Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pizza Bagels

We interrupt your Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend for a very important blog post.

Pizza bagels are delicious. When I was at camp, this was always our favorite meal. While I usually ate pizza bagels traditionally with the bagel, tomato sauce and melted cheese on top, as a kid, there were times when we used ketchup in place of tomato sauce. The result was still a delicious meal. Recently, I made myself a pizza bagel with ketchup and found that at least one person was shocked and a little disgusted by this creation. Therefore, I'm sharing this with the entire world today.

Have you ever used ketchup in place of tomato sauce on a pizza bagel? If so, do you agree that they are tasty? If not, would you consider trying it or are you adamantly against this?

(While you're here, please "Like" Sean's Ramblings on Facebook.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Message 2015

On this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share this message for you and your family:

Gobble gobble goo and gobble gobble gickel
I wish turkey only cost a nickel.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trivia Tuesday: College Football Edition

Earlier this fall, Learned League conducted a 3-week college football mini-league. It was awesome (mostly since I fared well in this category compared with how I do during the "regular season")! Your challenge for this Tuesday as we near the end of college football's regular season is the answer the questions below.

1. Since 2000, two Heisman Trophy winners have been born outside of the United States. Please name either player (and as a bonus that player's country of birth).

2. As of 2015, what school has the only FBS stadium that seats at least 100,000 people that is not in either the Big Ten or Southeastern Conference?

3. What two SEC teams play annually for the Golden Boot, a trophy first awarded in 1996 and named for the shape the two states make when removed from the geographic context of the remainder of the United States?

4. Provide the one element missing from this unordered list: Aggies, Longhorns, Bears, Cougars, Mustangs, Horned Frogs, Red Raiders, Owls, Bobcats, Roadrunners, Mean Green, and [BLANK].

5. The first college football game broadcast on radio was KDKA's 1921 broadcast of a matchup between Pittsburgh (home of KDKA) and what longtime "Backyard" rival?

6. As seen in the redacted image that follows, since 1959, the Platypus Trophy has been awarded to the winner of an intrastate rivalry game. Give EITHER the nickname of that rivalry game or the two schools involved.

7. What player ran for 332 yards in a 45-42 victory over Texas Tech in a 1988 game in Tokyo to set the NCAA's all-time single season record for rushing yards?

8. Which school has won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy a record 20 times, including being the 2014 winner?

9. Urban Meyer has been the coach for three national championship-winning teams. In the 2009 National Championship Game, his starting quarterback was Tim Tebow. Name Meyer's starting quarterbacks in the 2007 and 2015 National Championship Games.

10. Earning roughly $4.6 million in 2015 from buyouts from two previous coaching stops, what man will be one of the ten highest paid college football coaches in the 2015 season without actually coaching a college football team?

As always, please leave your answers in the comments section below and don't use the internet (or newspaper, Encyclopedia. etc.) for assistance. Good luck!

These questions are courtesy of Learned League.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Links

- The Best of the Burghosphere Ceremonies take place tonight and Sunday at Most Wanted Fine Arts. Although I'm not able to attend, you can go as I receive the "Best Darn Pittsburgh Blog of Pop Culture and Sarcasm Awesomeness" Award and accept this on my behalf. [Most Wanted Fine Arts]

- I had never heard of Cespedes Family Barbecue until Thursday, and I feel like I've missed out on some great baseball discussions. In the latest podcast, you can hear interviews with Arthur Lenk, a Mets fan and the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Mauritius, and newly acquired Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Trevor Williams. Really good stuff. [Cespedes Family Barbecue]

- Heidi is going to be an extra in a UPMC commercial. I have a feeling this is going to be her big break! [The Steel Trap]

- You can tryout to play for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. I'm saying you since my soccer career peaked when my team won the U-10 championship. Sure, I had some other big moments like playing at the Civic Arena, scoring a goal in my last high school game, and winning a college intramural championship, but I don't think this resume is enough to play professional soccer. I'm also not a fan of paying $125 to participate in an "open tryout." [Pittsburgh Riverhounds]

