2018 Stanley Cup Playoff Conclusion

Capitals beat the Golden Knights 4-1. With the ongoing joke being that the Caps are just the Sharks of the Eastern Conference, I suppose I could say that my original pick for the winner was right all along, I just had the wrong conference. I’m very happy to see Washington finally get their win and I suppose the “Caps West” label for the Sharks can’t be applied anymore.

Highlights of this series for me:

  • Devante Smith-Pelly was a joy to watch. You could see him putting in max effort during every shift, and it paid off. In only 24 playoff games, Smith-Pelly matched his goal count of 7 goals that he scored during the regular season.
  • Braden Holtby’s “The Save” + nervous Ovi during the final moments of game 2. It gave Washington their first win may have very well been the source of the momentum that carried them through their next 3 wins.
  • The simple fact that we had a Las Vegas vs Washington D.C. match-up. I’m always in favor of anything that spreads awareness of of this sport that I enjoy watching and playing. Having a finals between a brand new hockey market (Vegas) and a team fighting for their very first championship (Washington) will likely bring in new fans.

Predictions/Hopes for next season

  • Healthy Joe Thornton at 1C and contributing as he did before his injuries
  • Sharks do not win any major trades or acquisitions (e.g. Tavares or Kovalchuk) but their 3rd and 4th forward lines and bottom defensive pairings blossom in the 2018-2019 season. Boedker has a breakout year.
  • Injury-free Evander Kane
  • Joe Pavelski evolves his playing style. As legendary as he is at fighting for space in front of the net and tipping shots, I worry this play style is diminishing in effectiveness. Pavelski’s goal counts have almost monotonically decreased since 2013-2014. With the projected 2018-2019 top line being Kane-Thornton-Pavelski, the Sharks run the risk of having a very slow top line. I’d like to see a bit more symmetry between Kane’s and Pavelski’s speed of movement so there’s always someone opening up for Thornton to feed.

2018 NHL Playoff Predictions Finals Update

See last post here.

Wowwwww. Vegas Golden Knights vs Washington Capitals in the NHL Stanley Cup finals. A team making it to the finals in its inaugural year + a team that has been in the finals 27 times since 1974 but has never won the Stanley Cup. A historic year for hockey and a treat for sport fans that value league parity (contrast with the NBA finals, where the Golden State Warriors have faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals every year since 2015).

Anyway, let’s keep the prediction post organized like the previous ones.

What went right

Washington did beat Tampa Bay. Prediction accuracy for the last round was 1 of 2 (50%).

What went wrong

Winnipeg fell to Vegas after 5 games. My hope of a Jets sweep was far off.

Thoughts on the Finals

Las Vegas (1) vs Washington (1)

Capitals, take my ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つSHARKS FAN energy

Vegas’s depth > Caps’s depth. Also Fleury > Holtby. However, Caps in 4 because that’s what I want. Or 5. Or 6. Or 7. Pls

 

 

2018 NHL Playoffs Predictions 2nd Round Update

Ooof. Owie. First round predictions weren’t bad. Second round? Not good.

What went right

Really not a whole lot to say, here. Tampa Bay did end up beating Boston to fix that quadrant of my bracket, but that’s about all I got right. Prediction accuracy in this round was 1 for 4 (25%).

What went wrong

  • RIP Sharks. I knew the Golden Knights were going to be a tough team to beat and that if the Sharks were going to win, it would take a full 7 games. Sadly, San Jose didn’t make it that far; Vegas took the series in 6 games.
  • Caps beat the Penguins! I’m happy to have gotten this one wrong.
  • I thought that Nashville would dominate Winnipeg but Winnipeg ended up winning the series after 7 games. I know very little about Winnipeg but they must be doing something special to have survived against what I consider to be a very stacked team. I’m looking forward to using this as an opportunity to learn more about the Jets.

Thoughts on next matchups

Las Vegas (1) vs Winnipeg (2)

I’m on the Jets bandwagon. I can’t even name more than 3 players on the roster but I’d love to watch them eliminate Vegas. It would be educational to see what it finally took to knock out the Golden Knights. Jets in 4 because that’s what I want.

Tampa Bay (1) vs Washington (1)

Go Sharks East Capitals! Washington in 6.

