Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Even More Notes From Home

Why do I have to repeatedly ask my 6 year old (Pedro Tulo) to put on his underwear? You would think that once would be enough, but I end up repeating this request 4-5 (or more) times!

My 2 year old (Luigi) can now open the refrigerator on his own. What could possibly go wrong?

I definitely need to figure out the mask thing or get new masks. I’ve gone to the grocery store 2-3 times over the last few weeks, and I learned that I can't wear glasses with the mask because they fog up. The masks are also a little tight and uncomfortable around my ears. Oh, I can’t talk very well with them on either. I guess they work, but a little comfort would be nice.

Speaking of masks, Vice President Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday and walked around the hospital without a mask. A HOSPITAL! I don't consider myself a germaphobe, but whenever I'm in a hospital or doctor's office, I use sanitizer on my hands every two minutes. And that was before the coronavirus.

There seem to be a lot of conspiracy theories about everything out there, so I'm sharing one of my own. Mike Pence knows that he's never going to get elected president, but he wants the job. So he visits a hospital without a mask in the hopes of contracting the coronavirus. Pence probably feels that he's in good shape, has no other medical conditions and is surrounded by some of the best doctors in the world. He'll be fine. However, Pence passes on the coronavirus to an older and not-as-in-shape Donald Trump, who becomes extremely ill (so that he can't govern) or passes away. In either case, look who becomes president. Already in the position and with what is going to be a mess of an election in November (hello voter suppression!), Pence gets re-elected president. Again, there is a 0.0001% that this is true, but why not have fun with a conspiracy theory?

My brother is the king of class-action lawsuits. No, he’s not a lawyer like Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman against Sandpiper on Better Call Saul. He just follows class action lawsuit websites and adds his name when it applies to him. He’s also forwarded several lawsuits to me over the years. They usually don’t amount to much, but I recently received a check for $72.04 from an airbag settlement. Woo!

Finally, I'm sharing this link from The Washington Post for when I look back at my time at home in 10-15 years. The online learning for my kids in elementary school has gone, um, poorly. Fortunately, this week (knock on every California redwood tree) has gone well.

Photo by PBS / YouTube.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Unauthorized 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Recap

The 2020 NFL draft took place Thursday through Saturday, and I'm here to once again provide in-depth coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks. And by in-depth, I mean that I provide some meaningless (to many people) facts about each player, usually based on their name.

Round 2: Pick 49 - Chase Claypool, WR Notre Dame

First, since the children's cartoon Paw Patrol still gets played in my home, it's always appropriate to share that Chase is on the case! In addition, a clay pool sounds like it would be an awful place to swim. Better than a concrete pool or a steel pool, but still not pleasant. Now that I got that out of the way, it's important to note that Chase Claypool could be the most successful athlete born in Canada in Pittsburgh sports history! Well, besides Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Jason Bay, Ron Francis, Rick Kehoe, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jean Pronovost, Matt Murray, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Coffey, Chris Kunitz, and about 100 other Pittsburgh Penguins. Fine. Just be better than Justin Mourneau's stint as a Pirate and that would be a success!

Round 3: Pick 102 - Alex Highsmith, LB Charlotte

I was all set to make a Police Academy reference, but then I realized that the character's name was Hightower, not Highsmith. In that case, do you remember the former Houston Oilers RB Alonzo Highsmith? He was good. There doesn't seem to be any relation between the two Highsmiths, so I'll just include this picture from Police Academy.

Round 4: Pick 124 - Anthony McFarland Jr., RB Maryland

I spent way too long trying to figure out if Anthony McFarland Jr.'s is the son of Anthony "Booger" McFarland, who was a former NFL player and now an ESPN broadcaster on Monday Night Football. He is not. Can we still call him Junior Booger?

Round 4: Pick 135 - Kevin Dotson, G Louisiana

I see the name Dotson, and I think of the Datsun car company which makes me think of the line "He gon' make it to a Benz out of that Datsun" from Kanye West's Gold Digger.

