Sunday, November 30, 2014

Black Friday 2014 - Samsung Smart TV

Samsung TV remote
As tweeted earlier this week, I splurged again for a big ticket home item. First the buffet, then the clothing armoire, and now a new TV.

I got a new TV because I watched most of last weekend's Niners game with the right half of the screen dimmed. It would usually go away if I turned off and on the TV. But it didn't this time. My Toshiba Regza 47" is almost 8 years old, so I knew the problem was only going to get worse.

I spent the next few days conducting my own due diligence as to what would be my next TV.

My requirements:
- Samsung or Sony
- LED/LCD flatscreen (no Ultra 4K yet)
- 48" minimum screen size
- 1080p
- internet access and ability to set up apps such as Skype, YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime
- price not to exceed $750
- order it before Thanksgiving

It then came down to where I'd buy the TV - Amazon or Best Buy. I loved Best Buy's offer on all TV's with at least a 51" screen would get free delivery, setup and haul old TV off for recycling. Earliest date I could get the TV would have been today.

I ended up going to Amazon. As an Amazon Prime member, I'd get free shipping and delivery by Black Friday, 2 days sooner than Best Buy's earliest date. It would arrive in time to watch Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan game.

I chose a Samsung 48" LED 6350 series 1080p Smart TV with a quad processor. I used my remaining American Express Membership Rewards points which helped me keep the total price (tax included) under $600 -- 1/2 the cost of the old TV bought in 2006. I'll put the old TV out curbside for donation this week.

My housemate Wil brought in the TV while I was out at bowling practice. When I got home shortly before noon, he helped me take out the TV from the box, assemble the stand and turn on the TV. I was surprised at how much lighter the new TV was than the old one. So light in weight that I was able to place it under one arm and hold it without much effort.

Here's what the setup screens looked like:

The setup instructions were extremely easy. Once the stand was assembled, it took no more than 5 minutes to get the TV on.

Smart TV access is not yet installed due to the terrible wifi connection in the living room. A wifi repeater and ethernet connectors are on order which should strengthen the wifi connection.

Until then, access to Amazon Prime films and YouTube is on hold for now. Can't wait.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Farewell to the Flan Man

San Francisco Giants nation has suffered 2 losses in the past 2 days. Yesterday, 3rd baseman and 2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval signed a 5-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Today, Giants 3rd base coach Tim Flannery announced his retirement. Most Giants fans know 'Flan' for his band, The Lunatic Fringe, and their involvement in community events, most notably, their work in assisting Bryan Stow, a Giants fan severely injured in a parking lot at Dodgers stadium in March 2011.

In his role as 3rd base coach, Flan is famous for his animated, enthusiastic directions to Giants baserunners. During the 2014 post season, he amused fans with his overestimation of Buster Posey's baserunning speed. Posey was thrown out at home 3 times.

My favorite memory of Tim Flannery was on May 25, 2013 in a home game versus the Colorado Rockies. In the bottom of the 10th inning, the Giants were down 5-4. Angel Pagan hits a deep driving shot into right field, enabling baserunner Brandon Crawford to score and tie the game. Flannery appears near the end of the video clip. He frantically waves Pagan home while in a sprint alongside Pagan on the way to a walk-off inside-the-park home run to win the game 6-5. For me, it was the most memorable moment for the 2013 season.

Man oh man, Flan. I wish you nothing but the best for you and your family. I'm going to miss you and Pablo so much.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 World Series Film

source: SF Examiner
Last Monday (November 10) Fox Sports 1 aired 2014's World Series Film. As I did in 2012, I recorded it on my DVR when it re-aired Wednesday morning.

I immediately watched when I got home from bowling and watched it again the next evening. The DVD is on order at Amazon and will be available to ship on November 25.

Like I did with the 2012 World Series film, I'll probably watch the DVR recording at least once a week for the next year.

As mentioned in my November 25, 2012 entry, the team that wins the World Series usually chooses a well-known actor who is an avid fan of the team.