Visualizing SF’s Housing Deficit

Made this for a class project to visualize SF’s lagging housing construction since 2012. This chart does not include any existing housing deficit prior to 2012, but just illustrates how even if the housing stock was perfectly adequate in 2012 (it wasn’t), construction over the following 6 years was insufficient. The red line shows the number of new residents added to San Francisco while the yellow line shows how much new housing has been added in the same period. There is also a dashed grey line which I added as a very rough estimate of where housing should be in order to keep up with the growing population by assuming a constant 2.2 people per household (SF’s number of people per household via the most recent Census data). Notice that the yellow line is quite a bit under the dashed grey line and that the slope of the yellow line doesn’t seem to indicate that it will catch up to the dashed grey line any time soon. This means that housing supply is short, will continue to remain short, and rents and home prices will remain high or rise until a) The red line chills out aka population growth slows, b) The yellow line picks up some speed aka SF accelerates its rate of housing development, or c) The grey line is redefined to be a smaller proportion of the red line aka San Franciscans get more used to packing more bodies into less housing. Option c may be tough, though, because by my math, the grey line doesn’t match the yellow until you start packing ~3.5+ people into each housing unit. With the majority of new housing being 2 bedrooms or smaller, San Franciscans might want to start embracing bunk beds.

2018 NHL Playoffs Predictions 1st Round Update

Update from my playoff predictions post now that the 1st Round has ended.

What went right

  • Correctly guessed the winner in 7 of 8 matchups (87.5%)
  • Sharks did end up beating the Ducks despite being the lower seed. Not only that, they swept.

What went wrong

  • Boston (2) vs Toronto (3). I wanted Toronto to win this one despite being the lower seed. Series ended up going 7 games and Toronto fell apart in the last period of game 7.
  • I was all over the place in my predictions for how short/long series would last. Some examples: In both the Kings vs Golden Knights and the Sharks vs Ducks series, I predicted they would last a full 7 games. In both cases, the winning team went undefeated and finished the series early at 4. My predictions for series length were only correct in 2 of the 8 matchups (25%)
  • Joe Thornton did not make an appearance as I predicted.

Thoughts on next matchups

Nashville (1) vs Winnipeg (2)

Again, I find Nashville to be the dominant team. I’d say Nashville in 4 but Colorado took 2 games from them in the previous round so I’ll adjust my prediction to Nashville in 6.

Las Vegas (1) vs San Jose (3)

Uhhh Las Vegas is spooky but I underestimated how San Jose would do in the last round. Scattered thoughts: San Jose never once beat the Golden Knights during the regular season. Sharks have more depth (IMO) than they have ever had in recent memory so if they are going to win this one, it might take 7 games.

Tampa Bay (1) vs Boston (2)

Boston knocked out my Round 1 prediction so I want Tampa Bay to win to fix my bracket. Boston looked like a strong playoff team against Toronto but Tampa Bay has had plenty of time to rest whereas Boston’s series went 7 games. Tampa Bay in 6.

Washington (1) vs Pittsburgh (2)

Oh boy! Big matchup. I’m not as familiar with the Capitals’s top lines/pairings as well as I am with the Penguins’s, but I know the Penguins’s top lines/pairings are scary. Pittsburgh in 6.

2018 NHL Playoffs Predictions

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs start today. I’m going to embarrass myself but whatever…here are my predictions.

First Round Predictions

Nashville (1) vs Colorado (WC)

Nashville is OP. Preds have more depth and playoff experience. This it the only match-up that I predict will end in 4 games.

Winnipeg (2) vs Minnesota (3)

I know next to nothing about these teams but I know that Minnesota’s Ryan Suter is out with a late season injury. Based on that and the two teams’ regular seasons stats, I give Winnipeg a big edge.

Las Vegas (1) vs Los Angeles (WC)

Kings have superior players but the Golden Knights have better depth. I’m predicting a long, low-scoring series between these two teams and believe the bottom lines/pairings will win it.

Anaheim (2) vs San Jose (3)

Ducks are spooky but go sharks! I’m predicting that this one will be a tough series, Joe Thornton will play in at least one of the home games, and a lot of penalty minutes but not many power-play goals from either team.

Tampa Bay (1) vs New Jersey (WC)

Taylor Hall will go HAM and New Jersey’s top line will give Tampa Bay a hard time, but Tampa Bay is the stronger team. New Jersey not having a solid starting goalie situation will also hurt them.

Boston (2) vs Toronto (3)

Boston is a stronger team on paper but I want Toronto to win. Predicting Boston’s defense will not be enough to contain very spread-out scoring between Leafs skaters.

Washington (1) vs Columbus (WC)

I am expecting some Panarin highlight-reel goals but Capitals’s top two lines are too strong. Washington in 5.

Pittsburgh (2) vs Philadelphia (3)

Penguins have too much offensive talent, playoff experience, and leadership to lose this one. I hear Claude Giroux had a spectacular season but the Flyers never once managed to figure out how to beat the Penguins in the regular season. I think it will be a good match up and the games will be close but they will lose in 5 or 6 games.

Comparing Costs of Roller Hockey vs Ice Hockey

I started playing recreational roller hockey in 2014. I was under the impression that roller would be more affordable than the alternative. I joined an adult beginners roller hockey league at Dry Ice in Oakland and played once a weekend between late 2014- mid 2017.

