Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Video: Different Sean

There is a video (actually a VHS tape) from my Bar Mitzvah somewhere in my basement. While it is doubtful that any part of the video will ever appear on this blog (unless someone wants to convert it from VHS to DVD to an online video), nothing on the video compares to Shaun Sperling's Bar Mitzvah dance. Enjoy!

What a shirt!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Inside Of A Lemonade Stand

In his opening statement at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said, “President Obama has never run a company. He hasn't even run a garage sale or seen the inside of a lemonade stand." Since I generally try to avoid politics on this blog, I’m not going to support or debate Prebus’ comment about President Obama. However, I have an issue with his statement about the inside of a lemonade stand. Since when do lemonade stands have an inside? Was Priebus privileged enough to have a lemonade stand with a roof? Maybe he had an original version of the Melissa and Doug Grocery Store/Lemonade Stand available at Target for $129.99.

Is there even an inside of this Melissa and Doug lemonade stand? Regardless, how do you expect to make money selling lemonade when you have to put out $130 for the structure before you even purchase cups, ice, lemonade, etc? I guess that you could sell lemonade for $10 a cup, but who would want to buy such an expensive cup of lemonade?

When I was a child, my brother and I sold lemonade on a table on a street corner. I don’t even think we had chairs. The only inside was the inside to our house where we went to eat dinner. And yes, we walked uphill both ways to get to school. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go yell at kids to get off my lawn.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Belt Story

Whenever I go away, I always tend to forget something. Hopefully, the something is minor like toothpaste, which I can pick up at my destination, rather than something significant like my cell phone, glasses, or spleen. On my trip to Florida this weekend, I thought I had everything when I left my home. I knew that I didn't have a fantasy football magazine but figured that I would find one at an airport newsstand.* After arriving at the airport on Friday but prior to going into the security line, I realized that I didn't pack a belt. While this wasn't a problem for the shorts I was wearing, I definitely needed a belt for my jeans and another pair or shorts I had packed. Fortunately, Washington National Airport has several clothing stores. Unfortunately, I couldn't purchase a belt at Brooks Brothers, Jos. A. Bank or even the PGA Store for less than $50 or $60. Therefore, I departed from Washington without a belt.

When I arrived in Charlotte, I had a clear mission: eat lunch and find a belt and fantasy football magazine in the one hour before my next flight. Mission accomplished thanks to Burger King on the lunch front, but the belt situation looked dicey with more stores like Brooks Brothers. However, after finding a fantasy football magazine, I stumbled into something called Bijoux Bellagio. While the store looked to sell only women's clothes and accessories, I inquired about men's belts. Amazingly, they did sell men's belts and the cost was only $10. Success! I was so excited about finding a reasonably priced belt that fit I didn't even care about the look. I only slightly regretted my purchase after putting on the belt.

I really hope that this belt becomes fashionable soon! By the way, since this belt is both brown and black, can I wear this with brown and black pants? I'll probably just wear this with jeans and make sure my shirt covers the belt.

What is the most random and/or obvious item you forgot on a trip?

* This turned out to be extremely difficult search. Although every airport store had dozens of magazines, none had any fantasy football magazines. Fortunately, I found one fantasy football guide at the EA Sports store (?) at the Charlotte airport.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How I Escaped Tropical Storm Isaac

Did you know that I travelled to Florida this past weekend? Probably not since I posted nothing about this here, on Twitter or on Facebook. I arrived in West Palm Beach on Friday afternoon just in time to see only the third film I’ve watched in the theater this year, The Expendables 2. I didn’t see the first film, so I worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow along. It turns out that there wasn’t much plot to follow other than lots of shooting with people and things getting blown up. (Should that have been a spoiler alert?)

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon, it appeared that Tropical Storm Isaac would cause havoc on South Florida meaning possible flight cancellations. US Airways posted a travel advisory that you could change your flight without a change fee, but that only applied to flights departing on Monday or Tuesday. My 1:30 Sunday afternoon flight was still on time, but I had some doubts. Finally, around 8:15 on Sunday morning, I received an automated call from US Air notifying me about my flight cancellation, wishing me good luck in getting out of South Florida and expressing disbelief that I spent $64 between quarterbacks Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford as part of an auction draft in a one QB fantasy football league. The recording didn’t actually state the last two sentences, but I know the voice was thinking this.

Time to evaluate options. I needed to get back Sunday night to see my family and to get to work on time Monday morning. Every flight out of Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale to Washington, either Dulles or National, was booked. US Air could get me on Monday morning flight, but there was no guarantee I would get out particularly since the worst weather was expected for Sunday afternoon/evening and most school districts already cancelled school for Monday.

