Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick Hits - Volume XXIV - My Bailout Plan

It's baaaaaaack! My version of Quick Hits is simply what I think about certain issues. Quick Hits gives me a chance to talk about my team, my life, or anything else on my mind. If you aren't prepared for that, leave now! Without further ado, here we go!

The bailout plan: I fully admit that I don't understand the nuances of the economy. I'm sure that there must be a good reason for the bailout - but is that really the right answer for our economy? Does bailing out the companies that "failed" because of greed and stupidity fit the American model of "survival of the fittest"? In a word, no. You know what would "fix" the economy, take the 300 billion and give each American citizen a million dollars and use the rest to build new schools, roads, and other necessary infrastructure. Imagine that, each American wakes up tomorrow morning with their personal winning lottery ticket. Americans could instantly pay off their bills, pay for their kid's education, and still have enough left over to go buy some consumer goods. That would be a bailout the public could benefit from...bailing out the coorporate bigwigs who have already made millions using taxpayer money is not.

Ad Sense: I have been blogging on Blogger for about 4 months now, and the entire time I have had Ad Sense ads displayed on my page. According to Ad Sense I have had 3,145 page impressions but only 13 clicks (which is worse than half a click per 100 impressions). As you can probably guess, I haven't exactly earned enough money to retire through Ad Sense, and since Ad Sense doesn't even pay a person until they have earned over $100 I'm not sure I'll ever see any cash from the blog. While I certainly don't blog for money (good thing), I've been debating about whether the ads are even worthwhile to have on my page. Does anyone ever look at them (clearly no one clicks them)?

Baseball: As I write this, the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins for the final playoff spot as AL Central Champions. While I'm happy for the White Sox (and especially happy for Ken Griffey Jr.) I still think the White Sox are the least likely team to win the American League crown. It would be interesting though if both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox made the World Series.



Monday, September 29, 2008

Steelers vs. Ravens: Fantasy Football Night for the Ages!

I entered the Monday Night Football game down 11 points to the league leader in my fantasy football league. As a lifelong Steelers fan, I have a few "homer" players on my team including the Steelers field goal kicker Reed, wide receiver Holmes, and tight end Miller. For this week's games, I started both Reed and Holmes figuring the Steelers would try to throw on the Ravens (since they are so good at stopping the run) and probably be kicking a lot of field goals.

As it turned out, I was correct. The Ravens defense was staunch, surrounding a measly field goal (but 4 points for me) in the first half. However, a 38 yard pass from Big Ben to Santonio Holmes in the third quarter lifted both the Steelers hopes and my fantasy team's score. Fourteen seconds later, the Steelers forced a fumble by hitting Raven's rookie quarterback Joe Flacco and bam, all of the sudden the lifeless Steelers went ahead of the Ravens 17-13.

Although the game is still going on (and certainly it's anyone's game, the lead is only 4 points), this game has provided me with a double thrill that only fantasy football and one's favorite team can provide. The odds of simultaneously winning the fantasy week (against the division leader no less) AND having your team back in the game, and then in the next 15 seconds ahead in the game results in stuff of fantasy league legends.

Now if only my Steelers can hold on and defeat the hated Ravens (without either Parker or Mendenhall), this night will be a Monday Night Football night for the ages for me. Here we go Steelers, here we go!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

NCAA Top 25 Poll: FanOfReds' Style

After Penn State’s win over Illinois, I’ve decided that I ought to push aside my skepticism (easy early schedule, no pressure situations, etc) of my team and begin believing in my Nittany Lions! Last night's white out in Happy Valley was awe-inspiring on TV, I only wish I could have been there in person... I've got to make an effort to get to a Penn State game this season!

As I watched the day's highlights before the PSU game, I was amazed at the teams that choked and the teams that asserted themselves as legitimate teams. The last weekend resulted in a wild, crazy week of college football – which is why they play the games as they say. Since there was such turmoil, I’ve decided to throw my own top-25 into the blog-o-sphere for your entertainment.

