Wednesday, January 25, 2023

My Terrible Sleep Schedule

As you can guess from the title of this post, my sleep schedule is awful. After a long day of work, taking the kids to their activities, and then getting them to bed, all I want to do is have time to myself. There's often laundry or trash or cleaning the litter box, but when that's done, I sit on the couch and turn on the television. I generally see what shows I have recorded on the DVR or turn on a sporting event. We also have Netflix and Amazon, but I find that I don't use streaming services nearly often as I should.

With the kids asleep or at least in bed, I have a set up with the television on and the laptop or my phone right next to me. It's time to enjoy the long list of shows and movies that I want to watch while also updating my fantasy sports teams, writing blog posts, answering trivia questions, playing chess, or some combination of all of these. Some nights, Ziggy jumps on the couch and curls up next to me.(That's either before, after, or both the multiple times that Ziggy eats paper or the Kleenex box in order for me to give him food. This happens at least 3-4 times a night even though his bowl is full.) And then, I fall asleep on the couch.  

From there, it might be anywhere between 20-30 minutes to a few hours before I wake up. Now if I was smart, I'd go directly to bed. I'm not smart. I'll check my email. If it's after midnight, I might play Wordle. I do just enough to get my brain going again, and then I go to sleep. While I'm still able to fall asleep quickly in my bed some nights, some nights it takes time to fall back asleep. Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights, I call it a draw. (There's 1-2 bad words in this song/video.)

On weeknights, between the time I crawl into bed and wake up in the morning, I generally get about 5-6 hours of sleep. This is not nearly enough. The other problem is that this isn't continuous. Approximately every other night, Ziggy wakes me up. Sometimes it's just to jump on the bed and curl up at my feed, but usually it's about him getting older. He's 14.5 now. I carry him to the basement so that he can use the litter box, and then I shake his food bowl, since heaven forbid you can see any portion of the bottom of his bowl. 

This pattern repeats itself almost every night. Any suggestions on how to break this? I really want my time to watch TV and do things I need to get done. However, I know that I need more sleep.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Back To Chess

When you write a blog for 18 years, you occasionally end up repeating stories or at least covering similar topics multiple times. For example, I shared that I learned how to play chess in third grade when one of my classmates taught many of the kids in the class how to play. While the longer version of the story is here and I've since learned that my classmate graduated from Harvard and now writes children's books. I'm bringing up chess again. 

My sixth grader, The Moose, recently signed up for I believe that some of his classmates started to play and he wants to join them. He still has a lot to learn, and I look forward to working with him over the next few months, but I decided to login to my own account. It turns out that my last match was in July 2010. That's a long time ago! I played my first match on the website in over a dozen years on Monday against someone from Iran. This was almost as big as the US-Iran World Cup match, and the end result was the same in that I won. The only difference is that I didn't have a groin/abdominal injury like Christian Pulisic after a big move in my match! 

I was rusty, but it was fun playing again. Later, I started a match with someone in Algeria. Even playing poorly, I came 13 seconds away from winning a match I should have lost convincingly. So now, I'm all in for playing chess again. One match a night which cannot exceed 20 minutes is a good way to get back into chess. I definitely feel like I'm using my, um, what's that thing inside your head called? Maybe chess will help me remember. 

On Tuesday, I played again and lost to someone in Vietnam. Not satisfied with that match, I played another one against someone else in Australia and lost again. Then, I defeated someone from Chile and called it a night. I even won using a pawn for checkmate!

I find it interesting that in my 5 matches this week  I still haven't played anyone in North America. Chess really is an international game where language isn't necessary. This can definitely become addicting. I'll need to make sure to only play a few matches a night. Sleep is good!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

State of The Ramblings

This blog can vote! It can buy lottery tickets and fireworks and tobacco. It can gamble in some places, donate blood, join the military, and even get a Costco card. Yes, Sean’s Ramblings is now 18 years old. This is ancient in the world of blogging where blogs are seemingly non-existent, replaced by quick videos on Instagram and TikTok. Even though I wrote fewer blog posts in 2022 than in any other year since this blog began, I'm still here. Time is clearly the biggest reason for me not writing as much as I'd like. Who knew that you have to spend so much time with your kids? Between baseball, basketball, Cub Scouts, religious school, swimming lessons, and other activities and events, I feel like I’m constantly on the go taking the kids from place to place. My sleep schedule is also a mess, but I'll write about that in a separate post.

