Monday, December 31, 2018

Sean's Ramblings 2018 Year In Review

Welcome to my 14th (yes, 14th!) 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 2018. Please note that these are not my picks for best of and worst of 2018 since I posted that last week. This is simply a summary of 2018.

January: Happy New Year! Even though we're now into the second week of 2018, since this is my first post of the year, I find it completely appropriate to include a Happy New Year message.

February: Using only one hand has been quite difficult. While I can type and drive with only my left hand, it's the little things that are bothering me. I cut myself shaving four times yesterday. I can't tie my shoes or put in my contact lenses. Opening Ziploc bags are also tough. Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush is impossible. And of course, I'm not going to be able to pick up 4 month-old Luigi for many weeks.

March: Here are some of the things going on in my life captured in pictures. Please note that I am not a photographer and do not play one on the internet, and these pictures were all taken using my phone.

April: On Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-4 to remain undefeated through four games of the 2018 season. The Pirates scored all five runs in the first inning with four courtesy of a grand slam by one of the newest Pirates, Colin Moran.

May: Back in 2010 (again, this blog is old), I wrote a post celebrating the fact that the Washington Capitals lost a playoff series. Why am I bringing this up today, 8 years later? Last week, I was featured in a Washington Post article where I said I felt a little sympathy for the Caps (in response to the question of if I feel sympathy for the Caps).

June: Today's video is "Sober Up," the very cool song by AJR.

July: In September 1998, the sports world centered around Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the single-season home run record. I lived in San Diego at the time and attended the Cubs-Padres game where Sosa hit #63.

August: Seemingly overnight, craft breweries have exploded in Northern Virginia.

September: Over the weekend, we took a trip to the National Capital Trolley Museum in Colesville, Maryland. It's a small venue with a room of about a dozen trolleys/streetcars, and then you can take a ride on one of the streetcars.

October: Sean’s Ramblings is generally a light-hearted blog, and I try to inject some humor in most of the posts. Sure, I may be the only person who finds some of my posts funny, but after 13+ years, I haven’t been canceled yet. (Just checking...can a blog get cancelled? And if I do get cancelled, can WordPress or another platform pick me up?)

November: 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.

December: Happy Hanukkah for those of you who are celebrating! 2018 marks a milestone year in the Hanukkah tradition. It’s now been 20 years that pickles have been part of Hanukkah festivities.

And that's basically my blog for 2018. Well, except for all of the posts about my kids and being a father.

Have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sean's Best and Worst of 2018

Welcome to my annual list of the best and worst of the year. I still don’t understand how publications can share their best and worst of lists in November when there’s still an entire month of the year to go. That’s why I publish my list in late December. My apologies for any new books, movies, television shows, etc. that debut on New Year’s Eve.

Best song: High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco

My criteria for best song is that I have to feature the song in a separate post at some point during the year. For 2018, it comes down to High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco, Sober Up by AJR, and No Tears Left to Cry by Ariana Grande. (Lil' Jon and Kool-Aid Man also deserve an honorable mention for All I Really Want For Christmas.) I have a bit of an issue with pop music lately. It seems like everything is about the chorus. Sure, you get a first verse and second verse (though rarely a third verse), but it’s limited. All three of these songs follow this framework. Of course, I recently heard Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics from about 35 years ago, and there are no lyrics to that song (you’d think there would be since Annie Lennox travelled the world and the seven seas).

While Ariana Grande had a monster year professionally, my winner is High Hopes. I just love the positivity and the horns.

In hindsight, I wish I included Say Amen (Saturday Night) by Panic! since I really like that song more. If you told me this time last year that two of my favorite songs in 2018 would be by Panic! at the Disco, I probably would have laughed.

Worst Song: Meant to Be by Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

I wrote about this several months ago, but the lyrics really bother me. In response to Bebe Rexha singing about awful past relationships and how she wasn't treated right, Florida (or Georgia) basically dismisses her by saying that she's beautiful, so she'll be fine. Jerk.

Best Movie I Saw In The Theater: Crazy Rich Asians

I saw a whopping four movies in the theater in 2018. That’s by far the most since I had kids. I should probably mention that the four movies I saw were Ferdinand, Paddington 2, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Grinch. Although Hugh Grant was great in Paddington 2, I’m going with the grown up movie. I'm pro Constance Wu, and I really want go to Singapore now.

