Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2013 Nba Draft

It's that time of the year - time for my annual NBA draft preview. I wish I could feel confident about this year's edition, but with a 6 week old baby that is literally crying while I type this, it is going to be a little bit more of a challenge. That doesn't mean I don't have an opinion on the Timberwolves (#9 and #26) or the Jazz (#14 and #21) or certain prospects. This will be brief, but I want certain thoughts written down for future years.

Thought 1 - Alex Len is going to be terrible. I really have no idea how anyone can look at his stats or watch game film and consider this person to be anything but a late round selection. He is tall and big, but the big issue is that he isn't very good. I'm not a big Mason Plumlee fan, but I would much rather have Plumlee than Len. My opinion comes from watching more than a few Maryland games and wondering why there was so much hype surrounding Len.  He is so awful that it would be the most Cleveland thing to do to draft him instead of Noel and Porter. (And if I was a Cavs fan I would hope for Porter or Noel and nobody else).

Thought 2 - I want the Jazz to get a point guard. I love Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum in that order, but assuming those three are gone I would have zero problem with the Jazz using their first pick on Shane Larkin. I hate to use cliche's like "he just knows how to play" but with Larkin I truly believe that cliche is true with him. I have concerns about his size and that he really only had one good year, but he is worth the risk at 14.

Thought 3 - I'm on the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bandwagon for the Twolves at #9. I know that advanced stats like him, and you might as well take a shot on a prototypical two guard. I wish I had better analysis, but I never once say him play and am only speculating based on other people's opinion.

Thought 4 - Cody Zeller and Shabazz Muhammad are worth the risk. Zeller seems obvious because he has the numbers and is only knocked down because of one bad NCAA tournament game. Muhammad is more of an educated risk because of the UCLA factor (they generally play better) and because he was a top recruit. If I was an NBA team in a weak draft, I'm ok taking a chance on a former can't miss recruit who might just have had a tough year in college.

Thought 5 - Give me Victor Oladipo and I will feel great about my draft. I loved watching him play in college and fully believe that last year's stats is more indicative than the previous two years. I would certainly draft Oladipo over Mclemore, Len and Bennett. For me I lean more towards Porter, but wouldn't fault a team for taking Oladipo over Porter.

I will see if I can translate more thoughts, but my main goal is for the Jazz to get a decent point guard from the draft.

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Dad

As a new Dad I've been given the advice to write down my thoughts. This is probably the absolute worst forum (public) to do it in because I am exhausted right (I'm surprised I didn't actually write "write" there) now, but here it goes.

Things are pretty fresh right now considering that 27 hours ago my first child entered this world. The range of emotions have been pretty intense. I wanted to try to remember this time in as much clarity as possible. I want to remember the feeling of seeing my daughter being born because it was more amazing and wonderful than my wildest expectations. I thought that I was going to be immune to that "magical moment" and had even planned a blog post about how I was cynical about the miracle of birth. It is somewhat too bad I didn't write that, because I would have been able to look back and seen I was dead wrong.

To give a little context, I came home from work on Wednesday night and was greeted with a pregnant wife telling me "if this isn't labor then I don't know what I am going to do." At 7pm I started tracking the contractions. It is kind of crazy how one gets when something so important is happening and you have pretty much the smallest role possible. For me, I take that one role extremely seriously and make sure that if I am asked to time contractions that I become the best contractions timer this world has ever seen. By the time 8pm rolled around I was able to inform the doctor about the length of time in between contractions, how long they had been going on and the duration of each one. The nurse that I talked to was impressed with my notetaking, which just confirmed in my head about my ability to write down numbers when M told me to.

Anyway, we drove to Riverside at around 8pm and once the nurses checked M out it was clear that this was the night. M gave birth to Lucy at 2:19am and it was the best moment of my life. Going in I was terrified about M being in labor, but it ended up literally bringing tears to my eyes. I am so grateful to have entered this stage of my life. And to know that I have friends and family that have already been so supportive makes the whole situation that much better. There will be many sleepless nights and frustrations ahead, but it will all be worth it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Parent I Want To Be

M is now officially one week away from her date. This time period is interesting because it makes any and all activities (such as writing a blog post) transform into "will she go into labor" activities. That provides a strange calm before the storm. The anxiety comes from knowing labor is imminent, but with that knowledge means that we aren't really planning anything. That allows for days like today, which included sleeping till 9am, watching tv, going on a long walk, spending time with friends and watching basketball. I know that will change soon, but until that comes I'm not really sure what else I should be doing.

