Friday, October 27, 2023

GloRilla Meets Mike Tomlin

My 12 year old told me recently that I don’t know anything about rap music since apparently I’m not familiar with songs from current artists. I could have replied with my knowledge of hip-hop legends of the 80s and 90s, but I let the conversation end as we just arrived home. The reason I mention this is because GloRilla visited the Steelers headquarters and got to meet Mike Tomlin earlier this week. I wasn’t familiar with GloRilla, but she was clearly excited about meeting Coach Tomlin and seems to be a long-time Steelers fan. I approve!

While I included a video above, please check out the 30-second video the Steelers posted on Twitter about the GloRilla-Tomlin encounter. My favorite part might be near the end where you see a guy in the background just trying to get work done during all the commotion outside his office.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Itsy Bitsy Spiders

Last Wednesday, I noticed a spider on the wall of my office bathroom. The spider definitely startled me since I didn’t expect seeing it next to the automatic door opener, but I didn’t think much of it after I left the restroom. The spider didn’t move as I continued using the bathroom throughout the day, so I thought maybe it was dead. So at the end of the day, I blew on it, and the very alive spider fell to the ground and scurried into a corner. I was back at the office on Friday and figured the spider left the bathroom one way or another. Nope. It moved on the ceiling.

On Tuesday, the spider was still in the same spot on the ceiling. Then on Wednesday, it moved back to the original location. 

While I don't understand how the spider got into the restroom or how it survives (What is is eating? Where is the web?), I’m now hoping to see the spider each time I go in. It’s like my own Charlotte’s Web!

This reminded me of another spider story from last summer. There was a spider living behind my driver side window. Each morning, there was a web on my car, and the spider would hide behind the mirror when I opened the car door. Sometimes, it stayed outside for the ride. This lasted for several days until I believe it blew away.

Here's a video of this spider in action.

Please note that no water spouts were involved in these stories.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Israel Update

Part of the reason that I haven’t posted much recently is because of the current situation in Israel. I’m spending a lot of time reading news updates, watching videos online, and following various discussions on social media. (While also working and running all over the place for my kids' activities.) It’s terribly sad reading about the people killed in the Hamas attack and those currently being held hostage. How can people take infants and toddlers hostage? That's barbaric.

Naturally, Israel couldn’t just say, “this is terrible and we really hope Hamas gives us back those who were kidnapped. Sure, the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of our country, but we’re sure that if we do nothing there will be a peaceful solution.” Unfortunately, innocent Palestinians are getting killed in retaliatory attacks. I’m like nearly everyone else in the world who truly wants the bloodshed to end and peace in the region. That's never going to happen as long as Hamas runs Gaza. 

Does Israel deserve criticism? Absolutely. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has gone on for decades, and Israel is certainly not blameless. But I'm also not sure what Israel can do when Hamas wants the country destroyed. Israel pulled out of Gaza nearly 20 years ago, and Hamas governs Gaza. What are they doing to improve the lives of its citizens? I'm sure that some will blame the Israeli-Egyptian blockade for all the ills of Gaza though again, the reason for this is to prevent weapons from getting into Gaza. 

Now that Israel has been forced to respond, innocent people are being killed. I'm sure you saw the awful news that hundreds of people were killed at a Gaza hospital. The immediate story was that this was an Israeli attack, but according to President Biden per the National Security Council, the explosion was likely caused by an errant rocket or missile launch carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group that's not going to be considered for a Nobel Peace prize. Of course, that didn't stop people from blaming Israel and Jews in general. A historic (though defunct) synagogue in Tunisia was destroyed, and a Berlin synagogue was bombed. There is also increased security at my synagogue and others throughout the country. We have nothing to do with what's happening in Israel, but there are people out there looking for any excuse to target Jews. I'm tired of people online (and at least one member of Congress) refusing to blame Hamas for anything and criticizing Israel for everything. Most people truly want peace and for the Palestinian people to be successful. But that should be the same for Israel too. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

Remnant Low Sean

There has been a lot of news in the last 10 days, so it's easy to miss any stories about Tropical Storm Sean. About a week ago, the National Hurricane Center announced the formation of Tropical Storm Sean in the Eastern Tropical Atlantic. Over the next few days, Sean alternated between a Tropical Storm and Tropical Depression. It was a confusing time! It's not everyday that there is a storm named after me, so I asked Rico from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, someone who knows significantly more about hurricanes and weather than me, a few questions about Sean.

