Monday, July 31, 2023

Found in My Basement: College Papers and Tax Returns

It's been several years since we did a thorough cleaning of boxes. With the older two boys away at camp, we decided to dig into some boxes which have been sitting in our storage closet for years. The best find was a gift card for $100 that we received when Pedro Tulo was born in 2014, and although the expiration date on the card expired, the funds did not, so I called the company and received a brand new card in the mail. We donated toys that my kids have outgrown and have seen better days but may still be useful for preschool-aged kids. We threw away and recycled a lot of stuff. 

As you can tell from the title of this post, I found many folders filled with college papers and tax returns. While I'm not sure how long you're supposed to keep tax returns (it seems like the answer is only 3 years), I have some dating back to my childhood. Why do I have tax returns from when I was only 10? It's not like I was working at Hills or Kmart. Anyway, all tax returns from the 20th century and the 2000s are now gone. Fun fact: I made $1,877 working as a soccer referee in 2005 or 2006. That was definitely before kids when I had a lot more time and was physically able to work multiple games on both days of a weekend. I haven't come close to making this amount in a year since then. I also found this W-2 tax statement proving that I worked at Blockbuster.

On to the college papers. Did you ever want my thoughts on Secretary of State Warren Christopher from a 1997 paper? How about a 1995 paper titled "The Unification of Germany and Its Economic Consequences?" I was quite generous with the margins and font size of this paper about NAFTA. Really needed to make sure I had enough pages!

Just one more item to share. While I wrote about being a summer intern for Congressman Mike Doyle, here is a letter of recommendation from him. Can I still use this or is there an expiration date?

Friday, July 21, 2023

Best of PGH 2023

There are many times when you watch an awards show like the Oscars or Emmys and everyone knows who is going to win in a particular category. Some nominees may hold a glimmer of hope that they might win, but they know this is unlikely and truly are honored just being nominated. That's me in the Pittsburgh City Paper's Best of PGH 2023 in the Best Blog category. I really am honored to be nominated since I know that I won't win and don't deserve to win.

Let's go through the five nominees:

I wasn't familiar with this site until I saw the list of nominees. Derrick and Daniel lead a paranormal investigation and research team and write and share videos of their experiences at different sites around Western Pennsylvania.

Simply put, Sue runs an important website. She's a great writer who shares experiences and stories of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community and also spotlights horrific violent incidents particularly against transgender individuals. She's won several awards for her blog since its founding in 2005 and deserves all of them and more.

Hey, that's me! This blog has and always will be all over the place. I write about Pittsburgh sports, followed by a post about running a 5K with my kids, or the battle over stairs in my neighborhood. For every "serious" post about current events, there are many more that might make you question why you're reading about how I saved money at Kohl's or if you really needed to see a picture Ed Sheeran meeting Cameron Heyward.

This nomination actually bothers me. This is a website promoting a mother and daughter's podcast about magic and mythology. There are no posts on the website. A nomination in the podcast category would be appropriate but not in the blog category.

You can't have a conversation about this history of Pittsburgh blogs without including Virginia Montanez. As PittGirl, she wrote the hugely influential Burgh Blog and That's Church, and there was huge speculation about the identity of the author (probably mostly from former Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who was last seen in Dark Knight Rises). Virginia now writes Breathing Space under her own name, and I look forward to receiving emails with her posts each week.

This should be the place where I tell you to go to the Best Blog category under People and Places and vote for Sean's Ramblings. If you want to vote for me, fine. However, you really should vote for Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents or Breathing Space. The quality and importance of both sites is remarkable. Sue and Virginia are such great writers and deserve to win. 

Voting runs from now until July 30th. 

(Based on the last 10 seconds or so, this video is NSFW)

Thursday, July 13, 2023

2023 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Recap

Welcome to my annual-ish Pittsburgh Pirates draft recap. While my recaps are usually light-hearted and intended to be funny, I'm going to start with an actual baseball opinion.