In the meantime, let's look at Sean's Ramblings in 2022. Yes, there were fewer posts, but hopefully it's quality over quantity. I wrote about getting a colonoscopy and new glasses and organizing a pickle taste test for Hanukkah. I wrote two new posts in my series of hills I'm willing to die on regarding Jayson Werth and not rooting for the Steelers to lose to get a better draft pick. I visited Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio and went camping. I learned that seeing women's volleyball live is amazing and discovered that I've been telling a lie for nearly two decades. I also wrote about the end of Celebrate Fairfax and got a Cameo by Sean Foreman of the musical group 3OH!3. Lots of quality!
So what's next? I'm considering joining the Society of Professional Journalists, Washington D.C. chapter and submitting my blog for the annual Dateline Awards. I mean, I'm not sure if a category even exists for this blog, but I'm sure the judges would definitely consider my work favorably against writers from The Washington Post, WTOP, etc. 
There were three people I contacted for interviews in 2022 and while none of them happened, I'd like to try again with these individuals and maybe others for 2023. Plus, I always enjoy my collaborative posts. The World Cup and 2022 election predictions posts had mixed results, but I'm sure I'll try again for something or other in 2023.
That’s a wrap on the State of the Ramblings. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this post and any of my other posts over the last year or beyond. Now, it’s time for the blog to buy some Mega Millions tickets!

Photo by Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.

Friday, January 06, 2023

The Moose Wants A Phone

The Moose, who is in 6th grade, wants a phone. Badly. He mentions this regularly and recently told me that his friends at school make fun of him because he doesn't have a phone. I find this highly unlikely but told him that he can blame his parents for being mean and not letting him have one. This led to a further discussion about costs associated with phones and money in general. He has his own savings account from gifts he's received over the years, but he's never used it as we pay for anything that he needs. Part of our discussion even included me defining deposits and withdrawals. 

The end result of our conversation is that The Moose wants to earn money. He asked me what jobs he could get as an 11 year old. While I thought about explaining child labor laws, we decided to look online and found this article by For Modern Kids. Some of the ideas from this article include seasonal jobs he could do in the neighborhood like shoveling snow, raking leaves, and basic landscaping. He's not a fan of dogs, so being a dog walker is out, and he's not ready for babysitting yet. The article also includes creative jobs such as being a writer, blogger, photographer, and YouTuber. I laughed at all of these. 

This is what the author wrote about becoming a writer: 

Thanks to the internet, anyone can become a published author!

If your child loves to write, why not encourage them to write their own book.

They can write a long-form story and turn it into a chapter book or write a kid's book and illustrate it on their own. After their story is complete, head online to format the book as an e-book and sell it on Amazon.

So my son is about to become J.K. Rowling or Dr. Seuss? Let's see the other options.

If writing fiction doesn't appeal to your 11 year old, maybe writing a blog would.

There are so many different types of blogs your kid could start, including:
  • Fashion blog
  • Toy blog
  • Craft blog
  • Baking blog
After setting up their blog, they can earn money by placing ads on their website, accepting sponsorships, and including affiliate links in their posts. 

I've had this blog for 18 years and have made very little money from it, particularly if you consider the amount of time I spend writing. I'm sure that I could have made more money if I created a blog with a specific topic and if I was more savvy in understanding social media. Still, there doesn't appear to be a lot of money in blogging in 2023, and everyone I've ever heard talking about making money from blogs says that you can't go into blogging for the purpose of making money as it can take years to earn income.

What about videos? We all hear about the millions of dollars people like MrBeast and Dude Perfect make on YouTube, but it's not that easy. You have to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past year before you can apply to YouTube's partner program to make money. That is really, really difficult especially for an 11 year old! Now, I'm not a good example since I don't publicize my YouTube channel and rarely post videos, but I have 28 subscribers. Only 972 and probably 3,900 hours short! 

