Monday, November 28, 2016

The Red Shirt

For the past few months, my two year old (Pedro Tulo) prefers to only wear red shirts. And when I write "prefers," what I mean is that he freaks out when we try to put on any shirt that is not red. Even a red and gray stripped shirt can cause some unhappiness since apparently this is not red enough. A happy two year is a preferable way to start the day, especially when trying to get to work during the week, so we usually acquiesce and let him wear red shirts. However, with the weather getting colder, we found that we don't have many long-sleeve red shirts. Therefore, my wife took a trip to Old Navy and bought several shirts including this one for $5.

As a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I was initially horrified that this shirt was in our house and that Pedro Tulo would wear this regularly. Then, I thought about the freak outs and found this shirt as a much better option than fighting with Pedro Tulo at 6:20 on a Wednesday morning.

Besides, like the hockey team, this shirt will be one of his best shirts through the winter and into April, but by May, this shirt will be relegated to the closet only to be useful again during the following fall and winter.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Message 2016

On this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share this message for you and your family:

White meat, dark meat
You just can't lose
I fell off my moped
And I got a bruise

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tila Tequila And White Supremacists

In today's edition of what the heck is happening in this country, I'd like to present to you Tila Tequila. Ms. Tequila gained fame by becoming one of the most popular people on MySpace primarily by posting provocative pictures of herself. Tequila was also featured in Playboy and Maxim and got a reality show on MTV titled A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. I actually watched some of the first season which featured both men and women vying for love from the bisexual Tequila and remember it being not terrible.

Anyway, except for a relationship with Shawne Merriman of the San Diego Chargers, I hadn't heard about Tequila for years until Monday. According to The Washington Post, Tequila attended a dinner at Maggiano's sponsored by the National Policy Institute, a group with an innocent and boring sounding name, but is actually a white supremacist organization. Before I discuss this group and Tequila, I will give them credit for choosing Maggiano's. I haven't been there in a few years, but I remember them having delicious food and big portions to encourage you to share. We all know that white supremacists like to share.

Although there was some coverage of this National Policy Institute being in DC, the dinner became a big story when Tequila posted this picture on her Twitter account.

Nice, huh? Where to begin here? On her Twitter page (which has been removed), Tequila mentioned Hitler in her bio and had a photo-shopped picture on her page of Donald Trump sitting at The Oval Office desk with her in a bikini standing next to him while a swastika armband. Clearly, the Sieg Heil salute is not some type of inappropriate joke as she truly believes in this. Which brings me to this question: Can you be a bisexual woman of Asian decent (born in Singapore) and a member of a white nationalist party? Apparently the answer is yes here but I'm not sure how this works. This actually reminds me of the sketch on Chappelle's Show where Chapelle plays a blind African-American who thinks he is white and is a racist. (This video is not suitable for work due to language. I also included a link to the Comedy Central video in case the video below doesn't work.)

Anyway, this is some scary stuff. The video on the Atlantic link is terrifying. With Trump getting elected, these people believe that they are now back in power and that Trump will get rid of all the evils of this country. Evils meaning anyone that is not of white, European decent. And why shouldn't they feel empowered? Steve Benen of MSNBC captures this perfectly:

Put it this way: Trump seems entirely comfortable blasting “Saturday Night Live” for telling jokes at his expense, and the president-elect could hardly contain his outrage at the cast of “Hamilton” for urging Mike Pence to honor American principles of inclusion.

But when alt-right activists spew racist garbage and make Nazi salutes at a gathering in the nation’s capital, Trump prefers to keep his concerns vague and generalized.

So this is where we are in November 2016. Tila Tequila is a white supremacist and the National Policy Institute is chanting Hail Trump and giving Sieg Heil signs. So, um, Happy Thanksgiving.

(I promise I'll get back to lighter stuff later this week.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Santa's Flight Academy at Fair Oaks Mall

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a blogger event for the unveiling of Fair Oaks Mall's Santa's Flight Academy.

The invitation was also open to bloggers' families so that they could take pictures with Santa. Although my kids were in school/preschool, I was available and thought it would be fun to check the holiday experience and meet some other bloggers. Plus, free breakfast courtesy of BRIO Tuscan Grill!

However, it turns out that I was the only person there that did not bring their family. It was a little difficult meeting other bloggers when they are trying to make sure that their kids aren't spilling food on their clothes before pictures with Santa. As a father of a two-year old, I totally get this. Still, it was a little awkward for me though Andrea of Northern Virginia Housewives and Teresa of Fair Oaks Mall were both incredibly friendly and gracious in hosting the event.

Before I share some pictures and provide more information about the very cool Santa's Flight Academy, make sure you scroll down to the end for a coupon if you decide to get family pictures with Santa.

