We should all have four day work weeks.

At least, that’s what V laughingly suggested earlier. It’d work only if every other country out there did it, otherwise us people in Australia are gonna be just a wee bit too laid back for work to function.

One for rest, one for family, and one for… moping aka dread about the next day being an inevitable work day. She loves the great countdown.

I’m thankful for long weekends though. Way behind on my basketball these days, but the urge to hibernate is just so strong. Cold weather obviously, doesn’t help. Does dribbling the ball at home help? Does throwing stress balls around the office help? Hopefully they do.


It’s fascinating how much time seems to be a crawl for certain topics, but yet absolutely seems to streak like a bolt of lightning in others. For example, the kids seem to have been around forever, but it’s only been a short three years.

It’s hard to summarise how much of a lifechanger they have been, but I guess it’s a make-or-break process: either you make it and you come out the better for it, being a more responsible/mature/patient/rational-at-times human being for it. OR you rage quit and become a really shitty parent. Not much of a choice really, I’m trying hard to be the former.

On the other hand: can’t believe it’s been bloody five years since Andrew first left Melbourne for his stint in Singapore. And here’s the clincher: my brother’s actually hitting 30 in a couple of years. Well, it’s less impressive when my 36th (!) birthday will happen three days before his 30th. It’s a logical thing, but just a little unnerving to imagine him being 30 already.

Un-bloody-believeable.


Things have been up and down on the work side. I survived a rather severe round of retrenchments, and it was rather upsetting, to say the least. Numerous people I’d come to view as part of my life, were just ripped away in the space of a day. Work is work, and I got over it, but it was an experience. We’re still trying to get our footing under us, and I’m trying to help with more things on the side while juggling my usual tasks, but it hasn’t exactly been easy. I suspect I’m gonna be catching up on things for a while.

Less mentioned, is the fact that the bunch of guys I always had lunch with also left within weeks of each other. That also left somewhat of a hole; just miss laughing at all the shit we talked about every day. I’m glad they’re on better gigs, but the past months with the gang truly remains one of my fonder memories at this job.

The PnR side has been rather interesting, to say the least. I was, and still am rather drained by the constant writing. It’s slowly getting easier as I learn to write quicker, but it’s still a tiring process at times, especially when you know you’re racing against the clock to put something out. Game 2 is tomorrow, so full steam ahead – let’s hope it doesn’t degenerate into a lopsided victory.

The good side, is that the weekly newsletter will be rotated among the core moving forward, and I can take a six-week breather in between.

The constant urge to keep innovating on the site however, has taken a backseat for now. I guess I finally ran out of gas; it was bound to happen sooner or later, given the breakneck pace I was driving myself to work at. Things need to be done, but it’s no longer a “never put off what you can do today” mentality; I’m just more mindful when it comes to spending more time with the family and resting myself up these days. It’s a marathon, not a 400m sprint, and finding the right pace is pretty important.

I’m a real stickler for using the right words, so here’s a pet peeve: the use of “we” when the task involves only one person (usually me). Last time I checked, we involves you and me at minimum. Don’t make it sound like teamwork (yay!) when it’s not. Be specific, outline the task and name the participants involved.


More random comments.

  • Fuck it’s getting cold.
  • The first season of The Flash has ended (r/FlashTV has been awesome), I’m bored. It might just be time to check Daredevil out. Introduced V to the series during our last weekend getaway, and she’s slowly binge watching her way through. Slowly.
  • And did I mention Google Inbox is pretty cool? I hate the lack of an archive button though.
  • It’s been a long time since I last read a new book –I do have a list of to-reads though– driving has taken that away from me. I know, audiobooks are an option. Still deciding if I should stop listening to basketball podcasts, but Bill Simmons’ departure from Grantland definitely makes the debate a lot easier.
  • Definitely not a life milestone: stalked so hard on bemusedtots’ blog. Some of the things I read there are really fascinating (like Chinese poems, life thoughts and movie reviews), and some are just fond reads because they talk about people I know. The cheerful, guile-less writing just seems to flow and make it all such an easy read.
  • Was kinda engrossed (I’m 100% in on most things I do, and gaming is sadly one of them) in the Transformers: Rising mobile app for a while, until I realised almost every other MF player was a VIP (aka paid) account, and there was no way I could overtake or even catch up to them, despite spending consistent effort. Not worth my time, NEXT.
  • Re-read the comic version (all 252 issues) of 大唐双龙传 because it’s still a cool story. Funny how re-reading it actually made me cast a more critical eye on the artwork, and notice how shoddy some parts of the series are (it felt like filler arc artwork in an anime series), and how the artist actually changed towards the end – the difference in art was frankly, quite noticeable. Filing this under things you nitpick when you get older.
  • Finally caught up on Dear Boys Act III up till chapter 78 (aka first chapter of vol 19), albeit in raw format. I can’t understand kanji even if my life depended on it, so dialogue aside, all I know is the basketball side of thing’s still progressing really well. Damn foul trouble though.
  • Just read about a pre-2014 Mac backdoor vulnerability that is not going to be fixed, and the only precaution you can take is to disable sleep mode. Good job Apple.
  • Kickstarter addict finally received a few packages recently. Stackerware is pretty cool, I love that all the lids are the same damn size, and I don’t have to ever hunt for those odd-sized lids again. And having plastic containers that are freezer/microwave/dishwasher-proof, are very handy. Also received Growfloats (aka hydroponics), I’ve yet to get started on it (no seeds purchased yet).
  • The biggest epiphany or life lesson I had this week: the virtue of focusing on a task (or staying focused in the moment) cannot be overstated. Immersing yourself fully in the experience makes it all the more richer for yourself and everyone else. Skimming by half-heartedly and with poor comprehension or doing a half-fucked job because you were distracted/multitasking, is a disservice that you should seek to avoid.

