Friday, February 29, 2008

Words Can't Express... hard it is to lose a loved one. My sister's pug, Kirby, died very unexpectedly this morning. He had been sick, so she and Zach (fiance) took him to the vet to get him checked out. The vet gave him a sedative and put him under so that they could do an oral exam. Initially, he didn't come back from the coma as quickly as he should have. The vet told them to monitor him, I think gave some directions and maybe a pill to give him, and they went home a little worried. He slept in their bed with them last night, and this morning when they woke up, he wasn't breathing. They rushed to the pet hospital, but it was too late.

When I lost my puppy last year (it will be a year on March 31st), I was devastated. She was only six months old. For the first few days, all I wanted to do was sit and be miserable. It's painfully clear that moping is self-destructive, but depression is a powerful thing. It makes you believe you want to be depressed. Eventually, with a ton of support from a ton of people, I started to turn around a little. I began to look at all the good, instead of all the bad. Remember the things I did to improve Kaili's life. She wasn't meant to live past a few weeks, so the six months I was able to give her were a miracle. She was spoiled rotten for her entire life. She died in a complete state of bliss (chasing a car). I will never get over the fact that I wasn't there when it happened. I don't know if I could have done anything, and it hurts not to know that answer.

Kirby lived much longer than my Kaili did. And he was far more spoiled. Kirby was treated like a human child. Liz gave him the perfect life. It couldn't be more obvious that telling her that won't make the hurting stop, but it's the best thing I can say to help the process. You gave him the best life he could have hoped for. He touched a lot of people's lives. Kirby was the perfect companion, and everyone who met him couldn't help but love him.

So instead of mourning, take pride in what you gave to him, and in turn gave to everyone who met him.

In Memoriam
10/13/2006 – 3/31/2007

Luxurious lived, with homes away from home.
Almost snuffed out in youth, sickly and abused
By unloving, unknowing whelps.

Swept up in nurturing, nursing embrace.
Phoenix raised from near ashes to being:
Existing, loved; living, restored.

Introduced to a new house to call home,
Timidly explored by curious digging:
Comfort gained; familiar, grown.

Quickly learned, blossomed with personality,
Energy aplenty for toys and games:
Rampant running, elated acrobatics.

With strong penchant for playful antics,
A carefree courage roamed wild at heart:
Venturous soul, spirit contained.

The body demised in a state of bliss,
A legacy shortened by faultless fate:
Happy pursuit, cruel design.

Body returned, once more put to ash,
Joined with countless companions:
Final breath, eternal flame.

Spread in memory to reciprocate the nurture,
Raise the oldest fruit from seed, sapling to towering:
Memorial orchard; garden resting.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Minnesota - The Unabridged Trip Documentary

I'm going on my memory, so I may miss a few details here and there. But this ought to be enough for all my readers since I'm pretty sure not many of you care for the inane details of my relaxation trip to sunny Minneapolis.

Day 1 started out pretty miserable. Ryan and I discovered that, combined, we got about two hours of sleep before our 8:30am direct flight to Minneapolis. I guess part of it was pre-trip jitters. On my end, my roommates decided to have a party, which kept me up pretty late. I can't complain, because it was my own choice. I'm a socialite and a night owl, so I can't really help it. Needless to say, I passed out for the entirety of the two-plus hour flight. We landed and retrieved our bags after meeting up with Katie and Mandie at the baggage claim (most people sit out in the car and this was a nice gesture). After some directional confusion (read: girls forgot where they parked), we found the whip and piled in. The Altima was off and running towards Burnsville, our home for the next five days.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we saw After Ashley the first night. We hung out with the cast and crew afterwards at the theatre bar, and then at Pizza Luces (forgive the lack of an accent on the e) where we got some of the worst service ever.

Sunday was a lazy day. Baller cat hung out.

We slept in, watched a movie, then got Chinese food with the Cheung family at Ryan's favorite spot. I think it was called Mandarin Kitchen, but I might be remembering wrong. The meal took about 4 hours. Most of us were through eating at a reasonable time, but Ryan decided it would be wise to make the most of the trip and eat his weight in Chinese food. We amused ourselves with "Would You Rather..." questions while he gorged himself.

"Would you rather...sacrifice your 30 closest friends, or personally kill the other 256 million people in the United States?"

Other events on the trip included a trip to the science museum (see previous post again), two trips to the famous Mall of America, and a journey through the Underwater Adventure World.

Mandie, with her ranger hat on.

For the biggest mall in this country, it had a blatant lack of music stores and Big Black merchandise. I'm on a sudden Rob & Big kick and want a Big Black tee shirt. I know, I'm a dork. Ryan is trying to turn me in to a skater.