Without further ado, here’s FanOfReds’ NCAA Top 25:

1. LSU

2. Oklahoma

3. Alabama

4. Missouri

5. Penn State

6. Texas
7. BYU
8. South Florida
9. Texas Tech
10. USC
11. Florida
12. Georgia
13. Auburn
14. Ohio State
15. Kansas
16. Utah
17. Boise State
18. Vanderbilt
19. Oklahoma State
20. Wisconsin
21. Fresno State
22. Connecticut
23. Oregon
24. Virginia Tech
25. Northwestern

There’s mine, what do you think? Note, I try to reward actual wins versus the “celebrity status” of a team. Hence, USC’s drop to #10 and Northwestern (barely) making my top 25.

Image Sources:






Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cooking Recipe: Shrimp & Sausage Skillet

As you can tell by my blog’s name (Nachos Grande) and my old Sporting Blog’s name (Nacho Cheesing), I’m a big fan of eating food. Since I don’t have a budget that allows me to eat out every meal, I’ve begun to learn to cook and bake…all in the name of discovering good, relatively easy-to-make foods.

As a guy who's living on his own, I've certainly had my fair share of spaghetti, hot dogs, and deli meat sandwiches. Unfortunately for me, I quickly tire of the "same 'ol" food, so I have essentially been forced to learn to cook.

I don't consider myself an Emeril (bam!) yet, but I'm beginning to try and master the art of herbs and spices while making up my own culinary dishes. Today, I present a simple skillet meal that's surprisingly tasty (even if it doesn't photograph all that well).

Shrimp & Sausage Skillet
Serves 2.

Penne pasta (cooked)
12 large shrimp (cooked)
2 hot Italian Sausages
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1/4 onion, diced
1 tsp. Italian seasonings (mix of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, oregano, and basil)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese

Slice the sausages into 1/4 inch wedges. Cook sausage pieces in a nonstick skillet until fully cooked through (add a bit of cooking oil if desired). Meanwhile, cook penne pasta as directed on package. After sausage is cooked through, add onion and cook for 1 minute, uncovered on medium heat. Add shrimp and spaghetti sauce, cook on low heat for about 3-7 minutes (depending on how "mushy" you want the onions). Thirty seconds before removing from heat, add Italian seasonings. Top penne with sausage and shrimp, sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy a simple skillet meal!

Note: Cook times vary depending on your equipment. I use an electric stovetop, so your times may be quite a bit quicker if you are using a gas stovetop instead.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Meandering Thoughts: Wednesday Night Surfing

Living in central Pennsylvania has plenty of advantages. The four seasons are unique (winter's cold, summer's hot, fall's crisp, and spring's muddy), the scenery is gorgeous, and the cost of living is quite low. However, there is a distinct disadvantage to my location - ESPN blacks out FOUR different MLB teams. Whenever the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, or Pirates (yeah right) are on ESPN, I don't get to see the game. Instead, I get the never ending, never changing sham of a station they call ESPNews until the end of the game. Tonight, ESPN is showing the Mets/Cubs game, so of course I can't watch it.

I do get the Comcast channel which shows the Phillies game and Fox Sports Pittsburgh which shows the majority of the Pirates games, so all is not lost. I don't get the YES Network nor whatever network the Mets have (if any?) though. However, my High Definition television has turned me into a bit of a HD snob, so I won't even watch Fox Sports Pittsburgh unless my Reds are on because it's only in standard definition. Blech.

Long story short, I found myself watching the Phillies game...which was interesting until the fifth inning when the Braves pulled ahead 9-3. As such, I found myself surfing the internet and paying less attention to the game...and as often happens when you surf the 'net, you never know what you'll find.

Do you know:

1. What do Public Enemy's "Fight the Power", Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight", Dr. Dre's "Nuthin but a 'G' Thang", Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" (with Aerosmith), and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message" have in common?

Answer: They are the top 5 all-time hip-hop songs according to the newest VH1 countdown list.

I don't consider myself an expert on hip-hop music, but seriously, Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith make the top-5 all time list? That's the same song that's on the latest Guitar Hero game...just sayin'.

2. What do Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and other rust belt cities have in common?

Answer: They are amongst the cheapest cities to rent a place in the United States. According to the Yahoo! article, San Jose, California is one of the most expensive places to rent a place topping out at an astronomical $1,314 a month.

I guess I ought to be glad I'm in PA instead of California...though once the snow starts flying and I'm scraping ice off my car in the morning before work I'll probably be willing to pay a bit extra for that apartment and sunshine!

