Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Trip To Pittsburgh

We took a family trip back to the 'Burgh last weekend, so of course I have some notes (and pictures) from the trip. This never gets old.


* I had never been on the USS Requin before. While I found it very cool, I would not recommend taking an 11-month old on it as you have to climb from compartment to compartment. Not very easy to carry a kid through this. Who knew that submarines weren't designed for infants?


* Major props to Eat 'N Park in Homestead for having this sign in the bathroom.


And yes I bought Smiley Cookies from, um, Smiley Cookie as one person once said. (This gaffe alone should have disqualified Donald Trump from the presidency.)

* I've gone to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (the dinosaur museum) since I was a young child and I've always parked on the street. For this visit, I parked in the garage behind the museum. Has the garage always been there or is it brand new?

* There was a guy wearing a Jurassic Park T-shirt at the Carnegie Museum. I thought about taking a picture, but that would have been rude (and I couldn't stealthily take one without getting his face and/or his kids in the picture).

* A highlight for the kids was the blue slide at Frick Park. The blue slide isn't quite as blue as it used to be.


By the way, very nice job by the people who use the playground. People left cardboard boxes there so that kids could use them to slide down.

* Who would travel to Pittsburgh and wear Pittsburgh sports gear just walking around the city without going to a game? Makes no sense!


* Speaking of places where kids shouldn't be, I had an opportunity to be a guest on The YaJagoff! podcast. However, John and Rachael were broadcasting from The All-Star Craft Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Festival at PNC Park where you had to be 21+ to attend. None of my kids can pass for 21, so maybe next time. (I should have had my kids stand on each other's shoulders while wearing a trench coat. That would have worked!)


* This is the third consecutive trip to Pittsburgh where I did not stop at The O. Stupid Pennsylvania Turnpike traffic (and very heavy rain) for ruining my lunch plans!

* I drove by the house where I grew up which is currently for sale. My parents sold the house about 8 years ago. Anyway, it looked the same from the outside, but I'm not sure if the current owner moved out or is just lazy or unable to attend to the yard, and I couldn't get past how awful the yard looked. Grass was overgrown and you could barely see the concrete path in the front yard leading to the door. And now this song is in my head.


* Oh, it was also odd seeing my elementary school not there anymore. It was an administrative office for many years, and apparently it was torn down a few years ago. Now it's just grass.

* Naturally, I randomly ran into my brother's first grade teacher and her daughter who someone I knew from when I was in high school. Because Pittsburgh.

Hopefully, I'll be back to the 'Burgh again soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thank You CVS

Last week, I went to CVS to try to find a plastic covering for a cell phone screen. They only had one type available, and while I didn't think it was what I needed, I made sure that I would be able to return it with the receipt and bought it for $15. I also had a CVS coupon good for 40% off one item, so I actually paid $9 plus tax.


After confirming that the covering wasn't the right one, I returned it on Monday. The cashier put the $9+ back on my credit card, and then told me that they would give me $6.36 in store credit for the coupon. Although I asked her several times if she was sure since this didn't sound right, the cashier insisted that I was due the balance. Unfortunately, there was something wrong with the register, so she was unable to give me a store credit on the card. She called over a manager, and at this point, I was worried for her as I figured she would get in trouble for essentially giving me free money. The manager came over and also had difficulties with the register, so she handed me $6.36 in cash.

Basically, CVS gave me $6.36 for using a 40% off coupon on a product that I returned. I don't get it!

(Photo from the National Real Estate Investor.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Metro's Brilliant Plan

People regularly and justifiably criticize Metro, but I think they deserve credit for once. The Unite the Right rally (the same group who protested in Charlottesville last year) is scheduled for Sunday. Like other events in DC with people coming from out of town, most people will take Metro to get downtown.

However, it just so happens that Metro begins a major construction project this weekend with two high-traffic stations (Farragut West and McPherson Square) closed on Saturday and Sunday. Another busy station (Metro Center) is only accessible via the Red Line. Service is going to be such a mess over the next two weeks, that Metro is telling people only to use them if you have no other options.


