Friday, January 29, 2010

American Idol Controversy

I don't watch American Idol, so if you're looking for detailed commentary of who will win this season based on a brief audition, you'll have to go elsewhere. With that written, my pop culture sensibilities require that I have a familiarity with the show. Therefore, I am aware of Pants on the Ground and am particularly impressed with Ithacappella's version.

Thanks to non-stop airing of American Idol commercials during the NFL playoffs, I know the guest judges this season have included Victoria Beckham, Shania Twain & Avril Lavigne. Do you notice a common thread between these three musicians? They aren't American! Between Simon Cowell and the guest judge, the winner of American Idol is being determined by non-Americans. The British and Canadians have taken over the show! This may be worse than the Tea Tax! I demand that Fox gets rid of these foreigners. (Speaking of which, is Foreigner going to be a guest judge?) How can it be American Idol without Americans? Why is there not a revolution? At the very least, Fox should change the show's name. To show my displeasure with American Idol, I will continue my boycott of the show! Who's with me?

Keeping on the music theme, I am thinking about doing a live blog of the Grammys on Sunday night. My decision rests entirely on whether or not there are people interested in participating. If you are interested, please let me know via the comments or by e-mailing me at seanramblings at yahoo [dot] com.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TMI Thursday: Why Is Michael Phelps Swimming to the Winter Olympics?

Perhaps you have seen the recent Subway commercial featuring Michael Phelps swimming in a pool and beyond. He manages to break through the swimming pool wall, swims across a street, passes a Subway, where Jared just happens to be their encouraging Phelps, swims through a corn field effortlessly tossing a cow and chicken and heads toward Vancouver and the Winter Olympics. For the sake of this post, let’s find the fact that there is a 1,000-mile swimming pool not at all unusual. My bigger question is why is Michael Phelps heading to Vancouver? The last time I checked, swimming was reserved for the summer games.

This is a bit of a tangent, but during my junior year of high school, I joined the diving team. I was going to be the next Greg Louganis. (I'm scared to see what the comments are going to be after writing this sentence.) I skipped playing on the soccer team in the fall to work on improving my grades. At some point a few months into my junior year, I realized that my grades were fine but I missed being part of a competitive team. That's why I joined the diving and swimming team...or at least that's I told myself and others. In retrospect, I joined the diving team because of a girl.

So every day, I worked on my dives in practice. I established a solid front/regular dive, back dive and inward dive. (This is an inward dive, but not me doing it.)

However, I could never master a reverse dive.

OK, Greg Louganis' dive involved a lot twists and flips. There was no way I could ever figure that out. This is what your standard reverse dive looks like:

So anyway, my diving and swimming career didn't take off. I never dove in a meet and my participation on the swimming team was laughable as I failed to figure out the flip turn. Fortunately, I never hit my head on the diving board. I also didn't end up dating the girl on the diving team, although she was the subject of a past TMI Thursday involving my first kiss.

However, this is all a tangent of another tangent. My diving coach was known as Papa Polar Bear. On January 1st every year, he led the Polar Bear Club into Pittsburgh’s Monongahela River for the Polar Bear Plunge. The temperatures were regularly below freezing, and there was often snow, but people annually jumped and swam in the river wearing only bathing suites.

This brings me back to Michael Phelps. Perhaps, they should have swimming in the Winter Olympics; outside! Think about how popular the Winter Classic is for the NHL. Wouldn't you want to watch swimmers in Coal Harbour, English Bay or Stanley Park's Beaver Lake in Vancouver? How cool would it have been to watch swimming in the Great Salt Lake when the Winter Olympics were in Utah?

Maybe Jared and Subway are on to something!

For more TMI Thursdays, please visit LiLu and you can click here to see all of my TMI Thursday archive, including the story of my first kiss.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Verizon’s Coverage Maps

If you watch any television, you can’t avoid the countless Verizon Wireless advertisements comparing the coverage maps of Verizon and AT&T. For the sake of full disclosure, I’m a Verizon Wireless customer; however, I’m offended by these maps primarily since I didn’t have cell phone service in one of these red areas where I called home up until only a few weeks ago.

AT&T is apparently unhappy about these maps too since they have sued Verizon.

Based on the blue map, does that mean that there are no AT&T wireless stores in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and nearly all of New Mexico and Nebraska? Does anyone in these states have cell phone service through AT&T? I’m confused.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trivia Tuesday and Jeopardy Test

I’m outsourcing this week’s Trivia Tuesday, but to make it up to you, I have included information about the annual Jeopardy contestant search below. This week’s challenge is courtesy of two Sporcle quizzes.