Last summer after we moved to Utah, I decided to give ice hockey a shot. I signed up for an adult beginners ice hockey league at the Utah Olympic Oval and played about once a week through the fall and winter.

Now that I’ve experienced both, I can say that I found ice hockey to be much more enjoyable and more rewarding. I’m pretty sure I will be sticking with ice, but I want to take a deeper look into my original costs concern that steered me toward roller in the first place.

Initial Equipment costs compared (Winner: Roller but surprisingly not by much)

Roller hockey equipment cost estimate:

Helmet and shield: $80
Padded undershirt: $60
Elbow pads: $50
Gloves: $60
Roller pants: $30
Jock shorts: $60
Shin guards: $60
Stick: $50
Skates: $150
Bag: $25
Practice jersey: $15

Total: $640

Ice hockey equipment cost estimate:

Helmet and shield: $80
Shoulder pads: $80
Elbow pads: $50
Gloves: $60
Ice pants: $80
Jock shorts: $60
Shin guards: $60
Hockey socks: $10
Stick: $50
Skates: $130
Bag: $25
Practice jersey: $15

Total: $700

Regular maintenance costs compared (Winner: Ice)

The only regular maintenance cost for roller hockey was buying new wheels. Over the course of 3 years of playing, I probably had to buy somewhere between 12-16 new wheels to replace wheels that wore down or broke. Taking the middle value and with an estimated per wheel price of $10, that puts the maintenance costs at roughly $47 per year.

Skate sharpening for ice hockey was something I was worried would be expensive. Turns out, I only had to sharpen my skates once during my season; twice if you also count the initial sharpening when I bought the skates. At a $6 per sharpening and estimating four sharpenings per year (if I were to have played year round), maintenance costs would be $24 per year.

Skate time costs compared (Winner: Roller by a lot)

Open skate / stick & puck at the roller hockey facility in Oakland, CA charges $5 per session. Assuming you went to go practice about twice a month for a year, you would be spending $120 per year for skate time.

The two nearest ice facilities charge an average of $12.50 per session. Assuming you went to go practice about twice a month for a year, you would be spending $300 per year for skate time.

Having said that, roller beats ice by a mile in this area because roller can be practiced anywhere you have flat concrete. You could argue that makes roller $free.

Hockey league fee costs compared (Winner: Roller by a lot)

Fees will forever be your largest expense. Ice rinks cost much more to operate than roller rinks and that cost gets passed down to skaters in the form of team/individual league fees and annual usage fees.

From my experience, the annual fees between roller and ice have been comparable: around $40 a year. This cost is negligible compared to the individual/team fees you will pay.

For roller hockey,the most recent team fee looks to be around $3000 to register a team for a season. Assuming a full team of 13 skaters (3 lines of 2 forwards, 3 lines of 2 defense, and a goalie), that comes out to roughly $231 per skater per season.

For ice hockey, the most recent team fee in the same geographic area looks to be around $8500 to register a team for a season. Assuming a full team of 16 skaters (3 lines of 2 forwards + 1 center, 3 lines of 2 defense, and a goalie), that comes out to roughly $531 per skater per season.

Verdict

Estimated cost to start playing hockey for one full year in the SF Bay Area including first time purchases of all gear, all fees, maintenance costs, and paying to practice at the rink twice a month:

$1771 to play roller hockey vs $3188 to play ice hockey

Roller hockey saves significant amounts of money. If you are wanting to give hockey a shot, starting with roller hockey makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint. You could pay the initial equipment costs (or even just a fraction of it) and get away with spending nearly nothing else for as long as it takes you to develop your skills enough to feel comfortable with joining a league:

Driveway hockey starter kit

Helmet and shield: $80
Elbow pads: $50
Gloves: $60
Shin guards: $60
Stick: $50
Skates: $150

Total: $450 + a practice ball/puck

With this setup, you can develop your skills and acquire new gear as you need it.

Also, you can always switch to ice at a later time. If you already own the full list of roller equipment, most of it will transfer over and you will only need to purchase shoulder pads, hockey pants, hockey socks, and skates. (~$300)

The Scam

Last summer, I tried to sell some old Nintendo games on KSL Classifieds (Salt Lake City’s more popular Craigslist alternative). A few hours after posting, I received a text message.

Seemed normal, so I reached out to this individual’s “brother” to see if he was interested.

Here’s what I got back.

Several things seem suspicious by this point:

  • Messages are out of order
  • He says “video game” despite my ad being for a collection of several games
  • This individual wants me to take my ad down and pay extra with a money order
  • He said kindly. Note to scammers…no one uses the word kindly except for you. It’s a dead giveaway. “Kindly” is to scammer as “meddling” is to Scooby-Doo villain.

I could have ceased all communications by this point, but I wanted to press further. I wanted to understand where this scam would go.

