Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sean's Ramblings 2015 Year In Review (Sort Of)

Welcome to my 11th annual year in review, where I take the first few lines of the first entry of each month in order to produce a random and (hopefully) interesting summary of 2015.

January: Happy 2015! Now that 2014 is complete, it's time for my annual post where I share data about Sean's Ramblings visitors and how people find this blog.

February: Happy Tuesday everyone! Let's get right to the trivia today. Your challenge is to answer the questions based on the pictures below.

March: I don't understand Maroon 5. I mean, I understand that they have a string of catchy pop hits, but they're as big as they are solely because of Adam Levine.

April: Today’s post comes from Stephen of the Crank Crank Revolution, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Jelly Jars where I share a never-written about story about trying to impress my wife by biking on our honeymoon.

May: I received a message in my Spam folder recently from someone named BadGirl28. Yes, it really was a Spam folder. Anyway, I was curious about why BadGirl28 went by BadGirl28.

June: There hasn't been a Trivia Tuesday here in a while, and this one is unique. Your challenge is to answer these very random questions.

July: 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.

August: I watched a lot of wrestling when I was in middle school/junior high. Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, The Junkyard Dog, The Ultimate Warrior, The British Bulldogs, King Kong Bundy, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and so many others including Rowdy Roddy Piper who passed away on Friday at the age of 61.

September: We went to a birthday party at a park on Sunday, and as we were leaving, I noticed that a youth group that I was involved in during high school was setting up in a nearby pavilion. I approached one of the girls, who was probably about 16, and had the following conversation.

October: One of my favorite events of the year, the Fall for Fairfax KidsFest, takes place this weekend (Saturday, 10/3 & Sunday, 10/4) at the Fairfax County Government Center. This free event is a huge hit for my kids.

November: Many years ago, I was somewhat of a political junkie. I majored in politics, organized a successful voter registration drive in college and had internships with my Congressman and a State Senator. Like many people, though, I got tired of all of the partisan fighting.

December: I received a coupon pamphlet in the mail recently featuring ads and deals for local businesses. While there didn't seem to be anything worthwhile, I couldn't help but notice this ad on the cover.

While this was a "summary" of my blog in 2015, I encourage you to check out my Best and Worst of 2015 post.

Have a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sean's Best & Worst of 2015

Many television shows, magazines, websites and newspapers have best and worst of 2015 lists. Well, I do too, and while mine is probably not nearly as good as their lists, I think that my list is more entertaining.

Best TV Show of 2015: Fargo

Game of Thrones is always amazing, and while I don't see every episode, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is both educational and extremely entertaining. I also always enjoy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. However, my favorite show this past year was Fargo. Although season one was in 2014, I didn't actually watch it until late 2015. And I couldn't stop watching it. Billy Bob Thornton was incredible in such a fascinating character, and the rest of the cast was amazing. I've recorded all of season two and am finally going to start watching it any day now.

Worst TV Show of 2015: The Mysteries of Laura

I've never actually seen this show, but the fact that it wasn't cancelled cost me The Ted Marshall Open TV Death Pool championship for the 2014-2015 season. I seriously have no idea how this show got renewed and is still on the air.

Best Song of 2015...

My rule is that the best song must be from a video that I posted on my blog in 2015. Your nominees are:

Renegades by X Ambassadors
Ex's and Oh's by Elle King
Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy
Beggin for Thread by Banks
Kathleen by Catfish and the Bottlemen

And the winner is: Kathleen!

Worst Song of 2015: Dooo It! by Miley Cyrus

The Video is NSFW due to language...and for it being a terrible song and terrible video.

Best Movie I Saw In The Theater: Trainwreck

I saw two whole movies in the theater in 2015. That's double what I saw in 2014! Trainwreck was much funnier than I expected. Surprisingly enjoyable appearances by John Cena and LeBron James. Oh, you may have heard that Amy Schumer was in it too.

Worst Movie I Saw in The Theater: The Martian

Okay, so The Martian was better than Trainwreck, but it was a weird experience for me. I finished the book only a few days before I saw the film, so I compared the two constantly. While I won't give away much, there was a part in the movie where Matt Damon drives thousands of miles across Mars. In the book, this was quite an eventful trip. In the movie, driving across Mars was as difficult as driving from New York to Chicago on the interstate in perfect weather. I was also frustrated by the ending. It's really my fault though. I should have known better than to finish the book and see the movie so close together.

Best Book I Read in 2015: My Sunshine Away: a novel by M.O. Walsh

Here's the description: A man reflects on the summer of his fourteenth year, where in Baton Rouge he fell in love with a golden-haired girl across the street before an unspeakable crime shattered illusions in his seemingly idyllic neighborhood.

My Sunshine Away is a coming of age book, but quite dark because of the crime that I guess I can't speak about. The book was very well written and the neighborhood certainly had some fascinating characters. I highly recommend it.

