Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Advice For Running a 5K

I am joining several other DC bloggers in running a 5K. There’s only one problem: I have no idea what I'm doing. Sure, I regularly run multiple miles while working as a soccer referee, but this generally involves sprinting, walking, jogging and standing still all in succession. However, I’ve never run 3+ continuous miles before. Therefore, I need some advice from you runners out there.

How does one train for a 5K? Does the fact that the 5K is coming up this weekend impact the training?

What do I do with my keys and cell phone while running?

What should I eat or drink the night before or morning of the race? I generally have a bowl of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios or Lucky Charms) prior to working as a soccer ref. Not sure if this is the best idea, but that’s how I roll.

Is it rude to run a 5K while wearing an iPod? Does the fact that I don’t own an iPod change your answer?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: Pulitzer Prize Edition

No introduction today as we’re going straight to the questions. Given the title and year of the Pulitzer Prize win, your challenge is to name the author of the ten books listed below.

1. The Age of Innocence (1921)

2. Gone with the Wind (1937)

3. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

4. All the King’s Men (1947)

5. The Old Man and the Sea (1953)

6. A Fable (1955)

7. Rabbit Is Rich (1982)

8. The Color Purple (1983)

9. Beloved (1988)

10. The Road (2007)

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

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Steelers-Buccaneers Recap

At trivia night last week, our team did the unthinkable. In what is believed to be unprecedented, we scored a perfect game by answering every question correctly and for the maximum amount of points. On Sunday, the Steelers went to Tampa and delivered about as close to a perfect football games as you’ll see. Even when the Steelers perform well, I know that Steelers fans like to complain about some aspect of the game. It’s in our nature. Therefore, when I made that perfect game statement, I’m sure that some folks will counter that Charlie Batch threw two interceptions, Ike Taylor dropped an interception, the defense gave up 13 points and 303 yards and that the Buccaneers had a 33:06 to 26:54 time of position advantage. If you really feel like nitpicking, go right ahead. However, I’ll focus on what really happened.

- Charlie Batch for President! Seriously, he’s 35 years old, so he’s eligible by our constitution to become President of the United States of America. I’m sure that he’s quite happy (and better paid) serving as a Steelers QB, and he looked great yesterday. Three touchdown passes, a surprisingly strong arm for those that haven’t seen him in a while, and an impressive 24-yard run made for a wonderful Sunday. My dreams apologize to Charlie Batch.

- Rashard Mendenhall ran for 143 and the team as a whole averaged 6.3 yards per carry over 32 carries.

- No sacks allowed! The offensive line easily played their best game of the season by giving Batch plenty of time and opening up holes for the running backs.

- Mike Wallace is still fast and proved this by catching two 40+ yard TD receptions. This is the first time a Steelers WR caught two 40+ yard TD receptions in the same game since Louis Lipps, one of my all-time favorites.

- Only two penalties for 20 yards. I’ll take that every week.

- Solid special teams. The kick-off coverage has been a refreshing change since last year.

- Antwaan Randle El made an important catch to convert a third down.

Other notes:

- Did you know that Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin and Bucs Coach Raheem Morris coached together and are friends? I really wish we heard more about this. For example, I would like to know where their families vacationed together. Did they go to the beach? Vegas? Branson?

- Remember the Joey Porter-Jerramy Stevens media battle leading up to Super Bowl 40? Have you heard from Stevens since? Exactly. He had one catch for 22 yards for the Bucs yesterday and really hasn’t done much as a receiver the past few years.

- This was my first time watching the Steelers at Fast Eddie’s this season. What an upgrade from last year! The main section is bigger, and non-smoking, and there’s a new all-you-can-eat buffet that looked good. I also ended up sharing a table with two guys from North Hills and another from Weirton, West Virginia (and Pitt graduate) and had a great time. The Steeler bar experience is definitely the way to go to enjoy you Pittsburgh football.

