Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joe Manganiello's Dream

Actor Joe Manganiello is a huge Steelers fan and (likely) a huge fan of his girlfriend, Sofia Vergara. Therefore, I figure this Head & Shoulders ad in the recent Sunday coupon section must be Manganiello's fantasy:

Vergara and Troy Polamalu together? Merry Christmas to Joe! Plus, Manganiello has luxurious hair so perhaps he can use the $3 coupon on the shampoo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I often joke that I'm addicted to fantasy sports. I'm currently in 5 fantasy football leagues, 3 baseball leagues (though I only truly care about one) and a hockey league. While I spend time scouring the free agent list, reading box scores and creating detailed draft plans (this last one is pretty funny in that my draft preparation is minimal, at best), fantasy sports don't take over my life like a true addiction. It's a hobby and something I do to stay in touch with friends. If you want to see a real addiction, this is an incredible story about my former friend/acquaintance Mike.

Mike is one of those people I knew growing up, but I don't remember how we met.* We didn't go to the same school or live in the same neighborhood. However, we attended several camps together and worked together as counselors at one. Mike went to Penn State and I had not heard about him in close to 20 years...until last week.

On Thursday, Deadspin had a story about Mike getting arrested at Charlotte International Airport "accused of attempting to scam at least five different passengers by giving them fake stories, and asking for $200 from each." Although I thought the spelling of his last name was incorrect in the story, the picture looked like how I thought Mike would look today. Soon, I found myself reading as much about Mike as I could find. It turns out that Mike is an addicted gambler with an insane, and extremely sad, story.

Back in June, Mike shared his story on the Two Plus Two poker message board. You really can spend hours here. Start on page 14 to hear from Mike himself.

I just now read through the whole thread and let me state this emphatically: Everything the initial op has stated is 100% true. I am not going to come on here and try to minimize anything or justify anything. I have a serious compulsive gambling addiction which i think it is safe to say, has ruined my life in so many ways. I really did graduate from Penn State in 1999 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and had the whole world at my feet. Instead of working hard at my job and doing things the right way, i chose to use any excuse to gamble and gamble and gamble and gamble. I became so compulsively addicted that not only did I get fired from various jobs as an engineer and a sales engineer, I also started getting a nice welcome to the criminal justice system because I was a degen who needed and wanted money to play.

I would also like to state that I am actually relieved that this thread was started because in all likelihood it would have happened eventually anyways. I promise to be open and answer any questions any of you 2+2ers have for me because since I have been an active participant in NVG for over 2 1/2 years, it is only right to do so.

I will now write a brief summary of what led up to me "hustling money" at airports(which will be in my next post soon) and if any good can come out of this thread I am hoping that I can eventually be forgiven and hope to turn my life around.

Unfortunately, we know that he's still hustling money at airports five months later.

Here's more:

I started getting really heavy into gambling right after I graduated from Penn State in 1999. I took a job with Dupont as a chem eng in Clinton Iowa(the middle of nowhere) and I absolutely hated it. I was super depressed and realized right away that there were 3 riverboat casinos within a 10 minute drive from my apartment. Before long I was calling in sick to work, gambling at these boats almost every hour of the day. I soon lost all my money, maxed out my new credit card and had to take out a loan from the credit union to pay my rent. Within 2 months I was fired and given a $7500 severance check(I was shocked, $7500 for 2 months of not showing up for work??) I told my parents what happened and they didn't understand any of this. They are both hard working people, how could they understand gambling/instant gratification lifestyles ,etc... My parents actually hired some financial planner for me in Iowa to manage the $7500 and told me to go to Gamblers Anonymous immediately. I did and at the same time was looking on for a new job in a better city. I was telling myself that I only went off the deep end gambling because I was in a boring place with a boring job. I wish that was why.

Found a new job around March 2000 with an industrial gas company in Irvine California. It was a sales job and they gave you a car and base salary was $50,000 plus 20-25k in commission. I also was given a gas credit card, laptop, cellphone and $5000 relocation bonus check. I thought my troubles were over. Well before I left Iowa I was told by GA members that I had to go to meetings in California or I would relapse. I wish I would have listened. I didn't go to any meetings and within 1 month I spotted all the LA card clubs and visited them all. Of course it was only a matter of time before I lost all of my money again and started writing bad checks. I learned a game called paigow at these places and it became my game of choice. Soon I had no money at all and I called my father begging him for a loan. I told him California was an expensive place to live and that I didn't have enough money to cover my rent. My father trusted me, wanted to believe me and wired me $6000. That money was gone in 2 hours. Soon after I was fired once again, the car taken away and was left with no job, no money and I didn't know what to do.