Not my thing.

Various other hanging out moments included...

The Underwater Adventure was a neat little aquarium inside the MOA. We were mall employees for the day and got in for free. We got to pet stingrays and sharks under the supervision of a Fargo native whose voice--and more specifically, accent--were painfully hard on the ears.

Fortunately, we found a tortoise willing to give rides and we skedaddled out of there as quickly as possible. Woooooooo!

A couple of dinners out at Applebees, Ruby Tuesday's, and the Roasted Pear were good times of course. An attempted (read: failed) hypnosis gave us a few minutes of mild comedy. Ryan couldn't take the "warming and massaging" chant from Daniel seriously, and never found his quiet spot so that he could succumb to the hypnosis.

All in all, this trip was amazing. I'm sure I'm leaving out important details. But this is a pretty good, brief synopsis with visual aids. Anything else you want to know, you know how to find me.

On a quick post script, Virginia Tech basketball has had a phenomenal week thus far. We avenged our loss at Georgia Tech and swept Boston College in what might have been our best game of the season. We held them to under 50 points after a second half that had us playing NCAA tournament quality basketball.

As for the promised poor commercial piloting section, there's not much to say. The descent and subsequent landing on our return flight today was one of the worst I've ever experienced. The turbulence didn't subside as we cleared the cloud cover. The pilot was yawing and pivoting in the wind and bounced the plane twice on each wheel--individually--before straightening us out for a hard brake.

Funny Times - A Brief Hiatus from the Norm

I don't know why, but this makes me laugh out loud. It's so simple and stupid. Make sure your volume is turned on.

This is along the same lines. Gets a good chuckle. Need volume again.

And lastly, this link may not be approved for parents. It is tasteless and inappropriate. Motivational Posters...sort of.

These are just some of the amazing experiences I got in Minneapolis. Next entry will have pictures and more detail about the trip, Hokie basketball's thumping of BC, and poor commercial piloting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I've been in Minnesota since Saturday. Flew out here with Ryan to visit old friends from waay back. We heard it was cold and expected the worst, but have been pleasantly surprised with (relatively) warm weather. We didn't have a whole lot planned for the trip, so it has consisted of a lot of relaxing and sleeping in and improvising. We did the obligatory Mall of America trip yesterday, but didn't buy anything. We went to a science museum that probably is more meant for kids, but had a blast anyhow. All sorts of hands-on learning games. Something about hanging out here brings out our inner child in a way that not many things can.

Surprisingly, we didn't get in to Pictionary, which has been our tradition in years past. We have done some good eating and sleeping, along with some movie watching.

We planned the trip for this week because one of the girls was in a play that she wanted us to see. If you know me, you know I'm not an avid fan of the performing arts. I'm not opposed to it, but I don't go out of my way to experience it. Her play, "After Ashley", was actually really entertaining. It was about a woman who was raped and murdered, and the effect that had on her adolescent son and her husband. While the son turned to drugs and rebellion, the father exploited the tragedy to launch a career in writing and television. It sounds pretty awful, but the playwright mixed in some great comedy to lighten the mood. Somehow, she found an even blend of humor and seriousness to balance things out.

When I get back tomorrow, or the next day, I'll write in more detail. I have some pictures and some funny videos to post.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of my favorite lunch hot spots is going

Chipotle Makes Power From Natural Wind

[The big dogs at Chipotle] have just received approval to add a wind turbine to a new location they're planning to open in Gurnee Mills. The 60-foot propeller laden mast will indeed tower over everything in the area. It will generate six-kilowatts of energy which should be more than enough to power the store. Extra power can be sold back to ComEd.

I guess I'm getting more and more aware of the whole 'going green' movement as I ride the coattails of my family. My brother in particular has become extremely environmentally aware in the past few years, along with his wife. My mom and sister have followed suit, and I imagine my dad will be forced to do the same if he does declare for the Mayoral race again.

Chipotle has always been a go-to spot for me, mostly because it is absolutely delicious. But they pride themselves in being entirely organic and natural. It may be horribly unhealthy as far as Calories and all that hogwash, but they do everything right when it comes to stocking their ingredients. And the latest trend, according to my sister, is to go organic and hope for the best. Eat healthy amounts, eat organic foods, and avoid artificial sweeteners--especially sucralose, aspartame, etc., which are proven (maybe) carcinogens.

