Thursday, May 28, 2015

Curiously Not Funny

My 4 year old wants me to read the same books to him night after night. He becomes obsessed with these books for weeks until he rediscovers other books. Lately, he has been all about Curious George.

Most of the Curious George books start the same way:

This is George.
He was a good little monkey and always very curious.

I'm not sure why the tense changes from present to past so quickly, but what do I know. Maybe he was a good little monkey but isn't anymore.

Anyway, I'll change the words around sometimes to keep myself entertained and to see if my son is paying attention. The other night I started the book like this:

This is Fred.
He was a good little elephant and always very happy.

Very clever, right? My son didn't think so and simply replied, "No be funny, daddy."

No be funny indeed. He clearly takes his Curious George seriously.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Segue Needed

I'm not a television news producer nor do I play one on the internet (as you can tell by the poor quality video below). However, while watching Baltimore's WJZ noon news broadcast on Monday, I had to question why these stories appear back-to-back.

If you couldn't hear it (or don't feel like watching this), the first story is about ISIS/ISIL in Iraq. This is followed directly by a story about Vic Kleman, the 82 year-old who rode Kennywood's Jack Rabbit 95 times on Sunday to reach 5,000 rides on this roller coaster during his lifetime. I have no idea how Kleman figured this out. My guess is that I've been on the Jack Rabbit about 100 times, and that is a complete guess.

You can read more about Kleman and his Jack Rabbit adventures in this Post-Gazette article. You can also help me understand why these two stories aired consecutively since I have no idea.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

So Long Costco

We've been members of Costco for several years now, but with our membership about to expire, I don't think we will renew. Yes. I'm writing a blog post about this. The annual Costco membership fee is now $55, either $10 or &15 more than when we first joined. However, despite having two kids and thinking that we'll need more bulk items than before, I've found that we go to Costco less and less. Let's do some math.

The primary pro for renewing the Costco membership is the gasoline prices. Costco's gas is generally about 10 cents a gallon less than any other gas station in the area. If we get gas 40 times a year (I rarely get gas for my car since I rely on public transportation and only drive locally), that's probably a savings of about $40. Yes, a $40 savings is less than the $55 membership fee. Plus, the problem with getting gas at Costco is that you have to arrive either early in the morning or late at night. If you arrive when the store is open, the line is generally at least 4 cars deep despite there being 75 pumps (slight exaggeration). I probably waste as much gas waiting in line than the savings I get.

Other than gas, there really isn't much major savings. The bulk items we buy at Costco (ex. paper towels, toilet paper) are approximately the same cost as the bulk items at Wegmans. While formula was slightly cheaper at Costco, we usually used a rebate check/coupon that Costco would not accept. That coupon made it cheaper ton buy formula elsewhere. Man, I hate that Costco doesn't take coupons. Now, we don't need to buy formula anymore. WOOO! The Target diapers work just fine too. The one plus on Costco's side is that we prefer the Kirkland wipes to others. And yes I just bought 4 boxes of them anticipating that we wouldn't renew.

So I'm sure you're asking, but Sean, what about the free samples and the $1.50 hot dog and Coke? Well, if I feel the need for this, I still have my Costco card. I can still flash it at the front door and get a free sample of some frozen appetizer. I just wouldn't be able to check out with a 24-pack of GoGo Squeeze applesauce (which is about the same price per sauce as the 16-pack at Wegmans). And if I truly need a 20-pack of soap, I can probably find a friend with a Costco membership and borrow their card.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Adam Levine Wearing Steelers Gear

Adam Levine is arguably one of the biggest stars and among the most recognizable people in the United States. He was People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 2013 and serves as one of the judges on NBC's The Voice. Oh, he also has a gig as the lead singer of a little band called Maroon 5. So why am I writing about Levine today? Here's your answer:

This is Levine with his friend Gene Hong, a graduate of North Allegheny High School. Hong is a co-producer on Bones and Community, but you're not really interested in this are you? (You can see Hong's IMDB page if you want to learn more about him.)

The story here is Adam Levine wearing a Steelers shirt. Woo!

Now let's see if Levine will watch a Steelers game with Pittsburgh native and People Magazine's 2014 Hottest Bachelor, Joe Manganiello.

h/t USA Today's Steelers Wire

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This Is 40

When I turned 13, I had a Bar Mitzvah and became a man. (In actuality, turning 13 is the age for fulfillment of the Commandments. In related news, I'm still waiting to receive a fountain pen.)

When I turned 16, I got my driver's permit and later my license. What a sense of freedom to be able to go to the store to buy milk or to pick up your brother from soccer practice.