Round 6: Pick 198 - Antoine Brooks Jr., S Maryland

I got nothing here. There was a Kevin Costner movie several years ago called Mr. Brooks, but I didn’t see it.

Round 7: Pick 232 - Carlos Davis, DT Nebraska

Clearly, Carlos’ nickname has to be Carlos Danger. It’s an awesome name that’s never been used before. Oh wait. Don’t use that nickname, Carlos!

Some of the undrafted rookie free agents

FB Spencer Nigh (Auburn)

The fullback is nigh! (While I’m guessing that Spencer for Hire here has heard the phrase the end is nigh thousands of times, has he ever heard the expression the fullback is nigh? Get Pittsburgh sportscaster Bob Pompeani on this immediately!)

DB Trajan Bandy (Miami (Fla.)

Trajan Bandy will try to become the first person named Trajan in NFL history. He also wore the turnover chain at Miami.

LB James Lockhart (Baylor)

A bold move to draft the former Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. Fortunately, defense is part of the title for someone who plays linebacker.

LB John Houston (Southern California)

You may know John Huston as an Oscar-winning filmmaker who has credits including The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Prizzi's Honor. You may also know Huston as the father of Anjelica Huston. Let's hope that this John Houston directs the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship! (See what I did there!)

P Corliss Waitman (South Alabama/Mississippi State)

The second song on The Velvet Underground's debut album "The Velvet Underground & Nico” is "I'm Waiting for the Man." Of course, the album may be best known for this album cover by Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, and the Andy Warhol Museum is located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh just slightly more than a half mile away from Heinz Field. Makes perfect sense for the Steelers to draft a player named Waitman who can probably punt the ball from a Heinz Field parking lot to the museum!

If you want to see previous Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins draft recaps from the last decade, please feel free to click here. See for yourself if some of my jokes and observations are still relevant or hold up today!

Photo of Trajan Bandy by Al Diaz of The Miami Herald.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday Videos: GoNoodle

On cold and rainy days and even for a break on warm and sunny days, we've tried to find videos where the kids can move around a little. Enter GoNoodle, with the description "movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts." Perfect! Here are three of my favorites that are really, really, really catchy for kids and grown-ups who like to pretend that they're kids sometimes.

Enjoy these videos, and have a nice weekend! (Wait, the weekend is tomorrow, right? I don't even know anymore.)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The End Of The O

News came out on Saturday that The Original Hot Dog Shop, better known as "The O," closed. Props to my friend Alan for publishing the first article about this at Pittsburgh Sports Now. Anyway, The O is, I mean was, (I'm going to jump between past and present tense a lot in this post) located in the heart of the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. Even though it's not technically part of the University of Pittsburgh campus, the restaurant is across the street from the law school, a few buildings down from some residence halls, and close to several university hospitals. While hot dog is obviously in the name of the restaurant, The O may be best known for its French fries. An order of small fries is enough for 2 people. A medium can easily serve 3-4. The best way to eat the fries is to order a side of the cheese sauce, especially since you only get one ketchup for a small and two for a medium. 

I just went through my blog archives, and while I mentioned The O several times, I never described what the restaurant meant to me. My great uncle used to take me there as a child, and I'm pretty sure I ate there before a few Pitt football games with him and my dad. We definitely ate there as an entire family. On the last day of my senior year of high school when seniors got out early, I went there for lunch with some friends. I had several drinks there after I turned 21. Even though I haven't lived in Pittsburgh in many years, I still tend to eat there nearly every trip back. I'm glad that I can say that all of my kids ate at The O during our visit last summer.

Restaurants come and go. It's a tough business. I think we're going to see a significant number of restaurants not return once COVID-19 is gone. However, I never thought that The O would be one of those restaurants. It's an institution. It's a place where doctors and professors eat lunch and where college students eat and drink late at night. The O wasn't supposed to close. I'm really going to miss it.

More information about the closing is available via KDKA and The Pitt News.

