Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Super Tunes 2

I had such a good time making (and listening to) my last playlist (Super Tunes) I made another!

I hope you buy them all, if you haven't already!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Selection Sunday

A few years ago I noticed some coworkers talking about their “brackets.” I didn’t think they were that into hardware so I inquired. They told me about the NCAA basketball tournament. I was clueless because I mostly watched football growing up and didn’t go to college at a big “sports” school. My coworkers kindly gave me my own bracket to fill out. I was completely intimidated and just went by the little numbers in front of the team name. I don’t remember how I did that year. There was no money involved anyway; it was just for fun.
Fast forward to the present and I’m anxiously awaiting Selection Sunday! I went on the NCAA’s website to find out more about it and that started me thinking about the tournament. I did a little research (though not on NCAA’s page; I could find little information on the history of the tournament there and got very frustrated) and
The NCAA tournament began in 1939 with 8 teams. They first began seeding the teams in 1979 (I’m thankful that they did. I’d be lost without those numbers!) when the tournament expanded to 40 teams. Today’s 65-team format began in 2001. There has been talk of expanding the tournament to 96 teams.
I don’t know about you, but in March I carry my bracket around with me practically everywhere. Last year, I was at my cousin’s house for Easter dinner. We were all having a nice time getting caught up. When someone turned the TV on and switched it to ESPN, my cousin took out his bracket. Then my other cousin and my cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend and finally myself had brackets in hand! We were all watching the scores to find out how we were doing. I don’t think 96 teams would fit on one piece of paper! Of course, they have online brackets now (I filled one out for the first time last year) but it just won’t be same!
I depend on the seeds, but after the first few rounds I can’t pick based solely on the seeding. I have a very scientific and knowledgeable way of choosing in close situations:
  1. Do I know the team’s name (like Tar Heels or Orangemen)
  2. Is the school in close proximity to somewhere I like to visit (like Boston or Chicago)
  3. Is the school in close proximity to somewhere I have relatives
Of course this didn’t help much in 2008 with the 8 verses 9 round. I picked two 8s and two 9s and I got every game wrong! So my solution in 2009 was to pick all 8’s. This would have gotten me half right the year before, but this year only got me 1 right!
Last year I did quite well with my bracket (see Mad about March), but the year before, I got 3 of the final 4 but neither of the final 2! The point being that you never really know, but it’s fun to try. I can't wait to fill out my 2010 braket!
This year I’m rooting for Syracuse. Go Orangemen!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Sports Shopping Spree

Someone needs to take my credit card away! I'm quite a few dollars poorer thanks to online shopping. I am the type of person who goes in spurts. I will not get a hair cut for a year and then chop all my hair off. I don't go shopping often, but every now and then I go on a spree.
It all started with Spring Training. I have been dying for baseball to return. Not just because that means winter is over, but because the Red Sox ended last season on such a sour note. It's time to correct that.

This app has a clock as well as an alarm and a news feed. It's kind of dumb, but kind of funny!

I bought this app last year and loved it. I was disappointed that the price went up this year, but that didn't stop me from buying it. It's a great app to keep track of games when you can't be near the TV or computer. It has video recaps of the game as well as audio of all the games with your choice of home or away team's broadcasts. I was disappointed to find out that is only updates the Spring Training games on the half inning, but in the regular season it updates every few minutes.
I've been to two Red  Sox games in my life. Both were in Boston last year. This year I decided that, in addition to one game in Boston in August, I wanted to check out some other stadia, not that they can hold candle to Fenway Park!

I have actually been to Rogers Center before for a baseball game. It was on a class trip to Toronto in the eighth grade. I remember nothing other than the roof! I don't remember who the Blue Jays were playing, but it wasn't the Sox. I can't wait to go again. I haven't been north of the border since a passport was involved. It will be the first time I've used mine, though hopefully not the last.

I have only heard great things about Camden Yards. One day out of the clear blue my dad comes home from work and says that we should take a vacation to Baltimore. A coworker of his was raving about the aquarium and railroad museum among other things. I immediately got on the Sox schedule to find out when they would be in Baltimore.