While I definitely want to encourage The Moose to try new things and to accomplish his goals and dreams, he is not going to write a book or make significant money from starting a blog or becoming a YouTube sensation. I think we'll just start giving him an allowance and maybe have a lemonade stand when the weather gets warmer!

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Special Forces: World's Toughest Test

In looking for something to watch on Wednesday evening, I stumbled on Special Forces: World's Toughest Test on FOX. 

I had no idea what this was, so I checked my TV guide (but not TV Guide for those of you over 35), which gave the following description of the show:

Household names really jumped out to me. When I hear the phrase household names, I think of the most famous people in the country. We're talking presidents and first ladies, Hall of Fame athletes, and A-list actors. Obama, Trump, Clinton, Bush, Biden, Brady, Smith (as in Will), Winfrey, Knowles (or Knowles-Carter), Swift, and Hanks are names that first come to mind. So who are the celebrities on this show? Let's take a look.

Danny Amendola - As a sports fan, I certainly know him, but if you asked me to name 50 current or former wide receivers who I thought could be on this show, Amendola wouldn't be one of them.

Mel B. - The Spice Girls were huge and arguably the biggest musical group in the world 25 years ago.. I'll give this one a pass.

Hannah Brown - No idea who this is.

Tyler Florence - I think he might be a chef. If you want a chef with a household name, you go with Gordon Ramsey or Rachael Ray.

Kate Gosselin - Jon and Kate Plus 8 was definitely a show I heard of before. Household name is debatable.

Dwight Howard - He's probably going to be in the NBA Hall of Fame. Not as well known as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Steph Curry, and others, but definitely known by sports fans. Now would my mom know him? I don't think so.

Montrell Jordan - Everyone loves "This Is How We Do It." Household name is definitely a stretch though.

Gus Kenworthy - No idea. Sounds familiar, but I don't know why. 

Nastia Liukin - Oh, she was an Olympian gymnast who is not Mary Lou Retton or Simone Biles who I would consider household names. She won a lot of medals though.

Carli Lloyd - US soccer superstar. Household name in my book. And yes, I have a book with a list of people I consider to be household names!

Beverly Mitchell - An actress that I don't know. I do know Beverly D'Angelo and Beverly Hills.

Kenya Moore - A real housewife name but not a real household name. 

Mike Piazza - I mean, he's in the baseball Hall of Fame and more importantly made an appearance on Baywatch.

Dr. Drew Pinsky - He's had a long career on TV and radio and also famously downplayed COVID originally. I think he counts.

Anthony Scaramucci - He's really parlaying those several days working in the Trump administration into 15 minutes of fame. 

Jamie Lynn Spears - Now her sister Britney is a household name. Saying Britney's sister might be enough.

I'll give FOX a little credit in that their website simply describes the show as "Sixteen celebrities face challenges from the playbook of the Special Forces selection process." No mention of household names. While I'm not going to watch the show, if FOX really had a Special Forces edition with household names, I would definitely be in. If FOX is reading this, here are my casting choices in no particular order:

Taylor Swift
Hunter Biden
Donald Trump Jr.
Sasha or Malia Obama
Larry Fitzgerald
Ryan Reynolds
Regina King
Tom Brady
Jeff Bezos
Jennifer Lopez
Justin Bieber
Selena Gomez
Keanu Reeves
Lady Gaga

Who would you like to see?

Photo by Pete Dadds/FOX

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Sean's Best and Worst Of 2022

Welcome to my annual best and worst of 2022 in pop culture and more. 

Best TV Shows: Severance and The Afterparty

There is a lot of good television being made. While I'll get to my favorites momentarily, I want to give honorable mentions to Abbott Elementary, Barry, Station 11, Squid Game (which I watched in 2022) and Alaska Daily. I don't think the last one gets the credit it deserves since it's on ABC rather than on cable or a streaming service. Throw in a few swear words and maybe some brief nudity, and I think this show would be on many critics' top shows list, particularly with Hilary Swank as the lead. And yes, I understand that the show is highlighting the importance of strong local journalism, but what's wrong with that? I didn't see any Better Call Saul this season since I made a mistake with the DVR, and it erased the first few episodes. I feel like there's a good chance the show will make my best of 2023. 

