Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Week!

Anyone who knows me knows I like to be themed! There are a few movies that I like to watch every year including It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Double Double Toil and Trouble (which I actually haven't watched in years but plan to this year). Then I always like to watch a few scary/creepy movies because I'm not normally a fan of these but it's a fun tradition during "Halloween Week." This year we went to see Saw VI in theaters and Gary got The Shinning and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. We may rent something or watch something else if we have time but a lot is going on this week! Monday Night Football is a classic NFC East matchup this week, the Redskins v. Eagles. Then on Tuesday, I am going to try and convince Gary to go to the PUMPKIN PATCH and hopefully we can have fun doing some pumpkin carving. Then on Wednesday it is GAME 1 of the World Series!!!! Yankees v. Phillies: Liberty Series or I-95 Series. Whichever you prefer. Then on Thursday it's Game 2 of the World Series AND Virginia Tech v. North Carolina - the Hokies desperately need redemption after losing to GA Tech :-( I will be switching back and forth that night! Then going out in Philly Friday and Saturday night! Woot! My new costume this year is Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Gary is going to be The Mad Hatter. I guess we'll do those Saturday night since Gary probably isn't going out Friday. That means I need to decide whether to wear my Alice costume twice or if I should pull out an old costume of mine for Friday night! I had a cute Scottish outfit I wore at the MD Ren Faire this year which no one really got to see due to the terrible weather, I was covered in a jacket and a pancho the whole time, but somehow I have misplaced the hat so I'm not sure if I can pull off the complete look without it! I guess I will decide soon what to do!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventures in Walking Chloe

Chloe is my baby girl. She is a 2 year old "Bug" which stands for a Boston Terrier/Pug mix. She's honestly the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. I love her more than you can imagine but she is also a little brat and trouble maker. She's been known to chew on anything in sight, use the floor and couch as her own personal porter potty, refuses to get her nails trimmed (trust me I've tried and she has the strength of godzilla when she squirms away from clippers), and has gotten in bad habits of barking when she wants something. Aside from all that, I miss her when I'm away from her for any unusual period of time beyond a normal work day. I hate to admit this but just today, Chloe and I went on our first official walk around the neighborhoods behind my apartment complex. There is a "Dog Walk" area right across from my apartment when we go for her to "do her business" but we generally don't go much beyond that. I know it makes me sound like a pathetic lazy excuse for an owner and I admit that 100%. One time when the weather was nice, I thought "Hey, I'm finally going to take Chloe for a walk" I got her all ready, put on some jeans and my comfy Final Season Yankee Stadium sweatshirt and we hit the road. I tried taking her to the "Dog Walk" area first so she could get anything pressing out of her system before we started walking. In human terms she went #1 but that was all. So we began our journey through the parking lot to the sidewalk that ran across Wistar and then turned down Queen Anne. We didn't get far before Chloe decided she couldn't wait much longer for #2. She took her normal stance and I didn't think that anything would be different than any other day in this situation aside from the slightly different location. Now the very important tid bit of information that I have left out up unto this point is that Chloe has a retractable leash which gives her an illusion of freedom but still gives me the power to keep her safe and in line. Normally around the apartment complex, I let her leash go as long as possible and let her lead with leisure as long as she's not getting into anything she shouldn't. But on the sidewalk by a road where cars are zooming by, I felt the need to keep the leash locked at a very short distance to keep my baby girl safe. So you know how some dogs do that kick thing after they go where they're supposedly trying to cover up their droppings with some grass? Can you guess what's about to happen next? That's right, because I was closer to her than normal, after her business, she proceeded to kick behind her but instead of kicking up dirt and grass, she kicked her shit all over me! I was so mad that I used my baggie to pick up what was left on the ground and marched her straight home so I could do some laundry. That was the end of our walk and I've been nervous to take her on a real walk again because of it!

Well today was the most positively beautiful fall day ever and I was crammed up inside at a desk all day. Because I brought my lunch, I didn't even get to experience the lovely weather during lunch time. Because of this, I was determined to take Chloe for a walk when I got home. Let's face it, we could both use a little exercise and I'd like to start doing more things like that with her. Especially as the nice fall weather is a flickering candle that the ice cold breath of winter is about to blow out. So this time I decided to try a new method. I walked Chloe a while around the apartment complex and thankfully #1 and #2 were accomplished before we started our official nice walk. Now Chloe is as curious as a cat so walking her is most certainly an interesting task. She literally stops and sniffs EVERYTHING in sight. Every tree, rock, fire hydrant, post, rock, leaf, you name it. I constantly was having to pull her back on track. I was able to give her some more freedom on her leash once we got into the groove of things and were in neighborhoods where the cars were much less frequent and the sidewalk space was wider. She was doing very well staying on track, well for the most part, my thumb got sore pressing the lock button every time she strayed or a car passed. But all in all things were going well and it was turning out to be a quite peasant walk. A few funny things happened along the way, like we would pass houses with dogs barking furiously and Chloe would stop dead in her tracks and be terrified. One time I even had to pick her up to keep moving because we passed a yard where Chloe could see the dogs, they were fenced in, but I'm pretty sure Chloe didn't trust the chain link. Another funny incident was when Chloe took a dump in some random people's yards and I had already used her bag and didn't have a spare on me so I was nervously watching to see if they were looking out the window and I quickly escorted Chloe off the premises before we were seen! Also some cute little boys tried to pet Chloe and she almost bit their faces off! I felt bad because they were saying how cute she was but at the same time across the street there was this obnoxious car revving it's engine super loud over and over again and I think it was scarring Chloe so she had her defenses up. As a whole though it was a fun walk and I'd be happy to take her out again as long as the weather stays nice. One final random thought out our walk, this little girl must have peed like 8 times and pooped 3 during a 45 minute walk! It was insane! She doesn't go that much all day! I'm not sure if she really had to go that often or if she was just trying to mark new territories.