While it's going to be a major inconvenience for people like me who rely on Metro to get to work, maybe Metro is actually helping by making it more difficult for the Unite the Right folks to get to the rally. What a brilliant plan! Of course, Metro also floated the idea of having white supremacist-only cars to help prevent potential fights, so maybe not.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Bryce Harper Will Be Overpaid

Bryce Harper is a good baseball player, but not a great baseball player like he and others think he is. Yes, he was great during his 2015 National League MVP season and yes you would probably like to have him on your team. The question is at what price. There has been talk that Harper seeks a deal of $300 million or more when he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2018 season. Someone may pay this. It's the baseball owners' money, so they have every right to spend it as they please. If I was a baseball owner or GM, I would never pay Harper this though. (In full disclosure, I cut out coupons and regularly look for discounts and deals, so I may not be a good example.)

Here's why:



When the ball was hit, the score was tied at 1-1 in the 9th inning against a team the Nationals are chasing in the standings. This should have been a double with runners on 2nd and 3rd and the Braves taking a 2-1 lead. Instead, Harper seemed nonchalant as he threw the ball to home plate.

I'm sure you're thinking, Harper didn't have a chance to get the out at home, so it doesn't really matter. Fine. What about WAR, or wins above replacement? Harper currently has a WAR of 0.9 which is good for tied for 95th...in the National League! Todd Frazier, Alen Hanson, Gorkys Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, and Adam Frazier are all better than Harper in this category. And none of these players are going to earn $300 million!


If you want a guy to hit home runs, Harper (tied for 3rd in the NL) is your guy. If you want a guy to get on base, Harper (12th in the NL), is solid. If you want a guy who strikes out a lot, Harper (4th in the NL) is also your guy. For $25 million or more a year, I'll pass.


Photo by Patrick McDermott/ Getty Images

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

3rd Annual Workhouse Brewfest

Seemingly overnight, craft breweries have exploded in Northern Virginia. While I don't get out much (that will happen when you have three young kids), I've been to Caboose Brewing Company in Vienna and Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn and enjoyed them very much. Cool atmospheres and outstanding beer. Both of these breweries are part of more than 30 Virginia craft breweries, artisan distilleries, and Virginia wineries that will be on tap at the third annual Workhouse Brewfest on Saturday, August 4, from 1:00-8:00 at the Workhouse Arts Center in Fairfax County, Virginia (9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA 22079).


Here's more about the event via the press release since I like considering myself press:

This unique event will feature live performances by 12 of the region’s most popular bands, incredible food trucks, access to air-conditioned art galleries and 65 artist studios, and of course some of the area’s most exciting craft beer, artisan spirits, and Virginia wine. The day will provide an unforgettable experience for every kind of beer lover – from the uber-knowledgeable beer geek to the casual drinker and those new to the world of craft beer. Fairfax County, Visit Fairfax, and Celebrate Fairfax are joining the Workhouse in producing this year’s Brewfest, Tickets are available for purchase online at http://workhousebrewfest.org.

Fairfax County officials say they are thrilled to continue their support for Brewfest as part of the county’s plan to boost the economy, which includes encouraging entrepreneurs and innovation; promoting arts, hospitality, and tourism; and supporting events that cultivate a vibrant, energized community. In its first two years, the event has showcased the appeal and potential of these small businesses to be significant draws for tourism, business investment, and regional development. Brewfest’s success even contributed in part to Fairfax County leaders adopting new zoning rules that expand the areas where craft producers can operate in the county.

Brewfest also highlights how craft beer is a big business in Virginia. Craft breweries sustain more than 10,000 full time equivalent (FTE) positions and produce nearly $1.4 billion in economic impact in the state, according to the Brewers Association. There are more than 200 licensed breweries in the state – including 10 in Fairfax County. Of course, the arts also contribute significantly to the economic health of the county and enhance its appeal to many audiences. Americans for the Arts reports that in Fairfax County alone, direct economic activity tied to arts and culture organizations and their audiences exceeds $271 million dollars per year and supports more than 6,200 FTE jobs.


More information about the event is available on the Brewfest website and on Facebook and Twitter.