I generally don't consider myself a sci-fi guy, and I'm not even sure if Severance counts as a sci-fi show. What would happen if you could completely separate your work life and your home life? Severance truly separates the two where characters medically cannot remember work when they are out of the office or remember anything outside work when they are in the office. Adam Scott is the main character and leads an incredible cast including Britt Lower, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Tramell Tillman, and Christopher Walken. The show is quite suspenseful, and I can't wait to see a second season.

The Afterparty is also on Apple+ but besides having an amazing cast, that's where the similarities end. A famous Justin Bieber-type character (played by Dave Franco) returns for his high school reunion and gets killed at the after party. It's a murder mystery with Tiffany Haddish as the detective as she interviews potential suspects including Sam Richardson, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Ben Schwartz, and Zoe Chao. This show is very funny, and I love watching any of Ben Schwartz's songs. (Please note that there is one bad word in this song.)

Best Movie: CODA

I almost forgot that I saw this movie in 2022 since I probably watched it during the first week or two of January. Even though CODA won Best Picture at the Oscars, no one talks about it since the ceremony was overshadowed by Will Smith. It's a fun, coming-of-age movie about a high school senior who is a child of deaf parents. (That's what CODA stands for.)

Worst movie: Home Team

I guess this is supposed to be a redemption story of New Orleans Saints football coach Sean Payton who served a one-year suspension for Bountygate where players got paid for injuring their opponents. I had no idea Payton needed a redemption story. During his suspension, he moves to a Texas town and helps coach his son’s football team and tries to build a relationship with the kid. Sean Payton is played by Kevin James who is not funny at all in this role. Rob Schneider plays the new husband of Payton’s ex-wife and is also not funny in this film. Actually, not funny would be a compliment. Payton eventually takes over the team and only cares about winning. Oh, there's also a scene where all of the kids on Payton's team vomit and that helps them win the game. Even that part is in the trailer. While I guess there's a life lesson in this movie somewhere, the story ends with Payton going back to coaching the NFL, apparently leaving his kid behind, but now he remembers names of people in the Saints organization. 

Best Song: I Ain't Worried by OneRepublic

I'm breaking my previous rule that the best song needed to be featured in a blog post earlier in the year. I had a really difficult time choosing a best song of 2022. Not a lot really jumped out for me. I think the message of "Victoria's Secret" by Jax about body image is important, and I recently started listening to and enjoying "Burning" by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. OneRepublic just manages to crank out catchy hit after catchy hit, and "I Ain't Worried' is their latest. When I write my best and worst of 2024, I probably won't remember this song, but I ain't worried 'bout it right now.

Worst Song: Hold Me Closer by Elton John and Britney Spears

What happens when you take the classic, beloved song Tiny Dancer and make it much worse? This! Elton John and Britney Spears didn't even feel the need to make a cameo in the video for this cash grab.

Best Podcast: SmartLess

I'm definitely late on this podcast. Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes make fun of each other and interview celebrities. I laugh out loud at least once every episode. I also want to give an honorable mention to Futbol with Grant Wahl. I went to his podcast before and after every US qualifying and World Cup match and whenever something big happened in the soccer world. He's gone way too soon.

Best Book: The Worst Teddy Ever by Marcelo Verdad

I’ve really struggled reading since the Covid pandemic started. I used to read everyday during my commute, but now I drive instead of relying on the bus and Metro. While the amount of time I spend listening to podcasts is way up, the amount of time spent reading is way down. 

I traveled to Austin, Texas in November, and although I didn’t see any bats, I did stumble into the Texas Book Festival. There were dozens of authors speaking and tents filled with exhibitors over multiple streets all in front of the Texas capitol building. I loved walking through it! At one point, I passed by a tent and heard an author having a playful discussion with kids. The tent next to this was filled with children’s books for sale including one by this author. I bought "The Worst Teddy Ever" and brought it home for my kids. It's about a teddy bear who is too tired to play, but there's a good reason for this. The book is definitely more geared for my kindergartner, but I enjoy it too. 