3. Do you know your personality type? I stumbled upon a Jung Typology Test that proved to be an interesting diversion from the blowout baseball game. If you haven't seen this before, I recommend taking the test (it's quick and free) and seeing how accurate the results are compared to your own vision of your personality.

For me, my results said that I was a type ENTJ. E for extroverted, N for intuitive, T for thinking, and J for judging. Apparently my result is quite rate, wikipedia (blech) has a table stating that only 1.8% of all Americans share my personality type. Keirsey.com appears to confirm wikipedia's numbers, with the write-up for my personality saying:

Hardly more than two percent of the total population, Fieldmarshals are bound to
lead others, and from an early age they can be observed taking command of
groups. In some cases, they simply find themselves in charge of groups, and are
mystified as to how this happened. But the reason is that they have a strong
natural urge to give structure and direction wherever they are - to harness
people in the field and to direct them to achieve distant goals. They resemble
Supervisors in their tendency to establish plans for a task, enterprise, or
organization, but Fieldmarshals search more for policy and goals than for
regulations and procedures.

I found it eerie how close that seemed to match me. The results summarized my personality stating that:

Fieldmarshals will usually rise to positions of responsibility and enjoy being
executives. They are tireless in their devotion to their jobs and can easily
block out other areas of life for the sake of their work. Superb administrators
in any field - medicine, law, business, education, government, the military -
Fieldmarshals organize their units into smooth-functioning systems, planning in
advance, keeping both short-term and long-range objectives well in mind. For the
Fieldmarshal, there must always be a goal-directed reason for doing anything,
and people's feelings usually are not sufficient reason. They prefer decisions
to be based on impersonal data, want to work from well thought-out plans, like
to use engineered operations - and they expect others to follow suit. They are
ever intent on reducing bureaucratic red tape, task redundancy, and aimless
confusion in the workplace, and they are willing to dismiss employees who cannot
get with the program and increase their efficiency. Although Fieldmarshals are
tolerant of established procedures, they can and will abandon any procedure when
it can be shown to be ineffective in accomplishing its goal. Fieldmarshals root
out and reject ineffectiveness and inefficiency, and are impatient with
repetition of error.

Again, that describes me to the proverbial "T" I think. The site listed a few famous people with the same personality; among my "personality peers" are figures such as: Napoleon, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, George Bernard Shaw...quite the class of personalities!

Well, I suppose this "fieldmarshal" ought to go out and lead someone or organizing something into an lean, mean, efficient machine. I've got a lot of work to do if I'm going to be as successful as Bill Gates (though I'm fairly certain I can design better commercials for Windows than he has)!

Image source:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Baseball Card Set Review

The other day I walked into a new hobby shop that recently opened near my residence. After talking to the shop owner (and finding out he didn't have any of the cards I was looking for in stock), I decided to "be nice" and purchase a couple of packs of some other brand of cards. I inquired to find out what set might be of interest to me (I enjoy the retro card sets like Topps Heritage, Upper Deck Goudey and Topps Allen and Ginter especially). Since none of my favorite sets were in stock, he recommended I purchase a pack or two of 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes.

I was skeptical at first, especially since buying a mere two packs set me back almost $13.00 (8 cards per pack). However, I bit the proverbial bullet and purchased them figuring what the heck, it's a chance to review a set that I otherwise probably wouldn't have!

Back at home, I opened up the packs and found that the base card design was somewhat pleasing to my eye. The set harkens "back to the day" (meaning early '90s) when Upper Deck had Baseball Hero subsets. I remember one of the first full boxes that I ever got to open was a set of 1992 Upper Deck which happened to have a Baseball Hero subset...so the new set quickly gained some sentimental points from me.

My first pack featured Josh Hamilton (ex-Red), along with a few other decent players (Josh Beckett and Andrew Jones). I also got a nifty multi-player card of Jake Peavy and Bob Gibson.

My first pack also featured an insert card. It was a red back, serially-numbered (out of 249) multi-star card featuring Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson, three of the best pitchers of all-time.

Relatively pleased with my first pack, I cracked my second (and last) pack. It turned out that my second pack was much better.

I got a Roberto Clemente regular issue card (always nice to get a Clemente card) and multi-player card of Prince Fielder (boo) and Eddie Murray. Not the most exciting pair of players to me personally, but still a nice looking card. Upper Deck added a nice touch with their "retro" players. On the back of each card there is the team logo for the player, but judging from the cards I received, the older players have their teams' corresponding "old" logos on their cards. It's attention to small details like that that convince me whether or not a product is worth the purchase price.

