Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sean’s Political Platform: The Real Issues

With the Presidential election less than a week away, there are some significant issues not mentioned by either President Obama or Governor Romney. In my opinion, if either candidate backed my initiatives, he would win the election. Therefore, let me introduce you to my 7-point plan.

1. Tax credits for owning pets adopted from animal shelters. Pets are wonderful companions and people should be encouraged to adopt animals from shelters. Plus, shelters usually require and ensure that the pets are spayed and neutered. Bob Barker is all for this!

2. Eliminate daylight savings time. I wrote about this earlier this year, and still don’t understand why most of the country follows daylight savings. What do we really save? Try getting a young child to follow the time change. Painful.

3. Change the non-profit status of the National Football League. I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand the tax status and how this works, but it seems inconceivable to me that an organization that generates billions of dollars is non-profit. All I know is that I have Sunday Ticket, but not the Red Zone Channel since it is an extra fee this year. The NFL has to be making big money from this.

4. Initiate paid leave for new mothers. The Family Medical Leave Act gives new mothers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Canada allows for an entire year of leave for new mothers with 50 weeks of paid leave. The Scandinavian countries are even better. Wouldn’t it be great if new parents could get help supporting their infants in this country without needing to get back to work immediately?

5. You’re wondering how we’re going to pay for items #1 and especially #4, aren’t you? The solution: legalize marijuana and tax sales of marijuana. Is marijuana really worse than alcohol or tobacco? Legalize marijuana and let the states figure out how to sell it. Set a minimum age as well as penalties for driving under the influence. The opening of marijuana stores and licensed marijuana growers could also help create jobs. Wiz Khalifa is all for this!

6. End the NHL lockout. There’s no good reason why hockey isn’t playing right now. Actually, President Obama weighed in on this during his visit to Jay Leno, but that’s hardly getting the owners and players together. Has Governor Romney said anything about this? He was born in Michigan and was Governor of Massachusetts, two big hockey states, so you’d think he’d want the NHL to settle the lockout.

7. Get Joanna Garcia a successful television show. I liked Animal Practice, but not enough other people did. She seems to have had a string of unsuccessful television shows, but I admit that I like watching her. That sounds creepy, so maybe I should rephrase it before her husband, Nick Swisher, reads this. Um, just kidding, Nick.

I’m Sean of Sean’s Ramblings, and I approve this blog post.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Mix

The Federal Government is closed as is nearly every school in the Washington DC area. While we still have power (the one positive aspect of losing power is that you can't see or hear political commercials!), here are some songs that are appropriate for Hurricane Sandy.

Scorpions - Rock You Like a Hurricane

Snap - The Power (If we lose power, apparently Snap has it.)

Garbage - I'm Only Happy When It Rains

Bob Seger - Against The Wind (Other options: Kansas - Dust In The Wind; Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings; Bob Dylan - Blowin' In The Wind; Vanessa Williams - Colors of the Wind)

Sandy from Grease

I'm sure that Captain Easychord can provide some additional songs for this Hurricane Sandy Mix.

Stay safe, everyone.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How Could You Leave on Yom Kippur? (Friday Video & NFL Picks)

If Train creates a catchy song and includes David Hasselhoff in the song's video, I'm going to share that video here. At around the 2:05 mark of the video for 50 Ways To Say Goodbye, I'm pretty sure the line is "How could you leave on Yom Kippur?" That can't really be the line though, right? That would even be more random than the Black Eyed Peas saying Mazel Tov and L'Chaim in a song.

On to my NFL picks. After a decent 7-5-1 week (I selected the 49ers when the line was 7; the final line ended up being San Francisco favored by 7.5), I'm now 47-52-4 on the year. Here are my week 8 picks:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

7 + 1 + 2 + 1 = 12? (Express Fail)

Math is difficult. How else can you explain the total number of visits made by the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates and their spouses to Pennsylvania in the past 30 days according to Express?

As always, please click here for all of your Express Fail needs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The War on Halloween

You probably notice all the candy on display at supermarkets. You also may have received invitations for Halloween parties and/or thought about what you or your kids will wear this year. Although the temperatures are falling (although the high is supposed to be around 80 in DC today) and we’re now a month into Fall, there is clearly a War on Halloween in this country. Look around your neighborhoods and especially at intersections for proof. Sure, there might be some places with Halloween decorations, but they are no match for political signs. That’s right; Halloween is under attack from political parties, political action committees and the media.