I, sadly, live outside of NESN territory. (Trust me, everyday I dream of ways to get myself a job and place to live in Suffolk County.) This year I finally broke down and bought MLB.TV. Today, I watched the game against the Orioles. It was so nice to be able to see it, rather than just hear it. I watched it in lower quality so that my internet could keep up. I had to watch the feed from MASN, but when regular season starts I'll get a choice.
After reading all of this you might say I'm obsessed.
I would say guilty as charged!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vested Interest

Baseball season has begun! Ok, so technically it is only the preseason games that have begun, but we know that the regular season is not far away. Even though the games don't count, it is nice to hear the crack of the bat again!
I root for the Red Sox (and whoever is playing the Yankees) but this year I'll be keeping my eye on Justin DuschuchererJason NixJeff Bailey, and Aaron Bates. Are they on my fantasy team? No. (I tried fantasy baseball last year and failed miserably and I'm not sure I'll bother again this year.) I keep my eye on these players because I want to see them do well. My concern for their careers is not out of the goodness of my heart, however. I have a vested interest in each of these guys.
Justin Duchscherer and Jason Nix
I collect baseball cards. Through the luck of the draw, I've ended up with four different Justin Duchscherer cards with doubles of one and triples of another. I have also ended up with two different Jason Nix rookie cards and his card for this year. I'm rooting for these guys to become the next Cy Young and Bobby Doerr, respectively. Who doesn't dream about one of your ordinary cards becoming really valuable!
Jeff Bailey
Red Sox fans know Bailey has moved on to Arizona Diamondbacks where he will be playing in the majors. I'm rooting for the guy not just because he worked so many years in the Sox minor league system, but also because I saw him in the minors where he got two home runs in one game against the Rochester Red Wings. (Random fact: Rochester is the oldest minor league team.) I'd love for Bailey to become the next Hank Aaron so that I could say I saw him hit a home run in person. That would be a great story to tell the grandkids!
Aaron Bates
At a July 7, 2009 game in Boston, Bates had been pulled up from the minors. Bates went hitless that day, but he did get a walk. Ever since then I have been dreaming of the day when he sets some record for career walks and I can say I saw him get his first big-league walk! I also saw Bates play first base in a minor league game where I sat in the second row right by the bag. He was probably ten feet away! (Bonus random fact: the longest recorded game was 33 innings long played by the Rochester Red Wings verses the Pawtucket Red Sox.)
Maybe I'll go sign up for a fantasy baseball team after all. I love this game!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mad about March

Obviously, March Madness is the first thing I think about this time of year. I always fill out a bracket. Last year, I picked North Carolina Tar Heels to win it all (as I had the year before) and they did! I don’t have high hope this year; what are the odds of a picking the winner again? I had to laugh when ESPN had coverage of President Obama filling out his bracket. When he made his selection of UNC to win it all (I had already filled out my bracket), he turned to the camera and said, “Now Tar Heels, I picked you last year and you let me down. Don’t let me down again.” If I had been followed around by cameras when I filled out my bracket, that’s exactly what I would have said!

Now that the winter holidays and the Olympics are over, some of my favorite television shows are coming back. 30 for 30 is a great series of documentaries on ESPN about different sports. Calling them “sports documentaries” doesn’t do them justice. I was near tears watching “The Band that Wouldn’t Die” which is about a group of dedicated fans as they dealt with the Colts moving out of Baltimore. I’m looking forward to new installments starting with “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks” on March 14.
There will also be new episodes of Chuck (March 1) and Ugly Betty (March 10)!

Spring Training is officially underway and the first preseason game is March 3 with the Red Sox going up against Northeastern University and Boston College. The preseason games themselves aren’t terribly exciting since the results don’t count. But it is nice to hear about pitching rotations, starting lineups, and box scores again after a long winter without baseball!

March 21 is the Vernal Equinox which means the first day of spring. I don’t get too excited about this because where I live there will still be snow on the ground until the beginning of April. I have to laugh because every year in the middle of February I get my March issue of Martha Stewart Living in the mail. The March issue is the “Gardening Issue” but I won’t be doing any gardening for a least another two months!