- On a much lower level of soccer, it appears that the US Soccer Federation is prohibiting and limiting headers for youth players. I have a feeling this is going to be a major topic at my next referee recertification class. [New York Times]

- I need to step up my Twitter game since I haven't made Alex's week in tweets in a long, long time. [Everybody Loves You]

- Happy 13th anniversary to ALOTT5MA. [a list of things thrown five minutes ago]

- The Washington Post shares the Best Books of 2015. Although Amazon now owns The Post, it is a little curious that links for all of the books direct you to so that you can buy the books there. [Washington Post]

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sean Goes To The Doctor

I had my annual physical earlier this week. This seemed like a bigger deal this year because I'm now 40. I thought that a colonoscopy was in my near future, but it turns out that I don't need one of those until I'm 50. Woo Hoo! The physical turned out to be no different than any other one with one exception: an EKG. I've never had an EKG before, but it's really quite easy. You lie down on the table and the physician's assistant puts stickers all over your body like this.

The difficult part is removing the stickers one the EKG is over, particularly when the stickers are attached to your chest hair. Oh, I also found two stickers by my ankles when I went to sleep 15 hours after the appointment.

Anyway, the EKG results were good. My blood pressure and heart rate were also good. My weight was down slightly, and I'm right at where I want to be. Unfortunately, I'm still in the 5' 7" height range, so my growth spurt still hasn't happened yet. Maybe next year!

Now the big stuff. My cholesterol results:

Good again! My cholesterol was significantly higher about 10 years ago, but I've been fine lately. Basically, I'm healthy as a horse. Well, presumably, a healthy horse. You don't want your health to be compared to a sick horse.

Based on all of these results, I think I was robbed by People Magazine. Forget David Beckham. I should be People's Sexiest Man Alive! I guess Beckham just has a better publicist.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Man Arrested For Assault With A Sandwich

This story just in from ABC 7 News WJLA:

A man was arrested for assault after throwing a sandwich at another man Sunday night, police said.

According to the Fairfax City Police Department, 32-year-old Jonathan M. Magnes was transported to an Adult Detention Center and charged with assault and battery, driving under the influence of alcohol, and refusal of a blood and breath test.

Magnes threw a sandwich at a 50-year-old man at Firenza Pizza on 10160 Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax, Virginia. Magnes left the area after the incident and was followed by the man, police said.

Police said Magnes was later released and the victim was not injured.

Several items here. First, what a waste of a perfectly good sandwich! If you're going to go out to buy a sandwich, why throw it at someone?

Next, I like that ABC-7 titles the picture "Police lights with handcuffs (ABC7 file photo)" on its website. Why not just show a picture of a sandwich?

Finally, I'm not sure that I can take Firenza Pizza seriously. I believe that the first car I ever drove was my parents' Oldsmobile Firenza. Near the end of its life, the car really struggled to make it up hills. This was a problem in Pittsburgh where hills are unavoidable. I regularly drove on the Parkway East from the Edgewood Swissvale exit toward Monroeville. Despite putting the pedal all the way on the floor, the car struggled to get over 35 miles per hour. The other drivers did not appreciate this. Maybe Magnes also had bad experiences with a Firenza, and this explains why he threw his sandwich at someone!

Fairfax Patch also has information about this story.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Seattle Trip

I recently visited Seattle for the second time in my life (this was my first trip) and thought I would share some notes about the trip.

- I love the Pike Place Market. Sure, there are aspects that are touristy, but I really enjoy any place where you can buy fresh food and flowers and so much more. It’s just such a neat place to walk around, and yes, I enjoyed seeing fish being thrown.

- Besides the original Starbucks in the Pike Place Market, there are seemingly Starbucks on every downtown corner. They really love their Starbucks coffee in Seattle.