From the press release:

To rediscover the magic and tradition of the holiday season, Fair Oaks Mall debuts “Santa’s Flight Academy,” a one-of-a-kind, immersive holiday experience that combines a giant reimagination of the North Pole with state-of-the-art technology to enable children to become a member of Santa’s flight crew. Partnering with an elf – either Sleigh Mechanic George, Flight Director Sparkle or Reindeer Caretaker Flash – each child will help ready Santa’s sleigh so he can deliver presents to children around the world.

You can also take pictures with Santa with your pet (as long as the pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and are on a leash or carried in a lightweight, portable pet carrier with harness. Here are the dates of the pet photos with Santa

- Saturday, November 26, 8:00 AM - 9:30 AM
- Sunday, November 27, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
- Sunday, December 4, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
- Saturday, December 10, 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM
- Sunday, December 11, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Please note that I was not paid for this blog post. I mean, I got a free breakfast, but that's not a payment. Actually, getting paid with food should be a new mission for this blog! For more information about Santa's Flight Academy please visit the Fair Oaks Mall website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What Was Antonio Brown Doing?

Steelers fans are unhappy. That tends to happen when the team loses four games in a row. There's been a lot of criticism of the team's defense and coaching staff. Much of it warranted. While wide receiver Antonio Brown continues to perform at an all-Pro level, his decision on the final play of Sunday's Steelers-Cowboys game is questionable and not something I've seen discussed much. (In full disclosure, I didn't watch the game live, so perhaps there was a major uproar on social media when this play happened).

So on the last play of the game with no time remaining and needing a touchdown to win, Antonio Brown basically ran out of bounds. The only explanation that makes any kind of sense is that perhaps he didn't want to take a hit. That's justifiable at many other moments of a football game, but on the last play of the game, you try to stay off the ground and lateral the ball to your teammates, even though getting a touchdown in the situation is unlikely. If anyone would know this, you would think it would be Antonio Brown after this almost miracle finish in 2013 against the Miami Dolphins.

(You may need to try this video instead.)

The only other reasonable explanation I have for Brown running out of bounds is that perhaps he wanted the game so that he could see his Skittles custom vending machine quickly.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts

Everyone else has already shared their thoughts on the 2016 Presidential election, so I thought I would write my own blog post. First, I hate the fact that I was right way back in March. Being correct so often is both a blessing and a curse.

As for Donald Trump becoming America's 45th President, I've already gone through the five stages of grief fairly quickly. I'm not happy with the results, and I have some serious concerns about the direction of our country, but I've accepted that Trump was elected based on our political process (meaning via the electoral college and not the popular vote).

- Arguably the worst outcome from Tuesday night/Wednesday morning is that Kellyanne Conway, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani are not only not going away, but they will probably all have major roles in the Trump administration.

- I was extremely surprised that Donna Brazile went with the Nana from Candy Land look on Tuesday.

- Congratulations to the Republican Senators for "letting the American people pick" the next Supreme Court justice. The gamble of only having 8 justices over the past 9 months paid off as a conservative justice will now likely fill Antonin Scalia's seat. However, this sets a bad precedent. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, or any other justice retires in 2020 or even mid to late-2019, the Democrats in Senate (assuming they earn a majority during the 2018 mid-term elections) could and probably should wait to approve a justice on the same grounds the Republican Senators used in 2016.

- Trump has campaigned for abolishing Obamacare. Now that he's President, can he just let 20+ million go without health insurance?

- Similarly, can he really just get rid of the entire Department of Education?

- I guess the biggest point is that Trump is used to getting his way as a CEO. While he may try to take some executive actions, it will be interesting to see how/if he can govern. He's going to have to work with Congress (though it will likely be an extremely friendly Congress at the start). He doesn't strike most people as an "in the weeds" policy guy.

- I'm an ABC guy. We watched that station growing up (I think my parents liked the local WTAE newscast and just kept the station on for Peter Jennings and company), and it's helped that fellow Ithaca College grad David Muir is now the #1 nightly news anchor. However, there were too many commercials on Tuesday night, so I ended up watching a lot of CNN. I couldn't stop watching John King and his map.

- I predict multiple occasions over the next 4 years of Congress over-riding vetoes. I believe that this happened only once during the Obama administration and that was over the right to sue foreign governments. (I could be wrong on this though.)

- Random question: When was the last time two candidates represented the same state? Both Clinton and Trump are registered New York voters, and I honestly don't know the last time both major candidates were from the same state.

- It appears that Chris Christie is leading Donald Trump's transition team. Is he even pretending to be governor of New Jersey anymore?

