Monday, January 21, 2013

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: January 22nd

Can you believe both NFL Conference Championship picks hit on Sunday?   I got Baltimore +9 and nailed that... in fact Baltimore won outright.  I also selected the Atlanta game correctly, even though the Falcons lost by four.   Nonetheless, they covered the +5.

More on football in a bit, but first I had to share a story with you all.

I had the day off yesterday but the UCLA Park pool was still in session.  In fact, the schedule indicated open diving in the afternoon.  I wanted to try a few dives, channeling my springboard dive lessons from a few years ago and I thought it'd be pretty dead at the pool with it being a holiday.

So, I drove over to the Park Pool and to my shock, there were literally hundreds of babes in bikinis getting their tan on at the nearby lawn.  The lawn has a clear shot of the pool and the diving boards.   Now that was intimidating... suddenly I was like "Now what am I going to do?!"

Furthermore, the lifeguards did not block off the last lane for diving at all.  Nobody else was going on that board, but I pressed on.  I had to ask the lady at the lifeguard tower what to do about the last swimming lane, and she told me I had to run some small lane line across it to block it off.  So I did.

Now I'm going up on these diving boards, a 1m and a 3m with over 200 coeds nearby as I tried to do some basic dives.  First few dives were pretty good, which were just me leaning over and trying to fall into the water vertically.   I tried a few forward dives and backwards dives, but nothing fancy.  Then I started with the 3m... and you could see the whole crowd on that board.    So again, I did the forward lean and bingo, I hit the water fine.

Then it starts to get embarrassing... once I started attempting somersaults and tucks, things like that, I got beat around pretty good by the water.  The worst ones were when I folded over in the pike position but then FELL in hunched over.  It was as if a giant punching glove socked you straight into the gut, and to an extent a sock to the groin as well, oiiii...

That hurt, but recovery was quick.  The embarrassment though?  Oof, that didn't end too quickly.  I hope most of those ladies on the lawn weren't paying attention but ya know that board can get pretty loud.  Hopefully I can get better at the diving and then do some olympic level stuff and when I get back to the UCLA Park pool, I can put on a real show!

All in all, I thought it was fun, but it was a very humbling experience.  My backwards dives were epic fails.. that felt like getting my back kicked in by some dude from "The Sopranos."   Then I got out and some old joker was yelling for them to unblock the swimming lane again so I told the lifeguard I'd take the lane line out for her, and she was grateful for me offering.

Goodness gracious.. I did not think there would be so much work involved in getting some dives... you literally have to take out 1/8th of the pool to keep wayward swimmers from getting clocked by the diver.

Indeed, the weather is very warm once again in Los Angeles.   If it had been about a week and a half ago, this entire story would never take place because it would have bee 55 degrees at the time.  Yesterday, 80 degrees and clear skies.

I used to go to this little coffee house near Westgate and Santa Monica called something or other Kona Coffee House.  They were big on the Kona coffee and it was a very simple place to be.  I enjoyed each of my trips there.  Sadly I returned over the weekend and the place was taken over by a new owner.  Not only did the new owner take over, but he completely changed the design and the objective of the place.  Now it's not just a simple cafe, but a pretty cushy, comfy old school espresso house called "8 Espressos."  Why 8?  I have literally no idea.  I did not count only 8 items on the menu.  They even have a small stage there now for live music and such.  Seriously, you can now go to this place and re-enact an episode of "Friends" before your very eyes!

At any rate, the name of the game there was Lattes and Capuccinos, so I asked for one.  I talked to the owner and he asked if I ever had been there before.  WELL... I explained that the last time I was there it was a different place with a different name, etc.  I couldn't believe how dramatically it changed and I asked him "when did you guys take over?"  He said they took over eight months ago.  EIGHT MONTHS?!   I could not believe it had been eight months since I last went to that place, I was shocked.