After I was fired, I was basically living in these casinos. Hollywood Park had at the time an upstairs "sleeping room" and if you played enough they would let you sleep upstairs. That place became my 2nd home and it was awful. I was desperate for money and after getting fired from my 2nd job, my parents and any other family members cut me off. I started calling a few of my good college friends, giving them any story I could think of and begging them for some money. They western unioned me a few thousand and all I did was gamble it away. My apartment complex in Irvine then told me they were starting eviction proceedings so I was so stressed I couldn't even think straight.

Around the end of September I was just walking around Hawaiian Gardens Casino when I was approached by these 2 black guys(not being racist, just mentioning they were black). They told me that they have seen me around a lot and asked me if I needed money. Needed money??? I heard that and I perked up real fast. Of course I needed money I told them. The 1 guy told me that he knew a guy who worked for a company and that he could get his hands on a few "big" checks made out to the company from certain vendors or something. He told me that his buddy could change the paid out name on the check to my name and that we could deposit the checks and split the money 3 ways. He asked me if I had a checking account and I told him yes. Basically he wanted me to deposit "altered" checks made payable to me in my bank account and withdraw money every day. Me being in total despair, desperate and not thinking clearly told him okay. He said even if they eventually catch on it would be years and that nothing would really happen to me. I don't know if I even thought of the consequences of all of this - all I thought of was how I could get my hands on thousands of dollars to play paigow with. So, within a few days I deposited $24,000 approximately of 4 altered checks into my bank account and started withdrawing the money. The 1st time I withdrew $6000 I believe and the next day I withdrew $4400. The 3rd day however, the bank got suspicious and stalled me while they called the police. When the police showed up those 2 guys who were always waiting in their car outside the bank were gone and I was arrested for 1 count(initially) of defrauding a financial institution. Welcome to my introduction to the criminal justice system.

There's just so much more. Mike won six figures on multiple occasions and lost it all, sometimes in just a matter of hours.

Oh, apparently he also knew Eric Garner:

On a much more somber note: when I was locked up in Rikers Island in March 2008 after not being able to pay my hotel bill for 3 weeks when I blew $150,000 at the pai-gow tiles table at Mohegan Sun Casino - I met a guy nicknamed BIG ERIC or Big E. He was 6 ft. 4" and weighed 280 at the time. He was an intimidating guy to look at but he was a gentle giant. He looked out for me in that hellhole, played poker with me and a few guys and was just a real nice guy.

Fast forward to 2009-2010 when I was in the 3rd and final program in Staten Island before I ran away and got sentenced to prison. Eric would hang out in this park by a bodega selling cigarettes. I ran into him and we chatted for a while. After that I would see him often and he was still as nice as ever, always with a smile on his face.

This morning I was reading the NY Daily News online and there he was, Big E, on the front page - 6 Staten Island cops tried to arrest him for selling cigarettes and 1 officer put him in a choke hold and killed him. They have the video online which I linked with his confrontation with the officers. It's just sad, he didn't deserve to be killed and there is a big investigation now.

RIP Big E. - puts this gambling, airport thing in a whole other perspective.

There's also a podcast about all of this.

This entire situation is sad. It's unlikely that he can turn to family or friends for support or help. It seems like he's burned those bridges years ago. There were a lot of folks on the message board encouraging Mike to stop gambling. Apparently, he can't. You hope he can turn his life around, but as of now, a happy ending doesn't seem likely.

* Update! It's always nice that my mom reads my blog. She let me know that Mike and I attended the same nursery school and even had play dates together as toddlers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chattanooga!

Although the holiday completely snuck up on me this year, Hanukkah begins this evening. While you light the Menorah and eat potato latkes, don't forget to celebrate the Hanukkah tradition of pickle tasting. This tradition of eating pickles is now 16 years old! I think this counts as multiple generations!

Here are some videos to celebrate the holiday:

Six13 - Chanukah (Shake It Off)

There are way too many Hanukkah songs based on Taylor Swift lyrics this year (though this one is probably the best).

Maccabeats - All About That Neis

Is there some type of rivalry between Six13 and the Maccabeats? I envision this like the Hatfields-McCoys or the Sharks-Jets.

Hanukkah Song Mashup - Dance Spectacular! - Elliot Dvorin | Key Tov Orchestra

Finally, these are kittens celebrating.

Happy Hanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanukkah!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Life

You may (or may not) have noticed that I don't write as much as I used to. Part of the reason is because I don't have much time, but I also don't have as much to write about these days.

So Sean (you may ask), what's going on?