1. You have six minutes to name the 24 Pro Sports Teams ending in -ERS?

2. You have five minutes to name the 25 music artists pictured.

In case you’re wondering, I answered 18 correctly on both quizzes. Please feel free to share how you did in the comments section.

Now on to the Jeopardy online test. You have a chance to be a Jeopardy contestant by completing this quiz tonight, Wednesday or Thursday. Jeopardy encourages you to take the test on the scheduled date for your time zone; however, you may take the test on another night if you have a scheduling conflict. You may only take the test once.

East Coast: Tuesday, January 26 at 8:00pm ET
Central/Mountain: Wednesday, January 27 at 8:00pm CT / 7:00pm MT
Pacific Coast (including Alaska & Hawaii):Thursday, January 28 at 8:00pm PT

You can access the Jeopardy contest by clicking here. If it is the same as in past years, you have about 10-15 minutes to answer 50 questions. One question appears, you have about 10-15 seconds to type an answer, and then it goes to the next question. It is difficult, and what makes it worse is that you’ll never know the answers to the questions.

Good luck!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Suggestions Requested

Over the weekend, I installed a new feature on the right column* to share what I’m currently reading. This is something that Dan has had on his blog for years, and I am stealing/borrowing this from him. The reason that I’m adding this now is because I read a lot during my commute to and from work. With the recent move, my commute is slightly longer but where I had to drive during part of my commute previously (where reading is frowned on), my new trip is entirely on the bus and Metro. That means even more time for reading.

So I’m asking for suggestions on what to read. They can be new books or classics. In case you’re wondering, here are books/authors that I’ve recently read or are on my hold list at the library:

The Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl
Malcolm Gladwell
Chuck Klosterman
Daniel Silva
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Nick Hornby
Jon Krakauer's book about Pat Tillman

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

* Despite having a blog for five years now, I’m still not very good with the HTML so please excuse the fact that part of the book cover is missing.

UPDATE: I figured that I would compile a list of books I read and featured in What I'm Reading.

- The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter

- Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

- The English Assassin by Daniel Silva

- Rules of Prey by John Sandford

- The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

- Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

- Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

- The Confessor by Daniel Silva

- What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures - Malcolm Gladwell

- A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh

- The Game From Where I Stand by Doug Glanville

- Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield

- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

- The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul by Chad Millman & Shawn Coyne

Greatest Day Ever (A DVR Story)

I am still relatively new to this DVR thing, but I think I figured it out. Up until yesterday, I generally recorded shows knowing that I would not be able to watch them when they aired. However, I finally discovered the full power of the DVR and may have even thrown a perfect game.

12:30 p.m. Watched the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers game in its entirety.
2:00 p.m. Pitt-Seton Hall basketball game begins; I DVR it.
3:00 p.m. Indianapolis Colts-New York Jets game begins; I DVR it.
3:30ish Penguins win 2-1. (Hooray!) Start watching Pitt-Seton Hall game.
Watch Pitt game in its entirety. Seton Hall wins. (Boo!)
5:00ish Begin watching Colts-Jets game
6:30 p.m. New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings game begins; I DVR it.
Watch AFC Championship game in its entirety. Colts win.
7:00ish Begin watching Saints-Vikings game.
Catch up to the Saints-Vikings game early in the 3rd quarter.
Watch NFC Championship game in its entirety. Saints win.

I’m going to pat myself on my back. I did a masterful job of watching four entire sporting events while also balancing several phone calls, laundry and running the dishwasher.

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this DVR thing sooner?

(Messiah, WahooJ & Archi shake their heads.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Links and Videos

My titles are so original! Although many of these links are old at this point, I still think they are worth a read.

* If you know a couple in the Washington DC area that can really use a romantic dinner prepared by a fantastic cook, enter RR's contest by January 26th. [Restaurant Refugee]

* Lance Zeirlein is the son of the recently fired Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line coach Larry Zeirlein. He has some interesting thoughts about the Steelers and his father's recent termination. [The Z Report h/t Mondesi's House]

* Bram is only a few days away from closing down The Pittsburgh Comet. [The Pittsburgh Comet]

* The winner of the 1st Annual Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog contest shares ideas about what to do with the Civic Arena after when the Pens move to the new arena. [The Pensblog]

* Rizzo interviewed Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner. [Rizzo Sports Blog]

* The Jersey Shore girls attended a Kings hockey game. [Puck Daddy]

* I mentioned this before, but NPR named someone that I have known since high school (Sarah) as 1 of their 10 Of Our Favorite Pop-Culture Humans Of 2009. []

Here's a brand new Yinz Luv 'Da Guins:

Did you know that Gillian Jacobs of Community (she plays Britta) is from Mt. Lebanon? She talks about Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh accent at around the 5:30 mark of this interview with Craig Ferguson:


