Basketball: Finding the flow within offense.

I honestly did want to finish this post yesterday, but something else really interesting popped into my head, and before I knew it I’d spent ten hours (or more) into the idea, and the night was gone.


Yesterday’s morning session was kind of fun, because we had a full-court session with a bunch of Koreans who seemed to know what they were doing. Well, more than what we were doing at any rate. Picture a bunch of guys who hadn’t played together in months, and hadn’t actually played a full-court game together like.. never.

So it took a long while before we began to move better together on defense, shut their options down and get stops. Before that happened, we were forced into slow half-court possession after possession, and aided the other team with our horrendous movement, atrociously slow passing which led to easy steals and fast breaks. To give the other team credit, they did have pretty good perimeter defense which made penetration from outside pretty hard.

It was a relief when I finally started hitting my baseline shots, because I bricked approximately every bloody shot I took before that. The one thing that I kept forgetting in-game, was to relax my upper body and shoulders, square up and just shoot. Once that was done, the shots were going in pretty easy.

Not to deviate from the topic at hand, but a big problem I have with basketball right now is still to find the correct option on offense. It’s just a mental thing, being able to take what the defense gives you, and sometimes I’m too bent on doing what I want to do, rather than the correct option.

More practice needed, period.

Morning ball fatigue.

So I’m kinda tired to write too much right now – sleeping at 0200hrs followed by 0700hrs-1000hrs ball is tiring. Attending a wedding a few hours after, piles on to the fatigue level, no kidding.

I’m happy I got to attend Hin and Jennifer’s wedding though, it was a great little ceremony without too much fuss and IMO the pastor should go look for another job in standup comedy or something.

Funny thing about the food after the ceremony, the couple almost always never get to eat much of it, as Hin found out today. (My discovery came last year.)

More to come about morning ball after I shower and get a nap.

The Boston Trip 2011 part VII – Ippudo, SoHo and pork chop rice.

5 Feb 2011, 2114hrs NY
Wokeup 730am, connected headset & laobu called on Skype rightaway – talk about good timing. Called V after that, and fell asleep again 9ish to 130 approx. Got ready, headed out to settle stuff for the day. Lunch @ Ippudo – great atmosphere from energetic staff. fantastic soup base. ~$15 per person.
Stan had the brilliant idea of getting a T-Mobile prepaid + $1.49 per day web access, Google Maps lots more useful now.
Headed down to SoHo, Stan got the curlers (but we couldn’t find the OPI colours), I got my North Face jackets at last. Pricey though! Bought CK undies for V & LS, not too sure if S fits V though. Oh well!
(& LAL-NOH was so boring, we stopped after Q1.)
Cold weather, after I fucked up & got us to Brooklyn on train, we headed home, unpacked & slacked off instead of going to the AHMIR event. Ordered pork chop rice from Excellent, min order $20 zzz.
Black guy who hustled $4 out of me for train tickets. We got in anyway so all good (?)
& Amazon makes awesome stuff. Kindle cover + light super wellmade.
MSG tomorrow!

After the all-too-exciting start, this day was in contrast, a very mundane and touristy one.

The famous Ippudo, recommended by the lovely ladies I consulted with. Bloody long queue, it was about 45 minutes’ wait so we left our names and went back out to get the T-Mobile prepaid and my Kindle. T-Mobile was quick, Staples even quicker.

It was at this point that I realised that the Staples Center in LA, was actually the same Staples that I was buying my Kindle from. Talk about being slow on the uptake huh?

Yummy ramen, exhuberant atmosphere.

If it’s your first time to New York, I would really suggest that you try this place out for the boisterous cheers welcoming you to the ramen joint if nothing else. The ramen tasted pretty good and I really liked the ramen soup base, yum. If you’re not full, ask for another round of noodles by paying an extra $2. Stan and I were full enough with the serving so that says something.

And this was the first place I actually had to tip, seeing as all the places we ate at previously were self-serve.