1st Round: Paul Skenes - P, LSU

I love this pick. If you want to win in the playoffs and get to the World Series, you need to have an elite pitcher or two. Let's look at the top pitchers for the last five World Series champions.

2022: Houston Astros - Justin Verlander (future Hall of Famer); Framber Valdez (now a 2-time All-Star in only his 6th season)

2021: Atlanta Braves - Charlie Morton (2x All-Star); Max Fried (finished top 5 for the Cy Young in 2020 and 2022). 

2020: Los Angeles Dodgers - Clayton Kershaw (future Hall of Famer); Walker Buehler (2-time All-Star); Julio Urias (Finished top 7 for Cy Young in 2021 and 2022)

2019: Washington Nationals - Max Scherzer (future Hall of Famer); Stephen Strasburg (4-time All-Star)

2018: Boston Red Sox - Chris Sale (7-time All-Star); David Price (5-time All-Star, Cy Young award winner)

You have three first-ballot Hall of Famers in this group and several others that would fall into the Hall of Really Good. While the 2021 Braves may not have had an "elite" starter, Morton and Fried are both really, really good, and Morton (7-5 record with a 3.60 ERA in 18 career playoff games) might have more playoff pitching experience than any active player.

The point I'm trying to make is that the Pirates need to have an ace. A #1 starter. A guy who can intimidate and shut down opponents. These guys aren't available very often, and the Pirates won't or can't trade for one (like the Dodgers did in 2021 for Scherzer) or sign one as a free agent (like Verlander to the Mets this season or wherever Shohei Ohtani may end up next season). Skenes could be that guy. His college stats are insane. The Pirates have to hope that his stuff translates to the majors and that Mitch Keller continues to pitch like he has the first half of the 2023 season. This could be an outstanding 1-2 combination!

Okay, that's enough "serious" baseball opinions. Now back to my usual draft recap where you'll read things you won't find anywhere else.

6th Round: Hunter Furtado - P, University of Alabama

He's like a bird, he'll only fly away.

3rd Round: Garret Forrester, 3B, Oregon State University

He could be the perfect spokesperson for Subaru. (Alternative draft recap idea: Run, Forrester, Run!) 

Competitive Balance Round B: Zander Mueth - P, Belleville East HS (Illinois)

Perfect pick for Pittsburgh. The crowd will go crazy anytime Mueth gets a strikeout. MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUETH

SEC Pitchers

Through the first 8 rounds, the Pirates drafted pitchers from LSU (Skenes), Vanderbilt (Patrick Reilly), Alabama (Furtado), Georgia (Jaden Woods), and Kentucky (Austin Strickland). It looked like the Pirates front office was trying to do the impossible. Draft pitchers from every SEC team! Unfortunately, the Pirates failed to draft anyone from any other SEC school on the third and final day of the draft. Both Magdiel Cotto (Alabama) and Garrett McMillan (Kentucky) pitched for SEC schools, but not Florida, Mississippi, Mississippi, Arkansas, etc.

19th Round: Tyler Kennedy - P, Florida Southwestern State College

I'm so impressed by Kennedy. He had a successful NHL career (including winning the Stanley Cup on the Penguins in 2008-2009), got his picture taken with Taylor Swift, and now is good enough to get drafted by the Pirates. Amazing!

2nd Round: Mitch Jebb - SS, Michigan State University

With the success of Mitch Keller this season, it makes perfect sense for the Pirates to draft another Mitch. I'm a little surprised the team didn't draft a dozen players named Mitch this year.

15th Round: John Lopez - C, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

The MLB draft tracker on is fantastic except for one thing. Under birthplace, the website shows Lopez and anyone else born in Puerto Rico as PR. The birthplace for Skenes, Jebb, etc. are all listed as USA. Last time I checked, Puerto Rico is part of the United States, so why not the USA for Lopez too?

