Looking back, looking ahead πŸ™

Today is the last day of 2021. Right time to look back, look ahead.
Put simply 2021 has been an extraordinary year!
A year in which
β€’ Good and bad were engaged in a constant battle
β€’ Many lives were saved, many lives were lost
β€’ Prosperity soared and paucity increased
β€’ The bright lights of democracy were threatened by inimical forces
β€’ We witnessed courage and cowardice in plenty
β€’ Truth tried to emerge while misinformation exploded
β€’ Olympian heights were reached along with plumbing of depths
β€’ Welcome jabs were followed by unwelcome jabbing
β€’ Lessons were learned hard and quickly forgotten
β€’ There was a lot gained and a lot lost
β€’ Hope and fear seemed to be juxtaposed

It has been a year to reevaluate priorities and relationships, both personal and professional, for many including yours truly. Will be interesting to see how historians view 2021. When 2021 and 2022 meet I hope the intersection is at love. πŸ₯° Hey, even the number 2022 has a good feel to it! Like beautiful swans together, one followed by two! Humanity needs to transition from a world of pain, loss and grief to one that abounds in love. My optimism is tempered by reality and reality is tinged with optimism. πŸ™

Sayonara 2021! Welcome 2022! πŸ‘

Separated at birth? πŸ˜‰

Federal agents from the U.S. Marshals led by the great Samuel β€˜Fiery Sam’ Gerard are investigating a case of twins apparently separated at birth. Fiery Sam is known for his steely determination to bring justice whatever it takes. Nothing illustrates that better than below conversation heard between Fiery Sam and Deputy US Marshal Cosmo β€˜CR’ Renfro πŸ˜‰πŸ˜€

CR: What the hell is the matter with you? Sam, you can’t do this. I know how you feel. Look, I feel the same way. I loved that kid, too, but this is wrong. I’m telling you this as your friend.
Fiery Sam: You’re not my friend.
CR (enraged): Fine. Forget it. You wanna kill that SOB who separated that kid, go ahead, you do it. But remember this: You forget everything you taught me about this job. The rules, the regulations, the code. You do this, and it’s all about you. It’s not about bringing justice to the unfortunate family. It’s about you. The great Fiery Sam. 😑
Fiery Sam (goes into the elevator by himself): Yes, I am.
CR: And you always have to win.
Fiery Sam (as the elevator door closes): Yes, I do. πŸ˜‰

Greek tragedy?

Alpha, Beta, Gamma
Delta, Lambda, Kappa
Zeta, Eta, Theta
Random Greek alphabets?
Or name of Greek fraternities?
Or basics to learning the classics?
Could be any of the above
Yet these are names WHO appears to love
For coronavirus variants on the move!
A recent variant labeled Omicron
Sounds like combination of Ominous and Cron
Has the feel of a ticking time bomb;
Are humans stuck in a loop
Of never-ending alphabet soup
Or will we find the will to regroup?
For starters, to put the public at ease
Stop using wave to describe outbreaks of the disease
For waves do not cease! πŸ™

2021 Raj Farm Update# 10: Light and Water Magic!

What exactly is Raj Farm?
Simply put Raj Farm is a concept brought to life spring through fall by nature!
I refer to this phenomenon as ‘Light and Water Magic’ that unfolds when nature provides ample sunlight and rain to nurture and nourish the backyard plants allowing them to bloom and flourish, producing a bountiful harvest! πŸ‘πŸ™

Final Jeopardy! category is ‘Recent Phenoms’