Best Blog Posts: The End of Celebrate Fairfax and RIP Chris

I'm still a little upset that the Celebrate Fairfax and Fall for Fairfax festivals appear to be over. Such a loss to the Northern Virginia community. I also wrote about my friend Chris who passed away earlier this year.

Worst Blog Post: TMI Thursday Karma

I wrote a post about buying a new plunger.

Best Sports Bet: Kansas winning the NCAA Tournament

I picked this before the tournament. They won. Go me!

Worst Sports Bet: The Pirates winning over 62.5 games. 

They had to improve in 2022 and not lose 100 games, right? Wrong. They went 62-100. There were many bad losses, but the worst might be the Pirates leading 8-4 in the bottom of the 9th at Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees winning 9-8 thanks to home runs by Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

Please feel free to leave your best and worst of 2022 in the comments section below. Hope that you had a good 2022, and here's to a better 2023!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Sean's 2022 Concerts

When I go to concerts, I try to record part of a song or two. Holding a phone up to record the entire concert or even an entire song just doesn't seem like fun. You're there to see artists perform and be part of the atmosphere, not watch the concert through your phone. While I wrote about seeing Coldplay in June and included a few videos of their songs, I wanted share my videos of seeing H.E.R. open for Coldplay as well as Garbage and Toad the Wet Sprocket.

It was a really good concert year for me. Oh, I visited Niagara Falls too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

What A Drag It Is Getting Old

Here is where I am at 47. I’ve worn glasses since 6th or 7th grade, and in recent years to see small text, I either need to take off my glasses or if I'm wearing contacts, put on a pair of reading glasses. Well, I am now the owner of a new pair of glasses with "progressive lenses." It seems to be a fancy way of saying bifocals. 

(I got a haircut since this picture.)

Shortly after Chadwick Boseman passed away in 2020, I asked my doctor at my annual physical if I should get a colonoscopy. With COVID cases high and the recommendation to get a colonoscopy still at 50, the doctor suggested waiting a few years. Last year, he said I should get one. Well, I finally did on Monday. All the stories about the preparation being worse than the procedure are completely true. Per the preparation instructions, I changed my diet on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday was clear liquids only. I basically "ate" Gatorade and Ginger Ale with some Jello and veggie broth mixed in. Not fulfilling. At 4:00 in the afternoon, I celebrated the Steelers win over the Carolina Panthers by having a bottle of Clenpiq. 

I thought it wasn't bad after the first sip, but as I continued, the worse it tasted. I tried to take a shot of the medication followed by a chaser of Italian Ice, but it didn't help. The aftertaste was just too strong. I had another bottle at 9:00 and somehow it was even worse. And yes, there was a lot of time in the bathroom in the evening and night. The discharge information from the doctor included this line: The quality of the bowel preparation was good.

The entire time at the gastroenterology facility and with the doctor and staff went smoothly. I slept very well during and after the procedure, and the findings were normal. I could share pictures of my colon, but that's probably not necessary. I have no idea what I'm looking at anyway. The recommendation is to repeat a colonoscopy in 10 years for screening purposes. Woo hoo!

Besides the new glasses and colonoscopy, I also recently went to the dermatologist to remove two skin tags and two warts. In the near future, I probably need to go to a periodontist for receding gums and a podiatrist to take a look at a toenail. Yes, this is my life.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Happy Hanukkah 2022

Happy Hanukkah to those of you who are celebrating! Hanukkah started on Sunday evening and whether or not you are partaking in the annual celebration of eating latkes, donuts, and pickles, playing dreidel, and lighting the menorah, here are some videos to enjoy this year:

Giving It Up For Hanukkah is truly a viral success story. As of Saturday evening, Brothers of Song had 108 followers on Instagram, which is even less than the number of people following me on Instagram. Their YouTube channel has 8 videos with all of them under 1,000 views except for one with 69K views. Then, out of nowhere, Giving It Up For Hanukkah has over 2.7 million views in less than 2 weeks. Good for the brothers!

Six13 is back (are back?) with a Hanukkah tribute to Elton John. 