Finally, my pack featured a Game-Used Manny Ramirez Jersey, numbered 190/200 with a light blue background. The Rameriz card is quite nice, especially for a jersey card because the swatch is clearly visible but the card isn't overpowered by the chunk of fabric.

The Bottom Line:

Overall, (based on a two pack sample size), I give the 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes a 75/100.

Pros: The set appears to be solid with a relatively small base set. To the best of my knowledge, the base set contains no short prints, though it seems like the multi-player cards are seeded about 1 per pack. The different parallels are a bit annoying, but that seems to be the way Upper Deck is doing things this year (the Goudey different colored backs are a more blatant example). I like the fact that the inserts are numbered though, that gives you a rough idea of how "special" or "rare" a card actually is without having to resort to a price guide.

Cons: Why did Upper Deck stop listing odds on their pack wrappers? The first thing I like to do when I pull an interesting card is to see how rare of a pull it was. Upper Deck has completely abandoned printed odds (and I am unable to find them on their website as well). As for the set itself, it is a bit bland for the most part. The Baseball Heroes logo is too large, taking up valuable space on the front of the card. In addition, there are no statistics on the backs of the card - something that I always like (might be the mathematician in me).

The entire contents of my two packs:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stories You Might Have Missed: Volume I

I asked and you answered. I appreciate the feedback (and of course readers) - and now I welcome you to my newest series: "Stories You Might Have Missed". My new series will focus on "news" articles that have perhaps escaped under the radar (usually that's a good thing). Enjoy!

As I've mentioned before, I love to travel. During the past summer I traveled to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria. Next year I'm heading to Greece...but perhaps I should add a few more countries to my agenda in the near future. According to ProTraveller, there are 20 major countries, islands, and cities that are threatened by global warming. I've already been to London, New York City, and Yellowstone National Park (all on the list), and New Orleans making the list isn't much of a surprise, but how about Death Valley? Perhaps I should book a flight to Tokyo (where I'd love to visit someday) or even the picturesque Cook Islands.

Of course, the economy isn't great these days (you didn't need me to tell you that), but did you know that splurging is actually good for your health? If you believe a pair of professors at Harvard and Columbia, then yes, splurging is good for you. In fact, if you don't splurge, according to the Wall Street Journal article, you are more likely to feel regret later in life.

Now that you've decided you owe it to yourself to splurge and spring for that vacation to somewhere that is bound to eventually be affected drastically by global warming, you've got to find a way to pay for it. Perhaps an option to NOT consider would be to write a 360 billion (that's BILLION) dollar check and attempt to cash it. Granted, 360 billion bucks will allow you to travel first class anywhere you want...but don't attempt to cash that check in Texas. Charles Ray Fuller tried that earlier this year, but the vigilant bank employees became "immediately suspicious - perhaps the 10 zeros on a personal check tipped them off" according to the CBS News article. If you do decide to attempt a similar heist, at least be wise enough to not have marijuana and an unlawful weapon on you when try.

Since I shattered one get rich quick scheme, I figure it's only fair I give you a different option. You could come up with something that makes life better for everyone. Something so amazingly simple that it is shocking no one ever came up with it before... Take pancakes for example. Sure, everyone loves a good pancake, but who wants to sit around, mix the batter, and then carefully spoon it onto a hot griddle and then wait a minute or two for the pancake to be done? Luckily, you now have another option. Organic Batter Blaster spray on pancakes. That's right, pancakes in an aerosol can. Surely you can devise something similar, perhaps chicken and biscuits in a can?

Before you doubt the aforementioned wisdom, remember: you are smart. There are plenty of people in the world that would be lucky to have a quarter of the IQ that you possess. Some of those same people have managed to get rich regardless, so you certainly should have no trouble. Case in point: Ms. Jessica Simpson. Sure, she's been in the news lately as Mrs. Romo-to-be, but she ran into controversy earlier this year thanks to her chest. Actually, it was the shirt she wore covering her chest. It seems Ms. Simpson decided that "Real Girls Eat Meat" and that she ought to wear a shirt to prove it.