Honorable mentions: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and The Martian: a novel by Andy Weir.

Worst Book I Read in 2015: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books all of time, so I felt like I had to read this book. It actually felt like a homework assignment reading the "new" Harper Lee book at times. There were parts that were really good. Lee also gave what appeared to be an accurate description of what it was like to live in the South during a specific time period. However, Atticus Finch, though fictional, is supposed to be perfect (at least in my mind) and some of his views in Go Set a Watchman don't mesh with how most people in the real world view him.

Best Sports Moment: Max Scherzer's No Hitter

I didn't like the fact that this occurred against the Pirates, but seeing a no-hitter live and at my son's first baseball game was priceless.

Worst Sports Moment of 2015: The Pirates Losing the Wild Card Game

The Pirates had the second best record in all of baseball and were rewarded by getting to host the NL Cy Young Award Winner. Naturally, Arrieta dominated. Here's what ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote about Arrieta:

1) Over his last 18 starts of the season, the Cubs went 17-1 -- and in the only loss, they got no-hit (of course they did) by Cole Hamels. (2) Over his last 20 starts, he hit as many homers as he allowed (two). And (3) if you'd started your clicker on Aug. 1, you'd have counted 269 pitchers who allowed at least four earned runs in an inning. And while all that was going on, Arrieta was also allowing four earned runs -- in two months.

Stupid Cubs. Stupid Arrieta.

Best Blog Post: (Tie) My Summer of Sean series & a special TMI Thursday

The Summer of Sean series chronicled part of my incredible summer of 2000. Unfortunately, I only wrote a few posts. When I have free time, maybe I'll continue this series. I also shared what really happens in my bedroom on nearly a nightly basis.

Worst Blog Post: My Interview With Dr. Christopher Geary About Big Ben's Injury

Based on his position as an Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine at Tufts University Medical Center, you would think that Dr. Geary would be better than sharing wild Tweets. He also didn't give much in my interview with him or come close to apologizing for declaring that Big Ben was out for the season.

I hope that you had a great 2015 and a better 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pittsburgh Pirates Should Hire Phil Elson

On Monday, WEEI in Boston announced that New Hampshire native and now former Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Tim Neverett will join the Red Sox radio broadcast. This is apparently Neverett's dream job, so I wish him well in Boston. In the meantime, it seems that the Pirates need to find a new radio and TV play-by-play broadcaster. I know the perfect candidate: Phil Elson.

Phil is currently the radio voice of the University of Arkansas' baseball and women's basketball teams and the play-by-play broadcaster for Henderson State University football. He also served as the broadcaster for the Arkansas Travelers, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for over a decade. Here's more about Phil from this October 2014 article:

Phil, 37, has 20 seasons of experience in professional baseball, including 17 years on the radio. Phil has also worked for baseball teams in Stockton, California; Ogden, Utah; Helena, Mont; Akron, Ohio; his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was voted the 2009 Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

"Phil will always be a part of the Travelers Family," said General Manager Paul Allen. "We will miss his patented "Seventh Inning Stretch" and the energy he brought to our broadcast. We are proud to say that Phil was on our team and know that he will continue to shine as a Razorback."

While I have no idea if Phil is even interested in the job or moving back to Pittsburgh, Phil is a Pittsburgh native graduating from the world-famous (thanks to Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller) Taylor Allderdice High School. He certainly has experience in the baseball broadcast booth, and if there's anything Pittsburghers like it's successful Pittsburghers (especially when/if they return home).

Full disclosure: While I can't remember if Phil and I ever attended the same school, we definitely went to the same camp and probably competed against each other in a basketball league growing up. While we are Facebook friends and follow each other on Twitter, I haven't seen Phil in about 20 years.

Please don't let this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video impact your views on his abilities as a broadcaster!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

24 Hours

On Monday evening after the kids went to sleep, I got the mail which included a rather significant check from all of the games I worked as a soccer referee this fall. Wooooo! Then, I took the 2016 soccer referee recertification test online. (Please note that the next portion of this blog post is about soccer ref stuff, but there's non-ref stuff below.) This 100-question, multiple-choice test is painful. Some of the questions are poorly worded, and there are plenty of others where they are trying to fool you. Here are some questions:

#1: A player, while in an offside position, is guilty of interfering with the opponent and therefore guilty of offside if he does the following:

A) blocking an opponent’s view of the ball but not involved in challenging for the ballherefore guilty of offside if he does the following:
B) running beside the opponent towards the ball without making contact with the opponent
C) making gesture of not playing the ball obvious to everyone
D) none of the above

Does no one proofread this? Although the answer is A, I answered none of the above since I had no idea what the wording in A was supposed to be.

