Sunday, June 25, 2017

San Francisco Pride Weekend 2017

San Francisco's Pride Weekend took place this weekend. The first festival took place in 1970 with approximately 54,000 attendees.

This year's festival (47th) estimates 2.3 million attendees.

Pride. In the name of love. Take it away, Bono.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

USBC Bowling Academy

Summer season began on my Monday night league last month. Wednesday night, 2 weeks ago.


As it is with the beginning of the season, there are bowlers completely new to the sport and there are bowlers that are returning after an extended absence.

If after those few weeks you find your game isn't where you want it to be, a great resource is the USBC Bowling Academy page on YouTube.

For a more extensive library, go directly to the website.

In my April 23, 2017 entry, I talked about relaxed grip pressure and loose arm swing. USBC has 2 videos that discuss those very subjects.

On relaxed grip pressure:

On loose arm swing:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Transportation in Italy, France and Spain

traffic in Rome
Pictured on the left is a typical traffic day in Rome. No surprises here. Nothing's orderly and lots of horn honking.

When we got back from Italy, I couldn't help notice that New York traffic seemed tame compared to Rome.

Cars in Western Europe are much smaller than what most drive in the United States.
Parking spaces are few, if any, in the central part of the city are small and difficult to get into. Most trucks, SUV's and mini-vans are used for commercial or business purposes.

Personally, this was nice to see. I have never been a big car person and I haven't owned an automatic transmission since 1988. I'd estimate 75%-85% of the cars I saw were manual stick shifts, including the minivans.

motor scooter parking
If you don't drive or take public transit, many get around by scooter. I saw a few older ones with some rust, but most were newer and in good condition.

Most of the United States is very car dependent so it isn't likely we'd ever see anything like the photo.

As much as I love having a car, I'd be willing to drive less if we had public transit systems that are much more reliable.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Western Mediterranean Vacation - Norweigan Cruise Lines

source: Norweigan Cruise Lines
It's been hectic since I returned from vacation almost a week ago.

After a day at the office, it was back on the road with suitcase and laptop in tow to head to the greater Sacramento area (Auburn) to train for my new position at work.

When I returned from Auburn, it was the San Francisco USBC Championships yesterday and today. Considering I hadn't bowled in 3 weeks, my 9-game tournament average was still above my season (book) average.

I fully intended to write about the logistics of the vacation (the flight, hotel room, cruise ship room, food on ship, shore excursions at port, etc.), but I'm fried. Details to come in future posts.

For those of you that saw my vacation photos on Facebook and are interested in taking a similar vacation, I've included a screenshot of our cruise package.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Position Round Roll-Off Drama / First 600 Series

1st 600 series, May 3, 2017
In league bowling, a season begins and ends like a school year. It starts in August or September and ends in early-to-mid May.

My Monday night league at Bel Mateo ended last week. Wednesday's league at Classic Bowl will end this week.

In the first half of the season (September to December), both teams finished in the top 10. In the bowling league world, any finish below the top 4 is the equivalent to those lame participation awards youth leagues give out so no one's egos are too bruised. Your team still gets cash payouts, but not nearly as much as the top teams would receive.

We improved considerably in the second half (January to May). Both teams ended the regular season in first place. Monday's team, a 1/2 game margin. Wednesday's by 2 games. The top 4 teams then bowl each other to determine final standings - also known as position round.

Monday's team needed to win 2 games to finish first. We swept. Our wins were so close that our opponent's total pin count was only 7 less than ours.

Wednesday's team needed to win 2 games to finish first. Despite achieving my first ever 600 series, we won only 1. It was now a tie. Sudden death roll-off time. Team to win best 2 out of 3 captures first place.

We lost the first sudden death game. Had to win the next 2 to retain and finish in first place. Like Monday night position round, every frame was an intense battle. Held firm and won the final 2 games.

After position round, the final night is roll-off and sweepers. Roll-off is the 1st half winner versus the 2nd half winner to determine league champion. Jason, my Wednesday night teammate for the past 6 years, was my opponent in last Monday's roll-offs.

Sweepers is the chance to earn cash payouts for high bowling scores of the night. It gives individual bowlers a chance for some extra cash if they bowl well. Nice way to end the season, too.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 California USBC State Championships

2017 California USBC Adult Championships
Country Club Bowl - San Rafael CA
As I did this past November, I bowled a state tournament. November was the Cal USBC Seniors tournament. Yesterday and today, the Adult Championships.