Well, we have worked with our 3 year old on potty training for months, yet there still tends to be an accident most days. His teacher considers him to be potty trained, but that he chooses not to use the toilet. Great. When he has an accident, the doctor told us to simply tell him that "big boys use the potty" and to leave it at that. After, I don't know, 20 accidents, it's not easy to say 5 words and be done. I could write so much more about this, but I don't want to. So frustrating.

Meanwhile, our 8 month old still does not sleep through the night. He goes to sleep around 8:00 and usually wakes up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30. He's made it past 5:00 the past few days, so maybe this is a positive trend.

Oh, both kids seem to like getting ear infections, so we've had antibiotics in the house regularly this fall.

So that's my life. I'm fortunate to have two happy and healthy kids, but is it too much to ask for a full night's sleep and a potty-trained kid?

By the way, this exact scenario was the original version of this Bon Jovi song:

Friday, December 05, 2014

Friday Video: Riptide

For your Friday video, this is Riptide by Vance Joy, possibly my favorite song out right now. Although Riptide is fairly new to me, it appears that this song is over a year old. Does it really take that long for music to get from Australia to the United States or I am way behind the times? Actually, I probably don't want to know the answer to this question.

This is a bonus video of the song where you can actually see Vance Joy.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Peter Pan 1993 & 2014

NBC is airing a live version of Peter Pan tonight, and I plan on watching it...eventually.* You may not know that I starred in an award-winning musical production of Peter Pan 21 years ago. I played Twin #2, one of the Lost Boys (some may say that I'm still a Lost Boy). I probably had a dozen lines and even had a solo in the song "I Won't Grow Up." Sure, I earned the solo because my voice was so far off from how well Twin #1 could sing, but a solo is a solo. Since the kids seem to like throwing things back on Thursdays, here are some pictures from the 1993 production of Peter Pan. Yes, I'm in there somewhere.

I have no recollection of those animals in the middle being in the show.

Anyway, I'm interested in seeing how NBC pulls off the live musical version of Peter Pan. Christopher Walken as Captain Hook is a brilliant casting move. I'm not sure about Allison Williams as Peter Pan, but if it ensures a cameo from her father, I'm all for it!

* I rarely watch anything live these days, and there is a 0% chance that I can commit three hours on a Thursday night to watch Peter Pan. I'll still be putting the kids to bed when the musical begins at 8:00. Thank goodness for the DVR. I love you, DVR (though we still have some catching up to do)!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Push It Real Good

Today, I'm giving credit to GEICO for having the best commercial currently on television. If you haven't seen this commercial yet, well, here's your chance.

Nicely done to everyone involved with this commercial. On a semi-related note, we had a "dance party" at our home over the weekend. Salt-N-Pepa's Push It was part of the playlist along with C+C Music Factory's Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) and Groove Is in the Heart by Deee-Lite. However, as a NFL referee might say, upon further review, perhaps The Humpty Dance is not an appropriate song for a three year old (though the video is more tame than you'd think).

Monday, December 01, 2014

Dr. Seuss Meets Antonio Alfonseca

One of my son's favorite books these days is Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. When he wants us to read this book, he simply asks for Green Fish. I don't know why. Anyway, this part of the book reminds me of the former major league baseball player Antonio Alfonseca.

For those of you not familiar with the former Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Alfonseca has a condition called polydactyly where he has six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.

Aren't you glad that you read Sean's Ramblings for all of these timely references?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Message 2014

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

Eat that turkey all night long
Fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Help Get “Jagoff” Into Webster’s Dictionary

While there's a decent chance that you're completely focused on Thanksgiving and may already be in transit to your holiday destination, take a minute today to sign a petition to get the word "jagoff" into Webster's dictionary. I'll let Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto explain.

Not only is signing the petition the right thing to do, for every signature, 3 Guys Optical Center will make a donation to the Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Foundation. Still not convinced?

Let's hear from Pittsburgh Steelers great Rocky Bleier.

I understand that you might want to see what the mainstream media thinks about the petition. Well, check out this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

So go to Ya Jagoff! to learn more about the petition and actually sign it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ziggy Vs. My New Clothes

Although I desperately need new clothes, I rarely go shopping. By rarely, I mean maybe 2-3 times per year. Last weekend, though, I had 20 free minutes, so I stopped by Kohl's to look for some long-sleeved shirts. Although I didn't have time to try things on, I was successful in finding 3 new shirts to bring home.

Ziggy loves plastic bags. While Target bags are his favorite, he has no objections to chewing other plastic bags. Therefore, I smartly put the clothes, still in the plastic bag, in my closet. On Monday morning, I noticed Ziggy in the closet near the bag, so I moved everything to the dresser while Ziggy remained in the closet for a morning nap.

