Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Random Ramblings

I know that I’ve talked about Wegmans many times over the years, but I wanted to add one more story about how awesome they are. Pedro Tulo was “helping” me put groceries on the belt from the cart and accidentally dropped the container of hummus, causing the package to crack. Fortunately, the hummus didn’t get all over the place. The cashier saw this and had a colleague get a brand new container without charging us. I’m sure that other stores do this too, but it was still nice of Wegmans to not have the “you break it, you buy it” policy.

In a parking lot last week, I squeezed into a space and when I opened the door, it slammed into the car next to mine thanks to some very strong winds. Naturally, the driver was in the car when this happened and gave me a “what the heck” gesture. I quickly looked at his car and saw no damage before giving a sorry gesture and also tried to pantomime that it was really windy. Then I walked away. I’m not sure what else I could or should have done.

Reason #1786 that Sidney Crosby is awesome: Watch this between the legs pass.

I love the Australian Open and Grand Slam tennis in general. (I also write some variation of this regularly.) With DirecTV, I get the mix channel for the tournament’s first week where I can watch up to 5 matches at once and then switch to any (or all) of them. They have this for the other Grand Slam tournaments, but I typically can’t watch during the day. With the time difference, I enjoyed flipping between matches before going to sleep. Someday, I’m going to visit Australia and attend the Australian Open. It will probably be 20 years, but it’s going to happen! (I'm going to visit New Zealand too on this trip!)

Finally, my favorite DC-area artist Emma G has a new song and video titled Living Proof. Check in out! (You can also learn more about Emma G on her website.)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday Video: Hall & Oates

There is a Hall & Oates revival going on. Want proof? My two older kids really liked the song “Maneater” as performed by the Rottweiler on The Masked Singer. (Try to explain this sentence to somewhat ten years ago...or ten years from now.)

Then, a friend recently went to Nashville and saw John Oates perform at the Grand Old Opry. As I wrote, a Hall & Oates revival!

Therefore, I’m sharing arguably the group’s best song “You Make My Dreams Come True" today. Enjoy the elaborate, state of the art, and cutting edge video.

It’s amazing how the filmmakers had Daryl Hall move out of the shot and then he came right back. (For example at the :50 & :58 second marks). Oates' shoulder shake around the 1:23 mark is also outstanding. Again, state of the art!

I also came across this video of the same song with Hall and Kenny Loggins. Sadly, no Oates.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cole Tucker and The Jonas Brothers

It’s been quite a good run for the Jonas Brothers. I mean, sure, they’re on a seemingly highly successful tour, performed on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, appeared on their own episode of Carpool Karaoke, and earned a Grammy nomination (though many thought they deserved more). More importantly, however, they golfed with Jerome Bettis and recently met Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker.

In the Pittsburgh sports world, it seems like they’re only missing out on hanging out with a Pittsburgh Penguins player. I think Brandon Tanev may be available!

Until that time, the Jonas Brothers are no Taylor Swift!

Thursday, January 09, 2020

2020s Predictions

Welcome to 2020! Many people like to make predictions about what will happen over the upcoming year. I thought it would be fun to ask an esteemed group to make predictions about what would happen in the entire 2020s in sports, entertainment, and politics. Let's introduce the panelists:

Alan Saunders - Writer at Pittsburgh Sports Now and Pittsburgh Hockey Digest among other places. I'm not sure that anyone writes more about Pittsburgh sports than Alan.

Jim Shearer - Host of 70s 80s 90s Now on SiriusXM and the creator of the amazing Yinz Luv videos. (I’m sure it was a lot of work putting those together, but I’d love to see a return of this series.)

Josh - The founder of the oddly titled blog Josh's World. He also thinks he's better at fantasy sports than he is!

Nick - My brother. Please note that I will mock him for making some ridiculous picks below.

Jason - Friend and UVA graduate. Little known fact: Virginia has been pretty good in many college sports recently.