What do you see when you turn on the television? Political advertisements. In the DC area, not only are there ads for or against Obama and Romney, but we see countless commercials for Virginia’s Senatorial candidates and several Maryland propositions. You can’t enter or exit a Metro station without people asking about voter registration or handing out flyers (or newspapers in the morning). Even restaurants such as California Tortilla have contests based on the Presidential candidates (yes, the Obama burrito vs. the Romney burrito). If you want further proof that there is a War Against Halloween, look at The Simpsons. The long-running show features the “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween-themed episode each year. This year, Fox aired Treehouse of Horror XXIII on October 7th. October 7th! That’s more than three weeks before Halloween. Rupert Murdoch, also the head of Fox News, is surely to blame.

It’s time to fight back! We cannot lose this war. Halloween is too important to kids, candy companies, guys who like seeing women in scantily-clad costumes, dentists, women who like wearing scantily-clad costumes, and pagans (including San Francisco Giants OF Angel Pagan) among others. Sure you can vote on November 6th, but don’t let them take away October 31st!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Links & Week 7 NFL Picks

Happy Friday everyone! Please check out some amazing links from around the web.

Mr. Brame writes about his experience reading his first Hebrew word. [I Love Memphis]

Lisa recently celebrated her sixth blog anniversary. I feel like there are so few blogs with a history these days and every one of her posts are a must read. [Lemon Gloria]

The "Terrible" Wedding includes some awesome pictures like this one. [Blog 'N' Gold]

Who brings their own beer to an all-inclusive resort? [Lacochran]

A Beano Cook obituary [New York Times]

On to my NFL picks. After a 6-8 week, I'm now 40-47-3 for the year. I'm doing great! Anyway, here are my week 7 picks:

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Want To Know More About Shear Madness? (Express Fail)

Whenever I struggle to find something to write about, I can always count on Express for inspiration. Last Thursday’s “The Guide to the Lively Arts” featured information about the long-running show Shear Madness.

It seems like Express has a lot of questions about the show. Of course, perhaps this is a new interactive feature where Express asks its readers to answer questions. Or perhaps not since Shear Madness is not included in this Thursday’s guide.

As always, please click here for all of your Express Fail needs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life

With the Mega Millions jackpot at $540 million in March, I wrote a post stating that I didn’t want to win the lottery. Essentially, I didn’t want to deal with the media and people asking me for money. Based on this post, a publicist contacted me about “reviewing a memoir written by a true lottery winner.” Since I’m never one to pass up free stuff, I said sure.

Let me preface this review by writing that I expected to read a book. While I wasn’t expecting War & Peace, I was surprised that How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life by Sandra Hayes contained only 42 pages with 18 chapters. In my opinion, this is a pamphlet, not a book. Anyway, Sandra Hayes describes how she played the lottery with her co-workers dubbed the “Lucky 13,” including how she discovered that she won, the details about what happens after you win the lottery (meetings with the Missouri Lottery Commission and an attorney) and her stint on a reality show.

Are you curious about how much money Hayes won?

The truth is no one knows, but me. Each Lucky 13 Missouri Powerball Winner’s winnings are different. We all invested our winnings differently.

Then, two pages later, Hayes wrote the same thing.

The truth is no one knows how much money the Lucky 13 received. Each Lucky 13 Missouri Powerball winner’s winnings were different because we all invested our winnings differently.

In only 42 pages, how can you write the same thing so close together? This is probably a very minor point, but this was frustrating to me.

When discussing the reality show pitch, Hayes wrote, “My jaw dropped later that day when we met [the actors considering producing a reality show] in the conference room because I had had no idea one of my favorite actors would be standing that room.” Unfortunately, Hayes never revealed the actor’s identity. Are we talking Denzel Washington? Dustin Diamond?

After the reality show aired and included negative statements from family and friends about Hayes, she writes that she didn’t talk to some of these people for a year. Later in the same paragraph, Hayes states, “even today a few people do not like me because of the reality show. Who cares? Cut and paste – it was just a reality show.” Well, apparently she cared if she didn’t talk to folks for a year based on comments made on a reality show.

I’m happy that Hayes won and seems to have invested well. I also liked how Hayes shared that she once received food stamps and depended on a charitable organization to support her family and then gave back to that organization after she won the lottery. However, while I wanted to know more about Hayes’ experience (again, only 42 pages!), I really didn’t want to know more about Hayes’ experience. Hayes writes several times that she values her privacy, yet she went on a reality show and now wrote a book.

