Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Being Political

First, I wanted to provide an update in regard to my sister-in-law's friend's family. I don't know the specific details but everyone is OK and either in or on the way to Houston where they have family.

I'm usually not very political here because I enjoy talking more about my life and random TV shows, music and movies. However, Arianna Huffington had an interesting article on her blog titled The Flyover Presidency of George W. Bush. (I wish I could come up with catchy titles like that). Anyway, Huffington (who I always thought was on the conservative side of the spectrum) blasted Bush for flying over the hurricane damage and then returning directly to DC. For better or worse, in times of crisis we look for our political leaders to well, lead. See Rudy Giuliani. For all of President Clinton's faults, he always seemed to be around and on the scene anytime there was a natural disaster. Even after his presidency, Clinton was in New York at Ground Zero before President Bush during 9-11. Why is President Bush not around? I guess we should we be happy that he cut his month-long vacation in Crawford short.

Personal Katrina Message

I wrote yesterday that I did not know anyone directly affected by Katrina. It turns out that my statement was not true. I met many people when I went to Gulfport & Biloxi for work. I learned today that the place I visited is "totally gone." Even closer to home, my sister-in-law's good friend was born and raised in New Orleans and still has family there. He wrote the following yesterday evening...


You've no doubt seen the pictures and heard stories of what has unfolded in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in recent days. This email is my attempt to give you a perspective of what it's like to be someone who still has people very close and important to him stuck in the wake that Katrina has left, the perspective of a son, the perspective of someone who needs your help.

Tonight there was an important announcement concerning the efforts to save the city of New Orleans. Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, announced that any attempts to repair the breach in the levee, a 200 foot hole that is allowing water from Lake Ponchartrain to spill into the city and the surrounding area, have failed. What this means is that officials now expect that within the next 24 hours there will be approximately 12 feet of water in almost all areas East of the Mississippi River, that includes most of the city of New Orleans and all of Metairie, a suburb where my parents live, and I grew up.

Although they have not said it yet, it is just a matter of time until they announce that no evacuees will be allowed to return to the city for weeks if not months. Hopefully then they will begin to answer the question which it's unbelievable that after 48 hours they have not come up with a firm plan for, which is, "How do we get all the people left in the New Orleans area out of harms way?" As you probably know, and it is important to keep in mind, most of the people remaining in New Orleans are not there by choice, they are there because they are too poor, too old or too sick (as was the case for my parents when my stepdad was struck with a mild heart attack at the wrong time) to leave.

Maybe I am being simplistic and unrealistic, but considering the capabilities of our country that we lately have not hesitated to display to the world, it's unbelievable to me that we cannot go in and save those in trouble in our own country. Whether this means using different state's National Guards, all humanitarian efforts that exist, or the full might of the United States Army, it's something that needs to be done, and needs to be done now.

My parents are sitting in East Jefferson Hospital. They are ready to leave, but have nowhere to go. The hospital is rationing food. There is no electricity. The temperature is near three digits, there is little water, and a failing sewage system. My 86 year old grandmother is in conditions that I would guess are even worse (we've lost contact with her). I'm not foolish, I realize that the conditions for most of the others trapped in the city are far worse, some are in their houses, some are literally treading water for their lives, even the 30,000 people in the Superdome could comparatively still be considered lucky ones.

I write this as a conscious American, a New Orleanian, and most importantly a son, a son who has no clue when the next time he will be able to talk to his mom. If there is anything you as a individual can do, anyone you can reach out to that you think has a minutia of a chance of making a difference, please do so, do it for people like me, and do it cause it's the right thing to do.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide and for keeping people like me in your thoughts. You have no idea how much it means to all of us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More on Hurricane Katrina

I live about a thousand miles away from the Gulf Coast and do not have any friends or family who live in or around the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. With that said, the destruction and devastation caused by Katrina is really affecting me. I touched on this a little yesterday, but the area hardest hit is where I was only a few months ago. I stayed at the Beau Rivage, which according to the Biloxi/Gulfport Sun-Herald seems to be the only casino in Biloxi still standing. (By the way, the Beau Rivage website has not changed. You would think there would be a message saying we're closed.) I drove back and forth between Biloxi and Gulfport on Beach Boulevard during my entire trip. From all the reports I have heard, Beach Boulevard and everything on it has been damaged if not completely destroyed. Although I haven't heard anything yet, I'm worried that the place I visited for work is out of business for a while if not ever.

People, including me, have joked about the poor planning and design of New Orleans. It is certainly not funny now. The Superdome, which has served as the primary shelter for the shelter, is going to have to be evacuated because the water is still rising. I cannot imagine what people who have lost their homes and their jobs are going through. I think even worse is the uncertainty. I've heard some reports of areas where people will not be able to return to their homes to see the damage for weeks or longer.

