Dynasty vs. Destiny

Let’s put this right out there:  It’s easy to label the New England Patriots a Dynasty in football.  They’ve become about as close a parallel as one can have to the days when the Boston Celtics dominated basketball for a decade, and when the New York Yankees dominated baseball for a century.  And yes, Belichik and Brady are about as reliable a pairing as Auerbach and Russell or Stengel and Ford.  But the game that we witnessed on national TV last night was just about the most perfect game that the Philadelphia Eagles, Doug Pederson, and Nick Foles could have possibly played.

I say “just about” because the game didn’t start out that way.  The Eagles won the toss and elected to kick off to the Vikings enabling the vaunted Iggle defense to jump start their offense and help Nick Foles out.  The only problem is, they began the game looking as efficient as Washington’s crew crossing the Delaware Expressway.

Case Keenum and the Vikes shredded the Birds with such precision on their first drive that some fans thought they were witnessing a game they might not be prepared to watch.

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By now we know that the Eagles felt they got no respect from the media prior to the game.  And they were right – the signs of disrespect were everywhere.  Take the USA Today Sports Weekly cover leading up to the game, for example.  What do you notice?

USA Today Sports CoverThat’s right.  The pundits literally and figuratively giving Case Keenum the upper hand, and their inside game preview gave the Vikings the edge 21-18.  As if Nick Foles and the Birds needed motivation, here it was: “The story lines at quarterback alone in the unofficial ‘Bradford Bowl’ all make for great conversation, but the difference in a battle of elite defenses and evenly matched backups will be Case Keenum’s hot hand and fleet feet.”  

Keenum’s fast start made the pundits look good at the outset.  He managed to quiet a home crowd that had whipped themselves into a standing, white towel waving frenzy between the time they got out of bed, pulled on their game day gear, and in some cases travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles to get to this point.

And then it happened.  This Magic Moment.  This Immaculate Interception that turned the game around.  Watching it on live TV, it wasn’t obvious that Chris Long had disrupted Case Keenum as effectively as he had.  But Merrill Reese knew right away:

Actually, the Eagles made the kind of superb in-game adjustments that Belichick and Company are known for.  Take a look as Howard’s nephew, Greg Cosell, dissects the play at the outset of his All-22 Review that helped the Eagles get right back into the game after their disappointing start:

And then, so many big plays on offense.  Blount’s only decent run of the game, but what a huge lift when he barreled in for the the Eagles’ go-ahead TD.  Followed by the heave-ho to Alshon Jeffrey that put a smile on everyone’s face.

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Among the many great plays of the game, this was the one that convinced me it was our night.  Face it:  No one is going to mistake Halapoulivaati Vaitai for Jason Peters.  As an understudy left tackle to an All-Pro, he has been as much of a pillar on offensive line as Ronald Darby has been in the secondary.  Tasked with protecting Nick Foles’ blind side against a very good defensive end, Everson Griffen, “Big V” was being manhandled and got shoved backward into Foles.  Nick not only maintained his balance, but managed to slide into a gap as Griffen swiped at his arm.  To Big V’s credit, he kept Griffen enough at bay to allow Foles the time to unload that Hail Alshon Pass … and the rout was on!  A rout that had Jay Ajai jumping for joy and allowed Nick Foles to be pulled with two minutes left so that Nate Sudfeld could tell his grandkids he played in an NFL Conference Championship victory.

 

 

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Being a Wreck in a Wonderful Way

When’s a good time to get the influenza virus?  Why never, of course.  Being saddled with it dulls the senses a bit except, it seems, for the pit in the stomach that remains if one is a Philadelphia sports fan.  For this evening’s spot in front of the big screen TV, however, I’m going to adopt the positive mindset of Dave Spadaro over the cynicism of Joe Queenan.

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After reviewing the amazing list of significant injuries in succession (all season-ending except Darby): steady placekicker Caleb Sturgis, acquired cornerback Ronald Darby, Pro Bowl running back/returner Darren Sproles, standout special teamer Chris Maragos, All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, emerging linebacker Jordan Hicks, and the budding MVP QB Carson Wentz — Spadaro writes:

“The matchups, the how-can-the-Eagles-win talk, it’s been prevalent all week. It will be in high gusto on Sunday. For now, revel in the moment. Enjoy the range of feelings you have. Embrace the anxiety and the anticipation and the pride you feel being an Eagles fan …

Now, the Eagles are on the brink of taking another major step in a season that answered all of those preseason questions emphatically. And you are a wreck, in a wonderful way.  The Eagles play for the NFC Championship on Sunday in front of a rabid crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. Everyone has played a part in the success of the season.