On this same tangent...I have recently discovered (been told about) Stevia. An all natural sweet herb that is healthier, and arguably tastier, than sugar. For some strange reason (read: conspiracy), the FDA won't officially approve its use as a food additive, only as a dietary supplement. I think they are trying to keep from cutting profits on their Triangular Trade with Africa and the West Indies (ammunition for slaves, slaves for sugar, molasses, and rum).

It happens to be in my Jay Robb protein, whcih comes highly recommended by trustworthy sources (Joe and Liz).

Ear Tubes, Prednisone, and Volunteer Work

Since most of the people that read this know me personally, you know I had surgery on my sinuses last year. Awful, awful experience. Among other things, they inserted tubes in to my ear canal to help drain fluids. I get chronic sinus infections, which started happening freshman year of college. I blame my roommate from freshman year for that, among many other things. This surgery, which wasn't as bad as the follow up appointments that I'm not going to describe in detail because it is painfully disgusting, was supposed to put an end to them. It didn't.

So here we are, sinus infection going full steam inside my head. My hearing is fading again. I go to my ENT, who was nice enough to bring me in on 2 days notice after initially telling me he was booked through March (via the nice young lady who answered the phone). I go in at 8:15 this morning. First thing, he checks the ears. The tubes are partially dislodged, and are resting either on top of or kind of in my ear drums. The added pressure on the ear drums was causing discomfort, a decrease in hearing, and a strange crackling when I swallowed.

He pulled the tubes out (a little painful on the left side, still kinda sore) and I felt better instantly. My hearing is much better, though probably not perfect (ever again).

On to the sinuses, he had to spray what they affectionately refer to as "Brew" in to my nose to numb the inside of my face. Then, he sticks a hybrid video camera-flashlight tube up through my nose and prods around looking for whatever it is tells him what is wrong with me. Diagnosis: sinus infection. But he called it 'recoverable' as opposed to 'needs more surgery'. So I was pleased. Minimal amounts of pain and discomfort, and a positive diagnosis.

So I'm back on Amoxicillin (antibiotic) and Prednisone (non-anabolic steroid) again for 10 and four days, respectively. I'm thrilled about the Preds. Some people get a serious negative reaction to them. They are a stimulant for me. I get more energy and a better mood, which leads to more productivity and particularly more drive to do work at the gym.

Thank you, modern medicine.

As for the volunteer work portion that you may have noticed in the headline...

I go in tomorrow to the Anne Arundel County District Attorney's office to begin the process of a background check so that I can start volunteering there. It's not for money, obviously, but it will be great experience. Maybe about 10 hours a week, depending on what kind of free time I have.

So, good news all around.

Minnesota in two days.

Hokies Stun Twerps, Puke and Rally!

Literally. After Dorenzo Hudson spilled his stomach contents all over the key during a missed Maryland free throw with about 0:59 seconds left in the first half, Virginia Tech got inspired. Chants from the Terrapin student section of "That's disgusting!" did little to discourage our kids.

In a game that started off almost as ugly as the UNC game on Wednesday, the Hokies took their sweet time trying to piece together some sort of team effort. But thanks to the infamous Maryland inconsistency (is Gary Williams actually a good coach?), Tech was able to overcome two separate double-digit deficits (the largest at 14 points in the first half) to win in the final minutes. Nods to Hank Thorns for taking care of the ball, AD Vassallo for finding his stroke, and Jeff Allen for muscling "Boom" out of the paint on his way to a 14 point, 14 rebound show.

For myself, after enduring about 36 minutes of my Maryland alum friend who brought me to the game talking smack and getting uppity and chiding me for just clapping, it was a personal moment of glory when we finally took the lead on an AD 3-pointer with 3:32 left on the clock. Up until that point, the refs were perfect. Maryland was just getting sloppy and was going to tighten up any second. But once we took the lead, the switch flipped. The refs were awful. Our guys were lucky as hell. Maryland sucks. Refs were blowing the game.

I can absolutely understand being upset about a 14 point lead being blown at home to a lesser (arguably) team. But I stayed good humored throughout the entire game.

Glad I went. Got to see some old friends that I don't see too often. Even brokered some ticket sales to get four of them in to the game, which may or may not have been sold out, but was certainly not filled to capacity come game time.

Final score:
Virginia Tech 69
Maryland 65

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vehicular Woes

For the last few weeks, I've been getting a potent gasoline odor in my car when I drive. It is even worse if I pop the hood and stick my head in close the engine block. Trip number one to the mechanics, a combination service-tune up-check the problem visit, found nothing wrong with any fuel lines or valves. Trip number two, after the problem worsened, found nothing, but the mechanic tightened everything up free of charge.