So there you go, a super condensed entry with random thoughts on the life of yours truly. Hopefully I’ll be more consistent with writing moving forward.

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Of Aussies in the NBA and more

The Pick and Roll has survived its first season, and is into its second – a remarkable achievement with so many ups and downs. More positives than negatives to be honest, and I’m still very much gratified and motivated by the guys who are committed to the cause, so to speak.

With the new season, I decided the NBA content has to very much go the same way as everything else. We have to cover our Aussies in the NBA, and it has to be done consistently. The site is about Aussies, and this is where the content direction has to be headed.

With that said, it’s back to walking the talk and not just spouting “we” statements without action, so I took up the job myself.

Aussies in the NBA is now a weekly feature by yours truly, and takes anything from 8-12 hours (or more!) of work. It includes:

  • checking injury updates
  • tabulating stat lines for the week
  • finding entertaining social media posts to embed
  • watching games (or at minimum, clips of FGA, assists and rebounds) to get a feel of how each player’s week went
  • thoughts on each player’s performance
  • working with Alistar, who’s been a lifesaver on the video end. He compiles a weekly Top 3 AITNBA highlight reel, and relevant clips to be embedded via gfycat
  • generating GIFs on my own for sequences I want to talk about
  • getting a decent screencap to use as the featured image
  • scheduling and writing promotional posts on Twitter and Facebook (along with analysis to see what works better)

This is still very much a work in progress, and is seriously a huge energy vampire. It would have been much easier, had I chose to do a high level recap with stat lines and zero analysis. The idiot in me however, believes in presenting the best effort I can possibly give, and that means doing everything above.

Hopefully, this will help to boost the profile of the site further, and get our name out there. I’m confident in the originality/quality of the article, but it remains to be seen if everyone is keen on reading length discourses like how mine runs. Secondly, there is also the challenge of getting the article out to readers, which is a field of study in itself. If you have been reading it and think it’s great, I’d love a share or two. If not, let me know what could be improved.

Not forgetting of course, I have to get the newsletter up and running. That usually takes a night’s work – not horrible, but it’s yet another item that takes time away.

New season, new challenges. I’m also glad that we’re getting consistent ground coverage with Darrel this year, and also with Olgun’s presence in Chicago. Things to be thankful for.

Being in a good spot.

It’s been a while since I last balled, maybe a month even? I’m trying not to head out too often these days and help out with baby duties. Or even if I’m the fifth wheel on the bus, at least be there.

Was so bushed when I got home after work, but a quick nap really helped.

Tonight’s basketball, while definitely not my finest showing ever, was pretty good. I somehow retained my shooting touch, and made most of the shots I attempted. An amazing feat, if I might say so! I reckon it’s the friendly rim more than anything else though, so am not floating too high on euphoria. The two drives I attempted weren’t too bad, but I probably took too many dribbles to get there, and it was more of having a shitload of space and charging my way in more than anything else. In a 1v1 situation, I might not have gotten those opportunities.

It was fun guarding this new guy who joined tonight’s session too. He’s a knockdown mid-range shooter, will absolutely nail it in your face if you give him space. Figuring his tendencies out took a while, and he was hitting shots in my face all the time. Knows how to run off the ball to get open, can drive (although I think he’s a better shooter than he is driving), and decent rebounder. Not good in the post on defense though.