- Part of the Pike Place Market is the gum wall which will be cleaned for the first time in 20 years this week. Before the cleaning, I took a few pictures.

This sign seems pointless.

- I found a Steelers bar not far from the hotel where I stayed. I was a little shy when I went in, so I just grabbed a table by myself. A few minutes later, two guys arrived and asked if they could join me. Sure. The one guy just moved from Alaska and wore an Alaska Steelers fan sweatshirt. His friend had a Seattle Seahawks hat on. Over the next few hours, I learned that I had absolutely nothing in common with them. The Alaska guy liked to swear. A lot. Meanwhile, I only seemed to swear when Roethlisberger threw an interception. Discovering that I live in the Washington DC area, he dismissively asked if I work in politics. Um, no. I learned that the guy is seven months sober and that’s part of the reason why he moved to Seattle. He also enjoyed chewing tobacco. As for the Seahawks hat guy, I don’t think I talked to him during the entire game, but I did overhear him telling his friend that he never heard his former girlfriend fart in the four years they were together.

- I had my first Uber experience in Seattle. Actually, I got a ride with a friend that has Uber, so I’m not sure if it counts since I still don’t have an Uber app and I didn’t actually pay for the ride. Overall, it seemed like a rather easy process.

- I went to a nice restaurant one night for dinner, and the waiter raved about crab cakes and duck as the two dishes that are most popular and are the restaurant’s specialties. Since I don’t eat crabs, I decided to eat duck for the first time in 15 years. It will be at least another 15 years until I eat duck again.

- The Space Needle is cool. What is less cool is when the temperature is in the 40s and it is rainy and windy when you get to the top. I think I was only on the outside portion of the Needle for a few minutes since I didn't like being cold and wet.

- The Fremont neighborhood was also a cool place to see.

- Finally, the Chihuly Garden and Glass wasn’t in Seattle when I visited last, and I’m so glad that I saw it on this trip. His work is incredible. Enjoy some Chihuly pics.

Completely unrelated to Seattle, this is my 2600th blog post. That's a ton (+600) posts. Wow! In honor of this tremendous (insane?) achievement, please like Sean's Ramblings on Facebook.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

TMI Thursday: In The Bedroom

I am the last person to go to sleep at my home each night. Actually, what often happens is that I fall asleep on the couch watching TV, only to wake up an hour or two later. I generally check e-mail, Twitter and Facebook to see if I missed anything, look up my fantasy football or baseball teams and then to go my bedroom. And that’s when the magic happens.*

Like clockwork, about 90 seconds after I lay down, Ziggy jumps on to the bed and goes under the covers to curl up with me. As I pet him, he purrs happily, readjusts himself to get comfortable and licks my arm. After a few minutes, Ziggy decides that he’s done and will either jump off the bed or move on top of the covers to sleep by my feet. I consider this as quality bonding time between me and Ziggy and a nice way to end the day. Ziggy probably has his own opinion on this ritual, but I don’t have access to what he writes on his own blog to know what he thinks.

* Perhaps I am using this phrase incorrectly.

Please click here to see previous TMI Thursday posts.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Sean Analyzes Song Lyrics - Fall 2015 Edition

Welcome to the latest edition of Sean analyzing song lyrics where I tackle lyrics of some of the biggest current pop songs.

Adele - Hello

Hello from the other side
I must've called a thousand times
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home

I'll take the under. There is no chance Adele called 1,000 times. She must have sent some text or e-mails too. Plus, after maybe 20 or 30 calls, wouldn't you leave a message? I'm sure the person she called has caller ID and would get really upset at seeing hundreds of missed calls. That's probably the point when you change your phone number.

Demi Lovato - Cool for the Summer

Take me down into your paradise
Don't be scared cause I'm your body type

I'd like to think that I teach my children values and lessons. Saying please and thank you are important. Not tackling your brother is something we're still working on too. However, one thing that I learned this summer that I hope to instill in my kids is not to be scared of people that are your body type.

Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean?

