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.

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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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Videos: New Zealand Cricket Edition

You really get everything here at Sean's Ramblings. Stories about me getting free burritos and paninis, my tale of taking Ziggy to the vet, trivia and so much more. Today I'm going to the land (well, island) next to the land down under for Friday videos. Enjoy!

h/t Deadspin & Deadspin

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Free Burritos! Free Burritos! (Take Two)

Seven years ago, when I was still in my early 30s and without kids, I waited in line for over 5 hours to earn free burritos for a year. Now, approaching 40 and with two kids, I decided to try for free burritos again. Here's my story:

- When California Tortilla opens a new restaurant, the first 20 customers in line get a “Burrito Elito” loyalty card with free burritos for a year. Back in my day (meaning 7 years ago), only the first 10 people in line earned the free burritos for a year. Even though the grand re-opening of a California Tortilla occurred at a location very close to me, I didn't plan on waiting in line. I had too much to do and already have free paninis for a year. However, a friend wanted to be one of the first 20 people, so on the morning of the grand opening, I considered joining him

- I arrived outside California Tortilla at 8:00 AM, saw that there were about 8 people in line and left. My friend wasn't there yet, and, as I mentioned above, I had stuff to do. After several texts with my friend and others encouraging me to get burritos, I came back to the line at 8:30 and was rewarded by being #17 in line. Minutes later, my friend arrived to be #19 in line.

- The woman next to me (#16) planned on surprising her husband with an early Christmas gift. Cal Tort is his favorite restaurant, and he had no idea his wife was in line. She deserves a wife of the year nomination!

- The 18th person in line was on a morning run preparing for a half marathon taking place two days later. He noticed the line and stopped his run. It turns out that the guy is from Pittsburgh, and we overlapped being at Ohio State. I really don't make any new friends these days, and while it would have been awkward, I probably should have asked for his contact information. I would definitely watch a Steelers game with him. Of course, I'm not sure when we would have ever got together. We're in different stages in our lives and live about 30 minutes away from each other so I wouldn't want to start a long distance relationship.

- The 21st person in line was really upset at himself for not getting there earlier. He complained for a few minutes and openly hoped that someone would leave the line. When he realized that wasn't going to happen, the negotiations started. Apparently, the 8th person in line was open to this and accepted a mere $60 for his spot in line. Those of us in the back in the line questioned this decision. With tax, a large burrito is about $8. Over 52 weeks, that's over $400 in free burritos. Even if you miss several weeks, that is still worth way more than $60. We decided that it would take around $200 to "sell" our spot in line. Fascinating philosophical discussions when you're standing in line for burritos!

- Meanwhile, the first person in line arrived at 7:00 AM. This was significantly later than the first person arrived in line in 2007. I'll let Milli Vanilli explain:

Oops. Wrong video, though I appreciate the prominence of a rotary phone in the video.

Hopefully that makes more sense. It rained all night and early morning until dusk. I think the rain and threat of rain dissuaded people from waiting in line.

- Back in 2007, I brought my Walkman and a book. In 2014, I brought an umbrella and a laptop computer. When the sun appeared, I actually did some work holding the computer in one hand and typing with the other. California Tortilla staff brought out chairs around 10:00 which made it significantly easier to use the computer.

- I was probably the only person in line without a Smartphone.

- Despite there being about 40 people in line, someone showed up at 10:25 incredulous that he wasn't one of the first 20. For free burritos for a year, you have to do better than arriving only 35 minutes before opening.

- I should probably mention that everyone received a free burrito and drink from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM. That's why there was easily 100 people in line when I exited the restaurant.

- Although the rules clearly state that you can't save a spot for someone in line, no one was going to argue with the woman with three kids. Her husband was one of the first people in line, and she took his spot with their children around 10. Now, if the husband stayed in line with her, there could have been a major problem. Since he left, Cal Tort took the opportunity to highlight the family.

- A few smart people decided to take advantage of this captive audience. One guy passed out flyers for Comedy for a Cause , an All Veteran Show to help the homeless. Plus, a realtor gave out coffee & Munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts to help promote himself.

- Cal Tort distributed T-shirts to the first 25-30 people in line. I was just excited about getting the T-shirt as I was for the burritos.

- After two and a half hours of waiting in line, I was rewarded with free burritos for a year. If a California Tortilla opens near you, I suggest waiting in line too. (I'm looking at you State College, PA.) Everyone was really friendly, and well, how can you argue against free burritos?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Trivia Tuesday

Trivia Tuesday hasn't gone very well recently, but hopefully this week is different. Pictured below are logos of 10 defunct professional American sports teams. Your challenge is to name those teams.