While the story could have ended there, it seems that PETA took great offense to Simpson's chest. PETA's own buxom spokesperson, Pamela Anderson weighed in on the t-shirt saying that "I think she (Simpson) is a b*tch and wh*re." Sweet Pamela continued saying, "Actually, I don't know if she was talking about food or men."

So there you have it, your first round of stories you might have missed. You now have some travel ideas, get rich quick schemes, and old-news celebrity spats. You're welcome.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reader feedback: What do you prefer?

Well, it's been a disappointing Sunday for me sports-wise. My Reds lost to the Brewers, perhaps my calls of karma were slightly premature. A short time later, my Steelers got beat up (literally) by the Eagles from that "other" Pennsylvania city. In an effort to avoid bitterness in my writing, I've decided to take the opportunity to solicit your opinion.

As many of you know, I started my blogging "career" over at the Sporting News. Since the blogs there were limited to sports (at least in theory...and according to certain boisterous readers), I moved to my digs where you are currently visiting. While I certainly can't retire off of the revenue from the advertisements that adorn my site (especially since my click-rate is below half of one percent), I do try to do a decent job with the blog as if it were a money maker.

However, I've found my postings here to be rather eclectic (perhaps because of my many varied interests)... What I want to know is, do you care?

Should I dedicate Nachos Grande to sports and if I choose to talk about politics, cooking, or something else do so in a different, dedicated blog? Or would you rather visit my blog each day and have no idea what I might have decided to write about? Or, I suppose, maybe you don't care one way or the other. I assure you that my feelings won't be hurt no matter what you may think, but I'm curious so let me know!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reds Spoil Brewers: Run out of Fireworks in the Process

Milwaukee rolled into Cincinnati expecting to regain ground in the wild card race. After a string of poor performances, the Brewers figured a series against the hapless Reds would be the remedy for their own sickening play.

Flash forward to Saturday night, the Brewers tune has changed. On Friday, the Brewers were on the wrong side of a fireworks show that rivaled anything China did during the Olympics. Brewers outfielders probably complained of sore necks and whiplash after witnessing 7 homeruns fly over their heads during the game. The Reds, elminated since June it seems, turned Great American Ballpark into their own batting practice and fireworks show. In fact, according to the Associated Press game summary,

The Reds hit so many home runs off Milwaukee's shellshocked pitching staff in
the series opener - seven in all - that they exhausted their supply of
celebratory fireworks. Their supplier couldn't make more because of damage from
the remnant of Hurricane Ike, which blew threw last weekend.

That's right. The Reds ran out of fireworks.

After getting shallacked Friday night 11 - 2, the Brewers sent "rented" ace C.C. Sabathia to the mound in an effort to stop a now seemingly invincible Reds juggernaut team led by the Mendoza Twins (Patterson and Bako) and a bunch of no-namers. Case in point, Micah Owings (a pitcher) provided a bases-loaded pinch hit off Sabathia that was the latest entry in a long line of shocking letdowns for the Brewers. The Reds held on to win 4-3.

Perhaps the Brewers can fire their manager and try another one...after all, there's still a week left of the season.




Friday, September 19, 2008

Quick Hits - Volume XXIII - Palin, the Reds, and Bill Gates

It's baaaaaaack! My version of Quick Hits is simply what I think about certain issues. Quick Hits gives me a chance to talk about my team, my life, or anything else on my mind. If you aren't prepared for that, leave now! Without further ado, here we go!

Sarah Palin: Apparently, using Yahoo! email for official business is frowned upon. Of course, one would hope (assume) that our governmental officials are smart enough to use safe passwords (not passwords like Wasilla, her old high school, or pet names like Palin did). The real question, which is worse: Palin’s use of nongovernmental email for business or the fact that hacker hacked into her account and no one seems to care (except perhaps Fox News)?

Bill Gates: Poor Bill, for a few months this year he was only the second richest person in the world. The good news for ‘ol Bill is that he is, once again, at the top of the list. Perhaps more impressive (albeit for completely different reasons), Sheldon Adelson (a casino tycoon) lost 13 billion dollars over the last year. That’s a loss of over 1.5 million dollars per hour…or a bit more than $25,000 an hour. That’s right, Adelson lost more money in 2-3 hours than most teachers make in an entire year.