I'm going to give some money or supplies to the Red Cross, United Jewish Federation or another agency for the relief effort. Sarah has some links of agencies that are helping.

Monday, August 29, 2005


In mid-May, I wrote about my trip to Gulfport & Biloxi, Mississippi. I didn't write it then, but I clearly remember something that my cab driver told me on the way to the airport. Maybe it's me, but I'm not very good at striking up conversations with cab drivers. So naturally, we talked about the weather. It was beautiful the three days I was there, and according to the cab driver, it had been like that the two weeks prior to my visit. I remember the driver telling me that because the weather had been so nice, it was going to be a bad hurricane season. His prediction was correct. Although most of the coverage has focused on New Orleans, which was somewhat spared considering the early reports of complete destruction, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been hit very hard by Hurricane Katrina. I don't really have much more to write. I just hope that everyone there is safe.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Fantasy Football

Fantasy football has really become mainstream. While there have been magazines and websites for fantasy football for several years, the primary pre-game shows on both ESPN and Fox had drafts on TV this year. I feel like I'm way ahead of the trend! Anyway, here are my rosters if you're interested (and even if you're not)

League #1
There are 14 teams in this league (way too many, but better than 16 from last year). The players listed below are by round and overall.
1. (5) Willis McGahee (RB BUF)
2. (24) Torry Holt (WR STL)
3. (33) Mike Anderson (RB DEN)
4. (52) Darrell Jackson (WR SEA)
5. (61) Jerry Porter (WR OAK)
6. (80) Jason Witten (TE DAL)
7. (89) Carson Palmer (QB CIN)
8. (108) Carolina Panthers (DST CAR)
9. (117) Jerome Bettis (RB PIT)
10. (136) Mewelde Moore (RB MIN)
11. (145) Brian Griese (QB TB)
12. (164) Tyrone Calico (WR TEN)
13. (173) John Kasay (K CAR)
14. (192) Marcus Robinson (WR MIN)
15. (201) Jeb Putzier (TE DEN)

League #2 - 10 teams
1. (1) LaDanian Tomlinson (RB SD)
2. (20) Rudi Johnson (RB CIN)
3. (21) Torry Holt (WR STL)
4. (40) Javon Walker (WR GB)
5. (41) Marc Bulger (QB STL)
6. (60) Michael Clayton (WR TB)
7. (61) Fred Taylor (WR JAC) - Yes, I know it's Fred Taylor
8. (80) Randy McMichael (TE MIA)
9. (81) Lee Evans (WR BUF)
10. (100) New York Jets Defense
11. (101) Thomas Jones (RB CHI)
12. (120) Rod Smith (WR DEN)
13. (121) Jake Delhomme (QB CAR)
14. (140) L.J. Smith (TE PHI)
15. (141) Greg Jones (RB JAC)
16. (160) Jeff Reed (K PIT)

Feel free to comment and to make fun of my Fred Taylor pick.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Steelers & Pirates Update

As I wrote a few days ago, many Steelers fans seem to worry (to the point of obsession at times) about the team. Tonight's preseason game against the Washington Redskins is not going to help. After seeing that Duce Staley may not return until October, Jerome Bettis injured his calf . The Steelers first-team offense didn't do much again tonight and the besides Polamalu's interception, the first-team defense did not look great giving up a lot of yards. Troy Aikman keeps saying that the Steelers have nothing to worry about, but I'm sure that is not what the Pittsburgh talk shows and newspapers are going to say over the next few days.

Transitioning to the Pittsburgh team with no expectations, there is certainly hope for next year. Unfortunately (at least for him), next year will probably not include current manager Lloyd McClendon. I don't remember if I have written this here before or not, but I do not think it's Lloyd's fault that the team has been so bad the past few (13) years. I'll write more about that some other time. Anyway, besides the actual results on the field, the rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and Pirates, particularly Lloyd and Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa over the past few years has been great to watch. The most-recent incident was a "tussle" between both teams during batting practice. We're talking about batting practice. If Lloyd does get fired, the Pirates should bring him back just for games against St. Louis.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Name a Panda

The Friends of the National Zoo here in Washington, DC is holding a contest where you can vote for the name of the newly-born male panda. The choices are:

· Hua Sheng (hwah SHUNG), which means "China Washington" and "magnificent."
· Sheng Hua (SHUNG hwah), which means "Washington China" and "magnificent."
· Tai Shan (tie SHON), which means "peaceful mountain."
· Long Shan (lohng SHON), which means "dragon mountain."
· Qiang Qiang (chee-ONG chee-ONG), which means "strong, powerful."