Heidi - Writer of The Steel Trap, the only place to go for First World Problems and to read about things overheard during the holidays.

Christine - A friend I've known from college (so only a few years ago) and  writer of the late The Adventures of ChrisMichRob in Korea.

Joe - AKA Joey Bag of Donuts. The hardest working man in podcasting.

Rich - Writer of the now late Boo's Ramblings.

Matt Grubba - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review contributor and someone else who pops up on the Pittsburgh sports scene quite often.

Sean - Writes a 15 year-old blog that you’re reading right now!

We'll start with sports questions.

What NFL team will win the most Super Bowls in the 2020s?

* Alan - Only one team won more than one Super Bowl in the 2010s -- the New England Patriots -- and the Pats entered the decade as three-time winners with a quarterback in their prime. Since there's no one else in that category, I'll say no one wins it more than once in the next 10 years. 
* Jim - Dallas Cowboys/Buffalo Bills
* Josh - I am going to make a bold prediction here and say that no team will multiple Super Bowls in the next decade. The NFL will truly have their parity wish and it will probably be the most boring decade in football history.
* Nick - Steelers
* Jason - Baltimore Ravens
* Heidi - Hopefully one that isn't filled with folks who have bizarre social media habits.
* Christine - Ravens
* Joe - I think it'll be the Patriots again. Belichick is only 67, I can see him coaching for the next 10 years easily. Tom Brady will be replaced with a newer, better QB.
* Rich - The NFC will come back to power, with San Francisco leading the charge
* Matt - My heart wants me to say the Steelers, and I do think they'll get one in the first half of the decade if they can keep the young parts on their defense together. I'm going to go with teams that have All-Pro talent already on both sides of the ball and guess the Ravens and Rams each get two, which will be the top mark.
* Sean - Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes will lead the team to at least two titles over the next 10 years.

Will Mike Tomlin be the Steelers coach on January 1, 2030?

* Alan - Absolutely not.
* Jim - No.
* Josh - Yes, I think he has shown this year that he is a great coach who even when lacking in talent can still lead a team to wins.
* Nick - No
* Jason - No.
* Heidi - "Obviously." Not.
* Christine - Yes - he's pretty young
* Joe - No. It's amazing he has been around this long. There are dark times ahead for the Steelers after Ben retires and Tomlin won't be around for it.
* Rich - No, he'll retire before the end of the decade.
* Matt - No. As mentioned above, I think the Steelers get another in the next five years, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Tomlin bow out soon after getting another, much like Cowher did after getting his first. And when he wins another, 25% of Steelers fans still will complain about him after the first loss the next year.
* Sean - No. I think he'll retire on his on terms and go work on television.

What MLB team will win the most World Series titles in the 2020s?

* Alan - The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the best-run organizations in baseball and have an essentially unlimited payroll. A rebuilding cycle in San Francisco means you can essentially pencil them in for a playoff spot every year. Can't ask for much more than that.
* Jim - The team with the most money.
* Josh - This is a tough one. The obvious answer is the Yankees, but they did not win one the last decade, but it seems like they are going to spend enough to at least be in contention every year. The Astros are poised to win for a few more years, but who knows what happens as players get older. I doubt the Giants thought they would be as bad as they have been the past few years after winning three in this decade. So, I will take a long shot team here. I will say the Los Angeles Angels. Look, they have Trout and Rendon, so all they need is some starting pitching. If they develop, sign, trade for some, then they could be a dominant team for a few years.
* Nick - Buffalo Bisons (Sean's note: Does he think that baseball is going to expand to Buffalo and that the team will be the most successful in the 20s?)
* Jason - New York Yankees
* Heidi - Well, it won't be the Pirates.
* Christine - Yankees
* Joe - Yawn. Yankees or Cubs or Dodgers or any other large market team. Baseball's economic system is a joke and only the rich teams do well for a long time.
* Rich - Yankees continue to buy championships and take 3-4 out of the 10.
* Matt - The Yankees just went a whole decade without making the World Series for the first time since the 1910s... I hate to say it, but it looks like they have the pieces together for another run of dominance. The spoiler could be if the Astros can grab another couple before their current window closes (and I don't think it has just because Cole is gone).
* Sean - Los Angeles Dodgers. So many good young players and play in a much easier division than the AL East.

