Friday, July 30, 2010

I Write Like...

I found this FASCINATING.

I stumbled across a site called "I write like" and allegedly will tell you what famous author you write like, based on a pasted sample.

The first thing I did was submit some quotes from Vonnegut and Palahniuk, and sure enough they correctly identified them, as long as there was enough content. It didn't do as well with 1-sentence quotes.

So I opened up my Autopilot document and copied and pasted each chapter:

Chapter 1: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 2: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 3: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 4: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 5: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 6: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 7: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 8: Ursula K. Le Guin
Chapter 9: Ursula K. Le Guin
Chapter 10: Stephen King
Chapter 11: Cory Doctorow
Chapter 12: Stephen King
Chapter 13: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 14: Cory Doctorow
Chapter 15: Cory Doctorow
Chapter 16: J. D. Salinger
Chapter 17: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 18: Stephen King
Chapter 19: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 20: Chuck Palahniuk
Chapter 21: Stephen King

- - -

I've always considered Palahniuk one of my favorite writers (along with Vonnegut) and cited him as a primary influence. Now it seems documented. I also love Catcher in the Rye, so I was excited to see Salinger pop up. So I checked out chapter 16. That is the chapter (spoiler alert) that the main character is walking around New York City. And despite the age difference, it sort of reminiscent of Holden walking around.

Of course, later on, I specifically reference Holden Caulfield in Chapter 19. How very Palahniukian of me.

So then I copied the entire novel, and pasted it. So I suppose it's true, in Autopilot...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

If I had a band...

it would be called Simple Machines.

Our first album would be called Wheel and Axle. It would get things rolling.

The follow-up would be Lever. It would be a sophomore slump.

We'd take a little time off and come back with Inclined Plane. It would represent taking things to new heights.

After the success of our third album, we'd go on a worldwide tour. There would be band friction. Egos would get in the way. Our fourth album would be Wedge.

Overly bitter, we'd fulfill the last of our 5-album contract and then immediately break-up following the release of Screw.

After a few years without money, we'd come back for a reunion album and try to recapture the sound of our third album with Pulley.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

match in progress

First Set: Dave 7-6 (2)
Second Set: (in progress) Kirat 5-2

Monday, July 26, 2010

casual shots

all pictures (1/200 - f1.8 - ISO2000)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

HOW TO: make meatball subs

(1/30 - f3.5 - ISO2000)

Okay, confession. I didn't make the meatballs. Honestly, it seems like a pain in the ass. You have to mix all these ground meat, and cook them slowly rotating, but they're spheres so you're never really cooking every side perfectly, and then maybe they turn out dry anyways.

So I bought Trader Joe's meatballs. I did cook them in the oven, and then transferred them to my pan, where I tossed them with a drizzle of olive oil and a coating of garlic powder and then parmesan.

What I did do, was make my own pasta sauce. (Which is really a recipe from Brit's Mom, or as I'll refer to it now, a Verrette family recipe.) I can't say enough good things about this sauce. For one, I use it on pasta, my homemade pizza, and now on italian sandwiches. So I mixed up a batch today. I've switched over to using crushed instead of stewed tomatoes, which results in a smooth, chunkless sauce, and today I went heavy on adding diced peppers.

I made sure to buy S. Rosen's rolls instead of Turano, and I also picked up some smoked provolone.

For assembly, I applied a layer of sauce onto the roll, placed my meatballs, added more sauce, and one sliced of provolone cut in half. Then, using a makeshift aluminum foil holder, I put the assembled sandwich back in the oven, using the broil setting. In just a couple minutes, the cheese gets perfectly melted and the bread gets just a bit crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

Absolutely delicious. Maybe one day I'll be a meatball making expert and I'll look back and think this was laughable, but for now this is damn good. I have a new found respect for how far a good red sauce goes in impacting the overall taste. And getting the right bread is key. And hey, the meatballs tasted pretty good too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

HOW TO: homemade carbonara round two

My first attempt at homemade carbonara was fine, but it wasn't as good as I expected it to be. Since I still had some pancetta leftover, I tried again.