Best TV Show: Speechless

I think that most readers will find this to be the biggest surprise on here. There are so many good shows out there like Killing Eve, Better Call Saul, and The Good Place. I also finally started watching The Americans in 2018 (I just finished season 2), and really enjoyed Barry and Mindhunter. The episodes of Black Mirror I watched were unlike anything I've seen. Full disclosure: I really need to start watching Atlanta, and I didn't see this season's Game of Thrones yet. With all of that written, the fact that I’m picking a standard sitcom is kind of amazing. It just seems like at least once an episode I laugh out loud at this show. John Ross Bowie is comedy gold.

Worst TV Show: Below Deck

I don't know why this is a show. Let's watch spoiled crew members who seem to fight constantly serve spoiled rich guests who spend probably hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury boat.

Best Book: Quackers by Liz Wong

I honestly didn’t read as much as I wanted to in 2018 and most of the books I read were good though not great. The one book I read over and over and enjoyed way more than I should have since I’m clearly not the target audience was Quackers.

It’s a cat who thinks he’s a duck until he learns he's a cat but still has his duck friends. It’s adorable!

Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell about Yankee Doodle who doesn't want to go to town or call a feather macaroni is also quite good.

Best Sports Moment: Belgium's Soccer Team

The second half of the World Cup round of 16 game between Belgium and Japan was unreal. After Japan took a 2-0 lead, Belgium tied it at 2. In stoppage time, Japan had a corner kick and a chance to win. Instead, Belgium countered and scored the winning goal.

I’ll give this a close second:

Worst Sports Moment: Tom Wilson

Being in the DC area, it was amazing seeing the excitement surrounding the Caps during its Stanley Cup run. Winning the Cup was good for the region and good for the sport. The only negative (besides the Caps defeating the Penguins) was Tom Wilson getting to celebrate and having his name inscribed on the Cup. What a jerk. He's even worse than the Florida Georgia Line guys.

Best Podcast: Planet Futbol with Grant Wahl

You’re probably seeing a soccer theme here. On his podcast this year, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl interviewed nearly every candidate for the US soccer presidency. Then, he did a podcast every single day during the World Cup, so a podcast for over 30 consecutive days. My personal favorite podcast was his interview with Abby Wambach. If you’re a fan of soccer, I highly recommend his podcast. (One word of caution. He had Bill Simmons on a recent podcast. I read everything Simmons wrote when he was with ESPN/Grantland and still listen to many of his podcasts, though not so much the past few months. I was excited to see that Simmons was on Wahl's podcast, but he just seem to whine the entire time. Wahl's interview with Katie Nolan was very good though.)

Best Blog: Josh’s World

I have no idea how Josh does it. He (allegedly) has a family and (allegedly) a full-time job, yet he cranks out post after post on a wide variety of topics. I enjoy his writing and am really curious to see if he actually slows down when his second child arrives in 2019. (By the way, vote for his child's name to be Sean!) Oh, here's the link to Josh's World.

Sean's Ramblings Best Blog Post: The Attack at Tree of Life Synagogue

This post is about as raw and emotional as I get. I'm still upset thinking about what happened at the synagogue of my youth and how little has changed over the last few months.

Sean's Ramblings Worst Blog Post: Trivia Wednesday

I'm done doing trivia posts. No one replies with answers or guesses.

Feel free to click here to see my best of and worst of the last few years and see if my picks hold up.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Merry Christmas From Lil Jon & Kool-Aid Man

Have you ever thought to yourself, I enjoy Christmas music, but what I’d really like is a Christmas song featuring Kool-Aid Man? If so, you’re in luck!

Lil Jon teamed up with Kool-Aid Man for arguably the biggest Christmas song in 2018.

Oh yeah! This just puts you in the holiday spirit (and is much, much better than the Chipmunks Christmas song).

If you celebrate, have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2019 Loudoun United Schedule From An Official Team Blogger (That's Me)

Although Loudoun United hasn't accepted my request yet, I'm considering myself an official team blogger. Maybe I'm the only team blogger or there could be others out there. Either way, here are my qualifications:

- I started playing organized soccer at age 6.
- With the exception of a few years after college, I have been a certified soccer referee since 1990.
- I coached my oldest son's soccer team.
- I had a Pittsburgh Spirit logo as my Twitter profile picture for several years.
- I've written a blog for nearly 14 years.
- I think it's neat to see a professional soccer team in Northern Virginia, and I want to help it succeed.
- See this picture: The kid in the middle just looks like a future official team soccer blogger!