When you nod your head yes
But you wanna say no
What do you mean? Hey
When you don’t want me to move
But you tell me to go
What do you mean?
Oh, what do you mean?
Said we’re running out of time
What do you mean?
Oh oh oh what do you mean?
Better make up your mind
What do you mean?

I'm sorry, but I can't take Justin Bieber asking questions seriously. I mean, this is the guy who was arrested and received probation for throwing eggs at his neighbor. Plus, he wore this when meeting now former Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

Silento - Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)

You already know who it is

No, I don't know who it is. Oh wait, are you Cali Swag District of Teach Me How To Dougie? No. Are you the Harlem Shake guy? No. Well, I knew Los Del Rio of Macarena fame. Los Del Rio were friends of mine. You're no Los Del Rio.

Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor - Marvin Gaye

Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on.

Look, I enjoy listening to pop music. I even like that Justin Bieber song up there. However, this is just a terrible song with terrible lyrics. When I think of this song, I think of the awesome kids' book, The Gruffalo. Why? The Gruffalo features a line that "He has terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth and terrible jaws." Notice how often terrible is used? Just like this "Marvin Gaye" song. Terrible.

Click here to see previous versions of Sean analyzing song lyrics.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Best of the Burghosphere

Many years ago, I was somewhat of a political junkie. I majored in politics, organized a successful voter registration drive in college and had internships with my Congressman and a State Senator. Like many people, though, I got tired of all of the partisan fighting. There is little cooperation between both parties on the national level, and as a result nothing seems to get done. Sure, I still follow elections and the Presidential campaign. And yes, I'm going to vote on Election Day. However, I don't have the passion for politics that I once did and like Pat of Community Matters does. So for the Best of the Burghosphere, I'm proud to award Pat with the Most Likely To Know Your Member of Congress Based on Your Zip Code Award.

Pat is a consultant specializing in external, program-oriented projects for progressive nonprofits dedicated to social welfare and justice issues. (Yes, I took that sentence from her website.) She also writes passionately about political issues with resources for lobbying on both the national and local levels. While many of Pat's recent entries focus on national politics, she wants people to get involved. Government is of the people, by the people and for the people, but as citizens, we don't always do enough (look at the voting percentages, particularly in non Presidential elections) or even know enough about how government works. Pat tries to change this by keeping people informed and explaining civics. So due to all of her efforts, Pat has earned the Most Likely To Know Your Member of Congress Based on Your Zip Code Award.

The Best of The Burghosphere is an awards ceremony to honor the creative bloggers in the Pittsburgh region with proceeds benefitting the Most Wanted Fine Art Resident Artists project.

The official Awards presentations will be on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:00 PM at Most Wanted Fine Art at 5015 Penn Avenue. You can RSVP on this Facebook page. This is a 21+ event.

The family friendly party is Sunday, November 20th at 1:00 PM. And yes, there is another Facebook page to RSVP.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sheffield Wednesday Defeats Arsenal!

There was a time when I considered myself a Pittsburgh sports blogger. I wrote about other topics too, but it seemed like I wrote more about Pittsburgh sports than anything else. Now, two months into the 2015 NFL season, and I've barely mentioned the Pittsburgh Steelers. I haven't written any posts about the Penguins this month. The Pirates reached the playoffs for a third consecutive year, and while I typed notes from the Wild Card game, I didn't feel like publishing it. So even with the World Series and NBA season starting on Tuesday, my first sports post in a long time isn't about any Pittsburgh sports teams. It involves Sheffield Wednesday and the Capital One Cup, one of England's soccer competitions.

If you're not familiar with English soccer, there's the Premier League with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and 17 other teams. This is the biggest soccer league in the world with arguably the biggest names in the sport not named Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The Capital One Cup involves all of the Premier League teams and the other 72 professional teams in England. Granted the other teams are professional teams, but they are at a lower level (sometimes MUCH lower level) than the Premier League teams. The best comparison in the United States might be baseball. There's the major leagues and the minor leagues ranging from rookie league to AAA. Yes, players in the rookie league or A league are professionals but they would struggle to compete with the Royals or Mets.