I really don't want to get into the pros and cons of these names (like why would you name a panda, dragon mountain? A panda is a panda, not a dragon, and there are no mountains in DC) but I have my own suggestions to be considered:

· Hines
· Pittsnogle
· Roethlisberger
· Kimo von Oelhoffen
· Fred the Panda

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Venezuela, Guam, Alaska Ramblings & More

* I'm waiting to hear Pat Robertson say that his quote about assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was taken out of context. I'm sure that the liberal media twisted his words.

* For no apparent reason, I am rooting for the Little League World Series to be between the teams from Hawaii and Guam.

* I have my first of two fantasy football league drafts tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. Wish me luck. I'm not as prepared as I would like to be, but I figure I'll be OK as long as I don't draft Bubby Brister.

* Major news: My parents are currently in Alaska, and my dad found and bought Rice Oriental Hamburger Helper in the same store that I found it in last year.

Update February 2008: I still receive numerous hits from people searching for Rice Oriental Hamburger Helper. If you are searching for it, I've put together a list of places where it is available (with links) here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Steelers Fans

As everyone who has ever met me knows, I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I think it is a requirement that anyone who is born in Pittsburgh must be a fan. Anyone who is from Pittsburgh and has a relative in/from Pittsburgh is also a fan. I hope you won't mind the numerous Steelers posts that will be here over the next few months. Anyway, since the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s, the team has been good most years (I've tried to block out the Mark Malone days), even great in some years. However, the team has only made one Super Bowl appearance, which it lost. I think it is fair to say that Steelers fans are now, and probably have been, worriers. Instead of focusing on the positive, we worry about what is going to go wrong. We have become Red Sox fans prior to last year's World Series. Case in point is the top story in the Sports section of today's Post-Gazette. The headline reads "Is Something Wrong With Big Ben?" Granted the top of the article itself is "Steelers not overly concerned with Roethlisberger's struggle." The implication is that other people (fans and media) are concerned with Big Ben. Before last Monday, we were worried about the Steelers chances because Hines Ward was holding out. We have to worry about something regarding the team.

Am I wrong on this?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back From Florida

I had a very nice four-day weekend, and am almost ready for the work week. Here are a few notes from the trip to Jacksonville:

- I was on A1A constantly during the trip. While the road is best known for being a major route through the entire state, I thought of Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby every time I saw the sign ("so I continued to a1a beachfront ave").

- I also passed several Huddle House restaurants. Even though the website says that the restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary, it still seemed like a Waffle House knock-off.

- While swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, I had a "Spring Break Shark Attack" moment. A woman (not a lifeguard, just some random beachgoer) advised us to get out of the water when she saw several fish jumping out of the water. According to her, the only reason they were jumping out of the water was because something bigger was chasing it. It seemed like a perfect time for me to lie on the beach and read.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Later Gator

I'm heading out of town for a few days going to Jacksonville, Florida, a place that I believe has some gators.

Just a few things before I leave...

Happy 50th Birthday/Anniversary to Waffle House! I'm a big fan of Waffle House, which I first discovered during my 1997 road trip. My brother and I ate at Waffle House in several states during the trip. Now, Waffle House is part of an annual tradition: the Steelers-Bengals game in Cincinnati. We always eat there the morning of the game before driving from Columbus to Cincinnati.

Finally, for those of you who really wanted to know the answers to the missing songs:

8. The Killers - Somebody Told Me (I thought this would be one of the easier songs to pick; they have only released 3 songs)

17. Dave Matthews Band - Trippin' Billies

Thanks to everyone for their guesses. I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I saw today that there is a DVD for the complete series of the Fox TV show Undeclared. This was a very funny show that I believe only lasted one season in 2001-2002. I never understood why it didn't last longer. I remember some fantastic episodes with guest appearances by Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell. I think I'll have to buy it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More Reality

For someone who doesn't like most reality shows and the fact that reality shows have taken over TV, I seem to write a lot about them. There are two shows that are premiering soon that I find intriguing. The first is NBC's Tommy Lee Goes to College. Here is the show's bio: Lee enrolls at The University of Nebraska at Lincoln and struggles just like any other (famous rock star) student to balance academics with extra-curricular pursuits, his new roommate Matt and a distractingly attractive tutor named Natalie. As someone who spent several years working in student affairs, I am interested in seeing how the staff and students react to Tommy Lee on campus. How does he behave? Does he take classes seriously? Does he give his RA a hard time? Does he get involved in student activities (I assume marching band)? The debut is tomorrow night, and I'm probably going to miss it.