When I turned 18, I could legally buy lottery tickets (check) and cigarettes (pass).

At 21, I could (and did) legally drink. I also learned that drinking a Long Island Iced Tea and other alcohol and finishing the night with Ben & Jerry's ice cream is a terrible idea.

I could rent a car at 25. (Not very exciting.)

At 35, I was eligible to serve as President. To celebrate, I wrote a blog post about it. I presented my platform a few years later.

Through all of this, it took until now, today, at the age of 40 to be a man.

Take it away Oklahoma State University football coach Mike Gundy. (Go to the 2:20 mark for this entire blog post to make sense.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What's Happening Here?

While riding the Metro this morning (hooray for no major delays!), I'm sure that I received some curious glances since, like the woman on the left, I couldn't stop smiling from looking at this picture from Express.

Seriously, what is going on here? Are these some new Lamaze techniques? Practice for, um, going #2?

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Bucket List

There was a movie a few years ago starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. In a bit of false advertising, this movie was not about the various types of buckets or even about Buckethead from the later edition of Guns 'N Roses. Instead, this was a comedy (I think; I didn't actually see the entire film) following the two Oscar-winning actors completing a wish list of to-dos before they die. Seeing that a major milestone for me is quickly approaching (more about this in a few days), I thought I would share my bucket list.

- Travel, travel and more travel. I want to visit all 50 states (I'm only 9 short) and 6 continents. (I have no interest in visiting Antarctica.) My international travel has been limited to Canada, a few trips to Israel and a summer in Lancaster, England (with stops in London, Edinburgh, Paris and Dublin). I want to visit Italy, Australia, Japan and so many other places including Guam so that I can hang out with Ric Blas.

- See the Pittsburgh Pirates win a World Series. The Pirates last won the World Series in 1979. I was 4 and don't remember anything about it. I've been fortunate to witness the Penguins win Stanley Cups and the Steelers win Super Bowls, but the Pirates may be the team I care about the most.

- Attend National Hockey League games in every NHL arena. At our current pace of visiting a city or two every year, I think we're going to accomplish this goal in 2021. At some point I need to actually write about the last trip to Florida (besides the actual flight to Florida and the obnoxious person on the plane).

- Get 100 likes on the Sean's Ramblings Facebook page. Seriously, I've been stuck at 25 for months.

- Write a book.

- Get invited to the White House. I'm not talking about getting to attend the Christmas Tree lighting or Easter Egg Roll but an actual White House invitation. Maybe I'll get to attend when the Pirates visit the White House after winning the World Series!

- I'd like to attend the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs of multiple grandchildren. My oldest child is 4. Let's say that he has his first kid at 32. That's 28 years from now. Then, add another 13 years until the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. At that point, I'd be over 80. Okay, this one is a little deep. Let's lighten things up a bit.

- What I'd really like to accomplish is to watch everything on my DVR before I die. This is probably the most unrealistic item on my bucket list.

- Throw out the first pitch before a baseball game. While ideally this would be at a MLB game, I'm fine if this occurs at a minor league game...or Little League game.

- Win my fantasy baseball league. Achievement unlocked!

I'm sure that I'm missing some things, but I think this is a good start.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Yes, it's the extremely rare Sunday blog post. I just wanted to wish a Happy Mother's Day to all those are celebrating. To the moms out there, keep on rolling!

This video, a combined performance by REO Speedwagon and Imagine Dragons, has absolutely nothing to do with Mother's Day. I just think it's cool and wanted to share this.

By the way, I'm glad they performed a REO Speedwagon song. That turned out much better than if they performed Radioactive.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday Video: Banks

Once again, I thought I discovered an artist/song well before most other people. Then, I learned that the video has over 6.5 million views on YouTube. Oh well. Today's video is Beggin for Thread by Banks. Not Elizabeth Banks, Carl Banks, Tyra Banks or Lloyd Banks, just Banks. Apparently, she doesn't want you to see her right eye. Maybe she had pink eye in the right eye during the shooting of the video. If that's the case, she's putting all of those dancers and possibly even the horse at risk of contracting pick eye too. Of course, maybe she just had problems with her right contact during the video shoot.

Monday, May 04, 2015


I received a message in my Spam folder recently from someone named BadGirl28. Yes, it really was a Spam folder. Anyway, I was curious about why BadGirl28 went by BadGirl28. My theory was that maybe she was a big fan of Marshall Faulk. If she's from Pittsburgh, maybe she loves Brandon Cumpton, Ian Cole and/or Cortez Allen. If she's in the DC area, perhaps she is a big fan of Jayson Werth (and she probably supports his abuse of mascots).