It's mid-October. Isn’t this late in the year for a named storm?

Rico:  It isn't late.  Hurricane season lasts until Nov 30 but after mid October the frequency of  tropical storms drops off. See

Note there have been storms as late as Late December/early January.  The 2005 hurricane season that had storms in December 2005/January 2006.  The hurricane center started using the Greek alphabet to name storms then.  See

At least as of Thursday, Sean was switching back and forth between a Tropical Storm and a Tropical Depression? What’s the difference and why can’t Sean make up his mind?

Rico: The difference between a tropical storm and a depression is the maximum wind speeds in the storm.  Once the maximum sustained wind speeds are >= 39mph, the depression becomes a tropical storm and it is given a name.

A couple of things are needed to maintain a tropical system.
 1) storms need warm waters (> 80F)
 2) low or no wind shear, wind shear is the change of wind speed and direction with height ( light winds are needed from the surface to high in the atmosphere)
 3) storms need to be surrounded by a moist air environment.

Sean's fickleness (from the limited amount of discussions I read from the hurricane center) was caused by wind shear and dry air intrusion.

What is the current status of Sean and any potential impact on land?

Well as you are probably aware, Sean has dissipated.  So no impacts whatsoever.  Wind shear and dry air were the causes. 

Finally, there was a storm named Sean in 2011. Is that too soon for another Sean?

The hurricane center repeats lists of names every 6 years. So "Sean" was on the list back in 2017 but that year there was no storm named Sean.  The number of storms failed to reach the "S' letter that year.   If the storm was really destructive, the name is removed from being listed again.

FYI,  the hurricane center has a bunch of info at its web site.  Check it out:

While I like having my name in the news, it's even better that Sean isn't going to cause any damage.

Monday, October 09, 2023

I Stand With Israel

I'm posting this on Monday afternoon. I'd really like to write about yesterday's Steelers win over the Baltimore Ravens (and I guess I can since this is my blog!), but that's not on my mind right now. Instead, I can't stop thinking about the terrorist attacks in Israel over the weekend. 

I'm not getting into the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations in this post. I'm also not going to pretend like I'm an expert in this area. To my understanding, the West Bank and Gaza are operated by two completely different entities, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas respectively. There really seems to be a distinction between these groups. That's part of the reason why we're seeing attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza and not the West Bank. Hamas does not acknowledge the existance of Israel and wants to destroy the country. I also acknowledge that Israel has responded and will continue to respond to these terrorist attacks. Innocent Palestinians have and will be killed. I truly pray for peace.

At least 260 people were killed at a music festival. A music festival! Everyone in attendance was there for fun and to have a good time. They were hunted and killed and others were kidnapped. This brutality is simply incomprehensible. 

I'm sharing a few stories below that I saw on Facebook. These are just a few of the many individual stories. 

Since I mentioned sports at the outset, I want to recognize the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, and Washington Wizards among others who shared messages over the last few days.

Friday, October 06, 2023

Fan Points

One of my favorite podcasts, The Poscast with baseball writer Joe Posnanski and Parks & Recreation and The Good Place creator Michael Schur, featured an episode where the hosts discussed fan points. While I had heard of this idea before, the premise is that you have 100 points or 100% to assign to your favorite sports teams/players. Basically, this is a way to show your fandom and what you really care about as a fan. For example, let's say that you are a Dallas Cwboys fan. First, my apologies. You only care about the NFL, so in this case, maybe you assign 95 or even all of your fan points to the Cowboys. Maybe you give 5 points to whoever is playing against the Philadelphia Eagles or another team that will help the Cowboys. It seems rare that a person is only a fan of one team, but this is just an example. Today, I'm sharing my fan points.

22% - Pittsburgh Steelers
22% - Pittsburgh Pirates
22% - Pittsburgh Penguins

Growing up in Pittsburgh and still being a passionate Pittsburgh sports fan, these three teams are part of my identity. Obviously, these numbers fluctuate throughout the year depending on the season. While I'm very interested in what the Pirates do in the offseason, I'm more concerned in the immediacy about the Steelers upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens. However, this list is designed for the entire year, so I'm not going to show favoritism between my three kids, I mean, teams.

