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Iskaral Pust

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Everything posted by Iskaral Pust

  1. Liverpool will be missing Alisson, Fabinho, Thiago and Jones (and Elliott, of course) against Watford, and are hoping that TAA and Jota will be ready to play after muscle injuries. So a makeshift midfield and a young inexperienced keeper against a club with a new manager bounce. Time for Ox and Keita to stand up and be counted.
  2. It must be the change in season but we’ve returned to the Great British Bake-Off (or Great British Baking Show in the US) for light viewing. With the benefit of a gap, I’m finding Pru, Sandy and Noel to be perfectly fine. When they were first introduced they were too jarringly not Mary, Mel or Sue. Why is Paul giving out handshakes like candy this season? First it was over-hyped as some special badge of honor (the show really does pander to his ego), and now it’s being debased faster than the Zimbabwean dollar.
  3. I haven’t posted an update in quite a while, so lots of titles to mention and I’ll keep the summaries short. I finished my reread of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle with The Confusion and The System Of The World. Still good but it really dragged on too long. I won’t reread again. Northern Heist by Richard O’Rawe is a good heist novel set in Belfast. It feels realistic because it was written by an actual convicted bank robber. I felt conflicted about the author benefiting from his criminal past. The Perfect Theory by Pedro Ferreira is a non-fiction history of the evolution of the theory of relativity. Very good. Choose Me by Tess Gerritsen was a detective novel that didn’t really resonate with me. I dropped it. Palm Beach Finland was another quirky and funny crime novel by Antti Tuomainen. I have enjoyed all of his so far. The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollack is an unusual gothic novel about serial killers in Appalachia in the 1950s-1960s. Good for an autumn read. Anathem completed my reread over the past few months of Neal Stephenson’s best (IMO) five novels. The world shifting (it’s not entirely world building) and the mash up of philosophy, metaphysics and hard science are so good, even if it is a bit too long, has underwhelming characters and ultimately picks a quasi-religious approach to a poly cosmos. Turn A Blind Eye was my first experience of Jeffrey Archer, who I have heard about for decades. It was bland and trite. I dropped it. I started The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo, the fifth in his Harry Hole series, and then remembered part way through why I had dropped this series of Scandinavian noir. The corrupt insider antagonist is too much an improbable plot device to provide the utmost frustration and tribulation for the hero. It’s very rare that this type of antagonist can really work (Sergeant Hakeswill tormenting Sharpe is the only good example I can think of). The Royal Baths Murder is the fourth in JR Ellis’ Yorkshire series of cosy locked-room murder mysteries. But I’m tired of the too-cosy sensibility. I won’t read any further in this series. Pronto by Elmore Leonard is the first Raylen Givens novel. It’s ok. You can see why the character was optioned for a very good TV series. But Leonard’s prose and dialogue always feels rudimentary, and the attitudes of his characters feel very dated. And most recently I read King Of The Bosporus by Christian Cameron, the fourth in his Tyrant series of historical fiction about the power vacuum after the death of Alexander. Quite good again.
  4. Really? We’ve had an Audi A7 for 7 years now, and the AWD has been excellent with regular all-season tires. We had a Hyundai Santa Fe AWD before that, and never had a problem in snow with it either. Of course, AWD doesn’t shorten your braking distance on snow/slush/ice no matter what type of tires, it just gives you balanced propulsion with lots of traction. When we lived in Seattle I used to put winter tires in my front wheel drive car because we went up the mountains for snowboarding throughout the winter. And we definitely would have got stuck with regular tires on that. My new sports car is also AWD but I’ll put on winter tires in the next few weeks. But that’s about temperature rather than snow. Performance tires just don’t wear well or function well at lower temperatures. I think 45F is the threshold. And, sure, performance tires also have shallower grooves than regular all-season tires, so it does also help that the winter tires have deeper grooves. But the main reason is the temperatures at which the respective rubber types will function and wear well.
  5. The Saudi PIF is definitely pursuing sports-washing, but don’t underestimate that they would also view this as an attractive economic opportunity. With the amount of money they have to deploy, and so many of their investable opportunities being highly correlated, this represents a relatively unusual opportunity for diversification in their portfolio. They genuinely struggle to find enough investable opportunities. They will eventually care about the financial success of this investment, but they have very deep pockets to wait out any temporary red ink.