The second show is ABC's Commander in Chief debuting this fall. Geena Davis is going to be the President. I'm really surprised that the Bush administration was OK with this, but I guess they are looking for some new ideas to help with the current approval rating.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Blogger Problems

I had to switch to an entire new layout last month because there was a giant space between the title and the post itself. Now, my links and everything in the right column magically moved to the bottom of the page. I have not touched or even looked at the template, and I really don't want to mess around with it. Just a little frustrating.

Saturday Morning

I'm watching VH1's Celebrity Fit Club. Willie Aames, best known for his role as Buddy in Charles in Charge has some anger issues. He always seems so happy with Scott Baio.

Here is a very good sign for the University of Pittsburgh basketball. Levon Kendall scored a tournament-high 40 points as Canada upset the United States in overtime of the men's Under 21 basketball world championship.

From AP as printed in The Washington Post Express, "A 28-year-old South Korean man died of exhaustion in an Internet cafe after playing computer games non-stop for 49 hours, South Korean police said Wednesday. Lee, who was identified only by his last name, collapsed Friday after having eaten minimally and not sleeping, refusing to leave his keyboard. Lee was quickly moved to a hospital but died after a few hours, due to what doctors are presuming was a heart attack, police said." I wonder if he was playing Madden 2006.

I'm going to play X-Box now. If you don't hear from me in a few days, it's OK to be worried.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stealing an Idea

Yes, I am stealing the idea of this post from JQ and Contrary SOB, who stole this idea from other folks. I am listing 20 artists who would have one song (well they may have more than one, but this would be my #1 song of that artist if I had to choose only one) on my iTunes playlist or IPod, if I had iTunes or an IPod. Your job is to identify that song. I have a few one-hit wonder types and others which may be a little tricky since they have so many songs. I'll update as people answer them correctly. Have fun!

1. Bon Jovi - "Livin' on a Prayer" (Christine) - I'm not sure if this counts since two songs were selected
2. Murray Head - "One Night in Bangkok" (Christine) - I don't know any other songs by Mr. Head and company
3. Rob Base & DJ E.Z. Rock - "It Takes Two" (Christine) - Only the greatest dance song of all time!
4. Counting Crows - "Mr. Jones" (Amy) - I never get tired of this song.
5. Peter Gabriel - "Big Time" (Dan) - Fun video; I love the start of the song (Hi there).
6. Rolling Stones - "Gimme Shelter" (Nick) - Nick is on the board!
7. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - "Summertime" (Amy) - Perfect song this time of year.
8. The Killers
9. Black Eyed Peas - "Hey Mama" (Christine)
10. Duran Duran - "Rio" (Amy)
11. Sublime - "What I Got" (Christine) - I think I first heard this song working on an all-night paper in college. I never get tired of the song, but I did get tired of staying up all night working on papers.
12. The B-52s - "Love Shack" (Christine) - My favorite karaoke song, of course I need my friend Barb as a partner.
13. Spencer Davis Band - "Gimme Some Lovin'" (Christine)
14. Michelle Branch - "Everywhere" (Amy) - This song just rocks!
15. Milli Vanilli - "Baby Don't Forget My Number" (Rob through Christine) - Love is stronger than thunder may be some of the greatest lyrics ever written.
16. Neil Diamond - "America" (Amy) - I never understood how Lee Greenwood's song is considered so more patriotic than America.
17. Dave Matthews Band
18. Tone Loc - "Funky Cold Medina" (Christine) - Tone Loc should still be recording today.
19. Beyoncé Knowles - "Crazy in Love" (Amy) - With an assist to Jay-Z.
20. Seal - "Crazy" (Dan) - Before many of the slow ballads, this was (and still is) an upbeat and catchy song.

Last updated: Monday, 10:40pm

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Catching Up - Part II

- My ultimate frisbee recreational season is over. Although I worked all weekend, I was able to play in the first half of the quarterfinal match on Sunday. I left at 7-4 and heard that it wasn't that close in the 2nd half. My team lost a close match in the semi-finals. Overall, a very good season!

- It was somewhat spooky hearing and seeing the title "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" this evening. I wonder how long ABC will keep the title. Although I don't watch the evening news as often as I used to, I always go to ABC News for any significant event. Therefore, I watched Peter Jennings during 9-11, the Presidential elections and during any international event where he always seemed to be. He seemed to be great at summarizing the major points, keeping the viewers informed and really attempt to get to the heart of the story.

- I have been very encouraged about the stories today of people saying that they are going to stop smoking because of Peter Jennings' battle with lung cancer.

