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. 

* Update! This is incorrect. There have been about 10 major league players with the first name Owen (some with the given name). For example, Donie Bush, who was third in the 1914 MVP voting as a member of the Detroit Tigers, was born Owen Bush. Owen Wilson apparently went by Chief Wilson and had 36 triples for the 1912 Pirates. Thanks to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects for this information.

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


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!