Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Telemedicine Appointments

During the pandemic, we have had the opportunity to shift some of the kids' doctors appointments online. It has saved so much time and allowed me and the kids to meet with doctors without having to miss work and school. Seven year old Pedro Tulo has seen one particular specialist for over two and a half years. In June, Pedro Tulo had an EEG, and they wanted him to have as little sleep as possible. He made it all the way to 2:45 AM, and I woke him up at 6:00. The Moose stayed up for moral support (and the chance to watch unlimited TV) until midnight. After I woke him up from the couch to take him to bed, he angrily objected and declared that he wanted to win the contest for staying up later. I had to try to explain to a tired and delirious 10 year old that there was no contest and that he needed to sleep.

I'm getting way off topic. That happens a lot. The EEG was in person, but we scheduled the follow-up to be online. This worked out perfectly since we planned on being on vacation. About 30 minutes before the telemed appointment, a staff member from the doctor's office called to check on Pedro Tulo's height and weight and to confirm his medications. She then asked to confirm if we were in the state of Virginia and had the Zoom link. I paused and replied, "Is the first part a problem?" I probably shouldn't have said anything, but I did. The answer was yes. 


Apparently there is some type of Virginia law that you must be in the state for any telemed appointment. I should probably mention that I live in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC. The doctor is affiliated with Children's National Hospital in DC, so he likely has patients in DC and Maryland. I could be in Washington or Bethesda only about 10-20 miles from the office, but the doctor could not meet with us online. Meanwhile, if I was in Roanoke or Virginia Beach over 200 miles away, that would be fine.

At the time of our scheduled appointment, I clicked on the Zoom link hoping that maybe the doctor would see us. He did not. However, a few minutes after I turned off the computer, he called, and we had the appointment by phone. While I'm not a member of the Virginia legislature, and I'm not going to play one on the internet, it seems like someone should look at these regulations. How is it fine to have an appointment by phone but not online? What's the difference? It seems like it is more efficient for doctors and patients to have appointments online in some cases. Why does it matter if I'm in Alexandria or Los Angeles?


Photo by TeleMed. Apparently, there's a company with this name. I just thought telemed was a generic term.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Swimming and Gymnastics Get Too Much Olympic Attention

Welcome to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics taking place in 2021! Obviously, the Olympics were delayed because of the global pandemic, and it's definitely odd seeing events with no fans. While I had all types of ideas for Olympic related  blog posts, I'm too late to do a preview. Instead, this post is part of my new series, Hills I'm Willing To Die On. And today's hill is that swimming and gymnastics get too much attention at the Olympics.

This certainly isn't designed to be an anti-Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, or Michael Phelps post. They are all incredible athletes who deserve all of the accolades they receive. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever with 28 medals including 23 golds. Many people see these numbers and also consider him to be the greatest Olympian ever. Ledecky comes into the Tokyo games with 6 medals and will compete in four individual events and at least one relay event. Meanwhile, Biles earned 5 medals in Rio and has the chance to double her medal total in Tokyo. Again, these are all outstanding athletes and their accomplishments may not be matched in these sports for years if ever. 


The point of this post is more about these sports themselves. Women's artistic gymnastics has four individual events (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor) as well as the team competition.There are six individual events for men (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar) gymnastics plus the team. There are 37 different swimming events! 37! Yes, it's incredibly difficult to qualify to compete in multiple events, but the opportunity to do so is there. For example, Ledecky is competing in the 200, 400, 800, and 1500 free events. The distances are different and preparation for and the races themselves are different, but it's the same stroke. Meanwhile, if you play team handball, you have one chance to win a medal. There isn't a team handball event and then an individual one. There's one opportunity to win a medal in baseball and softball. The Olympics does not have a home run derby or skills competition. If you throw the javelin, it's all about who can throw it the furthest. Why not have more opportunities for javelin athletes? Maybe have an event to see who can throw the highest too? Perhaps archery and javelin athletes can have team events to combine accuracy and distance. I understand that this sounds silly, but why not? 

NBC will show gymnastics and swimming more than other sports in part because they have so many events. Yes, Biles and Ledecky are superstars, but as I mentioned, in many events, athletes have only one chance to win a medal. I understand that I can go out and find rowing and baseball and skateboarding on TV or online, but I wish there were more focus on these other sports and athletes. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

2021 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Recap

Although the 2021 Major League Baseball draft occurred over a week ago, the Pirates selected too many players with great names, so I had to write about it. Oh, if you're new to this blog and just saw the post title, I should probably mention that I often write Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers draft recaps that focus on player names and other silly things. If you're looking for in-depth player analysis, I suggest looking elsewhere, but I promise that this will be more entertaining. 

Please note that I'm not going to write about every player drafted, and this isn't in any particular order.

Round 1: Henry Davis, C - University of Louisville

Sure, I could mention that Davis batted .370 with 15 home runs along with an on-base percentage of .482 and a slugging percentage of .663 during his junior season at Louisville, but what fun would that be? Instead, I'll share that my kids watched a few episodes of the Nickelodeon TV show Henry Danger recently. 


Whenever I see the show title, I think of the band Harvey Danger who created one of my favorite songs from the 90s, Flagpole Sitta. While I can easily hear Pirates announcer Greg Brown yelling "O Henry" every time Davis makes a great play or hits a home run, I hope that nickname Flagpole Sitta catches on for Davis. Just picture it. HOME RUN, FLAGPOLE SITTA!

(My apologies to Brendt Citta who was the Pirates' 38th round pick in the 2018 draft and who is currently in AA Altoona. The #1 overall pick gets this nickname.) 