My solution: rent a car and drive north. The US Air agent admired my resourcefulness (though she didn’t comment on my fantasy football drafting results) and even though everything was booked from Orlando, there were seats for me on a flight from Jacksonville to Charlotte and Charlotte to Dulles. Daytona Beach is actually closer than Jacksonville, but who knew that they had an airport? (Apparently, not me. I ended up calling US Air on the road and learned that a flight out of Daytona Beach would get to Charlotte earlier, but I would still be on the same Charlotte to Dulles flight.)

So I had a relatively uneventful 275-mile drive to Jacksonville Airport. I arrived at the US Air ticket counter around 2:05 with plenty of time for my 3:30 flight. However, I decided to ask if there were any possibilities to get into DC earlier. The agent stated that there was a 2:30 flight going directly to National (I’ve been on this flight several times), but that since it was after 2:00, boarding already started, and it was too late to get on the plane. Jacksonville isn’t that big of an airport, so I figured that I had a chance to arrive at the gate before the plane doors closed. I walked briskly to security and amazingly made it through security in record time. It was at this point that I realized that I had a legitimate chance to make the flight. Therefore, I channeled my inner OJ (minus the “alleged” murders).

I made it to the gate as the last group got called and approached the gate agent…who informed me that the flight was full. Oh well. I ended up flying into Dulles through Charlotte and was able to see my family before bedtime. Then, I picked up my car from National Airport on Monday morning before work.

I should have an exciting conclusion or morale of the story, but unfortunately, I have neither. I guess I can share that US Air's customer service folks and gate agents were extremely nice and quite helpful. Actually, I do have a unique experience that occurred on my trip down to Florida, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My First Figure Skating Blog Post

It's the middle of August with the Pittsburgh Pirates in playoff contention and the NFL regular season only a few weeks away. So this is a perfect opportunity to write about, um, figure skating. The London Olympics concluding recently, and the biggest "stars" to emerge from the Olympics were Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, and Gabby Douglas. What do these Olympians have in common? They all won multiple gold medals. This got me thinking about figure skating. While this sport is always one of the most watched during the Winter Olympics, I wondered if the figure skaters ever got upset at not having the opportunity to win multiple medals like their gymnastics, swimming and track counterparts. I proposed this idea to two friends who are HUGE figure skating fans. We'll call them Kelly and Marino since they are also Bills and Dolphins fans respectively.

Sean: I assume that you're following the Olympics and the gymnastics competition. I'm sure that you saw Gabby Douglas win two gold medals, one for the individual all-around and the other for the team competition. In addition, Aly Raisman won three medals, gold in the team competition and floor exercise and bronze on the beam. These two gymnasts now have as many or more Olympic medals than arguably the greatest American figure skater, Michelle Kwan (silver in 1998 & bronze in 2002). While Kwan has done quite well for herself off the ice including some type of Royal Caribbean competition with Greg Louganis, do you think she should have more medals? Let me put this another way, should she have had the opportunity to win more medals?

In gymnastics, you can win a team medal and several different individual ones. Should figure skating have this? Why not a team figure skating competition? Why not separate events for the short program, long program, that silly figure 8 thing they used to have, lutz and Salchow. (I had to look up the spelling of Salchow. Who knew that the H is silent?) Feel free to call me an idiot for these suggestions if warranted.

Kelly: I do think it would be cool to have a team event for figure skating, nation against nation. But since the skaters are doing the very same routines over and over again, I don't see the need to have separate events like you do in gymnastics, where there are individual apparatus events, in addition to the all-around, and team competition. Since FS did away with compulsories (those silly Figure 8's, as you call them), I don't see them bringing them back. The only growth I could see in terms of adding another event would be Team Synchronized Skating (which they do have) as there is precedent for this with synchronized swimming.

I know it's been done, but it really doesn't seem right that events like synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline (!) are in while baseball, softball and golf are out (although coming eventually, right?).

I think a better analogy for Michelle Kwan's Olympic results is Roger Federer. You can argue that both are the GOATs of their sport, and neither have gold (unless you want to count Fed's doubles gold with Stan Warwrinka in 98). For GOATs, nothing but gold is acceptable. You can't blame Roger for this time around, he went 19-17 in the third against Del Potro. In Beijing, he lost early to Berdych. Kwan played it conservatively and got surpassed by jumping beans/tiny mites in the long program.