Anyway, we are excited for this new change in our life and with that I would like to get my thoughts down on the parent I do and do not want to be. The first thing that I want to do as a parent is to get the "big stuff" right. First and foremost that means maintaining a loving relationship with M. Besides just providing a good example of a long-term, committed relationship, it is important baby girl to be a home where people actually like each other. Also, by placing our relationship first it will hopefully instill the characteristic of being selfless and of caring about others. I don't want baby girl to feel like she is the center of the universe and grow up to become a narcissistic, selfish, entitled individual.

However, that being written I want to give baby girl as much love and support as we have seen from other parent friends. She should know that our love for her is unconditional, and that as her parents we will take care of her. It is on us to provide the same childhood as was provided by our parents. This is the deal we made when we got married and decided to have children.

Also, I would like my child to know their family. It might be easier for one side since we live in the same city, but I also want to make sure that she knows my family in Mississippi. That means trips back home, vacations together, etc. Her relationship with her grandparents, uncles, aunts and nephew is important.

I want to have pizza/movie nights with her.

I want to pay every penny for four years of college.

I want to encourage her to read, and in academics I want to cultivate M's work ethic in her.

I want her to be an independent thinker, who is able to make her own decisions based on careful thought.

I want her to grow up in a world that is accepting of others (ex. gay marriage) and does not pass judgement on people just because they are different.

For all of this I will try to provide as best of an example as possible. Who knows what life will bring with her or how we will actually parent? It is hard to predict something that is so new for us. And I know how big of a factor luck is in all of this. I will do my best.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Life Before Baby Girl

This past weekend I was in my former home of Minneapolis and it gave me plenty of time to celebrate, reflect and self-analyze. One of the big topics of conversation (besides the obvious fact that Brian and Leah were getting married) was the upcoming birth of our first child. The good news was that despite our nerves, M didn't give birth early and I am now back home ready at a moment's notice to drive to Riverside Hospital.

Now as we look forward, I felt like it was time to update the old blog with a few words on life before Baby Girl. (This was actually my friend Shelley's advice.) First off - it has been made crystal clear to me how my life will change with our family growing by 50%. It was a common theme from recent parents that kind of went like "Having a kid is the most awful thing in the world. You won't sleep. You will fight. Your life is no longer about yourself. You will lose friends. Did I mention you won't sleep? Oh yeah, but it's great." I take that from a group of people, so please no one take offense to this somewhat accurate description of the advice on getting prepared to have a child.

Anyway, my current life consists of a lot of fun activities surrounded by a stressful, but rewarding job. Unlike in years past, I do love my job and find that often my conversation comes back to that subject. For example, I just finished a text conversation with a coworker about work, personalities, meetings, etc. It seems strange to me that people that often really don't like work (and there are plenty of people out there) seem to talk about it often. While I do have my complaints, I feel like an impostor in that I do like what I am doing on a daily basis. And if you think I am just am saying this in a public forum, then grab me after a few drinks and ask me the same question and see if you get a different answer.

Other aspects of my life include plenty of traveling for both fun and work. This year I've been to  Chicago (hockey game and visiting friends), New York (work), Miami (work), San Antonio (birthday/babymoon), Indianapolis (basketball), Montreal (Bachelor Party) and then most recently Minneapolis. I've been on a plane for three consecutive weeks, which is somewhat of an issue since I'm still not completely over the debacle of the US Airways flight form Miami that I wrote about here. Still I love traveling, and can't picture my life without it.

Also, another thing I enjoy is going out with friends in Columbus. It isn't an unfamiliar sight to see me at the bars in the Short North with the same group of people. My perfect weekend would be a wonderful date night with M (maybe Cafe Istanbul and a movie) on Friday and then out drinking with friends on Saturday. I know that a lot of this will change with the new addition to our family, but I think it is important to at least try and keep a balanced life.

On the smaller scale I love sleeping in (9:30am sounds good to me), reading the Sunday NY Times and taking naps on the weekend. I know this will sound fanciful in a month. Also, I've been on a walking kick lately as I got a fitbit and have been tracking my "steps" for over a month now. I've been walking about 11k steps a day, which is just over my goal number of 10k. I'm not sure how long this will last, but as it currently stands I enjoy this change in my life. I feel more active, more apart of my community and as a side benefit I'm closer to my playing weight. It does cut into my tv watching time, but when I am lazy and need to relax, I do like watching The Daily Show, Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey.