You may not be familiar with Loudoun United since the team hasn't played any games yet and the stadium is under construction. 2019 is the team's inaugural season in the United Soccer League, the second division of soccer in the US and Canada. Loudoun will compete against teams like the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls II, and Atlanta United II. While I'm not sure if there is shared ownership, there is certainly a partnership between Loudoun United and the Major League Soccer team in the region, DC United, and it seems like some DC United players (not named Wayne Rooney) will play for Loudoun. Think of Loudoun as being a AAA team for DC United.

The USL announced its 2019 schedule on Wednesday, so in my capacity (hopefully) as an official team blogger, I'm happy to share your Loudoun United schedule:

Saturday, March 9 - @ Nashville SC
Saturday, March 16 - @ Memphis 901 FC
Saturday, March 30 - @ Tampa Bay Rowdies

Saturday, April 13 - @ Ottawa Fury FC
Saturday, April 20 - @ New York Red Bulls II
Saturday, April 27 - @ Birmingham Legion FC

Friday, May 3 - vs Bethlehem Steel FC
Saturday, May 11 - @ Charlotte Independence
Saturday, May 19 - vs Hartford Athletic
Saturday, May 25 - vs Saint Louis FC

Wednesday, June 5 - @ Swope Park Rangers
Saturday, June 8 - Louisville City FC
Saturday, June 15 - vs Indy Eleven
Saturday, June 29 - vs Atlanta United 2

Saturday, July 6 - @ Saint Louis FC
Wednesday, July 17 - @ North Carolina FC
Saturday, July 20 - @ Indy Eleven
Saturday, July 28 - vs Louisville City FC

Friday, August 2 - @ Atlanta United 2
Friday, August 9 - vs Charlotte Independence*
Wednesday, August 14 - vs Charleston Battery
Saturday, August 17 - vs Ottawa Fury FC
Saturday, August 24 - @ Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Wednesday, August 28 - vs Birmingham Legion FC
Saturday, August 31 - vs North Carolina FC

Saturday, September 7 - @ Hartford Athletic
Friday, September 13 - vs Memphis 901 FC
Wednesday, September 18 - @ Bethlehem Steel FC
Wednesday, September 25 - vs Swope Park Rangers
Saturday, September 28 - vs Nashville SC

Tuesday, October 1 - vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Friday, October 4 - vs Tampa Bay Rowdies
Sunday, October 13 - @ Charleston Battery
Saturday, October 19 - vs New York Red Bulls II

* The schedule shows August 9th as the first game at Loudoun United Stadium. The home games prior to that game are listed as TBD. I would offer my "front yard" as an option, but there isn't enough room for 22 people on it and there's a tree in the middle.

We'll call the October 1st game against the Riverhounds the Sean’s Ramblings Derby since I never root against a Pittsburgh team, yet I want Loudoun to do well.

More information about Loudoun United including how to get tickets is available at

As a (hopefully) Loudoun United team blogger, you can (again hopefully) see fun posts about the team here in 2019. I plan on (hope) to do some player profiles and share posts about the progress on the construction of the new stadium. Perhaps I’ll even get a press pass and can watch a game from there. Maybe the team will let me bring my kids on to the field sometime to kick the ball around.

So many cool possibilities that could happen when (if) I actually become a team blogger!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

College Football Coaching Buyouts

I hate college football. I mean, I like college football, but I hate college football. Let's go back a few years. The first football games that I attended weren't Pittsburgh Steelers games. I have no idea how expensive Steelers tickets were in the early 80s or how easy it was to get tickets, but I attended several University of Pittsburgh football games during that time. My Cub Scout troop even got group tickets once or twice. Plus, Pitt Stadium was probably about a mile from my aunt and uncle's place, so we parked in their parking lot and walked to the stadium. While I don't remember the 1976 championship season (I was 1), the team was really good in the 1980s with All-Americans Dan Marino, Bill Fralic, Hugh Green, Mark May, and Jimbo Covert. As I got older, I was fortunate to get to watch other amazing players like Ironhead Heyward, Curtis Martin, and Larry Fitzgerald. So I do like college football.