The month of March seems heavily populated with birthdays. My father turns 59! There are also birthdays for my boss Kevin and my friend Mark and his son. My friends JOE_COOK and iChazzer even have the same birthday!
One of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss (born Theodore Seuss Geisel in Springfield, MA) would be 106 on March 2.
All in all, March is going to be a good month! Plus, after March we get to April and we all know what that means: Go Red Sox!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Super Tunes

Here is my current playlist. It's one of my best, if I may say so myself! 

I highly recommend you head over to iTunes and download them all!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mike Lowell

I think it absolutely sucks that we get to watch him in Spring Training knowing that we’re going to lose him soon. (It kind of reminds me of watching the Eddie House thank you video at the Celtics vs. Knicks game last night.) Why do I get so attached? I’m just a girl I guess. I know that sports is a business: a form of entertainment. But after a while it feels like the players are your family/friends, despite the fact that you don’t even know them. I know you shouldn't use mushy words like "feel" or "friend" in reference to sports, but I do anyway.
I saw Mike Lowell play third base at my first game at Fenway Park last year. A ball came screaming down the third base line and I expected to see it continue into the outfield, but it stopped when it got to him because he had snagged it. I still can’t believe he got it! It was a great play to watch even from my far away seats in Grandstand 6!
I had a special place in my heart for Lowell after watching his great performance in the 2007 World Series. (I had also been rooting for him in 2003 with the Marlins.) He always seemed to have a great at bat if he got a ball first. When he came to the plate, I called him “Scary Lowell” because he looked like he could kick your butt if he wanted to, but he’s the nicest guy. (His autobiography is a great read and made me like the guy even more.) That’s why losing him is so hard.
It's one thing to lose a jerk like Manny Ramirez who quit on the team. Or a traitor like Johnny Damon. But a class-act and a wonderful hitter like Mike Lowell should be someone a team hangs onto for dear life.
So, Happy Birthday, Mike Lowell. You will be missed.

What I'm Reading ("Eclipse")

February 24, 2010
As ashamed as I am to admit it, I'm currently reading Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I know, I know. I'm not a teenage girl anymore, and even if I was, I would be hideously behind the times. Anyone who's anyone has already read the books and have moved on to either the Sookie Stackhouse books or some other hard-core vampire lit.
In my defense, I started reading Twilight just to see what the big deal was. I am finishing the series because I'm curious to see what happens (even though I kind of already know). Frankly, I am not in love with either Edward or Jacob. (If you held a gun to my head and made me choose, I would go with Jacob. Only in my head he doesn't look like Taylor Lautner, but more like Jacoby Ellsbury!) I have seen the movie of Twilight and it was good, not great. I'm glad that I read the book first. I think I've enjoyed the soundtrack more than anything else. I've yet to see the movie of New Moon, though I will rent it when it comes out on DVD.

January 27, 2010
I started reading Say Everything by Scott Rosenberg. I have become interested in blogging and this book's subtitle ("How blogging began, what it's becoming, and why it matters") hooked me right away.
UPDATE: I hate to admit it, but I've given up on this book for now. I've read quite a few nonfiction books in a row, so I'm switching to fiction for a bit. Maybe I'll come back to this one some other time.

January 26, 2010
I finished reading Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I enjoyed Freakonomics because of the way the authors wove together seemingly unrelated ideas with stunning results. I was hoping for more of the same from the sequal and the authors delivered!
Through Superfreakonomics I learned how the Baseball Hall of Fame effects your life expectancy and how Mike Lowell feels about drug testing. The book also featured monkeys using money and ways to avoid looking like a terrorist. Certainly it was not your average economics book!
It was an interesting read and hard to put down. I recommend you check it out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Future Looks Bright (at the moment anyway)

In my last post (Good Day Watching Today RT) I was glad that the word  "today" was in my top 5 most tweeted words (according to I felt that this is a good sign that I'm focusing on the present and not dwelling on the past. I didn't, however, have much to say about the future.
Today I bought and printed tickets to Wicked: A New Musical. I was so excited (though I was more excited when my Red Sox tickets came in the mail on Truck Day!) that I added the date of the show to my "Days Until" application. That's when I realized that I had quite a few events to look forward to.