Anyway, this is a very long way of describing what happened Tuesday. Sheffield Wednesday, my favorite British soccer team, stunned Arsenal, 3-0. I started supporting Sheffield Wednesday shortly after they were relegated from the Premier League. They have struggled the past 15 years or so, and while they are doing well this year, getting back to the Premier League remains a challenge. But on a late October Tuesday evening, the Owls advanced to the 5th round (the final 8) of the Capital One Cup by defeating Arsenal, currently the 2nd place team in the Premier League. Sure, Arsenal didn't play all of their normal starters, but this doesn't take anything away from Wednesday's impressive win. This is sort of like the AAA Indianapolis Indians defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe Michigan State football beating the Green Bay Packers. It's a big deal (at least in my mind).

Here are the highlights:

Go Owls!

Full disclosure: I haven't watched a complete Sheffield Wednesday game since my visit to Hillsborough. (It's not like the games are on TV very often.) I can't even name most of the players on the team. With that written, if Sheffield Wednesday wins the Capital One Cup and/or makes it back to the Premier League, I'm definitely getting a jersey.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trivia Tuesday: 80s Music Edition

Happy Tuesday! The Learned League recently conducted an 80s music mini-league. This was by far the most success I've had in Learned League since I signed up, barely missing the finals. Today, I thought I would share some questions, so let's see how well you know your 80s music.

1. What musical act, whose members met in a Philadelphia elevator in 1967 while escaping a gang fight, went on to become Billboard's best-charting duo of all time (and Billboard's #3 act of the '80s, behind Michael Jackson and Madonna)?

2. What 1981 song, which spent more time atop the Billboard Hot 100 than any other '80s song (10 weeks), was recorded by a granddaughter of Max Born, who won a Nobel Prize "for his fundamental research in quantum mechanics, especially for his statistical interpretation of the wavefunction"?

3. Who sang backup for Chaka Khan, duetted with Teddy Pendergrass, was one of the women that inspired Billy Joel to write "Uptown Girl", and graced the cover of Seventeen magazine—all before releasing her eponymous debut album in 1985?

4. Written by Tim Rice and ᗅᗺᗷᗅ's Benny and Björn, what single (from a concept album that became a 1986 musical) juxtaposes chorus lyrics that speak well of the title capital city ("the world's your oyster") with verse lyrics denigrating it ("crowded, polluted, stinking town")?

5. The names are the same. When written as two words, it's the title of The Whispers' biggest hit—a Hot Black Singles #1 in 1987 and an early product of the prolific production duo of Antonio "L.A." Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. When written as one word, it's the music-themed handle of Bebop's rhinerocerine partner, who was created in 1987 for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series. What is this shared name?

6. If Cheryl James is "Salt" and Sandra Denton is "Pepa", then who is Deidra Roper?

7. The cover of what album, one of three ever to include seven top-ten singles, features an Annie Leibovitz photo of the singer's butt (because, according to the singer, it looked better than a photo of his face)?

8. Debbie Gibson wrote and co-produced what album, the follow-up to her 1987 debut, which resulted in four Hot 100 singles (including the title track), a 1989 world tour, and a perfume (manufactured by Revlon)?

9. Give both where Tommy used to work (union's been on strike) and where Gina currently works (working for her man) in the lyrics to Bon Jovi's signature hit "Livin' on a Prayer". Two answers required.

10. The names are the same. It's the name of Bobby Brown's 1988 album, as well as its lead single. It's also the Elvis Presley song that Cheap Trick covered that same year. What title do they share?

As always, please leave your answers in the comments section below and don't use the internet for assistance. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Proud Father

Recently, my 4 year-old son (The Moose) was taking an unusually long time in the restroom. Naturally, I wanted to see how he was doing.