Cherish the moment. You deserve it.”

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Let’s face it.  There are just so many times fans can get pumped up with the Rocky Underdog themes for huge games.  But a chance to avenge the 2005 McBarf Bowl in Jacksonville versus the dreaded Pay-tree-oats?  (Sure, I’m being presumptive – but don’t bet against that alleged Brady rope-a-dope hand-injury.)  No doubt Lurie and the marketing gang will have the Rocky leitmotif prominently on display at the Linc this evening.  But it doesn’t hurt that a new Underdog has emerged this week.  This would not have played well if Michael Vick were still on the squad (ouch!), but the current Underdog theme has taken the fan base by storm.

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Brainchild of the tandem marketing geniuses Lane Johnson and Chris Long, dog masks sold out quickly on Amazon during the feeding frenzy leading up to today’s game.  In years gone by, in a less creative milieu, that might have spawned a secondary market for another claws-trophobic choice like an Eagle mask.

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Bu not to worry … more Underdog thinking to the rescue!  In between studying game film and practicing, the numerical palindromic offensive/defensive pair came up with an alternative for fans favoring T-shirts over dog masks that has now raised over $100,000 for Philadelphia Public Schools.

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Well … Dan & Sara will be flying from Chicago to Philly this afternoon, and the Underdog Undercurrent will give new meaning to Tail-gating around the Linc.  This will be a mini Super-bowl (may the animal references never cease) in the sense that there is no bonding like barking out E-A-G-L-E-S with many thousands of new-found-friends in high spirits.  I’ll be living vicariously through them, counting on some audio, video, or text updates capturing the Phila’elphia scene.

Do you get the feeling that if the Eagles pull off an emotional victory today against the Vikes, and if the dreaded B & B villains bump off the Jags, the real Underdog will be resurrected for the showdown?

Who knows.  Disruptive innovation is spontaneous.  My heart says that Jeffrey Lurie will rediscover his Jewish roots and plaster the clubhouse with these signs, a signature of true team play that has heralded these agents of urgency:

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There’s No Taming This Flu

Consider this:

“Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is a prescription antiviral medication used for treatment of the flu and to prevent catching the flu if you have been near someone sick. It has been heavily advertised, but there is lots of controversy over whether or not it is actually effective.  On average patients who start taking Tamiflu within 48 hours of getting sick will recover one day faster than patients who do not take anything.”

Count me among those for whom the flu shot was insufficient this year — this winter is turning out to  be a nasty flu season in the United States.  So even though I was probably late to Tamiflu, I somehow felt relieved that my physician started me on it.

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But frankly Chicken Soup seems to be almost as effective, at least from my body’s standpoint.  Bubby knew what she was talking about when it came to home remedies.

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Oh, my poor bladder is being tested to the limit between all these fluids … chicken soup, several varieties of green tea (peppermint and white peach), and good ol’ fashioned spring water.  Seems like there’s no substitute for lots of extra fluid and rest.

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This “rest” thing is easier said than done.  It’s the only remedy than involves conscious inaction.  If you’re wiped out enough, no big deal.  But since symptoms ebb and flow, there’s always the temptation as things are resolving to try and push yourself a bit more than you should to get back in the swing of things.  And so this year, as a courtesy to patients and colleagues, and to myself, I decided to take a day off to allow for more complete recovery.

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Comic Relief

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THINK ….

THINK ….

THINK ….

THINK ….

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Ready for another?

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Intellectual Yoga

We finally took the plunge.  After hearing about its virtues from so many sources, we acted on our New Year’s Resolution (okay, it was last year’s Resolution, but better late than never, right?) to begin Therapeutic Yoga classes (is there such a thing as non-therapeutic yoga?).

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This coincides with a book I just finished, having intentionally digested it slowly, A New Map of Wonders from Caspar Henderson.  It is a form of intellectual yoga.

In his introduction, Henderson writes: “Sometimes it takes extreme or unusual circumstances to make ordinary things seem wonderful … This book looks into philosophy, history, art, religion, science and technology in search of a better appreciation of both the things we wonder at and the nature of wonder itself.  I have no particular expertise, and no qualifications beyond curiosity and stubbornness.”