Windows: Speaking of Gates, Microsoft has already dropped Jerry Seinfeld in its Windows advertising spots. (Apparently Seinfeld wasn’t quite washed up enough, rumor has it Harry Chaplin isn’t booked currently.) In other news, “I’m a tasty pizza.” (If you don’t watch TV, sorry ‘bout that reference.)

Cincinnati Reds: Finally, it’s official. My Reds will finish the 2008 MLB Season with a sub-.500 record. It’s not surprising; in fact, given the lineup choices Dusty has been making all season it’s slightly shocking that they broke the .400 mark. Even more pathetic, the Reds aren’t even the worst team in baseball…despite playing Corey Patterson constantly.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080918/en_afp/ussocietyeconomyrichmediaforbes_080918163906 http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/operatingsystems/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=210602432

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quick Hits - Volume XXII - Voting Time

It's baaaaaaack! My version of Quick Hits is simply what I think about certain issues. Quick Hits gives me a chance to talk about my team, my life, or anything else on my mind. If you aren't prepared for that, leave now! I began the quick hits series on my Sporting News blog, completing a total of 21 different entries (or more accurately XXI total entries since I always numbered them with Roman numerals). Without further ado, here is Quick Hits XXII, the first entry on my new blog!

1. Fantasy football (not that fantasy football guys) vs. rooting interests: It’s no secret that I am a Steelers fan (and with that includes rooting against the Browns, Bengals, and Ravens whenever possible). However, this year I drafted Kellen Winslow in my fantasy football league. I found last night’s Browns-Steelers game to be a bit different because I was (secretly?) rooting for all the Browns to do terrible except Winslow. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except the Steelers were never exactly way ahead in the game… The question: Do you change your rooting habits for fantasy sports (in any sport)?

2. Firing Ned Yost vs. conventional wisdom: Conventional wisdom says you don’t fire a guy with only 12 games remaining in the Major League Baseball season. Conventional wisdom says you don’t fire your manager when you are in the lead for the Wild Card. You certainly don’t fire your manager when you are in the Wild Card lead and only have 12 games remaining before playoffs, right? According to the Brewers (no playoffs since 1982), this how you make sure you make the playoffs. Now, I’m not sure, but my friend the KarmicBoomerang may suggest that karma may bite the Brewers in their collective rears with the trigger-move firing of Yost. The question: Do you agree with the firing of Yost or is it the beginning of the end for the Brewers playoff chances?

3. Politics: The question: Is it me, or are all political discussions amongst your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances extra feisty this year as compared to previous election years? Obama fired up minorities, Hillary and later Palin fired up woman, McCain fired up the veterans, and Biden fired up (well, maybe Biden didn’t fire anyone up)…but it certainly seems like everyone has a personal stake in the election. (Though it should be noted that none of the candidates have attempted to appeal to people like Mo or myself, educated, relatively young male middle-class voters who refuse to be persuaded by negative and/or hollow ads.)

That’s all I got, what’s on your mind?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cincinnati Baseball: A Picture Says It All.

For many Cincinnati Reds fans, this photo of Bronson Arroyo sums up the Reds' 2008 season. Ridiculous.

In other news, the Reds beat the Arizona Diamondbacks...on a Corey Patterson, extra-inning homerun no less. I don't know about you, but if I were a Diamondback fan I would know my team's playoff chances are slim when I'm losing games to Corey Patterson (he of a .202 batting average).

Now all that's left in MLB is to see which happens first: Corey Patterson's average plummets back below the .200 line or the Cubs blow their World Series hopes in the playoffs (or possibly before then).

At least my Steelers are on tonight...and my Penn State Nittany Lions have looked good so far this year (albeit against marginal teams).

And finally, in a non-sports note, did you happen to catch Saturday Night Live last night? Phelps hosted (and was basically ok) but the opening sketch featuring a "non-partisan message" of Clinton and Palin (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) was hilarious. I'd link to it, but it appears that NBC is vigilantly pursuing all copies of the sketch as they are posted on YouTube. My favorite quote "and I can see Russia from my house" by Fey's Palin in regard to her international diplomacy experience.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11: The Generational Effect

They say that each generation is shaped by one or two events that impact the entire population. In the past, events such as the two World Wars and Vietnam have been implicated as radically changed entire generations.