Update: One more link courtesy of my brother. Not surprisingly, Woodland Hills is the top WPIAL football factory. Go Wolverines! [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

TMI Thursday: Clogging Toilets

Welcome to a back to the basics edition of TMI Thursday. Yesterday, I wrote about how we recently moved from Reston. However, when we first moved to Reston, there was about a week when we lived there but still had stuff at the apartment. So in the first day or two at the new home, I clogged the toilet. (I’m sure this is a shocking revelation to many of you!) However, the plunger was still in the apartment. Since we only had one toilet, I had to quickly run over to the grocery store to purchase a new plunger. Actually, I would have had to quickly run over to the grocery store regardless of the number of toilets in the house. Anyway, the grocery store only had one type of plunger, so I was forced to buy this overpriced yet not very solid plunger. Fortunately, it did the job. Naturally, several hours later, we found the plunger in the Reston home. 

In case you're wondering, I clogged my first toilet in our new home on Sunday, just six days after moving in. At that moment, I realized that I was home! 

For more TMI Thursdays, please visit LiLu and you can click here to see all of my TMI Thursday archive, including more clogging toilet stories.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Goodbye Reston

After living in Reston for the past 5+ years, we recently moving to another part of Northern Virginia. As a service to those of you living in Reston, considering moving to Reston, and anyone who has ever visited or even heard of Reston, I am happy to provide the things (technical term) that make Reston great and those that I'm not going to miss.

+ I'll miss being able to walk to a shopping center with a grocery store, multiple restaurants (including California Tortilla!), and nearly everything that I need (ex. cleaners, hair salon, VABC store, optometrist). This was especially useful during December's snowpocalypse.

- I won't miss the fact that the same shopping center has not one, but two Starbucks. There is a stand-alone Starbucks and a separate Starbucks inside the Giant grocery store only a few hundred feet away.

+ I'll miss Reston Town Center. I highly recommend bringing dinner and lawn chairs to the Saturday night summer concert series. A relaxing, enjoyable and, best of all, free way to spend a Saturday evening. The Reston Town Center also hosts many annual events such as the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. (Photo from The Washington Post.)

- I won't miss the fact that nearly everything in Reston is a chain. Are there any family businesses, especially restaurants, in Reston?

+ I'll miss the Reston parks, particularly Lake Fairfax and Baron Cameron. (Yes, they may be run by Fairfax County, but I'll include this here since they are located in Reston.) I've worked as a soccer referee at both locations, laughed watching pets and their owners at the Baron Cameron dog park, and enjoyed many ultimate frisbee games at Lake Fairfax.

- I won't miss the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. If you want to drive to the Beltway or DC, there really isn't a way to avoid the toll road. When we first moved to Reston, the tolls were 50 cents at the main toll booth and 25 cents at the other exits. On January 1, 2010, the prices increased to $1 and 75 cents respectively. The fees allegedly fund the Metro expansion to Reston, but where has the money been going the past few years?

+ I'll miss the paved trails throughout Reston. There are some really nice walking paths which provide much better views than the treadmill.

- I won't miss the Reston Association fees. For nearly $500, you get the privilege of living in Reston. While I guess the fees pay for the aforementioned trails, I still don't understand why the fees are so high. Plus, you still have to pay an additional fee for a pool pass.

+ I'll miss the Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods. The Reston Community Players are a solid community theatre group and the CenterStage features national acts and artists and shows including the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind and Nick Hornby. (Photo from RCC website.)

- I won't miss risking my life trying to catch the bus. (Please excuse me as I vent.) The Wiehle Avenue Park & Ride is great. Buses come regularly to take you to and from the Metro and there are hundreds of parking spots available. However, the lot is generally full around 7:30 AM causing you to park at the Sunset Hills lot. From there, you have two options. The quickest way to reach the bus stop is to cross/sprint over four lanes of traffic on Sunset Hills and walk through the Sunset Hills Professional Center ("SHPC"). Conversely, you can take a longer route to cross at the intersection of Sunset Hills and Wiehle Avenue. The problem with the second option is that even though there is a crosswalk at this location, many cars turning right from Sunset Hills to Wiehle fly through the intersection. Both of these options are accidents waiting to happen, and they probably have. Oh, building a fence around the SHPC is not going to help. No one shovels snow on Wiehle or Sunset Hills making it particularly dangerous. Maybe SHPC can spend the money to shovel the street in front of its property instead of building its own version of the Berlin Wall.

My suggestion is to create another light/crosswalk on Sunset Hills for people to cross. SHPC should embrace this by promoting their businesses to potential new customers. There are several dentists there that could probably use more business. This would be much more effective than the constant Sport & Health flyers and cards placed on car windsheilds.