For the 2010 film, it was Rob Schneider. 2012, Benjamin Bratt. 2013 (Boston Red Sox), Ben Affleck. This year's narrator, Colin Hanks.

The 2012 film ended with a very funny segment of Giants players doing Hunter Pence impersonations. For 2014, players did impersonations of none other than NLCS and World Series MVP, Madison Bumgarner.

Below is a video clip. Performances by Bruce Bochy, Jeremy Affeldt, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Bumgarner's post season housemate Tim Hudson, Javier Lopez, 2012's subject Hunter Pence, and Michael Morse.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Moving in, phase III: Self-Espressions

TV stand
Shoe Cabinet
As I'm gradually settling in and unpacking the rest of my boxes, you may have noticed I'm very partial to furniture in an espresso color.

Bathroom Wall Cabinet
Coffee Table
Rack of hooks
The latest piece of "espression", a clothing armoire, will arrive in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

My Favorite Highlights of SF Giants' 2014 Post Season

L to R: Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence

Without a doubt, Madison Bumgarner dominated the 2014 post season. Without him, San Francisco does not get a third World Series title in 5 years.

But the humble Bumgarner will tell you as well as all Giants players and management, they credit their success as a team effort.

For example, 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval batted .366 with 26 hits. Right fielder and media darling Hunter Pence batted .333 with 22 hits. If Bumgarner hadn't overwhelmed with his cyborg like statistics: 52.2 innings pitched, 7 appearances, 6 of them starts (including a complete game shutout), a stingy 1.03 ERA, Pence or Sandoval would have been a shoo-in for World Series or NLCS MVP.

Pitching, defense and "small ball" were the key components for the Giants to capture World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014. In the photo for this blog entry, 3 of the 4 players - Bumgarner, Sandoval, and Posey have played on all 3 championship teams. None are yet at the age of 30. Pence, with 2 World Series rings, is the oldest at 31.

So I'll close out with my favorite highlights of the San Francisco's 2014 post season run to the World Series.

NLCS, Game 5, bottom 9th inning.
Left fielder (natural 1st baseman) Travis Ishikawa hits a 3-run walk-off home run to win the National League pennant. See October 17 blog entry.

World Series, Game 7, top 3rd inning.
Rookie 2nd baseman Joe Panik dives for a smash off Kansas City's Eric Hosmer. Not only does Panik stop the ball, he flips the ball from his glove hand to shortstop Brandon Crawford to force out baserunner Lorenzo Cain. Crawford is then able to relay a strong throw to 1st baseman Brandon Belt. The initial call of safe at 1st base is overturned and changed to a double play. The momentum the Royals had gathered until the double play suddenly ended.

World Series, Game 4, bottom 5th inning.
Giants are down 4-3. Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson makes an awesome diving catch in shallow center field off Giants batter Juan Perez. Hunter Pence, on 3rd base knows Dyson is going to have a hard time making a strong throw to home plate after the diving catch. Pence tags up and scores to tie the game 4-4.

World Series, Game 4, top 6th inning.
Score is tied 4-4. Brandon Belt fields a ground ball hit by Kansas City's Nori Aoki. Belt touches 1st base, then throws to Crawford who relays a strong throw back to Belt to complete the 3-6-3 double play.

Wild Card Elimination Game, top 1st inning.
A do-or-die game and the first playoff game for the Giants, Brandon Crawford's grand slam home run at PNC Park to start the game sets the stage for another successful run to a third World Series title in five years.

Honorable Mention, Michael Morse. NLCS Game 5, bottom 8th inning and World Series Game 7, top 4th inning.
His home run in NLCS Game 5 ties the game at 3-3 versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
His RBI single in World Series Game 7 allows Pablo Sandoval to score and break the 2-2 tie in the top of the 4th inning, ends up being the final score and enables San Francisco to win their third World Series Championship in 5 years.

Special thanks to G4MarchMadness for the terrific YouTube videos.