#2 True or false. The ball is in play on a corner kick when the ball is kicked, moves, and leaves the corner arc.

Fortunately, I've taken the recertification exam enough to know some of the quirks. While it's true that the ball is in play on a corner kick when the ball is kicked, moves, and leaves the corner arc, they are asking if the ball is required to leave the arc to be in play. Therefore, the answer is false.

#3 Red #20 is ready to take a throw-in. White #31 pushes a Red attacker down inside the penalty area while jostling for position. You stop the throw-in and caution White #31 for unsporting behavior. The restart is

A) Dropped Ball
B) Thrwo-In
C) Kick-Off
D) Corner Kick
E) Gaol Kick

Is it too much to ask to spell throw and goal correctly?

It took me nearly two hours to take this exam, but I passed with a score of 87%. I don't feel bad about this score either. After the exam, I watched the end of the Detroit Lions-New Orleans Saints Monday Night Football game almost entirely for fantasy football purposes. In a semi-final match, one guy (we'll call him Mike) had a slim lead late in the fourth quarter. His opponent (we'll call him Michael) still had Saints RB Tim Hightower and Lions WR Calvin Johnson. On the last play of the game with victory certain for the Lions, Hightower caught a meaningless 18-yard pass. However, with a half-point per reception and .1 points per yard, this play gave Michael a victory by .1 points. Oh, this play happened just a minute after this rant by Michael:

I *#(@ing don't make the finals because some fat &*^% can't rember to tell the official he's eligible on second down after he remembers to do it on first down. That's the biggest bull &$*# ever in the history of fantasy football.

I feel like the fantasy gods will (or at least should) look poorly at Michael in the championship. Of course, now that I shared this, perhaps the fantasy gods will look poorly at me for the two leagues where I'm still in contention.

On Tuesday morning, I had my regular dentist appointment. I'm sure that I've mentioned this before, but I have a great relationship with my dentist. She knows that I don't floss and never says anything about it. (She also got me an electric toothbrush as a wedding gift.) However, the dental hygienist apparently doesn't know this deal. She asked how often I floss. I replied about once every 6 months which basically corresponds to when the hygienist does it during my appointment. So the hygienist made sure to give the spiel that I need to floss. I'm still not going to floss. If flossing was so important, the dentist should include some with the free toothbrush & toothpaste bag. On a different topic, I need a filling though this is nothing that flossing would have prevented.

This is turning into a very long post. Thanks for staying with me. After the dentist, I took my car to my mechanic for the required state inspection. I've been dreading this since I knew my car wouldn't pass due to an always on airbag light and my driver's side window not working. My 2003 Honda Civic only has 118,000 miles, and I only drive it about 5,000 miles per year. While I definitely need a car, I don't want to put too much money into it or start with a new car payment.

It turned out that the air bag light wasn't a problem. However, my headlights were. Another Honda was there, and I could see how clear they were in the other car compared to my foggy lights. Then, I needed a new window regulator and motor driver. I'm just happy that Warren G is involved with my car.

So my car is now fixed and passed inspection but the soccer referee money is gone.

Finally, I had my soccer referee recertification class. With the class scheduled for 3:30-8:30, I brought snacks and hoped they would provide pizza like they did in previous years. No pizza. I was hungry when I got home but I knew I couldn't eat too much so late. Therefore, my dinner consisted of a cheese stick, clementine, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Dinner of champions!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Video: Terry Bradshaw on Blossom

Terry Bradshaw. Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback. Television analyst. Author and singer. Bradshaw is all of these things as well as an actor appearing in films such as The Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit II, and the awful Failure to Launch. Bradshaw also had television appearances in The League, Las Vegas, and Malcolm in the Middle. Perhaps hidden on his resume is Bradshaw's 1994 appearance on the television show Blossom starring Mayim Bialik and Joey Lawrence. Whoa! Here's Bradshaw playing Lawrence's coach and a video of the whole episode. Enjoy!

Enjoy your Friday and weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Who Wore It Better?

During Sunday's Steelers-Bengals game, Coach Mike Tomlin was confused and perturbed by a call. He expressed his displeasure by making the gesture below. However, who "wore" this expression better: Coach Tomlin or the Night's King from Game of Thrones?

You make the call!

Thanks to @steelersnat for the Tomlin picture.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trivia Tuesday: Pop Culture Math Edition

We're combining pop culture with math for today's Trivia Tuesday. It's not as scary as it sounds. There are 10 "math problems" below. The answers are anywhere between 4 and 18, and there are no repeat answers. Good luck!