+ I'll miss albino squirrel. This was a nearly white squirrel that we saw often in our complex. I wish that I had a picture of albino squirrel.

- I won't miss having only 1 bathroom.

+ I'll miss the Lake Anne Farmers Market. Mmmm...fresh fruit!

- I won't miss the traffic lights on Reston Parkway between Baron Cameron & the Dulles Toll Road. I think I spent approximately one of my five years in Reston waiting at these lights!

Finally, I'll miss the fact that Reston was where I literally became a grown-up. We moved to Reston shortly after getting married and became first-time home-owners. Only three months after we moved in, I started a new job where I remain today. Reston is also where we brought Ziggy into our lives. I will always have wonderful memories of Reston.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: Name That Tune

Happy Tuesday everyone! Listed below are lyrics from 10 songs. Your challenge is to name the songs and the artists.

1. He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.

2. I got some money in my pocket, about ready to burn. I don't remember where I got it, I gotta get it to you.

3. In the midnight hour, she cried more more more.

4. Did you make it to the Milky Way?
To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated? (I originally thought this line was "Van Halen is overrated.")

5. Why follow me to higher ground?
Lost as you swear I am
Don't throw away your basic needs
Ambiance and vanity.

6. You love me, you hate me, I tried to take the loss
You're cryin' me a river but I got to get across

7. Who's that gigolo on the street
With his hands in his pockets and his crocodile feet

8. Some are walking, some are talking, some are stalking their kill
you got social security, but that don't pay your bills

9. The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien.

10. 1, 2, 3
Peter, Paul & Mary
Gettin' down with 3p
Everybody loves (oh) Countin'
(hint - I analyzed this song last month)

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

I’m Still The Only Person Who

(I’m revisiting a post from September 2008.)

does not own an iPod. (This is still true.)

has never downloaded music or a podcast. (Although I’ve never downloaded a podcast, I have listed to the Bill Simmons Report podcast on Does that count?)

has not seen The Dark Knight. (I still haven’t seen The Dark Knight. I haven’t seen Avatar either.)

does not have Tivo or a DVR. (Effective last Tuesday, I now have DVR! I haven’t quite figured out how it works yet as I botched recording Modern Family last week, but I’m a huge fan of pausing and rewinding live TV.)

does not have a Blackberry, Bluetooth or Blu-ray. I’m sure there’s some other product with a color in its title that I don’t have either. (I don't own a Yellow Submarine either.)

plays Xbox. Everyone now has Xbox 360, Wii or Playstation 3. (I still play Xbox. They haven't made any new games in probably 3 years.)

does not own any type of Global Positioning System. If I don’t know where I’m going, I type in the address on Google maps or call for directions. (Getting lost and then finding the right way to go can be fun!)

New items:

does not have internet on my cell phone. I just started text messaging yesterday!

does not have a High-Def TV. Our current TV is High-Def compatible but apparently it's not compatible with the new cable box.

has not watched 24. Well, I watched parts of several episodes but found them so absurd that I quickly stopped.

Your turn to share/confess.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lyric of the Day: Thug Edition

The following lyrics are courtesy of the band Train from their current song, Hey Soul Sister:

The way you can cut a rug
Watching you is the only drug I need
So gangster, I’m so thug
You’re the only one I’m dreaming of

So gangster, I’m so thug? You’re a staple on adult contemporary radio; you’re not thug! You’re lead singer is Patrick Monahan from Erie. I could be wrong, but I don’t think of Erie as thug territory. I get it; perhaps this line is inspired by the episode of CSI: New York where Monahan "plays a former homeless drug addict who becomes involved in a murderous scheme." (Thanks to Wikipedia for this info.) Maybe that’s why you think you’re thug.

Regardless the chorus of the song disproves the thug identity. “Hey, Soul Sister. Ain’t that Mister Mister on the radio.” You remember the thuggish band Mr. Mister, don’t you? They had such thuggish hits as Broken Wings, now featured on an E-trade (I think) commercial with two talking babies, and Kyrie with the word eleison in the chorus.

"Kýrie, eléison, down the road that I must travel
Kýrie, eléison, through the darkness of the night"

No wonder I never understood what Mr. Mister said during that song. It's not a word in the English language!


Completely unrelated to this not-so-serious rant, I encourage you to visit That's Church who is working to help two Pittsburghers in Haiti and the orphanage that they run. It's incredible the amount of support that they have received so far, but it's not over as help is still needed for them and the country.