Unfortunately, her email doesn't give any information about her favorite player. Instead, all I got was this:

Name: Adriana
Age: 21
Eye Color: Light Blue / Brown
Height: 5"6
Hair Color: Blonde / Light Brown
Submissive: Yes
Sexual orientation: Bi-Sexual
Star sign: Sagittarius
About me: Into being tied up and used like the little slut i am :)

send me a quick text so i know youre real (with a number that I'm not sharing here)

I'm really curious about the eye color thing. Is one eye light blue and the other brown? Is she like Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer?

I also got messages from BadGirl22 and BadGirl25 with the exact same message, so I'm thinking that maybe there is no significance to BadGirl's numbers. Wait, stop the presses!

Is this the same Adriana from a few years ago? If so, I'm happy that she's just giving basic information rather writing a long message. Based just on her last sentence, her grammar is still poor.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Running For Glory (Or Something)

What if I told you that someone completed a 5K without preparing (again) and got the motivation to finish by crushing a first grader. This is my 30 for 30 story.

It was a cold spring Sunday morning in Northern Virginia. The threat of rain had passed, but the ground was wet from an overnight storm. All of a sudden, I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder has taken over Sean's Ramblings. Anyway, remember last week when I asked if it was possible to prepare for a 5K in five days? Well, I did absolutely zero training in those five days unless you want to count eating pretzels as training. (Most "experts" probably don't, though I think more scientific study of this is warranted.)

Let's go to race day. Many runners have a pre-race routine. Maybe they eat certain foods or do elaborate stretches. For me, I started Sunday morning with a quick waffle and then took the family to the 5K and 1 mile fun run/walk. Once at the race site, I ended up holding and carrying around about 35 pounds worth of a shy 4 year-old. For a break, I swapped holding the 4 year-old with a 20-something pound 1 year-old. Then, the entire family participated in one mile fun walk. Pushing a stroller partially uphill is not exactly fun, but I had good company. When we returned to the starting line, I retied my shoes, stretched for about 30 seconds, kissed my family like I would be going on an epic quest that could last for months, and got set to run. And now I'm going into notes form.

- I have no idea how major races like the Boston Marathon start. While there are thousands of runners in major marathons and only about 300 at this 5K, I almost knocked over about 5 people and managed to dodge about a dozen others during the first block of the race while jockeying for position.

- I borrowed my wife's IPod for the race so I could listen to music to motivate me. These are some of the songs that played:

Say What You Need to Say - John Mayer
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
Catch My Breath - Kelly Clarkson
Just Give Me a Reason - Pink featuring Nate Ruess

The perfect mix for any adult contemporary fan. Not the perfect running mix. Fortunately, about 23 minutes into the run this song appeared:

I played this a second time as I crossed the finish line.

- They had water at the mid-point for the runners. I have no idea of the proper way to drink water from a cup while trying to run and ended up getting more on me than in me.

- I also felt bad for dropping the cup on the ground. That seemed like the only option though.

- Throughout the race, I passed or got passed by the same kid numerous times. When he was near me, he seemed to run at a bit of an angle as if to cut me off. Several times, I let him pass me and then cut behind and around him. About 1/3 of a mile from the finish line, he was slightly ahead of me. My competitive nature kicked in, and like Drago, I decided that I must break him. I flew by him and never looked back. Later, I found out that he is a first grader. I don't feel bad for DESTROYING him.

- This is the picture of me crossing the finish line. I was so fast that I didn't even need to have feet on the ground.

- Time for the statistics:

• I completed the race in 29 minutes and 57 seconds. While this is much better than my 31:34 time from three years ago on the same course, I feel like 17 year-old me would laugh at this time. Of course, 17 year-old me might also laugh at my hairline.
• I finished 95th out of 279 racers. As a comparison, I finished #215 out of 351 three years.
• I finished 66th out of 138 males.
• I finished 13th in the male 30-39 division (though there were five other men that finished ahead of me that did not have their age listed on the website).
• I turn 40 next month, so if I went to the next division, I would have finished 13th in the 40-49 division (again, not counting those five guys). I thought you were supposed to be slower as you aged.

- Either I need new shoes or I don't know how to run properly. Partially through the race, my ankles started bothering me, and I still had discomfort with my left ankle on Monday. If you click on that link above, you can see that I also had ankle issues three years ago.

- Finally, if run again next year, I'm wearing this shirt made by my friend Doug.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Can You Train For A 5K In 5 Days?

