to ear, his eyes sparkled, and he drummed his fingers on the table.  I was reminded of playing dungeons and dragons and looking at the GM right as we walked into a trap.  “Should I be congratulating you?”  I asked.

“Probably.  And I’m feeling magnanimous.  Haven’t had a year so good planned in a long time, and I like to give back.  Getting greedy leads to a backlash, you know.”  He pointed a finger at me, “So I thought I’d throw a bone.  Pick out something to go right.”

Pause.

“A cure for cancer.”  OK- maybe not the best answer.  But I was put on the spot, and it seemed like a safe answer that wouldn’t have any backlash- don’t these type of deals ALWAYS have a backlash?

But he shook his head.  “No, no.  Nothing real important.  Nothing that has any serious impact on the world today.  Something light, fluffy… something that you can look back on 2016 on and smile about.”  This time, the grin was more malicious.  “Trust me- you’ll need it.”

Thinking over it so more.  “OK, fine.  Cubs win the World Series.”

He grimaced.  “That is one of my favorite curses.  But I suppose 108 years is long enough.  Done.”

“… and Cleveland wins a sports title.”

“Going for a two-fer, kid?”  He thought about it.  “What the hell.  I’m in a glorious mood.  Hell, I’ll even make it an epic win over a dream team- get the people in California more reason to hate 2016.”

“… and the Browns…”

“Uh-uh.”  He shook his head and wagged his finger.  “What did I say about being greedy.  In fact… that one will cost you.” 

He stretched and stood up.  I turned to pay for the hot tea.  “All right- time for me to get back to work.  Get out of here, kid.  Forget this happened.  I’ll see you again in 2063.” 


“Wait, what?”  I turned around- and his chair was empty, leaving behind a faint smell of strong coffee and brimstone.

Friday, October 21, 2016

NBA Predictions 2016-2017


Eastern Conference:
1.     Cleveland
2.     Boston
3.     Toronto
4.     Indiana
5.     Detroit
6.     Milwaukee
7.     Washington
8.     Atlanta

9.     Charlotte
10.   Philadelphia
11.   Chicago
12.   Miami
13.   New York
14.   Orlando
15.   Brooklyn


Playoffs:
•             Cleveland over Atlanta, Boston over Washington, Milwaukee over Toronto, Detroit over Indiana
•             Cleveland over Detroit, Milwaukee over Boston
•             Cleveland over Milwaukee




Western Conference:
1.     Golden State
2.     San Antonio
3.     Houston
4.     Minnesota
5.     Oklahoma City
6.     Utah
7.     Portland
8.     Memphis

9.     New Orleans
10.   LA Clippers
11.   Dallas   
12.   Denver
13.   Phoenix
14.   LA Lakers
15.   Sacramento

Playoffs:
•             Golden State over Memphis, San Antonio over Portland, Houston over Utah, Minnesota over OKC
•             Golden State over Minnesota, Houston over San Antonio
•             Golden State over Houston



More notes:
•             I was really high on Milwaukee and Minnesota last year.  I’m still betting high on both
•             The Clippers are the team I think are going to fall apart.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Paul or Griffin are traded at the deadline. 
•             The Western Division from 6-11 is a crapshoot- it really could go in any order.  Same with the Eastern Conference 4-9
•             Early guesses on the Lottery:  (1) Boston (via Brooklyn)  (2) LA Lakers (3) Miami
•             Top 4 guesses for the MVP:  (1)  Karl Anthony-Towns (2) James Harden (3) Paul George (4) Russell Westbrook.  No way anyone on Golden State wins, because they are likely to ‘only’ win 65 games. 
•             NBA Finals prediction:  Golden State upgraded from Harrison Barnes to Kevin Durant.  Let me say that again- the Warriors, who were four points away from winning the title, upgraded from Harrison Barnes to KEVIN DURANT.  But they also sacrificed their depth.  So that’s why they won’t win nearly as many games as they did last year. 

But just as importantly, the NBA West will take a step back this year.  The Spurs have lost Duncan, their heart and soul.  While I still think the Spurs will finish with 55 wins, I don’t see how they get better than last year.  The Clippers are (in my humble opinion) going to fall apart.  Minnesota WILL be a serious threat- but this year will be one step forward, not five steps forward.  For someone to stop Golden State, they’ll have to be worn out- and I think the path to get to the finals will be easier this year than last year.

We’re getting Cleveland-Golden State in the finals for the third year in a row.  Each team has won once.  Barring injuries, Golden State takes the rubber match in 6 games

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fixing the parties

Memo from a former member of the Vast-Right Wing Conspiracy...