Round 6: Mike Jarvis, SS - San Diego State University

First, Go Aztecs! Second, this is quite the unusual draft pick. Jarvis was a college basketball coach at George Washington University and St. John's University. He just seems a little (okay, A LOT) old to get drafted.

Round 9: Luke Brown, OF - University of Louisville

This is a country singer. The Pirates drafted a country singer. You can't convince me that Luke Brown isn't a country musician.

Round 15: Tyler Samaniego, P - University of South Alabama

Where in the world is Tyler Samaniego? Do it, Rockapella!


Round 4: Owen Kellington, P - U-32 HS (Vermont)
Round 13: Owen Sharts, P - University of Nevada

There have been plenty of jokes about the last name Sharts, but this is a high-class blog, so I will refrain from such sophomoric humor. I mean, Baby Sharts (doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo) is a potential nickname, but again, I want to focus on the first name Owen. Although baseball has been around for well over 100 years, according to Baseball Reference, there has only been one person with the first name Owen to ever play in the majors. That's Owen Miller of the Cleveland Indians who made his debut in May. Owen Miller is currently batting .106 (5 for 47). Actually, besides retired long-time hockey player Owen Nolan and I guess NFL TE Owen Daniels, can you think of other successful professional athletes in America with the first name of Owen? (I'm not including Owen Hart.) There's not a good track record here, so these are highly questionable picks by the Pirates. Prove us wrong, Owens, prove us wrong!


Round 3: Bubba Chandler, P - North Oconee HS (Georgia)

Bubba has already committed to play baseball and football at Clemson, and honestly, someone named Bubba seems like the perfect fit as the Clemson quarterback. Looking at Baseball Reference again, there is not a great history of baseball players named Bubba. The most successful is probably Bubba Church who pitched from 1950-1955 for the Phillies, Reds, and Cubs. He went 36-37 with a 4.10 ERA and a career WAR of 7.8. Before you start bringing your thoughts about how great Bubba Trammell or Bubba Crosby were, they were not. Back to Bubba Church (which sounds like a really fun place for a Sunday service), he had 274 strikeouts in 713.1 innings. Most pitchers now have that many strikeouts in about 300-350 innings!

Round 12: Chazz Martinez, P - Orange Coast College

While there have been very few people named Owen or Bubba to ever reach the majors, Chazz Martinez could be a trailblazer. Yes, there's Chaz Roe, a mediocre relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays (and even as a mediocre pitcher, he's earned over $6 in his career), but there has never been a major leaguer named Chazz. Good luck, Chazz. We're all counting on you!


We interrupt this draft recap for a fun fact!

Of the 21 players selected by the Pirates, none of them primarily play 1st base or 2nd base. Some of the position players could certainly move there as they go through the minors. Typically, the best athletes play shortstop in little league and high school, but they may no longer be the best athletes once they join the Pirates.

Round 8: Sean Sullivan, P - California

Great pick! Anyone named Sean is a fantastic pick. Sean Sullivan is welcome to write a post here anytime. 

Round 14: Braylon Bishop, OF - Arkansas HS (Arkansas)

Check mate! (I'm here for all of your chess joke needs.)

Round 16: Daniel Corona, SS - The Baylor School (Tennessee)

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the new name, image, likeness opportunities for college athletes, but if I'm Daniel Corona, I call the Corona beer people and request to be in a commercial with Snoop Dogg, Bad Bunny, or Tony Romo. I'm sure Corona is looking for an entry into the Wake Forest University community, and this is their chance. (If Corona says no, Corona should sign with the Pirates.)  


Please click here to see past draft recaps. 

Friday, July 09, 2021

Friday Video: Way Less Sad

Congratulations to AJR for being featured in two separate Friday videos! (The first was for their song Sober Up.) Today's video is Way Less Sad, which is another catchy song by the band. I dig the song and the band!

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Mike Tomlin Is A Really Good Coach

Welcome to the first post in my new series, “Hills I’m Willing To Die On.” The idea behind these posts are me sharing my opinions that will be impossible (or nearly impossible) to convince me otherwise. 

When it comes to active NFL coaches, Bill Belichick with six Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots is clearly considered the best. I think many people would rank Andy Reid next though it took him having Patrick Mahomes as quarterback to win his first Super Bowl. After that, I'm not sure if there is a significant difference between the 3rd best and around the 10th best coach. And I would include Mike Tomlin in this group as a top tier NFL coach.


There are many people who criticize Tomlin. Some of it is fair. Some of it isn't. The idea that Tomlin only won a Super Bowl with Bill Cowher's players is still absurd to me. You know who didn't win with Cowher's players? Bill Cowher. The team followed its 2005 championship by going 8-8 with Ben Roethlisberger starting 15 games, Willie Parker rushing for nearly 1,500 yards, and having Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Alan Faneca, Troy Polamalu, James Harrision, Ike Taylor, and more. You know, Cowher's players! Meanwhile, I have yet to hear any Pittsburgh sports fans criticize Mike Sullivan for winning the Stanley Cup with Mike Johnston's players. Sullivan took over part-way through the 2015-2016 season and led the Penguins to titles that season and in the 2016-2017 seasons. He hasn't won since, so clearly he only won with Johnston's players, right?

The next criticism I hear is that Tomlin should have won more since he had Big Ben as well as arguably the best running back and wide receiver in football with Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Thanks to injuries, the three of them rarely played together in the playoffs. Plus, having the best players in the game doesn't mean you're going to win. I know that I’m bringing up different sports, but Mike Trout has played in one playoff series with the Angels during his 11-year career. Connor McDavid has made it beyond the first round with the Edmonton Oilers once in his 6-year career. I think most people consider James Harden one of the best players in the NBA. He's only made it to the finals once and that was very early in his career.

