Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sophie Masloff On The Pat Sajak Show

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff died on Sunday at the age of 96. Masloff was already an "old Jewish grandmother" when she took office in 1988 after the passing of Mayor Richard Caliguiri. While you can read about Masloff in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I wanted to write about her appearance on the short-lived Pat Sajak show.

The Pittsburgh mayor going to Los Angeles to be on a national talk show was a big deal. Politicians, particularly Presidential candidates, go on TV shows regularly now, but the hometown mayor traveling 2000+ miles in 1989 seemed unprecedented. This was way before the days of Tivo and the DVR, and I don't recall if my parents let me stay awake to see Masloff on the Sajak show (it was a school night!) or if they woke me up to see her, but I remember watching her appearance. Again, this was a big deal.

I was too young to know if Sajak was using Masloff as a gimmick, but it seemed like she came off positively. While I thought Masloff presented Sajak with a Mario Lemieux jersey, according to the Monessen Valley Independent, she simply gave him a Pittsburgh Penguins T-shirt.

Unfortunately, I could find little about her appearance online. Apparently, there is not a robust archives of the Pat Sajak Show archives. There seems to be no video (with the exception of two seconds in the WTAE video below) or pictures of Masloff on Sajak .

There is also a 1989 P-G opinion piece about Masloff going on The Pat Sajak Show.

Masloff will certainly be missed.

P.S. I feel the need to share that I'm in a fantasy football league named after Sophie Masloff.

Thanks to DLuvPGH for helping me search for information about Masloff-Sajak.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Random Ramblings

* I took both boys out by myself for the first time last weekend to see a music performance that was supposed to be geared for kids but wasn't very good. Anyway, my goal was to leave the house at 9:15. We left at 9:40.

* Ohio State is playing against Navy in Baltimore and then 5-6 weeks later at The University of Maryland in College Park. That was poor planning on someone's part (I'll blame the Big 10). More importantly, why didn't I know about this? As a graduate of The Ohio State University, shouldn't the alumni organization let me know about this? Do they not consider Northern Virginia part of the Maryland-DC region? Of course, I'm not a member of the alumni organization, so, um, I'll blame the Big 10.

* Our home uses gas for heat and electric for air conditioning. Therefore, our gas bills are low in the summer bit higher in the winter. Actually, the fact that our summer gas bill is generally $20-$30 is a bit of a joke since (to my knowledge) the gas is never on. Anyway, this month's bill is $0.81. I approve! When I tried to pay the $0.81 through my online checking account, the bank denied my payment requiring me to enter an amount of $1 or more. Look out for that $0.19 credit next month!

* I just finished reading Brazil's Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics and The Fight For Democracy by Dave Zirin. Very, very interesting read. Based on the book, I never want the Olympics in DC, Pittsburgh, or basically any American city.

* I cut myself fairly badly while shaving over two consecutive days this week. You would that that I would be able to avoid this after shaving for 25 years.

* Remember a few months ago when I nicknamed my new son Pedro Tulowitzki after two members of my rotisserie/fantasy baseball team? Well, Troy Tulowitzki is now out for the season and Pedro Alvarez barely plays anymore.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Does Delaware Hate Pitt?

Last week, an unscientific survey of Reddit users revealed the most hated college football teams by state. Naturally, The Ohio State University is the most hated college football team in Michigan, the University of Michigan is the most hated college football team in Ohio, Kansas University is the most hated college football team in Missouri, the University of Missouri is the most hated college football team in Kansas, and, um, the University of Maryland is the most hated college football team in Vermont.

While it makes complete sense that the University of Pittsburgh is the most hated college football team in West Virginia based on the Backyard Brawl rivalry between Pitt and WVU, I don't understand the hatred of Pitt by Delawareans.

Did Mike Ditka or Tony Dorsett slight Joe Biden? Are Delawareans upset that Pitt allowed Joe Flacco to transfer from Pitt to the University of Delaware? Did other Pitt fans complain about Delaware on blogs like this guy?

Looking at the raw data (who is the one person that voted Middle Tennessee State as the most hated college football team?), only 18 Delaware residents responded to this survey, so this is a small sample size. HOWEVER, I'm sure that these 18 people represent all Delawareans!

If you can't see the map very well, here are the full state by state results.

h/t DC Sports Bog

Friday, August 08, 2014

Friday Video: Getting Old

In another case of me getting old, I heard Shine by Collective Soul played yesterday on a classic rock radio station. When I listen to classic rock, I expect to hear The Beatles, Stones and AC/DC. However, Shine is now incredibly 20 years old, so I guess that qualifies as classic rock. Sigh. Still a great song though.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Dinosaur Train: A Review

If you have young children, you may be familiar with Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train on PBS. Just having the Jim Henson name attached gives this cartoon (and anything else) some credibility. Before I go into my thoughts about my son's current favorite show (which I think you'll enjoy even if you've never heard of Dinosaur Train), here's a description from the PBS website.