Me: Are you okay?

Son: Yeah.

Me: Are you done?

Son: Not yet.

Me: What are you doing in there?

Son: Reading the newspaper.

That's my boy!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Interview With Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog (Part II)

Welcome to part two of my interview of Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog. You can check out part one by clicking here.

This could be completely inaccurate, but my perception is that Ukraine isn't in the news much these days. What is the latest there?

Ukraine has been off the news since the Minsk II agreement in February. I’ve felt for a while that the European powers would rather the Ukrainian crisis go away. The only reason they reluctantly responded with sanctions is because of American pressure and the downing of MH 17 by the rebels using Russian supplied Buk missiles. The EU is in no position to inherit a political and economic basket case like Ukraine except to open its markets to free trade. Sure, they would ideally like to see Ukraine adopt European political and legal standards, but I don’t really see any EU invitation coming. Nor do I see a NATO invite coming for a long time, if ever. Putin put the kibosh on that by showing he was willing to support a proxy war in the east. No one in Europe or the US is willing to go to war with Russia over Ukraine, except for neoconservative hawks, Russophobes, and Cold War re-enactors. This is why the US response has mostly been lukewarm. Ukraine might matter in the geopolitical game board of Risk, but Ukraine is not a vital object of US interests, regardless of Russian paranoid induced fantasies. Plus the US can’t even contain the Middle East. We won’t even mention Africa, which will be the next theater in the “war on terror.” Sure Obama had to do something in response to Crimea and certainly to MH 17. Being the global hegemon comes with that kind of obligation. Sanctions and attempts at isolating Russia from the “West” are pretty much all the US can do. The Obama Administration has the power to subordinate Russia but the will isn’t there because the costs are way too high. The US and EU will sell out Ukraine eventually, and it will be done quietly as not to be perceived as not being tough with Putin. We see indications of this already. In the last few months in particular, the French and Germans have been putting more pressure on Kiev to comply with the Minsk II agreement. The US has almost completely disengaged diplomatically though it still engages in backroom machinations in terms of guiding the outer contours of Ukrainian politics (as best it can) and, mainly, influencing the neoliberal institutional and economic reforms (as best it can). Ukraine remains a pet project for a handful of American Russia obsessed imperialists who salivate at the prospect of Russia’s collapse and neoliberals searching for “live experiments” for their defunct doctrines. But the whole of the American foreign policy establishment has moved on, if they were really ever “on” in the first place. The Ukrainian populace is also tired of the war and polls show that the majority want some kind of resolution in the Donbas. Even the Russians are backing off as attention turns to Putin’s Syria adventure.

Indeed, Ukraine has mostly fallen victim to Syria, which I’m sure is a secret big relief for many in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, and Washington. This is not to say that they would rather deal with the refugee crisis and the Syrian civil war. But Russia’s involvement in Syria allows for a potential diplomatic deal with Moscow. There have been hints of this in the press. Putin may be willing to trade Assad for a neutral Ukraine and some kind of de facto recognition of Crimea. Putin’s main condition will probably be that Moscow has some say so over a post-Assad Syria, in whatever political or geographical form it takes. If a deal is able to be struck (the Americans would have to get the Turks and Saudis to go along), the West can quietly let Ukraine go. That is a big if, though, and a lot of it depends on how far the Russians are willing to go to prop up Assad. Russia faces the danger of getting sucked in to Syria as the Americans, Turks and Saudis double down and prolong the conflict. Ironically, what might happen in Syria is exactly what some were saying would happen if the US supplied weapons to the Ukrainians. Now the situation is reversed.

In all, I think we’re seeing the twilight of the Ukrainian crisis unless something brash and unforeseen occurs. It will likely continue on a low simmer for a while which will benefit Putin. In fact, I’m sure there are Russian elites eagerly waiting for the Russian state to aid in the rebuilding of the Donbas so they can pillage the kitty. This is what happened in Sochi and I’m sure is happening in Crimea. War presents all sorts of economic opportunities and I’m sure there is a tacit agreement between Putin and his elite that they will get access to the spoils in the Donbas in exchange for their loyalty. The only problem with all this is that Russia doesn’t have the money since oil and gas prices are so low. Nevertheless, the opportunity is there.