Today, trip number three was necessary because the smell had gotten almost unbearable. I called back, and Jason at the Subaru dealership, who has always been really helpful, said go ahead and bring it in right now and we'll take another look. So I did. Less than an hour later, he calls back to let me know it is a problem with a fuel rail underneath my intake manifold. I'm not car savvy, but I get the gist of what that means. There is no liquid leak, which means no real danger of combustion. The vapor leak is right next to my intake, which I'm pretty sure sends some air directly in to the cabin of the car if I have my air flow set to fresh air (ironic).

While they didn't charge me for this visit, it will be in the neighborhood of $1,000 to get it fixed.

Fortunately for me, my sister's fiancee's father runs a car mechanic shop in Millersville. He will hopefully be saving me significant amounts of money. Stay tuned for updates.

Leaving for Minnesota in 3 days.

Tomorrow (or maybe tonight, depending on the outcome), expect a full review of Virginia Tech at Maryland basketball, which I will be attending. Turns out several of my friends will be there, too, so it should be fun. If only I didn't have to wake up at 7:30 tomorrow morning for an appointment with my ENT doctor to hopefully restore my hearing and sinuses to a comfortable state.

Monday, February 18, 2008

This Weekend in Sports

All sorts of goings ons this weekend. Some good, some bad.

NBA All-Star weekend gave us good show (go East). More exciting, though, was the dunk competition. Unfortunately, I missed it live and could only catch highlights. What I saw was a new age in dunking, although the best dunk wasn't actually a dunk.

Between that, Dwight Howard's alley oop off the rear glass, and Gerald Green blowing out a candle on a cupcake sitting on the rim, you couldn't ask for much more in a dunk competition.

In lesser news, my Hokies got absolutely embarrassed in Chapel Hill. I understand we're young. We're inconsistent. But up until this point, we've had a lot of heart. We have been competitive in every game we've played. Even against Duke, who beat us pretty handily, we didn't give up. At UNC, we lost the moment we lost the opening tip-off. The Tar Heels went on a quick run to open the scoring and never looked back. Worst loss in the Greenberg era by far. No one expected us to win. But after UNC went to double OT against Clemson and then needed a prayer to beat ACC cellar dwelling UVA by a point, I didn't expect it to be like this. The way he have played in our last three losses, it's astonishing that we won five ACC games already.

I'll be in College Park on Wednesday to see the game live, thanks to a good friend being giving with his season tickets.

Meanwhile, in the NFL...

The Combine is coming up. VT has more guys at the Combine than ever before. Hopefully, they will all make the most of this opportunity to up their draft stock considerably. For those not in the know, the NFL Combine is a skills exhibition for college football players hoping to get drafted in April.

The Redskins completed their coaching staff this weekend as well, but still need to make significant roster changes to meet cap requirements. Elsewhere in the league, big time players are getting cut left and right. Most notably, the Falcons (Gandy, Crumpler, Leftwich) and the Dolphins (Zach Thomas, T. Green). The pink slips are going to be flying around for awhile.

Straying from sports, I hope I don't catch this death bug everyone is getting. Worst flu outbreak I've ever seen. Rumor has it, Maryland canceled classes last week because there weren't enough students healthy enough to attend. Make sure you take your Vitamin C.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Words can't describe tragedies like these

Northern Illinois shooting leaves 7 dead, several more wounded.

What in the hell is wrong with the people that do these things? I know the shooting at Virginia Tech wasn't the first of its kind, but by sheer numbers it was the worst in history. One of the biggest fears around the nation was that it would 'inspire' other people to follow suit. It looks like it has. There have been several more shootings around the nation since April. Most recently, a woman opened fire at Louisiana Tech last week, and now this one at Northern Illinois.

It's mind blowing that human beings are capable of something like this. Murders for vengeance, retribution, self-defense, those are things I can recognize as human (not acceptable, but human). But mass shootings of complete strangers? What motivates someone to do that? Things like this make me hope there is a hell, despite my own beliefs. Otherwise, suicide is just an easy way out. Not just easy, but overwhelmingly selfish.

The worst part about it is that, as it says in the article, there's really no way to stop something like this. You can implement whatever kind of warning and crisis systems that you want, but those only kick in after the fact. No one can foresee such a random act of nonsensical violence no matter how efficient their police force is.

This kind of thing hits close to home for me mostly because of what happened at Virginia Tech. I've been to Northern Illinois and made friends while I was there. They all left when Coach Novak retired, as they were all assistant football coaches under him, but that doesn't stop this from feeling a little more personal.