Also, when I am lazy I enjoy reading magazines like Kiplinger's, Money and Time, which means I am officially a middle-age man who likes conversations about personal finance and world events. Also, I've been on a kick with David Halberstam books and am currently reading one on the 1950s appropriately called The Fifties. There isn't much better than sitting in my backyard on a sunny day with a cocktail and something to read.

My life is generally one of leisure and fun. I do have some complaints about people being passive-aggressive or ungrateful, but I can already look back on those concerns and think that they probably aren't too important. Thankfully the big stuff (my wife, our house, our finances) are in order and instead of worrying about the next paycheck, I can be concerned about things of a smaller scale. In looking over Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs we are pretty much at the top, which isn't a terrible place to be.

Hopefully with the lack of sleep in front of me, I can come back eventually and update this blog to see truly how much life has changed. Maybe it will be as bad as everyone says? I think my expectations are properly lowered, but still I am excited about welcoming Baby Girl Malphurs into this world.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Incompetence of US Airways

Air travel has always been a big part of my life. I've flown across both the Pacific and the Atlantic. I've flown commercial and private. I've flown in coach and first class. Lately it seems like a month doesn't go by without at least one flight. I'm not a novice when it comes flying, and that is why I can write with some confidence that last week's flight on US Airways was the most terrifying flight of my life.

Last Thursday, I was to fly from Miami (on store visits) to Charlotte and then back to Columbus. We were to arrive back in to Columbus, go to work on Friday and then M and I were flying from Columbus to San Antonio for our babymoon. That was the first of what ended up being three plans.

On the first flight from Miami to Charlotte there was some turbulence in the air, which was concerning, but nothing that hasn't happened before on countless other flights. It went from concerning to terrifying when the pilot came on the loudspeaker and in a worried/frantic voice said "Everyone sit down. Flight attendants prepare the oxygen masks. We need to make an emergency landing in Orlando." My coworker sitting next to me immediately turned pale and started sobbing. From then on we listened to every little sound on the plane as if we could control what was going on if things went poorly. When the plane made a loud rattling sound that after about 5 minutes just abruptly stopped into dead silence, it was hard not to think that at least one the engines went out. It felt like we were gliding like a paper airplane.

Now looking back it is is hard to know what ended up happening. It is unlikely that something like the engine going out actually happened, but at the time the only thing that could go through my head was the pilot's scared voice about the oxygen masks. Of course we landed ok (thus this blog post) and ended up getting a hotel in Orlando. It wasn't a very pleasant experience, and one that I blame completely on the incompetence of US Airways. I would suggest that you do whatever it takes to fly someone other than them. Am I being too harsh? In addition to the above consider;
  • The line to get a hotel was about 3 hours long, so we ended up booking our own hotel in Orlando with our own money. US Airways was supposed to pay for the hotel (like most airlines), but we haven't seen a dime towards those costs.
  • I was going to fly from Orlando through Charlotte to San Antonio to meet up with M on our babymoon. My thought was that it made no sense to fly all the way back to Columbus on Friday to get back on a plane to fly to San Antonio. The first flight I had in the morning from Orlando to Charlotte ended up also having problems. Instead of flying into Charlotte, the plane had to land back in Orlando. 
  • When I got off my 2nd diverted flight, I talked to US Airways rebooking agent (now on speed dial) and was informed that 1) I would have to fly back to Columbus and not San Antonio and 2) when I asked about compensation, I was told I could send an email.
  • The result was 4 consecutive meals at the airport and 22 out of 30 hours spent on a plane or in the airport. I had 45 minutes at home to change my bag, take a shower and get ready to go back to the airport for my next couple flights.
So the end result is that no I don't think I am being too harsh. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

I just donated money to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. I would recommend that if you share my beliefs, do the same.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2nd Amendment

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

That's it. That's the 2nd Amendment. Does it mean that everyone has the freedom to have guns or does it mean that the military is allowed to have guns? What about the part (you know two out of the first three words) about being "well regulated." How can the framers of the Constitution anticipate the type of guns that are now readily available? 

People use those words as the end of any debate. Rational thought? No need when you have the text of the 2nd amendment that ensures the right to "keep and bear Arms. It is hard to have an intelligent conversation about someone when they are stuck on words written 200+ years ago. If you strongly believe in the 2nd amendment then you might just want to stop any and all conversation about the subject. Your mind is made up and nothing can convince you otherwise.