I used to feel like always counting down was a bad thing because you were counting your days away. Now I think it's nice to have things to look forward to. It makes the boring days more interesting when there is an event on the horizon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good Day Watching Today RT

good day watching today rt
These are my top tweeted words according to as of 9:45pm Saturday February, 20. I can't say I'm surprised by this result. (I am surprised that neither "red" nor "sox" were in the top 5, but at least #redsox was in the top 5 hashtags, so they won't have to revoke my Red Sox Nation Citizenship Card!)
I'm not surprised, but I am a little disappointed with myself, that "watching" is one of my most tweeted words. I would rather it had been "going" as in "I'm going to a Sox game" or "I'm going to New Zealand." Or "making" as in "I'm making another video project." Or "playing" as in "I'm playing my violin more often now." Or "writing" as in "I'm writing a story." Maybe I can work on replacing "watching" with something more proactive.
Does having "RT" as a top tweeted word mean I'm unoriginal and can't come up with my own ideas and just retweet the thoughts of others? Or does it simply mean that I follow some pretty great folks and I like to share their thoughts with my friends? I'm going with the latter.
I am glad that "good" is one of my top words. I'm not an incurable optimist, I just try to ignore the negative when I can't do anything to change it. The fact that "day" and "today" are in the top is also a positive thing: I'm focusing on the present and not the past.
Overall, "good day watching today rt" isn't a bad set of words. What words will show up in the future?

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Short Facebook Rant

Have you ever made a Facebook status update that you thought was totally innocuous, but someone responds with an angry, snotty comment that takes you totally by surprise?
I will spare you the details. But let’s say, for example, my friend says, “Yankees Rule!” I read this and roll my eyes and move on. I’m tempted to write, “You are wrong. The Red Sox rule and you’re an idiot!” but I don’t because it’s not like my friend will read my comment and suddenly say, “you’re right. I hereby desert the Evil Empire and pledge myself to the Nation!”
Ok, so baseball is an overly simplified example, but you get the picture. If I write something in my own status that is offensive to you, how will writing a mean-spirited comment make me change my mind? Will I do a 180 and subscribe to your way of thinking? Wouldn’t a kind word of encouragement do more to “convert” me to your way? You catch more flies with honey.
I personally don’t agree with everything said by my Facebook “friends” (I use quotes because some are relatives that I don’t have anything in common with but felt it would be rude to not accept), but I don’t say anything because I follow the rule of “If You Can’t Comment Something Nice, Don’t Comment At All.” You’re not going to change your mind based on something that I said. Can’t we agree to disagree?

Sorry for the rant. I just needed to air that out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pitchers and Catchers Report (A Poem)

Pitchers and catchers report 
We know the season soon starts 
Catchers are crouching 
Pitchers are tossing 
We will be hearing "play ball!"  

Two thousand ten has begun!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mid-Winter Resolutions Progress

Today I read a Michael Nobbs post about doing a little at a time to reach your goals and making sure you recognize what you have accomplished. It inspired me to take a look back at my blog post “More to me than sports?!?” to see how I've been progressing.
My “mid-February resolutions” should really have been “mid-winter” resolutions because I’m not going to get them all done this month. To be honest, I won’t get them all done ever, but you get the idea.

Here is a look at my list and my progress so far:
take more photos-I posted a few today to my twitpic account
learn to use GarageBand better-I still have a ways to go, but I did use GarageBand for the background music for my “Boston Red Sox Truck Day 2010” video
add new music to my iTunes library-does the “Free Single of the Week” count?
learn to draw-I’m still light-years away from checking this one off, but I did draw this:

Ok, I traced the B, but I colored it and wrote the names!
read more books-I’m making progress in Blogging for Dummies by Susannah Gardner and Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado
learn how to make a new recipe-I haven’t done anything with this one
play my violin more often-Or this one
learn a new chord on the guitar-Or this one (Apparently, I also need to add spelling to the list because I originally spelled "chord" without the h!)
write a short story-I have outlined a few ideas, but have not made much progress on this one either
spend more time in the Word-I have this week off, so this one has been easier. The real question is: will I keep it up?