That's really all that I want to write today. I guess we'll see if Trump really wants to be the people's President (meaning all people). I'm trying to be optimistic.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

2016 Election Night Live Blog

After nearly two years of campaigns, debates, and non-stop news coverage, we've finally made it election day. Join me and others at 8:30ish Eastern time as we discuss the Presidential election results. I'm sure we'll also cover Congressional races, the media coverage, and probably the Pittsburgh Steelers. Please note that this group of panelists leans left politically, but I also think we're a pretty rational and realistic group.

Live Blog Election Night Live Blog 2016: It's Finally Over...Right?

Monday, November 07, 2016

Out Of Ideas

I've had this blog way too long. I wrote an entire blog post ranting against Verizon only to realize that I already wrote an extremely similar post exactly 4 years ago. The only difference between the November 2012 post and what I wrote and deleted today is that I actually talked with a customer service representative this time who told me that I need to upgrade my plan to get text updates about data usage. Otherwise, I will only get text messages when I'm out of data. A friend recommended a free app to track data usage, so problem may be solved with no help from Verizon.

I've spent the past few days in Portland, Oregon, and I have a few thoughts. Actually, many of them are similar to my notes from a 2009 blog post about my first trip to Portland. I give up. Apparently, I can't come up with any new ideas.

Fine, instead I'll share some pictures from Portland.

Can anyone that lives in Oregon or has even visited this state explain how elections work here? Instead of going to the polls, do Oregon citizens just drop their ballots in these boxes? That doesn't seem efficient.

There are way too many crows in downtown Portland. Shouldn't they be out in the country somewhere?

Finally, this is a picture of Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns, from the bleachers connected to Multnomah Athletic Club. I want to live at Multnomah Athletic Club. It's 600,000 square feet of pools, tennis courts, squash courts, handball/racquetball courts, a rock climbing gym, restaurants, and so much more.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Friday Video: You Don't Get Me High Anymore

I admit that I know absolutely nothing about the band Phantogram. I mean, I could search Google to try to learn something about the group, but I kind of like the mystery of not knowing. What I do know is that I heard Phantogram's You Don't Get Me High Anymore song on the radio and wanted to hear it again. I hope you do too.

Maybe it's because they both have female lead singers, but this song has a similar vibe to Garbage's Only Happy When It Rains, one of my favorite songs from the 90s.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween with young kids can be really fun. It can also be very frustrating. Monday night definitely started on the frustrating side. (I've included pictures of pumpkins carved by folks in my office throughout this post just for fun.)

My five year old (The Moose) decided that he wanted to wear his soccer uniform as his Halloween costume. Well, that's easy for us, so what could possibly go wrong? How about temperatures around 50 and his insistence on wearing just his short-sleeve soccer jersey and shorts. After way too long, he finally agreed to wear sweatpants under his shorts and a long-sleeve shirt under his jersey.

However, let's go to earlier in the day. The Moose's school doesn't celebrate Halloween, but they get around this by hosting a Mother Goose day. Kids can dress up as a nursery rhyme character and are not permitted to wear super-hero costumes, masks, or bring any type of weapon. (Though I think someone dressed as Jack should be able to bring a miniature fake ax to chop down the beanstalk.) A friend let us borrow their monkey costume since I don't think Jack and Jill were soccer players. (Yes, monkey is a stretch for it chasing the weasel in Pop Goes the Weasel, but it counted). Anyway at the end of the day, we learned that somehow he lost the monkey costume after the parade ended. He already lost a library book and a pair of shoes* so far this year, so this is not a good trend.

Now, let's shift our attention to my two year old, Pedro Tulo. We got him a Marshall costume, the Dalmatian firefighter pup from Paw Patrol. He refused to wear it. We tried a Thomas the Train costume that his brother wore three years ago. Nope. We tried a train conductor costume that went under the Thomas costume. That also went poorly. Just the train conductor's hat? Uh, no. So Pedro Tulo went trick-or-treating as a two year that didn't want to wear a Halloween costume.

When we finally went trick-or-treating, things went fine. However, I'm starting to question why our neighborhood of townhouses decided to have so many stairs. It's not easy carrying a two year old and up down stairs for about an hour.

Despite all of this, Halloween was a success for the kids as they had fun and got lots of candy. This morning, The Moose told me, "I want to do Halloween again today."

I do have one suggestion. Can we create a Halloween in April event? Halloween seems to be the only time where our entire neighborhood comes together. A neighbor organizes a potluck and all of the kids and adults spend time eating, drinking, and socializing together. Seems like this should happen more than once a year.

Update: The monkey costume was found. Another kid "accidentally" took in home.

* The Moose's class went on a field trip to a local farm/pumpkin patch and were told to bring two pairs of shoes since they were going to get dirty/muddy. Fortunately, his newer pair of shoes were randomly found in a bag in a janitor's closet the next day.