How many winning seasons will the Pirates have in the upcoming decade?

* Alan - Four. It won't be 2020, but Ben Cherington will get the team over the hump as Neal Huntington once did. Keeping them there will be harder.
* Jim - 2.5
* Josh - They will have two winning seasons. Just enough to keep fans from falling into too deep of despair, but not enough to ever be relevant.
* Nick - 2
* Jason - 3
* Heidi - Define "winning season." I am unfamiliar with the phrase when it comes to Pirates baseball.
* Christine - 3 (optimistic)
* Joe - 2. They'll have another 'run' and then have to tear it apart again like other small-market teams.
* Rich - 4, with 3 postseason appearances and 1 year of making it past the first round
* Matt - 3. They're going to be in rebuild mode for the next few years, so I'm going to say they split the last 6 years after being under .500 from 2020-23.
* Sean - 4. Drafting and development will finally show some dividends in the second half of the 2020s.

What NHL team will win the most Stanley Cups in the 2020s?

* Alan - NHL feels impossible to predict. Who would have guessed the Blues? I'll go out on a limb and pick the New Jersey Devils. Ray Shero is a good GM. Couple nice pieces to build around.
* Jim - The yet-to-play unnamed team from Seattle.
* Josh - I do not follow hockey enough to even venture a guess. I had to look up who won the most in the 2010s (Chicago Blackhawks). I feel like the Boston Bruins are always a good team, so they are my prediction.
* Nick - Penguins
* Jason - Boston Bruins
* Heidi - Pens!
* Christine - Penguins
* Joe - Washington. They have a solid organization and will survive Ovi retiring.
* Rich - Las Vegas
* Matt - No idea, but it very well could be whichever team Connor McDavid ends up on when the Oilers realize they can't afford him anymore.
* Sean - Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon is the best young center in the NHL (not including Edmonton, but the Oilers keep trading other good players for little return).

Next, we're going to the world of entertainment.

What actor will win the most Academy Awards in the 2020s?

* Alan - Leonardo DiCaprio is only 45 somehow.
* Jim - Tie: Adam Driver and The Rock
* Josh - There are so many great actors out there. Were there any repeat winners in the last decade? If I had to put money on someone, I would go with Christian Bale, he seems to only be taking roles that allow him to really stretch his legs as an actor (kinda like Daniel Day-Lewis). So he will probably get a few more nominations over the years.
* Nick - Robin Williams, wait Hugh Downs. Yea, Hugh Downs. (Sean's note: I guess the Robin Williams thing was supposed to be funny? The Hugh Downs thing stemmed from New Year's Day 2020 when I mentioned that there were a lot of clips going around of Barbara Walters saying "This is 2020," but that there didn't seem to be any mention of Hugh Downs anywhere. Still, this answer makes no sense.)
* Jason - Adam Driver
* Heidi - Bradley Cooper
* Christine - Taron Egerton
* Joe - Tom Holland! I hate that he pulls off an American accent so well :)
* Rich - Finn Wolfard
* Matt - Christian Bale. He'll get nominated but probably won't win this year for Ford vs. Ferrari, but he's young enough that he'll probably get at least 3 or 4 roles this decade that merit consideration. (As a caveat, I think Tom Hanks has a shot at Best Supporting Actor this year, so if the question is ANY Academy Award, Hanks probably has a couple more in him after being snubbed a lot over the last decade.)
* Sean - Adam Driver. Of course, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mahershala Ali, and Michael B. Jordan aren't going anywhere.

What actress will win the most Academy Awards in the 2020s?