On a more positive note, I have done a few things that weren’t on the list. I wrote a short poem (coming on Wednesday) and I have started another video (coming by the end of the week). And I am 5/8 of the way through a major bedroom cleaning.

I hope to keep plugging away at my list. As always, I appreciate any tips or suggestions you have!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Good Day

Yesterday was an abnormally good day. I’m not a cynic, but I am a little worried that a bad day is waiting for me to balance things out!

I might complain about Valentine’s Day being a made-up “holiday,” but I wasn’t complaining yesterday as people were dropping off cookies, brownies, and cupcakes on my desk. Bring on the sweets! Because a coworker was on vacation this week, I had a few more tasks to complete. Yesterday marked the end of this hectic week. And as an added bonus, I have next week off!

While Valentine’s Day may be made-up, Truck Day is a real holiday. At least for Red Sox fans, it is. (I even made a video about it.) When the equipment trucks pulled away from Fenway Park to head to Fort Myers, it marked the unofficial start to Spring Training. Now it feels like the season is just around the corner. Opening Night is only 50 days away!

When I get home from work everyday, I run to the mailbox. Yesterday, I finally saw the object of my desire: Red Sox tickets! Is there any better sight than an envelope with a return address of “Boston, MA 02215”? I also can’t help but think it’s a great sign that my tickets came on Truck Day. Bring on the 2010 season!

By far, the best part of yesterday was good health news for my mother. Praise the Lord! When things happen that threaten your loved ones, you realize what matters.

I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy a few more good days like yesterday, but I know that no matter what comes, I must have faith.

“Wherefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Matthew 6:30

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Truck Day 2010

My first YouTube video! And I made it in honor of Truck Day 2010!

In case you are wondering what Truck Day is, I'll explain. Truck Day is when equipment is loaded up from Fenway Park and taken down to the Red Sox Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Florida. Truck Day, this year it's February 12, marks he unofficial beginning of Spring Training. The official beginning is when "pitchers and catchers report" on February 18.
I made the still images in Pages and imported them into iPhoto. Then I played (poorly I might add) "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in GarageBand and exported it to iTunes. I opened iMovie and brought the video and audio together.
I love how I mostly used programs that come already on the Mac! I wanted to get to know iMovie and Garageband better. This project taught me that these are very capable programs and I still have a lot to learn!

Monday, February 8, 2010

More to me than sports?!?

After the Super Bowl I had this thought: What will I do until March Madness starts? I know that there is still regular season professional basketball, but I don’t get to see many Boston Celtics games where I live, plus they always seem to lose when I do get to watch! Spring Training is cool, but not all that exciting since the games don’t mean anything and everyone is still getting into the swing of things - pun intended!

Then it hit me: How sad is it that I spend my life going from spectator sport to spectator sport? I have other interests. I’ve been lazy and haven’t been pursuing them. Now is as good a time as any to begin, right?

I can't accomplish them all, but here are a few of my “mid-winter” resolutions:
  • take more photos
  • learn to use GarageBand better
  • add new music to my iTunes library
  • learn to draw
  • read more books
  • learn how to make a new recipe
  • play my violin more often
  • learn a new cord on the guitar
  • write a short story
  • spend more time in the Word

But I can’t do it alone. I need your help! Recommend a book to read or a song to download. Let me know what websites have encouraged you with your art. Most of all, keep inspiring me with your pictures, blogs, and links!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Burning Super Bowl Questions