Fast-forward about 14 hours and my wife said that she saw Ziggy chewing the bag, so she moved everything back into the closet. Sure enough, Ziggy did more than chew the bag.

The holes aren't noticeable, are they?

I'm not sure how or if I can return this to Kohl's. My wife suggested that I should just tell the store that the shirt has a hole. Um, it has more than "a" hole. If Kohl's doesn't take back the shirt, it might be okay. A shirt with the holes could still be in fashion!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Two Metro Stories

Those of you living outside of the Washington DC area may not be aware that bloggers living in the DC area are required to write at least two posts a year about Metro, the public transit system that can be great some days and not so great on others.

On Wednesday, trains were packed due to a disabled train causing delays for riders on three separate lines. As a result of the overcrowding, one of the doors on my train was unable to close. The driver made an announcement warning passengers that he would unload the train if the door could not be closed. No one likes to be offloaded. Sure enough, 30 seconds later, the driver sent us to our rooms, I mean, announced that the train was out of service. As we offloaded the train, the driver reversed course and announced doors closing. Some people rushed back on the train while others (like me) were stuck on the platform. Essentially, the driver eased the overcrowding by pretending that everyone had to get off the train. I'd never seen this before. Pretty sneaky (and surprisingly effective).

When you go through the Metro gate, you are able to see the amount of money on the person's fare card that went through the gate before you. I always look at this to ensure that my card actually worked (you can see the balance change from their card to your card meaning that the system successfully read the card). However, I rarely notice the actual amount of money on someone's card...until Monday. The person in front of me had a balance of $896 on her card. That is insane! Why so much? Put that money in a bank or invest these funds in gold or stocks or something. Please note that I'm sure that this amount was automatically added over months or years from the employer. I guess that means this person rarely if ever uses Metro. She really should sell her card and get a new one.

Don't forget to "Like" Sean's Ramblings on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mark Melancon Serenades Japanese Women

Although I missed Talk Like a Pittsburgh Pirate Day, which occurs annually on November 16th, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon didn't miss the opportunity to reenact a scene from Top Gun.

I guess you could consider singing this song during next year's Talk Like a Pittsburgh Pirate Day.

Melancon is currently on (or just completed) a tour of Japan where Major League Baseball players faced Japanese teams. According to the YouTube description, Mark Melancon responded to a "dare" from Hector Santiago (LA Angels) to serenade an unsuspecting woman waiting outside a buffet in Sapporo, Japan. I don't think she wanted any part of Melancon's hug at the end.

h/t DC Sports Bog

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sean's Gamblings

You may have noticed a new banner ad on my blog for a sports betting site, MyBookie. As part of our deal, the company gave me some free play money to bet. I've made sports bets with friends over the years and even knew a bookie at college. This bookie, who I made one bet with for the Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl (I won thanks to the Steelers keeping the game rather close) was also the announcer for the football team and had a weekly radio show where would make statements like "not that I would bet on that." However, I've never used a sports betting site before, so I thought I would share some early thoughts about this venture.

Friday - The Penguins lost against the Rangers on Tuesday 5-0. I figured that they would be rather humiliated by their effort and motivated to defeat the Maple Leafs in Toronto. I was right as the Penguins won 2-1. This betting thing is easy!

Saturday - While I don't follow college football as much as I used to, it seems like LSU never loses consecutive games. They lost a close game against Alabama and were 1-point favorites at a 5-loss Arkansas. I thought this was a good bet. Arkansas won 17-0.

Sunday - I've always wanted to try a parlay bet. In this case, I put up $10 for a chance to win $26 if both the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints covered the spread. The Carolina Panthers have been awful lately, and Cam Newton is not 100%. I liked Atlanta in this match-up. Meanwhile, the Saints are generally really good at home, and I certainly wasn't sold on Cincinnati particularly since they lost badly against the Browns. Apparently, Vegas agreed with me as New Orleans was favored by 7. While the Falcons did their part by defeating the Panthers in Charlotte, the Saints played horribly (or the Bengals played well). Another loss. Maybe this gambling thing isn't so easy.

Monday - The Steelers are 6-point favorites at Tennessee. They can't play as bad as they did against the Jets, right? Right?

If you want to try your luck, click on the banner ad on the right. The folks from MyBookie even called me when I first registered to welcome me and to answer any questions. Good customer service!

Update: There's a line in Rocky 2 (I believe) where Apollo Creed says that he won, but he didn't beat him. The reference was that he defeated Rocky Balboa in the first Rocky film, but it was by decision and not a knockout. Well, that line also summarizes the Monday Night Football game. The Steelers won (thanks to a 4th quarter comeback), but they didn't cover the 6-point spread. Three straight losses for me.