  6. They’re not wrong, unfortunately. The Glazers get a lot more resistance than the owners of City, PSG and Chelsea. Even Kroenke does. The upcoming World Cup will tell us a lot.
  7. I hadn’t heard of that. I’m glad it is the case. It goes unmentioned in the football media.
  8. Yeah, business travel has required me to drive in many different states over the years, and CT doesn’t even crack the top 10 for worst drivers. MA is one of the worst — they all drive like they hate each other and their cars, and their only joy in life is from preventing anyone from getting through traffic faster than them. NYC drivers have long since gone feral; possibly the rest of the state is better. Chicagoans exchange gunfire on the interstates. Californians start a demolition derby if there’s even a sprinkle of rain. Florida is full of old people and tourists.
  9. I’m fully aware of my hypocrisy and hubris on this. The Merritt parkway — my local freeway — has a speed limit of only 55mph because it’s an intra-state highway, not an inter-state, even though it is a freeway. But traffic typically moves at 70mph on that road when it’s not congested. I drive at a similar speed, and even faster if it’s very empty, provided I have good driving conditions, good visibility and ample braking distance. There are no peripheral risks - no junctions, no trucks or commercial vehicles, no pedestrians or cyclists, no businesses or residences adjoining the road. The only hazards are an occasional deer (limited to dawn and dusk, so can be allowed for) and the unusually short on-ramps, so allow plenty of room for merging traffic. I don’t bomb through a residential road or a school zone.
  10. Since it’s a boring international break: I watched the Liverpool game on replay on Monday evening. I’m less and less thrilled about this replay bullshit on the Peacock streaming. Both teams will feel disappointed not to have won. City bossed the first half as Liverpool’s midfield forgot how to press, but City didn’t create much despite all the possession and space they had. I can only remember one decent stop by Alisson on Foden, the kind of save that Ederson makes several times each game by rushing out early and smothering the shot. Then Liverpool largely bossed the second half and scored two great goals, but didn’t create many clear cut chances (City were dropping deep quite quickly), conceded two equalizers against the run of play by dropping all focus for a minute, and then saw a late winning goal miraculously prevented by Rodri. And the second equalizer was a jammy deflection. While at the same time Milner could have been sent of at 1-1 and Silva could have been sent off at 2-2. Entertaining stuff but it seemed like the teams canceled each other (they all looked shattered in stoppage time). Liverpool have only drawn with both City and Chelsea at home, despite having a dominant second half when they should have won. Those are points dropped in the title race. Liverpool missing both TAA and Thiago were at a bigger disadvantage than City on Sunday, so perhaps it’s not so terrible. Liverpool’s MF is attacking more this season, and we’re scoring more because of it, but the two 8s are not shielding the defense much, and we look vulnerable whenever an opponent pushes players forward suddenly. The post-Gini model has pros and cons. Brentford did it last week, and then City had Walker, Cancelo, Silva and KDB bombing forward. Fabinho has looked really fatigued in the past few games and will need a rest. Salah is in amazing form, and Mane is gradually finding his old form, but Firmino is far off the pace when he plays. VVD’s positioning is only mostly good so far and he needs to get his game sense back. Aside from Salah, no individual really dominated the game. I guess the quality of the opponents makes it harder to command the game. Foden had a relatively easier opportunity up against Milner and made the most of it. KDB was below his best, despite scoring a goal to get the draw. But Bernardo Silva showed the kind of energy and stamina that I’d like to see from Liverpool’s MF; he was relentless, while still having good quality on the ball. And I have to commend City for digging deep to get two equalizers when they were on the back foot. They could easily have lost some confidence after failing to score in the first half, they were getting outplayed in a raucous away game, their manager was having a strop on the sideline, but they stayed focused and snatched a couple of goals. Their experience in title chases over the past few years has made them mentally resilient.
  11. At some point, watching City, PSG or now Newcastle play football becomes like watching a movie by Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. Or like cheering on Ronaldo while ignoring his self-admitted rape. Can you really separate the art from the artist? Suarez’ beyond-the-pale shithousing incurred hate and boos and howls, and yet no boos for Ronaldo. Football fans were United in their disdain for Adam Johnson though.
  12. I read the advice columns on Slate from time to time, but I’ve learned to skip over the columnists’ responses and just go straight to the comments sections, which (when weighted by recommendations) are generally a good crowd-sourcing of common sense and decency. It restores my faith in humanity. I think those columnists are selected to be bad because outrage gets more clicks.
