Saturday, November 27th
I guess I am cheating a bit here, using a larger type (16) than the default (12), and while that trick works when doing papers for school, I don't know if I need to be so worried about space when it comes to a blog, after all, it's not like this is being graded for length or something. Besides, when was the last time anyone complained here that my blogs were too short? Exactly.
Instead I am just using a larger typeface because I am using Open Office, and while it is a decent enough program for shareware, I have found sometimes that when doing ye olde copy and paste thingy, sometimes part of the letters get cut off, so I just want to make sure this is legible enough. Not King George legible, that would require 48 or 72 point font, but just enough that it is readable after the copy and pasting is done. Hopefully this will do the trick.
The other reason for Open Office is that it has a spell checker built in and if I am going to blog, given how long I have been away, far better to do it with a spell checker than for me to go back and reread this tripe. Typing it is bad enough, I shouldn't be expected to read it as well. That's your job, and last I heard you get paid handsomely for it.
Because it has been a while since I blogged, chances are that a couple of comments are going to be mashed together in this entry, not Mash-ed like that sorry social networking concept of Yahoo that lasted all of a millisecond before being rendered useless, as most Yahoo ideas are, but mashed as in I may throw in a few “Things I Think I Think” as I go. After all, plenty has occurred since my last foray into this medium, far be it from me to fail to type about those things as they come to mind. For instance.....
Titit #1 – Don't say I didn't warn you Democrats. Way back around primary season I said that the big winner in the Arlen Specter/Joe Sestak race would be Pat Toomey, because unlike Specter, Sestak had zero crossover appeal, he may get loyal Democrats to vote for him, but he had no chance of getting of getting anyone to cross party lines and pull his lever. Sure enough, during the landslide elections that took place with the Republicans taking over the majority in the House and gaining seats in the Senate, one of the losers was indeed Joe Sestak. Now Specter may or may not have won in a head to head battle with Toomey this time around, but it was just 6 years ago he beat him in a Republican primary, and he would have offered a better chance at winning than Sestak did. Don't get me wrong, Specter has shown in the past that he isn't always the most loyal of party line voters, but if having a choice between a guy who might vote with you 60-70 percent of the time or giving the seat to someone who will almost never vote on your side of the issue, Democrats would have been wise to take the 60-70 option and been happy about it, instead they get guaranteed nay votes for the next 6 years. Good job guys, real good job.
That might have been the first time this blog went political in all kind of months, not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but I suppose it is as good a place to start as any. After all, most of the other stuff I talk about is just mundane, boring as all hell, day to day stuff that happens at work, so maybe a change up was good, even if it was only for one paragraph.
I have started my Christmas shopping, probably the earliest I have gotten about it, but with so much free stuff on the web, it is just even easier for me to start now while I am at home and just doing the point and clicky thing. I managed to pick up a couple of presents from MyCokeRewards, where they have a bunch of stuff at half off on the Coke points. I finally have reached the place where I am no longer maxing out the points I can redeem on a weekly basis (120). All of the excess caps from work have been redeemed, including a bunch of Powerade caps that I save for double points day and ended up getting 240 in one week with the bonus. The last two weeks have been far slimmer pickings, 40 some points last week, and so far this week just 26. Since I am off tomorrow, I may make at least part of a day of going out and seeing if I can find a cap or two. I know I want to do breakfast again, last week was such an awesome breakfast that I need to do that again, and I need to pick up a Christmas present that I located and it is near the breakfast place, so hi ho, hi ho, it's off to breakfast I go.
Breakfast last week was part of something I mentioned in the past on the blog, where my aunt and I are going to take in a diner breakfast once a month, because we both like such breakfasts and this gives us a chance to hang out and b.s. While doing some exploring of the nooks and crannies of the region's diners. So far we have went three times, I believe when I last mentioned it we had gone to Pamela's in the Strip District for the ever so awesome banana and chocolate chip pancakes, since that time we have taken in two more diners, Jo Jo's and most recently DeLuca's. DeLuca's was just awesome, at least food wise, the service could have been better, but the food was so good. I got the hotcake special, which is your choice of pancakes (2), two eggs and meat for $6.99. I went with the blueberry pancakes and chorizo, and it was all so yummy. The pancakes may very well have rivaled those at Pamela's, and the other pieces to the meal were better. And there were so many things on the menu to choose from, that I have to make a second and maybe third and fourth trip just to take it all in. They have a breakfast pig in a blanket meal where everything is wrapped in either a crepe or a pancake, they do versions of ice cream sundaes with pancakes, mixed grill breakfasts, bionic breakfasts which include 6 eggs (my arteries are clogging just at the thought) and much more. If I get a chance I will add a photo to this blog of one of the hotcake sundaes, but for some more of the menu you can follow the link http://www.allmenus.com/pa/pittsburgh/275793-delucas-restaurant/menu/breakfast/
Hopefully that will copy and paste when the time comes, if not then I will add it late, though early experiments are not promising.