Back to football, Aaron Donald may go down as one of the greatest players in NFL history. He lost in his only Super Bowl appearance. Just because you have possibly the best player in the league in 1-2 positions (no one considers Roethlisberger to be better than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees) clearly doesn't mean you're going to win a Super Bowl. Football of all sports requires more than 2 or 3 elite players. Just look at the Super Bowl last season. You have a future Hall of Fame coach in Reid and the best quarterback in Mahomes, but with an offensive line decimated  by injuries, Kansas City lost big to Tampa Bay.

I’m getting off subject which happens quite often. Now Tomlin's recent playoff record definitely does deserve criticism. He hasn't done well with challenges over the years either. You can definitely complain about his choices in hiring offensive and defensive coordinators including the puzzling “retirement” by Bruce Arians. Still, look at how Tomlin has fared compared to his contemporaries (courtesy of Ian of @thesteelersnat). 


Although Tomlin has the best regular season winning percentage of this group and the worst playoff record, this really seems like a lot of this.

Plus, Tomlin seems truly respected by his players. Have you ever heard a current or former Steeler say bad things about Tomlin? Take a look at the interviews Ron of Steelers Takeaways has done, and the players all seem to admire and respect him.

I'm not suggesting that Tomlin is the best coach in the NFL. He needs to win more playoff games which might be tough this season with an improved division and Ben at the end of his career. However, my hill to die on is that Tomlin is a top tier coach in the NFL and nearly every other team would love to have him. He’s also going to Canton and deserves to be there and not just for the Hall of Fame game in a few weeks.

Friday, July 02, 2021

SiriusXM

I recently purchased a subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio since I expect to be in the car a lot more than I have been over the last year plus. That's a really low bar since if I just go out and sit in my car right now for an hour, it would be significantly more than over the last year plus. 


Anyway, for those of you who have SiriusXM, what stations should I check out? Do you have favorite stations or shows? I should probably add that much of my driving will be with the kids in the car, so listening to Howard Stern may not be appropriate for them.

In case you're wondering, sure I could ask this question on Twitter, Facebook, or simply be calling or emailing friends. I'm just looking for some blog content today!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Famous Ithaca College Alumni

Gavin MacLeod, best known for playing Captain Stubing on The Love Boat as well as being a regular cast member on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and McHale's Navy passed away in May. If you're over 45 or 50, he's probably the best-known Ithaca College graduate. This got me thinking about a blog post I wrote a decade ago listing the most famous Ithaca College alumni. I think now is a perfect time to update the list. 

Please note that this is in no particular order. It's very possible that I missed several notable graduates, so please contact me if there's someone that should be here. I also only included graduates. Therefore, even though actress/TV host Ricki Lake, singer Gavin DeGraw, and Emmy-award winning actor Jharrel Jerome all attended Ithaca College, they didn't make the list.

David Muir - Anchor of ABC World News Tonight.

David Boreanaz - Actor on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Bones, and Seal Team.

CCH Pounder - Actress on The Shield, ER, and NCIS: New Orleans.

Bob Iger - Former CEO of The Walt Disney Company

Jessica Savitch - One of the first national female anchors (and her story helped inspire Anchorman).

Mark Romanek - Film director of One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go and Grammy and MTV Video Award winning video director. I highly recommend going down the rabbit hole of seeing how he works as a director and then watching some of the videos he directed. He's responsible for some of the most iconic videos of all time.



Karl Ravech - ESPN journalist.

Kevin Connors - ESPN journalist (and fellow member of the class of '97).

Aaron Tveit - Tony-nominated actor for Moulin Rouge who is likely going to be a Tony-winning actor for Moulin Rouge though it's still not a guarantee

Barbara Gaines - Former executive producer of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Time to take a look at Ithaca College graduates in the Pittsburgh sports community:

Lanny Frattare - Former Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster.
Jenna Harner - Sports anchor on WPXI.
Josh Getzoff - Pittsburgh Penguins broadcaster.

John Ross Bowie - Actor best known as Kripke on The Big Bang Theory and Jimmy DiMeo on the gone-to-soon show Speechless.

Ben Feldman - Mad Men and Superstore actor.


Jeremy Jordan - Tony-nominated actor also known for his TV work on Smash and Supergirl.

Robert (Bob) Marella - National Wrestling Hall of Famer better known as Gorilla Monsoon. 

Eileen Filler-Corn - Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and first woman to serve in this position.

Meghan Musnicki - Gold medal winning rower at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Tim Locastro - Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder.

The Birthday Boys - 6 of the 7 members of this sketch comedy group are IC graduates, and they had a show on IFC with some guy named Bob Odenkirk. 


Dane Fischer - William & Mary's men's basketball coach (and
someone I interviewed!)

Zach Spiker - Drexel's men's basketball coach.

Ryan Bamford - UMass athletic director.

Liz Tigelaar - Executive Producer for Little Fires Everywhere, The Morning Show, and Nashville.

Ithaca has also produced these sports broadcasters:

Brandon Burke - Television play-by-play announcer for the New York Islanders.
Ed Cohen - Radio voice of the New York Knicks.
Drew Goodman - Television play-by-play broadcaster for the Colorado Rockies.
Nick Nickson - Los Angeles Kings' broadcaster.

Andrew (Andy) Daly - Seemingly the busiest actors in Hollywood. You might not know his name, but as soon as you see his picture, you know him (from Review, Modern Family, and even CarMax commercials).


Larry Teng - Television director and producer of Nancy Drew, Ed, and Medium.

Q Smith - Broadway actress in Mary Poppins and in the original cast of the incredible musical Come From Away.

Jan Singer - Former CEO of J. Crew and Victoria's Secret.

Bill D'Elia - Executive producer of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, and How To Get Away with Murder.