The first time around, I went with two kinds of bacon, just egg and cheese in the bowl, and served immediately after tossing the pasta and bacon in the egg mixture.

This time I went with straight up pancetta. I cooked it a bit longer to get it crispier, and draw out more flavor. The longer cooking time meant more wine was able to be added and absorbed into the meat. I also used some garlic powder to coat the pancetta, which browns on the outside of the meat nicely.

The biggest variation was that used a decent amount of heavy cream, in addition to my eggs and parmigiano reggiano. Also, once I tossed the pasta in the egg/cream, I returned everything to the bacon pan. The cream sauce absorbed the wine and bacon grease and turned a beautiful brownish color.

(1/100 - f4 - ISO2000)

As you can see, it's a lot creamier than the last time around. Which was the goal. Although it wasn't quite thick enough for my taste. And even though spaghetti is the traditional pairing for carbonara, it wasn't ideal for holding sauce.

Frankly, even though it looked great, and everything that went into it was great (cream, cheese, eggs, pancetta, wine--what's not to like?) it tasted a little bland.

Perhaps there's a way to let the sauce thicken (or maybe I just needed less cream) and add more flavor? It's good, but for the effort and the expense and the fattiness of the ingredients, I'm expecting something more.

death by caffeine

This site leaves more questions than answers. How quickly would I need to consume it? 24 hours would be a super ambitious goal to drink that many bottles, but is that too slowly for the death by caffeine effect?

And would the caffeine kill me or would my bladder explode first?

My favorite part is the button labeled "kill me."

Monday, July 19, 2010

War Across The Shore: VIDEO CONCLUSION

cell phone timeline

I got my first cell phone in the summer of 2004. I just ordered my 5th phone. They've all been free.

LG VX6000
July 2004 - May 2006

It was a decent phone. It had two plastic hinges and eventually one side broke off, but I was eligible for my New Every Two at that point.

LG VX8300
May 2006 - February 2008

This was my favorite phone. This had one strong hinge in the center and nice speakers on the side of the phone so you could always hear it ringing. This phone was still working when I upgraded as part of my New Every Two.

LG VX8350
February 2008 - May 2009

This phone was quite plain. They finally made a phone without a visible antenna. And yet it was ugly. It was broken during the Autopilot release party and I had to do an early upgrade.

Samsung Trance
May 2009 - July 2010

My first phone that wasn't an LG clamshell. I didn't mind the sliding aspect, but it wasn't a big deal. It seemed fine until I lost service while camping and never got it back. I took it into a Verizon store and they said it was dead. In a coincidence, I lost the charger the day before it died.

LG Accolade
July 2010 - April 2013

I'm now on my fifth phone. Of the previous four, the 8300 was the only that was still working when I upgraded.

1st Annual War Across The Shore: The Hidden Emails

After the conclusion of the two-week WATS battle, Mark had won 1 burrito smack. For posterity, here is the previously hidden email thread that reveals how the stakes got raised. In hindsight, Mark and I were quite prophetic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

old spice amazes the internets

This is my favorite of the 100+ personalized videos Old Spice produced yesterday.

But joke's on you, Old Spice! I already buy your products! You're wasting your money! Actually I prefer the original (aka classic) scent. How about you advertise for that?

record for longest tennis match BROKEN

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Just weeks after John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played at Wimbledon for 11 hours and 5 minutes, two men from Illinois have shattered their record.

Yesterday, Dave Fymbo and Kirat Doshi completed a three-set match that lasted over 8 years, starting in spring 2002. The first set was won by Mr. Fymbo, the second by Mr. Doshi. Play was halted and wasn't resumed until July 14, 2010.

