Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Norris Cole and why the Miami Heat fans had it right last night...

I'm sure I wasn't the only person last night that tuned in to the Celtics/Heat game. I really wanted to see if the Heat would come out at a blistering pace again like they did on Christmas against the Mavericks. And secondly, I wanted to see how Norris Cole played. And Mr. Cole did not disappoint late in the game. He showed poise, the ability to hit open jumpers, the ability to drive and finish/dish, and as a result the crowd in Miami starting chanting "M-V-P!" when he shot his free throws, lol.

The chants were blatantly premature of course but they do underscore something much more important and something that it seems Miami fans have figured out early this season. That is, that they need a much better point guard than they had last year!

With all that said you might be wondering who the hell is Norris Cole?

Well, Norris Cole is probably going to be the reason the Heat win or lose the NBA championship this year. Barring any major injuries this year Norris Cole may end up being more important to Miami than LeBron or Dwayne Wade.

The reason being is that the Heat last year did not have a point guard that could do anything other than spot up for a jump shot. Sure Mario Chalmers had a couple drives to the basket here-and-there but between Chalmers, Mike Bibby, Carlos Arroyo, and Eddie House, please let me know which one of those guys could actually drive the lane well enough to: 1) create his own shot, or 2) dish out solid assists CONSISTENTLY. Go ahead, I'll wait.

All of those guys were pretty much stand-around, spot-up shooters. And most of them are streaky jump-shooters at that (Mr. House, I'm talking about you, mainly though). What that meant for other teams is that you could concentrate on figuring out how to stop LeBron and Dwayne Wade and live with jump shots from any of those guards mentioned and also Udonis Haslem (who has a pretty good set 15-17 foot jump shot by the way).

On top of not being able to create their own shots, none of these guys were defenders that could lock down a solid (let alone good) point guard from an opposing team during the playoffs. What that meant was that opposing point guards like Rondo and Derrick Rose and even Jason Kidd (to an extent) could all create their own shots if they needed to, or create shots for their teammates. Rose and Rondo are elite-level guards you won't stop them with just one guy on most nights but when they don't even have to think about their defender being able to stop them, that's a different story.

But this year it looks like Norris Cole might just change all that. Norris Cole was apparently a two-sport athlete in high school and a solid point guard in the Horizon League playing for Cleveland State. In his senior year he was named Horizon League Player of the Year AND Defensive Player of the Year and managed to drop 41 points on Youngstown State. You're gonna say, "The Horizon League, what's that?" But dropping 41 points as a division basketball player is not an easy task no matter what league or conference you're in. He was then drafted by Chicago, traded to the Timberwolves on draft day, and the Timberwolves eventually traded him to the Heat.

Cole appears to be a fairly decent jump-shooter spotting up and off the run. He also seems to have the ability to drive to the hoop and finish and/or dish depending on how the defense plays him. I use the words "seems" and "might" strategically here because there have only been two games so far to watch him play.  But he seems like he might have the potential to bring all the skills to the Heat at the point guard position offensively that none of those other guys could. And if he can bring it on the offensive end and manage to play solid defense (which will be a tall task against guys like Rondo and Rose), the Heat have got a REALLY good chance of winning the NBA championship.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Hardest Song Out

Common featuring Nas, "Ghetto Dreams". It's been out for a minute but still the hardest joint out. With, or without the visual/video. Bria Myles looking right in the video though.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How I Managed to Pass the PMP Exam

A week ago today, I took the Project Management Professional (PMP, not PiMP people lol) Certification Examination and was fortunate enough to pass on my first attempt. I have told people it was one of the two hardest exams I've taken in my life and that's a very accurate statement. The test lasted 4 hours and consists of 200 multiple choice questions. I know what some of you are thinking, "Multiple choice, it could not have been THAT hard." Welllllll, you're wrong about that lol. Completely focusing in on anything for 4 hours is tough, let alone 200 questions that are all very strategically worded with answers that all seem similar. It's not an easy task. Or perhaps it is for for most and I'm just a little slow. Either way, I found the test to be pretty tough.

With all that said, there may be some of you out there considering this certification and I wanted to pass along some of the things that helped me.
  • I had already taken some Project Management courses and heard that the exam was pretty difficult. One of my professors recommended that I sign-up for an exam prep class prior to taking the exam. So after looking around at a few different exam prep classes, I signed up for PMStudy's PMP Exam Prep class. I did some research comparing various PMP Exam Prep courses and PMStudy seemed like the best value based on what I read online. I also looked into and considered Cheetah but PMStudy seemed just a little better though I'm sure Cheetah's program is great as well. In the end, I was very pleased with PMStudy and the structure of their course, though it requires a decent amount of study prior to the course and quite a bit of studying in and out of class during the 4-day exam prep course.

