Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Am I An Angry Person?

During a recent conversation, I noticed that I vented about three different topics consecutively. In a moment of self-awareness, I think I apologized and jokingly said that I hoped I wasn't always like this. Fortunately, the response was understanding.

So this got me thinking. Am I always angry or ranting about something? Sure, I haven't been happy with Metro delays, and my kids have a wonderful habit of not listening. I also notice that I've been swearing a lot more to myself (either out loud when no one is around or in my head) lately. Granted, I think I have some good reasons to vent that of course I want to share.

1. We're currently looking into bundling cable, internet and the home phone together, so I decided to call Verizon to get pricing information (and after receiving dozens of offers in the mail from them over the years). After an awkward (and painful) beginning of the call, where the Verizon representative had significant difficulties spelling my name and address correctly, he finally gave me the basic information. However, when I asked about the equipment costs and installation fees, he informed me that I would need to give him my social security number to run a credit check to proceed. I refused. I wanted to know the complete costs to help me make an informed decision about whether or not I would choose Verizon. I called them, so it's obvious I'm serious about pursing a deal. Why do they need my social in order to tell me this? At a standstill, we agreed to end the call.

2. Our homeowners association cited us for damage outside our front window. We are trying to replace the entire area with a material that basically would not cause us to deal with this again. While the material comes in many different colors, it is not an exact match to the paint color we have, and we can't paint on this material. It's really close though. So now we're awaiting the board's ruling on whether or not we can proceed based entirely on the possible color difference. They may say that we're good but we would have to paint the rest of the house with the new color. That's not going to work. They may say we're not good which would bring us back to square one. Basically, we're now waiting for the board to give us a ruling as to how to spend out money on something I would never have considered spending money on until we got the notice.

Back to the title of this post, I realize that many of you don't know me and others probably haven't talked with me regularly for a long time. Based on these two examples though , am I unreasonably angry or are these rationale reasons to vent?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pizza Security Fee

I'm back from Florida (more on that later) but wanted to share this receipt from the Sbarro at Jacksonville International Airport.

Yes, pizza at Sbarro costs more than the Monroeville Mall location when I was growing up though that's not the point. This post is about the $0.02 JAA Security Fee. Several questions:

1. What does the JAA in JAA Security Fee stand for? The Jacksonville airport code is JAX, so is JAA some sort of secret security alliance?

2. How is this fee used? Is this to ensure the safety of the cheese, sauce and dough?

3. Why $0.02? Does this cost differ based on how much I spend or is this a flat fee?

I'm really tempted to call the number on the receipt to find out these answers but what fun would that be when I can speculate in a blog post!

Friday, July 24, 2015

This Should Be A Tweet

I know that I haven't posted much here lately, so I thought I would share this:

How do we live in a world where MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This has over 161,000,000 views on YouTube while Arrested Development's Tennessee video has less than 2.5 million views?

I was (okay am) a big fan of the MC Hammer song and a bigger fan of the Myron Cope parody, but Tennessee is just as good a song if not better.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Found In My Basement: Steel City 2009

Years ago, Nicholas of PSAMP had a series about unlicensed Pittsburgh sports merchandise. While he no longer writes much on his blog (though he may be the most active person in the world on Twitter), this post would have fit perfectly in his series. Based on the Steelers and Penguins success at the end of the last decade, here is a shirt to honor these teams and two of its stars.

I'm pretty sure that this shirt was a gift from my parents. Amazingly, with the amount of turnover on sports teams, both Harrison and Fleury still play for the Steelers and Pens respectively.

Click here to see more in the Found in My Basement Series.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Video: Uma Thurman

We've had some fun with Fall Out Boy over the years, but the band continues to produce hits and stay relevant. Their latest song is titled "Uma Thurman" and is quite catchy. I feel like much of this is due to the sample from The Munsters' theme song. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer of Sean: St. Andrews

The golf and sports world is focused on St. Andrews, Scotland today for The Open just like it was 15 years ago during the Summer of Sean (as I'm calling it now). In 2000, some friends and I spent the weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland, a very cool city that I may write about in a future post, but on Sunday morning, I left the group to visit St. Andrews on the North Sea. To describe St. Andrews as a small town is unfair to small towns. I'm not exactly sure what I mean by this, but for some perspective, St. Andrews' population of 16,680 (according to Wikipedia) is only a few hundred more than Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Anyway, while I'm not a huge golf fan, I understood that St. Andrews was the birthplace of golf and the home of arguably the most famous golf course in the world. Since I was only an hour and a half bus ride away, I figured that I should make the pilgrimage. With The Open taking place less than two weeks after my visit, the course was closed for play, but you could walk all around. This actually worked out fantastically.