Dinosaur Train begins when Buddy [a Tyrannosaurus Rex] is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon and brought to their nest to hatch at the same time as his new siblings, Tiny, Shiny and Don. Buddy and his new family have an insatiable desire to learn all about the different types of dinosaurs, so they board the wondrous Dinosaur Train, which allows them to travel and explore the world inhabited by these amazing creatures.

Where to start? Well, combining dinosaurs and trains is a brilliant idea. These are two of many kids' favorite things.

As for the Pteranodon family, Tiny is extremely outgoing, confident and talks to everyone. Buddy is also adventurous (though slightly less so than Tiny) and loves to state his hypotheses. Meanwhile, Shiny is high-maintenance and often self-centered, and Don may be the first animated special needs character on a kids' show. I applaud the Dinosaur Train creators for including such a character.

Back to the show's premise, how exactly does a Tyrannosaurus Rex egg wind up in a Pteranodon nest? This is never explained, and there is no indication that there was an adoption process. There is actually an episode where Buddy learns that he's a T-Rex, and the T-Rex family offers to have Buddy live with them. He declines because the Pteranondons are his family now. Personally, I'd like to see the adoption paperwork since something seems sketchy. Donald Trump and others should focus on this rather than President Obama's birth certificate.

Besides Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon, the other main character is The Conductor, a Troodon that knows everything. Not explained is how through this vast dinosaur train network that travels throughout the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous time periods, The Conductor drives every train. Doesn't he get a vacation? Aren't there other conductors who can take his various routes?

Now that you know the primary characters, here is my number one complaint about the show. Check out the theme song:

At no point during the song is Mr. Pteranodon mentioned. He barely even makes the opening! Yet, many Dinosaur Train trips consist only of Mrs. Pteranodon, Buddy and Tiny meaning that Mr. Pteranodon is back caring for the two kids that require more supervision.

Here are my other thoughts/notes about the show:

- You may have noticed the dinosaur that roars at the end of the song. That is Laura the Giganotosaurus who appears to do little other than ride the train. Seriously, she is always on the train.

- In most episodes, you'll see The Conductor punching the tickets of the Pteranodon family. I've always wondered about the ticket policies and procedures. It must be expensive to constantly ride the Dinosaur Train. Does the family get a special monthly/yearly pass? Are there discounted train ticket prices for the kids? Is it extra to ride the Dinosaur Train Submarine (which should just be called the Dinosaur Submarine)?

- One of the characters that appears on multiple episodes is King Cryolophosaurus. (Yes, I had to look up the spelling...and name.) He's a dinosaur Elvis that is also scared of crowds. He can get annoying though some of his songs are pretty good.

- The winner for most annoying character goes to The Conductor's Mom, Mrs. Conductor. She is a less attractive version of Fran Drescher.

- I almost forgot to mention Dr. Scott, the paleontologist that appears in the middle of each episode to share some dinosaur knowledge. Whenever he comes on the screen, my son asks us to fast-forward. Dr. Scott is no Dr. Ross Geller!

Overall, Dinosaur Train is a good kids show. I'm personally tired of Dinosaur Train now since my son seems to only want to watch that show. (Is it that much to ask for the show to produce a few new episodes?) However, I thought it was the greatest show ever when I first watched it, though that was probably because I couldn't take any more Thomas & Friends. Dinosaur Train does have some educational aspects, and it is interesting learning about all of the different types of dinosaurs.

Now that you've made it through the end of this post, what do you think? Personally, I feel like this is either a masterpiece or the beginning of the end of my "career" as a blogger!

Update: After publishing this, I found another Dinosaur Train post at LyzLenz.com. Amazing! She also mentioned something I've thought about many times. When are they going to show Buddy (or any other dinosaur) eating another dinosaur? Once Buddy gets older, his pteranodon may want to watch their backs!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Play Pedro Alvarez In Right Field

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is struggling. Actually, that may be an understatement. Alvarez seems to have lost the ability to accurately throw the ball to first base. He leads the majors in errors and has been replaced by Josh Harrison. Meanwhile, Alvarez led the National League in home runs last season and is one of the best power hitters in baseball when he gets on a hot streak. However, he's not going to get on any type of hot streak since he's not actually playing other than an occasional pinch hitting appearance. Alvarez is out of options (meaning that he can't get sent down to the minor leagues), so the Pirates appear to be stuck. Pedro is a major defensive liability, yet, no one on the team can match his power.