This time of year, my Facebook timeline is filled with people running or preparing to run marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks and even a few Ironman races (and one combination yoga/beer event). While I'm not necessarily trying to keep up with these folks, I am signed up for a 5K this weekend. I ran this same 5K three years ago, so my goal is simply to beat my time from that race. Of course, now that we're 5 days away from the event, I should probably start preparing. This is where you come in.

So is it truly possible to train for a race in 5 days? I know I'm not running the Boston Marathon, and I'm not concerned about not finishing, but I would prefer to not feel nauseous or exhausted during or after the race. I should also mention that I'm not completely out of shape. I've worked some games as a soccer referee this spring, though that involves sprinting, walking, jogging, stopping and sometimes doing some of these backwards. That's definitely not the same as running for three continuous miles.

So any advice? Should I try to run this week to prepare for Sunday? Should I not run on Saturday so that I'm somewhat fresh (meaning not sore) on Sunday? Is there anything special I should eat or not eat on Saturday night and Sunday morning? I generally have a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios to start the day, but I can switch to Lucky Charms if that will help improve my time.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

Through the first two games of the Penguins-Rangers playoff series, I have yet to stay awake through the first period. I recorded both games and started watching them after the kids fell asleep. However, in both cases, watching the game was the first time I was able to sit down for an extended period of time, and I crashed shortly after sitting comfortably on the couch. I guess I'll need to stand during the entire game on Monday.

I worked as a soccer referee for two high level (at least for me) games over the weekend. I must have been a little nervous as my stomach/digestive system was not happy with me even more so than for a typical game. Overall, the game where I worked as the center ref went well.

There is someone I know who recently retired from working at the Pentagon and has two grown kids in their 20s. I also discovered via his Facebook page that he attended the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim. I never knew this side of him. Anyway, here are a few of his pictures from what looks like a fun event.

Where exactly is Obi-Wan Kenobi looking?

The NHL conducted its draft lottery on Saturday night with the Edmonton Oilers emerging as the big winner. Instead of Buffalo or Phoenix earning the #1 pick and probably drafting Connor McDavid, who is supposed to be the best prospect since Sidney Crosby, McDavid is now likely going to Edmonton. This is terrible news for the NHL. The Oilers have had the top pick several times over the past few years and are still a terrible franchise. Meanwhile, McDavid could have been a hero in Buffalo, a city that hasn't had a successful sports franchise in years and hasn't won a championship since 1965 or revitalized a struggling Phoenix franchise that may relocate in the next few years. Boo to the NHL for not "fixing" the lottery.

In the second soccer game I worked this weekend, the center ref ended up giving 12 minutes of stoppage time in the second half. There were no injuries and no reason to have more than maybe 3 or 4 minutes of extra time. I was getting increasingly upset as the time passed especially since a tieing goal (the score was 1-0) would have meant 2 10-minute overtime sessions and the possibility of penalty kicks. I definitely would have rather gone home than stay at the field an extra half hour.

On a recent morning, I asked my 4 year-old how he slept. His reply: on a pillow. Good answer.

Finally, Johnny Kemp of "Just Got Paid" passed away over the weekend. While I always liked this song, I definitely do not remember this video.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Penguins-Rangers Predictions

Many websites and blogs have thorough breakdowns and analysis of the first round NHL playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. This isn't one of them. Instead, I posed five hard-hitting questions to hockey fans about the series. Here are your contestants:

Alex of Everybody Loves You and the guy who created the annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event.

James Santelli who penned Everyone Expects the Penguins To Lose. Perfect. for Pittsburgh Magazine.

Phil, one of the few people with a blog older than mine (though Phil's Occasional Musings is defunct at the moment).

Josh of Josh's World. I'm going to win his fantasy baseball league this season.

Brian of Blitzburgh Blog. Sure, he writes about the Steelers, but he is very well-rounded.

Mike Darnay of PensBurgh. He organized a real Pens roundtable like I mentioned in the first sentence.

Nicholas of PSAMP adjlkadf! (There's no need to write more.)

Adam of The Pensblog, my favorite Pittsburgh Penguins blog.

Sean of Sean's Ramblings. You're already here, so like my Facebook page!

1. Who will be the leading scorer in the series?

Alex: Does Gretzky still play for the Rangers? If so, him. If not, I'll go with Sidney Crosby.

James: I'll go the easy route and take Rick Nash, who scored a career-high 42 goals in the regular season. Also, how is Rick Nash only 30 years old? The dude has been around forever and he's still 30? I demand to know his secret.