Finally, Giorgio Tsoukalos. Who? This guy!

Friday, June 25, 2021

2021-2022 Sheffield Wednesday Schedule

I've mentioned several times that I'm a fan of Sheffield Wednesday. I went to a game at Hillsborough Stadium when I spent the summer in England in 2000. Although the team had just been relegated from the Premier League to the English Football League Championship, I had a great time at the game. I didn't really follow Wednesday again until about 7-8 years ago, so even though the team went down to League One (the third division of English football/soccer) since my visit to Sheffield, I've only really known them in the championship division. Therefore, I'm sharing the 2021-2022 Sheffield Wednesday schedule with some notes about their opponents in League One. And by sharing notes, I'm really writing about my thoughts on the team names. My apologies in advance to any of the cities, towns, and clubs I write about below because I know nothing about them (as you will see very quickly).

First, here is your 2021-2022 Wednesday schedule:


So I could write about Wednesday having a busy February with 6 matches in three weeks or the team starting and finishing the season with 3 of 5 games on the road, but I want to focus on Wednesday's opponents. Enjoy!

* This was a LearnedLeague question and I got wrong this season: 

What is the surname shared by soccer legends named Jack and Bobby, who played for two decades from the 1950s to the 1970s for Leeds United and Manchester United (respectively), and were among the starting eleven on England's World Cup-winning team in 1966? The name is also that of an area of southeast London that has been home to a Premier League club as recently as 2007 (currently in League One).

The answer is Charlton. If not for this question, I would have figured that the team was named after former member of the Cincinnati Reds' Nasty Boys, Norm Charlton.

* Current Sheffield Wednesday Darren Moore manager served as the Doncaster Rovers' manager until March 1st. There might be some familiarity between Moore and Doncaster. Should be fun!

* Fleetwood Town is clearly a town dedicated to all things Fleetwood Mac. I hope to visit this magical place I hope, no, I expect that the team plays Fleetwood Mac songs non-stop before, during, and after games. The team is probably going to look at Darren Moore like Stevie Nicks stares at Lindsey Buckingham beginning around the 3:30 mark of this Silver Springs video.


* It will be nice to see familiar teams Rotherham United and Wycombe Wanderers who got relegated with Wednesday last season.

* I have no idea what a Morecambe is or how to pronounce it. Give me some credit for learning how to say Wycombe last season.

* Plymouth Argyle is clearly known for their socks.

* Wigan Athletic spelled their team name incorrectly.


* Oxford and Cambridge are likely the best known universities in England and arguably two of the most prestigious in the world. I don't really have anything else to add here except that it would be fun to go to away matches in these cities. Oh, I also visited Cambridge University when I did my summer abroad program. Just wanted to share that.

* I find it fascinating that there is a Wycombe Wanderers AND a Bolton Wanderers. That's a lot of wandering! As for Bolton, you never know what to expect. They could be a soft and cuddly team like Michael Bolton (why are he and Zooey Deschanel doing some type of celebrity dating game?) or evil like Ramsay Bolton of Game of Thrones.

* MK Dons is clearly named after the Jersey City, New Jersey musical group that was big in the early 90s.


* I attended the Wimbledon tennis tournament in 2000 and know that Wimbledon is a residential area of London. Still, I picture soccer matches being played on the grounds with passes going from court to court.


* Gillingham is clearly an homage to the X-Files actress who also recently played Margaret Thatcher on The Crown.

* Someone clearly made up the team Accrington Stanley just to see if we're paying attention. That's not a real thing.

There are other teams like Portsmouth, Sunderland, Crewe Alexandra that I didn't mention because I have nothing witty to share. I'm sure that they as well as Burton Albion (probably a nice guy), Lincoln City, Ipswich Town, and Cheltenham Town are all nice, quaint places to visit. 

WAWAW!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Random Ramblings: June 2021 Edition

* Luigi (the three year old) goes to sleep after 10:00 regularly lately. He sleeps until 8:00, so 10 hours of sleep seems normal, but I'd prefer if it was 9:00-7:00 or 9:30-7:30. He also hasn't had a nap since the pandemic started.

* How does Dollar Tree make money? All of the products are $1, and they have to pay rent for the building, utilities, and employee salaries. Are they really making 50 cents for each bag of $1 Werther's candy bag? How much did they make on the 2-pack of playing cards that I purchased for $1?

* I feel bad for the non-Lachey members of 98 Degrees. Backstreet Boys and *NSync were huge at the beginning of the millennium and are still somewhat relevant today. For example, Backstreet Boys had a song "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" that did pretty well just a few years ago. We all know about Justin Timberlake, but the other members of *NSync still appear regularly including in a recent Progressive commercial. Nick Lachey has had a very nice career thanks to his reality show with his then wife Jessica Simpson, and he recently won the latest season of "The Masked Singer." His brother Drew Lachey won the second season of "Dancing with the Stars." However, can you name the other members of 98 Degrees and say what they are doing today? 


* Longtime readers may have seen my many different series (serieses?) over the years like Found in My Basement, and Celebrities in Pittsburgh Gear. Well, I have a brand new series that will debut next month. I'm excited for it!

* There only seem to be a few cicadas still left in my neighborhood. Well, I mean there are plenty of dead ones around, but only a few that are still alive. I feel a little bad for these stragglers. There were thousands of them around just a few weeks ago, and I feel like the remaining ones missed their chance for fun and to procreate. I definitely don't miss the noise or them flying into me, so I'm definitely okay with waiting another 17 years to see them again!

* I finished my first book since the pandemic started. I read regularly on my commute to and from work, but since I've been working from home, I just haven't had the ability to focus on reading. It embarrassingly took 2-3 months to finish M.O. Walsh's "The Big Door Prize," but I'm glad that I did. I really enjoy his writing and recommend his books. 