To:  Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the DNC

Hi,

In a few weeks, the 2016 Presidential election will be over, and most likely, one of your two candidates will win.  The loser will gnash their teeth and the winner will feel they were justified in every action they took.

Wrong.  You both suck.

Forget that I don't agree with either of your policy decisions- the parties botched it.  You both somehow managed to nominate the one candidate that could lose to the other.  Really, you both should be ashamed that it came to this.

But I'm an engineer.  I look for solutions.  And here's my plan that I am offering to both of you to help you both out.  Because the day after the 2016 election, people will start jaunting for the 2020 election. And if you lay out the new rules now, you'll be prepared to prevent another debacle.

Here's the plan:

1)  Anyone running for the Presidential nomination under your party's banner- and any Vice-Presidential nominee- must release their tax returns of the last five years.  

Legally, no one is required to.  But legally, you're not required to let anyone run under the banner of your party.  So the tradeoff is, if they want the infrastructure you provide, they have to prove there's no hidden skeletons.

2)  Anyone running for the Presidential nomination under your party's banner- and any Vice-Presidential nominee- must release their health records from a qualified doctor.

3)  Part of me thinks that anyone who wants to run should be a registered member for at least five years.  On this one, I'm open to negotiation- parties need new ideas.  We'll mark this one down as a "maybe"

One alternative- anyone running must first help raise at least $X dollars for other party candidates.  This would eliminate anyone running just to raise their name recognition and only leave serious candidates to run.  Against, this one is negotiable.

4)  Debates.  Ideally, no debate should have more than 6 people at any one time.  Hopefully, with the first rules, we can reduce the total number of candidates.  6 candidates offer options.  17 candidates leads to confusion.

5)  Caucuses and Primaries.  I'm not that worried about caucuses vs. primaries, or open vs. closed.  Instead, bunch them up.  Put together groups of 6-8 states and have one group have all of their votes every two weeks.  So group 1 might be Iowa, New Hampshire, Oregon, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Florida.  Two weeks later, Illinois, Alabama, Montana, Utah, New Jersey, DC, and Maine all vote.

This rewards nominees who put together major organizations.  They are running for the office of the Presidency- it IS a major undertaking.  It should reward people who can put together offices that can handle multiple goals.


I think if you implemented these rules now, for 2020, you'd avoid a repeat of 2016

You're welcome.

Friday, September 2, 2016

NFL Predictions: 2016-2017

NFC

East:
NY Giants 9-7
Dallas 9-7
Washington 6-10
Philadelphia 4-12

North:
Green Bay 12-4
Minnesota 9-7 (Wild Card)
Detroit 7-9
Chicago 7-9

South:
Carolina 11-5
New Orleans 8-8
Tampa Bay 7-9
Atlanta 6-10

West:
Arizona 12-4
Seattle 12-4 (Wild Card)
St. Louis 7-9
San Francisco 4-12

Playoffs:
Seattle over NY Giants
Carolina over Minnesota

Arizona over Seattle
Carolina over Green Bay

Arizona over Carolina



AFC

East:
New England 12-4
Buffalo 7-9
NY Jets 7-9
Miami 5-11 

North:
Pittsburgh 11-5
Cincinnati 11-5 (Wild Card)
Baltimore 6-10
Cleveland 2-14

South:
Houston 10-6
Tennessee 8-8
Indianapolis 8-8
Jacksonville 6-10

West:
Kansas City 11-5
Denver 9-7 (Wild Card)
Oakland 8-8
San Diego 5-11

Playoffs:
Cincinnati over Houston

Pittsburgh over Denver

New England over Cincinnati
Kansas City over Pittsburgh

Kansas City over New England



Super Bowl: Arizona 41, Kansas City 31

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summerslam 2016 Predictions

Cesaro vs. Sheamus: First match in a Best of Seven Series 

What Should Happen: Cesaro cleanly wins the series and moves on to challenging for the Universal Title
What Will Happen: Sheamus wins match #1 to set up Cesaro overcoming the odds
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Sheamus (who isn’t bad but is stale) wins the series 


Rusev © (with Lana) vs. Roman Reigns: US Championship 

What Should Happen: This feud has reignited Reigns, and as a face. But I’d keep this feud going; I’m thinking a wild out of control brawl to set up a rematch, either falls count anywhere or in a cage match
What Will Happen: Rusev wins when Reigns re-injures the arm from RAW
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Reigns wins cleanly, Rusev gets pushed aside for a new challenger


Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens 

What Should Happen: Not only do Enzo and Cass win, but Owens attacks Jericho after the match to start their feud
What Will Happen: Enzo and Cass win the match, dissension teased by the Canadians but held off for now
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: I’m not sure there’s a bad outcome here- maybe if they keep Jericho and Owens as a team instead of letting them shine individually. On a side note, FREE SAMI ZAYN