In regard to Syria, the propaganda response in the US has been incredible. The ramping up of the Russian propaganda machine is expected, because as I said above, this is one of the few mechanisms the Russian state has at creating consensus. But in America, it has been clumsy and transparent—the transformation of jihadists into “moderate rebels” or just “rebels” and the constant harping on the fact that the Russians aren’t hitting ISIS like they said they would. I mean it has been really pathetic. I think this desperate response by the entire US ideological state apparatuses is in part due to Russia interfering on US turf, and by doing so revealing the utter failure of US power projection in the Middle East. You can see this in all the rhetoric about Putin outfoxing Obama, winning, “not letting him get away with it,” etc. It’s like the US’ collective masculinity was insulted by the bare-chested Slav on horseback.

You've spent the past few years in Pittsburgh and I understand that you speak Russia fluently. So have you met and talked with Evgeni Malkin?

I’ve been in Pittsburgh for four years. It’s a great place and we decided to stay. The one (of many) things about Pittsburgh that disturbs me is how racially segregated it is. This is not to say that LA isn’t segregated. It is. But LA is a multiracial and multiethnic, albeit balkanized city. Here it’s just black and white. And frankly I’m not so comfortable with all these—what my mother would call—white-white people.

I don’t speak Russian fluently. I wish! I have a constant battle with the language even after all these years. I read a lot better than I speak. I’ve been in Russia for a year at two different intervals—2004-2005 and 2009-2010, in addition to several shorter trips. My Russian got quite good in that period. I think the only solution is for me to spend some extended time in country, and by extended time, I mean 3-5 years. That’s not going to happen under my current situation. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to go back. Maybe when my daughter is older and she can appreciate it. This is too bad because I really enjoy being there. It’s a fabulous country despite all its flaws. In all, I’m just not good with languages. I’m always amazed by those people who have picking up languages as their superpower. Unfortunately, I think languages are my kryptonite.

I’ve never met Evgeni Malkin.

The Original Hot Dog: Great place to get a hot dog and fries or greatest place for a hot dog and fries?

It’s okay. (Sean's note: It's better than okay!) I’ve been there a few times. Honestly, no fast food anywhere beats In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles. N-o-w-h-e-r-e. Five Guys is a decent substitute. But still . . . I don’t miss a lot of things about LA except three things: In-N-Out, the Lakers, and the weather. Oh, perhaps medical marijuana as well.

(Sean's Note: In-N-Out is very, very good though I'll take the O Fries over In-N-Out fries.)

It seems like your blog has been pretty quiet lately. Are you currently working on anything for the site?

I’ve been real busy this summer. I was in Tanzania for ten days. It was absolutely amazing. I’ve always wanted to go to the African continent so this trip was very special for me. Then my wife and I bought a new house in East Liberty. Moving and setting up the house has taken a lot of time and has been my singular focus for the last two months.

But I’m now starting to reemerge from my hole. I’ve started up the podcast again and I will be writing more.

The big project ahead of me, however, has nothing to do with Russia. I’m embarking on a research project into American non-profit funding of Israeli settlements for the organization my wife works for, Partners for Progressive Israel. The idea is to track, collect, and make publically available information about the non-profit organizations that provide funds to organizations that send money to settlements. Our goal is to make this information available in a searchable database. We’re only getting started and it probably won’t be until sometime next year before it’s done.

Thanks again to Sean for taking the time to participate in this interview. These two posts are probably the most thoughtful entries on my blog ever. I'll get back to my usual posts about kids and other stuff in my life next week.

Please make sure to check out Sean's Russia Blog, follow the other Sean on Twitter, and check him out on iTunes.