Delicious Tastes of Fall Uno Style

Fall is most definitely my favorite time of year. I've always loved the sights, sounds and feel of autumn but most importantly, the tastes! A beautiful fall day is my favorite kind of weather, crisp cool air, you're comfortable in a light jacket or hoddie and jeans, and you're surrounded by beautiful leaves, Hokie maroon and orange with specs of bright happy yellow. Now as for tastes, think cranberry apple cider, pumpkins, avacadoes and sunshine. Ok so maybe the sunshine part applies to a summer beer leftover that I happened to get the last glass of along with my fall tastes but don't those items all sound so magical together?

So Uno has a seasonal menu cleverly titled "We're Fall of Suprises" that has some tasty looking options. I picked the two that reminded me the most of my favorite season and also just sounded the most delicious.

The first was the Kobacha Pumpkin Soup which is made from Kobacha Pumpkin Squash which apparently is a rare treat, Uno describes it as a combination of pumpkin and sweet potato, mmmm! It is also topped with sweetened dried cranberries which are a favorite of mine! You know there are certain additions to meals that you just love and are tempted to try it just because of them? Mine are things like tomatoes, spinach, olives, dried cranberries, artichokes, lobster and crabmeat. If you put any one of those things on anything, I will most likely be intrigued! Anyways, this soup did not disappoint! It was just as good as it sounds, it was warm and sweet and reminded me of sitting in a pumpkin patch on a chilly fall day!

The other dish I tried were the Avacado Egg Rolls. I'm just going to cite Uno's exact description of this one because it definitely does them justice. "We dice fresh avocado, add sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and lime juice and wrap it in an egg roll. It comes with our own tangy/sweet tamarind cashew dipping sauce seasoned with vinegar, honey and cilantro." (Uno Chicago Grill Menu) I am a big fan of the idea of egg rolls and often crave them, however, I often feel that within the crispy egg roll shell, the inner workings tend to me nothing more than questionable mush. These ones however are the complete opposite of what you would expect from an egg roll. All the toppings listed in the description are as fresh and crisp as you imagine and work together to make something that can only be described as happy! My only complaint was that they were a little pricey to only receive 4, I was expecting 6 as they were $7 or $8 but they were so good that I wasn't even mad! Just disappointed that they were gone so quickly.

Finally, in case you were wondering about the cranberry apple cider, fear not! I did not forget about this fall favorite! I am honestly not sure if they have this on their menu, but as we were leaving the restaurant, I was drawn to the front counter where they had a lovely display of fall's favorite fruit piled high next to a hot pot of what was labeled "Ocean Spray Cranberry Apple Cider" After inquiring if it was complimentary, I was filled with glee to find out that it was and excitedly ladeled a cup full for the ride home. It was a chilly, breezy night and the warmth of the cup in my hand was worth it alone just for the walk to the car. However, I was further pleased when I actually tried the unique cranberry twist on the fall classic. The flavors paired together wonderfully and again made me feel like I was sipping it while picking out my pumpkin, taking a hay ride or walking through a corn maze: all excellent autumn activites!

I'm not a food critic nor do I have any real experience on writing reviews for anything, but I am a human being who has thoughts, ideas and opinions just like everyone else and I'm just one of the annoying ones who thinks that other people might actually care what I have to say :-) Or maybe I know that no one cares but I am just going to write it anyways and take up space on the internet! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you Smarter than an Umpire?

I thought long and hard, and by long and hard I mean I had a brief passing thought but decided against it, to adding what I am about to say to the end of my previous post. While they share a common thread, the ever pressing issue of bad calls made by MLB Umpires, my previous blog was more my own personal rantings of one particular game, where as the issue as a whole deserves it's own spotligt on my wonderful blog that I'm sure no one is actually reading.