There's a fantastic Cameo video out there of the legendary Smokey Robinson wishing someone a Happy Chanooka. Kosha Dillz along with Gangstagrass created their own Hanukkah song based on the mispronouncement. 

Sure, this looks like a Best Buy commercial to get you to visit their stores but notice the menorah on the windowsill while the family opens gifts. I like how this shows diversity within the Jewish community. 

This David Ross, who does not appear to be the Chicago Cubs manager, was able to create numerous versions of himself for A Funky Chanukkah. I could be wrong, but this may be an ode to Michael Keaton and the movie Multiplicity

Thanks to members of the US Armed Forces for their service and also for singing this Hanukkah medley.

The Kurstin x Grohl Hanukkah sessions are back with special guest Judd Apatow.

Let's finish up with the small screen. My kids have outgrown Disney Kids, so I'm not familiar with the show Firebuds. This is their Hanukkah episode.

And there is now a Hallmark Hanukkah movie called Hanukkah on Rye featuring Ithaca College graduate Jeremy Jordan, Yael Grobglas, and Lisa Loeb. I might "Stay" and watch it.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Brand New Pickle Taste Test For Hanukkah

Like Fetch, I'm still trying to make eating pickles part of the Hanukkah tradition happen. 

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of this tradition. If you're not familiar, the quick story is that there was a Kosher Pickle Taste Test at San Diego State University, and since this occurred in December, the student newspaper thought it was part of the Hanukkah celebration. (The longer story is here.) Now, more and more people really do eat pickles at Hanukkah, and one of my life goals is to spread this tradition. It's right up there with trying to be a good father, visiting all 50 states, attending a professional hockey game in every NHL city, and winning fantasy football and baseball leagues.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to spread this tradition as my synagogue hosted an early Hanukkah celebration. There was a menorah build with legos, dreidels, food, and they let me have a pickle tasting table. I bought 14 jars of Wegmans, Grillo's, and Mount Olive pickles (total, not each), and spent much of Sunday morning cutting them up into sample-size pieces. Then, I put on my Portland Pickles T-shirt and brought them to the synagogue. 

While people were a little reluctant to approach the pickle table at first, primarily because they were more interested in eating pizza and getting donuts, more and more people stopped by, tried the pickles, and voted for their favorite. I'm particularly proud of The Moose, Pedro Tulo, and one of The Moose's friends for helping with "plating" the pickles for sampling, encouraging others to try them and vote, and then counting the ballots. I didn't ask them to help; they just jumped right in! 

I consider this year's event a trial run, and I think it was a success. I'd like to do a similar event next year with 10 or more different types of pickles, including by local pickle people. My dream is to have Kosha Dillz perform too. I also hope more Hanukkah celebrations around the world include pickles. It doesn't have to be a taste test (though those are fun), but just pickles next to latkes and sufganiyot would be great.

In case you're wondering, the Wegmans pickles won in a tight race. Oh, my car still smells like pickles too.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

It's Me, Hi, I'm The Problem, It's Me

The Washington Post recently announced the discontinuation of the weekly Washington Post Magazine. I was a Washington Post subscriber for years, so I would receive the Sunday paper with the coupons/circulars and the Post Magazine each week. The magazine was perfect to read during my commute because you had the long-form stories but also a humor column, brief interviews with a wide variety of people, restaurant reviews, and more. Date Lab, where Post staff match singles, was part of this more. I read Date Lab to The Moose during potty training and some of the stories made for fun blog posts. The kids also enjoyed Second Glance where you try to find differences between two seemingly identical photographs. The magazine's content was always interesting, and it was easy to carry and transport to and from work. 