The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) © vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: World Tag Team Titles

What Should Happen: I’d like the New Day to keep the belts until they lose to American Alpha at Survivor Series, so I’d have them retain here.
What Will Happen: Gallows and Anderson finally take the belts from the New Day
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Gallows and Anderson win- and the New Day dissolves


John Cena vs. AJ Styles

What Should Happen: I like Cena- but Styles could be a fresh challenger for Ambrose or Ziggler. I’d have Styles win
What Will Happen: Cena wins to set up either Ambrose/Cena or Ziggler/Cena
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Cena wins, and Styles disappears into the same place that Sami Zayn is


The Miz © (with Maryse) vs. Apollo Crews: WWE Intercontinental Title

What Should Happen: Crews looks great but Miz pulls out a win
What Will Happen: Crews looks all right but Miz pulls out a win
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Crews wins the title and THEN the WWE realizes there are no challengers


Sasha Banks © vs. Charlotte: WWE Women’s Title

What Should Happen: Banks retains; Dana Brooke’s interference is countered by Bayley, and we start step 2 of the 100 mile journey for Banks vs. Bayley at Wrestlemania.
What Will Happen: Banks retains
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: The Women’s Title is secondary to the Charlotte-Brooks storyline


Dean Ambrose © vs. Dolph Ziggler: WWE World Championship

What Should Happen: The Smackdown side needs a mega heel. Styles is a heel, but he’s a cool heel that is cheered by half the fans (the flip side of John Cena). I see two real possibilities. One is Randy Orton, which I’ll describe below. The other is a Dolph Ziggler heel turn. They’ve done start and stop with pushes to him in the main event before- I’d give it a solid attempt this time. Don’t know if you’d give him someone in his corner (maybe Baron Corbin as a bodyguard?) But I’d have him turn heel and make Ambrose the underdog getting revenge.
What Will Happen: Ambrose retains in a very good match. His next challenger is the winner of the Cena/Styles match
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Ambrose retains- and Ziggler is left in limbo again


Finn Bálor vs. Seth Rollins: WWE Universal Championship

What Should Happen: Pull the trigger- you don’t get many chances to really establish someone as a main guy that is fully over with the crowd right away. Bálor should be the first champion- run with him.
What Will Happen: the match of the night happens, and Rollins cheats to win in a close match, leading to about four rematches that ends at Survivor Series
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: the title is secondary to some Authority storyline


Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Randy Orton 

What Should Happen: see below, under “What I’m Terrified Will Happen:”
What Will Happen: Lesnar wins after ALMOST getting pinned with the RKO, but then Orton becomes a new victim of Suplex City.
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: This is a risky idea, but there are upsides- I’d have Heyman turn on Lesnar and join Orton, causing Lesnar to lose and turning Orton heel. Lesnar is a part timer, and Heyman-Orton could work as a duo. Plus, it gives Smackdown a new major heel

This idea could backfire horribly- but it could also elevate Orton and give Smackdown a new heel combination for the faces (including Styles) to shoot for.

Monday, July 18, 2016

WWE Draft

The WWE has their draft tonight, splitting their roster between RAW and Smackdown.  They have an incredibly deep roster that often means good wrestlers are lost in the shuffle.  Add in the people from NXT and choosing just a top 10 seems like a disservice- so I'm going with a top 25:


  1. Seth Rollins
  2. Kevin Owens
  3. Cesaro
  4. Dean Ambrose
  5. Shinsuke Nakamura
  6. Finn Balor
  7. Sami Zayn
  8. AJ Styles- With those eight you could mix and match and have great matches for a year.  
  9. Roman Reigns- I don't have a problem with Reigns as a wrestler.  I have a problem with the WWE trying to make him a face when the fans really want to boo him.  In the past (Honky Tonk Man, the Rock), when the faces were clearly booing the guy, they turned him heel and let him run with it
  10. New Day- case in point.  Remember- the New Day came in as faces, but the crowds kept chanting "New Day Sucks!", they turned heel, and now they're the most popular act in the WWE
  11. Asuka- the first woman, but not the last.  The WWE has a great lineup of female wrestlers, but they might be better off having their own show to give them a chance to develop.
  12. Bayley
  13. Dolph Ziggler
  14. The Miz
  15. Bray Wyatt
  16. Sasha Banks
  17. American Alpha
  18. Rusev
  19. Alberto Del Rio
  20. Samoa Joe
  21. Charlotte
  22. Becky Lynch
  23. Enzo and Cass
  24. Zack Ryder
  25. Brock Lesnar- as a wrestler, Lesnar would fit in with the top 8.  But his sproadic schedule puts him down here