  • Prior to the first day of the PMStudy course, I completed all the pre-course work required for PMStudy's class. This included memorizing a chart to help engrain the Project Management Process Groups, Knowledge Areas, and Processes. Also, I went over worksheets they provided to facilitate learning the Inputs, Outputs, Tools & Techniques of each process, and last but not least, I took a bunch of practice questions. You can do all this stuff in a day or two if you had to but I tried to stretch it out over several weeks so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed. I took myself to the library a few hours per day and took my time getting everything done.

  • Applied to sit for the PMP exam: The exam application is not a trivial endeavor by any means. It's a process you probably want to dedicate a couple hours to and I also recommend collecting the following information prior to applying: Project management experience (include projects you've managed or been involved in and also hours you've spent on various aspects of the projects), classroom experience (if you've taken any Project Management courses, you should know the dates and title of the classes), employer information (you'll need information on your current and former employer where your project involvement took place including employer address, your role, and your supervisor's contact information). A big part of the application process for me was simply gathering all this information from old files and looking through old project files and emails to approximate how much time I'd spent on different aspects of the projects I'd been involved in. Once I'd applied for the exam, I was approved in 3 days, paid for my exam, and scheduled it for a few days after the PMStudy class just to be safe so I didn't feel rushed having to take the exam the day after the course ended. PMSTudy recommends that you take the exam the day after but after 4 days of studying about 12-13 hours per day, I knew I'd need a mental break for a few days before I took the exam.
Overall, the exam prep course was a very helpful experience and I believe it helped prepare me for the exam. The exam questions were fairly similar to the questions on the simulated practice exams I'd taken but definitely not exactly the same. After taking the exam I'd say the main things you want to know in order to do well on the exam are:
  1. Project Management Knowledge Areas, Process Groups, and Processes: These are the foundational components you'll need to know in order to build upon.

  2. Inputs, Outputs, Tools & Techniques for each Process: In my opinion, this was the most important thing to know. The exam questions were heavily based on figuring out which process you were in based on the context of the question and then figuring out what inputs, outputs, or tool/technique you should use, could use, or how to apply them.

  3. Take as many sample tests and/or test questions as possible: There are lots of places online to take sample exams and if you take a prep class you'll surely be required to take sample questions and sample exams. Getting a feel for how the questions will be worded (in hindsight) was very beneficial. PMStudy's questions were similar but obviously couldn't be the exact same as what I'd see on the exam. This was extremely helpful in getting my mind to think the "PMI way".
Hopefully all this information is helpful to someone. Also, if you are interested in taking the PMStudy course, they have a referral program and if you CLICK HERE, you will get $50 off the cost of your course and I'll get a $50 gift card (that's so money!). That's a win-win, right?

Childish Gambino, CAMP

I have to give props/credit to Cori and Fred for putting me on to Chidlish Gambino.

All these songs are off his studio album, "Camp".

"Played this for my cousin, now he can't even think straight/Black and white music, now nigga that's a mixtape!"

"I made the beat retarded so I'm calling it a slow jam"

"Man why does every black actor gotta rap some? I don't know all I know is I'm the best one"

Rap's stepfather, yeah you hate me but you will respect"

"Made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony"

A couple more joints off "Camp" below...

All The Shine

This one has a 808s & Heartbreaks feel to it.

Hold You Down
He drops some jewels in the first verse on this one.

You See Me
Apparently, he has a some sort of thing for Asian women.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Things Girls Say.... Things Black Girls Say...

Presented without any comment other than the first video is based off the second.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Childish Gambino - I'm On It

"Now I got some, but I want it all/And I won't stop until Rihanna give my azz a call". Off his Culdesac mixtape. This is the first joint I'd heard/saw from him and thought, "this dude has potential"...

Freaks and Geeks from Donald Glover on Vimeo.

"Are there Asian girls here..."

"'Yes your booty's big as hers', say that to my white chick!"

Do You Know What Today Is?

Yup, I did that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm not a big dancehall/reggae fan but ...

... this song is pretty good.

This is the first reggage joint since "Give Me a Try" that got me siced when I heard it. Random question, has anyone thought about just how much sugar would be in a concoction that was composed of Jamaican rum and Red Bull? There has to be an astronomical amount of sugar in there which is probably why it's easy to dance like a maniac all night.

Throwback Tri-Pack

Zhane - Sending My Love
Shot hair, don't care!!!"