After having The Moose and Pedro Tulo and especially after Luigi arrived, I found that I didn’t have time to read the paper on Sundays. In an ideal world, I would love to just sit on the couch on a Sunday morning and read the paper but three kids made this impossible. There were always activities or errands to run or simply playing and spending time with the kids that prevented me from sitting down with the paper. They would just pile up until I recycled the papers at the end of the week. Still, I managed to find time to read the magazine most weeks on my commute. And then I didn’t. Maybe it was reading more books during the commute or doing activities on the phone (including writing blog posts), but the magazines started to pile up too. While I intended to read them, it didn’t happen.
With me not reading the print version of the paper or magazine, I unsubscribed from the print version of The Washington Post. I maintained my online subscription, though I admit that I rarely read The Magazine online. And I should. While Gene Weingarten no longer writes for the magazine, Damon Young (a fellow Pittsburgher!) is an excellent writer with a very different perspective from his predecessor and definitely worth your time (including in his recent column about Kyrie Irving). The Magazine's quality continues to be excellent and relevant. However, I never read the print version anymore and don't often think about checking it out online. There are probably thousands of others like me out there. Maybe that's why The Post is cutting the magazine. Even though 5 of the top 40 most-clicked stories on the website over the past year were produced by the magazine, I'm sure there is some metric out there showing that there aren't enough clicks. For a paper as large and as important as The Post and with an owner in Jeff Bezos with deep pockets, this is unfortunate and disappointing. I feel bad for the people losing their jobs and for the public in missing out on reading outstanding stories.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Friday Video: Current Songs That Would Fit In The 80s

I've mentioned several times that my kids only seem to want to listen to current pop music. Sirius XM's Hits One station ends up being played much of the time when we're in the car. There are two current songs by major artists that could easily fit into FM radio in the 1980s. The first is Music for a Sushi Restaurant by Harry Styles.

If you go to just after the 1:00 minute mark, the horns could easily be in a Phil Collins song. I'm thinking Sussudio.

The second is 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) by Lizzo.

The chorus sounds like a song that The Pointer Sisters could sing. Maybe on the next track after I'm So Excited.

There might be more, but the drive from the school to my home is rather quick, so I'm turning off the car and turning the music off. Get out of the car!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Don’t Root For Your Team To Lose

Today, I’m writing about the Pittsburgh Steelers and specifically about Steelers fans wanting the team to lose. Look, I get it. Even with the Monday night win over the Colts, the team is below average this year, and Steelers fans aren’t used to losing. Even in down years over the last 15-20 years, the team is almost always at or above .500 and battling for a playoff spot. Because the team isn’t going to make the playoffs this year, there is a fairly significant portion of the fanbase who want the Steelers to lose to improve their draft pick. In the NFL, this is just ridiculous. 

“Tanking” for the top draft pick makes some sense in the NBA where one player makes a huge difference with only five players on the court per team at a time. LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and Anthony Davis were all top picks while Ja Morant and Kevin Durant went 2nd overall. In football, one player (outside the quarterback position) generally doesn't make a huge difference on a team's performance. For the sake of argument, let's say that tanking for the top QB is somewhat acceptable since that position really does impact a team. However, even the #1 overall pick isn't a guarantee of success. For every Joe Burrow and Peyton Manning, there's Sam Bradford, JaMarcus Russell, and Baker Mayfield. How did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, and LA Rams fare based on their picks of Jameis Winston, Kyler Murray, and Jared Goff respectively? With the top pick, you expect Hall of Famers or at a minimum consistent Pro Bowl and/or playoff appearances.  

So if the #1 pick has mixed results, what happens when you get later in the first round? Is there really a significant difference historically between the #6 pick and the #9 pick? The Steelers drafted Troy Polamalu at #16, Cameron Heyward at #31, David DeCastro at #24, and T.J. Watt at #30. It's about the player, the evaluation/scouting by the team, and the development by both the player and coaching staff. And yes, I understand that there are 7 rounds of the draft, but again, the players drafted at #125 and #129 are going to be right around the same level.

Let's get back to this year's Steelers team. The Steelers are starting a rookie quarterback in Kenny Pickett. Traditionally, rookie quarterbacks in the NFL perform poorly. Peyton Manning had 26 touchdowns in his first year, but also had 28 interceptions on a 3-13 team. Troy Aikman went winless in his starts with 9 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Josh Allen went 5-6 with 10 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. Patrick Mahomes played in one game his rookie year while Aaron Rodgers only threw 59 passes over his first 3 NFL seasons. Comparably, Pickett has performed pretty well. According to Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, Pickett's 88.5 Pro Football Focus grade on Monday night was the highest for a Steelers QB since Bg Ben in week 10 of the 2018 season. Pickett seems to be improving each week and gaining confidence too. Is he going to make mistakes over the next few weeks? Of course. He's a rookie quarterback. You want him to gain experience and learn from mistakes and situations. So why are there Steelers fans out there watching Pickett and the game and hoping that he and therefore the team fails? You would think that Steelers fans hope that he succeeds and that carries over to next season where the Steelers can draft an immediate starter no matter where the team picks in the first round in 2023.