My first reaction on seeing the course was that there were a ton of bunkers.

Very deep bunkers which would be difficult even for the best players to hit out cleanly. It was also windy with the course being right on the water. Amazingly, Tiger Woods managed to avoid the bunkers completely (I believe) during his 2000 title.

So to celebrate the Summer of Sean, here are some pictures from St. Andrews and the St. Andrews scorecard.

You know how I mentioned the deep bunkers? I'm 7 feet tall, and look how high that wall is!

Click here for all of you Summer of Sean posts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harper Lee's Go Set A Walkman: A Review

Before I begin, I want to assure you that there are no spoilers in this post. Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, and I find that I still re-read this classic every few years. So when I heard that Harper Lee was going to publish a new novel, I had mixed emotions. Could it possibly live up to the expectations? Is she going to tarnish the legacy of legendary figures like Atticus Fitch and Scout? Yet, most people wanted to know if Lee was more than a one-hit (though monster hit) wonder.

In full disclosure, I have not read Harper Lee's new book yet. That's why I can promise you that there are no spoilers. With that written, I'm intrigued by the subject. As a teenager, I spent many summer nights at an overnight camp trying to find out the final score of Pittsburgh Pirates games. There was no internet in those days (well, there was internet but there were no computers at camp), and we did not have access to a television. Therefore, before bed, I would use my Walkman to find Lanny Frattare on the radio dial. It was often difficult finding the exact spot on the dial to get the signal. I feel like weather was often a factor in getting the signal too. Harper Lee is a visionary in knowing that Walkmans and cassette tapes were the future. Have you ever had a cassette tape become unraveled in a Walkman and then have to wind the tape back in? Well, building a novel about an individual (Scout? Boo Radley?) who can set and possibly repair a Walkman is truly amazing. Now, I can't wait to read it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Play A Doctor On The Internet

When I went to my doctor for a routine physical about a decade ago, my doctor noticed that I had high cholesterol. He suggested that I start taking fish pills twice a day. I have done so nearly everyday since, and my cholesterol levels have been down for years.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post published an article titled "Fish oil pills: A $1.2 billion industry built, so far, on empty promises" questioning the value of taking fish pills. The article focuses on fish pills and heart disease, though heart disease has never been a concern for me.

So this got me thinking. Should I continue taking the fish pills? It may not be helping me but I don't think they are hurting me. Is cutting back to just taking one per day an option?

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Ariana Grande's Redemption Tour

Perhaps you heard that singer Ariana Grande is in the news. From AFP via Yahoo news:

A video at a California doughnut shop showed Grande and one of her back-up dancers playfully licking the sugary pastries while they were still on the counter.

The gossip site TMZ released the video and outrage erupted on social media over the comments by Grande who, upon seeing a new tray of doughnuts, is heard saying a profanity and then, "I hate America."

First, mmmmm....donuts.

Naturally, people are upset by Grande's comments and actions. I heard one DC radio DJ question if Grande's career is over. Um, no. Chris Brown beat the crap out of Rihanna and still puts out albums. Plus, Justin Bieber keeps doing Justin Bieber things, and he still has a career.

So now Grande is apologizing by saying she is "EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my country." There's more about out of context, but I have yet to here her apologize for licking donuts.

To clear her name and to get back into people's good graces, I suggest this two-step plan. First, Grande should get in touch with the Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme people and appear, for free, in one of their ads. I'm sure some creative advertising people can come up with material that would be self-deprecating and show her love of donuts.

The second step is to have Grande appear at this weekend's Anthrocon convention in Pittsburgh. She already does the cat ear thing, so this seems like a natural step.

She could be queen of the Furries! Meow. And just like that, Grande will be fine. And hopefully she'll thank me for these suggestions.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Summer of Sean: Wimbledon

Yes, it's the Summer of Sean. Oh, I don't mean the summer of 2015. This summer has consisted of my 4 year old getting his tonsils out and my one year old crawling everywhere and wanting to roam free even though he can't walk yet meaning that we can't let him crawl through the grocery store. Oh, I also have to work during this summer. No, the Summer of Sean occurred in 2000.