At that point I assumed the worst.   I loved the old place and the old crew there and was not expecting much.   Once I got the capuccino my tune changed completely.   This was quite honestly the best capuccino I've had in 12 months.  It was simply *amazing*.   To think I've missed out all this time, and even better, it costs about the same as a capuccino at Starbucks.  If the price is the same and the quality is twice as good, there is NO way I would settle for Starbucks from now on.  8 Espressos wins me over, and I recommend it to any coffee lover in LA.

I loved that place so much I went to it three days in a row.  They also can serve espresso/lattes/what have you in ceramic mugs if you get it "for here."  That's how Starbucks used to operate many years ago.  I rather enjoyed this back-to-basics formula.  I look forward to futue business with them.

Eh, I was so excited about the espresso and the other elements of life that sports didn't hold as much interest to me this weekend, but with that said I had a blast watching the two NFL Championship games on Sunday.   I dreaded seeing Baltimore and that attention whore Ray Lewis in the Super Bowl, but in retrospect it really isn't that bad.  There's plenty to like with B-more, like Ray Rice, John Harbaugh, and Joe Flacco who has come around in a big way.

The 49ers, who won the NFC Title game, are a great story as well.  I won't waste any time breaking down X's and O's, but let's just say that Colin Kapernick has been *the* difference for the team this season.  Without him, the Niners are sitting in some country club somewhere, instead of on a plane to New Orleans.  I'm really happy for the entire 49ers organization and their fans who had to suffer through a decade of crap football.

If you were to block out Ray Lewis and his act from the equation, you could really see either team being very likeable in this spot.  I know a lot of people are annoyed with Jim Harbaugh, the outspoken 49ers head coach, but somehow I'm soaking in his act as pure entertainment.

That said, it wouldn't kill me to see him get served too, but regardless of his theatrics, the dude is a good coach.  I won't say "great" because he tightens up like the rest of them and some of his cute playcalling gets on my nerves.  With that said, SF would be even worse off with a lesser coach.

Two great stories, two dramatic victories, two brothers, all in the Super Bowl this year for all the marbles.   It's going to be over-hyped to hell but I think it's worth it.   My initial feel is that SF wins the game, but in all honesty, I'm giving Baltimore more than a fair shake.   The thing here is that the Ravens are a pretty physical team and if you can believe this, physical teams give the 49ers a *really* hard time.    It happened with the Seahawks and the Ravens won't be much different.

By the end of the week, I might be going confidently with Baltimore and the points, especially if SF is favored by more than 3.5.

College Basketball is getting really juicy, and mad props to Syracuse for unseating #1 this weekend with that thriller in Lousiville.  More to come with College BBall as we go along.

I want to get a really cheap digital/electronic piano keyboard to noodle around with at home.  I seem to have a better knack for reproducing music that I hear and I have all sorts of songs and melodies I've written in my head.  It'd be a shame to not flesh all that out on a keyboard.  I'd like something extremely cheap, like a used Casio keyboard for under 50 bones.  However, if money were no object I'd go after one of two stage pianos:

1. The Yamaha P-105 digital, portable stage piano.   I sampled this baby at a nearby piano store and it's actually priced quite affordably for its caliber.  It's $599, and it includes a full 88 key weighted keyboard with keyboard pedals to boot.  It's the perfect sized keyboard for an apartment.  I really would be down to get something like this if there was some possible payment plan I could enact.

2. The golden goose aka the Yamaha CP-70, CP-80, or CP-70b, which are all the same piano but with slightly larger keyboard setup for the '80.   It's an electric baby grand piano that's small enough to fit in most spaces but quite heavy.  The CP-70/80 has been featured on countless pop music recordings from the mid 70's through the mid 80's.   Genesis, Stevie Wonder, Simple Minds, The Go-Go's, Split Enz, U2, and on and on.  Keane actually uses one of these today for their music.  It's a signature sound I've loved forever.   To own one would be a dream come true.  I suppose I could also find one of these for $500 used if I look hard enough.  The only drawback is that this piano is EXTREMELY heavy.

In the meanwhile, I'll carry on and continue to live as I have been.   The next two weeks should be good times ahead.  Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

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