The lane conditions for this tournament were the most difficult I've bowled since my butt kicking at a local tournament that included young PBA phenom Darren Tang.

For this straight bowler, that's bad.

I bowled a dismal 391 on my team squad yesterday. In my first game this morning in doubles (see above photo), the struggle continued - 127.

Not to panic. I still had 5 games, and my team had the entire lane pair to ourselves. For me, it made for predictability and a faster pace. In other words, a lot less paralysis due to overanalysis.

Finished 3 games. On to singles. Made an adjustment on how I held the ball. It worked well. Bowled 213. Got a pink pin (given to women who bowled 200+). My teammate Monica got one too. She also killed it in brackets and sidepots (over $200).

My next 2 singles games weren't as high, but well enough that I finished with a 522 scratch series, 55 pins above my average. Tournament continues through June 18, so on the very remote chance I cash out, I'll have to wait until then.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Relaxed Bowling Grip Pressure

source: USBC Queens
Carolyn Dorin-Ballard
Last week, I reached a new personal scratch series high, breaking the previous one I made 2 months ago. I also bowled 2 of 3 games of 200 or more.

This week, in the 6 years I've bowled 2 leagues, both teams are in first place. Monday, 1/2 game lead. Wednesday, tied. Position round for Monday night is tomorrow. Wednesday night league, next week.

I attribute this season's consistency to 2 easy adjustments my dense brain should have figured out years ago. Especially since the same principles can be applied to throwing a softball, gripping a bat and shooting a basketball - all sports I played long before I began competitive bowling.

Relaxed grip pressure and loose arm swing.

I couldn't do either until I added more tape to my thumb to maintain a snug fit. A loose fit forces a bowler to grab the ball and/or muscle the throw.

With some cool techno background music, here's how the elite women bowlers do it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

2016 - 2017 Bowling Stats - Season to Date

Monday night, Bel Mateo Bowl

Wednesday night, Classic Bowling Center

The above screenshots are taken from my Monday and Wednesday night leagues. It's my guess most bowlers don't know their weekly statistics, or like me, never really looked at them. Or you don't care because you're there for fun. Game and series score ranges are consistent across both leagues.

This past Wednesday, I set 2 personal records, 2 games above 200 in a series, and scratch series of 575. I have a total of 5 games of 200 or above for the 2016-17 season. Of the 5, I bowled 3 of them in the past 2 weeks.

Season in both leagues will end in 2 weeks, just before I head to Europe. Both teams in currently in 2nd. If we hang on, we'll be in contention to bowl for the bigger bucks in position round.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Give Back Box

As I prepare for next month's trip to Italy, Spain and France with new comfy shoes and another anti-theft bag, I need to clear out what will be replaced.

I recently found out the pile of boxes I've accumulated from countless online purchases I've made over the years can be put to good use through a donation site called Give Back Box.

Give Back Box's mission: The purpose of Give Back Box® is to provide an effortless and convenient method of donating your used household items. Give Back Box not only provides an easy way to be part of a truly good cause, it gives a secondary use to corrugated boxes and guarantees they will be recycled.. So this is an all-round CSR & Sustainability solution that costs you literally nothing.

The process is extremely easy. From the Give Back Box webpage, click the link to print out a UPS packing slip. Affix the packing slip to the box you'll use to return clothing, shoes or handbags.

My first donation - 3 year old backpack from eBags. I'll receive a $25 credit toward a future purchase. I've posted a screenshot of the other participating merchants.

Box hoarder no more.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

South Carolina Basketball - Final Four x 2

source: ABC News
Dawn Staley
South Carolina Women's Basketball Coach
source: Sports Illustrated
Frank Martin
South Carolina Men's Basketball Coach
Congratulations to the South Carolina Gamecocks Women's and Men's basketball teams for making it to the Final Four.

The men's team lost yesterday to Gonzaga yesterday in one of the semi-final games, 77-73.

A few hours ago, the women's team defeated Mississippi State 67-55 in the championship game.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Buzzer Beater Victim 25 Years Apart - University of Kentucky

source: NCAA
Christian Laettner, Duke University
To Ashley Judd and longtime Kentucky basketball fans, please look away.