Kelly (again before I was able to reply): Got the skinny from someone in the know:

There is now a team skating competition (men (2), ladies (2), pairs (1) and dance (1) all represented), not a group of ladies and men like in gymnastics though. It’s held after worlds now and it will be included in the Olympics in two years! It should be interesting to see how this added event changes the dynamic of the individual events. The format is still being decided (if the team event will occur before the individual events, etc). Clearly the main focus is still the individual events so I wonder if some of the big named players will back out of the team event based on results from the individual events. Hey – its another chance to watch skating and for the skaters to win a medal. Pretty neat.

Also, after watching some of the rhythmic gymnastics yesterday (which is easy to make fun of, until you watch those girls perform!) I do believe there could be a category for cheerleading at the Olympics. If there international participation level were there. Think about it. Those girls are athletes just like synchronized swimmers or rhythmic gymnasts (aka Cirque du Soleil training grounds). Then, we could pave the way for drum corps to be part of the Olympics, too. Anyone who has been in marching band would agree that there is equal amounts of athleticism and artistry in drum corps. OK, I realize this'll never happen.

Sean: Interesting that figure skating is considering a team event. I think the top skaters would enter for a chance to win more medals. Someone the caliber of Kwan probably wouldn't participate in the pairs or dance event, but I think they would also compete in the individual portion of the team competition.

Before you sent me the e-mail, though, I wanted to reply to your comment about skaters doing the same routines over and over rather than the separate events gymnasts compete in using different apparatuses. I have suggestions! 1. Spinning competition. Specifically, who can do the most spins in 20 seconds? They go so fast, so you might as well see who does the most in a specific period of time. 2. Obstacle course. I don't know the format since it's not speed skating, but maybe the skaters have to skate a routine with various obstacles on the ice. 3. Hardest slap shot. This is fun in the NHL skills competition, so why not see how fast 90-pound figure skaters can shoot a puck.

Between the current individual competition, possible team competition, compulsories (figure 8s) and my other three ideas, figure skaters could earn up to 6 medals! Please propose this idea to the person you know that is in the know!

Besides using cheerleaders at some events in London (ex. beach volleyball), is cheerleading really big around the world? Since baseball and softball are no longer in the Olympics, is cheerleading more popular that these sports globally?

Marino: I am just catching up on personal e-mail and this whole conversation had me giggling my head off.

You have to think about Michelle Kwan in terms of winning 9 national titles. There will NEVER be a gymnast that has the endurance to come to 9 separate national championships and win medals at each one at the elite level.

I don't think there should be separate things like a spinning comp. And I agree with Kelly about cheerleading being a sport, and should be at the Olympics, the same way I would encourage dance to be there too. Dance would be like gymnastics with ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, etc.

Kelly: to Marino's point, Nastia Lukin, the defending All-Around champ, didn't even MAKE this year's US squad.

I would support Marino's motion to add dance to the Olympics. Competitive ballet? Bring it on!!!

Sean: With the introduction of dance, I think we've ended this conversation. The Olympics would be just like one of those Step Up movies! Why not go with chess, Scrabble and Connect 4 as Olympic sports too?

Marino: oooh yeah they could dance battle like the Step Up movies. I love those movies, [my husband] hates them. He categorized all dance movies this weekend as: 'someone is poor, needs a lot of money, discovers they can dance, finds other people who can dance with them that are also poor, magically there is a dance contest where they can win a lot of money, they enter the contest and win.' :)

The conversation dissolved even further from there. Anyway, the morale of the story: It looks like the Figure Skating Organization listened to me, although it would be nice if they added a hardest slap shot competition among the figure skaters!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trivia Tuesday

I’m bringing back Trivia Tuesday earlier than expected since this week is a little different than usual. Your challenge is to answer the random questions below. Yes, there are still right and wrong answers.

1. Jennifer Lopez is one of the most famous people in the world. Name one of her songs.

2. Who would you draft #1, #2 & #3 in a fantasy football draft?

3. How many unwatched episodes of Breaking Bad do I have on my DVR?

4. How was Panic! at the Disco’s "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" a hit? (The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.)

5. Who is a better singer/performer/artist: Rick Astley or Richard Marx?

6. Prior to Paul Ryan, has there ever been a major party Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate with two first names? (To be more specific, Ryan is a much more common first name than a last name. I'm sure that there are plenty of people named Washington, for example, but my guess is that Washington is a more common last name than first name. Of course, I could be wrong.)

7. What does Bryan Adams do when the feeling’s right and he’s gonna stay all night?

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

Navy Sub Commander Accused of Adultery, Faking Own Death

Have you heard about this story? This text is directly from The Washington Post:

For the past four years, Navy Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II lived with his wife and children in the Burke area of Fairfax County, just off Rolling Road. Ward and his family sold their house last month and moved to Connecticut when Ward was awarded command of the submarine USS Pittsburgh, based in Groton, Conn., which he assumed on Aug. 3.