Friday, April 17, 2020

More Notes From Home

My schedule is pretty crazy right now. During the day (meaning between 7:30 AM and 9:30 PM), I try to balance doing as much work as I can at home with being a parent to my three boys. It's tough. Pedro Tulo (6) and Luigi (2.5) are definitely not self-sufficient. While The Moose (9) can do more on his own, he can get distracted rather easily by his brothers and needs help keeping focused on any type of school assignments. In theory, I guess we could just let them sit in front of the TV or play on their tablets all day while we work, but that's not productive, and they would get restless. (I should note that there are some really good educational websites/apps out there and the kids can't just "work" all day, so some screen time is definitely fine...for them and everyone's sanity.) Plus, I want to be involved in helping my kids learn and play with them too. Basically, I want to make sure that the kids are happy and feel loved and supported.

So what happens is I end up doing a lot of work after the kids go to bed. I feel bad that I'm sending emails to my colleagues at midnight, but there's no such thing as working a traditional 9:00-5:00 right now. The problem is that I'm not getting enough sleep. Yes, I still fall asleep regularly on the couch working (and watching TV), but I find that I wake back up at 1:30 or 2:00 AM and then do a little more work. I never seem to be too far away from my laptop. Overall, I need to find a better balance. And get regular sleep!

Although my street isn't a traditional cul-de-sac, it's not a through street, so that's where the kids play. There are a few other families on our street, and we see them occasionally while making sure that the kids maintain a social distance from each other. There's a third-grader on the street over that can be annoying but is generally harmless. He seems to wander around, often on his bike, without any type of parental supervision. The other day, he came over to our street and wanted to talk/play with my kids. My wife asked him to keep six feet apart, and the kid responded by saying, "You're not the boss of me." While I appreciate the use of the "Malcolm in the Middle" theme song, my opinion of him has now changed from an annoyance to a brat. Even before everything started, I didn't really like my kids playing with him since he would want to (and sometimes did) ride their scooters even though he is way too big for them. Now, I definitely don't want him to play with them!

Our car lease was about to end, so we had to figure out what to do. Even though we're not going anywhere right now, we need two cars, particularly because the car that we had to turn in was the one we use when taking the entire family out. I definitely wasn't going to visit multiple dealership or take numerous test drives and this was before the stay-at-home order. So I researched everything online and called/emailed multiple dealerships in the area. We ended up leasing the same model vehicle, and I basically went to the dealership to drop off the old car and pick up the new one. The new car has barely moved.

On a related topic, the last time that we purchased gas was March 15th!

We run the dishwasher every day since the five of us use so many dishes, silverware, and cups. SO MANY DISHES!

Finally, our community fitness center has started doing a "kids recess" class. This was the three of them doing push-ups or planking or something. It's generally pretty cute.

Stay safe!

Monday, April 13, 2020

When & In What Order Should Kids Watch Marvel Movies?

Being home 24 hours a day, my kids have had significantly more screen time than they did pre-quarantine. They watch shows like The Masked Singer, American Ninja Warrior Junior, and Lego Masters (and watch each episode several times) and Luigi (2 & 1/2) still enjoys Paw Patrol and Sesame Street. The Moose (9) and Pedro Tulo (6) will often join him with these "kid" shows, though usually with a tablet in their hands. The older two found a Nickelodeon show called Paradise Run, where three teams of kids around ages 11-14 race all over a Hawaiian resort, but I've found that if you've seen one episode, you've seen every episode. They also discovered Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! which resulted in this brief exchange:

Pedro Tulo: Is that a princess?
Me: No, that's Vanna White.

I mentioned recently that we let the kids watch Spaceballs. While The Moose said that he liked it, he definitely didn't get the jokes.

Anyway, I'm trying to expand what they watch. This got me thinking about the Marvel movies.

I am one of about 27 people who hasn't seen many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really don't have an explanation why, but my best reasoning is that I haven't been to the movie theater much at all since my kids' births. The movies I've seen are those that are tangential to the main story but seemed to get good reviews (and were available during some free movie channel preview) such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, Deadpool, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. With more free movie channel previews and just airings on regular cable, I started recording several of the movies. All of this leads to my questions in the title of this post. Are my kids old enough to watch the movies? If so, what order should we watch them and do we need to watch all the films in the series?