The rest of the day was pretty prosaic, I remember it being a rainy day while we wandered around SoHo looking for stuff on a shopping list that wasn’t our stuff (Stan’s friend and V’s stuff). Thankfully that didn’t last too long, and I had the good fortune of coming across a North Face outlet that had the jackets I wanted – at cheap prices woot! I love days like these.

We headed back after that (with an unintended detour to Brooklyn along the way).

Dinner. It didn’t look like much, but the pork chop was really quite decent. It’s good to have delivery on rainy evenings. We waited about 40 minutes before the guy arrived with our food though. This picture features the pork chop rice (aka 酸菜豬排飯)

Hot chicken soup on a cold and dreary evening.

Writing with pride.

I think of writing as something to be proud of. To be able to express your thoughts clearly, to write something that is as close to being flawless as you can get it, it’s all a matter of pride in your work.

It’s just the same like everything else you do, especially on something like writing that will hang around indefinitely without any degree of deterioration – you want it to be good the first time round. And by good, I mean good spelling and grammar, proper paragraphing and sentence structure, and no retarded use of incorrect contractions like “your” over “you’re” or “you are”. This is especially important when writing professionally, regardless of whether remuneration is being received or not.

In the end, it’s all about exhibiting professionalism. Honestly, I would be ashamed to write crap, even more so if I’m being paid for it. Not everyone thinks that way however, and with language being the fast and loose style it is on the internet, we can only look at a gradual decline on the quality of the written word. An unavoidable circumstance, seeing as everyone tends to settle into the path of least resistance, which means laziness without observing the rules.

Just a random rant on a random day.

About “rest”, and a routine that’s never quite the same.

(Decided to stop being lazy and take a break from my US trip posts for now.)

So it’s been two months since the whole SAHD gig began, and V was saying the other day, I could look for a job again when “I had rested enough”. I was giving her an incredulous look, like are you effing kidding me? Parenting full-time is probably the most tiring job I have ever had, which part of it sounds like rest? Sign me up for that part, really.

In case no one’s pointed out the obvious yet, you don’t exactly get to take a break from being a full-time parent; it’s a 24/7/365 job with 99.999% (the holy 9’s of uptime) availability with exactly zero remuneration. Compare that to a cushy job where you work mostly fixed hours, get the weekend off and best of all, get paid? It’s a nobrainer really.

Of course, working and parenting is a different tale altogether, but there’s a little bit of compartmentalisation involved – you get to socialise at work, do work, and get home for a few hours of parenting. It’s still tiring, but there is a bit more variety to the day, and I bet you would be a bit happier at seeing the kid, as opposed to a full-time carer who eyeballs his charge an average of eighteen hours a day. Yep, the screaming does get on the nerves after a while, definitely not for the short-tempered or fainthearted.

I was quite offended when the “rest” word came up, because it sounded like I was taking a well-deserved holiday in Hawaii or something, complete with daily massages, getting a good tan and beauty sleep to boot. Honestly, it felt like a total lack of appreciation at first. She admitted it was a wrong choice of words though, so it wasn’t anything serious, just something that I thought made a good rant.

So, rant over.

With all the constant work on our bathroom floor going on, it’s been hard to get any rest at all. Bub takes a nap, I watch the contractors. Bub wakes up, I’m still watching them, albeit with her hanging off one arm. Despite the extreme fatigue at times, I refuse to sleep at bloody 8pm every day. There’s no way I’m going to subjugate my entire life to being a parent exclusively, I need to have some time to myself to do my own stuff.

It’s also been an interesting journey so far, fatigue notwithstanding. Interesting, because it feels good when I figure out her physical and verbal cues. Elly’s also great fun when she’s in the mood for it; one thing about her is that she’s not the type to stay quiet and sit in the corner. Talkative, curious and constantly looking for new challenges, that’s how I’d describe her.