As you know, I am a Bills fan and have therefore endured four years of Super Bowl futility. Despite these painful memories, I continue to watch the big game every year. This year is Super Bowl 44. I have been watching since #25 so that makes this my 20th Super Bowl! This fact starts to make me feel old until my parents point out that they have watched every single Super Bowl that has ever been played!
Thinking about the big game brought some questions to my mind. This is New Orleans’ first appearance. How many possible combinations of Super Bowl new comers are there? There are only 3 possible ways to have a new comer versus another new comer (the Lions versus either the Texans, Browns, or Jaguars). There are 64 ways to have one new comer versus a team that has already appeared.
The media (and fans) love a feel-good story. How much would they love it if two teams who have never won played each other? There would be a happy ending for one fan base. How many combinations of no win vs. no win are there? Not that New Orleans has won, there are 12 teams who have never won (7 NFC: Eagles, Lions, Vikings, Cardinals, Seahawks, Panthers, and Falcons; 5 AFC: Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Texans, and Chargers) so that makes 35 possible combinations.
The ultimate emotional story would be teams who have only lost, but never won a Super Bowl meeting. The Eagles, Vikings, Cardinals, Seahawks, Panthers, Falcons, Bills, Titans, and Chargers have appeared but never won. That makes 18 possible combinations of losers. The most intriguing of these would have to be Minnesota versus Buffalo as both teams have lost four Super Bowls. The Bills have the added benefit of losing theirs consecutively. Go Buffalo!
How many different combinations of Super Bowls are there? There could be 256 different match-ups, but 40 have already been played. Why isn’t it 44 since there have been 44 Super Bowls? Well, Buffalo played Dallas twice (sadly with the same result) and Pittsburgh played Dallas three times (winning one) and the Jets can’t play Indianapolis any longer. So that leaves 216 unique combinations.
This got me thinking of other interesting Super Bowl match-ups.

The Pirate Bowl: Tampa Bay vs. Oakland - I didn’t make this one up; we saw it just seven years ago. Too bad Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom didn’t perform the half time show.

The Purple Bowl: Minnesota vs. Baltimore - I’m a girl so I care about things like uniform colors (though Paul Lucas of Uni Watch does too). Not that there is anything wrong with men in purple, I just always thought it was a strange color choice. Though I do like how the Ravens have paired it with black.

The New Jersey Bowl: New York Giants vs. New York Jets - I say the winner should get its team name on the stadium for all games, by both teams.

The They-Used-to-Play-in-Boston Bowl: Washington vs. New England - I’m sure most people know that the Patriots used to play in Boston but were moved to Foxoboro, just 40 minutes south. But lesser known is the fact that the Redskins also called Beantown home back in 1932-1936.

The Not-In-LA-Anymore Bowl: St. Louis vs. Oakland - I was a kid when these teams moved out of La La Land. It was very strange to me that teams could just leave town. (I was only 2 when the Colts moved.) As an adult, the fact that relocation happens is an everyday concern for a Bills fan!

The Next-Door-Neighbor Bowl: San Francisco vs. Oakland - This is the closest two Super Bowl teams could be as the current National and American Conferences are arranged, other than the afore mentioned New Jersey Bowl.

The Home-Field-Advantage Bowl: It could happen, couldn’t it? What would the NFL do if a team ended up playing the Super Bowl at home???

I don’t go to my grandparents’ house in Buffalo to watch the games any more, but I always do watch. Not just the commercials, either. Football is the only sport I love enough to watch when I have no rooting interest.

How long will the party in New Orleans?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Facebook!

According to this morning’s trending topics, today is Facebook’s 6th birthday! It seems that lately there has been a rash of theme photo weeks.

About a month ago there was “use-a-photo-of-yourself-as-a-kid” week. I didn’t participate because I’m old enough that my baby pictures are in this medium called “film”! You may have heard of it. My mother doesn’t know how to use a scanner and I’m too lazy to scan hundreds of old photos. It’s too bad I didn’t participate that week because I was much cuter as a child than I am now.

Next came “use-a-wedding-photo” week. I’m not married and I’m ok with it. I certainly don’t have a problem with marriage as an institution. It’s too bad that my parents (and other couples their age) don’t have Facebook or know how to use scanners, because there was some pretty scary hair in the 70s. That week would have produced some wicked funny pictures!