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

This quiz is courtesy of the fine folks at District Trivia.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Ziggy & The Vets*

When I called to schedule a vet appointment for Ziggy last month, the office explained its new wellness program. This is the Active Adult Package:

• Unlimited exams all year
• All core vaccinations recommended/offered by DAH
• 1 fecal test a year
• 4 toe nail trims a year
• 1 ear cytology a year
• 2 laser therapy sessions a year
• 1 Chemistry 10/CBC blood screening a year
• 1 set of 2 view radiographs a year
• 50% off 1 routine spay or neuter a year
• 20% off 1 dental cleaning a year
• Additional 10% off the entire invoice at every visit

Although the plan is a bit pricey (a one-time $70 registration fee then $35 per month), going to the vet just once a year can be expensive. While this sounded nice, I explained that Ziggy hated going to the vet, so taking him more than absolutely necessary was not good for his wellness.

Fast-forward to the morning of his appointment. Forget Zumba or Jazzercise. if you want a really good workout, try getting a cat into a carrier. You get cardio by chasing the cat up and down stairs and you can really stretch by reaching under the bed to try to flush the cat out. This year, I discovered a new way to successfully get Ziggy into his carrier. I picked him up and carried him to the car. Once on the car seat, he quickly walked directly into the carrier.

Although he cried during most of the car ride, Ziggy seemed no worse than previous trips. We probably waited in the waiting room longer than normal, but I didn't notice Ziggy shaking like he has done in the past with big dogs in the waiting area.

Finally, we were called back and the vet tech took Ziggy out of his carrier. Shortly after the examination began, Ziggy started to growl. This continued after the first of three shots and turned into hissing rather quickly. After the second shot, Ziggy decided he was done. His eyes got huge, and he was ready to fight.

No one was going to touch him as he continued to hiss and put up his claws. He fell off of the table to the floor where he ran into the corner behind a small refrigerator. The vet tech brought out the oversize oven mitts to try to pick up Ziggy, but Ziggy wasn't having it. He urinated and defecated on the floor and himself and let out some piercing screams. Basically, he freaked out...again.

After a few minutes, the vet tech with two vets watching successfully got him back on the table. Ziggy was given a third shot and put back into the carrier. Exam over! As I paid at the front desk on the way out, no one mentioned the wellness plan.

In case you were wondering, Ziggy was fine when we got home and even during the car ride. He wasn't thrilled about me trying to clean him, so that had to be done in several stages throughout the day. He seems just as loving as ever since the appointment and is still great with the kids. It's funny that every night when I read with my three year-old before bed, Ziggy joins us and rubs his head against us and the book. He's really a great cat; except at the vet's office.

* This was the original title of the Elton John hit.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

2014 Election Day Food

Did you vote today? If so, good for you. If not, there's still time to read this and go to your local polling station. Unless, of course, you're reading this after the polls close, are under 18 or don't live in the United States.

Regardless, to thank you for doing your civic duty, several restaurants in the DC area (and probably nationally) are offering free or discounted food.

California Tortilla - Free Chips and Queso to anyone who either wears their "I Voted!" sticker, or says "I Voted!" to the cashier -- no strings attached

Glory Days & Fanfare Eatery – 10% off with coupon (sign up for their e-mail list)

The Greene Turtle – Children receive a free meal with paying adult.

Red Robin - Free Tavern Double Burger with Bottomless Steak Fries with purchase of 2 beverages and an entrĂ©e. (I’m not sure that makes this deal free). Offer available to everyone. Just mention “Tavern Double Tuesday” to receive the offer.

Do you know of other discounts? If so, let me know and/or leave them in the comments section. Go America!

Update...The Washington City Paper created their own list which is better than mine. I wish I saw this before I wrote my blog post.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Video (Sort Of, Not Really)

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, here's Oingo Boingo performing Dead Man's Party in the legendary film, Back to School. This is the perfect video for Halloween, right?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gay Celebration

Earlier this week, Good Morning America showed the video below of China's Zhang Jike celebrating his victory at the Table Tennis World Cup in Germany. The video also included notable athletic celebrations among American athletes. About 15 seconds into the video, between the Ickey Shuffle and Brandi Chastain's iconic World Cup celebration, you'll notice Pittsburgh Steeler William Gay dancing after scoring a touchdown on Sunday against the Colts. I guess someone at ABC is a Steelers fan. (I'll go with George Stephanopoulos.)

More ABC US news | ABC Health News

Go Steelers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Sexy Song Edition

Listed below are 10 songs and year of the songs' release from Paste magazine's 2013 list of "the 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time." Yes, this is the first time I have ever heard of Paste magazine. I know "Cut and Paste" magazine, but not Paste. Anyway, your challenge is to name the artists.

1. "Stir It Up" (1973)

2. "You Really Got Me" (1964)

3. "Electric Feel" (2007)

4. "Fade Into You" (1994)

5. "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" (1971)

6. "When a Man Loves a Woman" (1966)

7. "Use Me" (1972)

8. "Wicked Game" (1989)

9. "Darling Nikki" (1984)

10. "Let's Get It On" (1973)

As always please leave your answers in the comments section below and do not use the internet for assistance. Good luck!