The third set started with Kirat serving. After getting to 1-1, Dave opened up a 4-2 lead. Kirat responded by winning the next 3 games. Down 4-5, Dave held serve to extend the match, at 5-5.

Kirat held serve. So did Dave. 6-6.

And this point, instead of settling for a tiebreaker, they decided to play Wimbledon style, and keep going.

Kirat held serve. So did Dave. 7-7.

Kirat held serve. Dave did not. 9-7, Kirat.

It was a hell of a match.

Afterwards, they decided to keep going, play a mini-set, first to 3.

Of course, Dave breaks Kirat's serve in the opening game. Extends to 2-0. And holds on for the 3-1 victory.

So yesterday, Dave and Kirat played 20 tennis games, each winning 10. And each of them won a match yesterday. Sort of.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

futures update

So much for saying Brazil will win.

Anyways. Although I picked the two biggest busts of the Cup, Italy and France. My Holland and Germany picks look decent for now. And hey, there's Ghana!

Update 7/11: If Spain wins, I just lost a fictional $100. If Holland wins, I break even exactly.

HOW TO: make homemade carbonara

A double how-to Saturday!

I first had fettucine carbonara on vacation in Brooklyn in 1999. I was hooked.

I found a recipe in my Italian cookbook and gave it a shot. The recipe wasn't as daunting as it seemed. Matt's advice beforehand was to not overcook the eggs.

Here's the gist of the recipe I used, you sizzle up some pancetta (or American bacon) in a pan, with some garlic, olive oil and wine.

In a serving bowl, you mix two eggs with some parmigiano, pepper, and parsley.

You add the freshly cooked pasta (traditionally spaghetti) to the egg/cheese bowl and toss. And then you add the bacon, dripping with wine, to the pasta/egg bowl. That's right. I had to read that a few times, the raw egg mixture doesn't touch any heat at all. You just add the hot pasta to the eggs, and then add the bacon and serve.

- - -

The only pancetta I could find, came pre-diced into tiny cubes. So I decided to use both pancetta and American bacon. Double the flavor, double the texture, right? And I swear the proportions of the recipe are way off. It called for cooking 1.25 pounds of pasta, but only using two eggs. Since I was cooking for one, I barely used .25 pound of pasta, but I still used two eggs, since the one egg seemed so lonely in the bowl. Also, I didn't really cut down the bacon in the recipe, so it was fairly heavy on the bacon. Which is a good thing.

Here's a shot of the two kinds of bacon cooking in the wine.
(1/13 - f8 - ISO1250)

The rest was straightforward. I opted for fettuccine just because I don't like spaghetti much. I cooked the pasta, tossed in the cheesy/egg bowl, and then added the bacon. I plated it, took a picture, and took a bite. It was cold. Somehow the cold egg was enough to overpower the hot pasta and the hot bacon. So I zapped it for 30 seconds.

(1/100- f4 - ISO1250)

It was good. Though I thought that it hadn't reached my expectations. It was simple, fresh, and seemed very traditionally Italian. Perhaps I'd need a second opinion. The more I ate the more I liked it. But I'm still not sure if you couldn't get a better carbonara at Olive Garden. I don't know.

I think when it's served in restaurants, it's more like a full cream sauce, basically an alfredo with bacon. Well, this one had no cream or milk or anything, just egg and cheese. And I know I didn't overcook the eggs.

most popular post

If you're looking for my version of Go Meat or The Most Interesting Man In the World...
it's Sonic's Jr. Candy Sundae is deceiving.

Every couple months another person will be so disappointing in the Jr. Candy Sundae, that they will take the time to Google it, find my blog, and express their anger in a comment. The latest comment might be my favorite.

the joys of a blt and auto-levels

(1/20 - f5 - ISO2000)

Above is a BLT. Minus, of course, the T. Who likes tomatoes? Anyways, great sandwich, and great looking. But last night I discovered a one-second photoshop tip that turns the above picture, into the below picture. It's called auto-level and I think it's quite an improvement.