Finally, your non-Brett Keisel interception/TD, Mike Wallace touchdowns, or Mendenhall spin move play of the game:

More about the game on ESPN and the Post-Gazette.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Katy Perry Sesame Street Controvery (Friday Links)

Katy Perry's appearance on Sesame Street will apparently not air. Lisa de Moraes has a great recap of this, but I think there's one thing that everyone is missing. This is all about ratings. Sesame Street's ratings have been down lately, so the increased attention is just what the show needs. The last time I remember hearing about Sesame Street was the contract dispute between PBS and Oscar the Grouch many years ago. The Katy Perry controversy is just what the show needs to increase attention and advertising dollars. [The Washington Post]

By the way, here's the video of Katy Perry and Elmo:

I'm not sure how to describe this, but this is a funny story about a child who needed tooth surgery but also wanted to attend a party. [Hyperbole and a Half]

A season recap of your AA Eastern League Champions, the Altoona Curve. [Pirates Prospects]

Check out Outsourced to see Anisha Nagarajan of Squirrel Hill and later Fox Chapel. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Congratulations to Igloo Dreams for reaching the five year blog anniversary. [Igloo Dreams]

A cool story about Pittsburgh Pirate Neil Walker. [Raise the Jolly Roger]

HBO plans to air a 24/7 series about this season's Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. [Empty Netters]

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TMI Thursday: I Tried Out To Be a Cheerleader

When I was a high school junior, I auditioned to be part of my school’s cheerleading team. This was particularly difficult since the cheerleading squad consisted entirely of girls. Never backing down from a challenge, I thought I would break barriers by becoming the only male on the team. That last sentence sounds impressive but is totally false. I auditioned for the one spot on the squad where gender was not an issue: the mascot.

For the audition, my competitors and I had to perform a brief individual routine in costume in front of the cheerleading coach, several of the team members and each other. Routine may have been a stretch, but I had the perfect plan. I would show my enthusiasm and athletic ability by performing summersaults and cartwheels. This sounded like a wonderful idea except for the fact that I cannot and could not perform a cartwheel. During my first and only cartwheel, the mascot’s head fell off. This got huge laughs from everyone (including me) except for the coach who berated me. She thought I broke the mascot head, which apparently was fairly expensive. I didn’t get the mascot position. My friend (let’s call him Dave) earned the role of the Wolverine, although his audition was pretty weak. I guess not damaging the costume was more important than creativity. (If Dave happens to read this, he’ll probably disagree with my assessment of his audition but will admit that my cartwheel was funny.)

So why am I bringing this up? Well, perhaps you saw the video of the Ohio University Bobcat attacking Brutus Buckeye, The Ohio State University’s mascot, on Saturday. If not, here are two different views of the unprovoked attack.

I have mixed emotions on this. On one hand, a mascot fight is funny. I also appreciate the fact that Brandon Hanning, the OU mascot Rufus, became the mascot solely to tackle Brutus. That takes dedication and patience to wait an entire year before conducting the attack.

However, there’s always a chance that someone can get hurt. Ohio State fans calling for revenge against the Bobcat have short memories. Angela Anderson, who served as Herky the Hawk (the University of Iowa mascot), was "struck violently in the back of the head by an inflatable or hard foam object" while dressed as the Hawkeye mascot during the Oct. 30, 1999 football game at OSU.” (The quote is from The Lantern.) She complained of back injuries and eventually was awarded $25,000 in a court case against Ohio State for “severe personal injuries, pain and suffering.” As a brief tangent, the case docket information from this case is fascinating. Just look at the exhibit list from the pretrial statement.

I guess the moral of the story is that I’m glad that I didn't become the mascot. It would have been a shame if I injured the Gateway Gator.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steelers Bar Finder App

I don’t own an iPhone, an iPad, an iPod or any other type of iProduct. However, I think I may get one simply to get Pittsburgh Steeler Sports Bar app available here.