More information about this is also in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fascinating Referral Information

Although this may not be fascinating to anyone else, I think this is pretty darn cool. Here are the top 10 ways people found Sean's Ramblings in 2009 through internet searches primarily via Google and Yahoo:

1. free birthday food
2. fleetwood mac concert review
3. sean's ramblings
4. hamburger helper rice oriental
5. pittsburgh steelers mascot
6. fleetwood mac concert reviews
7. seans ramblings
8. spider pig lyrics
9. dear margo
10. cosi prices

As a comparison, here are the top 10 ways people found Sean's Ramblings in 2008:

1. Jenna Bush wedding plans
2. CVS Coupons
3. spider pig lyrics
4. Pitt football schedule 2008
5. free birthday food
6. Jenna Bush wedding
7. hamburger helper rice oriental
8. top songs of the 2000's
9. sean ramblings
10. top songs of the 2000s

What we've learned is that there has been an increase in the amount of people seeking free birthday food and Hamburger Helper's discontinued flavor, Rice Oriental. In addition, while few people care about Jenna Bush's wedding anymore, folks crave Fleetwood Mac concert review(s). Spider pig lyrics are also down.

Finally, Sean's Ramblings received the most hits from the following cities in 2009:

1. Pittsburgh, PA
2. New York, NY
3. San-Ch'Ung, Taiwan
4. Washington DC
5. Reston, VA
6. London, United Kingdom
7. Arlington, VA

Pittsburgh makes sense since I was born and raised there and often write about Pittsburgh sports. New York makes sense since it is the biggest city in the country. Washington, Reston & Arlington makes sense since I live and work in this area and am proud to be part of the DC blogger community. San-Ch'Ung even makes sense since I'm a superstar in Taiwan! However, I have no idea how London fits into my top 6. Therefore, thanks to everyone in London (and everywhere else) for visiting and reading. If there are any regular London readers, please leave a comment to say hello.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Computer Question

After asking for computer advice in the past, we are finally going to buy a new computer in the next few days if not sooner. While everyone who uses a Mac tells me that I should get one, they seem to be much more expensive than a PC. After buying a home, we don't have a lot of extra money around. Therefore, we're considering buying a Dell since we have a discount from the "Dude, you're getting a Dell" guy.*

Since we only use a computer for the internet, including my blog and watching TV shows online, storing pictures and using Word/Excel on occasion, is this something that would make sense for us?

Inspiron 13 - Intel® Pentium® Dual Core T4300 (2.1GHz/800Mhz FSB/1MB cache)

Genuine Windows Vista® Home Basic Edition SP1

Display and Camera
Glossy, widescreen 13.3" LCD (1280x800) w/ 2.0M pixel Camera

Combo or DVD+RW Drive
8X Slot Load CD / DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive)

3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 (2 Dimms)

Hard Drives
Size: 320GB2 SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)

Video Card
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100

Anti-Virus/Security Suite (Pre-installed)
McAfee SecurityCenter, 15-Months

Wireless Networking
Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Mini-Card

Primary Battery
85Whr Lithium Ion Battery (9 cell)

System Color
Pacific Blue

Hardware Support Services
2 Year Basic Service Plan

I honestly have no idea what most of this means including the color. I know navy blue and blue blue, but what the heck is Pacific Blue?

Anyway, any advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

* What ever happened to that guy?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trivia Tuesday

I'm typing this on Sunday evening in one home, but when this is posted on Tuesday morning, I'll be living somewhere else. Doesn't that blow your mind? Maybe not. Anyway, this is one of the more difficult editions of Trivia Tuesday. Given the main characters and authors below, your challenge is to name the books.

1. Uriah Heep, Charles Dickens

2. Injun Joe, Mark Twain

3. Dunstan Cass, George Elliot

4. Roger Chillingsworth, Nathaniel Hawthorne

5. Madame Defarge, Charles Dickens

6. Iago, Shakespeare

7. Captain Queeg, Herman Wouk

8. Morris Townsend, Henry James

9. Inspector Javert, Victor Hugo

10. Becky Sharp, William Makepeace Thackery

As always, please leave your answers in the comments section and do not use the internet to search for answers. Hopefully I won't lose the answers to this during the move or else I will use the internet to let you know whether or not your answers are correct. Good luck.

This quiz is courtesy of Stump Trivia.

Monday, January 11, 2010

State of the Ramblings

Five years. It's amazing that as of last Friday, I have written this blog for five years. Is this the point where I receive a lifetime achievement award or at least a fountain pen? Am I now considered an elder states person in the blogging community?

I actually started Sean's Ramblings through a bit of peer pressure as several of my friends wrote blogs at the time. I thought it would be fun to create my own site, and they encouraged me to do so. Now, most of those blogs are gone. I've also seen many other blogs come and go over the past five years. Most of these bloggers simply burned out. Somehow, I'm still here. So with that, let's look back at the past year.