The most challenging bit however, probably has to do with the fact that it’s hard to stick to a given routine for long. Whenever I think I have things figured out, she grows up a little bit more and things change again. The most important thing to keep in mind, is to stay observant and adapt to her as times passes.

To be honest, I’m not sure how long this SAHD phase is gonna last. My original estimate was to stop when she reaches anything between a year and a half, to two years of age. V’ll probably tear her hair out if I stay at home any longer, but we’ll see how things go. Some things are hard to predict, and this feels like one of them. I’ll probably know when the time is right, but for now it’s time to endure, enjoy and appreciate this part of life as it is.

The Boston Trip 2011 part VI – Times Square

05 Feb 2011, 0009hrs NY
Wokeup & took subway F to Bryant Park. First experience. not as congested as SG. $2.50 for unlimited two hour, cheap (IMO) for single ride. Cool digital display of coming stops. Looks old.
Times Square, interesting. Billboards & TV ads all over the place.
Yoshinoya beef bowl tastes good after extended abstinence.
Nicholas Cage looks damn real @ Madam Tussaud’s display.
Walking entire day, legs nearly fell off.
Saw Jennifer Lopez @ hotel going into a limo. Smaller in build than I thought. Got scammed by this bunch of guys -> $8. Bought Kindle! Undecided on leather cover @ first, realised no backlight = cover is necessary. Bought souvenirs for colleagues too.
NBA store is shit. Limited Celtics gear + messy + lots of staff idling. Saw this awesome poster of Jordan dunking + piece of autographed hardwood, $1500. But damn cool. Stan extremely disappointed by this place.
Niketown equally shits, had nothing worth buying (toilet was useful)
Trump Tower => Starbucks wifi good.
Concussed after getting back, did not go Professor Thom’s as planned. Wokeup @ approx 930pm, watched live updates for game.

In case you haven’t guessed it, our main stop for this day was going to be Times Square. NYC landmark, tourists have to go plant the flag. Tourists = us.

First walk in the city itself. We hopped onto the subway and got off at Bryant Park, exiting into the chill morning with self-absorbed people on their way to work.

(Or maybe it was just too cold to dawdle too long in the open; only tourists walk slowly with a camera in hand gawking at every remotely impressive building.)

Plenty of snow left on the sides of the street!I simply couldn’t understand how some people could walk around without any sort of headgear; tried it for like five minutes and I couldn’t feel my ears anymore – numb’s the word here.

This is a good reference for understanding NYC streets. Basically the avenues are the verticals and the streets are the horizontals, so you can pretty much know how to get to places by knowing which junction they are at.

The trick of course is knowing where you are right now, and what direction you’re facing.

* Uptown refers to moving upwards, or north if you like. Downtown of course refers to the opposite, which is down or south. Understanding this will allow you to have an easier time on the subway, since they refer to everything as uptown or downtown.

*Avenue numbers get bigger from right to left, so 1st Ave will be on the right (or east), while 5th Ave will be towards the left (or west).

*Street numbers get bigger from down to up, so 4th Street is down, while 42nd Street is up (or north).


Time to gawk around the rest of NYC.

Saw an old friend of mine and stopped to exchange greetings; say hello to Yoshinoya beef bowl. I know it’s kinda dumb to eat this when there’s tons of other choices in NYC but I haven’t had this in a really long time sooooooooo.

First NBA-related picture – New York Knicks, here we come! Can’t wait.

In case you’re wondering, the alphabets and numbers represent the available lines at this station.

I think staying in Melbourne for too long has sort of made me forget how tall buildings can get. So we looked at this one at eye level, then craned our heads up and up and up and up and up and up (you get the idea) before we finally saw the roof. And went “WTF! That’s tall.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about – a real skyscraper!

I had to place my camera like almost on the ground to take this picture. It may not look that way, but it’s really tall.