* Alan - I'll again say 10 unique winners.
* Jim - Amy Adams (midway through the decade we will only honor one best actor, regardless of their gender)
* Josh - I will take the safe bet here and go with Meryl Streep.
* Nick - Lisa Bonet
* Jason - Jennifer Lawrence
* Heidi - Meryl Streep
* Christine - Saoirse Ronan
* Joe - Jennifer Lawrence
* Rich - Katherine Langford
* Matt - I have not seen Little Women, nor is that sort of film my cup of tea, but I have yet to see anything I didn't love Saoirse Ronan in. Even if she doesn't win this year, on the heels of Lady Bird and Little Women, I could totally see her going on a Daniel Day-Lewis-type run where everything she does is a contender. I sure hope so, because I'd watch her read the Dublin phone book.
* Sean - Amy Adams. Of course, Emma Stone, Octoavia Spencer, and Olivia Colman aren't going anywhere.

Will Keeping Up With the Kardashians or some spin-off be an active television show at the end of the 2020s?

* Alan - One of the Kardashians or Kardashian-adjacents will still have a TV show.
* Jim - Probably.
* Josh - That is still a show? Umm, probably...
* Nick - Of course. No, I think Paris Hilton will make comeback to rival the Kardashians.
* Jason - Yes
* Heidi - Is water wet?
* Christine - No (or at least I hope not!! I think a new family will claim the spotlight.)
* Joe - Nope. Eventually people will get tired of them (I hope).
* Rich - OH GOD PLEASE NO!!!!
* Matt - No, and thank goodness for that! I do think at least one of the younger Jenner girls will still be prominent in the fashion world, and maybe Kim, too. (Though I suspect some plastic surgery might be needed to keep her, um, best assets viable.) But I really can't see someone still paying any of them for a show 10 years from now, unless we're talking via some YouTube sort of format. I mean, internet video is what got Kim famous in the first place, right Ray J?
* Sean - Sort of. They won't be on traditional TV, but a variation with one of the Jenners or Kardashian kids will be on some type of streaming service. This is kind of cheating.

Politics: Who will be President of the United States on January 1, 2030?

* Alan - I want to give a reasonable answer like Cory Booker, but who the hell would have picked Trump? So, I'm going way off the wall and picking The Rock.
* Jim - That title will no longer exist.
* Josh - Donald Trump Jr. I mean, I hope not, but I just have no faith in our electorate.
* Nick - I won’t go there. (Sean's note: Why won't you go there? You're making a guess on a blog about who will be president in 10 years. This isn't a case where you'll lose your job if you're wrong.)
* Jason - Pete Buttigeg
* Heidi - Michelle Obama
* Christine - I think it will swing back to a career politician, and hopefully someone who has a clue how to be a decent human being. No idea who the specific person will be.
* Joe - Michelle Obama
* Rich - Justin Amash
* Matt - It's probably going to be no one we've heard of at this point. If I had to guess, it will be a moderate-ish Democrat, as changing demographics are going to put the hurt on Republicans by 2028. Assuming both win their congressional races this year -- and I think they will -- PA has a couple in that mold with incumbent Rep. Conor Lamb and current PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. The Texan Castro brothers come to mind, too.
* Sean - Kamala Harris. She'll be more prepared after not doing well in 2019 and will stay relevant thanks to being a Senator from California.

Finally, what is one prediction that you have about the upcoming decade?