It's funny how blogging works sometimes. I can spend hours writing personal stories, yet receive few comments or site visits. Conversely, I saw a funny video of Charlie Brown throwing out a first pitch at the Pirates game, posted it, and soon became a star in Taiwan!

From this past year, I am most proud of the interviews I did with Sarah Wendell, author, founder/blogger of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and one of NPR's Ten Favorite Pop-Culture Humans Of 2009 and Jim Shearer of VH1 and Yinz Luv Da Stillers and Yinz Luv Da Guins. I also enjoyed the collaborative pieces where I asked other bloggers for predictions about the Steelers and Penguins seasons, their fashion choices for the Super Bowl and if they had any questions about the Pirates' spring training. As you can tell from this last sentence, Pittsburgh sports continues to be a major focus of my blog. That's what happens when the Steelers win the Super Bowl, the Penguins win the Stanley Cup and the Pirates, um, well, hold their spring training in Bradenton. I also created and hosted the 1st Annual Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament in order to celebrate the accomplishments of the Pittsburgh sports blogging community. (Yes, the tournament will return in 2010; I'll have more on this soon.) Plus, I met Hall of Famer Franco Harris.

While I write a great deal about Pittsburgh sports, I think what makes my blog unique is that I touch on a wide variety of other topics. That's what makes this blog fun for me. I can sarcastically suggest that the Steelers sign Brett Favre (too many people took this seriously) and share experiences of winning the lottery. I analyzed a Britney Spears song and gave concert reviews of Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick. This was the year where I participated in Movember and made my television debut on Rizzo Sports Live (pre-mustache).

I've also been able to earn a small amount of money through advertisements and gave away an incredible watch. Hopefully, there will be more contests in 2010. In addition, I'd like to thank Turner Publishing for sending me free books and to Ile de France Cheese for sending me free Brie cheese. I am certainly willing to accept more free items, so keep them coming!

Unfortunately, not everything worked out perfectly at Sean's Ramblings. After attending a DC Bloggers Happy Hour near the end of 2008, I wrote in last year's State of the Ramblings that I hoped to continue to attend future events. That didn't happen. Hopefully this year. I also wrote a story about how I got in an argument with a former Pittsburgh Steeler. Thanks to one of my readers, Lee Tunnell, I got in touch with this individual. While he accepted the apology, was amazed that I even remembered this incident from 25+ years ago, and said that he may agree to participate in an interview, he never replied when I sent him the questions. I also insulted a clothing company who in turn insulted me back. I contacted them about doing an interview but that fell apart as well. I'm not too upset about that last one.

As for the coming year, I'll continue with Trivia Tuesdays and TMI Thursdays. I probably share too much information in TMI Thursdays (hence the name) though it was somewhat exhilarating sharing a heart-warming story about my first kiss. Whether you like it or not, I'll also write more about Ziggy. I'm sure that some of you don't care about my cat, but I do. If you want to blame anyone, blame the Steelers for using their 1st round draft pick on a guy named Ziggy. Naturally, I'm going to write about Ziggy & Ziggy!

I've mentioned this before but I write my blog for me. This has been a great journal of my life (or at least of the parts of my life I'm willing to share) and has truly become a big part of my life. I spend far too much time writing Sean's Ramblings, but I enjoy it. However, this blog wouldn't be around without you. I appreciate all of you for visiting, reading, commenting and supporting me. Thank you!

Now I'm off to start the next five years!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Question for Pet Owners

OK pet owners out there. We are moving to our new home and need some advice. Although we explained to Ziggy that we're moving and I'm sure he figured out that something is up with all of the boxes throughout our place (he's a huge fan of jumping in said boxes), he has no idea what's going to happen in just a few days. We're taking him from our current home on Monday morning to the Pet Hotel. Then, we'll pick him up Monday evening and go straight to our new home.

So my question is how do you introduce a cat/kitten into a new environment? I'm not sure if this factors into the response but the new home is bigger than where we currently live, plus, he's never experienced stairs and hardwood floors. Personally, envisioning him slide across the hardwood floors chasing his toy mice makes me laugh.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

TMI Thursday: Leave Me Alone Yahoo

To celebrate the new year, Yahoo posted a story titled 5 Habits to break in 2010. This was at the top of their list:

1.) Bad habit: Nail Biting

Stop now: Biting your nails makes for ugly hands and over time can interfere with normal nail growth, damage the outer layer of your teeth, and cause nail deformities such as split nails. Harmful bacteria such as staphylococcus also live underneath nails—and you don't want to chew on that.