https://www.nytimes.com/…/tel…/jeopardy-matt-amodio.html

After a brief hiatus The Raj is back! This time with a piece on Jeopardy! trivia show. More specifically about the amazing run of current champion Matt Amodio who has enjoyed a 33-game unbeaten streak so far. In a summer marked by turbulence Matt is exactly what the doctor ordered for the show. Amid a slew of different guest hosts and controversy about permanent host selection the champ has continued his serene run. With a 33rd win in yesterday’s televised game Matt surpassed James Holzhauer in # of wins in regular season. πŸ‘πŸ‘ Moving into sole 2nd place is guaranteed to bring comparisons with the runs enjoyed by #1 Ken Jennings (74-game win streak) and James and will inevitably lead to debates about who is the best. What interests me more is their journey, their style of play and characteristics and other X-factor/s!
1) Similarities between Matt, James and Ken: Encyclopedic knowledge, high intelligence, exceptional memory, interest in broad range of topics, great ability to zero in on correct response by fast elimination, ruthless efficiency, mastery of the buzzer, immense stamina and killer instinct πŸ‘Œ
2) Differences between Matt, James and Ken:One could say they have competed in different eras. When Ken had his incredible run it was before social media became omnipresent. In some ways his run could be compared to a sleeper hit with interest growing as he kept adding to his wins. Both and Alex Trebek were in their pomp at this time. Ken’s approach was traditional (typically starting with low value clues in a category) and cautious, minimizing risks for win. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had a checklist in his preparation, like an engineer 😊
James’ era was pre-COVID and when social media had become all pervasive. So, more visibility and probably more pressure. This was during the time Alex Trebek in his post-cancer diagnosis phase soldiered on admirably without letting the pain show. The James approach can be described as shock and awe effect. Go straight for the big $ clues, relentlessly hunt for the Daily Double and bet it all for maximum gain. The effect was very demoralizing on the other players as he steamrolled them and pretty much locked up the win very early in the game πŸ‘Œ
Matt’s approach is a combination of Ken+James. Similar to James in going for big $ clues early on, try to get the Daily Double and bet it all (in Jeopardy! round) while building up a huge lead. In Double Jeopardy! round, with a comfortable lead, the amount bet on Daily Double just enough to pad the lead (if got right) or not lose significantly (if got wrong). In that sense similar to Ken. He has also improved the process efficiency and cut down response time by starting his response with “What’s” whether referring to a place, person , movie or whatever. It will be interesting to see if in any of his games there have been any clues left on the board due to time limit getting reached. In one respect this run has been different to Ken and James’ in that there have been more than 5 hosts in Matt’s case while Ken and James only had Alex as host. Matt has been able to adjust to the different style and cadence of each host without any noticeable problem πŸ‘
3) The all important X-factor: The secret sauce!
Last but not the least is the X-factor, what Matt shares in common with The Raj πŸ˜‰ Interestingly both of us worked for the same employer at one time! Matt and Raj were residents of the same town when Matt attended Graduate school for his 2nd Masters degree! From all appearances it seems Matt may also like to laugh heartily like Raj. Alright, that was more of an observation, no points credited. Other than that nothing in common between Matt and Raj πŸ˜‚

It seems Matt is proud of the fact, and rightfully, that his fellow contestants who have bit the dust so far have all thought he is a genuinely nice guy and impressed by his soft touch even while putting them away. Killing them with kindness 😊 Hooray for Midwest politeness! πŸ‘
To me it’s fun to watch his reaction when he wins. After the game his first reaction is always “Wow, can’t believe I won this game” with a genuine smile and a look of disbelief. It’s a look of pure, unalloyed delight. Akin to a kid having fun and making incredible money in the process. Are there any apparent weakness in Matt’s game? Not really as he is done well in pretty much all categories. Couple of things I have noticed though. In going after big $ clues and hunting for Daily Double/s if another player buzzes in quick and answers right a slight look of anxiety creeps in. Likewise some anxiety when a player has won more than half of money won by Matt before Final Jeopardy! The closest match I remember was his first win when he was up against a 2-time returning champion, and going into Final Jeopardy! both of them had ~ 20K with Matt having a bit more money than the returning champ. Both bet big and got it right and the difference boiled down to Matt having slightly more money to bet and beat the returning champ. Amusing to think the streak could very well have been a non-starter πŸ˜†

How to beat the champ?
It’s actually simple. πŸ™‚ Against all bigtime champs you got to beat them at their own game. In other words take it to them. To do that will entail buzzing in quick, going for big $ clues, getting them right (to gain control of the board in terms of clue selection/game flow), hitting the Daily Doubles, betting big on those and getting them right. In short, a near perfect game! πŸ˜… Suddenly it doesn’t sound simple, eh? I am guessing Matt will eventually lose to a player who has more than half his money before Final Jeopardy!, bets it all, comes up with correct answer while Matt gets it wrong.

Now, for the Final Jeopardy! clue in the category ‘Recent Phenoms’:
This person has won phenomenal amount of money, more than million $ and counting, in recent times on a popular trivia game once hosted by the legendary Alex Trebek.
Correct response: What’s Amodio? πŸ™‚
Note: ‘Who is Matt Amodio?’ is also an acceptable response 😁