2007 NCAA Brackets

I found a cool pick-em at PicksPal.com. You can join my league “Rusty Lugnuts” there, and compete against me. It seems their servers are a bit overloaded this morning due to a surge in press coverage for their site. So, be patient and check back later in the day if you are experiencing significant delays.

I’m a winner. Finally!

Life is full of ups and downs. Tests and trials. Wins and losses. Challenges and successes. Highs and lows.

You gotta weather the storms brought on by the lows, and appreciate the sunny weather of the highs when they come your way.

After a year of playing poker every week with my friend, Greg, tonight was finally the night that I busted out. I’ve become a pretty good card player at our regular game (50-70 people play a Texas Hold-em tourney in town). After going out in two hands the first time Greg and I played, I now regularly make the final table. And I often do well at the final table. I think I have finished 2nd six times. I was wondering when or if I’d ever win one of these things.

Tonight was the night! I won! Finally.

The turning moment was at the final table when I had a modest stack. Brian (the town ringer) raised my small blind of 2000 to 16000. I had A-2. I took a while to think. It was a tough decision. There were only 4 players remaining and I knew that if I called no one else would. I’d be head’s up with an ace in hand. I had enough chips to call to see the flop, but not enough left to bet significantly to bluff if I missed. An ace fell on the flop. Brian pushed all in. I called. He had pocket J’s. My aces held up, and that gave me a significant lead. I felt bad calling Brian’s raise and winning, but the odds were worth it. And if I lost, I feel I’m a good enough short stack player to still have a shot. Man, did it feel good to win!

I guess that makes up for both Clemson and the Carolina Panthers losing this weekend.

Flashback: Jim Valvano’s inspiring speech

Can you believe it’s been over 13 years since Jim Valvano’s untimely death? For those of you who don’t know, Jim Valvano was a well known and respected college basketball coach. He was most known for leading NC State to the national title in 1983. After his retirement from coaching, he became an incredible sportscaster. He, teamed with Dick Vitale, made for some of the best color commentary during a basketball game. (I even remember Jim and Dick appearing on an episode of the Cosby Show.)

As I was peering in my “blog this” file, I realized that these Jim Valvano videos have been stuck at the bottom of my list for sometime now. Nothing against Jim. But, a while ago I made a pretty hefty list of inspirational video’s I found sprinkled across the internet YouTube. As I began blogging about them, I didn’t want to overload everyone on video after video. So, I have tried to space them out. (sprinkle in a little real estate here, a little photo show there, some cool website announcements… You get the idea!).

As Jim battled cancer, Continue Reading

Clemson Homecoming on ESPN

What a weekend! (except for the collapse of the Panthers against the Bengals today. Thanks to bumbling, fumbling Jake Delhomme!) Two of my brothers and I got together for a fun weekend of football and comradarie. We missed having Kari and Grace, but a brother’s weekend was just what the doctor ordered.

Noah and I played a quick game of cards at my buddy’s house. Played some ping pong at my crib. Wesley showed up at 11am after driving from DC starting at 4:30. And we were on the road to Clemson by 12:30. We snapped this photo right before we took off.

A 2-hour car ride later and we arrived in ESPN-crazed Clemson, SC. Before settling in to tailgate, I had to take Wes and Noah on a quick trip to the ever famous rollercoaster road. It was certainly steep, but somehow it wasn’t as fun as I remembered it being. I was driving my low-riding magnum and I was a bit too scared of bottoming out at the bottom of the hill. So, I ended up taking the hills a little too slow for excitement. But, still good fun nonetheless.

After a few hours of tailgating and being harassed by real life yellowjackets (actual bees, not the crazed GT fans), Wesley went and grabbed a ticket with his buddies, and Noah and I went off to scalp tickets of our own. I couldn’t believe it. Tickets were going for $150/seat on the street. There was no way that I was going to pay more than $50 for a ticket. (face value was $48). After battling the fans in downtown Clemson, Noah and I ventured up near the stadium and the ticket prices were still the same. I was getting a bit discouraged because Noah came all the way up from Beaufort to visit and to come to the game. And I was hoping to show him a good time in classic Clemson football fashion.

We were in the middle of all the ticket scalpers and still no economical options were available. Then, a miracle happened. A cadillac pulled up, parked, and I guess the driver saw me holding up my fingers gestering that I needed 2 tickets. He popped out of his car holding 2 tickets. Long story short – I scored two tickets on the 45 yard line for $60/each. I couldn’t believe it. Even though I paid a bit more than I expected, it was so well worth it. These were some of the best seats in the house, and Noah and I were up close and in the middle of Clemson fans for one of the best games we’ve seen in a long while.

Wes & Noah – I can’t tell you how great it was to hang out with the both of you this weekend. I can’t wait for our trip to the Grand Canyon!

Click on any photo above to see all the photos. All the game day videos can be seen at this link.

Mob intelligence for fantasy sports

Pickheads.com - collaborative sports predictionsA friend of mine, Asher Matsuda, has launched a new service. it’s called Pickheads. Asher is the same guy who brought us the home listing service Postlets.com. And what is even more amazing, is that these are both side projects for him. He’s still gainfully employed, working for one of the most popular internet sites on the web.

Pickheads is a web site which manages collaborative sports predictions. “Intelligence of the Mobs” and “Collaboritve Inetlligence” have been a hot concept recently in the internet world. The concept behind group-smart-websites is that any one person can be wrong more often than the overall judgement of many. So, if you are having issues with making a decision, it’s best to get the opinion of many rather than relying on your own discretion.

This is how our stock markets work, this is how political polling and elections work, and with Pickheads, this is now how your sports predictions work. :)

If you had one shot, would you take it?

I don’t know what it is about these stories, but something jerks at me inside each time I see them. Jason McElwain’s story is one of the most inspirational stories of our lifetime. It’s a great story of fulfilling a dream. A modern day Rudy. And the story of Rick and Dick Hoyt is an amazing story of love, commitment. Both are undeniably inspiring.

I feel that this world is full of traps and pain and it is so easy to wear emotional scars. But, in the fogginess of this world, these stories of Hope and Love stand out. It’s something I believe in. It’s something that I feel that Christ himself stands for. He tells us that He came so that we may have life, and have it the the full. That He came into this world as a light. That’s His story – Hope. And this is our story – wading through the darkness. The chord that pulls within us when we see these stories is the sweet knowledge that someone out there has succeeded. These stories charactarize obstacles larger than those in the average person’s life. And that’s what makes them useful to us.

Here is a dream fulfilled.
As the narrator says: “What we all want in life, is a shot. But what we do with it – that’s the story we all want to tell.”

And this is love. Where does your strength come from?

I’m trying to include my son in everything, so that he can live a life like everybody else.

The quote above was spoke by Dick Hoyt about his son Rick. And, to me this sounds very similar to the wishes that our heavenly father has for us.

The below video shows Team Hoyt competing and completing the Ironman race. I dare you to watch as Dick and Rick sprint across the finish line and not be touched. Their story is nothing short of incredible. I hightly recommend buying their Ironman story on DVD. It’s a great story of love, devotion, inspiration and determination.