Spoiler alert: Hayes closes by asking the question "Is the downside of my life worth the wealth I have accumulated? My answer is yes." That’s probably all you need to know about this book and winning the lottery.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trivia Tuesday: Picture Edition

Happy Tuesday everyone! Let's get right to this week's trivia challenge. There are ten questions in picture below. Answer them!

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 Pub Stumpers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Not The Only Game To Hold Their World Series This Month

This post was written by Daniel Smith, a fellow baseball fan and poker

The baseball playoffs are currently in full swing and soon we will get a better idea of who will square off in the World Series. Right now it is too early to say for certain who will face off in the World Series, but you can never rule out the Yankees and there is a good chance that San Francisco could make a return trip to the fall classic. (Sean's Note: I think we're going to see a Cardinals-Tigers World Series, but I've clearly been wrong in my predictions in the past.)

However, there is another world series that is going to wrap up later this month and it will award more prize money than any other sports championship, including a Floyd Meyweather fight. What I am referring to is the World Series of Poker.

The WSOP Main Event final table is scheduled to kick off on October 29th as the final nine players battle for a first place prize of over $8 Million and the title of poker's world champion.

The World Series of Poker has crowned the world champion of the game of poker since 1970 and in that time many of the game's greatest have taken center stage at the event. However, in the last 10 years, the game has really exploded thanks largely in part to televised poker and ESPN.

In 1970, the world champion was determined by popular vote and then starting in 1971 a tournament was played to determine the champion. Back then, only seven players participated. Over the years the event grew to where it had a few hundred players in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker turned a $29 satellite online into a $10,000 Main Event seat and then into $2 Million.

Now, the Main Event draws thousands of players each year looking to take home the top prize in poker. Unlike baseball, the game of poker does not require that you have major league talent or frankly any talent at all. If you can come up with the money, you can play.

No other professional game allows players to compete on the same field as the top stars in the game. Joe Nobody (Sean's note: or Richie Incognito) can potentially knock out Phil Hellmuth and go on to win a world title. If Joe Nobody tried to walk onto a major league team, security would be escorting him out.

The World Series of Poker may not have the same history as baseball's World Series, but it is still as prestigious to any serious poker player. If you have never watched the WSOP or televised poker you can watch it later this month on ESPN. Maybe then you will discover why the game has become one of the fastest growing games in the world.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Video & Week 6 NFL Picks

Ohio State's band makes its return to Sean's Ramblings courtesy of this amazing tribute to video games halftime performance. Go to the 6:00 minute mark to see something awesome.

h/t Nichole

I went 9-5 last week meaning that perhaps I'm getting better at picking NFL games. That brings my overall season record to 34-39-3. Here are my picks for this week:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Joe Biden Looks Old For His Age (Express Fail)

In a preview of tonight’s Vice Presidential debate, an event I will not watch due to the Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game,* Express provided the following “Tale of the Tape” between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan:

I had no idea that Joe Biden’s middle name is Robinette. I also didn’t realize that he’s 59 years old, meaning that Delaware elected him as their Senator when he was only 23.

Of course, Biden is actually 69 years old born on November 20, 1942.

As always, please click here for all of your Express Fail needs. I may need to create a separate blog someday devoted solely to all of Express’ errors.

* Who decided that it was a good idea to have the VP debate on the same night as the Steelers game? That’s very poor planning unless this was organized by members of some third political party like the Green or Libertarian parties. In that case, well done third party candidates!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fatherhood Update

With my son recently turning a year and a half, is it appropriate to say he's a year and half or do I need to continue giving his age in months (18 months, 19 months, etc.) until he turns 2? Regardless, this is a really fun age. After months of developing his scooting technique, my son has finally decided that walking is an excellent way to move around. Of course, there is still a learning process and he will only walk when and where he wants to walk. For example, during some of our neighborhood walks, he will stop to point at passing cars (he loves cars), to lay on a speed bump (I'm not a fan of this one), and to play with a leaf on the ground. He can (and does) easily spend five minutes sitting on the sidewalk playing with a leaf.