The breakfasts with my aunt haven't been the only thing on my social calendar of late. Not that I have started dating, let's not get all crazy here, it is me after all. Rather one of my friends on Facebook, Richard Goldinger, is someone that I went to high school with. Probably our most lasting memory was the night where he rolled his Camaro with a few of us in it. When the last we had hung out he was working for Alltel in Kittanning, PA many, many moons ago. Even the last time I saw him, he was seeing someone seriously, Robin, nut it was still in that dating phase. Now they are married and their oldest son is 15, so logic would dictate that it was at least 15 years ago, if not longer since we had spent any significant time together. His job took him to Ohio, compliments of the many phone mergers and changes in phone technology since then, but he messaged me on Facebook about a month ago, saying he was coming to town for the Sunday night football game between the Steelers and the Patriots and wanted to know if I would like to hook up for lunch to hang out a bit. Since they were visiting Pittsburgh, of course we had to go to Primanti's, another place that has been featured on this blog before, where I got the capacola with egg sandwich, my favorite on the Primanti's menu. And while I live here, I tend to take such places for granted and don't visit them nearly as much as I should, so it was good choice by Rich for a place to have lunch. Sadly we didn't get to catch up as much as I would have liked, they still had to go check into their hotel and get situated for the game, and getting around Pittsburgh was proving a little troublesome for them because their GPS cut out once they got into the city, so they wanted to have enough time to get find their hotel in case the GPS still wasn't working.
Sorry I took a break there, after talking about food for so long I decided that I was hungry, so off to the kitchen I went to fire up some tuna helper. Not exactly fine dining by any stretch, but I am just cooking for me, so it will suffice.
Titit #2 – Every day that Dave Wannstedt remains the Pitt football coach is a day that he is stealing money from the school. Let's not kids ourselves, this was the year that Pitt was supposed to be something. Maybe not a national title contender, but at least in a BCS game after winning the Big East. The problems started in the off season, when 4 different incidents involving Pitt players and the local constabulary showed just how little control of the team he had. This being year 6 of the Wannstedt regime, it could no longer be blamed on the fact he was using players that he didn't recruit, these were all people he deemed worthy of playing for the Pitt program. Then the season began, and a 2-3 start where the two Pitt wins came against suspect competition (New Hampshire, Florida International), while matchups on the schedule were meant to show how good Pitt may be this year (at Utah, Miami, at Notre Dame) resulted in losses, the Miami one being particularly painful, as many alumnae were in attendance and Pitt wasn't even competitive (3-31). Still, none of those games were conference games, so while Pitt was 2-3, a strong run through their Big East schedule would still get them the automatic BCS bid that comes with winning the league. And a 3-0 start in conference play, plus the rather weak competition in the conference left Pitt with a 3-0 conference mark and a two game lead in the standings, the the proverbial wheels came off the wagon, with losses in two of the next three conference games and while Pitt is not mathematically eliminated from still winning the league at 4-2 they now would need to win their last game and have Connecticut and West Virginia lose their last games in order for that to happen. This is not what was signed up for 6 years ago, when Wannstedt was coming in, saying he was going to rebuild the program to national prominence. His alleged ability to recruit better athletes has not panned out. One would be hard pressed to find a single, solitary player in the last years that chose Pitt over another big name school. And no, it doesn't count if someone picks Pitt over, say, Akron. Sure there have been a couple of players that have had nice seasons at Pitt that were unexpected, like Dion Lewis last year, but a prtogram can't be built based on getting lucky and signing guys nobody else wanted, eventually someone has to pick your school over a Florida, or Ohio State, or Penn State, and that hasn't happened under Wannstedt. Instead we see disappointment after disappointment, last year losing the last two games to miss out on a BCS bid, including the last game of the year to Cincinnati at home after having a 21 point lead, and this year blowing a two game conference lead with 4 games to play including a 35-10 loss to West Virginia at home. In 6 years Pitt has earned 0 Big East titles and at some point trips to the Humanitarian Bowl, or the Meineke Car Care Bowl can't be considered accomplishments. For all of the criticism of previous head coach Walt Harris, his last 5 teams made bowl games, including a Big East title and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. How good would those days look now? But as long as Wannstedt is allowed to coach the Panthers, those days are not going to be seen any time soon.