Fifteen years ago this summer, I served essentially as a chaperone on a trip to Israel (free trip!). Then, I spent six weeks in a study abroad program in Lancaster, England (relatively inexpensive trip!) with weekend trips to London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris and more. When I returned to the U.S., I visited Vegas, Charlotte, Montreal and Rhode Island. Yes, it truly was the summer of Sean.

I believe that I wrote a journal during part of the trip, so I hope to share some stories and pictures from my adventures over the next few weeks. Of course, I actually need to find this supposed journal. Wait, why are you questioning that this is summer filler? Trust me that this is more exciting than anything currently happening in my life especially now that my year of free paninis is over. I mean, do you really want to hear how terrible my Metro commute was yesterday?

For my first time trip down memory lane, I'm taking you to Wimbledon. A friend and I waited (queued) in line for more than two hours to purchase general admission into The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club. The cost of admission into the grounds with the exception of the two main courts: 4 pounds or $6. What a cool event with live matches taking place on multiple courts. We decided to go to Court 3 since Venus & Serena Williams were scheduled to play a doubles match later in the day. Instead, Swedes Thomas Johansson and Magnus Gustafsson played a long 5-set match forcing the Williams match to relocate to another court. I saw Martina Hingis play doubles, and the ultimate highlight was getting into Centre Court to see Martina Navratilova. Since it seems like I already wrote about most of this story a few years ago, here are some pictures from Wimbledon 2000.

Frustrated Martina Hingis:

Martina Navratilova serving:

Martina Navratilova with Leander Paes:

Thomas Johansson and Magnus Gustafsson shake hands:

Food tent:

Some guy:

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

I Don't Understand How Shipping Works (Part II)

Meow Mix isn't saying anything, but I can see what's happening. They are discontinuing the wet cat food that Ziggy eats. I used to purchase Ziggy's wet food at Target, but they stopped carrying his specific food a few months ago. While I typically dread going there, I started going to Wal-Mart to buy his food since the price was similar to what Target charged. Now, Wal-Mart is not stocking this brand. Wegmans still carries the Meow mix but at 50 cents more per pack than Wal-Mart. Safeway and Harris Teeter change more than $2 more than Wal-Mart, so I don't even look there. The last thing I want to do is change the cat food since who knows what will happen if I change Ziggy's diet. Therefore, to keep giving Ziggy the food he has known nearly his entire life, I recently ordered Ziggy's food online. And to get free shipping, I bought 9 (yes 9!) boxes of Meow Mix.

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how I don't understand the shipping process. In that case, something I ordered went from Maryland to Oregon and then back to me in Virginia. Maryland and Virginia border each other; Oregon does not. Anyway, for the cat food purchase, apparently, the shipment is being divided up where 4 boxes are being shipped from one location and 5 boxes from a completely different area.

Order #1 - Shipment information sent to FedEx on Sunday, 6/28/2015 at 9:44 am.

Monday, 6/29/2015

5:17 pm - Picked up from Saline, Michigan
8:37 pm Left FedEx origin facility

Tuesday, 6/30/2015

4:51 am Arrived at FedEx location - Perrysburg, Ohio
7:19 am Departed FedEx location
4:02 pm Arrived at FedEx location - Hagerstown, Maryland
7:05 pm Departed FedEx location
9:19 pm Arrived at FedEx location - Martinsburg, West Virginia

Wednesday, 7/1/2015

1:41 am Departed FedEx location
2:00 am Shipment information sent to U.S. Postal Service

Estimated delivery - Monday, 7/6/2015

Order #2 - Shipment information sent to FedEx - Saturday, 6/27/2015 at 2:34 pm

Monday, 6/29/2015

5:15 pm Arrived at FedEx location - Rensselaer, New York
12:00 am Picked up

Tuesday, 6/30/2015

6:58 am Left FedEx facility
3:36 pm Arrived at FedEx location - Lewisberry, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, 7/1/2015
8:55 am Departed FedEx location

Estimated delivery - Tuesday, 7/7/2015

So why does the same exact cat food need to be sent from Saline, Michigan and also from Rensselaer, New York? Why couldn't all 9 boxes been sent together? This makes no sense to me.