For example, a colleague of mine mentioned the other day how her generation was affected by certain events in history. Interestingly, although I might have expected that any of the major events of the 50s or 60s would be her generation's catalyst for changing ideals; she claimed that it was the Great Depression (during which she wasn't yet born) that shaped her.

As it turns out, her parents went through the Great Depression, a time of horrific economic hardship. After the country recovered from the Great Depression, her parents eventually gave birth to her and raised her according to their recent experiences. To this day, she continually walks around the building turning off any lights that are left on in rooms no longer in use because that sense of "saving" was instilled in her by her parents. During her childhood, her parents would scold her until they were blue in the face if she dared to leave a room without flipping the light switch.

Flash forward to today and I wonder what my generation's children will be affected by. I was a freshman in college during the attacks of 9/11. In fact, I still remember attending my morning class (before the attack) and then crawling back into bed for some more sleep (like a true college student) before I had to get up for my afternoon lab. No more than 15 minutes after crawling back in bed and falling asleep, one of my neighbors knocked on my door yelling to turn on the TV. After seeing the devastation caused by the first plane's impact, most of my neighbors on my floor gathered in a room together and solemnly watched the tragedy unfold.

Despite being a group of people with different majors, interests, friends, etc, we developed a powerful bond that day by simply watching the news and live video footage. By the time we witnessed the second plane crash and the subsequent collapsing of the towers, we were no longer "that guy down the hall" or the "girl who never talks." We were connected on a much deeper level, something that most of us had probably never experienced until that point. Through our tears, shock, and anger, we ended up eventually reflecting on all that we had and that we could take advantage of as a group of college students.

Three and half years later, my class graduated from college. As per campus tradition, the graduating seniors had a campus-sponsored party at a local restaurant the weekend before graduation. The first group picture I took part in? My freshman year floor. We never lost that bond.

Thinking ahead, the events of 9/11 are going to affect more than my generation. Almost assuredly, the next generation will witness an increase in public building security. Travel will be a slow process due to increased baggage searches and background checks. Of course, those are all relatively superficial changes in the grand scheme of things. However, I believe that the events of 9/11 will also impact my generation's children internally as well as externally.

Much like the children of Depression Era parents, I suspect that many of my generation's children will grow up with a profound sense of family. Already, more of my friends are moving back "home" in a concerted effort to be closer to their parents, often saying something like "you never know" as their reasoning for returning to the town they swore they'd never return to as they walked out of high school graduation. My generation's children might be the first generation to fully embrace staying home as opposed to moving far away immediately upon graduation. The ideas of an "empty nest" to my generation may become almost as foreign as the idea of "turning off electronics" is to today's generations.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vote for Change ... or ... Change!

As election day draws nearer, it's obvious to anyone with a pulse (and a tv signal) that Pennsylvania is smack dab in the middle of the swing states that both candidates hope to win. Since the end of the conventions, every television station that I've watched has been inundated with Obama and McCain ads.

Of course, in the spirit of a typical swing voter, I'm still undecided (perhaps I'm holding out for a viable third candidate with concrete ideas to change the status quo)? No matter who wins though, if I am to believe their ads (which we all know if it's on TV it's got to be true), change is on the way.

So if the candidates can't separate themselves with their ads...and if I don't care who has lipstick and who doesn't, what can they do? Thanks to Google telling me that a blog entitled "A Cup of Jo" was hot, I found a link to the following Obama buttons:

Of course, to be fair, I decided to scour the web for Republican buttons that would be a fair comparison (shouldn't they have the Oil Tycoon button?). After a short search, I determined that Republicans don't seem to take the button frenzy to the same overblown heights that Democrats do...as you can see:

So who gets my vote? Well, I won't commit to either candidate quite yet, but the Democrats earned themselves a small lead by issuing one particular button that is quite near to my own heart...and certainly shows that the Democrats are going after every single possible voter than can:

Somehow I doubt that the "Mathematicians for Obama" campaign will affect the electoral map, but it certainly made me laugh on an otherwise slow evening (especially since my Reds lost earlier in the afternoon to the Brewers).


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Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Night Football - The Transcript

Listening to ESPN's coverage of the Green Bay vs. Minnesota Monday Night Football game...

Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Aaron Rogers isn't Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Penalty, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Penalty, Penalty, Penalty, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Penalty, Penalty, Penalty, Brett Favre would have converted that 1st and 33 because he's magical, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson is fast, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre is watching from New York, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Green Bay, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre.

