Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Video: Robyn

Back in 1995, Swedish singer Robyn had two major hits with Do You Know (What It Takes) and Show Me Love. At the time, I didn't know she was Swedish. I actually thought she sounded like she was from Swissvale or maybe Turtle Creek, and you could have easily convinced me that she was a fellow Woodland Hills Wolverine.

Fast-forward to around 2010, and I remember hearing her name pop up in best-of lists. I had no idea, but she remained a major music star in Sweden and Europe. Now, eight years after her last album she’s back with a new album, and it seems to be getting extremely positive reviews. I wouldn’t be surprised if this album also appears on critics’ best albums of 2018 lists.

Despite all this, I still only know her two songs from almost 25 years ago and wanted to share one of them today.

To be fair to Robyn and any Robyn fans who happen to read this and want to criticize me for not following her career, here's one of her latest songs from the Honey album.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

I Don’t Understand The Shipping Process (2018 Edition)

I don’t do much online shopping, so when I do, I’m repeatedly baffled by how items are shipped. Back in 2012, I wrote about how one of my purchases was shipping from Maryland to Oregon to Virginia. Three years ago, I shared my confusion about why the same order of cat food needed to be divided and shipped from both Saline, Michigan and Rensselaer, New York. Today’s post is similar to the last one.

Dick’s Sporting Goods recently had an advertisement selling college sweatshirts for $19.98, originally priced at $59.99. I generally don’t like buying clothes online because I prefer to try them on to make sure they fit before making a purchase. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of sending clothes back if they don’t fit. Of course, I rarely go clothes shopping since I don’t have any free time for this, meaning that much of my wardrobe has been the same for years. Anyway, the advantage of buying clothing from Dick’s is that there’s a store about 2 miles from my home, so if it doesn’t fit you must acquit (and I can return them directly to the store).

As a lifelong fan of the University of Pittsburgh, I purchased this Pitt pullover hoodie:

I really like these Pitt colors, especially the bright blue! In addition, as a graduate of The Ohio State University, I bought this "foundation hoodie" to show that I’m a Buckeye.

Now the fun part. The Pitt shirt was shipped from New Stanton, PA. Meanwhile the Ohio State gear was sent from Louisville, Kentucky. Do they only have Pitt gear in Pennsylvania and Ohio State gear in Kentucky? That seems unlikely. There's not a warehouse somewhere with both pieces of clothing? Apparently not.

Please be on the lookout for my next blog post about my bewilderment of the shipping process scheduled for late 2021!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cortaca Jug Game Goes To New York City (Area)

The annual Cortaca Jug game between Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland is arguably the biggest rivalry in Division III football. Sports Illustrated even called it the “Biggest Little Game in the Country.” However, unless you’re affiliated with one of these schools, are a die-hard Division III football fan, or live in Central New York, you’re likely not aware of this game. There are probably about 10,000 people who attend the annual game, but it certainly doesn’t have the attendance draw of Ohio State-Michigan. (Of course, stadium capacity is significantly less at Butterfield Stadium and Cortland's Stadium Complex compared to The Shoe and The Big House.) So when it was announced that the 2019 Cortaca Jug game would be played at MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Jets and Giants, my initial reaction was “Holy Crap!” It sounded (and still sounds) like a cool idea. My next reaction though was, “How is this going to work?”

Ithaca and Cortland are both over 200 miles from East Rutherford, New Jersey. That’s not very convenient for students, faculty, and staff that live in those areas. While I've heard estimates that 30,000 Cortland and Ithaca alumni live in the New York City area, I’d be interested in seeing how the area is defined.* How far into Connecticut and New Jersey does this include? Regardless, this still seems ambitious that a majority of grads will attend the game.

Despite all this, I’m definitely interested in going. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Northern Virginia to the stadium. Well, 4 hours without traffic or stopping, which probably means 5 hours unless the Delaware Memorial Bridge is closed when it could take even longer.

Anyway, while I’ve started considering if I can go and what friends may be able to join me, Ithaca, Cortland, Ticketmaster, or whoever else may be forcing my hand. Despite the game being about 50 weeks away (Nov. 16, 2019), tickets go on sale this Saturday, December 1st. This seems insane to me! I don’t know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow (I would normally say tonight, but there’s dinner at a local restaurant where a portion of the sales go to the elementary school PTA, so I know what I’m ordering) or when I’m going to take my car for an oil change, but I need to commit to an event nearly a year away?

My theory is that MetLife wants to make sure that enough tickets are sold to make it worth it. 10,000 people in an NFL stadium isn’t going to work for them. According to this article in The Ithacan, Ithaca College's Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports, said "there has to be a minimum of approximately 20,000 tickets sold for the game at MetLife Stadium to be a success." If you're going to play at an NFL stadium with a capacity of 82,500, you better have way more than 20,000 tickets sold!