HOW TO: make thin pancakes

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the only pancakes I really like are the thin ones my Grandpa would make. I don't have lard, and I don't have a cast-iron skillet--mostly because it sounds like too much work. But I digress. He didn't have an official recipe, he just eyeballed everything.

So here's how I made mine this morning.

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
a little bit of fat (vegetable oil or butter)

That's it. Today I used canola oil. All the recipes online recommend cooking them in melted butter. So I figured instead of adding butter to the batter, I'd add oil. Whatever.

(I actually experimented with a different recipe I found online this morning. They told me to mix the flour and eggs together first. Well, that just creates eggy flour balls that never mixed with the milk. Terrible. Had to throw it out.)

So yeah, mix the flour and milk together first, then add the egg, and oil.

So I put my pan on medium heat, and let a pat of butter melt in the middle. Then I pour the batter into the butter zone. This helped keep the edges relatively circle like. The one time I tried it without a butter radius, the edges wanted to drip away from the middle like windex streaking down glass.

This batch made about 5 or 6 medium size pancakes. I top them with WARMED syrup and brown sugar. It looks like a crepe, tastes like awesome.

(1/20 - f6.3 - ISO1250)

I feel like I'm honoring Grandpa two ways: 1) By continuing the tradition of making pancakes his style. 2) My pancakes will never taste as good as his.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

italian food goals

I'm reading Heat by Bill Buford. The result is that I have goals of some Italian foods that I would like to learn how to make in my lifetime. I've already made my own pizza and my own all-purpose pasta/pizza sauce, but both of those are very Americanized.

Here are some dishes to learn over a lifetime:

thanks istockphoto

I was trying to find a photo that I had posted a long time ago. This is what I found instead.

on lebron

I don't see a lot of options for LeBron.

With Wade and Bosh reportedly both going to Miami...and Johnson sticking with the Hawks, Dirk staying with Dallas, and Amare going to the Knicks, there's really no one left to bring to a new team. Carlos Boozer?

Meaning, that if he wanted to go to Chicago, or stay in Cleveland, who's going to come in and help? I always thought that Chicago or Cleveland would be where he went, but assuming he would get at least Bosh to come with him.

He could go to Miami, and win 4-6 rings there. But he'd be part of a big 3. Bigger than Pierce, Allen and Garnett. His legacy would be that he won only when he relied on others. Some people wouldn't care about that, but does he?

So on the one hand you have Chicago and Cleveland with no help. And on the other you have Miami with too much help. (Though at this point Derrick Rose could be just enough, so Chicago could still look good. Though if that's the case, he should have moved quicker, to try and get Bosh. Unless he really wanted to win one on his own.)

But I'll throw this out. What about the Knicks. They signed Amare. They have a good coach. It's New York. Bringing titles to NY would be bigger than bringing titles to Chicago or Miami. And if they got LeBron and David Lee and Amare, that could be enough. And it would set up some great New York-Miami clashes.

So I would bet on Chicago or New York at this point. I don't think he wants to be part of a big 3, and while him and somebody would have made sense in Cleveland, who's he going to play with?

Update Wed. Afternoon: Boozer signs with the Bulls. With Rose, Noah and Boozer, the Bulls are an attractive team, where LeBron would still be the only Superstar. I stand by my earlier analysis of Chicago or New York.

Update Thurs. Afternoon: All reports, including the fact that LeBron has rented six cabanas in South Beach to celebrate, point to him signing with Miami. Which means that he doesn't mind not being the guy. It would indicate that he does want to win titles, by any means necessary. He knows that Kobe has 5, MJ had 6, so he needs to step in and dethrone Kobe now. Which on the one hand makes it seem like he has less ego, that he's willing to share the spotlight with Wade & Bosh. But on the other hand he scheduled a one-hour prime time show to reveal his decision which takes three seconds to announce.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

group of death?