Break it: Go for a professional manicure once every 2 or 3 weeks, suggests Angelica Kaner, PhD, a clinical professor at Yale University Medical School, because when your nails look pretty, you'll be less likely to snack on them. At the very least, keep your nails trimmed short—you'll have less nail to bite, and that harmful bacteria has less space to grow. Nail biting is also a nervous habit that is often an expression of some deeper anxiety. "Ask yourself why you're feeling anxious," Kaner says. You can also try substituting a new, healthy behavior—instead of biting your nails, rub in a cuticle cream or oil.

You know, perhaps I could go for a manicure. Every two or three weeks sounds reasonable. Wait a second...I'm a man (please disregard posts where I may not display my masculine qualities). Men don't get manicures and I'm not quite in the position to spend how ever much a manicure costs every 2-3 weeks right now. Oh, and my hands, when they are not extremely dry like they are right now, certainly are not ugly. Besides, my hands are small I know, but they're not yours, they are my own!

I admit it: I bite my fingernails. Sometimes, I chew my fingernails and even swallow them. Dr. Kaner thinks I should ask myself why I'm feeling anxious. Maybe I just like to bite my fingernails, Dr. Kaner, if that's your real name! A few years ago, my dentist did mention that that my nail-biting could impact the bonding that I have on several teeth. Therefore, I switched the teeth that I use to bite my fingernails.

So if you're looking for my New Year's resolution, Yahoo, it has nothing to do with biting my fingernails. I am comfortable with this habit. Now please work a little harder to make sure that my e-mail doesn't send out a spam message to everyone in my inbox with a link to buy Viagra again.

For more TMI Thursdays, please visit LiLu and you can click here to see all of my TMI Thursday archives.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Final Yinz Luv Da Stillers of 2009 Season

In my continued attempt to post items this week in the limited time that I have to update this blog, I present to you Jim Shearer's final Yinz Luv 'Da Stillers of the 2009 season.

The Superstar and Sidney

Enjoy this video of Max Talbot - Superstar and this other guy on the Penguins named Sidney Crosby.

h/t Three Rivers Burgh Blog

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Random Question of the Day (Trivia Tuesday)

I mentioned on Sunday that I wouldn’t have much time to write this week, so I apologize for the abbreviated, though hopefully thought-provoking, edition of Trivia Tuesday.

1. Why do banks offer checking and savings accounts? Why not checkings accounts or saving accounts?

2. How many syllables do you use to say the word restaurant? I completely skip the second part of this word, so restaurant is only two syllables for me. Are there other words where you completely skip a syllable?

Although this really isn't a true Trivia Tuesday, please leave your answers in the comments section below. Um, good luck!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Steelers Season In Review

I've written and rewritten parts of this post several times. I'm trying to balance the disappointment of not making the playoffs after coming off of a Super Bowl Championship with the fact that the organization is still one of the best in football. I'm sure many of you don't see that today, but living in the DC area, it's easy to see that the Steelers are in significantly better shape than the Washington Redskins and many other teams in the NFL (ex. Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams).

Before I share my thoughts, let's look back at the 2009-2010 predictions by drinkyourmilkshake of Behind the Steel Curtain; Phil of Phil's Occasional Musings; Michael Rizzo of Rizzo Sports (and the Rizzo Sports Blog); Messiah, Marc & Gobo of White Nerdy Wonks; Donald of Steelers Today; Steve of Steve Is Alive; Rob of The Bluey Blog; and me.

1. Number of sacks James Harrison will have this season.
Steve predicted 12 for James and that Woodley would lead the team with 15.5. Messiah also believed that Harrison would have 12 sacks. The actual amount was 10 with Woodley leading the team with 13.5 sacks.

2. Limas Sweed's numbers (catches, yards & touchdowns).
The actual amount was 1 catch for 5 yards and 0 touchdowns. We all expected significantly more except for Rob who predicted "no more than 10 catches, 1 TD and 150 yards."

3. Stefan Logan: Reminds me of Antwaan Randle El as a Steeler; Greatest returner in team history; or Another Allen Rossum?

Well, Logan didn't have any touchdowns but he set the Steelers record for most kick-off return yards. Logan wasn't anything special returning punts and was often replaced by Mewelde Moore when a fair catch was probable. Overall, though, he was a solid returner and improved his special teams coverage as the year progressed.

Messiah - I'd say he's not quite Twaan, but certainly better than Colclough.
Donald - I predict that Logan will become the greatest 5'7" returner in team history.

Points for both Messiah & Donald!

4. Will Jeff Reed be arrested during the season?
Rob - Once, for drunk and disorderly conduct.

During the season, Reed was cited by police for disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

5. Who will lead the team in touchdowns scored?
Rob - Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall led the team with 8 touchdowns followed by Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Mike Wallace with 6 each. I need to take Rob with me to Vegas the next time I go!