Street carts like this are a very common sight within NYC itself and are mainly located at street junctions. Their main sell? Something they call gyros, which is a Greek-style wrap with sizzling meat slices (lamb, chicken), fresh veggies, tomatoes and sauces. Going at $4 a pop they make a very affordable and tasty meal on the go : ) Won’t recommend eating them with gloves though, eating this is kinda messy.

*Australians know this as a kebab; gyros taste exactly the same but at half-price and with extra sauces.

So we had walked a ton, we were tired and needed a break. And what do we see, but one of our listed chow spots – Pop Burger!

The deceptively small entrance hides a very long area with counters for dudes waiting for takeaways, and a seating area right at the back. I kinda like the decoration on the wall (refer to the right wall on the picture), it looks really cool although you realise after awhile it’s just their menu items with words that make you hungry e.g. sizzling steaks, cool and frosty soda, hot burgers, firm fries, creamy shakes.. you get the idea.

So we were at Pop Burger, and we had to try the Pop Burger of course. It’s a slider which means it’s a bite-sized burger; tiny and yummy. Remember the White Castle burgers from Harold and Kumar? Yep, something like that.

The iconic Apple Store. Nope, we didn’t get downstairs. No Apple.

After several wrong turns, finally got to Stan’s long-awaited destination, the New York NBA Store!

Which turned out to be a big, big disappointment.

  1. Limited range of merchandise, the NBA Store website offers a great deal more in contrast – this would be a recurring theme on the trip.
  2. Staff gathering in corners having a good chat. The store was overloaded with staff, with about a third of them working. You could see they weren’t really interested in helping customers.
  3. The store was very strangely devoid of Celtics merchandise. I saw a great deal of stuff which stocked other teams but Boston? NOPE. crap.
  4. The basement was supposed to feature a half court with some interesting doodads, but looked like it was in renovation or something. We learned later that the store looked to be due to move somewhere else. Bummer.

I saw this awesome Jordan poster which cost like $1,500 because it had a chunk of the hardwood court from that championship year attached, along with MJ’s autograph. I did ask if there were any posters without the hardwood, sorry but nope.

So Stan being pissed off, didn’t get anything. I bought a couple of tees, one for me and one for V which qualified me for the free gift via a voucher we got at La Guardia airport.

The black gentleman who was processing my free gift (a passport wallet) asked where I got the voucher, and so I hazarded a guess. “Marketing purposes?”

He chuckled. “You know the rules sir.”

The pictures might not have told the entire tale, but we walked a lot. A lot. There were wrong turns here and there, we were going up down left right all over the place. So at the end of a very long day, we were really happy to be finally crawling back to Linda’s pad.

Here’s a look at the New York subway. Yep, looks old all right; just like what the movies make it out to be. I’m always reminded of that scene in the Matrix where Neo runs in the subway tunnel heh heh.

One good thing about the subway, it’s fairly easy to figure out which lines you have to take. Look for the line that your final stop is at and work your way backwards for the stops you have to change lines at. A lot of the trains feature real-time dashboards showing the next 10 stops and which lines they intersect, a really neat feature IMO.

The Boston Trip 2011 part V – Woodbury!

04 Feb 2011, 0602hrs NY

  • Walked to bus pickup pt for Woodbury, concluded walking is nott hat bad if it wasn’t so fucking cold. Numb face + toes, so damn cold.
  • Super long bus ride fr NY to Woodbury, passed thru Harlem felt it’s a little seedier than NY CBD.
  • Thought Woodbury was a shopping centre. Nope, it’s a shopping village w/ plenty of brand outlets. Still cold. Bought cheap shit. Timberland shoes $59, Esprit scarf $5, Banana Republic shirt $15, awesome. North Face /Columbia only had XL and above for sale items.
  • Long bus ride back, Stan was chatting w/ bus driver.
  • Humongous 6 slice pizza, two slices each and we were stuffed. I couldn’t even finish my second slice.
  • Concussed from 7pm+ till 330am. Woke up. Skype w/ laobu & V. Heavy rain in Melbourne

Waking up in NYC, day one. Sofabed felt pretty good, although it had been a long while since I’d shared a room with Stan, much less a bed; took a bit of getting used to.