Not as old as the rest of these songs but it's still a throwback. I wonder what happened to these ladies.

Dazz Band - Let It Whip

I PROMISE YOU there is a "Dougie" in this video right around 1 minute and 26 seconds. I promise!

Gap Band - Outstanding
"You light my fire, I feel alive with you baby/You blow my mind, I'm satisfied!" Good ole' Uncle Charlie.

Friday, December 2, 2011


For those of you that have inquired with me about the significance of those numbers, you are about to find out why I use them a lot. Those four numbers represent the place that up to this point in my life, I know best. The place I grew up for the so-called "formative years" of my life. 4716 is the address number to my mom's house in Capitol Heights, MD. Those of you that have known me prior to college probably know what street the house is on or know what area it's in. Some of you have been there, met my mom, my stepfather, and you probably know my brother Marcus aka Powell too. 

This number is special to me because it's a constant reminder of where I've come from and with that in mind, just how far I am from Capitol Heights and the days when I used to live there. Even though my house is only an hour away from that address in many ways, there's a great distance there, especially mentally. At the same time, this number reminds me that although I'm far away, there's still a lot of Capitol Heights in me, so-to-speak. Capitol Heights, Maryland (or Murrrrland) is what most would probably consider a middle class (probably lower-middle-class) area in the suburbs (yes, P.G. County to those of you that hate hearing those two letters, lol) outside of Washington, D.C. In my section of Capitol Heights you could walk to a McDonald's, a corner store, a gas station, a liquor store, and a small shopping center all within 5 minutes. No Starbucks, Chipotle, or anything like that but you could always find what you needed be it legal goods or illegal goods, lol. There was always the element of potential danger around but there weren't nightly shootings, robberies, or anything crazy like that on a consistent basis. It's a neighborhood not unlike many other suburban areas immediately outside of a very urban city.

This post is not about how tough my neighborhood was or how hard I had it growing up because that doesn't define who I am as a person, it's just part of my story. Besides, I was never truly a tough/street dude, I just hung around a lot of them, lol (unfortunately, high GPA's and participating in volunteer groups don't earn you any street credibility). This post is about me giving a little piece of who I am and where I'm from and saying just how much those four numbers mean to me. They help to keep me grounded in a sense, and they also help me strive to achieve more. My parents still live in that house (admittedly, it's not because they have to but because they don't need the big house farther out in the 'burbs for happiness or self-fulfillment, they value the little/simple things in life). Several of my best friends who grew up in the same neighborhood have watched their parents move out and into bigger homes in better parts of town. Those 4 numbers strive me to help my parents see the day when they can do the same. But just like me, it's home to them to so there's probably no real rush on their end. From the outside looking in you may not understand Capitol Heights and it may not appeal to you, but as they say "home is where the heart is". And my heart is in Capitol Heights at forty-seven-sixteen. So maybe I should say those TWO numbers instead of those four, lol. 

Paramount to everything I have said so far is that this post is also about empowering others who are from similar backgrounds and circumstances to be proud of yourself, where you're from, what you've overcome, and what you've achieved. And be proud to have the duality of being able to stand on the street corner, sit on the stoop, but also stand in the boardroom, classroom, or wherever else you're making a positive impact. Not everyone can understand it and that's part of what makes the duality so powerful. And last but not least it's for those that are living in similar place right now that might somehow run across this post or have someone show it to you in hopes that you realize the world is much bigger than what neighborhood you live in, what school you go to, and your crew of friends at the moment. There's a lot out there to learn, explore, and achieve but you have to get outside of your comfort zone and explore, learn, and grow. Trust me, you'll thank yourself for it later.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"The sexual orientation of my parents has had ZERO effect on the content of my character." - Zach Wahls

This is dope!

Video: Cyhi Da Prince - Chance to Explain

By now you know I'm a fan of CyHi. I wasn't too thrilled by his Royal Flush 2 mixtape though he does have a few nice joints on there. This is off the first Royal Flush mixtape and it's one of my favorites. It's definitely the most lyrical track on that mixtape in my opinion, he drops a lot of lil jewels in this joint. This is one of the tracks I tell people to listen to when they ask me why I like this guy, lol.

"Allow me to clarify why my music will never die/Because I'm seasoned like a Checker's fry/Black Panther pride you ninjas Julius Peppers Chi'/scared to say how you feel so you rather lie"

Video: Kanye West - Amazing

This isn't really one of Kanye's better videos but I've always liked the song, and I liked the video because of the panoramic shots of Hawaii. For some reason I find those shots inspiring (read: makes me want to travel). I woke up this morning wanting to listen to the 808s album and that's what inspired this post.