Back to the ticket sales, it seems that sports and especially concert tickets go on sale earlier and earlier now, and I’m not sure why. I mean, I’m sure it’s because of money, but what’s the difference between selling tickets 3 months before an event rather than 11 months?

To conclude, Go Bombers!

* According to The Ithacan article linked above, there are 27,221 Ithaca College alumni within a four-hour radius of the city. I guess they have some pretty good data.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Top 40 Songs From November 1992

I'm a pop music fan. Maybe it's because Neil Diamond and Billy Joel were the first two artists I listened to more than anyone else. Maybe it's because I watched a good amount of MTV as a kid, who played only pop music in its early days. Maybe it's because my favorite radio station growing up was Pittsburgh's B-94. It's probably a combination of all of this.

Last week, a friend shared a tweet with the Cash Box top 40 singles from November 21, 1992. Even though I just shared that I'm a pop music fan, there's a lot more not good on this list than good, and I'm probably being generous.

Let's start with the good. If Jump Around, Rump Shaker, and to a lesser extent, Rhythm Is a Dancer, doesn't get you pumped up, you have no pulse. There are also some really strong songs by female artists here with Free Your Mind by En Vogue, Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox (an underrated song in my opinion), and Real Love by Mary J. Blige. Two TLC songs are a nice bonus. This may hurt my street cred here, but I like If I Ever Fall In Love by Shai.

Now to the others. The slow version of Layla is fine, but not nearly as good as the original (though I get bored by the instrumental part at the end of the original very quickly). End of the Road was played at the end of every dance and graduation event from 1992-1995. It got tiresome after the first 20 or 5000 events. Prince and Madonna both had much, much better songs. I'll also take My Prerogative, Don't Be Cruel, and the Ghostbusters 2 songs over the two Bobby Brown songs here. How Do You Talk To An Angel is an awful song. Maybe this gets me some street cred back. There are a lot of songs here I don't even recognize. Wayne Newton had a top #25 song in 1992? What is a Mad Cobra? Just so much meh here.

Share your thoughts about this list in the comments section below.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Message 2018

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

Turkey lurkey doo and
Turkey lurkey dap
I eat that turkey
Then I take a nap

I dream of the day when I can have a Thanksgiving nap. In reality, I'll probably chase my kids around all day and crash on the couch after they go to sleep while watching football.

Well, with that, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Trivia Wednesday

Trivia Wednesday doesn't sound nearly as good as Trivia Tuesday, but today seems like a great day for trivia. Either you're at work hoping to get out early before Thanksgiving or you need a break from preparing for Thanksgiving. With that, here are 10 questions for you based on the pictures.

Please leave your answers in the comments section below. Good luck!

These questions are courtesy of PubStumpers.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Linked In

See what I'm doing here? (I think) I'm being clever by having a posted titled "Linked In" while I share links about interesting articles I've recently read. So here are some links to check out when taking a break from figuring out where and when to buy your turkey and pumpkin pie!

* Where did the phrase "Kennywood's open" originate? The Post-Gazette did some research though we probably will never know. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* Josh went to Nashville. I went to Nashville for my annual(-ish) hockey road trip about two years ago, but I still haven't written a blog post about that portion of the trip. I should do that sometime especially since I really enjoyed the city. [Josh's World]

* A friend posted this "Homestead & Survival Alarm Clock" picture on Facebook. [Facebook]

Who's parents? Um, I've had this exact alarm clock for at least 20 years. I know that I took it with me to England in 2000, so I probably had it when I was in college in the 90s. What a solid alarm clock!

* An English soccer referee was banned for using rock, paper, scissors instead of coin flip before kickoff. The problem is that he should have played the pick a number between 1-10 and whoever is closest wins game. [CBS Sports]

* Apparently, in solidary with this referee, hundreds of refs did rock, paper, scissors to start games over the weekend. Although I was an assistant referee and not the center referee for two games Sunday, we did a coin toss since that's the way you start a game! [ESPN]

* Ron launched a new website, Steelers Takeaways. Please support him and the site. [Steelers Takeaways]

* Heinz offered Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes free ketchup for life. I think he should do it and not just because it's Heinz ketchup. Actually, yes, it's because it's Heinz ketchup. [ESPN]

* Finally, credit where it's due. Congratulations to Emory's women's volleyball team on winning the NCAA Division III championship. Emory dominated by losing only one set during the entire tournament run. Of course, that set was against Ithaca College in the quarterfinals and Emory won two other sets against the Bombers 25-23, but Emory deserves and earned the title. [Emory Athletics]

Photo from Emory University's athletics website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Moose's American Ninja Warrior Junior Audition

One of my kids’ favorite shows right now is American Ninja Warrior Junior on Universal Kids. I’ve only watched a few American Ninja Warrior (Senior?) episodes, but it seems like a similar concept. Kids 14 and under are broken into three divisions based on age and compete in an obstacle course that I could definitely not complete.