10% - University of Pittsburgh athletics
10% - Ithaca College athletics

I'll admit that I'm cheating here by grouping entire athletic programs into one category. Like my fandom for the professional Pittsburgh sports teams, I grew up on Pitt sports. I went to Pitt football games at Pitt Stadium with my Cub Scouts troop. I remember watching the "Send It In Jerome" basketball game on TV. 

In recent years, I've really enjoyed seeing the success of Pitt's men's soccer team and women's volleyball team. Sure, I should assign specific percentages to each individual team, but this is my blog, so my rules! 

Ithaca is where I went to college, and was and is a big part of my life. I have lifetime friendships from and connections with the institution. In the last year, I've been able to attend an IC football game, women's volleyball game, and women's basketball game in the DC-Baltimore area and loved being able to support my alma mater. 

This is where things get difficult. 

5% - Sheffield Wednesday

I shared the story about how I lived in Lancaster, England for a summer and how my supervisor took me to a Sheffield Wednesday match. It's difficult for me to watch matches, but I generally follow gamecasts and commentary on ESPN and Twitter and listen to a weekly podcast about the team. It will be amazing if the team ever gets back to the Premier League, though I'm just hoping that they don't get relegated back to League One at the end of this season!

4% - Ohio State Football

I went to graduate school at Ohio State and had season tickets to football games when I attended. Watching a game at Ohio Stadium with 100,000+ of your closest friends is an amazing experience. Unfortunately, the team was lousy (for Ohio State standards) when I was there, so I also got to see and hear about some of the bad side of fans. While I don't go out of my way to watch most Buckeyes games, and I can't name more than a handful of current players, I make sure to see them play Michigan and root for them to win a national championship (especially against SEC schools). 

5% - Miscellaneous

I usually attend 2-3 George Mason men's basketball games a year, so while they should probably get their own fan points, I'm including the team here. Miscellaneous also includes things like the US National men's and women's soccer teams, anyone against Novak Djokovic near the end of a Grand Slam tournament, and DC United, Loudoun United, and even the Washington Nationals when I attend their games in person. While I'm not including Coco Gauff in her own category, for the two weeks of the 2023 US Open, I followed her more than anything else in sports. That's the purpose of miscellaneous points.

So that's my 100 points. Although I follow the NBA, there's not a specific team that makes the list. (Sorry Washington Wizards.)  Now that I'm done, I just realizd that this could all be a lie. I should probably reduce nearly everything above in half and add a significant amount of my points to fantasy sports. I spend way too much time on that in my sports fandom!

Feel free to share your list in the comments section below.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Golf Balls For Sale

I had a conversation with a friend over the summer about her son starting to play golf. The topic of golf balls (and losing golf balls) came up, and I mentioned that we probably had several dozen from finding them in our neighborhood over the years from living in a golf course community. She also gave me the idea of selling these used golf balls. The Moose (12) talked about ways to make money, so I approached him and his brothers to see if they wanted to do it. They were all in.

Our first step was finding all of the golf balls in various boxes throughout the garage. Then, the kids washed and dried all of the balls. From there, they made a sign, put all of the golf balls in a shoe box, got some change together, and we went to the 16th hole near our house to sell them. 

We only saw a few groups on the first night, but the kids sold 10 balls for $7.25 and one of the golfers gave them an extra golf ball. The next day was huge for them. While one person bought 10 balls for $5 which was right at the asking price, someone else gave the kids $20 for 10 balls. Basically, he gave them a $10 tip. That depleted the golf ball inventory and with the start of the school year, the kids only went out to sell balls one more time. I've walked in the woods adjacent to the course a few times (with or without my kids) to search for more golf balls, and the balls we found are currently sitting in a bucket ready to be washed. 

The start of the school year also means the start of activities, so they really haven't had the opportunity to go out. If they're interested, maybe they'll try again once or twice this month before it gets too cold/dark. Overall, it's been a really good experience for the kids. There's no cost to them (it's not like they are paying for soap, water, and paper towels), so it's just a matter of time finding, preparing, and selling the golf balls. In probably only about 2 hours of actually selling the golf balls, they made about $45 or $15 each. Not bad for three elementary/middle school kids and much easier than a lemonade stand!