* Alan - We will still not have flying cars at the end of it.
* Jim - The robots are one step closer to taking over.
* Josh - I was going to try and be funny, but I really have nothing. Especially since it looks like we may be on the brink of WW3 (I don't think it will escalate that far, but according to Twitter...). Anyways, I have been thinking way too much about the automation and future of work, plus reading Dan Carlin's book, and it led me to this prediction...I think the next decade will be know as the calm before the storm. Before we can reach that Utopian society where no one works and machines do everything for us, there are a few obstacles to cross. I think the next decade will be the period future historians call the intermediate period. Probably chaotic to those people, but to us it will just seem normal.
* Nick - Major League Baseball will be forced to contract. There will only be 18 teams. (Sean's note: So baseball will contract, yet somehow there is now a team in Buffalo. Clearly, Nick did not think this through.)
* Jason - There will be no president impeached.
* Heidi - Fruitopia makes a come back.
* Christine - A bunch of Generation X will be taking over things. We've been sitting quietly by as the Boomers and Millennials have been duking it out. Our time is coming...
* Joe - Remember Google Glass? Tech glasses like that will be a big thing next decade.
* Rich - The country will finally get tired of the two-party system that continuously moves farther left or right, abandon one or both of them, and a youth movement will push a new third party into prominence. Traditional cable tv will cease to exist as online streaming becomes the new standard. Those online services will continue springing up with every major studio, and a few independents, starting their own creating an online video boom before many start folding and condensing back down to 4 or 5 major options. Finally, online shopping becomes the norm, as only specialty brick and mortar stores survive; but the post office folds and Amazon and FedEx become the major delivery services.
* Matt - As much as I hate to say it, I think the next decade will have some major, catastrophic "natural" event that will finally start get people's asses in gear about stemming climate change. All the arguments about whether humans/fossil fuels/the good Lord above are causing the change will go by the wayside, and people will start to think: "Hey, it's starting to get pretty uncomfortable here, let's do something about it."
* Sean - There will be a lot of discussion and perhaps even a vote by a state legislature or two (Alabama or Mississippi are the likely favorites) to secede.

So will any of us be correct? Sean's Ramblings just turned 15 years old, so we can all look when the blog turns 25 to see how we did. Plus, please feel free to include your own predictions in the comments section below.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Mr. 3000 (State of the Ramblings)

This is my 3,000th blog post almost exactly 15 years to the day that I started Sean’s Ramblings. 15 years ago, I was still a newlywed and in my 20s, before kids and before even Ziggy. We had recently bought a small and comfortable condo, and I started a new job. Basically, within about six months, I got married, moved, changed careers and professions, and started a blog. All four ended up being major life events! I’m kidding a little about the blog being a major life event, but I can’t imagine the number of hours I've spent thinking of and writing 3,000 separate posts.

Let me go back to late 2004. I was in a job that I liked but the organization completely changed. All of a sudden, I went from being the new guy to having more tenure than the rest of the small staff combined, and I wasn’t even there two years. It was at this time that I first learned about blogs thanks to several friends starting their own. I would check their blogs multiple times a day to see if they posted something new. Eventually, and after talking (or at least emailing) with all of them, I decided to start my own blog thanks to their encouragement. My friends stopped writing their blogs years ago, though one of them started a successful website and continues to write regularly. The difference is that the personal blog is gone, and the new website is subject specific.

And that gets me back to my blog. Sure, I write about sports and entertainment, but it's a personal blog, and most people don’t write personal blogs anymore. Life gets in the way, or it’s easier to type out a few tweets instead of coming up with a thoughtful blog post. While it’s one thing to share your status on Facebook or pictures on Instagram, writing a blog post is potentially there forever and can be seen by anyone. I’m not going to suggest that we go back to 2010 and begin a Make Blogs Great Again campaign. That’s just the way it is. Right, Bruce Hornsby?

Even though I’ve written a lot here over the last 15 years, I’m still guarded. I don’t use my kids' real names or include pictures of them. Sure, I’ve written about emergency room visits, but I don’t write about how the kids are doing in school or some personal things about myself. Maybe I would if this was completely anonymous (about me, not the kids), but it’s not. With that written, I’ve found Sean’s Ramblings to be a wonderful outlet. It's an amazing hobby. I often find it much easier to share my thoughts and feelings in a blog post rather than through talking with friends or family. I'm sure that says something about me. When someone creates a biography about me writing the (possibly) world's oldest continuously operating personal blog, I'm sure this will come up!