- On a much lighter note, Ithaca College football is ranked #17 in the preseason Division III football Top 25. Go Bombers!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Catching Up

I've been at a meeting for work the past few days, so I have a few things I wanted to share from the past few days (and in some cases weeks).

- According to the Post-Gazette, Steelers running back Duce Staley will be out for a month, or around the start of the regular season. While I hope that the Bus can carry the load until Duce is healthy, I really think that Verron Haynes is going to come up big.

- In the other Steelers story, Hines Ward is still holding out. The Steelers will not renegotiate a new contract unless Ward is at training camp. Ward will not report to camp until he has a new contract. You can see the problem here. They really need to work this out! It will not be good if Lee Mays is a critical part of the Steelers offense.

- Want more Pittsburgh sports discussion? I like the Penguins (yes, hockey is back) signings of Ziggy Palffy and Sergei Gonchar. The Penguins are really putting together the all first-name team with Ziggy, Sidney, Lasse, Brooks, Konstantin, Rico, Milan and Mark.

- I'm currently watching pre-season football. It seems odd since it was 90 today, but it's great.

- In watching part of VH1's new show, Hogan Knows Best, the Hulkster was inducted into the Wresting Hall of Fame. First, I never knew there was a Wrestling Hall of Fame. Second, some of the old wrestlers and wrestling people were there like St. Slaughter, The Iron Sheik, Mean Gene and Jimmy the Mouth of the South. They all look old. Oh and Hulk wrestled as part of Wrestlemania 21. I think I remember watching Wrestlemania 1.

- Touchdown Bears (Thomas Jones)!. I feel like I'm doing scouting for fantasy football. Oh, I need to find a league to join. I'm only in one league right now and I'd like to be in 3 this year. Between this and my two fantasy baseball leagues, I realize that I may (or do) have a problem.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

My Date With Drew

It's a little odd for me to discuss movies on back-to-back posts, but I need some information. There is a movie coming out on Friday called My Date With Drew about a guy who has a crush on Drew Barrymore and tries to ask her out. The guy, Brian Hertzlinger, is an Ithaca College graduate like me and my friend Christian, who first told me about the movie. From looking at the website, I discovered that director, producer and editor Brett Winn and Jon Gunn along with Brian (they all have the same title) are also Ithaca College grads. My first question is do I know any of these guys? My second question is has anyone heard anything about this movie? Since there are IC people prominently involved I am hoping it is good and does well. Jason, since you have been reviewing movies lately, have you heard anything about this one?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dukes of Hazzard

With the Dukes of Hazzard movie coming out this Friday, I have to know if anyone is really interested in seeing it. I guess people may really want to see Jessica Simpson in the Daisy Dukes, but that's certainly not worth $9, especially when she is wearing less in her new video with Willie Nelson. Are people such big Seann (should be spelled Sean) William Scott or Johnny Knoxville fans that they have to see them as Bo & Luke?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Random Ramblings II

Continued from last night...

- As sports fans and even many non-sports fans already know, Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, becoming the first major baseball player to do so. He was a probable (if not definite) Hall-of-Fame player before this took place. Now there are some question marks. Palmeiro testified before Congress in March saying "I have never used steroids. Period." The even bigger question is whether or not Viagra will keep Palmeiro as its spokesman.

- In a statement that sounded very similar, Brian O'Neill of the Post-Gazette today asked Pirates managing general partner Kevin McClatchy if he was going to sell the team (since payroll is low, attendance and profits are up and the All-Star Game will in Pittsburgh in 2006). McClatchy said the team's board of directors "has never once had a discussion about selling the Pirates. Period. I can't say that strong enough."

- Just in general, people shouldn't use period in a sentence. Period!

- Only a few people will get this, but I heard "Boom! Shake the Room" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince twice this weekend. I used to hear this song every Saturday night at a dance at camp along with "Summertime" and "Joy and Pain" by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. Oh yeah, and "Jump Around" by House of Pain. The DJ played the same songs every single week. Good times!

- It looked extremely odd seeing coverage of the Bassmaster Classic from Pittsburgh over the weekend. I never thought of Pittsburgh being the home of a major fishing tournament. I'm guessing many viewers thought the same thing since the commentators kept talking about how big the outdoors is in Western Pennsylvania. They illustrated this point by stating that many school are closed for the first day of deer hunting season. My school district was and is one of them.

Monday, August 01, 2005

One Year Ago

At this time exactly one year ago, I was in the pool and hot tub at the Hilton Garden Inn in Southpointe/Pittsburgh, PA.

And in less than three hours from this time one year ago today, I got married. :)