It's an age-old issue, should Major League Baseball rely on the use of Instant Replay in more aspects of the game? For the first time in history, America's Favorite Pastime actually allowed the use of this "new" technology during the 2009 season however it was limited to questionable home run calls. For any of us who are true baseball fans, we know that there are a lot more calls that are just as important other than home runs that happen a lot more often. I believe it's rare that a home run call is questionable which is exactly why I am okay with MLB using Instant Replay in this case. It doesn't happen very often so it really isn't going to extend games or mess with the purity of the game. However, if MLB were to expand the Instant Replay to the multiple plays on the bases that happen every day ranging from "caught stealing" to leaving the bag early to close plays at home plate, I then will be upset and truly feel that the purity of the game is being tainted. It honestly could just get ridiculous. It may start with the few examples I mentioned above, but then what? Will they start using it on check swings? Balls and strikes? "Oh he went around, no he didn't, let's check instant replay!" "That was a ball, no it wasn't, ok let's check the instant replay using the strike zone tracker (name changes depending on what chanel is broadcasting the game)" That's just not how baseball works. In the words of Ernie Harwell "Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic." While Harwell is most likely talking about the players, I believe that the "failing" part can apply to the umpires as well. That's what baseball is about folks. It's the only way we can keep the purity of the game alive.
Now onto the part about the umpires. Peope are campaigning for Instant Replay because of a pathetic display by the umpires in the 2009 post season. The most recent of these included 3 bad calls during game 4 of the ALCS which you can read about in my previous blog. While none of these calls truly affected the end result of this particular game, I do understand people's concern as this is a possibility in the future. HOWEVER! Based on my previous paragraph, you can tell that I am not a fan of any expansion with Instant Replay in baseball. If the problem is the umpires, then, light bulb, the problem is the *gasp* UMPIRES! I haven't done any research on how to become an umpire so unfortunately (for myself but probably fortunately for anyone reading this) I can't elaborate too much, but I think we need to chase the problem to the root of it all, how umpires get to the majors. Instead of Instant Replay, do what needs to be done to make sure only the best of the best get to the majors, and earn your "stripes" to get to ump a post season game! Even if you're already a well respected umpire, if you make a big mistake in a game or more than one big mistake in a game, there should be some sort of punishment or probation. I found an atricle How to Become an Umpire that says umpires must make their way through the farm system much like the players. If a player is slumping, they get benched, right? If an umpire seems to be messing up a lot of calls, make him go back to school, or at least make him watch High School Musical and get some tips from the Wildcats like "Get Your Head in the Game"
So in summary, MLB doesn't need Instant Replay, they just need to send their umpires back to school. In the words of Jeff Foxworthy "It's not about how smart you are, it's about how dumb you've become" or something along those lines.

Yankees Win Fair and Square

So if you're following the Major League Baseball post season, you're probably familiar with the controversy regarding some important missed calls thus far in 2009 October baseball. Since this is my first official blog post, I won't discuss stale news but rather focus on the freshest material which occured in last night's ALCS game which featured the Yankees and Angels. While I bleed pinstripe blue, I like to believe that I can be un-biased and fairly assess controversial plays. For example, when Swisher was caught with his pants down leading off second base and was called SAFE, after watching re-plays, he was clearly out by a foot. Now the Angels had every right to be upset about this call but thankfully they can't say this shifted the momentum of the game in any way. That very same inning, Swisher was on third and scored on a sac fly but the Angels said that he left the bag too early and Swisher was then called out. After watching that re-play, Swisher obviously did NOT leave the bag early and while this bad call cost the Yankees a run that inning, I was actually happy because Swisher was already supposed to be out and now the Angels can't say that we received any freebies. Now I wish I could say that is all and that's the end but alas there was one more bizarre play that resulted in yet another umpire mistake. This particular incident occurred shortly after Posada failed to score on a Robinson Cano double when he was already at 2nd base! While Cano seemed quite irritated that Jorge failed to give him a post season RBI, you have to give Posada a pass for falling for Tori Hunter's Oscar award winning performance pretending that he was actually going to catch the ball out in center field even though it ended up going WAY over his head. So while Posada remained on third, with Cano hot on his heels at second, a weak squibber was hit in the in-field, thrown to the plate and this time Posada was the one caught with his pants down in-between third base and home. Cano, who had been itching to move up a base had already arrived safely at third base while Posada retreated back to the same bag that Cano now occupied like some weird version of 4-corners. Well if you weren't watching you would think "Well hey this happens sometimes, Posada is out, Cano is safe." I'm sure that would have been the case if Cano wasn't daydreaming about RBI's and lollipops in Candyland and had completely stepped OFF the bag at which point he allowed himself along with Posada to get tagged out. Now in all fairness to Tim Mcclelland, he probably assumed the former and gave Cano and Yankees a BIG break. Now we all know what happens when you assume and while Halo fans were probably livid at yet another umpire mistake that favored the Bronx Bombers, the Angels once again got out of the inning, no harm, no foul. The Yankees went on to win 10-1 without any help of "bad calls" from the men in blue and all is once again right in the world (at least if you're a Yankees fan).

Thursday, August 6, 2009