Someone that I follow on Instagram posted recently that they deleted many old blog posts "in the hopes of improving overall SEO on my blog." I don't understand this. I know that plenty of my old blog posts have links to other sites that no longer work or include videos that were removed. I don't have the time or interest to go through all 3,000 posts. Apparently, I also don't have an interest in improving my SEO or CEO or IBM either. At this point, I view Sean's Ramblings as a bit of a time capsule in that I can look back at old posts at any time to see various stages of my life or to look at events from a certain time period. 

While this is starting to sound like a retirement speech. Sean's Ramblings isn't going anywhere. I don't know if I'll still be writing this blog for another 15 years. At my current pace, I'm certainly not going to write 3,000 more blog posts. So what's next? I have a few ideas for blog posts including a fun look at the next 10 years likely coming out on Thursday, but who knows what I'll write about next month (for example). Although my idea of becoming Loudoun United's official team blogger failed, I still hope to get invited to various events or openings or receive a press pass to cover something. I've shared in the past my admiration for the different opportunities for the Pittsburgh blogging community. There just doesn't seem to be the same community in DC or Northern Virginia, or if there is, I'm not part of it. Maybe it will happen in 2020!

I'm ending this post by including one of my favorite songs from the last few months. 

Dave Grohl starts the video by saying that "there are friends everywhere, even those you don't know." I'm grateful for all of the interaction I've had with so many people over the years. I've never met most of these folks in person, but I do feel like I have friends everywhere. Thanks to all of you for reading this post and for checking out Sean's Ramblings. Maybe this is the first time you've read my blog. Maybe you've read all 3,000 posts. I hope that I've given you some entertainment or maybe even something to think about. Although that last part seems doubtful, I really appreciate all of your support! To 3,000!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Emergency Room Christmas

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that your 2020 is off to a good start. Today, I’m going to share a story that goes way back to a time when the Pittsburgh Steelers were 8-7 and still had a chance to reach the postseason. A time before Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins needed shoulder surgery. Yes, I’m going all the way back to December 25, 2019.

On Christmas, my family joined millions of others across the country by visiting a movie theater. We purchased tickets to see the animated film "Spies In Disguise" featuring the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland.

We bought popcorn for the entire family to enjoy. Then, we sat in our reclining seats to eat our popcorn and watch the film. I should probably mention that patrons 3 and over are required to purchase their own tickets. Kids that are under 3, like Luigi (2) get in for free and have to sit on your lap. Not a problem.

During the movie, both The Moose (8) and Pedro Tulo (5) really enjoyed the ability to move their seats into a reclining position including an adjustable footrest. Near the end of the movie, Luigi decided that he had enough of sitting on someone’s lap and wanted to move around a little. There was plenty of room in our row to do this, and he could easily go between our four seats. Apparently not paying attention to his brother, The Moose closed the adjustable footrest...on Luigi’s foot. Luigi started screaming, so I quickly took him out of the theater. He calmed down after a few minutes, but he refused to let me put him down and he kept his head on my shoulder. We eventually went back inside because I had to know if Will Smith would turn back into a person from a pigeon. (I won’t spoil this for you.) I stood in the back with Luigi still in my arms. The movie ended, and we went home. Luigi was unable to put any weight on his foot though and cried whenever we tried to put him down to walk. With limited options on Christmas day (and agreement from our on-call pediatrician), my wife took Luigi to the emergency room while I stayed home with the older boys. The short story (since I wasn’t there) is that all of the X-Rays came back negative, Luigi was given some ibuprofen, and they came home. He also received Shaggy and The Headless Horseman as a gift from the hospital, so that almost made the trip worthwhile (especially since I haven't received a bill yet).

Oh, I also picked up some Chinese food. Christmas tradition!

Luigi limped some for the days following Christmas, and he still sometimes winces a little when we put on his shoe, but he’s fine. I think a New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to visit the emergency room less as a family this year than the two times we visited in 2019. In addition, between this incident and how I barely escaped Frozen 2, perhaps I shouldn’t take my family to the movies anymore!