* Finally, I recently saw the new Disney Pixar movie "Luca." I'm trying to decide if it's a prequel or sequel of  the Academy Award winning "The Shape of Water."


Monday, June 21, 2021

Time To Join The Sports Betting World?

It's not exactly breaking news that sports betting is huge. What might be breaking news is that I think I'm going to start betting on sports. Just for some history, I placed a wager on a Pittsburgh Steelers game with a "bookie" when I was in college. (I won. Meanwhile, the bookie ended up having a fairly successful media career until last year when he abruptly did not though he seems to be working in the industry again.) I also go to the sports book whenever I visit Las Vegas, though I haven't been there in well over a decade. 

Sports betting is now easier to do than ever. It's also legal in more and more places, and it's a huge moneymaker for states. For example, Pennsylvania has a high tax rate on sports betting revenue. Since Pennsylvania legalized sports betting, they have surpassed $7 billion in total handles.  A small 2% goes to local jurisdictions while the rest goes to the state. Revenue for the Keystone State is over $500 million (this number does not include May 2021 numbers yet), and when the NFL season begins, there will be even more months of high revenues. (Even with all of this revenue, the cost to drive on the turnpike still seems staggeringly high, though that could be a topic for another blog post.)


I'll admit that I don't exactly know what all of this means other than a lot of people are making bets and casinos, websites, and states themselves are making money. Still, you see offers that are too good to pass up (though I have so far). A risk-free bet up to $1,000. Bet $1 and if an NBA team hits one 3-pointer in a game, you get $100. I'm sure there will be more of these as it gets closer to football season.

And speaking (well writing) of the upcoming football season, I imagine that we'll see an increase in revenue this season. The 2021 Super Bowl saw about half of Americans betting on the game so you could imagine how each month will be leading up to the 2022 Super Bowl. Just in case you're wondering, the Steelers' odds to win the Championship title this year are currently listed at +4000. 

Since I still haven't signed up for a site yet, is there one that you recommend? Any betting tips are also welcome!


Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Deadly Dormitory

I spent many years working in student affairs. Therefore, when I saw that there's a film coming out called "Deadly Dormitory," I wanted to see how accurate it is to the college experience. Before even going to the trailer, I learned years ago that dormitory really isn't the proper term for on-campus living. A dormitory is a place for sleep as in being dormant. A residence hall is a more inclusive name for a learning, studying, socializing, and sleeping community. Still, Deadly Dormitory is a much catchier and alliterative name than Ruthless Residence Hall, so I'll give the producers a pass.


Wow! I'm not sure if I even need to see the movie now since the entire plot and conclusion seems to be in the trailer. You're probably wondering, Sean, why are you showing me this when I've never even heard of any of the cast members? The answer is that a friend is in the movie and gave me some juicy gossip about the film. And by juicy gossip, I mean interesting facts.

* The movie was filmed at The University of Oklahoma and though the fictional college is Oldbridge University, Oklahoma didn't allow the film to use the OU logo.

* According to my friend, the cast was incredibly nice. That's disappointing since I really wanted to hear that one of the stars was an Oklahoma State University fan and brawls broke out on the set. Maybe there could have been bedlam!

* The lit up "dorm room" on the top floor in the picture is a converted lounge since they couldn't get all of the film equipment in an actual room. 


* The filming occurred over winter break and the movie struggled to find extras with students away. My friend brought 4 outfits to be 4 different potential characters.

* Congrats to my friend Brian (pictured as a waiter on the left side of this picture) for making his film debut and thanks to him for giving me some blog content today!


Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday Video: Olivia Rodrigo

By now, most people are familiar with singer Olivia Rodrigo or at least one of her songs. This is my Olivia Rodrigo experience. I heard the song "Driver's License" and thought the song about teenage love and loss was fine. I'm definitely not the target audience on this song. Then, I heard "Deja Vu," and really liked the Billy Joel references. A kid who appreciates Billy Joel? I approve. Then, I heard "good 4 u," and decided I am all in even though I would prefer the title to be Good For You. I love the song. The lyrics are great. The music is great. It's like a 2021 version of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," and I definitely did not expect the NSFW word at the 1:20ish mark of the video below. It works though. Like a damn sociopath!


Before writing this blog post, I had no idea what Rodrigo looked like or anything about her. It seems like she writes most of her songs which makes me appreciate her more and think that she's going to be a household name like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, or Taylor Swift soon. 

This is a video of Rodrigo appearing on Saturday Night Live in case you want to see a live version of the song without the inappropriate word in the official video.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Cicada Rap

I've written about the Brood X cicadas several times over the last month or so and included pictures and even a video. They really are amazing. They emerge from underground every 17 years for about 2 months and then just go away. The amazing part wears off quickly though if you're living through it. They are everywhere, and they're loud. While the cicadas are harmless, it's still unpleasant when they land on you. 

The Fairfax County government shared this cicada rap by MC Bugg-Z. While I expected it to be terrible like Pennsylvania's G-Hog rap (Go G-Hog! Go G-Hog!), this is actually pretty good. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

My Life In Pictures

I thought I would share some pictures from the last month or so. I'm not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but The Moose and Pedro Tulo have been back to in-person school four days a week for about two months now. Therefore, it's just me and Luigi (and Ziggy) at home between the time we drop the older kids off at school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. While he probably gets more screen time than he should because I have work to do during the day (and I continue to do work in the evenings too), we regularly spend significant time outside. These are from a playground in our neighborhood (and the view from the playground). I don't think the tree should be leaning in this direction.




We also took a trip to Frying Pan Park. We saw this peacock and while they also had cows, sheep, and chickens, the cat might have been Luigi's favorite animal.