With the Pirates (likely) placing reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen on the disabled list, the team needs to find a way to get Pedro into the line-up. Since Harrison is now playing third, my solution is to start Pedro in right field. Yes, this may be crazy, but what are the other options?

Let's start with why this won't work. Pedro Alvarez has only played third base during his time with the Pirates, in the minor leagues and at Vanderbilt University. Maybe Alvarez played some outfield in high school, but to my knowledge, he did not. Teaching a player a new position in, oh, two days doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Plus, PNC Park requires athletic outfielders in both left field and center field. Alvarez is likely not athletic enough for either of these positions. With McCutchen going on the DL, Starling Marte can move to center. Do you move rookie Gregory Polanco to a brand new position to accommodate Alvarez?

Now the alternative. The Pirates recently signed Jayson Nix who has already played in Philadelphia and Tampa this season. You can play him and move Harrison to OF along with Marte and Polanco. You can also keep Harrison at 3B and have Travis Snider or Jose Tabata as your regular outfielders. Regardless, a Pirates line-up without McCutchen and Alvarez is not intimidating and not one that you would expect to regularly score more than 3 runs per game. Alvarez has the ability to hit game-changing home runs and his on-base percentage has improved from last season.

If you're looking for a similar situation, the Nationals moved Ryan Zimmerman to the outfield this season, a position he never played previously. That experiment seemed to go well until he got re-injured (which had nothing to do with the move to the outfield).

Vote for Pedro (to play right field)!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Baby Born In Toilet; This Is News?

Today's Washington Post Express included a brief article about a Connecticut baby being born in a toilet. From doing a quick search online, I found this story appeared in many places including the New York Daily News, the UK's Daily Mail, USA Today, and The Huffington Post. Here's the story from NBC Connecticut:

A West Haven mother who went into labor shortly after being sent home from the hospital because she was told she wasn't ready to deliver, ended up giving birth at home.

Lillie Davis told her husband, David, she wasn't going to make it back to the hospital, so Dad did what he could: he delivered the baby in the bathroom.

Not long after a visit to Lillie's doctor at Griffin Hospital in Derby on Friday, after a nurse evaluated her and told her the baby wasn't ready yet, Lillie began to feel labor pains in the bathroom, so Davis called 911.

"Once I got off the phone with them, she said she had the feel...felt the need to push," David Davis said.

So, that meant it was up to David to deliver the baby in the bathroom.

"And thank God we were near the toilet because she slid...the baby slipped through my hands and actually went into the water...crying like that," he said. "So, when I heard those sounds, I knew that was like the best sounds I ever heard in my life."

It happened fast and David had to act quickly, but all ended well and his wife and newborn baby, Livia are doing well. Livia, weighs 7 pounds and 6 ounces.

I know of a case of a Pittsburgh baby born in a toilet 30-some years ago. I don't think there is any news coverage of this birth (unless you now count Sean's Ramblings).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trivia Tuesday

Have you ever wondered how long you could survive in the vacuum of space without a spaceship or space suit? I haven't either though I did watch the first two episodes of Extant starring Halle Berry. Anyway, this short quiz can determine how long you could survive. Apparently, I could last 1 minute, 11 seconds though I would lose consciousness at 15 seconds.

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?

Yes, this may be dumb, but it's a somewhat entertaining. Enjoy (and please share your results in the comments section below)!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Josh Harrison Loves Rundowns

If you see a player get into a rundown at the Little League level or below, there's a decent chance the runner will be safe. Usually, a fielder will throw the ball too late or someone will make a poor throw or miss a catch. At the major league level, a runner is tagged out nearly all of the time. Generally, the runner will simply keep the rundown going long enough for his teammate to advance to the next base. Then there is Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Check out this clip from Sunday's game against the Colorado Rockies (please let this video work!)

Harrison also eluded the Mets last month.

(There's a decent chance Harrison should have been called out for going out of the baseline against the Mets, but the umpires ruled him safe.)

Man, I'm sure Harrison's elementary school classmates must have hated trying to get Josh Harrison in freeze tag!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Airport Family Restrooms Are For Families

Traveling with kids is difficult. A 12-pound infant needs a car seat, stroller, formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and multiple changes of clothes for when he/she spits up on the current outfit. All of this stuff is significantly heavier than the baby itself. Flying with two kids, particularly with both in diapers, brings an even greater degree of difficulty. You just try to get to and from your destination without meltdowns and with as little disruption to the other passengers as possible.

Inevitably, you will need several diaper changes during the trip. Just pray that you don't have to do this on the airplane! Fortunately, most (if not all) airports have family restrooms or at least changing stations in the restrooms. Family restrooms make it much easier for diaper changes and for when you need to go potty yourself without worrying about leaving your kids unattended. However, some individuals decide that they would rather have the privacy of their own restroom even if they don't have any kids with them.