18th Round: Kalae Harrison - SS, NC State University

Back in the 80s, the Pirates had a AAA team in Honolulu, the Hawaii Islanders. I can't imagine the logistics involved. The Pirates couldn't have just called up a AAA reliever for a weekend series in Philadelphia. It would take way too long for the player to arrive. The Pirates had to be sure the AAA player was going to stick around for some time. I mention this because maybe the Pirates organization feels bad for abandoning baseball in Hawaii. The perfect way to make it up to the Aloha state is to draft a player from Hawaii. Done!

20th Round: Peyton Stumbo - P, University of Nevada

Cut that meat! Cut that meat!

Let's Go Bucs!

Please click here to read previous Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins draft picks over the last decade. Enjoy!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Ed Sheeran Meets Cameron Heyward

In the long and storied history of Sean's Ramblings, I've had a series about celebrities in Pittsburgh gear and Pittsburgh athletes with world-renowned athletes (or PAWRA). I write this because this particular blog post doesn't quite fit either category. On Saturday, Ed Sheeran performed at Acrisure Stadium. Based on Sheeran's love of Heinz ketchup, they really should have used the stadium's previous name of Heinz Field just for one night.

Anyway, at some point on Saturday, Steelers' Cameron Heyward and his wife Allie met Sheeran. The Heywards presented Sheeran with a special Steelers helmet featuring a Sheeran concert picture on one side. It's pretty cool.

A little disappointing there's no picture of ketchup on the helmet though.

Photos from Cam Heyward's Instagram page. The final picture includes Jim Sacco, the Vice President of Operations and Stadium Management at Acrisure Stadium.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Family 5K

I ran a 5K with The Moose and Pedro Tulo last week and decided that I should write about it. These family activities are the types of things I should write about more, so that we can read them years from now and remember our experiences together. Before I started writing, I looked back at previous blog posts to see if I already wrote about running a 5K with my kids. It turns out that I did. Sort of. Back in 2016 when The Moose was 5 and Pedro Tulo was 2, I ran a 5K and the kids stopped me in the middle of the race to say hi. This one was a little different.

This is actually the 4th race that the three of us have done together. We ran a 3K turkey trot in 2021, a 5K in summer 2022 supporting a local hospital, and a neighborhood 5K last December. This one took place on the beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As a little background, the three of us and several other family members were supposed to do this same race last summer. However, it poured up until two minutes before the race started, so the others bailed and only Pedro Tulo and I went through with the race. This year, it was sunny and somewhere between 80-85 during the race. (This is a "fantastic" picture of me looking into the sun right before the race began.)

The Moose ran ahead while I stayed with Pedro Tulo. We alternated running and walking and by about the two-third mark of the race, we knew who was around us. There was a woman who high-fived some teenage boys at one point and they excitedly replied "Go Grandma." There was another family near us too with the mom slightly trailing her husband and child. I whispered to Pedro Tulo that we needed to pass them. With about a 1/4 mile to go and Pedro Tulo walking more than running, I decided to leave him and started to make my move. I passed the grandmother who turned out to be 61. I blew past the mom and her 7 year-old girl. I then noticed a tall woman who was slightly ahead of me trying to keep pace with me as I passed her. She had no chance. I was like Usain Bolt down the stretch! 

According to the final standings, I also went by another 10 year-old kid right before the finish line, but I don't remember that. Somehow, I finished 30 seconds before Pedro Tulo, but there were 7 other runners between us. The big story is that Pedro Tulo improved his time from 45:30 last year to 37:53 this year. That's a huge improvement!

Meanwhile, although Pedro Tulo finished several minutes before us, it turns out that he didn't run the complete course. He saw his uncle and wanted to run with/near him and didn't reach the second turnaround. (This is my attempt at creating the course map.)

Overall, despite having a sore ankle for several days after the race, it was a fun run. I enjoy having these shared family athletic experiences and running with Pedro Tulo. I fully expect him to have a better time than me for any 5K we run next year.