Seven days later, he relinquished command of the USS Pittsburgh, which, if it isn’t a record, has to be in the top five shortest commands. A woman from Chesapeake came forward and said she’d had an affair with Ward after meeting him on an online dating Web site, The Day newspaper of New London, Conn., reported Monday. That is not the worst part.

The woman said Ward told her he was separated from his wife and was assigned to ”special ops.” And on July 6, the woman said she received an e-mail from Ward’s address, but written by a man named Bob. “He asked me to contact you if this ever happened,” The Day reported the e-mail said. ”I am extremely sorry to tell you that he is gone. We tried everything we could to save him him. I cannot say more. I am sorry it has to be this way...He loved you very much.” And technically, he was “gone.” From Burke.

So the woman drove to Burke on July 9 to pay her respects, and learned that Ward was alive and well — in Connecticut. She told The Day she became ill, found out she was pregnant, and then miscarried.

The woman contacted the Navy, which issued a statement on Friday, Aug. 10, saying Ward had been relieved of command “due to lack of confidence in Ward’s ability to command based upon allegations of personal misconduct on the part of Ward.”

Ward declined to comment to The Day. He has served in the Navy since 1987 and had been assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. The rest of the article is here.

What an incredible story! Who knew that there was a USS Pittsburgh or that it was based in Groton, Connecticut? Plus, any chance that Michael Ward has a nickname of Hines?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Ziggy

Today marks Ziggy’s 4th birthday. While I know nothing about his birth or anything about his life prior to adopting him from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in November 2008, it’s difficult remembering a time when he wasn’t in our home.

Ziggy has had to endure major life changes over the past year. First, he freaked out. While this fortunately turned out fine, my son is now mobile and loves Ziggy. Unfortunately, the love doesn’t translate into nice petting. We’re trying to teach our son "soft" and "gentle" in interacting with Ziggy, but he doesn’t seem to understand these concepts yet. Therefore, I sincerely appreciate Ziggy’s patience and awareness in knowing when to walk away or escape to higher ground.

Ziggy continues to be as loving as ever and regularly sleeps in our bed at night. He also always greets me at the door when I come home and usually flips over to get his stomach rubbed like he's a dog. There’s not a better feeling than coming home to a child and a cat who are visibly excited to see me.

So what does Ziggy think of his birthday and this blog post?

I guess he’s just resting now and waiting for his friends to call to go out and celebrate!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Emma Watson Is Awesome

On Friday afternoon, I posted the following message on Twitter:

I promptly received approximately 7,000 retweets, which is 7,000 more retweets than I've ever received before. Of course, with only 140 characters, I couldn't share Watson's quote in the full context. Therefore, here is the entire Q&A from EW's Fall Movie Preview Edition.

Although this may be difficult to read, here are the two items that stick out. First, Watson's initial perception was that she would hate Pittsburgh, but she really enjoyed it once she spent time there. I guess going anywhere after spending years at Hogwarts would be difficult. Second, her admiration of Pittsburgh was completely unprovoked. The interviewer didn't ask Watson what she thought of Pittsburgh. The question was simply "I'm assuming it was a fun shoot." (To the Entertainment Weekly interviewer, that's a statement not a question.)

Emma Watson is now one of my favorite actresses ever. Perhaps she and Ron can move to Pittsburgh and convince Harry and Hagrid to join them. Hagrid would make an excellent red zone target for the Steelers!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ric Blas Update & Other Olympic Links

In case you missed it last Friday, Ric Blas won his first round match becoming the first Guam Olympian ever to advance in judo. While he lost to the Beijing bronze medalist in the second round, Ric has had an incredible experience in London and has made Guam proud. Plus, per the picture below, he also appeared on CNN International even though I can't find the video online.

Here are articles about Ric in London:

CNN highlights the underdogs. [CNN]

I like Ric's nickname, The Little Mountain, referenced in this article. [Reuters]

You must be judoking? Really, Brisbane Times, you couldn't come up with a better headline? [Brisbane Times]

This is only video I could find of any of Ric's matches.

Guam's News Network chimes in. [KUAM News]

An article with an actual quote from Ric. [NBC Sports]

What would the London Olympic games be without a Terrible Towel?

In case you forgot, we've seen a Terrible Towel at the Beijing Olympics and in London during the royal wedding.