My two older boys have started making their own obstacles in the house which somehow ends with them jumping on a couch (which is not okay) or trying to climb on their bunk bed (which is super not okay). The final challenge on American Ninja Warrior Junior is to climb a 13-foot wall. There are "hand holds" for the younger divisions, but even then, they still have to reach them at I believe 10 or 11.5 feet to then climb to the top. Again, while I can’t do any of this, my seven year old The Moose thinks he can.

We recently met some friends at a trampoline place that happened to have a giant wall. All The Moose wanted to do was the wall. Here’s the result:

The Moose is about 4’ 1” and stayed really determined attempt after attempt even though he wasn’t all that close to getting to the top. I really appreciate his willingness to not give up. Basically, he was Chumbawamba as he took a whisky drink, vodka drink, lager drink, and cider drink.

Or maybe it's that getting knocked down, but getting up again part of the song. Close enough.

It looks like they have ninja-style gyms in the area, and I think my kids (well at least The Moose) would really enjoy it. Add that to my winter to do list! (The other two are probably too small for it, though if there's a speed-crawling and drooling challenge, Luigi would dominate.)

Oh, if I ever made it to American Ninja Warrior, I'd call myself The Blogging Ninja!

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Travel Voucher

This blog has been pretty heavy lately, so here's something a bit lighter. A lot lighter.

For years, I have hoped to have the opportunity to help the airlines. Let me rephrase this. You know how airlines sometimes oversell flights? I don’t understand the reason behind this, but they do. Anyway, when this occurs, airlines will ask for volunteers to give up their seat to go on a later flight in exchange for some type of travel voucher. Every time this has happened to me in the past, either I had to be on that flight (for something work or family related), it would be frowned upon if I took the later flight but let my young kids fly alone, or the airline already had enough volunteers.

Traveling to Charleston earlier this month, United Airlies asked for volunteers to get put on a later flight as well as a $700 travel voucher. I was apprehensive since I didn’t think I could do this, but two people I was with encouraged me to go for it. One even used the “you waited in line for burritos” argument and said I was the king of getting free things, so why wouldn’t I do this? It was a very persuasive.

By the time I approached the desk, the voucher was up to $800. I was sold. The flight boarded, and I waited at the gate to make sure it was full. It was. I had to wait at the gate for another 20 minutes after the flight departed from the gate, but at the end, United gave me a $1000 voucher. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The next step was the airline giving me a voucher to take a shuttle from Dulles to National for a flight on American Airlines. I'm not sure how United got me on an American flight, but I wasn't going to complain. I took the shuttle with another woman who also took United's offer for the voucher and later flight. We talked about our families and how the voucher would help us visit family living in other areas. Oh, I also received a $10 food voucher. It didn’t cover my entire Five Guys meal, but it was close.

Of course, it turned out that the woman who shared the shuttle had the seat next to me on the plane. At that point, we had nothing else to say to each other. Hooray for books and headphones! I made it in Charleston in plenty of time and now I have a $1000 to spend on United! With three kids, that might (might!) cover one family flight next summer.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Shabbat In Charleston

When I knew that I was going to be in Charleston, South Carolina, I decided that I wanted to attend Shabbat services at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, one of the oldest synagogues in the United States. The congregation was founded in 1749 with the current sanctuary built in 1840. After the tragic shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I definitely wanted to attend Friday night Shabbat services. The unique sanctuary is unlike any I've ever seen, so I've included some pictures here.

In the immediacy after the shooting, I was sad and angry. I shared my frustration about the shooting and the state of our country. I still feel terrible for the family members of the victims, and I still have no confidence in our government to do something to prevent mass shootings by making sure that people who shouldn't have guns, don't have guns. Just on Friday, two people were killed and five others were wounded at a yoga studio in Tallahassee.

With all of that written, there is some good in the world. Seeing how the Pittsburgh community has come together has been incredible. I always knew that Pittsburgh was a special place, but I've been amazed by the city's unity and support for one another. Back to Charleston, there were easily 200 people for Friday night services. I don't know how many people typically attend Shabbat services, but my guess is that this is significantly more than usual. I went to services by myself, and while I tend to keep to myself in unfamiliar situations, the congregation was particularly welcoming. I sat next to a pastor of a local church and his wife, both at the synagogue with their son to support Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim ("KKBE") and the Jewish community. Naturally, I met another couple that spent about a decade in Pittsburgh in the 80s. It turned out that we both attended Tree of Life at the same time (I didn't know them) and actually lived less than a mile apart for several years. Because Pittsburgh.

Overhearing several conversations, there were definitely people of multiple faiths attending services in solidarity with the Jewish community. It sounds like this happened throughout the United States. And this is why in the wake of last week's shooting, I do have some faith in humanity. It seems like there are so many divisions in this country, particularly politically, but attending services with so many people really was heartening. Oh, every synagogue should serve root beer floats during the oneg (the post-service social gathering) like KKBE! Root beer floats can certainly bring the country together!

(The first and third photos are courtesy of the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim website. The second is my own picture, clearly not of the same quality of the others.)