On a recent walk, we saw this blanket(?) from a neighbor's window. A little freaky.


Speaking of freaky, let's talk about cicadas. It rained much of last weekend and temperatures were only in the 40s and 50s. I thought that the cold weather might have killed off some of the cicadas, but they just went quiet and hunkered down instead. With temperatures back in the 70s and 80s this week, they're out in full force. While I'm not sure if the video below really gives the complete cicada experience, they were really loud the other day.




To celebrate my birthday a few weeks ago, The Moose made me a card and was nice enough to remind me to sign him up for baseball this fall.


Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship recently and as he walked to and then at the 18th hole, seemingly the entire crowd walked with him. If anyone with my neighborhood golf course ever stops me while walking on the course, I'm just going to show them this picture and say that it was fine for people to walk on the course at Kiawah, so I'm okay walking ON THE CART PATH here!  


I really needed to go through my clothes, and I finally did last weekend. I ended up donating two bags worth of shirts, jeans, and more. (Well, I'm going to donate them soon.) I think the oldest item was an XL Ohio State University Welcome Week T-shirt from 2000. The XL shirt was probably too big even then, and I don't think I've worn the shirt out of the house in a decade. It was time to go.





Finally, here's Ziggy sleeping on my bed.


Friday, May 28, 2021

Eric Carle

I've read a lot of books to my kids over the last decade. There are some that aren't very good, but you read them repeatedly because your kids like them. There are others that both of you and your kids enjoy, and you're happy when your kids want you to read them. Many of these books were written by and/or illustrated by Eric Carle.


I received a news alert on Wednesday that Carle died at the age of 91. He actually died on Sunday. In this day when news is immediate and instantaneous, it's odd that it took several days for this announcement to go public. When I saw the alert, I said "oh no" out loud because of books like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "From Head to Toe," and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" that I've read countless times. When Pedro Tulo was less than two years old, we had difficulty understanding him, and he struggled communicating. He qualified for assistance with a speech pathologist who came to my home once a week and daycare once a week. I clearly remember working with him and the speech pathologist by using Eric Carle books.

Besides the books, The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh had the "Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit" for several years. After learning about Carle's death, I found pictures and videos of my kids playing at the exhibit. And by my kids, I definitely mean me too.


While Eric Carle is no longer with us, his books will continue to be kids' and parents' favorites for years to come. Thank you to Mr. Carle for writing and drawing such amazing books!

More about Carle's life is available at NPR and The Washington Post.


Eric Carle photo by Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Sidney Crosby Saves Game

Sidney Crosby is an awesome hockey player. Reason #947 was this play on Thursday night to prevent the New York Islanders from tying game 3 of the first round playoff series late in the third period.


Yes, most hockey players would have done the same thing in this situation, but it's one of the greatest players of the last 20 years being in the right position late in the game.

Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger is the greatest quarterback in Pittsburgh Steelers history. The Steelers would not have reached 3 Super Bowls and won 2 of them without him. While it's not really fair to compare Sid and Ben and the two plays, I'm doing it anyway. This was Ben in the playoffs earlier this year.


Again, I know that it's not fair to compare the two plays and James Conner was also there for the Steelers, but there didn't appear to be any urgency by Ben on this play. 

By the way, this is my final blog post in my 30 blog post in 30ish days challenge. Go me!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cicadas Are Here

It was only a few weeks ago when I wrote that the Brood X cicadas are coming. Well, they're here. We spotted our first cicada on Saturday and found more and more each day.


We have a common area on our street with more than a dozen trees. There are shells and live cicadas on the trees and especially on the small plants below them. They are really everywhere now. What's interesting (at least to me) is that they aren't flying yet. They also aren't making any noise. I guess I should expect them to be flying everywhere and being extremely loud in the next few days and weeks.


The kids are fascinated by them. Three year old Luigi calls them 'cadas and is very conscious of not stepping on them when walking on his "balance beam" which is really the painted yellow curb separating the sidewalk from the street. If he sees a cicada on its back and struggling to flip over, he wants me to help. 


A friend on Facebook posted a picture of a blue-eyed cicada that she found. Who knew that there are white walker cicadas?


Oh, there is also a fungus that's making cicadas sex crazy. So basically, there might soon be millions of sex-crazed white walker cicadas. Winter is coming!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Tough Sports Weekend

Playoffs and tournaments can be difficult for players and fans. At the end, there is only one winner. Take this past weekend. The University of Pittsburgh's men's soccer team advanced to the final four for the first time in school history. They had a tremendous season, but lost 1-0 to Indiana University on Friday night despite having more quality chances and possession than the Hoosiers.


Meanwhile, Ithaca College's women's lacrosse team defeated the #2 seeded Washington & Lee in the round of 16 on Saturday evening 16-11. I believe the announcers said that Washington & Lee had won 40 straight matches at its home stadium. The win was so convincing that Washington & Lee is now considering changing its name.* Ithaca then advanced to the quarterfinals, but lost 16-5 to the Salisbury University Steaks. Fine, it's the Sea Gulls, though I think the steaks would be a better nickname. Anyway, Ithaca had a terrific season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division III NCAA Tournament for only the second time in the school's history.


Both Pitt's soccer team and Ithaca's lacrosse team had amazing seasons. However, there's a bit of disappointment now. You hoped that there would be national titles, but like I mentioned above, there can be only one winner. That's the beauty of sports, right? You celebrate the successes and wins and you mourn the losses, but there's always hope for the next game or year.

On a completely different topic, ESPNU aired the soccer semifinals on Friday night. Immediately after the first match between Marshall and North Carolina, ESPNU went right to a short film about the Vanderbilt women's bowling team. There were no postgame highlights or interviews with coaches. There was not a preview of the Indiana-Pitt match. Apparently, we needed to see this film at that very moment. There weren't 2 or 3 people at ESPN or college soccer experts out there who could have filled 30 minutes of coverage?