I was at the Jacksonville airport recently with family restrooms but no changing stations in the regular restroom. Unless you want to change a diaper in public (and no one wants that especially for the disposal aspect), the only place to comfortably change the diaper was in the family restroom. I waited more than 10 minutes for a family restroom before finally giving up and calling my wife for help. In case you're wondering, I tried the door several times and even knocked once asking if everything was okay. I got no response. In hindsight, perhaps I should have called security to make sure there wasn't an emergency. Anyway, after I switched with my wife, she saw a woman exiting the family restroom alone.

To this woman and to anyone else using a family restroom without a family at an airport, suck it up and use the "regular" bathroom like everyone else.

This post was also published on the excellent Ya Jagoff , recently included on Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of the 'Burgh 2014. I guess I can share in this award, right? Maybe? Ya Jagoff has had a great run recently including this interview with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ultimate Mix CD

While I have plenty of mix tapes from my high school and college days, I think I only have one mix CD. And it's a good one. This is the ultimate pump-you-up mix that will also ensure that you'll drive a little faster on the highway.

1. Jump Around - House of Pain

2. It Takes Two - Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

3. Bust a Move - Young MC

4. Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-a-Lot

5. Humpty Dance - Digital Underground

6. Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice

7. Fantastic Voyage - Coolio

8. OPP - Naughty By Nature

9. Gettin' Jiggy With It - Will Smith

10. Lose Yourself - Eminem

11. Hot in Herre - Nelly

12. What's Love - Fat Joe & Ashanti

13. U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer

14. California Love - 2Pac & Dr. Dre

In hindsight, I would probably replace Gettin' Jiggy With It with the superior Will Smith song Summertime (by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince). Otherwise, I still enjoy it.

As always, you can click here for more items Found In My Basement.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who Is This Guy?

Even though there is a question mark in the title, this is not a Trivia Tuesday. Each week, The Washington Post Magazine publishes Date Lab, where Post staff members match up singles. From Date Lab's Facebook page: "The premise of Date Lab is simple: you fill out a questionnaire about yourself, and we match you up on a blind date. The next day, a reporter interviews you about the experience. It's free to participate, and we foot the bill." Basically, it's exactly like Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker except that, well, it's not.

The July 6th edition of Date Lab features the pairing of Annie O'Neill, a Steelers fan, and Joe Riley, an Eagles fan.

Before we get any further, I have an issue with the Date Lab staff. How is the compatibility between a Steelers fan and an Eagles fan closer to "Smokin'" than "Brrr" in the Date Predit-o-Meter? Is it because they are both fans of professional football teams? Anyway, the date seems to go well until the end.

Actually, the date goes well, but I can't get past the highlighted text. How is Joe Riley a Philadelphia Eagles fan AND a New York Rangers fan? That doesn't make any sense.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sofia Vergara: Steelers Fan?

You may know actress Sofia Vergara from "Modern Family," the funny but short lived "Knights of Prosperity" (originally titled Let's Rob Mick Jagger) or from her appearing in seemingly hundreds of commercials. You may now know the extremely attractive Vergara for being linked to the extremely attractive actor Joe Manganiello according to People magazine. While two extremely attractive actors dating is not uncommon, it has been well documented that Manganiello is a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

We can only hope that this relationship continues to blossom and that Sofia learns to love the Steelers through Joe.*

* We're all on a first-name basis now!

Photo from "People" by Claudia Vergara.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Christina Aguilera: Found In My Basement

In the summer of 2000, I won a contest where I received two tickets to one of nearly a dozen Columbus concerts or events. However, as I mentioned last week, I was in England for most of that summer and unable to attend just about every event. There was one concert, though, that I could see when I returned, and this is the ticket stub from the concert:

Yes, I saw Christina Aguilera perform live at the 2000 Ohio State Fair. She was a genie in a bottle. She knew what a girl wants. She also wanted her fans to come on over baby. She was not lady marmalade or dirrty yet. All I remember was that there were hundreds if not thousands of screaming pre-teen and teenage girls. My friend and I were completely out of place. She also performed a cover of Free's All Right Now and most of the crowd had never heard of the song before.

As an interesting side note to this concert, the opening act when the tour started was a little group called Destiny's Child. At some point during the summer, Destiny's Child got big, and they were no longer opening act material. I wonder what ever happened to them. Anyway, Christina's opening act was a group called soulDecision (thanks WikiPedia!) that seemed like Destiny's Child-lite.

As always, you can click here for more items Found In My Basement.