This is a description of the app from its creator, MapMuse:

Steelers fans find a home in bars across the country on game day and beyond. Now with one easy-to-use app, you can find sports bars across the United States that are home to fellow Steelers fans. Simply enter a location or choose your current location to find Pittsburgh Steelers sports bars and pubs in the area, and an interactive map will tell you everything you need to know. Up to 500 places can be displayed on the map at the same time making it very easy to find places to catch a game in any city, metro area, state, region, or even another country. Scroll the map and the places are automatically updated with no need to enter a new location.

In addition to viewing Pittsburgh Steeler Sports Bars information you can add ratings and reviews and submit photos for any place displayed on the map.

Granted, I don’t really need an app to tell me that the best place to watch a Steelers game in the DC area is the Pour House with the DC Steeler Nation Fan Club (even if I rarely make it there).

Unrelated to the app, check out the latest Yinz Luv 'Da Stillers:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: Homonyms/Heteronyms

Let me preface this week’s Trivia Tuesday by stating that I would never come up with these questions. However, trivia is all about variety. While these questions aren’t in my wheelhouse, this may be perfect for you. Your challenge is to name the word (with a single spelling) based on the two different meanings.

1. A type of tree with hard pale wood. The residue left after a fire.

2. A domesticated animal. To follow closely or persistently.

3. The female reproductive cell in animals. Urge to encourage someone to do something foolish or risky.

4. A religious painting, usually on wood. A picture on a computer screen that represents a specific thing.

5. An improvised performance by a group of musicians. Squeeze or pack tightly into a space.

6. The seventh day after a church festival day. A series of eight musical notes.

7. A type of knitting stitch. A large area of flat land with few trees.

8. A pointed post which is driven into the ground. A sum of money gambled in a game or venture.

9. A lightweight handheld collapsible canopy. A type of insurance policy.

10. Give way under pressure. Produce an agricultural product.

As always please leave your answers in the comments section below and do not use the internet for assistance. If I find that folks are struggling, I'll share the first letter of the word as a clue.

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Random Thoughts

Let’s start with a quick, quick recap of yesterday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game. The Steelers defense was amazing forcing seven turnovers with four sacks. Plus, Titans running back Chris Johnson, who has had twelve consecutive 100-yard games, was held to only 34 rushing yards. Meanwhile the Steelers offense still has some work to do. The team is not going to win very often with 43 passing yards and going 2 for 15 in third-down conversions.

When I worked at Blockbuster, we had an automatic VHS tape rewinder to rewind all of the VHS tapes that hooligans failed to rewind. While at Yom Kippur services this weekend, it is easy to notice that the Torah is clearly coming to the end. I wonder if some company could make automatic Torah rewinders to take the Torah back to Genesis.

Congratulations to the Ithaca College football team for defeating Widener University 31-7. The Bombers are now 3-0 on the season.

Ithaca’s primary rival is the SUNY-Cortland Red Dragons. Because of this, I always choose to buy red delicious apples instead of Cortland apples.

Was it me or did it seem like a lot of players lost helmets or shoes during the course of Sunday’s Steelers-Titans game?

I listened to part of the Washington Redskins radio broadcast while returning from the grocery store. After Kevin Walter made a catch in overtime, either Washington broadcaster Sonny Jurgensen or Sam Huff stated that they hadn’t called Walter’s name during the game. After a long pause, play-by-play announcer Larry Michael stated that the catch was Walter’s ninth of the game.

Mark your calendars. The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team visits Georgetown at the Verizon Center on Wednesday, January 12th.

I had the opportunity to watch the premiere episode of tonight’s How I Met Your Mother before the show airs. This season picks up from where last season ends including another guest appearance by Rachel Bilson. Bilson may now be one of my top five actresses based solely on one of the closing scenes.

Although I didn’t notice him in the episode, JQ doppelganger Aaron Takahashi is listed on my “TV critic” information page as a guest cast member.

If I get to 100 Twitter followers, I’ll create a new TMI Thursday post. I’m currently at 96.