Photos from Pitt's men's soccer and Ithaca's women's lacrosse Twitter accounts.


* The school really is considering changing its name, but the reason is because of Robert E. Lee. You know, the military leader of the confederate army who fought against the United States of America. Most places would consider him to be a traitor. Actually, I like my line above about the school being so embarrassed by its loss to Ithaca that they could no longer live with its name, so let's just go with that!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Honey Nut Cheerios With Blueberries

When I announced my idea to publish 30 blog posts in 30ish days, my plan was to write short posts based on several ideas I had in mind and conclude with a big post about the 20th anniversary of my trip to see the Penguins-Sabres playoff game. My timing may have been a little off since I wrote about the hockey trip and still have a few more days to go.

Therefore, I just want to share that I recently started putting blueberries in my Honey Nut Cheerios cereal each morning. It's a delicious addition.


Yes, this might be the dumbest blog post I've ever written, and that's saying something since I once "wrote" and published a post while asleep.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Penguins-Sabres Game 7 Road Trip

In May 2001, I was approaching the end of my graduate program at The Ohio State University in Columbus. I also worked three jobs and was trying to find a full-time job and figure out where I would live after graduation. Despite probably being stressed, particularly in finishing my case study requirement to be able to graduate, I watched nearly every Pittsburgh Penguins playoff game at my friends' apartment, generally with my friends Maze, Wells, and Rob. Oh, I should also mention that my friends' apartment featured a living room table with bottle caps glued on the entire surface. This really has nothing to do with the story, but the table was super cool for guys in their 20s and not something that would probably work in homes with families. 

20 years ago this past Saturday (May 8th), the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in overtime in game six of the Eastern Conference semifinals. During the postgame broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2, the studio host casually mentioned that there were still some tickets available for game 7 to be held two nights later in Buffalo. We looked at each other and quickly tried to figure out the logistics of taking off work/school and driving the 300+ miles to Buffalo. While we were doing this, we found the phone number for the Buffalo Sabres ticket office and called to purchase tickets. There was not a way to buy tickets online back then. We managed to get 4 tickets in the top row of the HSBC Arena.

(I should mention that I showed this post to my friends before publishing it. According to Rob, the studio hosts mentioned that there were still tickets available for game 7 prior to overtime beginning in game 6. He also said that we pledged to try to buy tickets for game 7 if the Penguins won game 6. He's probably right.)


On Thursday, May 10th, 2001, we left Columbus around lunchtime and drove to Buffalo. It was a fairly uneventful ride except that Rob attempted to hang a Pittsburgh Penguins towel from the backseat window. This ended poorly as his pinky finger got smashed in what was clearly non-child friendly windows. While I don't believe there was any long-term damage, his finger really hurt during the trip. Oh, and there wasn't time to go to the doctor or even stop and get ice. We had to get to Buffalo in time for the game! (It's possible that we stopped at a fast food drive through to get a cup of ice. If we did, it probably didn't take more than 2 minutes from the trip.)

What's funny is that I remember very little about the game except for Darius Kasparaitis scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against future Hall-of-Famer Dominik Hasek and then diving on the ice in celebration. 


There were a decent amount of Penguins fans in attendance (at most 10% of the crowd), but much less than a Pens-Caps game in DC or any away Steelers game. While the Sabres fans were disappointed in the result, I don't remember getting any abuse or people yelling at us while wearing Penguins gear. 

After the game, we made our way to the lower section of the arena behind where ESPN interviewed Kasparaitis. I know that this made Sportscenter (a friend of mine saw me in the background and emailed me the next morning asking if I lived in Buffalo), but unfortunately, I can't find any video of this. There's audio proof of the interview though.

There's also complete footage of the entire game and interviews conduced by Pittsburgh and national media. I went through this video starting around the 3:25:00 mark like it was the Zapruder film, but I couldn't find myself.


The Penguins finished the season with a rookie goalie named Johan Hedberg. He went 7-1-1 to help lead the Penguins into the playoffs and continued his hot streak in a first round series win against the Washington Capitals. Hedberg got the nickname "Moose" and was extremely popular in Pittsburgh. You would hear "MOOOOOOOOOSE" chants when he made a big save, and there were even foam antlers to represent Hedberg. I mention this because Maze had a pair of these antlers that he wore to the game. On the way out of the arena, a Penguins fan approached Maze to buy the antlers, and purchased them for $20. While Hedberg played 12 seasons in the NHL, he never did as well as he did during the 2001 playoff run. I think getting $20 for the antlers was a good deal!


After we left the arena, we threw a frisbee to each other in the parking lot waiting for the traffic to clear. Then, several hours later probably between 2:00-4:00 AM, we stopped at a 24-hour Denny's somewhere off I-71 in Ohio. The food went right through us and Wells drove as quickly as possible to get us back to Columbus.

20 years later, I'm happy we went to the game. I wouldn't necessarily call it a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but this was a fun, impulsive decision that I'll always cherish. I certainly remember it more than what I would have done at one of my jobs that day. It's fun to tell people that I was at the Kasparaitis game and that we drove from Columbus to Buffalo, saw the game, and drove right back in less than 18 hours. I'm sure that my friends feel the say way.