Most recently there was “use-a-celebrity-you-have-convinced-yourself-you-look-like” week. I couldn’t think of anyone that I looked like, no matter how hard I stretched my imagination. I got a kick out of other people’s choices, however. Some were spot on, while others? Not so much. My pride was a little hurt that I none of my friends made a suggestion of an attractive celebrity that I looked like, but I got over it.

So, what if someone died and made me Queen of Facebook? I would make “use-yourself-with-your-favorite-baseball-hat-picture” week since that’s what I‘ve been using since I joined FB about two years ago.

Or an even better suggestion would be “use-a-picure-of-yourself” week. What a thought! Right now, if a stranger hacked into my account and viewed my newsfeed, he or she would marvel at my friend Sue who appears to be two people, one male and one female, who are joined at the hip! Then there is my friend, Nate, who is a 9 month old girl! The stranger would fall off his or her chair to discover that I am friends with a 30 week-old fetus, Justine! How do I maintain a friendship with someone in the womb? It’s a modern-day medical miracle!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being proud to be in a relationship, or being an expectant parent, or having cute children. That’s great, but that’s what the photo albums are for. Your profile picture should be a picture of YOU!

Anyway, happy birthday, Facebook. May you continue to bring me friends’ updates for years to come. Or at least until all my friends are on Twitter!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Twitter and the Technophobe

A few months ago I watched a coworker squint at a cellphone in an ill-fated attempt to send a picture message. He finally gave up and handed the phone to a younger member of our lunch table. I vowed right then that no matter how old I got, I wouldn’t get shut out of new technology.

That night I was watching SportsCenter and the episode featured “tweets” by various athletes. I had been hearing about this whole “Twitter” thing, but didn’t know anyone personally who was into it. I pulled up Google on my Macbook Pro which, much to my cat’s chagrin, is almost permanently attached to my lap, and looked up “Twitter.” I was confused and a little overwhelmed at first. I was about to shut the window and give up, when I realized that this was just the way to tackle my technophobia. I dug around for a while and kind of got a feel for it, but was somewhat discouraged by the lack of “this is how you tweet” instruction. I’m a very “by-the-book” type person so the freeform environment of Twitter was not my cup of tea. I signed up for an account and then surfed over to the library’s website and put a few books about Twitter on hold. This made me feel a little better. Hope, in the form of step-by-step directions, was on the way!

Over the course of the next few days while I wanted for my library books to arrive, I found some interesting news outlets to follow (such as and NZHerald) as well as a plethora of fellow Red Sox fans (Bill Simmons!). I didn’t write any Tweets because I had no followers to read them. I was content to use it only as a information gathering service. The true power of this came to light during Thanksgiving.

I was at a family get together and I dug my iPod out of my pocket to send some “Happy Thanksgiving” emails. When I was done, I booted up Echofon and the first Tweet I read was the New Zealand Herald telling me about Tiger Woods’ car crash! Needless to say, my family and I were all talking about it that evening as information began trickling in. This made me realize what a powerful tool this newfangled Twitter could be.

Also during Thanksgiving weekend I got my first followers! True, most of them were the Twitter equivalent of junk-mailers just looking for followers, but one of them was Jerry Remy! I immediately followed him back. I also found more people to follow. I even wrote some tweets!

Fast forward about two months to the present. I’ve since read Twitter for Dummies and The Twitter Book. (Both were helpful, but nothing compares to just jumping in and getting started.) I’ve collected over 100 followings and 30 followers. I’ve written over 350 Tweets and had some really great conversations with people as far away as Wales and New Zealand! This positive experience with Twitter was really what inspired me to tackle another modern-day invention: the blog. (Ok, so Julie and Julia helped too!)

I haven’t been able to get any of my coworkers on Twitter, but I’ll keep trying!

No School After the Super Bowl? Been There. Done That.

Some schools in New Orleans are going to close on the Monday after the Super Bowl. That got me thinking...

What do you think of when the Super Bowl comes around each year? Expensive commercials? The Vince Lombardi Trophy? Half-time shows? Wardrobe malfunctions? For me it will always be: no school on Monday.