These are the things that make you appreciate the friends you have around you. Especially on a day like Valentine's Day, where everyone is supposed to show some love wherever they go. Even those (sometimes bitter) single folk who have no one specific to share the day with. As I've said before, it's sad that it takes something like this to make you realize how important your daily life is, how much you take it for granted.

Go give someone a hug.

Quashed! Trade Talk Terminated

"[Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis says] they can stop the presses, quit killing trees and move on to other things ..." because Chad Johnson is staying in Cincinnati whether he likes it or not.

Is this a serious claim, or is Lewis just hoping to up the stock of his player before pushing him like a piece of merchandise? For now, and most likely at least until the summer, I think he's going to stand by his word. If the Bengals trade or release him before June 1st, they take a salary cap hit upwards of $8 million towards 2008's roster. Sounds like pretty good justification for keeping him in the 'Nati for the time being.

Chad was open about wanting a big pay day, despite being the 4th highest paid receiver in the league. Strangely enough, he is represented by Drew Rosenhaus, who many people may recognize from his other identity, Satan. Rosenhaus exemplifies everything that is wrong with pro sports. He doesn't care about the game, about his players, about their teams or their families. He cares about getting paid. He has single-handedly taken the passion out of the NFL. If anyone recalls the string of training camp holdouts that have become the norm of late, then you have seen the work of Drew Rosenhaus.

For now, Danny Boy needs to target another elite wide receiver, because all signs point to a lack of 8-5 in DC.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Witness to a thriller...girls high school basketball at its finest

The stakes were high, and the teams didn't disappoint. At least, not in the end. Old Mill at South River girls high school basketball pitted two of the counties top three teams against each other. What started out as an embarrassing home blowout at the hands of Old Mill turned in to a pretty exciting last second loss for the home Seahawks.

I'm not sure, legally, what I'm allowed to write here, since I was at the game for another news source. But I can link my article, which brings me back in to the ranks of current professional writers (as in, getting paid to write again).

Old Mill Girls Fend Off South River's Second-Half Rally.

I know, the title could be catchier. But I'm a little rusty. However, thanks to my boss/editor Aaron Gray, this is the first article I've ever submitted that hasn't been butchered by people who get paid much more than me to seemingly not know as much about writing. On the other hand, it is hard to capture the excitement of a game when you are forced to write as an unbiased observer.

Next up, Southern at Severna Park girls basketball on Friday at 5 pm. I know, you are all extremely excited to hear about these games, since most of you have never even heard of these high schools, let alone care about high school basketball in my county.

But hey, support a friend.

Ocho Cinco al D.C. ... Bueno o malo?

First off, I'm sorry. You know I don't speak Spanish.

So here is the predicament we are in: superstar receiver Chad Johnson is miserable in Cincinnati. His relationship with his head coach has been described as "irreparable". He is a phenomenal player, but a hot head and a whiner at the same time. When he's not happy, everyone knows it. If he's not getting his catches, his face time on TV, his touchdowns, and his wins, he's going to speak up and lash out. He wants to come to the Redskins.

[ESPN Fantasy] News: The Redskins are interested in trading for Johnson, with several sources indicating that Johnson would be eager to go to Washington, the Washington Post reports.

Spin: With Johnson having expressed his displeasure with the Bengals organization and Daniel Snyder indicating he's in the hunt for an elite receiver, the two may be a perfect fit for each other. Although his competition for catches wouldn't be that tough, there's no quarterback with the track record of Carson Palmer in Washington, and it's hard to replicate Cincinnati's success in throwing the ball. At least if he did go here, new coach Jim Zorn probably favors the passing game more than former coach Joe Gibbs.

I'm wondering why 8-5 wants to come here so badly. I'm sure he wants to get paid. Snyder is known for paying top dollar. He might think he can turn our passing game around. He would definitely be our best target, no offense to Chris Cooley. I don't know much about Zorn, but I know the Seahawks never had a flashy guy like Chad to deal with. Who knows how he would cope with it? And how are we going to make room under the salary cap?

With the new spread offense, the 'Skins will be passing the ball a lot more. But as I've said, we don't really have a quarterback suited for this kind of scheme. Maybe Campbell will prove me wrong. And I hope he does. But so far, I haven't seen much promise for the future from him.

Guess we just keep an eye on the rumor mill and see what plays out.

Digital Sports - My New Age

The new age of reporting (obviously) involves a heavy dose of internet journalism. Today begins my second go around at sports journalism online. Third if you include this blog, which I don't.