Phil: Rick Nash

Josh: Already starting off with a tough question. By scorer do you mean goals or points? Do they say scoring points though? I am not sure. Rick Nash will score the most goals. I think Crosby has the most points. (Sean's note: I meant points.)

Brian: Mats Zuccarello so we have to learn how to spell his name.

Mike: Hopefully I'm wrong, but I'm gonna go with Derick Brassard. High chances to put up points in bunches while centering Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello

Nicholas: Sid. He has to be a massive difference maker if the Pens are to have any chance. Or Geno. Basically any Penguin.

Adam: Leading scorer will be Rick Nash. No questions asked. It’s painful to not give Crosby or Malkin this title, but the Rangers might have the Pens on lockdown all series long.

Sean: Malkin

2. Game two of the Pens-Rangers series airs Saturday night on NBC. This means that Mike "Doc" Emrick will likely call the game. How many Pittsburgh Pirates references will Doc make?

Alex: Um...66!!!

James: Just the requisite one reference, perhaps to Andrew McCutchen. Though Lord knows he will be asking crew members to give him a score update on the Buccos during every commercial break.

Phil: Three, one in each period

Josh: 4

Brian: Just one. If the game were in Pittsburgh, two if you count a mention of PNC Park.

Mike: I hate the hopefully zero. but I'll go with two. (Sean's note: Hate the Pirates? What the what?)

Nicholas: Seriously, he'll have two at the very minimum. This is the playoffs, Sean.

Adam: Doc will make two Pirates references. It would’ve been driven up to 3 if the game was in Pittsburgh.

Sean: Once in regulation and once during each overtime if that happens.

3. Who will have a better series: Craig Adams or Tanner Glass?

Alex: Tanner Glass, because his first name reminds me of Full House.

James: Craig Adams. The dude's 38th birthday is April 26, which is when the teams will play Game 6. I know it's cliché, but the age-38 breakout season is real and it is spectacular.

Phil: Adams

Josh: Craig Adams...only because his kid spilled a drink on Lindsey at a game one time.

Brian: Glass for sure. He makes like three times what Craig Adams does, and I'm not sure if that says more about Craig Adams or Glen Sather.

Mike: Tanner Glass. simply on the grounds that Craig Adams had a total of 35 seconds of ice time in the final two games of the season.

Nicholas: I cannot recognize any player on any non-Pens team, even if they formerly donned the Black and Gold, so Craig Adams, of course. Adams catches his heat, most of the time rightly, but his work on the penalty kill and his willingness to block the heaviest of shots translates so well to the playoffs. Tanner Glass...who cares what that guy does?

Adam: Neither will have a better series than the other. It is impossible. Both are the worst things to happen. Gotta ride with Craig Adams now, though, so I’ll say Tanner Glass is gonna be awful.

Sean: None of the above.

4. When the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup, the team won nearly every time coach Dan Bylsma got a Qdoba burrito. What will be Coach Mike Johnston's lucky food?

Alex: Isaly's Chipped Chopped Ham.

James: I would pay money to see Johnston go to town on a bucket of hot wings from Quaker Steak & Lube, so let's go with that.

Phil: Smiley cookie from Eat 'n Park. (I haven't been to Pittsburgh proper in about 5 years, and I have no idea where anyone eats. I always go to Eat 'n Park if I find one.)

Josh: I am thinking double cheeseburgers from Steak 'n Shake.

Brian: Mike Johnston doesn't eat. He's a weird puppet-mannequin possessed by the soul of a bored librarian.

Mike: Well, we know HCMJ and his wife love tapas restaurants. of the local ones in town. take your pick.

Nicholas: Mmmmm anything peanut butter. Or hummus. I'm just going to list every food that I love. Ice cream.

Adam: Hopefully Mike Johnston’s lucky food will be wings from Big Shot Bob’s House of Wings. Pens need wingers.

Sean: Smiley cookie. Even if this doesn't work, you can't be upset while eating a Smiley cookie.

5. Final prediction: Who will win the series and in how many games?

Alex: #pensin7

James: Rangers in 7

Phil: Rangers in 6, and I feel like that's optimistic. I'm rooting for the Pens but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Josh: I hate to be negative, but the Rangers in 6.

Brian: Rangers in 3, have you seen the Penguins lately? Jeez.

Mike: 6.

Nicholas: Pens in 7. I refuse to pick against them despite how gigantic the Rangers look right now.

Adam: The Rangers will win this series in 6 games. Here’s my bailout clause: If this somehow gets to 7 games, the Pens win it.

Sean: Pens in 7. Why not? (And then the Islanders will win the next series.)

Let's Go Pens!