Heading into the World Cup, Group G was hailed as the Group of Death, with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast. But let's rank the groups, just for fun. Since every group advanced two, I have to rank them based on how they played in the knockout round.

I'll give one point for a win in the first round, and two points for a win in the next two rounds.

Group E - 5 points [three wins for Netherlands]
Group H - 5 points [three wins for Spain]
Group D - 4 points [one win for Ghana, two wins for Germany]
Group A - 3 points [two wins for Uruguay]
Group B - 1 point [one win for Argentina]
Group F - 1 point [one win for Paraguay]
Group G - 1 point [one win for Brazil]
Group C - 0 points

So there you go, thanks to the U.S. and England, Group C had the worst performance, and therefore Group D had the most number of teams advancing.

thanks a lot, niraj!

In case you couldn't tell, the title is sarcastic.

This morning, Niraj's pet crocodile bit me.

Monday, July 05, 2010

a good walk spoiled: part four

I went to bed last night with an itch. An itch to play more golf. I woke up around 9 am, showered and shaved, and went to check the weather. Despite the previous forecast for rain, it looked like a nice day, and the forecast had been updated to hold off until afternoon showers. So I looked up nearby courses and found that there was one just a couple minutes away. According to this Google page, the greens fee was $12.00 and a reviewer mentioned playing the par 3 course.

When I arrived, I was surprised that the greens fee was $18.00. However, I was more surprised to find out, on the first tee, that this is not a par 3 course. The first hole is a 300-yard par 4. And I don't have a single wood in my bag.

But I rationalized, I haven't hit a wood since high school, so it probably would do more harm than good anyways. The father and son in front of me were nice enough to let me play with them. Here's how I did:

After three-putting the first hole, I decided it would be a good idea to keep track of my swings and my putts. Overall, I thought I swung the ball okay, and was more frustrated with my putting. The only penalty was on hole 5, the longest hole with a sharp dogleg, when my ball went a couple feet into the woods. I found it but had to take a drop. On the 3rd hole, it took me two swings to get out of a green side bunker, and I remember a pretty bad duff on the fairway. But those were the only holes where it took me more than 4 swings.

I marked my three best holes, all bogeys. On #2, I hit a 5-iron just to the left front fringe. From there I chipped it past the hole, onto the center of the green. My par putt was too long to be considered a real threat, and I did well enough just to get it close for the two-putt.

On #6, I crushed a 3-iron straight down the fairway, about 190 yards. Easily my best drive of the day. With 130 to the pin, I hit a 9-iron. It didn't come off cleanly, and it rolled into the bunker, and over the bunker. From where I hit it, I couldn't tell if I was in the rough or if it was going to keep rolling to the parking lot. When I walked to the green, I discovered the green extended past the elevated bunker, and my ball had actually landed completely on the green. This was my first and only Green In Regulation. My goal was to two-putt and get a par. But, as is so often my case, I can't get the first one close enough. I left myself probably an 8-footer or so, and I couldn't convert. That was my only chance at par.

On the last hole, it took me 3 swings to get up near the green. I found myself under a tree, with a bunker in front of me and not much green to work with on the other side. I wasn't even sure what to do. But I hit it and it came up and nicked some leaves above me. It cleared the sand trap, and rolled to about 6-8 feet from the hole. I walked over and nailed my first decent putt of the day. If only I was able to put together those two short game shots, with some of my good strokes from holes 2 or 6, then I would have had something.

- - -

I found it funny that I was +22 today, and I was also +22 two days ago at the par-3 course of Walnut Greens. Also, I think I've only played one full 18-hole course, in high school, and I'm pretty sure I shot a 123. I remember sending an email to someone with the subject line, easy as 1-2-3. So when I counted up my 57, I was pleased that I was able to outshoot a 61.5, my only previous benchmark. People always talk about breaking 100, so I guess that 50 would be a good score to aim for the next time I play a full 9-hole course.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

a good walk spoiled: part three

I went golfing today, for the first time in exactly one year. It's only the fourth time I've gone in Chicagoland. Since Matt and Niraj went last week, I proposed we play a dollar-a-hole Skins Game!