He also fully understands what's going on. When we say that it's dinnertime, he knows to go to his high chair. When we ask him to touch his nose, he sometimes points to his nose and sometimes points to his ear. Close enough. He also has the ability to ignore our requests. He has a wonderful laugh and smile and has a great sense of humor like his dad. He'll splash in the bathtub because he finds it fun and this makes me smile. At least up until the point where I'm wet and have to clean the mess.

The only frustration is his eating habits. He'll love bananas one day and throw them off his tray the next day. Although he loves hot dogs, he can't eat them everyday. (Yes, this is written by his dad who eats Hebrew National salami sandwiches five days a week.)

Just within the last week, my son has started giving hugs where he puts his head against my face and puts his hands around my neck. It is incredibly sweet and nice and just makes my day.

Finally, he is slowly learning to be gentle to Ziggy. Sure, the child will still push toy cars (and again, he loves cars) towards Ziggy causing Ziggy to seek higher ground, but he also started giving Ziggy hugs by laying his head next to Ziggy's body. Also very sweet.

Overall, fatherhood is treating me well. My kid is great, truly gets excited to see me and loves spending time with me. I have the same reactions with him.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Trivia Tuesday

I have two separate challenges for you today. First, after over 300 million hits on YouTube, I've now heard Gangham Style several times on the radio. My question to you is what other non-English hit songs have received airplay on the radio.

As for your more traditional Trivia Tuesday, name the only state that borders both of the two given states.

1. Louisana, New Mexico

2. Minnesota, Missouri

3. Florida, Mississippi

4. Washington, Utah

5. Wyoming, Oklahoma

6. Delaware, Ohio

7. Maryland, Tennessee

8. Georgia, Missouri

9. Oklahoma, Mississippi

10. Kentucky, Oklahoma

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

The second quiz is courtesy of the fine folks at Stump Trivia.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Sean's Week 5 NFL Picks (& Friday Video)

After finishing 6-8-1 last week, it is quickly becoming apparent that I'm not very good at picking NFL games. Through the first four weeks of the season, I'm now 25-34-3. Therefore, instead of providing any analysis of games this week, I'm just going to provide my picks and a video.

After a summer of thousands of "Call Me Maybe" videos, we're now seeing hundreds of "Gangham Style" videos. While this one by the Ohio University band is very cool, I declare a moratorium on Gangham Style videos. We don't need so many videos for every popular song!

(h/t Sarah)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Catching Up

In case you were wondering, here is what’s going on in my life. My child recently turned 18 months (more on this soon), and I’m spending way too much time with fantasy sports. I’ve written about this several times, but I have been in one fantasy baseball league for 20 years, or more than half of my life, and in that time, I’ve never won this league. At approximately 9:00 PM Eastern time, I was in position to earn my first championship via a tie-breaker; however, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers pitched an incredible game causing me to fall into second place. This is an auction league with keepers, salary caps and minor league drafts, so the fact that I finished 2nd place two years in a row in a 12-team league is pretty impressive. With that written, winning this league is on my bucket list!

Now I can turn my attention to fantasy football where I am in 6 leagues this year. My records are 3-1; 3-1; 2-2; 2-2; 1-3; and 0-4. I might be in too many leagues, but I have a hard time saying no when someone asks me to join a league.

In other news, Teddy finally won the Presidents race that occurs at every Nationals home game. Back in 2007, I wrote the following:

Anyway, the big story is that Teddy Roosevelt has never won a race. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln always win. My guess is that the Nats are saving a Teddy win for a big moment, either the last game at RFK, the first game at the new stadium, or if the Nationals ever sell-out a game, which could happen this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.

Or when the Nationals make the playoffs. Anyway, the DC media is treating Teddy’s win as a major story. Enjoy information about the race in The Washington Post which includes a quote from an 8-year-old kid who played hooky from school in case Teddy won the race. Boo to the parents for letting this happen. I’m fine with a kid missing school for a playoff game, but missing school to see a mascot race is absurd.

After numerous Express Fail posts by me, an Express Fail went national! [Deadspin]

Finally, since the baseball regular season is over, let's look at how I did with my 2012 Pirates predictions:

1. Over/under wins: 72.5 Correct - 79 wins
I'll go over. It's March, so of course I'm optimistic now.

2. Andrew McCutchen batting average in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under .280 Correct - .327

I'll go over on this one too. I think McCutchen will have an amazing season.

3. Andrew McCutchen - Total HR's in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under 25.5 Incorrect - 31

While I do think McCutchen will have an amazing season, I think 20-25 home runs is realistic.

