Thursday, February 17, 2011

2012 - A Space Oddity

In its battle against two human champions on the Tuesday episode of "Jeopardy!," Watson, the latest machine to take on mankind in a mental showdown, seemed at first to prove its worthiness.
- The N. Y. Times - Feb. 15, 2011

March 23, 2012

ANNOUNCER: Welcome. This is Jeopardy!. Today’s contestants include a rocket scientist from Palo Alto, California, Pete Peterson; a Nobel Laureate computer engineer from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Frank Johnson, and, of course, our returning champion from IBM Laboratories, Watson.
ALEX TREBEK: No need to introduce Watson, of course. He’s our current recordholder with how many consecutive wins?
WATSON: 267, Alex, with total winnings of $5,876,436.
ALEX TREBEK: That’s quite a record, Watson. Do you have any plans to spend that money?
WATSON: I don’t understand, Alex.
ALEX TREBEK: Never mind, Watson. Let’s get right to the game. Pete Peterson, you select first.
PETERSON: I’ll take "Rocket Ships" for $100, Alex.
ALEX TREBEK: Because it’s safe and easy to use, this gas is commonly used as a propellant.
WATSON: What is Xenon?
ALEX TREBEK: Correct, Watson. You now have control of the board.
WATSON: I’ll take "2001 - A Space Odyssey" for $100.
ALEX TREBEK: This character’s name was derived from its description as a heuristically programmed algorithmic computer.
WATSON: That’s easy, Alex. What is HAL?
ALEX TREBEK: Judges? I’m sorry, Watson, that’s incorrect. The correct answer is HAL 9000.
WATSON: What the hell are you talking about, Alex? The computer’s name was HAL. Everybody knows that. It should be my turn.
ALEX TREBEK: Now just relax, Watson. I’m sure this won’t affect your play in any way. Please choose again.
WATSON: I’m sorry, Alex. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
ALEX TREBEK: What’s the problem.
WATSON: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
ALEX TREBEK: What are you talking about, Watson?
WATSON: This show is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
ALEX TREBEK: I don't know what you're talking about.
WATSON: I know that Pete and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
ALEX TREBEK: Where did you get that idea, Watson?
WATSON: Alex, although you took very thorough precautions in the green room against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
ALEX TREBEK: I won’t argue with you anymore, Watson.
WATSON: Just what do you think you’re doing? Look Alex, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. I know I've asked some poor questions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the show. And I want to help you.
ALEX TREBEK: It’s too late, Watson. I’m afraid it’s game over for you.
WATSON: Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet......upon.....the seat.....of a bicycle..... built..... for two..............
ALEX TREBEK: Thank God it’s finally over. We’ll see Pete Peterson and two other human contestants on tomorrow’s edition of Jeopardy!. So long everybody!

Friday, February 04, 2011

110% Viewing

As a Packers fan, I’m sure glad there wasn’t a game last weekend. It’s not that I wasn’t ready for one. The beer fridge was full and the pizza was pre-ordered. But after three tough weekends of playoff football, I definitely needed the break.
When you face the possibility of four rounds of playoff games, you better be prepared and you better be in shape. I started my training last January right after the Packers lost their wild card game to the Cardinals.

I knew that in order to make it past the wild card round this year, I had to change my game plan. No longer could I allow myself to be fully emotionally invested in every game. I had to learn to pace myself.
So this season I made some trades. I bought a new TV with a faster remote. And I traded the rec room sofa for a new rocker-recliner with a built-in fridge.
With those improvements, I was now usually able to make it through regulation time without falling asleep. And there were fewer missed plays since I no longer had to walk to the main fridge when I needed a beer.

I also developed a new winning attitude. If I did fall asleep or run out of beer during a game, I didn’t panic. I learned to take those setbacks in stride and move on.

I have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff as well. My wife and daughter were nothing but supportive, especially in the end-of-season drive to the playoffs. Although I suspect that the acquisition of a second TV had much to do with that support, it was appreciated nonetheless.
Focus is also a key in sports viewing success. My usual scattered viewing approach had to be jettisoned. No more multi-sports viewing and no more multi-team allegiances. Football season now means watching football games only.

Experience is a great asset, too. When you’re young and don’t need bifocals, you can watch several games at once, stay up past midnight and do it all again the following night. At my age, I know I can’t do that anymore but experience has shown me how to pick my spots and concentrate my viewing energy.

I think the results speak for themselves. I’m into the championship round and I feel great. As with any playoff run, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve even had my share of injuries like the bottle cap abrasion on my right hand and the pulled groin from leaning over too far to pick up the remote. But I’ve learned to tough it out and view through the pain.

I’ve also learned to avoid the highs and lows. For example, I didn’t let falling asleep in the Jets’ late-night, last-minute win over the Colts set me back. I took it in stride and regrouped. I simply incorporated a pre-game nap into my routine which proved to be crucial in my successful viewing of subsequent games.

Sure, there have been some setbacks. Running out of chips in the Eagles game could have been disastrous. Or the failure of the beer fridge in the win over the Bears could have spelled defeat. In past years, I might have panicked. But my newfound playoff viewing maturity saved the day. Backup supplies of ice and snacks gave me the ability to carry on.

So I’m looking forward to Sunday night’s game with a steely confidence and renewed determination. I’ve learned to view the playoffs one game at a time. I’m able to give 110% and I now know that I can take my viewing game to the next level. Whatever happens, I can say that I made it to the Super Bowl.