Sunday, November 28th
Sorry, I ended up going to bed instead of finishing this blog entry, something that happens from time to time as readers of this blog well know. And worse I overslept for breakfast, at least if I wanted to go to DeLuca's. Usually if I am headed over that way I catch the 7am bus and arrive in the Strip around 7:30am. By that time many of the places in the Strip are already starting to fill up, so if I miss the first bus I run the risk of getting over there and standing in line for food, something I am not likely to do for breakfast. So instead I climbed back under the covers for another hour, the went to my corner store for a cup of coffee and headed off to Rite Aid to see what was on sale. I had a couple of things I needed as well, bread for starters, and deodorant is always a good buy, so it wasn't a wasted morning. Plus they had Christmas cards on sale, buy two boxes, get one free, so I snagged some of those as well.
That being said, I still could have snuck in breakfast in Oakland, Pamela's still hadn't had its line going out the door, due in large part to the students being on Thanksgiving break. But I opted against it, maybe because DeLuca's was too goo, maybe because I just decided to save money, I am not sure which. I know I will probably do a little more shopping for Christmas online today, I have bankrolled almost $80 in Amazon gift cards so I should be able to get a couple more free items. Plus I do have lots of other projects that I need to work on, like cleaning my apartment, getting my Christmas list together for my mom and for the blog page, finishing getting stuff squared away for my upcoming vacation and at some point finding something for lunch. So there is still lots on the docket today, besides finishing this particular blog entry.
I had mentioned that I needed $9 + for the change meter in order to pass $200 by the end of the year. While I haven't quite gotten there yet, $200 is still somewhat in play, as another $1.46 has bee accumulated since my last posting, so the new total is $192.39. I would say it is still unlikely, but then again all it would take is for one person to be careless with their money and I could be over the top, and given the public's need to be all sheeple-ish when it comes to shopping this time of year, finding money laying on the ground is more of a possibility this time of year. That brings me to …....
Titit #3 Let's stop kidding ourselves that Thanksgiving is a holiday for anything more than people to go shopping for two days. I know what the original premise was behind the holiday, but we have far since evolved beyond that, and what was once well intentioned day of giving thanks for that which we have has become a four day festival of excessiveness and greed. At what point was the meaning of the holiday switched to, hurry up and eat so we can get a good spot in line while we camp outside WalMart, Best Buy, Target, etc, so we can be the first one in the store once they open. I used to be upset that for most Thanksgivings I would end up working, whether it be my current job, or my previous one in radio but seeing what has become of the day, where it is less about giving thanks and spending time with family and more about a moronic attempt to see who can spend their money the first and fastest and now I can honestly say that there is no place I would rather be than as far away from such ass clowns as in humanly possible.
I will probably end up being distracted again for a while, I am watching the Steelers game, though I am not glogging it. Instead I am just posting score updates on my Facebook page, so you have been spared more of my sports blathering that sometimes accompanies my entries on this page. Instead all you have to look forward to is that I am still two Penguins videos behind, but when I checked yesterday the NHL channel on Youtube hadn't posted the highlight packages yet. I realize that the videos are probably annoying to some, but as I have stated previously, hockey has some weird superstitions, like playoff beards for example, and my own superstition is that since I have started posting the videos 3+ years ago the Penguins have made the Stanley Cup Finals, won a Stanley Cup and made the second round of the playoffs, so if it is working you just keep doing it. I will quit posting videos when the Penguins quit making the playoffs.
I should make note of the fact that Ed has officially left work to fly south (Florida) for the winter. Not that it means I have been left to my own devices, he has been gone one week and already I have taken two phone calls from him on work related issues. Plus I have an added problem, one I didn't anticipate but now have to deal with, that being I have been training Sammy to place orders for when I go on vacation. I made a slight mistake, I told him that since we are only getting two orders the week of Thanksgiving, make sure he ordered a little heavier to make up for it, get a couple extra things on those items that sell. Well he went a little bit order happy, leaving us with a basement full of products that I have to now sell. It should cut down on what we order for the next month or so, but I did catch a slight bit of grief for it. Oh well, if that is the worst Sammy does, I can live with it.