March 28, 1992.
Duke versus Kentucky, NCAA East Regional Final.

In overtime, Duke power forward/center Christian Laettner catches a 70-foot pass from (source: Wikipedia) from Grant Hill. Laettner dribbles once, turns around and from the the free throw line sinks the winning shot.

Final score: Duke 104, Kentucky 103.

March 26, 2017.
North Carolina versus Kentucky, NCAA South Regional Final.

Game is tied at 73-73. With less than 15 seconds left in the game, Kentucky's Malik Monk (source: Ricky O'Donnell, SB Nation) sinks a 3-pointer to tie the game. North Carolina regains possession with 7.2 seconds remaining. North Carolina forward Luke Maye receives the pass inside of the 3-point line. Shoots, scores with 0.3 seconds to win the game 75-73.

March Madness, indeed.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ESPN's E:60 Pin Kings

source: Vanity Fair
L: Alex DeCubas R: Kevin Pedersen
After spending most of the day watching March Madness, I switched to ESPN's E:60, a sports newsmagazine similar in concept to ESPN's excellent 30 for 30 series.

Originally aired in August 2016, Pin Kings is the story of wrestling teammates Alex DeCubas and Kevin Pedersen of Palmetto High School in Miami, Florida.

Without giving away too much, their careers after high school went in drastically different directions. Click here to read about the truth-is-stranger-than fiction story from ESPN writer Brett Forest with additional reporting by Jon Fish.

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

source: Chicago Film Festival
L to R: Vera, Jill and Thomas Sung
After months of anticipation, I finally got to see the Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") directed documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail this past weekend.

From the Abacus movie website, "Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle."

On the surface, it's a David vs. Goliath story. Underneath, it's a complicated, nuanced, story of the Chinese (American and foreign-born) experience.

Which is exactly why I wanted and needed to see this film.

For those friends that couldn't attend but want to see the film, there's great news. It will be released in theaters June 2017, and it will be on a future showing on PBS's Frontline. GO SEE IT.

And if you still miss it, set aside your undivided attention for about 15 minutes and read Jiayang Fan's New Yorker article, The Accused. It's a great detailed read about Abacus which includes information about the Sung family that wasn't in the movie.

Here's the trailer:

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Team Tang

source: PBA
For professional bowling fans who missed last week's USBC Masters, the winner of the tournament was no surprise (Jason Belmonte). But two of the finalists, brothers Darren and Michael Tang of San Francisco were.

The USBC Masters was Darren's second TV appearance within 3 months, only a few months after he got his PBA card. Michael is still an amateur.

To see how Team Tang made the stepladder finals, here's the shootout match with Martin Larsen and Bill O'Neill.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

An Assist Away From The Basket

source: SFGate
As the weekend winds down, it has turned out to be one of the most memorable.
  • Lunch with a longtime dear friend I don't see often enough. Made it extra special when he offered (I graciously accepted) to pick me up at my office. 
  • San Jose State bowlers Darren and Michael Tang bowling in the stepladder finals at the USBC Masters. Fourth seed younger brother Michael defeated Martin Larsen and big brother Darren to lose to Jason Belmonte in the championship match. 
  • Set a personal new high scratch series in my last squad at the Chinese-Japanese New Year tournament at 4th Street Bowl.
  • Stephen Curry offers big assist during a team timeout. A female fan tried her hand at skee-ball to win some cash. She wasn't doing well and a towel-headed Steph sneaks in for the $5K assist. 

You the man, Steph.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bowling's Big 4 Split Converted

Tomorrow for me will be business as usual. Work at 8 am, then league bowling at 6:30 pm. Therefore, no big 4-day weekend.

In bowling, the Big 4 is known as the 4-6-7-10 split. The closest I ever came was picking it up was to knock out the 6-10 (2 end pins on the right) that deflected to hit the 7 pin (far left pin).

PBA bowler Jason Sterner converted it in 2014:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) - 2017

While most of the United States is likely watching the Grammy Awards, my remote will be switched to BBC America to watch the BAFTA awards.

If you've never watched a BAFTA awards show, it isn't all that much different than its American counterpart. Only with a distinct English tone.