Finally, I can’t get enough of this video of Vince Young getting slammed to the ground by James Harrison, Aaron Smith and Brett Kiesel. I’m glad that Young is okay because I thought he may have been seriously hurt by the trio of Steelers defenders.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Random Ramblings

I may have some OCD tendencies. I must have the dishes and cups organized in a certain fashion in the dishwasher with no two items (besides silverware) touching. I also tend to eat only one thing on my plate at a time. For example, I’ll eat an entire burger, then the pickle and then the fries unless I make a conscious effort to mix it up.

Brian, the author of the fantastic Pittsburgh Pirates blog Raise the Jolly Roger as well as a systems engineering student shared a homework assignment including the following question:

Picard, Data, Wesley, and Troi are playing poker. Each makes a statement, listed below. Place these statements in order of high to low information content, and explain your reasoning:

(a) Picard: “I have three of a kind.”
(b) Data: “I have three kings.”
(c) Wesley: “I have a royal flush.”
(d) Troi: “I sense hostility.”

I have some problems with this question. First, I would be uncomfortable playing poker with folks name Picard, Data and Troi with an “i.” Actually, I’ll leave my concern with that since I just conducted a Google search to find someone with a first name of Troi only to discover that Troi (and the rest of these characters) are from Star Trek. Anyway, Wesley must be the correct answer since a royal flush is the best possible poker hand.

Facebook is terrific. I learned yesterday that Jordin Sparks was in the office of one of my friends recently and that another friend knows someone who was in a carpool with Prince Poppycock, a finalist on America's Got Talent, when they were kids.

Finally, here is your first Yinz Luv 'Da Stillers of the 2010 season:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Jewish Identity

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurred last week and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins on Friday evening. This is the High Holiday season, a time of celebration, and also a time of repentance and reflection. While sitting in synagogue last week, I did a bit of reflecting. I realized that these were the Jewish activities I participated in over the past year:

- Attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services;
- Lit Hanukkah candles and occasionally Shabbat candles;
- Participated in Passover Seders and ate matzo for eight days; and
- Gave a little money to charity.

I think that’s about it. Growing up, I was extremely active in a Jewish youth group, attended a Jewish day school and Sunday school as well as Pittsburgh’s School of Advanced Jewish Studies (I even got some college credits for this!) and spent a significant amount of time at the Jewish Community Center and its camps. I even worked for a Jewish organization professionally for four years. So how did I get to where I am now?

I’m at an odd age in the Jewish community. I don’t need a Jewish singles group and am too old to participate in activities for young professionals. Conversely, I don’t have kids so participating in family activities would be a bit creepy. Therefore, I really don’t have a community. We’ve thought about joining a synagogue but that doesn’t make sense for us. It’s fairly expensive to join, and, as illustrated above, wouldn’t really fit our needs.

I’m not going to make any type of New Year’s resolutions here. Yes, I want and need to do more this year than last year, but it needs to be meaningful. I definitely must give/perform more tzedakah this year. As for what’s next or what specifically I plan to do, I just don’t know. I’ll figure it out but thought I would share my thoughts here with you.

Anyway, thanks for reading. We’ll now return to my regular nonsensical posts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trivia Tuesday

We have a random edition of trivia Tuesday today, and I feel like I came up with some good questions. Let's see how you fare.

1. What is Lenny Kravitz’s best song? (There is only one acceptable answer in my opinion.)

2. What is the name of Rodney Dangerfield’s character in the classic film, Back to School?

3. With Rosh Hashanah just occurring last week, what is the current year in the Jewish calendar?

4. Name the actor who played Mr. Belvedere.

5. What late comedian played a 3-inch tall character on Fox’s short-lived TV series, Charlie Hoover?

6. Who hit the only home run at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park that went directly into the river?

7. Which Vermont city has the largest population?

8. Who is replacing Larry King on CNN?

9. Which football conference is worst: the Big East or the ACC?

10. How many fantasy football leagues am I in this year?

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

Monday, September 13, 2010

Steelers-Falcons Recap

Full disclosure: I missed the entire first half of Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-Atlanta Falcons game. I had a good reason though. $200. That’s how much I made working as a soccer referee for 4 games Sunday morning. The plan was for the games to end at 1:00 meaning that I’d only miss part of the first quarter. Unfortunately, since these were playoff games, we had to have a winner. Naturally the last two games had to be settled by penalty kicks meaning that I wasn’t finished until closer to 2:00. You really don't care, do you? Well, anyway, while I completely understand if you want to go elsewhere for your recap, I hope that you'll read my thoughts on the game below since you might appreciate my insight that you can’t get anywhere else.

