Q (repeat): Jake - Who has the best chance to win the NBA championship this year? And don't cheap out on me with a "the Lakers have the best record, so they do." I want details, man. Details.
A: What I'm going to do is take the two teams from each conference I think will play in the conference championships, give you the winners, then run the matchup of the conference winners and give you an answer. Sound good? As with all of my prognostications I add the following disclaimer: any money you lose by betting on my less-than-informed picks is your own fault.
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Ramblings: Cleveland is rolling into the playoffs like a juggernaut. They've won their last 8 games and have an easier path to the finals (at least on paper) than the Celtics. Of course last season they had the theoretically easier path and lost to the Orlando Magic in the conference finals. Will that happen this year? Maybe, but I don't think so. They are absolutely desperate to hang on to LeBron James and have sunk a lot of money and talent into this team. They're going to the finals.
LA Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Ramblings: I think this will be less about LA and more about the fact that whomever LA plays in the conference finals is going to be vastly inferior to them. I looked at the playoff matchups and didn't see a really dominant team in the West other than LA. Therefore I don't think it matters who they play. LA will win and move on to the finals.
NBA Finals: LA Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
Ramblings: This is 100% gut feeling, folks. I have no basketball reasons for this other than sheer force of will on LeBron's part. He wants a championship. Badly. And more importantly he wants one more than Kobe Bryant. That's the difference and that's why he's going to carry the team to Cleveland's first championship in team history.
Q: Eric - How many frequent flier miles do you have? and more importantly, how do FF miles work? you don't earn one for each mile you fly do you?
A: Below is the list of carriers and frequent flier miles I have with each.
United: 111,662 miles
Delta: 30,959 miles
US Airways: 9,136 miles
Continental: 2,000 miles
American Airlines: 551 miles
Air Tran: 4 Qualifying Segments
Frequent flier miles for the major carriers tend to work the same way. You earn a mile for every mile that you fly. You can get bonus miles for things like being a very frequent flier with an airline, using an airline credit card, or even just buy them. Once you have the miles you can redeem them for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, and even goods and services. I've linked to each airline's "How to use your miles" page so you can compare them for yourself.
The odd duck in this is Air Tran. They, like Southwest and Jet Blue do things called "segments". They don't give you the number of miles you travel but rather credit for the number of one-way flights that you take. If you do a lot of short hops you can build up credit very quickly, but there's no benefit to taking cross-country flights. These credits, like miles, can be redeemed for a number of different things.
Q: Kristian - Since we all seem to hate Sidney Crosby, what is your humble opinion on said douchebag?
A: First, I don't hate Sidney Crosby. I dislike him and find him to be a whiney, pretty-boy hockey player, but hate is something I reserve for those who really deserve it, like lawyers and people who talk on cell phones during movies.
My opinion of Sidney Crosby the hockey player is that he is talented. Very talented. He is a good skater, has a great hockey mind, and will go far in this league. Like it or not he's been good for the league as both a good player and a good personality. Pittsburgh's hockey program has been revitalized thanks to him and the Canadian Olympic hockey team owes their gold medal to his overtime goal in the final game. In short, he's extremely good.
But despite that I don't particularly like him. On reflection the main reason he rubs me the wrong way is that he's a hockey player that his teammates feel the need to protect. That bothers me. As a hockey fan I know that there have always been "finesse" players in the game and I accept that. But I much prefer the hockey player who can throw a good hip check, get the puck, and score on a well-placed wrist shot from the point. I don't see Sidney Crosby that way. He's a finesse player. Fine, wonderful, good for him. It's just not my cup of tea.
Q: Bill - Why do men like fire so much? Can we burn this quiz?
A: There are many possible reasons for this. First, one instinct that men have is to protect and provide for their family. Fire can be viewed as a tool to aid in that instinct. It has the capacity to heat an area and to cook food.
Second, fire is also a tool of destruction. From a very young age boys tend to display acts of aggression and destruction. They crash toy cars together, build structures out of blocks only to knock them down, and are generally more outwardly destructive than girls. Fire is an extension of that side of male nature.
Third, fire is just plain cool. I mean come on, what guy doesn't like burning stuff? It's awesome!
Oh, and about your second question, this is not a quiz but yes, you can burn it. However, since you just bought the computer you're likely reading this on I don't think you want to do that. I suppose you could print out a copy and burn that. Just don't tell your wife I gave you permission, especially if you end up burning your house down.
Q: Rani - On the topic of fire ... How does a person spontaneously combust?
A: By being not on fire one moment and being on fire the next. [Ed: You think you're funny, but you're not. But I answered the question, didn't I?]
Q: Jarsh - What is hell really like?
A: A little background for those of you who aren't fans of LOST. For a long time the producers of the show have said that the characters are not dead and are not in hell or purgatory. Last night's episode explored that topic a bit. The character on whom the episode focused at first believed that they were in hell but by the end of the episode came to accept that they were not.
Anyway, Jarsh posted the following on his Twitter/Facebook account: They aren't in hell. #alsonotaspoiler.
I responded on Facebook with: "I already knew they weren't in hell because I've been here for three weeks and I haven't seen them."
Now in the interest of full disclosure I'm not actually in hell. It only feels that way. I've spent the past three weeks in Barstow, CA. It's a desert town about halfway between LA and Las Vegas. Because of the amount of time I've spent here I'm losing more of my sanity than normal on this trip. A month is a long time to spend away from one's home, even if one doesn't consider one's self to have a home. If that makes any sense. See, I'm losing it, people! Luckily I'm only out here for another few days, then it's back to good old Rochester. I just hope my house is still standing.
The other reason I think I'm in hell is the fact that the hotel I'm staying in is about a mile away from a train yard. At random intervals during the day and night train cars will be moved around and the screeching sound of brakes can be heard reverberating through the hotel. It's a sound I cannot begin to describe other than to say that if you dislike the sound of nails on a chalkboard, you'd be in hell.
Q: Brett - Are you back in town next week? I'd like to dump all the Beaumonts photos on your machine off of my CF card before I go to Virginia for Easter weekend.
A: Yes, I will be back in town next week. I need to get with all of the filmers to collect tapes and to thank them personally for their help with this latest project. I can't wait to see what you guys were able to generate in my absence. I'll give you a call when I get back and we'll link up.