Host for the 12th year in a row is Hugh Laurie's Jeeves and Wooster co-star, Stephen Fry.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

2016 PBA Player of the Year - EJ Tackett

source: PBA
E.J. Tackett
No brainer here. He won the PBA World Championship in December (see December 11, 2016 entry) to finish with 4 PBA titles in 2016.

Congratulations to EJ Tackett, 2016's PBA Player of the Year.

And his dominating presence continues. He climbed the stepladder to win the 2017 DHC PBA Japan Invitational last month.

See for yourself.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lunar New Year 2017 -Year of the Rooster

source: Google image search results
A minor, probably nit-picky gripe tonight. Yesterday began the new Lunar New Year (Rooster).

I may be ethnically Chinese, but am on a mission to stop calling it "Chinese New Year". Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia are among a few Asian countries that also celebrate the Lunar New Year as well.

I even found 4 of my first 5 Google search results for "Lunar New Year" show "Happy Chinese New Year" or "Happy Chinese Lunar New Year". Hoped it would change when I cleared my cache and logged off my Google account. It didn't.

End of gripe. I wish everyone Happy Lunar New Year to family and the friends I consider family. If you're reading this now, you're probably one of them.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bowling Alley for Real Bowlers

Today's very rainy day brought out the kids and casual bowlers out in droves.

It can make Sunday practice for league bowlers a challenge.

We find ourselves on high alert for spilled drinks, food scraps, 5-6 people who aren't bowling standing on the lane approach, and, my biggest pet peeve - failure to observe lane courtesy.

Ever since I began bowling competitively, I've told a few bowling friends if I had tons of disposable income, I'd open a bowling alley just for bowlers.

Business model: run it like a gym with membership fees. Monthly, yearly, per game, 2 to 6 game packages for bowlers who can't commit to a conventional league.

Most importantly, the best way to weed out pizza parties: NO HOUSE SHOES, BALLS OR BUMPER GUARDS.

Leagues would be doubles and trios, special events would include no-tap, Monte Carlo (hit colored pins for money), mini tournaments, fund raisers, and special parties.

The concept may not be financially sustainable, but for me, it'd be the ultimate experience - bowling purely for sport.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

'Wait Wait Don't Tell Me' - Guest Host Tom Hanks

source: Andrew Gill, NPR
L: Bill Kurtis, R: Tom Hanks
On my drive to bowling practice this morning, I was tickled to hear Tom Hanks (click blue box "Listen to Full Show") as guest host on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

If you're not familiar with the program, here's the description from NPR's website:

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is NPR's weekly hour-long quiz program. Each week on the radio you can test your knowledge against some of the best and brightest in the news and entertainment world while figuring out what's real news and what's made up.

For trivia buffs like me, it's entertaining, educational, and best of all, lots of fun. Especially when Woody's the host.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

NBC Asian America

source: Twitter @NBCAsianAmerica
A few months ago, I found my cousins followed on Facebook NBC Asian America. It wasn't long before I began following them too.

From their website:
"NBC Asian America Presents..." is a digital video channel by NBC Asian America that features original longform content and documentaries focused on themes and voices found in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

New videos and series can be watched at NBC Asian America, as well as NBC Asian America's Facebook page, NBC News' official YouTube channel, and the NBC News app available on mobile devices, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.

Launched in 2014 by NBC News, NBC Asian America is the country's first English-language national news resource dedicated to covering Asian American and Pacific Islander news, features, perspectives, and more. With the launch of "NBC Asian America Presents..." in 2016, NBC Asian America has grown into a robust multimedia platform for the AAPI community by the AAPI community.

Here's the trailer from their YouTube page:

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Season Enders - Ohio State Buckeyes and San Francisco 49ers

L to R: Jed York, Chip Kelly, Trent Baalke
Happy New Year!

The much highly anticipated Fiesta Bowl (College Football playoffs) match between Ohio State and Clemson turned to be a lopsided disaster for Buckeye Nation. Clemson dominated the entire game and shutout Ohio State, 34-0.

North of Arizona, the San Francisco 49ers lost their last game of the season to the Seattle Seahawks, 25-23. As reported from numerous news sources, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York fired General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Chip Kelly.

Less than a month ago (see December 4, 2016 entry), it was in my humblest of opinions that new ownership and/or management of the team is sorely needed to rebuild effectively long-term.

Hopefully, next year there will be the photo of 3 different faces when the 2017 NFL season begins.