Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Good Job, FCPS

I'm Jewish. This isn't exactly breaking news since I've been Jewish my entire life and have written about various aspects of Judaism several (or many) times on this blog. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, are kind of a big deal.  Except for the few years in elementary school when I attended a Jewish school, I would miss school on these holidays. I know some of my non-Jewish friends were jealous that I had excused absences, but it wasn't like I was going to the movies or Kennywood. I was at synagogue and maybe we would have lunch with family or family friends after services on Rosh Hashanah. Even though most (but not all) teachers were understanding about the reason for taking off school, I always felt behind after missing classes. This was especially the case in high school, college, and graduate school. Although I had the "day off," the homework and assignments didn't go away.

After finishing graduate school, I worked a variety of jobs including the one where I'm at now. Every year, I have to take vacation days for these holidays. I always feel like I'm wasting my vacation time. Again, I'm not traveling anywhere or even having a staycation day. Just like when I was in school, my work doesn't go away on these days. The projects are still there when I return, and my inbox is filled with unread messages. There was even one year where an organization I worked organized an entire community-wide event on Rosh Hashanah. That was fun spending months helping to plan an event and then not being able to attend or participate.

I write all this because Fairfax County Public Schools announced a new calendar for 2022-2023 which includes days off for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and other religious holidays such as the Hindu festival Diwali and the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr. I'm happy that my kids won't have to miss school for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur like I did. Well done, FCPS!

Now, for the 2023-2024 school year, can we talk about winter break? With some of these new days off for holidays, there doesn't need to be 2+ weeks off in December!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Coach Ice T

If you’re under 30 or 35, you probably only know Ice T from his acting on Law & Order: SVU. Maybe you remember that he had a reality show Ice Loves Coco on the E! network. He has also appeared in several commercials including those for Tide detergent for “Cold Calls” with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and quarterback Matt Ryan aka Matty Ice. If you’re older than 35 or 40, you probably remember Ice T as part of the musical group Body Count, best known for their controversial song, Cop Killer. In the early 90s, this was a huge deal. The song was denounced by President George H. W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Tipper Gore and was prominently mentioned in newscasts and articles.

Last year, I wrote about how I started adding blueberries to my Honey Nut Cheerios. It was probably my worst blog post of 2021 though I still enjoy this combination for my breakfast. The back of the box features the "Pour Your Heart Into It" workout series with Coach Ice T. I highly recommend listening to the audio of this 3 minute and 14 second walking workout. And by walking workout, it's really dialog between Ice T and Buzz, the Honey Nut Cheerios mascot encouraging you to walk for about two minutes. My favorite quote is Ice T telling the cartoon bee, "I like walking with you too, Buzz." "Hustlers hustle at their own pace" is also a phrase I need to use more often.

Anyway, if you're like Marty McFly and can travel to the past, I'd love to see the reactions of people in 1993 (including Ice T himself) telling them that Ice T would be in a series of commercials and workouts for Honey Nut Cheerios.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Special Delivery

While I think I've only mentioned it a few times here, I'm regularly frustrated by the amount of time my kids spend on YouTube. There are so many other TV and movie options available, but they end up watching the same videos or channels any time they have screen time. As an option for something different and interactive, particularly on bad-weather days, a friend graciously let us borrow his probably decade old Nintendo Wii. We played for the first time recently, but one of the controllers doesn't seem to work. I looked online and found a new one for about $15. Sold! I made the purchase.

On Thursday, I received a package in the mail. I didn't recognize the return address and naturally forgot that I ordered the Wii controller. I opened the package and was very confused by what was inside.

What the heck??? Why would someone order one individual balloon? More importantly, why would a a company mail a single balloon? I didn't have a chance to research this further at the time, but a few hours later, I received an email notifying me that the Wii controller was delivered. Except that it wasn't. The delivery was actually this single pink balloon with white dots. 

So now I need to mail the balloon back (yes really) in order to get a refund. I tend to think the company won't believe that they sent a balloon in place of a video game controller. I definitely would not. We'll see what happens next.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Sean's Sports Betting

Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020 with online sportsbooks beginning to accept wagers in January 2021. Since that time, every commercial break on sports talk radio or during any sporting event on television features at least one advertisement from sportsbooks often featuring J.B. Smoove, Jamie Foxx, or Drew Brees. Just before the NFL season started in September, I created an account on one of these online sportsbooks and deposited $100 from money made specifically from this blog. Yes, amazingly, I really have made a little money over the years from this. Based on the amount of time I've spent writing this blog, it's probably the equivalent to about $0.04 per hour. I'm not quitting my day job or even my soccer referee side job to become a "professional" blogger!