Before I let this blog come to a conclusion, I need to mention something, that being the most recent book I read, “Every Man Dies Alone” by Hans Fallada. The fact that I have waited this long into the blog entry to mention it means by now most of you have tuned out, but for those that haven't let me say this is by far the best book I have read this year, and maybe one of the best books I have ever read. Yes it was that good. I would label the bookma work of fiction, though it is based on a true story. There were a few too many liberties taken with the actual account to label it anything but fiction, but the story was fascinating regardless. The story mainly revolves around a couple, the Quangels, who are living in Berlin during the time of World War II and Nazi Germany. While originally not politically active, if anything they would be politically indifferent, they come to disapprove of Hitler and the Nazi party after their son is killed during the war, fighting for Germany just before the capitulation of France. Whether it is just anger at their son's loss, or a greater awareness of all of the wrongs that are being committed in the name of Germany, the Quangels decide to offer up their own little resistance campaign, consisting of dropping postcards in stairwells and buildings in and around Berlin, with messages of dissent written on them. The belief being that if others read the cards, the same sort of coming to Jesus moment that the Quangels had will be shared by others, and the postcards will be handed around to still others and slowly the movement and the resistance to the policies of Nazi Germany will fester and grow. The problem with their logic is that everyone in Germany is so paranoid about the Nazi party and the SS in particular that no one wants to be caught with one of these postcards, let alone share them with others for fear that the result will be placement in a concentration camp. So while the postcard campaign goes on for a few years, it becomes wildly ineffective, with almost all cards turned over to the authorities as soon as they are found, and eventually the Quangels make a mistake and end up being put to death for their efforts. It is a fascinating read of the paranoia that gripped Nazi Germany, where no one could trust anyone for fear of being turned over to authorities. Rarely to a do reading recommendations on this page, but this is a book where an exception is called for.
Of course the problem with me finishing a book is that I now don't have any reading material. I have a couple of books laying around the apartment, but nothing that I am all gung ho about reading. I tried picking up one the other day, but I haven't even gotten a full chapter of it read yet.
Not too shabby, I managed to get better than a page written while still watching most of the first half of the football game. Of course now I am getting to the point where foraging for food is starting to take up a large part of my brain, I can't decide if I want to cook, order in, or go pick something up. All of which would require me to once again get dressed, and I am hesitant to do that just because it requires more effort than I am willing to put forth at the moment. Maybe after the game ends I will get more motivational.
I have been tinkering with another Marlboro contest recently, “Outwit the West”, where every week Marlboro asks five trivia questions and you get points for each one you get right. Technically you can form teams of players, as many as 4 players per team, and each correct answer adds to the each member's point total. Of course I didn't form a team, I screwed up when it first started so I am flying solo in this endeavor, and I am sorry that I did, because some of the bigger prizes include such items as a notebook computer, which would be nice, not because I need one, but because it is free. Instead, given how I have done so far, and the fact there are a few weeks left, I am probably going to get somewhere around half of the points needed for that prize, but I am eyeing up what looks to be a nice set of darts that I should be able to get. They are only 115 points away and we are getting a bonus 10 points for every answer submitted the rest of the way, regardless of whether or not it is correct. That is good, because the trivia questions are not easy by any stretch of the imagination, usually I am spending the better part of an hour just looking up the answers, or at least the best guesses that are available to the questions.
There was the distraction I warned you about. The football game went into overtime before Pittsburgh won, 19-16. I even got some good fantasy news out of the game. I have Steve Johnson, a wide receiver for Buffalo, on my roster and have been using him occasionally as my flex player in our league, but left him on the bench today. All he did was drop 6 passes, including what would have been a game winning touchdown pass in overtime. Far better to leave that type of display off of my game day roster.
I also took some time to spend some of my Amazon gift card money on a couple of Christmas presents, nothing major, just another gift for my mom and one for her husband. I was browsing some of the specials that are on Amazon and found a couple of things that were on sale for 50% off, and since I bought two, my bill was over $25 so they throw in the shipping and handling for free if I am willing to wait a couple of extra days. Not a problem, I have a few weeks to play with yet. With all of that out of the way I walked over to the Cuban place and got a sandwich and fries so I didn't starve. Then again if anyone has seen my stomach recently I am sure they would say starvation is not a problem with which I suffer.
Well I should probably wrap this up. My first attempt at getting this to copy and paste was a hit and miss proposition, the photo didn't copy and paste with the text, so I will have some work to do before this is officially finalized. Plus I have gotten myself into another money saving mess here that I am still tinkering with. I have been using an application on Facebook called Hotspot, where as you complete offers you are awarded cash, but you can only cash out when you reach $5 or more and then it is credited to a Paypal account. Mostly the offers I do are just watching videos where you earn anywhere between .03 and .10 per video. But as I was checking out some of the other offers on there just recently I saw that they were awarding $1.10 for any album purchase on Amazon of $5 or more. Funny thing is Amazon just a couple of days ago issued a code for $3 off of MP3 purchases. So now I am getting $1.10 for spending $2. Add to that I still have $40 in free money from Swagbucks in my Amazon account so no real cash has left my hand. So all told, I just purchased “The Very Best of Prince” for .90. Now I have the job of burning it to cd, which isn't all that bad, I know I have a disk or two around here some place, but that is going to take up some more of my time this evening and I really don't want to turn this into a three day blog, so I will just stop now.