To borrow Stan’s caption: Frosty the Snowman took a huge dump in NYC, or a first look at the snowy streets of New York on a chill wintry morning. Yep, heaps of snow; actually ice if you wanna be precise.

And how could I forget the dirty ice which made for slippery pavements, so much that I was already telling myself yes I will get a stout pair of shoes as soon as we get to Woodbury.

And so it was cold thanks to the winds, the chill was slowly seeping into my crappy shoes, and I was cussing non-stop on our way to the Woodbury bus pickup point.

To quote myself in a video Stan took, it was “他妈的c***b**的冷lor!”

Apparently I was under the illusion that swearing would generate some anger/heat/self-induced satisfaction.

Walked ten blocks (about twenty minutes) to the coach pickup point, and it took a bit of eagle eye spotting before I found the bus.

Hello bus.

Random snap of fluffy sparrow while waiting.

Endured a lengthy wait in the cold while the coach driver went for breakfast (or a pee break or whatever-it-was he did). Got onto the coach, happily thawed for a bit.

Finally on the way! Notice all the empty seats.

After an intensely boring bus ride of an hour and a half (with Stan experiencing the pee trip of his life in the loo at the back of the bus – ever tried taking a leak in a bus chugging at top speed?), we finally reached Woodbury.. which blew my expectations somewhat. I had this image of a shopping mall, and what did I see? A bloody big area with each brand having its own store.

Literally a shopping village. And yes, that meant we had to walk outdoors (i.e. in the cold!) to get from store to store. And here I was, hoping for a nice warm building to walk around in.

The best part was, we got there at about 1000hrs. Most of the stores were still closed, and did not open until 1100hrs. Now what?

A map of Woodbury’s outlets. So many stores, you can actually list them from A to Z. So many stores, you need a map with colour-coded zones to navigate. Stan and I skipped like 70% of them, mostly chick stuff. Prada (yawn), Gucci (yawn) and so on, you get the idea.

We did however step into Coach for a little bit because I was on the lookout for a new wallet for V, and it was absolute pandemonium inside with a lady greeting us at the door. “Good morning! How are you today? We’re having 30% off on all items, here’s the coupon.” Crazy, just crazy. *shakes head*

We wisely marked down only the brands we were interested on the map we got, and avoided the rest of them chaos.

To sum the trip up:

  • We went to the various sports apparel brands (Nike, Adidas) and got nothing because they stocked mainly running stuff. I got a tee from Under Armour for fun, and the complimentary sling bag saved my ass later on in the trip. (More on that later.)
  • Outdoor brands (North Face, Columbia) have seriously fantastic deals if you’re an XL and above, which I obviously am not. Busted on this part, because I was hoping to get a new jacket.

Finished our shopping, went to the bus pickup point and.. what? No bus in sight. Continued to wait for another thirty minutes before a bus came and seeing as we were the only passengers, he agreed to drive us back to the East side. The return journey took nearly two hours because of traffic, which was just bad. I just snoozed my way through while Stan hopped out front to have a yak with the Jamaican driver.

We finally managed to get somewhat closer to home base (West Village instead of East) although the driver dropped us way off track (he thought we wanted 172nd St), and trudged our way back. Not forgetting to grab dinner of course!

Random dinner choice, cheese pizza with sausages on top from a place called Sal’s. We’re used to pizza having loads of toppings, and this one looked kinda plain but man did it taste good or what! The cheese was really, really awesome.

Look at the slice Stan was holding, that was a heck of a slice even by our gluttony standards. We had two slices each and collapsed right after that, totally *stuffed*. It usually takes a fair bit of food to fill us up, but this one was extreme.

Like really extreme. The two of us fell asleep right after that, talk about a literal carb overload. And that was pretty much it for the day.