The highlights mark the skins won, the darker highlight represents double skins, carried over from a previous tie.

It felt like I played well. On the 2nd, 4th and 6th holes, I landed it on the green in one. Of course I three-putted all those holes, leaving me with bogeys on all of them. I went into the water on holes 1 and 3 (and hit the ball over the fence on #9) adding three penalty strokes that I usually avoid. Though looking at my scores, this was my worst outing. And it was much closer than our outing last year (9 strokes separating first and second, compared to 23 last year).

Matt had the best putt of the day--a 20-footer on hole 5 that tied the skin.

And Burnsy had the best hole score of the day--the only par for any of us. (The first par that I've recorded for Niraj on white tees.)

As for the skins, Matt had putting chances to tie on #3. His double bogey on #5 capped off by his great putt, included a penalty stroke for taking a drop after hitting into the long weeds. *And on the last hole, he had a short putt that would have won him the skin at 7 strokes that he pushed past the hole. In frustration, he conceded the hole. So I've docked him a penalty stroke, since his remaining putt (8th stroke) was a tough uphill shot.

And as for the 9th hole skin, Burnsy and I had to settle the tiebreaker on the putting green. Burnsy chose the spot and hole, and I beat him by a stroke, 4-3, to get the final skin. Matt chose not to participate.

Friday, July 02, 2010

BREAKING: U.S. finishes only one round behind Brazil

HOW TO: make the best damn chicken salad

I only discovered that I liked chicken salad over the holidays while having some with the in-laws. But it's not something that's good to buy in grocery stores. It's made with full-calorie mayo, who knows what preservatives, and it's not that fresh or healthy.

I'd made a few batches just using light mayo and pickle relish which canned chunks of chicken. It tasted good enough, but the canned chicken has a really bad smell. And it wasn't super great.

And then I saw Subway's commercial for their new Orchard Chicken Salad sandwich.

Last Sunday I finally tried it. It was good. Like really good. But then I started to realize things.

1. I could make that myself, and it would be fresher.
2. I could grill my own chicken breasts, instead of canned chicken.
3. Using my light Miracle Whip it would be healthier.
4. I could build on their recipe, making it better.

So I did.

I started by grilling two chicken breasts, hitting them with my chicken rub as soon as they come off the grill, when they're still hot and juicy. I chilled those and diced them up. Then I added a diced Granny Smith apple, some dried cranberries, golden raisins, and some crushed candied pecans. Then I added my Miracle Whip and pickle relish. And let the flavors mingle in the fridge.

To serve, I toasted some whole wheat Sara Lee bread, and placed two slices of romaine, my favorite lettuce by far. How's how it turned out:

(1/25 - f7.1 - ISO2000)

Photography note: Since I was indoors and went down to a 7.1 aperture, I needed a slow shutter and high ISO. The 7.1 aperture allowed me to get my the entire chicken salad in focus, and still have the blurry background effect on the back piece of toast. I'm pretty happy with this picture.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

HC now in widescreen HD

I am kicking myself for not doing this earlier. For five years, I've been posting pictures, and they've been going up as Blogger's "large" size. Which is max 400 pixels in any direction. If you had a main window width of 450, that might have made sense.

But I think in 2010 anyone can handle a 1024 width browser window, meaning, they can handle a main window of 650. So now I've upped my pictures to a width of 600. (To do those I have to go into the html code, this is not a Blogger setting.)

While the main window now applies to every page, I have to go back and edit the code for any pictures that I want to display wider. For example on my pizza post, the pictures used to be at 400 x 300. Now I've upped that 600 x 450.

For a difference of...(270,000 - 120,000) 150,000 new pixels, more than double what used to show.