  13. I won’t be volunteering for the drive monitoring tech. I drive above the speed limit often enough, although I think I’m very responsible about choosing when and where to do that. I’ve done some track driving but I don’t want to endanger anyone on a regular road. I’m a very attentive and engaged driver because I actually enjoy the experience* of driving (which tends to come along with opportunistic speeding). I hate inattentive, distracted, lazy or assholish drivers. Too many people underestimate their lethal potential in a vehicle, and punishment for dangerous or negligent driving is horribly, horribly inadequate for the risk they pose to others. I have several friends and family members with lifetime injuries and PTSD after some driver mounted a curb or ran a stop sign. My only two auto accidents in my entire life were (1) when I was T-boned by a driver who pulled out blind from a stop sign, and (2) when I was rear-ended on a freeway by a driver who was texting and didn’t notice that traffic had slowed ahead of him. Neither got any punishment beyond insurance premiums. The second guy didn’t even have auto insurance, but he returned to Canada before police did anything about it. I use a turn signal even when no-one is visible. I maintain good braking distance. I try to avoid bad habits that damage the car or engine: when I drove a manual in Ireland, I learned how to double clutch, and used the handbrake at stops. Those don’t apply to automatic cars here in the US, apart from not using the first gear impetus to hold the car in place while stopped on a hill (that damages the transmission clutch). My worst driving habits are my compulsion to vocalize my frustration with bad drivers. I need to be in a very mellow state of mind to absorb that quietly. I blame my parents for this; they were both constant narrators of traffic conditions throughout my childhood. * this means I hate driving generic automatic cars with spongy soft suspensions — they feel like an unresponsive marshmallow. Now that I have a true sports car with a dual-clutch system, I spent some time to learn the nuances of using the gears in tiptronic mode. Late/hard braking is not a problem because these brakes were designed for that.
  14. Liverpool just love playing at Porto, it seems. Curtis Jones, after starting the season deep in the shadow of Elliott, put in his second very good performance within four days. I won’t hype him up because consistency wasn’t his strong point in the past, but he seems to have developed his game awareness a lot. Here’s hoping. Jota played well too in both games, but his shooting was poor against Porto; he almost always tries to blast it, which often makes his shots too central and rising. TAA missed through injury and will be missing against City too so Milner will be up against Grealish. I got to watch finally on Sunday the Liverpool game vs Brentford. It was a really entertaining game, but very frustrating not to take the win, especially looking at some of Raya’s saves, Salah’s chip over the bar, and Jota not getting a penalty in the last few minutes. That looked a blatant foul in the couple of replay angles that NBC Sports showed — I think the ref just wasn’t willing to go against the home fans who finally woke up. But Brentford were really good and they earned their draw, especially by somehow grabbing a couple of scrappy goals despite barely having a kick of the ball for the preceding ten minutes each time. They had a specific targeted plan to occasionally surge men forward and hit a long cross to an overload on the back post. Each goal was scrappy but the extra numbers counted. Liverpool’s defense needs to deal with this. Toney and Mbeumo offered a good outball and threat in a 2v2 against Liverpool’s isolated CBs. The long direct passing evaded the MF press. And the occasional surge of players into the box for set pieces shouldn’t be that disorientating. It reminded me slightly of the Villa defeat early last season. They need to learn from it. Liverpool scored 3+ goals in all six games for the month on September, despite missing so many of the chances created. They’re playing good football, but let’s see if the MF can stay healthy. No word on Thiago’s return yet.
  15. They expect you to hunch your shoulder points forward and round your back. Like trying to get your elbows to meet at your navel. Contort yourself painfully or pay for a wider seat! Besides, that’s the kind of hunched, servile position that airlines like to picture their customers anyway: cringing before them as you proffer your wads of cash.
  16. The Bears and Seahawks both got blown out today. Not a joyous Sunday in the Pust household. TBF, none of the others noticed or even cared when I told them. But the psychic devastation lingers nonetheless.