It all started fresh out of college when an old high school friend approached me with an idea. He was a graduate of the prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism at College Park. He had caught wind of a fledgling sports reporting web site that was trying to make its mark on the DC Metropolitan area. Aptly named, I quickly and naively jumped on board. I was given complete freedom to write the articles I wanted to write, and in the style I wanted to write, so I requested a position as the Virginia Tech beat writer and was given it. Once the site began branching out a little bit, I was given the opportunity to cover Wizards games (which I did once). In fact, I was given lots of opportunities to cover lots of different things. The one hang up was that the site was not generating any money. I couldn't keep writing pro bono pieces. So, after about six months, I went along my merry way.

I began doing freelance work for the Capital-Gazette high school sports section. This paid peanuts, but I was enjoying it. I asked for more to do and they made me their resident statistics and record guy. So, for two years now, I have been that guy. I had other jobs that limited by availability at night, so I stopped writing for them.

When my boss left the Capital a few weeks ago, sort of abruptly, he called me to warn me he would be gone soon. He also offered me the same job I was doing at the Capital (with more writing) and a 25% raise. Sounds like a lot, but when you're making peanuts, 25% more peanuts isn't really that many peanuts. In any event, I jumped at the opportunity to join I didn't leave the Capital in the dust, though. When they caught wind of the migration to DigitalSports (not mine, they have no idea I'm working with them), they offered me a 20% raise with no strings attached.

Of course, I gladly accepted both offers. Today will be my first day reporting with Digital Sports. I'm not sure if I will get a byline (for those unfamiliar with the industry, that means the author's name appears beneath the headline), but anyone who wants to follow my work is more than welcome. I will post my articles as they are created. It is yet to be determined if Digital Sports is the future of sports reporting. But here's hoping I'm on board if it is.

Today's game: Old Mill at South River girls basketball.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Joining the Blogosphere

In an effort to gain recognition, I recruited my brother (more, he offered his assistance) to help me reach the millions who reside in the Blogosphere. Cheesy, I know. But it's fun to be a part of a community, as anonymous as it may be.

Here is what I have discovered:

Step 1: I signed up for Google Analytics. Now, I can monitor the traffic that comes and goes on my blog. Don't worry, I won't get the names of the people who are reading. It just shows how many people are coming and their general location/region. It also shows how your visitors found your blog. Anyone else looking to promote their writing can start by doing the same thing at That won't gain you readership, but it will help you determine how your various other efforts are helping.

Step 2: I was not familiar with this site, mostly because I'm not exactly tuned in to the internet world. But I'm making an effort to keep up with the evolving medium for writing. As a professional writer, I don't want to be left behind. From what I understand, this site is meant as a sort of hub for bloggers everywhere. It provides news from around the world, as well as blogger news. Which sites are popular, which are worth visiting, whose site covers what topics, etc. Technorati already knew about my blog (which gave me a little warm, tingly feeling) via my brother's Complaint Hub.

Step 3: Learn to write. People will read your blog if they have something to gain from reading it. Writing solely about your own experiences won't help unless your experiences are so outrageous that everyone will be thoroughly entertained by them. Most of the successful sites keep an eye on the tech world news and comment on issues as they see fit. If you can provide a unique perspective on a widely publicized issue, you have your foot in the door.

Step 4: Write often. The more you write, the more people will find your site and read it.

Step 5: Read other people's blogs and comment when appropriate. According to my brother, who is my number one source on all things bloggy, an interesting comment on a random blog can provide a new reader for your own blog.

Step 6: Don't get comfortable. Once you put forth an effort to expand your readership, you have an obligation to maintain that effort. Have to keep the masses happy.

I will keep you all updated on how my efforts are working. This is as much a guide for my own benefit as for anyone else's. Hopefully you all gain something from this.

Upon further review

Once I again I forgot to change my voter registration to Democrat. I am currently unaffiliated. In Maryland, that means I get no say in the Primaries. But I'll be sure to vote in the election, come November.

Those of you who took my false lead and voted, good for you. For most of us, voting is the only way to give back to the "government of the people" that we enjoy so much. That, and paying taxes. But if you think about it, all that tax money you're paying is actually coming right back to you, albeit indirectly. Theoretically, the more taxes we pay, the better our schools, police and fire departments, transportation systems, etc. are. Wouldn't it be great if it really showed a noticeable difference?

I won't pretend to know how the government works, or how trustworthy it really is. But if we can't trust the government to do what is in our best interest, then our country is absolutely screwed. And I'd much rather enjoy my ignorance than worry about my future in this regard.

And besides, how can you fault a government that allows things like this to happen in one of our finer states:

Ex-Florida prison boss: Drunken orgies tainted system. Talk about a headline that jumps out and grabs you.