But it's even worse on vertical shots. Remember that Blogger was capping it at 400 in any direction. So this Donovan collage I made was showing up as 240 wide x 400 tall, even though it could have handled a bigger width, and obviously a bigger height since the height is infinitely scrollable.

The new setting puts it at 600 wide x 1000 tall.

Old: 96,000 pixels
New: 600,000 pixels

One simple change and now it's showing up 6 times as big. And it looks great.

Similar story for this poster that would have a bigger impact on June 11.

the trials and tribulations of nba 2k9

All the joys of watching me play video games, without the visual interaction!

- - -

Not that long ago, I picked up NBA 2k9 (ps3) from Buying older games allows me to save money, plus considering these games don't change that much from year to year, and they have downloadable rosters with a community that continually updates them, I was able to play right away with current squads.

Although I first experimented with the Nuggets and with Deron's Jazz, the team I landed on as my team I would play my first franchise season was the Suns. All I really needed was Nash and Stoudemire. I traded for Stefan Curry to be my SG, and went small ball by dumping Grant Hill and placing Barbosa at SF. Robin Lopez is a serviceable C.

On the bench I've got Dragic and Channing Frye, both of whom are pretty bad. But to speed up the games I put it on 2-minute quarters, so I only have to go to the bench when I'm in foul trouble. To compensate for the short games, I set fouling out on 3 fouls. Which is nice, because picking up or drawing a foul in the first quarter forces strategic decisions. And as this was my first season, I set it to the 2nd of 5 difficulty levels.

I'm not that into NBA games, the last NBA game I owned was NBA 2k1 on Dreamcast. But the game is really good.

Anyways. I started a 29-game season. And I went 25-4, securing the best record in the league. The few games I lost were usually buzzer beaters or overtime games. My strategy was full court press, which ideally would create 8-second violations or turnovers on bad passes. On offense I used a lot of Stoudemire pick and roll, transition threes with Curry, and Nash creating easy buckets for his teammates.

As the #1 seed in the West, I drew the Spurs in the first round and swept them in four games.

Next up, the Hornets.

In Game 1, I didn't think much of them as I beat them easily, something like 29-15. I then proceeded to lose Games 2, 3, and 4. Suddenly, the best team in the league was facing an elimination game.

The problem was that Chris Paul was too good for my full court press. And they were killing me on the offensive boards. David West was all over Robin Lopez. I played those three games all in one sitting and I had to turn it off for the fear of getting knocked out in the second round.

I had to climb out of a 1-3 deficit. I was not in a good mood after that. My wife, of course, didn't understand. She was say things like, "it's just a game" and "you shouldn't care so much about that video game." Clearly she didn't understand that I was at risk of losing weeks and weeks of progress in one night. To get knocked out in the 2nd round! To the Hornets!

But later, in a better mindset, I came back to it and started winning again. I'm not exactly sure how I did it, if I abandoned the press or not, but I was able to force and win a game 7.

Next up, the Lakers.

My strategy here was to set it to double team Kobe whenever he got the ball. An issue that created was when I had my full court press on, my two guards would try and trap the Lakers' PG, leaving Kobe unguarded. But I believe in sticking with what brought you. So it was a hybrid of a press, trying to make sure Kobe didn't get hot.

It worked and I won the first two games at home, and game 3 on the road.

Up 3-0, I wasn't super concerned about sweeping the Lakers. For some reason, I couldn't get a shot to drop in the first quarter. And then Stoudemire got in foul trouble. Game 4 was a Laker blowout.

Game 5 was back in Phoenix. I thought for sure at home, I would take care of business. But this was a close game for the most part. With some good baskets early in the 4th, I was up 6 points with about 40 seconds to go.

The Lakers scored and then fouled Nash. During the season I think I was 64/66 from the line with Nash. Money in the bank. Yet here, he only made 1 of 2. Up 5 with about 30 seconds to go.