Pittsburgher Cassidy Krug had an amazing Olympic performance in the 3-meter springboard diving final. Unfortunately, she didn't fare well on her final dive and it cost her a bronze medal. [Post-Gazette]

More on Cassidy by Dejan. [Pittsburgh Trib-Review]

Not Olympic related, but a photo gallery of the Stanley Cup in Ithaca is pretty cool. [Ithaca Journal]

Enjoy the last few days of the Olympics!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sean on Science: Asparagus Pee

While scientists have debated an important topic for decades, I’m going to solve it today with your help. Yes, we’re tackling asparagus pee. Some of you may have no idea what I’m writing about. Others of you may be like me and notice a distinctive odor in your pee after eating asparagus. According to this article by Discovery, “The ReSearch Guide to Body Fluids (by Paul Spinrad, June Books, N.Y., 1994), says just 22 percent of survey respondents experience asparagus pee.” It turns out that the 22 percent don’t just emit the asparagus pee, but actually have the receptors to smell it. I am proud to be one of the 22%!

Anyway, are you part of the 22%? If so, do your parents also experience asparagus pee? Maybe just one parent experiences asparagus pee. If you’re a parent yourself, does your child follow in your footsteps? In my household, my son has never had asparagus and since he doesn’t talk yet, wouldn’t be able to tell me anyway. The other person in my household that probably doesn’t want to be discussed here on this topic does not notice a distinctive urine odor after eating asparagus.

By the way, I’m sure that I could look up asparagus pee and genetics somewhere online, but it’s more fun to hear from you and your theories about how asparagus pee, um passes, through generations.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Trivia Tuesday: Commercials Edition

Trivia Tuesday has lacked participation lately, so I think we'll take a few weeks off after today. Maybe folks are on summer vacation. Anyway, listed below are ad slogans from the past. Your challenge is to name the product.

1. Kid Tested Mother Approved

2. A different kind of company, a different kind of car.

3. We don't make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better.

4. Does She...or Doesn't she?

5. We'll leave the light on for you.

6. It's everywhere you want to be.

7. Fly the Friendly Skies.

8. Obey Your Thirst.

9. Where do you want to go today?

10. Drivers wanted.

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.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Ric Blas Time

After four years of training, Ric Blas finally returns to Olympic competition on Friday at 4:51 AM Eastern time. I’ve written about Ric many times since the beginning of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (including this incredible interview), so I hope that you’re supporting him in his match (and hopefully matches) like I am. Ric faces Facinet Keita of Guinea in the Men’s +100kg Judo division elimination round of 64. You read that correctly. 32 Olympians, who have trained extremely hard over the past four years, will compete in one match and go home (well, after partying in the Olympic village). The Olympics are essentially a single-elimination tournament until the quarterfinals, when it becomes double-elimination.

Although I’m not sure what television station carries the judo matches in the U.S., this link for NBC’s Olympic site should show Ric online. In addition, if you’re like me and have little or no idea how judo works, the London Olympics website has the rules and history of judo.

Now that you know when Ric competes, here’s some of the media coverage Ric has received:

This is Ric's Olympic profile. [Guam Sports Network]

Cool video of Ric first arriving and training in Kendal, England. [ITV News]

Ric is the heaviest athlete in Olympic history at "34 stone." I think I like using stone as a unit of measurement. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, everybody must get stone! [The Independent]

This video is the Team Guam Olympic Preview from Kuam Sports.

Good luck Ric!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates Shock Everyone at Trade Deadline

The Pittsburgh Pirates continued their amazing season by acquiring three new members to the team on Monday night and Tuesday. Most analysts never thought the Pirates would be so aggressive in adding these players to help the team compete for the playoffs for the first time since 1992, but the team has proved critics wrong all season. I’m proud to introduce you to your new Pirates:

Gabby Douglas

The Pirates need players in the locker room who have won on the biggest stage. Even though she’s only 16 years old, Gabby “The Flying Squirrel” Douglas proved that she could handle the pressure by winning gold in London.

DJ Qualls

DJ Qualls isn’t necessarily a guy that you want to depend on to carry your team or movie; however, he is a solid glue guy. I think this is best demonstrated through his work in Hustle & Flow and Road Trip. Qualls is a solid veteran able to adapt in various environments and step in when needed (see his guest spots on Scrubs, Criminal Minds, Lost, Monk, CSI, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Numb3rs, My Name Is Earl, Breaking Bad, The Big Band Theory and more). Solid veteran.

Attorney Edgar Snyder

In 50 years, I'll still remember 391-2101. 391-2101! Anyway, this is a no-risk addition for the Pirates. They don't have to pay Snyder a salary unless he gets money for the team!

You can read more about the Pirates' trades here. Let's Go Bucs!