Apparently, the Florida prison system had modeled itself after the petty thuggery that the mafia introduced to the US so many years back. Beatings, drunken orgies, and shady dealings highlighted the career of a corrupt boss who is now serving time in a federal prison himself.

What, you ask, was the focal point of all this crime? Yup, you guessed it. Company softball leagues.

"Corruption had gone to an extreme," [new boss James] McDonough said, saying it all began at the top. "They seemed to be drunk half the time and had orgies the other half, when they weren't taking money and beating each other up."

Any warden, guard, or other employee of the system who could hit was treated like a movie star. Those who didn't play and didn't attend the games were beaten or ignored on the job.

It's kind of like The Longest Yard, except no Adam Sandler.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Politics Galore

I'm not political by any means. I am capable of having strong opinions, but when it comes to government and politics, I usually let it run its course without me. I got my first taste of true politics (on a very small scale) while helping my dad with his Mayoral campaign in Annapolis. It was an interesting experience, and one that I wish I had been more involved with on the whole.

I know that it is my right as an American to vote, and I've always enjoyed that right. It's harder to think of it as a privilege, because I've never known any other way. When you view voting as a privilege more than a right, it makes the Democratic process a little more significant.

Now, with all the primaries and campaigning going on, I am left--as usual--cramming all the information I can about each candidate in to my head so that I can make an educated choice. For the rest of you who would like to vote but don't know a thing about your candidates, there are a ton of sites out there designed to help you. (thank you, Mom) has a decent breakdown of each candidate's background, controversies, etc. Worth a look for a pretty good summary of your options.

If you're like me, you'll enjoy a site like this one because it is a little more personalized and hands-on: offers a survey. According to your answers, it analyzes your political preferences. The percentage by each candidate shows how closely they match your answers.

My results:
Conservative/Progressive Score - 7 - Social Moderate
Capitalist Purist/Social Capitalist Score - 9 - Social Capitalist
Libertarian/Authoritarian Score - 4 - Libertarian-leaning
Pacifist/Militarist Score - 3 - Moderate-Pacifist
You are a Democrat.

John Edwards - 96%
Barack Obama - 94%
Chris Dodd - 88%
Bill Richardson - 83%
Joe Biden - 81%
Mike Gravel - 81%
Hillary Clinton - 79%
Dennis Kucinich - 73%
Ron Paul - 65%
John McCain - 63%
Romney, Huckabee, Brownback, Thompson, Giuliani, Hunter, Tancredo range from 63%-31%.

I think I'm happy with that result. I've been leaning towards Obama without really knowing much about anyone. I think his lack of experience won't be as big of an issue as people are making it. He will have so many experienced Cabinet members and advisors to make sure he isn't being an idiot. Most of the people whose opinions I trust are prO-bama (I've coined a new catch phrase right there, by the way). He is spiritual and religious, but according to his bio, he studied all of the religions before deciding on which one best matched his ideology, and I can respect that. I am not religious by any means, but I can make that claim with conviction because I have studied all of the major world religions and can confidently say I disagree with most of them. Buddhism is the closest match for me, but I wouldn't dare call myself a Buddhist.

Back on track, I have decided to involve myself a little more in the political process. I might as well enjoy the privileges of being a US citizen as much as I can.

On another, government-control related note, the new smoking ban is phenomenal. I completely understand people's issues with the government controlling private business practices, but at the same time, I am all for abolishing people's right to smoke. It may be the most ridiculous habit imaginable. I am usually good at understanding why people do the things they do, but smoking will always baffle me. It isn't mind-altering. There are no benefits. It makes everyone and everything around you smell horrendous. If anyone can explain to me the purpose, I'm open to suggestions. But for now, I'm going to openly applaud the government for stepping in on this one. It makes my bar experience infinitely more enjoyable.

So, anyone who takes the quiz and wants to post their results, feel free. As always, I want feedback. It's nice to know people are reading.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Welcome to Washington, Jim

He's not quite the flashy, young hotshot I was hoping for, but I won't write Jim Zorn off just yet. After a long, frustrating process, the Redskins finally chose a head coach. Their methods were a little odd; tactics, questionable. They fired both their offensive and defensive coordinators before they hired a new coach. Then, they promoted a new defensive coordinator and hired a new offensive coordinator without a head coach. Once it was clear that Pete Carroll, Jim Mora, and the rest of the big names weren't coming, the 'Skins had to look a little deeper. Spag's wouldn't come from the Giants for whatever reason. And the fans would have rioted had Fassel been named the head coach. So, the Redskins take their newly anointed offensive coordinator and, two weeks later, name him head coach.