I'm going to continue rooting for the Steelers to win this year. I'm going to root for T.J. Watt and George Pickens and Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick and the entire team because I'm a Steelers fan. Stop hoping for the #7 draft pick instead of the #10 pick. It's a silly argument and discussion. And that's my hill I'm willing to die on.

You can see more of my "Hills I'm Willing To Die On" posts here.

Photos by Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Friday, November 25, 2022

Hello Columbus

The Ohio State University football team faces the University of Michigan Wolverines on Saturday in a battle between the #2 and #3 teams in the college football rankings. So this seems like a perfect time to share my experiences visiting Columbus and attending the Ohio State-Arkansas State September...two months ago! 

For some background, I attended grad school at Ohio State and went to most of the home football games while I was there. I consider myself a Buckeyes fan, though I don't go out of my way to watch each game now. The team went 6-6 and 8-4 in my two years in Columbus. While this record might be fine in some places, this was unacceptable at Ohio State resulting in the firing of coach John Cooper, and I received emails about the coaching search process. The November 18th, 2000 game against Michigan (where the Buckeyes lost and I got hit in the back of the head by a Sprite bottle because someone was trying to hit a Michigan fan and missed) was the last time I attended an Ohio State football game. In addition, the last time I visited Columbus was for a friend's wedding when The Moose was only a few months old. He's 11 now.

For a few years, my grad school friends and I discussed having a reunion. It finally came together over the summer when we agreed to buy group tickets for a football game. Ohio State tickets are EXPENSIVE! There are no discounts for group sales. We got 20 tickets in groups of 2 and 3 several rows apart but all in the same section. My seats with The Moose and Pedro Tulo were located in the last row of the stadium. With only bleachers, the positive is that we were able to lean back against the wall. The negative is that The Moose is not a big fan of heights. When we went to Toronto this summer, he had no interest in going up the CN Tower. While I knew he didn't like heights, I didn't realize that he really didn't like heights, and I had no idea we were in the last row when we purchased tickets. He ended up being okay though he asked several times when we were leaving which was completely unlike him at a sporting event, and we walked down the steps very slowly when exiting the stadium in the fourth quarter.

* The Ohio State band is awesome. I can watch them do Script Ohio for days. They also performed a "karaoke" medley, so my friends who are Pitt fans will appreciate that they played Sweet Caroline.

* Switching away from football, while I didn't have the chance to show my kids everything I wanted to in Columbus, getting ice cream at Graeter's was a must. So good!

* Back to football, OSU wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. is really, really good. He had 7 catches for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game.

* Wearing an Art Schlichter jersey is a bold move. For those of you not familiar with Schlichter, he was a 4-year starting quarterback at Ohio State before getting drafted #4 overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1982. He was a massive gambler well before sports gambling became legal and got suspended by the NFL. He has been in and out of jail throughout his post-NFL career and was just in the news again last month. Again, quite the bold move to wear his jersey.

* We had brunch before we left Columbus at The Original Pancake House. The waiter made a mistake with the order and gave The Moose an order of hash browns and eggs and buckeye pancakes. He had absolutely no chance to finish the massive amount of food!

Overall, the trip was fantastic. It was great seeing friends from grad school and meeting some of their family members for the first time. I hadn't seen most of them in over 20 years. I also stayed with and saw friends that I've known since elementary school and earlier. It's nice to reconnect with people from your past and who have known you for years. Oh, I also met some hedgehogs, so I'll give a plug to the Handful of Hedgies Facebook group for hedgehog rescue and services in central Ohio.

Go Bucks! Beat Michigan!