Oh yeah, did you know the Green Bay Packers apparently had some quarterback who used to be decent (his name escapes me currently)? (And yeah, that's the same quarterback who retired, left the team in a lurch, then in mid-summer decided he wanted to play again and got mad at the team for not naming him starter. Yeah, Brett Favre that.)

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cincinnati Struggles (this time it's the NFL team)

As you know I love my Cincinnati Reds (although not as much lately). What you may not know is that I dislike the Cincinnati Bengals (I'm a Pittsburgh Steelers fan)...

Thus, today was a great day for me for a number of reasons:

1. The Bengals stunk it up against Baltimore. In fact, to quote Carson Palmer:

“We got outplayed,” he said. “It was just an ugly game offensively. When
you score three points, it’s never good. And our three points were on a
two-minute drive. It’s a sick feeling, and it’s going to feel even sicker when
we watch the film.”

2. Chad Johnson (sorry Ocho Cinco, or 8 5...not eighty-five like he probably meant) was denied the "right" to wear his Ocho Cinco name on his jersey for the game. It appears that Reebok wasn't keen on having a huge stash of "old" jerseys with his boring Johnson moniker on it sitting in some warehouse for eternity.

3. My Steelers dismantled the Texans in a game that was remarkable easy with a brutally efficient offense. The Steelers win, coupled with Penn State's huge win over Oregon State yesterday, allowed me to have a great weekend of football.

4. Not that it matters, but my Reds won two out of three against the Cubs, furthering their fans' frustrations and, at the same time, tempting Fox to talk about goats and curses again.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

2008 Reds: Officially Eliminated.

Although I’ve been saying it for weeks, mathematics now confirms that the Cincinnati Reds 2008 season is over (in terms of post season aspirations). After the Reds loss to the lowly Pirates (who were previously eliminated on September 2), Cincinnati became the fourth team officially eliminated from October baseball (following the Pirates, Nationals, and the Mariners).

Ultimately, all is not lost, right? Walt and Bob have the Reds’ best interests at heart, at least according to their (now) infamous letter… After all, the Reds brass expects that a league low team batting average, no star offensive players, and a toothpick chomping manager would be enough to inspire Reds fans to attend meaningless September baseball. Something tells me that only 18,000 tickets sold for the last three games wasn’t what Mr. Castillini had in mind when he sent out that letter begging fans to show up at the ballpark and watch Dusty and the boys play pathetic baseball.

Speaking of the toothpick chomping manager, he’s positively giddy with the Reds. In fact, after today’s game (the first game in which the Reds were officially eliminated), he said “It was real important for us. They (the Pirates) were gaining on us, trying to get out of last place.” That’s right folks; this game mattered because the Reds kept the Pirates in last place.

Perhaps Mr. Baker should have decided that the games mattered long before it came down to a “Battle of the NL Central cellar.” Perhaps Mr. Baker should have benched his seemingly favorite, yet totally inept, centerfield named Corey Patterson. Perhaps Mr. Baker should have lowered an aging Ken Griffey in the lineup. Perhaps Mr. Baker should have never pitched Josh Fogg. Perhaps Mr. Baker shouldn’t have used his ace in an extra inning game for multiple innings and then throw that same ace back out on the mound three days later.
Of course, perhaps none of that mattered.

The Reds were a flawed team in the spring. The Reds had giant question marks regarding the two youngsters in the rotation (who turned out quite well thank you). The Reds had question marks surrounding Griffey’s health (turned out ok). The Reds had question marks surrounding the manager (that one didn’t turn quite so well).

However, the real problems plaguing the Reds seemed to go unnoticed by Reds management in the beginning. Patterson is the poster child for the management’s ineptitude, but the entire lineup (loaded with left-handed hitters, no power on the bench, etc) was flawed. When Baker was hired he promised to stress the fundamentals, but the Reds have committed the third most errors in the National League. Essentially, the Reds are as bad as their record indicates. In fact, without Volquez, the Reds would be challenging Seattle for the worst team in all of baseball.

The silver lining? At least the Reds lasted long enough to make it to football season (just barely). At this point, it’s time to root on my Penn State Nittany Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers! And for the Reds, well, as Cubs fans always say, “there’s always next year.”