- Congratulations to Hines Ward for becoming the first Steelers player with 11,000 yards receiving. He is also the first Steelers player with 11,001 yards receiving, 11,002 yards receiving, etc.

- It’s so nice to have Troy Polamalu back. He probably is the one player that the Steelers can’t afford to be without. 5 tackles and an excellent interception that should have given the Steelers the win in regulation (thanks Jeff Reed!) is a solid day’s work. He’s just so much fun to watch.

- Antwaan Randle El may want to consider calling for a fair catch as a punt returner. He got blasted at the start of the fourth quarter and was lucky not to fumble.

- David Johnson deserves a lot of credit for Rashard Mendenhall’s game-winning TD run. Without his block springing Mendenhall, the run would have been a five-yard gain.

(This photo is by Jared Wickerham of Getty Images. Seeing how happy the guys on the sidelines are makes me smile.)

- Did Ziggy Hood play yesterday?

- Atlanta’s Roddy White is a Top 5 receiver in the league. There were several occasions where Bryant McFadden had excellent coverage, but White still made the catch.

- Solid game for Lawrence Timmons. 11 tackles include 3 tackles for a loss. I expect (hope?) a new blog post about the game immediately!

- At the end of the game, FOX announcer Dick Stockton made a reference to Hines Ward as Dennis Dixon’s alter ego. Does anyone know what this is supposed to mean?

- A burger and fries followed by desert featuring a giant chocolate chip cookie, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream was quite tasty but not a great combination.

- Chris Johnson and the Titans offense against the Steelers defense should be fun next week.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Signing and Saturday Videos

First of all, join Tim Gleason, author of From Black to Gold along with Andy Russell and Jim Wexell from 11-2 today at North Shore Saloon (208 Federal Street; right across from PNC Park) for a book signing. Please make sure you thank him for appearing on Sean's Ramblings!

As for the videos, here is the first Yinz Luv 'Da Stillers video for the 2010 season:

Plus the guys at Benstonium are brilliant.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Happy New Year: Drink Wine and Think of Tim Tebow

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Wednesday night at sundown. I searched YouTube to find the perfect Happy New Year message and came up unsuccessful (for example see the NSFW video that I shared the link to on Twitter). However, I did find the video below that's not necessarily about Rosh Hashanah, but I appreciate the variety of Kosher wines described by a guy wearing a Tim Tebow Denver Broncos jersey.

I'm sure people will be rushing to buy the Kosher for Passover Kedem Vodka!

With that, have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: Name That River

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope that you had a nice holiday weekend. This week’s challenge is to name the river that runs through (or borders) the cities listed below. Good luck!

1. Seoul

2. London

3. Paris

4. Cairo

5. Cincinnati

6. Memphis

7. Budapest

8. Washington, DC (There are two acceptable answers.)

9. Rome

10. Cleveland

As always please leave your answers in the comments section below and do not use the internet for assistance. This quiz is courtesy of the fine folks at Stump Trivia.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Lady Gaga Needs a New Terrible Towel

Lady Gaga performed at Pittsburgh's new Consol Energy Center on Sunday night and was smart enough to cater to the local crowd through various Pittsburgh shout-outs and waving a Terrible Towel.

However, it looks like Ms. Gaga may need a new towel. The last time I checked, the Steelers are 6-time Super Bowl Champions.

Is the first time a woman wearing a bikini/lingerie sitting on a piano bench with fire in the background waved a Terrible Towel? What would Myron Cope think of this?

