Sunday, January 22, 2012

Joe Paterno

Photo: Getty Images

Last night it was announced by CBS News that Joe Paterno had passed away. After setting the internet world on fire, it was later announced that he was not dead.

This morning, it was again announced that Joe Paterno had died, but this was no false alarm. Shortly after being fired from Penn State in relation to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it was announced that he had cancer. In the matter of a few months, he passed away.

If Paterno had died 4 or 5 months ago instead of today, headlines would announce be calling him a leader of young men, legend, beloved coach. The headlines today instead portray a picture of a very different man. The news outlets lead with words like tragedy and fired.

If you are a Penn State fan, you are mourning not only a coach, but a true life legend for the University. The man was as synonymous with Penn State as the Nittany Lion itself.  If you are not from Penn State, it gets more complicated.

There is no argument regarding Paterno's devotion to Penn State and his contributions to college football. He has had significant contributions to the University and community as well.


He legacy will always be marked with an asterisk. In every story about him there will be a paragraph pointing out the scandal that ultimately got him fired. His name will forever be linked to Jerry Sandusky, a coach under his charge that has been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse. For a man that prided himself on encouraging his players to make the ethical, moral choices, he is linked to one of the worst moral failings. Word of the abuse was reported to him, he reported it and then dropped it. He never followed up, he never questioned it.

Is that right? Is it wrong?

That will be debated for years to come.

But right or wrong, Paterno's legacy is forever linked with tragedy, and no amount of wins or championships can change that.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

If You Don't Check In, Where You There?

If you forget to check in on Foursquare, were you ever there?

Foursquare is an application that allows you to "check in" a variety of locations from restaurants to the library to your house, to show your friends where you are at any given time. When you check in, you can offer tips for other visitors and you can earn badges for your visit. I can honestly tell you that the thought of earning the Gym Rat badge pushed me on a few days to go work out. Some companies offer specials or discounts if you check in. They give you free tater tots and they get a little extra publicity when you share with your friends that you are there.

The person that checks into a location the most becomes the "Mayor." Some companies offer special deals if you are Mayor. Starbucks for one, offers a nationwide Mayor discount, which is a pretty good thing.

Like in the childhood game that it is named after, there are Foursquare cheaters that make the game more irritating than fun. In a perfect world, you only "check in" to places that you visit. The physically get out of the car, open the door and walk into the establishment kind of visit. Some people check into locations that are closed or that they have never been to just to try and become Mayor or earn a new badge. It always cracks me up when someone is ousted as Mayor from their own house by someone they have never met.

Some people sit at a stop light and check in to every place on their way down the street. Ridiculous. No one appreciates a cheater. Let me repeat, no one appreciates a cheater.

Foursquare allows anyone to check into any place, however to crack down on the cheaters if by your GPS you are too far away from a location, you won't be awarded any points or badges for that check in.

If a company is truly involved in maintaining their Foursquare page, they can yank a cheater's Mayorship. I had to do just that once. I was monitoring a Foursquare account for a local restaurant and noticed that the Mayor had checked in. I was the only person in the place. That kid got a swift boot out of the game.

The other interesting part of the game is that you are announcing to everyone where you are. If you are one of those people that check into your own house, a potential thief would know you were out shopping 50 miles away and they have the address to your empty house.

Foursquare or any social media can be creepy. Anytime you announce to the world your every move, it allows for weirdos and whack jobs to stalk you. Or for your boss to catch you in a fib.

I personally tend to check in on my way out of a place. Or if I am with a big group, I may check in when I get there. I never check in at work and I never check in at home. I'm not that open with my life.
I don't necessarily want my every move to be tracked.

Some people might, but that is a little too much information for me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Photo Fun

I am happy to say it is time for more Photo Fun. 

For any reads new to this feature, I share with you a photo from my personal collection and I tell you a little about it. I love so many of these photos and I just hate that they sit on my hard drive doing nothing.

Today's picture takes us to cold and rainy Scotland...

It was a cold and dreary day when I was traveling through Glasgow. It was about 7 years ago and I was running around with a bright and shiny 3.0 mp digital camera.

A couple of things struck me about Glasgow. First, was the architecture. Many of the structures were 500 - 800 years old. They reeked of history. The second was that the people of Glasgow couldn't understand why tourists would come there. Many asked me if I was lost on my way to Edinburgh. Ha ha.

Since I am a sucker for old stuff, I wandered in to Glasgow Cathedral. The structure that I visited was consecrated in 1197. It still has an active congregation.

As I wandered around I was taken back by the beautiful stained glass windows and the cross. So of course I snapped the picture and continued my wandering.