  17. I initially thought this was the season finale and I was nonplussed bu the lack of narrative resolution, but thankfully that’s not the case. I have to admit it: I’m really disappointed with the writers’ choices to frame Rebecca. First she’s a bitter divorcee whose position of authority is unearned and derived solely from the divorce, who then goes on to be incompetent in her role primarily from emotional, selfish self-sabotage to lash out at her ex-husband, despite the pain it will cause to many others (employees, fans, etc). This looks like a particularly regressive trope. And then they have her indulge in an exploitative sexual relationship with a junior employee because it makes her feel good. It would have been so easy to write a different background that fulfills the character and narrative arc without needing so much selfishness that clashes with her fundamentally decent, self-aware and competent persona. For example, she could have been a career football exec through her own competence, who decides to sabotage the club (hire Ted) in the short term in order to force out an irresponsible owner so that she can then lead a consortium to buy the club and lead them into the future. Then she could have a relationship with anyone with a conflict of interest — in the media, at another club, a player’s agent, etc — without turning into Harvey Weinstein. Do better, writers. @Mlle. Zabzie I’m glad I’m not the only one who picked up on the Cat’s In The Cradle samples throughout this episode. The Rick Roll was front & center, but the emotional drama for both Ted and Rebecca was very Cat’s In The Cradle, and I found myself humming that after the episode. I like their use of music in general in the show, although my wife doesn’t recognize most of the songs as I do. Sassy and Rupert are criminally under-used. Overall I think this show is more likable than funny. It’s a ray of unquestioning positivity and suspension of disbelief at a time when that’s appreciated, but I doubt it will ever be remembered as good comedy. Even this retcon of personal tragedy onto Ted’s Ned Flanders persona feels like a superficial graft. Daddy issues (Jamie, Rebecca, Ted) and insecure need for external validation (Keeley, Nate, Rebecca, Ted, even Roy to some extent) drive most of the characters, and the resolution is to always wrap them in a cozy blanket of compassion. It’s good humanity but poor comedy.
  18. Congrats on a great turnaround. That’s a pretty severe calorie deficit to maintain though, but good for you if you can sustain it. A deficit of 100 kcal per day equals 10lbs of body fat in one year, which is not too onerous and yet still a meaningful improvement.
  19. Crazy stuff in the Liverpool game. We look so disorganized between MF and defense. Let’s see if we can actually control the game now for a while.
  20. I’m expecting Fabinho and Henderson to be available, so Jones or Milner to take up the third spot in Gini’s role on the left. Because of the weird scheduling of Brazil’s international games, we’ll lose Fabinho too for at least one game after the international break too. But we’ll cross that bridge later. Klopp has rotated well during this busy period, but the MF rotation options just shrunk a lot. And Firmino’s injury reduced has the forward rotation options. Less rotation options now means more fatigue injuries later.
  21. Both Thiago and Keita are injured, on top of Elliott’s long term injury. And Milner was ill with a virus midweek, so unclear if he’ll be fit to play. Probably Jones or Milner in MF then today, considering Ox has looked terrible so far, even against the Norwich B-team in the LC. Keita should be back soon, but Thiago may be out until after the international break.
  22. Good news then. A pity you cannot get a larger bump in pay in this hot job market, but I realize catering/dining isn’t awash in profits just now. Hopefully the change in situation is benefit enough.
  23. In bizspeak it’s using “frameworks” to demonstrate your “mental maps”. And despite bizspeak often only parroting empty phrases in an attempt to obscure the absence of any actual thought, it’s a good thing that these terms reflect a growing emphasis on the ability to coherently organize and convey a rational analysis and logical development for any situation. Too many people seem to operate by repeating ingrained, unexamined habit patterns absorbed over time, but there is an increasing expectation for people to demonstrate more self-awareness and conscious decision-making based on considered deconstruction of each situation. But if you’re not practiced at verbalizing your thought process, then any probing for this can feel accusatory and/or pedantic.
  24. I enjoyed it too. I thought it gave him some deserved credit for taking on the challenge of Ferrari and their terrible car. He could have prioritized maximizing his number of personal career championships instead. It was a bit hard though to reconcile their descriptions of a shy, goofy/funny, sweet Michael Schumacher with the arrogant, ultra-driven version the fans saw. I was a big fan of his racing style, but he didn’t seem a likable person. (The real successor to Nicky Lauda)
  25. Today I had a long swim, and eschewed the wetsuit for another week. It felt fantastic to be in the water. Then I went inside, ate a banana for some energy, and did a weights session of bench press and cable row. Feeling good now, but I need to add a mid-week weights session even if work is very busy again. I probably won’t be able to play soccer this week because of a commitment at my son’s school that evening.
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