Photos by Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (This link also gives a review of the concert.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

2010-2011 Ted Marshall Open

After finishing in the middle of the standings last year, I need to redeem myself this year. Here are my entries in the 2010-2011 Ted Marshall Open Television Death Pool, ranked from 10 (most confident the show will be cancelled) to 1.

10. Smallville (CW)
9. Bleep My Dad Says (CBS)
8. Running Wilde (FOX)
7. V (ABC)
6. Made to Love (CBS)
5. Hellcats (CW)
4. Chaos (CBS)
3. America’s Next Great Restaurant (NBC)
2. The Good Guys (FOX)
1. Off the Map (ABC)

This was a difficult year as there were no easy choices like Lost last year. There's a good chance that you've never heard of many of these shows. I made a risky decision to select several new shows scheduled to be mid-season replacements. We'll see how that works.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pitt Season Begins Tonight

The college football season officially begins tonight when the University of Pittsburgh travels to Salt Lake City to face the University of Utah. The entire University of Pittsburgh really isn't traveling to Utah (how would you move the Cathedral of Learning?), but the football team, marching band and other students, staff and alumni will go west. Anyway, I've been on record stating that I despise the Division I college football system (get a 16-team playoff!); however, the atmosphere of college football games are unmatched, and I enjoy watching the games especially the Pitt Panthers.

Therefore, in honor of the season-opener, I give you Darrelle Revis' incredible punt return in the 2006 Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

TMI Wednesday: An Ultrasound Story

Although TMI Thursdays are a thing of the past, I figure that this story about my health may qualify as too much information.

A few weeks ago, I had some discomfort on my right side. I thought that I may have had an appendicitis, but I figured that I would have been in significantly more pain if that was the case. A week later the discomfort continued, so I went to the doctor. While the doctor confirmed that it wasn’t an appendicitis, he directed me to get an ultrasound. Since you (hopefully) care about my well-being, I thought I would share the results (with some commentary).

Sonographic examination of the abdomen was performed. (Yeah it was.)

The gallbladder is normal in size and position. (That’s what she said. Seriously, the ultrasound was conducted by a woman.)

There are multiple polypoid lesions along the gallbladder wall with the largest lesion measuring 4 mm in size. (Wait, what? That's not funny!)

Previous report described echogenic foci measuring 1 to 2 mm along the gallbladder wall. (They’re just making up words here.)

There are no gallstones. (Woo hoo!)

Gallbladder wall thickness is normal. (Can I use the "that’s what she said" joke again?)

No pericholecystic abnormality is noted. (Pericholecystic has to have been a spelling bee word.)

The intrahepatic bile ducts and the visualized common bile duct are within normal limits in size. Common bile duct measures 3 mm at portal hepatis. (I don’t like seeing any version of the word hepatic or hepatis in a medical report.)

Liver size, configuration, and echogenicity are normal. No focal liver lesion is identified. (No focal liver lesion but what about bifocals?)

The spleen is unremarkable. (Excuse me! The spleen was just resting during the ultrasound. You should see it roll over or fetch a ball. Now that is a remarkable spleen.)

The pancreas is partially obscured but as imaged appears normal. (I have a shy pancreas.)

There is no ascites. (Apparently, ascites is excess fluid in the space between the tissues lining the abdomen and abdominal organs. You learn something everyday at Sean’s Ramblings!)

The kidneys are within normal limits in size and appear unobstructed. Right kidney measures 10.7 cm, and the left kidney measures 10.5 cm. (Is the fact that I’m right-handed related to the fact that my right kidney is larger than my left kidney?)

Conclusion: Small polypoid lesions along the gallbladder wall measuring up to 4 mm. Consider follow-up.

Long-time readers will likely not remember that I had high cholesterol when I started this blog. I had an ultrasound then that showed that I had a fatty liver and one polyp on my gallbladder. The fact that there are multiple polyps 6 years later was a little bit of a concern, but they are small. Plus, my liver is no longer fatty. I guess that means I should start drinking heavily.

So the deal is that I’m fine, but I need to get another ultrasound in a year. In addition, the discomfort is gone.