The Lakers come down and miss a shot, Curry with the rebound. The problem is that Curry is a terrible free throw shooter. He can knock down the three, but is seriously under 50% on the season. Maybe I just never figured out his rhythm. He did knock down two key free throws in the Hornets series. But here? Two bricks. Lakers down 5 with the ball and about 15 seconds to go.

I think Kobe scores with 8 seconds, cutting my lead to 3. It's okay, I'll just inbound to Nash--L.A. steals the inbound pass. Now there's a frantic couple of seconds as the Lakers pass it around, before Lamar freakin' Odom shoots a three from the left wing with a hand in his face. The ball leaves his hand at 0.4 on the clock and it hits the bottom of the net. Overtime, tied at 30-30.

At this point, I'm in shock. I've just choked away a lead that should have put me in the Finals, and now I've got to go out and play overtime.

With 2-minute quarters, overtime is automatically set to only 1 minute. Lose the tip, or miss the first shot, and all of a sudden you might find yourself fouling the other team. I did win the tip and get a dunk from Stoudemire, but Kobe responds with a three. Again I go up the court and get a quick basket, and sure enough, the Lakers score again. The Suns are down 1 with 8 seconds remaining.

I know my odds are better with Stoudemire in the paint than with a Nash jumpshot, but I don't know if I have enough time. I move the ball up the floor, try and get somebody open, think about shooting, decide to pass the ball, but it's too late. I pass to Amare with only a second left and the buzzer sounds without an attempt. I just CHOKED the game away.

Furthermore, Stoudemire had a huge game. Something like 25 of my 34 points. And I wasted it.

Now it's time for game 6. On the road. I was still shell-shocked from the game 5 choke and knew I had to dig in. Unfortunately, again in L.A., Stoudemire got into foul trouble. For really the first time all year, I put in Channing Frye and was counting on him to keep it going. And he responded. By the end of the 3rd, Frye was 4/4, mostly in the paint, and it was a tight game.

In the 4th, I had a choice. Ride the hot hand of Frye or put in Amare who is cold on the bench, and one foul away from fouling out. To start the quarter I kept in Frye.

And wouldn't you know, on a pick and roll, Nash finds Frye going to the basket, and he gets his dunk blocked, no foul called. That is rare. Usually dunks are guaranteed, but at the very least, there is usually a foul. So it's a back and forth game, and I know it's time to put in Amare.

I think I was down 3 in the 4th, but through a nice steal I cut it to being down 1. Bringing it up the floor with about 8 seconds, I learned from my past mistake. I get into the frontcourt and call timeout. 5+ seconds on the clock. Time for one last shot. It might not be enough time for a pick and roll, but I'm going to try.

Amare inbounds to Nash, Amare sets the pick and then immediately goes to the basket. Nash flings a bounce pass, THROUGH Kobe's legs, and into Amare's hands. He goes up for the dunk with 2 seconds to go. And gets it blocked by Bynum. No call. Buzzer.

I can't believe it. Apparently 2k9 really has the L.A. refs figured out.

Game 7 in Phoenix

Here's the thing about these games. I think over the long haul, I proved that my team can win. 25-4 in the regular season. But when it comes down to one game 7, it's only 8 minutes. Anything can happen.

And the Lakers came out hot, got a steal off Amare, and before I know it, it's 6-2 LAL. But I respond, and when the Lakers make a 2nd quarter subsitution, I heavily press on their bench. I was able to trap Vujacic for an 8-second violation. Relying on Amare again, my team was 8-8 shooting in the first half, and at the break it was 17-6 Suns. I just went on a 15-point run.

From there it was clock management and solid play. I didn't miss a shot until garbage time, going 14-14 at one point. Final score: 29-17. Amare had 21, more than the Lakers. Nash had 11 assists. The Suns scored 17 in the first half, as many as the Lakers did all game.

And I never had to make free throws.

In the East, the Hawks beat the Celtics in 7, so the Suns are about to play the Hawks in the Finals. Whew.