Anyway, during this time, I've limited my wagering to the NFL, college football, golf, tennis, the NBA, college basketball, the NHL, the Olympics, and soccer. There was probably a baseball game or two in there too. Maybe "limited" is the wrong word. I realized that I might have a little bit of a gambling problem when I put money on a soccer match in the Cypriot First Division. Did you even know that Cyprus had its own soccer league? Throughout this time, I haven't added any money to my account. In my mind, as long as I don't put any more money into the account, I don't have a problem. This probably isn't true, but that's what I'm going with. Of course, I haven't withdrawn any money from my account either.

When I wrote about my criminal record last fall, I mentioned that I could have been involved with a study about gambling on college campuses. I occasionally think about this like when I'm betting the over on the number of goals in an Ottawa Senators-Detroit Red Wings hockey game. Seriously, I hope there is some really good research out there about the impact of gambling on 18-25 year-olds. 

I do want to share one wager I made recently. Bayern Munich faced RB Salzburg in the second leg of UEFA Champions League round of 16. I placed $4 on Bayern Munich to win, the total goals scored in the game to be over 2.5, and the total corner kicks to be over 8.5. Bayern Munich put up 7 goals (for  Pittsburgh sports fans of a certain age: Chili Goal! Chili Goal! Chili Goal!) and won easily 7-1. In looking at the stats after the game, ESPN showed that there were 9 corner kicks. This made me happy since I would have won about $10. Unfortunately, the sportsbook showed it as a loss. I was confused. I did some research and saw several other websites, including the Bayern Munich website, show 9 corners. However, the UEFA website showed 8 "corners taken," and as I later discovered, that is what my sportsbook used. On the last play of the match, a Salzburg player deflected a Bayern Munich shot out for a corner. Before the kick was taken, the referee blew his whistle to end the game. Technically, there were 9 corners. Technically, there were 8 corners taken. And yes, I spent way too much time researching this and chatting with the sportsbook customer service representative. 

So if betting on the amount of points scored in the MAAC Championship between Monmouth and St. Peters sounds like fun to you, and you live in a state with sports betting (and the sportsbook I use), please let me know. I'm happy to refer you and get a little extra money for my account myself! 

Monday, March 07, 2022

Hit Stick

This is the hit stick.

Yes, this looks like a prop that could have been used on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, but it’s actually for baseball and softball.  

The Moose recently had his first baseball practice of the spring season and although I'm not coaching, I offered to help. The coaches divided the kids into different groups and assigned me to the hitting station. My job was to hold the hit stick as 4th and 5th graders whacked away. Here's a picture of someone using the hit stick in action.

Looks like a good activity, right? It can help kids practice making contact. While this activity may be great for the kids, I'm convinced that the hit stick was made by the devil! I held the stick for at least 30 minutes through easily 200+ swings. When I finished, my hands were shaking, my fingers were swollen, and there was (and still is) an ugly blister on my left hand. The hit stick thing is the worst. Of course, in writing this blog post, I did a little research and discovered the video below. While there is unintentional comedy of this guy saying "big stick" and "shaft" in front of his daughter (I think like a 14 year old sometimes), the suggestion of wearing a glove is huge. And something I wished I knew BEFORE holding the hit stick!

Fortunately, Skye is helping my blister heel. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

State of the Union Suggestions

Joe Biden will deliver the State of the Union tonight at the Capitol Building. Like most of these speeches over the last decade and beyond, I expect there to be multiple standing ovations by members of presidents' party and silence from the opposing party. While Biden often talks about bringing people together, I think he can do this tonight by having both Democrats and Republicans stand, or at least applaud, at portions of his address. Here are my suggestions on things he can say to unify both political parties:

* Dolly Parton is a national treasure and a saint.

* Major League Baseball needs to reach an agreement immediately so that the season starts on time.

* Abolish daylight savings time.

* I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.

* Sean’s Ramblings is a great blog. (Actually, this might unify both parties in that this comment will result in absolute silence.)

* "President Reagan once said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Well, Frito-Lay, bring back Bar-B-Q Fritos!"

* Sidney Crosby is the best overall hockey player over the last 20 years.

* Zaxby's is underrated.

This should just about cover everything. If there's anything that's missing, please share them in the comments. I'll be sure to pass them on to President Biden and his speechwriters!