With all of that written, let's be honest here. There are 130 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and of these teams, only about 15 teams have a legitimate chance of winning a national championship each year. First, you have to be in a power-5 conference (or have a very lucrative contract with NBC) to have a chance to win. UCF has proven to be an excellent team over the past two years, yet, they haven’t been invited to the college football playoffs. Then, you need a lot money. Money to hire the best coaches and for state-of-the-art facilities to recruit the top high school players. To have all of this money, you need a massive stadium and a large donor base to support the program. While I'm probably missing a few schools, here are those that have a true chance of winning each year, according to various betting sites:

Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Auburn, Penn State, and Texas. I guess you could add Stanford, UCLA, and Miami in here too. That's the list.

Now here is my problem. Each year, colleges that are not on this list fire their head football coaches and pay millions of dollars as a buyout, settlement, or per the terms of the contact.* Mike MacIntyre was fired by the University of Colorado and has $10.3 million remaining on his contract.

Texas Tech, Kansas, North Carolina, Charlotte, East Carolina, and Central Michigan are just some other schools that fired their football coaches recently. These are public institutions. Where is the money coming from? Taxpayers? Increased student fees? Here’s my new rule: If you’re not one of the 15 or so teams I mentioned, you’re not allowed to pay millions to coaches who no longer coaching at your school. I have no idea how this could be implemented, but why let details get in the way of a good and fiscally reasonable idea!

* The Louisville Courier Journal published a story in October 2018 showing that fired coaches in 2017 got over $70 million in buyouts.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sean Versus The Sun

The title of this post probably isn’t as catchy as Joe Versus The Volcano, but I like it.

I recently went to the doctor for my annual examination. While I had high cholesterol in the past, my numbers have been fantastic lately, well within the normal range. All of my other blood results came back fine too except for this item:

Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy - 24.8 ng/mL (30.0-100.0)

So I now have low Vitamin D numbers. Here are the actual notes from my doctor:

Excellent labs lipids
No dm or anemia

Chol 163 great
rtc one yr and pm
He is in good health
sl low vt d 25 so take otc vit d once a day and get some sun exposure to help bones heal well and remain strong
Not a major issue however

I’m not a doctor, but I’ll decode this message to the best of my abilities.

Excellent labs lipids

Damn right I have excellent lab lipids. Take that lipids.

No dm or anemia

I guess no direct messages for me on Twitter or Facebook for the next year, so just email me instead.

Chol 163 great
rtc one yr and pm

For the next item, I believe this means that I need to go to Reston Town Center once in the evening during this year.

The rest seems rather self-explanatory though I’m not sure why I need to attend the Offshore Technology Conference.

Back to the low Vitamin D numbers, I decided to look at my lab results from the last few years and found that they were not part of the documents. Did they not test this in the past? Basically, have I always had low Vitamin D numbers? If this is something new, I have a theory as to why my numbers are low. The weather.

The Washington DC weather is likely to be the wettest in history. It seems like rained every day over a several month period in the summer and fall, and even if wasn’t raining, it was still cloudy.

Since it’s unlikely that I’ll get much sun in what sounds like it will be a cold and snowy winter, I guess I’ll start taking Vitamin D tablets to go with my fish oil pills. Pharmaceutical companies win again!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Happy Hanukkah 2018

Happy Hanukkah for those of you who are celebrating! 2018 marks a milestone year in the Hanukkah tradition. It’s now been 20 years that pickles have been part of Hanukkah festivities. While you likely know that latkes (potato pancakes) and donuts are regularly eaten during Hanukkah, you may not be familiar with the new-ish tradition of eating pickles too. I explained this several years ago, but eating pickles at Hanukkah started in San Diego, California in 1998. So if/when you light the candles over the next few nights, please also include pickles with your meal. Unlike fetch, this tradition of eating pickles is going to happen!

With the Queen movie coming out recently, Bohemian Rhapsody, a cappella group Six13 released a new song for Hanukkah, Bohemian Chanukah.

Not to be outdone, The Maccabeats released their own Hanukkah song, I Have a Little Dreidel.

It seems like advantage goes to Six13 this year. I’ve shared several videos from both these groups over the years, and I really wonder if they’re rivals. I just imagine them meeting on a random street one day, joined by other a cappella groups just like what happened in Anchorman.

My friend Sarah wrote a romance novella, Lighting the Flames, a few years ago. I enjoyed it! Meanwhile Pop Culture Happy Hour is one of my favorite podcasts, so it made my day seeing host Linda Holmes praising Sarah’s work. (Worlds colliding!)

Finally, this is just a normal day on the New York City subway. I keep waiting for him to drop, but it never happens!