Photos by Associated Press and Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT

Monday, May 10, 2021

Hank Azaria- Kevin Michael Richardson-Sofia Vergara

I recently saw several articles (including this one) about actor Hank Azaria apologizing for voicing Apu on The Simpsons.  I like Azaria. He's been a voice on The Simpsons for over thirty years, but I also remember him from Herman's Head, The Birdcage, and many, many, many other roles over the years, including as the title character of the show Brockmire, a highly entertaining (and definitely not suitable for kids) show about a disgraced baseball broadcaster that makes his way back. I watched the early seasons of The Simpsons religiously and even hosted a party for the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" episode. While I'm glad that The Simpsons are still on the air, I just don't watch it anymore.


The articles also mention that Kevin Michael Richardson is now the voice of Dr. Julius Hibbert. That name looked really familiar, so I went to IMDB. What a resume! Kevin Michael Richardson has been a voice actor for decades in dozens and dozens of television shows, films, and video games. He's also the voice of Crusher on Blaze and the Monster Machines, a show that Luigi (age 3) will likely watch today! What's funny is that I remembered Richardson from his live acting on a short-lived show called The Knights of Prosperity. (KMR is on the right.)


Back in 2006, I picked The Knights of Prosperity in a TV death pool (and even mentioned the show several times on this blog). The reason was simple. The show was supposed to be called "Let's Rob Mick Jagger," and the story that I heard was that the show thought that Jagger would be a recurring character, but he only wanted to be in the pilot. They ended up changing it to the odd title, The Knights of Prosperity. The show starred Donal Logue, Richardson, and an actress in one of her first major roles named Sofia Vergara. Sure, you might know Vergara from the multiple-winning Emmy show Modern Family, but she's also now a Steelers fan.


So, that's the post. No point, just random things that came into my head. This is probably what I envisioned when I named this blog Sean's Ramblings!

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Happy Mother's Day

I bought a nice bouquet of roses for my wife for Mother's Day. The Moose (age 10) decided to make a special card for his mom using one of the roses from the bouquet. This is the result:




Happy Mother's Day to those who are celebrating!

Friday, May 07, 2021

Sheffield Wednesday's Relegation Battle

I haven't written about Sheffield Wednesday much this season. While few people who read Sean's Ramblings care about the team, almost as important for writing purposes is that they have been awful. If Sheffield Wednesday was awful because the team was only playing younger players, that wouldn't be terrible. If they were tanking in the hopes of getting the top draft pick like Sidney Crosby, LeBron James, or Trevor Lawrence, that would be understandable. However, there are no drafts in European soccer, and the team isn't playing many young players. They are just bad.

A little background on the season. The team started with a 12-point deduction because of shady financials. I'm not going to elaborate on this since I don't fully understand the financial fair play regulations, but just know that before the season started, every team in the English Football League Championship had 0 points while Wednesday had negative 12. It looked funny in the standings, and it probably was for fans of the other 23 clubs in the league. Fortunately, the 12-point reduction was later reduced to 6 points. 


On the field, defender Dominic Iorfa, the team's player of the year for the 2019-2020 season, played only 10 league games before rupturing his Achilles. Solid midfielder Massimo Luongo has also only played 12 matches because of various injuries. I honestly think that if Iorfa was healthy all season, the team would be safe from relegation, and missing him and Luongo have been big losses. It also doesn't help that the team can't score goals. The team has scored 37 goals in 45 league matches. That's good (well not good) for 20th of the 24 EFL championship clubs and a major reason why they have been awful. 

Let's talk about managers for a moment. The team started with Garry Monk until he was fired in November and replaced by Tony Pulis. Pulis lasted all the way until the end of December until he was canned. Neil Thompson served as the caretaker manager until the club hired Darren Moore at the beginning of March. People seem high on Moore, but unfortunately, he has missed several games after developing pneumonia as a result of COVID. Moore will also miss Saturday's match with Jamie Smith taking on the managerial duties. Not very much consistency here.

Oh, did I mention that there have been several times when the players haven't been paid in full? If your employer is unable to pay you in full on time ONCE, maybe you chalk it up to a mistake as long as it's fixed quickly. If this happens several times, I can't imagine that you want to stay there. Yes, plenty of people say that they would love to play sports for free, but if you have to pay a mortgage, buy food, and spend money on childcare, you're not going to play sports for free for very long. I can't imagine that the players feel any type of loyalty to the club if the organization can't even do the most basic function of paying them on time.

So if you made it this far, you understand that the team is a mess. Still with all this, the team is still amazingly alive to remain in the championship division. For those of you not familiar with relegation/promotion, the best teams in this particular league get promoted to the Premier League for the opportunity to get destroyed by Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea, etc. However, the difference of being in the Premier League and the EFL Championship is millions and millions of dollars. Plus, you get the chance to compete with these teams. The bottom three teams get relegated to EFL League One. Think of the Premier League (or at least the top teams in this league) as a private jet. The Championship is probably the middle seat of a commercial flight. League One is a DC to New York bus. Little to no television coverage and much less money involved. You really don't want to go to League One.


So on Saturday, Sheffield Wednesday plays against Derby County managed by DC United great Wayne Rooney. (He may have played somewhere else too.) If Sheffield Wednesday wins and Rotherham United (yes, this is a real team) loses or draws Cardiff City, Sheffield Wednesday will finish in 21st and avoid relegation. Despite being awful, Derby and Rotherham have been just as bad if not worse. According to the FiveThirtyEight website, Wednesday has an 83% chance of getting relegated. This seems bad until you realize that this percentage was in the mid-90s a week or two ago.


So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to wake up for the 7:30 AM Sheffield-Derby match on a Saturday morning. (One or more of my kids is usually up by this time, so it's not as taxing as it would have been in my younger days.) I'm going to buy ESPN+ specifically for the match. I'm going to put on my Sheffield Wednesday T-shirt. And I'm going to cheer for Wednesday to win and stay up. 

And if they lose, I guess I can write a blog post this fall to try to figure out what a MK Dons is and who Accrington Stanley might be.