Always good to ball, and am looking forward to the next session. Now, if only my hands will stop peeling.

Taking it to the next level.

Life is about learning, and growing. It’s about making mistakes, recognising that we fcuked up really bad, and knowing we shouldn’t be repeating the same dumb actions anytime soon. Not only do we learn at work, I believe it’s essential, even critical that we learn from every aspect of our lives.

Knowledge is the key to being a better person, and only by keeping an open mind and retaining that willingness –perhaps even an active hunger– to learn, can we get better.


Enough of the life philosophy, we’ll shelf that for a bit. I’m writing tonight because things have come a long way for this latest project in the past months, back when it was just an idea being tossed around on Facebook and emails, to the brand it is fast becoming.

What the hell am I talking about? Namely, the birth of an NBA opinion site known as The Pick and Roll. From a personal perspective, this is becoming an ideal marriage between my two passions, writing and basketball. Add the years of experience from messing around with WordPress, general knowhow with PHP/HTML/CSS, and a stint of writing for other sites since last year, and everything just seems to click into place. Nothing you learn is ever wasted, and this is fast becoming reality.

Granted the site isn’t even launched at this point, but I have high hopes for the site, and am deeply thankful to everyone who has been involved in it so far. The level of enthusiasm and belief in the vision has been mindblowing so far, and should it do well in the days ahead, a great deal of credit will go to everyone at #TeamPnR.

The people factor

What is my role in it though? I sum it up in three words: getting shit done. Uncouth as it sounds, that’s more or less my forte.

Half my time is spent vetting writer applications, proofreading drafts and to stay accessible to writers who need their concerns addressed. As it is with everything else, open communication is the key.

One is limited by one’s resources at hand however, and so the plan is to train up dedicated editors who will be able to form a synergistic relationship with their writers and produce quality work together. As a writer, it is often all too easy to get caught up in pride and believe one’s work is perfect, but sadly reality is often otherwise. Rather than being grammar Nazis, I firmly believe editors are there to offer guidance, support and improve the level of writing.

To quote what I tweeted the other time:

I also spend time talking to potential partners/merchants who would be keen to work together with us in promoting their products. While not a major focus right now, it is something that needs to be done gradually in terms of building relationships. No better time to start than now!

Of course, credit also goes to the social media guys for building up such a strong presence. The Facebook page has been steadily growing since last year, and the Twitter account has gained a decent following of nearing 4,500 at the time of this writing.

Much credit goes to:

  • The unsung efforts of Terry’s analysis in building Twitter up, and also in scouting talented writers who would be keen to join up.
  • The ceaseless work done by our Mr X on tweeting solid content, day in, day out.
  • Steve’s work on the Facebook page, and also on slowly expanding our focus on the NBL, along with Dean.
  • And of course, not forgetting everyone else who are actively contributing to site launch.

The techie bit

The other half is used in research on the site, tinkering with ways to make the backend easier for the writers and editors. WordPress in its vanilla form is functional as a writing platform, but is hardly intuitive for a multi-author site, especially one that requires constant communication and collaborative discussion.

With the use of appropriate plugins, the backend is extensively enhanced when it comes to ease of use. Providing a clean and uncluttered interface is very important for the writers, and showing them a thousand options and menus after logging in just isn’t the way to go.

How about making life easier for the editors as well? It probably doesn’t mean much to the big picture, but I managed to find a plugin that would display a dropdown list of authors as a filter. Trust me when I say it makes a huge difference in the ease of navigation, because an editor would be able to view the posts of his assigned author, rather than having to wade through a chronological sea of posts by everyone else.

Work was also done on setting up an internal mailing list for the writers, just so that important updates reach the ones who are not on the Facebook group. CC and BCC works, but it gets unwieldy after a certain number of people get onto the recipient list.

-start of rant-
Not forgetting the gritty, hands on stuff like domain registration, web hosting, updating patches, creating user accounts, resetting passwords and all that. And talk about teething issues! For a while, there was a real problem with displaying accented characters on the site, which nearly drove me nuts because the hosting provider declared it wasn’t their problem. That brought on countless hours of fruitless Googling. It wasn’t until I did a clean WP install with the same setup (sans data) and proved conclusively it wasn’t the software, that finally got them going for a deeper look. (It turned out to be a PHP setting on the Apache web server in the end.) These are the kinds of issues no one would be interested in knowing about, other than asking if it has been fixed yet. Annoying, but someone has to do it.
-end rant-

The system

More than the technology however, comes the need for a system. There has to be a recognised process in getting things done, along with training/communication in getting everyone to adhere to a common mode of operation.