It wasn't until I got home did I notice the eerie, I don't even know what you want to call it. The picture is untouched and unedited and if you asked me to create the effect again I would cry in frustration unable to do it.

My churchy friends tell me it is the Lord doing a little magic.

I think it is pretty cool.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Playin' Vegetarian - Game Over

I lasted about 5 days as a vegetarian and I have to say, I am a carnivore though and through.

I like steak and burgers and hot dogs and bacon and ham and even spam.

The idea behind this little experiment was to see if I would like being a vegetarian, if I could do it and if I noticed any health benefits.

I will be the first to admit that I am surprised at how much meat I consume (some meat something at almost every meal) and how little veggies I really eat. If left to my own devices I would eat cookie monster cupcakes, tater tots and chicken nuggets at every meal. At 12, that is one thing, at older than 12, well, that gives me heart burn.

In terms of health benefits, that is a tricky one. I clearly realize that I need to clean up my diet and introduce some foods into my diet that didn't come out of the frozen food aisle. I was crabby, but I didn't feel as sluggish. And everything seemed on schedule (yes, that is what I mean and no, there will be no further comment).

What is my take away? Eating fresh foods is hard. And expensive. It takes thought and planning. And effort. It is about better choices. When I announced I was trying to be vegetarian for a week, I had gobs of people offer me suggestions, recipes and general support. There are more options out there than a salad. I just need to take advantages of new foods and try something different.

I realized that it won't kill me to go meatless a day or two during the week, or instead of red meat, try some chicken or fish.

I think I can do that.

After all, I'm no spring chicken anymore.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm Ok With Tim Tebow

I'm intrigued by the hub bub over Tim Tebow. I'm facinated and shockingly ok with him and his churchiness. From the beginning, Tebow has made it clear that he is a religious guy.


To be honest, as a general rule, I'm not a fan of churchy, preachy people. Especially churchy, preachy people at work. I'm not a fan of anyone inflicting their beliefs on others, but I respect that we all have our own opinions. However, what I can't respect is shoving those opinions on anyone else.  I find it offensive when people intimidate and threaten others in the name of religion.

1965 cover of Esquire of NY Giants guard Darrel Dess.
With that being said, we all know that one person that when someone sneezes and they say bless you...they mean it. My mom is like that. I tell her about a friend having a hard time and it turns into wonder twin powers activate and she hits the prayer chain. She doesn't mean any harm and isn't forcing it on anyone. She honestly believes she is doing something good. Tim Tebow is that guy.

In the 60s, a player praying on the field was a gag, a joke. Now, praying in sports, in the NFL in particular, is something expected. Guys praying in the locker room, before games, after games, in the end zone and on the sidelines. Guys from opposing teams are getting on one knee together after games to pray.

Michael Vick and the Cowboys pray after a game.
Every couple of years, a story pops up about some guy feeling uncomfortable about religion in the locker room. Maybe he is Jewish and isn't comfortable with Christian prayers. Maybe he is agnostic. Maybe he just isn't into it. Whatever the reason, it shows that prayer is everywhere.

Is that a bad thing?

Is it a good thing?

I don't know. If I worked in a profession that every time I went to work, there was someone whose main goal was to knock my block off, maybe I would pray a little more. I don't think that there is anything wrong with being thankful for being OK and happy and successful. So if prayer is the way they go about it, who cares?

Indianapolis Colts praying in the locker room...notice the SuperBowl trophy to the left.
NFL players don't seem to care. Constantly pointing a finger upwards after scoring a touchdown or mentioning God in a press conference is par for the course.  We expect rappers, athletes, or anyone else accepting a major award to thank God. 

Yankee Mark Teixeira and PGA Pro Ben Crane Tebowing in Cabo
This all leads to the question, why are people having a problem with Tebow? From what I can tell, he isn't forcing his religious beliefs on anyone. Why has "tebowing" gone viral?

Are people mocking Tebow? For the most part, I think people are having fun with it.

Except those that aren't.

Tim Tebow has been the target of some pointed comments from opposing teams. The Baltimore Raven's Terrell Suggs said, “With all do respect, we don't pray on sidelines. Once again God had to save Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos..."  The Detroit Lions received grief from the media when after in the second quarter of a game, Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch openly mocked Tebow's prayer pose after sacking him.  Later in the game, tight end Tony Scheffler mimicked Tebow's one-kneed prayer pose in the end zone.

That is what I don't get. It is clear that teams pray. Religion is commonplace in the locker room. What is the problem Tebow?