The response:

So… I take down my ad and this person will pay me with a money order + extra and his “mover” will come over to pick up the item. I’m super curious to see where this goes so I go along with it.

Now it starts to make sense. Here is how the scam works:

  1. Scammer asks seller to take down the ad and guarantee sale in exchange for more money
  2. Seller agrees. Takes down ad and awaits instructions.
  3. Scammer provides details of a money order that will arrive in the mail for the price of the item + extra money. Scammer probably will instruct seller to cash this money order and inform scammer when that is done.
  4. Once money order is deposited, scammer dispatches “mover” to pick up the item from seller.
  5. Several days later, the seller will learn that the deposited money order was fraudulent. This leaves seller with no item, no payment, and fees from the bank for the deposit of a bad check. And I guess the scammer gets my Nintendo games?

Anyway…I have no intention of giving my item up to the scammer, nor am I interested in seeing this “mover” in person.

…but I kind of want a souvenir from this. I mess with them a little more and then send them a fake name but a real mailing address so I can see this money order. I also mess with them a little bit by changing the item i’m selling to see if they’re even paying attention.

[not shown…message I sent scammer with details on how to get me the money order]

The next day, I received a huge batch of texts informing me that his father unexpectedly passed away. In all of the confusion, the secretary accidentally mailed out a money order for too high of an amount–about $900. I’m instructed to deposit the money order when I receive it, withdraw the accidental overage, and give that cash along with the video game to the “mover”.

Now I see where this scam becomes much more lucrative for the scammer. It’s not just that they get away with the item i’m selling…but that they also instruct me to pull out a larger sum of cash to return to the “mover”.

I didn’t bother posting the rest of the screenshots of the conversation–its mostly details about the confusion caused by the father’s death, more instructions, and pleas to continue moving forward with the transaction. It ends after a few hours of ceasing communication.

Several days later, though!…

HAHAHA they actually spent $6.65 to rush deliver a fraudulent money order to my address…complete with the fake name I provided them:

Since this scam utilized the US Postal Service, I was able to report it (along with the tracking info and origin address) for fraud investigation.  Slim-to-zero chance that anyone got caught, but I was able to document the steps of the scam to USPS. Hopefully, that information got used to better train people on how to avoid this particular scam.

Total score at end of day:
Scammer(s): -$6.65
Me: A stupid souvenir check for Pete Za

Thanks, Google Images

I’ve been using Anki along with AnkiDroid to create French flashcards. Whenever I encounter a new word/phrase I want to retain, I turn it into a highly personalized flashcard, which gets added to my Anki deck that I review daily.

For example, here is one of my noun cards for the french word for “bad luck” (malchance), featuring the first couple of things I associate with the word:

I’ve relied heavily on Google Images to make flashcard creation as quick as possible. However, Google changed something about their search algorithm within the last 6 months that has really slowed me down. Before, Google Images seemed to be like a big shotgun blast of any image tagged with or sitting in a page with words in my search term. Now, it seems like there is a new layer in-between my search and the results I see. Google Images assumes what it thinks I’m interested in, only shows me images of that category, and hides the rest. It is up to me to clarify further by clicking buttons from a list or by entirely redefining my search term. This might be valuable for some people, but it’s been a nightmare for my flashcard creation process where I have to regularly fight the image search engine to show me something I’m certain the old algorithm would have given me.

Top 10 worst examples:

10. “Pleasure”

“Hey Google. Got any pictures representing pleasure? Like maybe a stock image of someone enjoying some candy or a massage or maybe even something romantic?”

“Yeah, man. Here you go!”

9. “Honor”

“I know it’s abstract, but I’m needing an image to represent honor.”

“I’ve got you covered.”

8.  “Shuffle”

Shuffle has a lot of meanings! I might get the shuffle icon from a media player, or a deck of cards, or–”

“Cartoon chicks!”

7. “In reverse”

“Got any pictures of a car backing up or the alphabet going backwards?”

“Yeah, but this band is pretty good, too.”

6. “Damages”

*sigh* “…damages please”

“You bet.”

5. “Wander”

“Y u do dis to me”

“CARTOONS.”

4. “Melody”

“Surely everyone knows what a melody is. It should be unambiguous”

“CARTOONS.”

3. “Long lasting”

“…Lo-”

“MAKEUP!”

2. “Edge”

Edge…”

“okay I get it…he’s a wrestler. But I want a sharp edge

“I don’t even know what that is. Can you please just give me…you know… like a cutting edge?”

1. “Case”

“Fine. I’ll stop being picky. Just give me a case. Anything you’ve got. Please. Court case, computer case, briefcase, uppercase or lowercase letters, I don’t even care anymore. Heck, recommend me a phone case to buy if you want. Just please give me a case.”

“k”