On the evening of Super Bowl XXV I was a bright-eyed, happy 9 year-old girl sitting on my grandparents’ couch in Buffalo, NY. OK, I lied. I’ve never been bright-eyed, but you get the idea. I was young. I was naive. I really thought that kick would be good. By the end of the night I was hiding in the bathroom pretending I wasn’t crying. I had become a Bills fan.

I had been coming to Buffalo to visit my mother’s side of the family my entire life. I had watched my share of football games on TV. Sometimes the announcers wouldn’t be to my grandfather’s liking, so he would turn the sound down and turn the radio up. If the Bills’ opponent was the Miami Dolphins the Buffalo News would have “Squish the Fish” signs in the Sunday paper.

After the missed field goal that lead to the loss on January 27, 1991, the Bills returned to the Super Bowl year, after year, after year. No other team in NFL history has gone to four consecutive Super Bowls. Every year was the same. We would be excited. We would gather around the TV with a stuffed brown buffalo. We would have food and lots of it. (Yes, of course we had Buffalo wings!) We would watch the game, the half-time show, the commercials. And then the game would be over. The Bills lost again. We knew the game wouldn’t get done until late, so we would have planned to stay over night. I didn’t go to school on Monday. I would tell my classmates on Tuesday that I had been in morning. They were a little jealous of the day off. All I knew was that a day off from school is good. A day off from school after a Bills’ victory would have been better.

I hope the kids in New Orleans can enjoy their day off from school.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Season in Review

It was a season of ups and downs. The boys made it to the playoffs, but no one was expecting them to go all they way. The history books suggested a victory at the beginning of the playoffs was all but guaranteed. They put the ball into the hands of the man with the proven track record in the playoffs. Sadly, he was but human and the streak was snapped and the season is over.

Oh yeah, and the same thing happened to the Patriots.

It’s just a coincidence, obviously, but it’s a darn spooky one.

The Patriots and Red Sox had uneven seasons. After starting 2-6, the Sox had an 11 game winning streak. The offense set a record with 12 runs in an inning and then scored only 1 run in the first two playoff games combined. The Pats had 3 separate 3-game winning streaks, but lost a game where they lead by 17 points in the fourth quarter. They were 6-4 against teams that finished over .500, but on Sunday they didn’t have a first down until over 6 minutes into their first-round playoff loss to Baltimore.

The Sox officially clinched a playoff spot on a day they lost a game to Toronto (and would go on to be swept at home). Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote that New England should be happy they made the playoffs since they won’t win more than just the first game. The mood around both teams wasn’t that of a championship-bound club. Everyone just seemed glad to be playing in the post-season.

Going into the American League Divisional Series, the Red Sox hadn’t lost a playoff series to the Angels. The Patriots hadn’t lost a home playoff game in about three decades. Neither team was resting on its laurels, but nothing suggested that this year had to be the year those streaks would end. They were wrong.

Who is more trusted in big games than Jonathan Papelbon and Tom Brady? The Sox closer had a 0.00 postseason ERA! Terrific Tom was 14-3 in the playoffs! It doesn’t get much better than that, but past successes just weren’t enough as Papelbon gave up 3 runs in the 9th (not to mention the hits that lead to the 2 runs charged to Billy Wagner in the 8th) and Brady had 3 picks on Sunday. The Sox were down 2 games to none when Papelbon took the mound and Brady was not helped by the injury to Wes Welker or a defense that allowed 33 points. Neither man was singularly to blame, of course, but in times of struggle they had always been the ones you could look to.

Is there some cosmic significance to sports? Of course not. That’s not why we watch. We watch because we don’t know what’s going to happen. We know what we want to happen or what we think will happen, but none of us has been to 2015 and brought back Gray’s Sports Almanac so we just don’t know. After disappointments this year are going to give up on our teams? No way! We’ll be watching the offseason moves and counting down to the new season. By the way, baseball’s Opening Day is coming up in just 84 short days and football is only 244 days away! Can’t wait!