Is that problem that Tebow is too much? NPR recently did a story on how much is too much religion in sports, and I have to wonder if that is the root of the problem. 
Is Tebow just too much to handle? 

Are these guys pointing to God in the end zone only doing it as some perverse attempt at winning the Lord's favor for their misdeeds? Are they pointing skywards because it is the expected or hip thing to do? Because Tebow isn't. He is doing it because he believes.

Trust me when I say that I am the last person to get preachy. But there is something weirdly refreshing about Tebow.

The problem that people are having with Tim Tebow comes down to the fact that he is painfully genuine. When he is kneeling and praying, he is actually praying and not counting his money or saying the alphabet in his head backwards or singing the latest Lady Gaga song. He embraces his goody two shoes image because *that* is what he *is*.

Tebow's faith has become a target because it is easy. Just because something is easy, it doesn't make it right. Tebow is being bullied by other players and he still stands by his convictions. With all the problems kids are facing today with bullying, I'm glad that he is still kneeling. The kid believes what he believes and no one is going to change that. 

Good for him.

Kneel on Tebow. Kneel on.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Playin' Vegetarian - Day 2

Day 2 of my vegetarian experiment was a tough one. I don't eat a steak at every meal, but it is amazing how much meat I am not getting to eat.

Add to that living with my folks and say hello to a migraine. I have not shared with them my little adventure because quite honestly, it would lead to too many questions. Mom has seen To Catch a Predator one too many times and she firmly believes the internet is full of evil and bad people.  All of those bad evil people are specifically out to get *me* in her mind, so it is best to talk about the internet as little as possible.

One thing about this whole vegetarian thing that has struck me is how little in the way of fruits and vegetables that I consume. Sure I make a salad for lunch, but it usually has some turkey or bacon or happy little pepperonis on it. Veggies alone are a change. 

The big challenge so far is trying new things. While I am a fan of every cooking show there is, I am also about as white bread as it gets. To me, a big change is trying a red pepper instead of a green one. I mean, let's face it, that is crazy talk. My parents are the same way, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree I suppose.

I went to lunch with some friends and I tried to stretch my wings a little. I tried some hummus, which is ok when I don't think about what it is. I tried some falafel (yuck). Although, that taught me that not all things fried are tasty.

I'm trying to stock the house with more fruits and veggies, but I will tell you, it is pricey. Part of me wants to put a halt to this and just get a salisbury steak tv dinner.

After two days, I'm not feeling any health benefits, just an overall crankiness.

Two down, five to go.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Playin Vegetarian -Day 1

I have decided to have a little fun with my life and be a vegetarian for a week. I fully admit I am a carnivore and I believe bacon makes everything better.

However, in the spirit of the new year and random resolutions, I have decided that for 7 days I am going to be a vegetarian. Now, please keep in mind, I didn't say vegan. I would kill myself or someone else if I had to give up meat AND cheese AND milk AND eggs. Forget it. There are obvious health benefits to eating fresh food, lots of fruits and vegetables so I thought I would see what benefits are there for me.

Another inspiration for this little adventure was to see how difficult it would really be. It is cheap and easy to eat like crap. How much effort will it take for me to eat like a rabbit?

Day one started out rocky. I made a salad, and by made I mean I bought a container of mixed greens and threw it in a to go container. I threw a handful of carrots on top and then I reached for the bag of little happy pepperonis. I cursed and put the pepperonis away, certainly I can do this for a day.

I tossed in some yogurt for breakfast and a little container of apple sauce for lunch. By the time lunch rolled around I went down to the cafeteria to add some extra toppings to my salad. This was crabby point two, having to skip the chicken, ham and bacon for egg and cheese. That cost me a buck. I could have enjoyed a pile of tasty chicken nuggets for the same price.

For some reason I was preoccupied with hot dogs (possibly because of my hot dog cup for water) for part of the day and I was happy I wasn't going to a Cavs game this week so I don't have to turn down a hot dog.

Dinner didn't go much better. For regular readers, you may know I am living with my folks right now. My folks that are like bad college room mates, eating all my food and leaving all the lights on. Mom made spaghetti with meatballs (yum) in meat sauce. Yum. I mean boooooo. My choices were cereal, an egg, or a pb and j. Somewhere along the way, my dad ate all of my smuckers strawberry jam and replaced it with some craptastic generic grape jelly. I grouchily slapped together a peanut butter and crappy jelly sandwich.

This is not going well.

Most people talk about how their attitudes and thoughts and bodies all feel better once they cut meat out.

Right now it is just making me cranky.

Look out day 2.