1. Homer & Marge's Children Plus (+) Jon & Kate's Children

2. Back To The Future Films + Michael Bay Transformers Films

3. Members of The Monkees + Members of NSYNC

4. Harry Potter Novels Minus (-) Lord of the Rings Novels

5. Tom Brady Super Bowl Wins Times (x) Joe Montana Super Bowl Wins

6. Step By Step Children x My Three Sons Children

7. William Shatner Star Trek Films + Sean Connery Bond Films

8. Destiny's Child Studio Albums + Led Zeppelin Studio Albums

9. Anne of Green Gables Novels - Divergent Novels

10. Magic Johnson NBA Championships x Larry Bird NBA Championships

As always, please leave your answers in the comments section below and don't use the internet for assistance. Good luck.

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

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

My Life (December 2015 Edition)

- I was at Wegmans a few weeks ago (shocking, I know), and I saw a kid, probably around 5 years old that looked familiar, but I wasn't exactly sure why, particularly since I didn't recognize the kid's mother. Then, I realized that I thought I saw pictures of her on Facebook. Before this sounds too creepy, I'm friends with someone I knew through camp when I was in high school and college on Facebook. I haven't seen him in probably 20 years, but I know that he also moved from the Pittsburgh area to Northern Virginia. Anyway, I didn't want to randomly go up to the girl and her mother, so I sent my friend a Facebook message to see if his wife and daughter were at Wegmans. Sure enough, it was them, and my friend said it was fine to say hi as long as his older daughter wasn't driving his wife crazy. Since I was with my 4 year old (The Moose), I understood this completely. Naturally, after my Facebook correspondence, I didn't see them in the store again. Are scenarios like this why people use those missed connections on Craigslist? (Actually, don't answer that question.)

- I picked up The Moose from preschool recently and had my 1 & 1/2 year old (Pedro Tulo) with me. In the carpeted hallway on the way out, The Moose tackled his younger brother. They both laughed hysterically. It was cute. As the younger one gets older, I think they're going to have a lot of fun playing together.

- We had an extremely rare date night (and by date night, I mean dinner out on a weeknight) recently at a fairly nice restaurant. In the middle of our dinner but at the end of meal for a table near us, I saw a guy get on one knee and propose to his, I suppose, girlfriend. No one else saw this. It was like a was witnessing history. And here is the video I took of this:

As you can tell, this was not a video. While I considered taking a picture or video of the proposal, I thought it would be in poor form if I did. I actually think that was a plotline of a Modern Family episode. Anyway, she hugged and kissed him, so apparently she said yes. About two minutes later they left. I had food in my mouth as they passed by our table, so I didn't say anything. (Hmm...this seems like a trend in this blog post.)

- I received a letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management stating that my social security number and other personal information was including as part of a "malicious cyber intrusion." Lovely.

- As a reminder, if you're celebrating Hanukkah make sure you include pickles as part of your celebration. Here's the history of the Hanukkah tradition of eating pickles.

- Finally, please follow Sean's Ramblings on Facebook. Please?

Friday, December 04, 2015

2015 Hanukkah Guide

Hanukkah begins on Sunday evening, so I thought I would prepare a guide for everything you need to know about this year's Festival of Lights.

A Dr. Dreidel? Yes please!

The Maccabeats and Six13 are back to their dueling holiday songs again. First up, The Maccabeats with Latke Recipe based on the tune of Walk The Moon's Shut Up and Dance With Me.

And here's Six13's Watch Me (Spin/Drey-Drey) based on Silento's Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).

I asked this last year, but is there a rivalry between these two groups? I must know!

Meanwhile, Adam Sandler has the 4th version (yes, really) of The Chanukah Song.

As a reminder, don't forget to include pickles as part of your Hanukkah festivities. Pickles: A Hanukkah tradition since 1998.

I'll end with a few more videos. Some are better than others.

Happy Chanukah! However, you choose to spell it!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Truth In Advertising?

I received a coupon pamphlet in the mail recently featuring ads and deals for local businesses. While there didn't seem to be anything worthwhile, I couldn't help but notice this ad on the cover.

Apparently, Cheng's Asian House, a restaurant I never heard of, is the Best Rated Restaurant on Yelp. This seems like quite the claim. With no disclaimer, is Cheng's Asian House the best rated restaurant in the country? In Virginia? On Airline Parkway? So I went to Yelp for some answers.

Searching for best restaurants in Chantilly, Virginia, Cheng's is listed as #2 of 2272. That's really, really good, but not the best rated restaurant. That distinction goes to Megabytes Eatery. Searching Yelp for the best restaurants in South Riding, VA, the next door neighbor of Chantilly, Cheng's finished #7 of 414. Again, really good, but not the best. Curiously, Megabytes Eatery was not among the top 6 for South Riding.

Based on these results, I call on Cheng's Asian House to change its ads to be more accurate. One of the Best Rated Restaurants on Yelp may not be catchy, but it would be correct.

On a different topic, am I the only one who thinks of RUN-DMC's Run's House when I see the name Cheng's Asian House?

Who's House? Cheng's House!