6. Season prediction (please include the team record) + Any other thoughts/predictions:
All of us predicted division champs and playoffs. I think Phil's prediction was the closest though. 11-5. It's extraordinarily difficult to repeat as Super Bowl champions. I think we're going to have another good year and win the division but lose a close-game heartbreaker in the playoffs. Maybe that's just what I'm used to as a fan. Despite our success, I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't have something to complain about when it comes to the Steelers.

Phil, that brings us to today. There were certainly positives to the season such as the pending stardom of LaMarr Woodley, the thought that Rashard Mendenhall can be a #1 running back and the fact that Mike Wallace may be the offensive rookie of the year. Unfortunately, there were more negatives. The kick return coverage was among the worst in NFL history and the defense rarely made stops when needed. The secondary struggled, particularly in the fourth quarter, though I wonder how much of this was related to Troy Polamalu's absence. Taking away one of the best players in football certainly impacts the rest of the team and especially the secondary. I'm a big fan of Tyrone Carter playing spot duty or in specific packages. Unfortunately, he was exposed playing nearly every down. It also didn't help that rookies Ryan Mundy (I know he's not really a rookie, but he never left the practice squad in 2008) and Joe Burnett were playing significant minutes and that another rookie Keenan Lewis couldn't get on the field.

Now here's the positive to all of this. The Steelers have had a history of getting little production out of players in their first season only to see great improvements during their second season. It happened with Mendenhall, Polamalu, Woodley, and Lawrence Timmons. If we get similar growth out of players like Mundy, Burnett, Lewis, Ziggy Hood, and tackle Ramon Foster along with a healthy Polamalu and Aaron Smith, I think the team will be in good shape coming into next season.

There are a few other items that should be addressed. I know that a lot of people think offensive coordinator Bruce Arians should go. I'm not so sure. The Steelers finished 7th in the league in total yards with better numbers than playoff teams such as Indianapolis, San Diego, Philadelphia and Baltimore. While we may miss the days of giving the ball to Jerome Bettis 25 times a game and watching him run for over 100 yards, the NFL is now a passing league and that's where the team excels. Unfortunately, the team isn't able to close games like we did in seasons past. To have Bettis run out the clock in the fourth quarter when everyone knows that the team is going to run. However, I don't think you can pin this on Arians. The team, and in this case I'm referring to the personnel department, hasn't adequately addressed the offensive line over the past few years.

Bottom line: Perhaps this was Super Bowl Hangover Part II. It's certainly possible that the team overlooked Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland. They may not have said it, but I'm sure that the players came into those games knowing they were the better team and believed that they would win just by showing up. That won't happen next year. I also believe that having Polamalu and Smith healthy would have translated into at least one more win. One more win would have got the team into the playoffs.

Finally, not everything is bad in the world. The Steelers have won two Super Bowl Championships over the last 5 seasons. How many teams would dream of having even one?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Links and Updates

Welcome to my first post of 2010! I posed this question back in August, but I think it's time for us to come to a consensus on what to call 2010. I'm leaning towards either 10 or twenty-ten.

Let's go to the links and then I'll provide some updates about Sean's Ramblings below.

* Vote for LiLu in the 20 Something Bloggers Bootlegger Awards [Livit Luvit]

* Check out the 20 Most Memorable Penguins Goals of the Decade [The Pensblog (This is part one)]

* Restaurant Refugee may be the best blog writer out there. I highly recommend reading this touching tribute. [Restaurant Refugee]

* Rob is going on a Facebook diet. [Robert Bluey Blog]

* Yinz Luv 'Da Stillers was live at a Steelers' tailgate

* Carbolic Smoke Ball shares its 2009 Year in Review. [Carbolic Smoke Ball]

* Seth compiles the best Penguins of the decade and includes a Kelly Buchberger reference. [Empty Netters]

* Ben Roethlisberger is a little late for Movember. [That's Church]

* I love pop culture and hockey, so of course I'm sharing the top ten memorable collisions of hockey and pop culture over the last decade. [Puck Daddy]

* Yes, this is a week late, but here is what we hope all of the Pittsburgh Penguins received for Christmas. [PensBurgh]

* Bob Smizik shares a great story about Aliquippa native, Pitt great and Jets' All-Pro Darrelle Revis. [Bob Smizik's Blog]

* Should Renegade be banned at Heinz Field? (I say no.) [Blog 'N' Gold]

* Benstonium's latest video is a parody of MTV's Jersey Shore titled North Shore.

Now to the update. If all goes as planned, we will close on our current home and future home this week and will move by next week. As you can guess, this is going to keep me very busy. Therefore, while I hope to share thoughts about what I'll miss and what I won't miss about my current town, provide my annual State of the Ramblings, review the Steelers' season predictions, and continue with Trivia Tuesday and TMI Thursday, I make no promises.