4. Andrew McCutchen - Total Stolen Bases in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under 25.5 Incorrect - 21


5. Neil Walker - BA in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under .275 Incorrect - .280

I'll go under on this one. No real reason why.

6. Pedro Alvarez - Total HR's in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under 17.5 Correct - 30

The big money deserves to go on the under, but I'm one of the few remaining Pedro supporters. I'll go over.

7. Garrett Jones - Total HR's in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under 15.5 Incorrect - 27

I'll go under only because I'm banking on Pedro playing well meaning less playing time for Jones with McGahee getting significant at-bats at 1st.

8. Jose Tabata - BA in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under .280 Incorrect - .243

Over. I think Tabata will hit around .300.

9. Joel Hanrahan - Total Saves in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under 35.5 Incorrect - 36

Under. There will be fewer save opportunities for Hanrahan since the Pirates will constantly win games 10-2!

10. Erik Bedard - Total Wins in the 2012 Regular Season: Over/Under 8 Incorrect - 7

Over. I predict more wins for Bedard in 2012 than Correia in 2011.

11. Josh Harrison walks: Over/Under 9 Incorrect - 10

This is the toughest prop on the board! I'll predict under, but barely.

12. Team bunting attempts: Over/Under 1000 Correct, but I didn’t actually count this.

Over, but I'm not going to actually count this during the season.

Shockingly (based on my record picking NFL games), I went 4-8.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Who Is Bud Recktenwald?

I received an e-mail from the Senator John Heinz History Center promoting a pep rally for the Gridiron Glory Exhibit this Saturday, October 6th. Here's a brief description:

Steelers Hall of Famer Franco Harris and several special guests will help the Senator John Heinz History Center kick off its new exhibition, Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, at a public pep rally event on Sat., Oct. 6, at 10:00 a.m. in the History Center parking lot on 12th and Smallman Street.

Visitors to the Gridiron Glory Kickoff and Pep Rally can be the first to see the new blockbuster exhibition, which includes more than 200 football artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame collections, exclusive videos from the vaults of NFL Films, and a special section on the Steelers and football in Western Pa.

The Steelerettes – the first and only cheerleaders in franchise history– will get visitors fired up, while Pittsburgh Power player Mike Washington will ceremoniously “kick off” the exhibit with a live field goal attempt through the original Three Rivers Stadium goal post outside of the History Center.

The “Ultimate Steelers Fan” Bud Recktenwald will join mascot Steely McBeam and other passionate Steelers fan groups to wave their Terrible Towels and show off their black and gold pride.

Let’s stop right there. First, how does someone become the “Ultimate Steelers Fan” and can you really call yourself the Ultimate Steelers Fan if you’re being joined by Steely McBeam? There are thousands and thousands, if not millions of Steelers fans across the world. Therefore, how does Bud Recktenwald get to call himself the Ultimate Steelers Fan?

Apparently, Recktenwald (I’m just calling him Bud for the rest of this post; much easier to type) is recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the Ultimate Steelers Fan as part of a fan promotion sponsored by VISA. While I found information about Bud in this Pocono Record article and in the Pro Football’s Most Passionate Fans eBook by Harvey “Mr. Steeler” Aronson, a search for “Recktenwald” on the Pro Football Hall of Fame website does not have any results. So is Bud living off this Ultimate Steelers Fan label based on winning a contest? Plus, how did Harvey Aronson get the Mr. Steeler nickname? If Art or Dan Rooney gave either of these gentlemen the nicknames, I’d be fine with it, but otherwise, it’s a little suspect. I don't go around calling myself the Ultimate Mr. Ramblings. Actually, maybe I should!

In full disclosure, I've had some e-mail correspondence with Harvey Aronson in the past. Seems like a good guy and really does have a passion for the Steelers.

For more information on Gridiron Glory, visit the Heinz History Center website and click here to learn more about the kickoff and pep rally.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Return Of Trivia Tuesday

While I'm not sure if I'm truly ready to make Trivia Tuesday a weekly feature again, I found this fun game titled Know Your States. Your challenge is simply (or not so simply) to place the U.S. state on the map

I scored a 90% with an average error of 13 miles in 401 seconds.

Please note that it's very possible that I shared this game here several years ago. If so, enjoy playing this again!

In addition, please feel free to share your results in the comments section below.

h/t to Josh.