This quiz is courtesy of the fine folks at Stump Trivia.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Steelers-Colts Recap

Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers-Indianapolis Colts game was really frustrating. You're probably thinking, Sean, you're a Steelers fan, what the heck are you smoking? The Steelers scored 51 points and defeated one of the best teams in the NFL rather handily. Sure, the defense gave up 34 points, but the Steelers constantly pressured and hit Andrew Luck, had two interceptions and overall, seemed to play well (outside of Cortez Allen). Plus, the offensive line allowed zero sacks despite Ben Roethlisberger attempting 49 passes and Le'Veon Bell rushed for more than 90 yards. So why frustrating? Well, how can a team that lost at home to a now 1-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, got crushed 31-10 at Cleveland and barely defeated a now 1-7 Jacksonville Jaguars team play so well? While we didn't expect the Steelers to play this well for the entire season, we certainly felt like they could particularly with so much talent on offense and more speed on defense. Frustrating.

Here are my quick thoughts about the game:

- Just before kickoff, I posted this on Twitter:

I received exactly zero replies. Sure, it's possible (okay, likely) that no one reads my tweets, but I think the mindset of most Steelers fans was that they would lose.

- So why didn't Steelers rookie WR Martavis Bryant play during the first six games? He looks like a legitimate NFL receiver. As I wrote back in May, he is the most successful Martavis in Steelers history!

- This Pick-6 was Gay.

- Andrew Luck is really hard to get down. It seemed like there were at least 5 times when a Steelers defensive player was in the process of tackling the Colts QB, but Luck was still able to throw the ball away or amazingly to a receiver.

- In the previous four games, the Colts defense gave up four 3rd down conversions. The Steelers were 8 for 13 in 3rd down efficiency on Sunday.

- Is there anyone who doesn't think Antonio Brown is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL? He currently leads the league in catches, is second in receiving yards and is tied for 4th (and alone in 2nd among wide receivers) in receiving touchdowns.

- Early in the 4th quarter, the Steelers were winning 42-34 when the Colts forced and recovered a LeGarrette Blount fumble. This truly could have been a turning point with the Colts poised to tie the game, but instead this happened:

While Benstonium went with the YMCA comparison, I prefer Men Without Hats.

Steelers-Ravens next week. Man, the AFC North is tough this year.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Video: All Cried Out

In the mid-1980s, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force had a string of hits. One such song was All Cried Out.

I have no idea why, but I really like this song. Perhaps it was the back and forth vocals between Lisa Lisa and the male singer, who I always thought was Cult Jam. According to Wikipedia, Cult Jam was the band name and not the guy.

Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez, January 15, 1966) and her band Cult Jam are an urban contemporary band and one of first freestyle music groups to emerge from New York City in the 1980s. Cult Jam consisted of guitarist/bassist Alex "Spanador" Moseley, and drummer and keyboardist Mike Hughes. They were assembled and produced by Full Force.

So I guess we're left with an extra from Karate Kid singing that he's so sorry only for Lisa Lisa to reply apology not accepted.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fatherhood Update

You may remember back in April that I wrote about my second child arriving into this world. (This sentence makes it sound like Superman coming to Earth from Krypton. I'm okay with this!) Of course, you may not remember this since I've barely mentioned him on the blog. Now that "Pedro Tulowitzki" is 6 months old, let's take a look back on the past half year.

For the first month or two, I was convinced that my son hated me. Much of this was because I was not his mother and could only provide so much assistance and support. Apparently, he didn't value my ability to change diapers or rock him to sleep.

Ever since he could smile, things changed. I just love making him smile and laugh, and I have been rather successful in accomplishing this (well, at least the smiling part).

As much as I think that Pedro Tulo loves me, I'm no match for his older brother. Pedro Tulo LOVES his brother and thinks he is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, he doesn't know anything about sliced bread, so the greatest thing since his own hands which he enjoys putting in his mouth.

I know I shouldn't do this, but occasionally, I'll let Pedro Tulo sleep on me. He should probably nap in his crib, but it's a nice feeling.

In the early months, I often gave Pedro Tulo the "last" bottle before bed and watched Game of Thrones during this time. I clearly deserve Father of the Year for letting my infant watch Game of Thrones.

I'm really looking forward to the days of sleeping in past 6:00. Yes, Pedro Tulo still does not sleep through the night.

On a related topic, sleeping like a baby is a stupid statement unless the individual means that he/she woke up once or twice during the night and didn't sleep well.

Pedro Tulo now has 5 first cousins (plus his brother) all under 3 & 1/2. He's going to have a lot of fun with them as he gets older. I sense some mischief in the future.

In 6 months, he has had 2 or 3 ear infections. I write 2 or 3 since the last one was either a 3rd ear infection or the 2nd one never fully went away despite the antibiotic.

Pedro Tulo - If you're reading this in the future (or even now), you have no idea why I'm referring to you as PT, but don't worry about that. You certainly let us know when you need something and are quite loud in letting us know this. However, when you are happy, you are truly very happy and have an infectious smile. You are loved so much. Now please sleep until 6:30 or 7:00 this weekend!