Oh, if you have other suggestions of TV shows and movies for my boys, please feel free to leave this in the comments too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Madonna Was (Is?) A Pirates Fan

In these uncertain and unusual times, it's nice to bring some normalcy to this world. That's why I'm bringing back the Celebrities in Pittsburgh Gear series at least for today. The Twitter account Odd Pittsburgh posted this 1980 picture by Mick Rock of Madonna wearing a World Champs Pirates shirt.

Someone on Twitter (I can't seem to find it now) mentioned that Madonna had some family in Pittsburgh, so she may have been a fan of Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Bert Blyleven, Kent Tekulve, and company.

Please click here to see other celebrities in Pittsburgh gear.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Random Facts About Me

My friend Nichole posted this on Facebook, and I thought it would be fun to share my answers here.

First Job - Soccer Referee

Current job - Senior Analyst (How about that for a vague title!)

Dream Job - Professional Blogger/Influencer

Favorite Food - Lox on an everything bagel with cream cheese

Favorite dog - Farfel. My parents got her from a shelter a few months before I was born. I grew up with her.

Favorite footwear - I loved Adidas Gazelles. The problem is that the soles got worn out quickly.

Favorite Candy - Skittles

Favorite Ice cream- Mint Chocolate Chip. Graeter's Ice Cream in Columbus may have had the best I've ever had.

Your Vehicle color - Brown

Favorite Holiday - Probably Halloween. No clear winner for me on this one.

Night owl or early bird - A night owl before I had kids. Now, an early bird by necessity. (I hope to go back to being a night owl in 15-20 years again!)

Favorite day of the week - Saturday

Tattoos - No

Can you drive a stick - No

Favorite color - Green

Do you like vegetables - Some

Do you wear glasses - Yes, and I need a new pair. I also wear contacts.

Favorite season - Spring. The weather finally gets nice, and my birthday is in May. Spring was the end of the school year growing up, the start of the baseball season, and Kennywood Day!

Feel free to share your answers in the comments below.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Notes From Home

Even before we've been staying at home, but especially since we're here 24/7, I've played a fun game around the house called "Turning Off Lights in Rooms Where There Are No People." I have the high score!

With a free preview of Starz, I recorded several movies. Being the wonderful parent that I am, I let the kids (ages now 9, almost 6, and 2 & 1/2) watch "Spaceballs." There are a few more swear words than I remembered, so I just hope they don’t use them in the coming days. Anyway, my oldest who seemed to be paying attention the most kept asking me if this is the funny part. It probably didn’t help that I tried showing them "Star Wars" twice in the past, but they only made it about 30-45 minutes through and didn’t want to continue. Although my oldest said that he liked the movie and was proud of himself for predicting that Lone Star and Princess Vespa would end up together, he (and they) definitely didn’t get it.

I also recorded Quentin Tarantino’s "Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood." I will not be watching this one with my kids!

I've been on Zoom quite a bit lately. The reason I mention this is because when I look in the mirror, I see some hair on the top of my head. Based on my laptop camera angle, I look pretty bald on the webcam. (Of course, most people probably already think of me as bald/balding.)

Ziggy is going to have plenty of dry food for the next few weeks months years. This is a 16-pound bag!

I miss Wegmans. I generally go there at least once or twice a week, but I haven’t visited since March 17th. We did a pretty good job on stocking up on what we need and have also had groceries delivered. However, we’re going to need Passover food and some prescription refills, so I expect to be back soon.

Speaking of Passover, I don’t know how this is going to work this year. I probably go to grocery stores every day or two during Passover to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Wegmans usually has a good selection of premade meals too. Frequent trips are not going to happen this year. Without pasta, pizza, chicken nuggets, and our usual breakfast foods (cereal, muffins, bagels, etc.), I also have no idea what the kids will eat. Any Passover food suggestions are greatly appreciated. Complicated recipes with an extensive list of ingredients are not.