With this in mind, self-help guides were written and placed within the backend for reference. A simple flow chart was drawn up to clearly illustrate how articles would be handled from inception to publication. Granted advice and guidance is still necessary for everyone to come on board with the system, but I’m a firm believer in documentation being the foundation for structured processes.

As with everything else that requires juggling multiple balls in the air, a tracking system is required. Nothing complex, but something as simple as a spreadsheet would allow tasks to be kept on track, along with writer profiles and other equally important information. The key here is discipline of course.

The legalese

Wording the terms of use, having a privacy policy, all of these are important because they outline what the site does, and demarcates a boundary for everyone to know where they stand. Recognising the rights of the writers in terms of the content they produce, and most importantly? Handling intellectual property with care. It’s easy to be irresponsible and grab stuff off the internet, but treating material with the proper respect takes effort.

Referencing existing policies out there, to understanding what we needed and reworking the terms to our requirements. Even with the assistance of a law professional, all of these took the better part of a week

In short

A lot of work, a lot of energy invested, and along with it comes a lot of hope and pride. It’s no joke juggling a day job while getting this on track, and I have to be thankful to my family for being supportive on this, for allowing me the space and time to get work done.

It’s been an exhausting journey so far, but there’s a lot to be said for things you are passionate about. Things are gonna be LEGENWAITFORITEFFINGDARY.

Thoughts on July and lessons relearnt.

A collection of random thoughts that I can’t be stuffed to separate into smaller posts. Here goes.

  1. Making relationships work, require communication. Friends, colleagues, family, everything. That being said, talking too much can be a bad thing at times. Prudent silence, is golden.
  2. Be thankful for the little things in life. Unemployment is a concern, but I’m happy to have the family around, and to have bits and pieces of work to keep things moving.
  3. Learn to forget about matters that make me unhappy. Take a deep breath, let it go, and sleep it off. The end.
  4. Logistics has never been a fun affair, and it takes real effort/commitment for success to happen.
  5. If I have my feet set, chances are high on nailing a jumper.
  6. Basketball at times, consists of me not making mistakes more than me making a positive impact. I sound like a shitty role player.

Stay positive, stay focused and get things done.

Lens-less: Balling without glasses or contacts

Contact lens
Contact lens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d been using disposable contacts for basketball since years ago. In an effort to preserve my dwindling funds, I started an experiment in saving money on contact lenses. Simply put, I would play without any form of optical aid – just good old myopia and blurry vision.

Surprisingly, the lack of clarity did not affect my game as much as I thought it would.

Shooting

Perhaps it boils down to trusting your body and instincts after so many years of experience, but shooting is more muscle memory than anything else. Your body already knows what to do. Set yourself up the same way every time, square up for the release, and keep the followthrough soft. Leave everything else to physics.

Court vision

Recognising teammates wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be. I could still see everyone moving around, and pass the ball if I had to. People are just people, although not being able to see their facial expressions made reading readiness just that bit more difficult. A lot more difficult, actually.

Focus

The most surprising change came in this area. Perhaps the lack of details allowed my mind to focus better without distraction, but I got into attack mode a lot easier without contacts. Trusted my instincts and body to work as they should, and just went with the flow without overthinking the game.

I also began to pass on the pick and roll better as well – what the hell? I’d been trying to remind myself to do hit the roll man more often without much success, and the answer came in the form of not wearing contact lenses. Strange, but whatever works.

I’m sure there will be a downside to this harebrained idea eventually, but for now? It rocks. Play better and save dough, what gives?

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A season gone in green.

Celtics Down Under logo

It’s been a full season since I started Celtics Down Under back in September 2012. While it hasn’t exactly been a raving success, I’m happy that it’s slowly blossomed into a community for Aussie Celtics.

As of today:

Not exactly the Larry O’Brien trophy of milestones, nonetheless encouraging. Encouraging, because I got to know many other Australian Celtic fans along the way, who in turn have come to know of many other fellow fans. All of us cheered, ranted, laughed and screamed together in the past months, watching our favourite team struggle its way into the postseason, and ultimately run out of gas. Not the best of endings, but it could have been worse. We went out with grit, and did not surrender.

It really feels great, knowing that none of this would have happened, had I not made the impulsive decision to register celticsdownunder.com and create something from nothing.

Thanks to everyone in the community, especially folks like Justin, Hayley, Tommy, big Kaine, Michael, Nate, Olly, Joel and so on. I’m looking forward to many more great seasons together. Bleed green folks.

#Ubuntu

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