Among the many observations that Henderson has to share, one is an image by Francisco Goya titled Aun aprendo, which means I am still learning, a self-portrait of the artist anticipating himself in old age that hangs in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

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In an effort to extract the most meaning from this post-intermission point of life, merging intellectual yoga with therapeutic yoga is an opportune way to continue learning in mind and in body.  Further reports will be forthcoming from the Studio.

 

 

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Winter Scenes at the Seashore

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Lottery Madness

The $559 million sole Powerball ticket that sold in Merrimack, New Hampshire on the heels of the $450 Mega Millions sole winner in Port Richey, Florida, had lottery players in a frenzy this weekend.

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Which begs the question: with so many people playing the numbers these days, is there any way to shrink the odds of picking a winning ticket?  Whether two people play the lottery or two million people play, your odds of winning are the same because you’re playing against the numbers, not other people.  The odds of being a sole winner versus sharing the pot will change depending on the number of people playing, but for practical purposes that’s a wash.  But if one were to reliably detect patterns of numbers that have a higher probability of coming up, well … that really would be something.

There are services such as Lottometrix that claim to show you how to pick winning numbers mathematically.  I can’t vouch for the efficacy of these approaches, or if they are as “proven” as they claim to be, but I have noticed something interesting I’m glad to share with you for what it’s worth.

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I have no idea if this observation has been shared elsewhere, as I haven’t done any research, but my premise is that much more often than not, for the five basic numbers, both the Mega Millions and Powerball will come up with only one number in each of the “tens” columns with the exception of one column that will have two.  In other words, here are the seven possible columns for Powerball:

  1. 1-9
  2. 10-19
  3. 20-29
  4. 30-39
  5. 40-49
  6. 50-59
  7. 60-69

That means that for the seven columns you’ll be picking one number from three separate columns and doubling up by picking two numbers from a fourth column, leaving three of columns empty.  For the Mega Millions there is an 8th column in the 70s, so you’ll have to leave four columns empty.  With that pattern in mind, let’s survey recent winning numbers from the Powerball and see how they played out:

 

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01/06: Pattern holds – two from column 4; single from three others

01/03: Pattern holds – two column 4; single from three others

12/30: Pattern holds – two from column 6; single from three others

12/27: Pattern holds – two from column 1; single from three others

12/23: Pattern doesn’t hold (two from column 1 and two from column 2)

12/20: Pattern holds – two from column 7; single form three others

12/16: Pattern holds – two from column 4; single from three others

12/13: Pattern doesn’t hold (two from column 3 and two from column 6)

12/09: Pattern holds – two from column 4; single from three others

12/06: Pattern holds – two from column 6; single from three others

12/02: Pattern doesn’t hold (three from column 4)

11/29: Pattern doesn’t hold (three from column 3)

11/25: Pattern holds – two from column 6; single from three others

11/22: Pattern holds – two from column 4; single from three others

11/18: Pattern doesn’t hold (three from column 3)

11/15: Pattern holds – two from column 5; single from three others

11/11: Pattern holds – two from column 1; single from three others

11/08: Pattern doesn’t hold (two from column 2 and two from column 3)

11/04: Pattern holds – two from column 2; single from three others

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11/01: Pattern holds – two from column 1; single from three others

10/28: Pattern holds – two from column 4; single form three others

10/25: Pattern doesn’t hold (two from column 3 and two from column 6)

10/21: Pattern doesn’t hold (three from column 5)

10/18: Pattern holds – two from column 7; single from three others

10/14: Pattern doesn’t hold (two from column 4 and two from column 7)

10/11: Pattern doesn’t hold (two from column 1 and two form column 2)

10/07: Pattern doesn’t hold (three from column 7)

10/04: Pattern doesn’t hold (three from column 7)

09/30: Pattern doesn’t hold (one from five different columns)

Well … I’m running out of time, but ran through sufficient numbers to show that the rule holds more than 50% of the time.  And I’m sure someone’s done the math on this, but you’ll notice sub patterns when the rule doesn’t hold.  That’s why I quit when noticing that I had to go all the way back to Sept. 30 in order to find the rare event of a winning ticket with one number from each of five different columns.  (The flip side also holds where five numbers all within the same column is considerably more rare – my hunch is you’d have to go much further back in time to find it).  So when the rule doesn’t hold, the most common variation is two from two of the columns, and next would be three from one column.  I have no idea, when you “quick pick”, if the computer uses algorithms that follow patterns.  But if you manually pick, seems there are may be formulaic patterns that will improve your odds.  Then again, it may turn out just to be one giant crap shoot regardless.

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