Zorn takes over a team that exceeded expectations, going 9-7 and losing to Zorn's former team in the wild card game.

Zorn is bringing a West Coast spread offense to DC, and obviously our personnel isn't quite suited for that. Expect a lot of players to be sent on their merry way during the offseason. Take the new offense and add in the fact that we are significantly over the salary cap at the moment, and it's pretty clear that this summer is going to be tumultuous at best.

Get ready to buy a new jersey, 'cause there is a good chance your favorite Redskin might be changing uniforms really soon.

So, Jim Zorn, good luck to you. You're not young, by industry standards, but you seem youthful enough. Here's to not having to hire a new head coach for a long time.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Applications for Inspiration

I realize I don't have a very wide readership, but I'm hoping for some feedback on this one. This has been nagging me a little, and reading my brother's recent posts about finding inspiration for writing has increased the nagging a little bit.

What I have come to realize is that I can't write well without a muse. I need someone to bounce ideas off of. Partly, it's an inert desire for praise, I suppose. Partly, I want to make sure I'm on track. I don't have the self discipline to finish a story without someone checking to make sure I'm working on it. In school, I could finish things, because I had a deadline. On my own time, I start strong and taper off just as quickly.

So, the result is that I have the beginnings of tons of stories, but hardly a middle, and never an end.

I need someone to be my muse. I am going to set some prerequisites, but anyone is welcome to apply:

1. A strong understanding of the rules of English, which includes an understanding of how they can be broken successfully, is a huge plus.
2. Applicants should have experience with reading and writing in a variety of styles and genres. An appreciation of this variety is important.
3. Applicants should, but are not required to, have a desire to improve their own writing.
4. Applicants should be able to provide positive feedback, whether it be praise or constructive criticism. On a side note, this feedback should be returned in a timely manner.
5. Applicants should be patient with my nitpicking and indecisiveness when it comes to my writing.

Anyone interested, and I don't care if it's a complete stranger who stumbles across this blog or a close friend or family member, let me know. If you write and want to bounce ideas right back at me, I'm happy to oblige.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Texas-sized catch up post.

Part 1: El Paso

Who knew this place was so close to Mexico? The coworkers and I considered a journey in to Juarez, but a lack of passports and an ongoing gang war in the streets of that fine town discouraged us. Not only did we want to avoid being stuck in Mexico, but we also valued our lives.

So, we stayed in El Paso, in the general region of the UTEP campus, except for one journey towards downtown to eat dinner at The Dome in the Camino Real hotel lobby. For a $50 meal, the steak was just average.

Filming practice for the Texas vs. The Nation game was interesting. Got to see a new side of college football, deal with scouts and agents a little bit. I learned how to break down practice tape using our software, which was handy to know, since I'm being paid to know it.

The food in El Paso was a little disappointing. I was hoping for some real deal Tex-Mex cuisine, but we didn't find much worth writing home about. The gay (note: only I noticed the gayness of this place, everyone else just found it inconspicuously filled with men only) steakhouse had the best food by far. The filet there was exquisite.

Highlight of the trip: Gene Stallings telling Chad to stop eating his ass. Over and over again. It sparked the catch phrase of the week: anything including "Texas-sized" and an insult in an old, gruff southern accent.

The stadium had a gorgeous view of the shanty-field that was Juarez. Built in to the barren rocks of El Paso, it provided a pretty good photo-op with the clouds rolling over the mountains.

Part 2: Super Bowl
Parental warning: this section contains alcohol abuse. Reading may not be a good idea.

I...don't remember much. I know the Giants won (big boooo). And I put together most of the night from stories I've heard, pictures, and my own recollections. Open bar for me meant liquor all night. I rarely drink at this level, but I thought the situation was perfect. I just finished reading Tucker Max's book while in El Paso. I knew that the next day was going to be marred with pure pain and soreness from the flag football tournament (we went 1-1, but I played well I thought). I was hanging out with people that I don't necessarily 'like' all the time. Some are great, but others, like the one who threatened my life on my way home for hitting on her younger and more attractive sister, are not.

Countless shots, shooters, and rum and cokes later, I found myself home and in bed. After a dangerous altercation with a cab driver that probably should have ended with me apologizing to the police, I called it a night. Somehow, I woke up the next morning at 7am without a hint of hangover. Thank you, smoking ban.

The rest of the details of the night that I have put together are probably not good for blogging purposes, so I'll keep them as personal tidbits.

Part 3: Never drinking again.
Ehm...enough said.