I think that the 2nd Amendment is ambiguous and not something that applies (or should apply) to assault weapons. Also, certain types of gun control (waiting periods, background checks, etc) make sense and still should be able to safely fit the qualifications of the 2nd amendment. Just because one might believe in the the 2nd amendment doesn't mean one can't also believe in some forms of gun control. It is both exciting and depressing to read about how we have technology to make safer guns. Why can't we have that conversation? Why do the words quoted at the beginning of the article mean we can't work on technology that makes sure that only the owner of the gun can fire the gun? Nothing in that article suggests to me that the Federal government is going to be taking away your guns. 

Also, are Conservatives and gun fanatics ok with mentally ill people to have guns? If you aren't against any gun control at all then you could just as easily use some of the same arguments to say that their rights to bear Arms shouldn't be infringed. Where do you draw the line? Should a 5 year old have a gun? It seems like a ridiculous argument, but then again the NRA president thinks that more guns will help solve the problem of gun violence. Of course. The Onion might have framed the debate best by replacing guns with Gorillas in "Gorilla Sales Skyrocket After Latest Gorilla Attack." Does that argument make any less sense then some of the NRA's public statements?

I'm not saying that isn't ok to like guns. You can and you can support the 2nd Amendment. You can support as little regulations as possible. However, if you do you are also supporting gun violence. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. Just like you can't expect less taxes, a strong defense, no changes to Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security and a balanced budget. There isn't a coincidence that the *gun homicide rate per 100,000 in America is 3.2%, while in other countries like Canada (0.1%), Australia (0.1%), Japan (0%) and Norway (0.5%). Americans own more guns and have "no federal regulations banning the semiautomatic assault weapons or large capacity ammo magazines often used in mass shootings."

*Stats are from the January 14th, 2013 Time Magazine.

We have more guns than other countries and we have more gun violence. We have an organization (the NRA) that refuses to have an open conversation about guns and a political party that (Republicans) that will not stand up to them. Also, we have voters that like the access to these type of guns and the very limited regulations. Again, you can think that way, but please stop saying you are "praying for the victims" when something like Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook happens. You are part of the problem. The price to pay to living in a country that is obsessed with protecting the 2nd Amendment are mass murders like this. That doesn't mean we shouldn't look at other ways of preventing mass murders, but to take any gun control off the table means we aren't addressing the main problem. 

I'm tired of all of it. With M being pregnant, I don't like living in country that allows this violence to happen without any solutions even being discussed. I'm planning on donating money to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and will match any contributions (up to a certain amount) that readers of this blog also make. I'm looking for help and hope that people will no longer turn a blind eye to something that is a fixable problem.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How to choose a college?

For most of your early life decisions are made for you. As a child you aren't able to pick where you live, go to school, etc. In my case I had loving parents that made the correct decisions (besides giving me a Game Boy or putting a TV in my room) about my life. Now of course there are certain decisions that you can influence, but for the most part they are minor. That all changes when you graduate from high school and choose what college to attend. 

For me, I can remember that decision making process clearly. My parents provided advice when asked, but mostly let me chart my own course with that decision. The autonomy with that decision was something that was extremely motivating. I ended up applying to 7 schools as far north Wabash College in Indiana as far east as the University of Richmond and as far south/west as LSU. Out of all of those I picked Miami University, and I haven't regretting that decision once.

The reasons why I picked Miami was that I wanted a new experience in a new part of the country and Miami fit all my other qualifications: commitment to undergraduate education, college town, mid-sized university. One thing I hadn't considered when looking at schools, but lucked into by choosing Miami  was Miami's strong study abroad program. Like many of my classmates, I took advantage of this program, and I am thankful to have spent a summer in Asia. 

Picking Miami changed my life and could possibly be the biggest, most important decision I made when you consider the butterfly effect. That was the first time my life hit a fork in the road, and if I hadn't gone to Miami there is almost zero chance I would end up in Minneapolis, etc, etc. 

Why am I thinking about this at this current moment? I just read this great article from Frank Bruni on How to Choose a College? When you think about how big of a decision picking a school is shouldn't this article be required reading? The below passage from the article is something that I fully believe is true:

"If you're among the lucky who can factor more than cost and proximity into where you decide to go, college is a ticket to an adventure beyond the parameters of what you've experienced so far. It's a passport to the far side of what you already know. It's a chance to be challenged, not coddled. To be provoked, not pacified."